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United States v. Gillion, No. 11-4942

Decided: December 28, 2012

Gary Lee Gillion was convicted of four counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud. Gillion appealed his convictions alleging that the district court erred in admitting statements he made pursuant to a pre-indictment proffer agreement, and that his mail fraud convictions were not supported by sufficient evidence.

Pursuant to the terms of a pre-indictment proffer agreement, the government asked Gillion to take a polygraph test before trial. Gillion argued that the proffer agreement terminated upon his indictment, but the district court held that proffer agreement remained in effect post-indictment, thus allowing the government to ask Gillion to sit for a polygraph examination pursuant to the terms of the agreement. At his trial, the district court allowed the government to admit statements from the polygraph test into evidence. On appeal, Gillion contended that the district court erred in admitting these statements.

The appellate court held that since a proffer agreement operates like a contract, the court should interpret the agreement based on its express terms. Nothing in the agreement indicated that it terminated upon indictment or that the polygraph had to be taken pre-indictment. As such, the district court did not err in requiring Gillion to adhere to the agreement. Furthermore, the court of appeals found that even if the district court erred in requiring Gillion to take the polygraph test pursuant to the agreement, the admission of the proffered statements was harmless since the statements involved facts proven by the government through other evidence.

On appeal, Gillion also raised multiple challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence presented to prove mail fraud. Specifically, Gillion contended that the government failed to establish three necessary elements of mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341: (1) that his employer, the victim of the mail fraud scheme, had a property interest in the property obtained through the scheme, (2) that the payments resulting from the scheme were obtained by means of material false or fraudulent pretenses, and (3) that the mailings involved in the scheme were “for the purpose of executing or attempting to execute the scheme to defraud.” The court of appeals disagreed and found that the government presented sufficient evidence as to all three factors, and affirmed the mail fraud convictions.

In summary, the court of appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment, finding that if the district court erred in admitting the statements Gillion made pursuant to the proffer agreement it was harmless error, and that the government presented sufficient evidence to support Gillion’s mail fraud convictions.

Full Opinion

– Kassandra Moore