Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Many news outlets that have reported on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' failure to disclose his wife's income are portraying the allegations as, at most, a misdemeanor.
But as we have reported here at Legal Schnauzer, and now is being reported by protectourelections.org, Thomas' actions would amount to a felony if proven in a court of law. In fact, Protect Our Elections (POE) cites several cases where individuals have faced prosecution under the felony statute, the same one that Thomas apparently is trying to skirt by amending disclosure forms going back 20 years.
POE also is reporting that Virginia Thomas, the justice's wife, is part of an outfit called Liberty Consulting Inc., which appears to be a front organization for conservative interests who have issues before the Supreme Court.
News reports on the Thomas case generally have referenced 5 U.S. Code app. section 104, which calls for a misdemeanor punishment of up to $50,000 and one year imprisonment, or both, for each violation. Given that Thomas apparently violated the statute for roughly 20 years, he could wind up with a substantial penalty under that law.
But the punishment becomes much more severe under 18 U.S.C. 1001, which also appears to apply in the Thomas case. It is a felony statute carrying at least five years in prison, and a former official with the U.S. House of Representatives currently is under indictment for actions that almost mirror those in the Thomas case. Reports POE:
While 5 USC app section 104 makes this conduct a misdemeanor punishable for up to a year in prison, 18 USC section 1001 is a felony statute carrying at least five years in prison. In fact, Fraser Verrusio, former Policy Director for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is awaiting trial under section 1001 for not reporting income on his "United States House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Statement for Calendar Year 2003."
You can read more about the charges against Fraser Verrusio at the link below. It appears that he was given no opportunity to amend his filings:
Verrusio once worked for U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK), and the case has received extensive coverage in the Alaska press. The prosecution reportedly grew out of the Jack Abramoff affair.
The U.S. Supreme Court, the very court upon which Thomas now sits, has a history of treating such violations as felonies. Reports POE:
Moreover, in UNITED STATES v. WOODWARD, 469 U.S. 105 (1985), in a case decided by the Supreme Court, the defendant, after checking the "no" box on a U.S. Customs form, was punished for both the false statement (18 USC section 1001) violation and the misdemeanor charge of failing to report the currency itself --- all as a result of checking the "no" box.
You can check out the Woodward case at the following link:
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