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U.S. v. Russo

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Citation Edit

United States v. Russo, 480 F.2d 1228 (6th Cir. 1973) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

The defendant was charged with mail fraud. The facts show that Russo operated a clinic and treated patients for a variety of illnesses. He filed claims with Blue Shield Insurance Co. for procedures that he did not perform. Blue Shield's policy was to compensate the doctor only for a limited number of special procedures. By filing claims for services not actually rendered, Russo caused Blue Shield to mail payment checks to him in violation of the mail fraud statute.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

At trial, the Government introduced the Director of Service Review for Blue Shield, who testified in detail on their procedure for processing claims. In essence, individual claims are filed on a particular form, with a description of the compensable treatment; the forms are received by Blue Shield, and transferred onto computer tape; and every two weeks the computer totals the individual forms, and writes a check to each doctor who has filed a claim. The director then testified to a variety of verification procedures used to guaranty the reliability of the computer information.

The prosecution then introduced another witness who was in charge of Blue Shield's computer runs. He further testified to verification procedures, and offered a printout of an annual statistical survey showing each doctor's total claims and services rendered. The survey was done each year, and showed the unusually large amount of Russo's claims.

The defendant objected to the computer printout evidence on numerous grounds. Russo initially claimed that the evidence was not a business record pursuant to the Federal Business Records Act.[1] The court determined that, though the survey is done yearly, it was done in the regular course of business, and relied upon as a normal operating procedure and was therefore a proper record of defendant's acts and within the statute.

The defendant next contended that the actual statistical survey was not prepared at or near the time that the acts in question occurred. The court answered that as long as the information is properly recorded near the time of the occurrence, it is immaterial whether that information is extracted months later.

The defendant further argued that the survey was not a proper record, but rather a summary or recapitulation, and therefore not admissible. The court determined that the survey was not a summary, but rather a complete record of all of defendant's transactions. Such a record does not become a summary merely because the information is arranged in an ordered, predetermined manner.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals also determined that the defendant's final objections were also properly overruled. The witnesses had laid a proper foundation for the admission of the survey by carefully detailing the methods of preparation and verification. Also, the defendant was provided ample time to examine the material. It was his choice to attempt to discredit the evidence, rather than to obtain his own evidence.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 28 U.S.C. §1732 (1976).

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