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United States v. Garguilo - 310 F.2d 249 (2d Cir. 1962)

Rule:

There may be instances where the mere presence of a defendant at the scene of a crime he knows is being committed will permit a jury to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant sought by his action to make it succeed: for example, the attendance of a 250-pound bruiser at a shakedown as a companion to the extortionist, or the maintenance at the scene of crime of someone useful as a lookout. Again, it is enough if the presence of the alleged aider and abettor has stimulated others to help the perpetrator or the alleged aider and abettor is proved to have positively encouraged the perpetrator himself. Yet, even in an age when solitude is so detested and "togetherness" so valued, a jury could hardly be permitted to find that the mere furnishing of company to a person engaged in crime renders the companion an aider or abettor. 

Facts:

Defendants were charged with making a likeness of a $ 10 bill, a violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 474. Defendants appealed, one of whom alleged that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that he aided and abetted his co-defendant. There was no evidence that defendant Macchia witnessed the loan of the equipment used for counterfeiting or participated in its use. Macchia was there 'two or three times' in all, never alone but always with defendant Garguilo. The only other evidence against Macchia was that, when brought before an Assistant United States Attorney for questioning, he admitted that he knew Garguilo, that on several occasions he accompanied Garguilo to the photographer in Brooklyn, and that several times he went to a printing place with him. He claimed, however, "that he never went up to the printer's establishment but merely sat on the stoop." 

Issue:

Was the evidence against defendant Macchia sufficient to warrant submission to the jury of the case against him as an aider or abettor of defendant Garguilo?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

In order to aid and abet another to commit a crime it is necessary that a defendant 'in some sort associate himself with the venture, that he participate in it as in something that he wishes to bring about, that he seek by his action to make it succeed."Yet, even in an age when solitude is so detested and 'togetherness' so valued, a jury could hardly be permitted to find that the mere furnishing of company to a person engaged in crime renders the companion an aider or abettor. If the evidence against Macchia passed the test of sufficiency applicable in a criminal case, it did so, as was said in United States v. Lefkowitz, supra, 284 F.2d at 315, "only by a hair's breadth." The Court, stating that it is not required to make so fine a judgment, reversed the conviction and concluded that defendant was entitled to a new trial. If the evidence was insufficient it came near enough to the line to entitle the Government, if it desires, to an opportunity to put it across on a new trial.

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