While the troubled economy can certainly be to blame for the multitude of foreclosures and short sales in Florida, at least some of these real estate transactions have involved mortgage fraud.
A Ponzi scheme netted a Florida couple some $28 million in profits from 87 victims. The white collar criminal case against the wife has led to a 35 year sentence in federal prison. This despite that fact that her husband, as well as several others recently convicted in similar, larger cases received significantly less prison time. A third person is facing charges in connection with the operation, but he remains outside the country and has yet to be extradicted.
The Fort Lauderdale brothers who were charged under a large investment fraud investigation in 2008 are now facing additional charges. The latest white collar crime allegations involve using dummy corporations to defraud insurance companies of millions of dollars. The latest fraud is alleged to have continued even after the investment fraud indictment was handed down. Both brothers are currently being held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.
In 16 years of work in the Florida Legislature, Mandy Dawson participated in countless votes which affected the law. She finds herself entangled in legal issues of a different type now, as she is expected to plead guilty to tax evasion charges over money received during her time in office. She now faces a criminal sentence of up to 13 years in prison. She is accused of failing to pay income taxes owed in 2004 and 2005 and for failing to file a return in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Term limits put an end to her time in the Florida Senate in 2008.
Another hedge fund manager with ties to the Galleon Group has been charged for illegally profiting from inside information. The white collar criminal charges carry a potential prison sentence of 25 years. Allegedly, the man was given earnings information and other confidential business knowledge concerning Google and Polycom. He is accused of using that information in stock trades from 2006 to 2009. He is also accused of passing along insider information concerning Marvell Technology Group Ltd. The person who provided him with the insider knowledge has connections to Raj Rajaratnam who was convicted last May in a case that drew national headlines.
Insider trading is illegal, even for members of Congress. Existing white collar crime laws likely already included members of Congress, but the Senate acted to make that clear this week by passing the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. The act passed after a 96 to 3 vote, making it almost a sure thing to get through the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, it will ensure that the same rules that prevent private citizens from acting on insider information apply to members of Congress and the executive branch.
With efforts to stop Medicare fraud, mortgage fraud and securities fraud drawing national headlines, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has reaffirmed its goal to target all forms of white collar fraud, including insurance fraud. In a recent press release, the FBI specifically mentioned several forms of white collar fraud that are common to the insurance industry. The FBI works with state and local agencies and regulatory bodies to investigate and prosecute people suspected of insurance fraud.
Efforts by federal prosecutors led to the indictment of seven individuals last week. The white collar criminal case surrounds the actions of a stock analyst and several of his friends. The group obtained inside information about Dell and its financial results and used that information to obtain roughly $62 million in illegal gains on the stock market.
A man who is accused of more than $32 million of insider trading is expected to plead guilty this week. Terms of a plea agreement regarding the white collar criminal charges against him have not been released. Federal prosecutors had charged the man with gathering inside information from a corporate lawyer, through a middle man, and using that information to make millions. He allegedly obtained information regarding pending merger agreements that had not yet been announced. Those agreements included the purchase of Sun Microsystems by Oracle Corp., as well as the purchase of Omniture Inc. by Adobe System Inc. Each deal netted him millions of dollars, according to prosecutors.
A Florida investment professional is facing charges in the U.S. District Court of Manhattan. The white collar criminal complaint alleges that he collected money by promising his investors that he could get them early shares in big name IPOs for Facebook and Groupon. He then used that money on personal expenses and to pay off his personal IRS tax liability. If convicted, the man faces up to 65 years in federal prison.