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Criminal Resource Manual

1642. Concept -- Receiving, Concealing Or Retaining Stolen Property

Section 641 of Title 18 also prohibits receipt of stolen government property. There are five elements to the offense: the defendant must receive, conceal or retain; stolen property; belonging to the United States; knowing that the property has been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted; and with the intent to convert that property to his own use or gain. See United States v. Fench, 470 F.2d 1234 (D.C.Cir.), cert. denied, 410 U.S. 909 (1972); Teel v. United States, 407 F.2d 604 (8th Cir. 1969).

At the outset, it should be noted that the conduct proscribed by this section is set forth in the disjunctive. Thus, a defendant violates the law when he either "receives, " "conceals" or "retains" stolen property. None of these words are terms of art and they should be given their normal construction.

The intent requirement of this section presents more serious problems. Prosecutions for receiving stolen property require proof of a compound state of mind. First, the defendant must know that the property he has received, concealed or retained is stolen. Note, however, that the defendant need not know that the property was stolen from the United States. See Baker v. United States, 429 F.2d 1278 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 957 (1970). Ownership of the property by the United States is simply a jurisdictional requirement and is not relevant to the criminal intent needed to violate the law.

The defendant must also act with the intent to convert the property to his own use. Thus, this offense is a specific intent crime. Proof of this intent, however, does not require evidence showing that the defendant actually derived some benefit from the property. This element is satisfied merely by showing that the defendant intended to convert some property to his personal gain. See United States v. Hinds, 662 F.2d 362, 369 n. 15 (5th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 1022 (1982).

[cited in USAM 9-66.200]