<< An Administration that Lies Through Its Teeth, Part III | Main | News Scan >>

Stop Lying. Stop Cheating. It's Not That Hard.

The Heritage Foundation summarizes today's unanimous (as to result) victory for the prosecution over a defendant who wanted to cheat his way to a little more dough. This is the gist of Loughrin v. United States:

The federal bank fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2), makes it a crime to knowingly execute a scheme to obtain property owned or possessed by a bank "by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises." Writing for a Court that was unanimous as to the result but disagreed slightly as to the reasoning, Kagan ruled that the statute does not require the Government to prove that a defendant intended to defraud a financial institution, only that the defendant intended to ob­tain bank property "by means of" a false statement. The Court affirmed Loughrin's conviction for submitting forged stolen checks to a retail establishment, rather than directly to a bank. Scalia, joined by Thomas, wrote a separate concurring opinion questioning how the majority's interpretation of the term "by means of" would apply in future cases. Alito wrote a concurring opinion arguing that the statute requires the government to prove only that the defendant knowingly sought to obtain money by means of a falsehood and not for any specific purpose.

As I said in my entry last week on the defendant's loss in United States v. Abramski, offenses like this are really easy to avoid. Don't cheat.  If you want money, work for it like everybody else.

Yes, there are legitimate questions about federal overreach.  Yes, the country should do a good deal of thinking about the seemingly limitless growth of criminal jurisdiction.  Yes, the government should be held to the letter of the law. But in any individual case, there is almost always an easy way to moot these questions: Be honest.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives