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Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Law Blog

Woman pleads guilty to white collar crimes charges

When times are tough, people in Michigan and other states might find ways to deal with overwhelming debts. They take money to which they are not entitled -- usually with the intention to replace it. However, these matters frequently snowball, and when they become unmanageable, white collar crimes charges could follow. A 43-year-old woman in another state, who became entangled in such crimes, recently pleaded guilty to federal charges that could potentially send her to prison for 30 years.

According to court documents, the accused woman and some accomplices allegedly produced fraudulent documents, such as cashier's checks and money orders, on a home computer at the beginning of 2014. These were sent by mail as payment on debts to lenders and other financial institutions. Prosecutors say the defendant attempted to discharge over $2 million in debts, but some of the payments were rejected.

Laws for computer and internet crimes are still evolving

While it is true that one can remain anonymous online, anyone who misrepresents him- or herself might face criminal charges. In Michigan and elsewhere, misrepresentation with criminal intent could be regarded as computer and internet crimes. An example is someone who falsely claims to have the qualifications required for some fields like law and medicine. Practicing in professional fields without the necessary qualifications, giving advice and charging people for those services can lead to hefty fines and even time in prison.

Running a phishing scam is also illegal. That involves creating a fictitious online identity with the intention of establishing a financial, emotional or physical relationship with another internet user. It does not always include the intent to gain financially, and cases exist in which a fictitious individual tormented someone emotionally to such an extent that the victim committed suicide. Even such emotionally loaded cases could lead to criminal charges.

Post-conviction matters: DNA analysis could overturn conviction

People in Michigan who believe they were wrongfully convicted might have opportunities to prove their innocence. Under federal and state laws, convicts may request the court to revisit their cases if new DNA evidence becomes available. Such post-conviction matters have led to the release of multiple prisoners who could prove wrongful convictions.

In most of these cases, DNA testing was not yet available at the time of the conviction. In other cases, technology might be available to do more advanced DNA testing. New DNA evidence need not prove a convicted person's innocence, but if it raises a reasonable doubt, the overturning of a conviction might be justified. However, the state might have strict time limits related to the period allowed for retesting DNA after the discovery of new evidence.

White-collar crimes: Telemarketer admits to real estate scam

Following the recent guilty plea of the mastermind of a real estate scam, a woman now also admitted to playing a role in the nationwide scam. According to court documents, she was employed as a salesperson and later promoted to sales manager for a business called American Standard -- owned by a former Ataris rock band bass player. She will face white-collar crimes charges under the federal SCAMS Act. She has already pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

Court documents indicate that the scam involved the woman, as an employee of American Standard, advertising houses for rent or sale on Craigslist. The favorable prices of the advertised properties led to responses from interested parties nationwide, likely including some from Michigan. Consumers were told that they could obtain the houses by merely taking over mortgage payments because the houses were in the process of foreclosure.

Post-conviction matters: DNA shows innocence after 20 years

With the rapid advance of DNA technology, wrongly convicted people in Michigan and other states have the hope of finally convincing the courts of their innocence. However, such battles are best fought with the advocacy of an attorney with skills and experience in dealing with post-conviction matters. The recent exoneration of an accused killer underscores the fact that such a battle could be won and is certainly worth fighting.

A 60-year-old man was serving a sentence of 15 years to life for the 1998 killing of the woman with whom he had an affair. Reportedly, she was in the process of divorce and living sometimes with her lover and other times at the home of her husband. She frequently used the accused man's truck, which was found not far from her body. Unfortunately, the man was not truthful in court about his affair and her use of the truck, and his lies caused the jury to find him guilty.

Responding to an accusation of Medicaid fraud

If you are a doctor or medical provider, you will be aware of the ongoing problem of Medicaid fraud in the health sector. Medicaid is a government funded program that helps families with a low income to be able to afford medical services. While the program creates many positive possibilities for patients and medical providers, it also creates windows for fraudulent activity.

In the state of Michigan, Medicaid fraud is a significant issue, and because of this, Medicaid fraud investigators work to eradicate the issue. The government also has put in place initiatives to encourage the reporting of Medicaid fraud suspicions.

Retirement planner accused of committing white-collar crimes

Anyone in Michigan who is the subject of a criminal investigation will likely explore the available defense options. When allegations include white-collar crimes, defending charges might be complicated. Fraud is one type of white-collar crime that typically comprises misrepresentations, false statements or deceitful conduct. Prosecutors will accuse the defendant of gaining money or property by deceiving or misleading the rightful owner.

A retirement planner in another state is facing federal charges of mail fraud, and a conviction could lead to incarceration for up to 20 years. The 55-year-old woman is accused of fraudulently gaining over $2.5 million. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the victims were mostly older clients who were immigrants.

GPS tracking leads to teacher's arrest for white-collar crimes

Early Intervention Programs in Michigan and elsewhere offer remedial services to children up to the age of three who have developmental problems. Medicaid or other agencies or departments pay for some of these services. A teacher in another state was recently arrested on charges of white-collar crimes that allegedly involved filing claims for EIP therapy sessions that were never provided.

Although none of the charges filed against the 45-year-old teacher relate to her employment, the Department of Education has reportedly removed her from the classroom. Her return depends on the outcome of the case. According to the complaint that was filed in the federal court, the defendant allegedly submitted fraudulent invoices for the payment of 600 therapy sessions over a four-year period.

White-collar crimes: 3 plead guilty in federal court

Prosecutors in Michigan say three people pleaded guilty in federal court recently to charges related to providing fake identity documents to people who were not in the country legally. Reportedly, convictions on the white-collar crimes charges they face could see each of the three defendants behind bars for up to 15 years. Two of the defendants are a father and son from West Michigan, and the third defendant is from another state.

Federal prosecutors say the guilty pleas were part of plea agreements. Court documents indicate that the arrest of the 51-year-old father and his 28-year-old son along with the 37-year-old third defendant happened in June. The three pleaded guilty to working with someone on a Caribbean island who produced fake identity documents using the names of legitimate citizens in the United States.

Fugitive returned to U.S. to face white-collar crimes charges

Professionals or entrepreneurs in Michigan might be interested in a case involving one of the individuals on the most wanted fugitives list of the Feds. This case involves alleged white-collar crimes committed by a couple who operated a company that provided nursing homes with medical equipment. The husband was recently arraigned in a federal court after he was expelled from another country to which he fled a decade ago while his wife was convicted and incarcerated on charges of defrauding Medicaid and Medicare.

According to federal court documents, the couple submitted fraudulent claims to the value of $10 million to Medicaid and Medicare for medical equipment that was never provided to the nursing homes and patients. The submissions of the claims reportedly occurred from April 2003 through March 2007. Authorities say the wife was arrested and later convicted, and her 12-year prison sentence started in April 2013. As part of her sentence, $1.3 million that the government seized had to be forfeited. Reportedly, her release from prison occurred in December 2017.

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