U.S. v. Hasner, No. 02-10989.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam
Citation340 F.3d 1261
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, Cross-Appellant, v. Lloyd HASNER, Lisa Fisher, Defendants-Appellants, Cross-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 02-10989.
Decision Date08 August 2003
340 F.3d 1261
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, Cross-Appellant,
v.
Lloyd HASNER, Lisa Fisher, Defendants-Appellants, Cross-Appellees.
No. 02-10989.
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
August 8, 2003.

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Dana Elizabeth Foster, Faith E. Gay, White & Case, LLP, Miami, FL, Bruce A. Zimet, Fort Lauderdale, FL, for Hasner and Fisher.

Stephen Schlessinger, Anne R. Schultz, Miami, FL, for U.S.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before EDMONDSON, Chief Judge, DUBINA, Circuit Judge, and HODGES,* District Judge.

PER CURIAM:


Lloyd Hasner and Lisa Fisher Meuche ("Fisher") were convicted, following a jury trial, for (1) conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and (2) mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. Hasner was also convicted of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957, and Fisher was convicted for making false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Hasner and Fisher appeal, challenging their convictions. Fisher also appeals her sentence. The government cross appeals the district court's imposition of sentence for Hasner and Fisher.

I. BACKGROUND

The Palm Beach County Housing Finance Authority ("HFA") is a governmental

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entity chartered under Florida law to fund low-cost housing. Hasner was the chairman of the HFA, the proprietor of Hasner Realty, and an officer in Castle Florida Building Corporation: a construction company owned by his brothers. Lisa Fisher was a sales associate with Main Street Realty and owned Lisa Fisher & Company: a real estate consulting firm.

At the September 1996 HFA meeting, Hasner proposed that Fisher be hired as a consultant. The HFA approved the motion to negotiate a contract with Fisher. Richard Ellington, a lawyer who served as the paid legal adviser to the HFA, was directed to prepare a contract. This agreement was presented to the HFA at its October 1996 meeting. The agreement provided for a six-month contract with Fisher at $ 5,000 per month and reimbursement of Fisher's expenses. Due to concerns about the amount of expenses to be paid, final action on the contract was deferred.

In the interim, Fisher was retained by Hawthorne Ltd., a developer of low-income housing projects, to find potential sites in Florida. Fisher contacted Hasner about the availability of potential project sites. On 13 November 1996, Hasner contacted Chris Fleming at Reichel Realty & Investments, Inc. ("Reichel Realty") about a 30-acre tract of land in Greenacres City, Florida. This 30-acre parcel of land would later be named Chelsea Commons. Hasner registered Fisher as the agent for a potential buyer.1 At Hasner's direction, Fisher contacted Fleming to confirm that she was acting on behalf of Hawthorne.

On 14 November 1996, Fleming and Fisher reached an oral understanding for the sale of the 30-acre tract to Hawthorne for $1.8 million. That same day, Fleming sent Fisher a letter confirming their agreement on the distribution of the 6% brokers's commission. Under this agreement, Reichel Realty and Main Street Realty, respectively, were to receive 3-1/2% and 2-1/2% of the commission. It was also agreed that Reichel Realty and Fisher would each pay Hasner a referral fee of $4,500. In addition, Main Street Realty agreed to pay Hasner a referral fee of 1% of the purchase price, or $18,000.

At the 18 November 1996 HFA meeting, it was announced that Hawthorne had secured a potential development site and wished to enter a proposal for the development of a publicly-funded affordable housing development. It was revealed that Fisher had been retained by Hawthorne and would receive a $30,000 contingency fee from Hawthorne upon HFA's final approval of the project.

At the 18 November meeting, the HFA also discussed the issue of Fisher's still-pending consulting contract. An HFA member expressed concern over Fisher's simultaneous employment by Hawthorne and HFA. As a result, a provision was added to Fisher's contract with the HFA which required Fisher to disclose any clients appearing before or submitting materials to the HFA. The HFA — including Hasner — unanimously approved Fisher's consulting contract with the HFA. Neither Fisher nor Hasner disclosed that, if the Chelsea Commons sale was completed, Hasner would receive a referral fee. Thereafter, beginning in January 1997 and continuing through June 1997, Fisher received by mail her monthly retainer and expense reimbursements from the HFA.

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On 16 December 1996, Hawthorne presented its proposal for Chelsea Commons and sought to have the project financed by HFA's issuance of about $16 million in tax-exempt bonds. At this meeting, Hasner announced that he had a "potential conflict" and recused himself from voting on the matter. Hasner also executed the prescribed form, stating that he had a potential conflict and was abstaining from discussing or voting on the matter. Hasner did not disclose the nature of his conflict to the HFA. The HFA voted to proceed with the development.

In early 1997, Castle Florida, the construction company owned by Hasner's brothers, negotiated a contract with Hawthorne to consult on the Chelsea Commons project. Ellington made an inquiry to the Florida Attorney General and the Florida Ethics Commission about the obligations of an HFA member who obtains a contract for services to be furnished in conjunction with a qualifying housing development. After Ellington was informed that the possession of such an interest violated Fla. Stat. § 159.606, Hasner submitted a letter stating that he had resigned as an officer of Castle Florida on 10 February 1997 and that Castle Florida's contract with Hawthorne had terminated.

At the 2 June 1997 HFA meeting, before the final vote on the Chelsea Commons project, an HFA member asked to be advised on conflicts involved in the project. Ellington informed the HFA, in the presence of Hasner and Fisher, that Hasner at one point thought that he might be the contractor for Chelsea Commons, but that this event was not going to happen. Ellington stated, however, that Hasner would continue to desist from voting on the Chelsea Commons issue. Ellington also noted that Fisher had disclosed from the beginning that she was the agent for the project. Ellington then stated "[o]ther than that, I don't know of any other disclosures that need to be made." Neither Ellington, Hasner, or Fisher informed the HFA that Hasner was to receive a $27,000 brokerage fee from the Chelsea Commons project.

The Chelsea Commons project involved the separate closings of the real estate and bond transactions. The real estate sale closed first. The initial draft of the closing statement ("HUD-1"), prepared by the buyer's attorney, Gary Johnson, omitted all reference to Hasner's fees. Later, upon receiving the 14 November agreement reflecting Hasner's $9,000 fee from Reichel and Main Street Realty, Johnson revised the HUD-1 to reflect the $9,000 payment to Hasner. The HUD-1 did not reflect the additional $18,000 fee Hasner was to receive from Main Street Realty.

Upon receiving the revised HUD-1, HFA's bond counsel, Steve Sanford, and the developer's attorney, Randy Alligood, concluded that Hasner's receipt of payment was improper. As a condition of the bond issuance, the attorneys were required to warrant that the matter being financed had been conducted in accordance with Florida law, including the conflict of interest provisions of Fla. Stat. § 159.606.2 Alligood and Sanford informed Ellington that

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they would withhold their approving opinions if Hasner's payment was not repudiated.

Alligood prepared a letter for Hasner's signature, in which the real estate fee was disclaimed and its inclusion in the closing statement deemed a mistake. Ellington spoke with Hasner and informed him that "to fix the situation" Hasner should sign the letter disclaiming the interest in the $9,000 real estate fee and that Fisher would pay the fee to Hasner out of an unrelated project called Tierra Vista. Ellington stated that it had to "be very understood" among Ellington, Hasner, and Fisher that "nobody else is to know about it."

Hasner then contacted Fisher to obtain her assurance that he would be paid his commission even if he renounced his fees. Fisher attempted to assure Hasner that the owner of Main Street Realty, Judy Black, would not learn of the disavowal letter. Hasner later informed Ellington that he would allow the entire housing project to "crater" if he did not receive a written commitment from Main Street Realty that he would receive his full fee. Fisher called Steve Chitwood, the senior broker involved in Main Street Realty's commercial real estate sales. According to Fisher, Chitwood, after some debate, gave his permission for Hasner to be paid from the Tierra Vista project. Nothing in the closing documents possessed by Main Street Realty reflected that Hasner was to receive a commission from the Tierra Vista project. According to Black, it would have been Chitwood's responsibility to note the changes in the file. Black agreed, however, that the change was absent from the file did not necessarily mean that Chitwood had not agreed to it.

Fisher provided Hasner with a handwritten letter signed by Fisher as an associate of Main Street Realty: a letter stating that Hasner Realty had earned a real estate commission from the Tierra Vista project. Hasner then signed the Chelsea Commons disavowal letter. After receiving Hasner's disavowal letter, the attorneys issued their opinion letters for the bonds. Fisher did not provide Main Street Realty with a copy of the disavowal letter or her handwritten assurance to Hasner that he would be paid his commission on the Tierra Vista project.

The pending sales transaction forms — used by Main Street Realty to track the money received and expended by the company in...

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    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
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    ...those claims. 5. In the Eleventh Circuit, cases rejecting constitutional challenges to § 1346 included: United States v. Hasner, 340 F.3d 1261, 1268–69 (11th Cir.2003) (rejecting void for vagueness challenge), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 810, 125 S.Ct. 38, 160 L.Ed.2d 12 (2004); United States v.......
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    ...to legislate the offenses of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. See United States v. Hasner, 340 F.3d 1261, 1270 (11th Cir. 2003) (finding the mail fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1341, to be a valid exercise of Congress's Commerce Clause power); United Stat......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • November 28, 2016
    ...and Congress clearly has the authority to regulate such misuse of the mails.") (citations omitted); United States v. Hanser, 340 F.3d 1261, 1269 (11th Cir. 2003); United States v. Keane, 522 F.2d 534, 544-45 (7th Cir. 1975) ("A specific violation of state law, although covered by ......
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
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    ...across the negotiating table again. What most hope to win is dismissal of the case, or at least its delay. See, e.g., Asplundh Tree, 340 F.3d at 1261;EEOC v. Bloomberg LP, ––– F.Supp.2d ––––, –––– – ––––, 2013 WL 4799150, at *10–11 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 9, 2013) (dismissing case while acknowledgi......
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65 cases
  • Stayton v. U.S., Civil Action Nos. 1:09–CV–157–WSD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • February 28, 2011
    ...those claims. 5. In the Eleventh Circuit, cases rejecting constitutional challenges to § 1346 included: United States v. Hasner, 340 F.3d 1261, 1268–69 (11th Cir.2003) (rejecting void for vagueness challenge), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 810, 125 S.Ct. 38, 160 L.Ed.2d 12 (2004); United States v.......
  • Mollica v. United States, Civil Action No. 2:17-CV-8038-KOB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • March 21, 2019
    ...to legislate the offenses of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. See United States v. Hasner, 340 F.3d 1261, 1270 (11th Cir. 2003) (finding the mail fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1341, to be a valid exercise of Congress's Commerce Clause power); United Stat......
  • United States v. Reed, CRIMINAL ACTION NO. 15-100 SECTION "L"
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • November 28, 2016
    ...and Congress clearly has the authority to regulate such misuse of the mails.") (citations omitted); United States v. Hanser, 340 F.3d 1261, 1269 (11th Cir. 2003); United States v. Keane, 522 F.2d 534, 544-45 (7th Cir. 1975) ("A specific violation of state law, although covered by ......
  • Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Mach Mining, LLC, No. 13–2456.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • December 20, 2013
    ...across the negotiating table again. What most hope to win is dismissal of the case, or at least its delay. See, e.g., Asplundh Tree, 340 F.3d at 1261;EEOC v. Bloomberg LP, ––– F.Supp.2d ––––, –––– – ––––, 2013 WL 4799150, at *10–11 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 9, 2013) (dismissing case while acknowledgi......
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