February 21, 2007 5:28 AM PST

Police blotter: Convicted eBay robber loses appeal

Related Stories

Police blotter: Wireless voyeur appeals 56-year term

February 14, 2007

Police blotter: Texas student guilty in SSN hack

February 2, 2007

Police blotter: Heirs sue over will-making software

January 24, 2007

Police blotter: Antispam activist fights lawsuit

January 19, 2007

Police blotter: Silicon Valley burglars busted

January 12, 2007

Police blotter: Detecting computer-generated porn?

January 3, 2007

Police blotter: Web at heart of ecoterror lawsuit

December 27, 2006

Police blotter: Google searches nab wireless hacker

December 20, 2006

Police blotter: Fired over 'Wicked Weasel' photo

December 8, 2006

Police blotter: Child porn in Web cache OK

November 24, 2006

Police blotter: Florida judges target Net sex

November 17, 2006

Police blotter: Prison inmate wants personal ad replies

November 10, 2006

Police blotter: Child porn blamed on computer virus

November 3, 2006

Police blotter: Web cookies become defendant's alibi

October 27, 2006

Police blotter: Flap over nude photos of Cameron Diaz

October 20, 2006

Police blotter: Prosecutors want reporters' hard drives

October 13, 2006

Police blotter: Sex offender demands Playboy on PC

October 6, 2006

Police blotter: When can cops seize your computer?

September 29, 2006

Police blotter: Alleged al-Qaida hacker goes to court

September 22, 2006

Police blotter: Cops raid Usenet provider over porn

September 8, 2006

Police blotter: Judge OKs text message use in drug case

September 1, 2006

Police blotter: Trojan horse leads to porn convictions

August 25, 2006

Police blotter: Mortgage 'spammers' sued by ISP

July 14, 2006

Police blotter: SBC sued over deleted screenplay

July 7, 2006

Police blotter: Student sues over IM-related suspension

June 30, 2006

Police blotter: Husband spies on wife's computer

June 16, 2006

Police blotter: eBay suit over $380,000 Porsche

May 26, 2006

Police blotter: 911 dispatcher misuses database, kills ex-girlfriend

May 19, 2006

Police blotter: Enhanced video used to convict arsonist

May 12, 2006

Police blotter: Wells Fargo not required to encrypt data

April 14, 2006

Police blotter: Porn-dialing firm loses appeal

March 31, 2006

Police blotter: Schools' IT chief loses bribery appeal

March 24, 2006

Police blotter: Judge orders Gmail disclosure

March 17, 2006

Police blotter: Ex-employee faces suit over file deletion

March 10, 2006

Police blotter: Cell phone tracking rejected

March 3, 2006

Police blotter: Dot-com magnate loses fraud appeal

February 24, 2006

Police blotter: Patriot Act e-mail spying approved

February 9, 2006

Police blotter: Sysadmin loses e-intrusion case

January 13, 2006

Police blotter: Alleged eDonkey pirate gets trial

January 6, 2006

Police blotter: Nude 'profile' yields Yahoo suit

December 9, 2005

Police blotter: Legal flap over secret sex video

November 25, 2005

Police blotter: Judge questions Patriot Act bugs

November 4, 2005

Police blotter: Feds' cell phone tracking denied

October 28, 2005
"Police blotter" is a weekly CNET News.com report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: eBay scammer was convicted of interstate robbery and acquitted of a gun charge, but he received a higher sentence from a judge based on the gun charge anyway. He lost his appeal of the higher sentence earlier this month.

When: U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on February 7.

Outcome: Sentence of more than 16 years in prison based on a gun charge is upheld.

What happened, according to court documents: Dewan Anthony Horne had invented a scam that was both cunning and criminal. He would advertise vintage "muscle cars" for sale on eBay and offer a good price. Once Horne struck up a conversation with a prospective buyer, he'd suggest coming to Indianapolis and paying for the car in cash or the equivalent.

The hitch: the cars for sale didn't exist. When the would-be purchaser showed up at a garage on the east side of Indianapolis, Horne and at least one gun-toting accomplice would attempt to rob the eBay buyer of the cash and anything else of value.

Horne didn't seem very good at his line of work. Beyond the detail of being nabbed by the police, court documents indicate that he managed to complete only one robbery.

An article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal from March 2005, the time of Horne's indictment by a federal grand jury, described how the robbery scam worked. "A father and son from Georgia and South Carolina were forced at gunpoint to lie down while Horne and his partners took more than $9,000 in cash and equipment from their truck before leaving in Horne's car," the article said, based on the indictment. (The equipment was a satellite navigation system.)

Still, even one completed robbery was enough to get Horne arrested. Like most crimes, robbery usually is prosecuted by states and not the federal government. But the U.S. Department of Justice argued that Horne's use of eBay to lure his prey ran afoul of the federal Hobbs Act's prohibition on robbery that "in any way or degree obstructs, delays or affects commerce."

Horne's attorneys argued that the Hobbs Act didn't apply, saying any crimes that occurred arose in face-to-face encounters, and neither the car nor the cash was transferred across state lines. (It's unclear why the cash didn't physically cross state lines; the father and son may have withdrawn it from a local branch of their bank.)

This is a novel use of the Hobbs Act. A February 12 article in the Wisconsin Law Journal says: "No other court of appeals has yet considered application of the Hobbs Act to a robbery, merely because it was facilitated by the Internet. The cases that the court cites for support of its holding all involve either possession of child pornography obtained over the Internet or use of the Internet to solicit children for sexual intercourse."

The trial judge and the 7th Circuit agreed that the extension of the Hobbs Act was reasonable. The 7th Circuit said the Internet is inherently international in scope, "and the buy-and-sell offers communicated over it, in this case, created interstate transactions and were affected by the defendant's fraud."

CONTINUED: Gun charge twist…
Page 1 | 2

See more CNET content tagged:
Police Blotter, eBay Inc., Indianapolis, appeal, cash

1 comment

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
UK TV connection
This was pretty much the exact plotline of "The Bill" (TV cop drama) in the UK last week.
Posted by Peet42 (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.