The offense of selling, conveying or disposing of government property without authority can be seen simply as one form of knowing conversion. Section 641 of Title 18, however, contains a separate prohibition against this conduct. To prove a violation of this prohibition the United States must show: that the defendant sold, conveyed or disposed of; property belonging to the United States; without authority to do so; and with knowledge that he did not have authority to do so. See, e.g., United States v. Denmon, 483 F.2d 1093 (8th Cir. 1973); United States v. Sher, 418 F.2d 914 (9th Cir. 1969); United States v. Souza, 304 F.2d 274 (9th Cir. 1962).
It is not necessary, however, for the government to prove that the defendant knew the property belonged to the United States as part of the prosecution under this section. See United States v. Denmon, 483 F.2d at 1095. Nor must the government show that the property was stolen from the United States. The government is not required to show how a defendant obtained possession of this property in a prosecution for sale of government property. See United States v. Sher, 418 F.2d at 915.
[cited in JM 9-66.200]