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Orlando, Florida Criminal Defense Blog

About Mark L Horwitz Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney

The Law Offices of Mark L Horwitz defends those who are charged with or under investigation for criminal conduct and related civil litigation. For criminal defense, call a lawyer in Orlando, Florida. 407.401.7224. http://www.mlhorwitzlaw.com

Separating fact from fiction

We have all seen television courtroom dramas about police and prosecutors closing in on the bad guy. We all know he's bad because we've either watched as he committed the crime or because he betrays himself with verbal missteps.

Real life is not nearly as stylish or compact as TV drama. Fraud investigations can take weeks or months, not 60 minutes. Fashionable hairstyles and clothing are crucial to TV ratings, but irrelevant to effective defense counsel in real life. 

Individuals arrested in South Florida for alleged cyber crimes

FBI agents have lately been targeting perpetrators for alleged cyber crime schemes. Recently agents arrested eight individuals in South Florida and Atlanta who are claimed to have been involved in an international ring. An FBI task force has been said to be working with banking and credit card operations in Florida to eliminate what they claim is a multibillion-dollar issue in the United States.

A number of individuals arrested worked for a call center where they were accused of gaining access to account information and customer IDs. Some of these individuals allegedly sold stolen information to other individuals in an effort to cash-in by fraudulently making a number of cellphone insurance claims. The defendants are charged with aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

Sentence recommendation in insider trading matter called severe

A former hedge fund manager for SAC Capital Advisors LP has been accused of taking part in an insider-trading scheme that netted $276 million. By recommending 15 to 20 years in prison, the probation department for the federal government's suggested sentence would be considered one of the most severe in U.S. history when it comes to insider trading.

This individual's attorney is outraged by the sentencing recommendation that was handed down. While pointing out that his client was "less culpable" than a number of other insider-trading defendants recently prosecuted, he mentioned cases where defendants faced with similar charges received sentences of as little as two years. The attorney stated that his client "was convicted of insider trading over the course of at most two weeks based on one piece of information from one tipper about one event."

Business owner charged with defrauding Florida agency

A former owner of a business that contracted out with the Florida Department of Financial Services to audit unclaimed property is now accused of defrauding the state of $117,041.82. It is claimed that the 55-year-old woman remitted unclaimed property funds to herself.

While collecting liabilities owed to the state, this woman's company was allowed to collect fees of up to 15 percent in relation to the dollar amount of the property. One other business her company was collecting from owed the state $117,403. While $17,500 for the 15 percent of the fees was transferred over to the woman's company after the amount owed was collected, it was claimed that more than $99,000 was later transferred to the company's accounts as well.

Credit Suisse Pleads Guilty to U.S. Charges of Conspiracy to Allow U.S. Citizens to Evade Taxes

The latest efforts of the U.S. Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service to pressure foreign banks was seen when Credit Suisse pled guilty to a wide ranging conspiracy to help U.S. taxpayers evade taxes through offshore accounts.  As part of the guilty plea, Credit Suisse will pay $2.6 billion to the federal government and New York financial regulators.

This is just another example of the United States government's pressure on foreign banks to report accounts held by United States citizens and residents. The U.S. government is also pursuing other banks, not only in Switzerland, but in other countries throughout the world.

This latest effort by the U.S. government was publically announced by United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, which underscores the high priority that the U.S. is placing on these efforts to route U.S. account holders with secret offshore accounts.

The U.S. has put a significant effort into forcing Swiss banks to comply with U.S. reporting regulations. In effect, foreign banks are forced to act as policemen to report U.S. taxpayers' foreign accounts. This effort against foreign banks is on-going with no end in sight. Other banks in Switzerland reported as currently under investigation include Julius Baer and Bank Pictet & Cie, as well as others.

The impact upon U.S. citizens holding such accounts can be quite severe. Once U.S. officials learn of an offshore account or beneficial interests in an offshore account, the account holder or beneficiary face investigation and prosecution for tax evasion, false statements on tax returns, as well as failure to disclose the offshore account.

The vigorous efforts of the government to pressure offshore banks into disclosing its U.S. account holders, should alert all those who hold offshore accounts to the importance of entering the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The OVDP allows offshore account holders to avoid criminal prosecution and significantly reduce the amount of civil penalties.

Entry into the OVDP is not permitted if the government has already obtained the account records from the foreign bank. Anyone with an unreported offshore account should act quickly to consult an attorney experienced in criminal tax defense and the OVDP before the foreign bank discloses the account records.

FATCA enforcement by the IRS may soon begin

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act was passed in 2010. FATCA concerns foreign accounts owned by U.S. taxpayers and puts in place certain reporting requirements for foreign financial institutions to disclose the accounts. While certain provisions have been delayed it does appear that enforcement during an implementation transition period will soon begin. During this transition, the IRS will be making efforts to force banks to report offshore accounts of U.S. Citizens. 

Attention focused upon two Florida politicians following arrests

Recent arrests of Florida legislators for drug or alcohol-related arrests have generated discussion concerning what is or is not acceptable behavior among our elected leaders. Former Congressman Radel is alleged to have not revealed facts concerning alcoholism and a drug arrest. State Representative Dane Eagle was arrested and charged with a DUI. He reportedly did not consent to a Breathalyzer test and had attempted to keep his picture from being made public. 

While public officials often face more public scrutiny after these types of arrests occur, it's often the case that such individuals are judged too quickly concerning what has occurred. Like anyone else, these individuals have the right to contest charges brought against them and are entitled to the right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Florida fisherman prosecuted under Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

A fisherman was convicted in 2011 by a federal jury in Florida and sentenced to 30-days in jail. The fisherman was accused of violating a provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. While the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in response to what happened with Enron, it was used against the fisherman for supposedly throwing fish overboard in response to a fishing citation that he received.

The concern when Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed was that companies were allegedly shredding documents to impede an investigation by federal authorities. Since the act was put into place to prevent one form of criminal conduct, few people would envision it being used against a fisherman who disposed of fish to possibly obstruct an investigation. The matter is thus being sent onto the U.S. Supreme Court concerning questions of statutory interpretation. There are also concerns about possible over-criminalization when it comes to use of specific statutes.

Florida teacher arrested for DUI and cocaine possession

A Florida 5th grade teacher was arrested on April 15 for alleged DUI and cocaine possession. After the woman reportedly declined to take a breathalyzer test or participate in field sobriety tests she was then transported to jail. Police then claim to have found four grams of cocaine in the teacher's purse along with a rolled up ten-dollar bill containing a white powdery substance.

The teacher has been reassigned at least temporarily to the school district's administrative center. One parent who claims to have known the teacher states he was shocked by what took place.

Investment scheme conviction results in 10 year prison sentence

A Florida lawyer was just sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for alleged involvement in a money laundering and investment fraud scheme. This individual was originally charged in 2009, arrested in Nicaragua in 2013 and turned over to U.S. authorities. He reportedly pleaded guilty to charges in November 2013.

This individual along with other claimed co-conspirators were reported to have engaged in selling worthless stock to investors located in the United Kingdom. The investigation into this matter was said to have taken several years. They were claimed to have used telemarketers located mostly in Spain who then supposedly would prod individuals to wire money to bank accounts held in the Tampa Bay area. The lawyer was the last individual to be sentenced. In addition to jail time, he was also ordered to forfeit various properties and accounts and now also has a judgment of $42.5 million against him.