The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has upheld an 18-month prison sentence in U.S. v. Norris for former Morgan Crucible Co. PLC CEO Ian Norris, who was found guilty last December of conspiring to obstruct justice in a price-fixing investigation of the carbon products industry.
Norris was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of probation, and a $25,000 fine after a federal jury in Pennsylvania found him guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice during a grand jury investigation into Morgan’s alleged anti-competitive conduct. According to prosecutors, Norris drafted false scripts for Morgan employees to follow if questioned and instructed executives to destroy incriminating documents and lie about alleged price-fixing meetings with competitors.
Currently in prison, Norris argued on appeal that there was no evidence he conspired to interfere with the grand jury investigation, that the jury was improperly instructed on the meaning of “corruptly persuades,” and that the district court’s decision to allow Sutton Keany, Morgan’s defense counsel, to testify for the government violated attorney-client privilege because Keany also represented Norris in his personal capacity. But the Third Circuit pointed to evidence that Norris discussed the grand jury subpoena with other Morgan employees and agreed to draft false scripts for them to use if questioned. The court also dismissed Norris’ arguments that the jury received improper instructions, and found “no clear error” in the trial court’s ruling allowing Keany to testify.