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Chicago Criminal Defense Blog

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.

The role of computers in committing a crime

There are many ways in which a person can use a computer to commit a crime. For instance, one may use an internet connection in Illinois to bully or otherwise harass individuals throughout the world. Computers can also be used to commit offenses such as identity theft and creating or sharing child pornography. The Department of Justice has a task force that helps parents protect their children from becoming victims of online predators.

If an offense is deemed to be a hate crime, it could be investigated by the FBI. If convicted of a hate crime, a defendant could be sentenced to a mandatory minimum amount of time in prison. This is because these offenses are considered to be especially heinous. The FBI keeps detailed statistics about hate crimes as well as occurrences of domestic terrorism. Those who use computers can take basic steps to protect themselves and their identities.

What to do if you are facing drug charges

If you have been charged with possession or delivery of cocaine in Illinois, you may be facing harsh penalties including fines, jail or prison time, community service and a felony conviction. The consequences of a drug charge can also have long-term effects on your career even after you have served your sentence.

An attorney can potentially review the evidence in your case and work to get you the best outcome possible. The police may have conducted an unlawful search in your case, which could result in getting some of the evidence thrown out. There are cases where an improperly obtained warrant makes all evidence that was found inadmissible in court. In some cases, this may even result in dismissal of all charges.

Texas men convicted of cocaine trafficking in Myrtle Beach

Illinois readers may be interested to learn that two Texas men have been convicted of running a major drug-trafficking operation out of South Carolina. As a result, they could each be sentenced to life in prison.

A 12-person jury unanimously found the defendants, ages 23 and 30, guilty of conspiracy to distribute over 5 kilograms of cocaine. During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the pair rented a room at an expensive beachfront resort in Myrtle Beach and used that room to distribute over 50 kilograms of cocaine between January and November 2017. Most of the drugs were stored in modest residential homes in the Fayetteville, North Carolina area. Inside the houses, armed men guarded the cocaine and sold it to other drug dealers. Some of those dealers reportedly traveled from as far away as Washington, D.C..

Identity theft cases can involve federal crimes

As an increasing number of people in Illinois rely on digital identity information for their daily lives and financial management, allegations of identity theft have become more common. In many instances, identity theft cases are investigated at the federal level, especially as computer fraud is often associated with these charges. Identity theft can encompass a wide range of accusations; it can refer to email phishing attempts that seek to gain credit card or banking information, false IDs for immigration purposes or new identities for fugitives.

Identity theft cases often involve law enforcement cooperation. But local or state police agencies may work with the FBI. In 1998, Congress made it a federal crime to knowingly use someone else's identification to commit any state or federal offense. In 2004, another Congressional act established enhanced penalties for certain cases. These cases include immigration violations, theft of Social Security benefits and domestic terrorism-related offenses. People convicted of identity theft under these circumstances would receive two more years in prison, a penalty that rose to five years in terrorism cases.

Identifying a Ponzi scheme

Of the many white-collar crimes in the world today, Ponzi schemes can be especially devastating for small investors in Illinois. Many innocent people have lost substantial sums of money through this type of pyramid scheme.

Named after an unscrupulous individual named Charles Ponzi in the early part of the 20th century, the scheme revolves around a promise of a high rate of return on an investment based on recruitment of additional investors. A Ponzi scheme works on a pyramid-type structure.

Man sentenced to 35 years for drug trafficking

A 32-year-old man was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison on Sept. 11 for using trains to smuggle drugs from California to Illinois. The defendant, a California resident, oversaw an operation that transported thousands of kilograms of heroin and cocaine between the states over a six-year period.

According to authorities, the defendant directed the shipment of hundreds of packages of drugs from Los Angeles to Chicago between 2010 and 2016. He reportedly worked with an Amtrak employee to ensure the packages were not detected by law enforcement agents along the way. Once the packages arrived at Union Station in Chicago, other members of the drug ring would pick them up and stash them at various locations for eventual sale. Every so often, the defendant and other members of the ring would board commercial planes to fly cash profits back to Los Angeles. During these flights, each person would carry up to $150,000.

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