What is an organized scheme to defraud? When the State Attorney really wants to load up the charges on you, they charge you with an organized scheme to defraud. They use this charge as a “catch all” to run up the sentencing guidelines. As with any fraud, it usually focuses on a “false representation” about a future act. They come after builders and contractors who have not lived up to their promises. This statute is often misused and people who merely went broke are unfairly targeted.
Try something….Go on Google and ask “What percentage of small businesses fail?” You will be shocked at the answer. Going broke does not make you a criminal. Not being able to pay your past due Florida Sales Tax often is not intentional, but rather an act of desperation. Not being able to live up to a contract, does not make you a crook. As a white collar lawyer, in Sarasota, Ft Myers, Bradenton, Cape Coral, Palmetto, Port Charlotte, Hillsborough and St Petersburg over the years I have defended all types of cases involving fraudulent representations. Many times, most times, it is not a matter of an intentional misrepresentation, but rather ignorance or simply not being a savvy business man or woman. The sad truth is, most small businesses fail. Even large businesses fail. Bankruptcy many times is not a matter of choice.
What are the most common business pitfalls? Not remitting your payroll tax to the IRS is a huge one. Not remitting Florida Sales tax that you collected is another. That one will get you charged with grand theft in most instances. The Internet has greatly expanded the way scammers operate. The internet has also led to normal people being wrongfully charged for simply making a bad business decision or mistakes. Good People do make mistakes and get arrested, but in the real world, sometimes, agents, detectives and prosecutors cannot tell the difference between a mistake and an intentional fraud.
Hiring a good white collar crime lawyer is critical. Many DUI lawyers simple do not have the technical background to understand complicated fraud cases.
Peter Aiken is a former IRS Special Agent, a former Federal Prosecutor and forensic accountant. Peter D. Aiken has been defending complicated fraud cases for decades. There is a world of difference between having prosecuted fraud cases and defending them. Experience is ‘defending” is really important. There are a lot of criminal lawyers who have backgrounds in prosecution, but many do not have real experience defending complicated tax cases, embezzlement cases, money laundering cases and Ponzi scheme cases.
If you find yourself “under Investigation”, have gotten a Federal Grand Jury “target letter” or are under investigation by an IRS Special Agent, do not try and talk your way out of it. You will only dig yourself a hole and end up in Federal prison. Most lawyers to do not charge for an initial consultation and all lawyers are sworn to confidentiality, even if you don’t end up hiring them. If you find yourself in a “sticky” situation and have real criminal exposure, be smart enough to seek really good experience legal advice before you take another step. If you need to talk, or have a question and want to confidentially discuss a problem, give us a call.