Oral argument: Dec. 8, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Aug. 4, 2008)
MAIL-FRAUD STATUTE, HONEST SERVICES, FEDERALISM, DISCLOSURE DUTY
Petitioner, Bruce Weyhrauch ("Weyhrauch"), a member of the Alaska House of Representatives, was charged with honest services mail fraud for intending to devise a scheme to deprive the State of Alaska of its intangible right to his honest services in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1346. Respondent, the United States of America ("United States"), asserts that Weyhrauch should have disclosed his attempts to procure future employment from VECO, an oil company, before voting for legislation that would benefit the company. Weyhrauch claims that he cannot be convicted of honest services fraud because Alaska only requires the disclosure of actual conflicts of interest, not possible ones. The United States believes a violation of § 1346 does not require a concurrent violation of state law in order to convict Weyhrauch of honest services fraud. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will determine whether § 1346 mandates the creation of a federal common law extending the federal government’s authority over criminal matters usually handled by the states. The Court’s decision will also settle a circuit split and decide what type of conduct constitutes honest services fraud.