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United States v. Bornman

March 6, 2009; as amended April 24, 2009 and May 5, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHARLES BORNMAN APPELLANT



On Appeal From the United States District Court For the District of the Virgin Islands (D.C. Crim. Action No. 03-cr-00127-1) District Judge: Hon. Raymond L. Finch.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stapleton, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued December 10, 2008

BEFORE: FISHER, JORDAN and STAPLETON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant Charles Bornman, an official of the Government of the Virgin Islands ("GVI"), was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 666(a)(1)(B) (Counts One and Two), and two counts of extortion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Counts Three and Four). His appeal presents two issues. The first is whether Counts One, Three, and Four of the indictment are barred by the statute of limitations. We conclude that they are and vacate his convictions on those counts. The second issue is whether sufficient evidence supported his conviction on Count Two. We conclude that the supporting evidence was sufficient and affirm his conviction on Count Two.

I. Background

The events giving rise to this case began in 1995 and 1996, when the Virgin Islands was devastated by Hurricanes Marilyn and Bertha, respectively. In the aftermath of these storms, the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") made available approximately $30 million of federal funding to homeowners who had lost their roofs in the storms. This program became known as the Governor's Home Protection Roof Program ("HPRP"). Bornman, a licensed engineer, began working for the Government of the Virgin Islands at HPRP on October 1, 1997. He worked as a subordinate of Dean Luke, the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement for the GVI at the time, who was subsequently indicted and tried along with Bornman.

II. Jurisdiction & Standard of Review

We have jurisdiction over Bornman's appeal of his conviction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. United States v. Helbling, 209 F.3d 226, 231 n.1 (3d Cir. 2000). We exercise plenary review over whether counts of an indictment should have been dismissed for violating the statute of limitations. In re Merck & Co., Sec., Derivative & "ERISA" Litig. 543 F.3d 150, 160 (3d Cir. 2008). We also exercise plenary review over whether there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could have concluded that the government proved a conspiracy charged in an indictment. See United States v. Lee, 359 F.3d 194, 207 (3d Cir. 2004). In making this determination, "[o]ur standard of review is highly deferential. 'We determine whether there is substantial evidence that, when viewed in the light most favorable to the government, would allow a rational trier of fact to convict.'" Helbling, 209 F.3d at 238 (citing Government of the Virgin Islands v. Charles, 72 F.3d 401, 410 (3d Cir. 1995)).

III. Limitations

A. Count One

The indictment describes the Count One ...


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