United States v. Wells, 519 U.S. 482, 3 (1997)

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Opinion of the Court

indictment contrary to the Fifth Amendment—were neither raised in respondents' briefs before, nor passed on by, the Eighth Circuit, it is left to that court on remand to take up the propriety of raising them now and to address them if warranted. Pp. 499-500. 63 F. 3d 745, vacated and remanded.

Souter, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 500.

Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben argued the cause for the United States. With him on the briefs were Solicitor General Days, Acting Solicitor General Dellinger, Acting Assistant Attorney General Keeney, Paul A. Engelmayer, and William C. Brown.

James R. Wyrsch argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief was Ronald D. Lee.*

Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the Court.

The principal issue before us is whether materiality of falsehood is an element of the crime of knowingly making a false statement to a federally insured bank, 18 U. S. C. 1014. We hold that it is not.


In 1993, the Government charged respondents, Jerry Wells and Kenneth Steele, with violating and conspiring to violate the cited statute as officers and part owners of Copytech Systems, Inc., a lessor of office copiers for a monthly fee covering not only use of the equipment but any service that might be required. To raise cash, Copytech sold its interest in the income stream from these contracts to banks.

In Count I of the indictment, the Government charged respondents with conspiring to violate 1014 by concealing from several banks the true contractual terms.1 Re-*Bruce S. Rogow and Beverly A. Pohl filed a brief for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as amicus curiae urging affirmance.

1 Title 18 U. S. C. 371 makes it a crime to "conspire . . . to commit any offense against the United States."

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