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UNITED STATES V. CALDERON, 348 U. S. 160 (1954)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Calderon, 348 U.S. 160 (1954)

United States v. Calderon

No. 25

Argued October 21, 1954

Decided December 6, 1954

348 U.S. 160


Respondent was convicted under § 145 of the Internal Revenue Code of willful attempts to evade federal income taxes for 1946 through 1949. The Government relied primarily upon a "net worth" computation. (See Holland v. United States, ante, p. 348 U. S. 121.) As to the "cash on hand" in the opening net worth computation, the Government credited respondent with $500 on the basis of oral and written extrajudicial statements made by respondent. Contending that independent evidence of the corpus delicti was lacking, respondent challenged the validity of his conviction.

Held: the conviction is affirmed. Pp. 348 U. S. 161-169.

(a) The jury could have concluded from the evidence that respondent's oral statement as to the $500 referred to his total cash on hand at the starting point. Pp. 348 U. S. 162-163.

(b) Respondent's signed statement as to the amount of "cash on hand" was not inadmissible as a matter of law; the weight to be given it was for the jury to determine in the light of all the circumstances. P. 348 U. S. 163.

(c) Where the circumstances surrounding a defendant's admissions cast doubt on their reliability, the trial judge and reviewing courts should exercise great care in determining whether the admissions were corroborated. Pp. 348 U. S. 163-164.

(d) When a defendant's motion for acquittal has been overruled and he introduces evidence in his own behalf, the reviewing courts may seek corroborative evidence in the proof of both parties. P. 348 U. S. 164.

(e) In this case, there was not sufficient evidence of the taxpayer's financial history to substantiate directly the Government's opening net worth computation. Pp. 348 U. S. 164-165.

(f) Uncorroborated admissions of a taxpayer regarding his tax returns for earlier years cannot serve to corroborate his other admissions. P. 348 U. S. 165.

(g) The financial history of respondent and his business during the prosecution years provided sufficient independent evidence of the crime of tax evasion to corroborate his statements concerning cash on hand. Pp. 348 U. S. 165-167.

Page 348 U. S. 161

(h) Respondent's extrajudicial statements concerning cash on hand were corroborated also by his testimony at the trial, which, taken together with that part of the net worth statement that was stipulated or independently proved, established a $30,000 deficiency in reported income. P. 348 U. S. 167.

(i) While the evidence as a whole must show a deficiency for each of the prosecution years, the corroborative evidence suffices if it shows a substantial deficiency for the over-all prosecution period. P. 348 U. S. 168.

(j) Independent evidence that respondent understated his income by $30,000 in the same four-year period for which his extrajudicial admissions tended to show a $46,000 deficiency is adequate corroboration. P. 348 U. S. 168.

(k) The corroboration rule requires no more than substantial evidence that the crime of tax evasion has been committed. P. 348 U. S. 168.

(l) Although the evidence in this case was insufficient to corroborate the opening net worth directly, there was adequate independent evidence of tax evasion. Pp. 348 U. S. 168-169.

207 F.2d 377, reversed.

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