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Federal identity theft statute includes use of deceased's identity

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A person can be convicted of aggravated identity theft under 18 U.S.C. Section 1028A for using the identity of a person who is dead or alive, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an issue of first impression.

Anna LaFaive, who stole her dead sister’s identity to open checking accounts using counterfeit checks and withdrew nearly $65,000, argued that Section 1028A can only criminalize the use of a living person’s identity.

Section 1028A only uses the term “another person,” and doesn’t define “person.” In United States of America v. Anna LaFaive, also known as Phyllis Click, No. 09-2344, the judges rejected LaFaive’s argument that because Congress didn’t specify deceased people under the statute, that “another person” only refers to living people. But Congress didn’t use the word “living” either, and citing an 8th Circuit Court of Appeals case, the 7th Circuit judges agreed that the common usage of “person” includes both living and dead individuals.

They also concluded the structure of the statute supported their decision. Both subsections (a)(1) and (a)(2) prohibit the use of another person’s identification. Subsection (2) deals with identity theft and terrorism.

“If ‘another person’ in subsection (a)(2) was limited to living persons, the statute would prohibit the use of a deceased person’s social security card but not the oral use of that same deceased person’s social security number,” wrote Judge Michael Kanne. “…we agree with the other circuits that have concluded that limiting ‘person’ in subsection (a)(2) to a living person works an ‘illogical,’ ‘absurd,’ and ‘nonsensical’ result.”

Judge Kanne also noted the 7th Circuit is not the only one to decide after the ruling in Flores-Figueroa v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 1886 (2009), that Section 1028A covers the use of the identity of those living and dead.

The Circuit judges also upheld LaFaive’s sentence, finding the District Court didn’t plainly err in calculating or imposing her sentence. The District Court made it abundantly clear that it was departing upward from the 24- to 30-month range for the bank fraud counts based almost entirely on the fact that LaFaive’s criminal history score underrepresented the seriousness of her criminal background. In addition, the District Court was required to impose the mandatory 24 consecutive months on the aggravated identity theft counts, wrote the judge.
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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