The main issue addressed in U.S. v. Pacchioli is whether the defendant’s bribery conviction was time-barred under the statute of limitations,18 U.S.C. §3285. The defendant was an electrical contractor who performed various maintenance services for a hospital run by the Memorial Healthcare system. In order to obtain lucrative service contracts with the hospitals, the contractor enticed the hospital’s facility managers with cash payments, kickbacks, and free goods and services. One of the free services the defendant provided to the managers were free electric generators installed for no charge.
The statute of limitations states that a person can only be prosecuted for an offense if charges are brought within five years after the offense has been committed. The defendant argued his crime fell outside the five year statute of limitations period because the agreement to commit a bribery occurred more than five years prior to the indictment’s return. The court of appeals rejected this argument, finding that his crime was completed at the time the electrical generators were installed. The defendant’s indictment, which tracked the bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. §666, charged him with giving, offering, or agreeing to give a thing of value to a person with intent to influence or reward an agent of the organization. The indictment specifically charged the defendant with giving the generator as a bribe, making the completion point for the crime at the time the bribe was given. The statute of limitations began to run when the installation the electrical generators at the facility manager’s home. The evidence presented to the jury showed the bribe was paid less than five years before the date of the indictment and within the limitations period. The trial court gave the jury a statute of limitations instruction, which allowed the jury to find him not guilty if it found the crime was completed more than five years before the indictment’s return. The court noted that the defendant did not challenge the instruction to seek a more precise wording on what the instruction meant for an offense to be completed.
Sufficiency of the evidence
The court rejected a sufficiency of the evidence challenge. There was ample evidence for a jury to find that the generators were given as a bribe because the two generators he gave were worth more than $10,000 and he did not receive payment nor did he give invoices for the sale of the generators.
No Sixth Amendment violation for limiting cross examination
One defendant claimed a Sixth Amendment violation because the district court limited cross examining the main witness about the witness’ attorney’s statement about his a mental impairment. The defendant’s attorney tried to admit a statement the witness’ attorney made at his sentencing hearing where the attorney commented that his client, the witness’, his medical condition was such that it limited his ability to cooperate with the government and that the witness will not get the full benefit of his cooperation for testifying because his condition “practically makes him not a witness that the Government can call quite frankly.” The appellate found no constitutional error because it did not affect substantial rights of the defendant nor did it have a substantial influence on the outcome of the case because the witnesses credibility was thoroughly attacked and the defense had already challenged the witness’ character for truthfulness in many different ways. Even if there was error, the court found it was harmless.