164 F.3d 378 (7th Cir. 1999), 98-2605, Hugi v. United States

Docket Nº:98-2605.
Citation:164 F.3d 378
Party Name:Ross HUGI, Petitioner-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:January 07, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 378

164 F.3d 378 (7th Cir. 1999)

Ross HUGI, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

UNITED STATES of America, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 98-2605.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 7, 1999

Argued Dec. 9, 1998.

Page 379

Steven L. Popuch (argued), Popuch & Associates, Chicago, IL, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Ted Chung (argued), Office of the United States Attorney, Criminal Division, Chicago, IL, for Respondent-Appellee.

Before FLAUM, EASTERBROOK, and DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judges.

EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge.

Richard Bailey and his henchmen operated a decades-long scam in which they fleeced wealthy (but lonely) women. Helen Vorhees Brach, one of the victims, was murdered to prevent her from alerting prosecutors, and for this Bailey is serving life in prison. United States v. Bailey, 97 F.3d 982 (7th Cir.1996). Other "victims were often left broken-hearted and destitute." Id. at 984. Ross Hugi, one of Bailey's henchmen, was a veterinarian associated with the stables that served as the scheme's focal point. Hugi cooperated with prosecutors between 1990 and 1994, helping them build a case against Bailey. As a reward for this assistance, Hugi was allowed to plead guilty to a one-count information charging him with wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. His sentence was a modest six months' imprisonment, plus three years' supervised release, a $22,000 fine, and restitution. Having served the imprisonment--and confident that the statute of limitations has run on any other crimes he may have committed--Hugi now contends that he should not have been convicted in the first place.

The information alleged that Hugi and Bailey cooperated to defraud "Victim J" of $50,000. Bailey told Hugi to prepare a document that purported to obligate Bailey to buy four horses from Hugi for $60,000. According to this document, Bailey had made a $10,000 downpayment, which he would forfeit if he

Page 380

did not produce the remaining $50,000. This deceit persuaded Victim J to lend $50,000 to Bailey, who gave $20,000 of this to Hugi for his role in the deceit. Bailey never repaid the "loan" but defaulted and left Victim J with a security interest in four mares that were not worth close to $50,000. Bailey and confederates then induced Victim J to pay inflated boarding expenses for her "collateral." So much for the fraud; as for the wire element, according to the information Victim J came to Bailey's attention when she responded to a lonely-hearts ad Bailey had placed with the Pioneer Press. Bailey paid for the advertisement by credit card, and Pioneer Press verified the charge by interstate wire communication. Hugi was allegedly accountable for the entire scheme, including the wire component.

Hugi pleaded guilty and filed with the court a written plea agreement that conceded every allegation of the information and then some. Hugi agreed that he knew Bailey to be a con man, helped him gull Victim J, and kept $20,000 of the pelf. Hugi agreed that an interstate wire communication occurred on July 27, 1989...

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