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CRM 500-999

944. Proof of Scheme and Artifice to Defraud

To sustain a conviction the government must prove the existence of a scheme; it is not required, however, to prove all details or all instances of allegedly illicit conduct. See, e.g., United States v. Stull, 743 F.2d 439, 442 n. 2 (6th Cir. 1984) ("It is well established that proof of every allegation is not required in order to convict; the government need only prove that the scheme to defraud existed."), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1062 (1985); United States v. Halbert, 640 F.2d 1000, 1008 (9th Cir. 1981) ("[T]he Government need not prove every misrepresentation charged conjunctively in the indictment."); United States v. Jordan, 626 F.2d 928, 930 (D.C. Cir. 1980) ("The Government is not required to prove the details of a scheme; it is, however, required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt . . . that the defendant . . . willfully and knowingly devised a scheme or artifice to defraud . . . .") (quoting with approval the trial court's instruction on § 1341); United States v. Amrep Corp., 560 F.2d 539, 546 (2d Cir. 1977) ("A scheme to defraud may consist of numerous elements, no particular one of which need be proved if there is sufficient overall proof that the scheme exists."), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1015 (1978); Anderson v. United States, 369 F.2d 11, 15 (8th Cir. 1966) (all instances of illicit conduct need not be proved to sustain a conviction), cert. denied, 386 U.S. 976 (1967).

"All that is required is that [the defendant has] knowingly and willingly participated in the scheme; she need not have performed every key act herself." United States v. Maxwell, 920 F.2d 1028, 1036 (D.C. Cir. 1990). The "evidence need only show that defendant was a 'knowing and active participant' in scheme to defraud and that scheme involved interstate wire communications." Id. (quoting United States v. Wiehoff, 748 F.2d 1158, 1161 (7th Cir. 1984)).

[cited in JM 9-43.100]