Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Failure to Charge Loss Amount in 18 U.S.C. 641 Case Harmless Error

In United States v. Lee, 15-458, the Second Circuit affirmed a conviction under 18 U.S.C. 641 and the 30-month sentence that followed.

Relying in part on Apprendi, the Court concluded that a loss amount in excess of $1000 is an element of a felony offense under Section 641 and that, to allege a felony, the indictment should allege that the loss amount exceed $1000.  In this case, however, where the pretrial discovery and the trial included “overwhelming” evidence that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of government property had been stolen, the violation of the Fifth Amendment’s Grand Jury Clause was harmless.  Opinion at 3.  The deficient indictment gave Lee “specific notice of the nature of the offense and the core of the criminal conduct to be proven at trial.”  Opinion at 22.

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