United States v. Banks, No. 11-1487 (10th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Defendants-Appellants David Banks, Kendrick Barnes, Demetrius Harper, Clinton Stewart, Gary Walker, and David Zirpolo were convicted following a jury trial on multiple counts of mail fraud and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Defendants contacted numerous staffing agencies to “assist in providing temporary services. Witnesses from multiple staffing companies testified that a Defendant (or someone acting as Defendants’ agent) approached them and expressed the desire for "payrolling" services. The staffing-company witnesses testified that they were induced into believing that Defendants’ companies were either doing business with major law-enforcement agencies or were on the verge of selling a specialized software to these agencies. These witnesses testified that Defendants (or Defendants’ agents) assured them that this alleged law-enforcement business would enable Defendants’ companies to pay the staffing companies’ invoices, and, critically, that they relied on these representations in choosing to do business with Defendants. Trial testimony from representatives of the law-enforcement agencies with whom Defendants claimed to be doing business revealed the falsity of Defendants’ representations to the staffing companies. When questioned about their failure to pay the staffing companies’ invoices, Defendants gave false assurances that payment would be forthcoming, and they continued to imply that they were doing business with large government law enforcement agencies. In the end, forty-two different staffing companies were left with outstanding invoices totaling in excess of $5,000,000, which could not be submitted to the government agencies, which had no business relationship with Defendants’ companies. Defendants were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 87 to 135 months. Defendants argued on appeal to the Tenth Circuit: (1) their right to a speedy trial was violated when the district court granted multiple continuances of the trial date (at Defendants’ request); (2) the district court compelled co-Defendant Barnes to testify in violation of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and failed to give a proper curative instruction; (3) the district court abused its discretion in excluding the testimony of two witnesses Defendants sought to call at trial; and (4) the cumulative effect of the district court’s otherwise harmless errors prejudiced them and required reversal. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed.