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Law School Case Brief

United States v. Turoff - 701 F. Supp. 981 (E.D.N.Y. 1988)

Rule:

Money is the most concrete and tangible of property. In its dictionary definitions and in common usage "property" comprehends anything of material value owned or possessed. Money, of course, is a form of property.

Facts:

By superseding indictment, plaintiff United States of America ("Government") charged that defendants Jay L. Turoff, Donald Sherman, and Ronald Sherman conspired to use the mails and to cause the use of the mails for the purposes of executing a scheme to: (1) defraud the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission ("TLC") and the City of New York ("City") and to obtain by false and fraudulent pretenses 23 unauthorized taxi medallions ("Medallions"), and; (2) to defraud the TLC, the City, and its citizens of money and property lawfully due to the TLC, namely annual license renewal fees on the Medallions. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground that it failed to allege a violation of the mail fraud statute, 18 U.S.C.S. § 1341.

Issue:

Did the indictment properly allege mail fraud violations?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court denied defendants' motion to dismiss. The court acknowledged that the mail fraud statute did not refer to the intangible right of the citizenry to good government and that any benefit that the government derived from the mail fraud statute had to be limited to the government's interest as a property holder. However, the court held that the indictment, insofar as it was based on an alleged scheme to avoid payment of the money for renewal fees, had to stand because money was the most concrete and tangible of property. Furthermore, the court concluded that the alleged scheme to obtain the unauthorized medallions also deprived the City of a property interest that was cognizable under § 1341.

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