Rare Live Roulette! Harrahs Casino Joliet, IL
BALMORAL RACING CLUB, INC.
§ 1961 et seq.
The racetracks argue on appeal that plaintiffs failed to prove a RICO conspiracy, that the district court erred by allowing plaintiffs to add the state law claims, and that other asserted errors warrant a new trial.
We first review the factual and procedural background of this case.
Second, we examine the sufficiency of the evidence of an illegal agreement and a pattern of racketeering activity.
Third, we address the late amendment to the complaint to add the state law claims.
Finally, we examine several claims of trial error.
It turned to state government for help.
In 2006, Il linois enacted H.
The Johnston family owns several businesses, including shares in the racetrack defend ants Maywood Park Trotting Association, Inc.
John Johnston was an executive at the two defendant racetracks and one of the beneficiaries of the family trust that partially owned the tracks.
In May 2007, Johnston hired Alonzo Monk as a lobbyist for the racetracks.
The primary evidence at issue in this appeal is a series of meetings and phone calls among John ston, Monk, and Blagojevich.
The federal government re corded many of the calls and conversations during a broader criminal investigation of Blagojevich.
We lay out the details below in our discussion of the sufficiency of evidence.
The two dis cussed the expiration of the 2006 Act.
At the end of the meet 4 No.
There is no evidence that Johnston agreed to make a contribution at that time, and no payment was made then.
At the end of May 2008, the 2006 Act expired.
A number of conversations followed in volving Monk, Johnston, Governor Blagojevich, and his brother Rob.
On November 20, 2008, the legislature passed the 2008 Act, which was presented to Governor Blagojevich on No vember 24 for his signature.
The governor did not sign imme diately, but there followed a number of conversations among Blagojevich, Monk, and Johnston.
Blagojevich was arrested on December 9.
On December 15, while on pretrial release and before he was impeached and removed from office, he signed the 2008 Act.
Johnston never made the promised contribution.
Monk pled guilty to con spiring with Blagojevich to solicit a bribe from Johnston.
The casinos alleged that the racetracks had vio lated 18 U.
§ 1962 d by conspiring to violate RICO.
Empress Casino Joliet Corp.
We affirmed summary judgment regarding the 2006 Act but reversed regarding the 2008 Act.
Empress Casino Joliet Corp.
But on the 2008 Act, we held there was sufficient evidence that the racetracks formed a quid pro quo agreement with Blagojevich that caused him to sign the Act.
In allowing claims on the 2008 Act to go forward, we stressed that the only RICO ele ment we were deciding was the issue of proximate cause, not ing in particular that the pattern requirement remained open.
Balmoral Racing Club, Inc.
The casinos have also unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the 2006 and 2008 Acts in state court.
Empress Casino Joliet Corp.
They argue that the evidence presented at trial cannot support several aspects of the verdict that they engaged in a racketeer ing conspiracy in violation of 18 U.
check this out review de novo the denial of a Rule 50 b motion.
Sun Mi crosystems, Inc.
Cook County, 689 F.
The issue is fairly debatable, and because Judge Kennelly handled the issue so deftly, we need not order a new trial.
Johnston dis missed his appeal voluntarily after settling with plaintiffs.
The statute defines RICO conspiracy by reference to a di starbucks casino RICO violation.
United States, 522 U.
Courts have further fleshed out those requirements.
A RICO conspirator need not agree to commit personally two predicate acts in furtherance of the en terprise; rather, he https://cetsolarstore.com/casino/harbourside-casino-bristol.html agree that someone will commit them.
The racetracks argue that a rational jury could not have found from the evidence presented at trial: 1 that they agreed to facilitate a RICO enterprise; 2 that the racetracks made a quid pro quo agreement with Blagojevich; 3 that the racetracks agreed that someone would commit two RICO predicate acts; or 4 that the agreed on scheme would form a pattern of racketeering activity.
We address these challenges in turn.
The first issue was waived by failure to raise it in the Rule 50 motion.
The evidence supports a finding of a quid pro quo agreement that extended to at least two predicate acts of racketeering, but that evidence does not support a finding of an agreement to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity.
Facilitating a RICO Enterprise The racetracks did not properly preserve for appeal their argument that the evidence did not support a palm casino map that the racetracks agreed to facilitate the Blagojevich racketeering en terprise.
In their Rule 50 a and b motions, the racetracks challenged the sufficiency of the evidence on the other grounds we address below.
However, the racetracks did not argue in their Rule 50 motions that there was insufficient evidence that they No.
To avoid the Rule 50 problem, the racetracks suggest that we review instead whether the district court erred in denying their supplemental motion for summary judgment.
But denial of summary judgment is an interlocutory matter subsumed by a final judgment.
After trial, the summary twin peaks casino flagstaff something denial is ancient history and not subject to appeal.
The racetracks argue that, even after the jury has rendered its verdict, we should review the denial of summary judg ment as to purely legal click to see more />See Lawson, 791 F.
This controversial exception for purely legal issues does not apply here.
June 28, 2016 factual issue not properly preserved for appel late review after trial absent Rule 50 b motion.
An agreement forms the core of liability for RICO conspiracy under 18 U.
See Salinas, 522 U.
The parties presented sufficient evidence at trial to allow a rational jury to find a quid pro quo agreement between John ston and Blagojevich.
First, ample evidence shows that Monk and Blagojevich communicated to Johnston that Blagojevich would trade his signature on the 2008 Act for a campaign con tribution.
Second, the jury could conclude that Johnston agreed to this arrangement on behalf of the racetracks.
The casinos argue that Blagojevich first delivered the mes sage that he was looking for a bribe in an April 2008 meeting.
Among other things, the two discussed the expiration of the 2006 Act.
Johnston testified that he did not respond to the comment because he and his father had already decided not to contribute to Blagojevich in 2008.
Johnston agreed that he No.
Blagojevich was looking for in that meeting was a contribution.
United States, 500 U.
Exchanging a campaign con tribution for state action, however, is not legal.
Juxtaposing the discussion of the two topics so closely is dan gerous, walking close to the edge of thin legal ice.
But the ev idence does not show that Johnston agreed to the proposed exchange in that April meeting with Blagojevich.
Sometime in that period, Blago jevich called Johnston.
Still, this evidence was from Monk, not from Johnston.
But when we add in the evidence of events after the legis lature passed the 2008 Act, the jury had a solid basis for infer ring that Johnston had agreed to a quid pro quo scheme.
On Casino wiki 24, 2008, the same day the bill was presented to Blagojevich for his signature, Johnston responded to an hotels near casino san chain reporting that the governor would likely sign the 2008 Act before mid December.
We are going to have to put a stronger bit in his mouth!?!
Further evidence of an illegal quid pro quo agreement came from the events of December 3, 2008, when Monk and Rod Blagojevich met at a Blagojevich campaign office.
Govern ment tapes captured Monk and Https://cetsolarstore.com/casino/mummys-gold-casino-contact.html discussing what to tell Johnston about the timing of the bill signing relative to No.
There was no talk of a cam paign contribution at that point.
After buffalo casino renovations meeting, Monk asked Johnston to walk him out to the parking lot.
https://cetsolarstore.com/casino/good-casinos-in-europe.html testified that he did not react kindly to the suggestion.
Later that day, Monk called Blagojevich to report the result of the meeting with Johnston.
Monk reported that Johnston said he would make the contribution within two weeks.
Monk also 14 No.
Monk declined that offer.
At trial, Monk testified that what he had told Blagojevich about the conversation with Johnston was accurate.
Blagojevich was looking for a contribution before the bill would be signed.
The jury was entitled to put two and two together.
See United States v.
The evidence, viewed in the light No.
Two Predicate Acts The racetracks next challenge the sufficiency of evidence that they agreed to the commission of two RICO predicate acts.
Liability for a § 1962 c RICO conspiracy requires an agreement that someone conduct an enterprise through a pat tern of racketeering activity.
§ 1962 cd ; Salinas v.
United States, 522 U.
Racketeering activity is defined to include any of a long list of crimes.
A pattern of racketeering activity requires two or more predicate acts.
For the sake of clarity, we analyze the two predicate acts requirement in this section link whether those predicate acts were enough to form a pat tern in the next section.
A rational jury could find that Johnston committed or agreed to the commission of several RICO predicate acts.
United States, 504 U.
And agreeing that Blagojevich would commit official misconduct by signing the bill in ex change for a empress casino joliet address was also an agreed upon predicate act.
§§ 1343, 1346, 1961 1 B.
Each use of the wires, such as a cellphone call, to arrange the bribe would count, as long as Johnston agreed to it or it was foreseeable in carrying out his agreement.
United States, 561 U.
Using the wires for lobbying and political log rolling is not honest services wire fraud, but arranging and paying a quid pro quo bribe certainly is.
See Blagojevich, 794 F.
See Sheneman, 682 F.
Each use of the wires can be an individual count of wire fraud and an empress casino joliet address RICO predicate for the purpose of establishing two predicate acts.
Pattern of Racketeering Activity The casinos run into trouble, however, in showing that the parties agreed to predicate acts forming a pattern of racket eering activity.
§ 1961 5but case law shows that two predicate acts are not always sufficient.
Northwestern Bell Telephone Co.
Our focus is on continuity.
Rather, it is a unique cause of action that is concerned with eradicating organized, long term, habitual criminal activity.
Continuity limits RICO to schemes meant to exist over a period of time, not one off crimes.
Here, the agreed predicate acts lacked the requisite continuity to form a pattern under either analysis.
Bank of Waukegan, 804 F.
Harbridge Merchant Services, Inc.
Here, the arrangements for the bribe began no earlier than the April 2008 meeting about the bill at the Friends of Blagojevich office and ended in December 2008, when Blagojevich signed the bill.
One quid pro quo agreement, one planned campaign contribution for one bill, one tax im posed, and acts over at most eight months to arrange the scheme do not show closed end continuity.
The three percent tax was No.
The evidence here does not demonstrate a threat of repe tition.
Once Blagojevich signed the bill, the scheme was over.
After we affirmed summary judgment on claims regard ing the 2006 Act, the evidence of bribery in this trial related only to the 2008 Act.
See Empress Casino III, 763 F.
Lake County, we affirmed summary judgment for defendants on RICO claims 20 No.
We rejected open ended continuity because all of the predicate acts alleged related to campaign fundrais ing from the 1998 election campaign.
We have applied this logic in other cases involving simi larly limited criminal schemes.
The plaintiff alleged that Alpha In dustries had read article an employee of another company so that Alpha would be included as a subcontractor in a defense con tract.
Alpha paid the bribe in three installments, and there No.
Although the First Circuit decided Roeder be fore H.
Waiting Angels Adoption Services, Inc.
RICO does not require more than one scheme, H.
Applying the reasoning from these cases to the Blago jevich Monk Johnston bribery agreement in 2008, a reason able jury could not have found a scheme with open ended continuity.
No specific threat of repetition existed.
Once the bill was signed, the scheme was at its natural end point, at least on the evidence presented at trial.
The casinos argue that they satisfied the continuity re quirement based on the possibility that the racetracks would again employ bribery when the 2008 Act was scheduled to sunset in 2011.
There would be a gubernatorial election in 2010.
No one in 2008 could know who would be governor in 2011, much less whether illegal tactics would be needed or even welcome in securing reenactment in 2011.
The racetracks rely on a September 2008 email exchange.
The email exchange shows the racetracks planning to have the 2008 Act run for a longer period so that they could get a replacement act passed before the 2008 Act expired.
Those emails are about the minutiae of drafting the 2008 Act, not a criminal scheme for getting a fu ture bill enacted.
We will need to change No.
In 2011 the veto session could end up being later than three years after the effective date.
Then again, that would be a nice problem to have to worry about.
I need to give him a call to discuss.
We are not convinced this is a reasonable reading of this email chain.
But that is all the emails show.
There is no indication that the racetracks consid ered how to get the later act through the legislature or how to get the governor to sign it, let alone that they were planning or even contemplating another bribe to an as yet unknowable governor or legislators.
And Johnston knew about the criminal investigation into Blagojevich by late 2007.
But Blagojevich is not the defendant here.
The question is the scope of what Johnston and the racetracks agreed to.
There is no evidence that Johnston agreed to participate in any corrupt scheme except for the one to have Blagojevich sign the 2008 Act.
A one time bribe to a corrupt public official is criminal and wrong, but without more it is not enough to prove a pattern of racketeering activity.
This case contrasts with H.
Here, the evidence of unlawful activity related to only the 2008 Act.
That speculative possibility is not enough to support the jury finding of a conspiracy to engage in a RICO pattern of racket eering activity.
Leave to amend pleadings is left to the sound discretion of the district court.
We find no abuse of discretion here.
The amendment was a prompt response to the altered landscape of the case after we affirmed summary judgment on the 2006 Act claims but 26 No.
We issued our https://cetsolarstore.com/casino/rizk-casino-de.html ing on summary judgment on August 15, 2014, in which we signaled there might well be a problem in showing a pattern based on only the 2008 Act.
Empress Casino III, 763 F.
The casinos moved for leave to amend their complaint on Oc tober 2, 2014.
But affirming discretionary de nial of leave to amend does not suggest that we would also hold that a court would have abused its discretion in granting leave to amend, even in similar circumstances.
Such cases are exceedingly rare.
City of Delphi, 123 F.
As the district court held, since the new state law claims relied on the same facts as the RICO claim, the amendments did not unfairly prejudice the racetracks.
Both state law theories, civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment, depended on the quid pro quo agreement No.
The Il linois civil conspiracy claim was based on the agreement be tween Johnston and Blagojevich.
Here, the unjust benefits were the payments received as https://cetsolarstore.com/casino/hollywood-casino-charlestown-wv-careers.html result of the agreed bribe to sign the 2008 Act.
The racetracks argue that the additional claims unfairly prejudiced them because they were unable to conduct suffi cient discovery on a potential unclean hands defense to the unjust enrichment claim.
We are not persuaded.
Blagojevich or to members of or candidates for the Illinois General Assembly between 2005 and 2008.
The racetracks have not demonstrated unfair prejudice 28 No.
Claims of Trial Error The racetracks also appeal the denial of their Rule 59 mo tion for a new trial based on several alleged trial errors.
We review the denial of a Rule 59 motion for a new trial for an abuse of discretion.
We examine the claims of error in turn.
Evidence of 2002—2007 Campaign Contributions The racetracks argue that the district court erred by admit ting evidence of their contributions to Rod Blagojevich from 6 The racetracks argue on appeal that leave to amend unfairly prejudiced them because it introduced the possibility of punitive damages into the case.
The racetracks did not make this argument to the district court, so it is forfeited.
Even if it were not forfeited, it is unconvincing.
First, this was a civil RICO case in which the defendants already faced the threat of treble damages under 18 U.
Also, the racetracks cite cases affirming denials of leave to amend to add punitive damage claims.
Taylor Machine Works, Inc.
A late attempt to add punitive damages might give a district court a sound basis to deny leave to amend, at least if RICO trebling were not already in the case, but that would not mean the court lacked discretion to allow the amendment.
We find none empress casino joliet address />See United States v.
The casi nos were trying to prove the opposite of a legal contribution.
Plenty of other evidence linked Johnston and Blagojevich, some of it in much more damning fashion.
The district court also gave a proper limiting instruction, which would have mitigated any risk of unfair prejudice.
Ab sent indications to the contrary, we presume that juries heed limiting instructions.
We also disagree with the racetracks that the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury that the 2002 to 2007 con tributions were legal and not bribes.
It is common for citizens and corporations to donate to political campaigns, and there is nothing illegal about this practice.
The dis trict court did not abuse its discretion in wording the instruc tion as it did.
Johnston had information that would have incriminated him.
You are not required to draw this inference.
They point out that Johnston testified before the grand jury and in the Blago jevich trials, albeit subject to immunity, and assert that he an swered every question in this case.
First Johnston re ceived his immunity letter.
Fi nally, after still more questioning, Johnston admitted that he had signed 32 No.
The district court did not abuse its discretion in giving the adverse inference instruction, which was legally accurate and permissible.
The Empress casino joliet address Amendment allows adverse inference instructions against parties in civil actions.
Pal migiano, 425 U.
He also testified that he had told the jury the same story about the events of December 3, 2008 that he had testi fied to in the Blagojevich trials and that he did not believe any of his testimony incriminated him.
City of Chicago, 266 F.
City of Chicago, 513 F.
The jury had to choose between competing accounts from Monk and Johnston.
For example, it would not have been un reasonable to view his initial refusal to answer questions as a tactic to get his story straight before doing so, and his reluc tance to be candid about the timing adds support for that in terpretation.
Exclusion of Victim Impact Letter The racetracks offered as evidence a victim impact letter the U.
The district judge here did so and did not abuse his discretion by giving the adverse inference instruction.
We find no abuse of discretion.
The district court was correct that the letter, if offered to prove that Johnston was a victim rather than a participant, is hearsay, and it had minimal probative value.
Using the letter to prove that Johnston was a victim would be using an out of court statement for the truth of the matter asserted.
§ 3771, also offers no evidence of probative value.
Imagine an effort to get around the hearsay problem by calling a prosecutor to testify in the civil case.
Her answer would have been an opinion, and it would have been based on a set of information different from what the civil jury would hear.
Any fair response to an opinion in either direction would quickly devolve into an argumentative exam ination that would almost certainly generate more heat than light.
This would not have been a useful contribution to the trial.
Under the Illinois Constitu tion, Art.
The racetracks wanted to argue that they should be liable, at most, for the taxes levied in the days between the day Blagojevich signed the 2008 Act and the day the bill would have become law anyway under the 60 day rule.
The district judge did not abuse his discretion in not al lowing a closing argument contrary to the jury instructions.
The defend ants may be held liable for any injury proximately caused by the alleged agreement to pay a bribe to Governor Blagojevich regardless of any events that could have happened in the fu ture.
Before trial, the racetracks argued that the 60 day 36 No.
When that argument did not work, they argued it was relevant to their lack of motivation to bribe Blagojevich.
They never mentioned damages.
See Empress Casino III, 763 F.
Perhaps these might have been good arguments to make to the district court before trial or while hammering out jury instructions.
Comfort Inn North Joliet 2 Stars Hotel in Joliet, Illinois
Case opinion for US 7th Circuit EMPRESS CASINO JOLIET CORPORATION 09. Indeed, Jorgensen did not address common-law legislative immunity at all.
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