THE MAGAZINE

Supreme Court Update: Fraud

The Court ruled that a lower court must reexamine the fraud conviction of former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling.

Prosecutors had convicted Skilling under a portion of the mail-fraud statute that makes it illegal to deprive someone of “honest services.” The honest services law was meant to tackle fraud cases in which no party suffered a loss. The idea behind the law was that certain actions—a government official colluding to give a contract to a favored constituent, for example—are still illegal even if the government receives fair terms on that service. However, the law does not set out exactly what sort of actions are illegal under the honest services theory.
 

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