Tuesday, October 24, 2006

AD4: Payroll documents improperly received as "business records", insufficient evidence to support welfare fraud conviction

People v Smith, 2006 NY Slip Op 06944 [available here]

In one of the few reversals from this packet, the Fourth Department reversed a defendant's conviction for welfare fraud based on an improperly admitted payroll document and a lack of evidence on the the amount of welfare benefits actually wrongfully received. A great result for Mr. Smith, no doubt, but the opinion is short on analysis and of thus of limited value as precedent. After stating the requirements for a business record (made in the regular course of business, it is the regular course of the business to make the record, and the record was made contemporaneous with the act), the Court simply concludes that "the People failed to establish both the second and third foundation requirements, and thus the payroll documents were improperly admitted." (People v Smith, 2006 NY Slip Op 06944.) The Court also dismissed certain counts of the indictment on legal sufficiency grounds, holding "the evidence is insufficient to establish the amount that defendant was paid by private employers while he received public assistance benefits, and thus the evidence is insufficient to establish the amount of benefits, if any, improperly received by defendant." (Id.)