Is it a crime to send a letter to the FBI wherein you lie?

Try as I might, I can’t come up with a google search that answers this, and I keep getting hits about internet fraud and the like. This comes up in light of the letter that Mark Judge sent to the FBI about his involvement or lack thereof in the Kavanaugh/Ford issue. Statements in that link suggest it is not a crime. Is it?

ETA: IOW, when you send such a letter, are you considered to under oath in strict terms?

Title 18, U.S. Code says:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.

I posted this elsewhere: Subsect. c), point 2. suggests it may be an offense if a letter is sent in response to a review/investigation by the legislative branch; since Judge sent this without a FORMAL request by them, I’m not so sure it was a crime. I’m not a lawyer and have no idea if I am correct.

Am I on the right track? Completely off of it? Somewhere in between?

Bottom line, being under oath isn’t required for committing a crime by lying to law enforcement.

Yes, of course. Thanks.

Would it be a crime for Mark Judge to send a letter to Senators Grassley and Feinstein that contained lies (I am not saying that it does, btw), as they are not law enforcement?

In contemplating the scenario under which lying to a politician constitutes a crime, the irony leaves me speechless. :slight_smile:

Doesn’t have to be law enforcement. The statute says “whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government” so any testimony to Congress is covered. But Jackmannii points out, the question is whether an unsolicited letter falls under the statute.


Yes, and as I suggest, since this was not solicited, it doesn’t.

It is never a good idea to talk to the FBI.

Over here, we have a handy offence of “wasting police time”; or in certain circumstances, what the IP describes might be considered an “attempt to pervert the course of justice”.

Lying to politicians on the other hand is something for the court of public opinion, unless it’s done to a formal enquiry that might be treated as a contempt of Parliament, but that’s hardly ever used.


But unless precursors are met as Jackmannii detailed… I’d say no unless you are under oath. There might be other charges, such as civil liability for time spent, etc.

But, then I think about when I was in court one day -unrelated reasons- where a guy had verbally threatened someone else in person. The judge wasn’t able to do much, however, had he sent an email or made a phone call, then it would have been a different story.

So, if one actually writes a letter/email makes a phone call to the FBI, and it’s bogus, there might be something there.

The news mentioned that the letter forwarded to the FBI by senator Feinstein from Ford was “added to the background check file”. Presumably any unsolicited letter on a similar subject would merit the same treatment. Therefore it would be a violation if false, as it was sent with the intent(? result?) to be added to the background check file assembled by the FBI and so falls afoul of the quoted law.

Because I’m curious, I’ll ask a question which is more purely hypothetical:

If an unmedicated schizophrenic wrote a letter to the FBI alleging vast skulduggery on the part of the nation’s radio DJs, would that person have committed a crime?

(For an example of such a letter, see the collected works of Francis E. Dec, Esq.)

I can cite a non-hypothetical case (as regards allegations forwarded to the FBI).

A few years ago, the proprietor of a quacky alt med website (Mike Adams of Natural News) got ticked off at David Gorski, an oncologic surgeon and researcher who runs a blog (Respectful Insolence) that frequently takes on purveyors of bogus alternative medicine (Adams and his enterprise had often been the target of Respectful Insolence articles). In response, Adams launched an NN assault on Gorski that included the following allegations he said that he forwarded to the F.B.I. and other law enforcement organizations:

"That Dr. Gorski demonstrates the kind of pathological behavior that is in many ways consistent with a criminal mind or “mad scientist” engaged in unethical and possibly illegal activities that place the safety of the public at risk…
That Dr. Gorski sought to hide his identity behind an alter ego named “ORAC” so that he could engage in outrageous, written intimidation attacks against reasoned critics of the cancer and vaccine industries, while distancing his professional activities as a cancer surgeon from the nefarious and possibly illegal racketeering activities of his alter-ego ORAC…
That Dr. David Gorski masterminded a coordinated science fraud scheme to distort the outcomes of an online vaccine epidemiological survey known as in order to suppress statistical evidence of adverse events among vaccinated children
That Dr. David Gorski is engaged in criminal racketeering to commit fraud by publicly and repeatedly misrepresenting facts about cancer treatment risks and vaccine risks in order to financially benefit himself through cancer treatment revenues, and by deceptively posing as alternate identities on Wikipedia and through other online publishing venues, through which he quotes himself as an expert on such topics, deceiving readers into believing he was cited by a third party writer…
THIS LIST OF ALLEGATIONS is being published at A copy is being forwarded to the Michigan Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit office, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios, as well as other relevant parties.

The nuttiness burbles on and on (you can Google the rest of it at the risk of losing neurons), and also makes lurid claims of affiliation between Dr. Gorski and a physician convicted in a cancer treatment fraud scheme (the two were never colleagues).

This stuff was supposedly forwarded to the F.B.I. back in 2016. I can just imagine the eye-rolling over at the Bureau. :rolleyes:: I know of no F.B.I. investigation of any of the parties involved in this brouhaha.

Maybe they just don’t have sufficient time or personnel to prosecute bogus allegations. Or major indictments are just around the corner. :dubious::dubious::dubious::slight_smile:

I had understood the major danger of talking to the FBI was that anything you told them might take up resources and thereby interfere with their investigations. If they decided later that you had misled them you are guilty of impeding their investigation. Of course you have no control over whether they use their resources or how they come to the conclusion that you misled them-hence the danger of talking to the FBI. While I doubt they would get a conviction if you told them the truth, even telling them just the facts might impede their investigation and expose you to charges. Though perhaps I am just being over-cautious. And anyway, I have never been interviewed by the FBI so it is all hypothetical to me. :slight_smile:

The problem with talking to the police is that they are looking for leverage if they think you are somehow involved in something; and will then use that leverage to force you to talk. There’s some excellent videos about why not, but as an example…
Police: “Fred was found dead this morning.”
You: “well, I don’t know who murdered him.”
P:“I didn’t say he was murdered. Why do you already know that?”
Y:“I don’t know, I assumed he was.”
P:“You just said he was murdered, how do you know? Why are you denying you said that?”

Police Repot: Suspect already knew subject was murdered but would not say how he knew.

Between people’s shortcut assumptions and having words twisted, you can dig yourself a hole deeper than the mouth your foot is in.