Saturday, February 25, 2012

Insurance Fraud--The Hard Way!

[Photo of hand from wikipedia]
As a former federal prosecutor, I handled a large number of white collar crime cases involving insurance fraud.  In my twenty year career as an AUSA, I thought that I saw it all!  But I was wrong!

Did you read about the South Carolina man who was charged in federal court this week with essentially conspiring with two other men to intentionally cut off the hand of one of the other two men (with a pole saw) and then file for insurance!?  According to news reports, the three men then submitted insurance claims on a homeowner's insurance policy (and "accidental" death and dismemberment policies) and fraudulently obtained a whopping $671,000! 

Of course, as an Augusta, Georgia criminal defense lawyer, I must emphasize that the indictment is only a charge which must be proven by the government and that the defendant is entitled to his day in court.

But, as to the alleged incident, it makes one wonder how the parties would determine who would be on which end of the pole saw!  Which end would you select?  And it also raises the question of whether any of us would be willing to "lose" a hand for this (or any) amount of money!

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Higher Gas Prices Mean More Gas Thefts

[Photo of gas station from wikipedia]
Did you read the news reports about the gas thieves in Tampa, Florida?  According to reports, the thieves rigged a van with a special, extra large tank to hold the gas which they intended to steal from a Tampa service station.  Fortunately, they were stopped, but not before a lot the the gasoline spilled.

It appears that such scenes are a sign of the times.  As gas prices go up again, the problem of gas station drive-offs and other gas thefts will also undoubtedly increase.  What will gas thieves do if the price of gasoline reaches $5.00 per gallon, as some experts have recently predicted?

It's not just the gas stations which should be on alert!  In Augusta, Georgia, we have had a problem with gas thieves driving through neighborhoods and siphoning gas from parked cars!  I have even been a victim of this nefarious crime myself!

How about you?  Have you, or anyone you know, been a victim of gasoline theft?  Of course, as convenience stores and other service stations continue to become crime victims, then we all become victims, as the costs are passed on to consumers!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Atlanta Woman Sentenced in Telemarketing Scam

Telemarketing scams and advanced fee schemes are particularly pernicious in their impact on crime victims.  As a former federal prosecutor, I prosecuted a number of both types of these scams.  You can find reports of such crimes all over the place!

For example, according to various news reports, last week, a Marietta, Georgia woman, Kara Singleton Adams, was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison following her conviction in federal court for operating a telemarketing scam which falsely promised customers to reduce their interest rates and credit debt.  Naturally, according to the news reports, she never delivered on the promises, but still collected millions of dollars in fees from hapless victims.

One thing I learned about such scams is that they frequently target people, including the elderly and those in debt, who can least afford the losses which they ultimately suffer. 

But now, at least for this defendant, unless she prevails on appeal, she must serve much of the next 17 years in prison.  And don't forget, in federal court, there is no parole!  What you see is generally what you get!

Have you, or anyone you know, ever been the victim of a fraudulent scam?

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Goolsby "War Story" About Old Georgia Courthouses and Old-Fashioned Justice

As a Georgia criminal lawyer who has had the good fortune to try cases all over the State of Georgia, I have seen many of the 159 courthouses in Georgia's 159 counties.  As a lover of antiques and history, I can tell you that, of all the courthouses in Georgia, I prefer the old-fashioned courthouses over the new, modern ones!

For instance, the above picture depicts the courthouse as it stood in Worth County, Georgia, (Sylvester, Georgia), until it burned down in 1982.  While its modern replacement is nice, in my opinion, it was probably a lot more fun to try cases in this old courthouse. 

[Photos from wikipedia]
In my own county, Columbia County, we still have an old courthouse, located out in Appling, Georgia, (shown above), and a new, more modern facility, which is located more closely to the population center, in Evans, Georgia, (near Augusta).  As you can guess, I much prefer to try cases in the old courthouse in Appling!  I love the creaking old steps, the antique fixtures, and the creepy old paintings of judges from earlier centuries. 

In my opinion, while injustices may have occurred in Georgia's past, old Georgia courthouses were certainly not at fault.  To me, venerable, old courthouses remind us of our heritage and the fact that the law has stood the test of time.  The Appling courthouse, which was built in 1856, is reportedly the oldest Georgia courthouse which is still in use in this state.  And I hope it will be in use for many years to come!