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White Collar Crimes and Penalties in Florida

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2020 | Criminal Defense, White-Collar Crimes

Do you know what Bernie Madoff, Worldcom’s Bernard Ebbers, Enron’s Jeffery Skilling, and Allen Stanford have in common? It’s the fact that they were all convicted of white-collar crimes.

While the last four got between 10 and 25 years of jail time as punishment, Bernie Madoff will be spending the next 150 years in jail and paying a $170 million restitution.

Unfortunately, these high profile cases aren’t enough to deter other perpetrators. This is why these crimes are committed frequently. While they may not be violent in nature, they can result in violent outcomes for the victims and a criminal defense attorney may need to get involved.

For instance, the 2008 global recession triggered by the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy resulted in quite a few suicides, and worse health conditions. Some investors who lost their monies developed high blood pressure, suffered cardiovascular arrests and even lost their lives in the process.

What is a White Collar Crime?

These are financial crimes committed by the perpetrators with the sole intent of financial gains for themselves or their co-conspirators. White-collar crimes are never committed with the intention of physically hurting anyone.

Since they’re financial crimes, they’re mostly committed by individuals in power or in control of those institutions, organizations, departments, companies, and agencies.

Unfortunately, even with all the checks and balances in place that are designed to mitigate and prevent these activities, many of these bad actors still find a way to commit these crimes.

This is why the government at all levels are working assiduously to curtail these activities and punish all guilty parties. White-collar crimes in Florida are usually prosecuted by the Federal and state governments –specifically the District Attorney’s office.

In 2018, over 5,000 white-collar crime cases were prosecuted, with the FBI leading almost 33 percent of the investigations. Other departments reporting white collar crimes include the IRS, the Secret Service, and the Postal Service.

With the Southern District of Florida (Miami) being the second most active district in fighting white-collar crimes in the nation, the state government is very committed to ensuring that all guilty parties are convicted.

Common Types of White-collar Crimes

Most financial crimes are considered white-collar crimes. While there are quite a number of them, most fall into one or more of the following categories:


This can be corporate, bankruptcy, mail, and wire fraud. These fraudulent activities are usually in the form of insider trading, altering and falsifying financial transactions, or schemes designed to hide dubious financial transactions.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that regulating bodies, the government, law enforcement, and external auditors aren’t able to easily detect these anomalies. Examples of other frauds include

  • Healthcare fraud
  • Welfare fraud
  • Medicaid fraud
  • Credit card fraud
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Computer fraud

As long as you try to swindle people, organizations and the government of money or compensation, you’re committing a white-collar crime.


This is process of misappropriating funds or property kept in your charge to yourself or your cronies. This is commonly seen in government where leaders and politicians divert some of the funds or resources meant for projects into their own private pockets or businesses.

While people in government seem like the biggest perpetrators, there are many bad actors in the private sector too. For example, an employee who diverts some of his firm’s capital into his own personal account for the purpose of personal enrichment is guilty of the same crime.

Pyramid or Ponzi Schemes

This was Bernie Madoff’s play. He essentially collected money from other investors to pay the early investors and kept the difference for himself. He essentially fleeced the unwitting investors of their savings whilst promising them impressive returns.

Individuals and entities who set up Ponzi schemes using mutual funds often have to continue looking for ways to keep investors happy –and that’s usually by seeking out new investors whose monies they’ll use in paying off the older ones.

Bernie Madoff’s play started in the US. When that investor source dried up, they started seeking investors outside the country. This took them to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

At the end of the day, his Ponzi scheme was valued at over $65 billion, making the world’s largest Ponzi scheme to date.

Other less popular but equally dangerous white collar crimes include

  • Extortion
  • Tax evasion at the state and federal level
  • Document forgery
  • Bribing public officials in exchange for favors
  • Racketeering
  • Money laundering
  • Insider trading

White Collar Crime Punishment and Sentencing in Florida

These crimes are under the purview of the White Collar Act. Most people tend to think that white-collar crimes are better than regular crimes because you get to go to the “Hamptons” of prisons.

This is not true. Sentencing and penalties are usually dependent on the severity of the crime as well as many other factors. These include:

  • The profile of the victim –duping elderly and disabled folks in Florida will attract a very severe sentencing
  • The scope of the crime and amount in question –the monetary value of the offense will determine the severity of the punishment
  • Number of conspirators –higher numbers attract higher sentences
  • Whether you’re a first offender or not

Once all these are determined, Florida’s courts will determine whether the convict will be fined, ordered to forfeit their ill-gotten gains, and pay restitution that’ll make help their victims recover some or all of their losses.

Depending on the severity of the case, the courts can grant one or more of these penalties, and/or send them to jail too.

Get in Touch With an Experienced White Collar Crimes Defense Attorney

We’re going to be honest with you, beating a white-collar crime charge in Florida is hard. You need to experience white-collar crime lawyers who can find loopholes in the prosecution’s allegations and use that to secure the best possible outcome for you.

Kibbey | Wagner is a white-collar crime law firm that’s handled many similar cases in the past, with good results. If you’re in a bind and need a good white-collar law firm in Florida, we might be able to help you.

Call (772) 444-7000 today to talk to our white-collar crime attorneys.