Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Pizzarusso

decided: January 9, 1968.


Lumbard, Chief Judge and Medina and Hays, Circuit Judges.

Author: Medina

MEDINA, Circuit Judge:

This case is of interest because it brings before this Court for the first time the question of the jurisdiction of the District Court to indict and convict a foreign citizen of the crime of knowingly making a false statement under oath in a visa application to an American consular official located in a foreign country, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1546.*fn1 Supreme Court cases give some guidance but none of them passes on this question directly.*fn2 A Ninth Circuit decision, Rocha v. United States, 288 F.2d 545 (9th Cir.), cert. denied 366 U.S. 948, 81 S. Ct. 1902, 6 L. Ed. 2d 1241 (1961), is in point but we sustain jurisdiction on the basis of somewhat different reasons.

The indictment charges that on March 4, 1965 Jean Philomena Pizzarusso wilfully made under oath a number of false statements in her "Application for Immigrant Visa And Alien Registration" at the American Consulate, Montreal, Canada. Each of these false statements was patently material to the matter in hand. For example: she falsely swore that since her sixteenth birthday her only places of residence for six months or more had been London, England and Montreal, Canada; she falsely swore that she had been in the United States only for short visits for pleasure; she falsely swore that she had never been arrested, and so on. Although at all times pertinent to this case she was a citizen of Canada, she was taken into custody in the Southern District of New York on April 18, 1966.

Upon the issuance of the visa and by its use Mrs. Pizzarusso immediately entered the territory of the United States, but this fact is not alleged in the indictment nor required by the terms of the statute, nor is it material, as we find the crime was complete when the false statements were made to an American consular official in Montreal. We shall return later to this feature of the case.

The evidence to sustain the charge is so overwhelming that we shall not pause to discuss it. Indeed, the only contention made on this appeal is that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to indict appellant and convict her of the crime alleged.*fn3 As we find no lack of jurisdiction, we affirm the judgment. Our reasons follow.


18 U.S.C. Section 1546 is a significant and integral part of the pattern of immigration laws, including those affecting passports and visas. We think the Congress by the enactment of this law contemplated that it would be applied extraterritorially. Visas are documents issued to aliens permitting them to enter the country. In the ordinary course of events we would naturally expect false statements in visa applications to be made outside the territorial limits of the United States. This would seem to overcome the strong presumption that the Congress did not intend the statute to apply extraterritorially. See American Banana Co. v. United Fruit Co., 213 U.S. 347, 29 S. Ct. 511, 53 L. Ed. 826 (1909).

We can readily understand Congressional concern with the procedure governing the issuance of visas. Our national government has a legitimate interest in ascertaining the background of individuals seeking admission to the United States. The power of the United States to prescribe conditions regulating the issuance of visas is derived from its inherent power to "enact legislation for the effective regulation of foreign affairs." Perez v. Brownell, 356 U.S. 44, 57, 78 S. Ct. 568, 575, 2 L. Ed. 2d 603 (1958). See United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304, 57 S. Ct. 216, 81 L. Ed. 255 (1936); The Chinese Exclusion Case, 130 U.S. 581, 130 U.S. 581, 9 S. Ct. 623, 32 L. Ed. 1068 (1889).

The utterance by an alien of a "false statement with respect to a material fact" in a visa application constitutes an affront to the very sovereignty of the United States. These false statements must be said to have a deleterious influence on valid governmental interests. Therefore, 18 U.S.C. Section 1546, as applied to an alien's perjurious statements before a United States consular officer in a foreign country, represents a law which is "necessary and proper for carrying into Execution," U.S.Const. Art. I, Section 8, the Congressional power over the conduct of foreign relations.


Although the broad question whether principles of international law are to be considered by our courts in deciding the cases before them may not be entirely free from doubt, compare Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino, 376 U.S. 398, 84 S. Ct. 923, 11 L. Ed. 2d 804 (1964)*fn4 with The Paquete Habana, 175 U.S. 677, 700, 20 S. Ct. 290, 44 L. Ed. 320 (1900), we hold that under well recognized principles of international law the court below clearly had jurisdiction.

International law has recognized, in varying degrees, five bases of jurisdiction with respect to the enforcement of the criminal law. See Harvard Research In International Law, Jurisdiction with Respect to Crime, 29 Am.J.Int'l L.Spec.Supp. 435, 445 (1935) (hereinafter cited as Harvard Research). Thus both the territoriality and nationality principles, under which jurisdiction is determined by either the situs of the crime or the nationality of the accused, are universally accepted. The third basis, the protective principle, covers the instant case. By virtue of this theory a state "has jurisdiction to prescribe a rule of law attaching legal consequences to conduct outside its territory that threatens its security as a state or the operation of its governmental functions, provided the conduct is generally recognized as a crime under the law of states that have reasonably developed legal systems." Restatement (Second), Foreign Relations, Section 33 (1965). See also Harvard Research Section 7.*fn5

Traditionally, the United States has relied primarily upon the territoriality and nationality principles, Harvard Research at p. 543, and judges have often been reluctant to ascribe extraterritorial effect to statutes. See, e.g., American Banana Co. v. United Fruit Co., 213 U.S. 347, 29 S. Ct. 511, 53 L. Ed. 826 (1909). Nonetheless, our courts have developed what has come to be termed the objective territorial principle as a means of expanding the power to control activities detrimental to the state. This principle has been aptly defined by Mr. Justice Holmes in Strassheim v. Daily, 221 U.S. 280, 285, 31 S. Ct. 558, 560, 55 L. Ed. 735 (1911). "Acts done outside a jurisdiction, but intended to produce and producing detrimental effects within it, justify a state in punishing the cause of the harm as if he had been present at the effect * * *." See also Judge Learned Hand's opinion in United States v. Aluminum Co. of America, 148 F.2d 416 (2d Cir. 1945). Underlying this principle is ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.