Being convicted of a white collar crime can have serious consequences the defendant likely never imagined. Recently, a youth baseball coach in Louisiana pleaded guilty to securities fraud, money laundering and felony theft after being accused of running a Ponzi scheme.
Over the past 20 years, several securities firms had fired the coach for allegedly using clients' money to make unauthorized transactions, and he had already been ordered by the state not to broker any more securities.
The 55-year-old Mandeville resident was accused of investing over $400,000 that belonged to his neighbors and his players' parents. In September 2009, he received a letter from the state commissioner of securities that ordered him to cease and desist investment activities in Louisiana.
The baseball coach was said to have illegally collected about $419,000. He told the people who gave him the money that he would invest it or provide investment advice. According to the district attorney, 23 people were scammed by the baseball coach, but the charges filed against him were tied to only eight people who were allegedly victimized between 2008 and 2011.
During the course of the court hearings, the defendant apologized to the people he was accused of scamming and to the court. In all, he was facing decades behind bars, but essentially the sentence handed down will place him in prison for five years with a potential 15 years more if he breaks the rules of his supervised probation, which was set at five years.
He was also ordered to pay $247,000 in restitution to eight of the people he was accused of victimizing.
As this case illustrates, prosecutors will seek the stiffest penalties possible when a defendant is accused of a white collar crime. A prosecutor's impetus for such action is to make an example out of the defendant, and anyone facing white collar crime charges will need an aggressive criminal defense to protect against prison time and preserve the defendant's rights.
Source: The Times-Picayune, "Guilty in Ponzi scheme, Mandeville man wants to make victims whole," Ramon Antonio Vargas, Sept. 18, 2012