A federal appeals panel has upheld the conviction of a Nicholasville woman charged with concealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets during her bankruptcy case.
Sheryl Bruner said she relied on attorneys' advice when she didn't disclose sizable trust accounts as assets.
Bruner argued in her appeal that the judge in her 2014 fraud trial erred by not giving jurors an instruction on her claimed lack of intent to commit a crime because she had depended on advice from attorneys.
However, three judges of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said Bruner did not disclose all information about the trusts to her bankruptcy attorney. As a result, she can't credibly claim to have relied on the attorney's advice, the appeals panel said.
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The panel said in its July 30 decision that U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell's ruling on the issue was proper.
From 2003 to 2012, Bruner operated a company called Support Source, which received Medicaid payments for providing services to people with disabilities. She later did similar work for a company in Lee County.
A court document said the company billed Medicaid $7.8 million from 2007 to 2013. And in 2012 and 2013, Bruner received a salary totaling more than $320,000 from the second company, the document said.
Bruner was charged with concealing her income from the Social Security Administration so she could get disability payments based on a claim that depression and anxiety prevented her from working.
When Bruner filed for bankruptcy in May 2013, she said she had one house, $1,500 in cash and $5,100 in personal property, including a $1,500 Chevrolet pickup.
The cash surfaced when investigators from Attorney General Jack Conway's office searched her house Dec. 5.
Prosecutors said she owned at least two other houses and two expensive vehicles; had access to trusts containing hundreds of thousands of dollars; and had $220,000 hidden in her home.
A jury convicted Bruner on more than a dozen charges. Caldwell sentenced her to seven years in prison.
Bruner also pleaded guilty on state charges and agreed to forfeit the cash found in her house.