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Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Law Blog

Felonies: Federal charges filed against mother and daughter

People in Michigan who have lost loved ones might keep a close check on the funeral home they use after reading about the alleged crimes of a mother and daughter who owned a funeral home in another state. The 66-year-old mother and her 43-year-old daughter have faced several civil lawsuits over recent years. However, this time, they were arrested and charged with federal felonies.

The funeral home directors have faced at least six civil lawsuits in recent years. The two were recently indicted for alleged fraud that involved the sales of body parts without the permission of the surviving family members. According to the allegations made by federal prosecutors, some relatives agreed to donate tissue samples, skin sections or tumors for research. However, other body parts were sold by the two women for profit. Prosecutors allege these crimes have been committed for at least 10 years.

Felonies: When can entrapment be used as a defense?

When residents of Michigan or elsewhere sell drugs to someone who turns out to be a government agent or undercover police officer, the seller might accuse the buyer of entrapment. But what is entrapment? For entrapment to occur, a police officer, DEA officer, FBI agent, or other law enforcement or government agent must persuade or influence someone to commit felonies that he or she would not have committed but for the persuasion of the agent.

A government agent can also be a felon who agrees to play the role of an informant for a police officer. The informant will then qualify as a government agent for the duration of a sting or undercover operation. However, that will not apply if a civilian with no connection to a law enforcement agent convinces another party to sell or purchase drugs or commit another felony.

Eyewitnesses are incredibly unreliable

Should we even use eyewitness testimony in the courtroom? To some, the question seems astounding. It's one of the most common types of evidence. When an eyewitness comes forward to share their account, it can drastically change a court case. For even longer than the American justice system has existed, eyewitness testimony has been one of the founding tenants.

That said, its reliability is in serious question. Eyewitnesses are often wrong with their accounts. They make mistakes. They forget things. They add in new details. They misidentify people. They don't really remember what happened. It's so bad that some experts have called it "one of the most unreliable forms of evidence" in use today.

White collar crimes: Man pleads guilty in $2.5 million fraud case

Facing federal fraud charges in Michigan is serious, and convictions can lead to years in federal prison and significant fines. A construction company owner in another state recently pleaded guilty to federal charges involving $2.5 million concealed from the IRS. Reportedly, the white collar crimes scheme started in Dec. 2014, and continued for nearly four years.

The businessman was accused of devising various ways to conceal financial transactions from the IRS. He pleaded guilty to falsifying receipts and structuring over $2.5 million worth of real estate projects and contracts in order to hide the source of the funds. Reportedly, receipts for money received were divided into smaller amounts and spread over an extended period of time to conceal the massive amounts of money he received as once-off payments.

Alleged car hijacker charged with 4 felonies in Michigan

A 22-year-old woman is accused of hijacking a pickup truck in front of a motel in Franklin, Michigan, on the morning of Valentine's Day. The owner of the vehicle claims he left the vehicle running right outside the door of his motel room when he alleges he saw a woman with blonde hair opening the door of the truck. He says he tried to pull her out of the vehicle, but he failed, and the alleged hijacker drove off, dragging him along for about 20 yards. Law enforcement ultimately caught up with the woman, and she is now facing four felonies.

Franklin police followed her, but the pursuit was abandoned for fear of causing accidents when the woman in the truck ran three red lights and traveled at a speed of about 100 mph. The wrecked vehicle was later located in a parking lot. Franklin police claim they discovered that the suspect offered sex online, and an undercover officer arranged a meeting. However, this plan failed when the woman noticed a uniformed officer providing backup.

Post-conviction matters: Man exonerated after 30 years in prison

In Nov. 1987, a woman reported being attacked by a man who got into her car in Michigan. She said that she was waiting in her car while her son went into a store. This is one of many cases in which an experienced attorney's focus on post-conviction matters led to the exoneration of a wrongly-convicted individual. In this case, misidentification by the victim led to a prison sentence of an innocent man who was recently exonerated after about 30 years of incarceration.

The woman claimed a knife-wielding, medium-built black man with a height of about 5 feet 9 inches attacked her. She said he forced her to drive, and when they ultimately stopped, he forced her to perform a sexual act. When she resisted, he allegedly stabbed her with the knife. She managed to escape from the car and claims that the man took her wallet and jewelry before he raced away in her car.

Computer and internet crimes growing at an alarming rate

Cybercrimes cost companies and even individuals nationwide, including Michigan, billions of dollars each year. Cybercrimes is a collective term for computer and internet crimes. The anonymity offered by the internet along with the rapid advance of technology has made unsuspecting people targets of hackers who gain remote access to their homes. This could lead to the owners of hacked personal computers to be suspected of committing or participating in cybercrimes that investigators traced back to their computers.

When computers are the tools used to commit offenses, it is defined as cybercrimes. Cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to the personal information of individuals, confidential information of businesses and even government information. The data they gather is then offered for sale online. In some cases, business computers are disabled by cybercriminals who then demand ransom to be paid before they reactivate the computer systems.

What are the different types of Medicare fraud?

Medicare fraud is a huge problem across the United States. There are many forms of Medicare and Medicaid fraud, but the action usually involves some form of identity theft. Therefore, people can fall victim to identity fraud because they have their Medicare number or another form of personal identifying information stolen very easily.

If you have been accused of Medicare fraud, it is vital that you understand the seriousness of this type of accusation. If you are found guilty of Medicare fraud, you will likely be charged with a felony, and you could face jail time as a result. However, by taking immediate action to adequately defend yourself, it may be possible to avoid all charges.

Man facing drug-related felonies will need strong defense counsel

Following an investigation over several months, a Michigan man was recently arrested at his home. The investigation followed suspicions that someone was committing drug-related felonies, and using the U.S. Postal Service to do it. Federal investigators allege the man used the mails to send methamphetamine from another state to his home address.

Following information of significant amounts of narcotics coming into Michigan, a police vice unit launched an investigation in May 2019. Reportedly, an informant told police that a man was purchasing methamphetamine elsewhere, only to ship it back to his Michigan address. According to federal court records, police and postal inspectors worked together in reviewing a parcel addressed to the man.

Post-conviction matters: DNA is used to prove guilt and innocence

The outcome of any criminal case against a person in Michigan will typically depend on the evidence that is presented at the trial. The defense attorney will play a significant role, and in many cases, convictions are based on inaccurate eyewitness evidence. This is where an attorney with strong skills and experience in the use of DNA evidence could be invaluable in dealing with post-conviction matters.

In many cases, the physical crime scene evidence, such as skin, hair, blood or other evidence that could be DNA tested, is stored safely for decades. The fact that such evidence can be examined and retested as technology improves gives those who have been wrongly convicted a chance of exoneration. Furthermore, the same evidence that could set one person free could lead to the arrest and conviction of the real perpetrator.

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