United States v. Spirito (4th Cir. May 2022)

The Federal Docket

June 13, 2022

Spirito was convicted of several federal fraud crimes, including federal program fraud based on three unauthorized credit card transactions. 18 USC 666 prohibits an agent of an organization from receiving, in any one-year period, federal benefits in excess of $10,000 from “embezzl[ing], steal[ing], obtain[ing] by fraud or otherwise without authority knowingly convert[ing] to the use of any person other than the rightful owner or intentionally misappl[ying]” property owned or controlled by that organization and carrying a value of $5000 or more.” At issue was whether Section 666 “criminalizes multiple conversions of less than $5,000, if the government must point to conversions that took place over more than one year to reach the $5,000 statutory minimum.”

The Court answered in the negative, holding that Section 666 “requires each transaction used to reach the aggregate $5,000 requirement to occur within the same one-year period.” The Court engaged in a lengthy review of legislative history to confirm its holding was not contrary to congressional intent. The Court also noted it was joining other circuits in this conclusion.

Appeal from the Eastern District of Virginia
Opinion by Gregory, joined by Motz and Thacker

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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