Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 01-cr-00429-1) District Judge: The Honorable William H. Yohn, Jr.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aldisert, Circuit Judge
Argued: February 15, 2005
Before: SLOVITER, AMBRO and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges
This appeal by Glen Guadalupe requires us to decide whether: (1) the jury's verdict is supported by legally sufficient evidence; and (2) the district court properly instructed the jury. Guadalupe was tried jointly with Appellants Reginald Steptoe and Cornell Tyler in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The jury found Steptoe and Tyler guilty of deprivation of the civil rights of another in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242 and Guadalupe guilty of obstruction of justice in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3). Guadalupe was sentenced to, inter alia, incarceration for a term of fifteen months. This appeal followed.*fn1
The insufficiency of evidence contention is anchored on the theory that the government failed to prove that Guadalupe believed that Burnette, the person he attempted to corruptly persuade, might communicate with a federal official. We conclude that proving a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3) does not depend on the existence or imminency of a federal investigation but rather on the possible existence of a federal crime and a defendant's intention to thwart an inquiry into that crime by officials who happen to be federal. Because of Guadalupe's position and experience in prison administration, he knew or should have known that the beating of Dante Hunter constituted a violation of federal civil rights statutes. Accordingly, we will affirm.
Guadalupe was the former Deputy Warden of Operations at Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility ("CFCF"), a prison in Philadelphia. On March 11, 1999, Hunter, a prison inmate, was savagely beaten by Steptoe and Tyler, both former correctional officers. Linda Burnette, a former correctional lieutenant, testified that she observed Tyler and Steptoe punch and beat Hunter and said that she ordered them to stop but they would not do so. Burnette's testimony was corroborated by several other witnesses at trial.
Shortly after the beatings, Burnette told Captain Winston Boston, the shift commander, what had happened. After leaving Boston, she went to see Guadalupe and told him as well. She testified that Guadalupe responded that somebody was going to "burn" for what happened. After Burnette identified the officers who had beaten Hunter, Guadalupe told her: "they can't burn... they're my boys, my homies."
Later, when Burnette, Boston and Guadalupe were discussing the incident, Guadalupe said that he had informed the officers involved in the beating that "someone had to come up with an injury to justify the amount of force" used on Hunter. Guadalupe also told Burnette that, in her memorandum on the beating, she should not mention that she had ordered the officers to stop.
Because she felt intimidated and was afraid to "go against the grain," Burnette lied in the written statement she gave to Boston and the first two statements she gave to Internal Affairs. On March 21, 1999, Burnette told Warden Dunleavy that she had lied. Two days later she gave a full truthful statement to Internal Affairs.
18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3) makes it a federal offense to "knowingly... corruptly persuade another person or attempt to do so... with intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer... of the United States... of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense...." The statute further provides that "an official proceeding need not be pending or about to be instituted at the time of the offense...." § 1512(e)(1). "No state of mind need be proved with respect to the circumstance... that the official proceeding is before a judge or court of the United States...," § 1512(f)(1), and "that the judge is a judge of the United ...