Unpublished Disposition, 872 F.2d 431 (9th Cir. 1989)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 872 F.2d 431 (9th Cir. 1989)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,v.Blanche Ann SHORT, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 88-1182.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Argued and Submitted Jan. 11, 1989.Decided March 29, 1989.

Before CHAMBERS, JAMES R. BROWNING and BEEZER, Circuit Judges.


Blanche Short appeals her conviction following a jury trial on two counts of perjury in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1623. We affirm.

Short's conviction is based on statements she made to a grand jury investigating allegations of fraud in connection with financing a building project known as the Farmer's Market. The investigation included examining accounting procedures used by All State Thrift, a Nevada corporation.

Short contends her statements to the grand jury that she had "no idea" what the "X" on a certain check meant or how the check was negotiated are not material. A false statement before a grand jury does not constitute perjury unless it is material. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1623(a). Materiality is a question of law reviewed de novo. United States v. Martinez, 855 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). False statements are material if they are relevant to any matter before the grand jury and their falsity would have the natural tendency to influence the grand jury's investigations. United States v. Prantil, 764 F.2d 548, 557 (9th Cir. 1985) (Prantil) .

The grand jury was investigating the allegation that money from the Farmer's Market project was being converted unlawfully through All State Thrift. It is reasonable to conclude from the record that Short was knowledgeable about the use of the "X" on checks that passed through All State Thrift's petty cash drawer. Her statements were material to tracing where this money went. Her statements had the natural tendency to influence the grand jury's investigation because they left unanswered the meaning of the "X" designation and the fate of the money involved in the "X" transactions. The fact this information may be available elsewhere, e.g., by looking at the check's endorsement, is irrelevant to whether Short perjured herself.

Short's reliance on Prantil is misplaced because Prantil's inaccurate testimony "could not have influenced the grand jury's investigation." Id. By providing the answers she did, Short led the jury to continue investigating the meaning of the "X." Her statements were material.

Short contends the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. There is substantial evidence to support Short's conviction if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could find the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. United States v. Vaccaro, 816 F.2d 443, 454 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 108 S. Ct. 295 (1987).

The evidence of perjury was sufficient. Short controlled and supervised the petty cash drawer. Her subordinates who reported to Short and were instructed by her testified that she told them the "X" was intended to designate the cashing of a check through the petty cash drawer. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, it is sufficient to show that Short willfully made material statements she knew to be false.

Finally, Short contends the prosecutor is guilty of misconduct at both the grand jury proceeding and at trial. We find no misconduct at the grand jury proceeding. As for the allegation of misconduct at trial, even if we concluded the prosecutor's comments were improper, they did not materially affect the verdict. See United States v. Solomon, 825 F.2d 1292, 1300 (9th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 108 S. Ct. 782 (1988).

The conviction is AFFIRMED.


This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by 9th Circuit R. 36-3