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March 2016 Archives

4 Common Federal Sex Crime Charges Illustrated by National News Stories

Federal sex crimes are serious charges that can lead to extreme consequences, such as jail time, the destruction of your personal relationships, and forced listing in sex crimes registries. These criminal allegations also elicit very emotional reactions from people, and due to their heinous nature tend to attract attention from news media.

4 Examples of Common Federal Sex Crimes

Aggravated Sexual Abuse or Rape

The government categorizes aggravated sexual abuse as one of the following:

  • Threatening or forcing someone to participate in sexual activity

  • Sexual activity with someone who is incapacitated and unable to give consent due to drugs or alcohol

  • Sexual activity with someone who cannot give consent for other reasons, like being a minor or a mentally disabled individual

These crimes are common, and many victims are reluctant to come forward. One famous recent case involves TV icon Bill Cosby, who allegedly drugged and raped at least 55 women. The sprawling investigation is far from over.

Illegal Sexual Conduct With a Minor

The courts take sexual crimes involving children seriously, often doubling the fines or jail time for the perpetrators when compared to adult crimes. Recently, a judge sentenced former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle to 15 years in a federal prison after he pleaded guilty to illegal sexual conduct with a minor and distribution and receipt of child pornography. Without the plea agreement in place, authorities would likely have sentenced Fogle to 50 years of prison.

Statutory Rape

The federal law, though complex on most issues, is clear when it comes to age of consent. No state can have an age of consent under 16, and in California, the age of consent is 18 years old.

5 Surprising Things You Might Not Know About DEA Investigations

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a federal agency whose mission is to combat drug use and smuggling in the United States. Although action movies depict DEA agents as stoic heroes who save the day, the reality regarding what the agency does and how it works is far more nuanced. Sadly and frustratingly, many DEA investigations lead to injustices and less than ideal outcomes for everyone touched by them. The mission, in other words, may be noble, but the practice often leaves a lot to be desired.

5 Surprising Things About DEA Investigations

Most cases are completely classified. The government tells its agents not to discuss investigations or surveillance, even in court. This strategy can lead to false testimony or hearsay becoming the basis for certain criminal investigations.

4 Accounting Fraud Cases That Defined the 1980s

There are reasons that films like Wall Street and Risky Business came out in the market heyday of the 1980s: it was a decade built on shaky finances and high risk ventures. Coupled with the glamour of upper class lifestyles, these characteristics defined the Baby Boomer generation, as former campus radicals entered the workforce, had families and embraced a more capitalistic, free market philosophy. Not surprisingly, there were many incidences of financiers taking advantage of the market. Truth was often stranger than fiction.

4 Amazing 1980s Accounting Fraud Cases

  1. While still in high school, Barry Jay Minkow founded ZZZZ Best, a successful carpet-cleaning and restoration company. Or at least that is what it looked like. The enterprise was actually a front to attract money for a Ponzi scheme. When it collapsed in 1987, it cost investors $100 million. At the time, it was one of the largest financial scams in American history. Even today, this story serves as a profound and sobering example of accounting fraud.

  2. A predecessor to Bernie Madoff, Minkow's schemes make two appearances on our list. (Technically, this second case didn't take place in the 1980s, but it was certainly inspired by similar themes.) In any event, it looked like Minkow had turned his life around in prison, becoming a pastor and fraud investigator. But in 2011, Minkow admitted to driving down the stock prices of Lennar, a homebuilding company. He went back to prison for five years, where investigators found that he defrauded his own church. A judge added five years to his sentence and ordered him to pay $612 million in restitution. Many people consider Minkow to be a poster child for 1980s excess.

  3. Barlow Clowes ran a "bond washing" operation, which purportedly purchased and sold gilt-edged government bonds to create tax advantages. Its approximately 18,000 customers believed their investments were risk-free. However, most of the money actually went to fund the company founder's exorbitant lifestyle. Eventually, the British Department of Trade and Industry investigated the company and found it owed about 190 million pounds. Many victims lost their entire life savings. The state convicted Clowes of fraud and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

  4. The Australian merchant bank, Nugan Hand Bank, went under in 1980 after Francis John Nugan, one of its founders, committed suicide. This resulted in a major scandal. Many news agencies suggested the bank was involved in illegal activities, and soon after, the government indicted another founding member (Michael Jon Hand) and two bank employers for allegedly destroying records.

Although issues like Ponzi schemes are now less common--or at least tend to happen on a smaller scale--there are still thousands of laws that address fraud. If you or someone you loved faces serious fraud charges, you need a seasoned, qualified attorney to explain your rights and protect you from the extreme consequences of the charges, like massive fines and jail time. Call our team for a private consultation.

Common Types of Mortgage Fraud

When we think of fraud, we often think of the big accounting scandals that plague the modern era: Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, Lehmen Brother's "too big to fail" lies, and Enron's shady bankruptcy. Mortgage fraud is a growing problem that costs taxpayers money and cripples the national economy. Unfortunately, the real estate and economic crisis of the early 2000s led to many mortgage fraud schemes, and now the government is zealously investigating and prosecuting individuals and companies for crossing the line.

Mortgage Fraud: A Primer

Mortgage fraud refers to an action in which someone misrepresents, fabricates, or omits information on a mortgage application.  Essentially, if you lie on your mortgage loan application, you commit fraud. Most criminal mortgage fraud cases do not involve simple errors of omission. If you forget to add a trivial detail about your credit history, you will likely be safe from draconian penalties, like jail time and steep fines. The kinds of mortgage fraud that the government typically prosecutes are more involved and complex, such as:

Foreclosure Rescue

In the wake of the 2008 subprime loan crisis, homeowners scrambled to keep their mortgages up-to-date, despite the fact that most owed more on their homes than those homes were worth. In response, "foreclosure rescuing" became more commonplace. In this scenario, perpetrators convince homeowners they can transfer the deeds of their homes to an investor and rent from them until their credit history gets reestablished. Unfortunately, homes usually go into foreclosure before this happens.

Loan Modification

If a company contacts you and tells you it can renegotiate the terms of your mortgage with your lender, be wary. The supposed knights in shining armor might charge you exorbitant or illegal fees in exchange for their services. In some cases, perpetrators simply pocket the cash and take off, leaving homeowners to deal with foreclosure.

Property Flipping

Illegal property flipping isn't to be confused with legitimate flipping, in which an investor buys a fixer-upper, invests in serious modifications, and sells the home for a profit. What distinguishes legal property flipping from illegal flipping is appraisal value. In an illegal scenario, a property is falsely appraised at a value much higher than fair market value. This kind of mortgage fraud usually involves falsified appraisals, fraudulent loan documentation, or kickbacks to other parties involved.

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