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Recent headlines straight from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in April 2022 show the diverse array of crimes that are considered white collar.

Fresno County Man Sentenced to over 4 Years in Prison for Possession of Stolen Mail

Athens Owner of Hearing Aid Practice Charged with Health Care Fraud

Former Paralegal for Chicago Law Firm Charged with Embezzling Bankruptcy Estate Funds

Two More Defendants Sentenced for Conspiring to Stage Automobile Accidents to Defraud Insurance and Trucking Companies

Officials say we can expect to read more headlines like the above. The Department of Justice (DOJ) leadership has spent the last six months saying that more human and financial resources will be used to combat white-collar crime.

In early March 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the ABA Institute on White Collar Crime. The federal budget for the fiscal year 2022 seeks an additional $325 million to hire 120 more attorneys. That number is on top of the 34 lawyers hired by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section in 2021.

“Fraud, theft, corruption, bribery, environmental crime, market manipulation, and anti-competitive agreements threaten the free and fair markets upon which our economy is based,” he told attendees. “They decimate the assets of individuals, organizations, and governments alike. And they increase costs for every American.”

In his remarks, Garland highlighted these statistics from fiscal year 2021:

  • 5,521 people were charged with white-collar crimes, a 10% increase over the previous year.
  • Of the 333 individuals charged by the Fraud Section, 296 were convicted by plea and 30 by trial.
  • The Antitrust Division is investigating more cases than it has in 30 years.

Many of these cases were connected to COVID-19 fraud in the Paycheck Protection Plan and the Provider Relief Fund. Among the new hires is a chief prosecutor dedicated to combatting pandemic-related fraud.

Reversing the Trend of the Last Decade

While 2021 did show an uptick in prosecutions, white-collar cases have been on a steady decline since 2011. The Biden administration has pledged to crack down on these crimes.

His words echo the address given at last year’s 36th National Institute by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. She said that the priority is individual accountability but that the DOJ will not hesitate to hold companies accountable as well.

“(We will) enforce the criminal laws that govern corporations, executives, officers, and others, in order to protect jobs, guard savings, and maintain our collective faith in the economic engine that fuels this country,” she said. “We will hold those that break the law accountable and promote respect for the laws designed to protect investors, consumers, and employees.”

What Is a White-Collar Crime?

White-collar crimes are nonviolent offensives typically with a financial motive. The term was coined in the 1930s by Edwin Sutherland, a sociologist and criminologist who found the Bloomington School of Criminology at the State University of Indiana.

The name “white collar” comes from the idea that many of the criminals are professionals who wear a white dress shirt and tie to work. Over the decades, this stereotype has become less accurate.

The most common white-collar crimes are as follows:

Defending Those Charged with White-Collar Crimes

Our attorneys at Mitchell & West LLC have more than 100 years of collective experience in defending clients charged with white-collar and other crimes. If you believe you are investigated or possibly facing charges, contact us right away. The sooner we can begin diving into the details of your case, the better the defense strategy we can build. We are adept at navigating local, state, and federal judicial systems.

Schedule a consultation to learn how we can help you. Call (305) 783-3301 or use our online form to get started.