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What FIFA Can Teach Us About Wire Fraud

Soccer is a popular sport in Florida. In fact, one recent news story suggested that the strong following of the sport in the Sunshine State could make it the “Soccer Capital of the U.S.” So undoubtedly there were a few shocks and groans when U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced criminal charges against a number of high-level Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) officials and vowed that this was only the beginning. Charges include racketeering and wire fraud, amongst other charges.

Wire fraud is a popular charge for federal prosecutors to bring against individuals, especially when they believe you acted along with other individuals. What lessons can we learn about wire fraud charges from these FIFA indictments?

Lesson One: Wire Fraud Charges are Popular Because They Are Easy to Prove

Part of the reason why so many individuals are charged with wire fraud is that the elements needed to prove this crime are relatively simple. Of course each element of the crime needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but those elements consist only of:

  • Intent;
  • To commit a scheme to defraud, or obtaining property by fraud; and
  • A wire communication (mail fraud would require proof of the sending of something through the mail service).

Jury instructions used in wire fraud cases shows that even these elements are somewhat flexible – for instance, the “scheme” need only be intended to be created. It is not necessary for the government to prove that your scheme was successful in defrauding anyone, that you made an elaborate or complete scheme, or that you made any money from your “scheme.”

Lesson Two: Wire Fraud Charges Carry Significant Penalties

A conviction for wire fraud (or mail fraud) can carry a prison sentence of up to twenty years. If the fraud was committed against or if the intended victim was any one of several certain institutions, the prison sentence can be up to 30 years and this can be accompanied by up to $1,000,000 in fines.

Lesson Three: Wire Fraud Charges are a Popular Bargaining Chip for Prosecutors

Because of lesson one and lesson two (above), prosecutors can and do use these charges to try to pressure defendants to enter plea deals that are favorable to the prosecution. When charged with multiple wire or mail fraud counts and faced with the prospect of several decades in prison on those charges alone, defendants may feel hopeless or panicked and accept the first plea deal offered by the prosecution.

Lesson Four: You Need a Federal Wire Fraud Defense Attorney

All of the above lessons should convince you that wire fraud and mail fraud are serious criminal charges that require the assistance of an experienced defense attorney. South Florida wire fraud defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner has the experience and knowledge necessary to defend you against these serious federal charges. Do not talk to the police or prosecutor without first contacting Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. and discuss your case during a free consultation.

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