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The National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 408, provides that whoever shall transport or cause to be transported in interstate commerce a motor vehicle, knowing the same to have been stolen, shall be punished, and any person violating this section may be punished in any district in or through which such motor vehicle has been transported or removed by such offender.
For allegedly transporting in interstate commerce from Ottawa, Ill., to Guymon, Okl., one Waco airplane, motor No. 6124, serial No. 256, which was the property of the United States Aircraft Corporation and which had theretofore been stolen, defendant William W. McBoyle was convicted and sentenced for violation of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, section 408, title 18, U.S. Code (18 USCA § 408). On appeal, the defendant claimed that his conviction was improper under the Act because the airplane was not a motor vehicle whose theft was proscribed, that he committed no crime in Oklahoma, and that improper testimony and cross examination were erroneously admitted at his trial.
Was the airplane a “motor vehicle” under the Motor Vehicle Theft Act, thereby justifying defendant’s conviction?
Affirming defendant's conviction, the court held that by including "any other self-propelled vehicle" in its definition of vehicles being regulated, the Act included airplanes as they were self-propelled conveyances and that trial in an Oklahoma district court was proper because the crime was committed there despite defendant's absence. Further, the court found that the interrogation of a defense reputation witness as to specific charges or reports concerning defendant was not an abuse of discretion as such evidence was admissible to test the knowledge and credibility of the witness, even though it could not be used as substantive evidence against defendant. Moreover, the government's cross examination of defendant as to other offenses was properly admitted because the evidence was brought out by defense counsel, and it was not error to admit copies of the telegrams as a proper foundation had been laid.