Read Carefully When Determining Applicable Statute of Limitations

United States v. Edington

Case No. 20-1420

992 F.3d 554 (6th Cir. 2021)

Decided March 29, 2021


Practitioners should be careful to heed statutory language in relying upon the statute of limitations regarding violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1014.  In United States v. Edington, the government discovered that Edington falsely listed assets that he did not own, but instead belonged to his father, on his application for a Farm Services Agency (FSA) operating loan. After Edington defaulted on the loan, Edington’s father passed away and Edington did not inherit or receive the assets he listed in the security agreement for the loan.  The government filed a felony information charging Edington with conspiracy to make false statements to influence the FSA in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and § 1014.

Edington pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement before a magistrate judge and the magistrate recommended that the district court accept Edington’s guilty plea.  Somewhat surprisingly, the district court rejected the magistrate judge’s recommendation due to concerns regarding a potential statute of limitations defense. Edington subsequently filed a motion to dismiss based upon the five-year statute of limitations under 18 U.S.C. § 3282(a) and the district court granted the motion.  The issue on appeal was whether the district court had applied the appropriate statute of limitations for conspiracies to violate Section 1014.

The Sixth Circuit determined that while the five-year limitations period in § 3282(a) applies to many conspiracies charged under § 371, the object of the conspiracy at issue was a violation of § 1014, and the statute mandated that § 3293(1)’s ten-year statute of limitations period governed.  Section 3293 extends the five-year statute of limitations in § 3282(a) to ten years for certain crimes, including a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014 and a conspiracy to violate § 1014.

The Sixth Circuit highlighted that the plain language of the statute expressly includes a conspiracy to violate § 1014, and accordingly, courts must apply a ten-year statute of limitations to a charge of conspiracy to violate any of the named sections under § 1014. The district court mistakenly relied upon United States v. Rabahn, 2007 WL 9627795, No. 4:06-CR-123-P-B (N.D. Miss. June 28, 2007), in applying the five-year statute of limitations. Rabhan involved a charge of aiding and abetting a violation of § 1014 and not a conspiracy to violate § 1014, as was the charge at issue in Edington.  Accordingly, the Sixth Circuit held that a ten-year statute of limitations governed violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1014 and conspiracies to violate § 1014.

*DBL Law Summer Associate Alexis Switzer contributed to this article.