Sunday, February 01, 2015
To sustain a falsification charge, an agency must prove by preponderant evidence that the appellant knowingly supplied incorrect information with the intention of defrauding, deceiving or misleading the agency. Naekel v. Department of Transportation, 782 F.2d 975, 977 (Fed. Cir. 1986); Seas v. U.S. Postal Service, 73 M.S.P.R. 422, 427 (1997). Intent is a state of mind, which is generally proven by circumstantial evidence. Riggin v. Department of Health & Human Services, 13 M.S.P.R. 50, 52 (1982). Thus, the Board may consider plausible explanations for an appellant’s provision of incorrect information in determining whether the misrepresentation was intentional. See Nelson v. U.S. Postal Service, 79 M.S.P.R. 314, ¶ 7 (1998). Likewise, the absence of a credible explanation for the misrepresentation can constitute circumstantial evidence of intent to deceive. Id. Intent may also be inferred when an appellant makes a misrepresentation with a reckless disregard for the truth or with a conscious purpose to avoid learning the truth. Id. In sum, the Board will examine the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the agency has proven intent to defraud, deceive, or mislead. See Delancy v. U.S. Postal Service, 88 M.S.P.R. 129, ¶ 4 (2001).