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FEDERAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE - from the complex white collar crimes cases to the basic bank robbery case.

In 2001, a task force was formed in Washington to help U.S. attorneys nationwide fight white collar crimes and closely track cases. It advised on tactics and sent Justice Department prosecutors to various cities including: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Detroit.

The task force claimed 250 convictions by March 2004, and 500 five months later. It touted 700 convictions in August 2005, and 1,000 a year later.

In 2007, five years after its creation, the department had obtained 1,236 corporate fraud convictions. Including:

  • 214 CEOs and presidents,
  • 129 vice presidents,
  • 53 chief financial officers
  • 23 corporate counsels.

Of the 1,236 convictions, 1,133 defendants were sentenced. Forty-seven percent of those got a year or less in prison.

Types of corporate fraud investigated:

  • Falsifying financial information;
  • Self-dealing, such as insider trading or embezzlement; mutual fund or hedge fund fraud;
  • and perjury or obstructing investigations.
  • Some districts coded embezzlements as corporate frauds that may not have been counted as such elsewhere.

Median sentences for white-collar crime changed little in the 1990s, holding in a range of 12 to 13 months, commission data shows. That number increased to 15 months in 2001 and reached 18 months last year, reflecting the new guidelines.

Judges weigh a crime's nature, the amount of financial loss and a defendant's circumstances in sentencing. They give considerable weight to cooperation, and that usually translates to substantial reductions in sentences.

Case Examples:

After helping prosecutors investigate an athletic-shoe retailer, Steven Dodge, a former Converse Inc. executive, got 18 months probation for misleading auditors.

Anu Saad, former CEO of Impath Inc., a provider of cancer diagnostic services, got her more serious charges dropped but was sentenced to 3 months for lying about her pay.

Conrad Black, the former Hollinger International Inc. chairman was convicted of mail fraud and obstructing justice and got 6 1/2 years.

Sixteen HealthSouth employees pleaded guilty and helped prosecutors unravel a $2.7 billion accounting fraud that surfaced in 2003. Eleven got no time in prison. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was acquitted of accounting fraud charges.

Ex-Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling is serving 24 years.

Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers is serving 25 years.

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