Standefer v. United States

The Facts

Defendant was indicted for making gifts to public officials.  Specifically, he had paid for five vacations for IRS agent in charge of audits for the company he represented.  The IRS agent was acquitted of his crime.  Defendant moved for dismissal solely because the IRS agent, who was the person for whom he was charged of aiding and abetting with.  District court denied this argument, appellate court affirmed denial.

Relevant Statute

U.S.C. § 7214(a)(2) and 18 U.S.C. § 2, “whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.”

The Issue

Whether a person accused of aiding and abetting can be convicted where the person he was accused of aiding and abetting with was acquitted at trial.

The Holding/Reasoning

Yes.  The relevant statute shows a clear evidentiary background demonstrating that such a person can be convicted even if the party who he was aiding and abetting was acquitted.  An aider and abettor is at common law a “principal 2” party to the crime, not an agent.  All those who participate in a crime in violation of federal statute are considered “principal 2s.”  To try the defendant is not a re-litigation of the issue which can be stopped.  They are separate parties undertaking separate acts.  Again, congressional intent was not to exclude these parties from criminal prosecution.  Here, the federal interest in prosecuting aiders and abettors outweighs the economic concerns associated with retrying the issue which the aider and abettor and the person who he was aiding and abetting.  As a result appellate ruling is affirmed.

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