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ROGER BYRNE,
Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Defendant-Appellee,

ERIC C. KUS,
Counterclaim Defendant-Appellant.
   No. 15-2396
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:06-cv-12179—Arthur J. Tarnow, District Judge. Argued: December 8, 2016 Decided and Filed: May 15, 2017 Before: BATCHELDER, STRANCH, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.

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OPINION
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ALICE M. BATCHELDER, Circuit Judge. The Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 6672, permits the United States to recover unpaid trust-fund taxes from persons responsible for paying those taxes, if they willfully failed to pay them. We have previously held that Appellants Roger Byrne and Eric Kus, as president and CEO, respectively, of Eagle Trim, Inc. (“Eagle Trim”) were responsible for paying Eagle Trim’s trust-fund taxes, but we remanded on the question of whether their failure to pay those taxes was willful. On remand, the district court conducted a bench trial and determined that Byrne and Kus willfully failed to pay Eagle Trim’s trust-fund taxes by recklessly disregarding the risk that the taxes were not being paid. Byrne and Kus appeal the entry of judgment, which assigned Byrne a liability of $533,213.42 and Kus a liability of $533,204.37.

After a review of the record and a clarification of what constitutes reckless conduct for purposes of § 6672(a), we conclude that Byrne and Kus did not willfully fail to pay Eagle Trim’s trust-fund taxes. Accordingly, we vacate the district court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.



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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MICHAEL MANCIL BROWN,
Defendant-Appellant.
   No. 16-6291
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville.
No. 3:13-cr-00118-1—Billy Roy Wilson, District Judge.
Argued: May 3, 2017
Decided and Filed: May 15, 2017
Before: COLE, Chief Judge; SUTTON and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges.


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OPINION
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SUTTON, Circuit Judge. When criminal-law cases imitate art, they do not always choose its highest form. In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Dr. Evil develops a > No. 16-6291 United States v. Brown Page 2 plan to steal a nuclear warhead and to hold the world hostage for $1 million. This was not, Dr. Evil’s deputy pointed out, all that much money for a 1990s global criminal enterprise. But it was enough for an anonymous extortionist in today’s case, who apparently was familiar with the movie and who chose some features of it as signatures of his 2012 crime. Assuming the nom de guerre “Dr. Evil,” the individual demanded $1 million in Bitcoin in exchange for an encryption key to Mitt Romney’s unreleased tax returns. The extortionist claimed to have stolen Romney’s returns from PricewaterhouseCoopers, and he posted a taunting, digitally altered image of Mike Myers’s Dr. Evil, wearing a Secret Service badge, in the lobby of the accounting firm’s offices in Franklin, Tennessee.

A trail of digital breadcrumbs led law enforcement to Tennessean Michael Brown. It turned out that Brown never stole Romney’s returns. And his attempt to extort PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Democratic and Republican parties, and the public earned Brown twelve convictions for wire fraud and extortion, a four year prison sentence, and an order to pay over $200,000 in restitution. Brown appeals his convictions on the grounds that the Secret Service’s search warrant lacked probable cause and that he was prejudiced by the trial judge’s decision to allow questions from the jury. Brown also appeals the obstruction of justice enhancement in the district court’s calculation of his sentence. We affirm Brown’s convictions but vacate his sentence.