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Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer healthcare fraud white collar crime

By Attorney Tom Brown

When a business faces accusations of healthcare fraud, this can have a massive impact on its bottom line, since in addition to facing fines and other consequences related to criminal charges, its reputation in the community is also likely to suffer. This type of fraud can affect consumers, providers, and insurers, and it can cause the costs of everyone’s healthcare benefits to rise. Because of these negative effects, these crimes are taken very seriously by law enforcement officials, and those who have been accused of healthcare fraud should be sure to understand the charges and the potential consequences. 

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Milwaukee, WI mail fraud defense attorneyIn March 2019, a college admissions cheating scandal made headlines nationwide. According to prosecutors, wealthy parents of children seeking admission to some of the country’s top schools used the services of a man who would either bribe college employees or would help students cheat on standardized tests.

The college admissions scam is thought to be the biggest one ever prosecuted in this country. The FBI alleges that some of the accused parents spent between $200,000 and $6.5 million to get their children into select universities. Schools such as Yale, the University of Southern California, Georgetown, and Stanford are alleged to have unknowingly accepted students as part of this illegal scheme.  

The scam’s architect, William Rick Singer, has already pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice. 

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Milwaukee white collar crime defense lawyer identity theftIdentity theft occurs when someone utilizes another person’s personal information without their permission and uses this information to commit fraud or other crimes. With today’s technology, this type of white collar crime can be easy to perpetrate, and it can take place in a variety of settings.

For example, a recent data recent breach at a major credit reporting agency affected 143 million consumers. The hackers accessed Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. This personal information is now readily available and could be used to take out loans or credit cards. 

Identity theft is also prevalent in filing income taxes. An identity thief can utilize a taxpayer's personal information to file a tax return and receive a refund without the taxpayer's knowledge before the taxpayer has a chance to file their own return.

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Milwaukee WI fraud and embezzlement defense attorneyThe term “white collar crime” was coined in the 1930s to describe a legal violation by a “person of respectability and high social status” made in the course of their work. Since then, white collar crimes have grown in number and complexity, and they typically involve nonviolent criminal activity that is committed for financial gain. These crimes are often committed in commercial or business situations.

Because of the ever-increasing complexity that white collar crimes present, those accused of these types of criminal charges should be represented by an attorney who knows how financial institutions work. The practices of banks, accountants, lending agencies, and taxing authorities are often at the center of white collar cases. In addition, there are various agencies that may be involved in the investigation of any sort of alleged white collar crime, including state attorneys general, the FBI, or the SEC. 

Some common white collar crimes include:

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federal crimes, Wisconsin defense attorneyTo combat criminal and fraudulent acts of money laundering evident throughout the underbelly of criminal conspiracies, multiple federal statutes have been enacted to empower several federal agencies to uncover and prosecute the offenders.

Under Title 26 of the United States Internal Revenue Code, IRC Section 61(a), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) maintains investigative jurisdiction to investigate income earned from such illegal activities as:

  • Drug trafficking;
  • Embezzlement;
  • Extortion;
  • Healthcare fraud;
  • Bankruptcy fraud;
  • Income tax evasion;
  • False income tax forms; and 
  • Failure to file an income tax.

The Internal Revenue Code is supported by the guidelines of Title 31, USC Section 5331 relating to investigations of fraudulent activity. Passed in 2001, the USA Patriot Act or “The Act” extends to money laundering and the possible connection to funding of terrorist entities.  

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyerMost Americans are aware of the mandated sex offender registry for convicted sex offenders. Used in all 50 states, it is accessible by the public and provides names, descriptions, and photographs of those that have served their time and then been released back into society. However, few are aware that there are many other types of criminal registries that, depending on state and circumstance, may also be viewable by the public. The most recently opened is a white collar crime registry in Utah.

The Rise of Offender Registries

Over the last several years, registries for convicted offenders of various crimes have grown exponentially. Five states monitor those convicted of arson. Seven have registries for methamphetamine producers, and Indiana offers a public website that lets visitors use Google Maps to find the location of homes that have been used as meth labs. In Tennessee, those convicted of animal abuse must register. And in the state of Florida, anyone convicted of a felony of any kind must register for up to five years after completing their sentence. Some of these registries are restricted to law enforcement or fire official use, but others are searchable to the public, just like the sex offender registries.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin white collar crimes attorneyThe mention of the Rico Law or more formally, the 18 U.S. Code Chapter 96, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) often brings to mind the five Mafia families convicted in New York City on November 19, 1986. Although the Rico Law has been on the books since 1970 when Congress passed the Act in an effort to combat organized crime, many criminal defense attorneys first shied away from using the act as a prosecution tool because they did not fully understand the power of the Act.

Often referred to as the atomic bomb that brought the Five Mafia Families to their knees, the RICO Act was evoked to establish the intertwined families as an operating commission linked to criminal activity for monetary gain.

Although today’s crime syndicates appear less territorial and open to stronger collaborative bonds, prosecution under the RICO Act remains in play today.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin white collar crimes attorneyIf you thought working your way up the corporate ladder to a top executive position was difficult enough, you also need to be aware of the need to avoid criminal prosecution. “Stung by years of criticism that it has coddled Wall Street criminals”, the Justice Department issued new policies in the Fall of 2015 that prioritize the prosecution of individual employees — not just their companies — and “puts pressure on corporations to turn over evidence against their executives.”   Currently, there are an estimated 4,500 federal criminal statutes and 300,000 administrative regulations that could lead to criminal charges for company executives and professionals, and the list of white collar and regulatory crimes keeps growing. Equally concerning is how, under some of these statutes, an executive may be charged with a crime she or he did not personally commit and was not even aware of.

Criminal Prosecution of Businesses Going Too Far?

A joint report of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Heritage Foundation “How Congress is Eroding the Criminal Intent Requirement in Federal Law” points out that many regulations criminalize conduct that is not inherently wrongful, sometimes with near strict liability regardless of intent or state of mind.  As a result, “neither criminal law professors nor lawyers who specialize in criminal law can know all the conduct that is criminalized.  Ordinary individuals are at even greater disadvantage.”  Citing the NACDL report, Milwaukee attorney Raymond Dall’Osto said, “Today, everything can be charged as a federal crime.”  In the absence of specific intent elements in the regulatory area, Dall’Osto, an attorney with Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin and Brown, LLP, said strict liability has become the norm.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin white collar crimes attorneyIn today’s technologically savvy world, fraud is more rampant than ever. Foreign “companies” promise products or services that they cannot deliver on. Unsuspecting Americans are pulled into counterfeit fraud. And companies are able to manipulate the markets in order to fool investors and increase their stock. This last offense — otherwise known as spoofing— has only recently seen its very first criminal conviction. As such, many U.S. businesses may be facing increased scrutiny in how they conduct business, making them more susceptible to accusations of fraudulent activity.

Spoofing and the Market

Manipulation of the stock market is not a new concept; companies, both small and large, have been trying to do it for years. For the most part, such actions were largely unsuccessful, but relatively new high-frequency trading tools have made spoofing much easier to do, and with less risk of detection. In fact, the government has had a hard time keeping up with the activity until recently, unsure of how to convict and prove such actions. However, the recent verdict indicates they may have found a way to start analyzing and criminally convicting businesses, in mass.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin criminal lawEmbezzlement is considered a white collar crime in the state of Wisconsin. For a non-violent crime, there are rather steep penalties involved, so if you are charged with embezzlement in Wisconsin, you need immediate legal representation.

What Is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement charges are commonly brought in Wisconsin against a former employee accused of stealing from an employer, although embezzlement charges are brought in a host of other situations as well. Embezzlement is a crime that is committed when somebody who was trusted to maintain or manage another person’s property or money steals all or part of what they were entrusted with for personal gain. Embezzlement is a unique crime, as it is a combination of traditional stealing with the requirement that the person alleged to be the embezzler must have been in a position of trust by the victim.

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