UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. ROBERT PORTER - Articles

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Posted by: Landry Butler on Mar 29, 2018

Court: 6th Circuit Court (Published Opinions)

Attorneys 1:

ON BRIEF: Jarrod J. Beck, LAW OFFICE of R. MICHAEL MURPHY, PLLC, Lexington, Kentucky, Mark A. Wohlander, WOHLANDER LAW OFFICE, PSC, Lexington, Kentucky, for Appellant. Charles P. Wisdom, Jr., Jennifer A. Williams, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, Lexington, Kentucky, for Appellee.

Judge(s): COLE, Chief Judge; MERRITT and BOGGS, Circuit Judges.

Court Appealed: Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky at Pikeville.

Robert Porter, a federal prisoner, appeals the district court’s judgment of conviction. The parties have waived oral argument, and this panel unanimously agrees that oral argument is not needed. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a).

In 2016, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Porter with three counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(A), and one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B). The indictment arose, in pertinent part, from Porter using his power and influence as mayor of Paintsville, Kentucky, to steer business and contracts to companies owned by his co-defendant, Eulas Crace, as well as to ensure payment of a fraudulent invoice to Crace’s company. In return, Porter received payments disguised as loans. Porter made a motion for judgment of acquittal following the government’s case-in-chief, which the district court denied. The jury found Porter guilty of two counts under § 666(a)(1)(A) and guilty of one count under § 666(a)(1)(B). The district court sentenced Porter to a 48-month term of imprisonment, and Porter timely appealed.

Porter advances four arguments on appeal. First, he argues that his conviction under § 666(a)(1)(B) is unsupported by sufficient evidence. Second, he contends that the admission of a witness’s prior statements to investigators violated his confrontation rights. Third, Porter argues that the admission of another witness’s deposition testimony violated his confrontation rights. Finally, he contends that cumulative error requires the reversal of his convictions.

Finally, Porter argues that the cumulative effect of the district court erroneously admitting Chet Crace’s out-of-court statements and Jackie Miller’s deposition testimony into evidence was so prejudicial as to warrant a new trial. “A cumulative error claim alleges a violation of a defendant’s due process right to a fair trial.” United States v. Eaton, 784 F.3d 298, 310 (6th Cir. 2015). “However, cumulative-error analysis is not relevant where no individual ruling was erroneous.” United States v. Deitz, 577 F.3d 672, 697 (6th Cir. 2009). The district court did not err by admitting Chet Crace’s statements and Jackie Miller’s deposition testimony. Accordingly, cumulative error did not render Porter’s trial unfair. See id.

Based on the foregoing, we AFFIRM the district court’s judgment.