Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
United States v. Yermian
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Yermian (Defendant) was hired as an employee of Gulton Industries, a contractor of the Department of Defense (DoD). By virtue of his position with Gulton, Defendant would have access to classified information and was therefore required to gain security clearance from the DoD. As part of this process, Defendant was asked to fill out a questionnaire. Though the questionnaire asked whether he had been charged with any violations of law, Defendant did not disclose an earlier conviction for mail fraud. Defendant also falsely reported that he had been employed by two companies for which he had never worked. A Gulton Security Officer typed Defendant’s responses. Defendant reviewed the typed document and signed a form certifying that his answers were true and that he understood he would be subject to prosecution under § 1001 of the United States Criminal Code, which makes it a crime to make false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of a federal agency, if it was later discovered he provided false statements. The form was mailed to the DoD’s security-clearance office, where investigators found that Defendant had submitted false statements. Defendant later admitted that he answered dishonestly and was subsequently charged with violation of § 1001. At trial, Defendant admitted to having actual knowledge that his statements were false, but said he had no actual knowledge that his false statements would be communicated to a federal agency. Defendant requested a jury instruction requiring the government to prove both that there was actual knowledge of the falsity of the statements and actual knowledge the statements were made in a matter within federal jurisdiction. The district court rejected the request and instead instructed the jury that the government had to prove Defendant knew or should have known that the information was to be submitted to a government agency. Defendant’s objection to the instruction was overruled, and the jury convicted him. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed.
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