Articles Posted in White Collar Crimes

What is an arraignment?  An arraignment is usually how a criminal case commences against you.  There are exceptions to this general rule, which I shall talk about later.  At an arraignment, typically a plea of NOT GUILTY is entered against you and a Pre-Trial Conference date set.  Arraignments can be as uneventful as that or incredibly impactful and quite eventful.

The more eventful and impactful arraignments involve setting bail and even potentially holding you in jail during some of the pendency of the case.  It could also involve you being ordered away from a person or place or ordered not to operate a motor vehicle or to wear a GPS ankle bracelet.

An important aspect of being arraigned is that, in some sense of the word, you now will have an entry on your Board of Probation record or CORI.  In other words, you will now have a criminal record.  In substance and in the law, you really do not have a criminal record, per se, as you have not been adjudicated as guilty, but if one were to search your record, there would be an entry.  It is critical to try to avoid this if it is at all possible.  Having a case resolved/dismissed prior to arraignment is crucial and always worth attempting using a variety of avenues to accomplish as such.

Also known as larceny, theft refers to the taking of another’s property without their permission. It could be something as insignificant as a microwave, or something as valuable as a Lexus. Theft can be non-violent and occur on public property, such as when someone takes a purse that has been left on a picnic table. On the other hand, theft can involve violence or force, and the unlawful entry into someone’s home. Each type of theft is punished differently, and can range from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Petty Theft / Grand Theft

Theft that does not involve violence or unlawful entry is classified as either petty theft or grand theft. Petty theft applies when the stolen property is worth no more than $250. It is a misdemeanor offense, and carries fines of up to $300 and a max of up to one year in jail. Grand theft occurs when the stolen property is worth more than $250. It is a felony offense with a potential sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. As with all crimes, the penalties are largely dependent on the circumstances of the offense and any prior criminal history. The type of property stolen is also taken into account. For example, stealing a firearm is considered grand theft, even if it’s worth less than $250. And if the stolen property is a motor vehicle, a conviction of grant theft auto could land you in prison for up to 15 years.


When a person breaks into the home of another person with the intent to steal something, it is considered burglary. Depending on the circumstances of the case, burglary can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, if the burglary occurred in the middle of the night while the owner was inside sleeping, it is more likely to be charged as a felony than if it occurred during the day while nobody was home. Burglary penalties can range from probation to life in prison if it involved the use of weapons or force. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with burglary.


Robbery is similar to basic theft because it involves the taking of another’s property without their permission, but it is different in that it involves violence. If you purposely assault someone with the intent to steal his/her property, it will likely be charged as a felony. This is true even if you were unsuccessful in your attempt. In fact, in MA, you don’t even need to use physical force to be charged with robbery; if the victim is intimidated and reasonably fears bodily harm, you could be charged with robbery. Robbing a convenience store with a gun is a good example.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s identifying information, such as a name and social security number, or bank account, to obtain credit or services, or to purchase things. Identity theft can be very damaging to the victim, resulting in large financial losses and even destroying their credit rating. In MA, a conviction of identity theft carries a penalty of up to two-and-a-half years in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000. A MA defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with identity theft. Continue reading

Massachusetts white collar crimes, such as fraud,  come in many alleged colors.

And they can be prosecuted in both the civil and criminal arenas.

Let’s take the example of 75-year-old John Donovan, Sr. of Hamilton, Massachusetts (hereinafter, the “Defendant”. He was recently in Salem Superior Court…criminal department…pleading “not guilty” to fraud – type charges.

The Defendant, a former business professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is accused of trying to swindle his late son’s family out of millions of dollars according to

The criminal charges he presently faces include larceny, forgery and witness intimidation.

Prosecutors say that the Defendant forged his youngest son’s signature to gain title to at least four properties that his son left to his family after dying of cancer in 2015.

The Defendant has had earlier problems with the courts. In 2007, he was convicted of staging his own shooting in Cambridge, in an attempt to frame another of his sons to gain advantage in a family dispute. He has denied any role in the shooting.

The present case will next be heard at a pretrial conference on March 7th.

    Attorney Sam’s Take On Fraud, Associated Charges And Family Non-Values

While, once, a story like this might be found under the column of civil litigation (The Family vs. The Defendant), todays’ prosecutors have decided that it is worth punishing them as crimes as well.  This is why one hears about so many white collar crimes in the news these days.

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Dr. Roberto A. Fernandez was sentenced to 97 months in prison for prescribing medically-unnecessary drugs to patients in exchange for financial kickbacks. In addition to his prison sentence, Fernandez was ordered to pay $4.8 million in restitution after he plead guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.

Fernandez referred patients to pharmacies to obtain medications they didn’t need. In some cases, the prescribed drugs were contraindicated with other drugs the patients were already taking. As a thank you for the uptick in referrals, pharmacy owners rewarded Fernandez with kickbacks in the form of extra pain pills and fraudulent Medicare billing for services that never took place. Fernandez amassed an extensive network of co-conspirators; the fraudulent billing and pain pill scheme involved six health care facilities and racked up more than $20 million in false expenses.

According to the Department of Justice, Fernandez received kickbacks for “signing plans of care and prescriptions for medically unnecessary home health services.” The dishonest doctor also admitted to providing “prescriptions for expensive, name brand drugs, including HIV/AIDS medications that conflicted with other HIV drugs already prescribed to the beneficiaries.” Several of the pharmacy owners and healthcare professionals involved in the scheme with Fernandez are already behind bars. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with a crime.

Six Years of Fraud and Distribution

In addition to wire and health care fraud, Dr. Fernandez was charged with:

  • conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government by paying and receiving healthcare bribes and kickbacks.
  • conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
  • distribution of controlled substances.

According to law enforcement, the fraudulent Medicare claims and illegal prescription of controlled substances, including opioids, had been going on for at least six years.

Fernandez is Not Alone

This latest health care scheme comes on the heels of a $1.3 billion national health care fraud crackdown, which involved 412 defendants, including 115 physicians, nurses and other licensed health care professionals. Those charged were involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids and other narcotics. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the largest-ever health care fraud takedown in July.

“Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients,” said Sessions. “Amazingly, some have made their practices into multimillion dollar criminal enterprises. They seem oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their greed. Their actions not only enrich themselves often at the expense of taxpayers but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start. The consequences are real: emergency rooms, jail cells, futures lost, and graveyards.  While today is a historic day, the Department’s work is not finished. In fact, it is just beginning. We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate fraudsters and drug dealers wherever they are.”

Penalties for Health Care Fraud

A conviction of federal health care fraud is a serious offense that may result in the following penalties:

  • Up to 10 years in prison for each offense
  • Up to 20 years in prison if the fraud resulted in serious bodily injury
  • Up to life in prison if the fraud resulted in death
  • Up to $250,000 per offense for false Medicare or Medicaid claims, up to billions for organizations that engage in multiple counts of health care fraud
  • Restitution to pay back money that was illegally obtained

A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with a crime. Continue reading

Earlier this month Martin Shkreli, the man who became infamous for jacking up the price of an AIDS medication, was convicted of securities fraud for the mismanagement of investment funds. But even a criminal conviction doesn’t seem to have humbled the 34-year-old pharmaceutical company founder. Shortly after the guilty verdict, Shkreli began a YouTube live stream from his New York apartment. As he held a beer, Shkreli predicted that a prison sentence – if he actually gets one – will be akin to a Club Med trip, where he’ll play sports and Xbox for a few months.

$11 Million Ponzi Scheme

Shkreli is accused of running a Ponzi scheme that cheated investors out of millions. More than $11 million, to be exact. The fraudulent activity allegedly occurred between 2009 and 2014, while Shkreli was CEO of Retrophin, the pharmaceutical company he founded. According to the prosecution, he used Retrophin funds to pay off investors and cover personal debts, while misleading investors as to how well their funds were performing.

“Shkreli misled investors in his self-indulgent scheme,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. “Today’s conviction shows that those who corrupt the market will ultimately be brought to justice.” A Boston criminal defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with securities fraud or any other crime.

The Most Hated Man in America

Two years ago, Shkreli gained notoriety when he dramatically increased the cost of a lifesaving AIDS medication from $13.50 per pill to $750. Soon after, the Daily Beast called Shkreli the “most hated man in America.” Despite the hate, Shkreli also – disturbingly – gained some fans. He quickly acquired a YouTube following of about 200,000; streaming video of himself playing games in his pajamas and out gallivanting around New York.

In response to his recent conviction, Shkreli had the following to say: ”This could have been a real big setback for my life, but it’s gonna end up being a footnote in my life.” He believes he has no more than a “50-50” chance of ending up behind bars, and that any jail time would likely be short lived. He went on to say – speaking in the third person, “It doesn’t seem like life will change very much for Martin Shkreli, basically ever. I’m one of the richest New Yorkers there is, and after this outcome, it’s going to stay that way.” Despite his social media-bravado, if convicted, Shkreli may face up to 20 years in prison. A MA criminal defense lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with securities fraud.

Penalties for Securities Fraud

Individuals convicted of securities fraud may face both civil and criminal penalties. These may include:

  • Fines of $10,000 or more
  • Fines of up to $5 million, if insider trading is involved
  • Probation
  • Restitution (money paid to victims, in addition to fines)
  • Incarceration in a federal prison

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If you’ve been convicted of a criminal offense in the past, you have a criminal record. It goes without saying that having a criminal record isn’t ideal; it can negatively impact your ability to get a job, housing, and even student loans for years into the future. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to seal your record in MA. Read on for more information about how to seal a criminal record, what that means, and if you qualify.

In 2012, the Criminal Offender Record (CORI) reform went into effect in MA. This is especially good news for people who were charged with a crime, but for whom the charges were dismissed. If this is you, CORI greatly improves your chances of getting your record sealed. Whether your charges were dismissed from the start, or after probation, you may qualify.

If you were convicted of the charge, you’re not out of luck yet. However, convictions typically require the passage of a certain amount of time before you are eligible to petition the court to seal your record. If the conviction was for a felony, CORI requires a full 15 years to pass before your record is eligible to be sealed. But there are some exceptions to that rule. In MA, the judge has the authority to seal a felony record before the 15 years are up. The judge will take into account any hardships you may be experiencing as a result of the open record. This is where having a skilled Boston defense attorney is essential.

What Types of Criminal Records Can be Sealed in MA?

Many factors come into play when a judge is determining whether or not your record can be sealed. These include the particulars of your offense, and past criminal history, among other factors. However, some of the criminal charges that may be eligible include:

  • Assault
  • Possession of drugs
  • Property crimes, such as burglary and arson
  • Weapons charges
  • Fraud

A MA defense attorney can review your criminal record to ensure that the information within is accurate before petitioning the court to seal the record. Sealing a criminal record is a complex process that requires the help of legal counsel with extensive experience in this particular area of the law.

What Does Sealing a Record Actually Do?

Sealing does not mean erasing. The record still exists, but it isn’t accessible by most people, employers, or entities. Even better, when you apply for a job, housing, or a loan, you can legally answer that you have never been convicted of a crime. You can also state that you’ve never been charged or arrested for a crime. Once your record is sealed, the MA sealing statute allows you to legally answer in this way. Unfortunately, there are a few employers that are still permitted to access sealed records. These are:

  • The Department of Early Education and Care
  • The Department of Children and Families
  • The Department of Youth Services
  • Police and probation agencies
  • Courts
  • Prosecutors’ offices

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In September 2013, officials linked to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used their power to abruptly close lanes on one of the world’s busiest bridges, the George Washington, for four days. Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff and Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director for the Port Authority, were sentenced last week for their crimes. During Baroni’s sentencing, Judge Susan Wigenton said the crimes were “an outrageous abuse of power,” and that the incident “culminates another unfortunate chapter in the history of New Jersey.”

The 2013 act of political revenge resulted in a sentence of 24 months in prison for Baroni, and 18 months in prison for Kelly. In addition, both were ordered to complete 500 hours of community service, and pay fines. The conviction came in November, when Baroni and Kelly were found guilty on seven counts, including civil rights deprivation, fraud, and conspiracy. A MA defense lawyer can help if you’ve been charged with criminal conspiracy.

The George Washington Bridge, connects Fort Lee, New Jersey with Manhattan. According to court documents, the four-day closure became a serious public safety risk, endangering citizens and causing severe traffic delays. So, why did officials order the abrupt closure of lanes on one of the world’s busiest bridges? The prosecution alleged that the effort was intended to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie’s 2013 bid for re-election.

It’s All in the Emails

Charges were filed following an investigation that uncovered incriminating emails and text messages. In one email between Kelly and former Port Authority official David Wildstein, Kelly wrote, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Kelly claims that the email was sarcastic and humorous and that it referred to results from a recent traffic study. It is estimated that the duo’s actions cost Port Authority over $14,000. In Baroni’s testimony, he claimed that he thought the lane closures were part of a legal traffic study, and that Wildstein had relayed this information to him. Wildstein, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the vengeful incident, pleaded guilty to one civil rights violation and one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud.

Only a Prison Sentence Can Restore the Community’s Faith in Public Institutions

The sentences may seem harsh, but prosecutors believed that a prison sentence was the only way to deal with this level of public corruption. The court documents stated that, ”As both Baroni and Kelly surely understood given their lengthy tenures in New Jersey government, crimes committed by public officials are particularly insidious because they destroy the community’s faith in its own public institutions.”

What is Criminal Conspiracy?

In MA, criminal conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful act. Three elements must be present to prove a conspiracy existed in MA. These are:

  • The defendant entered into an agreement with at least one other person.
  • The agreement had a criminal or unlawful purpose.
  • The defendant was aware that the purpose was criminal or unlawful and intended to carry out the act.

Penalties for Criminal Conspiracy

Depending on the offense the defendant was conspiring to commit, and any prior criminal history, the penalties for conspiracy can vary widely. If the underlying offense was a misdemeanor, the penalty is up to two-and-a-half years in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. If, however, the defendant conspired to commit a felony, he or she may be facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’re facing criminal conspiracy charges. Continue reading

We’ve all heard the term embezzlement in the news and in crime movies, but most people don’t know what it actually means. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, you may be unsure of what your charges entail. Embezzlement is a form of theft, but it’s much more specific than shoplifting or taking a purse from the seat of a car. Embezzlement involves theft of assets by an individual who is responsible for managing those assets.

Embezzlement is most common within businesses and corporations, and when individuals are put in charge of managing loved one’s estates. This crime can be as simple as taking a few dollars here and there while working as a cashier or bank teller, or as complex as creating fake employee profiles and writing monthly checks to employees who don’t actually exist. In many cases, the individual keeps the money for himself or herself, but the transference of funds outside of the company to another individual can also constitute embezzlement. Consulting with a skilled Boston criminal defense lawyer is crucial to a positive outcome if you’re facing embezzlement charges.

Four Factors of Embezzlement

Defined as the theft or larceny of assets by a person with responsibility for those assets, embezzlement likely occurred if the following four factors were present:

  • A fiduciary relationship between two parties; one party must rely on the other.
  • The property in question must have been acquired through the relationship.
  • The defendant must have transferred the property to another person or entity, or he or she must have taken ownership of the property.
  • The action of taking the property was intentional.

Accounting embezzlement, which involves manipulating accounting records to conceal the stealing of funds, is one of the most common forms of the crime. When a person is given lawful possession of someone else’s property, for the purpose of managing it, but converts it to personal use, this is embezzlement. In some cases, people take large sums of money at once, while other people embezzle small amounts over an extended period of time. It is also possible to embezzle property, such as laptops or company vehicles. A MA defense attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you are facing this type of charge.

Penalties for Embezzlement in Massachusetts

The penalty for embezzlement in MA is largely dependent on the value and type of property stolen, as well as on the defendant’s prior criminal history.

  • Value of stolen property is worth $250 or less: If it’s a first offense, you could face fines of up to $600, and up to two-and-a-half years in prison.
  • Value of stolen property is worth $250 or more (or if the stolen property included firearms): You may face a fine of up to $25,000, and up to five years in prison.
  • Trade secrets: You could be looking at a fine of up to $25,000, and up to five years in prison.

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If you are one of the many who still believe that convictions for “white collar crime” such as embezzlement or larceny do not bring jail or prison sentences…think again.

As we have discussed in the past, the authorities have been working very hard to dispel that belief. Take Robert Scatamacchia (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) for example.

The Defendant is not the type of man you would expect to see either at the defense table in court or wearing the appropriate garb in a Massachusetts prison.

But now, he has done both.

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Last month, former Ashland school secretary, Marissa Goldstein, was accused of embezzling $55,000 from the Warren School.  Over her career at the Warren School, Goldstein is accused of stealing and depositing more than 80 checks written by kindergarten parents to the school for their children’s education.  Additionally, she is accused of taking checks and cash from a 2015 book fair.  Ashland Police reported that Principal Michael Caira reported the theft of $8,100 stolen from the school book fair which was held in mid April.  Caira stated the collected money from the fair was put into a locked cabinet with only five people aware of its presence in the cabinet.  Goldstein knew the location of the money because she was responsible for deposits.  It wasn’t until September that the company that hosted the book far, Scholastic books, contacted the school inquiring about payment.  Goldstein told Caira that she had, in fact, deposited the money and had also been in touch with Scholastic in an attempt to resolve the issue.

On September 28, Goldstein resigned after being told by Caira that he planned to fire her, based primarily on her work history.  After her resignation, Caira called Scholastic himself who told him that Goldstein had never contacted them.  Officers then began investigating the theft of the book fair money.  Shortly after, it was discovered that there was also an issue with parents not fulfilling their children’s kindergarten payments.  However, parents claimed that they had paid and sent in cancelled checks to prove it.  Police investigated where these checks had been cashed and looked at the security footage of the banks.  Videos showed a woman who looked like Goldstein depositing the stolen checks.  Upon investigation into Goldstein’s bank account, it was found that she had deposited 67 checks made out to Ashland Public Schools for her own bank account, totaling $54,892.  After this discovery, police immediately tried to track down Goldstein.  However, the address she gave the school when she began working was fake and her parents did not seem to be interested in helping police find her.  Eventually Goldstein’s lawyer contacted police and she was charged with larceny of kindergarten fees and the $8,000 in book sales.  Continue reading

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