Argued: March 23, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Richmond. Robert E. Payne, Senior
District Judge. (3:15-cr-00046-REP-1)
Melissa Jane Warner, LAW OFFICE OF MELISSA J. WARNER, Glen
Allen, Virginia, for Appellant.
Heather Hart Mansfield, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY,
Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.
J. Boente, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED
STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellee.
DUNCAN, AGEE, and KEENAN, Circuit Judges.
DUNCAN, Circuit Judge.
Kiza, a.k.a. Amuri Ntambwe Kiza ("Defendant"), was
convicted of theft of government property in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 641. Defendant appeals, arguing primarily that
social security survivors' benefits are not a thing of
value within the meaning of § 641. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm.
light of the somewhat intricate facts before us, we begin
with an overview of the statutory context. We then turn to
Defendant's particular circumstances.
benefits at issue in this case are survivors'
benefits--that is, benefits paid to eligible surviving
spouses and children. Those benefits come from the Federal
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund (the "Trust
Fund"), one of several trust funds Congress established
to manage benefits programs. See 42 U.S.C. §
401(a). The Trust Fund is funded by
designated appropriations "from the general fund in the
Treasury" based on actual payroll taxes. Id. In
addition to appropriations, the Trust Fund also controls
"other assets, " including "gifts and
bequests." Id.; see also id. §
oversee the Trust Fund, Congress created a Board of Trustees,
composed of four government officials and two members of the
public nominated by the President. Id. §
401(c). The Board of Trustees holds the Trust Fund, reports
to Congress on its operation and "actuarial status,
" recommends improvements to its administration, and
notifies Congress when the amounts in the fund are
"unduly small." Id. As to its operation,
Congress stipulated that the Trust Fund would reimburse the
Treasury's general fund for ...