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UNITED STATES v. LEMBO

February 18, 1948

UNITED STATES
v.
LEMBO et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGRANERY

The defendants were indicted jointly December Term, 1946, 14094.

Count No. 1 in the indictment charged Joseph John Lembo, Jr., of knowingly failing and neglecting to perform a duty required of him under the provisions of the Selective Training and Service Act of September 16, 1940, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, 311. The duty required of defendant Joseph John Lembo, Jr., was defined in Selective Service Regulation 626.1b, later amended, which stated: 'Each classified registrant shall within 10 days after it occurs * * * report to his local board any fact which might result in such registrant being placed in a different classification.'

 Count No. 2 of the same indictment charged Louis Anthony Aleli with failing to perform a duty as set forth in Form 42A, Occupational Classification Affidavit, which under Selective Service Regulation 605.51 had the force of a Regulation. The instructions at the bottom of this form stated: ' * * * If the registrant is deferred, the employer must notify the Local Board promptly of any change in the registrant's job status, or if his employment is terminated.'

 The jury found both defendants guilty of the counts charged in the indictment. Both defendants have moved in the alternative for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial.

 A review of the pertinent facts in the case is briefly this:

 In the summer of 1942 James W. Stout conducted an automobile and repair service business under the name of Stout's 69th Street Service, Inc., hereinafter referred to as Stout's Inc. By arrangement sometime in July, 1942, Stout met defendant Aleli in the office of a lawyer in the City of Philadelphia. As a result of this meeting, an agreement was entered into between Stout's, Inc., as represented by James W. Stout, and defendant Aleli, under the terms of which a portion of the premises used in the automobile business was converted to the manufacture of shells in the war effort. Prior to this time defendant Aleli had been employed by the United States Government at the Frankford Arsenal. Stout knew nothing at all about the manufacture of shells. Under the terms of the agreement, Aleli and Stout would each draw $ 10,000 a year if profits were sufficient, and 37 1/2% of the net profit of the business. For 1943 Aleli reported an income of approximately $ 15,000 from Stout's Inc., and for 1944, approximately $ 31,000. Defendant Aleli was general manager in charge of the manufacture of war material.

 Defendant Joseph John Lembo, Jr., was born in the City of Philadelphia in 1910 or 1911; he is married and the father of one child born prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. He registered with his local draft board as required under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, and on June 7, 1941, filed his original questionnaire. In answer to the question, Registrant's Statement Regarding Classification, he stated: 'If license is approved and I were not deferred I would suffer a very large monetary loss. In addition, the business requires my personal attention.' The local draft board placed the defendant Lembo in III A, a category popularly designated 'for pre-Pearl Harbor fathers.' Thereafter, Lembo received his beer distributor license and built up a very substantial business employing a number of men, and still in operation at 418 New Market Street, Philadelphia. Lembo's III A status was continued until August 16, 1943, when he was ordered to report for a physical examination. The week following, on August 23, 1943, Lembo became an employee of Stout's Inc., through his cousin, Aleli. The next week, on August 30, 1943, a Form 42A was prepared, requesting Lembo's deferment, describing him as an 'expediter' and stating that it would take over six months to replace him. This request for deferment was signed by James W. Stout and received at the draft board on September 2, 1943, Lembo was reclassified back into III A, a classification based upon dependency, not occupation. Thereafter, on November 16, 1943, another Form 42A affidavit was filled out for Lembo, signed by defendant Aleli, and setting forth the same facts contained in the previous Form 42A. In February, 1944, Lembo was reclassified to class II B until June 30, 1944, and in February, 1945, Aleli again requested a further deferment for Lembo. As a result he was carried in classification II B until December, 1944, and in March, 1945, his classification was again continued in II B until September, 1945. After each classification was sustained by the Appeals Board, as required for II B classifications, notice was sent to Stout's, Inc., and to Lembo.

 In January, 1945, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began an investigation of Lembo's employment status. On the 25th or 26th of January, 1945, Lembo returned to work at Stout's, Inc., where he was employed until around August 1, 1945. On March 19, 1945, he went voluntarily to the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and gave a statement concerning his employment. Neither Lembo nor Aleli ever notified the draft board of the fact that Lembo was not employed at Stout's Inc., for the period from early in October, 1944 until January 25 or 26, 1945.

 Counsel for both defendants have pressed motions for judgment of acquittal and urged various reasons, as well, for granting a new trial. On behalf of Lembo's motion for acquittal it is first pointed out that only failure to perform a duty is criminal under the basic statute, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, 311, which provides that knowingly failing and neglecting to perform a duty required under the provisions of the Act and the rules and regulations pursuant thereto is a violation. The wording of Regulation 626.1b, it is argued, falls short of creating a duty for two reasons: One, because it does not explicitly use the word 'duty' in describing the obligation of a registrant, and, two, because it does not create an obligation at all, but only affords a ten-day opportunity to a registrant, after his classification has been considered anew, to urge new facts upon a local board for its consideration. The first contention carries its own weakness within it. It is admitted by counsel that other regulations create a 'duty' in this sense without actually using the word itself (cf. Regulations 623.61-1; 611.33; 611.34). Therefore, it is clear that mechanical use of the word 'duty' is not the standard for determining when an obligation punishable by criminal sanction is created under the Act. The proper criteria are the usual meaning of all the language used and the nature and importance of the action involved. I feel that the comparison between use of the word 'shall' and 'should' in Regulation 626.1b is highly significant; e.g., each classified registrant shall, and any other person should, report to the local board any fact that might result in a different classification. Moreover, the practical matter involved was extremely important to efficient operation of the Selective Service Act. Class II B deferments, for example, were sometimes granted for as long as six months at a time. At a time when the manpower barrel was being scraped, the necessity for up to date and accurate knowledge upon the facts of each registrant's reasons for deferment are obvious. Employers had a duty to notify the draft board of any change in a registrant's job status. The obligation should clearly rest, as well, upon the registrant. To accept defendant's argument that 626.1b did not create an obligation enforceable by criminal sanctions might hamper and cripple the selective service system. The same objection applies, with even greater force, to his contention that 626.1b created no obligation at all. See United States v. Wain, 2 Cir., 162 F.2d 60, 64, certiorari denied 68 S. Ct. 69, 92 L. Ed. . . . .

 Counsel also urges as ground for a judgment of acquittal that 626.1b creates a standard of criminal liability too vague to be constitutional, that the offense cannot be prosecuted because the statute has expired, and that there was not enough evidence of criminal intent or guilt to warrant submission of the issues to a jury. The first contention, I feel, has been adequately answered by the trial Judge in United States v. Weiss, D.C., 65 F.Supp. 556, 561, affd., 2 Cir., 162 F.2d 447, who pointed out, inter alia:

 'The language of Regulation 626.1(b) is not so vague and indefinite that no standard of guilt is furnished to persons of integrity interested in obeying it. The purpose of the Regulation to require the disclosure by the registrant to the Local Board of any facts which might alter his classification is obvious. Since the legislation is designed for the general welfare of the whole public in an emergency period, its object should not be lightly thwarted by a strained interpretation.'

 The argument that prosecution must fail because the statute has expired is similarly without weight. Section 316(b) of the Act, finally amended on June 29, 1946, read:

 'All of the other provisions of this Act * * * shall become inoperative and cease to apply * * * on March 31, 1947, * * * except as to ...


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