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Creating Language CrimesHow Law Enforcement Uses (and Misuses) Language$
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Roger W. Shuy

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181661.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 October 2021

Discourse Ambiguity in a Contract Fraud Case: US v. David Smith

Discourse Ambiguity in a Contract Fraud Case: US v. David Smith

(p.81) 8 Discourse Ambiguity in a Contract Fraud Case: US v. David Smith
Creating Language Crimes

Roger W. Shuy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Government contracts can be very complex, as illustrated by this 1997 case involving a Texas-based manufacturer of helicopters. It was made even more complicated by the fact that the company was a subsidiary of a French corporation that could legitimately make sales to other countries without the Texas company’s involvement or knowledge. The contract in question was eligible for the US Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF), created to promote the interests of domestic American businesses by providing funds to eligible allies to support their costs. Smith, president of the US company, was the target of a federal investigation concerning his knowledge of possible misuse of FMF funding. Over a two-year period, one of Smith’s employees secretly tape-recorded conversations with Smith that the government believed showed his complicity in contract fraud. Linguistic analysis of the ambiguity of the words and expressions used in these conversations, among other things, showed that Smith was not guilty.

Keywords:   ambiguity, contract fraud, government contracts, linguistic analysis

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