U.S. v. Edwards, No. 01-30036.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBenavides
Citation303 F.3d 606
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Edwin EDWARDS; Stephen Edwards; Cecil Brown; Andrew Martin; Bobby Johnson, Defendants-Appellants.
Decision Date23 August 2002
Docket NumberNo. 01-30036.
303 F.3d 606
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Edwin EDWARDS; Stephen Edwards; Cecil Brown; Andrew Martin; Bobby Johnson, Defendants-Appellants.
No. 01-30036.
United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.
August 23, 2002.

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Stephen A. Higginson, Asst. U.S. Atty. (argued), New Orleans, LA, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Nathan Z. Dershowitz (argued), Amy M. Adelson, Dershowitz, Eiger, Adelson, New

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York City, Richard George Crane, Nashville, TN, Alan M. Dershowitz (argued), Harvard University, School of Law, Cambridge, MA, Mary Jane Marcantel, Baton Rouge, LA, for Edwin Edwards.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Before HIGGINBOTHAM, WIENER and BENAVIDES, Circuit Judges.

BENAVIDES, Circuit Judge:


After a long, complex trial, the former governor of Louisiana, his son, and several of his associates were convicted for their roles in various schemes to make money from Louisiana's riverboat gambling license process by exploiting the former governor's apparent ability to influence that process. The defendants appeal their convictions for, inter alia, extortion, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, making false statements, and RICO violations. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

I.

Edwin Edwards was a prominent figure in Louisiana politics for more than two decades. After serving in the Navy during World War II and later obtaining his law degree, he spent several years in private practice and local politics. He served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1965 until 1972, when he was elected to the first of two consecutive terms as Governor. In 1980, he left the governor's office and served briefly on the Louisiana Supreme Court. He then returned to private practice until 1984, when he was elected to a third term as Governor. After two federal corruption trials in 1985 and 1986, resulting in a hung jury and an acquittal, respectively, he lost his bid for re-election in 1987. In 1992, however, the voters sent him back to the Governor's office for an unprecedented fourth term. When that term ended in 1996, he once again returned to private practice. In private practice, he worked closely with his son, Stephen Edwards, who is also a lawyer.

Stephen and Edwin Edwards were convicted with several of the Governor's associates. Cecil Brown ("Brown"), an auctioneer and businessman, held the title of "Special Assistant to the Governor." Andrew Martin ("Martin") was a businessman who worked in the commercial fishing and marine towing industries, along with serving as a public official on state commissions. From 1992 to 1995, Martin held the title of Executive Assistant to the Governor. Bobby Johnson ("Johnson"), a self-made cement magnate, was a close friend of Edwin Edwards. In addition to these convicted defendants, two of Edwin Edwards' associates were acquitted: Gregory Tarver ("Tarver"), a Louisiana State Senator and Ecotry Fuller ("Fuller"), a former member of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board ("the Board").

Originally, these seven men were indicted en masse. The government alleged that each was a member of a conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). The indictment broke the conspiracy into five separate schemes. Pursuant to each scheme, the conspirators were alleged to have extorted money from various individuals who sought approval of riverboat casino projects. The conspirators promised to help these individuals obtain licenses in exchange for money and threatened to make obtaining the licenses impossible if they did not pay.1 It was further alleged

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that the conspirators attempted to launder the money obtained through the schemes.

Brown was the major player in the LRGC/NORC Scheme. Brown, ostensibly representing Edwin Edwards (who was acquitted of all acts relating to this scheme), defrauded and extorted the Louisiana Riverboat Gaming Corporation ("LRGC") and the New Orleans Riverboat Corporation ("NORC") (controlled by the same principals) by promising each a riverboat license if they paid exorbitant consulting fees despite the fact that he knew that LRGC and NORC would not receive licenses. Brown spoke with LRGC/NORC principals between the Fall of 1991 and the Summer of 1993, when the key licensing vote occurred. During that period, Brown was paid approximately $350,000.

Brown and Johnson carried out the Jazz Scheme. Claiming to represent Edwin Edwards, they extorted Jazz Enterprises, Inc. ("Jazz"), one of three applicants for two available Baton Rouge riverboat licenses. Brown and Johnson spoke with the Jazz principals between February 1994 and August 1994. Jazz did not agree to the extortion demand, but it received a license anyway in July 1994. Edwin Edwards was ultimately acquitted on all counts relating to this scheme.

Stephen Edwards, his friend Richard Shetler ("Shetler") and Edwin Edwards were the major players in the Players Scheme. Stephen Edwards, representing his father, extorted Players Casino ("Players"), demanding that it retain him as a lawyer and hire his merchandising firm and Shetler as consultants to obtain a license and receive other benefits. Stephen Edwards spoke with Players between May 1993 and approximately February 1995. During this time, Players paid Shetler and Stephen Edwards more than a million dollars.

The primary participants in the Treasure Chest Scheme included Martin, Edwin Edwards, and Stephen Edwards. Martin, representing the Governor, extorted Robert Guidry ("Guidry"), who was a principal of the Treasure Chest Casino. Martin was in contact with Guidry between April 1994 and April 1997. Over these years, Guidry paid Stephen Edwards, Edwin Edwards, and Martin more than a million dollars.

The 15th Riverboat License Scheme, so named because it was the final license to be awarded by the Board, was a father-son operation. Stephen Edwards and Edwin Edwards extorted Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. ("DeBartolo") and his business partner, Ed Muransky. DeBartolo, the then-owner of the San Francisco 49ers professional football team, was seeking a riverboat license pursuant to a joint venture between his company, DeBartolo Entertainment Corporation, and Hollywood Casino. Edwin Edwards and Stephen Edwards were in contact with DeBartolo between September 1996 and April 1997. DeBartolo made a one-time $400,000 payment to Edwin Edwards and Stephen Edwards in March 1997.

On August 4, 1999, a grand jury returned a 34-count superseding indictment, charging appellants Edwin Edwards, Stephen Edwards, Martin, Johnson and

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Brown with a violation of RICO [18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq.], conspiracy to violate RICO [18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)], mail and wire fraud [18 U.S.C. § 1341 et seq.], extortion [18 U.S.C. § 1951], money laundering [18 U.S.C. § 1956], interstate travel and communication in aid of racketeering [18 U.S.C. § 1952] and false statements [18 U.S.C. § 1001].

The case was tried to a jury, and the appellants were convicted as follows: Edwin Edwards [Counts 1-2 (RICO), 12-15 (Players extortion), 17-19 (Treasure Chest extortion), 20-22 (15th Riverboat License fraud), 25-27 (15th Riverboat License fraud), 31 (15th Riverboat License extortion) and 34 (money laundering)]; Stephen Edwards [1-2, 12-15, 16 (Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering) 17-19, 20-22, 25-27, 31 and 34]; Martin [1-2, 17-19 and 34] Brown [1-2 and 3-4 (Jazz extortion)]; and Johnson [3-4, 5 (Interstate Communication in Aid of Racketeering), 6 (fraud), and 7-11 (false statements)]. Subsequent to the verdict, the Supreme Court decided Cleveland v. United States, 531 U.S. 12, 121 S.Ct. 365, 148 L.Ed.2d 221 (2000), holding that mail and wire fraud convictions cannot be based on the theory that the government was defrauded of its intangible right to issue licenses (hereinafter, "license as property theory"). In light of Cleveland, the district court granted new trials as follows: Edwin Edwards [Counts 20-22 and 25-27]; Stephen Edwards [20-22 and 25-27]; and Johnson [6].

In the process of trying this case, the district court made a number of rulings that are now challenged. Specifically, the appellants contend that: (1) the district court erred by empaneling an anonymous jury; (2) the district court erred when it admitted evidence obtained via unauthorized wiretaps; (3) the district court erred when it admitted hearsay evidence pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(2)(E); (4) the district court erred when it ordered Johnson tried in absentia; (5) the district court erred when it dismissed Juror # 68 during deliberations; (6) the evidence at trial was insufficient to support all Brown and Johnson's convictions as well as Stephen Edwards's extortion conviction relating to the 15th Riverboat License Scheme; (7) the spillover effect from the counts based on the Cleveland-repudiated "license as property" theory requires reversal of appellants' convictions on some or all of the other counts; (8) Stephen Edwards' sentence should be vacated because the calculation of the extortion payments was overstated; and (9) Johnson's sentence should be vacated because the calculation of the extortion payments was overstated and because the evidence did not support an adjustment for obstruction of justice; (10) the restitution award against Martin should be set aside because it was not supported by the jury verdict; and (11) various aspects of their trial violated their due process rights. We address each contention in turn.

II.

Aware of the intense media, political, and emotional atmosphere surrounding this case, the district court withheld certain identifying information about potential jury members. This omitted information included their names and places of employment. Regarding the potential jurors' residential information, the district court released their zip codes and parishes, but withheld the exact...

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176 practice notes
  • United States v. Cano-Flores, Nos. 13–3051
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 7, 2015
    ...(4th Cir.1996) (noting that the court “generally construe[s] the drug and RICO forfeiture statutes similarly”); United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 643–44 (5th Cir.2002) ; United States v. Corrado, 227 F.3d 543, 553 (6th Cir.2000) ; United States v. Pitt, 193 F.3d 751, 765 (3d Cir.1999)......
  • State v. Sublett, No. 84856-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • November 21, 2012
    ...which demonstrate that the right to a public trial does not extend to every moment of trial. See, e.g., United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 616 (5th Cir.2002) ("We must first determine whether Waller applies to" the court's decision to empanel an anonymous jury).Thus, we must determine ......
  • Tatar v. United States, Civ. No. 13-3317 (RBK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • February 9, 2016
    ...at a trial on the remaining count.Id. (citing United States v. Eufrasio, 935 F.2d 553, 571 (3d Cir. 1991); United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 640 (5th Cir. 2002); United States v. Aldrich, 169 F.3d 526, 528 (8th Cir. 1999)). A court considers two issues when analyzing whether prejudici......
  • U.S. v. Capoccia, Docket No. 06-0669-cr.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • September 19, 2007
    ...conducting the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.'" 411 F.3d at 384 (quoting United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 643 (5th Cir.2002)). Thus, it is somewhat misleading to characterize these cases as authorizing forfeiture of proceeds traceable to "acquitt......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
175 cases
  • United States v. Cano-Flores, Nos. 13–3051
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 7, 2015
    ...(4th Cir.1996) (noting that the court “generally construe[s] the drug and RICO forfeiture statutes similarly”); United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 643–44 (5th Cir.2002) ; United States v. Corrado, 227 F.3d 543, 553 (6th Cir.2000) ; United States v. Pitt, 193 F.3d 751, 765 (3d Cir.1999)......
  • State v. Sublett, No. 84856-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • November 21, 2012
    ...which demonstrate that the right to a public trial does not extend to every moment of trial. See, e.g., United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 616 (5th Cir.2002) ("We must first determine whether Waller applies to" the court's decision to empanel an anonymous jury).Thus, we must determine ......
  • Tatar v. United States, Civ. No. 13-3317 (RBK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • February 9, 2016
    ...at a trial on the remaining count.Id. (citing United States v. Eufrasio, 935 F.2d 553, 571 (3d Cir. 1991); United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 640 (5th Cir. 2002); United States v. Aldrich, 169 F.3d 526, 528 (8th Cir. 1999)). A court considers two issues when analyzing whether prejudici......
  • U.S. v. Capoccia, Docket No. 06-0669-cr.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • September 19, 2007
    ...conducting the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.'" 411 F.3d at 384 (quoting United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 643 (5th Cir.2002)). Thus, it is somewhat misleading to characterize these cases as authorizing forfeiture of proceeds traceable to "acquitt......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...standard in stating that RICO convictions will be upheld as long as two suff‌icient predicate acts are proven); United States v. Edwards, 303 F.3d 606, 641–42 (5th Cir. 2002) (applying Griff‌in precedent to RICO appeal); United States v. Vastola, 989 F.2d 1318, 1329–31 (3d Cir. 1993) (citin......

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