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LUTWAK ET AL. v. UNITED STATES

decided: February 9, 1953.

LUTWAK ET AL
v.
UNITED STATES



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.

Vinson, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Jackson, Burton, Clark, Minton

Author: Minton

[ 344 U.S. Page 605]

 MR. JUSTICE MINTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioners, Marcel Max Lutwak, Munio Knoll, and Regina Treitler, together with Leopold Knoll and Grace Klemtner, were indicted on six counts in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The first count charged conspiracy to commit substantive offenses set forth in the remaining five counts and conspiracy "to defraud the United States of and concerning its governmental function and right of administering" the immigration laws and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, by obtaining the illegal entry into this country of three aliens as spouses of honorably discharged veterans. Grace Klemtner was dismissed from the indictment before the trial because her constitutional rights had been violated before the grand jury. At the conclusion of all the evidence, the District Court dismissed the substantive counts against all of the defendants because venue had not been shown in the Northern District of Illinois. The jury acquitted Leopold Knoll and convicted the three petitioners on the conspiracy count. The Court of Appeals affirmed, 195 F.2d 748, and we granted certiorari, 344 U.S. 809.

We are concerned here only with the conviction of the petitioners of the alleged conspiracy. Petitioner Regina Treitler is the sister of Munio Knoll and Leopold Knoll,

[ 344 U.S. Page 606]

     and the petitioner Lutwak is their nephew. Munio Knoll had been married in Poland in 1932 to one Maria Knoll. There is some evidence that Munio and Maria were divorced in 1942, but the existence and validity of this divorce are not determinable from the record. At the time of the inception of the conspiracy, in the summer of 1947, Munio, Maria and Leopold were refugees from Poland, living in Paris, France, while Regina Treitler and Lutwak lived in Chicago, Illinois. Petitioner Treitler desired to get her brothers into the United States.

Alien spouses of honorably discharged veterans of World War II were permitted to enter this country under the provisions of the so-called War Brides Act which provides in pertinent part:

". . . notwithstanding any of the several clauses of section 3 of the Act of February 5, 1917, excluding physically and mentally defective aliens, and notwithstanding the documentary requirements of any of the immigration laws or regulations, Executive orders, or Presidential proclamations issued thereunder, alien spouses or alien children of United States citizens serving in, or having an honorable discharge certificate from the armed forces of the United States during the Second World War shall, if otherwise admissible under the immigration laws and if application for admission is made within three years of the effective date of this Act, be admitted to the United States . . . ." 59 Stat. 659, 8 U. S. C. § 232.

The first count of the indictment charged that the petitioners conspired to have three honorably discharged veterans journey to Paris and go through marriage ceremonies with Munio, Leopold and Maria. The brothers

[ 344 U.S. Page 607]

     and Maria would then accompany their new spouses to the United States and secure entry into this country by representing themselves as alien spouses of World War II veterans. It was further a part of the plan that the marriages were to be in form only, solely for the purpose of enabling Munio, Leopold and Maria to enter the United States. The parties to the marriages were not to live together as husband and wife, and thereafter would take whatever legal steps were necessary to sever the legal ties. It was finally alleged that the petitioners conspired to conceal these acts in order to prevent disclosure of the conspiracy to the immigration authorities.

The conspiracy to commit substantive offenses consisted in that part of the plan by which each of the aliens was to make a false statement to the immigration authorities by representing in his application for admission that he was married to his purported spouse, and to conceal from the immigration authorities that he had gone through a marriage ceremony solely for the purpose of gaining entry into this country with the understanding that he and his purported spouse would not live together as man and wife, but would sever the formal bonds of the ostensible marriage when the marriage had served its fraudulent purpose.

The statute defining conspiracy reads as follows:

"If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such parties do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both." 18 U. S. C. (1946 ed.) § 88, now 18 U. S. C. (Supp. V) § 371.

[ 344 U.S. Page 608]

     The sections of the statute which it was alleged the petitioners conspired to violate provide in pertinent part:

"Any alien who hereafter enters the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officials or eludes examination or inspection by immigration officials, or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment." 45 Stat. 1551, 8 U. S. C. § 180a.

"Whoever knowingly makes under oath any false statement in any application, affidavit, or other document required by the immigration laws or regulations prescribed thereunder, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both." 43 Stat. 153, 165, 8 U. S. C. (1946 ed.) § 220 (c), now 18 U. S. C. (Supp. V) § 1546.

From the evidence favorable to the Government, the jury could reasonably have believed that the following acts and transactions took place, and that the petitioners conspired to bring them about. Lutwak, a World War II veteran, was selected to marry Maria Knoll, his aunt by marriage. He went to Paris where he went through a marriage ceremony with Maria. They traveled to the United States, entering the port of New York on September 9, 1947. They represented to the immigration authorities that Maria was the wife of Lutwak, and upon that representation Maria was admitted. They never lived together as man and wife, and within a few months Munio and Maria commenced living together in this

[ 344 U.S. Page 609]

     country as man and wife, holding themselves out as such. Lutwak, in the meantime, represented himself to friends as an unmarried man. Lutwak and Maria were divorced on March 31, 1950.

Lutwak and Mrs. Treitler also found two women -- Bessie Benjamin Osborne and Grace Klemtner -- who were honorably discharged veterans of World War II, and who were willing to marry Munio and Leopold so that the brothers could come to the United States. Bessie Osborne was introduced to Treitler by Lutwak, and went to Paris accompanied by Treitler. There she went through a pretended marriage ceremony with Munio Knoll, and on their arrival at New York City, Munio was admitted on November 13, 1947, on the representation that he was married to Bessie Osborne. The marriage was never consummated and was never intended to be. The parties separated after entering the United States, and they never lived together as husband and wife at any time. Bessie Osborne's suit for divorce from Munio was pending at the time of the trial.

Still later, Grace Klemtner, who was also a World War II veteran and an acquaintance of Regina Treitler, went to Paris and went through a pretended marriage ceremony with Leopold. They then traveled to the United States, where Leopold was admitted on December 5, 1947, upon the representation that he was the husband of Grace Klemtner. They immediately separated after their entry into this country, and they never lived together as husband and wife at any time until about the time Grace Klemtner appeared before the grand jury which returned the indictment. This was approximately April 1, 1950, more than two years after the marriage ceremony in Paris. Bessie Osborne and Grace Klemtner received a substantial fee for participating in these marriage ceremonies.

There is an abundance of evidence in this record of a conspiracy to contract spurious, phony marriages for the

[ 344 U.S. Page 610]

     purposes of deceiving the immigration authorities and thereby perpetrating a fraud upon the United States, and of a conspiracy to commit ...


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