In United States v. Maurya, Case No. 19-10746 (Feb. 1, 2022) (William Pryor, Grant, Anderson), the Court affirmed Nathan Hardwick’s convictions, but vacated the restitution portion of his sentence and remanded. The Court vacated Asha Maurya’s sentence and remanded for resentencing.
On appeal, both Hardwick and Maurya challenged the restitution order requiring a payment of over $40 million because the district court failed to support its order with any reasoning. The government conceded that the district court failed to support its calculation with any factual findings, and the Court agreed. As a result, the Court vacated the restitution order and remanded for the district court to “correct its oversight.”
Maurya also argued that her sentence must be vacated because the district court applied a sentencing enhancement that did not exist when her offense was committed, therefore violating the Constitution’s prohibition against ex post facto laws. Applying plain error review, the Court agreed. The Court noted that though courts typically apply the Guidelines in effect at the time of sentencing, the Ex Post Facto Clause prohibits the use of the Guidelines issued after the offense that create a higher applicable sentencing range. In this case, the district court used the 2018 Guidelines, which included a 2-level substantial financial hardship enhancement added in 2015–after Maurya’s offense conduct. The Court found error, and noted that it was “unmistakably plain.” The Court also found the difference in Guidelines range enough to show a “reasonable probability of a different outcome absent the error” that affected Maurya’s substantial rights, which the Court also found sufficient to satisfy the fourth prong of plain error review.
The Court rejected all of Hardwick’s challenges to his convictions. Hardwick first argued that it was error for the court to deny his request for a bill of particulars before trial. The Court found no abuse of discretion because the indictment put Hardwick on notice of the charges against him. A bill of particulars cannot be used to force the government to reveal its theory of the case, nor can it be used to compel the government to provide the essential facts regarding the existence and formation of a conspiracy.
Hardwick next challenged the district court’s limitation of his 404(b) evidence as to Maurya, which he intended to use to establish her modus operandi. The Court found no abuse of discretion in the district court’s decision to exclude a suicide note and a video, and to limit the defense to 2 witnesses instead of 4.
Hardwick next challenged the district court’s decision to admit as an exhibit a summary chart. The Court found no abuse of discretion because the chart was properly admitted under FRE 1006–the assumptions made in the chart were supported by evidence in the record.
Hardwick next challenged the district court’s decision to allow the government to ask a witness about Maurya’s guilty plea because it allowed the government to get in information about her without having to call her to testify. The Court found no abuse of discretion because the defense had already informed the jury of her plea deal.
The Court also rejected Hardwick’s challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence as to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and making a false statement to an FDIC-insured financial institution.
Finally, the Court rejected Hardwick’s remaining challenges to the jury instructions, that cumulative error rendered his trial unfair, and that his sentence was substantively unreasonable.