Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
So, let's just focus here on a point I tried to make in an earlier post, (and illustration), about Martha Stewart. You may recall that I observed that, if Ms. Stewart had simply come clean and told the truth, in the beginning, about receiving the insider trading tip, she might have avoided prosecution. And the point here is that, in my opinion, Tiger should simply tell the truth. In my opinion, the worst thing that Tiger can do at this juncture is to lie to the police, (and public). In my opinion, this will only lead to a long, drawn out police investigation and potential police charges for making false statements. Instead, I hope that Tiger will, perhaps through his attorneys, find a way to cooperate with authorities and tell the truth to avoid further legal problems.
Tiger Woods has always shown sound judgment and impeccable integrity. His judgment on the golf course is unsurpassed. Here's hoping that he will likewise avoid the potential traps and show good judgment off the golf course, too!
What do you think?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The consequences of identity theft can be devastating. Consider the case of Michelle Brown. This poor woman not only suffered the impact of the loss of her credit rating, but also was forced to address an arrest warrant after a thief stole her identity and went on a credit card-spending frenzy. Can you imagine the devastating impact on your own life if you were arrested and falsely charged with crimes you did not commit?
So, please protect your personal financial information and check your accounts religiously for unusual activity. Here's hoping you can avoid becoming a victim like Michelle Brown!
Again, do you know anyone who has been a victim? What steps did they take to overcome the problems generated by this crime?
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This is a Sad Day for America: Giving the 9-11 Terrorists a New York "Show Trial" is a Colossal Mistake!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Doesn't everyone remember the famous scene in the movie Animal House in which John Belushi's character starts a food fight in the college cafeteria? Well, today, such antics might get Belushi thrown in jail, as well as suspended from school!
We recently had a post in which we protested the trend toward rigid, zero tolerance policies in schools around the country. As we pointed out, school children have been suspended, and even prosecuted, for innocently bringing scouting utensils and butter knives to school. But now, another incident has occurred at a Chicago school which again illustrates our point that school boards are sometimes going too far with these policies.
This time, it's a middle school food fight! And this time, two dozen school kids, between eleven and fifteen years old, have actually been arrested and face criminal charges, in addition to school discipline.
In my opinion, this is outrageous! To cart these kids off to jail, instead of simply addressing it as a school matter, is absurd! Suspend them, or even spank them, but don't prosecute them! When will common sense prevail? I think Belushi would agree with me. But what do you think?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The federal Hobbs Act makes it a federal crime for any government official, including police officers, to extort money from citizens "under color of official right." "Under color of official right" simply means that the police officer, (or other government official), has used his or her badge, or official position, as a means to improperly shake you down and take your money.
As a former federal prosecutor, I prosecuted a wide variety of state and local government officials who improperly used their public offices for private gain. For instance, I once prosecuted a social agency case worker who extorted kickback payments from a foster parent in exchange for getting the foster parent a higher per diem payment for taking care of a special needs foster child. Extortion also occurs when a city licensing inspector demands money from a business owner in exchange for "looking the other way" as to city code violations. The examples are endless. But perhaps the worst kind of extortion cases involve crooked police officers who demand money, sometimes alongside the highway, in order to make traffic tickets disappear.
Have you ever heard of similar examples of extortion committed by public officials? Do you believe such extortion is rare?
Friday, November 6, 2009
You might wonder why does this blog post begin with a quote from (and photograph of) the late Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize-winning author, Alexander Solzhenitsen. It is because, in my opinion, no one else has ever written more forcefully or eloquently about what is like to be arrested and imprisoned in one of the worst judicial and prison systems in world history.
Maybe you live in the center of your own universe. Hopefully, you live worry-free in a free society. But have you ever wondered how you would react if you were arrested by police for a crime you did not commit? Please understand that, while I wouldn't want to worry anyone, and although it probably will never happen to you, it could happen and, if it does happen, you should know how to react. If you live in the United States, here are a few important Constitutional rights for you to consider in deciding how you would react to a false arrest:
In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court recognized that, if you are arrested, it will be a very stressful situation and a coercive environment with the police attempting to obtain a confession. As a result, the Court fashioned the so-called Miranda rights which the police are required to advise to anyone who is: (a) in police custody, and (b) who is being interrogated. Everyone knows about these rights, including that "you have the right to remain silent...and the right to the presence of an attorney...." But do you understand how to invoke your rights and make the interrogation stop?
The important point here is that, if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, all you must do, in order to invoke your Constitutional rights and "buy some time," is to "lawyer up" by simply asking the police for a lawyer, and/or telling them you choose to exercise your right to remain silent. The interrogation should stop. (And you should stop talking, too!) Then, after the interrogation has stopped, you can consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before deciding how to proceed.
Every situation is different and you alone must decide how to handle it. But if you want to know how, as a practical matter, to make the police interrogation stop until you can exercise your Constitutional right to consult with a lawyer, then I hope this post has helped! We are fortunate to have these rights in this country. Sadly, many arrested people throughout the world, including Solzhenitsen, have had no protection of their fundamental rights.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
For example, in Madoff's case, it has been reported that investigators are still out there "looking at" some of Madoff's relatives and associates to determine whether to try to lock up anyone else. This raises an interesting question: How do agents and prosecutors determine exactly who all to target in a criminal investigation?
As a former federal prosecutor, I had a fairly simple, straightforward approach. I generally "followed the money" and, unless you were a top executive, or ringleader, who clearly directed and knew about, and directly profited from, the fraudulent scheme, I probably wouldn't try to "make your day" by prosecuting you, even if you had some inkling as to what was going on.
In other words, as a former corporate fraud prosecutor, I generally focused on prosecuting only the primary movers and shakers who put the ill-gotten gain in their pockets and I left alone the salaried, lower level employees, such as secretaries or book-keepers, who merely did what they were told to do. I also generally stayed away from prosecuting family members, unless they were clearly key participants in the fraudulent scheme.
But you need to be aware that other federal prosecutors sometimes utilize a different approach! In other words, I have known some government prosecutors who aggressively target everyone who participated in the scheme. Then, they gamble that they can "roll over" the lower level employees against the top targets. Please don't get me wrong: Prosecutors should be aggressive. However, in my opinion, some prosecutors simply go too far! They allow their own competitive spirit and healthy egos to determine who should be targeted. They also sometimes ignore the human costs.
And can I be honest here? In my opinion, some overly aggressive government prosecutors also lack appropriate human compassion for the people whose lives they are ruining! I will never forget the inconsiderate words of one prosecutor about a target: "It must s_ _ k to be him!"
As a result, if anyone "out there" who is reading this post is a family member or associate of Mr. Madoff, you should get down on your knees and pray that you are being investigated by a government prosecutor who possesses both some common sense and a little human compassion! Otherwise, you may have to face the consequences of being persecuted by a federal prosecutor who is simply interested in putting more notches in his or her holster!
What do you think?