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Irvine California White Collar Crime Defense Blog

Corporate spying covers a lot of actions

Whether you call it economic, industrial or corporate espionage, these are all terms for spying that is associated with commercial competition instead of national security. These terms can describe a variety of actions by Irvine companies that skirt or cross the line from what is to what is not legal and legitimate intelligence gathering about business competitors.

According to the American Bar Association, the federal Economic Espionage Act provides an outline of what may be considered theft of trade secrets. First, the person/spy must intend to use the information for the good of another that is not the owner of a service or product that is used in international or interstate commerce. The spy must also know or intend the theft to harm the rightful owner. The act also defines the many illegal ways in which this information may be obtained:

  • Taking, stealing, concealing, using fraud or deception, or otherwise obtaining without authorization
  • Copying, sketching, photographing, downloading, uploading, altering, destroying, transmitting, delivering, mailing or merely communicating
  • Receiving, purchasing or just possessing the information knowing that it was obtained without authorization

To avoid federal charges, claim illegal income

If you make money from illegal activities, it is crucial that you report it on your annual income tax return. As odd as that might sound, it is true, and attorneys may advise clients to claim that income to avoid tax evasion charges. Remember, tax evasion is how the federal government finally sent 1930s Chicago mob boss and bootlegger Al Capone to prison.

According to CNN, the Internal Revenue Service considers even illegally acquired money subject to taxation. In instructions for filling out forms, it states “income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income,” and directs you to the exact line on which to report it in your tax forms.

What is a Ponzi scheme?

You may have heard of a financial crime called a Ponzi scheme but not know exactly what it is or how it operates. Ponzi schemes have made headlines in recent years, with Bernard Madoff being one of the most prominent figures convicted for a scheme that defrauded financially savvy people and ran up to 50 billion dollars, making it one of the largest ever in dollar terms.

So, how does a Ponzi scheme work, and where does it get its name? What are the penalties for people who orchestrate these types of financial frauds? Learn more about this classic white-collar crime.

The damage of a false accusation

Assault charges can have a serious effect on every party involved, including the alleged offender. Many Californians have had the frustrating experience of wading through such dilemmas before a fair investigation is even underway. An assault charge is generally serious, but not all cases reflect the truth. Some California residents have found themselves in the aftermath of false accusations, only to be faced with the challenge of reclaiming a reputation. 

CBS News highlighted the case of one California student who was only 23 years old when he was confronted with a sexual assault charge. Francisco Sousa claimed he had been falsely accused of sexual assault at San Diego State University in 2014 -- an incident that left him suspended from the college. Not only did the young student face negative repercussions at his university; news of the accusation even reached his hometown of Porto, Portugal. Although charges were eventually dropped, the school prohibited Sousa from returning for another eight months. CBS quotes Sousa, who stated he wanted no financial gain from the lawsuit, instead focusing on his name and reputation. 

The truth about identity theft

Most Californians spend little time considering the penalties of an identity theft charge, but for those going through the process, there are many repercussions. While identity theft is a serious issue, not all understand the laws surrounding this type of internet crime. Furthermore, these actions generally come with steep costs that can become a crippling burden over time. 

LifeLock stated in April that the number of people affected by identity theft is on the rise in the nation, with numbers having increased steadily over the last six years. Just last year, this common theft strategy cost the country over $16 billion. Cases such as the Equifax data breach may be the first to come to mind, but there are many different forms of identity theft, as LifeLock shares:

  • Employment fraud 
  • Utilities fraud
  • Credit card fraud
  • Government documents fraud
  • Loan or lease fraud

No prison time for Catholic reverend who embezzled thousands

A few hours north of Irvine, California, lies the city of Visalia. In early August, a former Catholic reverend received a fairly lax sentence for embezzlement. On August 1st, the court sentenced him to five years of probation with no jail time after pleading guilty to a single felony count of grand theft of personal property. The financial amount he pleaded guilty to embezzling amounted to over $200,000. 

The Tulare County District Attorney asked for a stiffer penalty, but the former reverend will not see any time in jail. The reverend initially submitted his plea in March. However, the church he served at formally removed him from his post back in January of 2012 after a lengthy investigation into the church's finances. The investigation revealed roughly $300,000 was absent. Prosecutors discovered he had written personal checks out to himself to cash. The checks amounted to nearly $195,000 over the course of many years. The case also revealed he had allegedly given a substantial amount of money to family members. Police formally arrested him in December of 2014. As of this writing, a restitution hearing will take place this upcoming October. 

New device may be used as pot breath test

Many people who live in California are proud of their state for once again being among the leaders when it comes to changing societal attitudes. California is one of the few states to have made legal the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. While several residents appreciate and enjoy the ability to smoke pot or consume marijuana in some other form, others are putting their efforts toward finding ways to crack down on these people.

As reported by Newsweek, one company has reportedly developed what it says can become the pot breath test equivalent to the alcohol breath test device. Interestingly , the company that has created the unit is based in California. Cited reasons for the development include concerns about impaired driving by people who have used marijuana and then get behind the wheel of a car. Certainly, safety on the road is important but so too is fair treatment of drivers.

You need adequate defense for losing it behind the wheel

People across the country know that it can be a challenge to drive in California. The state is highly populated, highways are congested most of the time and drivers can be stressed out and in a hurry. Not surprisingly, it can be easy to lose your patience in traffic. It might be something as simple as another driver cutting you off and making you miss your turn, or someone not paying attention and bumping into you at a traffic light. Suddenly, you are seeing red, and the only thing you can think about is getting back at the person who angered you.

You may have never done anything aggressive in your life, but now it is all too tempting to retaliate. This is not uncommon, as the American Safety Council points out. Many otherwise rational people can react unpredictably and violently if another driver’s actions endangered them or were deliberately offensive.

Plea agreement pros and cons

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in California, you must now navigate the criminal justice and legal system. This can be a challenging thing especially if you have never been arrested before and do not know what to expect. In theory, every person has the right to prove their innocence and that includes the right to have a trial by a jury. However, some have put forth the notion that that right may be not fully available to some defendants.

The reason for this thinking is because the current criminal justice system appears to strongly promote plea agreements in criminal cases. As explained by The Atlantic, a plea deal is essentially an agreement in which a defendant agrees to say they are guilty in exchange for some lesser punishment than they may otherwise have received. It offers no option for the defendant to prove that they were actually innocent.

Felony and misdemeanor charges face board member

California residents who may be accused of financially related crimes like embezzlement or money laundering have several issues about which to be concerned. One of these issues can be the future of their professional positions, especially if those positions are in any way connected to the allegations against them.

For one man who is on the California Board of Education and is facing several charges related to an alleged money laundering scheme, he has already resigned as president of a board but has so far been allowed to remain on the board and continue his work. According to NBC Los Angeles, the man was elected to serve as a board member on the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2015 after initiating his campaign for the seat in late 2014.

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