Conviction of eleven defendants, who were employees of the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewer authority, arising from a scheme to embezzle and launder funds for a union health plan, is affirmed for the most part where: 1) based on the evidence, the Health Plan had sufficient supervision and control over the Health Plan contributions to establish that the funds embezzled were funds of a health care benefit program; 2) there was sufficient evidence to prove that the defendants acted without authority to receive the Health Plan funds; 3) evidence of defendants' knowledge and willfulness with respect to the embezzlement convictions was more than sufficient for the jury to conclude by proof beyond a reasonable doubt the element of criminal intent; 4) with respect to the Top Four defendants, the evidence was more than sufficient to support the money laundering convictions; 5) defendants' challenge to the district court's jury instructions are rejected, and any error was harmless; 6) district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to sever mid-trial; 7) district court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to grant defendants a new trial based on an alleged misstatement made during the prosecution's closing argument; 8) district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to grant defendants a new trial based on their post-trial allegations of threats and harassment from testifying by other defendants; 9) district court did not err in assessing against each of the Top Four defendants an 18-level enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines based on loss calculation as their extensive knowledge and control of the embezzlement scheme as a whole made the total amount each received foreseeable; 10) two of the defendants' challenges to their sentences are rejected as the sentences were reasonable; and 11) with respect to the Chapter President defendants, the money laundering convictions are reversed and remanded as conceded by the government.
Read US v. Garcia-Pastrana, No. 07-1044
Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
Decided October 20, 2009
Before: Torruella, Lipez and Leval, Circuit Judges
Opinion by: Torruella, Circuit Judge
For Appellant: Linda Backiel, José R. Aguayo Caussade, Víctor P. Miranda Corrada, Rafael F. Castro-Lang, Anita Hill-Adames, Laura Maldonado-Rodríguez, Lydia Lizarribar, Francisco Dolz-Sánchez, Carlos E. Montañez, Miguel E. Miranda-Gutiérrez
For Appellee: Joseph F. Palmer, Stephan E. Oestreicher, Jr., Attorney, Appellate Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, District of Puerto Rico, and José A. Ruiz-Santiago, Assistant United States Attorney, District of Puerto Rico