United States v. DeZarn

157 F.3d 1042 (1998)

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United States v. DeZarn

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
157 F.3d 1042 (1998)

Facts

DeZarn (defendant) helped select National Guard officers to be invited to a Preakness party where contributions to the Jones gubernatorial campaign would be collected. The Preakness party was held at an officer’s home in May 1990, and campaign contributions were collected at the event. In June 1991, a dinner party with six attendees, including DeZarn, was held at the same officer’s home. No campaign contributions were collected. Jones was elected governor and appointed DeZarn to a position that involved deciding which officers the National Guard would retain. The inspector general of the Army initiated an investigation after receiving complaints that officers were let go for failing to support Jones’s campaign. DeZarn was interviewed and asked about the Preakness party in 1991. DeZarn stated under oath that he attended the party; it was not a political-fundraising activity; Jones was invited, but DeZarn did not remember whether Jones attended; DeZarn did not know if any contributions were made there to Jones’s campaign; and he did not see any contributions being made. When further investigation revealed DeZarn’s involvement in the planning of the Preakness party, DeZarn was charged with perjury. DeZarn moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that he was asked about a Preakness party in 1991 as opposed to 1990 and gave literally truthful answers about the 1991 dinner party. The district court denied the motion. At trial, DeZarn testified that the interviewer mistakenly asked about the Preakness party in 1991 rather than 1990, leading DeZarn to answer questions about the 1991 dinner party, which was not a fundraiser. Other evidence established that DeZarn was not misled by the 1991 date but answered the questions with an intent to deceive the investigators. DeZarn was convicted and argued on appeal that his answers were literally true and could not be the basis for a perjury prosecution even if he intended to evade or mislead.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rosen, J.)

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