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United States v. Ruehrup

June 24, 1964

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ELMER RUEHRUP, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Author: Hastings

Before HASTINGS, Chief Judge, and SCHNACKENBERG and SWYGERT, Circuit Judges.

HASTINGS, Chief Judge.

Defendant Elmer Ruehrup is appealing from a judgment of conviction and sentence imposed thereunder for making false statements for the purpose of influencing an agency of the Farm Credit Administration, in violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 1014*fn1

The prosecution was by information, defendant having waived an indictment. The information was in three counts, alleging the making of overstatements on October 20, 1959, April 25, 1960 and December 13, 1960 as to the quantity of soybeans held in the elevators of the Alhambra Grain and Feed Company (company), Alhambra, Illinois.

Defendant entered a plea of not guilty and trial was had by jury in the Southern District of Illinois. The jury verdict found defendant guilty on all three counts. Defendant was sentenced to the custody of the Attorney General for imprisonment for a period of two years on each count, the sentences to run concurrently. The sentence stated that defendant would become eligible for parole upon serving a term of four months. No fine was imposed.

In 1948, defendant became manager of the company, which had for years been a borrower from the St. Louis Bank of Cooperatives (bank) at St. Louis, Missouri, an agency of the Farm Credit Administration. The company, through defendant, periodically filed statements for purposes of credit with the bank showing the quantity of grain on hand.

The company, in connection with its grain storage business, engaged in processing soybeans into soybean oil and soybean meal by the so-called "expeller process." This process squeezed the beans between rollers and was less efficient than the "solvent extraction process," used by some competitors, which applied a chemical to the beans.

The company met the prices of competitors who used the more efficient method. In order not to show losses on its books, defendant did not enter the actual quantity of soybeans processed, rather, he entered the quantity which would have been processed if the more efficient method had been used. This practice resulted in recording a greater quantity of soybeans on the books than were in storage.

In January, 1961, the bank sent inspectors to the company to measure the amount of soybeans in storage. Defendant admitted, prior to such measurement, that there were approximately 100,000 fewer bushels in storage than recorded on the books. This approximation proved to be substantially correct.

The company was adjudicated a bankrupt. On January 10, 1964, defendant was convicted and sentenced.

On appeal, defendant contends that the district court committed reversible error by denying motions for acquittal due to improper venue; permitting a self-incriminatory statement signed by defendant to be admitted into evidence; refusing to expunge a portion of this statement from evidence; and improperly ruling on objections to testimony.

I.

Defendant urges that since the alleged false statements and reports were submitted to the St. Louis Bank of Cooperatives in St. Louis, Missouri, venue was solely in the Eastern District of Missouri and that the trial court erred in denying his motions for acquittal.

Defendant contends that the offense proscribed in 18 U.S.C.A. § 1014, fn. 1 supra, is the delivery or communication of the false statement, and this occurred only in St. Louis. He relies on U.S. Const. art. III, § 2*fn2, U.S.Const. amend. VI*fn3 and Travis v. United States, 364 U.S. 631, 81 S. Ct. 358, 5 L. Ed. 2d 340 (1961).

In Travis, "petitioner was charged * * * with the making and filing of false non-Communist affidavits required by § 9(h) of the National Labor Relations Act." Id. 364 U.S. at 632, 81 S. Ct. at 359. Petitioner executed and mailed the alleged false writings in Colorado and they were filed with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. Petitioner was indicted and convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction and held that venue lay only in the District of Columbia.

The Supreme Court stated in Travis that: "Section 9(h) of the National Labor Relations Act, with which we are concerned, did not require union officers to file non-Communist affidavits. If it had, the whole process of filing, including the use of the mails, might logically be construed to constitute the offense. But this statutory design is different. It requires that the Board shall make no investigation nor issue any complaint in the matters described in § 9(h) 'unless there is on file with the Board' a non-Communist affidavit of each union officer. The filings are conditions precedent to a union's use of the Board's procedures. * * * The words of the Act - 'unless there is on file with the Board' - suggest to us that the filing must be completed before there is a 'matter within the jurisdiction' of the Board within the meaning of the false statement statute. When § 9(h) provides the criminal penalty, it makes the penal provisions applicable 'to such affidavits,' viz., to those 'on file with the Board.'" Id. 364 U.S. at 635, 636, 81 S. Ct. at 361, 362.

We agree with the Tenth Circuit that Travis is not controlling and is limited to the statute there involved. Imperial Meat Company v. United ...


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