Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States of America v. James F. Lynch

August 31, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAMES F. LYNCH
JAMES F. CAMPENELLA



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DuBOIS, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

In 2007, James Lynch and James Campenella (collectively "defendants") pleaded guilty before the Honorable James T. Giles to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Those charges arose out of an undisclosed payment of money from Campenella, a real estate developer, to Lynch, a real estate tax assessor for the City of Philadelphia. Judge Giles sentenced Lynch to three years probation and a $25,000 fine and Campenella to five years probation and a $250,000 fine. Defendants now seek collateral relief, arguing that the theory of honest services fraud to which they pleaded guilty is no longer a crime under the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Skilling, 561 U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 2896 (2010). In Skilling, the Supreme Court confined honest services fraud to its "solid core" of bribery and kickbacks and ruled that, without more, an undisclosed conflict of interest does not give rise to criminal liability. Id. at 2931-32.

II. Factual Background

On July 30, 2007, the Government filed a one-count Information charging Lynch and Campenella with conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. The Information alleges the following series of events:

(1) Sometime in early 2005, Campenella asked Lynch to help him lower the assessed value of the property at 1101-13 Locust Street. In June 2005, Lynch submitted a request to the Philadelphia Board of Revision of Taxes that the assessed value of the property be lowered from $4,600,000 to $1,600,000. (Information, Ex. A to Lynch‟s Suppl. Submission in Supp. of Mot. to Vacate at 8.)

(2) In August 2005, Campenella asked Lynch to help him resolve a delinquent tax issue concerning 2500 Mifflin Street. In October 2005, Lynch contacted the City of Philadelphia Law Department ("the Law Department") and stated that the tax assessment for that property was incorrect and that the tax delinquency should be deleted. In September 2006, Lynch informed the Law Department that he had issued certifications to have the delinquency for 2500 Mifflin Street removed. (Id. at 6-7.)

(3) In August 2005, Campenella asked Lynch to help him lower the assessed value of 323-27 N. 13th St. In late October 2005, Lynch submitted a request to the Philadelphia Board of Revision of Taxes that the assessed value of the property be lowered from $3,000,000 to $1,600,000. (Id. at 7.)

(4) In November 2005, Campenella gave Lynch $20,000 in cash which had been drawn from the account of one of his real estate partnerships. (Id. at 5.) Lynch failed to disclose this financial relationship or to recuse himself from matters affecting Campenella and his businesses. (Id.)

(5) In February 2006, Campenella was notified that the Law Department had filed a lawsuit relating to the tax assessment for a property at 5201 Old York Road. In April 2006, Campenella asked Lynch for help with resolving this. On April 24, 2006, Campenella sent an email to his lawyers stating, "The matter is resolved." (Id. at 8-9.)

Both defendants admitted guilt to honest services fraud based on an undisclosed conflict of interest. During his plea colloquy, Campenella maintained that he gave Lynch the $20,000 to thank him for his prior help and without any intent to influence Lynch‟s future conduct. (Campenella Change of Plea Trans., Ex. C. to Campenella‟s Motion at 27-36.) At his change-of- plea hearing, Lynch repeatedly denied that he was influenced by the money or that any of his decisions were based on anything other than municipal policy. (See, e.g., Lynch, Change of Plea Trans., Ex. C. to Lynch‟s Suppl. Submission in Supp. of Mot. to Vacate at 31.)

The Government admitted at Lynch‟s change of plea hearing that Lynch neither solicited the money from Campenella nor expected to receive it. (Id. at 23.) Lynch maintained further that he was not aware that the envelope Campenella gave him contained money until several hours after it was given to him. (Lynch, Sentencing Trans. Ex. D. to Suppl. Submission in Supp. of Mot. to Vacate at 16-17). Judge Giles accepted both guilty pleas on the basis of an undisclosed-conflict-of-interest theory of honest services fraud. (See id. at 37-40; Campenella Change of Plea Trans., Ex. C. to Campenella‟s Motion at 27-29.) Neither defendant challenged his conviction until the instant filings.

On December 22, 2010, Lynch filed a pro se Motion to Vacate Judgment under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, And In The Alternative For A Writ of Coram Nobis under 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a). (Document No. 47.) The same day, the Court issued an order appointing counsel. On January 31, 2011, Lynch filed a counseled Supplemental Submission in Support of Motion to Vacate. (Document No. 55.) Thereafter, the Government filed a response (Document No. 56, filed February 3, 2011), and Lynch filed a reply (Document No. 61, filed April 14, 2011). Supplemental submissions addressing United States v. Panarella, CR No. 00-655, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84102 (E.D. Pa. July 29, 2011), were filed in August 2011. (Documents No. 70 and 71.)

Campenella filed a Motion to Vacate Conviction and Set Aside Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on May 5, 2011. The Government filed a response on May 24, 2011 (Document No. 64); Campenella filed a reply on June 12, 2011 (Document No. 67).

The motions are fully briefed and ripe ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.