In US v. Rigas, No.09-1344, the Third Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's denial of defendants' motion to dismiss a Pennsylvania indictment for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and other charges, who were already convicted of conspiracy under the same statute in New York, stemming from the collapse of defendants' company Adelphia Communications Corporations, a cable television provider.
As stated in the decision: "[section] 371 contains three key components. First, 'two or more persons conspire.' Second, the object of the conspiracy must be 'either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.' Third, 'one or more of such persons must to any act to effect the object of the conspiracy."
Thus, in concluding that section 371 creates one offense and not two distinct offenses, the court vacated and remanded to the district court to conduct an evidentiary hearing as under a plain and natural reading of section 371, the statute creates a single offense, and the successive prosecution of defendants in this case may constitute a double jeopardy violation.
- Full text of US v. Rigas