What Is Mail Fraud and Honest Services Fraud?

 Posted on March 21, 2019 in Fraud

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn mid-March, news of the college entrance scam involving Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman broke throughout the country. Loughlin is accused of bribing school officials at USC to allow her two daughters admittance into the university. Her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was also arrested for his involvement in the alleged crime. Huffman meanwhile, was arrested for bribing school officials into giving her daughter more time during the SATs.

Now all three face charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. What do the legal statutes say these crimes involve?

What Is Mail Fraud?

Generally speaking, mail fraud is any scheme that involves the United States Postal Service to defraud someone or perform fraudulent acts. This crime is covered under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1341. The Code also states that not only is committing the act of defrauding a crime, but an attempted act is as well. This means the act does not have to be successful in order to be considered mail fraud.

It is unclear how the three accused in this recent case bribed school officials. However, after understanding the definition of their charges of mail fraud, one could assume money in connection to the bribe was sent through the mail.

Mail fraud is one of the more common crimes committed against the United States government. It carries penalties of up to 20 years in prison in addition to high fines.

What Is Honest Services Fraud?

The more confusing of the two charges laid in this case was that of honest services fraud. Honest services fraud is a type of mail and wire fraud. As such, it is covered under the same legal statute as mail fraud.

Honest services fraud is a very broad term describing bribery or scheme that is intent on bribing or defrauding another person of honest services. Neither honest services fraud or mail fraud rely on damages or loss to a victim. The victim is also not required to have any kind of reliance, or dependence, on the perpetrator of the fraud.

In addition to this, the perpetrator may not even have to have awareness of the fraud, meaning intent is not an issue. As long as the fraud was committed, charges could apply, even if the person did not mean to commit fraud. This caveat of the law in particular sets mail fraud, wire fraud, and honest services fraud apart from other types of fraud.

Been Charged with Fraud? Contact a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney for Help With Your Case

A crime does not have to make the papers or involve celebrities for it to be very serious. Anyone charged with mail fraud or any other federal crime may face several years in federal prison, high fines, and a permanent criminal record. A skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can help. If you have been charged with a federal crime, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-629-0669. We know the defenses available to these crimes, and we will use them to help you beat the charges and give you the best chance of success. Call today for your free consultation and we can begin discussing your case.


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