BLACKMUN, J.; In August 1983, petitioner Wayne T. Schmuck, a

Reading Time: 3 minutes

BLACKMUN, J.; In August 1983, petitioner Wayne T. Schmuck, a used-car distributor. was indicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on 12 counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. *1341 and 1342. The alleged fraud was a common and straightforward one. Schmuck purchased used cars. rolled back their odometers, and then sold the automobiles to Wisconsin retail dealers for prices artificially inflated because of the low-mileage readings. These unwitting car dealers, relying on the altered odometer figures, then resold the cars to customers, who in rum paid prices reflecting Schmuck's fraud. To complete the resale of each automobile, the dealer who purchased it from Schmuck would submit a title application form to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on behalf of his retail customer. The receipt of a Wisconsin title was a prerequisite for completing the resale; with-out it. the dealer could not transfer title to the customer and the customer could not obtain Wisconsin tags. The submission of the title-application form sup-plied the mailing element of each of the alleged mail frauds. Before trial. Schmuck moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the mailings at issue—the sub-missions of the title-application forms by the automobile dealers—were not in furtherance of the fraudulent scheme and, thus. did not satisfy the mailing element of the crime of mail fraud…. The District Court denied both motions. After trial, the jury returned guilty verdicts on 31112 counts…. We granted certiorari to define further the scope of the mail fraud statute…. The federal mail fraud statute does not purport to reach all frauds, but only those limited instances in which the use of the mails is a part of the execution of the fraud, leaving all ocher cases to be al with by appropriate state law. To be part of the execution of the fraud, however, the use of the mails need not be an essential element of the scheme. It is sufficient for the mailing to be incident to an essential part of the scheme or a step in the plot. Schmuck… argues that mail fraud can be predicated only on a mailing that affirmatively assists the perpetrator in carrying out his fraudulent scheme. The mailing element of the offense, he contends. cannot be satisfied by a mailing, such as those at issue here, that is routine and innocent in and of itself, and that.
far from furthering the execution of the fraud, occurs after the fraud has come to fruition, is merely tangentially related to the fraud, and is counterproductive in that it creates a paper trail from which the fraud may be. discovered. We disagree both with . 'anon of the mailings in the present case and with this description of the applicable law. We begin by considering the scope of Schmuck's fraudulent scheme. Schmuck was charged with devising and executing a scheme to defraud Wisconsin retail automobile customers who based their decisions to purchase certain automobiles at least in part on the low-mileage readings provided by the tampered . This was a fairly large-scale operation. Evidence at trial indicated that Schmuck had employed a man known only as -Fred” to turn back the odometers on about ISO different cars. Schmuck then marketed these cars to a number of dealers, several of whom he dealt with on a consistent basis over a period of about 15 years…. Schmuck's was nor a “one-shoe' operation in which he sold a single car to an isolated dealer. His was an ongoing fraudulent venture. A rational jury could have concluded that the success of Schmuck's venture depended upon his continued harmonious relations with, and good reputation among. retail dealers, which in turn required the smooch flow of cars from the dealers to their Wisconsin customers. Under these circumstances. we believe that a rational jury could have found that the title-registration mailings were part of the execution of the fraudulent scheme, a scheme which did not reach fruition until the retail dealers resold the can and effected transfers of title. Schmuck's scheme would have come to an abrupt halt if the dealers either had lost faith in Schmuck or had not been able to resell the cars obtained from him. These  and Schmuck's relationships with the retail dealers naturally depended on the successful pas-sage of title among the various parties. Thus, although the registration-form mailings may not have contributed directly to the duping of either the retail dealers Or the customers. they were necessary to the passage of title, which in turn was essential to the perpetuation of Schmuck's scheme. For these reasons, we agree with the Court of Appeals that the mailings in this case satisfy the mailing element of the mail fraud offenses.
Case Question
1. What was the factual basis of the fraudulent scheme used by Schmuck in this case?
2. How was the mail associated with this factual situation?
3. Why does the Supreme Court conclude that mail fraud existed in this case?