Case Studies: White Collar Crime

Registered Nurse Successfully Defends Conviction on Bad Check Charges

A registered nurse retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after police arrested her on bad check charges. Our client admitted that she had written several checks for apartment rent and utilities and to pay cleaning and other service charges. She further admitted that her bank had notified her that she had insufficient funds in her checking account to cover those checks. Our client, overwhelmed at the time with her hospital nursing duties, had not promptly notified the payees but had instead tried to work with her bank to determine the problem. Our client's handwritten check register showed a positive balance sufficient to cover the checks. Our client had assumed that if she and the bank could straighten out the issue, the bank would pay the checks. Our client acknowledged that she had not treated the matter with the urgency it deserved because of the priority she gave to her critical-care nursing duties. Our Team analyzed our client's banking and other financial records, discovering an error in the hospital's direct deposit of our client's two prior paychecks, leaving our client's account underfunded. We obtained documentation from the hospital's payroll manager of the hospital's error. We then arranged a conference with the prosecutor to share our documentation, further showing that the hospital had corrected the error and that our client had ensured payment of the unpaid obligations. The prosecutor accordingly dismissed the charges. We further communicated with our client's hospital employer and nurse licensing board, explaining the charges and documenting their dismissal.

Property Manager Avoids Embezzlement Conviction on Accounting Defense

A property manager with a thriving business of managing the income properties of several client professionals retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after prosecutors charged him with embezzlement. The charges arose out of our client's practice of having his bank sweep checking, savings, capital, client, and security deposit accounts into a single interest-bearing account. Our client's bookkeeper maintained separate financial records for each account to ensure their proper accounting treatment. But business publications recommended the sweep practice, which was a banking measure only, not affecting the strict property management accounting. One of our client's professional clients, a physician, learned of the practice and grew alarmed that our client was not maintaining the physician's funds separately, as the physician believed trust and security deposit laws required. When our client disagreed, the physician reported to the police that our client had embezzled the physician's funds. Our forensic accountant confirmed the accuracy and accepted form of our client's accounting records, including that our client's accounting had properly reflected the physician's account. Another retained banking expert opined on the security of sweeping accounts, while another business expert opined on the legitimacy of the sweeping practice. We presented this defense documentation to the judge and prosecution at a pretrial conference. Our client further proposed not to sweep the security deposits to ensure their lawful treatment under landlord-tenant laws. The physician had by then retained a new property manager. Our client's other property management clients had no objections to his practices. The prosecutor dismissed the charge as a civil matter.

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