United States v. Blassingame, 648

Decision Date01 June 1970
Docket NumberNo. 648,Docket 33988.,648
Citation427 F.2d 329
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Alvin Thomas BLASSINGAME, Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit

John S. Martin, New York City, for appellant.

Richard Ben-Veniste, Asst. U. S. Atty. (Whitney North Seymour, Jr., U. S. Atty., for the Southern District of New York, Paul B. Galvani, Asst. U. S. Atty., of counsel), for appellee.

Before LUMBARD, Chief Judge, HAYS, Circuit Judge, and BLUMENFELD, District Judge.*

HAYS, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from a judgment of conviction entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York after a jury trial on a charge of using an interstate wire to execute a fraudulent scheme in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (1964).1

The evidence against appellant tended to establish that, posing as a recording artist and the brother of Johnny Mathis, a well known entertainer, appellant arranged by interstate wire for a chartered plane to take him and his guests to St. Croix. Appellant was unrelated to Johnny Mathis. He represented himself as Mathis' brother in order to secure credit for the cost of the charter flight for which he was unable to pay.

I.

Appellant's first contention is that there was insufficient proof that he used an interstate wire or that he knew or had reason to know that interstate wires would be used.

We hold that the evidence amply establishes that an interstate wire was used. Not only could the jury have found that in arranging for his charter flight appellant in New York talked by telephone to one Sizmur, an officer of Executive Jet, in Columbus, Ohio, but it was also shown that one of appellant's invited guests in appellant's presence called Executive Jet to check on the time the chartered plane would arrive in New York.

However, the government's evidence did not conclusively establish that when appellant talked with Sizmur on the telephone he knew that Sizmur was in another state or that he knew that his guest would have to make an out of state call to get the information about the time of the plane's arrival.2

The statute does not condition guilt upon knowledge that interstate communication is used. The use of interstate communication is logically no part of the crime itself. It is included in the statute merely as a ground for federal jurisdiction. The essence of the crime is the fraudulent scheme itself. Nothing is added to the guilt of the violator of the statute by reason of his having used an interstate telephone to further his scheme. There is consequently no reason at all why guilt under the statute should hinge upon knowledge that interstate communication is used. If the wire employed is an interstate wire the requirements for federal jurisdiction are satisfied. It is wholly irrelevant to any purpose of the statute that the perpetrator of the fraud knows about the use of interstate communication.

The idea that guilt under the statute depends upon knowledge that interstate communication is used appears to stem from United States v. Houlihan, 332 F.2d 8 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 379 U.S. 828, 85 S.Ct. 56, 13 L.Ed.2d 37 (1964). There this court did say:

"The Government was also required to prove that Houlihan caused the mailings, the use of the telegraph and telephone, and the interstate transportation of securities charged in the indictment. It was not necessary, however, to establish that Houlihan directly participated in any of the mailings, use of the wires, or interstate transportation. It was sufficient if they were the foreseeable result of Houlihan\'s acts. * * *" Id. at 13.

The view expressed by the court was, however, unnecessary to the result in the sense that the court held that in that case the use of interstate communication was foreseeable. A true test of the existence of such a rule can arise only in a case like the present case in which it is claimed that the use of interstate communication was not foreseeable and the defendant is acquitted on that...

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36 cases
  • United States v. Roselli
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • October 30, 1970
    ...to any purpose of the statute that the perpetrator of the fraud knows about the use of interstate communication." United States v. Blassingame, 427 F.2d 329 (2d Cir. 1970).17 Accordingly, knowing interstate travel or knowing use of an interstate facility is not an essential element of a vio......
  • United States v. Pacheco
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • March 7, 1974
    ...requirements are unrelated to the criminal character of the conduct and should be separately treated. See, e. g., United States v. Blassingame, 2 Cir., 1970, 427 F.2d 329, 330, cert. denied, 402 U.S. 945, 91 S.Ct. 1629, 29 L.Ed.2d 114 (1971); Overton v. United States, 5 Cir., 1968, 405 F.2d......
  • United States v. Taylor, 18-4414
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • November 5, 2019
    ...to any purpose of the statute that the perpetrator of the fraud knows about the use of interstate communication. United States v. Blassingame , 427 F.2d 329, 330 (2d Cir. 1970) ; see also United States v. Jinian , 725 F.3d 954, 965 (9th Cir. 2013) (holding that the interstate nexus in § 134......
  • US v. Upton
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • June 29, 1994
    ...the acts that violate the federal statute, are really the jurisdictional bases for federal prosecution. See United States v. Blassingame, 427 F.2d 329 (2d Cir.1970), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 945, 91 S.Ct. 1629, 29 L.Ed.2d 114 (1971) (involving similar statute condemning fraud by wire, 18 U.S.......
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