If you've been watching the headlines, one thing is clear: Federal authorities are starting to go after white-collar criminals (and suspected criminals) in a big way.
Having a "company card" is a privilege that not every employee gets. Generally speaking, access to a company card is reserved for only the employees that are in the most trusted positions.
White collar prosecutions usually take people by surprise. Sometimes, they have no idea that what they did was even illegal. Other times, they got caught up in circumstances that spiraled out of control before they realized it, and they simply never took the time to think about the potential consequences.
You'd never even steal a $20 bill from someone's unattended wallet, so how did you find yourself facing charges of credit card fraud? It can happen more easily than you might think.
An Illinois pastor at a Chicago church has been indicted on charges of stealing over $800,000 of money that was designated for a food program to help needy children. The 45-year-old man had previously been charged with fraud for taking $100,000 from an elderly man in 2011.
Illinois residents may be aware that several celebrities have been charged in connection with a college admissions scandal. Actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty in May to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to improve her daughter's SAT scores, and the 'Desperate Housewives" and 'American Crime" star appeared in court on Sept. 13 to learn her fate. Huffman stated in a Sept. 4 letter to the court that she was deeply ashamed of using her wealth and influence to help her daughter pursue a college education.
A former vice president of Illinois-based MillerCoors was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on May 16 for defrauding the brewer out of about $8.6 million between 2003 and 2013. The 60-year-old man entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud as part of a plea agreement in May 2016, but his sentencing was delayed until the cases of seven other individuals involved in the scheme were resolved.
Illinois residents may be aware that a few well-known people have been caught up in a college admissions scandal. Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among dozens of parents who are accused of paying large sums to ensure that their children were accepted to some of America's most prominent schools. Court documents made public on April 4 reveal that Huffman is one of 14 defendants who have chosen to avoid a trial and plead guilty to charges such as conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. This brings the total number of guilty pleas to 18, according to prosecutors.
For many people in Illinois, lawyer Michael Avenatti became a celebrity when he represented adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal action against President Donald Trump. His representation of Daniels was accompanied by frequent press conferences and TV appearances. However, he is now facing charges after being arrested for extortion on March 25. Avenatti is accused of attempting to extort $25 million from Nike through threats to reveal some form of damaging information about the company. He is also facing separate federal charges, accused of embezzling one client's money in order to cover his own debts and of defrauding a bank.
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.