United States v. Grainger - 346 U.S. 235 (1953)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Grainger, 346 U.S. 235 (1953)

United States v. Grainger

No. 34

Argued May 4-5, 1953

Decided June 15, 1953*

346 U.S. 235

Syllabus

1. The running of the general three-year statute of limitations on federal prosecutions for crimes, now 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V) § 3282, was suspended by the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act, 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V) § 3287, as to violations, in 1945 and 1946, of the false claims clause of the False Claims Act, now 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V) § 287. Pp. 346 U. S. 240-244.

(a) The offenses charged here of attempting to obtain payments from the Commodity Credit Corporation in amounts based upon knowingly false certifications to that corporation by the accused that certain purchases of wool had been made by him when he knew that no such purchases had been made by him or at least, that no such purchases had been made by him at prices as high as those he certified that he paid, are offenses of a pecuniary nature. Pp. 346 U. S. 240-241.

(b) Offenses which occurred in 1945 or 1946, preceding the President's proclamation of December 31, 1946, declaring that the hostilities of World War II terminated on that day, come within the period to which the Suspension Act applies. P. 346 U. S. 241.

(c) Fraud upon the United States is an essential ingredient of violations of the false claims clause of the False Claims Act, 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V) § 287. Pp. 346 U. S. 241-243.

(d) In the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act, the phrase "involving fraud . . . in any manner" makes the Act applicable to offenses which are fairly identifiable as those in which fraud is an essential ingredient, by whatever words they be defined; it does not limit the application of the Act to such offenses as Congress has denominated as "frauds" by using that very word or one of its derivatives. The same reasoning applies to conspiracies to commit such offenses. Pp. 346 U. S. 243-244.

Page 346 U. S. 236

2. The Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act had the effect of extending through 1952 the time for the prosecution of the offenses to which it applied. Pp. 346 U. S. 244-246.

3. In relation to those offenses here involved which were committed in 1945 and 1946, during the period of suspension, the general three-year limitation prescribed by 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V) § 3282 began to run for the first time on January 1, 1950, and expired December 31, 1952. Pp. 346 U. S. 246-247.

4. The codification of the Criminal Code, June 25, 1948, effective September 1, 1948, did not change the situation respecting the extension through 1952 of the time for prosecuting the offenses to which the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act applied. Pp. 346 U. S. 247-248.

5. The Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act is applicable to the indictments here involved for offenses committed in 1945 and 1946, and the United States could thus prosecute them in 1952, except that (1) this conclusion does not apply to any overt act alleged in No. 636 to have been committed in 1947, and (2) this conclusion does not apply to overt acts set forth in paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, under Count Two of the Indictment in No. 636, which are not explicit enough to show that the issuance or endorsement of certain checks there described constituted an attempt to defraud the United States. Pp. 346 U. S. 236-248; p. 237, n 1.

Reversed and remanded.



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