United States v. Hale, No. 13-4099 (10th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Thomas Hale filed for bankruptcy in 2005. During the course of that bankruptcy, he allegedly lied under oath and attempted to conceal from the bankruptcy trustee an agreement to sell property. After his relationship with the trustee became antagonistic, Hale sent her a package with unidentified material and a note that said, "Possible Haz-mat? Termites or Hanta virus [sic] from mice?" In 2013, Hale was convicted of making a materially false statement under oath in a bankruptcy case, concealing a contract from the bankruptcy trustee and creditors, and perpetrating a hoax regarding the transmission of a biological agent. Upon review of Hale's appeal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part: "instead of charging Hale with 'making a false declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury' with regard to his representations in [his bankruptcy petition,] Hale was charged with falsely answering a temporally ambiguous question that inquired about numerous filings and was asked nearly a year after the documents were submitted. We do not think it proper to condone the prosecution’s creation of this ambiguity. We thus conclude that the error 'seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings.'" The Court reversed the conviction with regard to the false statement, but affirmed in all other respects.