156 U.S. 432 (1895), 741, Coffin v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 741
Citation:156 U.S. 432, 15 S.Ct. 394, 39 L.Ed. 481
Party Name:Coffin v. United States
Case Date:March 04, 1895
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 432

156 U.S. 432 (1895)

15 S.Ct. 394, 39 L.Ed. 481



United States

No. 741

United States Supreme Court

March 4, 1895

Argued December 6-7, 1894




The offense of aiding or abetting an officer of a national bank in committing one or more of the offenses set forth in Rev.Stat. § 5209 may be committed by persons who are not officers or agents of the bank, and consequently it is not necessary to aver in an indictment against such an aider or abettor that he was an officer of the bank or occupied any specific relation to it when committing the offense.

In an indictment for soliciting or inciting to the commission of a crime or for aiding or assisting in its commission, it is not necessary to state the particulars of the incitement or solicitation or of the aid or assistance.

The plain and unmistakable statement of this indictment as a whole is that the acts charged against Haughey were done by him as president of the bank, and that the aiding and abetting was also knowingly done by assisting him in the official capacity in which alone it is charged that he misapplied the funds.

This indictment further examined and held to clearly state the misapplication and actual conversion of the money by the methods described -- that is to say, by paying it out of the funds of the bank to a designated person when that person was not entitled to take the funds, and that owing to the insolvency of such person the money was lost to the bank.

Where there is an averment that a person or matter is unknown to a grand jury, and no evidence upon the subject is offered by either side, and nothing

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appears to the contrary, the verity of the averment of want of knowledge in the grand jury is presumed.

A charge that there cannot be a conviction unless the proof shows guilt beyond a reasonable doubt does not so entirely embody the statement of presumption of innocence as to justify the court in refusing, when requested, to instruct the jury concerning such presumption, which is a conclusion drawn by the law in favor of the citizen by virtue whereof, when brought to trial upon a criminal charge, he must be acquitted unless he is proven to be guilty.

[15 S.Ct. 395] By section 5209 of the Revised Statutes, relating to national banks, certain acts therein enumerated are made misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment for not less than five nor more than ten years. The section reads as follows:

Every president, director, cashier, teller, clerk, or agent of any association who embezzles, abstracts, or willfully misapplies any of the moneys, funds, or credits of the association; or who, without authority from the directors, issues or puts in circulation any of the notes of the association, or who, without such authority, issues or puts forth any certificate of deposit, draws any order or bill of exchange, makes any acceptance, assigns any note, bond, draft, bill of exchange, mortgage, judgment, or decree, or who makes any false entry in any book, report, or statement of the association with intent in either case to injure or defraud the association or any other company, body politic or corporate, or any individual person, or to deceive any officer of the association, or any agent appointed to examine the affairs of any such association, and every person who with like intent aids or abets any officer, clerk, or agent in any violation of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be imprisoned not less than five years nor more than ten.

The indictment in this case was found on the 21st December, 1893, against Theodore P. Haughey, who had been president of the Indianapolis National Bank, for violations of the foregoing section. F. A. Coffin and Percival B. Coffin, plaintiffs in error, and A. S. Reed, were charged therein with having aided and abetted Haughey in his alleged misdemeanors. The indictment is prolix and redundant, and it is difficult to

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analyze it so as to make a concise statement of its contents. It contains fifty counts, and alleges that the various offenses enumerated in them were committed on different dates between January 1, 1891, and July 26, 1893. The counts embrace a number of acts made misdemeanors by the statute, and the charges are commingled in a very indefinite and confusing manner. All the counts, however, may be classified as follows:

(1) Those which aver willful misapplication of the funds of the bank at a specified time, in a precise sum, and by enumerated and distinctly described acts.

(2) Those which, although definite as to date and amount, are indefinite in their statement of the precise means by which the alleged crimes were accomplished.

(3) Those which, while charging a willful misapplication of the funds of the bank for a definite amount, are entirely indefinite as to the date or dates upon which the acts took place, and also fail to specify the particular acts by which the wrong was accomplished.

(4) Those which charge false entries in the books of the bank.

(5) Those which charge false entries in certain official statements of the condition of the bank made to the Comptroller of the Currency.

Under the first head -- counts which are definite as to time, dates, amounts, and methods -- are included Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 47. The first of these in order of date -- for the counts are not arranged chronologically in the indictment -- is the forty-seventh, which reads as follows:

The grand jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do further charge and present that Theodore P. Haughey, late of said district at the district aforesaid, on, to-wit, the 21st day of December, in the year of our Lord 1892, the said Theodore P. Haughey then and there being president of a certain national banking association, then and there known and designated as the Indianapolis National Bank, in the City of Indianapolis, in the State of Indiana, which said association had been heretofore

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created and organized under the laws of the United States of America, and which said association was then and there carrying on a banking business in the City of Indianapolis, State of Indiana, did then and there, by virtue of his said office as president of said bank, unlawfully, feloniously, and willfully misapply the moneys, funds, and credits of the said association, which were then and there under his control, with intent to convert the same to the use of the Indianapolis Cabinet Company and to other persons to the grand jurors unknown, in a large sum, to-wit, the sum of six thousand three hundred and eighteen dollars, by then and there causing said sum to be paid out of the moneys, funds, and credits of said association upon a check drawn upon said association by the Indianapolis Cabinet Company, which check was then and there cashed and paid out of the moneys, funds, and credits of said association aforesaid, which said sum aforesaid, and no part thereof, was said Indianapolis Cabinet Company entitled to withdraw from said bank, because said company had no funds in said association to its credit; that said Indianapolis Cabinet Company was then and there insolvent, as the said Theodore P. Haughey then and there well knew, whereby said sum became lost to said association; that all of said acts as aforesaid were done with intent to injure and defraud said association; that, as such president aforesaid, the said Theodore P. Haughey was entrusted and charged by the board of directors of said national banking association with the custody, control, and care of the moneys, funds, credits, and assets of said association, and the general superintendence of its affairs.

And the grand jurors aforesaid do further say that Francis A. Coffin, Percival B. Coffin, and Albert S. Reed did unlawfully, willfully, knowingly, and feloniously, and with intent to injury and defraud said association, on to-wit, the twenty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord 1892, aid and abet the said Theodore P. Haughey, as aforesaid, to wrongfully, unlawfully, feloniously, and willfully misapply the moneys, funds, and credits of said association as aforesaid, to-wit, the sum of six thousand three hundred and eighteen dollars.

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The second and third counts are substantially like the foregoing, varying only in the statements of date, amount, and method. The first and remaining count under this head, after fixing the date of the offense and stating the amount at $5,802.84, describes the method by which the misapplication was accomplished, as follows:

The Indianapolis Cabinet Company, of Indianapolis, Indiana, presented to said bank and to the said Theodore P. Haughey, as such president thereof, a certain bill of exchange drawn by said Indianapolis Cabinet Company on the Indianapolis Desk Company, of London, England, for the sum of one thousand one hundred and ninety-four pounds sterling, and due on June 1, 1893, which said bill of exchange was received by said Theodore P. Haughey, and placed to the credit of the said Indianapolis Cabinet Company upon the books of said bank, and the said Indianapolis Cabinet Company thereupon drew its check for said sum upon the said bank, which check was then and there paid by said bank under the direction of said Theodore P. Haughey; that said Indianapolis Desk Company, of London, England, did not owe said Indianapolis Cabinet Company any sum whatever; that said Theodore P. Haughey failed and refused to send said bill of exchange forward for collection, whereby said sum was lost to said association; that said sum was so willfully misapplied to the use and benefit of the Indianapolis Cabinet Company as aforesaid.

Under the second head -- those definite as to date and amount, but...

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