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United States v. Mohamed

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
600 F.3d 1000 (2010)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Elias Mohamed (defendant) for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The federal district court trial evidence established that Ernest White sold translations of test questions to applicants for commercial driving licenses (CDLs) who were not fluent in English. Osman Abdullahi supplied the translations. In fact, White and Abdullahi provided the applicants not only with translated questions, but also with translations of the correct answers. In addition, White bribed Orbin May, a CDL-test administrator, to make sure the students passed the test's behind-the-wheel component. White testified that Mohamed, who worked for Abdullahi, knew about White's arrangement with May and helped Abdullahi refer students to White. Other testimony and physical evidence connected Mohamed to overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy. However, the judge instructed the jury that they could convict Mohamed even without proof that Mohamed personally committed such an act, so long as the government proved that Mohamed knowingly joined the conspiracy and that at least one conspirator committed the act. The jury convicted Mohamed. On appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Mohamed argued that the judge's instruction was in error.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lange, J.)

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