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State v. Bragg

Court of Appeals of Georgia

June 26, 2015

THE STATE
v.
BRAGG

Page 183

Statute of limitation. Bibb Superior Court. Before Judge Self.

K. David Cooke, Jr., District Attorney, Myra H. Tisdale, Assistant District Attorney, for appellant.

Andrew W. Jenkins, for appellee.

MILLER, Judge. Branch, J., concurs. Andrews, P. J., concurs in judgment only.

OPINION

Page 184

Miller, Judge.

Becky Sheree Bragg filed a plea in bar asserting that her indictment for violating Georgia's Employment Security Law (OCGA § 34-8-256 (a)) was barred by the applicable four-year statute of limitation under OCGA § 17-3-1 (c). The trial court granted Bragg's plea in bar, and the State appeals. The State contends that the statute of limitation was tolled under OCGA § 17-3-2 (2) for the period of time in which the crime was unknown. For the following reasons, we affirm.

[332 Ga.App. 609] " When reviewing a trial court's ruling on a plea in bar, the trial court's findings on disputed facts and witness credibility are affirmed unless those findings are clearly erroneous." (Citation omitted.) Harper v. State of Ga., 292 Ga. 557, 563 (3) (738 S.E.2d 584) (2013). We review the trial court's application of law to undisputed facts de novo, keeping in mind that the State has the burden of proving that the statute of limitation does not bar the indictment. State v. Mullins, 321 Ga.App. 671 (742 S.E.2d 490) (2013).

So viewed, the evidence shows that the Georgia Department of Labor (the " DOL" ) maintains two separate computer databases which store personal information. One database stores information on claimants who receive unemployment benefits, and the other stores information on working employees' earned wages as reported by their employers for tax purposes. Personal information in both databases includes the relevant individual's social security number. The two databases are compared on a quarterly basis using a " skip trace" automated computer program.

The skip trace program compares the information in the earned wages database with the information in the unemployment benefits database and identifies individuals whose social security number appears in both databases for the same quarterly period. The DOL then sends a quarterly wage audit inquiry letter to each individual's employer, asking the employer to verify whether the individual has been working while receiving unemployment benefits.[1]

In this case, Bragg received unemployment benefits in 2009. On or before January 21, 2010, Bragg was identified in the DOL's system and the DOL sent Bragg's employer a quarterly wage audit inquiry letter because the system showed that she had been working while receiving unemployment benefits. Bragg may have been identified in the DOL's system as early as January 1, 2010. On February 2, 2010, the DOL received a response from Bragg's employer stating that Bragg was employed from December 29, 2008 to September 23, 2009, and that she earned more than $7,000 during this time period. Consequently, Bragg received unemployment benefits while she was employed. The State, however, waited until January 7, 2014 to charge Bragg with violating the Georgia Employment Security Law for knowingly failing to disclose that she was gainfully employed between January 3, 2009 and September 5, 2009, while she was receiving unemployment benefits in excess of $4,000.

[332 Ga.App. 610] On March 13, 2014, Bragg filed her plea in bar, based on the running of the four-year statute of limitation set forth in OCGA § 17-3-1 (c). Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted Bragg's plea in bar, and this appeal ensued.

1. As an initial matter, we note that the State's brief in this case violates numerous rules of this Court. The brief was untimely filed more than 35 days after this appeal was docketed in violation of Court of Appeals Rule 23 (a). Additionally, the State's brief contains no ...


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