Articles Posted in White Collar Crimes

samuel-zeller-4138-copy-300x198The temping industry in Chicago has often failed the minimum standards test when it comes to workers’ rights and other pertinent matters. For a start, many of these agencies will attempt to pay below the minimum wage or just at the minimum wage with the proviso that there are other agency fees that effectively reduce the take-home pay even further. The hiring malpractice of some of some temping agencies includes engaging in unlawful discrimination based on age, race, gender, nationality, and disability. Even where there is compliance, it is often at a bare minimum in order to avoid prosecution.

This is an important consideration for the law not least because it entails a growing workforce sector that has significant implications for the economy. The people who are affected by the malpractice are some of the most vulnerable in the community, and they end up facing a judicial system that does not seem to respond to their needs. Unless it is a class action, this is not a very lucrative endeavor for lawyers, and that can sometimes hinder progress in terms of bringing the human rights issues to the fore.

Understanding How an Industry Can be Corrupted

markus-spiske-153537-200x300The internet is a mixed blessing from a legal point of view. On one hand, it can open up opportunities for trade beyond anything that we have ever seen. On the other hand, it opens up the possibility for some modern crimes such as wire fraud in Chicago. It is important to note that this is a federal offense, even if the local law enforcement agencies in Chicago may be involved in the prosecution process. A conviction can lead to significant fines and a long term of imprisonment (see the Alan Gold case). The courts respond to public outcries about white collar crime defendants who are able to get away with large scale offenses and yet the judges are limited by sentencing guidelines from imposing the harshest terms of imprisonment.

Special circumstances apply if the crime is committed against a financial institution, thereby denting public confidence in the system. In such cases, the defendant may be sent to jail for up to 30 years. The lengthy investigative process has sometimes been associated with an enhanced flight risk. Therefore; the defending attorney will have to address issues of bail quite early on. Then comes the long investigative process during which the facts themselves might appear to be overwhelming the case. The prosecutor will be able to ask for a number of documents and witness statements under court order. The defense will also ask for documents to examine substantive and procedural defects in the prosecution’s case.

Moving to Discovery

The city of Chicago actively pursues those it believes to be guilty of corporate fraud. It is an offense that has the potential to affect many citizens as well as provoking the interest of federal agents. The complexity of such cases means that the use of a suitably qualified defense attorney is important to any defendant. The multiplicity of victims and perpetrators can make it difficult to decipher a single line of defense. For example, the whistleblowers may also become potential victims. The case management also incorporates a lot of research, particularly of a technical nature. The law as it stands calls for a high level of specificity before the charge can stick. That means identifying not only the defendant but also the modus operandi.

Intent is an important indicator of guilt, and its absence can make a case collapse. That is why the defense attorney will often try to portray his or her client as being well-meaning but rather incompetent. By contrast, the prosecutor will often seek to portray the defendant as being calculating, cunning, and sophisticated. Needless to say, the level of sophistication is critical in determining the severity of the punishment at conviction. The courts will consider the victim impact statements, which might be diverse depending on who was affected by the alleged crime.

Applying the Complex Strictures of the Law

Healthcare fraud has been raised as a matter of concern not only in Chicago but in the country as a whole. It raises the costs of providing healthcare and also means that vulnerable people who need support are left behind. The cases in this category are unique because they often provide a corporate entity that is tasked with the role of distributing healthcare services. The large scale Medicare fraud occurs within the modalities of overcharging the state or alternatively charging it for services that were never delivered. In either case, the consequences for those involved can be dire. They could lose the license to practice and may be banned from government contracts for a considerable period of time.

Over time, a number of fairly consistent patterns of offending have emerged. First of all, there are three main modalities including Medicare Fraud, Medicaid Fraud, and Kickbacks. Each of these modalities are united by deceit and illegal benefits. For example, overbilling has been a persistent problem in Medicaid and Medicare programs, despite the stringent protective measures that were adopted by Congress and local legislatures. In some cases, the service provider is so overwhelmed by paperwork and bureaucracy that they end up making inadvertent mistakes. Obviously the courts will take into consideration both the act and the intention behind it before passing judgement.

Damaging the Integrity of the System

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.

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 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.