Organized Crimes

In the first article, Carrie Johnson reported that the FBI is conducting investigation to find out whether fraud was involved in the financial troubles experienced by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and American International Group. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also looking into disclosure and valuation of housing-related investments to determine whether their transactions are tainted with fraud.  The investigations against these companies are being conducted in view of the public sentiment asking that these companies be made accountable for the losses they suffered.

This article is closely related the topics discussed in class because it highlights the present problem with white-collar crimes.  As stressed in this report, the transactions involved in these investigations are complex even for seasoned investigators.  Moreover, they involve transactions involving securities which even investors may find hard to comprehend.  The legal issue here is whether fraud can be proven to exist in the transactions undertaken by these companies.  If ever the investigation should find evidence of fraud and a case if filed in court, I think the prosecution will find it very difficult to convince the jury or the judge that fraud existed as the defense can easily allege that these companies were merely engaged in legitimate business transaction.

The problem can be resolved by giving government agencies such as Securities and Exchange Commission more power to investigate every transaction of these companies.  Strict regulation is required so that loopholes will be avoided.

In the second article, Henry E. Cauvin reported that a task force has been created with members coming from federal, state and local agencies that will help in the campaign against mortgage fraud. The task force shall be responsible for providing training for state and federal investigators on mortgage fraud, for sharing information about fraudsters and schemes, for tracking investigations to avoid duplications and for increasing public awareness about scams and encouraging people to report suspicious activity.

This article is closely related to class discussion since mortgage fraud is classified as a white-collar crime.  It is a crime that is difficult to prove.  The legal issue here is whether fraud can be proven to exist in the transactions of these individuals who promise homeowners help in keeping their homes.  If ever the task force finds evidence of fraud against the persons responsible, proving that fraud existed before the judge or the jury is another matter.

The creation of a task force against mortgage fraud is the first step to enhance the public’s awareness to these kinds of crime.  The task force may also help in gathering information from different government agencies and sharing them to each other so that these agencies may be able to fight mortgage fraud.  With constant coordination, cooperation and commitment, the persons engaged in mortgage fraud may in the near future be apprehended.

This article was reported a few weeks before the judgment of Bernard J. Ebbers was announced. In this third article, Glater & Belson reported that while fraud was present and that the accounting books and records are questionable, conviction of Ebbers will not be easy.  The difficulty of proving intent to commit a wrongful act coupled with manipulation its records and accounts make it very difficult to prove Ebbers’ guilt in court.  Glater and Belson also cited the complexity of the federal security laws as one of the reasons why it is relatively easy for Ebbers to escape conviction.

This article supports the discussions of the difficulty in getting convictions in white-collar crimes.  The most difficult aspect is proving intent to commit a crime which is a matter of subjective interpretation incapable of direct proof.  One of the legal issues at stake is whether there was sufficient documentary and testimonial evidence to prove that Ebbers conspired with other WorldCom officials to commit the fraud.

At present, it is now clear that Ebbers finally lost in this case and that he had been convicted for conspiracy, securities fraud and false regulatory filings.  I agree with this decision.  There is no other way the courts could decide on this matter.  The problem presented in this is the difficulty in getting direct evidence that will prove that Ebbers indeed had wrongful intent to commit the fraud.  The solution however to this problem is not to rely exclusively on direct proof of fraud as it is not realistically possible to direct evidence of intent.  In this case, the jury relied on testimonial and documentary evidence to prove that Ebbers had knowledge and directly participated in the fraud.

In view of the accounting scandals involving companies like Enron and WorldCom, Congress is seeking to toughen penalties by imposing longer sentences against criminals.  According to Eric Lichtblau, the Justice Department disagrees with this plan and argues that imposing longer sentences is not the right solution as it will only send the wrong message to investors that white-collar crimes are not being taken seriously by the courts.  The Justice Department also objects to this plan as this plan only focuses on large scale cases of fraud that represents only a small percentage of the cases filed in courts today and neglects the smaller-scale cases of fraud that represents the bulk of white-collar crime cases filed in court.

This article is also connected to the materials studied in class as it proposes a solution to the problem of white-collar crime.  The legal issue at stake is whether increasing penalties for those convicted of white-collar crimes is the right solution to the problem of white collar crimes.  If a trial was involved, the outcome of the case would be that longer prison sentences is the best solution to crime in view of the public outcry against white-collar crimes.

I, however, disagree.  Focusing on punishment is not the right solution as it is a mere reaction to crime.  To stop white collar crime, it must be prevented before it is even committed.  Preventing it should be made the responsibility of government agencies which are responsible for monitoring the activities of these companies.  It would be best if focus will be on preventing loopholes in the regulatory and reporting requirements.

In the fifth article, Milton J. Valencia reported that a computer hacker who has possible international connections was able to steal $50,000 from the Sandwich Treasurer’s office with the use of a complex computer fraud scheme.  Police said that the hacker was able to use a virus to penetrate the computer system of the Treasurer and implanted a logger that detected the keystrokes made by the Treasurer. The hacker was able to get the security code and password as the Treasurer used his computer.

This article is connected to the materials discussed in class because it highlights one of the areas of difficulty in apprehending the criminals responsible for this crime.  Even police officers admit that they do not have the skill or the experience to investigate the computer fraud.  The legal issue at stake here is how to be able to trace the persons responsible for the computer fraud committed against the treasurer’s office.  Should the trial proceed, the outcome will depend on the evidence that is presented by the police officers and the investigators.  Should the hacker be clearly identified and found to have been responsible for the crime, then he could be convicted.

The problem however is how to gather enough evidence against the person’s responsible.  The solution to this problem is to avoid this problem.  The fact that hackers were able to infiltrate the computer system of the treasurer’s office only indicates that there are weaknesses in its system.  It only indicates that the defenses of its computer system are inadequate to protect it against hackers.

In the sixth article, Seth Schiesel reported that “Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars” is one of the more famous yet subversive and provocative video games.  According to Schiesel, despite its sexual and violent content more parents are allowing their children to play video games.

I think this article can be related to the materials discussed in class as exposure to violence is one of the root causes of crime.  One of the theories of crime says that a child’s early exposure to violent behavior is one of the reasons why minors engage in crime nowadays.  The legal issue at stake here is whether these companies who make these violent video games are legally responsible for the crime rate in our society.

Should the case proceed to trial, I do not think that these companies will be made responsible for the violent behavior of young children as these videogames per se are not illegal.  I think the problem can be resolved by educating the parents on the dangers of these videogames if they allow their children to play these games.  They must be educated so that they will in turn become aware of the dangers of these videogames and so they will know how to explain this to their own children.

In this article, Tom Jackman reported that two Fairfax County police officers have left the department after being involved in cheating on promotional exams.  Based on this article, Lamar, an assistant commander was accused of offering leakage from the police department’s sergeant’s exam to another officer.  Sergeant Lowry on the other hand, who was a member of the testing committee, had been accused of providing questions to Lamar.   Two other officers who are under investigation have been placed on administrative leave with pay.

This article is related to the material discussed in class because professional scams such as cheating are also another kind of white-collar crime.  White-collar crimes need not involve stealing millions of dollars.  A simple act of cheating even if no money is involved may constitute a white-collar crime.   The legal issue at stake is whether Lowry did leak to Lamar the questions for promotional exams and whether Lamar did offer the questions to an officer who is about to take the exam.  If the investigation proceeds to trial, it is possible that both Lamar and Lowry may be found to be guilty of the said professional scam if the officer offered to take the exam will testify.  Ones there is a strong case against Lamar, he may then be asked as to whom he got his questions.

The problem in this article is how does the police department rectify this mistake taking into account the possibility that some persons was wrongfully promoted and some officers are wrongfully denied their promotion.  The only solution to this problem is to get to the bottom of things.  Professional cheatings should not be tolerated and the police department should show that they will go after every person who was responsible for the cheating.

In this article, Marc Lacey reported that Ciudad Juarez, a small town in Mexico, is under siege from drug lords and drug traffickers.  According to Lacey, the drug traffickers initially threatened that they will kill police officers every 48 hours unless the chief of police resigns from office.  When the police chief refused to do so, several police officers were found dead prompting the chief of police to submit his resignation to the city mayor.  Lacey also reported that while the city Mayor is fighting to retain control of the city and to fight the drug traffickers, it is clear that the city is under siege from drug traffickers.

This article is related to the materials studied in class because this deals with organized crimes and the extent of its power.  As shown in this article, they are so bold that they can threaten even the high ranking government officials.  The legal issue at stake here is whether there is sufficient evidence to hold the drug traffickers liable for the crime they have committed.

Even if a trial ensues, I do not think that it will be easy to get conviction against drug traffickers.  In view of their power and control, they can easily threaten the judge or the jury hearing the case.  For fear of their lives, the judge or the jury may eventually decide in their favor.  I think the solution to this problem is to do the following things simultaneously: 1) arrest the drug leaders; 2) destroy the local distribution chains and logistics support; 3) continue the campaign against drugs by showing to the public its dangers.

In the ninth article, David Segal reported the plans of the Department of Justice to create a real estate fraud unit which shall be primarily responsible for addressing the increase in mortgage fraud in New York. The fraud unit shall help in the prosecution of the people responsible for the mortgage fraud.  The creation of the real estate fraud unit is in line with the thrust of Obama Administration which is to stabilize the banks and restore confidence in stock market.

This article is closely related to the materials discussed in class since mortgage fraud is a white-collar crime.  The legal issue at stake is whether fraud or violation of existing law can be found to exist as a motive behind these transactions.  Should the case proceed to trial, it is possible that conviction may be obtained provided that evidence of fraud or violation of law can be obtained by the prosecution.  Mere allegations will not suffice.

I think that the solution to this problem is to empower the government agencies and require these companies which engage in mortgage business to report their business transactions to these government agencies so that the government may have better control over these companies

In this article, Jim Dwyer reported that Stephen Caracappa and Louis J. Eppolito both received life sentences for serving as assassins and spies for the Mafia while they were employed as detectives for the Police Department. Caracappa received a life sentence plus 80 years and a fine of $4.25 million while Eppolito received life plus 100 years and a fine of 4.75 million.  The article also reported that both police officers will continue to receive their pensions despite the conviction since they retired before the case was filed against them.

This article is closely related to the materials studied in class because it highlights the network of connections of organized crime.  It stresses that they have connections in the police department which makes their arrest very difficult.  They may even have connections in other government offices and even in courts which makes getting their conviction also very difficult.  The legal issue at stake here is whether pensions should be seized to be used for payment of the fines of convicted police officers.

If there will be trial on the issue of pensions of retired police officers, I believe that the result will still be in favor of pension funds being exempt from forfeiture and garnishment.  I agree with this decision as pension funds are supposed to be the money which retirees receive after their retirement.  While they are some who should not be entitled to their pension funds because of the crime they have committed in the past, this does not justify forfeiture of the pension funds for all individuals.

The problem may be resolved by ensuring that before the any public officer is allowed to resign, investigation must be conducted by the appropriate government agency so that these government officials may not be allowed avail of their pensions after they are allowed to retire.

Bibliographies

  • Cauvin, Henry E (2009).  “More Muscle Against Mortgage Fraud.” The Washington Post.
  • Retrieved 5 April 2009, from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/20/AR2009022002817.html
  • Dwyer, Jim (2009).  “‘Mafia Cops’ Get Life, and Their Pensions.”  The New York Times
  • Retrieved 5 April 2009, from: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/nyregion/07about.html?_r=1
  • Glater, J & Belton K. (2005).  “In White-Collar Crimes, Few Smoking Guns.”  The New York
  • Times.  Retrieved 5 April 2009, from:
  • http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B07EFD9143CF931A25750C0A9639C8B63