149 F.3d 46 (1st Cir. 1998), 97-1429, United States v. Woodward

Docket Nº:97-1429.
Citation:149 F.3d 46
Party Name:UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. Francis H. WOODWARD, Defendant, Appellant.
Case Date:July 20, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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149 F.3d 46 (1st Cir. 1998)

UNITED STATES, Appellee,

v.

Francis H. WOODWARD, Defendant, Appellant.

No. 97-1429.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

July 20, 1998

Heard March 6, 1998.

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Bruce A. Singal, with whom William C. Athanas, and Donoghue, Barrett & Singal, P.C., were on brief for appellant.

John M. Griffin, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Mark W. Pearlstein, Acting United States Attorney, was on brief for appellee.

Before BOUDIN, Circuit Judge, BOWNES and CYR, Senior Circuit Judges.

BOWNES, Senior Circuit Judge.

This case is the sequel to United States v. Sawyer, 85 F.3d 713 (1st Cir.1996), as we discuss in detail infra. Appellant Francis H. Woodward appeals his four-count conviction for mail and wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343; interstate travel to commit bribery, 18 U.S.C. § 1952 (the "Travel Act"); and conspiracy to commit those offenses, 18 U.S.C. § 371. The charges stem from his acceptance of illegal gratuities from William Sawyer and others, with the intent of depriving Woodward's constituents of his honest services as a legislator. In this appeal, Woodward claims that the evidence was insufficient to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt on any of the four counts. He also argues that the district court erred in certain evidentiary rulings and in its jury instructions. We affirm.

I

Facts

When reviewing an appeal from a conviction, we view the facts in the light most favorable to the verdict. United States v. Gonzalez-Maldonado, 115 F.3d 9, 12 (1st Cir.1997); Sawyer, 85 F.3d at 731. Francis H. Woodward was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1977. He was assigned to the Joint Committee on Insurance ("Insurance Committee"), and served as the Committee's House Chair from January, 1985 through January 19, 1991. Beginning January 20, 1991 and continuing through April 1992 when he resigned from the legislature, Woodward was assigned to the Transportation Committee, which had no jurisdiction over insurance matters.

During the relevant time period, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company ("Hancock") was one of the two largest life insurance companies in Massachusetts, and one of the ten largest in the entire United States. Because Hancock is domiciled in Massachusetts and is regulated primarily at the state level, Massachusetts' laws and regulations have a major impact on Hancock, affecting such issues as the corporation's organization and funding.

William Sawyer was the senior legislative counsel in Hancock's Government Relations Department. He was responsible for lobbying the Massachusetts legislature on behalf of bills favored by Hancock and the industry, and against those bills they opposed. He actively lobbied the Insurance Committee.

Hancock was also a member of an industry trade association known as the Life Insurance Association of Massachusetts ("LIAM"). LIAM also employed lobbyists who worked on Massachusetts legislation, in coordination with the lobbyists of its member companies. Sawyer was an active participant in LIAM as well.

Bills filed in the Massachusetts legislature were assigned to committee by subject matter. The Insurance Committee, comprising eleven representatives and six senators, was one of the principal legislative committees to which legislation of interest to Hancock and LIAM was assigned. From 1985 through 1990, the Insurance Committee received, on average, three hundred bills a year, one hundred of which affected the life insurance industry. Of those bills, the industry was interested in passing an average of only five per year; it opposed the rest.

The committee's procedures were, in general, as follows. First, public hearings were held on the bills. Following such hearings, the members of the committee voted on the bills in executive sessions that were open to the public. If the bill received a favorable recommendation in the committee's executive session, it was reported out favorably for further action on the floor of either the House or the Senate. If it received an unfavorable recommendation or a study order in the committee's executive session vote, then

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in all likelihood the bill would not pass in that session.

The Insurance Committee was co-chaired by one House and one Senate member. The co-chairs, Woodward and his Senate co-chair, directed the activities of the committee, supervising the committee staff and scheduling all public hearings, executive sessions, and meetings. As co-chair, Woodward had the authority to assign bills to the hearing calendar and subsequent executive sessions, and to take other action that would help to advance bills through the committee (or he could choose not to take such action). Woodward also had the authority to affect the disposition of a bill, including the ability to "carry" 1 a bill through the legislative process or to send it to "study," which effectively shelved it.

As one of the four most active lobbyists on behalf of domestic life insurance companies, Sawyer was frequently present at Insurance Committee meetings. He saw Woodward two or three times a week, and was the lobbyist who met most often with Woodward. After Woodward was removed from the Insurance Committee in January 1991, Sawyer continued to appear at committee meetings and to meet with Woodward's successor as House Chair with the same frequency as he had before.

At the heart of the government's case was the evidence of Sawyer's expenditures on Woodward for shared meals and entertainment. From 1984 through 1992, Woodward accepted in excess of $9,000 in gratuities from Hancock and LIAM through their lobbyists Sawyer and William F. Carroll, the president of LIAM. Hancock provided the majority of this largesse, at least $8,740 in meals, rounds of golf, and other entertainment.

The government introduced evidence showing that, from March 28, 1984 through January 23, 1992, Sawyer expended $8,740 on behalf of Woodward. Of that total, $1,827 was expended after the statute of limitations period began, i.e., after July 27, 1990. One thousand three hundred forty dollars ($1,340) of the total expenditures occurred after January 19, 1991, when Woodward was removed from the Insurance Committee. 2

Sawyer's expenditures consisted of (1) shared meals and entertainment at conferences, generally once or twice a year; (2) miscellaneous meals and rounds of golf each year in Massachusetts; (3) a dinner at the annual Fourth of July social gathering on Cape Cod; and (4) a trip in January 1986 to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Expenditures from categories (1) and (2) are the subject of this appeal on the sufficiency issue. The jury acquitted Woodward as to category (3) expenditures. Evidence relating to the Super Bowl was not the subject of the indictment, but was admitted, over Woodward's objection, to show the nature of the conspiracy and for its bearing on intent; Woodward appeals the admission of that evidence.

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators (COIL) is a national association of state legislators involved in insurance matters. Every year the organization sponsored one or more conferences for legislators, at various sites around the country, where educational presentations were made concerning insurance matters. Woodward attended many COIL conferences, as did other legislators from Massachusetts and elsewhere. Legislators' travel and hotel expenses were paid from a legislative account or campaign funds but not by the insurance industry. Woodward and Sawyer frequently played golf at exclusive clubs near the conference site, and Sawyer generally paid the costs of the golf. Sawyer used his corporate credit card to pay for business-related expenses. He submitted an expense account statement with receipts, and Hancock reimbursed Sawyer

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for such expenses. In addition, Sawyer paid for a number of dinners at local restaurants that would be attended by legislators such as Woodward who were attending the conferences. At times, William Carroll of LIAM would pay for the dinners. Sawyer/Hancock also paid for Woodward's entertainment while at these conferences, such as tickets for the Grand Ole Opry when the conference was in Nashville.

In addition to the COIL conference expenditures, Sawyer paid for Woodward's meals at expensive restaurants, as early as 1984, when Woodward was in the Legislature but before Woodward served as co-chair of the Insurance Committee. This practice continued throughout the years Woodward remained in the House, with higher amounts generally in the years he was committee chair. Sawyer also paid for an average of three to five golf outings with Woodward each year at various locations in Massachusetts. These were principally at Sawyer's private golf club, the Woodland Golf Club. Hancock also paid for other forms of entertainment, including boat rentals and tickets to tourist attractions such as Busch Gardens.

The government introduced into evidence a chart showing the amount of annual gratuities accepted by Woodward. The pattern formed by these amounts is noteworthy. In 1984 and 1985, before Woodward became chair of the Committee and for the first year afterward, Woodward accepted gratuities in the range of $200-300 from Sawyer/Hancock. In 1986 there was a marked increase to $2,527, including over $1,800 to cover the air fare, hotel, and tickets (for him and his wife) to attend the Super Bowl in New Orleans. In 1987-91, Woodward received gratuities in the amount of $1,547, $1,093, $513 3, $1,230, and $1,324. Woodward served as committee chair during all but the last of these years. During his...

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