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jack-young-143113-300x200The adage of “The Chicago Way” has been used to stereotype the city as a hub of crime. Bribery is a part of corruption and mismanagement, but its subtlety means that the crime is hard to prosecute. The fact that it erodes public confidence in the system means that the jail sentences for the crime are increasing. Most of the relevant cases focus on the behavior of politicians and public officials yet bribery can also lead to questions about the conduct of the person that is offering the bribe. In some cases, the bribe is not monetary but rather influences insidious levels of influence peddling, nepotism, and cronyism. The courts will have to untangle the web of deceit that is involved in cases in which a sophisticated criminal deliberately exploits a culture of bribery.

Chicago is unfortunate in having two former governors serving jail time for bribery-related criminality. The worst affected departments include justice, law, and administration because that is where the real power is. Bribery essentially involves asking people to pay you extra for doing your job or not doing your job. In some of the worst cases, bribery leads to other forms of criminality because the public official becomes negligent or corrupt in the execution of his or her duties. The belief that officials are powerful means that the courts are harsh on defendants who commit a breach of trust. The defense attorneys typically attempt to present their clients as low-lying officials who are at worst incompetent or naïve.

The Bribery Law as it Stands Today

igor-ovsyannykov-208345-300x200It used to be that currency creation and distribution was the sole responsibility of state agencies, such as the central bank. However, the advent of non-official and bespoke currencies has meant that there are many people who are inadvertently breaking the law. The definitions of currency have expanded so much that the law sometimes appears to be contradictory. Some of the industries that are affected in Chicago include staffing agencies and factories. Moreover, there are some online currencies such as Bitcoin that lie outside the traditional strictures of currency controls. In the worst case scenario, there is an actual factory of illegal tender. Some of these crimes can lead to significant terms of imprisonment.

Key Ingredients of the Crime

The first criterion relates to how the currency was manufactured or distributed. As stated earlier, the expectation is that only the state can make currency. It is for this reason that the federal agencies might be involved since states do not currently have the right to make currency. The case law indicates that currency schemes are sometimes considered to be a much more serious offense than counterfeiting of even forgery. Some of the constituent aspects of the crime are legislated under the instrument number 720 ILCS 5/17-0.5, but that instrument also talks about other forms of deception and fraud which may not necessarily relate to currency schemes.

https://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.com/files/2017/03/197px-Copyright.svg_.pngThis aspect of Chicago law belies the widely held misconception that theft is associated with only tangible things. Copyright theft or intellectual property infringements have attracted the attention of the Chicago legislature because they are a key component of the trade relations with major partners such as China. The economic impacts can be quite significant. The current law protects a range of potentially valuable items such as:

  • Mathematical Formulas
  • Practice Notes

Chicago_Stock_Exchange_7405590890-300x193The complexity of the securities and commodities fraud case list means that the legislation must be written in such a way as to encapsulate all the various forms of criminality that are involved. Typically, this means that there are many agencies that support the work of the prosecutor even if they are not directly involved in handling the criminal case (see the Lindstrom case). For example; there is almost always a civil aspect of the case management that focuses on recovering some of the lost funds in order to compensate the victims. For purposes of clarity and consistency, the courts have tended to separate the criminal from the civil aspects of the prosecution.

The other important consideration is the systemic malaise that is associated with securities and commodities fraud. These are some of the most important platforms for handling large scale trade. That means that vast sums of money are exchanged, sometimes relying on individual investors who sink in their life savings. It is therefore abhorrent to the courts that public confidence would be undermined by fraudsters who use the product in order to access their victims. That is why in some cases the punishments for this type of crime have appeared to be harsh. The courts are particularly concerned to ensure that the perpetrators do not get away with large stacks of cash when the victims are left to rely on the small comfort of a successful criminal prosecution.

Investor Agents with No Qualifications and Bad Intentions

mingyue-sun-153025-300x169The harrowing circumstances that typically surround a human trafficking case in Chicago means challenging work for a defense attorney. The crime tends to intersect with other serious crimes such as rape and sexual assault. That is why organizations like the Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation were formed in order to ensure that the victims get full justice. Chicago has adopted a two-pronged approach that complements local legislative arrangements with the provisions of the relevant federal law. At the same time the law enforcement agencies are paying a lot of attention to how the sex industry is directly and indirectly at the heart of these types of crimes.

Establishing the Factual Basis for the Prosecution and Defense

The process of gathering evidence is quite complex in these cases, which is why it is advisable to first consult with the best attorneys before presenting any defense. The fact that there is an aspect of conspiracy significantly increases the range of punishments that are available to the courts. The Illinois legislature has been coming up with new bills and amendments that are designed to cover the loopholes that were left behind by the federal law. Of particular interest is the use of the affirmative defense, one which is applicable in 28 other states. The law is contained within the provisions of SB 1588.

les-anderson-207333-300x196The pyramid scheme has become one of the favorite conduits for confidence fraudsters to make illicit money on a grand scale. That is why organizations like the Federal Trade Commission were set up to fight this type of crime. Chicago, like many parts of the USA, is not immune to this scourge. For the defense attorney, pyramid scheme cases in Chicago present unique challenges which, although difficult, are not insurmountable. The fraudsters are always coming up with new ways to mask their true intentions and hoodwink an unsuspecting public. A case in point are the chain letters that ask for group contributions. There will be some people at the top who have the highest culpability as the masterminds of a criminal enterprise. The middlemen and middle women will have a range of roles that may determine their level of culpability once before the court.

The Criminality of Recruiting Unsuspecting Victims

The pyramid scheme may be deemed a form of confidence fraud because it promises that which is impossible to deliver. Like the Ponzi scheme, it is marketed on the basis of profit levels that are just not sustainable. The crime therefore reduces public confidence not only in the judicial system but also in the other structures that are designed for societal functionality, like the economic system. The requirement may not necessarily be monetary. Sometimes it is a call for your time or expertise in a particular field. Therefore, the crime focuses on the implicit deceit rather than merely restricting the jurisdiction to money alone.

greg-rakozy-203292-225x300The Ponzi scheme deservedly has a very bad name in Chicago because it inevitably leads to the process of bankrupting investors. It is confidence trickery at the highest level and with grand impact. The best definition of a ponzi scheme is one in which investors are only paid through the investor’s own money. Therefore, the investor is simply giving money to the leader of the scheme and making no discernible profits. The fraudulent investment has been made famous by the likes of Madoff but before that, there were very many victims that went unaided. The courts have classified it as a white collar crime based on the financial implications of its enactment and the fact that it inevitably involves a level of fraud.

For the defense attorney, the person accused of a Ponzi scheme represents unique opportunities and challenges. First of all, it is more than likely that the prosecutor will have a long list of victims with impact statements to sway the jury. Secondly the evidence is there but the last remaining ingredient is to prove the mens rea or the thought process that goes into committing fraud. Some defendants argue that promising great profits is not a crime but rather a sign of misguided ambitions. However, the courts are of the view that promising profits that are clearly unrealistic and knowing that they are unrealistic is a fraudulent activity that must be punished accordingly.

Preparing a Convincing Defense

bruno-nascimento-113628-300x199The victims of money laundering are not just those that lose the funds but also those that are used in disposing of it. This much is made clear by the provisions of legislative instrument number 720 ILCS 5/29B-1 of Chicago. It is not uncommon for family members to be unwittingly roped into fraudulent schemes based on their love for a son or daughter. The attorney that is handling such cases can expect a significant involvement in the investigative process. The discovery alone is bound to be a real challenge. The definition of the crime includes any act that seeks to hide the source of illegally acquired funds. The most sophisticated version of the crime involves “washing” dirty money by making it appear to be legitimate.

This is a crime that is prosecutable at both the state and federal level depending on the circumstances and the charges that are preferred by the prosecutor. The defending attorneys must be well versed in all the rules of the financial system. The defendant may have a very sophisticated web of information and tactics that make an investigation difficult. They may even lie to their lawyer in order to save face. That is why the services of an experienced counsel can be invaluable in cases such as this.

How to Untangle the Ingredients that Constitute the Crime

https://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.com/files/2017/02/Chicago_Stock_Exchange_Building.tif_-214x300.jpgThe breach of trust in insider trading is not as obvious as other forms of breach of trust. The basic premise of the law is that there is an implicit trust by members of the public that financial institutions will follow the letter of the law. However, there are those whose interest in fast profits far outweigh any moral considerations. They make use of their privileged access to information in order to make decisions that are advantageous to them whilst simultaneously expecting the public to take up the cost of their mistakes. The public is effectively being asked to gamble with all the odds stacked against them. This is the essence of insider trading and it is precisely the behavior that the courts try to punish.

Understanding the Basic Premises and Assumptions that Underpin the Law

The basic premise of a functional market is the freedom to trade and that requires information that is readily available, or at the very least legitimately acquired. The inside traders tend to skip this important step, with devastating impact on their business rivals. A classic case in point is where a trade is able to get a tip off a potential merger, acquisition, or redundancy. He or she then shares this vital information with favored accomplices so that they can make a quick profit or alternatively cut their losses. There have been some defendants who have pleaded innocence, arguing that they did not know what they were committing a SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) violation.

tim-evans-88330-300x200The crime of bank fraud is sometimes thought of as being harmless given the fact that it involves big powerful corporations and rarely involves any violence. However, the courts take it seriously and are quite capable of imposing significant penalties for it. The technical definitions of the crime include the illegal acquisition of assets, money or property by any entity or institution through deceit and dishonesty. Given the concern about an implied leniency against white collar offenders, bank fraud has sometimes been elevated to the level of a federal crime.

According to the Bank Fraud Act, the prosecution is free to label and pursue the crime depending on the amounts involved and the method that was used. A level of sophistication as well as conspiracy will always be aggravating factors. On the other hand, the court will also consider the victim impact statements. Although the media coverage may often be sensationalist, the courts are at pains to demonstrate that they are bound by the sentencing guidelines as well as the facts as examined from the viewpoint of giving as much weight as possible to the intention of the legislature when the law was enacted.

Developing a Theory and Practical Basis for a Defense