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Stupid Case File for June 3, 2006

Note to Criminals: Don't Write Books About Your Crimes

Thanks to Appellate Decisions for this story!

U.S. v. Kahari, 05-1423 (6th Cir., June 1, 2006)

Here’s an amusing criminal appeal from the Sixth Circuit. Aaron Fraser, aka Asante Kahari, was convicted of masterminding a counterfeit check-cashing scheme, wherein he convinced women that he met on the internet that he loved them and then asked them to cash checks for him. Kahari was convicted for one episode in which he convinced a lovelorn woman in Michigan to fork over $38,000 in cash from counterfeit checks made out to her and her family. But the best part is that Kahari published a book called "The Birth of a Criminal," which apparently detailed his criminal exploits. Kahari described his counterfeit check-cashing scheme in a chapter entitled "From Blue Collar to White Collar Crime."

In what it describes as a novel evidentiary issue, the Sixth Circuit considers whether the district court committed reversible error in admitting excerpts from Kahari’s book at trial. The defendant argued that the admission of the book prejudiced him because the jury might have convicted him for the other bad acts described in the book. In addition, he complained that the district court improperly referred to the excerpts as "facts." The Sixth Circuit agrees that the district court could have done a better job of instructing the jury about how to use the book in deliberations; however, it concludes that the admission of the excerpts was relevant to Kahari’s intent and not overly prejudicial. Any error in the district court’s instructions was harmless. Accordingly, the Court affirms Kahari’s conviction.

A quick search of Amazon.com shows that Kahari is a pretty prolific writer. Collectors should note that The Birth of A Criminal is now retailing for $420.00.

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