CAAF decided the Air Force case of United States v. Cimball Sharpton, No. 14-0158/AF, 73 M.J. 299 (CAAFlog case page) (link to slip op.) Friday, June 13, 2014. The court affirms the published opinion of the Air Force CCA that found Appellant’s conviction of larceny from the Air Force, by misusing her Government Purchase Card (GPC) to purchase various items for personal use, to be legally sufficient, and rejects Appellant’s argument that that the victim of the larceny was not the Air Force but was some other party (either the bank or the merchants).
Chief Judge Baker writes for a unanimous court.
Appellant was convicted, contrary to her pleas of not guilty, of multiple offenses including larceny from the United States Air Force by misusing her Government Purchase Card (GPC) to purchase various items for personal use. A GPC is basically a credit card billed directly to the taxpayers. Despite the not guilty pleas, Appellant did not contest the fact of her misuse of the card (she actually tried to enter a conditional plea of guilty). However, on appeal Appellant asserted that the victim of the larceny was not the Air Force, but was some other party (either the bank or the merchants). The Air Force CCA rejected this assertion in a published opinion, deciding that:
[T]he Government appointed the appellant as its representative to obligate Government funds through GPC purchases. US Bank, in turn, issued a GPC in the appellant’s name. The appellant did not steal the card from someone else and pretend to be a different person. Rather, she exceeded the scope of her agreement with the Government by using a card issued in her name to expend credit on unauthorized, personal purchases.
United States v. Cimball Sharpton, 72 M.J. 777, __, slip op. at 4-5 (A.F.Ct.Crim.App. 2013). CAAF then granted review of a single issue:
Whether the Air Force court abused its discretion in finding the evidence legally sufficient to support a conviction for larceny from the Air Force.
Chief Judge Baker’s opinion has the bottom line up front: “In this case, as in United States v. Lubasky, the victim of the larceny is the person or entity suffering the financial loss or deprived of the use or benefit of the property at issue. 68 M.J. 260, 263-64 (C.A.A.F. 2010).” Slip op. at 2. The entire opinion is only nine pages long, and the most substantive discussion is found in just four paragraphs: