United States v. Strohm, No. 10-4104 (10th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
In 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sought a preliminary injunction against ClearOne Communications, Inc. based on suspicions of irregular accounting practices and securities law violations. During a hearing on the preliminary injunction, Defendant and former CEO Susie Strohm was asked if she was involved in a particular sale by ClearOne that was the focus of the SEC’s case. She said she was not and approximated that she learned of the sale either before or after the end of ClearOne’s fiscal year. Based on this testimony, Defendant was later convicted of one count of perjury. She argued on appeal to the Tenth Circuit that her conviction should be reversed because (1) the questioning at issue was ambiguous, (2) her testimony was literally true, and (3) even if false, her testimony was not material to the court’s decision to grant the preliminary injunction. The Tenth Circuit disagreed on all three points. The Court found the questions were not ambiguous and there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate Defendant knowingly made false statements. Also, Defendant's testimony was material to the preliminary injunction hearing because it related to a transaction the SEC believed demonstrated ClearOne’s accounting irregularities. The Court therefore affirmed Defendant's conviction.