Okay, today, we are going to start a new (occasional) series in this blog about white collar crime! It is called: "You Be The Prosecutor!" As many of you know, before I became an Augusta, Georgia criminal defense attorney, I was a state and federal prosecutor for much of my legal career. As a former federal prosecutor, for over 20 years, I was required to make many decisions, based upon many different fact patterns, about who should or should not be charged with a crime. In white collar crime cases, such decisions can be especially difficult to make.
But now, it is your turn! YOU be the prosecutor for a day! Let's see what you would do, and who you would investigate, or charge, if anyone, in the following (totally) fictitious fact pattern! Here are the "facts:"
A serious fire has occurred one night at a local textile mill. Tragically, fourteen employees were unable to get out of the mill when aging mill machinery caught on fire and panic ensued among scores of mill workers. Several fire extinguishers and the water sprinkling system had not been properly maintained and did not work. The fire marshal's report also indicates that several employees located near fire exits were unable to get out the nearby exits because the exits had been padlocked by the mill manager months earlier. The mill manager indicated that he had been forced to padlock all fire exits in order to address a problem with thefts by unidentified mill employees.
The mill is owned by an investment company composed of three individuals who live out of state. Several email messages indicate that the mill owners were ill-informed about the aging mill's conditions, but had expressed a desire that any new safety measures or inspections would have to yield to the bottom line.
Okay, You Be The Prosecutor! What would you do? Who, if anyone, would you make a target of a grand jury investigation (and why)?