Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jennings: Workers' Comp. Fraud Conviction Upheld

In U.S. v. Jennings, No. 08-13434 (March 16, 2010), the Court affirmed convictions and sentences arising out of a scheme to sell fraudulent workers’ compensation insurance.

The Court rejected the defendant’s challenge to the reliance by the government’s expert on hearsay evidence. The Court found that the hearsay was based on “general practice in the field” regarding industry requirements, “gleaned from years of working within the industry and its professionals.”

The Court found that a witness’ testimony about parallel civil litigation was too fleeting to overturn the district court’s denial of a mistrial.

The Court declined to find that treating the receipts instead of the profits as the subject of money laundering constituted plain error under the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Santos. The fragmented opinions in that case yielded a precedent limited only to money laundering in unlicensed gambling cases – which this case was not.

The Court rejected a challenge to the substantive reasonableness of the sentence, citing the district court’s finding that the defendant “defrauded his victims of their rightful benefits out of sheer greed and in doing so caused great suffering.”