United States v. Laub

Decision Date13 June 1966
Docket NumberNo. 64-CR-137.,64-CR-137.
Citation253 F. Supp. 433
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Lee Levi LAUB, Phillip Abbott Luce, Stefan Martinot and Anatol Schlosser, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York

Joseph P. Hoey, U. S. Atty., Eastern Dist. of New York, for plaintiff; Vincent T. McCarthy, Chief Asst. U. S. Atty., William J. Hipkiss, Sp. Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., of counsel.

Rabinowitz & Boudin, New York City, for defendants Lee Levi Laub and Stefan Martinot; Leonard B. Boudin, New York City, of counsel.

Englander & Englander, New York City, for defendant Anatol Schlosser; Isidore Englander, New York City, Joseph Forer, Washington, D. C., of counsel.

Probable Jurisdiction Noted June 13, 1966. See 86 S.Ct. 1891.

ZAVATT, Chief Judge.

This case relates to a trip to Cuba made by fifty-eight American citizens who departed from the United States in June 1963 via air transportation out of Idlewild International Airport (now known as Kennedy International Airport and hereinafter referred to as Kennedy Airport); entered Cuba, where they remained for approximately two months; returned therefrom to the United States, entering at Kennedy Airport on August 30, 1963.

The defendants were indicted, charged with having conspired among themselves and with Salvatore Cucchiari and Ellen Irene Shallit (named as co-conspirators but not as defendants) to induce, recruit and arrange for the group to depart from the United States for the Republic of Cuba "without bearing a valid passport for the Republic of Cuba," and to violate 8 U.S.C. ž 1185(b)1 and regulations issued thereunder. See notes 27, 28, 32, infra. The indictment also charges the defendants Laub, Luce and Martinot with having departed from the United States for the Republic of Cuba and with having entered the United States "without bearing a valid passport."2 For the reasons hereinafter stated, the court is compelled to find the defendants Laub, Martinot and Schlosser not guilty on the counts of the indictment in and by which they are charged, i. e., Counts One, Three and Five as to the defendant Laub; Counts One, Two and Seven as to the defendant Martinot; Count One as to the defendant Schlosser. The indictment is still pending as to the defendant Luce. See note 2, supra.

The evidence on the trial suggests that, had the matter been so presented, a grand jury might well have indicted some or all of the four defendants for (1) having knowingly made false statements in their applications for permission to depart from the United States, in violation of 8 U.S.C. ž 1185(a) (3);3 (2) for having made false statements in their applications for passports, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ž 1542; (3) for having used their passports, the issue of which was secured by reason of false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ž 1542;4 "(4) for having conspired to induce others to make false statements in their applications for passports, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ž 1542." The evidence suggests, further, that a grand jury might well have indicted at least the defendant Laub, charging him with having acted as the agent of a foreign principal without having filed a registration statement with the Attorney General, in violation of Subchapter II of Chapter 11 of Title 22, United States Code.5 Nevertheless, an indictment was sought and obtained charging the defendants only with alleged violations of 8 U.S.C. ž 1185(b) and "the regulations issued thereunder" and with a conspiracy to violate the same.


The United States severed diplomatic relations with Castro's Communist Cuba on January 3, 1961. We became aware of Cuba-Russia missile activities in Cuba in October 1962. Pres.Procl. 3504, October 23, 1962, 3 CFR 232 (1959-1963 Comp.). It may or may not be a mere coincidence that the defendants Laub and Martinot organized the so-called "Ad Hoc Student Committee for Travel to Cuba" at a meeting held in an unspecified place in New York City on October 14, 1962; that the defendant Schlosser became identified with this movement shortly thereafter; that, during the missile crisis and in December 1962, the name of the Committee was changed to "Permanent Student Committee for Travel to Cuba"; that the Committee attempted to recruit and organize a group of United States citizens to depart for Cuba in December 1962. This plan aborted when Canada refused them permission to depart therefrom by plane for Cuba. By coincidence the trial of the defendants Laub, Martinot and Schlosser occurred during the mass exodus from Cuba of native citizens who abandoned all of their worldly possessions, separated from close relatives and lifelong friends and risked the perils of the sea in small boats in order to escape from the "blessings" of Castro's Communist Cuba for a new birth of freedom in the United States of America. The mass exodus still continues as this opinion is being written.

The intention of the defendants Laub, Martinot and Schlosser to depart from the United States for the purpose of entering Cuba and to induce others to do likewise was open, notorious, with an awareness of 8 U.S.C. ž 1185(b), the regulations of the Secretary of State (hereinafter the Secretary), his regulations, his policy declaration of January 16, 1961, infra, and the interpretation of ž 1185, said regulations and said declaration by the Department of State (hereinafter the Department).

At the meeting of October 14, 1962, those present claimed that there were contradictions in "certain press reports * * * about Cuba"; they expressed their determination to make a trip to Cuba for the alleged purpose of seeing and evaluating the situation and "to attempt to form as objective and as complete an opinion * * * of the Cuban situation" as they could. Five days later, on October 19, 1962, the defendant Schlosser applied in writing to the Department for validation of his passport6 "for travel to Cuba during the forthcoming Christmas vacation." Having received no reply, he wrote to the Department on November 16, 1962, stating: "I have received and accepted an invitation from the Cuban Federation of University Students to spend my Christmas holidays in Cuba." His request was denied by letter dated November 16, 1962:

"Exceptions to the general policy of limiting travel by United States citizens to Cuba are made only in cases of extreme emergency requiring the immediate presence of the applicant in Cuba. It is not considered that your request comes within the criteria."

Undaunted, Schlosser advised the Department, by letter dated December 5, 1962:

"Nevertheless, I have accepted an invitation issued by the Cuban Federation of University Students, and I intend to make the trip as originally planned. Therefore, please clarify what is meant by `general policy.' On what legal grounds is this policy based? what sic will be the legal ramifications of my actually making the trip without United States passport validation?"

Whereupon, the Department advised him that its policy with reference to travel to Cuba had been announced on January 16, 1961; that it was "in conformity with the Department's normal practice of limiting travel to those countries with which the United States does not maintain diplomatic relations"; that "Travel to Cuba by United States citizens without a passport specifically validated by the Department of State, for that purpose, constitutes a violation of the Travel Control Law and Regulations (Title 8 US Code Sec. 1185, Title 22 Code of Federal Regulations Sec. 53.3)" and called his attention to the maximum penalties for "a wilfull violation of the law."

On November 2, 1962 (three weeks after the meeting of October 14, 1962), the defendant Martinot applied for validation of his passport7 "for a trip to Cuba over the forthcoming Christmas vacation." "I am fully cognizant of the present state of relations between the United States and Cuba, but trust that my sic the end of December the tension may have subsided sufficiently to permit a more objective view of the situation." This request was denied by a Department letter similar to and bearing the same date as that to Schlosser.

Nevertheless, the plan to make a trip to Cuba in December 1962 was not yet abandoned. Pursuant to an announcement published in the National Guardian, a meeting of the Committee (still known as the "Ad Hoc Committee for Travel to Cuba"), attended by approximately one hundred persons, was held in an apartment at 885 Riverside Drive, New York, N.Y.,8 on December 15, 1962. There Schlosser read his correspondence with the Department; Laub asserted that, notwithstanding, the December trip would be taken at a cost of only $25 per head (to cover the bus trip from New York City to Canada) and that "the rest of the cost was to be picked up by the Cuban Government." At a press conference held at the Marteen Hotel in Buffalo, N.Y., on December 23rd, however, Schlosser, speaking for the Ad Hoc Committee, announced that the plans for a trip to Cuba were cancelled temporarily but that the Committee would continue in its efforts to visit Cuba.

Soon thereafter steps were taken to recruit applicants and make arrangements for the trip that eventuated in June 1963 and is the subject matter of this case. A passport issued to Laub on May 24, 1960, had not yet expired.9 Nevertheless, he applied to the New York Passport Agency of the Department on January 29, 1963, for a new passport, stating that he intended to depart for Mexico on February 1, 1963, and to remain there for a period of two to three weeks for "vacation and visit."10 Passport No. D014611 was issued to him the same day. Unlike the passports issued to Martinot and Schlosser, it did not provide that it was not valid for travel to Cuba.11

In either February or March 1963, Laub departed the United States, via Mexico, for Cuba where he remained for approximately three weeks and returned to the United States via Prague, Czechoslovakia. The purpose of...

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  • United States v. Laub
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • January 10, 1967
    ...country.1 The District Court granted appellees' motion to dismiss the indictment. Chief Judge Zavatt filed an exhaustive opinion (253 F.Supp. 433 (D.C.E.D.N.Y.)). Notice of direct appeal to this Court was filed and we noted probable jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3731 because the dismissal ......

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