What it Means to be Charged with Committing a Major Fraud Against the U.S.
Most white collar crimes involve allegations of some sort of fraud. In many cases, the fraudulent schemes that are the basis of a charge were allegedly committed against an individual or a single company. However, there are situations in which a defendant is charged not with committing a crime against a person or business, but against the United States as a whole. These types of charges are considered especially serious, as they involve the government itself, so if you have been accused of committing a crime against the country, you should contact a skilled federal crime attorney who has significant trial experience and can ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Elements of the Offense
Most fraud charges involve allegations of the purposeful misleading of one person by another. The crime of major fraud against the U.S., on the other hand, while it also involves deception takes place on a much larger scale. Most of these cases involve government contracts, subsidies, loans, insurance, and guarantees where a defendant is charged with defrauding the U.S. by means of false pretenses or promises in order to obtain money or property. This includes schemes that involve federal assistance, such as:
- The Troubled Asset Relief Program;
- Government-sponsored recovery and rescue plans;
- Economic stimulus programs;
- Government purchase of a troubled asset; or
- The procurement of services or property as a prime contractor.
Penalties for Committing Fraud Against the U.S.
Even if the contract, loan, or subsidy qualifies under the statute’s definition, the value of the federal assistance must exceed $1 million before a person can be convicted of this offense, at which point, he or she could be fined up to $1 million or imprisoned for ten years. These penalties can be even further enhanced if:
- The government’s gross loss or the defendant’s gross gain was $500,000 or greater; or
- The crime involved a conscious or reckless disregard and risk of serious personal injury.
In these cases, a person can be penalized by a $5 million fine or a fine of up to twice the amount of loss or gain involved in the offense. However, judges are also given a significant amount of discretion when it comes to sentencing, although they are required to consider a specific set of factors when making a determination, including:
- The level of harm or loss to the victim and the gain to the defendant;
- Whether the defendant had been fined for a similar offense on a prior occasion; and
- Any other considerations that the court deems equitable.
It’s also important to keep in mind that a person can only be charged with this offense if no more than seven years have passed since the crime was allegedly committed.
Contact Our Legal Team Today
If you want to learn more about major fraud charges in South Florida, please call 305-670-9919 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a free case evaluation with Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A.