Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
United States v. Covino
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- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
Alfred Covino (Defendant) was the director of network services at NYNEX Mobile Communications Company (NYNEX), a telephone-service provider and cell-site builder. Great Northeastern Building and Management Corporation (GNBM) was a small, three-employee company half-owned by Robert Brennan. GNBM had been hired by NYNEX to build cell sites in a contract that accounted for about 90 percent of GNBM’s business. As director, Defendant had control over the selection, supervision, and payment of the contractors that were hired to build cell sites. Defendant learned that a former GNBM employee had improperly billed $3,200 to a NYNEX credit card. Defendant showed the bills to Brennan and warned Brennan that it would not be good if Defendant’s superior found out about the bills. Brennan offered to pay the bills, but Defendant said that he would handle the bills himself. Shortly thereafter, Defendant asked Brennan for help in building a sun deck for Defendant’s home. Defendant reminded Brennan about the improper bills, and as a result, Brennan agreed to build the deck at a low cost. Ultimately, Brennan built an entire sunroom for Defendant, expending more than $20,000. Defendant later induced Brennan to pay for other improvements on Defendant’s house and demanded various cash payments totaling to $85,000. At the time, GNBM was almost entirely dependent upon its construction contract with NYNEX. Defendant was charged with a violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, which criminalizes extortion by the wrongful use of fear of economic loss. At trial, Brennan testified that he feared Defendant would use his position as director to destroy GNBM if Brennan did not comply with Defendant’s demands. Defendant was convicted and moved for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict. The district court granted the motion, citing insufficient evidence of the use of wrongful fear. Defendant appealed from other related convictions, and the government cross-appealed from the district court’s Hobbs Act acquittal.
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