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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 Schemes

    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.

    RICO Charges

    Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) charges are filed against groups of people who committed a crime together. Traditionally, these “racketeering” charges were used to go after mob organizations that would run drugs and commit gambling and prostitution offenses, creating an organization that had the core purpose of crime.

    In the modern sense, RICO laws are sometimes used to go after business organizations that commit crimes to keep the business running. This kind of corporate crime could involve willing and unknowing participants alike, and many people could be charged at once with the hope that a majority of them will “flip” and cooperate with the prosecution against the leaders of the scheme.

    Tax Crimes

    Tax fraud, failure to file taxes, tax evasion, and other tax crimes are often considered white-collar crimes because they deal solely with money. In many cases, the IRS and the state equivalent organizations do not go after tax crimes as criminal cases unless they have already gone through rounds of civil enforcement attempts. For example, if you are audited, the IRS might tell you what you owe in back taxes and ask you to pay all penalties and repair your reporting issues. It is only after those requests go ignored that most tax crimes are charged.

    If you have made it to the stage where you are being prosecuted in court for tax crimes, it is likely that there is already a lot of evidence against you. However, there is still the possibility that the government might accept a plea bargain where taxes and penalties are paid in full, allowing you to get the criminal side of the case against you dropped. Regardless, it is vital to have a Philadelphia white-collar criminal defense lawyer work with you to protect you from potential jail time and increased fines.

    Many tax crimes involve hiding money and storing it overseas in different financial arrangements that try to get around foreign account reporting requirements, all with the goal of having lower reported income and saving money on taxes. These crimes are often quite sophisticated, and they have been part of recent enforcement efforts by the IRS and other federal law enforcement agencies.

    Insider Trading

    Many people are familiar with insider trading crimes because of famous cases like the one involving Martha Stewart. While insider trading is rare, it is often charged against higher-ups in a business who use information they are privy to to manipulate the price of their stocks and benefit themselves. However, many other cases are filed against those who get their insider information from others and abuse that info to get a leg up on other investors.

    Often, the penalties for these offenses are more serious than you might expect, and jail time is a possibility.

    Money Laundering

    Money laundering crimes might fall under RICO issues if the company or organization was being operated as an illegal enterprise for the primary purpose of money laundering. Money laundering charges can also be applied to a lone actor or small group of actors.

    Money laundering often involves setting up dummy corporations or small businesses in order to take cash or funds from other criminal enterprises and obfuscate the source of the funds, allowing the money to be handed out to people and organizations without linking it back to crimes. This kind of crime can involve falsifying business records and payrolls or even setting up businesses like restaurants or dry cleaners that, in reality, do little to no real business and just launder money.

    Money laundering can also involve sophisticated financial setups, such as shell corporations, shell banks, and other setups that are hard to trace. This can make it hard for the government to provide evidence if your case makes it all the way to trial, allowing our lawyers to potentially use this complexity to help fight the prosecution’s case.

    Trade Secrets Theft

    Stealing ideas, proprietary systems, and other information from competitors is often quite a serious white-collar crime. Many times, these crimes are committed by people from other countries trying to get an advantage over U.S. companies and competitors.

    If you were charged with trade secrets crimes, the government is often going to want to get the case to end in a plea deal, as they may be unable to reveal the trade secrets in open court as part of the accusations against you. As such, these crimes are often charged as attempting to steal trade secrets rather than the actual completed crime. In some cases, the “attempt” is not actually enough to qualify as a crime, and the government will have nothing upon which to rest the case, allowing the charges to be dismissed.

    The FBI and other law enforcement offices have specialized units that crack down on these kinds of thefts, often devoting agents and officers to undercover work and controlled buys to try to prove the attempted theft. These operations also require intensive cooperation with the companies that are the alleged victims. Because of the expense and time it takes both these companies and these law enforcement agencies, they are often quite aggressive in trying to “win” these cases against defendants, so you should have a lawyer on your side to protect your rights.

    Healthcare Fraud

    Separate from the insurance fraud discussed above – which concentrates more on property and business insurance – there are often charges filed against doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who have made mistakes in accounting for health insurance claims and payments.

    One of the most common ways this is charged is when doctors enter the wrong coding or billing information into the system, charging insurance companies for procedures that might pay them more than the ones they actually performed. Often, there is no procedure that was actually performed, and the insurance company ends up reimbursing the practice or the individual practitioner for extra money.

    These kinds of practices might not ultimately charge any individual patient more for their medical care, making the only victim the insurance company. When individuals are harmed by doctors and health clinics taking advantage of them, prosecutors are often more aggressive; however, charges involving harm to an insurance company alone might result in the potential for a plea deal.

    Avoiding Transaction Reporting Requirements

    Many transactions – such as large cash transactions or transactions to overseas accounts – require reporting to the government. This is required because the government wants to know where money is going in case it becomes income somewhere along the way.

    Taxpayers, investors, and others with large sums of money might try to move the money in such a way that it cannot be reported, such as by moving it through shell corporations. Alternatively, when there is a reporting threshold, people might try to make multiple transactions in smaller amounts to avoid reaching that threshold in a practice known as “smurfing.” These practices can all result in criminal charges.

    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 in fraud loss, then the guidelines will recommend a certain sentence should the defendant be found guilty, and if the government claims $250,000 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 for 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.