Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Yet Another Los Angeles Area White Collar Crime

Posted on: December 17, 2008 at 10:03 a.m.

As the economy continues to tumble, and those involved in questionable real estate deals come to light, Los Angeles area white collar criminal defense attorneys are seeing more and more clients regarding white collar crime allegations. A recent case in Norwalk is a great example.

According to the Los Angeles Times, when federal postal inspectors raided a Spanish-language religious bookstore in Huntington Park, they said they found something unusual: envelopes filled with $3 million in cash.

The discovery helped federal prosecutors build a case against Norwalk businessman Milton Retana, a Salvadoran citizen. He was arrested Tuesday after being indicted on charges of white collar crimes, including fraud and making false statements as part of a scheme that, beginning in 2006, allegedly lured more than 2,000 people into investing an estimated $62 million.

With Wall Street white collar crimes reaching the $50 billion mark, $62 million may not seem like that much. However, Federal prosecutors will come down hard on any individual accused of white collar crimes, especially at a time when the public is anxious to see executives face serious jail time. Some blame the current economy on white collar criminals who presented one situation, yet stole countless amounts of money. Whether or not this is true, it will sway juries and even prosecutors who want to make a name for themselves (or in the case of District Attorneys, help their re-election chances).

A sign of the serious in this particular white collar criminal matter, Retana faces a maximum of 165 years in federal prison if convicted on all the charges.

There are a variety of white collar crimes that are prosecuted to the fullest extent by law enforcement. Commonly committed white collar crimes include:

  • Money laundering - Money laundering is the practice of engaging in financial transactions in order to conceal the identity, source, and/or destination of money, and is a main operation of the underground economy.

  • Pyramid schemes - A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves the exchange of money primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, without any product or service being delivered.

  • Counterfeiting - Counterfeiting describes forgeries of currency or documents, but can also describe clothing, software, pharmaceuticals, watches, or more recently, cars and motorcycles, especially when this results in patent infringement or trademark infringement.

  • Ponzi schemes - A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that involves paying abnormally high returns to investors out of the money paid in by subsequent investors, rather than from the profit from any real business.

  • Embezzlement - Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets, usually financial in nature, by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted.

  • Fraud - Fraud is a deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual.

  • Tax evasion - Tax evasion is a felony and the general term for efforts to not pay taxes by illegal means.

  • RICO - The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly referred to as RICO Act or RICO) is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

  • Extortion - Extortion is a criminal offense, which occurs, when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion.

  • Computer crimes - Computer crime, cybercrime, e-crime, hi-tech crime or electronic crime generally refers to criminal activity where a computer or network is the source, tool, target, or place of a crime.

  • Forgery - Forgery is the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents (see false document), with the intent to deceive.

  • Bribery - Bribery, a form of pecuniary corruption, is an act usually implying money or gift given that alters the behavior of the recipient in ways not consistent with the duties of that person or in breach of law.

  • Bankruptcy fraud - Bankruptcy fraud typically involves concealment of assets, concealment or destruction of documents, conflicts of interest, fraudulent claims, false statements or declarations, and fee fixing or redistribution arrangements.

Tagged as: theft, white collar crime fraud theft laws

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