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Making Materially False Statements to a Federal Agent or Agency

18 U.S.C. § 1001 is a broad and often used statute that makes giving false statements to the federal government a crime. Section 1001 covers three broad categories of offenses. First, § 1001 prohibits and penalizes falsifying, concealing, or otherwise covering up a material fact by any trick, scheme, or device from any federal department or agency and their employees and agents; second, it criminalizes the making of materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations to any federal department or agency and their employees and agents; and third, § 1001 criminalizes the use of a writing or document containing materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements before any federal department or agency. 18 U.S.C. § 1001;  (By its terms, § 1001 covers “any” false statement-that is, a false statement “of whatever kind-rejecting “exculpatory no” defense). To convict under this statute, the government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (1) that the defendant made a false statement; (2) that the statement was material; (3) that the defendant acted with specific intent to mislead; and (4) that the matter was within the purview of a federal government agency. A violation of § 1001 is punishable by a fine and imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

Thus, to convict under § 1001, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when the defendant made the false statement, he or she knew of its falsity. However, proof of actual knowledge of federal agency jurisdiction is not required to obtain a conviction for making false statements under § 1001. Nor must the prosecutor prove an intent to defraud; all that the prosecutor must prove is an intent to deceive. And to be “material,” the putative false statement must have a natural tendency to influence, or be capable of influencing, the decision of the decision making body to which it was addressed.

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