Supreme Court upholds broad use of federal anti-bank fraud law

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld the broad application of a federal anti-bank fraud law.

The justices sustained the bank fraud conviction of Kevin Loughrin, who used stolen checks as part of a scheme to take merchandise and cash from a Target store in Utah. Using checks from a bank brought Loughrin under the bank fraud statute. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Justice Elena Kagan said for the court that the law does not require the government to prove that a defendant intended to defraud a bank. Lower courts had come to different conclusions on that topic.

The Obama administration had argued that the law should be read broadly because banks lose about $1 billion a year to fraud.

Loughrin said that a broad application of the federal law would sweep under it many crimes that are usually prosecuted by state authorities. He also said Congress would have written the law differently if it had wanted his crime to fall under it.

Kagan said, “Neither argument is without force, but in the end, neither carries the day.”

The case is Loughrin v. U.S., 13-316.

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