Zap v. United States,
328 U.S. 624 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Zap v. United States, 328 U.S. 624 (1946)

Zap v. United States

No. 489

Argued February 5, 6, 1946

Decided June 10, 1946

328 U.S. 624


1. Petitioner was under contract to do experimental work for the Navy. Pursuant to the terms of the contract and authority delegated to them under § 10(1) of the Act of July 2, 1926, and § 1301 of the Second War Powers Act, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were auditing his books and records at his place of business during business hours with the consent and cooperation of his employees. One of the agents requested, and was given by petitioner's bookkeeper, a certain cancelled check, which was later admitted in evidence over petitioner's objection in a trial which resulted in his conviction for defrauding the Government by means of that check.

Held: this did not violate his rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Pp. 328 U. S. 628-630.

2. When petitioner, in order to obtain the Government's business, specifically agreed to permit inspection of his accounts and records, he voluntarily waived such claims to privacy which he otherwise might have had as respects business documents related to those contracts. P. 328 U. S. 628.

3. The powers of inspection were not transcended, since the inspection was made during regular hours at the place of business, with the full cooperation of petitioner's staff, and without force or threat of force. P. 328 U. S. 628.

4. As a result of its contract with petitioner and the relevant statutes, the Government had authority to inspect petitioner's books and records and to utilize agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for this purpose. Pp. 328 U. S. 628-629.

5. The search being lawful, the agents could testify as to the facts about which they had obtained knowledge, including the facts disclosed by the check. P. 328 U. S. 629.

6. To require reversal merely because the check itself was admitted in evidence would be to exalt a technicality to constitutional levels. P. 328 U. S. 630.

7. It was in the sound discretion of the District Court to admit the check in evidence. P. 328 U. S. 630.

151 F.2d 100, affirmed.

Page 328 U. S. 625

Petitioner was convicted of defrauding the Government in violation of § 35(A) of the Criminal Code. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. 151 F.2d 100. This Court granted certiorari limited to the question whether books and records relating to his contract with the Navy Department were properly admitted as evidence at his trial. 326 U.S. 802. Affirmed, p. 328 U. S. 630.

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