Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Should Have Sold Them on eBay

In U.S. v. Williams, No. 03-15395 (Nov. 16, 2004), on a government appeal, the Court (Edmondson, Fay, Corrigan b.d.) reversed a district court's order granting a Rule 29 judgment of acquittal after a jury returned a guilty verdict against a defendant charged with one count of bank fraud. The bank fraud conviction arose out of the defendant's unsuccessful attempt, along with her daughter, to get a bank to issue her a cashier's check on the basis of a (false) representation that a wire transfer would soon be coming into her account as payment for two rare signed baseballs she sold. On appeal, the government argued that the district court erred in relying on the defendant's testimony at trial that her daughter was orchestrating the scheme and that she knew nothing. The Court agreed, noting that the evidence, after a guilty verdict, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the government. The government's evidence showed that Williams was aware of lies about the forthcoming wire transfer, and about the sale of rare baseballs, and was attempting to get money from the bank, or aiding and abetting such a scheme. The Court noted that the district court's contrary finding was based on the defendant's testimony. However, the jury was free to reject that testimony, and could in fact convict the defendant in part because they disbelieved it.