United States v. Coscia, No. 16-3017 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Most commodities trading takes place with the participants using computers to execute hyper‐fast trading strategies at speeds, and in volumes, that far surpass those common in the past. Coscia commissioned and used a computer program to place small and large orders simultaneously on opposite sides of the commodities market in order to create illusory supply and demand, to induce artificial market movement. He was convicted under the anti‐spoofing provision of the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. 6c(a)(5)(C) and 13(a)(2), and of commodities fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1348(1) and was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment. The Act defines “spoofing” as “bidding or offering with the intent to cancel the bid or offer before execution.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding the convictions supported by sufficient evidence. The anti‐spoofing provision provides clear notice and does not allow for arbitrary enforcement; it is not unconstitutionally vague. With respect to the commodities fraud violation, the court upheld a jury instruction on materiality: that the alleged wrongdoing had to be “capable of influencing the decision of the person to whom it is addressed.” The district court properly applied a 14‐point loss enhancement in calculating the sentence, given the nature and complexity of Coscia’s criminal enterprise.