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CRM 500-999

950. Use of Mailings and Wires in Furtherance of the Execution of the Scheme

"The federal mail fraud statute does not purport to reach all frauds, but only those limited instances in which the use of the mails is a part of the execution of the fraud, leaving all other cases to be dealt with by appropriate state law." United States v. Schmuck, 489 U.S. 705, 710 (1989) (quoting Kann v. United States, 323 U.S. 88, 95 (1944)); accord United States v. Coachman, 727 F.2d 1293, 1302 n. 43 (D.C. Cir. 1984) ("The offense of mail fraud demands proof of a scheme to defraud which, at some point, is intentionally furthered by use of the mails.").

"It is not necessary that the scheme contemplate the use of the mails as an essential element." Pereira v. United States, 347 U.S. 1, 8 (1954); Durland v. United States, 161 U.S. 306, 313 (1896) (proof of specific intent to use the mails on the part of defendants need not be proven). "It is sufficient for the mailing to be 'incident to an essential part of the scheme,' . . . or 'a step in [the] plot' . . . . " Schmuck, 489 U.S. at 710-11 (citations omitted); cf. United States v. Diggs, 613 F.2d 988, 998 (D.C. Cir.) ("[A]lthough the schemer need not 'contemplate the use of the mails as an essential element,' the mailings must be sufficiently closely related to [the] scheme to bring his conduct within the statute.") (footnote omitted), cert. denied, 446 U.S. 982 (1980); United States v. Alston, 609 F.2d 531, 538 (D.C. Cir. 1979) ("For conviction under the mail fraud statute, the mails must be used 'for the purpose of executing' the fraudulent scheme, and not merely 'as a result of' such scheme.") (quoting Kann, 323 U.S. 88), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 918 (1980).

As in the case of mail fraud, a wire transmission may be considered to be for the purpose of furthering a scheme to defraud if the transmission is incident to the accomplishment of an essential part of the scheme. United States v. Mann, 884 F.2d 532, 536 (10th Cir. 1984). Moreover, it is not necessary to show that the defendant directly participated in the transmission, where it is established that the defendant caused the transmission, and that such use was the foreseeable result of his acts. United States v. Gill, 909 F.2d 274, 277-78 (7th Cir. 1990); United States v. Jones, 554 F.2d 251, 253 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 866 (1977) (cases cited); United States v. Wise, 553 F.2d 1173 (8th Cir. 1977).

The gist of the offenses is not the scheme to defraud, but the use of the mails or interstate wire communication. See United States v. Garland, 337 F. Supp. 1, 3 (N.D. Ill. 1971); see also United States v. Gardner, 65 F.3d 82, 85 (8th Cir. 1995) ("The use of the post office establishment in the execution of the alleged scheme to obtain money by false pretenses is the gist of the offense which the statute denounces, and not the scheme to defraud.") (quoting Cochran v. United States, 41 F.2d 193, 197 (8th Cir. 1930)), cert. denied, 116 S.Ct. 748 and 116 S.Ct. 1044 (1996); United States v. Lebovitz, 669 F.2d 894, 898 (3d Cir.) ("The gist of the offense of mail fraud is the use of mails by someone to carry out some essential element of the fraudulent scheme or artifice."), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 929 (1982). Accordingly, each use of the mails (in the case of mail fraud) and each separate wire communication (in the case of wire fraud) constitutes a separate offense, i.e., each mailing and/or wire transmission can constitute a separate count in the indictment. See, e.g., United States v. Pazos, 24 F.3d 660, 665 (5th Cir. 1994) (mail fraud); United States v. Rogers, 960 F.2d 1501, 1514 (10th Cir.) (each use of mails is separate offense), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1035 (1992); United States v. Castillo, 829 F.2d 1194, 1199 (1st Cir. 1987) (wire fraud).

[cited in JM 9-43.100]