“At the federal prosecutor’s office in the Southern District of New York, the staff, over beer and pretzels, used to play a darkly humorous game.Junior and senior prosecutors would sit around, and someone would name a random celebrity – say, Mother Teresa or John Lennon.
It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict him or her.
The crimes were not usually rape, murder, or other crimes you’d see on Law & Order but rather the incredibly broad yet obscure crimes that populate the U.S. Code like a kind of jurisprudential minefield: Crimes like “false statements” (a felony, up to five years), “obstructing the mails” (five years), or “false pretenses on the high seas” (also five years).
The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the highest sentences. The result, however, was inevitable: ‘prison time.’” (more…)