Forensic Accounting Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant related to a dispute over the ownership of certain property.  The United States hired a Forensic Accounting Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court denied the motion.

Facts:  This case (USA v. Talmage et al – United States District Court – District of Utah – April 24th, 2019) involves a dispute between two entities and the United States.  The action involves a dispute regarding the ownership of certain property, on which the United States seeks to foreclose to satisfy the tax obligations of the defendants.  In anticipation of trial, the United States has hired Gary D. Olsen (Forensic Accounting Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The defendants have filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendants challenge Olsen’s qualifications as an expert related to his third opinion, which was that it cannot be concluded that certain payments were part of an overall Ponzi scheme allegedly started by the defendants.  The defendants argue that Olsen is not qualified to give this opinion because he is not a certified fraud examiner and has never performed a Ponzi examination.

The court opines that because tracking funds is within the reasonable confines of Olsen’s experience as a forensic accountant and CPA, he is qualified to offer an opinion regarding whether the payments at issue were involved in a Ponzi scheme.  Thus, the court opines, his expert testimony will not be excluded on the qualification issue.

The defendants also argue that Olsen’s first two opinions, related to the calculation of various payments, should be excluded because he excluded certain data and he interpreted specific evidence differently than the defendants.  The court notes that the defendants do not challenge the reliability of the principles and methodology of Olsen’s testimony.  In addition, they do not challenge the reliability of Olsen’s application of these principles and methods to the facts.  The court notes that they challenge his interpretation of certain facts.  These types of challenges go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility.  The basis of the defendants arguments can be brought up on cross-examination.

The court also opines that Olsen’s opinion will help the trier of tact understand the complicated transactions at issue in this case.  Thus, Olsen’s opinion will not be excluded on this basis.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinion of Gary D. Olsen is denied.