Crímenes de Cuello Blanco

crimenes de cuello blanco

Abogado de Crímenes de Cuello Blanco en Miami Ramon de la Cabada

Mientras que algunas personas piensan que el uso del dinero de la compañía que trabajan es un crimen sin víctimas, nosotros nos aseguramos de que este no es el caso. Crímenes de cuello blanco están convirtiendo en un problema cada vez mayor en todo el mundo y son por desgracia arruinando las vidas de muchos empresarios.

Cuando alguien escamotea dinero de una compañía, está poniendo toda la empresa en situación de riesgo. Tanto cuanto otros miembros del personal y sus familias. A medida que avanza la tecnología, este tipo de casos se vuelven más y más complejos. Actualmente, ser acusado de un crimen como este puede ser devastador para su carrera y puede reducir significativamente sus posibilidades de conseguir un trabajo en el futuro. Si usted cree que es objeto de una investigación del FBI, es importante que se comunique con un abogado que se especializa en crímenes de cuello blanco.

Abogado especializado en Crímenes de Cuello Blanco

Cuando se tiene la ayuda de un abogado especializado en delitos de cuello blanco estarás seguro que son capaces de construir una defensa sólida. Sólo los abogados con experiencia pueden obtener resultados. Al programar una cita con su abogado, es importante preguntar acerca de los tipos de casos que se especializa y cuáles son sus logros. Recuerde que cuando se reúna con un abogado para una consulta, que está entrevistando al igual que en una entrevista de trabajo. Asegúrese de preguntar todo lo que tiene preguntas y que sean compatibles.

Consulta Gratuita con Abogado Ramón de la Cabada

En la Oficina de Ramón de la Cabada, trabajamos con empresas de todo tipo, verificando que están de acuerdo con el gobierno. Somos conscientes de las complejidades de los casos de delitos de cuello blanco y sabemos lo que que hacer para obtener los mejores resultados. Si usted está interesado en ponerse en contacto para una consulta gratuita, estamos a su disposición en cualquier momento por teléfono 305-928-2028

Abogado de Defensa Criminal en Crímenes de ‘Hit and Run’

Defensa Criminal de Hit and Run Investigaciones

Un abogado de defensa criminal puede ayudar en casos de Falta de Información a la Policía o la Falta en prestar ayuda después de un accidente, crime comúnmente llamado “Hit and Run ‘ que es un delito en la Florida. Según el Código de Transporte del Estado, esto podría ser acusado como un delito menor o mayor. Si se entiende que una persona se escapa desde la escena de un accidente, el crimen ha sido cometido. Sin embargo, si se trata de un delito mayor o menor depende si alguien resultó herido en el accidente. Incluso si el accidente no fue culpa suya, un atropello y fuga son ilegales. Hay una responsabilidad legal para parar y proporcionar su información de contacto o dar ayuda si es necesario. Si el atropellado sufre lesiones o mismo la muerte como resultado del accidente, podrá resultar en un cargo de delito grave.

En muchos casos de un accidente con lesiones, los investigadores suponen que el conductor cometió un atropello y fuga porque la se vio afectado por el alcohol o las drogas. Que se verá en esa posibilidad como parte de su investigación, lo que podría resultar en un cargo adicional como DUI o intoxicación por homicidio involuntario. Independientemente de la gravedad del accidente debes consultar a un abogado de defensa criminal así que posible.

Abogado de Defensa Criminal para casos de ‘Hit & Run’

Si usted ha sido acusado de abandonar la escena de un accidente de DUI, se necesita un abogado de defensa criminal experto y tenaz a su lado. En la Oficina Legal de Ramón de la Cabada, vamos a utilizar toda nuestra experiencia y certificaciones para su defensa. Vamos a la investigación de todos los aspectos de su caso para que podamos asegurarse de obtener el juicio más justo posible y recibir un trato justo y razonable. Sabemos que frente a un DUI y ‘Hit and Run’ los cargos pueden ser confuso y aterradores, pero un buen abogado de defensa criminal puede ayudar a aliviar su mente.

Enfrentando encargos de ‘Hit & Run’ en la Florida?

Nuestra firma entiende que puede ser una razón válida para alguien no detenerse en la escena de un accidente. Por ejemplo, el conductor puede no darse cuenta de que había una colisión o está preocupado por su seguridad. Hablando con un investigador sin el consejo de un abogado defensor con experiencia no se recomienda y podría crear problemas en la defensa de su caso. El propósito de una investigación de aplicación de la ley es encontrar pruebas de la culpabilidad y proporcionarla a un fiscal. Como abogado de nuestra fundación sirvió como un ex fiscal y que entienda cómo el procesamiento construye su caso. Después de una investigación exhaustiva de las circunstancias de su accidente, nuestra firma trabajará con usted para diseñar una estrategia sólida de defensa criminal.

La protección de sus derechos legales y sus antecedentes penales es nuestra prioridad más alta. Llame a la Oficina Legal de Ramón de la Cabada para una consulta gratuita con un abogado de defensa criminal experto y experimentado.

Abogado Criminal en Miami

Seleccionar un Abogado Criminal en Miami es una decisión que podrá salvarle del cárcel, por lo que cuando usted o un ser querido encontrarse en busca de un abogado de defensa, la mejor opción para manejar su caso en Miami es una práctica privada con experiencia como Ramón de La Cabada.

Cuando una persona se pone en una posición difícil de ser un sospechoso o tal vez un testigo en un caso penal, es imprescindible ponerse en contacto con un abogado. Sin embargo, la oficina de aplicación de la ley a menudo ofrece la asistencia de un defensor público. Mientras que un defensor público puede parecer una buena opción por su atractivo económico, es importante conocer algunas realidades no reveladas sobre esos abogados.

Diferencias entre un Abogado Criminal en Miami y un Defensor Público

La Oficina de Defensa Pública en Miami maneja aproximadamente 90.000 casos al año. El 11º distrito es el más grande de los 20 distritos en el estado. Siendo que las oficinas de defensa pública están subvencionados públicamente, san comúnmente insuficientemente financiadas. Con un presupuesto limitado, carecen de recursos, conexiones y muchas veces del tiempo para dedicarse a cada caso. Mientras tanto, Abogado Criminal en Miami Sr. de la Cabada esta comprometido a su caso. Con experiencia como fiscal, el tiene no sólo el conocimiento del sistema, sino también conexiones beneficiosas para ayudar en una causa penal.

Otra razón para considerar un Abogado Criminal en Miami en lugar de un abogado defensor público es el dato que los casos de posesión de drogas, crímenes capitales y violentos y los crímenes de violencia doméstica pueden venir acompañados de asuntos civiles o administrativos que no están en el alcance del trabajo de un defensor público. Nuestra oficina ofrece la ayuda de un Abogado Criminal en Miami con experiencia junto con consultores y asociados para manejar, con pericia, cualquier resultado relacionado con el caso penal.

Si en última instancia, la elección de un Abogado Criminal en Miami cuelga en gastos, por favor, tenga en cuenta que los servicios de un defensor público sólo están disponibles para los acusados considerados “indigentes” o que no puedan pagar representación privada de acuerdo con la ley de la Florida.

Nuestra oficina de abogados, encabezados por el abogado Ramón de la Cabada, está disponible para una consulta sin cargo. Reconociendo que en los casos penales la intervención temprana es la clave para un resultado exitoso. Póngase en contacto con nuestra oficina hoy para programar su consulta.

Jail: Your Third Vacation Home? Task Forces Crackdown on Miami Mortgage Fraud

As one of the precipitating factors for the Great Recession of 2008, federal, state and local authorities have attempted to slam the door shut on the reckless mortgage application and closing practices of the past decade. Unfortunately, some innocent homeowners have been pinched in the process as authorities have swept them up in stings attempting to send a message about the sloppy practices of mortgage lenders, appraisers and title companies.
Nowhere is that more plain that in Miami. Miami-Dade County has been the epicenter of mortgage fraud, both in Florida and across the nation. As property values tumbled and tax revenues plummeted in recent years, public officials reacted. Mayor Carlos Alvarez created the Mortgage Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud under Florida’s statute 817.545, enacted in 2007 to combat mortgage fraud. The Florida statute defines mortgage fraud as a material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission that a lender, borrower or anyone involved in the mortgage lending process relies on to fund, purchase, or insure a loan. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force and the mortgage fraud statute have been models for other localities to follow.
Who and What Are the Mortgage Fraud Task Force Targeting?
According to information provided by the National Association of Counties (NACo), mortgage fraud can either be considered “fraud-for-property” or “fraud-for-profit.” Fraud-for-property is generally a misstatement by a homeowner or lender used to obtain a single property, such as an inflation of the applicant’s income or a statement that the mortgage is for a primary residence rather than a second vacation home to obtain a better mortgage rate. Fraud-for-profit is an ongoing fraud scheme that may be used to obtain many properties, depending on the success of the fraud.
NACo notes that the intent of the Florida law and the task force is to go after the fraud-for-profit schemes: those schemes usually involve multiple parties including straw buyers and appraisers who inflated appraisals, and as a result of their activities, a bank was left holding a worthless mortgage. But investigations by the FBI, Florida authorities and others indicate that even homeowners who may have been unaware of a misstatement in their mortgage applications have been caught up in the mortgage fraud dragnet. Lenders, appraisers and others who relied on these mistakes may also be investigated.
The complicated nature of the closing process and the numerous legal documents that must be signed can contribute to circumstances in which mortgage fraud might occur. Some homeowners have been encouraged to sign blank or incomplete documents to speed up the closing. At the last minute, substantial changes might have been made to closing documents resulting in errors or omissions. Others may have been encouraged to misstate the length of their employment or the source of their down payment or to downplay the extent of their debts to obtain loan approval.
How Does the Mortgage Fraud Task Force Pursue a Case?
The Mortgage Fraud Task Force has cast a wide net for mortgage fraud. If a law enforcement official gets a tip that mortgage fraud has occurred (Mayor Alvarez’s website now includes a tip form to download), the authorities usually review all mortgage files for the firm under investigation to determine whether a pattern of fraud emerges. Thus one mortgage fraud tip can result in dozens or even hundreds of separate charges of mortgage fraud if investigators determine that fraud exists in the mortgage application or purchase process.
According to Glenn Theobald, chief legal counsel for the Miami-Dade police department and the task force chair, complaints on mortgage fraud more than doubled from about 200 to about 400 after the task force formed.
What Are the Boundaries of the Mortgage Fraud Laws?
Under Florida law, the statute of limitations for mortgage fraud cases is five years. As the period to bring charges begins to expire for many applications made during the height of the real estate boom, the task force has additional incentive to build cases for prosecution quickly.
Mortgage brokers have a duty to retain their files for three years in Florida. In some cases, evidence of mortgage fraud has already been inadvertently destroyed. In others, information to build a case lurks. If you or your company is under investigation for mortgage fraud, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami to discuss your rights and options.

White-Collar Crime: But I Was Just Following Orders

Most people do not think much about whether what their employers tell them to do is legal. But to protect themselves, employees sometimes do need to independently question the legitimacy of their work. A case in point is a recent criminal action in Florida federal court against two business executives.
Problems at Stanford Financial
Texas billionaire financier R. Allen Stanford established several private finance companies known collectively as Stanford Financial Group (SFG), including Antigua-based Stanford International Bank (SIB), well known for offering certificates of deposit (CDs) with exceptionally high rates of return.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the federal agency responsible for regulating financial securities such as stocks and bonds. The SEC sued SFG in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas, alleging a Ponzi-like scheme. The February 2009 lawsuit alleged that SFG violated federal civil securities laws by making fraudulent statements when marketing billions of dollars worth of SFG products, including the CD offerings and a mutual-fund program, called Stanford Allocation Strategy (SAS).
Jailed without bail in Houston, Allen Stanford is also accused personally of related federal securities crimes, including bribery, which could bring him life in prison. He maintains his innocence and is to be tried in early 2011.
The Anti-Shredding Order
In the civil case, the federal court in Dallas ordered that SFG preserve its financial records for review in the SEC investigation.
A few days later in SFG’s Fort Lauderdale office, two Stanford employees directed an independent shredding company to destroy thousands of company records:
Bruce Perraud, Global Security Specialist for SFG
Thomas Raffanello, Global Director of Security for SFG and formerly the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) operations in Florida and the Caribbean who worked on the criminal case against Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega
Authorities brought charges against Perraud and Raffanello in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. The indictment alleged that they knowingly violated the Texas court’s order not to destroy company records and conspired to obstruct the SEC proceeding and investigation, charges that could have landed either of them in prison for up to 40 years.
The defendants and their attorneys had some interesting responses, including:
The shredding was routine practice in the paperless office.
The paper documents were backed up by computer.
The shredded documents were not the type covered by the Texas court order.
The office was too small to store the amount of paper that was destroyed.
Raffanello himself was a victim of mismanagement at SFG because he had invested his own money with the firm, so he would have no motive to participate in any illegal activity as an employee.
Court observers were shocked at the dramatic outcome of the criminal trial, presided over by Judge Richard W. Goldberg, a visiting senior judge from the U.S. Court of International Trade. After a long trial, Goldberg cut short the second day of jury deliberations by announcing he was acquitting the two of all charges.
The judge emphasized that he did not believe the evidence supported the necessary element of intent to commit the crimes charged. Judge Goldberg’s order was seen by many in the legal community as gutsy, brave and unexpected.
Protect Yourself from White-Collar Crime Charges
This case raises important questions for anyone asked to perform a duty that may violate the law in the course of employment. Most often the instruction is not to commit an act of violence, but an act that is somehow related to dishonesty or fraud in the business context, known broadly as white-collar crime.
If an employee is ordered to do something that he or she feels may be illegal, the employee should immediately express concern and ask questions of management, the human resources department, compliance officers and in-house legal counsel. However, the company’s lawyers represent first the company’s interests, which may not be the same as the individual employee’s.
And an executive who has bad motives may not give the questioning employee a straight or honest answer about the legality of the requested action. An upper-level manager may be looking for someone else to take the blame or to be fired for the action.
Most importantly, an employee who has been asked to do something that feels wrong and who is not satisfied with the answers coming back in response to his or her questions or who is afraid to even ask questions at work, should hire his or her own private, outside lawyer for guidance and protection.
Compliance Officers: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Even the compliance officer charged with maintaining business practices that comply with the law and with company policies can be squeezed by limited resources with which to do his or her job, or by pressure from an executive into taking uncomfortable and potentially dangerous action from a legal liability standpoint. Of course a compliance officer works closely with company lawyers in directing operational compliance with the law, but a compliance officer should consult his or her own private lawyer immediately if he or she feels the law or his or her integrity is on the line at work.
An innocent employee should never be required to take action for which he or she could eventually be criminally liable. In most scenarios, an employee will be held personally liable for a corporate crime in which he or she participates.
“I was just following orders” is usually not a legal defense for an employee who commits a crime at work, even if directly instructed to take the illegal action by a superior. However, it is crucial to get knowledgeable advice away from work from a lawyer in your jurisdiction to advise you about the state and federal laws and defenses that could come into play in your unique situation.
In at least one state, the employer may be criminally responsible for ordering an employee to commit a crime in the course of employment, but it is not clear that the employer’s criminal responsibility would get the employee off the hook personally.
However, as in the SFG shredding case, weak evidence of personal criminal intent can be fatal to the prosecution’s case.
If something doesn’t feel right about an order at work, stop, clarify and get legal advice before you go any further. Your livelihood, your freedom and your good name could be on the line.

Declarando Cuentas Secretas en el Extranjero

El final de un programa de amnistía fiscal especial para las personas con cuentas secretas bancarias en el extranjero ha dejado un camino incierto para aquellos que todavía quieren revelar sus cuentas y evitar multas o penas de prisión.

El programa comenzó en marzo, un mes después de que UBS con sede en Zurich pagó $780 millones y evitó el enjuiciamiento al admitir que ayudó a los estadounidenses a evadir impuestos, y terminó en 15 de octubre. Durante este tiempo, más de 7.500 estadounidenses aprovecharon el programa de divulgación voluntaria,y informaran al IRS sobre cuentas en el extranjero con entre $10.000 y $100 millones en fondos no declarados.

El objetivo del programa especial de amnistía fiscal era permitir a los contribuyentes a evitar el procesamiento y la divulgación pública de su identidad mediante la revelación de sus cuentas y pagar impuestos, multas y sanciones.

De acuerdo con la ley federal, cualquier estadounidense que tiene una cuenta bancaria offshore con más de $10.000 en él en cualquier momento durante el año debe informar que cuenta y pagar impuestos sobre los ingresos obtenidos en ella. Los que no vienen de riesgos hacia adelante perder $ 100.000 o el 50 por ciento del valor de una cuenta en el extranjero (en función de que es más alto). La pena puede aplicar cada año que los formularios requeridos no se presentan. Esto significa que después de cuatro años de no cumplimiento, el titular de una cuenta puede deber cerca de 200 por ciento del valor en la cuenta.

Debido a estas sanciones, el programa del IRS ofreció individuos con cuentas de banco offshore no revelado la oportunidad de “confesar” con respecto a estas cuentas y evitar las sanciones legales y financieras que enfrentarían lo contrario. Sin embargo, es importante señalar que un período abierto de divulgación voluntaria puede tener ventajas y desventajas para los titulares de cuentas bancarias en el extranjero.

Una ventaja es que los titulares de las cuentas pueden evitar la persecución penal del IRS y limitar la exposición a la delincuencia de impuestos que pueden haber enfrentado. Aunque, a pesar de esta ventaja es importante para asegurar un acuerdo abarca todo se ha alcanzado con el gobierno para evitar la exposición de morosidad tributaria.

Por otro lado, una desventaja para abrir periodos de revelación es que el titular de la cuenta ha puesto a sí mismos en la pantalla de radar del IRS. Esto podría dar lugar a consecuencias negativas en el futuro, tales como auditorías múltiple.

La revelación de cuentas en el extranjero del Banco

Hay señales de una postura más agresiva de Estados Unidos hacia el uso ilegal de cuentas en el extranjero. El IRS planea contratar 800 agentes y abrir o ampliar las oficinas en lugares como Hong Kong, Pekín, Ciudad de Panamá y Barbados para investigar cuentas en el extranjero. Singapur e Israel, entre otros lugares, pueden también ser incluidos.

Ahora que el programa especial de amnistía fiscal ha caducado, los titulares de cuentas se preguntan qué pueden hacer si quieren dar a conocer sus cuentas en el extranjero sin tener que enfrentar repercusiones legales completos. Es importante saber que a pesar de que el período de apertura ha terminado, todavía hay opciones.

Una opción puede ser la de pagar al IRS lo que debe sin llamar la atención. Esto se puede hacer mediante la presentación de declaraciones enmendadas vuelta, el reembolso de impuestos e intereses y en espera del resultado.

Otro enfoque puede ponerse en contacto con el IRS y hacer una divulgación voluntaria, en las que paga impuestos, intereses y multas. Esa fue la opción de muchos optaron, antes del 15 de octubre, para aprovechar el programa de amnistía. Sin embargo, se espera que las sanciones civiles aumentarán ahora que el programa de divulgación voluntaria ha terminado.

De cualquier manera, la clave es que presente antes de ser procesado por el IRS. Hay muchos temas para descifrar al revelar las cuentas bancarias en el extranjero. Por lo tanto, es importante consultar con un abogado penal, con experiencia en la defensa materia fiscal, y un contador público certificado (CPA) para ayudar a proteger sus derechos y aprender más sobre sus opciones.

Federal Procurement Fraud Claims Likely to Rise

The current willingness in Washington to give out millions of dollars to help spend the US out of recession may end up pushing the country further into debt. Many of the programs aimed at jump-starting the economy and infusing cash into dying market sectors come with little to no government oversight, which may result in a vast increase in the number of government contract procurement fraud cases.
In this type of distressed economic situation, it is more important now than ever before for businesses to ensure they have effective and efficient corporate compliance procedures in place to protect themselves from federal procurement fraud claims.
Federal Procurement Fraud
Each year, the federal government signs contracts worth billions of dollars with private companies and contractors for different types of goods and services. Procurement fraud refers to the practice of using false or deceptive methods in bidding and fulfilling government contracts. The fraud can occur in a number of ways, including:
Bid fixing
Cost mischarging
Defective pricing
Defective parts
Labor mischarging
Price fixing
Product substitution
Procurement fraud is a federal crime. The crime is punishable under several different federal laws, including the False Claims Act, Sherman Anti-Trust Act, Contract Disputes Act and the Truth in Negotiations Act. In 2006, the federal government recovered over $3 billion from procurement fraud cases.
New Programs Likely to Lead to Increased Fraud
With the current government’s emphasis on giving money to state infrastructure projects (like building/repairing bridges and roads) and environmentally sound projects (like “Cash for Clunkers”), the potential for fraud is rising exponentially. In a bad economy, businesses are in dire need of capital and some will use any means available to secure funding – even if these means are illegal.
Some of the areas that may be particularly vulnerable to fraudulent schemes include:
Green projects seeking government tax breaks or subsidies by claiming to be environmentally friendly
Projects claiming minority involvement in order to receive government tax breaks or subsidies
New ambitious infrastructure projects that will take many years to complete (i.e., bridges, tunnels, highways)
Lack of Government Oversight Not New
The government’s willingness to pay as well as its need to appear assertive, decisive and ready to take action may be trumping the need to first create proper infrastructure to oversee the projects before handing out tax-payer money. Instead, the federal government is pushing the country trillions of dollars into debt without first ensuring they are getting what they paid for.
Unfortunately this is not a new situation. There are many examples of the federal government willingly handing out tax-payer money without ensuring the money was used for proper purposes. For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, the government began a mass effort to enroll new health care providers into Medicare and Medicaid plans without truly vetting the providers to ensure they were legitimate providers.
More recently, this happened right here in Florida. It used to be that Medicaid did not even require an onsite inspection of a medical clinic prior to approving it and issuing it a provider number for billing. The result was millions of dollars paid to “phantom clinics” that would open for business and suspiciously bill hundreds of thousands of dollars in the first couple of months, receive payment and then disappear. The services were never provided because the patients were “professional” patients. As a result, the federal government lost thousands of dollars to Medicaid fraud.
More recently, there has been public outrage over how the financial institutions on Wall Street have used government bail-out funds. It is not known where all the money has gone and Americans are left questioning how their money has been used, especially after news reports of CEOs receiving huge bonuses.
Government Efforts to Monitor Fraud
The previous lapses in oversight, by both the Obama and Bush administrations, in the use of federal dollars have received much criticism from the press and public. There are some indications that this criticism has been at least partially heeded.
In 2006, the National Procurement Fraud Task Force (NPFTF) was created to provide the government with a group specifically focused on detecting and prosecuting procurement fraud. The task force includes members from the FBI, the Department of Justice and others. Since its creation, it has prosecuted more than 400 cases, resulting in more than 300 criminal convictions and millions of dollars in civil judgments and settlements.
In May 2009, President Obama took action to strengthen the federal government’s ability to prosecute those who defraud the government. The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA) makes several important changes, including expanding the reach and scope of the False Claims Act (FCA) to include those in TARP programs and those receiving stimulus money. In addition, FERA allocates $500 million to the DOJ, FBI, SEC and other federal agencies to help fund their efforts to prosecute fraud.
With the addition of the NPFTF and the passage of FERA, it is clear the federal government is serious about taking action against procurement fraud in government contracts. It has yet to be seen if these efforts will be enough to police the use of stimulus funds and other federal dollars.
Corporate Compliance Plans a Necessity
As the federal government continues its efforts to spend the country out of recession, it is vital that businesses take proactive steps to protect themselves from procurement fraud claims.
It is not surprising that procurement fraud claims increase in depressed economies. The need to cut costs leads some businesses to make poor decisions about where these cuts should be made. For many, the cuts may affect their information technology sectors and the companies may decide to wait on important system upgrades. However, IT systems are one of the most important ways for businesses to monitor employee activities, particularly in the bidding process and fulfillment of government contracts.
During such a turbulent time, corporations and other businesses need to strengthen and streamline their compliance procedures rather than take any steps that weaken them. It is necessary that companies not only have a sound corporate compliance program in place, but that they actually use it to monitor employee activities. The risks are too high to do otherwise, particularly with the potential of federal criminal prosecution and millions of dollars in civil fines.
Businesses concerned about the strength of their compliance policies or who are concerned about the possibility of federal prosecution for procurement fraud should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. There may be remedial steps that can be taken to reduce penalties the company may face.

Strengthening Fraud Enforcement

A federal statute was recently enacted which expands the government’s ability to prosecute fraud. A Florida statute regulating money services businesses was also recently amended.
On May 20, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009. FERA provides government agencies with increased funding and better tools with which to combat financial and mortgage fraud. The Act makes a number of changes to fraud and money laundering statutes. One purpose for these changes is to ensure that private mortgage brokers and companies are held fully accountable under federal fraud statutes.
FERA amends the definition of “financial institution” in the criminal code to include mortgage lending businesses. This extends federal fraud laws to cover mortgage lending businesses not directly regulated or insured by the federal government. Thus private mortgage lenders will be subject to the same oversight and enforcement as other financial institutions.
FERA also amends the federal money laundering statute to extend the definition of “proceeds” to include gross receipts of illegal activity, rather than just profits derived from it. This makes proof of money laundering easier to establish.
The Florida Senate passed a bill (SB 1534) this year which amends Chapter 560 of Florida Statutes, which regulates money services businesses. Governor Charlie Crist signed the bill into law in June.
Prior to January 2009, money services businesses were required to keep records of each transaction occurring in Florida known to involve currency or other monetary instruments over $10,000 in value; to involve proceeds of specific unlawful activity or to be intended to avoid reporting requirements. The record keeping requirements were unintentionally lessened as part of legislation enacted in 2008. This bill reinstates previously existing record keeping and reporting requirements, making them consistent with the requirements of financial institutions.
The bill also amends the statute to clarify language dealing with license application and renewal fees for money services businesses’ authorized vendors. Authorized vendors act on behalf of money services businesses at various locations. For example, licensees such as Western Union and MoneyGram may use authorized vendors located at convenience stores to sell their products such as money orders.
Before SB 1534 was enacted, it was possible to interpret the law to mean that fees are to be assessed based upon each authorized vendor rather than each location of an authorized vendor. The bill modifies the statute’s language used in assessing fees in order to remove this ambiguity. This makes clear that fees for authorized vendors of licensees are assessed per location, rather than on a per appointment basis.
If you operate a mortgage lending or money services business, it is imperative that you stay abreast of changes in laws that may impact your business. If you are in need of a business compliance plan or involved in an investigation, contact an attorney to protect your legal rights.

Loan Modification Companies and the Law

If you are operating a loan modification business, it is imperative that you are informed about the laws that apply to your company. Each state has different statutes and regulations describing who may modify mortgages for homeowners and how the process must proceed.
Some states are fraught with oversight and regulations, such as the requirement that anyone working as a loan modification consultant must have a mortgage broker license or be an attorney. Alternatively, other states have almost no guidelines regarding mortgage loan modifications. In response to the state of our economy, many states are currently creating, changing or adding loan modification requirements, which can be confusing to navigate. If you don’t know the regulations in your state, you should seek help from a legal professional.
Fraud Protection in Florida
On October 1, 2008, the Florida Legislature enacted the Florida Foreclosure Fraud Protection Act. This law prohibits loan modification companies from receiving upfront payments for loan modification services that may never be rendered. This law also mandates that homeowners must receive specific written disclosures informing them of their rights and a “cooling off” period.
The new law, Fla. Stat. Sec. 501.1377, was intended to protect the consumer, but it may ultimately hurt the very people it meant to protect. Some bad apples created a negative perception of the loan modification industry, which is unfair. Reputable loan modification companies have been providing a very valuable and much needed service to the consumer − loans are being modified at very favorable terms, which include interest rate and sometimes principal rate reductions.
By conducting audits of the loan in question and detecting errors or insufficient disclosures, loan modification companies are very effective in exerting pressure on financial institutions to modify loans or face the consequences of those violations. Banks can sometimes be difficult to reach, which requires persistent staff from these loan modification companies to maintain communication with them. All of these efforts result in significant overhead, which loan modification companies must front. By creating a law, which makes it illegal for a loan modification company to receive an upfront payment until the benefit is obtained; loan modification companies have to stay afloat until the bank decides to resolve a claim.
Under this present scheme, banks are fully aware of the financial strain placed on the loan modification companies and, thus, have no incentive to resolve a modification expeditiously. Secondly, once the loan modification company obtains the benefit, there is less of an incentive for the consumer to pay the fee to the loan modification company.
Regulation of Loan Modification Companies
Other states are also providing strong regulatory protection to consumers needing loan modifications. In California, loan modification companies must be licensed with the Department of Real Estate (DRE). In order to collect advance money, brokers must have a specific agreement called an Advance Fee Agreement, approved by the DRE. Under the California Foreclosure Consultants Act, brokers are not permitted to collect advance fees if a notice of default has been recorded against a property.
Additionally, a new organization designed to help the loan modification industry police itself was formed this year. The National Loan Modification Association of America (NLMAA) was founded to help ensure that clients of loan modification companies are dealt with fairly and honestly. The organization’s goal is to have members who commit to a code of ethics when working with consumers.
It is important that loan modification companies have a compliance program in place to navigate the labyrinth of laws and regulations. The first course of action in implementing a compliance plan is to contact an attorney who is experienced in wading through the relevant rules and regulations.
Conclusion
With the new laws in place, there may be some loan modification companies who have violated the law unwittingly. If you have been contacted by law enforcement about an investigation or are being prosecuted for fraud in relation to your role in providing loan modification services, you should hire a skilled and respected criminal defense attorney from the outset. The penalties for violating laws against fraud may be severe and it is in your best interest to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the nuances of the laws of your state.

The Bi-Partisan Criminal Justice Reform Act: It’s a start.

Congress rolled out a bi-partisan criminal reform bill that is cited as being the most comprehensive set of reform proposals in recent years. Among other things, it does away with the previous “three strikes” rule wherein a defendant convicted of a third non-violent drug charge may face a mandatory life sentence. It expands the safety valve provisions which allows certain non-violent drug offenders to be sentencing under the minimum mandatory sentence and reduces minimum mandatory sentences for those classified as “career criminals” and firearm offenses.

In addition, the act would prohibit solitary confinement of minors and allow for minors serving life sentences to apply for parole after serving 20 years of their sentence.

By far the most interesting part of the act is the creation of rehabilitative and anti-recidivism programs tailored to the particular inmate based on their crime(s) and needs. If the inmate successfully participates, they could earn credit in the form of 10 calendar days per months or up to 120 days per year off their sentence.

It is refreshing to see Congress agreeing on anything but particularly on such controversial issues as finding ways to reduce prison sentences. The fact that we have both parties agreeing that there is a need for this reform is a testament to the monumental problem facing our federal criminal justice system: the over-incarceration and dolling out hefty sentences that do not ultimately equate to a reduction in crime or the rehabilitation of those convicted. While the act is a great start, as long as lengthy minimum mandatory sentences and exaggerated loss amounts creating excessive sentences are still the norm within the Federal Justice system, we will have a ways to go.