Ocasio v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: May 2, 2016
  • Case #: 14-361
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a concurring opinion. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

Defendants may be criminally liable for conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act if the government can prove that the defendant agreed with the property owner to acquire that property under color of official right.

Petitioner was a police officer with the Baltimore Police Department when he entered into a kickback scheme with owners of an auto repair shop. The scheme entailed Petitioner, as well as nine other Baltimore Police Officers, convincing car owners involved in car accidents to have their vehicles brought to said auto shop in return for monetary incentives. Petitioner was ultimately convicted of violating the Hobbs Act for receiving money under color of official right as well as conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act. Petitioner appealed his conspiracy conviction to the Fourth Circuit, arguing that the crime required the conspirators to have agreed to acquire money from individual outside of the conspiracy. The Fourth Circuit disagreed and rejected Petitioner’s argument, resulting in this appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts, holding that Petitioner only had to agree with “specific intent that the underlying crime be committed” by co-conspirators, regardless of whether the auto shop owners were incapable of committing the substantive offense. The Supreme Court looked to traditional constructions of conspiracy in holding that the government only needed to prove that Petitioner and each co-conspirator intended for some member of the conspiracy to perform each individual element of the substantive offense. The Supreme Court found that Petitioner had such an intent, and that even though the auto shop owners were incapable of committing the underlying offense of obtaining money from another in principal, Petitioner satisfied this element of the offense and Petitioner was therefore engaged in a conspiracy with the auto shop owners. AFFIRMED.

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