In an effort to stem the flow of drugs and weapons throughout Pennsylvania, The U.S. Attorney's office is unrolling a new initiative aimed at the state's highways. The effort, known as Project Safe Neighborhoods, is funded by way of a $44,000 Justice Department grant. Four state prosecutors have been deputized as special assistant U.S. attorneys and will work to examine local firearms cases and determine which ones are suitable for federal prosecution.
Four Philadelphia men have been accused of stealing the world's largest mined ruby, which is valued at $2 million and carved in the shape of the Liberty Bell. Federal prosecutors claim the men were part of a theft ring that allegedly committed heists in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Federal authorities can quickly get involved in a criminal investigation if police believe that a suspect traveled across state lines with the intention of committing a crime. Drug trafficking is one of the most common types of interstate offenses, but an allegation of traveling across state lines with the intention of committing a sex crime can also carry a federal status.
Three years ago, using backhoes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation dug up the yard of a private residence in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Investigators uncovered PVC pipes containing $1 million in cash, and the owner of the home and his son, along with 14 others, were later charged with illegal gambling and racketeering.
In many criminal cases, defendants end up facing federal charges after state and local authorities have conducted an investigation. If the state has filed charges, sometimes those charges are dropped as federal prosecutors take over the case and instead pursue a federal conviction.
In most cases, when federal prosecutors charge a person with conspiracy, the charge is brought in conjunction with other allegations, such as fraud or federal drug crimes. However, a person can still face serious penalties for a conspiracy conviction, even if prosecutors can't prove the other charges.
The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is based in Philadelphia and has jurisdiction over courts in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Recently, with regard to an alleged string of pharmacy burglaries, the federal appeals court ruled that investigators violated a man's Fourth Amendment rights by placing a GPS tracking device on his van without a warrant.
Federal authorities aggressively investigate and prosecute property crimes. In these cases, to achieve the best possible outcome for the accused, it is often necessary to look beyond the evidence presented in court. People accused of federal crimes have families and personal stories that could factor into a decision by a judge or a jury, and one defense strategy is to effectively tell the defendant's story.