South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Possession of Stolen Goods in One State Alone Is Not Interstate Transportation of Stolen Goods
Description Federal goods were stolen in Washington, D.C. One stolen computer was delivered to a home in Maryland. The person who received the computer cannot be tried in D.C. for possession of stolen federal property, as the person was not involved in moving the goods across state lines. The proper venue for the case is Maryland.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Stolen Property; Possession; Venue
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Mellen, the aunt of defendant Morgan, intended to defraud her employer, the Department of Education, in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a telecommunications manager. Mellen and a friend submitted false claims for assorted goods they bought for themselves. One of the goods was a computer that Mellen sent to her sister, Morgan's mother, in Maryland. Later, Morgan moved into another house in Maryland and took the computer with him. Months later, when Mellen's scam was uncovered, federal agents tracked down the computer in Morgan's residence. He was charged with receiving stolen federal property and was convicted in federal district court in D.C. He appealed.
Decision

Reversed. Morgan never had control of the computer while it was in D.C. It was delivered to the house in Maryland where he was living, so his possession of the stolen computer began in Maryland, not in D.C. He did not transport the computer from D.C. to Maryland. Hence, Morgan should not have been tried in D.C. The proper venue was Maryland, so the conviction is overturned. There was no transportation of stolen goods across state lines by Morgan. His alleged criminal action occurred entirely in Maryland.

Citation U.S. v. Morgan, 393 F.3d 192 (D.C. Cir., 2004)

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