Mail fraud in federal government contracting is when a contractor uses the U.S. Postal Service in any criminal attempt to acquire funds or things of value from the government. See 18 USC 1341. Whether the business succeeds or not is not the primary inquiry. At Watson & Associates, we represent small businesses and large DOD contractors nationwide and overseas facing civil or criminal fraud penalties due to fraud against the federal government.
When federal contractors experience investigations, federal indictments, and ultimately a criminal trial, the reality sets in that there is serious jail time and or fines at stake. The other reality is that companies immediately seek to hire a local criminal defense attorney. The problem is that most local criminal lawyers are not experienced with the underlying crimes in government fraud cases. Therefore, he or she tends to take crash courses in hopes of bringing a sound legal defense. This creates risk for you as a defendant. Our mail fraud defense lawyers can decrease the chances of a conviction or fine by bringing their procurement expertise to the table. See information about getting federal indictments dismissed.
What is Mail Fraud in Government Contracting?
When companies bid on government contracts and submit their proposals via the U.S. Postal service, the result of either providing false or fraudulent information will quickly elevate into the charge of mail fraud. Federal prosecutors investigate, indict and try to convict companies and individuals. Our legal defense team provides aggressive representation to clients facing such serious charges.
By using the Postal Service or other private or commercial interstate carrier, the crime is raised to the level of mail fraud and therefore incurs enhanced punishment, which may include a separate federal prosecution for crimes that would otherwise be matters of state jurisdiction. When bidding on government contracts and using the mail to submit documents or even submit invoices, 18 USC 1342 makes it clear that if you use a fictitious name or address through the mail, you can receive punishment and be sentenced to up to five years in jail and a fine.
18 USC 1341 and Required Elements
18 USC 1341 specifically deals with “Mail Fraud.” When defending a case, the crime simply means facilitating a fraudulent scheme or conduct by utilizing the U.S. Mail. To prevail in a criminal case, the government attorneys will have to show two elements. (1) devising or intending to devise a scheme to defraud, or perform specific fraudulent acts, and; (2) using the mail for the specific purpose of executing the scheme of the fraudulent acts.
As a government contractor, you should be aware that these lingering charges give federal attorneys ample opportunity to increase punishment when bringing the case to trial.
Mail Fraud Penalty
Federal Mail Fraud is punishable by imprisonment for 20 years, a fine, or both. There are two subsets of Mail Fraud punishable by a $1,000,000 fine, 30 years’ incarceration, or both. These are cases involving a federally declared disaster (such as sending false solicitations to defraud disaster victims) or cases affecting a financial institution. Our mail fraud defense lawyers only handle civil and criminal cases involving federal government contracts.
Statue of Limitations for Mail Fraud
The statute of limitation for mail fraud under 18 USC 3282 is five years. This would normally apply to government contracting criminal cases. When a case involves fraud schemes that affect financial institutions, then the statute of limitations is ten years. See 18 USC 3293
Lack of Knowledge: If you are a contractor employee and simply followed directions to place a package in the mail, you can show that you were unaware of the fraud. Defending a criminal case involving government contracts, US attorneys are very aggressive in pursuing all avenues. Therefore, your mail fraud defense attorney must be just as aggressive and be able to present the facts to a jury.
Not part of the underlying scheme: this is yet a commonly missed piece when trying to defend a criminal case. The underlying scheme is usually some level of a statutory violation. For example, fraud in the SBA 8(a) program could be the issue; developing pass-through contracts without complying with the Limitations on Subcontracting requirements also could be the issue.
No underlying scheme has been proven: In government contracting, prosecutors usually prevail in cases at trial mostly because juries are not quite familiar with government contracting programs. At Watson & Associates, LLC our mail and wire fraud lawyers work with local criminal attorneys to increase your chances of not being convicted. We accomplish this by bringing the unique knowledge of federal contracting to the table.
Contact Our Mail Fraud Defense Lawyers
If you are a federal government contractor seeking a sound legal defense team to represent you in a civil or criminal case under 18 USC 1341, call our mail fraud attorneys at 1.866.601.5518 for a free confidential consultation. Speak with Theodore Watson.