United States v. Arata, No. 16-30104 (5th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Defendants Peter Hoffman, Michael Arata, and Susan Hoffman challenged their convictions for crimes related to the submission of fraudulent claims for tax credits related to the film industry in Louisiana. The government challenged defendants' convictions.
The Fifth Circuit rejected defendants' contention that the Louisiana tax credits are not "property" covered by the federal fraud statutes. The court held that the district court correctly found the tax credits were property subject to prosecution under the mail and wire fraud statutes, and this prosecution alleging the use of fabricated invoices and misleading bank transactions to obtain a financial benefit lies at the historic core of the federal fraud statutes and neither offends due process nor exceeds federal power. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to convict Peter of 21 counts, Arata of 10 counts, and Susan of 3 counts. Furthermore, no ruling during the trial caused a miscarriage of justice.
Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motions to dismiss the indictment; affirmed the denial of defendants' motion for judgment of acquittal; affirmed in part and reversed in part the grant of defendants' motions for judgment of acquittal; and affirmed the denial of defendants' motion for a new trial. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's forfeiture; vacated Peter's sentence and remanded for resentencing; affirmed Susan's sentence; and vacated Arata's sentence and remanded for resentencing.