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    • Brief

    United States v. Joel Esquenazi, et al. (Haiti Teleco)

    Case materials from the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prosecution of Joel Esquenazi, United States v. Joel Esquenazi, et al., No. 09-21010-CR-JEM.

    Argument: In 2011, Joel Esquenazi, former president of Terra Telecommunications Corp., a Florida-based telecom, and his colleagues were convicted for their involvement in a scheme to bribe officials of Haiti’s state-owned telecom company. After a jury trial, they were found guilty of seven counts of violating the FCPA, 12 counts of money laundering, one count of money laundering conspiracy, and one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and wire fraud. Esquenazi received a sentence of 15 years imprisonment, the longest sentence ever to be given under the FCPA.

    Esquenazi filed an appeal in the 11th Circuit, challenging the government’s interpretation of who counts as a “foreign official” under the FCPA.  Specifically, he argued that, when enacting the FCPA, Congress intended the phrase “foreign official” to include only traditional government officials, not employees of state-owned enterprises. The 11th Circuit held oral argument in October 2013 and issued an opinion affirming the convictions on May 16, 2014.

    Esquenazi filed a petition for writ of certiorari on August 14, 2014. Professor Michael Koehler filed an amicus brief in support of the petition, as did the Washington Legal Foundation (WLF amicus). On October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari.

    For a highly detailed timeline of the proceedings in this case, visit

    More documents from DOJ


    "Supreme Court declines hearing key FCPA case Esquenazi," Inside Counsel, October 7, 2014.

    "Esquenazi and Rodriguez file petition for Supreme Court review," The FCPA Blog, August 15, 2014.

    Appeals Court Clarifies Who Counts as a Foreign Official under the FCPA," The Wall Street Journal Law Blog, May 16, 2014.

    "11th Circuit Affirms Esquenazi/Rodriguez Convictions - Defines 'Instrumentality'," FCPA Professor, May 16, 2014. [Opinion]

    "Appeals Judges Probe for Definition of 'Instrumentality' in Key FCPA Case," The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2013.

    "FCPA 'Foreign Official' Question Reaches Appellate Spotlight in Esquenazi Case," The Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2013.

    "'Foreign Official' Challenge Reaches 11th Circuit," The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2012.

    "Haiti Teleco Roundup," FCPA Professor Blog, March 22, 2012.

    "Stunning Haiti Teleco Development," FCPA Professor Blog, August 29, 2011.

    "Government's Vigorous Prosecution of FCPA Violators Continues When Jury Convicts Two Telecommunications Executives for Violations Relating to Haiti," Federal Securities Law Blog, August 8, 2011 [Additional coverage].

    • Brief

    United States v. Thomas Spellissy, et al.

    Spellissy was convicted on five counts, including one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, wire fraud and honest-services fraud. Of the other counts, the District Court either granted a post-trial motion for judgment of acquitted (bribery) or motion for a new trial (substantive wire fraud offenses). Spellissy exhausted his direct appellate rights, as well as, the collateral remedies provided by 28 U.S.C. §2255. He also completed his supervised release and is not currently serving any portion of his sentence.

    Argument: In light of the Skilling decision, Spellissy petitioned for a writ of error coram nobis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a), the All Writs Act, on this remaining conspiracy count. On December 29, 2010, the Court denied Spellissy's petition. Spellissy is appealing the denial to the 11th Circuit.

    On August 16, 2011, the 11th Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to deny Spellissy's petition for a writ of error coram nobis pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. 1651(a).  The court determined that Spellissy's conviction was not based on the "conflict of interest" or "self-dealing" theories of honest services fraud since the jury was instructed on both bribery and wire fraud.  Also, even if an error occurred, it was harmless and didn't have a "substantial and injurious effect" on the jury's verdict.  

    On March 22, 2013, the 11th Circuit affirmed the decision from the Middle District of Florida that the court did not err when it denied Spellissy's petition for writ of error coram nobis.  Spellissy failed to demonstrate that the district court abused its discretion.