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White Collar Crimes Lawyer Key Biscayne

Aggressive, powerful defense for your state and federal charges

White collar crime is often portrayed in a glamorous light on television and in movies. For white collar criminals, there is always a risk of facing felony conviction, massive fines, and a lengthy stint in prison. White collar crimes do not only affect the people who directly and knowingly engage in criminal activity. Oftentimes, people who are close to the criminal actors may also be subjected to criminal investigation and prosecution in state and federal court. Our Key Biscayne white collar crime attorney represents people who face state or federal charges.

White collar crimes in Key Biscayne

The term “white collar crime” was coined by a criminologist during the late 1930s to refer to the professional wardrobe worn by the typical perpetrators. These crimes are most often non-violent in nature. However, they affect businesses and consumers financially. Some of the most common white collar crimes in South Florida are:

  • embezzlement
  • Ponzi schemes
  • extortion
  • money laundering
  • racketeering

We represent defendants in a variety of white collar crimes cases. Contact the professional team at Joffe Law to learn more about our proven track record of excellence.

Embezzlement cases in Key Biscayne

Embezzlement is the formal legal term for a specific type of theft. Florida’s statutes do not specifically have an embezzlement statute. Instead, embezzlement cases are prosecuted under the state’s general theft laws. The key difference between embezzlement and general theft is the existence of a fiduciary relationship between the embezzler and the person or entity from whom the embezzler illegally converts the money or property.

The most basic example of embezzlement is a cashier who pockets money from the cash register at work. The cashier’s employer entrusts him or her with the money the store uses for customer transactions. The act of taking the money for personal use without authorization is a betrayal of that professional trust and an act of embezzlement. Other examples of embezzlement include:

  • valet workers who steal customers’ cars
  • insurance agents who divert customers’ premiums into a personal account
  • a financial investor who keeps his or her clients’ money that is intended to be invested
  • a treasurer who steals money from the non-profit organization for which he or she works
  • a director of a government agency who uses taxpayer funds for his or her own purposes

Some situations may appear to be embezzlement, but there is a legal explanation. A worker who believes he or she was authorized to use money or property he or she obtained from an employer is less likely to be convicted. Returning the money or property may also reduce the likelihood of conviction. A valet worker who mistakenly moves a customer’s vehicle to another authorized parking lot without the employer’s knowledge does not commit an act of embezzlement. Your Key Biscayne white collar crimes defense lawyer can determine whether your situation is an act of theft under Florida law. If you have been formally charged with theft, a Florida defense lawyer can defend you against the allegation.

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Key Biscayne Ponzi schemes

Ponzi schemes are dangerous to everyday people because they can devastate a victim’s finances. The people who operate the schemes usually attract potential victims by pitching investment deals that appear to be the best-kept secret in finance. Telltale signs of a Ponzi scheme is the promise of an unusually high guaranteed rate of return. Fraudsters often make Ponzi schemes sound as if there is an element of exclusivity.

Early investors generally receive what appears to be a return on their investment. The schemer may provide fake account statements and allow the early investors to make withdrawals from what appears to be their profits. After the early investors experience a false sense of security in the fake investment, they are more likely to recruit other people they know to invest in the fake opportunity. As more victims invest in the scheme, the fraudster is able to continue to operate the scam until he or she stops communicating with the victims and typically leaves town. By the time the victims realize they are unable to reach the scammer to service their accounts, they discover they have been scammed. Instead of investing the victims’ money in a legitimate investment opportunity, the Ponzi schemer uses the money to fund his or her lavish lifestyle in most cases.

Sometimes people who operate Ponzi schemes go to great lengths to create the appearance of legitimacy. They may operate a physical office and hire employees. Although the employees may be completely unaware of their employers’ illegal deeds, everyone who appears to have a professional connection to the scheme and the schemer may be investigated and charged with a crime. In other cases, someone may legitimately offer an investment opportunity that happens to go sour. If the person who offers the opportunity does not make a false representation or misappropriate the investors’ money, the individual may not be convicted for operating a Ponzi scheme. If you have been accused of having involvement with a Ponzi scheme, immediately contact a Key Biscayne white collar defense attorney.

Key Biscayne extortion cases

The crime of extortion is more commonly known as blackmail. Under Florida law, an individual may be convicted for extortion if he or she maliciously threatens to do any of the following for financial gain or to influence the victim’s actions:

  • injure a person or damage his or her property or reputation
  • accuse someone of a crime
  • expose a disgrace
  • expose a secret that affects someone else
  • impute a deformity or lack of chastity to someone else

Florida’s extortion statute requires prosecutors to prove the defendant behaved with malice and made a threat. A threat can take virtually any form including:

  • verbal communication
  • a letter
  • an email
  • an online post
  • a social media message
  • a text message
  • a written note

To prove the element of malice, Florida prosecutors generally must prove the defendant’s conduct meets the standard of legal malice. A prosecutor may meet the standard by proving the threat was wrongful, intentional, and without legal justification or excuse.

Money laundering in Key Biscayne

Criminal organizations use money laundering to blend the proceeds from their illegal activity into the legitimate money supply in the interest of avoiding detection by banks and law enforcement. Money laundering takes place in three stages:

  • placement
  • layering
  • integration

Each stage typically involves multiple parties who may be within the criminals’ network as well as people who may be relative strangers to members of the crime ring. Anyone who knowingly handles dirty money may potentially be charged and convicted for a felony offense.

THE PLACEMENT STAGE

The first stage in the money laundering office is the placement stage. During the placement stage, criminals are most vulnerable to being caught. The money laundering process begins when a criminal organization is tasked with placing the money into the mainstream money supply while avoiding detection. This step is particularly risky because large sums of cash and unexplained bank deposits attract regulatory flags and unwanted attention to criminal organizations. To avoid the financial institutions’ regulatory processes, money launderers divide large sums of money into smaller amounts and enlist the help of other people to make small deposits.

Bulk cash smuggling is also a common practice during the placement stage. Criminal organizations often target members of immigrant communities, especially in cities and towns that are located near an international border, to smuggle cash into another country. Ideally, the country of choice will have less stringent regulatory requirements. Once the cash is across the border, money launders may deposit the money into accounts, make large purchases, or conduct other transactions to give the money the appearance of coming from a legitimate origin.

Money launders also place their illegal proceeds into cash businesses. Some examples of cash businesses are:

  • car washes
  • casinos
  • restaurants
  • laundromats
  • massage parlors

Once the money has been placed, members of the criminal enterprise can move the proceeds into other vehicles without as much of a risk of someone questioning the origins. The next step is to create more of a separation between the money and the illegal activity through which the criminal organization obtained it.

THE LAYERING STAGE

Money launderers use the layering stage to make it more difficult to trace the path illegal proceeds have taken. The layering stage consists of an intricate series of transactions that are designed to throw any investigator off the path that leads back to illegal activity. Some examples of transactions money launderers use to during the layering phase are:

  • purchasing real estate
  • purchasing luxury recreational vehicles
  • purchasing high-end artwork
  • trading stocks
  • trading cryptocurrency

During the layering stage, money launderers may also deposit portions of the money into financial accounts in multiple jurisdictions. By the time the dirty money trail has been completely layered, it is virtually impossible to trace the money back to its illegal origins.

THE INTEGRATION STAGE

When laundered money reaches the integration stage, members of the criminal organization can use it however they please. At this point, the money appears to come from legitimate origins.

LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR MONEY LAUNDERING CASES

We represent people who are accused of money laundering whether as part of a criminal organization or as an associate. Money launderers often use other people’s small businesses to conduct transactions to obscure the dirty money’s origins. People who handle money for money launderers do not always know where the money came from or the role they are playing in the process. Protect yourself by contacting a Key Biscayne white collar defense lawyer if you believe you may be implicated in a money laundering scheme.

Representation for racketeering organizations

In 1970, Congress enacted the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to make it easier for US Attorneys to prosecute members of criminal enterprises. Florida and several other states have since enacted their own versions of the RICO statute. Florida’s statute mostly mirrors the federal law. Similar to federal law, an individual in Florida may be convicted for violating the state RICO statute if:

  • he or she is a member of a criminal enterprise
  • he or she committed two or more crimes that qualify as “racketeering activity”
  • the crimes occurred within the state’s five-year statute of limitations
  • the crimes are related

In some ways, Florida’s RICO statute allows for more aggressive prosecution than the federal statute. The Florida statute includes a very robust section that details criminal acts that may be used to establish the “racketeering activity” statute in a state RICO case. Nearly every criminal offense in Florida’s legal code is included in the racketeering activity section. Florida’s racketeering law also allows prosecutors to charge entire criminal organizations instead of focusing on the members individually. Another unique feature is that Florida’s RICO statute specifically mentions crimes against the elderly as acts that qualify as “racketeering activity.”

DISPROVING A RACKETEERING ALLEGATION

There are several ways a Key Biscayne racketeering defense lawyer may challenge a racketeering charge. A defense attorney may argue that the defendant is not a member of a criminal enterprise. Participating in a criminal enterprise is a required element in proving racketeering. If the defendant has a criminal history, the defense attorney may argue that the defendant’s past crimes were dissimilar or otherwise unrelated to racketeering. Although state and federal governments have increased their efforts to investigate racketeering activity, your federal defense lawyer in Key Biscayne may be able to disprove RICO allegations against you.

Contacting a Key Biscayne white collar defense attorney

White collar offenses may seem different than other crimes, but they can land you in prison along with other defendants who did not win their case. If you are under investigation for a white collar offense, contact a reputable Key Biscayne white collar defense lawyer. Joffe Law is a premier white collar defense firm in South Florida. Call us to learn more about our proven track record of success in state and federal white collar crimes cases or to receive a case evaluation.

White collar-related crimes in Key Biscayne

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