First, the Court found sufficient evidence to support the convictions. It found sufficient evidence that the defendant misrepresented the ownership of the land at the heart of the real-estate investment fraud, misrepresented purported news articles regarding the defendant's investment company, misrepresented that celebrities had purchased land through his company, and had the requisite criminal intent.
Second, the Court concluded that the district court correctly determined the loss amount for purposes of both his guideline range and restitution. The Court rejected the defendant's argument that the value of the land should have been subtracted from the $8 million total loss figure because, even if the investors acquired a proprietary interest in the land, it was worthless as a practical matter, since they did not and likely could not obtain title to it. The Court also refused to credit the value of the land on the ground that a fraudster is not entitled to an offset for value provided solely to conceal or perpetrate a fraud.
Third, the Court concluded that the defendant's sentence was procedurally and substantively reasonable. Aside from the sufficiency of the evidence and loss calculation, the defendant raised no additional procedural challenges. And the Court found the 152-month sentence--imposed in the middle of the guideline range--to be substantively reasonable.
Finally, the Court found no error in the denial of the defendant's motion to vacate the verdict for juror misconduct in light of a post-trial letter, in which a juror stated that she had been bullied into the verdict and regretted her decision. The defendant argued that he should have been permitted to question the juror under Rule 606(b)'s exception for extraneous prejudicial information improperly brought to the juror's attention. The Court rejected that argument, reasoning that the juror's letter, referencing bullying and sway tactics during deliberations, pertained to purely internal (not extraneous) matters. The Court further noted that the juror's letter described nothing more than typical features of juror deliberations.