Before the stories broke of a massive Ponzi scheme at Madoff Securities, few people in America had ever heard of Bernie Madoff. By the end of December 2008, Bernie Madoff and his $50 billion investment swindle were on the front page of newspapers across the country and became the lead story on news broadcasts for months to come.
Today, Madoff is in the fourth year of a 150-year prison sentence, but the media continues reporting developments in the story of how his fraudulent investment empire came crashing down. There is a public fascination with knowing how one unassuming investment advisor could swindle the likes of Steven Spielberg, Kevin Bacon and a small army of other people. The story highlighted the debate over white-collar criminals and the sentences courts impose on them.
White-crimes usually include one or more of the following forms of criminal conduct:
The Madoff case seemed to open the floodgates as news outlets reported on other, equally as shocking, crimes involving millions of dollars. A common element in these crimes was the use of fraud or deception in place threats of violence to commit them. The debate rages on over the appropriate punishment for today’s white-collar criminals as stories of new arrests surface.
One white-collar criminal, Chalana McFarland, used her position as an attorney along with fraud, money laundering, identity theft and mortgage fraud to swindle mortgage lenders out of $20 million. McFarland inflated the values of properties she used to secure mortgage loans on real estate from unsuspecting banks. A judge sentenced her to 30 years in prison instead of the life sentence she could have received and ordered her to repay $12 million in restitution.
Sentenced to 50 years in prison instead of the 335 years recommended by prosecutors, some people would argue that Thomas Peters got off easy. Peters used money laundering and fraud to dupe investors in his Ponzi scheme out of $3.8 billion. The financial devastation he caused for innocent investors might be a good argument that a 50-year sentence was too lenient.
It might appear excessive, but one judge did not think so in sentencing Sholam Weiss to 845 years in prison for his conviction of insurance fraud, racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. Considering that his actions resulted in the collapse of an insurance company and took advantage of 25,000 innocent investors, the length of the sentence might not seem as harsh.
The lack of violence associated with white-collar crimes can be deceiving when evaluating the sentences imposed on offenders. Victims frequently are left in financial ruin with little hope of fully recovering.
Rand Mintzer, Attorney at Law is an experienced attorney who will protect your rights. Give him a call today at 713-862-8880.