United States v. Foust, No. 19-6161 (10th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Defendant-Appellant Justin Foust appealed his conviction on six counts of wire fraud, and one count each of aggravated identity theft and money laundering. He was sentenced to 121 months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release. Foust’s company, Platinum Express, LLC, submitted false and fraudulent invoices to its customer, Chesapeake Energy Corporation (“Chesapeake”). Chesapeake identified more than $4.5 million that it had paid out on these invoices. Foust did not deny that the invoices were improper and that Platinum Express had not performed the work. But he denied that he had forged the signatures and employee identification numbers of Chesapeake employees. A handwriting expert testified otherwise regarding invoices associated with Chesapeake employee Bobby Gene Putman. The jury convicted Foust on the wire-fraud and aggravated-identity-theft counts associated with these invoices. On appeal, Foust argued the district court abused its discretion by allowing the handwriting expert to testify at trial. He contended: (1) the government did not adequately show that the expert’s methodology was reliable; and (2) the handwriting expert used unreliable data in reaching his opinion. Finding no abuse of discretion, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court judgment.