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United States v. Sigalow

decided: February 23, 1987.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
ALVIN SIGALOW, APPELLANT



Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, David N. Edelstein, Judge, convicting defendant Alvin Sigalow of conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding and obstructing the lawful functions of the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and of aiding and abetting the promotion, management, establishment and carrying on of a prostitution enterprise through the use of the mails, in violation of the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence used to convict him on the conspiracy count, and asserts that the instructions to the jury on the second count misstated the law by not requiring the jury to find that defendant aided and abetted the use of interstate facilities. Affirmed.

Author: Cabranes

WINTER and MAHONEY, Circuit Judges, and CABRANES, District Judge.*fn*

JOSE A. CABRANES, District Judge:

Alvin Sigalow appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, David N. Edelstein, Judge, convicting him of both counts of a two count indictment after a three-week jury trial. The first count charged Sigalow with conspiring to defraud the United States, by impeding or obstructing the functioning of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.*fn1 The second charged that Sigalow had aided and abetted the promotion, management, establishment or carrying on of a prostitution enterprise through the use of the mails in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a)*fn2 and 18 U.S.C. § 2.*fn3 Sigalow was sentenced to concurrent six-month terms of imprisonment on each count, to be followed by concurrent one-year terms of probation. On appeal, Sigalow claims that the evidence on the first count was insufficient as a matter of law, and that the jury instructions on the second count misstated the law by not requiring the jury to find that he had actually aided and abetted the use of interstate facilities such as the mails in violation of the Travel Act. He also argues that the evidence on the aiding and abetting count was insufficient. We affirm the judgment of conviction on both counts.

I.

The facts relevant to the issues on appeal may be briefly summarized. Sigalow was general manager and "front man" for two massage parlors engaged in the prostitution business. The real owners of the massage parlors were the three Dushey brothers. The Dushey brothers, aware of a pending IRS investigation of their operations, sought to insulate themselves from IRS scrutiny or prosecution by making Sigalow the president of the two corporations that operated the massage parlors; one of these entities was later reorganized as a sole proprietorship with Sigalow as the sole proprietor. Brief for Appellant Sigalow at 14-18. The Dushey brothers retained financial control of the business, with Sigalow signing checks in blank which the Dushey brothers would later fill out. Id.

It is not disputed that the business used the interstate mails to advertise its services in direct mailings and in widely circulated publications, including the The Village Voice and Screw magazine. Id. at 8 & note *; App. 1194. The massage parlors conducted direct mail solicitation in New York and adjoining states and sent mailings to regular patrons in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, advising them of upcoming special events. It is also not disputed on appeal that Sigalow was aware of this print advertising, id. at 9-10, 36 n.*, and the testimony of several witnesses at trial indicated that Sigalow was aware of the advertisements and direct mail solicitation. App. at 118, 301, 1041, 1106. It is likewise undisputed that the companies and Sigalow failed to file tax returns or filed false tax returns for most, and possibly all, of the period at issue. Brief for Appellant Sigalow at 10-13, 19-21.

II.

A.

Sigalow argues that the evidence against him on the count charging conspiracy to defraud the United States was insufficient as a matter of law. On repeated occasions we have observed that a defendant challenging the sufficiency of the evidence underlying a jury verdict carries "a very heavy burden," United States v. Young, 745 F.2d 733, 762 (2d Cir. 1984) (citations omitted), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1084, 105 S. Ct. 1842, 85 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1985); a conviction must be upheld if "after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 61 L. Ed. 2d 560, 99 S. Ct. 2781 (1979) (emphasis in original). See United States v. Gaviria, 805 F.2d 1108, 1116 (2d Cir. 1986). Sigalow's challenge fails because the jury was presented with evidence from which it could readily have found, among other facts, that Sigalow knew of his employers' systematic destruction of business records, that Sigalow became the "front man" for the prostitution enterprise knowing of the Dusheys' concern about the IRS investigation, and that Sigalow filed false tax returns in his role as a "front" knowing these tax returns were false. These facts alone would amply establish his knowing participation in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing the operations of the IRS.

B.

With regard to the aiding and abetting count, Sigalow contends that the government was required to prove that he consciously assisted in the sue of interstate facilities such as the mails or that he knowingly participated in the use of those interstate facilities. We disagree.

The jury was instructed that Sigalow could be convicted of aiding and abetting the Travel Act offense of the Dusheys even if Sigalow had no knowledge of any use of the mails, so long as it found that Sigalow willfully and knowingly aided a prostitution enterprise that was promoted by mail. It was instructed that it need not find that Sigalow "caused the mails to be used or even knew that the mails were used to promote the prostitution enterprise" to convict him of aiding and abetting a Travel Act violation, App. at 1400; the prosecution merely had to prove that the mails were indeed "used in furtherance of the prostitution enterprise," and that the defendant aided and abetted "in the promotion, management, establishment or carrying on of that enterprise, and that he did so wilfully and knowingly." Id.

A defendant can be convicted as an aider and abettor without proof that he participated in each and every element of the offense. The government need prove only "that [the] defendant in some sort associated himself with the venture [and] that he participated in it as in something that he wished to bring about." United States v. Ginsberg, 758 F.2d 823, 832 (2d Cir. 1985) (quoting Nye & Nissen Corp. v. United States, 336 U.S. 613, 619, 69 S. Ct. 766, 93 L. Ed. 919 (1949)). See also United States v. Wardy, 777 F.2d 101, 106 (2d Cir. 1985) (defendant who supplied weapon to persons planning bank robbery cold be convicted as aider and abettor although he did not participate ...


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