Articles Posted in White Collar Crimes

Last week, we began this topic. At the time, I signed off with the famous last words “Good question. Let’s start with it tomorrow“. Once again, a few “tomorrows” came and went and I was too busy fighting for “the cause” to post. So….please consider today “tomorrow”.

We discussed the realities about police involvement when approached by what appears to them to be a crime victim. However, what about when it is not a case of who gets to the police first? What about cases where you have no reason to know that there is even suspicion about your activity, much less an investigation? Often, we see such a scenario in Massachusetts white collar cases.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Healthy Paranoia When It Comes To Questionable Paperwork

Now, we all know that, generally, it is not nice to lie. Further, we have discussed in the past that lying to police in a criminal investigation is actually a felony.

There are other times, of course, where the lying itself is actually considered a Massachusetts white collar crime, namely, criminal fraud.

Christopher Keefe, a 28-year-gent from Braintree (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), has gotten himself in trouble because of an apparent shaky relationship with the truth.

As we have discussed many times over the past years, we are seeing more and more prosecutions for things that we barely even heard about, much less saw Massachusetts criminal prosecutions for… although we kind of knew they existed.

Today, the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog brings you another one.

A Suffolk County grand jury has now returned a 53 criminal charges for bribery against five Massachusetts Port Authority employees. They include Kenneth Clement, 67, of Attleboro; Michael Garvey, 51, of Melrose; Vadim Mkrtychev, 38, of West Roxbury; James Mulrey, 45, of Canton; and Donald Potis, 47, of Medford (hereinafter, collectively, the “Defendants”).

You have probably heard the old saying, “Hey, it’s only business”. The adage used to be used when one person got the better of a “friend” in business. No matter how ugly any deception would be, the rationalization was, “It isn’t personal…it’s just business“.

Usually the person on the winning end had an easier time accepting the notion than the losing party.

Today’s story reflects on a new version that you might be hearing soon. It would go, “Hey, it’s not personal…it’s just liberty.”

It would be particularly useful when trusted comrades turn on each other when facing the long end of the prosecutorial gun armed with years of potential incarceration.

Today’s case in point involves former Probation Commissioner John “Jack” O’Brien and two of his “most trusted lieutenants”. They have apparently struck a deal with the prosecution in which they have been granted immunity from prosecution in return for their testimony at trial. Against said former pal..

Trials in both Massachusetts state and federal court.

You see, O’Brien, who retired as commissioner in 2010, pleaded not guilty last September to bribery and conspiracy charges in connection with the 2005 fundraiser for Cahill he’s accused of stocking with probation employees in exchange for his wife’s Lottery job. The event is said to have brought in more than $11,000 for Cahill. In March, it was announced that O’Brien had been indicted on RICO conspiracy and mail fraud charges by a federal grand jury for currying favor with legislators in exchange for keeping their department’s budget flush with state money.

In these types of cases, former friends can make important witnesses. In this case, said friends are Edward P. Ryan, O’Brien’s liaison to legislators, and Francis M. Wall his deputy commissioner.
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Massachusetts extortion is an interesting white collar crime. I find that it is largely misunderstood as well.

Take the tale of Howie Winter, 83 years of age and hereinafter referred to as “Defendant1”. Defendant1 is also reputed with being the former head of the notorious Winter Hill Gang. He was just released on $25,000 bail in Somerville District Court. He is charged with trying to extort money from two people. He is accompanied by James Melvin, 70, of Braintree (hereinafter, “Defendant2”). The two are also charged with attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.

Both gentlemen have also been ordered to where GPS monitoring bracelets.

Prosecutors say the defendants tried to extort $35,000 apiece from two men, repeatedly threatening them during a series of meetings, phone calls, and voicemails. Part of this threatening was allegedly making repeated references to the North End, invoking the shadowy powers of organized crime.

Apparently, said threatening behavior was not overly successful. It merely drove the alleged victims to the hands of law enforcement.

The defendants’ attorneys describe a bit of a different scenario. They suggest that their clients were acting to aid a lawyer who was himself being extorted by the two men that the government is now portraying as the victims.

One of the attorneys asks the question of whether it is extortion to extort money from extortionists. That seems reminiscent of our present policy of bullying kids who are bullies…and we have statutory sanction for that!

But I digress.

Apparently, the government has collected recordings of the defendants in this case. The government expects those tapes to help the prosecution. The defense attorneys, however, claim that said recordings “may very well prove that there was no criminal intent.”
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This is a fact scenario you don’t see every day. It also brings forth another Massachusetts criminal defendant who likely thought he would never see himself being prosecuted for felony crimes.

Michael Clair, 53 years of age and hereinafter the “Defendant” was once a practicing dentist in Fall River. Now, he lives in Maryland. Soon, however, he may be back in the Commonwealth residing in involuntary government housing.

You see, the Defendant has pleaded guilty to an apparent scheme in which he was involved while practicing in Fall River.

Folks would go to the Defendant to get, among other things, root canals done. And the Defendant would give them root canals. However, it would appear that he used some unknown cost-cutting measures. For example, he would substitute paper clips instead of stainless steel posts, according to Boston’s Attorney General.

Perhaps that would not have been so bad if he had shared the savings. However, not only did he not tell his patients, but he also failed to mention it to Medicaid. In fact, he is said to have billed Medicaid for the cost of the stainless steel posts he was supposed to have used.

Presto! Change-o! The dentist became the Defendant.

Facing Medicaid Fraud, Grand Larceny and Assault and Battery charges, the Defendant has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Incidentally, he has also pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence, intimidation of a witness, and illegally prescribing hydrocodone, Combunox, and Percocet.

All around bad news for the Defendant.

But, wait! There’s more!

This situation apparently began coming to light when the Defendant was investigated, in 2002, from the Medicaid (MassHealth) program. The Defendant was suspended from the program. Determined not to be a “quitter”, after his practice , Harbour Dental, hired other dentists who had not been ejected from the program, he apparently picked up where he left off. He began filing claims again, using their information for services he provided. According to AG Coakley’s office, this totaled about $130,000 over the course of two years.

In March 2010, a Bristol County grand jury indicted the Defendant and he was arraigned in April. He was released and ordered not to have any contact with the complainants in the case.

By November, he was facing the new charges of tampering with evidence and intimidating a witness.
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South Bosotn’s Whitey Buldger’s new attorney, J.W. Carney, Jr., has been heard explaining to the media that the government has had 20 years to prepare his client’s case for trial and that he has had the matter for (at the time) 5 days. From Boston’s Federal District Court to school disciplinary hearings, we have discussed the existence of an unequal playing field facing you when the finger of accusation comes to call.

Let’s end the week with one more example, shall we?

The Boston Globe reports that it has obtained a police an Internal Affairs Division report about a police officer involved in what has been called one of the most notorious police brutality cases in the city’s history. The matter stems from a 2009 arrest in the North End. The officer, David C. Williams (hereinafter, the “Officer”) has been placed on paid administrative leave for lying during the department’s investigation into the incident.

In 1999, the Officer was fired from the force after being implicated in the racially charged 1995 beating of an undercover police officer. He was then reinstated with nearly $550,000 in back pay after a civil service arbitration in 2005.

In the instant matter, the Officer faces the possibility of losing his job under Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis’s nearly 19-month-old policy of dismissing officers who lie in the line of duty, to internal affairs investigators, or in court (aka what would be called “perjury” if a non-officer did it.

The Officer’s attorney insists his client told the truth about the 2009 North End arrest. “He’s absolutely testified honestly and truthfully about the incident that occurred,” his lawyer explains . “Any conflicts about the incident were the result of a fast and rapidly evolving incident.”

Do you find it odd that such claims are supposed to be believed when made on behalf of a police officer by his officer, yet not for the rest of you?

Anything wrong with that?

At any rate, the Officer is appealing the finding. A hearing is scheduled for later this month.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The On-Again/Off-Again Relationship Between Law Enforcement And The Truth

The relationship between police officers, or federal agents, and objective factual truth tends to be a bit tumultuous. Whether it is a good day or a bad day in said relationship, be assured that it is a different relationship than the law provides for you.

This case demonstrates this fact brilliantly.

For example, you would be prosecuted for perjury.
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In case you missed it, James “Whitey” Bulger (hereinafter, “Whitey”), the long-sought reputed mob boss of Boston, was arrested and brought back home last week. Home for Whitey was South Boston. Standing there now, of course, is Boston’s Federal Court…which promises to house a great deal of the rest of his life. He is now in his 80’s and charged with many federal crimes.

Whitey’s arrest was difficult to miss last week. What was easy to miss, I suppose, were nasty words like “alleged” when discussing his past. Leave it to a die-hard experienced criminal defense attorney like me to notice. I can be a bother that way.

Anyway, Whitey’s history, whatever the actual truth turns out to be, is , and will continue to be, fodder for a host of blogs like this one. In fact, I can see focusing on his story(ies) all week this week. We’ll see.

Leave it to Whitey, though, he returned throwing the government for a loop right off.

You see, Whitey is believedto have access to all kinds of money. He was also arrested in possession of a great deal of money. The government, of course, believes that this money must be ill-gotten gains and so contends that he should not have access to it. Indeed, in these types of cases, monies are routinely seized by the prosecution as they bring an action for forfeiture of the funds.

A criminal defendant in this country, particularly when facing the possibility of incarceration, has the right to an attorney. We treasure this right so highly that, if a defendant is found to be indigent, unable to afford his/her own lawyer, one is provided. When this topic came up last week during one of two hearings for Whitey, he indicated that the only way he could afford his own attorney was if the government gave him access to the money they seized.

The government objected, claiming that Whitey had access to other funds and that the monies seized were to be forfeited.

The court appointed a temporary lawyer and US District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf has now Ordered said temporary lawyer and federal prosecutors to try to reach an agreement about whether Whitey is entitled to a public defender by the end of the day today.

Both sides are expected to file memoranda and affidavits concerning Whitey’s finances. A hearing is scheduled on the subject on Wednesday.

Whitey’s longtime companion, Catherine Greig, who has been charged with harboring a fugitive, has also requested a public defender.

That matter is also expected to be addressed in court this week as well.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Right To Counsel And Presumption Of Innocence

The issue of whether or not a criminal defendant gets a court-appointed lawyer is an issue between the court and the defendant. Generally, the prosecution has no standing to address the issue.
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We have been talking about juries and their deliberations. Sal DiMasi will be sitting in the hot seat as a Boston federal jury determines his fate next week. As you may have heard, the judge has handed down to the attorneys a draft of the jury instructions he intends to give when he charges the jury. It is the last chance for the attorneys to influence what the jury hears during the trial. Once they deliver their closing arguments, the judge charges the jury and it is all in the juror’s hands.

It is an uncomfortable place for a trial lawyer to be. Believe me, I have been there countless times. There is nothing more you can do…but wait, relive how things went and, most of all, guess what is on the jury’s collective mind.

What images did they take into the jury room? How much did they understand the law as the judge gave it. How much do you want them to have understood that law? Most of all, what perception of reality did the jury take back to that jury room with them?

And the last chance for the white collar crime attorneys to influence that sense of reality is the next 24 hours. The presiding judge, the Honorable Judge Wolf, has handed down potential jury instructions and has indicated that he will wait until the attorneys give their closing arguments (tomorrow) to finalize the instructions.

And then…the choice is the jury’s. The court has indicated that, “I’m going to instruct the jury that they have to consider each defendant, and they can choose to convict one of them, two of them, none of them, or all three.”

That much is clear. However, other issues with regard to the instructions are not so clear. For example, the defense lawyers want the court to tell the jurors that in order to convict DiMasi, they must find that he hatched a kickback scheme and directed payments to be made to associates in exchange for his help – a threshold that they say prosecutors have failed to prove.

Prosecutors, however, say they need to prove only that DiMasi was a willing and knowing participant in what they allege was a conspiracy to help a Burlington software company win state contracts in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks.

And so, while finalizing closing arguments, the fight for instructions has been on. The court heard argument from all sides today. While potential instructions have been handed down, nobody will know what the court will actually tell the jurors until he actually gives the charge.

And so, as the trial nears its end, the pressure is on the lawyers to find the right words in this final attempt to give the jury the most important thing which will effect the outcome of the trial.
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Yesterday, we began our discussion about the Littleton coach (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) who had apparently lied before a Grand Jury when summoned to testify in connection with an ongoing Middlesex County rape investigation.

As we discussed, and it certainly deserves repeating, lying to authorities about an ongoing investigation, either under oath or not, is a crime. The only thing that changes is which crime it is going to be.

In this case, the apparent lies were spoken under oath. In the Grand Jury, witnesses are sworn in and questioned by a prosecutor about whatever is being investigated. To lie while under oath is the crime of perjury.

The Defendant was questioned about, among other things, whether he had committed certain crimes such as providing alcohol to minors. He denied having done so.
The government decided that the Defendant had committed perjury because his testimony, albeit self-serving, was contradicted by other witnesses.

To me, this brings about a couple of troubling questions.
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