United States v. Caso (D.C. Circuit)
Caso, the former chief of staff to a United States congressman, was convicted of honest services fraud in 2007 for failing to disclose a conflict of interest on his financial disclosure statement. Three years later, the Supreme Court held in Skilling v. United States that the honest services fraud statute covers only “bribes and kickbacks— nothing more,” and does not criminalize “mere failure to disclose a conflict of interest.” We filed a habeas petition seeking to vacate Caso’s conviction because he is legally innocent of the crime of which he was convicted.
The district court held that in order to obtain relief, Caso had to show not only that he was innocent of honest services fraud, but also that he is innocent of any other offense that the government could have charged but elected not to. It therefore refused to overturn Caso’s conviction because he potentially could have been charged with the lesser offense of making a false statement to federal officers.
We successfully appealed to the D.C. Circuit and persuaded it to reverse the district court. The court of appeals agreed with our arguments that Caso’s conviction must be overturned because he is innocent of the charged offense and that he is not required to disprove other, less serious offenses that the government now contends it could have charged but never did.