USA v. Eglash

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 02-17-2016
  • Case #: 14-30132
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Christen for the Court; Circuit Judges Wallace and Kleinfeld
  • Full Text Opinion

Mail fraud requires showing two elements: (1) the perpetrator devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts); and (2) use of the mail for the purpose of executing or attempting to execute the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts).

Cory Eglash and his girlfriend Ramona Hayes moved to Washington where they ran a coffee shop. Eglash was also employed elsewhere and participated in extra curricular activities. Between 2010 and 2012, Eglash and Hayes submitted applications to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order to receive disability benefits resulting from emotional and physical ailments preventing both Eglash and Hayes from working. An SSA undercover operation revealed that both Eglash and Hayes were able to work and that their respective conditions qualifying both for SSA benefits likely were fabricated. Eglash and Hayes were indicted on various criminal charges including five counts of mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341. On counts 4 and 6, the district court denied Eglash’s motion for judgment of acquittal on the grounds that the underlying mailings were not shown to further a fraudulent scheme to obtain disability benefits. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit determined the issue of whether the mailing was part of the execution of the scheme as conceived by the perpetrator at the time, regardless of “whether the mailing later, through hindsight, may prove to have been counterproductive and return to haunt the perpetrator of the fraud.” Mail fraud requires showing two elements: (1) the perpetrator devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud; and (2) use of the mail for the purpose of executing or attempting to execute the scheme. The panel affirmed the district court’s judgment on Count 4 because the notice from the SS was a deliberate and necessary step in the fraudulent scheme. However the panel reversed the district court’s conviction on Count 6 because the fraud Eglash sought was neither contingent upon the fraudulent statements he made to the SSA. AFFIRMED in part; REVERSED and REMANDED in part.

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