712 F.2d 104 (5th Cir. 1983), 82-2429, United States v. Montemayor

Docket Nº:82-2429.
Citation:712 F.2d 104
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Maria Del Carmen Castillo MONTEMAYOR, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:July 28, 1983
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 104

712 F.2d 104 (5th Cir. 1983)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Maria Del Carmen Castillo MONTEMAYOR, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 82-2429.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

July 28, 1983

Rehearing Denied Sept. 6, 1983.

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Matias Morin, Jr., Edinburg, Tex., for defendant-appellant.

James R. Gough, Asst. U.S. Atty., Houston, Tex., for plaintiff-appellee.

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before GEE, GARZA and TATE, Circuit Judges.

TATE, Circuit Judge:

Mrs. Montemayor, a Mexican national, appeals from her convictions and consecutive sentences on two counts relating to her efforts to prove that her two children were born in the United States and thus not subject to deportation. Count 1 charged false statement in the procuring of Texas state certificates of Texas birth, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001; Count 4 charged her with false testimony under oath before border patrol agents that the two children were born in the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546.

We affirm the convictions on both counts, rejecting as to Count 1 the defendant's contention that a false statement to a state agency to obtain a fraudulent birth certificate is as a matter of law not in a "matter within the jurisdiction" of the federal agency, a statutory pre-requisite for conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, even though under the facts here found the purpose of obtaining the false birth certificate was for use in the federal agency's proceedings.

Count One

Count 1 relevantly charges that, "in a matter within the jurisdiction of an agency of the United States", Mrs. Montemayor did "knowingly ... did make or cause to be made Texas Delayed Certificates of Birth for the benefit of [the two children] knowing that they contained false and fraudulent statements regarding the birthplace" of the children, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.

With regard to factual charge made by the indictment, 18 U.S.C. § 1001 1 provides criminal sanctions against "[w]hoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States knowingly and willfully ... makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations." (Emphasis added.) As we reiterated in United States v. Baker, 626 F.2d 512, 514 (5th Cir.1980), " '[p]roof of five elements is essential to sustain a conviction under the false statement proscription of § 1001: (1) a statement, (2) falsity, (3) materiality, (4) specific intent, and (5) agency jurisdiction.' "

For the present purposes, it is conceded that the first four elements were adequately proved. Mrs. Montemayor, the defendant, contends that, nevertheless, the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction because the obtaining from a state agency of a false birth certificate, although punishable as a violation of state law, was not "a matter within the jurisdiction of" the federal immigration service, a statutory prerequisite to conviction under this count. The defendant points out that birth certificates from state agencies are procured for many nonfederal purposes, such as for use in connection with state marriage licensing and state succession law.

We must first note that the district court's instructions to the jury made plain that simple falsity in statements procuring the fraudulent state birth certificates was not sufficient in itself to prove guilt of the federal crime charged under § 1001. The court instructed the jury that they must also find that the falsity was for a federally connected purpose--that they must find beyond

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a reasonable doubt not only that the defendant made or caused false statements to be made in the Texas delayed birth certificates, but also "that she did this with reference to a matter within the jurisdiction of a department or agency of the United States. That is, that this was done for the purpose of establishing citizenship, a falsehood establishing citizenship, and that Mrs. Montemayor did this willfully, as I have defined this term to you, and knowingly, that is, she had knowledge of the falsity of the statements."

Thus, under these instructions, and according on appellate review the jury verdict the required weight in its resolution of factual issues, Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 80, 62 S.Ct. 457, 469, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1962), we cannot disturb the jury's determination that Mrs. Montemayor's participation in the false statements made to a state agency were for the purpose of establishing the children's citizenship in the proceedings before the federal agency. Under the jurisprudential interpretations to be cited, these false statements, although not made directly to the federal agency itself, may factually be held to be a matter within the jurisdiction of the federal agency. See also Bryson v. United States, 396 U.S. 64, 71, 90 S.Ct. 355, 359, 24 L.Ed.2d 264 (1969), where the Court observed that the term " 'jurisdiction' should not be given a narrow or technical meaning for purposes of § 1001."

The defendant's counsel persuasively argues that, as a matter of law, the false statement to a state agency, a crime under state law, should not under the proper statutory construction of § 1001 be construed to be a false statement in a "matter within the jurisdiction" of the federal immigration service. He relies on principles of strict construction and federal-state comity most recently enunciated in connection with reversal of a conviction in United States v. Grissom, 645 F.2d 461, 467 (5th Cir.1981), which itself quoted from and relied upon United States v. Bass, 404 U.S. 336, 92 S.Ct. 515, 30 L.Ed.2d 488 (1971).

We ultimately conclude, however, that the defendant's contention is foreclosed by interpretations of § 1001 reached in decisions to be cited of this and other circuits.

These decisions have concerned instances where the false statement is made to a state agency charged with administering some federally funded program. Abstractly, it may be argued, a false statement to a state agency to procure a document usable for many non-federal purposes presents a distinguishable issue. Nevertheless, a false statement made to a local agency administering a federal program has been held to create federal criminal liability under § 1001, even though the defendant did not know of its ultimate federal purpose. Here, where the false statement was made to a state agency expressly for the purpose of influencing a federal agency in the performance of a function within its jurisdiction, it would be inconsistent with this jurisprudence, it seems to us, to hold that the false statement to a state agency made for federal-agency purposes was not a matter "within the jurisdiction of" the federal agency.

In United States v. Baker, supra, for instance, the issue before a panel of this circuit is whether the district court erred in denying a requested instruction that a defendant must know of the federal agency's involvement in order to sustain a...

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