Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sperrazza: Structuring need not involve a "cash hoard"

In U.S. v. Sperrazza, No. 14-11972 (Aug. 17, 2015), the Court affirmed convictions of tax evasion and structuring currency transactions, and a forfeiture order of $870,238.99 on a Georgia physician. The Court (2-1) rejected the argument that a “structuring” violation must involve a defendant who has more than $10,000 on hand (a “cash hoard”). The Court explained that a person who has $9,000 on hand, and knows more cash is on the way, and deposits the $9,000 to evade the $10,000 reporting requirement can be guilty of “structuring.” The Court also rejected Sperrazza’s claim that the $870,238.99 forfeiture violated the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment. The Court noted that under the statute the defendant was subject to a fine of up to $500,000. The Court also rejected the argument that the forfeiture was excessive because Sperrazza earned the money lawfully. The Court pointed out that the structuring “decreased the likelihood the IRS would detect the underlying tax evasion.”