Saturday, June 9, 2007

Imagine An Even Broader Mail Fraud Statute

It is hard to imagine that the mail fraud statute could be even broader than what it is now.  But a recent bill actually proposes to extend the limits of the 1909 amendment of the mail fraud statute, and the source of that amendment as seen in the Supreme Court decision - Durland.  As opposed to limiting mail fraud to "money or property," this proposed legislation seeks to change the wording of the mail and wire fraud statutes to "money, property, or any other thing of value." Now mind you, the government could proceed with a mail fraud case premised on the "intangible right to honest services" as this is permitted by section 1346.  But one has to wonder why a couple of individuals in Congress suddenly want "or any other thing of value" added to the statute. Perhaps one place an amendment like this could play out, is in voter fraud cases that might not rise to "honest services" and yet also not involve "money or property."   Additionally this proposed legislation, called "The Clean Up Government Act of 2007" expands venue, increases the penalties to 20 years for a section 666 violation and offers increased penalties for other crimes.  There are also other language changes offered here that could expand other criminal statutes. If it were the intent of these drafters to make it look like they are tough on crime - that is clearly accomplished here. But the problem may be that these already broad statutes may become limitless if this legislation is passed, and the stakes in the white collar crime game may be more costly.

(esp)(w/ a hat tip to Stephanie Martz)  The Bill -

Download clean_up_government_act_of_2007_introduced_in_househr_2438.pdf

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