A brother and sister duo were recently convicted in federal court in New Jersey for a fraud scheme that involved creating shell companies, which the sister used to submit invoices through her employer’s accounts payable system. Over the course of only a few months, the siblings stole millions of dollars from the sister’s employer, an unidentified company in New Brunswick, NJ. The two were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and three counts of mail fraud.
You might be wondering: what is mail fraud exactly—committing fraud by mail? And how often is mail fraud prosecuted? At William Proetta Criminal Law, our highly experienced Middlesex County criminal defense lawyers defend clients facing charges in State and Federal Courts throughout New Jersey. When you need a legal team dedicated to devising the most effective defense in your case, our attorneys are here for you. Call (732) 659-9600 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey fraud defense attorney. And please continue reading this article for additional information about mail fraud crimes in NJ.
Understanding Mail Fraud Law in NJ
If you use the mail system in any way that contributes to committing fraud, you are committing a federal crime. Under 18 U.S.C. 1341, the “Mail Fraud” statute, a person commits mail fraud when they:
(1) devise or intend to devise a scheme to defraud; and
(2) use the mail to execute or attempt to execute the scheme.
One interesting fact about the crime of mail fraud is that it is commonly used by federal prosecutors to exercise jurisdiction in cases that would otherwise only fall under the jurisdiction of state law. While constitutionally, you cannot be tried for the same crime twice, you can be tried in a federal court and in a state court for crimes arising from the same actions. In other words, committing mail fraud in New Jersey can lead to State and Federal criminal charges.
Congress passed a 1994 amendment to include mail “sent or delivered by a private or commercial interstate carrier.” In several cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed the constitutionality and jurisdiction of federal charges for mail fraud:
- Congress has the power to prohibit the use of the post office of the United States in furtherance of a scheme that is against public policy. Badders v. United States, 240 U.S. 391, 393 (1916)
- Mailing a letter with the postal service need only assist in the furtherance of fraud. Durland v. United States, 161 U.S. 306, 16 S. Ct. 508, 40 L. Ed. 709 (1896)
Now that the sibling duo mentioned above have been convicted of this federal offense, they will receive their sentences on August 7, 2018. The two will face sentences of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or double the gain or loss from their scheme of fraud.
The U.S. Attorney General’s Office (the prosecutor in this case) is also seeking forfeiture of $1,066,830 and a 2016 BMW from these two siblings.
Assets Forfeiture in New Jersey Federal Criminal Cases
Asset forfeiture in a criminal case occurs when the court orders the forfeiture of property derived from the crime. The procedure of a forfeiture is governed by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.2, which requires prosecutors to prove 3 elements:
(1) the forfeiture is authorized by statute;
(2) the defendant was convicted of a qualifying offense; and
(3) there is a factual nexus between the property and the crime committed.
The forfeiture proceeding is handled at the time of sentencing.
Facing Federal Charges in New Jersey?
As you can see, mail fraud is no small crime and a significant jurisdictional hook for federal prosecutors to get involved in what sometimes would otherwise be a state-level crime only. If you are facing federal charges for mail fraud or another federal crime in New Jersey, you need to speak with an experienced Federal Crime Attorney about your rights and your legal options. Contact the Middlesex County defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law today at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation. A member of our legal team is available to provide you with a free consultation.