The incessant expansion of federal criminal law continues.  Federal prosecutors now insist that telling almost any lie is a federal felony punishable by five years imprisonment.

I have previously written here at The Legal Pulse about the plight of Cory King, the Idaho farmer convicted of felony violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act.  King was convicted for injecting melting snows into his irrigation wells to ensure that there was enough water for his crops later in the summer.  That charge was bad enough, given the absence of evidence that the well injections caused any environmental damage.  But prosecutors also charged King with violating the federal “material false statement” statute, even though he never spoke with any federal officials about his irrigation practices.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 1001, it is a federal crime to make a materially false statement “in any matter within the jurisdiction of” the federal government.  The statute traditionally has been used to prosecute those who lie during official government proceedings, in documents they submit to the federal government, or in conversations with federal investigators.