On November 9, after a five week trial, a federal jury in New Haven, Conn. of eight men and four women acquitted Brett C. Lillemoe, who is represented by Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, on 16 counts brought against him by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, while finding him guilty on six counts. The jury acquitted Mr. Lillemoe on 14 counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering. The guilty counts consisted of five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Mr. Lillemoe, of Minneapolis, was the lead defendant in the case and was represented by William M. McSwain, James J. Williamson and Jennifer B. Dempsey of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. The case was captioned USA v. Lillemoe, et al., No. 15-CR-25 (JCH).
Mr. Lillemoe’s co-defendant, Sarah Zirbes, also of Minneapolis, was acquitted on all 17 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering brought against her. Ms. Zirbes was represented by Ann C. Flannery of the Law Offices of Ann C. Flannery, LLC and Jamie Cowdery and John P. D’Ambrosio of Cowdery & Murphy, LLC.
Mr. Lillemoe’s other co-defendant, Pablo Calderon, of Darien, Conn., was acquitted on 21 of the 23 counts brought against him. Mr. Calderon was acquitted on 18 counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of money laundering and one count of making a false statement to federal agents from the FBI and the IRS. The guilty counts consisted of one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Mr. Calderon was represented by Douglas Tween, Kate Machan and Nicole Jerry of Linklaters LLP.
In total, the jury rejected 54 of the 62 counts brought against the defendants.
The indictment alleged that the defendants had engaged in a scheme to defraud two U.S. financial institutions, Deutsche Bank in New York City and CoBank in Denver, in connection with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan guarantee program called the GSM-102 Program (the Program), in which the USDA guaranteed 98 percent of the principal value of loans made from U.S. financial institutions to certain foreign banks. The Program is designed to encourage exports of U.S. agricultural products to foreign countries in emerging markets.
In rejecting the bulk of the government’s case, the jury acquitted all defendants on all counts of bank fraud and money laundering, as well as the vast majority of the wire fraud counts. The only wire fraud counts that the jury credited involved a single transaction with CoBank in which CoBank was not exposed to and did not suffer any financial loss.
Mr. Lillemoe’s lead counsel, William M. McSwain, stated that: “We’re thankful that the jury rejected the vast majority of the charges in the case and we believe that we have strong arguments for appeal on the handful of counts on which the jury found liability. Mr. Lillemoe has always maintained his innocence and we look forward to the next steps in this process.”