Many Texans think of high profile crime when they think about white-collar crime. They might think of Bernie Madoff, who pleaded guilty to 11 counts of white-collar crime. Madoff is serving a prison lifetime prison sentence for securities fraud, investment advisor fraud, wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, and other white-collar crimes. After all, white-collar crimes include nearly any type of fraud or embezzlement that happens in a professional business setting.
While high-profile white-collar crimes receive significant air time on news and media outlets, everyday people can also face white-collar crime charges. Many white-collar crimes, such as money laundering and fraud can happen inside nearly any workplace. You might be surprised at how common the following white-collar crimes are extremely common in Texas.
1) Tax Evasion
Tax evasion is more common than many people think. Tax evasion occurs whenever someone does not pay the taxes that they owe. Tax evasion is illegal and experts estimate that one out of every six dollars owed in federal taxes remains unpaid. According to the Brookings Institute, the amount of unpaid taxes in the United States could be as high as 75% of the total annual federal budget deficit.
Keep in mind that you can face tax evasion charges even if you do not intend to withhold taxes. For this reason, the rate of misreporting of income is significantly higher for self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and farms. Tax evasion is likely more common among higher-income houses than lower-income houses.
Tax evasion can be deliberate or inadvertent. A taxpayer could deliberately not report income, or intentionally report a lower amount of income than he or she actually made. Or, a person could make a mistake that leads to unintentional tax evasion. After all, our tax laws are incredibly complex and difficult to understand.
A “tax gap” is the most common type of tax evasion. In a tax gap, the taxpayer does not pay the taxes he or she owes in a voluntary or timely manner. Many people simply do not file their federal or state income taxes. Or, they claim less income than they actually made.
2) Corporate Fraud
If you live in Texas, you likely remember the Enron scandal that happened in 2001. Many people consider the Enron scandal as the corporate crime of the century. Enron ended up filing for bankruptcy. Shareholders lost their fortunes and Congress passed the landmark Sarbanes-Oxley Act to prevent that level of corporate fraud from happening again. While the Enron case was an example of a massive corporate fraud case, corporate fraud also happens on a smaller scale and medium-sized corporations.
Many people associate the term white-collar crime with corporate fraud. Put simply, corporate fraud involves the intentional misrepresentation of a company’s financial information. Examples of corporate fraud happen when employees of a corporation report financial information that is incorrect. Many times, people engage in corporate fraud to make a business look more appealing and profitable than it is in reality in an effort to keep shareholders happy. The FBI targets corporate fraud and conducts many investigations of corporate fraud every day.
Embezzlement involves stealing money that someone else entrusted you to hold or manage. Embezzlement cases often happen when an employee with access to his or her employer’s funds steals some of that money and uses it for his or her own personal gain. Texas law considers embezzlement to be a form of theft.
In Texas, embezzlement, along with other types of theft, are punishable according to the amount of money involved. If the embezzled property amounts to $1,500 or more, the defendant will face felony charges and a prison sentence of anywhere from 180 days to life, depending on the amount of money that someone stole. The severity of the sentence for embezzlement increases as the amount of money stolen increases.
4) Money Laundering
Money laundering is also considered to be a white-collar crime in Texas and federal law. Money laundering happens when a person does any of the following:
- Knowingly handles criminal money
- Supervises the transactions of criminal money
- Invests criminal money or invests clean money into a criminal enterprise
A typical example of money laundering happens when someone uses a legitimate, legal Texas business to “wash” their illegally obtained money. For example, someone might funnel money they earned selling drugs into a legitimate food truck business. Criminal money covers any money that someone earned while engaged in a felony offense in Texas.
Crimes that can result in a year or more of jail are felonies. The penalties for money laundering depend on the amount of money that the defendant laundered. For example, when the value of the funds that were laundered is between $2,500 and $30,00, the defendant will face jail up to two years of jail time and a fine of up to $10,000. If the value of laundered funds is $300,000 or more, you will face First Degree Felony charges, punishable by five to 99 years or a sentence of life in prison as well as a possible fine of up to $10,000.
5) Healthcare Fraud
Healthcare fraud is another common white-collar crime in texas. Health care fraud happens when a medical provider knowingly defrauds a health care benefit program. For example, doctors might submit claims for services to Medicaid or Medicare that never actually happened. A doctor might claim that he saw 10 patients and bill an insurance company for 10 patients when he only saw two patients. Sometimes, Texas and federal authorities act together to investigate healthcare fraud.
Contact Our White-Collar Crime Defense Lawyers
If you are facing a white-collar criminal charge in Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Jumes Law Firm is here to help. Founding Member, Steven Jumes, is a former Texas prosecutor who has received Board Certification in Criminal Law. To schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you make sure you get the very best defense, call (817) 968-3611 or click here to schedule a free consultation.