United States v. Ezeta

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 05-23-2014
  • Case #: 12-10304
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tallman for the Court; Circuit Judge Rawlinson and District Judge Rice
  • Full Text Opinion

An indictment for fraud under 20 U.S.C. § 1097(a) does not require the government to prove that the defendant personally received or exercised control over funds.

While working as a counselor at the College of Southern Nevada, Carlos Javier Ezeta (“Ezeta”) falsified and submitted FAFSA forms in order to help students obtain federal financial aid. As a result of Ezeta’s actions students received thousands of dollars in federal funds. After the Department of Education performed a sting operation that proved Ezeta did in fact submit false information, Ezeta was indicted for financial aid fraud in violation of 20 U.S.C. § 1097(a). Ezeta filed a motion to dismiss his indictment and it was granted by the district court. The district court held that 20 U.S.C. 1097(a) only applied to individuals who personally received or exercised control over the funds. On appeal, the panel analyzed 20 U.S.C. § 1097(a) to determine whether it requires that the defendant personally received or exercised control over the funds. The panel determined that 20 U.S.C. § 1097(a) encompasses not only personally exercising control over the funds, but also knowingly and willfully causing the funds to be disbursed to others. Therefore, the district court erred in dismissing the indictment. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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