United States v. Caplan, 13609.

Citation123 F. Supp. 862
Decision Date13 August 1954
Docket NumberNo. 13609.,13609.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Edward C. Boyle, U. S. Atty., W. Wendell Stanton, Asst. U. S. Atty., Pittsburgh, Pa., for plaintiff.

Elliott W. Finkel, Maurice Baruth, Pittsburgh, Pa., for defendant.

MURPHY, District Judge.

Defendant found guilty by verdict of a jury on five counts of wilful misapplication, 18 U.S.C.A. § 656, Id. § 2,1 moves in arrest of judgment and for a new trial. As to the former, defendant argues that the indictment does not charge an offense;2 as to the latter, that the verdict is against the law, against the evidence, the court erred in ruling on defendant's points for charge, in excluding evidence, and in the conduct of the trial.

For present purposes the motion in arrest of judgment must be decided upon the record, i. e., the indictment, the not guilty plea, and the verdict.3 See 18 U.S.C.A. Fed.Rules Crim.Proc. rule 34; United States v. Zisblatt, 2 Cir., 1949, 172 F.2d 740; United States v. Bradford, 2 Cir., 1952, 194 F.2d 197, at page 201, certiorari denied 343 U.S. 979, 72 S.Ct. 1079, 96 L.Ed. 1371; United States v. Rosenberg, 2 Cir., 1952, 195 F.2d 583, at page 603, and see Com. v. Heller, 147 Pa.Super. 68, at page 75, 24 A.2d 460; Com. v. Weldon, 159 Pa. Super. 447, at page 449, 48 A.2d 98.

The First National Bank in Cecil, a small bank in western Pennsylvania, had but three employees. It was stipulated that one of them, John F. Wagner, vice president and cashier of the bank, committed suicide during the course of an examination by national bank examiners, and that the examination revealed a shortage of $1,800,000.

As to a portion thereof,4 defendant, a depositor and customer of the bank, and not within the class of persons specifically covered by § 656, was by virtue of § 2 indicted, tried and convicted as a principal. The indictment cites both sections, describing Wagner's official position, states that he is deceased, not indicted, and not a defendant therein; that having aided and abetted Wagner in committing an offense against the United States, defendant is a principal. It charges that defendant unlawfully, knowingly and fraudulently and with intent to injure and defraud the bank did wilfully misapply certain moneys, funds and credits of the bank. As to the manner and means of doing so, it charges that Wagner — being an officer and by virtue of the power, control, direction and management he possessed over the bank's affairs — and the defendant paid and caused to be paid out of the moneys, funds and credits of the bank a certain check drawn by the defendant on his account at the bank; that the check was not charged against defendant's account at the bank; that there was not sufficient credit balance in defendant's account to cover or pay the same; that the bank was not secured, repaid or reimbursed therefor and, as a result thereof, such sum was wholly withdrawn and lost to the bank and appropriated and converted to the use, benefit and advantage of the defendant and divers other persons to the grand jurors unknown, all of which defendant well knew.

Defendant's position is that since he is not described as a person within the category embraced by § 656, commission of the acts alleged would not constitute an offense against the United States; that defendant is not charged with aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime defined by § 656 because the indictment fails to allege commission of a crime by one covered by § 656. Defendant relies upon United States v. Weitzel, 1918, 246 U.S. 533, 38 S.Ct. 381, 62 L. Ed. 872, a case holding that a receiver was not included within the term "agent" described by § 5209, Revised Statutes, U.S.Comp.St. 1901, p. 3497, substantially a reenactment of § 52 of the Act of February 25, 1863, c. 58, 12 Stat. 665, 680, the first National Bank Act. But therein defendant overlooks the latter part of § 5209. As early as Coffin v. United States, 1895, 156 U.S. 432, at pages 446, 447, 15 S.Ct. 394, 39 L.Ed. 481, the court rejected the contention that no offense was stated against aiders and abettors because there was no assertion that they were officers of the bank or occupied any specific relation to the bank which made aiding or abetting possible; that to adopt the construction contended for would destroy the letter and violate the spirit of the law. And see Coffin v. United States, 1896, 162 U.S. 664, at page 666, 16 S.Ct. 943, 40 L.Ed. 1109. The only part an outsider can play in accomplishing the result is to aid and abet someone at the bank who has control of the funds. United States v. Hillegass, D.C.E.D.Pa.1910, 176 F. 444, at page 447, affirmed Hillegass v. United States, 3 Cir., 1910, 183 F. 199, at page 203, certiorari denied 219 U.S. 585, 31 S.Ct. 470, 55 L.Ed. 347. The original section was amended to include the latter within its scope. Richardson v. United States, 3 Cir., 1910, 181 F. 1, at pages 6, 7.5 See and cf. Com. v. Weldon, supra, 159 Pa.Super. at page 453, 48 A.2d at page 101. Then followed § 332 of the Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 550 (1940 ed.) abolishing the distinction between principals and accessories, making them all principals whether the offenses be misdemeanors or felonies. Rooney v. United States, 9 Cir., 1913, 203 F. 928, at page 932; Ruthenberg v. United States, 1918, 245 U.S. 480, at page 483, 38 S.Ct. 168, 62 L.Ed. 414; Jin Fuey Moy v. United States, 1920, 254 U.S. 189, at page 192, 41 S.Ct. 98, 65 L.Ed. 214; United States v. Johnson, 1943, 319 U.S. 503, at pages 514, 515, 63 S.Ct. 1233, 87 L.Ed. 1546; United States v. Klass, 3 Cir., 1948, 166 F.2d 373, at page 380, and finally 18 U.S.C.A. § 2, as amended. See Nye & Nissen v. United States, 1949, 336 U.S. 613, at pages 618, 620, 69 S.Ct. 766, 93 L.Ed. 919; Colosacco v. United States, 10 Cir., 1952, 196 F.2d 165, at page 167; United States v. Marinelli, 1944, 3 Cir., 142 F.2d 446.

The very purpose of 18 U.S.C.A. § 2, as amended, was to clarify and make certain the intent to punish aiders and abettors, even though they may be incapable of committing the specific violation which they aided and abetted. See Senate Rep. 1020, § 17B, referring specifically to 18 U.S.C.A. § 656, Vol. 2 U.S.Code Cong. and Adm.Service 1951, p. 2578 at page 2583. It would have been clearer if the language read "is a principal and punishable as such". However, no change in existing law was contemplated. See Pereira v. United States, 5 Cir., 1953, 202 F.2d 830, at pages 836-837, affirmed 347 U.S. 1, at pages 9-11, 74 S.Ct. 358, 98 L.Ed. ___; United States v. Klock, D.C., 100 F.Supp. 230, reversed on other grounds, 2 Cir., 1954, 210 F.2d 217.

One who aids and abets may at the option of the pleader be indicted and prosecuted as a principal. United States v. Klass, supra, 166 F.2d at page 380; Di Preta v. United States, 2 Cir., 1920, 270 F. 73, at page 75. And such an indictment is supported by evidence that defendant aided and abetted in its commission. United States v. Amorosa, 3 Cir., 1948, 167 F.2d 596, at page 599; Greenberg v. United States, 8 Cir., 1924, 297 F. 45, at page 48; Bliss v. United States, 1 Cir., 1900, 105 F. 508; United States v. Carengella, 7 Cir., 1952, 198 F. 2d 3, at pages 6-7; Karrell v. United States, 9 Cir., 1950, 181 F.2d 981, at page 985; United States v. Selph,6 D.C.Cal. 1949, 82 F.Supp. 56, at page 58, and see 22 C.J.S. Criminal Law, § 103, at page 174; 42 C.J.S., Indictment, § 148, at page 1076; 27 Am.Jur. Indictments and Informations, § 95, p. 655; Com. v. Weldon, supra, 159 Pa.Super. at page 452, 48 A.2d at page 101; Com. v. Jones, 97 Pa.Super. 417, at page 422.

The proof must establish that the offense was committed by someone and that defendant aided and abetted in its commission. Von Patzoll v. United States, 10 Cir., 1947, 163 F.2d 216, at page 219; Colosacco v. United States, supra, 196 F.2d at page 167. The question whether the proof shows the commission of an offense is one of fact and not of law. Coffin v. United States, supra, 156 U.S. at page 447, 15 S.Ct. at page 400. It was not necessary to charge Wagner with having committed the offense. The only necessity of inquiring into his conduct was to ascertain whether or not a crime had been committed. Gallot v. United States, 5 Cir., 1898, 87 F. 446, certiorari denied 171 U.S. 689, 19 S.Ct. 884, 43 L. Ed. 1179; Havener v. United States, 8 Cir., 1926, 15 F.2d 503, at page 506.

Considering the indictment as a whole, McCoy v. United States, 9 Cir., 1948, 169 F.2d 776, at page 780, based on 18 U.S.C.A. Fed.Rules Crim.Proc. rule 7(c) and upon practical considerations, United States v. Achtner, 2 Cir., 1944, 144 F.2d 49, at page 51; United States v. Giles, 1937, 300 U.S. 41, 57 S.Ct. 340, 81 L.Ed. 493, we find that it contains all the elements of the offense charged, sufficiently apprised defendant of what he must be prepared to meet, and to enable him to plead the judgment as a bar to a subsequent prosecution. See Hagner v. United States, 285 U.S. 427, at page 433, 52 S.Ct. 417, 76 L.Ed. 861; United States v. Amorosa, supra, 167 F.2d at page 598. It was not necessary to advise defendant of the legal theory of the prosecution. United States v. Groopman, 2 Cir., 1945, 147 F.2d 782, at page 785; United States v. Pape, 2 Cir., 1944, 144 F.2d 778, at page 781.

"Few indictments under the national banking law are so skillfully drawn as to be beyond the hypercriticism of astute counsel, — few which might not be made more definite by additional allegations." Cochran and Sayre v. United States, 157 U.S. 286, at page 290, 15 S.Ct. 628, at page 630, 39 L.Ed. 704, and see Crain v. United States, 162 U.S. 625, 16 S.Ct. 952, 40 L.Ed. 1097; United States v. Mills, 7 Pet. 138, at page 142, 32 U.S. 138, at page 142, 8 L.Ed. 636.

Defendant's motion in arrest of judgment will therefore be denied.

Upon a careful review of the testimony,7 viewing the evidence and all inferences reasonably deducible therefrom in the light...

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7 cases
  • United States v. Anthony
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • September 14, 1956
    ...crime is guilty as a principal. Bozza v. United States, 1947, 330 U.S. 160, at page 164, 67 S.Ct. 645, 91 L.Ed. 818; United States v. Caplan, supra, 123 F.Supp. at page 865. "In order to aid and abet another to commit a crime it is necessary that a defendant `in some sort associate himself ......
  • Owens v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • January 31, 2005
    ...why convicting a second degree principal should not depend on whether a first degree principal is ever convicted. In United States v. Caplan, 123 F.Supp. 862 (D.Pa.1954), vacated on other grounds, 222 F.2d 875 (3d Cir.1955), the defendant was a bank customer who allegedly schemed with a ban......
  • United States v. Weinberg
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • March 4, 1955
    ...a new trial will therefore be denied. 1 Our review is limited to the indictment, the not guilty plea, and the verdict. United States v. Caplan, D.C., 123 F. Supp. 862 (not the testimony — 1671 pages, or the 145 exhibits received during 17 trial days); defendants' motion to dismiss the indic......
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    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • August 13, 1954
    ...motion based upon the sufficiency of the indictment as to counts 1 and 2, being similar to reasons asserted in United States v. Caplan, D.C., 123 F.Supp. 862, will for the reasons therein stated be denied. As to count 3, see Webb v. United States, 10 Cir., 1951, 191 F.2d 512, at page 514; B......
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