Pasquantino v. United States

Facts of the Case

Petitioners Carl J. Pasquantino, David B. Pasquantino, and Arthur Hilts carried out a scheme to smuggle large quantities of liquor into Canada from the United States to evade Canada’s heavy alcohol import taxes. They were convicted of violating the federal wire fraud statute,

Question

Did a plot to defraud a foreign government of tax revenue violate the federal wire fraud statute?

CONCLUSION

Yes. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court held that the law’s plain language criminalized the smuggling scheme in this case. The common-law revenue rule did not bar the prosecution of the scheme, because no common-law case as of 1952 clearly established that the rule barred the U.S. from prosecuting a fraudulent scheme to evade foreign taxes.

Case Information

  • Citation: 544 US 349 (2005)
  • Granted: Apr 5, 2004
  • Argued: Nov 9, 2004
  • Decided Apr 26, 2005