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Pittsburgh Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

The federal crime of tax evasion and potential penalties

Most citizens of Pennsylvania and across the country are aware that under no circumstance does the law tolerate tax evasion. Therefore, the Internal Revenue Service considers anyone who attempts to pay his or her taxes in an unlawful manner to be guilty of tax evasion, a federal crime that carries strict penalties.

Whenever the IRS suspects that a taxpayer may be guilty of tax evasion, it will contact the taxpayer via a private visit, correspondence or telephone. Following the initial contact, an agent could choose to immediately enforce penalties or begin an investigation through the Criminal Investigation Division into the financial actions and accounts of the taxpayer. The investigators also have the right to tap the suspect's phone lines to see if he or she will try to move his or her money to another country.

Man held in alleged counterfeit bail bond case

A 47-year-old Pennsylvania bail bondsman is facing charges for securing execution of documents by deception, forgery, bad checks and access device fraud/counterfeit after he allegedly tried to post a counterfeit bail bond. The $500,000 bond was for an individual accused of dealing drugs.

The incident occurred in Berks County. The man was taken into custody on Oct. 3, and the district attorney has said that his office will now be reviewing the bonds written by the man. It is possible that other fraudulent bonds were passed, and if that is the case, the man may face more charges. The man was a licensed agent with a bail bonds company in Reading. Authorities claim that if the man had been successful in this instance, an individual accused of selling drugs would have been back on the streets illegally.

Several charged for selling drugs in Pennsylvania

On Sept. 26, it was reported that several individuals were charged with drug-related offenses after they were accused of being involved in a drug gang in Pennsylvania. The alleged gang was reportedly located in Chester and allegedly dealt drugs throughout Delaware County. The bust occurred after authorities launched a two-year investigation.

Authorities alleged that the accused individuals would hide drugs at playgrounds and other public places. They reportedly enlisted children and drug addicts to help them sell the drugs. Additionally, the members allegedly carried guns with them and used them when selling. Some of the locations that were used during the alleged illegal activities included the Frederick Douglass Christian School, Widener University, a local park and a playground located at 11th and Upland Streets.

California man pleads guilty in nationwide loan fraud scheme

A 30-year-old California man pleaded guilty on Oct. 3 for his role in a nationwide auto loan fraud scheme that was discovered in 2013 in Pennsylvania by the Secret Service, where several of the fraudulent loan activities took place. in the scheme, the man used real vehicle identification numbers and false tax documents to secure auto loans on vehicles that were not for sale.

The man used straw buyers in order to secure the loan money. Banks across the nation lost money because no real collateral secured the loans. After receiving the loan proceeds, the fraud scheme participants split the money between themselves. All together, the banks lost between $1 million and $2.4 million.

Pennsylvania insurance agent charged with fraud

A Pennsylvania insurance agent is facing federal charges after a lengthy investigation by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. A charge of securities fraud was filed against the 68-year-old man in Harrisburg on Sept. 28 by a representative of the U.S. Attorney's Office. The charge carries a penalty of up to 25 years in a federal prison.

According to authorities, the man used money that his clients had given him for investment purposes to pay his personal and business expenses. The man is said to have sent his clients fabricated account statements to conceal the nature of his activities. Investigators claim that the man defrauded 30 of his clients of more than $1.5 million since the mid-1990s.

11 Pennsylvania residents plead guilty to welfare fraud

It was reported on Sept. 24 that 11 people who were accused of taking advantage of welfare agencies in Pennsylvania were sentenced in August. It appeared that the individuals illegally received assistance from multiple welfare agencies including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, cash assistance and Subsidized Day Care.

The 11 accused individuals were reportedly from different cities within Pennsylvania. The amount in SNAP benefits, SDC or cash assistance that were reportedly illegally received by the individuals ranged from $1,000 to $27,500. All 11 individuals were sentenced to probation and community service. In addition, all accused individuals were ordered by the court to pay full restitution and any court costs, fines and fees. Further, all individuals were disqualified from being able to receive benefits for the next 12 months.

Pennsylvania AG announces insurance fraud sweep

The attorney general of Pennsylvania announced on Sept. 22 that 27 individuals had been taken into custody in a sweep following a statewide effort to combat white collar crime. The individuals are to be charged with various forms of insurance fraud ranging from forging prescriptions to claiming disability benefits while working. Kane said that insurance fraud costs the economy billions of dollars each year.

The investigation was conducted by personnel from the Office of Attorney General working in the Insurance Fraud Section, which has the necessary authority to investigate and prosecute such activity. Funding for the Insurance Fraud Section is partly drawn from a trust fund established by legislation in 1994. All insurance companies authorized to do business in Pennsylvania make annual contributions to the fund.

Storeowners face drug charges

On Sept. 17, a 33-year-old business owner in Pennsylvania pleaded not guilty to drug charges brought on by federal prosecutors. The Glenshaw man is accused of conspiring to distribute heroin with two alleged members of a gang. The charges were filed in 2012, and the storeowner could receive 10 years to life in federal prison if he is convicted.

Investigators claim the man was not selling drugs directly but was supplying the two gang members with cutting agents and packaging materials for distributing the heroin. After the drug trafficking indictment in 2012, he was remanded to his home until his next court hearing. However, another indictment filed in 2013 claims that the storeowner continued to supply the materials even after he was placed on house arrest.

Federal drug trafficking laws apply to Pennsylvania

The penalties for the trafficking or distribution of illegal drugs in Pennsylvania, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine or methamphetamines, are generally governed by both state and federal controlled substance laws. These laws and statutes outline the various factors involved with determining how to both prosecute and sentence each particular drug trafficking case.

In particular, the law attempts to establish a system to help distinguish between drug possession and drug trafficking or distribution. Drug possession for personal use is typically considered a far less serious offense than drug trafficking or distribution, which usually implies an intent to sell. Authorities use factors outlined in the law, such as the amount of illegal substance allegedly uncovered and its packaging, to determine what kind of charges to press against an individual.

Pennsylvania man misses hearing after allegedly injuring himself

A 54-year-old Pennsylvania man who was accused of stealing from his client reportedly missed his Sept. 9 hearing after he injured himself. According to the report, authorities found the man in his home later the same day with what they believed were self-inflicted knife wounds. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The man is accused of stealing client money between August 2010 and November 2013. He was accused taking money from clients that was meant to be invested and diverted the funds into his own bank account without the clients' knowledge or consent. He did this by having the clients make their checks out to BNA Financial instead of an investment company. Authorities claimed that the man used the money for personal expenditures.

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