Crain v. United States


Crain v. United States
by John Marshall Harlan
Syllabus
Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

162 U.S. 625

Crain  v.  United States

This writ of error brings up for review a judgment in the district court of the United States for the Western district of Arkansas, by which the plaintiff in error was sentenced to imprisonment in the house of correction at Detroit, Mich., at hard labor, for the term of three years.

The defendant was indicated under section 5421 of the Revised Statutes, which provides: 'Every person who falsely makes, alters, forges or counterfeits, or causes or procures to be falsely made, altered, forged or counterfeited or willingly aids or assists in the false making, altering, forging or counterfeiting, any deed, power of attorney, order, certificate, receipt or other writing, for the purpose of obtaining or receiving, or of enabling any other person, either directly or indirectly, to obtain or receive from the United States, or any of their officers or agents, any sum of money; or who utters or publishes as true, or causes to be uttered or published as true, any such false, forged, altered or counterfeited deed, power of attorney, order, certificate, receipt or other writing, with intent to defraud the United States, knowing the same to be false, altered, forged or counterfeited, or who transmits to, or presents at, or causes or procures to be transmitted to, or presented at, any office or officer of the government of the United States, any deed, power of attorney, order, certificate, receipt or other writing, in support of, or in relation to, any account or claim, with intent to defraud the United States, knowing the same to be false, altered, forged or counterfeited, shall be imprisoned at hard labor for a period of not less than one year nor more than ten years, or shall be imprisoned not more than five years and fined not more than one thousand dollars.'

The indictment contained three counts. The first count sets out in full a declaration purporting to have been made by one Spahiga, a resident of the Creek Nation, in the Indian Territory, for an invalid pension, to which was appended a certificate or statement purporting to have been made by two persons named Marrell and Fixico, to the effect that they were present, and saw Spahiga sign his name or make his mark to said declaration, and that they had every reason to believe that he was the identical person that he represented himself to be. The declaration and accompanying certificate or statement purported to have been sworn to on the 4th day of August, 1892, before 'A. W. Crain, U.S.C.omm'r, Pension Notary.'

The second count charged: 'That heretofore, to wit, on the 4th day of August, A. D. 1892, one Spahiga is alleged to have executed a certain declaration and affidavit. Said declaration and affidavit are in words and figures as set out in the first count of this indictment, and said declaration and affidavit purporting to be executed before one A. W. Crain, United States commissioner in the Creek Nation, in the Indian Territory, the said Spahiga claiming in said declaration a pension from the United States as soldier of war of Rebellion, who in said declaration was alleged to have enlisted under the name of Spahiga, at _____, on the 12th day of August, 1863, Company D, first regiment, Indian Home Guards, Indian Territory, in the war of the Rebellion. Said declaration and affidavit, after being so made, executed, and falsely counterfeited and forged by said Alex. W. Crain, was by said Alex. W. Crain forwarded, with intent to defraud the United States, and to obtain certain moneys from the United States, to the office of the commissioner of pensions, in the department of the interior, at the city of Washington, in the District of Columbia, where the same was duly filed on the 12th day of August, 1892, as a claim against the government of the United States for a persion by the said Spahiga, as soldier aforesaid, as aforesaid, and being so filed for approval by the said A. W. Crain, in the office aforesaid, by the commissioner of pensions, and the said affidavit and declaration being material on the question pending efore said commissioner of pensions as to whether the said Spahiga was by the laws of the United States entitled to a pension. And the jorors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do further present that on the 4th day of August, 1892, at the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, and within the Western district of Arkansas, at which date said declaration, affidavit, and claims were prepared and made for filing in the office of the commissioner of pensions, as aforesaid, the same being an office of the United States, for the purpose aforesaid, one Alex. W. Crain did make, execute, and forge, and cause to be made, executed, and forged, a certain pretended and false affidavit, or the same may be called a certificate, the same being one and the same paper, and being in form and substance as hereinafter set out, which said forged, false and counterfeited affidavit or certificate was fraudulent, and was a part of the said declaration and affidavit above mentioned, and was forwarded, together with the said declaration, to the office of the commissioner of pensions aforesaid, for the purpose of defrauding the United States, and of aiding and abetting the said Spahiga to obtain the approval of the said commissioner of pensions to his said claim for a pension as aforesaid, for the purpose of aiding the said Spahiga fraudulently to obtain money from the United States; which said pretended and false affidavit and certificate is in substance set out in the first count of this indictment. The said pretended affidavit and certificate and declaration were forged, false, and fraudulent, and did contain fraudulent and fictitious statements, as the said A. W. Crain well knew, in this: that Pahose Marrell, Spahiga, and Nokos Fixico did not sign said pretended affidavit and certificate, declaration and affidavit, as set forth in said false certificate and affidavit, and said Pahose Marrell, Spahiga, and said Nokos Fixico were not sworn as to the truth of the matters and things set forth in said pretended declaration, affidavit, and certificate, but in truth and fact the said A. W. Crain did, knowingly and willfully, feloniously and falsely make, counterfeit, forge, and cause to be made, counterfeited, and forged, the names of Pahose Marrell, Spahiga, and Nokos Fixico to and upon the said false and forged affidavit and certificate, with intent to defraud the United States, and to aid the said Spahiga in obtaining money fraudulently from the United States; and that the said A. W. Crain did not swear the said Pahose Marrell, said Spahiga, and the said Nokos Fixico as to the truth of the matters and things set forth in said declaration, affidavit, and certificate; contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the United States of America.'

The third count charged 'that A. W. Crain, on the 4th day of August, A. D. 1892, at the Creek Nation, in the Indian country, within the Western district of Arkansas aforesaid, unlawfully and feloniously did transmit to the office of the commissioner of pensions of the United States, the same being an office under the government of the United States, and for the purpose of defrauding the United States, the false and forged instrument of writing set out in the first count of this indictment, contrary,' etc.

Mr. Justice Peckham, Mr. Justice Brewer, and Mr. Justice White dissenting.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 629-632 intentionally omitted]

A. H. Garland and R. C. Garland, for plaintiff in error.

Asst. Atty. Gen. Whitney, for the United States.

Mr. Justice HARLAN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

NotesEdit

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).