The Kaufman Law Group

Los Angeles Legal Blog

Accusations of public corruption seem common these days

The current political climate throughout the country, including here in California, leaves a lot of people vulnerable to unwarranted accusations. The public tends to scrutinize its leaders and authority figures, but lately, that watchful eye comes with often diametrically opposed opinions. Those who spend their lives in the service of others could also spend some of that time facing charges of public corruption.

Not surprisingly, one of the most often seen accusations revolves around money. Some government officials and public figures are said to misuse funds at their disposal. Other allegations concern using public funds to line their own coffers. These claims could also include other charges such as bribery, violations of the RICO Act or fraud. In any case, these types of claims could result in charges for theft or embezzlement.

Mules become targets for investigators of white collar crimes

It seems that not only is the number of fraud victims growing in California and beyond, but investigators are building cases that are more sophisticated, elaborate and often involve many more people. The use of technology to contact unsuspecting victims includes stealing their identity or hacking their contacts to fool them into thinking they are receiving correspondence from someone they know. In this way, the victims become part of white collar crimes and may even become suspects in FBI investigations.

Fraudsters use unwitting victims called mules in money laundering schemes. There are many methods, but in general, the schemes involve the mule allowing the fraudsters to transfer large amounts of money into his or her account, then sending small increments over time to a third account. The fraudsters may pose as a business associate asking for payment, an online acquaintance or a family member in need of money. They may offer the mule a percentage of the money in exchange for his or her help.

Residents begin complex civil litigation against PG&E

Wildfires are not new to California. However, recent fires cost more lives and property than any in history, leaving dozens dead and hundreds of thousands of acres scorched. While investigators are still working to narrow down the cause of the blaze, some residents have already begun a complex civil litigation holding PG&E Corp. liable for the destruction.

The residents who watched their homes burn to the ground and some who lost friends and relatives claim the power company spent more money on public relations and advertising than it did ensuring the safe operation of its equipment. In the past several years, PG&E equipment was linked to numerous blazes. While the company promises to assess the damages and address safety concerns, the lawsuit claims PG&E has spent $37 million dollars in advertising to restore its image following the previous fires.

Liquor official faces prison for public corruption

Public officials conduct inspections to ensure industries governed by California or federal laws are in compliance with those laws. Often, adherence to the regulations is a matter of public safety, and the oversight is an important factor in maintaining that level of safety. Unfortunately, some officials responsible for such oversight abuse their authority for their own gain. A conviction for some forms of public corruption may lead to a long prison term.

Recently, a public official and a private consultant pleaded guilty to charges of bribery. Reports say the two accepted money from local businesses in exchange for turning a blind eye to liquor law violations. Apparently, the consultant would meet with business owners who were in violation of the alcohol control standards. He allegedly relayed a list of violators to the official who worked at the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and the official reportedly agreed to issue the non-compliant businesses temporary licenses in exchange for money.

What actions count as Medicare fraud?

A California doctor was convicted earlier this year for receiving illegal kickbacks for Medicare referrals. According to the United States Department of Justice, evidence showed that he and others referred Medicare patients to a California home health agency in exchange for kickback payments. Medicare paid about $4.1 million toward the claims that resulted from those referrals. The doctor will be sentenced for this crime in January.

The doctor’s actions are illegal based on the anti-kickback statute, which prohibits anyone knowingly and willingly offering, paying, soliciting or receiving direct or indirect payment for referrals for items or services provided by Medicare or other federal health care programs.

PTO treasurer charged with white collar crimes

Among the many expectations California parents may have is that the start of each school year brings a new round of fundraisers. Raising money for schools is essential since the cost of education continues to rise. Parent/Teacher Organizations may raise thousands of dollars for their schools, and occasionally, those entrusted with the accounting of the money face charges of white collar crimes.

Recently, a routine audit of a local school's PTO accounts revealed discrepancies that triggered an investigation. Members of the PTO contacted police when they concluded that someone had allegedly been taking money from the organization's accounts for most of 2017. After a nine-month investigation, police arrested the 35-year-old treasurer of the PTO.

Reality TV boxer risks complex civil litigation for quitting

Whether one is planning a wedding on a California beach or a multi-nation tour, the person in charge of the event must foresee any contingencies and meet the expectations and demands of all involved. However, an event promoter also relies on other parties to fulfill their sides of the agreements. When that does not happen, it may take complex civil litigation to resolve the matter fairly.

Promoter Damon Feldman, known for organizing celebrity boxing matches for charity, was only weeks away from a match involving "Teen Mom" Farrah Abraham and "Flavor of Love" winner Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander when Abraham threatened to pull out of the match. The event was scheduled to raise awareness for anti-bullying causes. Abraham had been posting pictures on social media of her training.

Man claims politics is behind public corruption charges

For those who have the public's trust, a solid reputation is essential. Public support and confidence is required for those holding a public office, managing an organization's finances or making decisions that affect many people. Accusations of public corruption can quickly bring suspicion upon the actions of a trusted office holder. It is not uncommon for someone to face such accusations when an opponent seeks a political advantage.

Casting suspicion on a political opponent is not difficult, and one California man believes that this was the motivation behind the recent accusations against him. The business manager of a local high school faces allegations of misusing his position for personal gain based after an unknown informant reported to the school superintendent that the man had opened a bank account for the school in another state without proper approval from the school board. The man's wife is a candidate in the upcoming school board election.

White collar crimes: 1 accused of embezzling nearly $600,000

When company officials receive reports of missing funds, they may deploy a variety of tactics in identifying the cause of financial concerns. If employees have access to company funds, an investigation could leave officials pointing a finger of blame toward one or more parties. A man in California is reportedly under investigation for white collar crimes after he was accused of embezzling as much as $600,000 from a swim club.

According to reports, the man formerly held a position as both a coach and chief executive officer at the swim club. However, his position at the club was recently terminated after board members brought forth allegations that he had embezzled a substantial sum of money from the company. Board members reportedly contacted law enforcement agents and filed a report of the alleged act, and an investigation was initiated.

Bribery: What a California court must prove to convict you

Bribery constitutes a serious offense in California, and the punishments assigned to you by the court could prove detrimental both to your career and your livelihood. Those that request bribes or take bribes both commit offenses if used by or against an official individual. Because government and political employees hold themselves close to the law, bribes can ruin relationships with citizens and voters.

If a court has charged you with a bribery crime, you want to hire an experienced white-collar crime attorney. These attorneys have specific experience in defending these crimes and can accurately present evidence to help you avoid conviction and penalties. Know that if a court accuses you, however, it is California court’s responsibility to prove to a judge or jury that you knowingly committed bribery acts.

The Kaufman Law Group
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Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone: 310-286-2202
Fax: 310-712-0023
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