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Costello v. United States

Citation. Costello v. United States, 350 U.S. 359, 76 S. Ct. 406, 100 L. Ed. 397, 56-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P9321, 48 A.F.T.R. (P-H) 689, 1956-1 C.B. 639 (U.S. Mar. 5, 1956)
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Brief Fact Summary.

After being indicted upon the hearsay testimony of three IRS agents, Petitioner sought to have his trial and conviction overturned because the agents had no personal knowledge of the truth of the information upon which they testified.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Hearsay evidence is admissible to obtain an indictment when its acceptable counterpart is to be presented at trial.


Petitioner, Frank Costello, was indicted for tax evasion for the years 1947-1949. After the indictment, he brought a challenge, maintaining all evidence given to the grand jury was only hearsay and should not be used to indict him. At the trial of the matter, 144 witnesses were brought forth to assert the truth of all documents used against Petitioner, and the three agents who testified at his indictment were put on the stand to summarize the case against him.


Whether a defendant should be required to stand trial and a conviction be sustained where only hearsay evidence was presented to the grand jury upon his indictment.


While the evidence is admittedly hearsay, it may be used to obtain an indictment, provided non-hearsay evidence can be produced at trial.
Concurrence. Justice Burton concurred, noting that substantial and rationally persuasive evidence was presented to the grand jury, and it was later back up with its counterparts which were exceptions to the hearsay rule.


Hearsay evidence may be used in an indictment when it is presented by officials having appropriate non-hearsay evidence.

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