White Collar Crimes in Pennsylvania

White Collar Crime - The Basics

The term "white-collar crime" was first coined by Edwin H. Sutherland, a noted sociologist, in 1939 in a speech he gave before the American Sociological Association.  Sutherland would later defined white-collar crime as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation."

White-collar crime is a broad term that covers a variety of nonviolent crimes that are alleged to involve cheating in one form or another.   White-collar crimes, also called business crimes, include fraud, healthcare fraud (stealing from hospitals, doctors and insurance companies), bribery, insider trading, embezzlement, computer crime and forgery.  According to the FBI, white-collar crimes total more than $300 billion annually.

The most significant difference between white-collar and other types of crime is the means by which offenses are carried out.  Most “blue-collar” crimes most often involve physical force; whereas white collar crimes are inherently technical in nature, often involving the manipulation of information either on paper or electronically.

White-collar offenses often fall under federal jurisdiction.  If personnel from one or more of the following federal agencies have questioned you, you may be the target of a white-collar crime investigation:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • United States Treasury
  • United States Postal Service
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service

It is important to recognize that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, have assembled teams of investigators and prosecutors who handle these cases. To fight these charges, you need defense attorneys who have handled these cases, understand the nature of the charges, and how to fight them.

Do not take the position that if the “feds” are not involved, it’s not a white collar investigation.  The Pennsylvania Attorney General investigates a wide variety of crimes, including Medicaid fraud, insurance fraud, environmental crimes, and many other crimes involving financial transactions.  It is also not unusual to have a State investigation go federal or to be investigated by a State Grand Jury for fraud, embezzlement, bribery, corruption, etc.

Unlike blue-collar crimes, in which the subject is usually unaware of the investigation, investigations of white-collar offenses have a well-defined target or pre-indictment phase.  A prosecutor may be gathering evidence to present to a grand jury if one or more of the following have happened to you:

  • You are contacted by a representative of any of the federal agencies listed above.
  • You are contacted by a representative of an analogous state agency.
  • You receive a grand jury subpoena to produce business records.
  • You are presented with a search warrant to seize business documents.
  • You receive a target or subject letter informing you that you're under investigation.

The Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray understands the many state and federal laws that apply to these cases, and will zealously investigate and defend you against the charges.  With aggressive investigation and lawyering, the Law of Kevin Mark Wray will try to convince the authorities to drop and dismiss charges at their inception.  When charges do go forward, Criminal Defense Attorney Kevin Mark Wray will aggressively and zealously defend you against them.

To set up a free consultation, contact Kevin Mark Wray at his office, via his mobile line or send him an email.

 

Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray
200 West Front Street
Media, PA 19063

(610) 800-5487 (mobile)
(610) 810-2999 (office)
(610) 566-1002 (fax)

This web posting is for general information and does not contain a full legal analysis of the matters presented.  It should not be construed as legal advice or relied upon as legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  The invitation to contact Kevin M. Wray, Esquire is not a solicitation to provide professional services and should not be construed as an availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction in which Kevin Wray is not licensed to practice.

 

Target Letters

What's a target letter?

A target letter is a letter that a federal prosecutor at a United States Attorney's office sends to inform someone that he or she is the target of a federal investigation.  Most often, the letter informs the recipient of the nature of the charges being investigated (e.g. insider trading, wire fraud, etc.).

Target letters are used during the target or pre-indictment phase of a white-collar crime investigation.  As might be expected, a target letter advises the recipient of his or her rights, in particular the right to counsel and the right not to testify.  If you receive a target letter, you are most likely going to be indicted.

What does a target letter look like?

The following is a sample target letter taken from the United States Attorney's Manual:

This letter is supplied to a witness scheduled to appear before the federal Grand Jury in order to provide helpful background information about the Grand Jury.  The Grand Jury consists of from sixteen to twenty-three persons from the District of ___.  It is their responsibility to inquire into federal crimes which may have been committed in this District.  As a Grand Jury witness you will be asked to testify and answer questions, and to produce records and documents.  Only the members of the Grand Jury, attorneys for the United States and a stenographer are permitted in the Grand Jury room while you testify.  We advise you that the Grand Jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving, but not necessarily limited to *.  You are advised that the destruction or alteration of any document required to be produced before the grand jury constitutes serious violation of federal law, including but not limited to Obstruction of Justice.  You are advised that you are a target of the Grand Jury's investigation.  You may refuse to answer any question if a truthful answer to the question would tend to incriminate you.  Anything that you do or say may be used against you in a subsequent legal proceeding.  If you have retained counsel, who represents you personally, the Grand Jury will permit you a reasonable opportunity to step outside the Grand Jury room and confer with counsel if you desire.  Cordially,

What should I do if I receive a target letter?

If you have received a target letter, the first thing you should do is retain the services of a criminal defense attorney, with experience representing people accused of financial and transactional offenses.  The complex nature of white-collar defense is such that not only do you need a criminal defense attorney familiar with business, securities, banking, finance and insurance, you need a legal team capable of maintaining the necessary investigatory and support efforts.

A timely response on your part is vital.  The sooner you retain a competent white-collar defense team during the pre-indictment phase, the easier it will be for that team to point out and deal with a misunderstanding on the prosecutor's part.  If your case does not involve a misunderstanding, your white-collar defense team will be able to work out the most favorable deal before, rather than after, an indictment is handed down.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a white collar crime in Southeastern Pennsylvania or have received a target letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office, please contact the Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray as soon as possible for a free consultation.

Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray
200 West Front Street
Media, PA 19063

(610) 800-5487 (mobile)
(610) 810-2999 (office)
(610) 566-1002 (fax)

This web posting is for general information and does not contain a full legal analysis of the matters presented.  It should not be construed as legal advice or relied upon as legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  The invitation to contact Kevin M. Wray, Esquire is not a solicitation to provide professional services and should not be construed as an availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction in which Kevin Wray is not licensed to practice.

White Collar Cases Defense and You

If you are facing a worst-case scenario and have to go to trial, a skilled white-collar criminal defense attorney should examine a variety of defenses.  Duress is a possible defense.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, duress is "a threat of harm made to compel a person to do something against his or her will or judgment."

There are also defenses and defensive strategies specific to white-collar crime. Here are a couple of examples:

Entrapment is a common defense in white-collar crime cases in which law enforcement officials have coerced a defendant into committing a criminal act that he or she otherwise would not have committed.

Absence of intent is yet another common defense in white-collar prosecutions. Because intent is an inherent part of most white-collar crimes, if your attorney can convince the prosecutors or a judge that you lacked the intent to commit a crime, a favorable outcome may be realized.

Because most white-collar crimes fall under federal jurisdiction, you need a criminal defense attorney who understands federal criminal procedure, federal law, and federal sentencing. Besides being familiar with federal rules, your attorney has to be familiar with government strategy in a white-collar case.  In recent years, the government has made increasing use of civil enforcement tools (e.g. asset forfeiture, actions under the False Claims Act, and regulatory investigations).  

If I am interviewed as part of an internal company investigation, may I have my lawyer present?

Almost never. Remember that the company will always put its interests before yours.  The company's own attorneys invariably conduct such interviews.  They will give you numerous reasons why you don't need your own counsel present, not the least of which is that the interview is privileged.  They'll also intimate that you don't really have anything to worry about.  However, if your company experiences even the slightest pressure from a federal prosecutor, they will often waive that privilege and hand over the results of their internal investigation.

Of course, you don't have to participate in the interview, but refusal may result in your termination.  In such a situation, you are most definitely between a rock and a hard place.  You need the experienced criminal defense attorney to help you make the decision that is best for you.

If you are under investigation for or have been charged with a white-collar offense, first realize that you are in serious trouble and that you need help.  Secondly, realize that you have to help yourself, and that one of the ways you can help yourself is to work as a team player with your attorney.

Be utterly honest with your attorney.  To be able to help you in the most effective manner, your lawyer has to know the whole story.

Also, you will have to work to help yourself.  You will have assignments, tasks, and chores to carry out, as will your attorneys.  You must function as part of a team with your attorney.  Whether you opt for a solo practitioner or a complete legal team of attorneys, you should first look for expert level knowledge in the area of white-collar defense.  You must also determine that your prospective white-collar defense is free of any conflicts (insist that any attorney you may engage has an internal system for determining conflicts of interest), is able to maintain confidentiality, and is willing to represent you vigorously.

You must also find someone who is willing to communicate with you in a timely and effective manner.  And you must be willing to communicate with your white-collar criminal defense attorney in precisely the same way.  To be able to represent you in the most effective manner, your attorney has to know everything.  For your part, you must be careful to be discreet so as not to endanger the privilege of confidentiality.  If you share the details of confidential communications between you and your counsel, you may seriously damage your case.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be sure to shop around carefully and find the white-collar criminal defense attorney that is right for you.

If you find yourself being arrested on a white-collar crime charge, there are some things you should avoid doing:

  • Don't run. If you attempt to flee, you run the risk of injury to yourself or others. You also run the risk of a very unpleasant forceful arrest. Law enforcement officials who have been forced to participate in a chase are more likely to be agitated and consequently draw their weapons.
  • Don't explain. You can only hurt yourself by talking. Simply invoke your right to remain silent by stating, "I'm not going to say anything until I speak to my attorney."
  • Don't get overconfident. This advice includes not getting chatty or sassy. By no means interfere with the law enforcement personnel affecting the arrest. They're just doing their job. You do yours by staying silent.
  • Don't give permission to search your person, your personal effects, your car, or your house or apartment. If ordered to turn over your bag or your keys, state the following in a firm but polite manner: "You do NOT have my permission to search." Then hand over the item. If there are witnesses nearby who overhear your statement, it may be possible for your attorney later to exclude from evidence what is found.
  • Don't look around nervously at the places you don't want them to search. Do not tip them off by looking at precisely where you don't want them to search. Also avoid gasping or sighing. Simply stare at the ground or ceiling. Refrain from answering questions like "What is this?" or "Who does this belong to?"
  • Don't resist arrest. Don't push back or knock their hands away.
  • Don't try to be nice. Trying to convince them of your innocence is useless. What you say can and will be used against you.
  • Don't believe what they tell you. They can lie to you in a number of ways to get you to talk. In fact, they will exert many different forms of psychological pressure on you. Just remain silent and wait to speak with your lawyer.
  • Don't invite them inside your home. And don't step outside either. To enter your home, they must have a warrant. Don't make anything easy for them. Simply say "I'll just stay right here" or "May I please see your warrant?" If they don't have a warrant and go away, contact your attorney immediately.
  • Don't agree to secure your car or go into your home. They can follow you and conduct a warrantless search.

If you are indicted on charges of having committed a white-collar crime, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to start discussing your case with people other than your white collar defense team and their staff.  If someone asks about your case, simply say that you have legal representation and are not at liberty to discuss the matter.

If you do not yet have competent white-collar representation and are questioned, just say that you're in the process of finding an attorney and cannot discuss the matter.

Remember that remaining silent is not the same as stating that you are under representation. This difference becomes especially important when you talk to law enforcement authorities.  If you have not been arrested, or are not otherwise in the custody of law enforcement, your silence can be seen as an admission of guilt.  However, if you have been arrested, or are in custody, your silence cannot be used against you.  The best policy in all circumstances is just to say that you have legal counsel (or are seeking it) and cannot discuss the matter.

Among the most terrible mistakes that any white-collar crime suspect can make is to destroy what the authorities could consider evidence or ask others to somehow cover the truth.  You can be completely innocent, but you will convince the prosecutor of your guilt if you tamper with documents or tell others to obfuscate.  When such behavior is revealed in court, the effects can be catastrophic.

It is important to recognize that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, have assembled teams of investigators and prosecutors who handle these cases. To fight these charges, you need defense attorneys who have handled these cases, understand the nature of the charges, and how to fight them.

The Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray knows the laws, rules and procedures necessary to defend clients involved with the wide range of crimes often known as white collar crimes, and Criminal Defense Attorney Kevin Mark Wray fights to obtain the best results for his clients.  Kevin Mark Wray advocates zealously, never forgetting that their most important goal is obtaining the best results for his clients, whether that means fighting procedural battles or representing his clients before a judge or jury.  Criminal Defense Attorney Kevin Mark Wray works hard for his clients, explaining his clients’ options and keeping them updated about the status of their cases.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a white collar crime in Southeastern Pennsylvania, please contact the Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray as soon as possible for a free consultation.

Law Office of Kevin Mark Wray
200 West Front Street
Media, PA 19063

(610) 800-5487 (mobile)
(610) 810-2999 (office)
(610) 566-1002 (fax)

This web posting is for general information and does not contain a full legal analysis of the matters presented.  It should not be construed as legal advice or relied upon as legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  The invitation to contact Kevin M. Wray, Esquire is not a solicitation to provide professional services and should not be construed as an availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction in which Kevin Wray is not licensed to practice.

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