437 F.3d 634 (7th Cir. 2006), 05-2657, United States v. Boscarino

Docket Nº:05-2657.
Citation:437 F.3d 634
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Nick S. BOSCARINO, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:February 08, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 634

437 F.3d 634 (7th Cir. 2006)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Nick S. BOSCARINO, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 05-2657.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

February 8, 2006

Argued Jan. 19, 2006.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 02 CR 86-1 – John F. Grady, Judge.

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Stephen D. Anderson (argued), Office of the United States Attorney, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Marc W. Martin (argued), Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before EASTERBROOK, MANION, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge.

A jury concluded that an insurance agency overcharged the City of Rosemont for its services and kicked back part of the excess to Nick Boscarino, who helped the agency secure the business. Boscarino also helped Ralph Aulenta, one of the agency's managers, hide money that Aulenta had taken from the till. To top it off, Boscarino failed to report as income much of the ill-gotten gains and committed other tax offenses. Aulenta pleaded guilty and testified against Boscarino, who was convicted of mail fraud, money laundering, and tax crimes. His sentence is 36 months' imprisonment, 24 months'supervised release, a $55,000 fine, restitution of $288,670, special assessments of $1,700, and the costs of prosecution, which the judge set at $4,692 – for Boscarino is the rare criminal defendant who has legitimate assets sufficient to cover all of these monetary exactions.

Boscarino's appellate lawyer has pursued almost every contention that trial counsel raised and lost. The result is that none of the issues has been developed in depth, and strong contentions (if any) have been buried under anemic ones. "Experienced advocates since time beyond memory have emphasized the importance of winnowing out weaker arguments on appeal and focusing on one central issue if possible, or at most on a few key issues." Jones v. Barnes, 463 U.S. 745, 751-52 (1983). We discuss only three of the contentions; the rest have been considered but are too feeble to call for exposition.

Every year that Rosemont placed its insurance through a brokerage that the parties call ABI/Acordia, Aulenta caused the firm to write a check to a corporation that Boscarino controlled. Though the money supposedly was a referral fee to compensate Boscarino for his assistance in persuading Rosemont to give ABI/Acordia the business, the check was never made out to Boscarino. He did not deposit the funds into the corporate accounts; instead he endorsed the checks to Aulenta, who returned half of the amount in monthly dollops over the coming year and kept the rest. The prosecution's theory was that

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Aulenta was stealing money from ABI/Acordia and sharing half of the takings with Boscarino, in part for his assistance in disguising the transaction; the brokerage did not miss the money because Aulenta simultaneously was over billing Rosemont, so that ABI/Acordia's books balanced. A jury was entitled to find that Boscarino, who has considerable experience in business, recognized that these transactions had the hallmarks of fraud rather than above-board referral fees...

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