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Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Law Blog

DNA resolves murder, rape and other felonies from decades ago

Older people in Michigan and elsewhere might remember a case from Dec. 1987 when a 17-year-old girl's body was found naked along the road in another state where she was dumped after she was raped and killed. The ever-advancing DNA technology helps investigators to reopen unresolved murders, rapes and other violent felonies decades later. A man was recently arrested for that young woman's death, and her family might find closure after more than 30 years.

The DNA evidence obtained from under the victim's nails consisted of a sample containing some of her and a second person's DNA. A forensic genealogist used new technology to separate the two samples. After comparing it to the DNA of the deceased girl's sister, investigators could isolate the second person's DNA and enter it into a genealogy website. This led them to the suspect's third cousins.

White collar crimes: School treasurer charged with embezzlement

The actions of people who manage federal funds in Michigan and elsewhere are typically carefully monitored. Anyone with access to hundreds of thousands of dollars might be tempted to misappropriate it. A 57-year-old school treasurer in another state faces federal white collar crimes charges of embezzling over $470,000.

The United States Attorney for that region alleges that, instead of protecting the public funds, the man negligently and willfully abused his position of public trust. The state auditor says audits done over the past 10 years show the treasurer embezzled $1,012,490. The schools involved are nonsectarian, public and nonprofit charter or community schools that are not controlled by the school district.

Do improper deductions on a business return constitute tax fraud?

People who own or manage small businesses are often eager to reduce their expenses and increase their profit margin. There are many ways for a business to keep costs low, and tax avoidance is often among those strategies.

Businesses can claim a wide range of deductions that can drastically limit their tax liability, while also strategically using assets and income for the same purpose. Tax avoidance is legal and beneficial for businesses.

White collar crimes: Marines indicted for medical insurance fraud

Michigan residents might be interested in a case that involves three members of the U.S. military. Federal prosecutors reported that a member of the U.S. Navy and two Marines were indicted after an investigation that lasted four years. The white collar crimes charges relate to an alleged scheme of defrauding the national military health care program.

According to court documents, the defendants marketed exorbitantly expensive medication and topical creams among friends and family. It was mostly for monetary gain because the products were unwanted by the named patients, and also unnecessary. Reportedly, the Marines and other individuals received about $300 as kickbacks per month.

White collar crimes: What constitutes art forgery?

Being accused of involvement in art forgery is a serious matter for anyone in Michigan or elsewhere. Although art forgery is known to be a lucrative business, not every person who has fake art pieces is involved in art forgery. This form of white collar crimes comes in three types.

As with most other criminal charges, intent to commit the crime charged must be proved. Creating fake art, changing an existing art piece in an attempt to increase the value, and selling a fake art piece as original art can all lead to art forgery charges. If there is no proof of intent to commit larceny or fraud, or to deceive another party, forgery charges will not likely stand.

White collar crimes: Tax preparer faces wire fraud charges

A 51-year-old Michigan man is on bond after his recent appearance in federal court. The man is accused of committing white collar crimes during his employment with a tax services company. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the man committed wire fraud from 2015 through February of this year.

The charges were filed after the owner of the tax service firm alleged that the employee stole some of the tax refunds of the company's clients. According to court documents, the accused man provided clients the unfiled versions of their tax returns. The documents did not show the refunds, which he then allegedly siphoned into his own bank accounts. The business owner alleges that the accused employee stole about 120 tax returns. The estimated amount involved in this case is over $400,000.

White collar crimes: Forgery comes in many forms

Without understanding what constitutes forgery, people in Michigan might find themselves facing criminal charges without realizing the potential consequences of their actions. Faking a signature, making false documents or objects, or modifying existing documents could all constitute white collar crimes. Documents that are often forged include art objects, legal contracts, licenses, historical papers, ID cards and certificates.

Some people are under the impression that only the party who forged the document committed a crime, without realizing that the person who knowingly used the forged document to defraud could also face forgery charges. Examples include a person faking his or her age by using a falsified driver's license to purchase alcohol. Signature forgery is another form of this crime, which could be on a deed, driver's license, check, will, or another formal document.

Medicaid fraud: A problem for patients, care providers, insurers

Medicaid provides necessary health coverage to many people in the United States. It provides coverage to the elderly, pregnant women, children, low-income adults and many others. Not everyone is able to qualify for Medicaid.

One possible fraudulent act that could occur involving Medicaid is lying to obtain the benefits. Someone could potentially show that they don't earn as much as they do or claim an injury or illness that they don't have to obtain benefits. Knowingly misrepresenting yourself to obtain unauthorized benefits is against the law and can lead to significant penalties.

Man charged with felonies after allegedly resisting arrest

A Michigan man is accused of interfering with the attempts of a law enforcement officer's efforts to arrest him. The 18-year-old man now faces two felonies for alleged attempts to resist and obstruct police officers, and he is also accused of assault and one domestic violence misdemeanor count. Reportedly, each offense could lead to a prison sentence for as long as two years and possible fines of up to $2,000.

The charges arose from an alleged incident in which the accused man allegedly assaulted a 27-year-old female who refused to give him marijuana. Officers responded to a domestic violence report to find only the alleged victim who described the attacker and the direction in which he left the scene. Law enforcement recognized a man who matched the description of the alleged attacker.

Felonies: DNA match leads to burglary and assault charges

DNA is an essential legal tool in Michigan and elsewhere -- used to prove innocence in some cases, and guilt in others. A man in another state was recently charged with felonies after DNA on a pair of slippers was allegedly matched to him. The arrest warrant followed an investigation launched in response to an home invasion report.

Reportedly, a woman claimed she was awakened from sleep by a noise that caused her to investigate. After noticing the open front door, she proceeded to the laundry room from where she heard the noise. She alleges she came upon a bearded, barefoot man, who fled on foot when she yelled and ordered him to leave her home.

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