Criminal Charges for Ex-Cops and Authorities

In New York City, criminal defense lawyers should being to prepare their arguments for a newly-discovered scheme involving former police officers, firefighters and city workers.  Allegedly, over 100 former workers have been fraudulently collecting disability pay for several years.  Some of the workers claimed severe mental illness, but were observed behaving normally and leading normal lives.  By lying about their mental conditions, the workers were able to collect thousands of dollars in Social Security benefits per year.  Among those accused of the scheme are 72 former police officers, 8 former firefighters, 5 former correction officers and an officer from the Nassau County Police Department.  However, prosecutors for this case revealed that there are hundreds more and that they have only just begun to release indictments.  Surprisingly, all of those who were defrauding the system received help from two attorneys and two police officers, who accepted cash payments for their assistance.  One of the attorney/ringleaders is Raymond Lavallee, who is a Korean War veteran who attended law school on the GI Bill.  After working for the FBI and the prosecutor’s office, he opened his own private law practice.  Earlier this week, Lavallee and his criminal defense lawyer entered a plea of not guilty for his part in the scheme.  According to court documents, Lavallee “would receive thousands in cash payments from successful applicants.”  Sometimes the applicants would leave Lavallee’s payment on park benches near his office.

The four “ringleaders” allegedly taught applicants how to show that they were mentally scarred so they could collect $30,000 to $50,000 in benefits per year.  The applicants were also taught to claim “that they could not cope with other people or were so mentally disabled that they could not even prepare a meal on their own.  They were told to appear [messy] in their interviews” and claim to be sleep deprived. They had been trained on how to fail memory tests and fake panic attacks.  The ringleaders knew that if the applicant claimed to be unable to leave their home to find employment due to these mental disabilities, their application would be less likely to be denied.

Prosecutors in the case claim that the applications for disability benefits were all “strikingly similar,” using matching phrases like, “I don’t have interest in anything” and “I am unable to perform any type of work activity in or out of the house.”  They also claimed that they could not use a computer or have any type of social interaction, when in fact, some even had personal Facebook or other social media pages.

Keep in mind that the people who made these claims were observed doing things like flying helicopters, working as a martial arts instructor, jet skiing, shopping and even working other jobs.  Some even claimed that they were disabled due to 9/11, yet investigations proved that they were nowhere near ground zero on the day of the attack.  In a statement made this week, current NY Police Commissioner said that “the retired members of the NYPD indicted in this case have disgraced all first responders who perished during the search-and-rescue efforts on September 11, 2001, and those who subsequently died from 9/11-related illness, by exploiting their involvements that tragic day for personal gain.”

For committing the disability fraud, the ringleaders in this case are to be charged with first and second degree grand larceny and second degree attempted larceny.  For the other defendants, who were all recipients of disability payments, each will be charged with second degree grand larceny in addition to second degree grand larceny.  It is unclear at this time how many of those defendants have retained a criminal defense lawyer.  This scheme is the largest yet to be revealed since the Social Security disability system started in the late 1980’s; defendants are estimated to have bilked the federal government out of $400 million.

For those charged in any type of criminal case, it will be very important to speak with and hire a criminal defense lawyer who completely understands all the issues and complexities that go along with your charges.  The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal defense lawyers all over the country, but few are like those at our firm who practice criminal defense in Charleston,  Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal attorney. Criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm are ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our criminal defense attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

Criminal Defense Lawyers Defend Cyber Criminals

As more and more people all over the world discover ways to fool victims using a computer, criminal defense lawyers should brush up on their knowledge of cyber crimes. Cyber crimes can be categorized in three different ways according to the Department of Justice.  They are 1) the computer as a target, 2) the computer as a weapon and 3) the computer as an accessory.

The first category is using the computer as a target.  One example of this is the use of computer viruses to knowingly attack other computer users.  This method of attack has become increasingly worrisome.  One incident stands out in our minds, which occurred in 2000.  That year, a Filipino computer student released a virus called the “love” worm.  The virus spread by targets opening email attachments from an unknown sender.  Targets would receive the email with the heading “ILOVEYOU,” then open the attachment titled “love letter.”  The attachment contained a virus which ended up crippling email systems at the Pentagon, CIA and British Parliament.  The virus cost companies and government agencies $15 billion to remove.

The second category is using the computer as a weapon.  This is when a person uses a computer to commit a crime that we see in the real world, such as fraud or gambling illegally.  One example is the use of spyware to gather information about another computer user.  This would be considered a simple type of computer fraud if it is used with malicious intent to harm others physically or financially.  Another example would be investment schemes that are set up via the Internet with the intent to take and use someone’s money for reasons other than which the victim agreed to.

Also in 2000, a 15 year old Canadian boy went online under the name “MafiaBoy” in order to launch an attack on some of the most-visited sites on the Web.  He succeeded in doing so and made international headlines; he even prompted an emergency security meeting at the White House.  The boy did not receive any prison time for his crime which ended up causing $1.2 billion in global economic damages.

The third category is using the computer as an accessory.  This is when a person uses the computer as a way to file or store illegal or stolen information.  When this type of cyber crime is committed, authorities have the ability to charge them with more than one crime, which may lead to a stiffer penalty for the acts.

Theft via the internet is something that is happening quite often.  Lots of times, the person committing that crime may not know they are doing something illegal.  It is this issue that makes understanding intellectual property necessary.  Stealing intellectual property is just as illegal as stealing real property.  For instance, we know that taking a CD or DVD from a store without permission is wrong.  What is not as widely known is that taking music from the Internet without the permission of the copyright owner is just as wrong.

It is important to know that cyber crimes may be pursued in criminal and civil courts.  This means that once the criminal matter has been resolved, victims may sue for damages in civil court.  Also keep in mind that one does not need an actual computer to be charged with a cyber crime since smartphones and tablets have become increasingly popular among users.  Entering a computer system illegally and with ill intent will cause destruction on several levels and will come with severe consequences.  Almost all industries rely on computers in today’s world, which makes having a computer security policy in place essential.

For those who are behind the cyber crime schemes, once they are apprehended their charges could be pretty severe.  The charges could include money laundering, bank fraud, passport fraud, and identity theft.  Not only will they be facing fines and/or prison time, they will likely need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal lawyers all over the country, but few practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer. A federal criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our federal criminal attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

Myrtle Beach Man Guilty of Wire Fraud

The man behind one of Myrtle Beach’s most costly real estate scams is being sentenced in federal court this week; he will be charged with one felony count of wire fraud.  70-year old Duwayne Woods may face a prison sentence of up to 41 months at his sentencing hearing.  However, a charge of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years, a $250,000 fine and 3 years of supervision upon release.  With the assistance of his federal criminal attorney, prosecutors decided to drop a second felony charge against Woods in exchange for his guilty plea earlier this year.  Even though the second charge was dropped, the judge at sentencing may consider it as relevant conduct.

His charge stems from two real estate projects which never got completed:  Bahama Island, which was supposed to be a condo and marina project located on the ICW, and Crystal Palace, which was supposed to be a tower of condos on the ocean.  Both projects had total deposits exceeding $5 million by purchasers, but Woods and his two co-conspirators stole those deposits and had been on the run.  The two men who acted as co-developers for the condo projects have already been sentenced for their roles in the scam, but Woods fled the area with over $2 million of the deposit money.

The FBI had spent several years in their investigation into the condo scandal and searching for Woods.  He was last seen in the area in 2007 until he was spotted loitering outside a public library in San Diego.  Once officers spoke with Woods, it was discovered that Woods was wanted in South Carolina.

A good South Carolina federal criminal attorney seeks to ensure that clients are treated fairly throughout the judicial process.  It is our duty as defense attorneys to make sure that those holding such a position are held responsible for this conduct.  We aggressively defend our clients because we believe that every defendant deserves the best defense possible.

The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal lawyers all over the country, but few practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach federal criminal attorney. A federal criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our federal criminal attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

FBI Adds to Most-Wanted List

Criminal defense lawyer on cyber criminals.  Internet hackers are everywhere, lurking in the shadows of the world wide web.  That is, until the FBI finds them.  This week, the FBI has added one to its list:  former San Diego college student, Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara.  Melara was born in El Salvador and was on a student visa to attend school in the United States in the early 2000’s.  In 2003, Melara began selling a unique product over the internet which lead to a 2005 federal indictment with his name all over it.  Melara was added to the most wanted list because he has been nearly impossible to capture.  If the authorities do find him, Melara will likely need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to assist with the case against him.

Melara developed a spying program called Loverspy which he sold to customers online for $89.  The program was designed to catch suspected cheaters and would send the target, or cheater, an email with an e-card attached.  If the person opened the attachment, Melara’s program would then install malware that would capture emails and instant messages from that person’s device.  The program could even spy on someone using their own webcam.

What is scary about this type of case that that “these are sophisticated folks who know how to hide themselves on the Internet,” according to an agent in the cyber division at the FBI.  That division is focused on taking down these types of “hacking-for-hire” services.  Others were also added to the most wanted list for cyber crimes, some of which caused losses to consumers in excess of $100 million.  According to the FBI, they have always “depended on the public’s help and support to bring criminals to justice,” and they are still depending on the public to assist in catching the cyber criminals.

Our Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer at The Mace Firm spends a significant amount of time in criminal courts throughout all over the United States. There are criminal lawyers all over the country, but few practice criminal defense in Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Columbia and several other areas.

If you or someone you know is facing federal criminal or state criminal charges, you will need to speak with experienced Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers in your area. A federal criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of our federal criminal attorneys to schedule your free consultation.

Lavin Indicted in Bank Fraud Case

Federal criminal lawyer retained by Lavin of Myrtle Beach.

Howie Lavin of Myrtle Beach was once the co-owner of Lavin Cars, an auto dealership which was located within the city.  The business seemed to be doing well, until it suddenly closed and sources revealed to the community that Lavin had been involved in schemes costing two local financial institutions more than $8 million.  Early this week, Lavin was issued the felony bank fraud charge and has an arraignment hearing next month in Florence federal court.  Lavin has hired a federal criminal lawyer to represent him in this case.

Lavin’s indictment claims that he used three checking accounts to make over 1,800 deposits and withdrawals in a single month at the two banks, CresCom and Carolina Trust.  In doing so, the banks gave Lavin immediate credit on the deposits, which allowed him to increase the funds in the accounts.  He went on to write new checks against the ones that had not cleared the bank yet.  During April 2012, records indicate that Lavin was depositing and withdrawing $4.5 million per day at each of the banks.  In total, over $94 million went into and out of Lavin’s bank accounts at the two banks during April 2012.

Those numerous transactions made during April 2012 caused each bank to lose more than $4 million each.  Prosecutors in this case stated that this is what caused Lavin’s five-year scheme to unravel the following month.  In May 2012, Lavin deposited six checks totaling over $4 million.  The checks were drawn on the Carolina Trust account and put into his CresCom account.  However, there was not enough money in the Carolina Trust account to cover the checks and the account was over-drafted in the amount of $4.2 million.  The next day, those checks were returned to CresCom, which caused that account to overdraft as well, in an amount also exceeding $4 million.

Even worse for Lavin, within one week of his overdrafts, the auto dealer shut down and CresCom began taking vehicles from the lot to try to recoup the money they had lost from Lavin’s bank fraud schemes.

According to the FBI, a bank fraud charge has a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a $1 million fine.  The prosecution also wants Lavin to repay the banks who suffered the losses.  To do so, they will ask the judge for permission to seize property that Lavin owns to help repay the banks.  However, Lavin’s home in the Barefoot community does not belong to him any longer due to foreclosure.

A good federal criminal defense lawyer will help you in many ways, including discussing your legal options, determining facts and aspects of your case which may work in your favor, uncovering potential problems that can be foreseen and by letting you know what to expect at the different stages of the process.

Having the support of a skilled federal criminal lawyer is beneficial because it can provide security that you are dealing with someone who has the legal knowledge and experience necessary to ensure the best chance of having your case defended properly.  Call a South Carolina criminal lawyer at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation.

Google Loses Federal Appeal

Google loses federal appeal regarding Street View.  Most of the people who use Google are aware of a feature on the site known as Street View.  Street View allows users to see real photos of maps they are searching, instead of drawings.  To make this possible, Google uses vehicles known as Street View cars with camera poles mounted on their roofs to take photographs of roads all over the world.  The photos not only capture images of roads, they also show viewers homes, stores and vehicles located on those streets at the time of the photo.  Sounds like a useful tool, and innocent at that.  However, as the cameras on the Street View cars were taking the photos of the roadways, they were also collecting “detailed information” and transmitting it over Wi-Fi networks they passed through.  This information included emails, usernames, passwords, photos and documents.  In the federal appeal filed in the case, Google was said to have wrongfully collected this personal information and, as a result, violated wiretap laws.

In their defense, Google argued that the Street View activities were not in violation of the wiretap law because data transmitted over Wi-Fi is considered a “radio connection” and is easily accessible to the public.  The federal appeals court disagreed with their defense and sided with the lower court judge’s ruling.  This is the first time an appeals court has ruled that it is illegal to “sniff out and collect” personal data from Wi-Fi networks supplying internet connections to people’s homes.  This is also the first time a company, Google, has tried to do something like this.

Internet privacy experts are thrilled at the news, saying that the federal appeals court decision “is a tremendous victory for privacy rights.”  In addition to that, Google is no longer allowed to “wi-spy.”  Google has even offered an apology for their snooping, which happened between 2008 and the beginning of 2010.

Since the federal appeals court’s ruling, all of the plaintiffs whose privacy was compromised will be able to move forward with their case against the company.  Due to the extensive reach of Google’s “snooping,” potential damages may amount to billions of dollars.  In fact, earlier in 2013, Google settled a lawsuit involving 37 states for $7 million.  In that case, Google was sued by the attorney general for invading privacy by collecting various data.

Since the appeals action was finalized, Google has disabled the equipment responsible for collecting the data and plans to destroy the data which was collected.

When you are involved in a federal appeal case, it is wise to have the help, experience and knowledge of a federal appeal lawyer.  A good federal appeal lawyer will research past precedent and existing legal cases to find grounds for your appeal.  This is necessary because a the federal appeals court will not simply reverse the lower court’s decision for frivolous reasons.

If you or someone you know would like to file a federal criminal appeal in the Federal appeals court or state appeal, it will be in their best interests to speak with an experienced federal appeal lawyer.  Please call an appellate attorney at The Mace Firm for a free consultation today.

Reality TV Stars Indicted

Federal criminal lawyer discusses indictment for two Real Housewives of New Jersey stars.  Most are familiar with the Bravo television series “The Real Housewives.”  This week, two of the stars from the New Jersey Housewives show, Joe and Teresa Giudice, have been indicted on federal charges.  The charges in the indictment include bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and making false statements on their loan applications.  Joe has also been charged with failing to file tax returns from 2004 through 2008–during those years it is alleged that Joe earned close to $1 million.

An IRS special agent involved in the criminal investigation stated that “the Giudice’s did not live up to their responsibilities by failing to file tax returns, falsifying loan applications and concealing assets in their bankruptcy petition. The reality is that this type of criminal conduct will not go undetected and individuals who engage in this type of financial fraud should know they will be held accountable.”

Not only this, but In 2009, the couple filed a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Following that filing, they began to file several amendments to their bankruptcy petition.  Their bankruptcy filings required them to disclose all assets, liabilities, income and things of that nature.  The criminal investigation revealed that, during that time, the Giudice’s concealed their anticipated increase in income from the then-upcoming season 2 of the Bravo television show. Concealing their income and making false  declarations about the assets and income during their bankruptcy case is another huge issue in this case.

Now that the pair has made an appearance before a judge to hear their charges, the television network who “employed” them may come under fire.  There is a chance that employees used for filming the Bravo TV show could be called as witnesses to confirm or deny that the Giudice’s made large purchases with cash during their bankruptcy.  Bravo network may also be called to confirm or deny that Teresa’s anticipated income was left undisclosed in the bankruptcy action.  According to a legal expert, it is very serious that Bravo filmed the couple speaking to their bankruptcy attorney.  The expert feels that raw footage that did not make the air could be incriminating.  The question on unintentional conspiracy may also come up because of the filming.  Investigators will need to find out who knows what and how much they know.  It is not clear whether Bravo will actually be charged, but it is becoming clearer that the Giudice’s may need to be released from the show.

It is unclear how the couple managed to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy while they were living in a mansion and appeared to have a highly lavish lifestyle.  They filed for bankruptcy between Season 1 and 2 of the show, but no one noticed Teresa cutting back on her shopping sprees.

Of the most serious charges they face, bank fraud and loan application fraud, they could face up to 30 years in prison and be fined $1 million.  Both Teresa and Joe have retained federal criminal lawyers to help them handle this matter.

Having the support of a skilled federal criminal lawyer is beneficial because it can provide security that you are dealing with someone who has the legal knowledge and experience necessary to ensure the best chance of having your case defended properly, especially at the trial level.  Call a federal criminal lawyer to schedule your free consultation.

Condo Sales and Mail Fraud in Myrtle Beach

Criminal defense lawyers in Myrtle Beach discuss mail fraud.  Myrtle Beach real estate agent Scott Lemons has been indicted on 3 felony charges of mail fraud in relation to the sales of condos in the Ashley Park subdivision of Carolina Forest. Lemons is facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each charge.

The federal indictment reveals that Lemons and another real estate agent helped Ashely Park buyers fraudulently acquire financing for their condos during 2007 and 2008. “. Lemons falsely inflated the comparable values of units in the project by taking part in sham purchases from Ashley Park’s developer, who is not named in the indictment.” He also got false appraisals which overstated the value of the condos. Then, the pair gave banks the loan applications with the false information regarding the buyers’ income and down payments. None of the buyers have been named as defendants in any criminal investigation related to this incident.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in your area. One of the Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of the Myrtle Beach criminal lawyers to schedule your free consultation.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges please call our Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm. Our criminal defense attorneys has experience with all types of criminal charges. The Myrtle Beach defense attorneys at The Mace Firm are here to help you in your time of need.

Conway Pastor and Ponzi Scheme

Federal criminal lawyer on Ponzi schemes.  Archie Evans is now the former pastor of Tilly Swamp Baptist Church in Conway. Yesterday, Evans plead guilty to two felonies related to the Ponzi scheme he was operating. The scheme ended up costing church members and other community members $2.5 million.

In federal court, Evans plead guilty to one charge of mail fraud and one charge of structuring financial transactions to evade bank reporting requirements for deposits. Evans charges carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Evans plead guilty as part of an agreement where prosecutors would drop seven additional mail fraud charges and five money laundering charges. The Judge in the case decided to defer his decision to accept or reject the terms of the plea agreement at the hearing.

According to the federal indictment, “Evans convinced church members to invest in his company, Gold & Silver LLC, with the promise that investors would receive quarterly interest payments of between 10 percent and 12 percent. Evans either lost or spent the money, but prepared false investment statements to make it appear as if the investors were earning a high rate of interest on their money.” These false statements encouraged others to invest in the scheme and Evans used the funds from the new investors to make the interest payments to previous investors.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, you will need to speak with an experienced federal criminal lawyer in your area. One of the Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Mace Firm is ready to speak with you about your case. Call one of the Myrtle Beach criminal lawyers to schedule your free consultation.

North Carolina Medicare Fraud

Criminal defense attorney in South Carolina discusses Medicare fraud scheme in North Carolina.  According to prosecutors, Armando Gonzalez is a convicted cocaine trafficker who got involved in Medicare fraud schemes in the mid-2000’s when he opened mental health clinics in the Kendall and Cutler Bay areas. By 2008, Gonzalez suspected the feds were on to him, the Miami-Dade resident moved to North Carolina and took his businesses with him. Before he was recently arrested, he was planning to open a psychotherapy clinic in Tennessee.

His charges are related to conspiracy to steal $63 million from Medicare. He has now been ordered to be held without bail since prosecutors argued that he is a flight risk due to the fact that he faces 30 years to life in prison. According to reports, “Gonzalez’s three clinics — accused of entertaining patients with TV and movies instead of providing actual group psychotherapy sessions — collected $28 million from the Medicare program for seniors and the disabled between 2004 and 2011. Justice Department lawyers say in court papers that the ‘vast majority’ of the money ‘has disappeared’ with a ‘substantial portion … laundered through shell corporations.’”

Last week, Gonzalez was indicted on a variety of Medicare fraud charges along with eight co-defendants, including a registered nurse, John Thoen, and other employees of his company, Health Care Solutions Network.

Eight other people were named in the indictment with Gonzalez, including Serena Joslin of Buncombe County, who was the clinical coordinator for HCSN-NC, and Alexandra Haynes of Miami-Dade and Henderson counties, who was program coordinator for HCSN-NC.

Also charged are Daniel Martinez, Raymond Rivero and Ivon Perez, owners of three assisted-living facilities in the Homestead area called Mi Renacer, God Is First, and Kayleen and Denis Care. The owners are accused of taking bribes from Gonzalez in exchange for supplying a steady flow of patients, including many who suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and could not have benefited from the therapy.

As part of the criminal case, prosecutors are seeking to recover the $28 million that Medicare paid Gonzalez’s businesses in Miami-Dade and North Carolina. They want to seize his 3,500-square-foot house in Hendersonville, which was on the market for $750,000 before his arrest. They also want to seize his 17 vehicles, including two Cadillac Escalades, a BMW, a Mercedes Benz and Ford vans, for transporting patients.  Hopefully he hires a good criminal defense attorney.

If you or someone you know has been charged with fraud, you will need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area. Call one of the Myrtle Beach lawyers at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation.