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Westfield NJ Criminal Defense Law Blog

What are the elements of a fraud charge?

Fraud crimes are found in the New Jersey criminal statutes and under federal laws, as well. A broad definition of fraud would be the intentional use of deceit or deception by an individual for his or her personal or monetary benefit.

Most crimes involving fraudulent conduct fall under the category of white collar crime charges because they usually do not include violence or threats to carry them out. The laws that define state and federal fraud crimes will vary depending upon the particular activities being prohibited, but there are certain elements common to all crimes involving fraudulent conduct.

How New Jersey defines the crime of forgery

The general notion of forgery is of someone signing another person's name on a document for financial gain, such as writing a check on someone else's account or creating a fake will. While these examples are correct as far as they go, they do not capture the full meaning of how New Jersey defines the crime of forgery.

The law in this state that makes forgery a crime makes it clear that the act must be intentional, and that it must be undertaken with the intent to defraud or injure someone else. How one can go about accomplishing these objectives can involve more than simply faking someone else's signature on a blank line.

What is the definition of a conspiracy?

Any time that the alleged commission of an illegal act involves more than one person, it is possible if not likely that they will be charged with a criminal conspiracy. But what exactly is a conspiracy, and how do prosecutors attempt to prove it in court?

Consider an example of a bank robbery in which three people are involved: one to serve as lookout, another to drive the getaway car, and the third to gather the money. During the commission of the robbery, one of them fires a weapon and injures another person before all three are apprehended.

Federal plea bargaining: an overview

Many crime drama television programs feature scenes of contentious negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys as the latter attempt to find a way to reduce the charges or the possible punishment against their clients, commonly known as plea bargaining. But how does this concept work in actual practice when one is faced with federal charges?

The actual procedures for pre-trial negotiation are laid out in federal sentencing guidelines. These guidelines break plea negotiations down into multiple sub-categories, the three most common being charge bargaining, sentencing recommendations and specific agreed sentences.

How seriously does the government take health care fraud?

It does not take long to find examples of people being accused of trying to defraud the system of government-provided health care. Take, for example, the recent story of a doctor in Englewood, New Jersey who is being charged with health care fraud in connection with charges for office visits that never took place, or prescription refills billed as office visits. His case, which will be heard in a federal court in Newark, is not unusual.

The seeming pervasiveness of fraudulent activity on the part of both providers and recipients of federally-funded health care programs has led to more determined efforts by the federal government to identify such activity and to prosecute it. A search for examples of Medicare and Medicaid abuse also quickly reveals federal government initiatives to combat it. the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team Task Force and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force being two examples.

Federal prosecutors are relentless in pursuit of Internet crimes

For a few years until 2013, people who wanted to buy or sell drugs illegally on the Internet frequently found their way to a network known as the "Silk Road." The network, which has been referred to as a "darknet" because of its efforts to conceal the identities and the transactions of its users, came under intense scrutiny from federal government prosecutors who traced its activities across the country. Their efforts effectively degraded if not closed down the network, at least temporarily, and culminated with the recent conviction in federal court of its creator, Ross Ulbricht.

Ulbricht, who went by the darknet moniker "Dread Pirate Roberts," could face imprisonment for up to 30 years. He has also been accused of attempting to arrange the murders of six people because he allegedly thought that they posed a threat to the anonymity and operations of the Silk Road.

What is money laundering?

The term "money laundering" can invoke images of organized crime mobsters engaged in activities such as taking over businesses and using them to hide ill-gotten funds derived from other illegal activities. That may, indeed, be one example of money laundering in practice, but money laundering can include many different kinds of activities some of which may be less obvious than the previous example.

To better understand what money laundering is, it is useful to know that both federal law and New Jersey state law both make it illegal and both have their own definitions for what the term means. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, money laundering generally refers to efforts on the part of those engaged in criminal activity to mislead about how they got their money or from where they got it. Being a federal agency, the Treasury Department is concerned not only with homegrown money laundering activities in the United States but also with money laundering connected with activities outside of the nation's borders.

Pretrial maneuvers highlight complexity of criminal defense cases

Defending a case against federal criminal charges can be a matter of intense pretrial preparation. A case involving federal racketeering charges against a former New Jersey state politician provides a good example of how the contest for advantage between prosecutors and defense attorneys can go back and forth almost up to the date on which the trial begins.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey has accused a former Bergen County politician of corruption under federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations laws. Attorneys for the both sides have been locked in arguments over the prosecution's argument that it should be allowed to use four past criminal indictments against the politician that it did not include in the present indictment against him, while the defense attorneys are claiming that the court should throw out the indictment or, alternatively, disqualify the U.S. Attorney from the case.

Fraud indictment over activities at New Jersey investment firm

The head of a New Jersey investment company appears to have fled the country in anticipation of a federal indictment charging him with fraud and other federal crimes. Some of the allegations that have surfaced about the company's owner and his firm accuse him of attracting investors through what prosecutors charge was a Ponzi scheme.

The current federal investigation followed a lawsuit by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission that ended in a default by the company when its founder did not appear in court. The allegations were similar to those that were the focus of the grand jury investigations that resulted in an indictment.

Ponzi schemes versus pyramid schemes explained

A form of white collar crime that most New Jersey residents have heard about and some have unfortunately become first-hand familiar with is the fraudulent investment scheme. This trap usually comes in the form of a purported investment opportunity that promises a return on investment that is the epitome of the saying, "Too good to be true." There are many types of fraudulent investment schemes, from supposed foreign royalty looking for someone to help them to deposit large sums of money to insider trading on the stock market.

This post will address two of the most common investment frauds that you may see in New Jersey: the Ponzi scheme, and the pyramid scheme.