Wayne Schmuck (defendant) was a used-car distributor in Wisconsin. Over the course of 15 years, Schmuck ran a fraudulent scheme whereby he rolled back the odometers on used cars and sold the cars at inflated prices to used-car dealers in Wisconsin. The dealers, unaware that the cars had been altered, then sold the cars to retail customers. To do so, the dealers were required to complete title-application forms and mail them to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. On this basis, Schmuck was indicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on 12 counts of mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1342. Schmuck was found guilty on all 12 counts. Schmuck appealed, and the appeals court sustained the verdict. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.