White Collar Crimes-Massachusetts Lawyers

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Federal White Collar Crimes in Massachusetts

Conviction rates in federal court are very high and only few lawyers in the Commonwealth are experienced handling matters in Federal court.

In Federal Court in the District of Massachusetts in 1998, the conviction rate was nearly 91.7% This closely follows the national trend in which conviction rates in federal court are around 90%.

The federal government and its investigative agencies use every available tool to convict. Most cases are well documented and the US Attorneys are well trained and prepared.

To defend the accused in Federal court requires a combination of determination and experience with the federal court system. Paramount is familiarity with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Often much of the case will involve the use and negotiation of these guidelines. The guidelines are complicated and often require mandatory sentences. They eliminate much judicial discretion and attempt to impose a uniform penalty. The guidelines use factors to establish harshness or leniency.

In cases where conviction seems inevitable, your attorney will seek out mitigating factors and push for what is called downward departure within the guidelines. These provisions for reductions in the guidelines can include no prior criminal history, the degree of the accused participation in the crime and numerous other factors. Often the guidelines themselves are a fierce battleground and can spell the difference between years in prison and a less onerous penalty.

Your attorney may negotiate a supervised release, home detention, limit the sentence to time served or downward departure.

Overview of White Collar Crimes:

White collar crime usually involves illegal acts to obtain money, property, or services, or to secure a business or professional advantage. Much of white collar crime is covered by federal laws that govern all levels of business activity.

White collar crimes are governed by the general principles of criminal liability- each crime requires a bad act, a criminal intent, and causation. The defenses to white collar crime are the same ones applicable to all crimes and include incapacity, insanity, intoxication, and duress. White collar crime cases often invoke the defense of entrapment. Entrapment refers to situations when the government has enticed a person to commit a crime he or she otherwise would not have committed. Entrapment is usually viewed by the courts through the eyes of the individual defendant. The defense focus becomes the propensity of that defendant to commit the crime in determining whether they have been entrapped. In some cases the government's conduct is outrageous in terms of convincing a person to commit a crime.

Types of Cases:

Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud. Federal law prohibits the use of the U.S. mail or private carriers in a scheme to defraud or obtain money, property, or services by fraudulent means. Wire fraud involves acts of fraud that relate to using wire, radio, or television in a scheme to defraud or obtain property by fraudulent means. The punishment for a violation of these laws is up to five years in prison and a fine. However, if the mail fraud affects a financial institution, the punishment is up to thirty years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

The Federal Securities Acts. Involve allegations of insider trading, failing to file required reports, or filing false reports. The government must prove a deliberate and intentional act with knowledge of wrongdoing. Insider-trading prohibitions apply to a people who use nonpublic material facts learned in the course of their job to gain a personal advantage over the shareholders of a corporation by buying or selling the corporate stock. The act also extends to an "outsiders" who uses nonpublic material information to gain an advantage, including a person who acts on a conversation overheard in an elevator. Violations of the Acts are punishable by up to five years in prison.

Bribery Act. This act involves the bribery of public officials and filing false statements. The person making the bribe and the person taking the bribe can receive up to fifteen years in prison and disqualification from public office if convicted of a crime under the Bribery Act. In order for a crime to have occurred the the government must show that something of value has been given, offered, or promised to a federal public official to in an effort to influence an official act. The official act does not need to take place, but proof that the official was going to perform the corrupt act is needed. If there is no proof the corrupt act, was contemplated- the official may still be charged with accepting gratuities. The crime of accepting gratuities can carry a two-year prison term.

Tax Crime. Willful Failure to file a federal tax return or pay federal taxes are federal crimes as is assisting others to file a false returns. All tax crimes require the government to prove that the lawbreaker willfully, voluntarily, and intentionally violated a known legal duty. To convict on tax evasion charges, the government must prove a tax deficiency and an act of tax evasion.

Environmental Crimes. Individuals or corporations that violate various federal laws governing clean water, safe drinking water, toxic substances, solid waste disposal, pesticide use, clean air, and atomic energy, ranging from environmental testing irregularities to toxic dumping. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigates these complaints and makes a reccommmedation to a special environmental enforcement unit in the Department of Justice for prosecution. Most of criminal violations require a knowing violation of the law. Corporations can be punished when the illegal acts are done by corporate agents acting within the scope of their duties.

Computer crimes. There are seven prinicple types of computer crimes. To knowingly access a computer without authorization to obtain confidential national security information (and transmit it to others) is a crime punishable by up to ten years. Browsing in government or other protected computers in a manner that affects the use of the computer. Accessing unauthorized financial information from banks or government agencies; gathering information in a protected computer to steal data; infecting a computer with a virus that causes damage to the program; interstate trafficking in passwords; and extortion by threatening to cause damage to a protected computer. The penalties for violations of the act range from one year to twenty years in prison and fines.

Antitrust Offenses

Representation before the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The department handles the investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporations for violations of the Sherman Act including allegations of price fixing, bid rigging and illegal boycotting.

Bank Fraud

Cases involving financial institutions, top executives and directors, real estate developers and other borrowers. These matters include allegations of bribery of bank officers, misrepresentations of the value of assets securing a loan, failure to report currency transactions over $10,000, embezzlement and other schemes to defraud banks.

Bankruptcy Fraud

Criminal bankruptcy fraud investigations. Matters involve debtors and related parties, including spouses and lawyers, under investigation for alleged concealment of assets, false statements to the bankruptcy court, and other federal bankruptcy crimes, 18 U.S.C. §§ 152 et seq.

Federal Program and Contract Fraud

Represention of companies and their executives under investigation for defense procurement fraud such as allegations of fraud and illegal gratuities in the performance of public contracts.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The 1998 Amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the new Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention have increased the reach and scope of the federal anti-bribery statute.

Labor Racketeering and ERISA Violations

Criminal and civil violations of ERISA and union officials charged with specific labor racketeering violations. The U.S. Department of Labor prosecutes ERISA fraud and embezzlement cases against union officials and others charged with fiduciary responsibilities in connection with the management or administration of ERISA funds. Or attorneys represent professionals who act as consultants to ERISA funds, such as accountants and attorneys, as well as the labor union officials charged with administering and overseeing the management of these funds.


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