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Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Law Blog

Can police search your car with no warrant?

The police don't have a warrant to search your car. You're not even on their radar. However, they pull you over for allegedly rolling through a stop sign in Grand Rapids. When the officer starts talking to you, he decides to search your vehicle.

That search reveals a significant amount of drugs in the trunk of the car, and you get arrested on drug trafficking charges. While you don't dispute that you had the drugs in the car, your biggest issue with the whole thing is that the officers searched your vehicle without a warrant. Was that legal or did it violate your rights?

Michigan pharmacy owner faces white collar crimes charges

A former member of the Michigan Board of Pharmacy was indicted on several federal charges in the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan. The white collar crimes charges followed an investigation and a raid by police on one of the accused pharmacist's two stores. Court documents indicate that the charges include insurance fraud.

Prosecutors allege the pharmacist defrauded Medicaid, Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield by submitting fraudulent claims valued at an amount exceeding $6 million. They claim the fraud started in 2011. Further allegations state that the defendant filled prescriptions in the names of dead clients of his business, and then filed claims for those prescriptions with the health insurance providers.

Passenger faces multiple felonies after traffic stop in Michigan

Being arrested by law enforcement in Michigan is a harrowing experience for most people. In many cases, occupants of vehicles in a traffic stop feel intimidated by the police officers, and they forget that they can refuse to answer questions. A recent case that led to a passenger facing several felonies shows that not only the driver but also all the occupants of a vehicle can land in trouble with law enforcement.

Such an incident happened on a recent Tuesday when troopers of the Metro Detroit Michigan State Police Department pulled over a driver of a vehicle that they say exceeded the speed limit. Officers made the necessary contact with the driver but say they noticed the extremely nervous behavior of the passenger. The incident report indicates that the passenger was then asked for his ID.

White collar crimes alleged in college admissions fraud claims

Public trust in Michigan and across the country was shaken by news reports about college admissions fraud schemes involving several celebrities. Actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Gianulli were accused of white collar crimes after they allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to get  their two daughters admitted to a leading university on the West Coast, based on false claims that the girls were competitive rowers. This is but one of the dozens of alleged admission fraud cases involving a number of prestigious schools nationwide.

College admissions are typically based on standardized exams like ACT and SAT, teacher recommendations, high school grades and activities such as athletic achievements. It is alleged that influential and wealthy parents whose children do not meet the high admissions standards find other ways to get their children into these elite colleges. Methods allegedly include bribes for others to take SAT and other exams on behalf of the children, bribing coaches to falsify athletic achievements in sports in which the applicants never even participated, falsifying school records and more.

White collar crimes charges filed against seller of mining waste

People in Michigan might have been offered certificates of title to own mining waste that promised to be rich in precious metals. A 77-year-old man in another state was recently indicted on various white collar crimes related to the sales of mining slag. Prosecutors say, among others, the charges include money laundering and federal fraud involving $7 million.

According to court documents, the defendant's business sold certificates of title to clients who were told that the company was able, by unique methods, to process copper mining waste and recover valuable precious metals. However, investigators determined that neither of the defendant's companies owned most of the slag it sold. They also falsely claimed to have a process that was commercially viable for extracting the promised precious metals.

Felonies: DNA evidence leads to arrest on motorcycle hijacking

Advances in DNA technology have led to multiple arrests and convictions on cold cases that involve violent crimes such as rape and murder. It has also been effective in proving the innocence of wrongfully convicted individuals in Michigan and other states. However, a recent arrest for a 2017 hijacking shows that DNA evidence can also be used in other felonies. Investigators in another state used DNA to formally charge a man who is accused of hijacking a motorcycle at gunpoint.

Court documents indicate that a grand jury decided to indict a 29-year-old man who allegedly robbed another person at gunpoint in 2017. Reportedly, the victim advertised a motorcycle for sale on Craigslist. According to investigators, two men responded to the advertisement and went to the seller's property on a November evening in 2017. One of them went to look at the motorcycle, claiming that the other person who remained in the car was an Uber driver.

If you face fraud charges, protect yourself with silence

White-collar work involves many complicated systems and relationships. Individuals who do not intend to commit fraud can find themselves facing accusations of fraudulent activity. If you find yourself facing fraud charges, it is important to remain calm and keep your objectivity, rather than make any drastic changes in your finances or routine.

Accusations of fraud can harm your career permanently, even when the claims are unfounded. It is wise to avoid the appearance of guilt, no matter what the circumstances.

Felony charges: 23-year-old man claims to be missing teenager

Many trial watchers in Michigan and across the country are following the case of a 23-year-old man who is accused of lying to federal agents by claiming to be Timmothy Pitzen. Pitzen vanished in 2011 and would now be 14 years old. If convicted of the felony level accusations, the accused man could be sentenced to serve a prison term in a federal penitentiary of up to eight years. 

Reportedly, the man heard about the case of a young boy who went missing eight years ago and then presented himself to federal agents as the missing boy. He appeared battered and claimed to have been held captive by two men for years. Police took the man to a hospital for a medical evaluation of his injuries.

40 felonies filed against 17-year-old

Teenagers in Michigan who like to prank others might not know where to draw the line. Certain pranks are severe enough to be classified as crimes that could put them behind bars. An example is a teenager in another state who thought it was fun to make prank calls and landed up being charged with 40 felonies and multiple misdemeanors.

The 17-year-old faces multiple counts of swatting, which is a form of harassment that involves making deceiving calls to emergency services. The aim is to get them to send swat teams and emergency responders to nonexistent emergencies. These can include reports of murder, bomb threats, hostage situations and other faked incidents. The teenager's pranks and swatting allegedly ranged from making harassing calls to his neighbor to reporting emergencies that had SWAT teams deployed to fake emergencies.

Cybercrimes involve computer and internet use to commit crimes

The United States Constitution has a Commercial Clause that provides the federal government with authority to prosecute and regulate white collar crimes. The accessibility provided by the internet makes cybercrimes some of the most frequently committed white collar crimes in Michigan and other states. Federal agencies such as the FBI, Secret Service, IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and U.S. Customs are all role players in the enforcement of legislation related to white collar crimes, which often involve computer and internet use.

Identity theft is reported to be the white collar crime that shows rapid growth nationwide, often committed via the internet. Other forms of cybercrimes include money laundering and currency counterfeiting. Computer-related crimes also include hacking, which involves the invasion of government and commercial sites to obtain the personal information of registered users of the sites. The aim could also be to disrupt operations of the hacked entity.

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