A U.S. District Court judge has explained why he vacated the fraud conviction of a former Miss Montana who was charged with misrepresenting her housing conditions to an insurance company while her historic mansion was undergoing repairs.
Christin D. Didier was charged in September 2012 and convicted in April of mail fraud and conspiracy for collecting nearly $123,000 for temporary housing in 2008. Prosecutors said she told insurers she was living in a five-bedroom home with an in-ground pool that cost just over $15,000 a month when she was actually living in an 860-square-foot family-owned cabin with no indoor plumbing.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy vacated the conviction in July. His explanation, filed Friday, said the insurance company owed Didier an amount sufficient to maintain her standard of living whether she used the money for housing or not, the Daily Inter Lake reported.
He likened it to keeping the money rather than having your car repaired after a collision.
“Is it mail fraud when the owner of a damaged car gets the requisite three estimates, obtains payment by mail from the carrier but then has someone else do the work, pocketing the difference or savings?” Molloy wrote. “What if the owner never has the damage repaired, is that fraud?”
Didier – who won the Miss Montana title in 1997 – bought the Somers mansion in 2005 for $1.1 million.
The mansion was damaged by a windstorm and a minor fire in 2008, and she moved out while repairs were made.
She filed for bankruptcy and the mansion was foreclosed upon in February 2011. She was evicted in September 2012.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Racicot has appealed Molloy’s decision to overturn the jury verdict.
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