This is the fourth and final post in a series on different concerns about federal sentencing. Previous posts looked at the potential for judges to impose unfairly high sentences on celebrity defendants and the fact that some judges ignore prosecutors' plea deals, perhaps to send a message.
While federal criminal defendants are entitled to jury trials regarding whether they are guilty, the judge ultimately decides what penalty is appropriate. In the third post of our four-part series on federal sentencing, we will look at another recent high-profile case in which the judge dramatically overshot the prosecutor's recommendation.
This is the second post in a four-part series that looks at some recent headline-grabbing stories in the world of federal sentencing. Although various limits and recommendations exist to help guide sentence decisions, federal judges are ultimately empowered to choose an appropriate punishment. That discretion is sometimes a tool for carefully tailored justice - but it also raises serious concerns in other cases.
As more and more aspects of American life center around online activities, authorities are becoming increasingly concerned about cyberfraud. Facebook's security team has led the way on private efforts to protect its users. In a groundbreaking move, the massively popular social network joined forces with the FBI to identify a group of suspects from around the world.
Several high-profile stories are drawing renewed attention to the ways in which federal judges impose prison sentences in some cases. Despite decades of efforts to reduce unfair differences and the large degree of variation between apparently similar cases in front of different judges, serious concerns still exist with the sentencing system.
As many stockbrokers in Miami and around the country know all too well, the profession involves big potential risks. Government agencies keep a close eye on the industry and a small mistake can turn into serious criminal allegations.
Earlier this week, federal authorities announced a 23-count criminal case against a high-profile Miami businessman. The suit claims that the businessman and his accountant lied to investors and used their funds to finance a luxurious lifestyle.
In another example of the high stakes involved in federal criminal prosecutions, the U.S. Attorney for South Florida filed charges against a well-regarded and high-profile Miami businessman this week. Authorities allege that the businessman took more than $40 million from investors by deceiving them about his company, spending much of it on a lavish lifestyle.
With the massive resources available to the FBI and Department of Justice, it should come as no surprise that federal authorities are opening a big new door in their search for fraud cases. Reuters is reporting that the FBI is focusing a new investigative effort on Twitter and other social networks.
Although Paul Ceglia's lawsuit against Mark Zuckerburg has consistently made headlines for awhile, a new wrinkle developed last week when federal authorities launched a new criminal case. A federal prosecutor claims that Ceglia's lawsuit violated several fraud statutes - providing an interesting look at what can count as a federal fraud crime.
Federal authorities often work closely with other countries to prosecute the "war on drugs." As part of these efforts, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy and other government offices have used a 1986 law to justify apprehending defendants in the territorial waters belonging to foreign countries. These defendants then face prosecution in the United States - often in Miami or other South Florida courts.
E-mail and privacy rights are in the news as Congress considers updating a 26 year-old law. That law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, allows government investigators to access and use all online documents that are older than 180 days. The law is a remnant of a world before the rise of e-mail and many defense advocates believe it is in desperate need of a refresh.