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United States v. Yasak

decided: September 6, 1989.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JOSEPH YASAK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 88 CR 217 -- William T. Hart, Judge.

Wood, Jr., Manion, and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

Author: Manion

MANION, Circuit Judge

Joseph A. Yasak was charged in a one-count information with knowingly making a false declaration regarding a material fact while testifying under oath before a grand jury. 18 U.S.C. ยง 1623.*fn1 He moved under Fed.R.Crim.P. 12(b) to dismiss the information, claiming that, among other things, his responses to the grand jury's questions were literally true, and thus incapable of constituting perjury; that the grand jury's questions were "fundamentally ambiguous;" and finally, that the wording of the information improperly varied from the relevant grand jury testimony. The district court denied the motion, and Yasak entered a conditional guilty plea under Fed.R.Crim.P. 11(a)(2). We affirm.

I.

Yasak was subpoenaed to appear before the Special October 1983 Grand Jury as a witness in the government's Greylord investigation. Yasak was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony, but was warned that his immunity would not extend to a perjury prosecution. Yasak testified that he had been a Sergeant in the Chicago Police Department assigned, since approximately 1978, as the Supervisor of Traffic Tickets and Accountability in the Records section. The government suspected Yasak had been taking money from people with outstanding parking tickets and splitting it with someone in the City's corporation counsel's office. So far as is relevant here, two exchanges occurred in the grand jury session:

Q. Have you ever taken money from anyone, Mr. Yasak, in order to take care of someone's outstanding parking tickets?

A. [Yasak] In which way do you mean, by taking money?

Q. Have you ever received money from anyone in order to take care of their outstanding parking tickets?

A. Can I go outside and talk to Mr. Walsh [Yasak's attorney]?

Q. Of course you can. Get up and do it.

(Whereupon Yasak left the Grand Jury room to consult with his attorney, and upon his return resumed the witness stand and testified further as follows.) [Upon Yasak's request, the previous question was read by the court reporter.]

A. Yes, I have taken money, and I have turned it over to pay for their traffic citations, and have given it to the Corporation Counsel's Office, for them to pay for it.

Q. Do you have any ongoing relationship with anyone, where you accepted tickets from them?

A. What do you mean by ongoing relationship, a continuous thing?

Q. Yes, where it would happen more than once, that you received any benefits from it whatsoever.

A. I would never receive any benefits from any tickets that I would help ...


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