US v. Kenneth Spirito, No. 20-4393 (4th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Defendant and others came upon a start-up airline called People Express, but People Express had trouble securing funding. Defendant spearheaded an effort to use restricted state and federal funds as collateral to secure a bank loan for People Express. After People Express defaulted on the loan, Defendant was indicted, tried, and convicted of federal program fraud, money laundering, and perjury.
On appeal, Defendant maintained that there was insufficient evidence to support conviction on some counts, as well as that the district court erred by refusing to give a particular jury instruction, excluding a certain piece of evidence, and entering a forfeiture money judgment without notice.
The Fourth Circuit found one of Defendant’s arguments persuasive and reversed the conviction on Count 19, and affirmed the district court’s judgment of convictions and sentences as to the other counts. In regards to Defendant’s federal program fraud conviction, as charged in Count 19, the question presented was whether Section 666(a)(1)(A)(i) criminalizes multiple conversions of less than $5,000, if the government must point to conversions that took place over more than one year to reach the $5,000 statutory minimum. The court concluded that Section 666 requires each transaction used to reach the aggregate $5,000 requirement to occur within the same one-year period aligns with the conclusions of other circuit courts that have considered the issue. Thus, the court reversed finding that the government failed to present evidence showing that, within a one-year period, Defendant committed one or more acts of conversion with an aggregate value of $5,000 or more.