United States v. Edwards

526 F.3d 747 (2008)

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United States v. Edwards

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
526 F.3d 747 (2008)

Facts

Edwards (defendant) owned companies, collectively known as ETS, that sold payphones to investors. The investors then leased the phones back to ETS. The lease between ETS and the investor provided that at the end of the lease or during the lease upon notice, ETS would repurchase the payphone from the investor for the amount the investor paid for the phone. ETS used insurance agents and distributors to market and sell the payphones. ETS relied on receiving money from new investors to stay in business because the payphones did not generate enough revenues to cover ETS’s expenses and obligations. Edwards did not inform the distributors, insurance agents, or current or prospective investors about ETS’s financial problems. The distributors and agents continued to solicit investors and sell phones. The cash-flow problems mounted when lease cancellations increased, triggering more buybacks. When ETS filed for bankruptcy relief, investors lost millions, but Edwards kept millions in salary, consulting fees, and interest-free loans. Edwards was indicted on wire fraud and other charges and was convicted after trial. On appeal, Edwards argued that the district court’s jury instruction defining a Ponzi scheme constructively amended the indictment by allowing the jury to convict him of wire fraud without finding that he acted with intent to defraud.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tjoflat, J.)

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