United States v. Hicks (7th Cir. October 2021)

The Federal Docket

October 20, 2021

Theft of US Money – In a prosecution for theft of money belonging to the U.S. under 18 USC 641, the Government does not have to prove that a defendant knew the money in question belonged to the U.S.

Eddie Hicks was convicted of several charges, including theft of U.S. money under 18 USC 641, based on his and co-conspirators scheme to use their positions as police officers to rob drug dealers. On some occasions, the money he stole was planted by the FBI, which planted the money as part of its investigation into Hicks.

On appeal, Hicks challenged his convictions, including his conviction under Section 641. He argued that the Government did not prove that he knew the money he stole belonged to the FBI. Hicks believed the money he stole belonged to the drug dealers.

The Seventh Circuit rejected Hicks’ argument. Citing precedent from almost every other circuit, including the Seventh, the Court concluded that knowledge of the property’s owner is irrelevant under Section 641. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has previously held that prosecution under 18 USC 111, for attacking a federal agent, does not require knowledge of the victim’s federal employment.

Appeal from the Northern District of Illinois
Opinion by Easterbrook

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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