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Commonwealth v. Mills

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
436 Mass. 387, 764 N.E.2d 854 (2002)


James Mills (defendant) retired from the Boston Police Department after being diagnosed with heart disease. Mills applied for and received a disability pension from the City of Boston (City) of $15,500 per year. To receive the funds, Mills was required to sign a document stating, under penalty of perjury, that he earned income below a specific threshold. Mills started a private-investigation business and was regularly retained by appointed counsel for indigent defendants. Mills billed the City’s Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) for the work he performed. However, Mills often submitted bills to CPCS for more than 24 hours of work in a single day. Mills also underreported his income to the City in order to receive his full disability pension. Mills was eventually charged with larceny and larceny by false pretenses in state trial court. At the close of the prosecution’s case at trial, Mills moved for acquittal on the larceny charge. The trial court denied the motion. Mills was convicted on multiple counts of larceny, larceny by false pretenses, and other crimes. Mills appealed, arguing that filing false earnings reports and underreporting his income did not constitute theft.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Spina, J.)

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