PARR V. UNITED STATES, 363 U. S. 370 (1960)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Parr v. United States, 363 U.S. 370 (1960)

Parr v. United States

No. 391

Argued April 28, 1960

Decided June 13, 1960

363 U.S. 370


Petitioners were indicted on 20 counts in a Federal District Court for using the mails to defraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and conspiring to do so, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The indictment charged that together they controlled a School District and its depository bank, the assessment and collection of school taxes, and the expenditure of school funds, and that they entered into and carried out a scheme to defraud the School District, the State, and the taxpayers of each by misappropriating and embezzling funds and property of the School District. The specific offense charged in each of the first 19 counts was that, for the purpose of executing the scheme, petitioners caused a particular letter, check, tax statement, tax receipt, or invoice to be placed in, or received from, an authorized depository for United States mail. Count 20 charged that petitioners conspired to commit the offense set out in the first count and committed specific overt acts to that end. They were convicted, and the convictions were sustained by the Court of Appeals.

Held: although the indictment charged, and the evidence tended to show, that petitioners devised and practiced a scheme to defraud the School District by misappropriating and embezzling its money and property, neither the indictment nor the evidence supports the judgments, because the indictment did not charge, and the evidence did not show, any use of the mails "for the purpose of executing such scheme," within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1341.

Pp. 363 U. S. 371-394.

(a) The indictment did not expressly or impliedly charge, and there was no evidence tending to show, that the taxes assessed were excessive, "padded" or in any way illegal; nor did the Court submit any such issue to the jury. Pp. 363 U. S. 385-388.

(b) In the light of the particular circumstances of this case, and especially of the facts that (1) the School Board was legally required to collect and assess taxes, (2) the indictment did not charge, nor the proofs show, that the taxes assessed and collected were excessive, "padded" or in any way unlawful, (3) no such issue was submitted to, or determined by, the jury, (4) the Board was compelled by state law to collect and receipt for the taxes, and

Page 363 U. S. 371

(5) it was legally compelled to use the mails in doing so, it must be concluded that the legally compelled mailings complained of in the first 16 counts of the indictment were not shown to have been made "for the purpose of executing such scheme,"within the meaning of § 1341. Pp. 363 U. S. 388-391.

(c) On the record in this case, it cannot be said that the mailings complained of in the first 16 counts of the indictment constituted false pretenses and misrepresentations to obtain money. Pp. 363 U. S. 391-392.

(d) As to the charges in Counts 17, 18, and 19 that two of the petitioners fraudulently obtained gasoline and other filling station products and services for themselves upon the credit card and at the expense of the School District, knowing that the oil company would use the mails in billing the School District for these things, it cannot be said that the mailings in question were "for the purpose of executing" the scheme to defraud, since the scheme had reached fruition when these two petitioners received the goods and services complained of and before the mailings occurred. Pp. 363 U. S. 392-393.

(e) Inasmuch as Count 20 charged petitioners with conspiring to commit the offense complained of in Count 1, and inasmuch as, on this record, that count cannot be sustained, it follows that petitioners' convictions upon Count 20 cannot stand. P. 363 U. S. 393.

265 F.2d 894, reversed.

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