July 28, 2014

Tenth Circuit: Wire and Mail Fraud and Identity Theft Convictions Affirmed

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Porter on Thursday, March 6, 2014.

Following a jury trial, Defendant-Appellant Gloria Porter was convicted of 105 counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and one count of identity theft. The National Federation of Federal Employees (“NFFE”) is an independent federal union that represents federal workers. The NFFE is comprised of five councils, which in turn are made up of approximately two hundred “locals.” Porter joined the NFFE in 1992. She was a member of Local 2049 at White Sands and served as its president. She also served as secretary/treasurer of the Armed Material Command (“AMC”) Council (one of the NFFE’s five councils) and as national vice president of the NFFE. She was secretary/treasurer of the AMC Council from 2002 to 2008, and was the only active signatory on the AMC Council’s bank account.

Starting in August 2004 and throughout her time as an NFFE officer, Porter created fraudulent bank statements on her computer and sent them to NFFE officers, while having the authentic bank statements sent to her home address. The NFFE took away Porter’s authority over the union’s bank account, and, after both the NFFE and IAM conducted their own audits of their accounts, the matter was turned over to the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) for further investigation.

Porter appealed her convictions, claiming that the district court erred by instructing the jury that a signature is a “means of identification” for purposes of the aggravated identity theft offense. Porter argued that the word “signature” is not expressly mentioned in the statutory definition of “means of identification” found in § 1028(d)(7) and a signature should not be viewed as a form of a “name”—a term that does appear in that definition. The Tenth Circuit found the reasoning of a Ninth Circuit case, Blixt, persuasive in holding that a signature is a form of “name” for purposes of § 1028(d)(7)’s definition of “means of identification.”

Porter also argued that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions for wire fraud and mail fraud. The court found her arguments to be without merit and affirmed her convictions.

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