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Chicago Criminal Defense Blog

Wire fraud and identity theft most common white-collar crimes

A university study that examined federal prosecutions of white-collar crimes identified the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois as the location with the most white-collar cases per capita in January. Researchers drew upon data from the U.S. Department of Justice to measure prosecutions against people accused of various crimes like identity theft, wire fraud or embezzlement. Despite the spike in cases recorded in Illinois, these caseloads fluctuate. The southern district ranked as low as 51st among federal courts with white-collar cases a year ago.

Overall, the data revealed that prosecutions for this class of crimes have decreased by 35.7 percent compared to numbers from five years ago. The study presented a snapshot of the 337 new white-collar cases initiated by federal courts in January. Forty-two of them went to magistrate courts that process low-level misdemeanors, such as aggravated identity theft.

Jurors may bring their personal views when hearing a case

When defendants in Illinois go on trial for state or federal offenses, they often face a jury trial. Jurors' life experiences and opinions about society can often affect their decisions, for better or worse. One Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in February 2019 formalized the recognition of that reality, saying that members of juries cannot leave their world views outside the courtroom. Instead, the court argued that it was not desirable for jurors to ignore their own lived experiences.

The case began when a prospective juror was excused for cause after she said that she believed the criminal justice system was generally unfair to young black men. The trial was for a black man facing drug charges. The potential juror, who works professionally with teens and youth with a history of drug offenses and economic marginalization, said that she believed she could judge the case impartially. While the defendant's attorney objected, the judge dismissed the juror.

The legal impact of substance abuse

If you struggle with substance abuse, you may feel that, in many ways, your addiction has already taken your freedom. However, for many in Illinois and across the country, the decline into drug addiction can have a literal effect on their freedom and their future.

In the nation's jails and prisons, the highest population is from those convicted of drug crimes. In a single year, criminal courts send nearly 100,000 people to jail for drug offenses. If you are facing charges of drug crimes, even simple possession, you have an uncertain future ahead of you.

SEC charges Apple lawyer with insider trading

Illinois residents may be interested to learn that the Securities Exchange Commission has filed a claim against a former high-ranking attorney at Apple who allegedly used his position as corporate secretary to engage in insider trading. According to the suit, the lawyer either profited or avoided the loss of $382,000.

In his role with Apple, the lawyer was responsible for ensuring the company's compliance with securities laws. His responsibilities included providing legal advice regarding Apple's SEC filings and economic reporting as well as managing the company's corporate subsidiary structure. The SEC's claim does not charge Apple; rather, it notes the company's anti-insider trader policy, which was partially written by the lawyer.

Illinois traffic stop leads to methamphetamine seizure

A 23-year-old Illinois man faces decades in prison after police allegedly discovered about 7 ounces of methamphetamine in his vehicle during a routine traffic stop during the early morning hours of Feb. 1. The West Chicago resident has been charged with possessing between 100 and 400 grams of the drug with the intent to deliver. This is a class X felony under Illinois law and carries a maximum custodial sentence of 40 years.

According to an Aurora Police Department report, the man's car was pulled over at about 12:58 p.m. on Galena Boulevard near Fourth Street for having an obstructed license plate. A records check is then said to have revealed that both the man behind the wheel and his male passenger had open warrants. The vehicle was searched after the two men had been taken into custody.

Ruling bolsters protections for cell phone data

For many people in Illinois, the advancement of technology can also lead to a decrease in personal privacy. While many individuals are familiar with the controversies surrounding tech companies' use of personal data, the issue can be far more significant when law enforcement wants access to a person's locked cell phone. A federal judge's ruling may provide people with greater protection for their cell phone data. The judge at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that police cannot make people unlock their phones with their faces or fingers.

In the past, judges ruled that while police could not compel a four-digit passcode in order to unlock a phone, they could force unlock devices that rely on fingerprints, face recognition or iris identification. However, this order ruled that devices could not be forcibly unlocked with these kinds of biometric protections. The ruling came as part of a case involving a search warrant at a California home. The police, who were investigating alleged extortion, wanted permission to unlock any devices on the property using biometric tools.

Former restaurant owner arrested in Spain

An Illinois man who previously co-owned one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago was arrested in Spain on charges of misappropriation of funds and wire fraud. The man previously owned Embeya, an Asian restaurant that won accolades for its innovative design and cuisine along with the restaurant's chef. Despite its popularity, the restaurant suddenly closed in the summer of 2016. After the sudden closure, the man and his wife seemingly disappeared, leaving their car behind and parked outside their home in River West. After two weeks, police ticketed the car before impounding it; by that time, the two had apparently been outside the country for some time.

According to Cook County Circuit Court records, the man and his wife took $1.5 million from the restaurant, which they were ordered to pay back. After they left the country, the couple were last thought to be living in Tulum, Mexico. The FBI asked for an arrest warrant for the man in February 2018 on allegations of misappropriation of at least $300,000 and wire fraud. FBI agents said that there was probable cause to believe that the man took money from the restaurant for his personal use without permission.

When kidnapping may be charged as a federal crime

In Illinois, kidnapping may be charged under state or federal law. The offense can become a federal crime if the circumstances meet one of six different scenarios. People who are charged with kidnapping may be initially arrested by state or local law enforcement officers but then transferred into the federal court system depending on the circumstances of the offenses.

The U.S. Department of Justice outlines six different scenarios when kidnapping is a federal crime. Noncustodial parents who take children younger than the age of 16 to other countries may face federal kidnapping charges. People who kidnap officials of foreign governments or others who have international protection may also be federally charged.

Everyday people get accused of tax fraud, too

As the year comes to an end, you may already be thinking about your tax situation for 2018. Understanding the tax code often feels like trying to decipher a foreign language. You always do your best to stay within the code as you prepare your taxes, but you may never be 100 percent sure that you did everything right.

The majority of the time, you probably didn't break any rules, but it often only takes one time for the IRS to question you. If the agency thinks you committed fraud, you could end up in hot water.

Illinois police find guns and bulletproof vests in drug raid

Police in Illinois seized weapons and bulletproof vests as well as illegal drugs when they searched a Countryside apartment on Dec. 4, according to Cook County prosecutors. A 36-year-old man is being held without bond in connection with the narcotics and firearms haul. In addition, a 32-year-old man taken into custody at the scene was released after posting a $30,000 bond. Both of the men face multiple felony charges. The 36-year-old man faces the prospect of a mandatory life sentence for being a habitual armed offender.

According to court documents, officers assigned to the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group made several undercover drug purchases from the two men at an apartment complex in Countryside. After obtaining a search warrant, the officers allegedly found 60 grams of heroin, about 10 grams of cocaine, 37 ecstasy pills, two guns and two bulletproof vests inside the apartment. Media reports reveal that local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies either participated in or supported the operation.

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