Florida Defense Attorneys for White Collar Crimes
The attorneys of Suskauer Feuer, LLC, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, provide criminal defense for those accused of white collar crimes including for bank, check, computer, mail fraud and money laundering.
If you, your company or someone you do business with is under investigation or has been arrested for and/or charged with a white collar crime, reputations, careers and livelihoods could be at risk. The accused can be facing state and/or federal charges – not to mention the possible media scrutiny. It is extremely beneficial to obtain the guidance and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney who handles white collar offenses.
Fraud is a form of theft crime which is carried out through deception, toward convincing another into surrendering money or other property. Fraud based offenses, not involving violence, are considered white collar crimes.
White collar crimes refer to an array of non-violent crimes that are economic in nature, often committed by people who by their station in life or position in a trade or business (CEO, CFO, manager, doctors, medical professionals, pharmacists, etc.) commit unlawful acts through fraud, deception, and theft against the public.
Fraud crimes are often linked to other forms of fraud (ex. bank fraud is often linked to wire and money fraud). Fraud and white collar offenses are punishable by probation, house arrest, repayment of stolen funds, fines, and imprisonment.
Attorney Leonard Feuer is a former prosecutor and an experienced criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexity of RICO charges and he understands what is at stake and knows how to protect your rights. He and will explain the penalties you may be facing, and analyze your case for possible defenses.
What Are White Collar Crimes?
American folksinger and union organizer, Woody Guthrie, penned the ballad of “Pretty Boy Floyd” around 1939. The song was a musical defense of an outlaw who may have robbed banks, but unlike the banks he robbed, never drove people from their homes for falling behind on their mortgage payments. And although foreclosing on a homestead is not an illegal act, it was, at least in the eyes of Guthrie, a moral crime against innocent people whose financial situations were made dire by the Great Depression. They were robbed by pen-wielding bankers. From the song “Pretty Boy Floyd,” by Woody Guthrie:
“Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered; I’ve seen lots of funny men; Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.”
In that same year, sociologist Edwin Sutherland penned the first known definition of white collar crime within the rubric of the criminal justice system: “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” As time went on, white collar crime became understood as those crimes committed by professionals, business people and public officials (people who usually wore white collars to work, as opposed to the blue collared shirts more often worn by lower class workers and laborers) that generally involve a deliberate attempt to mislead, defraud, or deceive others.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines white collar crime as: “those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence. These acts are committed by individuals and organizations to obtain money, property, or services; to avoid the payment or loss of money or services; or to secure personal or business advantage.”
The breadth of white collar crime is broad. It may include everything from a lone accountant pilfering funds from the company ledger, to a government official taking bribes from a political ally, to a large corporation improperly disposing of hazardous waste that poisons a city’s water supply. It almost always contains a certain degree of premeditation and often an organized conspiracy among several perpetrators. Its victims may be a business, an employee, a consumer, or the general public. Typical white-collar crimes include:
- Crimes of Theft – embezzlement; extortion; forgery; Ponzi schemes; mortgage, healthcare, telemarketing, accounting, consumer, credit card, bankruptcy, and insurance fraud; cybercrime; copyright infringement; money laundering; medical crimes, identity theft; blackmail; economic espionage.
- Crimes against Public Administration – bribery; obstruction of justice; official misconduct; perjury.
- Regulatory Offenses – environmental, labor, and manufacturing violations; unfair trade practices; insider trading; tax evasion; campaign and election related crime.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimate that the total cost to the United States of white collar crime is between $300 and $660 billion per year.
Definition and Examples of White Collar Crimes
The term white-collar crime refers to a non-violent crime that is economic in nature, committed by business professionals (CEO, CFO, Manager, etc.) through fraud, deception, and theft against the public, theft against stockholders, etc.
Some of the types of White Collar / Fraud Crimes that our firm handles includes, but is not limited to:
- Bank Fraud
Bank fraud involves defrauding a federally insured bank via forged or falsified loan documents, forged letters of credit, forged checks, etc.
- Check Fraud
Check fraud involves the writing or issuing of bad checks which the issuer knows there are not funds to cover payment, but issues them anyway.
- Computer Related Crimes (Cyber Crimes)
Computer related crimes can include identify theft, sale of illegal products, gambling, hacking and disseminating computer viruses, fraud and child pornography.
Forgery involves copying or altering something (check, deed, mortgage, prescriptions, wills, etc.) in order to pass the copy or altered version off as original and authentic.
- Mail Fraud
Mail Fraud includes credit card fraud, medical drug fraud and any other type of fraud which is committed by or facilitated through the mail. Mail Fraud includes any scheme or artifice to defraud another of anything of value utilizing representations or promises through the use of the Postal Service or commercial interstate carrier.
- Money Laundering
Money laundering is the process of concealing the true source of illegally obtained money and entering it back into circulation.
- Mortgage Fraud
Mortgage fraud is any action that defrauds people or companies involved in buying or selling property, or lending money for the purchase of property. Fraud can be committed by buyers, sellers, realtors, insurers, real estate agents, banks, etc.
- Prescription Fraud
Prescription fraud is the illegal possession of prescription drugs for personal use or profit. This can include doctor shopping (prescriptions from multiple doctors), forging prescriptions, altering existing prescriptions, illegally possessing a prescription pad, prescribing without seeing patient, etc.
- Racketeering (RICO)
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act provides federal and state prosecutors with a tool to prosecute racketeering cases. RICO is a federal law that makes it illegal for criminal organizations to profit from any legitimate business operation. RICO cases can include bribery, tax evasion, wire fraud, bank fraud, ponzi schemes, embezzlement, insurance fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, etc.
- Telemarketing Fraud
Telemarketing fraud is the act of defrauding an individual through the use of telephone lines, cell phones, the internet (VOIP), Instant Message (IM), chat rooms, email, etc. Schemes often require victims to pay upfront in order to receive the product or service (charities, prize promotions, magazine subscriptions, vacations and timeshare rentals, credit card sales, etc.); then not delivering after payment has been received.
- Uttering a Forged Instrument
Uttering a forged instrument is when a person knowingly publishes or puts into circulation any forged or altered financial document, legal document or other writing (fake license or passport, fake or forged check, fake insurance documents, etc.) with the intent to misrepresent it as true and defrauds others.
- Wire Fraud
Wire fraud occurs through the creation of any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice.
- Stock manipulations, insider trading
- Fraud (credit card fraud, bank fraud, etc.)
- Tax evasion
- Identity theft
- Money laundering
- Worthless checks
- Insurance fraud
Prosecuting White Collar Crimes
White collar crimes can violate both state and federal criminal laws. However, if the crime crosses state or national boundaries with regard to suspects, victims and/or stolen property, the FBI is more likely to investigate the offense, the United States Attorney’s Office is more likely to prosecute the perpetrator(s), and a federal court will be the venue for the case.
Penalties may include fines, probation and/or jail sentences. In addition, the federal Mandatory Victims’ Restitution Act of 1996, as well as many state laws, provide that victims may be entitled to “restitution” for certain losses suffered as a direct result of a crime for which a defendant was convicted. That means that the offender must repay what was stolen.
Florida’s White Collar Crime Statutes
The White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act (Fla. Stat. § 775.0844) lists the various crimes and penalties for white collar crime in the Sunshine State:
- Fraud – intentionally deceiving someone else in order to receive personal or financial gain. Crimes include: identity theft, credit card fraud, making false statements, making false financial entries, making false insurance claims, fraudulently changing identification marks on property, and obtaining vehicles by fraud.
- Forgery and Counterfeiting – intentionally making, altering, forging or counterfeiting any type of document or instrument with the intent to defraud someone. Crimes include: forging bank bills, checks, drafts, promissory notes, and wills; counterfeiting currency or controlled substances.
- Identity Theft – taking or using personally identifying information of another person without authorization and using the information for fraudulent purposes.
- Embezzlement – taking or manipulating money or property of an employer by an employee for personal gain.
- Credit Card Fraud – obtaining someone else’s credit card or card information through theft of deceit; making false statements to a person to gain access to his or her financial condition or identity; fraudulently using another person’s credit card.
- Giving Worthless Checks – writing a check to purchase an item knowing that there are insufficient funds in the account to cover the charges.
A conviction for any of these crimes can result in penalties ranging from a second degree misdemeanor to a first degree felony, depending upon the severity of the offense and whether the perpetrator has a criminal history. Aggravated white collar crime (committing white collar offenses against 10 or more elderly persons, 20 or more persons in general, or against the state of Florida, any state agency or any state political subdivision, and obtaining or attempting to obtain $50,000 or more) is a first degree felony that may result in a fine of up to $500,000, or double the value of the offender’s financial gain.
Potential Repercussions for White Collar Crimes
With white collar crimes, you have to act immediately to protect your legal rights. These cases are often complex, and involve many complicated legal and factual matters. Early and aggressive intervention is critical to your case. White collar offenses are punishable by probation, house arrest, repayment of stolen funds, fines, and imprisonment. It is important that you know and understand your rights, and select an experienced, highly skilled attorney to represent you.
Seeking Legal Help For White Collar Crime Defense
By its very nature, white collar crime often lends itself to different interpretation. For example, you may be accused of a white collar crime but a prosecutor must have evidence of intent in order to secure a conviction. Therefore, you need to have competent legal counsel by your side in order to represent and defend you.
Here at Suskauer Feuer, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys are knowledgeable in all aspects of white collar crime and have broad experience with the federal court system where most cases are tried. Don’t wait. Contact us today for help if you are charged with a crime, or believe you will be charged in the near future.
You may be facing prison time, probation, fines and/or a requirement to pay restitution to alleged victims, in addition to the potential damage to your career, your family and your reputation. Allow us to assess the case against you and explain the possible outcomes, research all the legal issues in your case, and pursue the best possible resolution for you.
If you have questions regarding white collar crimes or criminal defense litigation, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation so we can review your case. We are happy to meet or speak with you anytime. Our legal team is highly experienced, aggressive, and will fight for your rights!