Unlike other criminal acts where serious physical injuries are involved, white-collar crimes often happen without much notice. They often involve financial crimes, where a fiscal loss is incurred for a business or government transaction due to the actions of someone else. These offenses are harder to prosecute, as the physical evidence can be harder to nail down.
The complex nature of these crimes and the difficulty in gathering proper evidence often has prosecutors and federal agents making the wrong decisions as to who the culprit is. If you find yourself in the middle of a white-collar crime investigation and are being charged, you will want a highly-experienced Fort Worth white-collar defense attorney on your side.
White Collar Criminal Defense Attorneys in Fort Worth, Texas
The defense attorneys at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC, has been serving the individuals of Fort Worth, Texas, and the surrounding areas for more than 45 years. Our experience and commitment drive us to work hard, defending their right to a fair trial and ensuring that their side of the story is heard.
We know that no individual who has been charged with a crime in the State of Texas is automatically guilty, despite what the media or the prosecution says. We fight hard to give the jury a clear picture of who you are, breaking down the biases and using evidence to show that the prosecution may have their facts skewed. This is all done to ensure that you get the best outcome possible for your case. Here is more information on our white-collar crime defense services.
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What Is a White-Collar Crime?
White-collar crime is a legal term used to describe various forms of fraud or embezzlement. These crimes are nonviolent and are characterized by deceit or the concealment of actions that illegally obtain or avoid losing money or property. It can also be used to describe illegal actions for personal or business gain.
What Are the Different Types of White-Collar Crime?
Multiple illegal actions are considered white-collar crimes. These actions typically involve business disputes, tax evasion or fraud, or some type of illegal electronic transaction. These crimes include the following:
One of the most common white-collar crimes, corporate fraud, often results in substantial monetary losses to the public and can seriously damage the economy. According to the FBI, most corporate fraud cases involve falsifying accounting records, obstruction of justice, self-dealing by insiders, and misrepresentation of services. They can also include the following activities:
- Fake accounting records that paint a deceitful picture of an individual or a business’s financial state
- Hiding losses and/or inflating profits by use of fraudulent trades
- Illegal transactions
- Insider trading
- Hiding flaws or defects of a product through misrepresentation
Bank fraud includes any illegal activity that involves the use of deception to obtain money or property from a financial institution or a bank’s depositors. The term “financial institution” is defined by federal law banks, credit unions, or other institutions that are federally insured, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Reserve Banks, or mortgage lending businesses. A conviction for bank fraud on a federal level can result in 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
Mail and Wire Fraud
When it comes to fraud, mail, and wire are two of the most common types of fraud charged by federal prosecutors.
Mail fraud is considered any crime that uses the U.S. Postal Service or private commercial carriers, such as FedEx, to commit fraud.
Wire fraud is a term used to describe the use of interstate wire transmissions such as an email, phone call, text message, or internet chatroom to commit a crime.
Other types of wire and mail fraud include:
- Business Email Compromise: one of the most financially damaging online crimes. Typically exploits the fact that businesses use email to conduct business, both for small and larger companies.
- Charity and Disaster Fraud: Some fraud scams involve emails, social media posts, crowdfunding platforms, and cold calls claiming that aid is needed for a high-profile disaster, such as a hurricane.
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Honest Services Fraud
Federal Statute 18 U.S.C §1346 defines honest services fraud as a scheme to deprive another of the intangible right to honest services, such as benefits from an employer, shareholder, the public, or a union. This is often done through bribery or kickbacks. Honest service fraud often requires three parties to be involved. These are as follows:
- Individual who pays the bribe
- Party or individual who accepts a bribe
- Person who is harmed by the bribe (or the victim)
For example, a parent wants to get their child into a particular college, however, the grades from the child’s high school career and low test scores, make that nearly impossible. The parent then talks to the college’s football coach, asking them to take money to put in a strong word to the college admissions committee on behalf of their child. The coach accepts and brags about the incredible athletic ability of this child without actually seeing them play. The college agrees to accept the child into the school over another candidate, as long as that child is on the football team.
While this type of transaction may not seem outwardly harmful, the college suffers as their admissions process is now called under question, the football team suffers, and the coach has violated their duty to find strong athletes for the college.
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Insurance fraud occurs when an individual knowingly lies to obtain a benefit or advantage to which they are otherwise entitled. This also applies to insurance companies that knowingly deny a benefit that is due to which the victim is entitled. For an insurance fraud case to be prosecuted, the following has to be proven to be true:
- The defendant had the intent to defraud: The prosecutor must show proof that the defendant knowingly lied to gain insurance benefits or knowingly denied insurance benefits to someone who was entitled to it.
- The fraud was completed in its entirety: Sometimes, honest mistakes happen in which the defendant accidentally misrepresented either themselves or someone else. This is often the case when an insurer or the insurance company has a written or oral statement that is taken down. In these cases, the action can be stopped and reversed. If someone saw the mistake and did nothing about it, though, then the fraud was completed and therefore can be charged.
- The action of the defendant and the intent involved has to come together: Without both of these, the defendant’s actions are not considered a crime.
When it comes to insurance fraud, it is important to note that monetary loss is not needed for the action to be considered a crime. There just has to be intentional follow-through of the action for the defendant to be considered to have committed a crime.
Healthcare fraud is any act committed by medical providers, patients, and others who intentionally deceive the healthcare system to receive unlawful benefits or payments. Health Care Fraud is often broken down into the following categories:
- Health Care Fraud Committed By Medical Providers
- Double Billing: Submitting multiple claims on the same service.
- Phantom Billing: Billing a service, visit, or supplies that a patient never received.
- Unbundling: Submitting multiple bills for the same service.
- Upcoding: Billing for a more expensive service than the one the patient received.
- Health Care Fraud Committed By Patients or Family Members of Patients
- Bogus Marketing: Convincing family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers to provide their health insurance ID number and other personal information to bill for non-rendered services, to steal their identity, or to enroll them in a falsified benefit plan.
- Identity Theft or Identity Swapping: Using another individual’s health insurance plan or allowing someone to use your health insurance plan.
- Impersonating a Healthcare Profession: Providing or billing for health services or the use of health equipment without having an actual medical license.
- Fraud Involving Prescriptions:
- Forgery: Creating or using a forged prescription to get access to a controlled drug.
- Diversion: Diverting legal prescriptions for illegal uses. For example, selling your prescription medication, even if you are no longer using it, is considered a diversion.
- Doctor Shopping: Visiting multiple healthcare facilities or doctors to get prescriptions for a controlled substance or getting prescriptions from medical offices that are engaging in unethical practice.
Mistakes on one’s taxes are unfortunately commonplace and may have someone’s tax returns getting denied or making them pay more the next year. However, when it comes to individuals who are wilfully attempting to get out of tax obligations by falsifying information on their tax return or failing to fill one out.
Penalties for tax fraud are severe. Failure to file can result in one-year imprisonment and a monetary fine of up to $100,000. Being charged with attempting to evade filing your taxes can lead to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
What Is Considered Tax Fraud?
The IRS defines tax fraud as the “willful and material submission of false statements or false documents in connection with an application and/or return.” When making this determination, the investigators and the court will look for the following:
- Underreporting income
- Using a false Social Security number
- Falsifying documents
- Intentionally failing to pay taxes
Identity theft is the legal term that describes when one individual steals the personal information of another and then uses it to take their money and credit accounts, file tax returns, make health insurance claims, or more without that person’s consent. Identity theft is considered a state jail felony. If convicted, an individual faces between 180 days to 2 years in jail along with a maximum fine of $10,000.
Money Laundering Offenses
Money laundering offenses have a pretty broad definition in the State of Texas. Due to this, the government can seize any assets or property that can be financially connected to a specified criminal activity. In some cases, the term money laundering will be thrown around to arrest individuals or entire organizations that the government feels are involved in a larger crime ring, such as illegal drug trades. Money laundering can also be added to smaller charges such as mail fraud, wire fraud, or other white-collar crimes.
Embezzlement is a type of fraud that involves the betrayal of financial trust between one party and another through a series of transactions. Typically, embezzlement is used to allocate funds in a way contrary to the law or different from the terms agreed upon by both parties. Most often, embezzlement charges involve an executive of a company moving company funds into a private bank account for personal usage.
Anti-trust laws were set in place to ensure that consumers were not taken advantage of and help save individuals millions and billions of dollars every year. The Federal Government has passed and enforced three major antitrust laws. The laws prohibit a business practice that may unreasonably deprive consumers of the benefits of competition, such as keeping prices lower.
These are three major federal antitrust laws in the United States:
- The Sherman Antitrust Act: This Act outlaws all contracts, combinations, and conspiracies that unreasonably restrain interstate and foreign trade. This can include agreements such as fixed prices and rig bids. It also prevents companies or organizations from placing a monopoly, or controlling the market, for any particular good or service.
- The Clayton Act: This civil statute prohibits mergers or acquisitions that are likely to lessen competition. For example, if a company is seeking to buy another company of the same type of business but that acquisition would lead to increased prices for consumers, then the merger or acquisition would be challenged by the U.S. government or state government.
- The Federal Trade Commission Act: This Act prohibits unfair methods of competition in interstate commerce.
The only one of these Acts that carries explicit legal consequences if broken is the Sherman Antitrust Act. This Act is considered a felony and the extent of that felony depends on the case, such as the number of individuals that were affected by the actions of the company.
The other two Acts have an Antitrust Division that uses other laws to fight against the illegal activities that break these Acts.
Export and Import Violations
Importers and exporters conducting international trade across the United States borders or interstate trade are obligated to follow the compliances and laws that govern it. These strict laws are enforced by both state and federal governments. These laws ensure that technical data and defense-related technologies are not falling into the wrong hands. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is the name given to the regulatory framework. Noncompliance with these laws will lead to administrative, civil, and criminal penalties. If you or your business is being charged with export or import violations, then you will need a strong defense counsel to ensure that you are being treated fairly.
Texas State Law protects individuals from forgery. Forgery is considered altering a document in a way that deceives or affects the legal rights of another person, such as imitating someone else’s signature. When an individual is accused of forgery in Texas, the prosecutor only has to prove that they forged two or more documents, not that there was a specific intent involved. The penal code makes it a crime to forge or alter the following documents:
- Birth certificates
- Work permits
- Printed or recorded information/documents
- Credit cards
- License plates
At the State Level, forgery is considered a Class A misdemeanor and carries with it jail time up to a year along with a fine of up to $4,000. In some circumstances, the crime of forgery may carry more serious penalties. If the document forged was a will, deed, title, or other financial documents, such as banking documents, this can result in additional 2 years of prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the accused tried to forge official government documents, such as records of social security cards, this would be considered a third-degree felony. This is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Computer and Intellectual Property Crime
Computer and intellectual property crimes include illegal actions that involve privacy invasions electronically, such as hacking, viruses, worms, or the theft of intellectual property. Penalties for these charges can lead to years or decades, depending on the charges and the targets of the crime, of prison time along with million-dollar fines. These are serious charges and combating them can be extremely difficult. You will want an experienced computer and intellectual property crime attorney on your side to help you navigate through the legal system. Contact the team at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC today for more information on our computer and intellectual property crime defense services.
Environmental Violations and Compliance
Environmental crimes include violations of federal criminal laws that were passed to protect the environment. Most individuals think of these as recycling and pollution laws, but they also include tampering with equipment or other devices that measure a business’s environmental impact. The following are considered environmental crimes in the State of Texas and the United States:
- Introducing or discharging pollutants or hazardous substances into the sewer system or water treatment facilities.
- Discharging chemical, medical, or radioactive waste into navigable water or other water sources in the U.S. without a permit or in violation of a previously passed permit.
- Discharging sewage sludge into navigable waters without a permit or violating a previously passed permit.
- Discharging oil into navigable waters or off the shores of the U.S.
- Operating a build or facility that violates the “standard or performance.” The standard of performance is set to control the proper procedures for discharging pollutants into water sources.
- Tampering with monitoring equipment or other devices that regulate or measure the environmental impact of businesses or organizations.
- Intentional failure to maintain proper records, report spills, or other accidental impacts to the environment.
- Purposefully trying to alter, stop, or prevent a government agent to inspect your business or property to ensure the proper following of the environmental procedures and laws.
- Making false statements to the EPA relating to a corporation’s compliance with either the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act.
- Knowingly constructing or modifying a building that emits hazardous pollutants.
- Failure to comply with the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP).
- Knowingly building or importing a vehicle that fails to meet CAA emissions standards.
- Tampering with emission control devices in motor vehicles.
- Failure to comply with deferral regulations governing the proper disposal of asbestos materials by construction companies.
- Operating a building or vehicle that emits hazardous air pollutants that put others in danger.
- Failure to comply with the CAA’s certification and reporting requirements.
- Unlawfully producing, using, or distributing regulated chemicals for commercial purposes.
- Failure to meet federal standards for disposing of regulated chemicals.
Texas White-Collar Crime Consequences
Many white-collar crimes are dealt with in a federal court as they fall under federal laws vs. state laws. Because of this, they are often charged with felonies and can carry the following penalties:
- Expensive fines
- Forfeiture of Assets
If you or a loved one is being charged with committing a white-collar crime, you will need a top-tier defense attorney on your side. We advocate for your rights and ensure that you are being treated fairly by both the prosecution and the jury. We understand fully that just because an individual is being charged with a crime are not automatically guilty. We believe in a fair trial for every individual, no matter the crime. Contact our team today for more information on our services or to schedule an appointment to go over the facts of your case.
White Collar Crime FAQs
1. Identity Theft
3. Money Laundering
4. Anti-Trust Law Violations
6. Honest Services Fraud
7. Mail and Wire Fraud
9. Computer and Internet Crimes
10. Tax Fraud
11. Healthcare Fraud
12. Bribery and Corruption Influence
The three most common types of white-collar crime are money laundering, embezzlement, and fraud.
Black-collar crimes are crimes committed by religious or judicial figures in traditional garb. Typically, these refer to priests who commit crimes, such as child molestation.