To defraud means to knowingly misrepresent facts with the intention of having others rely on the false information to their detriment. The attempt does not actually have to succeed. A conspiracy is any agreement between two or more people with the intent to commit illegal acts. Conspiracy to Defraud the United States is a specific federal crime prohibited by 18 U.S.C. ยง 371.

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned...

Charges of Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S.

To prove a conspiracy to defraud the government, the prosecution must prove that the defendant and others had an agreement and the intent to defraud, and then made false statements or misrepresentations to the government. The purpose of the fraud may be to obtain property of the government, but not necessarily so. The law is designed and intended to protect the integrity of the United States and its agencies. If the defendant made statements that he knew to be false to a government agency, which then disrupted the functions of the government, it constitutes a violation of the law.

It is sufficient for the government to prove that the defendant knew the statements were false. The prosecution is not required to prove the statements ultimately resulted in any actual monetary loss to the government, only that the defendant's act interfered with governmental functions. So, if the defendant and others have engaged in intentionally dishonest practices in connection with a federal program, it constitutes a fraud on the United States, and a conspiracy to commit the fraud.

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The penalty for a conviction can be as high as 5 years in prison, though the maximum punishment for the conspiracy cannot be higher than the penalty for the actual crime, if that crime is a misdemeanor. The language in the statute is very broad, meaning that it can be applied to a wide variety of cases, but this also makes it vulnerable to a proper legal defense. If you are accused of this crime, or any other serious federal offense, contact a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. lawyer from our criminal defense law offices today.

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