Posted On: January 22, 2009

Governor Rendell Calls for Legislation to Eliminate the Possibility of Parole for Repeat Offenders of Violent Crimes in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines provide a range of years for which a convicted felon is to serve in prison. For example, sentencing guidelines would require a range of five-to-ten years for a certain crime. At some point within this range, the convicted felon becomes eligible for parole, or early release on a probationary status. Granting of parole is determined by a parole board that interviews the inmate and weighs different factors, such as good behavior, to determine whether to grant parole. The parole system in Pennsylvania has been highly successful with non-violent offenders. In 2007, 95% of non-violent parolees were not re-arrested. Unfortunately, the system has not been as successful with those convicted of violent crimes.

In September of 2008, Governor Rendell announced a parole freeze after two Philadelphia Police Officers and two other innocent victims were killed by violent-felons who had been released on parole. The parole system was examined during the freeze and it was determined that the parole boards responsible for releasing those felons involved in the aforementioned homicides followed proper procedures. Following the examination, the parole freeze was lifted; however, the examination report suggested that the system needed to better deal with the “worst of the worst” criminals in Pennsylvania’s prison population.

Rendell’s proposed plan for legislation, which was described recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer, would require Judges to impose a fixed-term sentence on repeat violent offenders, eliminating opportunity for early release. Rendell said that he hoped the fixed-term would be that of the maximum sentence under the guidelines’ range. The proposed law would apply to repeat offenders of violent crime only and would automatically trigger upon a second violent offense.

Regardless of whether the proposed legislation is passed, Rendell will require stricter supervision of certain parolees who have been repeatedly convicted of violent offenses. Currently, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole is examining the case of every repeat violent offender who has been released on parole for fewer than five years, in order to determine whether such stricter supervision is necessary.

A person who is granted parole has certain duties and obligations that must be followed as part of their sentence; most importantly the duty not to commit any crime or have any involvement in criminal activity. With the current scrutiny of Pennsylvania’s parole policy and potential legislation which would further tighten the system, it is imperative to obtain quality legal advice and representation should you be accused of a crime, or are currently serving a sentence for conviction of a crime. For a confidential consultation, please contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff by phone at (215) 563-9800 or by e-mail at marc@nefflawoffices.com.

Posted On: January 16, 2009

White-Collar Fraud Expected to Increase as Recessionary Economy Continues

An economic recession necessitates many changes in the home, in the marketplace, and in Government. For corporate executives, however, the profitability targets of their respective corporations do not change. According to a recent article in Business Week, recessionary times create incentives for corporate execs to cheat, or commit fraud in order to create the perception that they are continuing to meet corporate goals for their shareholders; not meeting revenue and earning targets would likely result in the firing of the executive. The article cites to data from the National White Collar Crime Center, which shows that during the most recent economic recessions (Savings and Loan, 1990, and Internet bust, 2000), white-collar fraud arrests increased by 52% and 25% respectively over the following two-year period.

The New Year began with the first major case of corporate accounting fraud of this recession when Satyam Computer Services, an outsourcing company out of India, was discovered to have a $1 billion discrepancy on their accounting statements. The company had planned to buy-out two Indian construction companies which would have fixed the discrepancy on the company’s balance sheet; however, due to the recession, the company was unable to complete the deal. Nevertheless, the company was portrayed on their financial statements as if the deal had been completed, leading to the $1 billion discrepancy in assets. More notable, but similar, instances of fraud occurred following the last recession, with companies such as Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco being revealed as having “cooked-the-books”.

A web-conference conducted by Deloitte Financial Advisory Services’ Anti-Fraud Consulting Service resulted in a finding that nearly two-thirds of the corporate executives who participated expected an increase in uncovered fraudulent practices during this recession. As corporate executives fight to show that they can manage a corporation successfully in an economic downturn in order to keep their jobs, executives face the “fraud triangle”, or the pressure, opportunity, and rationalization to commit fraud, says Donna Epps from Deloitte. Fraud is much harder to spot when the economy is good because a company can more easily cover their tracks. Currently, the regulatory systems in place are antiquated and may even be corrupted by the fact that some regulators may have even aided the corporations in circumventing the rules. In an effort to create a new regulatory system, more conducive to spotting white-collar fraud, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommends creating a comprehensive system with clearly defined goals.

According to the FBI, corporate fraud investigation involves the following activities:

(1) Falsification of financial information, including:

(a) False accounting entries;
(b) Bogus trades designed to inflate profit or hide losses; and,
(c) False transactions designed to evade regulatory oversight.

(2) Self-dealing by corporate insiders, including:

(a) Insider trading;
(b) Kickbacks;
(c) Backdating of executive stock options;
(d) Misuse of corporate property for personal gain; and,
(e) Individual tax violations related to self-dealing.

(3) Obstruction of justice designed to conceal any of the above-noted types of criminal conduct, particularly when the obstruction impedes the inquiries of the SEC, other regulatory agencies, and/or law enforcement agencies.

The Law Offices of Marc Neff has successfully represented corporate and business executives, professionals, public officials, and others who have been or could have been charged with a variety of white collar federal crimes such as money-laundering-racketeering.php">RICO, tax fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, etc., for over twenty years. During times in which federal investigations of corporate fraud are at a heightened level, it is important to obtain the assistance of experienced counsel should you come under investigation, or believe that you soon will. For a confidential consultation, please contact Marc Neff by phone at (215) 563-9800 or email Marc@nefflawoffices.com