Public Corruption in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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Public corruption is a phrase for a criminal act that includes a high number of white-collar criminal offenses. Although the precise definition of this crime will differ based on what state and what jurisdiction the offense was committed in, the broad interpretation of public corruption according to the laws in the State of Florida is defined as “the offering, receiving or giving of preferential treatment or favors in exchange for money, property or other valuables.” The majority of people who are implicated in public corruption charges are public officials. A public official is any person who holds an office in a government or other organization and has been given some degree of authority to administer or enforce public law. Examples of public officials include the President, Vice President, any member of a legislative body, and judges. These public corruption cases center around public officials who are implicated in some form of breaching the public’s trust.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) performs a major function when it comes to prosecuting and investigating all cases that involve public corruption. Issues of public corruption are perceived as posing an immediate threat to practically every part of conventional American security and society in general. The crime of public corruption is also believed to negatively affect the honor of the judicial system, matters of national security, the way in which tax dollars are utilized, the value and standard of services provided by the government and a lot more. Consequently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with other federal and state law enforcement agencies work tirelessly to find, reveal and prevent public corruption on every level of government. Cases of public corruption that were dealt with by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2010 ended in over 900 guilty verdicts, the majority of which took place at the federal level of government.
If you or a loved one find yourself facing such charges, don’t hesitate to contact our Fort Lauderdale office at (954) 302-5391 to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Forms of Public Corruption
Any public official who has been charged with any form of public corruption should expect to meet hefty consequences. These might include the loss of their office along with criminal sentencing if they are found guilty, which would include a lengthy imprisonment, huge administrative fines, or possibly both. The following list contains a few examples of actions that could be considered public corruption:
Bribery is a white-collar crime that includes the attempted action or successful action of giving or receiving money, valuables or other gifts in exchange for a specific favor by a public official or by someone who is in a legal or public office of service. For instance, bribery might take place when a driver offers to give a law enforcement officer money in exchange for not receiving a ticket for a moving violation. Bribery might include a police officer, juror, judge, public official, witness, sporting official like a referee, or a foreign official. Bribery can also take place in the private sector with issues pertaining to competing businesses or even professional sporting events.
Someone who has been accused of accepting or offering a bribe could be charged with bribery. A taxpayer might attempt to bribe a public official in an effort to control her or his choices, or a public official might solicit money or other items of value as a trade-off for voting a certain way. In both of these scenarios, the taxpayer and the public official could be in danger of being charged with the commission of a crime Just the simple offer of a bribe or an arrangement to accept a bribe or an offer could be enough to bring about a criminal charge even in the event that no money or valuables were actually exchanged.
Bribery is a crime that is able to be charged in the federal or the state arena. The various states throughout America each hand out their own set of punishments where bribery is concerned, but either the person who was suggesting the bribe or the person who agreed to the bribe can be charged. This rule will apply even when the favor and the bribe do not cause any wrongdoing to be inflicted on the public. In addition to that, just endeavoring to engage in the act of bribery is regarded as a criminal act in and of itself. The alleged offender could possibly be facing incarceration and administrative fines along with the life-long loss of her or his good name, hard-earned reputation, and their career.
Taking into account the severe negative effects that a conviction for bribery will wreak on every single part of an offender’s life, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney who specializes in public corruption charges and who is able to provide you with insight and informed direction. Once you truly grasp the concept of the gravity of your situation, you will be able to make smarter choices regarding how to handle your case.
Extortion is another white-collar crime. It involves the illegal act of threatening brutality, property damage, defamation of character, or government involvement to someone in an effort to get money, property or a favor. The crime of blackmail is a type of extortion that deals with the threat of revealing jeopardizing knowledge as it pertains to the victim and/or her or his loved ones and family. No immediate physical intimidation of violence plays a role in extortion, like the brandishing of a firearm to make a person hand over their money such as you would see in an armed robbery, but instead, the implication or promise of violence will only be applied if the victim fails to do as they are instructed. If the act of threatening in and of itself is not considered unlawful, it could still be counted as extortion. For instance, someone who threatens to inform the wife of a philandering judge about his unseemly behavior if he refuses to rule a certain way on a particular case would be committing the crime of extortion.
A second component of the crime of extortion is a public official who acts under the “color of official right.” The color of official right indicates that the wrongful taking by a public officer of property or money not due him or his office. This may or may not include the application of threats, force, or other types of fear but always involves the requesting, demanding or accepting of a monetary payment, while purporting to be acting in accordance with her or his sworn duties, but in truth, they are collecting the money for individual profit. The victim might agree to the illicit payment but only because she or he is submitting to the public official’s authoritative capacity.
Trying to perpetuate an act of extortion and really perpetrating extortion can both be regarded as criminal offenses. Based heavily on the exact charges and the location where the act took place, these charges could be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor offense, leaving the offender looking at a lengthy incarceration, outrageous administrative fines and even more. The alleged offender could be looking at federal charges for extortion, based on the circumstances of the case. In the event that a public official is found guilty of extortion, the forfeiture of their office will most likely also be a part of their sentence.
Challenging Extortion Charges
Just like with most criminal charges, the intention of the alleged offender is a primary determinant in cases of extortion. It could very well be a legitimate defense that the alleged offender had a reasonable and honest idea that she or he was legally entitled to the money or the property that was taken. A defense such as this might or might not be considered adequate depending mainly on the state and county in which the crime took place.
Any act of fraud against a government agency or the government itself is a federal offense known as government fraud. Government fraud can occur in connection with any plan to defraud the United States government including government contracts, tax fraud, federally-regulated goods, Medicare fraud, and government billing just to name a few. For instance, exaggerating a request for payment on a government contract and the misuse of the government’s money are crimes that would both be classified as government fraud.
In order to obtain a conviction for fraud, the state has to show that the alleged offender had the very real intentions of cheating the United States government and that the incident was not merely a result of sloppy bookkeeping, an error in math, or another kind of incompetence or mismanagement.
Kinds of Government Fraud and Examples
- Contractor Fraud: A corporation that is operating under a government contract could face charges of contractor fraud for billing for work that is not done, over-billing for supplies services or giving unauthorized payments, kickbacks, or other bribes
- False Claims: Giving a claim that you know to be untrue or issuing untrue reports in an effort to deceive the United States government is a kind of government fraud. For instance, a person could file a fake claim for Social Security. This offense can be punished by incarceration and the payment of restitution that adds up to three times as much money as the offender obtained under fraudulent circumstances. Administrative fines may also be implemented.
- Medicare/Medicaid Fraud: Medicaid and Medicare fraud are considered to have taken place when a healthcare provider over-bills, submits bills for medical or surgical procedures that were never really done, performs needless medical or surgical procedures or in any other way defrauds the United States government.
Cases of suspected government fraud are considered very serious, and the greatest sentences are usually sought after in the sentencing of the offender. In the majority of circumstances, the alleged offender will come up against both civil and criminal charges. If found guilty in court, the offender could be looking at a lengthy incarceration, substantial administrative fines as well as additional criminal fines. The punishments that are issued in civil court are monetary in nature. The offender might be deemed responsible for all financial, and even non-financial, damages that the victims supposedly endured.
The all-inclusive statutory definition of fraud is the deliberate and intended deceit of another person for some form of personal benefit. Someone who defrauds another person denies the victim their right to their own property or money for personal use or gain. This can be accomplished by hiding the truth, downright telling falsehoods, giving false guarantees, indicating lies or any other transgression that is performed for the purpose of cheating, swindling, or duping.
Fraud is very frequently thought to be a white-collar crime due to its connections to banking, finance, and business in general. Fraud is also a type of theft but it is a non-violent theft-related offense and works by using trickery instead of the traditional means of violence or force.
More information on the different types of fraud is listed below. Other forms of fraud include but are not limited to:
Bank Fraud: Attempting to or actually defrauding any bank that is federally insured is regarded as bank fraud. This crime is one of the more critical kinds of fraud that someone can be charged with. Sentences can involve as long as 30 years in state prison and an administrative fine of as much as $1 million.
Bankruptcy Fraud: Falsifying financial data on a petition for bankruptcy, concealing your assets or in any other way endeavoring to gain the benefit of the security that bankruptcy offers could be viewed as bankruptcy fraud. The offender could be looking at incarceration and fees
Credit Card Fraud: This crime centers around the fraud and/or theft of credit cards or credit card information. It is most commonly referred to as identity theft.
Employment Fraud: Accusations of fraud among the employment sector could have dire results for an employer, resulting in hefty fines and time behind bars. This could include defrauding or scamming those who are looking for work
Government Fraud: There are several distinct kinds of government fraud. This crime can involve just about any kind of behavior that is intended to swindle the government out of money or other items of value.
Insurance Fraud: Occasionally affiliated with the willful destruction of property or arson, insurance fraud includes any effort, attempted or successful, to fraudulently receive benefits from an insurance claim.
Internet Fraud: The use of the internet in the commission of any form of fraud may be considered the criminal act of internet fraud. This may include internet auction fraud, non-delivery of merchandise, credit card fraud, work at home schemes and more.
Investment Fraud: Investment fraud, more commonly known as securities fraud or stock fraud, is a type of crime that includes committing fraud in the commodity and stock markets. It might involve cheating investors out of their money, falsifying financial documents and insider trading.
Loan Fraud: A financial organization, an individual person, or a corporation can fall prey to the crime of loan fraud, although borrowers are usually the most popular victims. Any kind of deception or fraud in the lending community could be viewed as loan fraud.
Mail Fraud: Mail fraud is a federal crime that includes the use of the United States Post Office any time while committing or attempting to commit fraud. This national law may be applied to increase what otherwise may have only been a breach of state law due to the fact that the post office was used in the scheme.
Mortgage Fraud: The fundamental definition of mortgage fraud is the withholding or the falsification of information on an application for a mortgage loan, or any sort of attempted or successful act to deceive a financial institution or borrower in connection to obtaining a mortgage loan.
Welfare Fraud: Deliberately suppressing or giving fake information in an effort to deceive or abuse the state welfare system can be viewed as welfare fraud. Declaring a false number of dependents, falsifying information about your well-being and neglecting to declare your wages are some of the more prevalent kinds of welfare fraud.
Wire Fraud: Someone who is charged with endeavoring to commit or actually committing any kind of fraud that includes any sort of electronic media such as radio, television, internet, etc., could potentially be facing federal charges for wire fraud.