Experienced Defense Lawyers and Former Federal Prosecutors for White Collar Crimes
White collar offenses are commonly charged at the federal level, and they carry the potential for severe punishment. Individuals and enterprises charged with white collar crimes will often be at risk for facing exorbitant fines, long-term federal incarceration, and other penalties that can threaten an individual’s livelihood and put companies out of business. If you are facing a white collar investigation, or if you have been charged with a white collar crime, you need to implement and execute a personalized defense strategy. You also need experienced attorneys who can help shift the balance of power in your favor.
At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, our defense attorneys and former federal prosecutors have decades of experience in white collar investigations and criminal cases in federal courts across the country. As defense attorneys, we understand what is at stake for our clients, and we know what it takes to mount a successful defense. As former federal prosecutors, we know the strategies and methods that attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) use to pursue convictions in white collar cases. We use this government insight to our clients’ advantage, and our firm’s team approach means that each client receives the full benefit of all that our attorneys have to offer.
Thorough Preparation, Aggressive Tactics, Favorable Results
While each case is unique, and while the specifics of your case will depend on the facts and laws involved, we approach every case with the same basic philosophy. We want to intervene in the government’s investigation or trial preparations as early as possible, and we want to explore all possible grounds for having your case dismissed prior to trial. Our goal is to resolve our clients’ federal investigations without civil or criminal liability. If you have already been charged, or if charges are unavoidable given the unique circumstances of your case, we will seek to negotiate a favorable outcome. If a favorable plea deal is not on the table, we will be fully-prepared to present a comprehensive defense strategy in court.
“We have never dealt with legal counsel who is so down to earth and compassionate toward his clients. [Dr. Nick Oberheiden] has a level of compassion and dedication that one would only expect from a family member. He is responsive and has even worked with us on weekends, to include reaching out to update us on a Sunday evening. He has been more than fair regarding his fee schedule. There is no one better and if you are seeking a federal criminal attorney.” – Firm Client
“Our experience with [Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP] was overwhelmingly positive! We recently brought a range of complex legal issues to the table, which they responded to with a systematic, prudent approach. Throughout our work together, Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP served as an invaluable source of practical guidance and legal leadership. We would recommend them highly and without reservation to anyone. Simply, the best!” – Firm Client
Our Federal White Collar Defense Practice
At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, we focus on representing clients in federal white collar cases. Our experience includes obtaining favorable results for clients facing investigations and prosecutions involving a variety of allegations.
Like many other statutes used to prosecute white collar crimes at the federal level, the federal bank fraud statute is extraordinarily broad. By defining the offense as any “scheme or artifice . . . to defraud a federal institution,” 18 U.S.C. Section 1344 gives federal agencies such as the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) substantial leeway to craft charges that can lead to severe penalties. As a result, allegations of credit card fraud, debit card fraud, check fraud, internet fraud, and identity theft can all lead to bank fraud charges carrying the potential for up to a $1 million fine and 30 years in federal prison.
Bribing a federal official is an extremely-serious offense that can result in up to 15 years of federal incarceration. Federal prosecutors commonly bring bribery charges against both individuals and businesses, and even the appearance of a potential bribe is often enough to spur a federal bribery investigation. We handle cases involving allegations such as paying for government contracts, offering kickbacks to government officials, paying off federal inspectors and law enforcement officers, paying off federal witnesses, and funding election campaigns in order to assert undue influence.
Similar to bank fraud, embezzlement from a federally-insured financial institution or a Federal Reserve bank can result in penalties of $1 million and 30 years imprisonment. This is true for offenses involving as little as $1,000. In cases involving attempts to embezzle federal funds (including receipt, concealment, or retention of embezzled federal funds), the penalties include fines plus up to 10 years of federal incarceration.
Health Care Fraud
Health care fraud is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of offenses that have to do with illegally obtaining funds from Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and other government health care benefit programs. A wide range of federal agencies vigorously investigate and prosecute alleged health care law violations, and legitimate providers across the country (including physician-owned practices, pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, hospice facilities, and home health care providers) are increasingly finding themselves accused of health care fraud.
Insurance fraud is a federal white collar offense under 18 U.S.C. Section 1347. Investigated by the FBI, cases of insurance fraud commonly result in charges against individuals for providing false information and intentionally damaging property, and against insurance companies for premium diversion, asset diversion, fee churning, and fraudulent claim denials. Contractors can also face insurance fraud charges stemming from accusations of bid-rigging and failing to perform contracted repairs.
Mail fraud is a federal white collar offense that is commonly charged in conjunction with other more-substantive offenses. For example, health care providers that use the postal system to pay or solicit kickbacks can face mail fraud charges in addition to being charged under the federal Anti-Kickback statute. The penalties for mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. Section 1341 include fines of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years of imprisonment in a federal correctional institution.
In order to successfully pursue money laundering charges, federal prosecutors must be able to prove that a person conducted (or attempted to conduct) a financial transaction with knowledge that the money or property involved was obtained through unlawful means. There are a variety of “financial transactions” that are considered hallmarks of money laundering schemes, and in many cases defending against accusations of money laundering involves providing a lawful justification for what appears to be illicit activity.
Enacted in 2009, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA) provides federal investigators and prosecutors with broader authority to pursue cases of suspected mortgage fraud. Under FERA, the federal government can pursue mortgage-fraud related charges under a wide range of other statutes; and, as a result, the penalties for mortgage fraud can be severe. We represent real estate purchasers (both individual and corporate), mortgage lenders, and others facing mortgage fraud allegations.
Federal securities laws apply to investors, brokers, investment advisors, and financial firms engaged in domestic and international securities markets. From insider trading and front-running to selling unregistered securities and churning investors’ accounts in order to generate excess commissions, there are numerous crimes that can result in severe penalties under 18 U.S.C. Section 1348 and other federal securities laws. We provide vigorous defense for individuals and businesses in cases involving all types of alleged securities fraud violations.
Similar to mail fraud, wire fraud charges commonly accompany federal charges for other white collar offenses. The penalties are also similar under 18 U.S.C. Section 1343. While the breadth of the federal wire fraud statute means that wire fraud charges are common in white collar cases, it also means that there are numerous potential defenses available. At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP we work closely with our clients to identify all potential grounds to avoid prosecution or conviction.
Federal White Collar Criminal Defense: Answers to FAQs
Q: What is the significance of an offense being labeled a “white collar” crime?
In pure legal terms, there is no practical significance to a crime being labeled a “white collar” offense. The term “white collar” is used to generally describe federal offenses that are financially-motivated; and, at the federal level, that commonly (though not always) target federal funds or federally-insured institutions. Generally speaking, white collar offenses also typically carry substantial penalties even for a single offense. However, to make matters even worse – in many cases defendants will face numerous counts that can result in insurmountable financial liability and what effectively amounts to a life sentence.
Q: What are some potential defenses to mail fraud, wire fraud, and other common white collar offenses?
Aside from the Constitutional defenses (such as an unlawful search or seizure) that apply in all federal cases, the defenses available in a white collar case will largely depend upon the specific facts and statute or statutes involved. In many cases, an element of mental culpability is required in order for the DOJ to prove its case. As a result, two common defenses in many white collar cases are:
- Lack of knowledge (i.e. lack of knowledge that funds were obtained through improper means in a money laundering case)
- Lack of intent (i.e. lack of an intent to defraud Medicare in a criminal health care fraud investigation)
A variety of other defenses may be available as well. For example, many white collar crimes have numerous “elements,” and if the prosecution cannot prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt then a criminal conviction would be unjust. Some statutes also include safe-harbor provisions that protect legitimate practices and transactions, and other unique statutory provisions can provide complete defenses to criminal culpability as well.
Q: Can I be charged with multiple white collar offenses as the result of a single federal investigation?
Yes. In fact, facing multiple charges as a result of a federal white collar investigation is likely. Often, individuals and businesses will face charges for an underlying offense (such as health care fraud or embezzlement) and also face charges for mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and other associated white collar crimes. In these cases, the prosecutor’s office can have significant leverage due to the cumulative penalties that are on the table. Avoiding charges or penalties will require a detail-oriented and comprehensive defense strategy that targets the elements of each offense that has been alleged.
Q: What are some of the hallmarks of money laundering that can trigger a federal investigation?
As we mentioned above, there are several types of financial transactions that federal investigators consider likely signs of money laundering. These include transactions such as:
- Making multiple deposits under $10,000 instead of a single large deposit
- Transferring income into offshore bank accounts in certain nation with favorable privacy laws
- Transferring funds through a series of holding companies or trusts
- Misrepresenting the source of income
- Using cash to pay unreported employees
Q: How do federal agencies identify targets for white collar criminal investigations?
The DOJ, FBI, and other federal agencies rely on a number of different sources to obtain information about potential targets for white collar criminal investigations. For example, in certain regulated industries, such as banking, health care, and mortgage lending, authorities rely heavily on data analytics. This helps them to identify companies and transactions that appear to be “outliers” when compared to specific populations within the industry, or the industry as a whole. In many cases, federal authorities also receive tips from “whistleblowers” for alleged crimes involving fraud perpetrated against the federal government. Alternatively, federal agencies may receive tips, rely on informants, and uncover evidence of criminal activity in the course of other white collar investigations.
Q: Can I face both civil and criminal liability for a white collar criminal offense?
Potentially, yes. While the federal government will only pursue civil or criminal penalties as the result of an investigation, in certain types of cases, individuals and companies can face private civil lawsuits while also facing federal criminal prosecution. This is common in securities fraud cases, for example – where federal laws impose criminal sanctions while also providing investors with “private rights of action” to seek remedies for alleged investment losses.
Q: Should I hire a lawyer before I get charged?
Yes, absolutely. If you are under investigation for a white collar offense, your top priority should be doing everything possible to resolve the investigation without the government pressing charges. While the government has a head start, if you have not yet been charged, there is still room to intervene in the investigation. This is an early opportunity to learn more about the allegations against you, and work with the prosecutor’s office to demonstrate that further government action is unwarranted.
Q: What should I do if I am facing an investigation for white collar offenses?
If you are facing a white collar investigation, the single most important thing you can do is seek experienced legal representation. The sooner, the better. At this point, you need to be extremely careful about everything you say and do. Your attorneys will be able to help you avoid mistakes while also communicating with federal agents and prosecutors on your behalf. As former federal prosecutors handling white collar criminal investigations, our attorneys are intimately familiar with the federal investigation process, and we can use our experience in previous cases to your advantage while closely guiding you every step of the way.
About Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP’s Federal Criminal Defense Team
At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, our practice is largely devoted to representing clients in matters involving white collar criminal defense. Our attorneys offer decades of combined experience, with as many as nearly 30 years of personal legal experience. The federal criminal defense team at Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP is led by partners Dr. Nick Oberheiden and William (Bill) C. McMurrey, each of whom has a significant background in federal white collar investigations.
We believe in providing every client with the best possible defense. In most cases, this means combining the knowledge and insights of multiple attorneys on our federal criminal defense team in order to build a comprehensive and custom-tailored strategy. Defending against an investigation is different from defending against federal charges. Cases involving the FBI are different from those involving the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Our attorneys can use their substantial experience to pick up on the nuances of your case and use the unique facts and circumstances involved to protect you as much as possible.
Contact Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP for a Free and Confidential Case Evaluation
The attorneys Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP represent clients in federal white collar cases nationwide. If you are facing an investigation or federal charges, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free case assessment. To meet with the attorneys on our federal criminal defense team in confidence, call (888) 452-2503 or submit your case online today.