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PRUSSIAN V. UNITED STATES, 282 U. S. 675 (1931)

U.S. Supreme Court

Prussian v. United States, 282 U.S. 675 (1931)

Prussian v. United States

No. 448

Argued January 6, 7, 1931

Decided February 24, 1931

282 U.S. 675


1. A forged endorsement of the payee's name on a genuine government draft is not a forgery of an "obligation of the United States," within the meaning of § 148 of the Criminal Code (R.S. § 5414). P. 282 U. S. 677.

So held in view of the rule of strict construction applicable to criminal statutes; the restrictive effect of Criminal Code, § 147, which defines obligations of the United States as including checks and drafts but is silent as to endorsements; history of the legislation, and the fact that Congress has specifically punished forgery of endorsements on pension checks and money orders.

2. Section 29 of the Criminal Code, which punishes the forgery of "any deed, power of attorney, order, certificate, receipt, contract, or other writing," for the purpose of obtaining or receiving from the United States, or any of its officers or agents, any sum of money applies to the act of forging an endorsement of the payee's name on a genuine government draft. P. 282 U. S. 679.

3. As the writings specified in § 29 have no common characteristic from which may be inferred a purpose to restrict the statute to any particular class of writings, the addition of the words "other writing" to the enumeration must be taken as intending to include all writings of every class if forged for the purpose of obtaining money from an officer of the United States. P. 282 U. S. 679.

4. An indictment under § 29 charging forgery of an endorsement on a government draft for the purpose of obtaining and receiving a sum of money from the officer of the United States on whom it was drawn need not allege in addition an intent to defraud the United States. P. 282 U. S. 680.

5. An indictment for a single act under one penal provision is not rendered defective for uncertainty or repugnancy by alleging, erroneously, that the act violated another provision also. P. 282 U. S. 680.

42 F.2d 854 affirmed.

Certiorari, post, p. 824, to review a judgment sustaining an indictment under which the petitioner was convicted in the district court for forgery.

Page 282 U. S. 676

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