Ralph Read, Ronald Spiegel, and Howard Swiger (defendants), executive employees of Cenco, attempted to artificially increase profits for a Cenco subsidiary, Cenco Medical Health Supply Corporation (CMH). The defendants conspired to manipulate CMH’s finances and engaged in a pattern of fraud whereby thousands of CMH’s inventory reports were altered by millions of dollars over a period of five years. The discrepancies were discovered when a corporation purchased 5 percent of Cenco’s shares and examined CMH’s records. The defendants were indicted for conspiracy, mail fraud, and securities fraud. Spiegel asked the district court to instruct the jury that his conspiracy charge was barred by the statute of limitations because he had withdrawn from the conspiracy more than five years before the indictment was filed. The district court gave this instruction, but placed the burden of proof of withdrawal on Spiegel rather than the prosecution. The defendants were convicted, and Spiegel appealed.