False Claims18 U.S.C. § 152(4)
Subsection (4) of Section 152 sets out the offense of filing a
bankruptcy claim. A "claim" is a document filed in a bankruptcy proceeding
a creditor of the debtor. It is sometimes also called a "proof of claim."
the purposes of this section the nature of the claim is immaterial-- i.e.,
claim can be secured or unsecured, liquidated or unliquidated, disputed or
undisputed. A "false" claim is one that is known by the creditor to be
untrue at the time the claim is filed.|
Subsection (4) provides:
A person who...knowingly and fraudulently presents any false
claim for proof against the estate of a debtor, or uses any such claim in
case under title 11, in a personal capacity or as or through an agent,
attorney;...shall be fined..., imprisoned..., or both.
The elements of a false claim violation are:
- that bankruptcy proceedings had been commenced;
- that defendant presented or caused to be presented a proof of claim
- that the proof of claim was false as to a material matter; and
- that the defendant knew the proof of claim was false and acted
knowingly and fraudulently.
United States v. Overmyer, 867 F.2d 937, 949 (6th Cir.),
cert. denied, 493 U.S. 813 (1989).
A claim can be asserted by a creditor whether or not it is reduced
judgment, whether the claim is liquidated, unliquidated, fixed, contingent,
mature, unmatured, disputed, undisputed, legal, equitable, secured or
United States v. Connery, 867 F.2d 929, 934 (reh'g denied)(6th
1989), appeal after remand 911 F.2d 734 (1990).
Since the falsity of a claim, in most cases, is obvious, the key
frequently becomes what was the defendant's state of mind at the time of the
filing of the claim. Good faith is a complete defense to this charge. The
filing of a false claim is not a crime where there was a good faith belief
accuracy. United States v. Connery, 867 F.2d 929, 934 (reh'g
denied)(6th Cir. 1989), appeal after remand 911 F.2d 734 (1990).
A proof of claim is not false merely because it may be
or erroneous in any or all respects. The claim may be asserted by a
good faith even though the moneys being sought are thereafter successfully
disputed by the debtor or disallowed by the Bankruptcy Court. Instead, a
of claim is false if the statements contained therein are intentionally
inaccurate and submitted without any good faith basis for the claim and are
the result of some mistake or clerical error or inadvertent omission.
United States v. Overmyer, 867 F.2d 937, 950 (6th Cir.), cert.
denied, 493 U.S. 813 (1989), appeal after remand, 899 F.2d 457
Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 939 (1990)(quoting above
[cited in USAM 9-41.001]