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Chicago federal criminal defense lawyerFederal money laundering charges can result in years of prison time. Financial crimes are taken very seriously by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. If you are up against charges for money laundering, building a strong defense is your top priority right now. Even after any judicially-imposed penalties have been completed, you could be left a felon. Being a felon closes doors - it may be extremely difficult to find the type of job you want or desirable housing. There are a number of possible defense strategies. The particular strategy your lawyer will use is heavily dependent on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. After assessing your case, your attorney will design a defense that is most likely to work well for you. 

What Are Some Defense Strategies for Money Laundering?

There are a number of strategies your lawyer may want to use, some specific to money laundering, and others more general. You may have a good defense that is not listed here, so make sure to speak with an attorney to find out whether another defense could apply to your situation. Some defense strategies for money laundering include: 

  • Legitimate source of funds - If there is a way to show that you were receiving the funds that you allegedly laundered from a legitimate source, this can be a very strong defense to money laundering. When it succeeds, the case can be dismissed or you could be acquitted at trial. 
  • Lack of knowledge - It sometimes happens that someone becomes tangled up in a money-laundering operation without realizing it. This could happen when an innocent person goes into business with a corrupt individual, who launders money without his partners knowing about it. 
  • Coercion or duress - If you were somehow forced into participating in a money-laundering scheme, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Mere social or familial pressure cannot establish this defense, nor can a need for money. However, if you were threatened or blackmailed into participating, you may have this type of case. 
  • Insufficient evidence - The government has the burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were accepting illegal funds and concealing them to make them appear legitimate. It will also need to be shown that you did so with a certain level of intent. 

In some cases, taking a plea bargain may ultimately be the best option. However, if your lawyer believes that you do have a very strong defense, they may suggest raising it at trial. In rare cases, charges have been dismissed before reaching the trial stage of the criminal justice procedure.

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Posted by on in Federal Crimes

Chicago medical identity theft defense lawyerLike everything else lately, medical care has become extraordinarily expensive for the average person. It should come as no surprise that some people have resorted to identity theft in order to obtain medical care. However, doing so can lead to federal charges rather easily. Because most major hospital systems are tied to some form of federal funding or operate in multiple states, most instances of medical identity theft will fall under federal jurisdiction. While a somewhat understandable offense, identity theft remains a felony even when it is committed in an effort to receive health care. If you have been charged with identity theft in a medical context, it is important that you immediately contact a skilled federal crimes defense attorney. 

How Does Medical Identity Theft Work?

Medical identity theft is a bit of an unusual, but increasingly common form of stealing another person’s identity. In general, it occurs when someone uses false documentation or provides false information to a medical provider, claiming to be someone else in order to be treated. Forms of this offense include: 

  • ER fraud - Most Emergency Rooms ask people to type in their social security number and give their name, rather than showing ID. People who need emergency care and cannot pay for it will sometimes use another person’s social security number and name. This can be done with or without the victim’s knowledge - or blessing. 
  • Medicare fraud - Using a stolen identity in order to obtain Medicare benefits is not uncommon. This typically involves rather classic identity theft - stealing a person’s identifying information, like their social security number - and then applying for benefits in the victim’s name. Because Medicare and Medicaid are such large organizations, it can be difficult for them to notice this type of fraud immediately. 
  • Insurance fraud - Using another person’s identity and health insurance policy to obtain treatment is a type of identity theft. A copy of another person’s insurance card is often all that is needed. Services will then be charged to the victim and/or the victim’s insurance company. 
  • Narcotics fraud - Patients who are prescribed a controlled substance may fall victim to this type of offense. The offenders in this situation are motivated by a desire to obtain intoxicating medications rather than to receive medical treatment. An offender may use the victim’s identity in order to refill, obtain, or pick up a prescription for a controlled substance. 

Unlike most forms of identity theft, medical identity theft is sometimes carried out with the consent of the “victim.” The person whose identity is being falsely used to obtain health care is sometimes deemed an accomplice if they willingly allowed the defendant to use their identity. 

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Chicago high-profile criminal case lawyerGetting arrested is embarrassing enough if only one or two people know about it. When the news of your arrest ends up in the local paper - or worse - you will have to start taking important precautions to protect yourself and your family. Depending on the nature of the crime you are charged with, and whether there was any significant local impact, you may face serious backlash that will impact every aspect of your life. You may also feel pressure to speak up publicly in your own defense, but this is rarely a good idea. The first thing you need to do is find a lawyer who is experienced at managing media attention during a high-profile case

What Should I Do if I See My Case in the News?

You might be feeling a strong desire to try to publicly clear your name or explain yourself. This almost never improves the situation, and it is very likely to do the opposite. Always follow your attorney’s specific advice, but some general advice can include: 

  • Do not post - Tweeting, posting a video, or even making a Facebook post to your friends about what happened (or did not happen) should be avoided unless your lawyer tells you otherwise. Your post is very likely to get picked up by the media that initially reported on your case. 
  • Be patient - Unless you are a major celebrity or all over the major news networks, the odds that the media is going to keep covering your story are low. It is more likely that after the initial story is reported, there will be little follow-up. The public has a short attention span, so your case is likely to “blow over.” 
  • Maintain a low profile - Try not to draw attention to yourself for the time being. If you do anything the media is likely to find “interesting,” it will only encourage them to keep covering your case. 
  • No comment - Avoid talking directly to the media. If something needs to be said, let your lawyer say it for you. It is easy for the press to twist your words or use dramatic sound bites to try to make you look guilty even if you are not. 
  • Be safe - If you are facing significant backlash from your community to the point that you feel unsafe, take precautions. If there are angry people gathering by your home, consider staying elsewhere until the situation calms down. Consider getting a door alarm or security cameras.

One of the most important things you can do is to contact a lawyer, sooner rather than later. There are other steps an experienced attorney can take to help protect you. 

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Posted by on in Federal Crimes

Chicago federal fraud charges lawyerThe Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act—commonly known as the “CARES Act” provided critical assistance to an enormous amount of American families and small businesses. This funding was designed to keep struggling people and small companies afloat in the midst of lockdowns and a general economic downturn during a public health crisis. Most businesses used these emergency relief loans to manage expenses - like payroll - that they otherwise would not have been able to cover during the pandemic. However, there have also been a large number of fraud accusations relating to misused funding. As the nation adjusts to COVID as an endemic disease, moving away from the panic of a pandemic, the federal government is beginning to crack down on those who fraudulently claimed or used these funds. 

If you used CARES Act funds and are now being accused of fraud, it is important that you promptly reach out to a qualified federal crimes attorney. These cases are now being investigated and prosecuted at a much higher rate than they were during the height of the pandemic. 

How CARES Act Fraud Schemes Worked

CARES Act fraud took a number of forms during the pandemic. Some business owners in particular effectively defrauded the federal government by doing things like: 

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Posted by on in Federal Crimes

Chicago federal crimes attorneyWith the tax season beginning, it may be a good time to take a look at a few rather common types of tax crimes. It can be very tempting for individuals at any income level to try to maximize their return or minimize their liability using illegal methods. This type of white-collar crime is being cracked down on. There is no such thing as a “white lie” when it comes to filing your income taxes. If you are caught, the IRS makes a formidable opponent, and you could end up in federal prison. Should you be accused of a tax crime, you will need a highly experienced attorney to help you resolve your case and reduce the likelihood of severe consequences. 

What Are the Types of Tax Fraud the IRS Looks for?

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to filing a tax return. Often, the higher your income, the more scrutiny you may be under - but this does not mean those with lower incomes can get away with tax crimes. Types of tax fraud the IRS will be looking out for on 2021 tax returns include: 

  • Identity theft - Some people will attempt to file a fraudulent tax return using someone else’s identity in order to obtain a tax refund that does not belong to them. As with voter fraud, the person whose identity is used is frequently deceased. Otherwise, the scheme is typically discovered when the victim tries to file their own tax return. 
  • Not reporting income - All sources of income must be reported. “Side gigs” are increasingly ubiquitous as many individuals and families struggle to stay afloat after being affected by COVID-19. This (usually cash) income must still be reported. 
  • Not filing - Single individuals under 65 years old must file if they earned over $12,550. Married couples filing jointly who are both under 65 must file if they collectively earned over $25,100. Willfully failing to file a return when you are required to is illegal, and you can expect the IRS to notice. 
  • False claims - Any type of untruthful claim on a tax return can amount to tax fraud. Often, this relates to false reporting of deductible expenditures. 

Another increasing problem the federal government has had to deal with involves frivolous claims made in an effort to avoid paying taxes. “Sovereign citizens” may file ridiculous claims, making patently silly arguments. Others have filed suits alleging that only federal employees are subject to income tax. The IRS has lost its patience with these frivolous claims. Do not file one - you will not prevail, and you could be heavily penalized for wasting a federal court’s time with this type of lunacy. 

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