Burr & Forman Lawyers Win Acquittal for Mortgage Broker in Appeal of Bank Fraud Conviction

Firm News

Burr & Forman announces that a legal team led by partner Alex Little garnered a rare acquittal for his client from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The client, a mortgage broker, had been convicted at trial on bank fraud charges. On Monday, August 5, Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote for a majority of the court rejecting the government’s arguments to sustain the conviction in United States v. Banyan, et al.

The defendants had been convicted of bank fraud at trial as a result of activities that occurred during the housing boom. Throughout the trial, Little’s client maintained his innocence and argued that the charges the government brought did not cover his activities – in particular because there was no financial institution involved. The defense team renewed these arguments on appeal, asserting that the government had not satisfied the elements of the federal bank fraud statute.

In the majority opinion for the court, Judge Kethledge described the government’s arguments as “nearly frivolous” and held that it had not “prove[n] that either defendant committed bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344 (1) or (2)….Nor did the government prove that the defendants conspired to defraud a bank in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349.” The district court’s judgments were thus reversed, and each defendant received a full acquittal.

“The Sixth Circuit’s decision upholds the principles of our justice system that the burden of proof is on the accuser and not the defendant,” stated Little. “Our client fought to clear his name for years, and we’re thrilled that the appeals court has vindicated him.”

The full opinion may be viewed here.

For more than a century, Burr & Forman LLP’s experienced legal team has served clients at the intersection of business and government with local, national, and international interests in numerous industry and practice areas, ranging from commercial litigation and class actions to corporate transactions, including bankruptcy and restructurings. A Southeast regional firm with 360 attorneys and 19 offices in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, Burr & Forman attorneys draw from a diverse range of resources to help clients achieve their goals and address their complex legal needs. The firm operates as Burr Forman McNair in North Carolina and South Carolina. For more information, visit the firm’s website at www.burr.com.

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