White-Collar Crime: Allegations And Convictions Not Only For The Rich And Famous


First provided a definition in 1939, white-collar crime has evolved to cover a wide range of fraud schemes. Mention the act and perhaps Martha Stewart or Bernard Madoff may come to mind.

In 2001, Ms. Stewart was found guilty of four counts related to her obstruction of a government investigation into the sale of ImClone Systems, Inc. stock. Although criminal charges of insider trading were not entered, Ms. Stewart was charged and prosecuted for lying about the reason for her sale of stock.

Fast forward to 2009 and perhaps one of the most notorious white-collar crimes ever. Bernie Madoff, known as a Wall Street pioneer, orchestrated the largest financial swindle in American history and knowingly admitted to his sons that his entire business was a masterful Ponzi scheme. His white-collar deception financially destroyed rich and poor alike and he is currently serving a 150-year sentence in federal prison.

White-collar crime is characterized by malicious deceit, concealment, or a violation of trust to further financial gain or to avoid a significant financial loss. Crimes under this guise tend not to involve threats or physical violence. As today’s economy has become globally complex, financial crimes can take on many variations and from New York to California, U.S. residents should learn to detect the first signs of unlawful conduct to avoid financial loss or unlawful financial gain.

For those residing in California, Penal Code, Section 186.11-186.12 defines white-collar crime as instances as:

  • Bribery;
  • Computer crime;
  • Counterfeiting;
  • Embezzlement;
  • Environmental crime;
  • Forgery;
  • Fraud;
  • Pension fund crime; and
  • Alleged violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO).

Penalties for a white-collar crime conviction can vary. Ms. Stewart received a five-month prison sentence, a five-month house arrest order, and a total of two years probation. Bernie Madoff did not fair as well, convicted at age 71, Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence.

As the Stewart and Madoff stand out as high profile cases, residents of California convicted of a white-collar crime may face the following penalties:

  • Community confinement;
  • Fines;
  • Forfeitures;
  • Home detention;
  • Prison sentence;
  • Restitution.

There are instances under California’s Penal Code where penalties may be reduced or even dismissed if the defendant cooperates with the prosecution during the official investigation.

If you reside in the Santa Clara County area and have been falsely accused of a white-collar crime, it is imperative to remember that the strength of your defense can significantly alter the outcome of your trial. San Jose criminal defense attorney Nick Cvietkovich understands the importance of uncovering the facts to ensure the best possible legal outcome. Contact the Law Offices of Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich at (408) 898-9770 to schedule your no-cost consultation.






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