Frank A. Rubino, ESQ.

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Florida fisherman facing 'mob boss' rules for white collar crime

Federal judges say that something seems fishy about the way one Florida sportsman is being prosecuted under white collar law. The man, who was accused of white collar crime on par with large corporate violators such as Enron Corp and WorldCom. However, this man was only accused of possessing about 70 fish that were undersized and therefore, caught against federal regulations.

The man in this case could have spent as long as 20 years in prison; however, he was ultimately only required to serve 30 days. He was accused of instructing a crewmember to throw the undersized fish -- evidence in the case -- over the side of the boat. This act technically exposed the defendant to aggressive prosecution generally only reserved for mob bosses and large businesses.

News reports show that the Supreme Court will be ruling on the case in order to set a future precedent. The justices are expected to issue a ruling limiting the application of certain white collar mandates to corporate defendants. Such laws were intended to target those accused of corporate fraud, not small time fishermen who make a minor misstep, according to advocates. Initial reports indicate that the justices were disconcerted about the improper application of the law to such a low-level offender; a ruling is expected in the coming weeks.

Although you might only think of white collar crime as that related to shuffling paperwork or embezzling funds, it is possible to be accused under existing statutes in some non-traditional situations. You may face white collar crime charges in conjunction with other allegations, as well. These charges warrant a customized approach, even if your case does not make it to the Supreme Court.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. justices leaning toward letting fisherman off the hook" Lawrence Hurley, Reuters, Nov. 05, 2014

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