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Graham v. United States

    Brief Fact Summary. The Appellant, an attorney, was convicted of two counts of grand larceny as indicted under a District Columbia Code. A man name Gal consulted Appellant in his professional capacity to represent him on a disorderly conduct charge. Gal paid Appellant money to represent him and Appellant contends that the evidence supports the proposition that Gal voluntarily gave him title to the money. In addition, Appellant claims the trial court’s charge to the jury was erroneous.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An individual who obtains money from another by representing he will perform a particular service for that person, with the intention of converting the money to his own use, is guilty of larceny.

    Facts. The Appellant Graham, an attorney, was consulted by a man named Gal to represent him on a disorderly conduct charge. Gal was seeking American citizenship and was afraid the arrest would interfere with his attainment of that goal. Gal testified that Graham told him he needed to talk to the police and he would need money to do so. Gal paid Graham $300 (i.e., $200 as a legal fee) and $1,900 for the police. The arresting officer testified that he came to Appellant’s office and after talking with Graham, told Gal he was not in any trouble. He also stated that Graham did not then or at any other time offer him money. Graham testified that the entire amount was intended as a legal fee, that he had never mentioned money for the police, and that no part of the money was paid to the police. Subsequently, Graham was convicted of two counts of grand larceny. He contends the evidence shows that Gal voluntarily gave him title to the money and that the trial court’s charge to the jury was in
    error because it failed to distinguish between the situation where one obtains complete title to another’s property by fraud or trick and the case where possession only is obtained.

    Issue. Did the Appellant fraudulently misrepresent the situation to the complaining witness with the intention of converting the money to his own use?

    Held. Yes. The judgment of the District Court is affirmed.
    Upon interpretation of the applicable statute, the Court has held that “one who obtains money from another upon the representation that he will perform a certain service for the latter, intending at the time to convert the money, and actually converting the money to his own use is guilty of larceny.

    The Appellant fraudulently induced Gal to give him $2,000 to be used for the purpose of bribing the police. He did not intend to use the money for that purpose, and instead converted it to his own use. The court relies on People v. Edwards, which contains essentially the same fact scenario as the present case. The court in Edwards sustained the defendant’s conviction for larceny.


    Discussion. With regard to sustaining a conviction for larceny, title to money given by an individual to another for the accomplishment of a task remains in the former until the purpose for which the money was given is accomplished.


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