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BRIDGES V. UNITED STATES, 346 U. S. 209 (1953)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bridges v. United States, 346 U.S. 209 (1953)

Bridges v. United States

No. 548

Argued May 4, 1953

Decided June 15, 1953

346 U.S. 209


In 1945, petitioners testified in a naturalization hearing which resulted in petitioner Bridges' admission to citizenship. In 1949, all three were indicted under § 37 of the old Criminal Code, 35 Stat. 1096, now 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V) § 371, for conspiring to defraud the United States by obstructing the proper administration of its naturalization laws, Bridges was indicted under § 346(a)(1) of the Nationality Act of 1940 for testifying falsely in the naturalization proceeding that he was not and had not been a member of the Communist Party, and petitioners Schmidt and Robertson were indicted under § 346(a)(5) of the same Act for willfully and knowingly aiding Bridges to obtain a certificate of naturalization by false and fraudulent statements.

Held: The general three-year statute of limitations, 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V), § 3282, is applicable to each of the offenses charged, and the indictment came too late. Pp. 346 U. S. 210-228.

1. The running of the general three-year statute of limitations was not suspended by the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act in relation to the offenses charged in any of the counts. Pp. 346 U. S. 215-224

(a) The Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act applies to offenses involving the defrauding of the United States in any manner, but only when the fraud is of a pecuniary nature, or at least of a nature concerning property; and none of the offenses here charged were of such a nature. Pp. 346 U. S. 215-221.

(b) The wartime suspension of limitations authorized by Congress in the language of this Act, or similar language in comparable acts, is limited strictly to offenses in which defrauding or attempting to defraud the United States is an essential ingredient of the offense charged. P. 346 U. S. 221.

(c) Nothing in § 346(a)(1) makes fraud an essential ingredient of the offense of making a false material statement under oath in a naturalization proceeding. P. 346 U. S. 222.

(d) Nothing in § 346(a)(5) makes fraud an essential ingredient of the offense of aiding someone to commit a violation of chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 346 U. S. 210

§ 346(a)(1), and the insertion in the indictment of the words "procured by fraud" does not change the result. Pp. 346 U. S. 222-223.

(e) A charge of conspiracy to commit a certain substantive offense is not entitled to a longer statute of limitations than the charge of committing the offense itself. P. 346 U. S. 223.

(f) That § 37 of the old Criminal Code, now 18 U.S.C. (Supp. V) § 371, also applies to conspiracies to defraud the United States "in any manner or for any purpose" does not require a different result as to the charge thereunder in this case. Pp. 346 U. S. 223-224.

2. The saving clause in § 21 of the Act of June 25, 1948, codifying the Criminal Code, does not "save" the special five-year statute of limitations of § 346(g) of the Nationality Act of 1940 so as to apply it to the violations of the latter Act charged in the indictment. Pp. 346 U. S. 224-227.

199 F.2d 811 reversed.

The District Court denied petitioners' motions to dismiss their indictments, 86 F.Supp. 922, and they were convicted. The Court of Appeals affirmed, 199 F.2d 811, and denied rehearing en banc, 201 F.2d 254. This Court granted certiorari. 345 U.S. 904. Reversed and remanded, p. 346 U. S. 228.

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