Skilling Having Impact on Pending Honest Services Fraud Cases


On June 24, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its much-awaited ruling in Skilling v. United States, which limited the scope of honest-services fraud. The next step is to look at the lower courts and see how they are interpreting the Skilling decision.

After comments made very recently by U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in a high-profile case in the District of Columbia, prosecutors may need to rethink their case against Kevin A. Ring, a former associate of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in the light of Skilling.

During a July 6 status conference in Ring’s case, prosecutor Peter Koski reportedly insisted that Skilling would have “no impact whatsoever” on the government’s prosecution of Ring. But Huvelle apparently disagreed. According to an article posted on the Blog of Legal Times, Huvelle answered that the once-broad honest-services fraud statute “is not an unlimited category now.” She said the “ ‘arena’ today is different . . . . There’s a new definition of bribery and materiality.”

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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