United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that an Edgemont, South Dakota, man recently reached a settlement agreement with the United States Government for submitting false unemployment claims.
Terry Beard, age 48, was laid off from his job as a conductor for the Burlington Northern Railroad in December of 2008. He submitted 23 claim forms certifying he was entitled to receive payments for unemployment benefits from March 2009 through January 2010 with the U.S. Railroad Board (RRB). Beard failed to advise the RRB that he was at the same time employed with the City of Edgemont. Beard knowingly and willfully falsified claims to the government for unemployment benefits.
In April 2014, the United States brought a civil action against Beard to recover damages and civil penalties pursuant to the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, for the false claims Beard knowingly submitted to the RRB.
The FCA imposes liability on persons and companies who knowingly submit false claims to the government or causes another to submit a false claim to the government, or knowingly makes a false record or statement to get a benefit paid by the government. Persons who submit a false claim must pay to the United States a civil penalty of not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 for each false claim, plus three times the amount of damages which the government sustained.
The government signed a settlement agreement with Beard on May 27, 2014. Beard consented to a judgment in favor of the United States in the amount of $40,000 and agreed to make monthly payments over five years, for submitting the false claims for unemployment insurance benefit payments to the RRB.
Previously, Beard was also indicted by a grand jury and pled guilty to the offense of making a false claim pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 287, a Felony, for knowingly submitting the false claims to the RRB. A criminal judgment was entered against Beard in federal court, and he was sentenced on October 23, 2013, to a term of 5 years’ probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,407.00.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office places a high priority on criminal and civil enforcement in cases involving all types of fraud committed against the government, and works with various law enforcement agencies to identify and investigate these matters.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Venhuizen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cheryl Schrempp DuPris prosecuted the criminal and civil cases respectively.