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United States v. Irons

decided: February 4, 1981.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 79-CR-518 -- Nicholas J. Bua, Judge.

Before Pell and Cudahy, Circuit Judges, and Dumbauld, Senior District Judge.*fn*

Author: Cudahy

Defendant-appellant Louis Irons seeks review of his conviction on two counts of violating the federal conflict of interest law, 18 U.S.C. § 208(a).*fn1 Each count charged that Irons, an Education Program Officer for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare ("HEW"), personally and substantially participated in a contract and matter between HEW and Advance Photo and Sounds ("APS"), a company in which he had a personal financial interest.*fn2 Prior to trial, Irons moved to quash the indictment on the grounds that prosecution was barred by the statute of limitations. 18 U.S.C. § 3282.*fn3 He argued that the Government had attempted to extend the five year limitations period by padding the indictment with charges which fell outside of the conduct proscribed by the statute. The district court denied the motion and found Irons guilty on both counts following a bench trial on stipulated facts. Irons appeals his conviction. We affirm.


I. The Enrichment Learning Contract

In late 1973, Irons was employed as an Education Program Director for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare with supervisory responsibility over several educational programs funded by HEW including "Enrichment Learning," "Vision," and "Fellowship for Action."*fn4 He was authorized to advise, assist and recommend action to the directors of projects which he supervised, particularly in the formation of program budgets.

Ken Tatum, project director for Enrichment Learning, met with Irons in December 1973, to discuss the program's proposed budget for the following school year. Tatum had allocated a sum of money for the purchase of audio-visual equipment. Irons advised Tatum that he would need more than he had specified, and the budget was subsequently amended to provide for the additional amount. In April 1974, HEW awarded Enrichment Learning a grant of $183,000, which included approximately $13,000 for audio-visual equipment.

Tatum then sent out letters to various companies soliciting bids for the equipment. At the suggestion of Irons, one letter was addressed to Fred Bronaugh of Advance Photo and Sounds. Tatum did not know that prior to this time APS had never done business as an audio-visual supplier, or that Bronaugh, a long-time friend of Irons, had never been involved in the audio-visual equipment business and did not own any interest in the company.*fn5 The APS business address furnished to Tatum was, in fact, the basement of a residential building owned by Irons' father and served only as a storage facility.

APS submitted a bid to Enrichment Learning on July 2, 1974, but Tatum was forced to solicit additional bids after all of the initial responses were too high. Prior to receiving a second bid from APS, Irons approached Tatum and questioned him about the status of the audio-visual equipment purchase. On September 3, 1974, Tatum accepted APS' second bid for the contract.

Tatum, anxious to obtain the equipment, decided to deliver the letter of acceptance in person. When he arrived at the APS address, he was directed to a funeral home where he found both Bronaugh and Irons. Tatum indicated he needed the equipment as soon as possible and agreed to pay for it in advance of delivery. Bronaugh instructed Tatum to leave a check for $12,855 at Irons' home. Bronaugh deposited this check in the APS account on September 5, 1974. One week later, Bronaugh wrote an APS check to Irons in the amount of $10,800. Irons purchased the Enrichment Learning audio-visual equipment from a supplier in Hinsdale, Illinois, on September 13, 1974, and Tatum picked up the equipment at Irons' home several weeks later. At the time of these activities, Tatum did not know that Irons was associated with APS.*fn6

II. The Vision Contract

Irons' supervisory responsibilities as Education Program Director also extended to Vision, a mathematics and reading skills improvement program for school age children. In May of 1974, Elizabeth Jackson, director of Vision, sought Irons' advice on the disposition of a fiscal year budget surplus. Irons, who regularly reviewed Vision funding proposals, recommended that Jackson purchase audio-visual equipment and suggested to her that Bronaugh could give her a good price. On the basis of Irons' recommendation, Jackson ordered $3,120 worth of audio-visual materials from APS on May 14, 1974. The equipment was delivered on August 28, 1974, and Jackson gave Irons a check for the proper amount on the following day. After this Vision check had been deposited into the APS account. Bronaugh gave Irons a check drawn on the APS account for $2,800. At the time of these events, Jackson did not know that Irons had any connection with APS.


Irons was indicted on August 29, 1979, for violating the federal conflict of ...

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