Saturday, September 29, 2012

Job Losses: Another Cost of White Collar Crime

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We have discussed some of the serious costs of white collar crime before in this blog. Costs of fraud and corruption include not only the economic or financial costs, but also the social costs, including increased cynicism, or lack of trust, in our basic social institutions. But have you ever also considered that white collar crime can also, in some cases, cost jobs? Consider the following case.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Peter DeSantis, of Engineered Architectural Systems in Alpharetta, Georgia, explained yesterday that he had to lay off employees during this recession due to recent thefts allegedly committed by a former employee. According to the news report, the former employee, Karalee Sciukas, was indicted this past month by a Forsyth County grand jury for allegedly stealing about $250,000.00, over several years, while employed as comptroller with the architectural company. According to the report, she allegedly wrote checks to herself and to other businesses which she reportedly controlled, and which were allegedly disguised as vendor payments.

Of course, Ms. Sciukas is presumed innocent and is entitled to her day in court. And the facts of that particular case are not the point of this post, anyway. The point is that white collar crime can have many serious costs and consequences, including lay-offs of employees during a bad economy.

As a former federal prosecutor, (and currently, as an Augusta, GA criminal defense lawyer), I have seen the devastating losses caused by fraud and corruption. I believe we can all agree that job losses are a serious problem and a serious cost of white collar crime.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Goolsby "War Story:" More Examples of Kickbacks in Fraud Cases

[Stacks of Cash Depiction from wikipedia]
Recently, I started a series of posts in which I describe examples of kickbacks which were paid in major fraud cases I saw as a former federal prosecutor. Currently, I am a criminal defense lawyer in Augusta, Georgia, where I practice law with my sons, but I handled a number of significant white collar criminal cases as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for over 20 years.

In one major "honest services" mail fraud case, the defendant construction company paid a total of $2.7 million in kickback payments to an employee of another company, in exchange for being awarded profitable construction contracts by the other company's employee. One of the many kickbacks, or rewards, paid in this case included a total of $13,945.00 paid to two dating services, (for the employee's benefit and enjoyment), including one dating service located in Atlanta and another one located in San Diego. In addition, the defendant construction company actually paid for the (other company's) employee's travel costs to fly around the country to date all the women he met through the dating services!

Now, you must admit, while fraud is wrong, those are nice kickbacks!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The GBI's Latest Probe of a GA State Senator

[Photo of Scales of Justice from]
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has reportedly been requested by the State Attorney General to investigate false expense reports allegedly submitted by State Senator Don Balfour of Snellville.  Of course, Senator Balfour is presumed to be innocent of any wrongdoing, and his criminal defense lawyer has essentially indicated simply that mistakes were made and that there was no intentional wrongdoing.

The newspaper also pointed out that this is the first GBI investigation of a State Senator since a case which I handled as a (former) federal prosecutor against former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker, here in Augusta, back in 2007. The GBI has some really talented agents. My case against Senator Walker also involved other law enforcement agencies and a number of other more complex criminal charges. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens in this latest investigation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Search Warrants v. Subpoenas: Practical Considerations on Which Method the Feds Will Use

[Photo from]
According to various news reports, earlier today, state and federal law enforcement officials executed a search warrant at a social services (DFACS) office in Columbus, Georgia. According to the reports, the agents were looking for evidence pertaining to an investigation of DFACS employees for allegedly falsifying records to obtain federal funding. It struck me as a little bit odd that government agents were doing a raid on a government office.

But the facts of that investigation really are not the point I wanted to make here. Instead, I want to discuss in this post some of the practical reasons why the feds sometimes select search warrants, as opposed to utilizing grand jury subpoenas, or some other method, to obtain evidence of a crime.

As a former federal prosecutor for over 20 years, (currently, I am an Augusta, Georgia criminal defense lawyer), I often had to advise or plan with federal agents about which evidence-gathering method to use. A common reason to utilize a search warrant, (instead of a subpoena), is if you are afraid that the "bad guys," or targets of the investigation, will engage in a "shredding party," if you tip them off, or that you may give them time otherwise to remove or destroy incriminating records.

But, trust me, there are also some practical reasons NOT to use a search warrant! For instance, if you go in with a search warrant, you may be required to seize everything!  This can amount to millions of pages of documents that you are then going to have to inventory, store, and actually read! On the other hand, if you use a subpoena, you can make a rifle shot request for a relatively few, selected documents and avoid all the trouble and mess of a search warrant!

Another problem with utilizing a search warrant involves the serious disruption it causes to what may be otherwise be a legitimate office or business.

Every white collar crime investigation is different! And that is what made it exciting to be a federal prosecutor! These are just a few of the practical reasons why one evidence-gathering method may be chosen over another. What do you think?