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United States v. Friedland

decided: October 1, 1981.



Before Adams, Hunter and Sloviter, Circuit Judges.

Author: Hunter


The appellants, David and Jacob Friedland, were convicted of soliciting and accepting kickbacks in their capacity as general counsel to the Teamsters' Local 701 Pension Fund in North Brunswick, New Jersey ("the Fund"), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1954 (1976);*fn1 obstructing justice by soliciting another to give false testimony before the grand jury investigating the kickbacks, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1503 (1976);*fn2 and filing false income tax statements for the years in which they received the kickbacks, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1) (1976).*fn3

This appeal raises the following issues:

a) Must appellants be shown to have duties with respect to the pension fund in order to come within the scope of 18 U.S.C. § 1954? Must appellants have committed any acts in order to be found to have solicited or accepted payment "because of" their actions, decisions, or other duties relating to the Fund?

b) Did the trial court err in refusing to conduct an evidentiary hearing concerning the alleged loss or destruction of discoverable evidence by the Government?

c) Did the trial court err in allowing certain exhibits in the jury room?

Did the trial court err in finding that the Government's opening statements were not prejudicial?

Did the trial court err in permitting the introduction of evidence concerning appellants' secret Swiss bank account?

Did the trial court err in refusing to conduct an inquiry into appellants' allegation that the jury improperly considered appellants' failure to testify?

d) Must an indictment charging a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1503 for obstruction of justice, which is based upon the solicitation of false statements, specify the false statements allegedly solicited?

e) Did the trial court err in denying appellants' motion for a new trial?

We have reached the following conclusions:

a) Implicit in the finding that appellants were counsel to the Fund is a finding of sufficient duties to bring them within the scope of § 1954. Appellants need not have committed any acts in order to violate the "because of" provision of § 1954; it is sufficient that they accepted payment with the stated purpose of exercising their influence over the Fund.

b) Appellants failed to show the existence or relevance of the documents in question; thus, an evidentiary hearing was not warranted.

c) The trial court did not err in finding that the presence of challenged exhibits in the jury room, and the Government's opening statements, did not prejudice appellants.

It was not arbitrary or irrational for the trial court to find that the probative value of the Swiss bank evidence outweighed the danger of prejudice therefrom.

The trial court did not err in finding that the inquiry requested by appellants into jury deliberations was prohibited by Fed.R.Evid. 606(b).

d) An indictment for obstruction of justice need not meet the same specificity requirements as an indictment for making false statements, even though the obstruction of justice count is based upon solicitation of false statements.

e) The trial court carefully considered all the evidence on the record before denying the motion for a new trial. We cannot say that the court abused its discretion in doing so.

Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.


David Friedland and his father, Jacob, are attorneys who served for many years, up to and including 1976, as general counsel to the pension fund maintained by Teamsters' Local 701 of North Brunswick, New Jersey. Trial Transcript at 63. That fund was an employee benefit plan within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1954. In their role as counsel, the Friedlands were obligated to consult with the trustees of the Fund when requested, and were required to attend and provide advice at all trustees' meetings. Although the trustees employed an investment manager to oversee investment of the Fund's assets, the trustees retained significant authority over investments. The trustees had the responsibility for selecting the manager and for deciding, when the management contract expired, whether to continue the manager's services or to seek a replacement. The trustees also had complete discretion to direct particular investments at any time.

Until 1974, the Fund's investments had been managed by Lionel D. Edie & Co. Because of their dissatisfaction with the return on the Fund's investments, the trustees decided in late 1973 to seek a new investment manager. David Sack, the administrator of the Fund, was responsible for presenting potential managers to the trustees. Sack invited a few companies to two trustees' meetings, where they presented their proposals for investment of the Fund's assets. At the second of these meetings, David Friedland introduced A. Stone Douglass, who represented Unicorn Pension Management Associates, a relatively inexperienced investment firm. Friedland stated that Douglass was an "excellent" investment counselor who had received a "fantastic" rate of return on investments he had made. Trial Transcript at 1247. David Sack had never met Douglass, nor had he invited Unicorn to make a presentation to the trustees at any meeting.

Soon after this meeting was held, Sack was informed that Unicorn had been selected by the trustees as the new investment manager. After Unicorn had served for some time as investment manager, A. Stone Douglass left Unicorn and formed his own firm, Douglass Embry Co. Shortly thereafter, the trustees transferred management of the Fund's investments from Unicorn to Douglass Embry Co.

In February 1975, the Friedlands were introduced to Barry Marlin, a California businessman, at a party given by Kate Edelman, a mutual friend. At that time, Marlin was seeking financing for one of his business ventures, Dunhill Brown Corp. To obtain financing, Marlin had arranged for a public offering of $3.5 million in Dunhill Brown debentures. When Marlin mentioned the upcoming public offering to David Friedland, Friedland replied, "I have a client that could do a loan like that if you are interested." Trial Transcript at 174.

Marlin initially declined Friedland's offer, but later arranged to meet with him in Kate Edelman's New York apartment in February or March of 1975 to discuss the loan. Marlin requested a $3.5 million loan for a term of four or five years at ten percent interest; Friedland would agree only to a term of one or two years at twelve percent interest. David Friedland then disclosed that the source of the loan was a pension fund for which he served as general counsel, and he stated that he would require a ten percent kickback. Marlin agreed to pay a nine percent kickback ($315,000). Friedland insisted that Marlin pay the kickback in cash, in $100 bills, and that the money be withdrawn from sources outside the United States banking system. Marlin stated that he would use a bank under his control, the First Kensington Bank of the Cayman Islands.

Shortly thereafter, Marlin met with both David and his father, Jacob Friedland. After reviewing the terms of the loan, Jacob Friedland informed Marlin that the loan could be renewed every two years in exchange for an additional nine percent kickback. Jacob Friedland emphasized that the funds used to pay the kickback could not be taken from the loan proceeds, but would have to be drawn from sources outside the United States banking system.

After the meeting with representatives of Unicorn, Marlin expressed concern to David Friedland that Unicorn might not approve the loan to Dunhill Brown Corp. Friedland reassured Marlin, stating that "(i)f they don't give you the loan we'll take the fund away from them." Trial Transcript at 196.

In April 1975, David Friedland informed Marlin that the loan had been approved on the terms to which they had previously agreed. Friedland also told Marlin that the kickback would have to be paid on the same date as the closing, April 25, at a location outside the United States. Friedland suggested his condominium in Freeport, Bahamas, as a suitable site for payment of the kickback.

Marlin arranged to have his brother, Herbert, attend the closing of the loan in New York, on April 25, 1975. On the morning of April 25, Barry Marlin met David Friedland at Friedland's condominium in Freeport, Bahamas. After confirming that the loan proceeds had been paid, Marlin emptied his BOAC flight bag, containing the $315,000 kickback in one hundred dollar bills, onto the living room floor, where Friedland counted it.

In early May 1975, Marlin asked David Friedland whether the Fund could lend him an additional amount not greater than $1,000,000 so that he could open a business in New York; he added that the funds would not be needed until the end of the year. Friedland said that such a loan could be extended on the same terms as the first, provided that Marlin paid a ...

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