In United States v. Verdeza, No. 21-10461 (May 31, 2023) (William Pryor, Rosenbaum, Marcus), the Court affirmed the defendant’s healthcare fraud convictions and sentence.
First, the Court held that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions under an aiding and abetting theory.
Second, the district court did not commit plain error by allowing an FBI agent to give “summary” testimony because there was no precedent holding that such testimony is, in itself, is improper. The district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence under Rule 404(b) because no notice was required under the pre-2020 version of the Rule and the evidence was not impermissible propensity evidence. And any error by allowing the government to ask two leading questions was harmless given the overwhelming evidence of guilt.
Third, evidence at trial supported the district court’s decision to give a deliberate ignorance instruction, and any error was harmless given the evidence of the defendant’s actual knowledge.
Fourth, as to sentencing, there was no precedent supporting the defendant’s argument that the definition of “loss” in the commentary was ambiguous post-Dupree, and so there was no plain error in calculating the amount based on the defendant’s intended loss. There was no clear error in declining to apply the minor-role reduction. There was no error in the restitution award because the statute permits courts to order members of a fraud to jointly repay the victims. And the 48 month sentence, which fell below the guideline range, was not substantively unreasonable.