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902. 1996 Amendments to 18 U.S.C. § 1001

The False Statements Accountability Act of 1996 (FSAA), Pub. L. No. 104-292, H.R. 3166 (October 11, 1996), made several changes that affect the work of United States Attorneys' Offices, including revisions to 18 U.S.C. §§  1001, 1505, 6005, and 28 U.S.C. 1365. This section describes the changes to section 1001.

Section 2 of the FSAA revises section 1001 of title 18, United States Code. The new 18 U.S.C. § 1001, effective October 11, 1996, reads as follows:

  1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully --

    1. falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

    2. makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or

    3. makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

  2. Subsection (a) does not apply to a party to a judicial proceeding, or that party's counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.

  3. With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only in --

    1. administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or

    2. any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

The new section 1001 contains several important features. First, section 2 of the FSAA restores the Department's ability to prosecute false statements made to the judicial and legislative branches. In 1995, the Supreme Court reversed long-settled precedent in Hubbard v. United States, 115 S.Ct. 1754 (1995), and held that a court is neither a "department" nor an "agency" under § 1001. Although the Court's opinion left open the possibility that a judicial or legislative entity might still be considered an "agency" under section 1001, several courts interpreted Hubbard broadly to mean that section 1001 applies only to false statements made to the executive branch. See, e.g., United States v. Dean, 55 F.3d 640 (D.C. Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 116 S.Ct. 1288 (1996); United States v. Rostenkowski, 59 F.3d 1291, 1301 (D.C. Cir. 1995). As of March 1997, there was pending in the District of Columbia Circuit an interlocutory appeal concerning whether the old version of section 1001, even after Hubbard, still applies to financial disclosure statements that Members of Congress filed, pursuant to the Ethics in Government Act, with the Clerk of the House of Representatives before October 11, 1996. See United States v. Oakar, No. 96-3084 (D.C. Cir.). Prosecutors therefore should not concede, in any pleadings or arguments presented in federal courts, that the old section 1001 does not apply to such statements, at least until the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decides this case.

The new statute effectively overrules Hubbard, and expressly provides that section 1001 covers false statements that are made to all three branches of the federal government, without regard to whether the entity may be categorized as a "department" or "agency."

By including certain statutory terms (e.g., "jurisdiction" and "statement") from the former section 1001 without change, Congress intended that those terms, as reenacted, continue to carry with them the body of existing judicial constructions of those terms. For example, with respect to statements made within the jurisdiction of the executive branch, prosecutors should continue to consider all statements -- whether oral or written, and whether sworn or unsworn -- as being within the scope of the new section 1001. See H.R. Rep. No. 104-680 (July 16, 1996) at 8 ("Other than establishing materiality as an element of all three offenses, the Committee does not view the offenses defined in paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) as changing already existing case law as it relates to the elements of the offenses.")(There was no Senate report concerning the Act, and the House report covers only the changes that the Act made to section 1001).

Section 2 of the FSAA, however, contains certain limitations concerning statements within the jurisdiction of the judicial and legislative branches. Subsection 2(b) of the FSAA provides that statements made to a judge or magistrate by parties or their counsel in a judicial proceeding will not be subject to prosecution under section 1001. Section 2 of the FSAA thus codifies a limited version of the "judicial function exception," which was created by the courts under the old section 1001 to avoid the chilling of advocacy that might occur if attorneys and parties were subject to prosecution for concealing facts from a court or jury. Under the codified version of the judicial function exception, parties or their counsel may be prosecuted for false submissions to other entities within the judicial branch, such as the probation office. See H.R. Rep. No. 104-680 at 9. Non-parties may be prosecuted for any false submission within the jurisdiction of the judicial branch.

In subsection (c) of amended § 1001, Congress created a "legislative function exception." Under the new provision, false statements within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch are subject to prosecution only if they relate to administrative matters or congressional investigations conducted consistent with the applicable congressional rules. Amended §  1001 will thus reach those documents that have most often been the subject of congressional false statement prosecutions, such as vouchers, payroll documents, and Ethics in Government Act (EIGA) financial disclosure forms. The exception was intended to protect, among other things, the free flow of constituent submissions to Congress. See H.R. Rep. No. 104-680 at 4-5.

Amended § 1001 also expressly includes materiality as an element under each of the three clauses in subsection (a). This resolves a conflict among the courts on that issue. See, e.g., United States v. Corsino, 812 F.2d 26 (1st Cir. 1987); United States v. Elkin, 731 F.2d 1005 (2d Cir. 1984).

[cited in Criminal Resource Manual 1743; USAM 9-42.001]

Updated June 9, 2015