Articles Tagged with white collar crime

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

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

W._S._Gilbert_The_Duke_of_Plaza-Toro_BriberyChicago has never been able to quite shake off its sometimes unwarranted reputation as a corruption center in the USA. Take the case of a city insider who has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for taking bribes in a scandal that ironically involved jumping red light cameras. The appropriately named John Bills is not alone in the long list of high ranking and low ranking government officials who soon find that they are in need of an excellent criminal defense attorney. The scale of the case and the sentencing are fairly atypical. The court heart that Mr. Bills took up to $2 million in euphemistically labelled “gifts.” His services included sending large red light camera contracts to Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., a company based in Arizona.

If you are looking for the key ingredients of bribery then this case is as good as any in terms of demonstrating them. First of all you have someone in a position of authority who uses that authority to illegally secure pecuniary advantage in exchange for abusing his offices. There are elements of discriminatory and unlawful behavior which means that certain bids for tenders are never treated fairly for no other reason than the fact that they did not pay the authorizing officer a bribe. Such a crime reduces public confidence in the system and judges are particularly harsh in exercising their discretion. Of course it is possible to reduce the maximum sentence if there are mitigating factors. Some of those mitigating factors include an early confession, cooperation with the police, restitution, and examples of good public works.

The Dangers of Plea Bargaining

800px-One_US_dollar_note_0127_22Whenever another story comes in, there is shock from the legal and non-legal community. Even as the defendant desperately seeks an attorney; the prosecutor is working full-time to ensure a conviction and an exemplary sentence. The annals of embezzlement in Chicago include the relatively recent case of Caryn Benson, a former Field Museum employee who managed to embezzle up to $400,000 without getting noticed. Even as the case its case made its way through the courts, there was a lot of interest from the legal community in terms of establishing the technicalities of the crime and the responses of the court. Museums are normally places of leisure and cultural enlightenment. One would not expect large-scale and sustained thefts to be taking place there over a period of ten years.

Interestingly, Benson admitted to only half a million whereas the employer protested that the figure was closer to one million. In the event a compromise was reached on the understanding that the culprit would be spending some time in jail. The guidelines are in the range of 35-40 months, a penalty that some may consider to be harsh given the fact that the courts have handled cases of large scale corporate fraud that has led to the loss of millions. The aggravating circumstances in this case include the fact that the crime took over a long period of time and the defendant had been in a position of trust. The negotiation for a plea agreement is an interesting lesson for defense attorneys where the facts of the case indicate that a long drawn out trial may not yield the results that the prosecutor is looking for. This puts the defense at an advantage and in this case the attorney got the best possible deal for the client.

Understanding the Legal Ramifications of Embezzlement

800px-USMC-05469Credit card fraud is becoming the crime of choice for offenders in Chicago who are not particularly inclined to violence. If undetected, the crime can be staggeringly lucrative and often does not carry the stigma of outright theft, sexual depravity, or violence. It is tempting to cast credit card fraudsters as low-level miscreants who do not deserve the worst approbation of society. However this is not a victimless crime, as residents of Minooka will testify. The South West side of Chicago seems to have developed a particularly affinity for this specific economic crime. Although the law enforcement agencies have already sent out the alarm to the local population; they are not clear about what exactly causes this locality to have a higher than usual propensity for the crime.

The fraud will take a number of forms which are increasing in their complexity and scope. For example some people engage in identity fraud and impersonation. Unsuspecting victims will only realize that they have been caught in the web when they are sent a bill for goods and services that they never purchased. The fraudster will have used the victim’s identity in order to make a fraudulent application for a credit line and will proceed onto an expansive spending spree. At other times the perpetrator is far more subtle; getting the details of the card and using it to make online purchases. When the card is physically stolen, most victims will make a police report, but hardly anything ever comes out of that process because of the difficulty of tracing the culprits and the relatively low individual amounts that are involved in each incident of credit card fraud.

It is a Systemic and Structural Issue

credit cardThe holiday season always sees a rise in property crimes, as people become even more desperate trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” or just trying to provide a decent holiday season for their family. Whatever the reason, much of the fraudulent activity on credit cards throughout the year occurs during the holiday season, so it is a good time to review the various prohibited behavior.

Illinois Credit Card Fraud Laws

The Illinois statute prohibiting credit card fraud prohibits and penalizes many different crimes, all of which stem from the wrongful possession, use, or sale of a credit or debit card. All of the following are prohibited by law:

If you are accused of money laundering, the government is alleging that you committed some act to disguise the origins of illegally obtained money, with the goal of “washing” the money and making it into legitimate money. People are accused of money laundering in a variety of circumstances, but an easy example to help you understand is from the television show Breaking Bad. The main character amasses a pile of money from the production and sale of crystal methamphetamine. He then purchases a car wash to launder the “meth” money and “cook the books” to make the money legitimate. That is one way people are accused of attempting to launder money, but there are others.

Money Laundering Charges are a Big Deal

If you are charged with money laundering, you are facing federal criminal charges. The federal government charges people suspected of money laundering under a number of different statutes, including the Federal Money Laundering Control Act and sometimes the Patriot Act.