False PersonationElements of the Offenses
18 USC 912 defines two separate and distinct offenses. The
are impersonation coupled with acting as such and impersonation
with demanding or obtaining something of value in such pretended character.
False personation of an officer or employee of the United States is an
of both offenses. The impersonation must be of a federal officer
Massengale v. United States, 240 F.2d 781, 782 (6th Cir. 1957)), and
be affected by verbal declarations as well as by the exhibition of a
counterfeited badge or a false certificate of authority. Pierce v.
States, 86 F.2d 949, 951 (6th Cir. 1936). Government officials are
impersonated by any persons who assume to act in the pretended character.
United States v. Lepowitch, 318 U.S. 702 (1943). Thus action alone
amount to a false pretense of federal authority. See Heskett v.
States, 58 F.2d 897, 902 (9th Cir. 1932) (by inquiring about passports,
defendants pretended to be federal immigration officers).|
It has been held that evidence of reliance by the intended victim
admissible because reliance is an essential element of the offense. Haid
United States, 157 F.2d 630, 632 (9th Cir. 1946). This conclusion seems
originate from a misinterpretation of United States v. Barnow, 239
74, 80 (1915), in which the Supreme Court said: "It is the aim of the
merely to protect innocent persons from actual loss through reliance upon
assumptions of federal authority, but to maintain the general good repute
dignity of the service itself." Id. at 80. Obviously, in cases
U.S.C. § 912 in which a thing of value has been obtained, reliance by
victim is almost always provable. It is the view of the Criminal Division,
however, that there is no such reliance requirement inherent in the statute.
See Levine v. United States, 261 F.2d 747, 751 (D.C.Cir.
[cited in USAM 9-64.300]