BELL V. UNITED STATES, 462 U. S. 356 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bell v. United States, 462 U.S. 356 (1983)

Bell v. United States

No. 82-5119

Argued April 25, 1983

Decided June 13, 1983

462 U.S. 356


A provision of the Bank Robbery Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2113(b), imposes criminal sanctions on

"[w]hoever takes and carries away, with intent to steal or purloin, any property or money or any other thing of value exceeding $100 belonging to, or in the care, custody, control, management, or possession of any bank, credit union, or any savings and loan association."

Petitioner opened an account at a savings and loan institution using his own name, but giving a false address, birth date, and social security number. Later that day, at another branch, he deposited into his account a third party's $10,000 check on which the endorsement had been altered to show petitioner's account number. Subsequently petitioner closed his account and was paid the total balance in cash. He was convicted of violating § 2113(b) after trial in Federal District Court. The Court of Appeals ultimately affirmed, concluding that the statute embraces all felonious takings -- including obtaining money under false pretenses.

Held: Section 2113(b) is not limited to common law larceny, but also proscribes petitioner's crime of obtaining money under false pretenses. Pp. 462 U. S. 358-362.

(a) The statutory language does not suggest that it covers only common law larceny. The language "takes and carries away" is traditional common law language, but represents only one element of common law larceny. It is entirely consistent with false pretenses, although not a necessary element of that crime. Moreover, other language of § 2113(b) shows an intention to go beyond common law larceny. Section 2113(b) does not apply to a case of false pretenses in which there is not a taking and carrying away, but it proscribes petitioner's conduct here. Pp. 462 U. S. 360-361.

(b) The legislative history of § 2113(b) also suggests that Congress intended the statute to reach petitioner's conduct. The congressional purpose was to protect banks from those who wished to steal banks' assets -- even if they used no force in doing so. Pp. 462 U. S. 361-362.

678 F.2d 547, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion,post, p. 462 U. S. 362.

Page 462 U. S. 357

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