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United States v. Digilio

filed: June 7, 1976; as amended June 21 & August 4, 1976 .



Author: Gibbons

Before: CLARK,*fn* Associate Jstice, GIBBONS and HUNTER, Circuit Judges

GIBBONS, Circuit Judge:

These are consolidated appeals from judgments of conviction and sentence. Appellants John Digilio (No. 75-2218), Harry Lupo (No. 75-2219) and Peter Szwandrak (No. 75-2220) were indicted, with three other persons not parties to this appeal for violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 641.The indictment charged that the defendants conspired to defraud the United States (Count I), and converted to their own use "records of the United States; that is, photocopies of official files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of a value in excess of $100.00" (Count II). Two of the defendants, George Kuczynski and Irene Klimansky (now Irene Klimansky Kuczynski), pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count of the indictment and were severed from the trial. The Kuczynskis testified for the government at the trial of the four remaining defendants. One of the defendants, John Grillo, was acquitted at trial on both counts.

A jury found DiGilio, Lupo and Szwandrak guilty on both counts. The jury, however, found Lupo guilty only of theft of property of a value under $100. He was sentenced, therefore, in accordance with the proviso in the third paragraph of § 641*fn1 on the substantive count, and in accordance with the second paragraph (misdemeanor) of § 371*fn2 on the conspiracy count.*fn3 DiGilio and Szwandrak received felony sentences on both the conspiracy and substantive counts.*fn4 Each appellant contends that his conviction should be reversed because the conduct charged in the indictment and proved at trial was not a crime proscribed by § 641. Each defendant also urges that there were trial errors with respect to the court's charge and its rulings admitting and failing to suppress evidence, which warrant a new trial. Defendants DiGilio and Szwandrak contend that even if their judgments of conviction should be affirmed, they should be resentenced pursuant to the lower range of sanctions prescribed in the proviso to § 641. Finally, DiGilio argues that he should not have been tried at all because he was incompetent to stand trial. We conclude that defendants DiGilio and Szwandrak must be resentenced, but that prior to resentencing the district court must hold a hearing to determine (1) whether DiGilio was competent to stand trial throughout the proceedings in the district court and (2) whether he is competent to be resentenced.


The evidence at trial tended to show that from the fall of 1971 through the spring of 1972 DiGilio, acting first through Lupo and Szwandrak and later through Grillo, procured the unauthorized copying of documents in the FBI files. The documents which were copied related to an investigation of alleged criminal activity by DiGilio. The unauthorized copies were made by Irene Klimansky, a clerk-typist in the Newark, New Jersey office of the FBI, during her working hours and with government paper and copying equipment. The original records were returned by Klimansky to the proper files. She delivered the copies of the documents to her then-finance, George Kuczynski. Kuczynski delivered the copies from time to time to DiGilio's intermediaries, who paid him from $25 to $100 for each delivery. On one occasion Kuczynski received a $200 payment, but this was not related to the delivery of any specific group of documents, and was described as a Christmas bonus. There were multiple deliveries of copies from Klimansky to Kuczynski. Kuczynski broke down some of the deliveries from Klimansky into smaller components, in an effort to get more money from DiGilio. Thus there were more deliveries from Kuczynski to DiGilio's intermediaries than from Klimansky to Kuczynski. The evidence did not connect a payment in excess of $100 to any particular delivery. Nor was there evidence that DiGilio arranged with Kuczynski for the delivery in installments of a previously identified group of documents or records. During the apparent life of the conspiracy, however, over $1000 was funneled to Kuczynski through DiGilio's intermediaries.

Most of the above-recited facts were stipulated by the defendants. In addition, Kuczynski's testimony at trial identified Szwandrak as the initial intermediary from DiGilio, and tended to incriminate DiGilio, Grillo and Lupo as conspirators, and DiGilio as the source of payments and the ultimate recipient of the contraband copies. Kuczynski testified that he passed on documents both to Szwandrak and to Grillo. The remainder of the government's case consisted of statements made to various FBI agents by Lupo and Szwandrak, to which more particular reference will be made in Parts IV and V of this opinion.


The second count of the indictment charges that the defendants converted to their own use "records of the United States; that is, photocopies of official files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation...." The statute under which they were indicted provides:

"Whoever... converts to his use or the use of another... any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States... shall be fined... or imprisoned...."

The defendants urge that the facts set forth above do not fall within § 641, because that section does not apply where, as here, the government was not deprived of the use of the information contained in the records. They contend that unauthorized copies of government records are not themselves "records" within the meaning of the statute, and that the unauthorized transmission of information is not proscribed by § 641. They assert that at most, the government lost exclusive possession of the information contained in its confidential records, and that Congress never intended § 641, which is essentially a larceny statute, to protect the governmental interest in exclusive possession of information. Reminding this court of the celebrated cases of Anthony Russo and Daniel Ellsberg*fn5 and, of more recent vintage, the Daniel Schorr affair,*fn6 defendants argue that the government's expansive interpretation of § 641, if accepted, would pose serious, perhaps fatal, first amendment, vagueness and overbreadth problems.

The government, on the other hand, is of the view that the misappropriation of information falls within § 641's sanction. It places principal reliance on Judge Friendly's opinion in United States v. Bottone, 365 F.2d 389 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 385 U.S. 974, 17 L. Ed. 2d 437, 87 S. Ct. 514 (1966), holding that the microfilming of a scientific process with equipment owned by the thieves, and the asportation of those copies violated 18 U.S.C. § 2314.*fn7 See also United States v. Seagraves, 265 F.2d 876 (3d Cir. 1959); United States v. Lester, 282 F.2d 750 (3d Cir. 1960), cert. denied, 364 U.S. 937, 5 L. Ed. 2d 368, 81 S. Ct. 385 (1961).

It is not necessary to accept the government's thesis in its entirety to hold that in this case a § 641 violation was established. This case does not involve memorization of information contained in government records, or even copying by thieves by means of their own equipment. Irene Klimansky availed herself of several government resources in copying DiGilio's files, namely, government time, government equipment and government supplies.*fn8 That she was not specifically authorized to make these copies does not alter their character as records of the government. A duplicate copy is a record for purposes of the statute, and duplicate copies belonging to the government were stolen. See United States v. Friedman, 445 F.2d 1076, 1087 (9th Cir. 1971); see also United States v. Rosner, 352 F. Supp. 915, 922 (S.D. N.Y. 1922), modified, 485 F.2d 1312 (2d Cir. 1973).*fn9

We do not, by resting upon the narrower ground that a technical larceny has been proved, intend to imply a rejection of the government's broader interpretation of § 641. In Chappell v. United States, 270 F.2d 274 (9th Cir. 1959), the Ninth Circuit refused to hold that misappropriation of an airman's labor to paint private houses during duty hours fell within the statute, because theft of labor or intangibles was not in the nature of a larceny offense. Compare Burnett v. United States, 222 F.2d 426 (6th Cir. 1955). Much can be said in favor of the government's argument that Chappell v. United States, supra, is inconsistent with the interpretation of § 641 by the Supreme Court in Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 269 n.28, 96 L. Ed. 288, 72 S. Ct. 240 (1952):

"The history of § 641 demonstrates that it was to apply to acts which constituted larceny or embezzlement at common law and also acts which shade into those crimes but which, most strictly considered, might not be found to fit their fixed definitions."

But since there was an asportation of records owned by the United States we need not in this case decide whether appropriation of information alone falls within § 641.*fn10 The statute gives fair warning that at a minimum, it proscribes all larceny-type offenses. The indictment charges such an offense, and the government proved such an offense.

We recognize that the Department of Justice probably would not have presented this case for indictment but for the informational content of the documents. A statute like § 641 which prohibits the theft of any government property of any kind does indeed, as the defendants observe, vest considerable discretion in the Department of Justice with respect to selective enforcement. The solution to that problem, however, would appear to be legislative. Cf. Edgar & Schmidt, The Espionage Statutes and Publication of Defense Information, 73 Colum. L. Rev. 929, 930 (1973). We may not rewrite the statute in order to substitute our own enforcement standards for those of the executive branch. See Newman v. United States, 127 U.S. App. D.C. 263, 382 F.2d 479 (D.C. Cir. 1967). We therefore hold that on the law and the facts, the defendants were properly convicted under § 641.


In the 1948 revision of the criminal code, Congress consolidated several separate provisions treating the problem of theft from the United States.At the same time, it adopted a suggestion that the punishment provision of a preceding section be amended to make the offense punishable as a misdemeanor when the amount involved was small.*fn11 The effect of the revision is to divide the statute, for purposes of sanctions, into felonies and misdemeanors.

Once it is established, however, that a person has wrongfully appropriated a government record or other thing of value as defined in § 641, the prima facie case of violation is complete. United States v. Ciongoli, 358 F.2d 439, 441 (3d Cir. 1966). Proof that the value of the stolen property is in excess of $100 is an element of the offense if the felony sanction is to be imposed. See United States v. Ciongoli, supra; United States v. Wilson, 284 F.2d 407 (4th Cir. 1960); Cartwright v. United States, 146 F.2d 133 (5th Cir. 1944); Stevens v. United States, 297 F.2d 664 (10th Cir. 1961) (per curiam); Churder v. United States, 387 F.2d 825 (8th Cir. 1968). Before it can be invoked the government bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the misappropriated property has the requisite value.

Section 641 defines "value" as "face, par, or market value, or cost price, either wholesale or retail, whichever is greater." Obviously, the stolen records had no "face" or "par" value. No evidence was introduced as to their "cost price." Thus we are concerned with market value. As a general rule, that value will be determined by market forces - the price at which the minds of a willing buyer and a willing seller would meet. See generally Abbott v. United States, 239 F.2d 310, 313 (5th Cir. 1956). If no commercial market for particular contraband exists, value may be established by reference to a thieves' market. See Churder v. United States, supra, 387 F.2d at 833 (blank postal money orders); United States v. Ciongoli, supra, 358 F.2d at 441 (same); Jalbert v. United States, 375 F.2d 125 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 899, 19 L. Ed. 2d 221, 88 S. Ct. 225 (1967).

While market value is thus usually determined by conventional market forces of some kind, this court in a related context under 18 U.S.C. § 2314 has recognized that there must be some flexibility with respect to methods of proof of value. United States v. Lester, supra, involved the valuation of geophysical maps not known to be traded on an open market. Nevertheless, there was expert testimony that the value of the maps exceeded $5000.*fn12 This court accepted that proof as sufficient:

Of course in most instances market value is used because under ordinary circumstances it is easily ascertainable. But where an exceptional type of goods that has no market value is the subject matter of the indictment, any reasonable method may be employed to ascribe an equivalent monetary value to the items.

It would do violence to the purpose of the statute were the Justice Department able to take action against the transportation of one carload of, let us say, household goods worth $5,000 but have their hands tied by semantics when the transporting is of geophysical maps worth a sizable fortune.

282 F.2d at 755 (footnote omitted).

In this case the government introduced the following evidence bearing on the value of the stolen documents: Kuczynski testified that he delivered groups of documents to DiGilio on 25-35 separate occasions, and that he received $25- $100 for each delivery. He also testified that DiGilio had told him that some of the documents he delivered were good and some weren't, and that DiGilio asked for better ones. Regardless of the quality of the documents, DiGilio paid something for each delivery, but the size of any payment was related to DiGilio's assessment of their ...

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