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Sekhar v. United States

United States Supreme Court
570 U.S. 729 (2013)


Facts

New York State’s Common Retirement Fund (the fund) was an employee pension fund for state- and local-government employees. Fund investments were chosen by the state comptroller. The comptroller was considering whether the fund should invest with FA Technology Ventures. The general counsel for the comptroller’s office recommended that the comptroller should not have the fund invest with FA after learning that the state attorney general was investigating another fund managed by FA. The comptroller followed the general counsel’s advice and notified an FA partner of that decision. That FA partner was aware of rumors that the comptroller’s general counsel was having an extramarital affair. Soon after the comptroller notified the FA partner that the fund would not be investing with FA, the comptroller’s general counsel began receiving anonymous emails that threatened to expose the alleged affair to his wife, government officials, and the media if the general counsel did not reverse his recommendation about having the fund invest with FA. The general counsel contacted law enforcement. The threatening emails were traced to the computer of Giridhar Sekhar (defendant), a managing partner of FA. Sekhar was charged and convicted of attempted extortion under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951. At trial the jury found that the property right that Sekhar had attempted to obtain was the general counsel’s ability to recommend an investment and further found that Sekhar had sought to exercise that right for himself. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the conviction.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

Concurrence (Alito, J.)

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