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09-3605 U.S. v. Aljabari

Sufficiency of the evidence; interstate commerce

A tobacco store is used for interstate commerce under the federal arson statute.

“The building housing the Smoke Shop was actively used for a commercial purpose. The Smoke Shop was, after all, engaged in the sale of tobacco products at the time it was destroyed. It was located in a retail space rented from that space’s owner. See Russell v. United States, 471 U.S. 858, 862 (1985) (‘[T]he statute only applies to property that is “used” in an “activity” that affects commerce. The rental of real estate is unquestionably such an activity.’). The government therefore had no obligation to introduce any additional evidence to establish the Smoke Shop’s connection to interstate commerce. See Joyner, 201 F.3d at 79 (‘[A]lthough the government concedes that it failed to introduce any direct evidence at trial to show that [the restaurant] obtained food or beverage from out-of-state sources or catered to interstate patrons, the jury properly concluded that [it] was part of a broader restaurant market connected to interstate commerce.’). The government nevertheless introduced evidence that the Smoke Shop sold tobacco products and accessories purchased from out-of-state providers. Under Soy, that was more than enough evidence to allow a jury to conclude reasonably that the Smoke Shop was used in activity affecting interstate commerce.”

09-3605 U.S. v. Aljabari

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Kapala, J., Hamilton, J.

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