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A single conspiracy to commit bribery and kickbacks among the multiple defendants; United States v. Huff

Defendant Tommie Huff was convicted of bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in a kickback scheme that involved placing fraudulent orders for Robbins Air Force Base. Wire fraud is a federal crime make it an offense to make a false statement or misrepresentation using the telephone, fax, or computer in an attempt to acquire money or something of value. It is also a federal crime to bribe or take kickbacks from a federal employed to secure a government contract.

The defendant argued on appeal there was insufficient evidence of a single conspiracy because the government failed to prove any interdependence between him and his co-defendant Steve Deason. He argued that the evidence showed there to be multiple independent “hub and spoke” conspiracies with no evidence connecting the two codefendants in a single conspiracy.

The appellate court’s opinion, written by Judge Barkett, rejected this argument and found that all codefendants shared a common goal and worked in concert to defraud the government for personal benefit. The coconspirators abused their position as government credit card holders by placing fraudulent orders with suppliers and all coconspirators personally benefited from the scheme by receiving kickbacks in cash and merchandise. Both Huff and Deason placed orders to the vendors that they knew would not be filled and paid for the orders using government credit cards.

The loss amount included the total amount of the kickback, not just his portion.The defendant also objected to the loss amount, claiming that he should only be responsible for his portion of the kickback money paid and not the total amount.

The court found instead that the loss included the entire amount of the kickback. The case was remanded for a specific factual finding of whether the restitution imposed actually exceeded the victim’s loss.

This is an example of the type of case that the Swartz Law Firm regularly handles for individuals charged with a federal crime.