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United States v. Kiza

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

May 1, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARCEL KIZA, a/k/a Amuri Ntambwe Kiza, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: March 23, 2017

         Appeal 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)

         ARGUED:

          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.

         ON BRIEF:

          Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellee.

          Before DUNCAN, AGEE, and KEENAN, Circuit Judges.

          DUNCAN, Circuit Judge.

         Marcel 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.

         I.

         In 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.

         A.

         The 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).[1] 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. § 401(i).

         To 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 ...


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