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Iannelli v. United States

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendants were convicted of conspiracy and violating a Federal statute prohibiting running gambling houses. Defendants argue that they cannot be convicted of both conspiracy and the violation they were alleged to have conspired to commit.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a plurality or several agents is necessary to commit a crime, a conspiracy charge cannot be maintained. This rule applies only to offenses that require concerted criminal activity.

    Facts. Defendants were charged with a six-count indictment alleging a variety of Federal gambling offenses. Specifically they were charged with financing and managing gambling houses prohibited by State law as well as conspiring to violate the above Federal laws. Defendants were convicted at the Trial Court level. The Appellate Court affirmed, finding that “Wharton’s rule” permitted the prosecution and conviction for both offenses

    Issue. Whether Wharton’s rule precludes a conviction for both conspiracy and the actual crime.

    Held. Affirmed, both convictions can stand. .
    Wharton’s rule: When a plurality or several agents is necessary to commit a crime, a conspiracy charge cannot e maintained. This rule applies only to offenses that require concerted criminal activity.

    Traditionally the law has considered conspiracy and the completed substantive offense to be separate crimes. The crime of conspiracy poses distinct dangers quite apart from those of the substantive offense.

    Dissent. The dissent stated that for the Court to allow both a conviction for the offense and for the conspiracy is essentially double jeopardy because the same transactions that the government used for one conviction supported both charges under the statute.

    Discussion. The Court ruled that the Wharton’s Rule has a specific application, mainly for crimes such as bigamy, adultery, etc where the parties are the only ones that participate in the commission of the crime and are harmed by the crime. On the opposite hand, there are offenses like the one at bar where the harm is not restricted to the parties.


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