USA v. Hagen
Dockets: 21-11273, 21-11279
Opinion Date: February 27, 2023
Judge: Stephen Andrew Higginson
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, White Collar Crime
The Hagens (Leah and Michael) were convicted by a jury of conspiring to defraud the United States and to pay and receive health care kickbacks. Each was sentenced to 151 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, plus restitution. Both Hagens appealed, arguing that the district court erred in excluding evidence, refusing to instruct the jury on an affirmative defense, and imposing a sentencing enhancement and restitution.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the Hagens' convictions and sentences. The court found that the excluded evidence, which consisted of witness testimony, was irrelevant and cumulative. Thus, the district court did not err in excluding it. Even if the exclusion of the evidence wasn't warranted, the court determined that any error below was harmless.
The court also held that the Hagans failed to put sufficient evidence forward justifying their requested jury charge on the safe-harbor affirmative defense. Finally, the court rejected the Hagens' claim that the lower court erred in applying a sentencing enhancement for the couple's "sophisticated money laundering scheme." The court explained that evidence suggested the Hagens manipulated their wire transfer payments to conceal the kickback scheme, which justified the enhancement.
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