Corporate Fraud in Chicago


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

The legislative instruments that tackle corporate fraud in Chicago are written in generalities with discretion for the prosecutor. However, over the years the case law has established guidelines that must be followed. It is a good defense to demonstrate that there was procedural unfairness in the manner of prosecuting the case. In an attempt to discover and classify intent, the prosecutor is likely to go back to all sorts of business documents that detail how the business was running (see the Edward S. Adams case). Culpability is normally placed at the feet of the mastermind, even though the footmen can be included in the prosecution net.

It is important to note that corporate fraud is a different proposition from the relatively simple crime of breaching a contract. The contract breach will not be elevated to a criminal offense unless there are certain exceptional circumstances that warrant such a course of action. The modalities of corporate fraud in Chicago may mean that it intersects with other crimes such as Ponzi investment schemes. What is really at stake is the possibility that someone is using the cloak of a corporate entity in order to defraud the public at large. The fraud can also be targeted towards the state agencies or federal authorities.

Finding the Right Jurisdiction and the Crime Ingredients

At the preliminary stage, it will be imperative to establish that the courts that have jurisdiction over the case. The rules are set out in 815 ILCS 505. The standard practice is to defer to the federal agencies, but there are instances in which the matter is treated as a state issue. Some defense attorneys have used this as a mechanism to throw out unfavorable findings by the courts. That is why prosecutors are acutely aware of the need to sort these matters out at the preliminary stage.

The next stage is to critically examine whether the conduct of the defendant meets the standard for the key ingredients of the offense including:

  • Misrepresentations
  • Intention to induce reliance
  • Detriment to the victim

If and when any of these key ingredients is not proven, then there is a high probability that the case will collapse. Call David Freidberg Attorney at Law now at 312-560-7100 to get the legal help you deserve.

(image courtesy of Joel Herzog)

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