Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Criminal – State Department ID – Unlawful Production

Deborah Elkins//August 2, 2010

Criminal – State Department ID – Unlawful Production

Deborah Elkins//August 2, 2010

A self-employed plumber who used a privately issued government identification document at TSA airport checkpoints, and admitted to a federal agent that he believed TSA agents probably assumed he worked for the government, is not entitled to a judgment of acquittal on a charge of unlawful production, an Alexandria U.S. District Court says.

Defendant is a self-employed master plumber who, it appears, ordered the identification document in issue from Maxwell Corporation, a Florida company that specializes in producing identification cards and badges. The government presented testimony from Holly Coffey, an official with the U.S. State Department, as an expert in identification documents issued by the U.S. government. She identified the numerous differences between the document obtained by defendant and ID cards the State Department actually issues to diplomats.

During defendant’s videotaped interview with a federal agent, defendant acknowledged that the ID was his and that he had used it as ID at Transportation Security Administration airport checkpoints and in a judicial proceeding in Fairfax County Circuit Court. Defendant stated he believed that when he showed the ID at airports TSA agents “probably” assumed he worked for the government.

The jury acquitted defendant of the count alleging transfer but failed to reach a verdict on the count alleging unlawful production. Defendant moved for judgment of acquittal. That motion is denied.

Ample evidence was presented at trial to allow a jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the charged offense, namely, 1) that defendant produced or willfully caused to be produced 2) an identification document 3) that would appear to a reasonable person to be issued by or under authority of the U.S. government 4) but was not in fact issued by or under such authority and 5) that defendant knew that this identification document appeared to a reasonable person to be issued by or under authority of the U.S. government but was not.

Here, the conclusion that elements one and five are satisfied is supported by the ID, testimony of the owner of the company that produced the ID, the company’s purchase order for the ID; defendant’s own statements to an investigator; the conclusion that elements two and three are met is supported by the ID itself; and the conclusion that element four is satisfied is supported by Coffey’s testimony. Thus, because there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable trier of fact could find all of the offense elements beyond a reasonable doubt, defendant’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence must fail.

The government adduced sufficient evidence at trial to sustain a conviction on count 1. The government also presented substantial evidence from which a jury could conclude that venue was proper in the Eastern District. Finally, 18 U.S.C. § 1028 is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of this case.

U.S. v. Jaensch (Ellis, J.) No. 1:09cr284, Jan. 6, 2010; USDC at Alexandria, Va. VLW 010-3-027, 20 pp.

VLW 010-3-027

Fulltext Opinions

Verdicts & Settlements

See All Verdicts & Settlements

Opinion Digests

See All Digests