United States v. Comstock, No. 18-50979 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to provide a rational jury with more than sufficient grounds to conclude that defendant did not sincerely believe he had a legitimate, unwritten agreement with the City.
The court also held that the district court did not err in declining defendant's requested jury instructions where the jury instructions substantially covered defendant's good-faith defense because they accurately described the intent requirements for the charges against him; defendant was allowed to argue at trial that he acted in good faith according to an unwritten agreement that abandoned hourly billing, and thus his ability to present his defense was not seriously impaired; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to give defendant's fill-in-the-blank instruction. Finally, the court rejected defendant's challenges to the district court's loss calculation, holding that the district court did not err in its application of USSG 2B1.1(b)(1) and that defendant must pay restitution under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act.