A longtime business associate of Joe Biden’s son will be sentenced for his role in a fraudulent scheme after an appeals court restored a jury conviction that was overturned by a federal judge.
“Because the weight of the evidence presented at trial did not preponderate heavily against the jury’s verdict, we find that the district court abused its discretion in vacating the judgment and granting a new trial,” a three-judge panel for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit said in its 42-page ruling.
The jury verdict was reinstated and Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s business partner, will be sentenced.
Archer was convicted in June 2018 of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud, along with John Galanis and Bevan Cooney.
“As a unanimous jury swiftly found, these defendants orchestrated a highly complex scheme to defraud a Native American community and multiple pension funds, all to corruptly bankroll their own personal and business interests,” U.S. prosecutor Robert Khuzami said in a statement at the time.
The scheme revolved around a series of bond offerings worth approximately $60 million.
The trio defrauded the Wakpamni Lake Community Corporation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe by convincing the tribe to issue a series of bonds with the promise the bonds would lead to a profit.
In the end, the Wakpamni were left with $60 million in debt.
Ronnie Abrams, a judge for the Southern District of New York, overturned the conviction of Archer in late 2018.
Abrams, an Obama-appointee, ruled that Galanis definitely perpetrated “a massive fraud.”
“The Court harbors substantial concern, however, that Archer lacked the requisite intent and is thus innocent of the crimes charged in this indictment,” she said.
Federal prosecutors said in a later filing that the jury, in convicting Archer, “drew reasonable inferences about the only disputed issue in the case against him: Archer’s state of mind.”
Abrams erred in “requiring direct proof of Archer’s state of mind and by failing to even consider the weight of the evidence under a conscious avoidance theory,” they argued.
In a statement to news outlets, a lawyer for Archer said the new ruling was wrong.
“As the experienced federal judge who presided over Mr. Archer’s month-long trial determined, he ‘lacked the requisite intent and is thus innocent of the crimes charged,’” Matthew Schwartz said. “Today’s ruling, which second-guesses that judge’s decision without having sat through the evidence and listened to the witnesses, is beyond disappointing.”
A photograph of Archer wasn’t available.
Hunter Biden wasn’t named in the appeals court ruling.
But previous court documents showed the defendants leaned on Hunter Biden’s name to boost their credibility, the Daily Caller reported.
“Hunter Biden works for [Archer]. So we’ve got the top level politicos with us. All of my guys, is as top tier as it gets,” Cooney said in one secretly recorded phone call.
An attorney for Hunter Biden previously told The Wall Street Journal that Archer and the others “invoked and used Hunter’s name—without his knowledge—to lend their business venture more credibility.”
“As soon as Hunter learned of the illegal conduct, and that his name was being used in this unauthorized and inappropriate manner, Hunter took immediate steps to ensure that his business interests would not be associated with the Burnham Group or with any of the defendants,” the lawyer said.
The lawyer and the Joe Biden campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Hunter Biden’s work while his father was in office has received heightened scrutiny in recent years, including during the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Biden was on the board of Ukraine-based Burisma Holdings at the same time as Archer, among other business ventures they took part in together.
A recent Senate report found that the Obama administration knew Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine was problematic, but ignored repeated warnings from senior officials. It also found that a well-known Russian billionaire paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million while his father was in office.
Joe Biden and Hunter Biden posed for a photograph with Archer while golfing in 2014.
Cooney was sentenced last year to 30 months in prison. Galanis was sentenced last month to 189 months in prison and ordered to forfeit over $80 million, as the sentencing took into account another fraudulent scheme he was part of, according to Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.