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Regulation White Collar Crime

Mail and Wire Fraud Post 'Kelly v. United States'

This article discusses the holding by the U.S. Supreme Court Kelly v. U.S. and explains its impact on subsequent cases and concludes with a discussion of the “right to control” theory of mail and wire fraud, which has been challenged in light of the Kelly decision.


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Under the federal mail and wire fraud statutes, it is a crime to “obtain[] money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises,” or to deprive someone of the “intangible right of honest services.” 18 U.S.C. §§1341, 1343, 1346. The scope of these prohibitions has expanded over time. This expansion has been met with infrequent, but significant, pushback from the courts. Perhaps most prominent is the line of Supreme Court decisions which initially resisted and later narrowed the scope of “honest services” fraud. See, McNally v. United States, 483 U.S. 350 (1987); Skilling v. United States, 130 S. Ct. 2896 (2010); McDonnell v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2355 (2016).

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