Thursday, January 6, 2011

Conviction in Foreign Account Plus Case (1/16/11)

There is a recent opinion in United States v. Simon (ND IN No. 3:10-cr-00056) \about which I previously blogger here. The new opinion is here. The new opinion, dated 1/1/11, is short and cryptic -- assuming some familiarity with earlier rulings in the case to understanding the judge's exasperation. The new opinion rejects the defendant's post trial motion for judgment of acquittal and alternative motion for new trial. The Court's opening paragraph under Background, gives the reader an indication of how the court will rule:

A 23-count indictment was handed down in April 2010, charging Mr. Simon with filing false federal income tax returns (Counts 1-4), failing to file foreign bank account reports (FBARs)(Counts 5-8), mail fraud (Counts 9-19), and fraud involving federal financial aid (Counts 20-23). More than seventeen pretrial motions required four hearings, numerous oral rulings [Doc. Nos. 25, 33, 71 and 109], and three detailed written opinions and orders [Doc. Nos. 62, 74 and 100]. Trial began on November 2, 2010. Evidentiary objections were the rule, rather than the exception, during trial, and the court frequently had to restate earlier evidentiary rulings. Mr. Simon seemed to change his theory of defense mid-trial, requiring additional briefing.
The Government dismissed Count 5, and, after trial the jury convicted on all remaining counts except Counts 13, 14 and 16 (mail fraud counts). Not a good day for Mr. Simon.

The issue I previously blogged was the Court's rejection of the claim that the IRS's extension of time for signatories on foreign accounts to file delinquent FBARs by 6/30/11 operated to preclude prosecution for the original delinquencies which, if they occurred with the required willfulness, were criminal acts at the time. In this new opinion, the Court begins its Discussion as follows:

Mr. Simon's renewed motion for judgment of acquittal is premised on arguments previously raised, considered, and rejected.
And, the Court concluded its Discussion with the following:

The court carefully considered Mr. Simon's arguments, has given detailed reasons for rejecting them, and believes that it properly ruled on each of the issues raised. Mr. Simon hasn't presented any authority or identified any error or circumstance that would warrant reconsideration at this stage of the proceedings or a new trial.
Not a good opening or closing discussion for the defendant.

There is not a whole lot in between that I think particularly worthy of note for readers of this blog. The opinion is short so it might be worth scanning by those whose interest is piqued.  I mention the case only because the underlying scheme did involve foreign accounts and foreign entity intrigues and there were FBAR count convictions. The Government has another notch under its belt in this area. But, it is clear from this and the prior opinion that this was not a garden variety foreign account case. The facts underlying the federal financial aid fraud counts makes this case quite an outlier to the cases I have encountered involving foreign accounts. I just wonder whether, if facts had not involved federal financial aid fraud, the dispute between Mr. Simon and the IRS / DOJ Tax (which also had some other predicate intrigues) could not have been resolved short of criminal prosecution.

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