United States v. Bonito

57 F.3d 167 (1995)

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United States v. Bonito

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
57 F.3d 167 (1995)

Facts

Benjamin Bonito (defendant) was a landlord and real estate developer. Joseph DeMatteo (defendant) was a city official in charge of real estate services and a member of a committee that selected sites for low-income housing. The city’s housing authority, which was created by state statute, administered projects funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Bonito purchased a car at a fundraising auction at DeMatteo’s request. DeMatteo took possession of the car, and the title was transferred to him. DeMatteo signed a promissory note containing a repayment schedule that did not mention the car, and he never made payments on the note. Bonito was indicted for corruptly giving something of value with intent to influence an agent of an entity that receives federal funds in violation of the federal-program-fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 666. At trial, the government introduced evidence that the car was given to DeMatteo in connection with Bonito’s effort to sell his property to the city housing authority. After the car transfer, DeMatteo used his position on the committee that selects sites for low-income housing to try to persuade the housing authority to purchase Bonito’s property. Bonito was convicted and appealed, claiming that the court’s charge erroneously instructed the jury to convict Bonito if he corruptly gave DeMatteo a thing of value in connection with any past, present, or future business, and incorrectly defined the word "corrupt," allowing the jury to convict without finding that Bonito had the requisite mens rea for bribery.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coffin, J.)

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