United States v. Broce

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Kansas City Missouri School District

DOCKET NO.: 87-1190
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 488 US 563 (1989)
ARGUED: Oct 04, 1988
DECIDED: Jan 23, 1989

Glenn E. Casebeer, III - on behalf of the Respondent
Glenn E. Casebeer, II - for respondent
Roy T. Englert, Jr. - on behalf of the Petitioner
Roy T. Englert, Jr. - on behalf of the petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Broce

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 04, 1988 in United States v. Broce

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument first this morning on No. 87-1190, United States against Broce.

Mr. Englert, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Roy T. Englert, Jr.:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, this case presents the question of whether defendants who plead guilty to two facially valid indictments have the right to claim later, for the first time on collateral attack, that they were guilty of only one crime, despite what the indictment said.

The Tenth Circuit held that defendants do have that right.

We contend that they do not.

On November 17, 1981, a grand jury in the District of Kansas indicated Ray Broce, Broce Construction Company, and the General Manager of Broce Construction Company on a single charge of Sherman Act conspiracy.

The indictment specifically alleged that the conspiracy began in or about April, 1978, and had as its object the rigging of bids on a road construction project in Meade County, Kansas, let on April 25, 1978.

On February 4, 1982, the grand jury returned its second indictment.

This indictment also alleged Sherman Act conspiracy, specifically alleged this conspiracy began in July of 1979 and had as its object the rigging of bids on a Barton County construction project that was let on July 17, 1979, also in Kansas.

In late January of 1982, the Government and the defendants were already engaged in plea negotiations, and by the time the second indictment was handed up, the defendants had agreed to plead guilty to the Meade County and Barton County charges.

The Government, for its part, had agreed not to prosecute these defendants any further for bid rigging in either Kansas or Oklahoma, to dismiss one count of mail fraud against the corporation, and to make certain recommendations at sentencing.

The guilty pleas were duly taken on February 8, 1982.

In a written statement of facts in support of the pleas, the Government described the two conspiracies.

The statement shows that each of the two projects involved in the indictments was the quid pro quo for concessions that Broce made to the co-conspirators.

In the case of the April 25, 1978 bidletting, there was a trade-off of several projects that were let on that date.

In the case of the July, 1979 bidletting, Broce paid $75,000 to a co-conspirator who would otherwise have bid competitively.

Nothing in that written statement of facts suggests any relationship between the April, 1978 conspiracy and the July, 1979 conspiracy.

In fact, there was some colloquy at the plea-taking hearing in which Mr. Broce, under oath, mentioned that he would not trade off a Gray County project that was to be let at a subsequent bid letting for the Meade County project, because he intended each letting to stand on its own.

The facts of this case were visited one more time, on March 15, 1982, when the defendants were sentenced.

The Government prepared an official version of the offense, which was included in the pre-sentence report of the defendants.

Like the statement of facts in support of the pleas, the official version of the offense described the two conspiracies in some detail, again saying what the quid pro quos were.

Again, it showed no relationship between the April, 1978 and July, 1979 conspiracies.

Furthermore, the official version of the offense made explicit what had been implicit all along.

It said in so many words that there were two separate conspiracies giving rise to the indictment.

The defendants were given an opportunity at sentencing to contest anything contained in the official version of the offense, and they did have some quarrels with it, but no quarrel at all with the proposition there were two separate conspiracies.

In early 1983, a decision was handed down in a separate but related Kansas bid rigging--

Byron R. White:

Well, what about the... how, were they sentenced separately for the two conspiracies?

Roy T. Englert, Jr.:


Mr. Broce received a $50,000 fine for each of the two Sherman Act conspiracies, as well as a $1,000 fine for mail fraud.

He received concurrent two-year sentences.