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U.S. Supreme Court agrees to weigh bank fraud case

A light snow falls as visitors gather on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A light snow falls as visitors gather on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide what federal prosecutors need to prove in order for someone to be convicted of bank fraud under federal law.

The court agreed to hear the case of Kevin Loughrin, who was convicted in Salt Lake City, Utah, of six counts of bank fraud for stealing checks that he then altered so he could purchase merchandise at Target Corp stores.

Loughrin's lawyers say federal prosecutors should have to prove that their client intended to defraud the banks under which the checks were issued. Federal appeals courts are split on the intent-to-defraud question.

Loughrin told police that his aim was to purchase products using the checks and then return the items for cash refunds. He was charged with using altered checks totaling $1,184.

At trial, he argued that although Target suffered a loss, the banks under which the checks were issued did not because Target never submitted them for payment. Loughrin was sentenced to three years in prison.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction in a March 13 ruling.

Loughrin is not appealing his related convictions for identity theft and possession of stolen mail.

Loughrin carried out the scheme with an accomplice, Theresa Thongsarn, who is not part of the appeal. She pleaded guilty, according to one of Loughrin's lawyers.

A Supreme Court decision is expected by the end of June.

The case is Loughrin v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court, 13-316.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller and John Wallace)

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