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US v. Kottwitz, No. 08-13740

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By FindLaw Staff on August 20, 2010 10:43 AM

In US v. Kottwitz, No. 08-13740, the court affirmed in part defendants' convictions for tax fraud-related charges, holding that the circumstantial evidence was sufficient for the jury to have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants entered into the charged conspiracy.  However, the court vacated the convictions in part on the grounds that 1) the district court erred in refusing to give defendants' requested special instruction to the jury on their good faith reliance on their accountant's advice; and 2) the evidence was insufficient for a properly instructed jury to convict on the charge of aiding and assisting in the filing of a materially false corporate tax return.

As the court wrote:  "Defendants Theresa L. Kottwitz ["Kottwitz"], Gerard Marchelletta, Sr. ["Senior"], and Gerard Marchelletta, Jr. ["Junior"] appeal their convictions and sentences for tax fraud-related charges. We find the evidence sufficient to support the jury's verdict regarding their conspiracy convictions and that the general good faith jury instruction that was provided by the district court fully encompassed Kottwitz and the Marchellettas' theory of defense on this charge. We find, however, that the district court erred in refusing to give Kottwitz's and the Marchellettas' requested special instruction to the jury on their good faith reliance on their accountant's advice. Because the evidence was sufficient for a properly instructed jury to convict on the charges of filing materially false personal income tax returns for 2000 as to Junior and Senior and for evading taxes as to Senior, we vacate and remand for retrial in light of the jury instruction error. Because the evidence was insufficient for a properly instructed jury to convict on the charge of aiding and assisting in the filing of a materially false corporate tax return for 2001, we reverse the convictions of Kottwitz, Junior, and Senior and remand with directions to enter a judgment of acquittal on this count."

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