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F 18.16 n1 Welfare Fraud: Sufficiency Of Aiding and Abetting Evidence.
In People v. Crow (93) 6 C4th 952, 963 [26 CR2d 1], the court held that the purchase of a post office box with a false name was sufficient evidence from which the jury could reasonably infer that the defendant gave the false address to assist his companion in welfare fraud by deceiving county officials into believing that the defendant was not residing with his companion.
F 18.16 n2 Welfare Fraud – Food Stamps: Knowledge Element (WI 10980(g)).
Sale, purchase or use of food stamps in violation of WI 10980(g) requires that the defendant know the transfer was unauthorized by law. Although there is no California authority on this point, the federal courts have addressed the issue in the context of a nearly identical federal statute and held that the prosecution must prove that the defendant knew that the acquisition or possession of food stamps was unauthorized by law. (See Liparota v. U.S.(85) 471 US 419, 433-34 [85 LEd2d 434; 105 SCt 2084]; see also, U.S. v. Pollard (6th Cir. 1984) 724 F2d 1438.) [See Brief Bank # B-672 and ask for Opinion Bank # O-194 for additional briefing and an unpublished opinion on this issue are available to FORECITE subscribers. Ask for and .] CD-ROM subscribers can access this briefing by searching for B-672..]
Any person who by means of false statement or representation or by impersonation or other fraudulent device, obtained or retained aid under Division 9 of the Welfare & Institutions Code for himself or herself or for a child not in fact entitled thereto is guilty of violating Welfare & Institutions Code 10980(c).
To prove such an offense the prosecution must establish the following elements:
1. The defendant knowingly or with intent to deceive or defraud utilized a false statement, representation impersonation or other fraudulent device.
2. As a result of the false statement representation, impersonation or fraudulent device the defendant obtained or retained aid under Division 9 of the Welfare & Institutions Code.
3. The aid was obtained for or retained by one not in fact entitled thereto.
Points and Authorities
In People v. Ochoa (91) 231 CA3d 1413, 1420-22 [282 CR 805], the court held that non-entitlement to the aid obtained or received is “clearly an element of the crime of welfare fraud.”
Furthermore, non-entitlement and the other elements set forth in the above proposed instruction are clearly defined as elements by the statutory language of WI 10980(c).
The requirement that the false statement or representation be made knowingly or with intent to deceive or defraud is based upon People v. Camillo (88) 198 CA3d 981, 989, fn 3 [244 CR 286], which observes that absent any requirement of scienter, the statute would be legally and constitutionally suspect. (See also Ochoa 231 CA3d at 1420, fn 1.)
Failure to adequately instruct the jury upon matters relating to proof of any element of the charge and/or the prosecution’s burden of proof thereon violates the defendant’s state (Art. I, § 15 and § 16) and federal (6th and 14th Amendments) constitutional rights to trial by jury and due process. [See generally, FORECITE PG VII(C).]
Expert Testimony: The Ochoa court rejected the prosecution’s argument that expert testimony on eligibility requirements and the amount of overpayments may be presented to the jury. The court held that expert testimony regarding welfare regulations is “admissible before the jury when the testimony relates to the application of the regulations, such as the calculations of overpayments, but is not admissible when it relates to the applicability and interpretation of the regulations regarding non-entitlement.” [Original emphasis.] (Ochoa at 1423-24.)
Only One Charge For All Aid Received From Single Act: In People v. Sepulveda DEPUBLISHED (91) 229 CA3d 868, 874 [280 CR 778], the court held that all aid received from a single fraudulent act must be aggregated into one felony charge. Though depublished, the opinion contains useful analysis of legislative materials taken from the California State Archives.
See Annotation, Criminal liability under state laws in connection with application for, or receipt of, public welfare payments, 22 ALR4th 534 and Later Case Service.