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Proving Federal Government Fraud in Maryland 

Government fraud refers to the offense of defrauding the government. People might defraud the government by doing something like filing fraudulent Medicaid claims. The consequences of government fraud could be quite serious if you are convicted. If you want to know more about proving federal government fraud in Maryland, speak with a capable government fraud lawyer that could answer your questions.

What the State Must Prove

What the Government needs to prove in government fraud cases depends on the specific type of fraud alleged and how the defendant and the accused are situated. In the statute 18USC Section 666, there are a few initial elements that come into play when proving federal government fraud in Maryland. The individual has to qualify under the statute as an agent of an organization, either a federal agency or a state agency.

If it is a state agency, it has to receive at least $10,000 from the federal government in a one-year period. That could be money or any direct benefits. There have been cases that have shown state colleges receiving federal funds indirectly through the federal student loans that are given to the students who pay tuition. Since that does not qualify, the agents working for that school would not be subject to the statute. If the money is received directly, even state or local, county, city, and municipal agencies could be subject to the statute. The agency organization has to receive at least $5,000 if it is a federal agency.

Proving Elements of the Specific Crime

When proving federal government fraud in Maryland, the government must also prove the elements of the specific crime. If it is theft or larceny, they have to prove that the person took money, property, or something of value from the agency, which in this case is the alleged victim, did not have permission and intended to keep that property. Those are the elements of theft. If it is embezzlement, for example, it is money, property, or something of value that the person has a right to possess through their position in the organization because they are a treasurer, an executive, or someone with permission to access and possess the money. They use it inappropriately, take it for themselves, or convert it to another end that is not authorized and done intentionally.

Proving Intent in Government Fraud Cases

The state proves intent through evidence. It is sometimes difficult because the state is not able to crawl into the mind of someone to prove explicitly what their intent was. Every once in a while there is a case where the government has access to emails, recordings or some other documentation of an express statement by the accused that clearly reveals an intent to commit criminal conduct.  In these cases, it is hard pressed for the accused disclaim that intent. They have to either say that the statement was not serious or somehow misattributed.

Circumstantial Evidence

Circumstantial evidence could also be valuable when proving federal government fraud in Maryland. If it is a theft case, the state has to prove that the person intended to keep the money and not return it. There might not be any statement or express confession from the accused of their intent when they took the property, but it could be surmised or attempted to be proven through circumstantial evidence based on what they did with the money, what their behavior was, like if they left the company, the organization, or the area. That could be circumstantial evidence that they had no intent to return the money. If they spent it on things for themselves, it could be another clear indicator of intent. It is fact-specific, but the government does not have to prove it with express direct evidence of a confession or a statement of intent. It could be proven with circumstantial evidence.

Types of Evidence in Government Fraud Cases

The types of evidence used when proving federal government fraud in Maryland depends on the specific facts of the case. The most common types of evidence are financial records and business records because most of these cases involve the illicit use or transfer of funds. A lot of the cases involve following the money, which is how these investigations begin. It forms the core of the government’s case and may be all they need, depending on how clearly the financial records show what happened with the money, like how it was used, transferred, and dispersed.

In addition to the financial records, there may be other business records from the organization or group involved. There could be testimonial evidence from federal employees who work for the organization that distributes the funds, from the person who works for a federal or a local agency that receives federal money, and from the co-workers and fellow employees describing the accused behavior or conduct within that organization. The government also could subpoena communications, like email records, recorded phone calls, or data showing phone calls that were made and to whom they were made that may be revealing.

Importance of Financial Records When Proving Government Fraud

In addition to the specific allegations, the main focus of the prosecutors is going to be financial records and bank records. They look at the accused bank records that show deposits that could be traced to stolen or misused federal funds. They look at purchases to see if luxury items or any other items were purchased with the ill-gotten funds. Those records are clear and easily understandable by a judge or a jury. The main pieces of evidence in fraud cases are usually related to the money. They track the disbursement of it to the organization, how it illicitly came into the possession of the accused, and what the accused did with it. If an individual wants to know more about proving federal government fraud in Maryland, they should speak with a capable government fraud attorney that could answer their questions and build their case.