U.S. Second Circuit - The FindLaw 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Former Insurance Broker's Fraud Appeal Fails Fast

If you didn't hear about Earl O'Garro, the former insurance broker who swindled the City of Hartford, it might not come as much of a surprise to find out that his appeal was denied. However, even if you had been closely following the story, it still likely wouldn't come as much of a surprise that his Second Circuit appeal was denied.

O'Garro had sought a reversal of his conviction and a remand or retrial, as a result of an allegedly improper jury instructions, or, alternatively, due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Notably, the jury returned their verdict in an hour, finding O'Garro guilty of mail and wire fraud.

Details of the Case

O'Garro set up his own insurance brokerage in 2010. It is alleged that O'Garro used his clients' monies to fund his lavish lifestyle, including buying six figure cars, a million dollar beach front home in the Dominican Republic, and even a business for his wife. It was further alleged that he forged documents in order to secure over a million dollars in fraudulent loans.

Hartford's City Treasurer, Adam Cloud, took a special interest in O'Garro, and wanted to help him build his company and establish his minority owned and operated business. However, Cloud's interest apparently clouded his better judgment. Relying on O'Garro's misrepresentation, Cloud wired the city's $900,000 insurance premium payment directly to O'Garro. Complicating the matter even further, O'Garro had been renting his office space, to the tune of $8,000 per month, from Cloud's family.

Effectiveness or Effective-mess

While it is not uncommon to plead alternative theories on appeal, O'Garro was really burning the theoretical candle from both ends. Even though the court provided the exact jury instruction requested by his counsel, O'Garro argued to the Second Circuit that the instruction was in error. The court, citing a litany of precedent, explained that the counsel's insistence on the jury instruction's wording effectively waives any grounds for appeal. 

Alternatively, O'Garro argued ineffective assistance of counsel, but the appellate court sidestepped that claim. Essentially, the court advised O'Garro that he should have brought the claim up before the district court, and not on appeal.

Related Resources: