The Federal Court of Appeals here in Atlanta yesterday upheld the convictions against a doctor who, among other things, engaged in cash transactions involving less than $10,000, in order to avoid having the bank file a “currency transaction report”, or “CTR. The case is called United States v. Sperrazza, and can be read here.
We represent a fair number of medical professionals, but the facts of Dr. Sperazza’s case are a bit unusual. Doctor S. and his partners operated an anesthesiology practice. Apparently, whenever a patient paid by check (as opposed to by insurance or government program payment) the doctor would have his payment processors send the checks directly to Dr. Sperrazza. Most of the time, the weekly bundles of checks totaled less than $10,000. He would then cash groups of checks, always in amounts that totaled less than $9,000. Over the course of several years the doctor apparently siphoned over $800,000 out of the anesthesiology practice in this manner. He was then prosecuted for tax fraud, as well as the crime of “structuring” cash deposits to as to avoid the filing of a CTR. A jury found him guilty, and he appealed his case to the Eleventh Circuit here in Atlanta. Among other things, he argued that the indictment itself was fatally flawed in the way this charging document described the “structuring” crime.
A couple of interesting things happened in the appeal. First, the court had to figure out which version of the rules applied. This was important in that for some unknown reason, the doctor’s legal team never challenged the indictment until after he was convicted. The rule that talks about pretrial motions (Rule 12) was amended effective December 1, 2014, so the judges had to first figure out whether to use the new or the older version in order to decide how to handle this tardy challenge to the indictment itself.