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Attorney Ray Richards, Detroit, Michigan White Collar Crime Lawyer

White collar crime … Club Fed for the Wall Street accused isn’t so cozy anymore!

White collar crimes are generally defined as non-violent acts committed by individuals or businesses in the course of daily working activity. Some of these crimes include embezzlement, bribery, tax evasion, false advertising and other types of fraud. They are generally used to obtain money, property or services to gain advantage in business or in ones personal life. Most of these crimes are prosecuted in Federal District trial courts nationwide.

According to the FBI, white collar crimes cost the United States more than $300 billion annually. These crimes are considered to be federal offenses and even though state and local law enforcement may be involved in the cases, charges will most often be presented by federal agencies such as the FBI, IRS, U.S. Customs, Secret Service, EPA or the SEC.

Penalties for white collar offenses generally and historically included fines, house arrest, community confinement and, oft times, insignificant imprisonment at a “camp.” They used to be known as the “Wall Street” crimes that were vastly different from the “High Street” drug indictments often prosecuted in the hood. Things have vastly changed though! Quite often you now will see “White Collar Crimes” being charged in conjunction with or the sub-subject of many drug conspiracy indictments!

Nevertheless, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines recently have been quite unforgiving of these economic crimes, promulgating guideline sentences that are oft times equal too or in excess of many drug related guidelines. Reason being is that the standard is that more money that was allegedly embezzled, defrauded and or laundered, the higher levels your guidelines will rise!

Although one may have only been a small part of the multi million dollar scheme, operation or conspiracy to the tune of as little as $10,000.00 or so, the standard is that it is not what you actually benefited from, it’s what the group as a whole allegedly benefitted from! Your guidelines will be scored in relation to the amount the Government can prove was defrauded/taken from the “victim” which often are banks and or investment funds or corporations! So if they can prove that the conspiracy defrauded the banks out of, for example, $20,000,000.00, then that is the number they are going to score your guidelines, not at your individual $20,000.00! Trust me, a lot of the fight is focused on that number and the Government has some crafty ways of making that number higher than it often should be. They use the traditional paper trail method for the money they can account for and also they use other sources such as “cooperating witness” testimony and guidance to come up with the rest. That is where it gets dangerous.

Numbers usually don’t lie, but cooperating witnesses often do! In White Collar cases, the use of and reliance upon “cooperating witnesses” is rampant. In exchange for their “truthful” testimony to get substantial sentence reductions, the officer, director, CEO or high level manager (who usually has never been in trouble in their life) cooperate without pause! In most mortgage fraud cases, many of the $20,000.00 low level straw buyers, and/or “facilitators” as the Government calls them (notaries, office staff, loan officers, etc.) as alleged co-conspirators, feel “slighted” that they only benefited so small, but have to pay with their freedom in a big way and didn’t get nearly half the money! This “Haterade” mentality is quite prevalent and has them lined up to testify. These cooperating witnesses, oft times with untruthful testimony and made-up transactions/scenario, quite often violate people’s constitutional and civil rights.

White Collar, Blue Collar or White Tee, it is critical to hire an experienced, tried, true and courtroom tested Federal criminal defense lawyer if you’ve been charged with any of these types of crimes. A lawyer once told me that “Friends don’t let Friends charged with Federal Crimes hire Guppie Lawyers when they need a Shark!”