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United States v. Sarantos
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
455 F.2d 877 (1972)
The government (plaintiff) charged Constantine Makris and attorney Robert Sarantos (defendants) in a conspiracy to help Greek men obtain visas. Makris was essentially a marriage broker who found Puerto Rican women willing to marry Greek men for payment and arranged sham marriages. Shortly after the marriage ceremonies, the newlyweds visited Sarantos’s office, where the wife signed a blank visa petition that Sarantos completed and filed with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) falsely stating that each couple lived together as husband and wife. Sarantos told the wives to tell the INS they lived with their husbands and not to mention the payments to marry. Some newlyweds needed interpreters or signed divorce papers simultaneously with immigration papers. Sarantos knew the wives were paid and knew at least indirectly that the couples were not living together. Several couples purported to live in buildings considered “safe” addresses because other Sarantos clients owned or managed the buildings and were expected to deceive INS investigators. Makris and Sarantos were charged with conspiring to make false statements to the INS and defraud the government. Sarantos was also charged with aiding and abetting others to make false statements to the INS. The trial judge instructed that the aiding-and-abetting-false-statements charges required the jury to conclude Sarantos knew the statements were false and that he “knowingly and wilfully” participated in making them to the INS. After defining “knowingly and wilfully” as knowing what one is doing as opposed to an inadvertent or careless act, the judge explained that requirement would be met if Sarantos “acted with reckless disregard of whether the statements made were true or with a conscious effort to avoid learning the truth,” even if Sarantos was not specifically aware of facts that would prove the statements false. Sarantos’s attorney objected on the ground that reckless disregard of falsity or conscious effort to avoid learning the truth did not amount to knowledge, but the judge overruled the objection. The jury convicted Sarantos of aiding and abetting making the false statements and conspiracy. Sarantos appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Feinberg, J.)
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