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Westfield NJ Criminal Defense Law Blog

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.

When does a careless error on my tax return become tax fraud?

Each year, taxpayers in Union County and throughout New Jersey file income tax returns that they prepared themselves or had an accountant or tax professional prepare for them. According to the federal IRS, about 17 percent of taxpayers will not comply with the tax laws, but failing to comply with the tax code might not necessarily lead to FBI or state investigations for tax fraud.

Fortunately, the folks at the IRS realize how complex federal tax laws and regulations can be for the average person. The use of a professional tax preparer does not guarantee that a taxpayer's return will be error-free. An honest mistake, or even a mistake caused by the negligent preparation of a tax return, might lead to the imposition of interest and penalties, but it does usually does not result in allegations of tax fraud.

Charged with a federal crime? Then you need an aggressive defense

If there is one thing that the federal government does well, it is making things big. And if you run afoul of a federal prosecution, you may discover the big resources that those prosecutors can line up against you along with the big consequences you may face if they are successful in their efforts to convict you.

The U.S. Department of Justice is a perfect example of how the federal government does things big. It has a massive budget, multiple agencies, thousands of agents and hundreds of prosecutors. Especially if you find yourself facing them alone, the intimidation effect can be formidable. They know this and count on it. 

Federal tax avoidance, tax evasion and you: an overview

The federal penalties for failing to pay taxes are severe. Tax evasion is a felony under the U.S.Code, and conviction can lead to a sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual (five times that amount for a business).To add insult to injury, the government can also tack on the costs connected with trying the case in court.

But what constitutes "tax evasion?"

What are federal hate crime laws?

This post cannot cover all aspects of federal hate crime laws, and it is not intended or offered as legal advice. If you have questions or require more information about such laws, a criminal defense law firm can help to provide you with answers.

In an earlier post we discussed the state of New Jersey's version of what are known as "hate crime" laws, specifically the state's bias intimidation laws. The federal government has its own set of hate crime laws which may apply to crimes against persons. These laws may take effect in addition to or separate from any state-level criminal prosecution.