United States v. Staats
49 U.S. 41 (1850)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Staats, 49 U.S. 8 How. 41 41 (1850)

United States v. Staats

49 U.S. (8 How.) 41

Syllabus

Where an act of Congress declared that if any person

"shall transmit to, or present at, or cause or procure to be transmitted to, or presented at, any office or officer of the government of the United States any deed, power of attorney, order, certificate, receipt, or other writing in support of or in relation to any account or claim with intent to defraud the United States, knowing the same to be false, altered, forged, or counterfeited, every such person shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of felony,"

&c., it was sufficient that the indictment charged the act to have been done "with intent to defraud the United States," without also charging that it was done feloniously or with a "felonious intent."

Where the act done was the transmission to the Commissioner of Pensions of an affidavit which was false in the facts which it professed to narrate, although sworn to by a person who really existed, and the person who transmitted it knew that it was false, it was an offense within the meaning of the act of Congress.

This was an indictment under the Act of March 3, 1823, entitled "An act for the punishment of frauds committed on the government of the United States." 3 Stat. 771, 772.

By the first section it is enacted

"That if any person or persons shall falsely make, alter, forge, or counterfeit or cause or procure to be falsely made, altered, forged, or counterfeited, or willingly aid or assist in the false making, altering, forging, or counterfeiting any deed, power of attorney, order, certificate, receipt, or other writing for the purpose of obtaining or receiving or of enabling any other person or persons, either directly or indirectly, to obtain or receive from the United States or any of its officers or agents any sum or sums of money, or shall utter or publish as true or cause to be uttered or published as true any such false, forged, altered, or counterfeited deed, power of attorney, order, certificate, receipt, or other writing as aforesaid with intent to defraud the United States, knowing the same to be false, altered, forged, or counterfeited, or shall transmit to or present at or cause or procure to be transmitted to or presented at any office or officer of the government of the United States any deed, power of attorney, order, certificate, receipt, or other writing in support of or in relation to any account or claim with intent to defraud the United States, knowing the same to be false, altered, forged, or counterfeited, every such person shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of felony, and being thereof duly convicted, shall be sentenced to be imprisoned and kept at hard labor for a period not less than one year nor more than ten years, or shall be imprisoned not exceeding five years, and fined not exceeding one thousand dollars. "

Page 49 U. S. 42

The first count of the indictment charged that one David Goodhard was a claimant for a revolutionary pension, and did claim and receive the same; and that "Thomas Staats, Jr.," contriving and intending to injure and defraud the said United States of America, and to cause and induce the said United States of America to pay unto the said David Goodhard divers large sums of money, did cause and procure to be transmitted to the commissioner of Pensions of the said United States of America, and to be presented at the office of the said commissioner, a certain writing, purporting to be made, subscribed, and sworn to by one Benjamin Chadsey. After setting forth the contents of the paper, it proceeded that the said Staats, "knowing the said affidavit to be false and untrue," and that Benjamin Chadsey did not know what had been stated in the paper,

"did transmit and did cause and procure to be transmitted to the said commissioner of Pensions of the said United States of America, the said false writing and affidavit, as a true writing in support of the aforesaid claim of the said David Goodhard, with intent to defraud the United States of America."

The second count charged that David Goodhard was a claimant for divers sums of money as a pensioner, the that in support of the said claim one William Bowsman did subscribe and make oath unto a certain affidavit therein mentioned, whereas in truth Bowsman did not know what was so set forth.

"And the said Thomas Staats, Jr., well knowing the premises, and well knowing that the said affidavit or writing was false and untrue, . . . did cause and procure to be transmitted and presented to the commissioner of Pensions of the said United States of America, the said false and untrue affidavit or writing as a true writing, in support of the claim of the said David Goodhard, with intent to defraud the said United States of America."

The accused was found guilty. A motion was afterwards made to arrest the judgment upon the verdict, when the judges were opposed in opinion on the following questions:

1. Whether the said indictment is fatally defective for the reason that the acts charged to have been committed by the said defendant are not in said indictment charged to have been committed feloniously or with a felonious intent?

2. Whether the acts charged in the said indictment to have been committed by the defendant do constitute an offense within the provisions of the first section of the Act of Congress, approved March 3, 1823, entitled "An act for the punishment of frauds committed on the government of the United States?"

Page 49 U. S. 43

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