Title 18 U.S.C. § 1001 is the principal false statement statute, which is used by U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country to prosecute offenders who use false documents (or make false statements) to defraud the United States. As long as a statement is false, and is material to the jurisdictional activities of a particular federal department or agency, it is subject to being prosecuted under this statute by the U.S. Department of Justice. The statute makes it a federal crime to knowingly and willfully falsify, conceal or cover up any material fact or to make any materially false or fraudulent statement or representation. It also makes it a federal crime to make or use any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement. This is provided that such conduct occurs “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branch of the Government of the United States”.
18 U.S.C. § 1001 is a favorite statute used by federal prosecutors in fraud cases. The false statements made in loan documents, which involve federally insured monies, are typically prosecuted under this statute. False oral statements to federal investigators can also be prosecuted under this statute as it is a crime to knowingly provide false information within the jurisdiction of an investigating federal agency. Filling out fraudulent and false applications for federal grant money, relief assistance or other federal funding is also a crime and can be prosecuted under this broadly worded code section.
As title 18 U.S.C. § 1001 is commonly used in most any federal criminal investigation involving fraudulent activity, our firm has seen it employed many times over the years and has defended our clients with respect to such allegations. While every case is factually specific, it is extremely important that the client understand that a prosecution under this code section can be somewhat draconian if the dollar amounts involved are significant. The more money involved the greater the potential sentencing under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the greater the client’s exposure is to possible incarceration.