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South Florida Department of Justice Charges Several with Fraud and Kickback Scheme

In late September, the United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Florida released a bulletin announcing that Miami-Dade County’s Aviation Department was ensnarled in a fraud investigation amounting to $5 million in wrongfully obtained funds. Five defendants are named in the case, including the aviation department’s director Ivan Valdes.

According to the investigation, Valdes struck a deal with a contractor that basically provided a kickback of profits to Valdes if he hired this particular contractor. Valdes and the contractor also paid off the other co-defendants in order to keep making profits.

Federal Law Prohibits Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud

The five defendants were charged with numerous federal crimes, including violating Sections 4, 371 and 666 of Title 18 of the United States Code. If convicted, the defendants could face not only years behind bars, but paying statutory fines in addition to any money they fraudulently received.

Title 18, Section 4 of the U.S. Code provides that if a person has knowledge of the commission of a felony and then does not report the crime or proceeds to hide the crime, then that person will be fined or imprisoned for up to 3 years.

Section 371 pertains to conspiracy and states that if two or more people conspire to commit offense against the United States and one or more of those people do any act to further the crime, then all parties can be charged for the act of conspiracy. Depending on the seriousness of the crime that the co-conspirators undertake, the punishment will correlate. It is important to note here, that as the statute says, the crime of conspiracy means that you and at least one other person planned a crime, but even if another person actually commits that crime, you will still be held accountable for conspiring.

Lastly, parties under federal prosecution in the case described above are charged under Section 666 of the Code. This section provides for criminal prosecution when a person embezzles, steals or fraudulently obtains any property or funds valued at $5,000 or more that belong to another organization, government or agency. Additionally, corruptly soliciting or demanding anything of value greater than $5,000 in connection with any business, transaction of the government or other agency or organization can also result in charges under this statute. Punishment under Section 666 can be as severe is 10 years behind bars.

Experienced Defense Attorney can help with Federal Investigations

Conspiracy is a serious offense in and of itself, but the federal government readily investigates fraud because fraud generally means that the feds are getting shorted on money owed to them. When they investigate fraud, they will often cast a wide net to be sure to catch any co-conspirators. Remember, you can be charged with conspiracy even if you did not commit another crime.

If you are being investigated by the federal government under suspicion of fraud or conspiracy, contact the Miami law offices of Jeffrey S. Weiner today for a free initial consultation. Not all criminal defense attorneys are created equal, and with decades of experience defending federal cases, we know exactly how to help.

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