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Only a scheme to obtain money or other property from the victim by fraud violates 18 U.S.C.S. § 1341. A deprivation is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of mail fraud. Losses that occur as byproducts of a deceitful scheme do not satisfy the statutory requirement.
After it was discovered that Norby Walters had entered into contracts with college athletes under which they agreed to use him as their agent in negotiating professional contracts and that he had given them money and cars during college, he was charged with mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 1341 and several other offenses. He ultimately entered an Alford plea to mail fraud, and the other charges were dismissed. On appeal, Walters claimed that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction. The crux of his argument was that he had not used the mails to obtain money or property fraudulently and that he had derived no benefit at the expense of the colleges.
Was Walters’ conviction for mail fraud proper?
In reversing the conviction, the court found that an essential element of mail fraud was that the use of the mails was foreseeable and that, although Walters knew that the athletes were required to submit eligibility forms to the colleges, there was no proof that these forms had been mailed to the colleges. It found that another essential element of mail fraud was that the perpetrator obtain property from the victim and that the evidence failed to show that Walters received any property from the colleges.