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White House Dinner Crashers: What Charges May Apply?

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By Kamika Dunlap on November 30, 2009 12:15 PM

The Virginia couple who crashed last week's White House dinner may now face possible charges for lying to federal officers.

At President Barack Obama's first state dinner, the couple actually shook hands and talked to him in the receiving line.

Michaele and Tareq Salahi were not on the guest list and should have been barred from entering last Tuesday's White House dinner for the prime minister of India, said Secret Service officials.

Michaele Salahi is being considered as a participant in the upcoming "The Real Housewives of D.C." program and on the day of the dinner was being filmed by Half Yard Productions, the producer of the program.

Although their names weren't on the list of invited guests, they were allowed to proceed.

"They just went to a party. They didn't do anything wrong," Paul Morrison, a Virginia attorney who has represented Michaele and Tareq Salahi in the past, told the Associated Press.

Secret Service however, may pursue a criminal investigation of the Salahis. So, what charges may apply?

It was unclear whether the northern Virginia couple could be charged with trespassing or any other violation.

It also is unclear what the couple told officers at the checkpoint that allowed them to go through the security screening. Federal law makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully falsify statements on matters within the federal government's jurisdiction.

Making false statements is the common name for the federal crime laid out in Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which specifies that:

Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully -

  • falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
  • makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
  • makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry

shall be fined, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism, imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

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