U.S. v. PERRY, NO. 13-4012

Decided: July 1, 2014

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court, and held that the indictment contained sufficient evidence to support the Defendant’s convictions, and identify the essential elements of the crimes charged.

Perry, the Defendant, was convicted of three counts of fraud related to his receipt of Social Security and healthcare benefits. On appeal, Defendant argues that the district court should have dismissed the indictment for failure to include essential elements of the fraud charges, and because it was barred by the statute of limitations. In addition, Defendant claimed that the Government failed to prove that he engaged in a scheme, or artifice to defraud the government.

Defendant applied for Social Security disability insurance benefits, and agreed to report to the agency if his medical condition improved such that he could work. Defendant later held several jobs, and continued to receive aid from the Medicare Part D program and the Low Income Subsidy program. Defendant was then accepted to the Federal Career Intern Program, a two-year paid training program to become a Benefits Technical Examiner with the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). After repeated failed requests to report his income from the SSA to Defendant, the SSA terminated Defendant’s aid. On appeal, Defendant argued that Counts One and Two of the indictment were unconstitutionally defective because they failed to specify the “event” that triggered his obligation to disclose his employment to the Government; that the indictment failed to allege specific intent for all three counts; that the indictment failed to allege a scheme, or artifice, to defraud the Government on Count Three; and that the indictment is time-barred by the statute of limitations. Defendant also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on Count Three.

The Fourth Circuit agreed with the district court that the indictment contained sufficient evidence to uphold the Defendant’s convictions, and identify the essential elements of the crimes charged. The Court noted that the indictment tracked the statutory language, provided specific details about the nature of the charges, and identified the “event” triggering Defendant’s disclosure obligations. The Court also agreed with the district court, and held that Defendant’s indictments did allege specific intent to defraud (as an essential element of the crime) by stating that the Defendant “did conceal and fail to disclose said events with intent to fraudulently secure payment [:] . . .” 1) in a greater amount than is due and when no payment is authorized, and 2) concealed and failed to disclose his employment and earnings to Medicare. Furthermore, the Court refuted the Defendant’s statute of limitations argument by applying the continuing offense doctrine.

Full Opinion

Grace D. Faulkenberry

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