United States v. Denson, No. 11-1043 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Denson spent about a year in federal prison for mail and wire fraud after he got caught up in a "Nigerian" money scam, 18 U.S.C. 1341 & 1343. After persons in Africa emailed Denson saying that he had inherited the rights to an overseas company worth $9-plus million Denson called a local Secret Service office. An agent warned him not to participate and that he could be criminally liable. Denson took thousands of dollars from persons who had trusted him to help with some "window-washing invention" he had "a patent for." Denson called the agent again and admitted that he had "deceived" others into giving him money. Meeting with some agents two days later, Denson described his scheme. He had tried to get an undercover agent to "invest" $30,000 in an overseas-construction venture, handing the agent false documents. The First Circuit upheld sentences of 15 months for supervised release (sentencing range 4-10 months) and 30 months terms for the fraud convictions, to run consecutively with the 15-month term. The court rejected a challenge to a “willful blindness” jury instruction.