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Fake ID using own name not aggravated ID theft, 7th Circuit rules

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An Indiana man who supplied a fake identification that used the recipient’s real name may not be subjected to the federal aggravated identity theft statute, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday in a unanimous en banc decision.

At issue is whether the definition of “another person” in Section 1028A of the United States Code means anyone other than the defendant. The court warned against applying that standard; the prosecution advocated for a statute that carries an automatic two-year consecutive sentence.

“If the prosecutor is right, §1028A acquires a surprising scope,” Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the panel in United States of America v. Christopher Spears, 11-1683.

“It would, for example, require a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence every time a tax-return preparer claims an improper deduction, because the return is transferred to the IRS, concerns a person other than the preparer, includes a means of identifying that person (a Social Security number), and facilitates fraud against the United States (which §1028A(c)(4) lists as a predicate crime),” Easterbook wrote.

Lake County resident Christopher Spears made fake handgun carry permits, driver’s licenses and other forms of ID. He was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, of producing false identification, five counts of unlawful possession of false identification documents and aggravated identify theft.

A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit previously vacated some of those convictions but affirmed the aggravated identity theft and producing false ID convictions. Spears was sentenced to 34 months in prison, plus the two-year mandatory sentence under the ID theft conviction.

The en banc decision affirmed the prior 7th Circuit decision except for the conviction and sentence for ID theft.

“Crimes are supposed to be defined by the legislature, not by clever prosecutors riffing on equivocal language. A reasonable person reading §1028A(a)(1) would not conclude that Congress has definitely used the word “another” to specify every person other than the defendant, as opposed to a person whose information has been misappropriated,” Easterbrook wrote.

“Section 1028A, we hold, uses ‘another person’ to refer to a person who did not consent to the use of the ‘means of identification’. This decision, in conjunction with the panel’s disposition of the convictions under statutes other than §1028A, mean that two of Spears’s convictions have been reversed, while three remain. The district court’s judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded for resentencing on those three convictions.”   
 

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  1. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

  2. What a fine example of the best of the Hoosier tradition! How sad that the AP has to include partisan snark in the obit for this great American patriot and adventurer.

  3. Why are all these lawyers yakking to the media about pending matters? Trial by media? What the devil happened to not making extrajudicial statements? The system is falling apart.

  4. It is a sad story indeed as this couple has been only in survival mode, NOT found guilty with Ponzi, shaken down for 5 years and pursued by prosecution that has been ignited by a civil suit with very deep pockets wrenched in their bitterness...It has been said that many of us are breaking an average of 300 federal laws a day without even knowing it. Structuring laws, & civilForfeiture laws are among the scariest that need to be restructured or repealed . These laws were initially created for drug Lords and laundering money and now reach over that line. Here you have a couple that took out their own money, not drug money, not laundering. Yes...Many upset that they lost money...but how much did they make before it all fell apart? No one ask that question? A civil suit against Williams was awarded because he has no more money to fight...they pushed for a break in order...they took all his belongings...even underwear, shoes and clothes? who does that? What allows that? Maybe if you had the picture of him purchasing a jacket at the Goodwill just to go to court the next day...his enemy may be satisfied? But not likely...bitterness is a master. For happy ending lovers, you will be happy to know they have a faith that has changed their world and a solid love that many of us can only dream about. They will spend their time in federal jail for taking their money from their account, but at the end of the day they have loyal friends, a true love and a hope of a new life in time...and none of that can be bought or taken That is the real story.

  5. Could be his email did something especially heinous, really over the top like questioning Ind S.Ct. officials or accusing JLAP of being the political correctness police.

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