Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jurisidction Proper In Virginia for Theft Comitted in US Embassy in Iraq

US v. Ayesh: Ayesh, who lived in Jordan, was hired to oversee shipping and customs at the US Embassy in Baghdad.  In that role, he created a scheme that allowed him to funnel funds from vendors to his wife's bank account in Jordan.  He kept the various instruments needed to run the scheme in his apartment in the Embassy.  Ayesh was arrested at Dulles when he came for a training seminar (which was just a ruse to get him in the country).  He was charged with two counts of theft of public money and one count of committing acts affecting a personal financial interest.  He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 42 months in prison.

On appeal, Ayesh raised three challenges to his convictions, all of which the Fourth Circuit rejected.  First, he argued that the district court in Virginia lacked jurisdiction over him given that his conduct took place in Iraq and Jordan.  The court disagreed, holding that, although the statutes involved do not specifically apply to conduct that occurs overseas, they were enacted out of the right of the Government to defend itself from fraud and do not require such a specific jurisdictional nexus.  The court also concluded that the prosecution comported with international law and due process, as Ayesh had been told as part of his employment that he was subject to the laws of the United States.  Second, Ayesh argued that his post-arrest statements should have been suppressed because they came during a lengthy interview conducted after a 19-hour flight and had been coerced.  The court disagreed, concluding that Ayesh was given Miranda warnings, was fluent in English, and "asked good questions and spoke confidently on his own behalf."  Finally, Ayesh argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the two theft of public money counts.  The court concluded there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could find intent to deprive the United States of the use or benefit of the money involved.

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