Although it noted the question was a "close one," the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined there was sufficient evidence to support a man's conviction of mail fraud in his scheme to defraud the government out of money for work he didn't complete.
In United States of America v. Timothy A. Boisture, No. 07-1621, Timothy Boisture appealed one of his two convictions of mail fraud. Boisture, a partial owner of Environmental Consulting and Engineering Company, participated in a multi-part scheme to defraud his company and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Boisture was awarded a project through IDEM to clean up oil and waste storage tanks and plug 12 oil and oil injection wells in Vanderburgh County. Later, the project expanded to 39 more wells in the county. IDEM paid for the project with a grant from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Natural Resources oversaw the closure of the wells.
Boisture, along with subcontractor Carl Hanisch and DNR inspector Donald Veatch, conspired to get money from IDEM for work they didn't complete. Environmental Consulting could get additional funds for "out of scope" work, and after Hanisch incurred unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, the three men wrote up reports and invoices claiming to perform work that they could be reimbursed for. After his convictions of mail fraud, Boisture appealed arguing insufficient evidence on one count of mail fraud.
The government relied on false representations in two "Plugging and Abandonment Reports" required by DNR for each well closed to support the mail fraud convictions. The reports were mailed from the Evansville office to the Indianapolis office. At the time of the mailings, Boisture and his co-schemers had already been paid, so he argued the government failed to show the mailings furthered their scheme. He also argued there was insufficient evidence anyone in the scheme knew the reports would be mailed.
Boisture, Hanisch, and Veatch sought to keep their scheme undetected, and the reports tied into and helped complete the scheme as a whole, wrote Judge Ilana Rovner. They needed the invoices and the reports to match so as to not raise suspicion. In addition, the DNR didn't consider the plugging process finished until the completed reports were received and bond released. Although the government's case could have been stronger, the jury could have inferred from the evidence that the two reports amounted to the final step in a broad scheme to dupe IDEM.
The 7th Circuit also rejected Boisture's argument that none of the three men could have foreseen the reports would be mailed. Veatch testified that he knew the final part of the report, the bond release, was completed and stored at the main DNR office in Indianapolis. He also testified that he submitted the reports to the Evansville office; from this, the jury could infer that Veatch could have reasonably foreseen the documents would be mailed. No employee hand delivered the reports and to convict Boisture of mail fraud, the government had to prove he, Veatch or Hanisch could reasonably foresee the documents being mailed, wrote Judge Rovner.