371 U.S. 75 (1962), 69, United States v. Sampson

Docket Nº:No. 69
Citation:371 U.S. 75, 83 S.Ct. 173, 9 L.Ed.2d 136
Party Name:United States v. Sampson
Case Date:November 19, 1962
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 75

371 U.S. 75 (1962)

83 S.Ct. 173, 9 L.Ed.2d 136

United States



No. 69

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 19, 1962

Argued October 18, 1962




Appellees were indicted in a Federal District Court for using the mails to defraud and conspiring to do so, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 371. The indictment alleged that, after appellees' salesmen had fraudulently represented that appellees would help businessmen to obtain loans or sell their businesses and had obtained applications for such services and advance payments therefor, appellees mailed acceptances of such applications to the victims in order to lull them into believing that the services would be performed. The District Court dismissed the indictment on the ground that, since the money had already been obtained before the acceptances were mailed, these mailings could not have been "for the purpose of executing" the fraudulent scheme within the meaning of §1341.

Held: The judgment is reversed. Pp. 76-81.

(a) This case is properly in this Court on direct appeal by the Government under 18 U.S.C. § 3731. P. 76.

(b) It cannot be held that such a deliberate and planned use of the mails by defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme in pursuance of a previously formulated plan could not, if established by evidence, be found by a jury under proper instructions to be "for the purpose of executing" a fraudulent scheme, within the meaning of § 1341, and the District Court erred in dismissing the substantive counts. Kann v. United States, 323 U.S. 88, and Parr v. United States, 363 U.S. 370, distinguished. Pp. 76-81.

(c) Since the conspiracy count on its face properly charged a separate offense against each of the defendants, its dismissal also was error. P. 81.


Page 76

BLACK, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The appellees were indicted in a United States District Court on charges that they had used the mails "for the purpose of executing" a fraudulent scheme in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341,1 and that they had [83 S.Ct. 174] conspired to so use the mails.2 It is clear that the allegations, if proved, would show that a fraudulent scheme existed and that the mailings charged in fact occurred. The District Court dismissed 34 of the counts, however, on the ground that the facts alleged showed that the mails were not used "for the purpose of executing" the alleged scheme, as required by the statute. The court also dismissed the conspiracy count without giving additional reasons. The case is properly here on direct appeal by the Government under 18 U.S.C. § 3731. The only question we must decide with reference to the 34 substantive counts is whether the allegations in the indictment were sufficient to permit a jury to find that the mails were used "for the purpose of executing" the fraudulent scheme. Whether the indictment sufficiently charges that the mails were so used depends upon its allegations.

In brief summary, these allegations are:

The individual defendants were officers, directors, and employees of a large, nationwide corporation, also a

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defendant, with regional offices in various States. The defendants purported to be able to help businessmen obtain loans or sell out their businesses. Although lavish promises were freely given, the defendants did not intend to, and in fact did not, make any substantial efforts to perform these promised services. As a part of this scheme, the defendants secured salesmen who were trained to deceive those with whom they dealt by innuendos, half-truths, and false statements.3 These defendants, according to the allegations, were not mere small-time sporadic swindlers, but rather they have deliberately planned and devised a well integrated, long-range, and effective scheme for the use of propaganda, salesmen, and other techniques to soften up and then cheat their victims one by one. Under the plan, personal calls were made upon prospects who were urged by false and fraudulent representations to sign applications asking defendants to help them obtain loans or sell their businesses. The salesmen further urged prospects, many times successfully, to give a check for an "advance fee," all being assured that, if their applications were not accepted at the regional office, the "advance fee" would be...

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