Brief Fact Summary. Defendants were tried together each being charged with a count of conspiracy. The Government presented evidence that demonstrated several conspiracies involving a common individual. Defendant alleged they were prejudiced by this approach.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. There can be a common scheme or purpose that is embodied in several separate distinct conspiracies.
Issue. Whether the Government’s demonstration of several conspiracies was prejudicial to Defendant.
Held. Reversed, Defendants should be tried separately in order to avoid confusion.
There can a common purpose of an enterprise but is embodied in several though similar separate ventures.
Discussion. The Court ruled that the jury instruction was wrong. The jury instruction told the jury they could find each Defendant guilty if they found that each Defendant participated in the single conspiracy. The Court noted that the Government admits that several separate conspiracies took place, all involving one common individual but not all with the participation of each Defendant. The Court hypothesized that because of the wrong instruction, although the Government presented sufficient evidence to show a conspiracy, the outcome could have been different.