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Maybe I'm being stupid, but I just don't even begin to see where the fraud is. what is dishonest  about someone buying something and sending it to someone else's address?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 01:14:35 PM EST
It violates laws of commerce. Certain commodities are restricted from crossing state lines through the mail. Primarily because of tax laws. Some of these laws are technical and arcane. For instance, in the Humanities fields, we were warned after 9/11 that translating texts (novels, poems even) from countries on the restricted trade list (i.e. Iran and the like) would be prosecuted, since such texts are also considered commodities, and fall under the NO TRADE rules. In this specific case, there is a law prohibiting the U. Pitt professor from mailing the package (a package purchased with university funds) over state lines.

Think of it this way: New York State allows you to purchase wine through the mail. Pennsylvania doesn't. If I send a bottle of wine to my friend in Pennsylvania, I have committed an act of mail fraud. I would have to pay a fine. Or, if the Feds win this case, go to jail.

by Upstate NY on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 01:32:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And there was me thinking that the states was a bastion of free trade. ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 01:37:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh and I don't see how the wine example is fraud either, I've brought the wine legally, I'm not selling the wine to my friend, I would argue that I haven't broken the law.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 01:40:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's "mail fraud" by legal definition: that's the way the law is written. All about protecting state tax incomes as far as I know.

You're forgetting that the US is a federation of suspicious and jealous states.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 01:45:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just clipped this from a PA winery's website:

The Supreme Court Ruling

On May 16, 2005, we were relieved that the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled on the legality of shipping wine directly to consumers across state borders.  However, the new ruling is not as permissive as we would like, and the media has frequently over-simplified the story.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote "If a state chooses to allow direct shipments of wine, it must do so on evenhanded terms."  It cannot ban direct shipment of out-of-state wine while simultaneously authorizing direct shipment by local producers.  In response to the new ruling, a state like Pennsylvania might become more restrictive and prohibit its in-state wineries from shipping to consumers within its borders.  A nearby state,  New Jersey, has already done so.

Shipping wine to consumers in another state is not as simple as it sounds, either.  Even when states are theoretically open for us to ship into, they almost always have permit fees, taxes, record-keeping requirements, etc., which can make shipping to a particular state unfeasible.  Researching and complying with many state requirements is an overwhelming task for a small winery like ours.  Therefore, we must rely on guidelines established by the trade associations which we have membership in.  To complicate the picture, many states will need to change their laws, which means that the guidelines will be in constant change for quite some time.

Reciprocal Agreements

Although some states have reciprocal agreements which allow direct shipments between them, Pennsylvania has no such agreements at this time.  

Shipping by Individuals

You (the consumer) are not permitted to ship wine at all, whether it be within the state or outside, because shipping of wine requires a license to do so.

We Will Notify You

If you would like to be notified when/if we are positioned to ship into your state, please use the contact numbers above.  Let us know your email address (or U.S. Mail address) and the state where you live.

by Upstate NY on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 01:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this some form of holdover from prohibition? it seems insane to put that level of control over the individual citizen.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 01:55:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. Colman explained it best. In terms of commerce, each state operates more or less like a country, tightly regulating trade and protecting local business. This is why California and New York are two of the very few states that allow wine to be sent through the mail, since both states are known for producing wine.
by Upstate NY on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 02:21:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I may be being thick again, but how does it get through the intervening states?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 02:24:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean the wine?

Well, at this point, it doesn't. Only states like Cali and NY can trade with one another.

If you mean literally how does it get from point A to point B, it either goes through courier (UPS, DHL, Fedex) or the federal mail system (USPS). 99% of the time, the Feds have no idea what they're carrying (you have to declare the category of goods for UPS, Fedex) which is why mail fraud laws exist. So, if someone bothers to open up your package to see what's inside, you're good if it's going from NY to Cali. If it's not, you may be in trouble.

To answer your question, 99.99% of mail arrives at its destination regardless of its contents. Only mail that is opened by suspicious Feds and confiscated (or, in Kurtz's case, they found records) doesn't reach its destination. Intervening states never bother to check, which is why most mail fraud laws are broken repeatedly, and rarely if ever prosecuted.

by Upstate NY on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 02:40:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No I'm saying fine you can trade between NY and California, but unless you go round or over, you have to pass through several intervening states, how come thir laws don't interfere?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 02:46:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, most of the mail does go through the air.

But, for one, the post office is not in the habit of opening up mailed packages. If it were, I'm sure there would be findings of many violations of mail fraud law.

Two, only the destination matters. If it's sent from Cali and the postmark is NY, then those are the only jurisdictions involved.

by Upstate NY on Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 03:51:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So levitating wine doesn't count, but if it touches the ground someone is in big trouble?

Does the law also apply to pigs?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 20th, 2007 at 07:06:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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