Articles Posted in Federal Crime

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I have represented a number of people in investigations by an Office of Inspector General (or “OIG”).  Many of my clients have been federal employees who were being looked at by the OIG for their agency.  For federal employees in this situation, there really isn’t very much information available about the process.

For that reason, I was curious to see online a pamphlet called “OIG Investigations and You.”  It’s put out by the Office of Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service (did you know there’s a Corporation for National and Community Service, and that they have an Office of Inspector General?  Well, now you do.)

I don’t agree with everything in this pamphlet.  For example, the pamphlet tells you that you shouldn’t talk to others about if you’ve been interviewed by OIG agents because it might be obstruction of justice.  I suppose that’s true in an extreme case, but it seems to me more likely that it’s a pain for OIG agents to not control all the information in an investigation and they’d like to scare people out of talking to, say, a lawyer hired to represent a target of an investigation. 

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I’m teaching an online CLE for lawyers who practice in state court and want to learn about federal criminal procedure.  It’s available at Lawline.  Here’s a link to a teaser video (and, yes, that is an odd way to hold my hand).

 

 

 

If you have questions about how federal criminal charges are different than state criminal charges, please visit this page on Maryland federal criminal charges or Washington DC federal criminal charges.

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Like most people who practice criminal law, I go back and forth between thinking that the explanations for some kinds of behavior are basically unknowable, and a healthy dose of armchair psychology to figure out why people do things that they know are not in their self-interest. When I’m writing a sentencing memo, I tend to try to answer for the court why my client is before the judge. I find that studies about the causes of crime almost never fail to get my attention.

Which is why I was very excited to see this article, Researchers Expose a Pattern for White Collar Crime. The article reports on a study that found a pattern for what allows white collar crime to happen at a company or other institution. Basically, like the stages of grief, the researchers believe that every big white collar case works through the following 12 steps:

  1. Perpetrator is hired into a position of power
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Over at Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman reports on a recent article wondering why prosecutors are rarely punished when they do illegal things.

According to Radley Balko at Reason, one prosecutor in Florida has put four men in prison who were later exonerated. That prosecutor is now on the bench hearing criminal cases.

Balko asks,

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In July, I blogged about a federal district court judge in Milwaukee who was mandamused after meeting with a Federal Public Defender and a United States Attorney and questioned the U.S. Attorney’s office’s judgment in bringing a case federally.

Now, as they say, the plot thickens.

Apparently the mandamused Judge has announced that he is no longer taking criminal cases. It isn’t clear if he’ll resume when a new U.S. Attorney is appointed, but that appears to be the rumor. NPR has excellent coverage, in a story in tonight’s All Things Considered.

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The Ninth Circuit has decided a major case on the way law enforcement searches electronic evidence using search warrants or grand jury subpoenas. The case is United States v. Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc. and it’s a chewy steak dinner for folks who like reading about how our Constitutional rights are going to work in the age of electronic evidence.

It’s also a kick in the crotch to the kind of agents and prosecutors who over-reach when it comes to people’s Fourth Amendment rights. (Though, as I read the case, I think the agent was overreaching and committed the government lawyers to take some unnecessarily aggressive positions.)

There’s so much in this opinion that I’m just going to raise a few of the big parts I find particularly noteworthy. You should really read the whole thing yourself. Clearly, Comprehensive Drug Testing is going to play a huge role in how the Fourth Amendment and electronic data intersect in the years to come. It’s also kind of a fun read.

Basically there are three big take away points – (1) the government cannot use the plain view doctrine to justify searching electronic evidence they don’t have probable cause to search; (2) the government has an affirmative obligation to disclose any actual risks of destruction of electronic evidence in a search warrant application; and (3) once the government takes electronic evidence pursuant to a search warrant, it is limited to searching for evidence that it already has probable cause to search.

A fuller discussion of each of these points (and more!) is after the jump.

If you have questions about how federal criminal charges are different than state criminal charges, please visit this page on Maryland federal criminal charges or Washington DC federal criminal charges.
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I’m going to be teaching a course at Solo Practice University!

The course I’ll be teaching is on Federal Criminal Practice. It’s designed for students who already know how to represent someone in state court on criminal charges but wants to expand his or her practice into federal court. I’ll talk about the parts of criminal practice that are unique to federal court – Federal Sentencing, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Bail Reform Act, and some of the constitutional challenges to a prosecution that one can make in federal court more frequently than state court. It should be fun.

Solo Practice University, for those who don’t know, is a resource for lawyers and law students who have started, or what to start, a solo law practice. There are courses in substantive areas of law (such as my humble offering) as well as the logistics and details of starting a practice, getting clients, and handling the other stresses, challenges, and joys that come from helping folks in our legal system.

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I’ve blogged before about how the federal government likes to create task forces to create specific problems. There are health care fraud task forces, mortgage fraud task forces, Hurricane Katrina fraud task forces, and workplace fraud task forces. Creating a fraud task force allows prosecutors to pool their resources relating to a specific industry, consolidate their knowledge of that industry, ask for more money from Congress, and issue press releases.

Your computer does not now contain an original Miro paintingOut of San Fransisco, however, comes a story that perhaps warrants a new task force on art fraud. Apparently, a federal grand jury has indicted an art dealer for selling fake Miro paintings. An undercover postal inspector allegedly purchased a fake Miro from the art dealer at the man’s gallery in San Fransisco.

Worse, the Miro fraud was not just in San Fransisco, but it involved galleries around the country, and in Italy and Spain. One defendant is outside of the U.S., and our government is trying to have him brought over to stand trial here.

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It appears that there is a new national task force to combat mortgage fraud. DOJ is teaming up with HUD, Treasury, and the FTC, as well as a number of state Attorneys General to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud.

Perhaps I’m slow, but I thought there was already a big task force combating mortgage fraud as a result of the last housing bubble.

The difference, if you read the article carefully, must be that this task force is focusing on “bogus foreclosure rescue” schemes. It’s much more of a housing market collapse mortgage fraud task force, as opposed to the prior mortgage fraud task force which focused on schemes from when real estate prices were high.

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There’s a fascinating case unfolding in Georgia. According to Law.com (reprinting an article from the Fulton County Daily Reporter), United States District Judge Clay Land learned that a prosecutor from the United States Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Georgia lied to a defense attorney. The defense attorney asked if the prosecutor was recording their conversations. The prosecutor says he wasn’t. As it happened, that was a lie.

Judge Land said, “I’m shocked. . . . There’s got to be some policy about when a U.S. Attorney can lie.” I’m also a little surprised that there’s apparently no policy on when a U.S. Attorney can lie too.

Though that isn’t the problem I have with the case described in this article.

If you have questions about how federal criminal charges are different than state criminal charges, please visit this page on Maryland federal criminal charges or Washington DC federal criminal charges.
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