Friday, November 19, 2010

White Collar Crime: Size Doesn't Matter!

In addition to being a former federal prosecutor, (and currently, a criminal defense attorney), for many years, I have also been a part-time criminal justice professor at a local university. One of the courses I teach is aptly called, "White Collar Crime."
But I still haven't gotten to the point of this post. My point is that the textbooks for college courses dealing with white collar crime tend to over-emphasize size when they provide illustrations of fraud, corruption, and other white collar crimes. In other words, criminal justice textbook authors tend to focus almost exclusively on the "mega cases," such as the Enron corporate fraud case, or the Madoff investment fraud case.
But look around you. The simple truth is that most white collar crime cases are relatively small theft and fraud cases committed in every community around the globe. For instance, today, I read in the news about a student who was arrested in London for leaving upper scale restaurants without paying for meals. Also, closer to home, I read that four men have been arrested for operating a small-scale gambling operation.
Again, the point is that college textbooks, by focusing only on the big cases, fail to recognize that most white collar crimes are actually just "small potato" cases committed by ordinary folks. The textbooks make it appear that all white collar crimes are big crimes, but most are not. So, in one sense, size really doesn't matter, at least when you are defining white collar crime!
Don't you agree?

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