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Articles Posted in White Collar Offenses

On April 11, 2022, the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta announced the creation of a new pretrial diversion court, the Accountability, Treatment, and Leadership Court “ATL Court“. It is formed with the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Probation Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Defender Program, and  will be run by folks from each of these agencies who will be known as the ATL Court Team.  Please note: The ATL Court is in addition to, and not a replacement of, the Northern District of Georgia’s existing Pretrial Diversion Program.

“THE ATL COURT MISSION:  Our mission is to provide the opportunity to avoid some of the consequences of aberrant criminal conduct to certain individuals charged with non-violent crimes in the Northern District of Georgia who would most greatly benefit from intense supervision, education, or treatment.”

HOW ATL COURT WORKS

Manhattan federal agents arrested Archegos Capital Management founder Sung Kook “Bill” Hwang on April 27, 2022 on fraud charges, roughly one year after the investment firm’s huge losses back in March 2021.  Department of Justice prosecutors are charging both Hwang and Patrick Halligan, the firm’s chief financial officer, with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud offenses as part of schemes allegedly designed to “unlawfully manipulate” the price of publicly traded securities.

The 59-page indictment, filed in federal court in Manhattan, alleges the men and others at Archegos sometimes timed their trades to drum up the interest of other investors, while borrowing money to make bigger and bigger bets. The Department of Justice states, “Hwang and his co-conspirators invested in stocks mostly through special contracts with banks and brokers called “swaps.” As alleged, these swaps allowed Hwang to cause massive buying of certain stocks, including at carefully selected days and times, to artificially pump up stock prices. Hwang, Halligan, and their co-conspirators lied to banks and used a series of manipulative trading techniques to keep those prices high and prevent them from falling. The lies fed the inflation, and the inflation led to more lies. The scale of this alleged fraud was stunning.  In one year, Hwang turned a $1.5 billion portfolio and fraudulently pumped it up into a $35 billion portfolio.” The effective size of the firm’s stock positions swelled to $160 billion — rivaling some of the biggest hedge funds in the world.  The case marks the biggest financial-crime charges to come out of the Southern District of New York under the leadership of Mr. Damian Williams, who was sworn in October 10, 2021.

The SEC has also filed a civil complaint stating that Mr. Becker, the former chief risk officer at Archegos, and Mr. Tomita, the firm’s former top trader, had led discussions with the banks about the firm’s trading positions but that Mr. Hwang and Mr. Halligan had directed and set the tone for those discussions.

Attorney General Merrick Garland made recent comments about what he considered to be the Department of Justice’s top priorities for 2022.  Since taking office in March 2021, Garland has tried to combat crime in a tumultuous time.  He has been criticized for his handling of January 6 investigation and has stated it’s the most urgent probe in history.

With all of this going on, the US Attorney’s office increased its prosecutions of individuals of white collar crimes in the year 2021.  White collar charges like fraud, theft, corruption, bribery, environmental crime, tax fraud, health care fraud, procurement fraud, money laundering, PPP loan fraud, etc will continue to get more attention from the Department of Justice.

What does this mean?  It means that investigations of any sort need to be taken seriously and that you should contact a lawyer immediately if any wrongdoing is alleged.

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What is a Grand Jury?
The purpose of the grand jury is to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that any federal felony has been committed. A typical federal grand jury consists of between 16-23 citizens drawn from the community. 
The jurors meet in a closed courtroom, with no judge, no accused, no press, and no lawyer but the prosecutor present. This means your lawyer will NOT be present in the closed court room.  The grand jurors decide whether or not to indict a person or persons by listening to witnesses and evaluating evidence obtained by grand jury subpoenas. At least 12 grand jurors must find that there is sufficient probable cause in order to return a True Bill,  which when signed by the prosecutor becomes the indictment: the formal criminal charge that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. If the grand jury does not find sufficient probable cause, which almost never occurs, then it returns a No Bill.

The Department of Justice just announced that U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland created COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to enhance enforcement efforts against COVID-19 related fraud.

Cases have included:

  • Offers to purchase COVID-19 vaccination cards

Your involvement in a corporate crime at your workplace in Georgia can lead to several consequences including the loss of your job, loss of integrity and a significant blow to your reputation. Often, regardless of the misbehavior, you were caught committing, chances are there are at least a few people who have lost their trust in you completely. Recovering their trust and showing that you are not the same person is going to take considerable time and commitment.

Unfortunately, your reputation infiltrates many components of your life, especially important ones where family, friends, potential coworkers and other professionals are tasked with making a decision about whether or not you can be trusted to perform a certain way. Rebuilding the way people think of you is critical to your being able to grow and maintain relationships. According to Entrepreneur, you have the potential to prevent your involvement in crime from destroying your reputation entirely, but only if you begin making amends right away. One thing you should begin doing is setting realistic goals of how you will overcome your mistakes and fix the way people see you. 

Depending on the crime you were involved in, you may be required to pay legal consequences including fines or jail time. Being timely and responsible in the way you pay your dues is critical to your ability to begin recovering from your mistakes right away. The more willing you are to take responsibility for what you have done and refrain from placing blame on anyone else, you can show that you are serious about making a change. 

There are many ways that Georgia residents can fall victim to identity theft. When this happens, it can be costly, both financially and timewise. It can take a while to restore credit scores and reputation with financial institutions. It is important that everyone understands how identity theft can occur so individuals can take steps to prevent it from happening.

According to USA.gov, the most typical types of identity theft are medical ID, tax ID and social ID theft. With medical, someone uses another person’s health insurance or Medicare number to get medical care. Thieves steal social security numbers for multiple reasons, but a common one is to file tax returns in a false manner. In social identity theft, thieves use someone else’s name and pictures to set up fake social media accounts.

The two most vulnerable age groups to ID theft are seniors and children. There are numerous ways someone can prevent being a victim of identity theft. These include:

If you have been convicted of committing a crime in Georgia, you could be facing a significant array of consequences depending on the seriousness of your offense and the consequences that resulted from it. Once you have been formally charged in the legal system, you may also face the requirement to pay restitution to anyone who was affected by your misdeeds. 

Restitution is most commonly awarded in monetary form, but you could also be required to pay back compensation for damages in other ways too. The restitution you give back is often used in helping any victims recover from the trauma they may have endured because of your behavior. Restitution is not always required but can be requested from victims even after your formal sentencing. Failure to pay restitution that has been required by the courts could leave you in danger of facing even more legal consequences. 

According to the United States Department of Justice, how much restitution you may be required to pay is determined after the courts evaluate the impact that the crime you committed has had on any victims in the case. In a majority of cases, legal fees are not part of what you will be required to pay in terms of restitution. This means you will most likely not be financially responsible for any attorney’s fees or legal fees the victims had to pay in regards to your case. If the process for determining an amount for restitution is too complicated, the court may dismiss the possibility of repayment altogether. 

White collar crime in Georgia is fairly common, and it typically refers to a committed crime that has a financial gain. While there are numerous scams and types of fraud that constitute white collar crimes, there are some common types and all of them have associated penalties.

According to the FBI, financial reasons are what motivates the people who commit these crimes. The reasons include making money, obtaining property and avoiding financial loss to gain an advantage either personally or for a business. One of the most common types of this nature is corporate fraud. This activity not only affects investors but it also can cause irreputable harm to the United States economy.

The main areas of corporate fraud investigation include:

Whenever news breaks of a developing Ponzi scheme, it becomes a topic of conversation in many Georgia households. Some people may be under the misunderstanding that this illegal activity is limited to situations where money is invested for unnaturally high returns. However, potential investors should be aware that Ponzi schemes are a type of fraudulent activity that can take on many different forms.

According to Forbes, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission has been cracking down on a certain kind of Ponzi schemes that are promising safe gains. If the purported investment is offering “safe and secure” returns, people may not realize that this might be a scheme designed to bilk them of money. And as a result, they might not be as conscientious with their pre-investment research.

Other times, Ponzi schemes take on unusual types of “investments.” The New York Times reported that one recent Ponzi scheme even tried to capitalize on the high demand for tickets to the successful Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Two men raised $81 million from 125 investors after these investors believed that their capital was being used to buy large blocks of tickets to the show which would then be resold at a large profit. Because the type of investment was not a financial product, but rather theater tickets, it may not have raised red flags to those who thought it sounded like a good way to make money.

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