White collar crime is nonviolent, usually financial crime typically based on some type of fraud, deceit or dishonest behavior.
Extreme prison sentence
The most severe example cited is the conviction of Fredric “Rick” Dryer on Colorado state charges of securities fraud, theft and violation of “organized crime laws.” Dryer, in his 60s and the founder of Mile High Capital Group, is serving a 132-year sentence in a Colorado state prison for 44 felony convictions. He will be eligible for parole in 2072.
Reportedly, he participated in a Ponzi scheme wherein millions were paid for rental properties that were never built. The Denver Business Journal reports that Dryer had 1,250 victims who lost collectively $34 million.
Serious punishment possible
It is a misconception to assume that because white collar crime is not violent, that law enforcement takes it any less seriously, as demonstrated by Dryer’s sentence.
Criminal charges resulting in convictions for white collar crimes can bring serious jail time, fines and restitution, not to mention loss of professional licenses and jobs, as well as harm to professional and personal reputation.
Examples of white collar crimes
Federal statute provides a comprehensive definition of white collar crime as an unlawful act “committed by nonphysical means and by concealment or guile” to get money or property or avoid its loss, or to gain an advantage. Some of the more common types of white collar crimes include:
- Investment fraud like Ponzi schemes in which later investors’ money is used to pay earlier investors off
- Securities fraud that involves dishonesty in corporate dealings or financial markets such as insider trading
- Forgery or falsifying legal documents
- Tax fraud, including evading tax or fraudulently obtaining tax refunds
- Mail or wire fraud meaning using the U.S. mail or electronic communication to commit a crime
- Embezzlement or the unlawful taking of money or property with which a person has been legally entrusted for safekeeping
- Bank fraud like attempting through misrepresentation to obtain assets from a financial institution
- Insurance fraud in which deception is used to obtain coverage or collect for claims from an insurance company
- Corruption crimes like bribery or kickbacks
- Health care fraud such as false billing to government programs like Medicare or Medicaid
- Mortgage fraud like the use of falsified documents in a mortgage transaction for financial gain
- Money laundering when illegally obtained funds are put into legitimate currency circulation to hide their origins
Strong and early defense important
Anyone in Colorado who is under investigation for a white collar crime or who has already been charged should seek the advice and representation of an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney who has handled white collar cases. A knowledgeable white collar crime lawyer will be able to sort through often voluminous paper or computer evidence on behalf of the defendant, often with the help of an expert.
Skilled legal counsel can negotiate with law enforcement to reach a plea agreement, work to get charges dismissed or fight for a white collar crime defendant vigorously in court. The penalties and negative repercussions of such a federal or state conviction are too great to go it alone without a seasoned Colorado lawyer.