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Parkland White Collar Crime Attorney

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Compared to other crimes, white collar offenses enjoy a more glamorous portrayal in pop culture and the news media. In reality, people who are convicted on white collar charges may potentially spend as much time in prison as those who commit violent offenses and drug crimes. Accusations of involvement with white collar crime should always be taken seriously. If you are facing uncertainty because you are under investigation for a white collar offense, Joffe Law will advise you of your legal options. David Joffe is South Florida’s trusted white collar crimes defense attorney. Joffe Law provides legal defense against white collar charges in Parkland FL and surrounding areas.

Definition of white collar crime

Coined by a criminologist during the late 1930s, the term “white collar crime” references the business professional wardrobe worn by the people who engaged in illegal financial activity. White collar crimes are mostly non-violent offenses. They are most often motivated by financial gain. Victims of white collar crimes can be everyday people, financial institutions, insurance companies, businesses, investors, and government entities.

Types of white collar offenses

We represent defendants in all types of white collar cases. Some of the most common examples of cases we handle include:

  • fraud
  • embezzlement
  • money Laundering
  • racketeering

From high-profile cases, to comparatively simple cases, we are committed to protecting your rights and defending your reputation against potentially damaging charges. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most common white collar crimes we see in Florida.

Fraud under Florida law

Florida’s fraud laws differ significantly from the federal statute. Nevertheless, a defendant may simultaneously face federal and state fraud charges depending on the facts of the case. Florida law references fraud offenses under the Scheme to Defraud section. A scheme to defraud is an ongoing course of conduct with an intent to deceive or obtain property from one or more people by making false representations, promises, pretenses, or willful misrepresentations of future acts. Under state law, fraud cases are classified into one of two categories: organized fraud and communications fraud. Organized fraud and communications fraud may be charged separately or in combination.

Communications fraud cases in Parkland

An individual may be charged with communications fraud if he or she engages in a fraudulent scheme and utilizes the mail, telephone, or other electronic means of communication with the goal of obtaining money or property. If the scheme involves less than $300, the offense is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison, one year on probation, and a fine of up to $500. The maximum penalty for felony fraud cases increases to up to five years in prison and a $5,000 crime if a communications fraud case involves more than $300. Communications fraud cases are based on the intent to receive money or property through a fraudulent scheme. Therefore, the defendant may be convicted if he or she did not actually receive money or property through the scheme.

Organized fraud cases

Organized fraud occurs when an individual engages in a scheme to defraud and actually obtains property through the scheme. Penalties for organized fraud are as follows:

  • up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the defendant received more than $50,000 through the fraudulent scheme
  • up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the defendant received at least $20,000 but less than $50,000 through the fraudulent scheme
  • up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if the defendant received less than $20,000 through the fraudulent scheme
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Embezzlement in Parkland FL

Embezzlement is the technical legal term for what is typically a simple concept. An individual embezzles money or property when he or she converts property that belongs to a person or entity to whom the embezzler owes a fiduciary duty. The most basic example of embezzlement occurs when an employer takes money without authorization from the employer and keeps the money for personal use. The employer entrusts its money to the employer for the purpose of the employer performing his or her job duties. The employee uses the entrusted position to deprive the employer of the money by taking the money for personal use. The existence of a fiduciary duty differentiates embezzlement from other types of theft. Some common examples of embezzlement include:

  • valet workers stealing customers’ vehicles
  • investment brokers diverting customers’ money into their own accounts
  • insurance agents keeping customers’ payments instead of forwarding the money to the insurance company
  • treasurers diverting the organization’s money into a personal account
  • government officials keeping an unauthorized portion of the department budget for themselves

Florida law does not have a separate embezzlement statute. Instead, state embezzlement cases are prosecuted under the state’s general theft statute.

Florida money laundering statute

Most criminal organizations that receive money from their criminal activity use the money laundering process. Money laundering occurs in multiple stages with the ultimate goal of giving the appearance that a criminal organization’s illegal proceeds have come from a legitimate financial resource. Not only do white collar criminals face charges for the crimes they commit to receive a financial benefit, but the act of laundering money is also illegal.

Stage 1 – Placement

The first step in the money laundering process is the placement stage. It is during the placement stage that money launderers are the most vulnerable. When criminals receive a large payout through their illegal activity, they have to figure out how to avoid detection while integrating the illegal proceeds into the money supply. During the placement stage, money launderers employ several strategies including:

  • smurfing
  • bulk cash smuggling
  • funding cash-based businesses

A “smurf” is an individual or group that deposits money into financial accounts on behalf of a criminal enterprise. When the criminal organization receives the illegal proceeds, members of the organization divide the money into smaller amounts to evade the regulatory detection systems banks have in place to detect criminal activity. The smurfs each take portions of the proceeds and divide the money across multiple accounts, which are often in other jurisdictions.

Money launderers enlist friends, relatives, associates, and sometimes random people who need money to engage in bulk cash smuggling. Money launderers pay people to physically transport cash across international borders into countries where banking regulations are not as strict. Although bulk cash smuggling is most common in cities and towns that are located near an international border, it can happen anywhere. It is not uncommon for criminal organizations to target immigrant communities to find people who can travel undetected with large sums of cash.

Smuggling cash may seem like relatively low-risk illegal activity. However, if caught, cash smugglers may be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Cash smuggling is financially risky for the smuggler and the criminal organization because if smugglers are caught, they are required to forfeit any property that can be traced back to the crime.

Some criminal organizations place their illegal proceeds into the money supply by investing in a cash-based business. The business may be operated by the organization or owned by someone to whom a member of the organization has some relation. Examples of cash businesses money launderers frequently use include:

  • restaurants
  • retail stores
  • convenience stores
  • liquor stores
  • laundromats
  • owning ATM machines
  • owning and operating vending machines
  • owning and operating parking garages

Everyday people who have no interest in illegal activity may find themselves facing criminal charges. Employees who work for businesses that are affiliated with illegal activity are often unaware that their employer is under criminal investigation. Nevertheless, when a law enforcement conducts a raid, they sometimes make arrests first and sort out the details later. If you believe you may be involved with a money laundering organization, protect yourself by retaining your own Parkland white collar crimes attorney.

 Stage 2 – Layering

Once money launderers successfully introduce their illegal proceeds into the mainstream money supply, the next step is to execute a series of transactions via the layering stage. The objective of each transaction is to further distance the money from the illegal activity through which the criminal organization received the money. Some examples of layering transactions money launderers use are:

  • Buying real estate
  • Investing in the stock market
  • Purchasing luxury recreational vehicles
  • Buying high-priced art

The people who engage in transactions with money launderers may be completely unaware that the money to complete the transaction comes from an illegal source. Nevertheless, investigators may be suspicious of all parties involved.

Stage 3 – Integration

By the time laundered money reaches the integration stage, tracing the dirty money back to its illegal origins is virtually impossible. At this stage, the money has been fully integrated into the legitimate money supply, and members of the criminal organization may spend the money however they please. The money may be used to support crime ring members’ households, fund businesses, pay for vacations, and cover other everyday expenses. Family members, significant others, and anyone else who receives the money may be questioned if a law enforcement agency investigates the crime ring that originally obtained the money through illegal activity.

Racketeering Defense in Parkland FL

Similar to the federal government, Florida has its own racketeering (RICO) statute. Florida law prohibits the participation in a criminal enterprise and engage in crimes the state describes as “racketeering activity.” Not only can a defendant who is a member of a criminal enterprise be charged for the illegal activity, but the racketeering also allows the individual to be charged under the racketeering statute for being affiliated with an illegal group. Examples of racketeering activities as defined by Florida law include:

  • arson and criminal mischief
  • assault and battery
  • bribery and misuse of public office
  • burglary and trespass
  • commercial sexual exploitation of children
  • computer-related crimes
  • creation of fictitious employer schemes
  • dog racing and horse racing
  • drug-related offenses
  • fraud
  • perjury
  • telemarketing schemes
  • theft, robbery, and related offenses
  • weapons and firearms

In addition to engaging in racketeering activity, Florida’s RICO statute allows prosecutors to charge individuals who use or invest proceeds with criminal intent. It is also illegal under Florida’s RICO statute for individuals to acquire or maintain an interest in an illegal enterprise or to collect an unlawful debt. Individuals who unknowingly engage in financial transactions with illegal enterprises may be charged under the state’s RICO Act. If you believe you may have transacted with a criminal organization, we recommend preemptively contacting a Parkland white collar crimes defense attorney to learn how you can protect your professional reputation and avoid criminal prosecution.

Florida lawyer for white collar crimes in Parkland

White collar criminal investigations are often large-scale operations that include people who may have never suspected they were in close proximity to illegal activity. Whether you were directly or indirectly involved in a white collar case or if you simply want to protect your name from criminal implications, contact the talented team at Joffe Law. Call us today to learn more about our proven track record of success with Florida white collar crimes cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I suspect my spouse is part of an illegal enterprise?

We highly recommend you speak with an attorney before deciding how you will approach the situation with your spouse. David Joffe and his team are available to provide confidential consultations to advise you of your potential legal options.

Can I be charged under federal law for RICO activity in Florida?

You can be charged under both federal and state law if the activity you engaged in met the requirements under the federal and state statutes. As a general rule, the federal government will have jurisdiction in a white collar crimes case if the activity involved two or more states, crossed an international border, occurred on government land, or involved a government agency or official. Call Joffe Law for further insight on whether your case is a matter of state, federal, or concurrent jurisdiction.

How can Florida charge me for embezzlement if the state does not have a specific law against the embezzlement?

Although Florida law does not specifically name embezzlement as its own offense, the act of embezzlement is covered by Florida’s general laws against theft. Moreover, a defendant who engages in embezzlement in a manner that triggers federal jurisdiction may specifically face an embezzlement charge under federal law, which carries more severe sentencing.

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