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Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Law Blog

Financial consultant accused of committing white collar crimes

Managing the wealth of others has tempted many financial consultants in Michigan and elsewhere over the years. In one such case, a man was recently indicted in federal court on securities and wire fraud charges. He is accused of being involved in two fraud schemes. Unfortunately, the temptation to commit white collar crimes can be overwhelming for some individuals who work with millions of dollars belonging to others.

The first alleged crime involves a Ponzi scheme by which, according to federal officials, the man solicited about 100 investors to let him manage their investments. He allegedly promised them stock trading returns as high as 20%, every 60 days. Allegedly, the defendant lost most of the clients' funds and then used the money of new investors to cover the losses. According to the government, the amount involved exceeds $2 million.

UAW official accused of white collar crimes

A high-ranking official of United Auto Workers, with its headquarters in Michigan, is facing several felony charges, along with several other top officials of the union. The alleged white collar crimes case was outlined in a recent criminal information filing in the U.S. District Court sitting in Detroit. Prosecutors allege the defendant was part of a conspiracy to embezzle over $1.5 million from the UAW.

It is alleged that this defendant, along with six other top officials, started the embezzling conspiracy in 2010. Some of the schemes involved the submission of falsified vouchers to cover conference expenses. Unconfirmed sources say the union president was the person who directed the accused official to divert over $850,000 from a union account to cover the theft.

DNA links Michigan man to 2009 sex crimes

DNA technology has helped to resolve many cold cases nationwide. Frequently, arrests take place after a DNA matches are found that tie people to sex crimes or other offenses many years after the crimes were perpetrated. Such evidence recently led to the arrest of a Michigan man on charges of sexual misconduct on a minor in a neighboring state back in March, 2009.

The man pleaded not guilty on charges recently handed down by a grand jury. The prosecution alleges the man, who is now 41 years old, forcefully committed sexual acts with a girl who was only 16 years old at the time. Reportedly, after years of searching, police learned that the DNA allegedly collected from a rape kit at the time was linked to two convictions on felony drug charges in other states, involving the defendant.

Post-conviction matters involving DNA testing can be complicated

A report by the University of Michigan's National Registry of Exonerations shows that DNA evidence has led to more than 600 convictions to be overturned nationwide. One would think that if DNA tests could provide evidence that might exonerate someone facing a death penalty, it would automatically be allowed to form part of any other post-conviction matters. However, even if DNA testing is available, prosecutors might not allow submission of evidence for DNA testing.

The Supreme Court says the constitutional right to have evidence tested for DNA only applies to defendants in criminal cases before the trial. Once a person is convicted, he or she no longer has access to the evidence held by the prosecution. An example of such a case is a man whose scheduled execution date is next month, and despite his ongoing claims of innocence in the 1998 murder, prosecutors have so far refused to allow any DNA testing of the murder weapon or any other evidence.

Drug schedules make a difference with criminal charges

One of the worst drug crimes to be convicted of is distributing or trafficking. These charges are felonies, and they come with significant penalties. That's why anyone facing drug charges in Michigan needs to discuss the possibility of a strong criminal defense as soon as possible.

As you may know, drugs are divided into different schedules. Schedule I drugs are the most restricted. Schedule V is the least restricted, usually made up of over-the-counter medications and those with the least chance of being abused. Here's a little more on these important drug schedules and the drugs they include.

White collar crimes: Guilty plea filed by acupuncturist

Medical professionals and other health care providers in Michigan and elsewhere frequently find themselves facing federal charges. Many of the white collar crimes cases filed in federal courts involve health care fraud. An acupuncturist recently pleaded guilty in one such a case in another state. She was accused of filing fraudulent bills worth millions of dollars with Amtrak's health care plan.

According to the defendant's plea agreement, she filed claims for acupuncture that was never performed as well as unnecessary massages and facials. Further charges involve claims for uncovered workplace injuries and filing claims for non-participants in Amtrak's health care plan under the names of others who were participants of the program. Reportedly, she further admitted to illegally waiving co-insurance and co-payments of health care plan participants.

Computer and internet crimes: Alleged GoFundMe scammer charged

People in Michigan will likely remember the 2017 case in another state in which a man and his girlfriend scammed the public with a story about a homeless man who helped the woman by giving her his last $20 when her car ran out of gas. The trio was later accused of committing computer and internet crimes when it was determined that the feel-good story they used to get people to pay $400,000 into a GoFundMe account they established for the homeless man was a scam. All three were accused of collecting the money for personal enrichment.

The man is the last one of the trio to appear in the federal court to face charges of money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy. According to court documents, the criminal investigation arose when the accused couple and the homeless man began quarreling over the money, based on the fact that all three mistrusted each other. The homeless man's accusations of the couple withholding the funds from him might have been the first red flag for investigators.

Feds nail 5 for alleged white collar crimes exceeding $17 million

Following a federal investigation, five people in the medical world were recently arrested. The special agent of the Inspector General's Office in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service says the five people are trusted health care professionals, typically expected to provide patients nationwide, including Michigan, with quality medical services. The white collar crimes charges they face range from health care fraud to fentanyl theft.

A 63-year-old anesthesiologist is accused of prescribing unnecessary prescription drugs and diagnostic tests and ordering medical equipment in exchange for kickbacks. Court records show that this alleged scheme involved $17.4 million. The charges against her include health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Felonies: The role of DNA in criminal proceedings

Genetic research over more than 150 years has led to DNA analysis, which has become an invaluable asset in criminal justice. Today, the DNA of suspects in felonies like rape and murder can be compared to the DNA of millions of offenders, arrestees and also samples preserved from other crime scenes. By establishing CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System, DNA found at a crime scene in Michigan might, for example, be matched to a sample collected years ago on the other side of the world.

It all started in 1865 when heritable traits were discovered in peas, and the discovery 15 years later that each individual's fingerprints are unique. In 1888, thorough documentation of crime scenes was made possible by the first Kodak cameras, and in 1910, the first crime lab was established in Europe. At that time, it was determined that a trace always remains where two objects make contact, and by mid-1900 scientists made it possible to test whether semen and blood are present.

Just because it looks like embezzlement doesn’t mean it is

In today's complex business environment, following the rules is not always as easy as one might think. There are thousands of regulations that govern how businesses must interact with each other and their clients, and it is easy to accidentally violate one or more regulations without any bad intent.

It is also fairly common for a technically legal business decision to appear criminal without a strong understanding of the laws that apply to a particular kind of business or a particular kind of transaction. If you have been in your line of work for a number of years, you have probably encountered some gray areas where it is not exactly clear what the law has to say.

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