Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Husband Faces Hacking Charges For Checking Wife's Email!

Have you heard the news? Various news outlets have reported that a Michigan man faces felony anti-hacking charges because he checked his wife's email on a family computer! The emails reportedly revealed that she had been having an affair. What is your opinion about a prosecutor bringing criminal charges in this divorce context?

As divorce attorneys, (and criminal defense attorneys), in Augusta, Georgia, we have warned you before about this very possibility. You must be careful about how you attempt to prove adultery. In other words, even if you suspect your spouse of committing adultery, we have always recommended that you should carefully discuss with your own divorce lawyer the proper ways to obtain the evidence of infidelity. More simply put, as any attorney will tell you, you should always use legitimate means to prove your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," is cheating, because he isn't worth going to jail over!

Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not the Michigan man violated any anti-hacking laws or did anything wrong. His criminal defense attorney reportedly maintains that his client had legitimately accessed a family computer. His criminal lawyer also has reportedly raised a good question: Don't Michigan prosecutors have better things to do than to bring criminal charges like this one in this divorce case!?

What do you think?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grave Robbers and the Depravity of Some White Collar Criminals

For most good people, the Christmas season is a time of good cheer and "good will toward men."  But not for everyone.  Have you heard about the thieves who have reportedly stolen 500 bronze urns from graves in a Stone Mountain, Georgia cemetary?  How low can some people go!?  Hopefully, these morally depraved grave robbers will be caught and punished.  And hopefully, the good Lord has reserved an especially hot place in Hades for grave robbers!
This white collar crime illustrates that nothing, including churches and cemetaries, is safe or sacred any more.  Don't you agree?  As you will recall, even churches have often been targeted, in recent years, by arsonists.  And I have read recently that even some Salvation Army kettles have been targets of thieves this holiday season.  Have you heard of such crimes occurring in your community?
But hopefully, all hope is not lost!  While these horrible crimes are occurring, at the same time, you can read about reports of "Secret Santas" dropping large sums in kettles, along with countless other illustrations of kindness and good deeds also occurring "out there" during this holiday season!  Maybe you and your family members have found ways to help others in need, too!  So, for most of us, hopefully, this still remains a time of peace and good will toward others!     

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Special Challenges In White Collar Crime Prosecutions

As a former federal prosecutor who primarily handled major white collar crime prosecutions, I enjoyed the challenge of putting together a "mega case."  However, trust me, being a federal prosecutor isn't all fun and games!  In this blog, I have periodically described some of the special challenges faced by federal prosecutors in high profile cases.  Today, I want to focus on just one of those challenges:  the day-to-day stress and psychological challenges faced by Assistant U.S. Attorneys in long-term criminal investigations.
I realize that was a mouthful!  Let me try to explain this challenge more simply like this!  In a long-term federal criminal investigation, which can last for months, or even years, a federal prosecutor must deal with a host of issues.  For example, an A.U.S.A. may face, on a daily basis, among other issues, inter-agency squabbles, agent egos, a nosy news media, or supervisory pressures, and all without any end to the ordeal being in sight!  When you begin a mega case, you have no idea how long it may take.  It will end, perhaps months, or even years later, only when you, the lead prosecutor, decide you have enough evidence to seek an indictment. 
In contrast, most state prosecutions are of short duration.  In other words, as a state prosecutor, you quickly get your cases over and done with, and then go on to the next criminal case.  Put another way, as a state prosecutor, you fry your small fish and, win, lose, or draw, at least you get closure.  However, a lengthy federal prosecution, which may involve a federal grand jury investigation, can sometimes seem like a long, never-ending nightmare with no closure in sight! 
For example, I once led a task force of federal and state agents while investigating a high profile white collar crime target.  This one case was basically my full-time job for a couple of years.  But for much of the first year, I had almost daily arguments with one of the agents assigned to the case.  It was very stressful!  In my opinion, the agent was lazy and refused to follow directions.  And until my other agents took up the slack, and got the job done, I was forced to deal with this stress of dealing with that lazy agent on a daily basis. 
But please don't get me wrong!  In spite of all the stressors inherent in leading the charge as a federal prosecutor, I loved the job!  There are no other jobs in the world with the same unique challenges and in which you can sometimes make a real difference!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Bill of Rights Day!

Did you realize that today is National Bill of Rights day!?  Yes, today, on December 15, 1791, our first ten amendments to the United States Constitution were adopted as our Bill of Rights. 
As you know, these important rights guarantee to each American the right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, among other enumerated rights.  In the criminal law arena, these important rights also include freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to reasonable bail, the right to an attorney, and the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses.  In addition, each American is guaranteed the right to notice of charges, along with the right to a public trial.
Maybe we should celebrate and appreciate our Bill of Rights every day!  Don't you agree!?

The Federal Grand Jury, Julian Assange, and Leaks about the Leaker

Yesterday, a criminal lawyer for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, announced to the news media that he had heard that his client is currently being investigated by a federal grand jury in Virginia.  Who or what is the source of this information about the grand jury and Mr. Assange?  In other words, who could be leaking about the leaker!?
As a former federal prosecutor, I can attest to the fact that government entities, (including federal agents and prosecutors), are generally very careful about avoiding leaks to the news media, particularly concerning the federal grand jury.  However, in a high profile case, such as this one, involving the internet disclosures of war secrets and diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, it could be difficult to keep things completely under wraps.  For example, while prosecutors and agents cannot disclose matters occurring before the grand jury, there are generally no prohibitions against witnesses, or witnesses' attorneys, telling others what has happened.  In addition, I have seen, or heard of, instances in which the grand jurors themselves may have disclosed what transpired before the grand jury.
Of course, no matter how you view Mr. Assange, whether or not someone has leaked information about a grand jury may be the least of Mr. Assange's problems right now, don't you agree? 
United States Attorney General Eric Holder has disclosed nothing about a grand jury investigation, but he has announced that he has authorized significant action in the matter.  It will be interesting to see what else unfolds in this case in the new year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy News for The Goolsby Law Firm!

Today is a happy day for us at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC! As many of you know, The Goolsby Law Firm is presently composed of father and son attorneys, (Richard Goolsby, Sr. and Richard Goolsby, Jr.), who enjoy practicing family law, criminal law, and handling other legal matters in Augusta, Georgia, (including Richmond and Columbia County). The primary author of this blog is the dad, Richard Goolsby, Sr. I am a former federal prosecutor who has handled some of the largest, most complex criminal cases in Georgia history.
Our good news includes the fact that my second son has just completed the half-way point of law school! In other words, he will complete law school in only three more semesters!
But there's more good news! My third son, currently a senior at the University of Georgia, has just been accepted for admission to law school next fall by both of his top choices!
So, don't you see, in just a few years, we may very well be the only law firm in this state composed of a father and three sons! Now, you know why I am so happy and proud! The Goolsby Law Firm is truly a family law firm!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Senate Votes To Convict Federal Judge

The United States Senate voted today to convict and remove federal judge Thomas Porteous of Louisiana.  Porteous was accused of accepting money and gifts from attorneys and bail bondsmen, among other allegations.  Incredibly, Porteous, a Clinton appointee, was only the eighth federal judge to be removed by the Senate in U.S. history.
White collar crime hits high and low, doesn't it? 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

DOJ's "Operation Broken Trust" Targets Investment Fraud Schemes

According to "The Huffington Post," and other news sources, yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the preliminary results of a nationwide task force effort, called "Operation Broken Trust." According to Holder, the operation has reportedly targeted 343 defendants accused of various investment fraud schemes around the country and with over $8.3 billion in losses to crime victims.
Investment fraud scams, which are often ponzi schemes, in which the con artists frequently target and steal from elderly victims by promising, but never delivering, high returns on investments, are a pervasive, pernicious problem in this country. 
The President's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which is reportedly spearheading this operation, deserves credit for these accomplishments.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Judge To Actor Wesley Snipes: "Go directly to jail and do not pass go!"

The Christmas holidays can be a happy time or a sad time, depending upon your circumstances.  For actor Wesley Snipes, it appears it will be a sad time.  A federal judge has reportedly rejected his criminal defense attorney's "emergency" motion to delay Snipes' voluntary surrender - prison reporting date to begin serving his sentence for failing to file income tax returns.  Snipes had reportedly sought the delay so that he could be with his family and kids during the holidays.  However, the judge reportedly observed, in his order denying the request, that Snipes has had plenty of time to get prepared to report to prison and that being apart from one's family on special occasions is one of the inevitable consequences of all prison sentences.
Although every criminal case is different, as a former federal prosecutor, (and currently, as an Augusta, Georgia criminal defense lawyer), I would have bet the ranch that most judges would have denied such an "emergency" motion.  Don't you agree?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

No More "Dancing With the Stars:" A Public Corruption Conviction for Tom DeLay


Many of you probably remember watching former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's performances on last season's popular dance show, "Dancing With the Stars."  There was nothing "criminal" about that!  But Mr. DeLay won't be dancing again, at least not any time soon!  You may have read about his conviction, last week, in a Texas court, for laundering $190,000 in corporate campaign contributions to various state Republican candidates.
Following his conviction on money laundering charges, DeLay vowed to appeal and to obtain a reversal of this alleged "abuse of power" by the Texas prosecutor in the case.
But for now, Mr. DeLay's future doesn't look too bright, because he reportedly faces the possibility of many years in prison when he is sentenced.
What is your opinion about the DeLay case?  And what do you think about tough sentencings for white collar crime?  Should "crime in the suites" be sentenced as severely as crime in the streets?