Monday, January 28, 2013

Secret Service Nabs Alleged Counterfeiter

[Secret Service Badge Depiction from wikipedia]

Did you know that the U.S. Secret Service has an important law enforcement function besides just protecting the President and other federal officials? In short, Secret Service agents also have jurisdiction over investigations of various federal financial crimes, including counterfeiting of U.S. currency.

Just today, according to various news reports, including one by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a Woodstock, Georgia man, Heath Kellogg, was indicted in Atlanta, along with five other people, for allegedly counterfeiting $1.1 million in counterfeit fifty dollar bills. One unusual feature of this case, in addition to the huge amount, is the fact that this case involves fifties. Most counterfeiting cases involve printing fake twenties or hundred dollar bills.

As a former federal prosecutor, in Augusta, Georgia, (presently, I am an Augusta, GA criminal defense lawyer), I handled a large number of counterfeiting cases over the years for Secret Service agents. In fact, my first federal trial was a Secret Service case. Thankfully, I won it! Generally, I found Secret Service agents to be very professional and thorough in their investigations.

So, now, we have talked a little bit about the fine investigative work done in counterfeiting cases by the U.S. Secret Service. Now, if only we, as taxpayers, could get them to investigate the printing and wasting of our tax dollars by the federal government!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Accused of Mortgage Fraud

Lady Justice depiction from wikipedia]
I was a federal prosecutor in Augusta, Georgia for over 20 years. I thought I saw a little bit of everything! But I never saw a criminal charge brought against a judge. But that is exactly what happened on friday in the State of Michigan.

According to various news reports, a criminal information has been filed in federal court against Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway. Justice Hathaway is reportedly accused of mortgage fraud based upon alleged steps she took to conceal property she owned in Florida in connection with the sale of a Detroit home. 

In federal court, an "information" is simply the word which refers to the formal accusation, or the charging document, filed by an Assistant U.S. Attorney, in a criminal case. Generally, the government must obtain a grand jury indictment, in felony cases, unless the defendant is willing to waive it. If he or she waives the grand jury process, then the federal prosecutor is authorized to simply file the information, or accusation, to begin the criminal court process.

I thought that criminal charges being brought against a judge were unheard of. But then, I googled the keywords "criminal charge against judge" and got a long list of such cases.

So, maybe I didn't see "everything" after all, while working as a federal prosecutor!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Indicted on Bribery and Kickback Charges

[Photo of Former Mayor Ray Nagin from wikipedia]
Did you hear the news? According to various news reports, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was reportedly indicted today by a federal grand jury for allegedly using his former office for private gain. 

According to the reports, the federal charges include, among other things, $160,000 in bribes to Nagin and truckloads of granite for his private business in exchange for allegedly giving millions of dollars in city contracts -- post Hurricane Katrina -- to certain "preferred" businessmen. 

As a former federal prosecutor, and, currently, as an Augusta, GA criminal defense lawyer, I have seen this type of "mutual back-scratching" deal occur over and over. The names may change, but the white collar crimes stay the same!

Of course, an indictment is not evidence and the former mayor will be entitled to his day in court. It will be interesting to see what happens! What do you think?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A New Melissa McCarthy Movie About Identity Theft!

[Identity Thief movie poster depiction from wikipedia]
Look, just because we are Augusta, Georgia criminal lawyers, and just because I am a former federal prosecutor, it doesn't mean that we don't like to get out sometimes and have some fun, too! And if the fun somehow relates to our work, then that is fine, too!

I plan to have fun on February 8th by attending the premiere of the new comedy movie Identity Thief. The movie stars actors Jason Bateman and Molly McCarthy. I am a big fan of both of these actors, especially Ms. McCarthy. You will recall that Ms. McCarthy, who currently stars in the t.v. series Mike & Molly, stole the show in the movie Bridesmaids. According to previews, in this new flick, Ms. McCarthy's character steals the identity of Bateman's character and he is out to get her!

Although identity theft -- which is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States -- is no laughing matter, here's hoping that this new movie about this nefarious type of white collar crime will be entertaining! What do you think? 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Edwin Edwards In New Reality Show

[Gov. Edwin Edwards' Portrait from La. Sec. of State's site]
So, what does a former governor and convicted white collar criminal do following a ten year stint in a federal prison? Well, according to A&E and various news sources, they sometimes get their own reality television shows! At least, that is what is reportedly occurring in the case of former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards!

The flamboyant Edwards was released from prison in 2011 after serving a ten year sentence based on federal racketeering and extortion charges. That same year, following his release, the now 85 year old former governor reportedly married Trina, a 32 year old woman who had written to him while he was in prison.

And now, according to reports, A&E will produce "The Governor's Wife," which premieres in late February. What do you think? Will you tune in?