U.S. v. Kenneth Anderson, 809 F.2d 1281 (7th Cir. 1987)

(Ed. Note – Barber Kenneth Anderson used to cut Chicago attorney Michael J. Petro’s hair as a little boy).   

During the time of the events resulting in this case, Kenneth Anderson was a barber in Crown Point, Indiana. John Marine worked at Division 1 of the Lake County County Court in Crown Point, Indiana.   

Anderson received a telephone call from a “Dan Mingo” on July 16, 1982. Unbeknownst to Anderson, Mingo was an undercover agent of the Indiana State Police named Gerald J. Hole. Mingo had received a fabricated ticket for driving under the influence of alcohol. Mingo told Anderson of his plight and was told to come to the barber shop. There, Anderson and Mingo agreed on a price of $1,600 to fix the ticket. 

Mail Fraud

The ticket was not fixed, however, and a bench warrant was issued for Mingo.  Mingo posted the $1000 bond.   Mingo then visited Anderson and complained angrily, demanding both that the charge be fixed and that he receive his $1,000 bond back.  Anderson phoned Marine, who said that a computer error was to blame. He assured Anderson that the charge was “fixed” and that Mingo would receive his bond money back. Mingo asked Anderson to have the check mailed to him at a specified address. It was.  

Anderson and Marine attack the mail fraud conviction, on the basis that the mailing of Mingo’s bond refund check was not in furtherance of the scheme.    Specifically, they argue that the mailing in this case was not in furtherance of the scheme because it was not necessary to the fixing of Mingo’s ticket.  This argument is too narrow.

Lulling Letter

The mailing of the check served the purposes of the scheme in several ways. Most importantly, the mailing of the refund check to Mingo was a “lulling letter” that “facilitated concealment of the scheme.” United States v. Wormick, 709 F.2d 454, 462 (7th Cir.1983) (mailing of car rental invoice necessary to keep insurer from becoming suspicious).  Anderson and Marine took certain precautions to hide their illegal activity. The return of the check kept Mingo from going to the court and inquiring about his bond money, which could have led to exposing the illegal scheme.  Further, The Supreme Court has recently applied the “lulling letter” rationale. United States v. Lane, 106 S.Ct. 725, 733-34, 88  (1986). In the present case, the mailing similarly served to prevent unwanted attention being focussed on Anderson and Marine as they continued their activities. 

For the reasons stated, Marine and Anderson’s convictions are AFFFIRMED.

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