7. The essential elements of proof of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, in this case are as follows:
1. An agreement between two or more persons to commit a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641;
2. That the defendant knowingly and willfully became a member of a conspiracy; and
3. That thereafter one or more of the conspirators knowingly committed a charged overt act in furtherance of an object or purpose of the conspiracy. See United States v. Andreen, 628 F.2d 1236, 1248 (9th Cir.1980); United States v. Trowery, 542 F.2d 623, 626 (3rd Cir.1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1104, 97 S. Ct. 1132, 51 L. Ed. 2d 555 (1977).
A "conspiracy" is a combination or agreement of two or more persons to join together to attempt to accomplish some unlawful purpose. It is a kind of "partnership in criminal purpose" in which each member becomes the agent of every other member. The gist or essence of the offense is a combination or mutual agreement by two or more persons to disobey, or disregard, the law.
The evidence in the case need not show that the alleged members of the conspiracy entered into any express or formal agreement; or that they directly stated between themselves the details of the scheme and its object or purpose, or the precise means by which the object or purpose was to be accomplished. Similarly, the evidence in the case need not establish that all of the means or methods set forth in the information were, in fact, agreed upon to carry out the alleged conspiracy, or that all of the means or methods which were agreed upon were actually used or put into operation. Neither must it be proved that all of the persons charged to have been members of the conspiracy were such, nor that the alleged conspirators actually succeeded in accomplishing their unlawful objectives.
What the evidence in the case must show beyond a reasonable doubt is:
(1) That two or more persons in some way or manner, positively or tacitly, came to a mutual understanding to try to accomplish a common and unlawful plan, as charged in the information;
(2) That the defendant willfully became a member of such conspiracy.
One may become a member of a conspiracy without full knowledge of all of the details of the unlawful scheme or the names and identities of all of the other alleged conspirators. So, if a defendant, with an understanding of the unlawful character of a plan, knowingly and willfully joins in an unlawful scheme on one occasion, that is sufficient to convict him for conspiracy even though he had not participated at earlier stages in the scheme and even though he played only a minor part in the conspiracy.
Of course, mere presence at the scene of an alleged transaction or event, or mere similarity of conduct among various persons and the fact that they may have associated with each other, and may have assembled together and discussed common aims and interests, does not necessarily establish proof of the existence of a conspiracy. Also, a person who has no knowledge of a conspiracy, but who happens to act in a way which advances some object or purpose of a conspiracy, does not thereby become a conspirator.
Further, one does not become a member of a conspiracy simply because of receiving information concerning its nature and scope; a defendant must have had some sort of a stake in the success of the venture, or must in some sense promote the venture, making it his own.
The crime of conspiracy is seldom susceptible of proof by direct evidence. Proof of the crime may rest, as it frequently does, on indirect or circumstantial evidence. The existence of a conspiracy may be inferred from evidence of related facts and circumstances from which it appears, as a reasonable and logical inference, that the activities of the participants in the criminal venture could not have been carried on except as the result of a preconceived scheme or common understanding.
8. A confession must be corroborated to sustain a conviction, but the corroborative evidence need not be sufficient, independent of the confession, to establish the corpus delicti. The corroboration must be sufficient to establish the reliability of the confession beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, what the Government must do is establish the trustworthiness of the statement. See Opper v. United States, 348 U.S. 84, 93, 75 S. Ct. 158, 164-5, 99 L. Ed. 101 (1954); United States v. Wilson, 436 F.2d 122 (3d Cir.1971), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 912, 91 S. Ct. 1393, 28 L. Ed. 2d 654 (1971).
9. In order to corroborate a confession or admission, it is unnecessary for the prosecutor to introduce substantial independent evidence of each element of the offense with which the defendant is charged. See United States v. Wilson, 436 F.2d 122, 124 (3d Cir.1971), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 912, 91 S. Ct. 1393, 28 L. Ed. 2d 654 (1971).
10. A confession may be corroborated in a number of ways. A degree of corroboration may be found in the detailed nature of the confession itself, or in the recital of facts that would be unknown to anyone other than the criminal. One available mode of corroboration is for independent evidence to bolster the confession itself and thereby prove the offense through the statement of the accused. See Smith v. United States, 348 U.S. 147, 156, 75 S. Ct. 194, 199, 99 L. Ed. 192 (1954); United States v. Micieli, 594 F.2d 102, 108-109 (5th Cir.1979); United States v. Gresham, 585 F.2d 103, 106 (5th Cir.1978).
11. The evidence in this case established beyond a reasonable doubt Defendant Felder's guilt on Count II. The stipulated facts and the detail contained in the defendant's statement sufficiently corroborate and bolster the statement to assure its trustworthiness beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence proves that Defendant Felder agreed with an individual named "Charlie" and possibly others to commit a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641, that Felder knowingly and willfully became a member of the conspiracy alleged, and the defendant committed the overt acts charged in furtherance of the object and purpose of the conspiracy.
An appropriate Order follows.