According to data obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice, federal prosecutors may be spending less time on white collar offenses. The information was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
"White-collar prosecutions since President Trump assumed office generally have been lower than in previous administrations," said the researchers.
They found that the number of white collar prosecutions reached an all-time low in January. There were 337 new white collar prosecutions brought that month, which represents a 35.7-percent drop from the same time five years ago.
Of those 337 prosecutions, 42 were assigned to magistrate courts. Cases are typically assigned to magistrates when they are considered petty offenses, according to the report. Of the offenses assigned to magistrate courts, the most common charge was aggravated identity theft, which represented 26.2 percent of the cases.
Of those prosecutions in U.S. District Court, the most common charge was fraud by wire, radio or television (wire fraud). This charge is often used as a catch-all category for other types of fraudulent behavior, and it has been the most common white collar charge for five years running.
Which jurisdictions are focusing on white collar crime?
The Syracuse University group noted that, per capita, the Southern District of Illinois prosecuted the most white collar cases in January. That came as a bit of a surprise, since the district ranked 51st out of 94 federal districts last year.
The other jurisdiction noticeably focusing on white collar crime is the Southern District of New York. The district, which covers Wall Street, was second-highest in its white collar prosecutions in January. Five years ago, it was in third place.
Does this mean white collar crimes aren't being prosecuted vigorously?
Probably not. While it's possible that the Trump administration has lowered the priority on white collar crime, it's more likely that there has been a natural lull in prosecutions. There may simply be fewer investigations in the pipeline, especially if federal agencies' resources have been stressed. The partial government shutdown may have resulted in fewer prosecutions being filed in January, specifically. We simply don't know.
What we do know is that California and/or the federal government could prosecute you for white collar crimes such as:
- Passing bad checks
- Identity theft
- Money laundering
- Bribery/public corruption
- Ponzi schemes
If you even suspect you are under investigation for a white collar crime, contact an experienced attorney right away. A good lawyer may be able to limit the charges that are filed and minimize the damage to your life and reputation.