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UNITED STATES v. GOLDSMITH

October 12, 1967

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Howard R. GOLDSMITH



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVIS

 JOHN MORGAN DAVIS, District Judge.

 The defendant was an employee of the Post Office, working in the parcel post rewrap section. He was observed by postal inspectors removing the original address label from a parcel addressed to the Sears, Roebuck Company in Philadelphia, and substituting therefor a label which contained the name and address of an individual.

 Subsequently, the defendant was tried before this Court sitting without a jury, and found guilty of embezzlement.

 The defendant contends now that the act of embezzlement was not completed by merely removing the name of the addressee from a parcel and substituting the name of another addressee. Since the parcel never left the Post Office, it is contended that a requisite element of conversion was not accomplished.

 We agree that conversion must be effected in order to complete the crime of embezzlement. *fn1" But this element was present once the true owner was effectively deprived of any semblance of ownership.

 In Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 271, 72 S. Ct. 240, 254, 96 L. Ed. 288 (1951), the scope of conversion was defined as follows:

 
Conversion, however, may be consummated without any intent to keep and without any wrongful taking, where the initial possession by the converter was entirely lawful. Conversion may include misuse or abuse of property. It may reach use in an unauthorized manner or to an unauthorized extent of property placed in one's custody for limited use.

 Substituting another address label after deliberately removing and discarding the original, while knowing with reasonable certainty that delivery to the new addressee was an inevitable consequence was sufficient to constitute conversion under the definition laid down in Morissette.2

 In Kelley v. United States, 166 F.2d 343 (9th Cir. 1948), a postal employee removed parcels from their rightful location, and placed them in a trash receptacle, but still within the post office itself. The defendant's assertion that embezzlement was not established by his action was answered by the Court, as follows:

 
From the evidence it is clear that appellant took the package into his possession when he unlawfully removed and concealed them; the crime was then completed. *fn3"

 Similarly, once the defendant effectively deprived the rightful owner of possession by substituting the unauthorized label, the conversion was complete.

 It is further contended that the Court erred in receiving the defendant's alleged confession. Two grounds for error are raised. First, that the warnings actually given by the postal inspector were insufficient. But the defendant has failed to demonstrate precisely how they were deficient. Nor has it been shown that the defendant failed to fully understand the nature and significance of his acknowledgment by signature that they were fully comprehended. The warnings which are now required prior to interrogation by virtue of the Miranda decision ...


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