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Crime in the Suites An Analysis of Current Issues in White Collar Defense

A Blog About Current Issues in White Collar Defense

Time will tell whether Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent policy memo to federal prosecutors will actually reduce white-collar sentencing disparities that Justice Department officials have admitted are widespread and significant. “We are especially concerned about increased disparity in white-collar sentencing,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Criminal Division told American Bar Association conference attendees in February. Breuer said, “It is not uncommon for a health care fraud defendant to be sentenced to 15 or more years in one district court, while, in the same week, another defendant in another court involved in a larger fraud is sentenced to a very short prison term.” Breuer noted that an appellate court recently affirmed a 25-year prison sentence for someone involved in a $40 million fraud while, almost simultaneously, another defendant involved in a $1 billion fraud got just five years in prison. The May 19 guidance from the attorney general says, “People who commit similar crimes and have similar culpability should be treated similarly.” It directs that all charging decisions... Read more

In a rare occurrence, a so-called deferred prosecution agreement entered into by the U.S. Department of Justice with a target of a criminal investigation has been subject to scrutiny by a federal judge, and the result wasn’t favorable to the government. In fact, a judicial ruling in the case of a fired Miami bank executive… Read More

Is the government reading your e-mail messages? A routine law enforcement technique of using subpoenas instead of search warrants to obtain e-mail from internet service providers (ISPs) means that literally anyone who uses the Internet risks intrusion from unlawful government surveillance practices. Subpoenas can be issued under a much lower standard than the probable cause… Read More

An unusual coalition of the conservative Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) recently issued a study entitled “Without Intent: How Congress Is Eroding the Criminal Intent Requirement in Federal Law.” See this blog’s discussion at Crime in the Suites: Has Congress Eroded the Intent Requirement in Criminal Law?  and the… Read More

New data just out from the U.S. Sentencing Commission seems to show a small but steady trend in federal criminal sentences away from the automatic imposition of the sentence recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The Commission provides preliminary data on a quarterly basis. In the second quarter of fiscal year 2010 (which ended March… Read More

On May 4, 2010, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said the following in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on financial crime: Despite the enormous losses in many securities fraud cases, a preliminary analysis by the United States Sentencing Commission suggests that securities fraud offenders may often receive shorter sentences than other white collar offenders who cause… Read More

On April 30, 2010, David Kernell, son of a Democratic Tennessee lawmaker, was found guilty by a federal jury of obstruction of justice and unauthorized access to a computer for hacking into then-Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! e-mail account. Kernell was acquitted on a charge of wire fraud, and the jury deadlocked on a… Read More

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May 26, 2010

Is Virginia Real?

By: Ifrah Law

U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia has been in the news of late. Last week, he announced plans to pursue prosecutions of high-profile securities-fraud cases in his district. For years, securities-fraud cases have been, with rare exception, primarily handled by the Southern District of New York. MacBride takes comfort in a… Read More

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May 22, 2010

Is Craigslist Eligible for Immunity?

By: Ifrah Law

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and a coalition of 39 attorneys general have long accused Craigslist of furthering prostitution and human trafficking. Blumenthal’s May 3, 2010, subpoena to Craigslist has reignited the debate over the online bulletin board’s responsibility for prostitution ads posted on its site. Craigslist is clearly fighting back. Its CEO, James Buckmaster,… Read More

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May 18, 2010

What Is Cyberwar?

By: Ifrah Law

At a blue-ribbon Worldwide Cybersecurity Conference in Dallas from May 3 to May 5, 2010, media reports noted that some discussion focused on the use of the term ”cyberwar,” which is often used to refer to the activities of hackers and others who steal online secrets, disrupt computer systems and other infrastructure, and engage in… Read More

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