Financial Crimes: Fraud and White Collar Criminal Defense
Our White Collar Financial Crimes and Fraud criminal defense practice is rooted in our attorney’s deep experience in business and financial transactions. Having represented and advised corporate clients in transactions totaling billions of dollars, criminal defense attorney Paul Saputo has the resources and experience to defend complex white-collar crimes and fraud of all types whether you are being prosecuted in Texas state or federal court.
WHITE COLLAR DEFENSE ATTORNEY FAQs
Fraud can take many forms: check fraud, tax fraud, insurance fraud, bank fraud and securities fraud are among the most common, but state and federal agencies prosecute an enormous range of fraud crimes. Other white collar crimes include forgery crimes, embezzlement, money laundering, misappropriation and theft of trade secrets. Are you facing a theft charge?
However, business industry climate and practices create a fundamental backdrop against which it is important to use as a context in all financial transactions. White collar criminal defense requires a defense attorney who understands complex business transactions along with the simple fundamental truths of financial survival. If you are investigation for a financial crime like fraud or other white-collar crime, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone at (888) 239-9305 or online to schedule an appointment in our Dallas office.
Answers to frequently asked questions about white collar criminal defense and fraud defense are below.
In preparing your defense against fraud and white collar defense, we may employ forensic accountants, handwriting experts, bank or financial experts and others who can testify in court regarding any number of issues that are critical to your defense.
Most white-collar crimes require complex investigations and analysis to get to the heart of the matter. But not every white-collar crime is complicated, of course. Sometimes the best defense boils down to the simple understanding of human nature and the ability to express the situation to a jury. No matter what your defense requires, the firm has the depth of experience necessary to defend you against charges by the state of Texas or the federal government.
Many different federal and state agencies investigate fraud and other white collar crimes. Some of the law enforcement agencies that you will see frequently in Texas are: The Texas Attorney General, County District Attorney’s Offices, the U.S. Attorney, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), and the United States Secret Service.
White-Collar crimes are generally financial crimes that involve theft, lies or some form of misappropriation. White-collar crimes are sometimes investigated by agencies that have narrow investigative missions, due to the complex nature of some white collar criminal laws and the complex nature of the investigations.
Both federal and state authorities investigate white-collar crimes, and the criminal offenses include both state and federal criminal statutes. Some common white-collar crimes are described briefly below.
Bank Fraud is a type of criminal fraud defined in the United States Code Section 1344 (18 U.S. Code § 1344) as a federal criminal offense. Bank Fraud requires the federal government to prove that you knowingly executed, or attempted to execute, a scheme or artifice— (1) to defraud a financial institution; or (2) to obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises. Although this is a very broad definition that has the potential to criminalize may different acts, it is historically used to criminalize attempts to obtain money from bank depositors by fraudulently posing as a bank or other financial institution.
Blackmail is a federal criminal offense codified under 18 U.S. Code § 873. The statute makes it a federal criminal offense to demand or receive any money or other valuable thing, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States. The offense of blackmail prevents people from a form of “privately” enforcing laws. The law is set up such that you cannot attempt to get money from someone by threatening to inform police of their violations of law.
Bribery & Kickbacks
Bribery is prosecuted as a Texas offense under Chapter 36 of the Texas Penal Code. You can be prosecuted for bribery whether you accept, propose or offer a bribe–the door swings both ways. The Texas statute is as follows:
A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly offers, confers, or agrees to confer on another, or solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from another:
(1) any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a public servant, party official, or voter;
(2) any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, vote, recommendation, or other exercise of official discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding;
(3) any benefit as consideration for a violation of a duty imposed by law on a public servant or party official; or
(4) any benefit that is a political contribution as defined by Title 15, Election Code, or that is an expenditure made and reported in accordance with Chapter 305, Government Code, if the benefit was offered, conferred, solicited, accepted, or agreed to pursuant to an express agreement to take or withhold a specific exercise of official discretion if such exercise of official discretion would not have been taken or withheld but for the benefit; notwithstanding any rule of evidence or jury instruction allowing factual inferences in the absence of certain evidence, direct evidence of the express agreement shall be required in any prosecution under this subdivision.
Cell Phone Fraud
“Cellular phone fraud” is a criminal offense that requires the government to prove that you engaged in “the unauthorized use, tampering or manipulation of a cellular phone or service.” Cell Phone Fraud – FCC Guide | SAPUTO Law. The Wireless Telephone Protection Act of 1998 expanded prior federal law to encompass a broad range of activity. Stolen phones, situations where you might be accused of signing up for service under false identification or where the you are accused of cloning a valid electronic serial number (ESN) by using an ESN reader might all result in a prosecution and conviction for cell phone fraud.
Computer fraud is another broadly-described form of fraud, and it is defined as a federal criminal offense in 18 U.S. Code § 1030. The statute is very long, but it is important to note that the statute gives express authority to both the FBI and the Secret Service to investigate computer fraud offenses under federal law.
Counterfeiting & Forgery
Counterfeiting & forgery offenses are given an entire chapter of federal criminal statutes. See 18 U.S. Code Chapter 25. Counterfeiting is a crime that is essentially the copying or imitation of financial items or the attempt to pass off such false copies as the true thing. In addition to counterfeiting money, you can also be convicted for counterfeiting items such as designer clothing, art, handbags and watches.
Credit Card Fraud
15 U.S. Code Section 1644 describes the offense of the federal criminal offense of the fraudulent use of credit cards. Basically, the government can convict you of this if you use someone else’s credit card or otherwise you a credit card or the card network system in a way to fraudulently acquire money.
Embezzlement is another broadly-defined federal law, with an entire chapter of federal criminal law statutes dedicated to “Embezzlement and Theft” (Chapter 31). The core description of embezzlement is an appropriation of money or property for a person’s own use by someone who was entrusted with the that money or property by another. It essentially involves a breach of trust.
Extortion is another “category” of offense described in the federal criminal statutes. Extortion and Threat offenses are defined under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 41. You can be convicted for an extortion offense under federal law if you obtain property from another person by actual or threatened force, fear, or violence, or under an official (but misused) right.
Health Care Fraud
Health care fraud consists of a vast array of offenses. Everything from doctors overbilling for procedures to an unlicensed health care provider providing services under the guise of being licensed to theft of medical information.
Insider trading is frequently investigated by the SEC, and it involves a situation when a person who is in a position of trust or confidence with respect to corporate information uses that information to inform equities trades or other trades of other financial positions related to that company or companies related to the confidential information.
Insurance fraud is an offense that includes an arrange of behaviors, but at its core it involves some kind of lie told to an insurance company in order to get financial benefits from the insurance company. Learn more about Insurance Fraud
Investment fraud usually involves false promises or false information distributed by someone seeking investment to potential investors. Investment fraud can be prosecuted by both state and federal agencies like the SEC or its state securities enforcement counterparts.
Larceny and Theft crimes can be prosecuted by both state and federal authorities, although it is more common to see Texas prosecute larceny and theft than federal prosecutors. Larceny and theft generally require the government to prove a wrongful taking of another person’s money or property with the intent to appropriate, convert or steal the money or property.
Money laundering is a federal criminal offense that criminalizes attempts to hide the true source of criminal proceeds. The federal criminal statute that most directly describes this is found in 18 U.S. Code § 1956 – “Laundering of monetary instruments.”
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is codified in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 96. The basic premise of the law makes it illegal to operate of a business that engages in unlawful activity. The definition of unlawful activity is expansive, and this crime is not only widely prosecuted in the federal courts, but also highly technical and complex.
The federal offense of “Securities and Commodities Fraud” is described in U.S. Code Section 1348. The text of the statute criminalizes anyone who knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice:
(1) to defraud any person in connection with any commodity for future delivery, or any option on a commodity for future delivery, or any security of an issuer with a class of securities registered under section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78l) or that is required to file reports under section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78o (d)); or
(2) to obtain, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, any money or property in connection with the purchase or sale of any commodity for future delivery, or any option on a commodity for future delivery, or any security of an issuer with a class of securities registered under section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78l) or that is required to file reports under section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78o (d));
Federal tax evasion occurs when anyone lies about the amount of income receive or otherwise attempts to defraud the federal government about the amount of taxes that he or she owes. One important note is that tax evasion requires intent to defraud.
The most direct federal criminal offense regarding welfare fraud is 42 U.S. Code § 608a – “Fraud under means-tested welfare and public assistance programs.” If you are accused of attempting to obtain benefits from govern programs like welfare, food stamps or medicaid, then the federal government can prosecute you under this statute.