468 F.2d 529 (6th Cir. 1972), 72-1007, United States v. Maze

Docket Nº:72-1007.
Citation:468 F.2d 529
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Thomas E. MAZE, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:October 04, 1972
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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468 F.2d 529 (6th Cir. 1972)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Thomas E. MAZE, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 72-1007.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

October 4, 1972

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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William T. Warner, Louisville, Ky. (Court Appointed), for defendant-appellant.

C. Fred Partin, Asst. U. S. Atty., Louisville, Ky., George J. Long, U. S. Atty., Louisville, Ky., on briefs, for plaintiff-appellee.

Before EDWARDS, McCREE and MILLER, Circuit Judges.

McCREE, Circuit Judge.

Defendant appeals from a jury conviction of four counts of using the mails to defraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and of one count of knowingly transporting a stolen automobile in interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2312 (the Dyer Act). We reverse the convictions for mail fraud and affirm the Dyer Act conviction.

The indictment charged that between April 9, 1971, and June 3, 1971, appellant devised a scheme to defraud the Citizens Fidelity Bank & Trust Company of Louisville, Kentucky, Charles L. Meredith, and several merchants in different states by unlawfully obtaining possession of a BankAmericard issued by the Louisville bank to Meredith and by using the card to obtain goods and services. In each of the first four counts of the indictment appellant was charged with purchasing goods or services at specified commercial establishments by presenting Meredith's BankAmericard for payment and representing himself to be Meredith. It was further alleged that appellant knew that each merchant would cause sales slips of the purchases to be delivered by mail to the Kentucky bank, which would, in turn, mail them to Meredith for payment, and that the delay inherent in this mailing would enable appellant to continue purchasing goods and services for an appreciable period of time. The fifth count of the indictment charged that on May 9, 1971, appellant transported a stolen 1964 Chevrolet from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Larue County, Kentucky, with knowledge that the vehicle was stolen.

A week before trial, appellant moved for the dismissal of the first four counts of the indictment on the ground that the conduct described therein was not proscribed by the mail fraud statute. This motion was denied at the beginning of the trial on October 19, 1971, and appellant was subsequently convicted on all five counts and sentenced to concurrent five-year terms.

We first consider appellant's contention that the court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the first four counts of the indictment, or, in the alternative, that the proofs did not show a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341.

At trial, the Government showed that appellant had lived in Meredith's apartment in Louisville from February 1971 until April 9, 1971, when he left with Meredith's BankAmericard and 1968 Pontiac Tempest automobile; 1 that on April 10, 1971, Meredith reported the card stolen; and that on four separate occasions in April, appellant used the card to obtain food and lodging at inns in California, Florida, and Louisiana by representing himself to be Meredith.

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An official of the Louisville bank testified that all the sales receipts for these transactions were received by the bank in due course through the mail. Representatives of each of the inns testified and, of these witnesses, two stated that they customarily used the mails to transmit BankAmericard sales receipts to the BankAmericard organization, one testified that the receipts went to BankAmericard in some manner, and one testified that he customarily forwarded the receipts to his bank for payment. Each representative identified a sales receipt signed by "Charles Meredith" as a receipt issued by his business establishment on the date and for the amount specified on the receipts. A United States postal inspector testified that, after arrest, appellant made a written statement in which he admitted using the card to make the purchases, and a document analyst for the Postal Service testified that the "Charles Meredith" signature on at least three of the four receipts was written by appellant.

Appellant testified that he had used the BankAmericard with Meredith's permission at least once before his April escapades and that he took the card on April 9 with Meredith's permission. He admitted having used Meredith's card to make the purchases, and he claimed that he did so with Meredith's consent.

Since the jury obviously did not believe appellant's version, and since the proof concerning the existence of a scheme to defraud was overwhelming, the only question before us is one of law: did the Government show that the mails were used for the purpose of executing the scheme?

The mail fraud statute, 18 U. S.C. § 1341, provides in pertinent part:

[w]hoever, having devised . . . any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses . . . for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting to do so, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, . . . or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail according to the direction thereon . . . any such matter or thing, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. [Emphasis added.]

The elements of the offense, therefore, are a scheme to defraud and the mailing of a letter for the purpose of executing the scheme, with the mailing either done by the defendant or caused by him. Pereira v. United States, 347 U.S. 1, 8, 74 S.Ct. 358, 98 L.Ed. 435 (1954). A mailing is "caused" by the defendant when he knows that the mails will be used in the ordinary course of business or when he can reasonably foresee such use even if he does not actually intend it. Pereira v. United States, supra, 347 U.S. at 8-9, 74 S.Ct. 358. It is important to emphasize, however, that "use of the mails must be a step in the execution of the scheme charged in the indictment, and not incidental thereto, in order to constitute an element of the offense under § 1341." United States v. Hopkins, 357 F.2d 14, 16 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 385 U.S. 858, 87 S.Ct. 107, 17 L.Ed.2d 84 (1966).

Accordingly, it is well settled that if the fraudulent scheme has been consummated by the time the mailing occurs, and the mailing, although directly resulting from the existence of the scheme, plays no role or a minimal role in the execution of the scheme, section 1341 has not been violated. Parr v. United States, 363 U.S. 370, 392-393, 80 S.Ct. 1171, 4 L.Ed.2d 1277 (1960); Kann v. United States, 323 U.S. 88, 65 S.Ct. 148, 89 L.Ed. 88 (1944); Stapp v. United States, 120 F.2d 898 (5th Cir. 1941); United States v. McKay, 45 F.Supp. 1001, 1005 (E.D.Mich.1942); see generally Anno., 157 A.L.R. 247 (1945). This is not to say that causing a mailing

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after the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme have been received can never support a conviction for mail fraud; such a mailing may...

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