United States v. Weimert, No. 15-2453 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
During the 2008–09 financial crisis, Wisconsin’s AnchorBank was struggling. Needing cash to pay its lenders, the bank’s president told vice president Weimert to try to sell the bank’s share in a Texas commercial real estate development. Weimert arranged a sale that exceeded the bank’s target price by one-third. Weimert persuaded potential buyers that he would be a useful partner. Their offer letters included having Weimert buy a minority interest in the property. The bank agreed and agreed to pay Weimert an unusual bonus to enable him to buy that interest. The government prosecuted Weimert for wire fraud on the theory that his actions established a scheme to obtain money or property by fraud. He was convicted on five of six counts under 18 U.S.C. 1343. The Seventh Circuit reversed and ordered judgment of acquittal. Federal wire fraud is an expansive tool, but does not criminalize a person’s lack of candor about the negotiating positions of parties to a business deal. Weimert led the buyer to believe the seller wanted him to have a piece of the deal. He led the seller to believe the buyer insisted he have a piece of the deal. All the actual terms, however, were fully disclosed and subject to negotiation.