Decided: June 29, 2012
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of G. Martin Wynn for mail and wire fraud related to his engineering services undertaken for Oconee County, South Carolina to extend the runway at Oconee County Regional Airport. Wynn was required to obtain a permit from South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (“DHEC”), but instead, cut a permit off an older set of plans for a previous project and fraudulently attached it to the current project. He then mailed and emailed the plans to DHEC. Severe rains in February 2010 generated complaints from nearby residents about runoff, DHEC inspectors visited the site, and asked to see the plans for the project. DHEC discovered the fraudulent permit and ordered that construction on the project stop.
Wynn appealed his conviction claiming that the jury was improperly instructed regarding the requisite “intent to harm” the County. The required mens rea for mail and wire fraud is a defendant must intend “to lie or cheat or misrepresent with the design of depriving the victim of something of value.” The Fourth Circuit determined that the jury charges were consistent with this mens rea requirement. Wynn also contended that the fraudulent permit was not a material misrepresentation, but the Court disagreed with Wynn holding that Oconee County did rely on the plans. Wynn also challenged the amount of restitution, but the Fourth Circuit concluded that the District Court did not clearly err in its calculation. Therefore, the judgment of the District Court was affirmed.