Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers for White Collar Crimes
As a health care provider, business owner, executive, or other professional – facing a federal inquiry in your business or personal life can have consequences of catastrophic proportions. If federal agents and prosecutors uncover sufficient evidence to charge you with a white collar criminal offense, you could be facing exorbitant fines and long-term imprisonment. If you get convicted, protecting your professional reputation will be among the least of your concerns.
At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, our attorneys bring decades of experience to representing individuals and businesses in white collar investigations and prosecutions. In fact, our attorneys offer more than 50 years of combined experience in leadership positions with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) – positions in which our attorneys collectively handled and were directly involved in thousands of cases involving investigations, grand jury subpoenas, and criminal prosecutions for white collar offenses. As a result, we are able to assess federal white collar criminal cases from all angles. We use our substantial government experience to develop comprehensive case strategies focused on presenting the strongest possible defense in light of the unique facts and circumstances at hand.
Experienced Representation. Proven Results.
Our firm’s white collar defense team is led by partners Dr. Nick Oberheiden and William (Bill) C. McMurrey. Dr. Oberheiden focuses his practice in the areas of health care fraud and white collar defense. Mr. McMurrey’s legal career spans nearly 30 years, and includes holding various high-level positions within the DOJ, as well as serving as an Assistant Attorney General in the Texas Attorney General Office’s Criminal Enforcement Division.
In every case, our goal is to protect our client’s interests as thoroughly and quickly as possible. When our clients engage us during the course of their investigations, our goal is to close the investigation without civil or criminal charges. When charges are unavoidable or have already been filed, our goal is to resolve our clients’ cases without further civil or criminal liability.
“I hired Nick Oberheiden and Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP to defend me in a criminal health care matter. From the first moment I met with Nick . . . I knew that he [would] get me the help I need[ed]. . . . Nick got me out of trouble. No charges. Case Dismissed.” – Firm Client
“There is no one better and if you are seeking a federal criminal attorney, you can’t go wrong with [Dr. Nick Oberheiden]. He has a heart for what he does that we don’t often see in today’s legal profession.” – Firm Client
“Throughout our work together, Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP [has] served as an invaluable source of practical guidance and legal leadership. We would recommend them highly and without reservation to anyone. Simply the best.” – Firm Client
White Collar Criminal Cases We Handle
At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, we represent individual and corporate clients nationwide in all types of federal white collar investigations and prosecutions. We have particular experience representing physicians, other professionals, executives, board members, company owners, and business entities in a variety of cases, including the following.
Bank and Check Fraud
Federal law defines the crime of bank fraud as knowingly executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme or artifice to defraud a financial institution, or to obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises. Examples of acts commonly prosecuted as bank fraud include forging signatures on financial instruments, altering checks, check kiting, and using identity theft to obtain a loan or credit. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 1344, bank fraud carries potential penalties of up to a $1 million fine and 30 years of federal incarceration for each individual offense.
Embezzlement is a white collar offense defined by the act of obtaining funds from a federally-insured financial institution through improper means, including through the misapplication of bank funds. In order to establish culpability for embezzlement under 18 U.S.C. Sections 656 and 657, federal prosecutors must be able to prove that you, as an officer or employee of an FDIC-insured bank, (i) knowingly and willfully embezzled or misapplied funds, and (ii) did so with the intent to injure and defraud the bank.
Forgery is the act of falsifying a document with the intent to defraud an individual, financial institution, the federal government, or a private corporation. This includes not only the forgery of signatures on checks and other financial instruments, but the falsification or alteration of any other information on a legal document or financial instrument as well. Under 18 U.S.C. Sections 470 through 514, federal forgery is punishable by substantial fines and up to 20 years of federal imprisonment.
Health Care Fraud (including Medicare Fraud)
Health care fraud includes using a variety of improper means to obtain funds from private insurance companies or from federal health care benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Federal authorities use numerous different statutes to investigate and prosecute providers suspected of health care fraud, including the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, and the Stark Law. At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, a significant portion of our practice is devoted to representing providers, executives, and shareholders in health care fraud matters. Many of our white collar defense attorneys have prior experience within the DOJ focused specifically on health care fraud enforcement.
Mail and Wire Fraud
Mail and wire fraud are related federal crimes that are commonly charged in conjunction with other white collar offenses. Both offenses are punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and fines of $250,000 (for individuals) or $500,000 (for business entities), with these penalties applying to each individual instance of fraud. Under 18 U.S.C. Sections 1341 and 1343, using the U.S. Postal Service, the internet, a cell phone, or any other form of electronic communication in the commission (or attempted commission) of a white collar criminal offense is sufficient to establish culpability for mail or wire fraud. As a result, federal prosecutors will almost always bring charges under these statutes when prosecuting individuals and organizations for other white collar offenses.
Money laundering is the act of using one or more financial transactions to obscure the source or destination of illegally-obtained funds. Similar to mail fraud and wire fraud, federal prosecutors will often file money laundering charges along with charges for other substantive white collar offenses.
Mortgage fraud involves supplying false information or fraudulent records in order to secure a loan for the purchase of real property. Federal prosecutors have identified several forms of mortgage fraud that will often lead to charges with the potential for severe, life-changing penalties.
(i) income fraud (overstating income or “borrowing” money from a third-party in order to appear financially-stable),
(ii) appraisal fraud (intentionally overstating or understating the value of a piece of real property), and
(iii) fraudulent disclosure (misstating debts or liabilities, misrepresenting employment status, and falsification of other loan application information).
Securities fraud is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of violations of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations and federal securities laws. Most often, securities fraud investigations focus on brokers, advisors, and financial firms suspected of defrauding investors. This fraud can be accomplished through practices such as selling unregistered investment products, account churning, providing unsuitable investment advice, and misappropriating portfolio assets. Securities fraud allegations may also focus on disclosure violations (and may trigger disclosure obligations). Individuals and entities accused of securities fraud must act quickly and decisively in order to mitigate the consequences of their federal investigations.
Tax evasion is a federal white collar offense under 26 U.S.C. Section 7201 that can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines (in addition liability for back taxes and associated penalties) and up to five years of federal incarceration for each prosecutable offense. Federal prosecutors routinely pursue tax evasion charges against both individuals and corporate entities. Defending against such charges starts with gaining a clear understanding of the basis for the government’s investigation.
FAQs: Federal White Collar Criminal Defense
Q: If my company is being investigated for illegal activity, can I be personally charged with a white collar crime?
Potentially, yes. In corporate white collar investigations, investigators and prosecutors will closely scrutinize the company’s key personnel and stakeholders as well. Corporate entities do not commit crimes on their own – it takes human action of one form or another in order to commit tax evasion, Medicare fraud, or other white collar offense. Typically, prosecutors will seek to bring charges against the company as well as any executives, professionals, board members, shareholders, or other individuals who were involved in the criminal enterprise or activity.
Q: Are white collar crimes felony offenses?
Generally speaking, yes. “White collar crime” is an umbrella term for criminal offenses that are predominantly financial in nature, and federal law imposes severe penalties for each of the specific offenses listed above. These offenses can all be classified as felonies, and they all carry fines and prison sentences that can have life-changing consequences.
Q: Is it possible to face criminal penalties as a result of a civil investigation?
Yes. Many federal investigations start out civil in nature. Several white collar offenses, including various forms of health care fraud and securities fraud, carry the potential for both civil and criminal penalties. However, the government cannot pursue both – it must choose one or the other – and oftentimes federal agents and prosecutors will pursue civil investigations until they uncover sufficient evidence to transition to a criminal prosecution.
In these cases, our first priority is to keep the investigation civil in nature. If your investigation is civil, this means that the DOJ is not pursuing incarceration as a form of punishment. It also means that the scope of the allegations against you is limited. However, due to the potential for a civil investigation to become criminal, it is essential for anyone facing a civil investigation to seek the representation of a law firm with substantial experience in federal criminal defense.
Q: Can a whistleblower claim, or a patient or client complaint, lead to federal charges?
Yes. Federal authorities take public complaints of fraud targeting citizens and the government extremely seriously. The DOJ and OIG have an obligation to investigate whistleblower claims that appear to be substantiated. Agencies such as the SEC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also have hotlines where citizens can report suspected instances of fraud and abuse. As a result, it is not unusual for federal investigations to be launched out of consumer-level complaints (or retributive action by disgruntled former employees), and in many cases individuals and businesses can face both private civil action and federal white collar criminal prosecution.
Q: How can I protect myself (and my company) during a federal white collar investigation?
If you have been contacted by federal agents or prosecutors from the DOJ, SEC Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Office of Inspector General (OIG), or a collaborative law enforcement effort such as the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, there are several steps you should take immediately. These include:
- Seek immediate legal representation
- Refuse to provide any information unless advised to do so by your legal counsel
- Instruct your employees to only respond to requests for information as specifically directed
- Assess whether any internal remedial action may be necessary
- Execute a coordinated defense strategy designed to resolve the investigation as quickly and favorably as possible
Q: I just received a grand jury subpoena. What should I do?
The grand jury subpoena is one of the federal government’s most powerful tools for compelling the disclosure of information during white collar criminal investigations. However, the grand jury subpoena power is not absolute, and there are limits on both (i) the justifications for compelling disclosure, and (ii) the volume of disclosure that can be compelled.
If you have received a grand jury subpoena, you need to respond. Ignoring the subpoena could lead to severe consequences – including charges of federal contempt. But, whether your response should be to provide all of the requested information or to challenge the subpoena (either in whole or in part) is a decision to be made with the advice of an experienced federal white collar defense attorney.
Q: If I have been contacted by federal agents but haven’t received a subpoena, is this considered a federal “investigation”?
Most likely, yes. Federal agents use a variety of tactics to solicit information from the targets of white collar investigations, and this includes attempting to minimize the apparent severity of the situation. For example, it is a common tactic to schedule “interviews” without informing the target of the reason for the inquiry (and without explaining that compliance is not legally required). As a result, if you have been contacted by any federal agency that is involved in the prosecution of white collar offenses, you need to take your situation extremely seriously, and your first step should be to seek experienced legal representation.
Q: What factors should I consider when choosing legal representation for a federal white collar case?
If you are facing a federal investigation or felony charges for a white collar offense, it is imperative that you choose a law firm that has specific and substantial experience with your type of case. Other factors to consider include:
- Do the firm’s attorneys have prior experience as federal prosecutors handling white collar cases?
- What is the firm’s track record in federal white collar investigations and prosecutions?
- Does the firm have a team of experienced attorneys who combine their knowledge and skills; or, will your case be handled by a single attorney with a substantial case load?
- Are the firm’s attorneys accessible 24/7, and are they available to travel as necessary to meet the demands of your case?
- Does the firm offer free case assessments, and are the firm’s attorneys able to answer your questions during your initial consultation?
Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP | White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers
Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP focuses on representing sophisticated clients in federal matters. We understand the unique demands of white collar defense, and we understand what is at stake for individuals and organizations that are being targeted in federal cases. If you need a lawyer, or if you even think you might need a lawyer, we encourage you to schedule a free case assessment. The attorneys on our white collar defense team will be happy to meet with you personally, help you understand your situation, and develop an immediate course of action to protect you.
To schedule your free case assessment, please call (888) 981-7866 or send us your contact information online. We represent clients in federal white collar criminal cases across the nation. If you are under investigation, you do not have time to waste. Contact Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP now to put decades of federal experience on your side.