United States v. Good – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Good, 326 F.3d 589 (4th Cir. 2003), the defendant applied for a Security Identification Display Area ("SIDA") badge at a Virginia airport, issued pursuant to Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") regulations. Id. at 590.

On the application, Good was asked: "'Have you ever been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of the following listed crimes . . . 22. Burglary, Theft, Armed robbery, Possession or Distribution of Stolen Property . . . 26. Dishonesty, Fraud, or Misrepresentation . . . ." Id.

The defendant answered "no" to both question 22 and question 26. Id. About a year before, however, she "had pleaded guilty to embezzlement, under Virginia law. Id.

Accordingly, Good was charged with "knowingly and willfully making a fraudulent statement in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2)." Good sought to dismiss the indictment, arguing, inter alia, "that her statements were literally true because embezzlement was not a crime listed on the application . . . ." Id.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the indictment because the "defendant's statement was literally true . . . ." Id. at 591.

The court rejected the government's argument that the defendant's statements were false because embezzlement fell "within the purview of disqualifying crimes of theft, fraud, dishonesty, and misrepresentation." Id.

It acknowledged that "embezzlement is a felony involving dishonesty, fraud, and misrepresentation," id. at 592, and recognized that the defendant had pleaded guilty to the crime of embezzlement. But, the court also said: "Embezzlement . . . was not one of the crimes listed on the application." Id. at 591-92.

The court reasoned: "Given the wording of the question and the crime for which the defendant was convicted, her answers on the application were thus literally true; the defendant has never been convicted of any of the crimes listed on the application." Id. at 592.