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Mail Fraud: A Real Housewife in Real Trouble

The “Real Housewives” series is known for its depiction of women who live lavish lifestyles and have extremely short tempers.  However, just because these women are “stars” does not mean that they are above the law.  Rather, just like everyone else, they must face the legal system when they commit criminal offenses.

Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice and her husband were indicted in a 39-count indictment for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud.  Let’s take a look at one of the charges in depth — mail fraud.

Because mail fraud is considered a federal criminal charge, the federal government prescribes its definition and penalties even if it is committed in New Jersey, Florida, or any other state.  Basically, a regular fraud case that would typically be prosecuted by local prosecuting attorneys at the state level becomes a federal mail fraud case if the U.S. Postal Service is utilized to commit the fraud.

As defined by the federal government, mail fraud is any scheme to defraud another where the United States Postal Service or any interstate carrier is used to carry out the crime.  Given this definition, the government only has to prove two elements:

  • The person intentionally and knowing created a scheme to defraud someone
  • The person used the U.S. Postal Service or another carrier to defraud

Whether the intended person is actually defrauded by the scheme is irrelevant for purposes of mail fraud.  Rather, if a person intends to and does act upon the scheme, they may be found guilty, subjecting themselves to criminal charges and penalties.  These penalties are likely to include several to many years in prison, along with hefty fines, depending on the particular facts of the situation. In addition, as is noted by Giudice’s 39-count indictment, mail fraud is often accompanied by other charges.  All of these additional charges may add to the severity of both the prison term and monetary fines.

Being charged with mail fraud is an extremely serious accusation.  If you have been charged with mail fraud, you may need the services of an experienced Jacksonville fraud defense attorney who can help you with your case.