United States v. Offill, No. 10-4490

Decided: Dec. 6, 2011

Phillip Offill was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit securities registration violations, securities fraud, and wire fraud, and nine counts of wire fraud. Offill appealed, claiming that the district court erred by admitting opinion testimony of two experts and two lay witnesses for the government; denying his request for a multiple conspiracy instruction; and admitting evidence of subsequent acts not charged in the indictment. Offill also challenged the reasonableness of his sentence. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Offill claimed that the expert witnesses’ testimony included inadmissible legal conclusions and improperly addressed Offill’s intent. However, the Court found that the witnesses testified hypothetically and did not address Offill himself. Offill further contended that two lay witnesses also included inadmissible legal conclusions in their testimony and additionally, impermissibly testified as to the legality of Offill’s conduct. The Court again held that the admission of this testimony was well within the district court’s broad discretion. Offill’s next two challenges, to the admission of subsequent acts concerning Offill’s involvement in a transaction and the jury instruction, were both meritless. Offill’s final challenge was that his sentence was unreasonable, which the Court found unpersuasive. Therefore, Offill’s conviction and sentence were affirmed.

Full Opinion

-Sara I. Salehi

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