WHITE COLLAR CRIME: INDICTMENTS OF TEXAS PROFESSIONALS

When Suits Are Arrested

White collar crime prosecutions for various kinds of fraud, among other things, are popping up all over Texas right now.  Professionals in nice suits and enjoying swanky life styles are getting  arrested and charged for all sorts of felonies.

 

What is White Collar Crime?

You probably know more about “white collar crime” than you realize, if only for its popularity as a plot in movies and TV shows.  In fact, there’s a law review article that lists a series of films spotlighting white collar crime you’ve probably seen (or can watch on Netflix):

AMERICAN HUSTLE (Atlas Entertainment 2013) ARBITRAGE (Lionsgate 2012) BARBARIANS AT THE GATE (Columbia Pictures Television 1993) CASINO JACK (Bagman 2010) CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY (Jigsaw Productions 2010) (documentary) CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (DreamWorks SKG 2002) ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM (Jigsaw Productions 2005) (documentary) FUN WITH DICK AND JANE (Columbia Pictures, 1976) THE INFORMANT! (Warner Bros. Pictures 2009) INSIDE JOB (Representational Pictures 2010) (documentary) THE INSIDER (Blue Lion Entertainment 1999) MARGIN CALL (Before The Door Pictures 2011) QUIZ SHOW (Baltimore Pictures 1994) ROGUE TRADER (Granada Film Productions1999) THE SOCIAL NETWORK (Columbia Pictures 2010) TOO BIG TO FAIL (HBO Films 2011) (dramatized documentary) WALL STREET (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 1987) WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (Edward R. Pressman Film 2010) THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Red Granite Pictures 2013).

See, Geraldine Szott Moohr, White Collar Crime Goes to the Movies, 11 Ohio ST. J. CRIM. L. 785, 788 (2014).

Real Life White Collar Crime Prosecutions

However, things get more complicated when it’s real life and someone is suspected of white collar crime.  Here in Texas, when someone is investigated for “white collar crime” activity, it’s not really clear what the police or agents are suspecting as wrongdoing.  That is, until the arrest is made or the indictment comes down.

Why?  In reality, “white collar crime” cases involve many different kinds of activities that have been outlawed.

 

Common Denominator:  Usually an Educated Professional (or “Suit”)

The common denominator for these “white collar crimes” involves the target: he or she is usually an educated professional who is suspected of financial wrongdoing in some way.  This might include one or more of the following felonies under state and federal law:

White collar crime investigations are happening all over Dallas and Fort Worth as well as the surrounding areas.  There may be entire joint task forces at work trying to track down and charge professionals here – people like respected doctors and surgeons; bankers; and yes, even attorneys.

Examples of Recent White Collar Crime Prosecutions in Texas

Here are some recent examples of white collar crime charges here in the Lone Star State:

1.  Oil and Gas Executive Arrested on Oil and Gas Ponzi Scheme; Plea Deal

A 78-year-old man from Colleyville, Texas, was sentenced last month in a federal court for the Northern District of Texas to seven (7) years’ incarceration and ordered to pay $32,000,000.00 in restitution after he pled guilty to one count of mail fraud.

Seems Mr. James VanBlaricum was investigated and charged by the Justice Department for selling securities in his two oil and gas companies, Signal Oil and Gas and Texas Energy Mutual fka Texas Energy Management.  Among the allegations:  he was selling “dry holes” as productive wells.

For details, read “Colleyville man sentenced to seven years in prison for mail fraud,” written by Mitch Mitchell and published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on September 5, 2017.

2. Dallas Real Estate Investor Arrested on Land Fraud Scheme; Plea Deal

Last month, Wade Wylie Blackburn was sentenced to a year and a day of federal incarceration after pleading guilty back in April to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  Story goes that the 34-year-old Dallasite was investigated for buying land along the interstate over in Denton County and then reselling it at an excessive amount to the Texas Department of Transportation, using fictional documents in order to justify the sales price.

For details, read “Man Pleads Guilty To Fraud Related To Highway Expansion,” an Associated Press story published by CBSDFW, and “Dallas man pleads guilty to fraud in I-35E property case,” written by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe for the Denton Record-Chronicle.

3.  Austin Lawyer Arrested on Securities Fraud; Pleads Guilty

Back in April, Austin attorney Robert Allen Helms (and his partner) pled guilty in a federal court for one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and for mail fraud.  They await sentencing.

Seems the Texas lawyer was found to have built a huge ($30,000,000) investment operation that was a Ponzi scheme, selling oil and gas securities to their investors through their Vendetta Royalty Partners.  There were forged documents, apparently, as well as the use of the investment monies for personal stuff.

For details, see “Austin pair who took millions from oil and gas investors plead guilty,” written by Ryan Autullo and published in the Austin American Statesman.

4.  Dallas Oil Man Arrested on Oil and Gas Fraud; Plea Deal

Oil and gas executive Kristopher Brian Anderson, 32, went before Texas federal court Judge Sidney Fitzwater and pled guilty to one count of mail fraud last month.  He made a plea deal with the federal prosecutors and awaits sentencing.

Appears Mr. Anderson created a company called Empery Resource Consultants, LLC, in order to create fake services by its landmen that were billed to two companies that were buying or leasing interests in Texas oil and gas properties.   He worked as the comptroller for these two legitimate companies, handling their books, and the total billings for the fake landmen’s work totaled around $1.4Million.

For details, see “Dallas Man Cops To $1.3M Oil And Gas Embezzling Scheme,” written by Emma Cueto and published by Law360.com.

5.  56 Year Old Dallas Nurse Sentenced to 4 Years in Federal Prison for Health Care Fraud

As part of a bigger health care fraud scheme involving other defendants, Texas registered nurse Charity Eleda was sentenced earlier this year to four (4) years federal incarceration as well as restitution to the federal government (Medicare) of $400,000.00.

Seems Nurse Eleda did not take a plea deal but went to trial and was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and making false statements to secure Medicare benefits.  She allegedly did this as part of a bigger operation involving other co-conspirators including Rockwall physician Dr. Jacques Roy.

Dr. Roy was also convicted on various health care fraud charges.  The estimated total amount involved in the health care fraud operation: $375,000,000.00.

For details, read “Rowlett Woman Sentenced To 48 Months In Federal Prison For Role In Healthcare Fraud Conspiracy,” published by Verisis as well as “Dallas Doctor Sentenced To 35 Years For $375M Medical Fraud,” published by DBSDFW on August 10, 2017.

White Collar Crime Defense

From the perspective of defending against white collar crime charges, there’s no one size fits all approach to these cases.  Each must be considered on its own terms.  Often, they are document and digitally intensive cases, where investigators have collected an amazing volume of information to be used against the accused.

The underlying allegations will be specific to that case.  The accused will likely be a sophisticated professional who may be mature and well-respected in their community.  Often, friends and family are shocked by the allegations, and lives are upended merely by the arrest being made.

Accordingly, it’s vital that white collar crime defense be zealous and swift in aggressively defending against the charges.  Clients working together with their defense team can work to fight for dismissal of the charges, as well as lowering the charges that the prosecution seeks via a plea deal.

See our discussions in:

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For more information, check out our web resources, read Michael Lowe’s Case Results, and read his in-depth article,” Pre-Arrest Criminal Investigations.”

 


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