Nebraska v. Irons , 574 N.W.2d 144 (1998)

Is willful intent necessary to violate the fraud provisions of the state securities act?


The Nebraska Supreme Court held that it was necessary to prove willful intent to be found guilty under the state securities statutes, but willful intent was not the same as scienter, or an evil motive. Irons managed a pure pyramid program where participants gave "gifts" to those on the list above them, and recruited additional members to fill the bottom sections of the pyramid. Irons managed some of the lists and took a fee from those who had progressed to the top, and pay off, part of a list. Irons claimed that the law required a willful intent, scienter, to violate a criminal statute. The Court disagreed, holding that while scienter is required for many criminal acts, the state securities laws only required a willful violation. A willful violation is present if the person intended to do the acts accused of. It does not require any specific state of mind.

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Reference Info:State, 8th Circuit, Nebraska | United States

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