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United States v. Riggs

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
739 F. Supp. 414 (N.D. Ill. 1990)


Bell South Telephone Company (Bell South) provided telephone services to a nine-state region and handled emergency calls to emergency services using an enhanced 911 (E911) system. Craig Neidorf and Robert Riggs (defendants) planned to defraud Bell South by stealing a computer text file from Bell South that contained confidential and closely guarded information about the operation of the E911 system. Riggs and Neidorf wanted to obtain the file so that the file could be printed in Neidorf’s computer newsletter. Riggs used his home computer in Georgia to unlawfully access Bell South’s computer system, which was located in another city in Georgia. Riggs downloaded the text file and then transferred the file to Neidorf through an interstate computer network. Riggs stored the stolen file on a computer bulletin-board system located in Illinois so that Neidorf could access the file. Neidorf then used a computer in Missouri to access the bulletin board and receive the E911 text file from Riggs, after which Neidorf edited the file in order to hide the fact that the file was stolen. Neidorf published the file in the newsletter. Neidorf and Riggs were indicted on charges of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1343, which prohibits wire fraud, and 18 U.S.C. § 2314, which prohibits the transfer in interstate commerce of any goods, wares, or merchandise that are worth more than $5,000 and known by the transferor to be stolen. Neidorf moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that the computer text file was intangible and therefore could not be stolen property.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Bua, J.)

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