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Federal judges cracking down on white collar criminals

Many people in Colorado and the rest of the nation assume that white collar criminals are often handed down lenient sentences for crimes such as money laundering, fraud or embezzlement. However, a recent report in the New York Times reveals that judges have been toughening up on these crimes of financial deceit.

Typically, white collar crime charges are handled in federal courts rather than state courts, and there has been an ongoing trend of federal judges enforcing lengthy prison terms on powerful business figures who use their position to commit fraud.

For example, the former chief executive of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corporation was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted on 14 counts for falsifying mortgages. Prosecutors said his actions led to $2.9 billion in losses and shut down Colonial Bank in 2009.

In that case, federal prosecutors asked the federal judge to order the maximum term for all convictions involved, which would have totaled 385 years, in effort to scare other corporate executive out of breaking the law. However, the 58-year-old executive will still probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

Another man, a former lawyer in New York, was handed down a 20-year sentence by a federal judge for scheming hedge funds and investors out of $700 million. Another lawyer, this one from Miami, was recently sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in a $1.4 billion swindle.

Ultimately, these longer sentences have existed in fraud cases ever since the United States Sentencing Commission's sentencing guidelines boosted the penalties for this type of white collar crime more than a decade ago. Since then, dozens of business executives found guilty of committing fraud will serve more than 20 years in prison because of it.

Of course, these stricter sentences mean that people accused of white collar crimes need to take the charges very seriously and find a skilled lawyer that can help them build a defense against federal prosecutors.

Source: New York Times' DealB%k, "Tough Justice Persists in White-Collar Crime Cases," Peter J. Henning, 6/30/2011.

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