The Paulose case: 18 U.S.C. 1001?

If you’re a federal official, lying to your superiors is a no-no.

This little tidbit about the problems 33-year-old Bushie Rachel Paulose is having running the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minneapolis isn’t getting as much attention as it perhaps deserves:

Paulose ordered that an internal memo be prepared for high-ranking Justice Department officials who would be coming to Minneapolis from Washington to highlight the office’s high-profile cases, the attorneys said.

Paulose instructed the head of the narcotics section, Andy Dunne, to state in the memo that prosecutors had won convictions that ended drug dealing by St. Paul’s Latin Kings gang, they said.

Dunne was told by Paulose to say that the Latin Kings were the biggest gang in St. Paul and that the office’s recent convictions would stop the so-called Latin King Nation, the attorneys said.

But Dunne told Paulose he couldn’t abide by the request, one of the attorneys said, and when he refused, Dunne was forced to give up his position as chief of the narcotics section. Dunne would not comment Friday.

Now if this is right &#8212 and right now we have only anonymous sources reporting it &#8212 it puts Ms. Paulose in a very tricky position. Potentially it puts her in one of the trickiest positions of all: standing next to her lawyer on the defendant’s side of a Federal courtroom being asked, “How do you plead?”

Paulose, by this account, instructed a subordinate to make some statements to high-ranking Justice Department officials coming to visit the office. When the subordinate refused to make those statements (presumably because they weren’t true) she demoted him.

So here’s the question: at what point did Paulose become aware of the falsity of the claims she was trying to foist off on her superiors, and did she continue in her attempt to tell them the thing that is not? If so, she ran afoul of 18 U.S.C. 1001:

(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.

(Emphasis added.)

Strange but true: it’s a felony for one Federal official to bullsh*t another on an official matter. Even if the false statements were never made, Ms. Paulose might still be on the hook for a criminal attempt, for incitement, or for conspiracy.

The incident as reported makes sense of an otherwise almost unthinkable event: that the three top career prosecutors in the office &#8212 the first assistant, the chief of the criminal division, and the chief of the civil division &#8212 voluntarily stepped down. As far as I know there is no precedent whatever for such a mass resignation.

Footnote I see that Powerline, having effusively praised Ms. Paulose when she was appointed, is still in denial about how bad her performance must have been to trigger those resignations.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com