USA v. Davis
Opinion Date: November 15, 2022
Judge: Stuart Kyle Duncan
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, White Collar Crime
Defendant was convicted of numerous wire fraud and money-laundering charges arising from a fraudulent scheme to cause the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay over $71 million in GI-Bill funding to his trade school. Defendant raised several challenges to his convictions and his sentence.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed in nearly all respects, except that it vacated the forfeiture order and remanded it for further proceedings. The court held that Defendant fails to show the evidence was insufficient to allow a rational jury to convict him on the money-laundering counts. Further, the court concluded that conclude that the indictment was not faulty and the district court did not err in declining to order a bill of particulars.
Moreover, the court explained that illegally provided services that could have “hypothetically” been provided in a “legal manner”—like Defendant’s operation of the school—implicate the second definition of proceeds under Section 981(a)(2)(B), under which a defendant may deduct “the direct costs incurred in providing the goods or services.” The focus of any Section 981(a)(2) analysis is the underlying criminal conduct, not the crime itself.
That subsection further provides that Defendant “shall have the burden of proof with respect to the issue of direct costs” and also that those costs “shall not include any part of the overhead expenses of the entity providing the goods and services, or any part of the income taxes paid by the entity.” Therefore the court remanded for determining whether Defendant can prove any offset under the terms of Section 981(a)(2)(B).
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