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United States of America v. Meggan Alexander

May 14, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
APPELLEE,
v.
MEGGAN ALEXANDER,
APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shepherd, Circuit Judge.

Submitted: December 16, 2011

Before LOKEN, BRIGHT, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

Following a jury trial, Appellant Meggan Alexander was convicted of one count of knowingly making false statements in connection with a loan offered for insurance by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1010, and three counts of knowingly making false statements for the purpose of influencing a financial institution insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014. Alexander appeals, raising a number of challenges to her convictions and sentence. Pursuant to the following analysis, we conclude that the government failed to present sufficient evidence to support the jurisdictional element as to the three counts under section 1014.

Alexander's convictions as to these counts are therefore vacated. We affirm Alexander's conviction under section 1010. We remand the case for resentencing.

I. Background

In early 2007, Alexander began the process of buying a home with a HUD-insured mortgage from Bank of America, N.A. To that end, Alexander met with a loan officer, Kimberly Maas, who assisted Alexander in preparing a universal residential loan application. In the application, Alexander is listed as being employed at Comprehensive Systems as a nurse. The application also indicates no outstanding judgments against Alexander.

However, Alexander quit her employment with Comprehensive Systems on February 26, 2007. After that date, Alexander was not employed in a nursing capacity with any employer. Alexander also had an outstanding judgment against her for approximately $1,600 arising from a conviction for shoplifting.

On April 2, 2007, Alexander attended a home closing at a branch location of Bank of America located in Mason City, Iowa. At the closing, Alexander signed the uniform residential loan application prepared by Maas and that lists Bank of America,

N.A. as the mortgage lender. The application stated Alexander was employed at Comprehensive Systems and that she had no outstanding judgments against her. A closing agent, Jamie Hejlik, instructed Alexander to review the application to make sure it was accurate. Alexander looked through the document, made no corrections, and initialed and signed as instructed.

After securing a mortgage and moving into her home, Alexander failed to make payments on the mortgage. Alexander and her husband sent two hardship letters seeking to forestall foreclosure. In the first letter, dated September 17, 2007,

Alexander represented that she was forced to quit her nursing position in June 2007 because of an unpaid traffic ticket that disallowed her from driving to work. In the second letter, dated June 23, 2008, Alexander represented that "[j]ust months after moving in," the kitchen ceiling collapsed from a hidden leak in the upstairs bathroom, making visible "large amounts of black and white mold." Alexander stated that she quit her job as a nurse at that time, apparently to deal with the condition of the house. Bank of America, successor in interest to Bank of America, N.A., acquired title to the house through foreclosure proceedings and then transferred title to HUD.

In September 2010, a grand jury returned a second superseding indictment charging Alexander with five offenses relating to her mortgage. The charges included one count of knowingly making false statements in connection with a loan offered for insurance by HUD, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1010 (Count 1), and four counts of knowingly making false statements for the purpose of influencing "Bank of America," a financial institution insured by the FDIC, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014 (Counts 2-5).

The jury found Alexander guilty of Counts 1, 2, 4, and 5. Alexander filed a motion for a new trial and a motion for a judgment of acquittal. The district court denied both motions and sentenced Alexander to 24 months of imprisonment as to each of the counts, with the terms of imprisonment to run concurrently. In addition, the district court imposed a one-year term of supervised release as to Count 1, and a five-year term of supervised release as to each of Counts 2, 4, 5, with the terms of supervised ...


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