Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ford: Mail Fraud and Filing False Claims not Multiplicitous

In U.S. v. Ford, No. 14-10381 (April 28, 2015), the Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of a defendant charged with mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and filing false tax refund claims with the Internal Revenue Service. The Court rejected Ford’s multiplicity challenge to the indictment, explaining that it was not multiplicitous to charge both mail fraud and filing false claims. The Court pointed out that mail fraud involved use of the mails, while filing false claims did not. Also, filing false claims involves an agency of the United States, while mail fraud does not. The Court rejected Ford’s argument that the admission of evidence of past conduct violated Rule 404(b). The Court explained that much the past conduct was “inextricably intertwined” with the charged offenses, and therefore fell outside the scope of Rule 404(b). Turning to sentencing, the Court rejected the argument that the enhancement for the number of victims did not apply. The Court noted that the limitation for aggravated identity theft offenses applied only to the “transfer, possession, or use of a means of identification” – not, as here, to the number of victims. In addition, the limitation did not apply to the mail fraud convictions of which Ford stood convicted, in addition to aggravated identity theft.