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Philadelphia White Collar Crimes Attorney
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    Philadelphia White Collar Crimes Attorney

    “White-collar crime” usually refers to criminal acts that are more financial in nature than violent. However, they are just as serious as many other criminal acts and can have severe criminal penalties attached if you are convicted. In fact, many white-collar crimes are felonies. White-collar crimes used to be viewed less seriously than many other criminal offenses. However, in the past decade, those views have changed and white-collar crime is receiving more serious attention from judges and prosecutors.

    Our analytical skills and courtroom expertise make us a unique choice for the defense of white-collar cases. We can collect important evidence, interview witnesses and retain experts to speak for your case, and prepare a strong argument to give you the best chance at a positive outcome for your case.

    If you or a loved one is accused of a white-collar crime in Philadelphia, get in touch with our white-collar crime defense lawyers from The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free analysis of your case.

    What are “White-Collar” Crimes?

    The term “white-collar crimes” can cover a broad range of topics from insurance fraud to securities fraud to embezzlement and theft to the notorious Ponzi scheme. Since the types of cases involved vary so widely, the possible penalties also vary widely.

    It is more typical to see white-collar cases prosecuted in federal court, although they are sometimes prosecuted in state court. The cases are more likely to be prosecuted in federal court when they involve large amounts of money, and they almost exclusively proceed in federal court if they involve anything related to the stock market, investments, or corporate malfeasance.

    White-collar crimes sometimes have a reputation of being “less serious” or “less dangerous” than other crimes because they may not be as brazenly violent as something like murder or robbery. However, the reality is that white-collar crimes can be just as devastating as more obvious offenses. For example, a scheme of fraud could deplete someone’s income and life savings, leaving them destitute. Moreover, some white-collar crimes are enabled by violent criminal acts, so the reality is that a white-collar crime accusation is something to take very seriously. Modern prosecution reflects this, and white-collar crimes are beginning to be treated with the seriousness they often require.

    Types of White-Collar Crimes

    White-collar crime can take many forms, but they all involve taking money through some method of deception. We will go into some examples of white-collar crime below.

    Insurance Fraud

    The crime of insurance fraud is detailed in Pa. 18 Pa.C.S. § 4117. The crime consists of knowingly giving false documents or information to another party with the intent of deceiving them into doing something they otherwise would not do. In essence, the perpetrator is deceiving someone for their own financial benefit.

    A common and well-known example of insurance fraud is staging an accident to obtain the insurance money. For example, burning down a house to claim the homeowner’s insurance payout would be insurance fraud in Pennsylvania. Another example of insurance fraud would be faking an injury that never happened on medical records in order to get a payout from health insurance.


    Embezzlement is taking funds that were entrusted to you by your employer and using them as your own. This is a form of stealing because that money belongs to a business, not you, even though it has been placed in your control. An example of embezzlement would be a company executive taking funds out of the marketing budget to pay for a new swimming pool at their house. However, embezzlement need not be on a large scale. It would also be embezzlement for a cashier to take money out of the register to spend on things for themselves.

    Ponzi Scheme

    A “Ponzi scheme” is a fraudulent operation where someone uses other people’s money to convince prospective investors to buy into a product or company that does not actually exist. The name comes from a con artist named Charles Ponzi who is credited with coming up with the idea. Essentially, the perpetrator needs to find an initial investor who they convince is putting their money into a lucrative business opportunity (which does not exist). The schemer then uses the money “invested” to demonstrate to future investors that their “business venture” is incredibly profitable. Usually, prospective investors/marks are promised a massive return on investment. Such returns are usually the investments of future victims of the scheme. In theory, a Ponzi scheme could run indefinitely so long as new investors give the conman money to distribute to people expecting a return on their fake investment. A common way that Ponzi schemes are found out is that new investors start coming in, and prior investors figure out that they were deceived when the conman cannot come up with the massive return on investment they were promised.

    White-Collar Crimes & Federal Courts

    In federal court, the exposure you face tends to depend on the amount of the loss alleged as a result of the fraud. In other words, if the government claims $10,000.00 in fraud loss, then the guidelines will recommend a certain sentence should the defendant be found guilty, and if the government claims $250,000.00 in fraud loss then the guidelines will recommend a higher sentence.

    A large scale fraud, such as the one perpetrated by Bernie Madoff, can result in what is effectively a life sentence. Often the exposure, or possible prison time, is a substantial number of years, but a seasoned lawyer can accomplish a more mitigated sentence by an in-depth review of the sentencing guidelines and preparation of a compelling case for mitigation, or avoid prosecution altogether.

    State Court Cases of White-Collar Crimes

    In state court, exposure will typically vary with the charge that is brought against the defendant and will also depend, to some degree, on the amount of loss alleged.

    State prosecutors can also bring a RICO charge if they think the defendant is running a corrupt organization, which can result in substantially higher penalties if they are found guilty.

    Penalties for White-Collar Crimes in Philadelphia

    While these cases can be daunting because they can mean significant penalties and because they often involve complex subject matter, our attorneys have faced cases carrying the highest penalties and have defended some of the most complicated cases in the system.

    Our Philadelphia criminal white-collar crime defense lawyers have successfully represented clients who:

    • Were accused of large scale mortgage fraud. Lawyers from the Law Offices of Lloyd Long were able to avoid indictment due to careful review of the government’s evidence and analysis of legal issues.
    • Had an insurance fraud conviction reversed and the case ended with no conviction. Krasner & Long attorneys successfully argued for a reversal based on ineffective prior trial counsel. Krasner & Long attorneys then represented the client at a new trial and were able to obtain a result that ended without a conviction.
    • Were facing guidelines recommending a sentence of approximately three years but received a sentence of half as long, well below the guidelines and what the prosecutor sought, in large part thanks to aggressive litigation of the sentencing guidelines that applied and a strong mitigation case presented to the sentencing judge.
    • Faced approximately 10 years in federal prison under the applicable sentencing guidelines, but received a sentence half as long due to persistent negotiation that led to a favorable sentence.

    We have lawyers with strong academic backgrounds and substantial courtroom experience, which directly advances our boutique law firm’s goals of effective client representation. Together we have tried hundreds of cases before judges and juries in federal and state courts. We have appeared before judges and argued more motions than we can remember. By comparison, many large law firm lawyers have tried maybe 2-5 cases by the time they reach senior partner status and a significant portion have tried none. We have been defending individuals for decades.

    White-Collar Crime Penalties in Pennsylvania

    White-collar crimes can have serious penalties attached in Pennsylvania. We will go into some of those penalties below.

    Summary Offense

    Less serious white-collar crimes will have less serious penalties attached. Summary offenses in Pennsylvania can be punished with fines of up to $250 and up to 90 days in jail. This could potentially be the penalty for stealing money from a cash register at a store where you work.

    Third-Degree Misdemeanors

    Fines for third-degree misdemeanors in Pennsylvania cannot exceed $5,000, and you cannot be in jail for more than 90 days.

    Second-Degree Misdemeanors

    Fines for second-degree misdemeanors are still capped at $5,000, but you can be sent to prison for up to two years upon conviction.

    First Degree Misdemeanors

    First-degree misdemeanors in Pennsylvania have the amount you can be fined raised to a maximum of $10,000 and you can be sent to prison for ten years maximum.

    Third Degree Felonies

    Felonies are much more serious than misdemeanors. They will stay on your record for longer, prevent you from exercising certain rights, and have much harsher criminal penalties. White-collar crimes that are third-degree felonies carry penalties of up to $15,000 in fines and prison sentences of up to seven years.

    Second Degree Felonies

    Second-degree felonies are a step more serious. They carry with them criminal penalties of up to $25,000 in fines and ten-year prison sentences.

    Sentencing Guidelines for White-Collar Crimes in Philadelphia

    In most white-collar crimes, a major component in calculating sentencing guidelines is fraud loss. A table is used which compares the seriousness of the offense (in fraud cases, largely defined by fraud loss) and the prior criminal history of the defendant to yield a recommended sentencing range. If a defendant has a history of criminal convictions, he is in danger of falling into a category which recommends a higher standard range sentence. Besides fraud loss, sometimes the government will seek other enhancements.

    To fully understand your potential sentencing guidelines, it is best for you to consult with your attorney who will usually start by evaluating the government’s plea offer to see which enhancements they seek and what they claim for the fraud loss. Remember, you do not have to accept the government’s plea offer. You and your attorney should carefully analyze whether the fraud loss is accurately reflected and whether any enhancements should apply.

    Consequences of a Conviction for a White-Collar Crime

    A conviction for a white-collar crime can have consequences that reach far beyond criminal penalties. Virtually all jobs require background checks on which a conviction for a white-collar crime will show up. Employers are already hesitant to hire people with criminal records. Since white-collar crimes generally deal with stealing money, employers are even less likely to hire someone convicted of a white-collar crime, especially embezzlement.

    If you wish to join the military or work in certain government agencies, a white-collar crime conviction can prevent you from working in those positions.

    Finally, higher education institutions like colleges, graduate schools, medical schools, or law schools may not admit you if you have a white-collar crime conviction on your record.

    Call Our Philadelphia White-Collar Crimes Defense Attorney Today

    Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys have successfully challenged the government’s application of sentencing enhancements and their value of economic loss. You can potentially reduce your prison exposure by aggressively fighting the guidelines.

    Call today for a free consultation from our skilled and experienced white-collar crime defense attorneys today. Call (215) 302-0171