Blumenthal v. United States

In Blumenthal v. United States, 332 U.S. 539 (1947), the Court considered a conspiracy to sell 4,000 cases of whiskey at prices above the ceiling set by regulations of the Office of Price Administration, in violation of the Emergency Price Control Act. Several salesmen participated to accomplish this purpose. The indictment charged a single conspiracy in a single count. The Court found that the acts of the salesmen "were merely steps in the formation of the larger and ultimate more general conspiracy." Blumenthal, supra, 332 U.S. at 557. The scope of the scheme and the salesmen's knowledge of its scope and the need for the involvement of others besides themselves to accomplish the scheme rendered their ignorance of the identity of others in the scheme, including the owner of the whiskey, meaningless in terms of confining their liability. Id. at 557-58. In Blumenthal v. United States, the evidence showed two agreements, one between X, the unknown owner of the whiskey, and the two defendants at the top of the distribution chain; and a second agreement to which X was not a party, between the top-end distributors and the other conspirators who carried out the actual sales. (Blumenthal, supra, 332 U.S. at p. 556.) In upholding the defendants' single conspiracy convictions against variance and insufficiency of the evidence challenges, the Blumenthal court viewed the two agreements as steps or stages in the formation of a larger, more general, all-inclusive conspiracy directed to achieving a single unlawful end or result. (Id. at p. 558.)