United States v. Massei

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 355 US 595 (1958)
ARGUED: Jan 09, 1958
DECIDED: Mar 03, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Massei

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 1958 in United States v. Massei

Earl Warren:

Number 98, United States of America versus William W. Massei.

Mr. Fisher.

Roger D. Fisher:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This is a criminal tax case of a different sort.

It is here on writ of certiorari from the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

The basic issue is whether Federal Income Tax Evasion is proved by the net worth method.

When you're doing this, it is indispensable to prove a likely source of the income or whether guilt may be established by other circumstances.

The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that proof of a likely source of a net worth increases was indispensable to a conviction on a net worth method.

William O. Douglas:

Is this the case --

Roger D. Fisher:

The Court --

William O. Douglas:

-- was in conflict with the --

Roger D. Fisher:


The Courts appeals for the Second and Third Circuits have held to the contrary the conflict with -- for the Ford case in the Second Circuit was dismissed as moot when Mr. Ford died.

William O. Douglas:

So, there's no longer any conflict?

Roger D. Fisher:

No, there's still conflict on the law.

You no longer have two cases here raising the point.

Both the Second and Third Circuits have affirmed convictions in which there was not proof of a likely source and stated that to be the law, the First Circuit has reversed the conviction, held that proof or likely source was indispensable.

You think the case is properly (Inaudible)?

Roger D. Fisher:

I think it is, Your Honor.

The respondent was indicted in 1953 for evading income taxes for the five years, 1946 through 1950.

During this time, he was a policeman in Worcester Massachusetts.

The voluminous evidence which was developed over a 12-day trial has been summarized and has put in some detail in our brief.I'd like to summarize it here in a few minutes.

Respondent was a member of the Worcester Police Department from 1923 until his retirement in 1951, the year after the last year here involved.

His principal duties were motorcycle patrol and vice squads of which he was the head in a few years prior to 1943.

During two of the indictment years, not based on calendar years, but during the period of about two years, he was a -- the license board officer who handled applications for licenses for taxi cabs, gas stations and parking lot within the city of Worcester.

During three years, he was a personnel officer whose duties were those of an inspector.

It was his duty to see that other officers particularly the uniformed officers carried out their duties, their assignments.

At all times, prior to 1945, which is the last of the first years afore which we are here -- which we‘re concerned, his salary was less than $3000.

During the indictment years, it went up until it was $4080 during 1950.

His wife with whom he had married 1933 did not work and had no income and at no time had any gifts or inheritance of any kind.