Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Goolsby "War Story:" More Examples of Kickbacks in Fraud Cases

[Depiction of Cash from wikipedia]

Recently, I started a series of posts in which I describe examples of kickbacks which were paid in major fraud cases I saw as a former federal prosecutor. Currently, I am a criminal defense lawyer in Augusta, Georgia, where I practice law with my sons, but I handled a number of significant white collar criminal cases as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for over 20 years.

In one major "honest services" mail fraud case, the defendant construction company paid a total of $2.7 million in kickback payments to an employee of another company, in exchange for being awarded profitable construction contracts by the other company's employee. 

One example of the many kickbacks, or rewards, paid in this case included payments for the other company's employee to purchase TWO vacation homes. In short, the construction company paid money toward his purchase of an $800,000 log cabin at a Minnesota lake and another $150,000 for the employee to purchase a condo at an exclusive winter ski resort in Whistler, British Columbia.

Of course, in return, the employee of the other company "scratched the back" of the construction company president by approving millions of dollars in construction projects.

As you can see, sometimes white collar crime pays pretty good; that is, until, like these defendants, you get caught!  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Drones v. Right to Privacy

Drone depiction from telegraph.co.uk]
We have all seen how the U.S. military has spied upon terrorists and "brought to justice" many of them in hot spots around the world. But this post does not involve such uses of drones to nail terrorists overseas.

Instead, I want to talk to you about the trend toward widespread usage of drones by law enforcement in the United States. According to various news reports, there will be about 30,000 drones in use in this country by the year 2020. Also, according to a recent survey by the Associated Press and The National Constitution Center, 44% of Americans actually support the idea of police using drones to track and catch criminals. Only 36% reportedly opposed it, according to the survey.

I don't know about you, but as a free citizen in a democratic society, I am alarmed about this trend involving unregulated usage of drones to watch us and about popular opinion in support of it. While I am very supportive of law enforcement using all legitimate tools to catch the "bad guys," (after all, while I presently may be an Augusta, GA criminal defense lawyer, I was a federal prosecutor for over 20 years), I am worried about "Big Brother" abusing this tool to stifle dissent and otherwise to step on our Constitution!

What do you think?