A three-judge panel has denied the appeal of a former Mrs. Minnesota International who was seeking to have her fraud conviction overturned.
Denise "Dee" Henderson was convicted of fraud and other counts last year for collecting more than $190,000 in Social Security benefits by claiming she was disabled as a result of a 1995 car accident. She is serving a four-year sentence in an Illinois prison.
In her federal appeal, Henderson argued her case should have been deferred to the Social Security Administration and that her right to due process was denied. The appeal also claimed the court abused its discretion by admitting evidence such as descriptions of her home, beauty competitions and travels.
The conviction was affirmed on Monday in a 12-page opinion by Appeals Court Judge William Duane Benton. Judges Pasco Middleton Bowman II and William J. Riley also participated on the panel.
Henderson, of Woodbury, won the Mrs. Minnesota International title in 1999 and competed in the Mrs. U.S. International pageant. She also won the Mrs. Iowa International 2001 pageant and went on to become a Mrs. International Top 10 finalist.
During her trial, an attorney for Henderson said she suffers debilitating chronic pain from a 1995 car accident. According to a report she filed in 1997, Henderson said she had continuous back and neck pain and couldn't move or straighten up, and had migraines four or five times a week that lasted most of a day.
Prosecutors showed the jury film of Henderson riding on the back of a convertible in a parade and vacationing with her family in Hawaii. They also said she collected benefits, worked in business with her husband and made over 200 appearances as Mrs. Minnesota International in one year.
Henderson had testified she was not paid for those appearances, and according to her tax returns, she had no income after the 1995 accident.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)