U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Evidence — relevance
In a prosecution for fraud, the court properly admitted photographs of real property taken at the time of trial, rather than at the time of the alleged fraud.
“Causey raises five issues—four evidentiary and one sentencing— on appeal. First, he argues the court improperly admitted irrelevant and prejudicial photographs taken of the houses around the time of trial rather than at the time of the sale. We reject this argument because the photographs gave the jurors a sense of the size, location and style of the house, and the jurors were repeatedly reminded when the pictures were taken. Second, evidence of a fraudulent sale that took place outside of the conspiracy was properly admitted because Causey placed his intent to defraud and knowledge of the fraudulent scheme at issue by claiming he was an innocent pawn, and this sale demonstrated his fraudulent knowledge and intent. Third, a defense witness’s testimony was properly excluded as undisclosed expert testimony because the witness had no personal knowledge of the transactions at issue and was asked instead about industry norms, which is only permissible if a witness is qualified as an expert. Fourth, Causey argues the district court erred in allowing an unqualified co-conspirator to give broad expert testimony and allowing her to testify as both a fact and expert witness without a limiting instruction. Since the witness was never referred to as an expert in front of the jury, there was extensive cross examination about her credentials and the basis for her opinion, and her opinion was not significant to the government’s case, we reject Causey’s arguments. Finally, a two-level sentencing enhancement for being an ‘organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of the conspiracy’ was properly assessed because Causey was responsible for recruiting the buyers into the conspiracy and exercised control over them during their involvement, which included submitting fraudulent paperwork during closings, and some buyers were also uncharged criminally responsible parties.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Lozano, J., Williams, J.