Criminal and Tax Cases - Criminal Law - U.S. Fifth Circuit
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Criminal and Tax Cases

In US v. Valencia, No. 08-20546, the court of appeals affirmed defendants' wire fraud convictions arising from alleged efforts to manipulate natural gas markets, on the grounds that 1) the extensive, incriminating in-court testimony provided by a witness and others, in conjunction with inculpatory, properly admitted exhibits, heavily dampened the magnitude of whatever prejudicial effect an erroneously admitted whistle-blower letter had upon the jury; 2) because a witness's knowledge and analysis were derived from duties he held at defendants' employer, his opinions were admissible as testimony based upon personal knowledge and experience gained while employed there; 3) the district court did not err in allowing the government's expert to testify about the tendency of defendants' false trade reports to affect the indices published by Inside FERC and NGI.

In Duffie v. US, No. 08-20708, a tax refund action, the court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant for the reasons stated by the district court, namely that 1) while a taxpayer's subjective business purpose or profit motive may be relevant to the sham transaction inquiry, the lack of a subjective profit motive is not required to assess interest at the enhanced rate under 26 U.S.C. section 6621(c); and 2) a partner may not relitigate the tax court's determination that the partnership transactions resulting in the adjustments were factual or economic shams, that is, tax-motivated transactions as defined in section 6621(c).

In US v. Thomas, No. 09-30426, the court of appeals vacated defendant's firearm possession sentence, holding that 1) the PROTECT Act amendment to 18 U.S.C. section 3583(e)(3) did not apply retroactively; and 2) defendant served 24 months of imprisonment upon the first revocation of his supervised release, and, therefore, could not be sentenced to a further term of imprisonment upon the second revocation of his supervised release under the version of section 3583(e)(3) applicable to him.

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