United States v. Wahi, No. 15-2094 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Drs. Gupta and Wahi operated Illinois nutrition clinics. In 2011 they were indicted for mail fraud, healthcare fraud, and conspiracy to defraud Medicaid, private insurers, and patients. Gupta fled the country, but Wahi faced the charges. After a year of pretrial proceedings, the government learned that during the execution of a search warrant for electronic records, the FBI had inadvertently accessed emails that might have contained communications covered by the attorney-client privilege. Because the prejudice to Wahi’s case was unknown, the court, on the government’s motion, dismissed the indictment and ordered the government to file all discovery materials with the clerk under seal. The judge retained jurisdiction for the limited purpose of monitoring compliance. The government complied and the case was closed. Two years later, Wahi filed a petition for expungement of the judicial and FBI records related to his case. The court reasoned that Seventh Circuit precedent supported jurisdiction over requests to expunge judicial records but not records maintained by the executive branch, then concluded that Wahi’s circumstances did not justify the extraordinary remedy of expungement. The Seventh Circuit vacated, overruling the precedent cited by the district court in light of the Supreme Court’s 1994 holding in Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Insurance. Expungement authority is not inherent and must be grounded in a jurisdictional source found in the Constitution or statutes.