United States v. Curtis – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Curtis, 506 F.2d 985 (1974), the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed the defendant's conviction of mail fraud on the ground that the indictment charging the defendant was insufficient. Id. at 992.

The indictment at issue in Curtis alleged that the defendant "devised or intended to devise a scheme or artifice to defraud and to obtain money . . . by means of false and fraudulent pretenses. . . ." Id. at 988.

The indictment then listed, without specificity, the acts that the defendant was alleged to have committed, such as the placement of advertisements in various newspapers and the receipt through the mails of "certain checks." Id.

The Court ruled that the indictment's "general reference to a scheme" pled "little more than the statutory language." Id.

In holding the indictment insufficient, the court reasoned that "what the 'scheme and artifice to defraud', or 'the false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises' referred to in the indictment were, is left to speculation." Id. at 989.