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Theft Crimes

Arizona Mortgage Fraud Charges

The Subprime Lending and Mortgage Crisis effectively exposed one thing; mortgage fraud was rampant in the system. Since the end of the Great Recession and Global Financial Crisis, regulators began pursuing more seriously investigations and prosecutions of such crimes. In this article we look at the white collar crimes of mortgage fraud and equity skimming.

Federal Government Endeavors to Reduce Mortgage Fraud Across the Nation

Mortgage Fraud Cases – Source: FBI.gov

The federal government quickly discovered that mortgage fraud and equity skimming were a national phenomenon. Congress enacted the Secure and Fair Enforcement Mortgage Licensing Act. This created a national system of mortgage registration and licensing protocols.

It also enabled prosecutors to go hard after mortgage fraud. The FBI Director Robert Mueller declared that the number of cases of mortgage fraud rose by almost 63 percent between years 2008 and July 2009. To go more effectively after these “white collar” criminals, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced his Treasury Department would begin collaborating more intensively with the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and Housing and Urban Development in order to effectively tackle mortgage fraud around the country.

The feds believed that such a multi-organizational approach to hunting down mortgage fraudsters would permit the federal government to successfully boost its enforcement, all the while raising consumer awareness of fraudulent and abusive schemes in existence.


Possible Penalties for Committing Mortgage Fraud

The government enacted severe penalties for such criminal behavior of mortgage fraud. The penalties can include large fines, seizure of business licenses, misdemeanor charges, and even criminal felony charges. With state and federal agencies working together to uncover and prosecute such criminals, the chances of people becoming caught has substantially increased.

The downside to this higher level of inter-agency communication lies in the higher odds for false accusations to arise. Attorneys with great experience in defending against such accusations of mortgage fraud come in handy for any business which feels that it is being improperly targeted for deceptive lending or fraudulent practices.

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Federal Racketeering and the RICO Act: Examples, Penalties & Defenses

Federal Racketeering and the RICO Act: Examples, Penalties & Defenses

Racketeering (ARS 13-2314 04) covers a wide range of activity with different people, groups and organizations. It is a very serious federal criminal offense that is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. Originally, racketeering was criminal activity that law enforcement limited to organized crime. A “racket” is an organized business or a group of people that conducts business illegally for monetary gain.

Drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement of funds are all forms of racketeering. However, due to infiltration of organized crime into the legitimate corporate world in exchange for money, the lines have blurred over the decades, casting a wider view of racketeering and white collar crime in general.

What Is Racketeering?

The classic Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of racketeering, or a racketeer, is someone who illegally gets money from someone, normally via intimidation. A broader definition of the term is the illegal methods of getting money or offering false services in exchange for money. Extortion, blackmail, bribery, kidnapping for monetary ransom…all of these falls under the racketeering umbrella.


RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization)

The Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 as a whole became law on October 15, 1970. The original purpose of the creation of the RICO statute was to stop the infiltration of organized criminal activity into legitimate businesses. An example of this is the timeless film, The Godfather. The Corleone family was a major crime family in New York City. However, they used an olive oil company as a family business to cover their illegal business practices.

The first documented RICO conviction was a La Cosa Nostra boss in New York City named Frank Tieri. Mr. Tieri was convicted on November 21, 1980 of racketeering charges that included threats to a restaurant owner, loansharking (extortion), and fraudulent activity at the Westchester Premier Theater with proven affiliation to the Genovese crime family. Since this time, however, the RICO act has expanded to include any group that is conducting illegal activity under the racketeering umbrella. This can include corrupt police officers and politicians, street gangs, even businesses and corporations.

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Charges of Illegal Insider Trading

Charges of Illegal Insider Trading

What is Insider Trading?

Illegal insider trading is defined as follows: “the illegal use of information available only to insiders in order to make a profit in financial trading” – Merriam Webster

‘Illegal Insider Trading’charges can result in a maximum fine of $5,000,000 for individuals ($25,000,000 for companies) and a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years! With all charges, if you have been accused of this, the first thing to do is to speak with a white collar crimes attorney.


Why is Insider Trading Illegal?

Insider trading is considered illegal for a few reasons. First, when an employee or a broker for someone is a fiduciary of said person, corporation, government, etc., he or she gives his or her trust and loyalty, acting in the best interest of the person, business or government he or she is representing. Giving clandestine information to someone for financial gain that conflicts with one’s fiduciary duties is not only illegal, but also unfair.

Second, the stock market is supposed to be an even playing field for everyone (hence the term, “gone public”). For someone to have secretive information that no one else has and use it for their own financial gain is very unethical. Stephen Cutler, who is the Director of Enforcement of the SEC eloquently made the following statement in reference to the Martha Stewart case:

“It is fundamentally unfair for someone to have an edge on the market just because she has a stockbroker who is willing to break the rules and give her an illegal tip. It’s worse still when the individual engaging in the insider trading is the Chairman and CEO of a public company.”

It is similar to being the only person to have the answers to a major test, and you win a scholarship to an Ivy League university because of it. It is cheating, unless it cannot be proven.

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What to do if You Are Arrested for a Felony in Arizona

What to do if You Are Arrested for a Felony in Arizona

If you have been arrested in Arizona for a felony charge, it is vital that you understand your rights. A felony conviction can have significant consequences and may result in revocation of certain rights. Rights such as the right to vote and to possess a firearm. Because of this, you should be mindful of your rights and should contact an Arizona defense attorney as soon as possible.

What are some of Your Rights after you are Arrested for a Felony?

After you are placed under arrest for a felony offense, you have certain constitutional rights that are intended to protect your interests. These rights include the following:

The right to remain silent

  • The right to remain silent: After you are arrested, you are under no obligation to speak with law enforcement about the event. Police officers are often well-trained in interrogation tactics and will seek to obtain information that could be used against you in court. The prosecution frequently relies upon admissions made by defendants or inferences that can be drawn from statements that are made. To protect yourself and to limit disclosure of information, you should exercise your right to remain silent, at least until such time that you have legal representation present.

…Click Here to Read the Full Article


How Long Can I Be Held in Custody by Law Enforcement?

How Long Can I Be Held in Custody by Law Enforcement?

In most cases, someone who is arrested will be taken into custody by law enforcement, processed into jail and then be formally charged with a crime before a judge during an arraignment hearing; but what happens if no formal charges are filed? Can the police hold you behind bars until they feel like taking action? How long do you have to wait before your case goes to trial? When should you involve a criminal defense attorney in your Arizona arrest case?

What Happens After an Arrest?

After an arrest, you are in a bit of a legal gray area. You have been taken into custody by law enforcement, but you have not been formally charged with a crime. As a result, you must remain in custody while awaiting charges for a period of time. If that time expires and you have not been charged, you must be released. While waiting, you will likely be brought before a magistrate judge who will determine your bail amount, if any. This differs from an arraignment in that, during an arraignment hearing, you are formally charged with a crime and are required to enter a plea. This is also when a trial date is set, and you will remain in jail until your trial.

If you are not charged within the hold period, you will not be arraigned, but a bail amount and the posting of bail may be required – see “how to post bail”. Once again, this is an area of legal limbo because you are still in jail while waiting to see what is going to happen, so you should contact your defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest to ensure that you receive adequate representation from the start of the criminal justice process.

While Waiting in Jail:

  • Exercise your right against self-incrimination
  • Follow commands by law enforcement within legal boundaries
  • Contact your defense attorney
  • Know that you have not been formally charged with a crime until you have been arraigned

How Long Can You Be Held After an Arrest?

In Arizona, as well as in many other states, there is a limit of 48 hours after an arrest before formal charges have to be filed.

…Click Here to Read the Full Article


What are the Types of Arizona Felony Classes

Types of Arizona Felony Classes

Felony Class Types in Arizona

There are six levels of felony classes in Arizona. Each class has its own guidelines for punishment if convicted. When looking at sentencing, the law presumes that everyone will start at the presumptive sentence however, this sentence can be increased or decreased if mitigating or aggravating factors are found by the Judge or jury. The following sentencing ranges apply to a person with no prior felony convictions.

  • Class 1 – The only crime that falls under a Class 1 felony is murder. Murder charges are divided into two categories: First or Second Degree. First degree murder is punishable by the death penalty or by life in prison without parole. Second degree murder requires a minimum prison sentence of 10 years up to a maximum sentence of 25 years.
  • Class 2 – A Class 2 felony allows for a minimum sentence in the Department of Corrections of three years. This can be increased to up to 12.5 years for aggravated. Probation, with up to one year in jail, is also available.
  • Class 3 – Class 3 felonies allows for a minimum of two years in prison with an aggravated sentence of up to 8.75 years. Probation is also available.
  • Class 4– If sentenced to prison on a Class 4 felony, you face anywhere between 1 to 3.75 years. Again, probation is available.
  • Class 5 – A Class 5 felony provides for a minimum of six months in prison however, can be increased to up to 2.5 years. Probation is available.
  • Class 6 – Although a Class 6 felony, an example could be a DUI in Phoenix, also allows for a probation sentence, if sentenced to prison the range allows for anywhere between .33 – 2 years.

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What are Fraudulent Schemes in Arizona?

In the Phoenix area or anywhere else in the state of Arizona, as per A.R.S. §13-2310, the crime of fraudulent schemes is committed when an individual creates a scheme or artifice to defraud, which involves the attempt to defraud knowingly and when they receive a benefit as a result. A scheme or artifice to defraud means that a person intended to gain an unfair benefit or that another person was deprived of the right of honest services. For a defendant to be convicted of this crime, it is not necessary that the individual who was defrauded actually relied on said fraud.

Here is a short video where David Cantor explains Fraudulent Schemes in Arizona:

Punishment for Fraudulent Schemes Conviction

If you are convicted of a first offense fraudulent scheme, it is considered a class 2 felony. The punishment for such a conviction includes probation with zero days to up to one year in jail or a prison sentence ranging anywhere from three to 12.5 years. With one prior conviction, the prison only term ranges from four and one half to 23.25 years of incarceration. If the individual has two prior convictions, the prison sentence can range anywhere from 10.5 to 35 years of time served.

If the monetary amount the individual received is $100,000 or greater, they would not receive probation and the punishment of prison is instituted. However, a skilled defense attorney would strive to get you the minimum sentence instead of the maximum.

Defenses to Fraudulent Schemes in Arizona

There are several different tactics a skilled defense attorney can take toward defending an individual who is charged with the crime of fraudulent schemes in Arizona. Generally speaking, the key to a successful defense involves the lawyer showing that the defendant never meant to defraud anyone and did not knowingly do so. To accomplish this, the attorney must present evidence that shows that the individual never created a scheme or artifice to obtain a benefit in a fraudulent manner from another person. In addition, it has to be proven that any benefit the defendant did receive was either through the consent of the so called victim or via mutual understanding between the two individuals. A third option is to prove that the defendant never actually received any benefit. Many times, a person may be accused of fraudulent schemes by a dishonest employer. For example, a person may be informed that they can pay for personal expenses with company checks as a bonus and that the employer can write it off on taxes. However, when or if the employment relationship sours or there are tax issues, the employer turns around and accuses the employee of embezzlement.

Other possible defenses include violation of Miranda rights where an individual was not read their rights when arrested, denial of right to counsel, meaning the individual asked to speak to an attorney but was not granted that right, that the police coerced them to falsely confess and forensic flaws during the investigation.

If you have been suspected of Fraudulent Schemes in Arizona and would like to speak with an attorney, please give us a call at (602) 307-0808 to schedule a free consultation. If you would like, you can also send us an email and we’ll contact you back as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


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