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White Collar Crimes in Suffolk County

White Collar Crime in Suffolk

White-collar crime refers to fraudulent practices, including corruption, carried out by corporations, professionals, government agencies, and individuals to acquire or retain illegitimate financial gain or financial advantage. Various criminal activities are classified as white-collar crimes, but the motive for white-collar crime, generally, is financial. Such crimes are mostly carried out without the use or threat of violence and they are typically based on a violation of trust, deceit, fraud, and concealment. In Massachusetts, the Bureaus at the Attorney General Office are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the bulk of white-collar crimes. However, these Bureaus cooperate with other law enforcement agencies to track, investigate, and prosecute white-collar crimes across Massachusetts. While white-collar crime can be perpetrated by individuals, such crimes are mainly committed by professionals, corporate bodies, and government agencies.

The types of crimes generally classified as white-collar include,

Credit card fraud: This includes wrongfully obtaining the information of another person’s credit card and using such information for any unauthorized financial transaction. Such transactions include using the credit card for purchases, using the credit card as security for a debt, and so on. Credit card fraud in Suffolk County is primarily regulated by the Massachusetts General Laws on Crimes Against Property and penalties range from imprisonment to fines reaching $10,000.

Healthcare fraud: This includes using dishonest health claims for financial gain. Such dishonest health claims include billing a non-covered service as part of a covered one, obtaining a subsidized prescription and reselling them at higher prices, prescribing unnecessary treatment in order to increase health bills, among other things. Offenders are tried and sentenced in accordance with the Massachusetts General Laws on False Health Care Claims.

Insurance Fraud: This includes filing false insurance claims to receive attendant benefits. Insurance fraud cuts across several insurance policies, including life, health, fire, automobile policies, and so on. Insurance fraud can be hard fraud or soft fraud. Hard fraud refers to deliberately planning to cause a loss in order to receive the insurance payment agreed on the insurance policy. Soft fraud occurs when a person exceeds the scope of their insurance claim by exaggerating the relevant facts. Insurance fraud in Suffolk County is primarily regulated by the Massachusetts General Laws on fraudulent insurance policy claims, fraudulent motor vehicle insurance policy claims, and fraudulently obtaining benefits under insurance contracts.

Mail fraud: Broadly, any fraud involving the United States Postal Service is referred to as mail fraud. There are usually legal elements the prosecution must prove before an individual can be guilty of mail fraud. Mail fraud is a federal crime and is primarily governed by 18 US Code Chapter 63.

Embezzlement: Under Massachusetts Law is a form of larceny. However, embezzlement involves an initial lawful control of the property but a subsequent unlawful appropriation of the said property. The Massachusetts General Law on Larceny General Provisions deals with embezzlement and associated penalties. Awarded penalties often depend on the value of the property and the defendant’s criminal history.

Money Laundering is the crime of making money acquired from illicit activities appear legitimate. Money laundering in Suffolk County is criminalized by the Massachusetts General Law on Money Laundering and the penalties can be severe.

Mortgage Fraud includes obtaining or profiting from a mortgage loan by intentionally falsifying information in relevant documents or by misrepresentation as defined under The Massachusetts General Laws against false material statements in connection with a mortgage lending process.

Corporate Fraud: This involves a company participating in illegal or unethical activities to get or retain a financial advantage. Corporate fraud can be large scale and its effect on the general economy can be more obvious. Corporate fraud is criminalized by various Massachusetts General laws relating to fraud.

Tax Fraud is associated with lying on tax documents or falsifying relevant records to reduce tax liabilities. Tax fraud in Suffolk County is criminalized by different laws, including the Massachusetts General Law on Tax Evasion.

A Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman was found guilty of defrauding the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office. In 2018, the White Collar & Public Integrity Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General Office Bureaus recovered nearly $900,000 in restitution, from White-Collar crimes.

What are White Collar Crime Punishments in Suffolk County?

Depending on the crime and other circumstances surrounding the case, white-collar crimes are punishable by imprisonment, fines, or other sentences, the law may permit.

Suffolk County considers white-collar crimes as a serious offense, due to the general negative effect such crimes have on the economy, particularly when they are committed on a large scale. Since multiple crimes are classified as white-collar crimes, there is no single punishment against the crime as a whole. The punishments vary based on the type of white-collar crime committed, although they may seem milder than those imposed for street crime convictions. For example, the penalty for armed robbery may include life imprisonment or imprisonment for any term of years. The least period of imprisonment is five years. For white-collar crimes, the gravity of the penalties may be more apparent in the hefty fines imposed on the offender rather than the prison terms but this is not always the case. Law enforcement in Suffolk County takes all crimes seriously and prosecutors pursue the toughest punishments. An individual convicted for

  1. Healthcare fraud may be liable to a fine of up to $10,000 or a maximum prison sentence of two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction, or a maximum prison sentence of five years in state prison. In some cases, the offender may suffer both a term of imprisonment and a fine. The offender may also be subject to civil proceedings.
  2. False insurance policy claims may be liable to a maximum prison sentence of five years in state prison or a prison sentence between six months and two and one-half years in jail, or a fine between $500 and $10,000. The offender may also be liable for the fine and a prison sentence.
  3. false motor vehicle insurance claims may be liable to a maximum prison sentence of five years in a state prison or a prison sentence between six months and two and one-half years in a house of correction, or a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. The offender may also be liable for the fine and a prison sentence.
  4. A person guilty of fraudulently obtaining benefits under an insurance contract is liable to a maximum prison sentence of five years in a state prison or a prison sentence between six months and two and a half years in a house of correction, or by a fine between $1,000 and $4,000.
  5. A person guilty of tax evasion is liable to a fine of $100,000 in the case of an individual and $500,000 in the case of a corporation or a maximum prison sentence of five years. In some cases, the guilty individual may be fined and imprisoned. In every case, however, the guilty party will be required to pay the cost of the prosecution. Conversely, any tax collector that misappropriates collected taxes is, in addition to other penalties, liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and a maximum prison sentence of five years or both the fine and imprisonment. In all cases, the guilty party will be required to pay the cost of prosecution.
  6. A person who engages in money laundering is liable for a maximum prison sentence of six years, or a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the value of the property transacted depending on which is of greater value. For a second-time offender, the punishments are more severe. Second offenders are liable to a prison sentence between two and eight years in state prison, or a fine of $500,000 or three times the value of the property transacted, depending on which is of a greater value.
  7. A person guilty of residential mortgage fraud is liable to a maximum prison sentence of 15 years in a state prison or a maximum fine of $50,000 for natural persons. For any other person besides a natural person, the fine is a maximum of $500,000. In some cases, the guilty party may be both fined and imprisoned.

What Does a White Collar Crime Lawyer Do in Suffolk County?

Generally, a white-collar crime lawyer in Suffolk County helps their client understand the severity of their situation and the implication of certain legal actions or technicalities. They also protect their client’s rights.

A white-collar crime can be simple, like credit card fraud, or very complex, like money laundering. Just like most criminal matters, the prosecution in a white-collar crime case must present convincing evidence that shows the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. To satisfy this need, a white-collar crime investigation can span years and involve multiple subpoenas for gathering information.

In addition to protecting their client’s rights or helping their client understand technical situations, a white-collar crime lawyer in Suffolk County builds a defense for their client. Depending on the facts of the case and the other factors that may be peculiar to justice administration in the county, the defenses may include

  1. Incapacity: This defense is raised when the accused is objectively or legally unable to perform the crime they are charged for. This can be due to physical or mental factors.
  2. Entrapment: When searching for evidence, law enforcement agencies sometimes disguise as fellow white-collar criminals, or potential clients, to lure the accused. The defense may claim that the actions of the undercover law enforcement agencies excessively influenced the accused and were the primary cause for the criminal action. This defense is based on the assertion that if the accused was not under extreme pressure or influence from the undercover agents, they would not have committed the crime. This is a tricky and technical defense.
  3. No intent: Before a person can be convicted for a white-collar crime, the prosecution must prove they had the intent to commit the crime. For example, a false healthcare claim might not be a white-collar crime if the defense can prove that there was an honest mistake involved and the accused had no intention of benefitting from a false healthcare claim.

White-collar crime lawyers will employ all relevant defenses for their client and counter-arguments against the prosecution’s evidence to assert that they have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that their client is liable.

What is the FCPA in Suffolk County?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a federal legislation that prohibits the bribery of foreign officials to gain or maintain a business advantage or business interest. The FCPA applies worldwide and primarily deals with actions of bribery by US companies or officials in foreign countries. For companies with securities listed in the US, the FCPA also imposes that such companies must ensure there is reasonable, accurate, and transparent record-keeping, and also ensure a mechanism for internal controls.

The FCPA applies to all publicly traded companies, including their employees, directors, stockholders, employees, officers, and agents. Violations of the FCPA can lead to both civil and criminal penalties. The US Securities and Exchange Commission enforces civil penalties while the US Department of Justice enforces the criminal penalties.

How to Find a White Collar Crime Lawyer in Suffolk County

An individual under investigation or arrested for a white-collar crime may search online for an attorney or ask for referrals from other people. A white-collar crime investigation, or charge, can escalate quickly, that’s why it is important to find a competent white-collar crime lawyer. Some important steps to finding a competent white-collar crime lawyer include:

  1. Through other competent lawyers: The legal community can be relatively tightly knit and general practice lawyers can recommend other attorneys that have qualifications and specializations in white-collar crimes. They are most likely to recommend the most suitable attorneys for the job to protect their own reputation.
  2. Checking Lawyer’s track records: If a lawyer has successfully defended multiple white-collar crime cases, they may be considered competent. However, it is important to mention that white-collar crime litigation can be very complex, and providing the lawyer with relevant documents and complete information will make a difference because law enforcement agencies collect substantial evidence before pursuing a case.
  3. Speaking with multiple lawyers can help the defendant gain a perspective on each lawyer’s approach to their case and how they respond to their client’s concerns.

White-collar crime lawsuits can be expensive and attorneys will generally advise their client on their legal fees which may be paid hourly or billed as a lump sum. The total cost for defending a case or representing the defendant may be influenced by the complexity of the case, the value of the money or asset involved, the availability of evidence, and so on.