CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Carback on Applying the Hobbs Act to Coconspirator Extortion

Joshua T Carback (University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law, Students) has posted Ocasio v. United States: Why the Hobbs Act Punishes Coconspirator Extortion (75 Maryland Law Review Endnotes, 2016, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

State and local corruption are national problems. Over the past four decades, the U.S. Department of Justice has increased its efforts to combat political corruption by using a variety of statutory tools, the most important of which is the Hobbs Act. The United States Supreme Court has broadened its interpretation of the Hobbs Act in response to prosecutorial innovation aimed at combatting political corruption. Ocasio v. United States presents a case of great importance to the Supreme Court’s Hobbs Act jurisprudence. The case concerns defendant Samuel L. Ocasio, a Baltimore police officer convicted of violating the Hobbs Act by engaging in a kickback scheme with other Baltimore police officers. The issue on appeal before the Supreme Court of the United States is whether the Hobbs Act’s anti-extortion provision, under which Ocasio was convicted, contemplates acts directed against coconspirators, or merely third-parties outside of criminal conspiracies. The text of the Hobbs Act, its legislative history, and strong public policy considerations all support a broad construction of its anti-extortion provision as encompassing coconspirator extortion. Therefore, the Supreme Court should affirm the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s decision, uphold Ocasio’s conviction, and preserve the Justice Department’s ability to fight extortion of coconspirators with the Hobbs Act.

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