Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

Federal authorities have accused four American Airlines flight attendants of money laundering after they were allegedly found with more than $22,000 in cash during a customs check.

An arrest report says a Customs and Border Patrol agent put a 40-year-old flight attendant through a routine check after arriving at Miami International Airport on a flight from Chile early Monday.

Reports indicate that he claimed to have $100, but an agent found $9,000. Three other flight attendants were then searched.

The report says a 55-year-old flight attendant had $7,300 and a 48-year-old flight attendant had $6,371. A fourth flight attendant was also arrested.

The flight attendants told agents they were smuggling the cash on behalf of someone else.

American Airlines said it is cooperating with authorities, according to reports.

Money laundering is a serious crime that carries very real and severe penalties if convicted. Money laundering is defined as transferring money obtained from any kind of illegal activity and then “cleaning,” or disguising the funds by using a legal means to hide the source of the money. To fight these criminal charges, it is vital to have a South Florida White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton on your side who has experience and understanding of your legal rights and options. Federal money laundering charges will never go away on their own. This is a white collar crime that is aggressively prosecuted because of the deception and fraud tactics involved. The stakes are high in these types of cases and the government will do everything in their power to obtain a conviction. 

Money laundering and all other related offenses are commonly prosecuted in federal courts, which is why anyone accused of this crime needs criminal lawyers that are capable of handling a federal defense. Federal Courts are different from State Courts and these cases require different types of defense strategies. You need to be aware that money laundering is investigated by large government agencies, like the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) or ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), that have essentially a limitless supply of resources and time to build their cases. If you think you might be a suspect or under investigation for money laundering, or if you have been charged with a crime by the federal government, it is absolutely critical that you obtain the services of our experienced Federal Crime Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton.

In order for a prosecutor to successfully prove the crime of money laundering, they must only show that the source of the dirty money was from some type of criminal activity. Criminal activity can include:

  • Blackmail
  • Bribery
  • Drug trafficking
  • Drug distribution
  • Extortion
  • Theft

A conviction for money laundering is subject to strict sentencing guidelines and lengthy prison terms and financial restitution based on the amount of money involved. If convicted of money laundering under the federal statute, a person could face up to 20 years in prison and fines of $500,000 or twice the amount of the money laundered in the scheme, or in some cases both. 

When you are facing a money laundering charge, you are likely under high levels of stress and concerned about what could happen to your future. Your life is on the line in these cases, and our Florida White Collar Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand this. We want to help you fight through this difficult time. As former prosecutors, we have an intimate knowledge of working on these types of cases, and we can provide you with an effective and committed legal defense. We can support you throughout criminal proceedings and fight tirelessly to protect your rights. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome in your individual case.

The sooner that we get involved in your case, the better your chances at preventing formal charges from being filed. Money laundering charges usually involve multiple parties that are responsible for illegal activity, and we will want to minimize the consequences that you are facing. What we do at the very start of your case has the potential to change the entire outcome of the investigation. By having us on your side, you can improve your chances of a favorable outcome. 

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A Florida man has pleaded guilty to stealing dozens of letters that contained more than $170,000 in checks.

Court records show that the 34-year-old man was convicted of mail theft Wednesday in West Palm Beach federal court. He faces up to five years in prison at a Dec. 13 sentencing.

Prosecutors allege the man was doing lawn maintenance in July when he saw a resident drop a stack of envelopes into a mailbox. Investigators say the man took 39 checks valued at nearly $172,000 from the box.

The resident noticed the letters were gone while trying to mail another letter and contacted the carrier. A neighbor also called the police after seeing someone remove the letters.

The man was identified as a suspect, and the letters were recovered from his company’s work truck.

Stealing mail or obtaining it through means of fraud or deception is a serious federal crime that carries very real penalties. Even simply attempting to commit mail theft or having stolen mail, letters, or packages in your possession can lead to serious jail time and significant fines. For these reasons, if you are being investigated for mail theft, it is very important to seek the help of an experienced white collar crime lawyer who can help you establish a strong defense.

The U.S. Postal Service delivers advertisements, personal letters, and coupons, and it also transports valuable items, such as credit cards, checks, merchandise, and prescription medications. Congress made mail theft a federal offense to help stop the theft of these types of items. A piece of mail could be anything from a postcard or a letter to a package or a mail bag. To be charged with this crime, you do not even have to keep the mail that was taken. Purchasing, receiving, possessing, destroying, and hiding mail that someone knew was stolen also falls under the broad category of mail theft.

Under United States Code 18 Section 1708, federal mail theft is a felony. If you are convicted of mail theft, you can face up to five years in prison and a substantial fine of $250,000.

Under US Code 18 Section 1708, mail theft is defined as taking any piece of mail that is not your own for any purpose. A piece of mail can be any letter, postal card, package, box or bag. Mail theft can result from stealing from private mailboxes, collection boxes, postal workers or mail trucks.

Depending on how the crime of mail theft is carried out, you could also face other charges accompanying a mail theft charge, including assault and breaking and entering. If personal identifying information was stolen and used, you can also face charges of identity theft. Personal identifying information includes:

  • Names
  • Dates of birth
  • Addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Tax I.D. numbers
  • Social security numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Passport information
  • School I.D. numbers
  • Employee I.D. numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Credit card account information
  • Birth/death certificate information

Much like any other types of theft charges, ignorance is not an acceptable excuse to avoid guilt. So even just accepting stolen mail could result in charges being brought against you. 

Federal prosecutors will give want you to give up quickly in these types of cases. That is why it is so important to have an attorney on your side to make sure your rights are protected and fight back against their accusations. As former prosecutors, we know where to find deficiencies and how to work with prosecutors and judges to achieve the best possible outcome.

If you or someone you love is facing a federal mail theft charge, it is crucial that you speak to our experienced South Florida Mail Fraud & Theft Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. We will fight for your legal rights and work hard to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. 

Even if you are only under investigation, there are steps that an experienced lawyer can take to protect your rights. Do not wait until it is too late. Contact us for a free consultation and we can get to work investigating your case and building the strongest defense possible.

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A Florida man was convicted Friday of running an 18-year, $1.3 billion health-care fraud that prosecutors called the largest scheme of its kind ever charged by the Justice Department.

The 50-year-old Miami Beach resident apparently used a network of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in South Florida to defraud U.S. government healthcare programs while providing inadequate and unnecessary care to patients, prosecutors said.

The man is apparently made off with at least $37 million for himself from 1998 to 2016, according to prosecutors, using the money to finance a lavish lifestyle of fancy cars and a $360,000 watch.

The man also used some of the proceeds from the fraud to bribe the University of Pennsylvania basketball coach to help get his son into the school, prosecutors allege. The coach pleaded guilty to money laundering last year in connection with the case.

Prosecutors said the man bribed doctors to admit patients to the facilities he operated. The patients didn’t get appropriate care and sometimes received unnecessary services for which the man then billed the U.S. government.

The man also bribed a Florida state regulator to learn about surprise inspections of company facilities ahead of time, prosecutors said.

The total value of fraudulent claims that the man’s companies submitted to Medicare and Medicaid exceeded $1.3 billion, according to prosecutors.

A jury found the man guilty on 20 counts in U.S. district court in the Southern District of Florida. Charges included conspiracy to defraud the United States, receiving kickbacks, money laundering and conspiracy to commit bribery. Two co-conspirators pleaded guilty. Sentencing hasn’t been scheduled.

Health care fraud is a very serious crime that the federal government and the state of Florida will pour countless resources into to uncover alleged fraud. Anyone from an individual doctor to a billing company to an entire hospital system can be the target of a lengthy investigation.

The government is aggressive when it comes to investigating these claims. You need an equally aggressive attorney fighting on your side to protect you from health care fraud charges. Our South Florida Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand how to defend these health care fraud charges and will work tirelessly to protect you from the government’s powerful grasp. We will provide you with an honest assessment of your situation and help you understand the possible defenses that may be available. We want to minimize any damage to you and your reputation.

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On Friday, a federal jury convicted a Florida health care executive on 20 criminal counts in what prosecutors described as a $1 billion Medicare fraud scheme.

Jurors reached a partial verdict after four days of deliberating. This case is one of the biggest in U.S. history. Jurors were undecided on six additional counts, but prosecutors accepted the verdict rather than sending them back for further deliberations.

The Miami Beach businessman operated a network of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in South Florida.

Jurors found him guilty of paying kickbacks and bribes to doctors and administrators so they would refer patients to his businesses. A former Ivy League basketball coach testified that the man bribed him to get his son into school. He was also convicted of charges of obstruction of justice, for plotting to help one of his co-conspirators flee to another country.

The jury could not decide whether the man was guilty of Medicare fraud conspiracy. They found him guilty of money laundering and of bribing a Florida health regulator to warn him when inspectors planned surprise visits to his facilities and when patients made complaints.

The man plans to appeal the decision.

He has been jailed since his 2016 arrest. The charges he was convicted of add up to more than 250 years in prison, but he is likely to get far less than that under federal sentencing guidelines.

The federal government and the state of Florida are quite serious about prosecuting those accused of health care fraud. Police will use any means necessary to uncover any alleged fraud. Individual doctors and even entire hospitals can be the target of a health care fraud investigation.

The government is very aggressive in its approach to investigating health care fraud. Grand jury investigations are likely to occur. It doesn’t matter if you are under investigation or have already been indicted – you need to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible who can defend you from these charges.

Our South Florida Medicare Fraud Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can defend you against health care fraud charges in Florida or elsewhere in the country. We will give you an honest assessment of your case and help you understand the possible defenses that may be available. We want to minimize any damage to you and your reputation.

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A former city commissioner of Margate has been sentenced to five years in state prison for a corruption case related to a tiki bar he operated in a strip mall.

Court records show that 56-year-old David McLean was sentenced Tuesday in Broward County Circuit Court. He was convicted last month of bribery, official misconduct and theft charges. McLean was a commissioner in the South Florida city of Margate.

Trial evidence showed McLean used his influence to do city favors for the tiki bar’s landlord. In return, the landlord forgave about $8,000 in rent and made another $6,000 in cash payments.

Public figures like politicians, police officers and city council members are always being watched. If their actions even merely appear to be illegal, then they can expect to be investigated. If you think you are being investigated for a crime or have already been charged, you need the help of a criminal defense lawyer who can aggressively attack any evidence obtained. Our South Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the experience and determination to fight charges of corruption.

If you are facing corruption charges, let us help you. We will make sure you understand your legal options and will advise you on the best strategy with the hopes of achieving a successful outcome on your behalf.

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The ex-husband of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Cynthia Bailey spent the night in a Miami jail after being arrested for writing fraudulent checks.

Peter Thomas was arrested Friday at Miami International Airport on a fugitive warrant.

The 58-year-old man is from Louisiana where he is accused of writing fraudulent checks.

No bond has been set.

In an official statement, Thomas said the allegations were false. He said he will be “acquitted from any wrongdoing.”

In Florida, check fraud can embody numerous fraudulent activities, such as writing a check from an account holding insufficient funds or a closed account. It is also a crime for someone to possess fraudulently obtained checks. Check fraud carries the potential for a felony conviction and significant prison time, depending on the value of the check.

In order for the State to charge someone with check fraud, they must prove the “bad check” was intentionally tendered to another person or business. This can be in the form of a personal check or a business-related check.

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A Boynton Beach woman is accused of stealing money from a Little Caesars pizza store where she worked last year.

The business owner was at home Nov. 30 and watching transactions at the shop through its surveillance system when he noticed the manager put $300 in her purse, according to a Boynton Beach police report.

From Sept. 10 through Nov. 30, $15,963 was taken from the business, according to the owner’s calculations, police said.

The 25-year-old was fired from her job at the store, and was arrested Feb. 2 by the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force and released on $6,000 bond, according to police and court records.

The woman is facing charges of organized scheme to defraud, less than $20,000 and grand theft.

The store owner reviewed 160 hours of store video recorded during the woman’s shifts. He noticed the woman made more “no sale” entries to open the cash register than employees, and also did not move cash from the register to a safe as often as other workers, according to the police report.

The video apparently showed the woman taking money and either placing it in her purse or a bank bag or concealing it another way before taking it outside the store right away or at the end of her shift, police said.

Grand theft involves stealing an item or money that is valued at $300 or more. Grand theft is a felony in Florida, and depending on the amount allegedly stolen, you could face anywhere from a maximum sentence of 5 years to 30 years in state prison.

If you are facing theft charges in Boynton Beach, our Palm Beach County Theft Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you fight these charges. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and help you understand the best defense strategy to help you avoid a conviction or maximum penalties for this offense.

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A South Florida man has been convicted in a $100 million scheme to defraud a Puerto Rico bank.

According to court records, the 55-year-old man was convicted in Miami federal court Monday of eight counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. His sentencing is scheduled for April 30.

Prosecutors believe the man served as chairman and CEO of a pharmaceutical company from 2005 to 2007 and caused Westernbank to grant a series of loans in exchange for a security interest in the company’s assets in 2005. According to reports, evidence showed Western Bank agreed to advance money based on fake customer invoices, which allowed the man to divert tens of millions of dollars.

Westernbank declared the loan in default in 2007 and lost more than $100 million, leading to the bank’s insolvency and collapse.

Wire fraud is a federal offense and if convicted, you face heavy fines and serious jail time. Since this man was found guilty of committing wire fraud against a financial institution, jail time can be up to 30 years. These are very serious charges, and you should not wait to seek help. In fact, the sooner you obtain legal representation the better.

A person can be found guilty of wire fraud if they knowingly and willfully devised a scheme to defraud, or obtain money or property under false pretenses, and knowingly transmitted or caused to be transmitted by wire in interstate commerce in some capacity for the purpose of executing the scheme to defraud. This crime is centered around “intent,” and you do not have to actually defraud someone to be convicted of wire fraud.

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A former Colombian anti-corruption official is facing prison time after pleading guilty to U.S. money-laundering conspiracy charges as part of a bribery scheme.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled Thursday in Miami federal court for the former director of the anti-corruption office for Colombia’s chief prosecutor.

The man faces up to 20 years in prison.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says in court documents that the man sought to obtain thousands of dollars in bribes from a former governor of Colombia’s Cordoba region who was under a separate corruption investigation.

Bribery is defined as the act of offering money in order to influence the actions of another. The crime of bribery usually arises in the case of public officials, where a private citizen may offer something of value as a means to influence how the public official carries out their public duties. Most bribery cases are charged as conspiracies. In a conspiracy, the government believes that two or more people agreed to engage in criminal conduct.  

With extremely harsh penalties on the line, anyone facing accusations of bribery needs a powerful federal criminal defense attorney on their side to protect their interests, their livelihood, and, most importantly, their freedom.

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A Florida woman was arrested last week and accused of stealing more than $50,000 from the doctor’s office where she worked over a five-year period, according to reports. The 40-year-old woman was arrested on felony fraud and larceny charges last Wednesday and released later that day on a $30,000 bond.

According to an arrest affidavit, detectives began investigating the woman after a physician at Mariners Hospital reported she had stolen tens of thousands of dollars in cash from the practice.

After reviewing records from the past six years, detectives found that the woman, who was a clerk responsible for depositing cash at the bank, was creating two deposit slips — one for the billing company and one for the bank.

She allegedly began making the bogus deposits, which totaled $50,161.27, in January 2013, according to police.

The terms theft and fraud can mean many different things. At their most basic, theft and fraud boiled down to taking something that doesn’t belong to you. Fraud carries an added element of deception or trickery. Fraud and theft charges are very serious criminal charges in Florida that can carry very severe consequences if convicted.  

Fraud charges can be extremely stressful to deal with. However, our South Florida Fraud Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton may be able to help you avoid a conviction  or possibly reduce your charge and penalties. We can develop the best defense strategy that argues your innocence or present certain evidence to convince a prosecutor or judge that you deserve leniency.

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