SEKHAR v. UNITED STATES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
12-357
Petitioner 
Giridhar C. Sekhar
Respondent 
United States
Decided By 
Advocates
(for the petitioner)
(Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the respondent)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 2008 the General Counsel for the Office of the State Comptroller of New York advised against investing in a fund managed by FA Technology Ventures. The investment would have given FA Technology millions in service fees. The General Counsel received an anonymous email of “blackballing a recommendation on a fund” and threatened to disclose the General Counsel’s extramarital affair to his wife, to the Comptroller, and to others if he did not change his recommendation within 36 hours. On the advice of law enforcement, the General Counsel asked for more time, which the individual granted. The FBI traced the emails to Giridahr Sekhar, a managing partner of FA Technology. Sekhar later admitted to sending the emails.

Sekhar was charged with one account of extortion and six counts of interstate transmission of extortionate threats under the Hobbs Act. The Hobbs Act prohibits obtaining property by threats. Sekhar moved to dismiss, arguing that the General Counsel’s recommendation was not property. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, holding that the General Counsel’s right to make professional decisions without outside influence was intangible personal property. Sekhar was convicted on six of the seven counts and sentenced to 15 months in jail. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.

Question 

Is the "recommendation" of an attorney, who is a salaried employee of a governmental agency, intangible property that can be the subject of an extortion attempt under the Hobbs Act?

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SEKHAR v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 28 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2012/2012_12_357>.
SEKHAR v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2012/2012_12_357 (last visited July 28, 2014).
"SEKHAR v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 28, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2012/2012_12_357.