White Collar Crime Lawyer: Defending Against Charges

Pennsylvania Attorney Explains What to Do About Tax Evasion, Credit Fraud, Embezzlement Charges

Video Transcript:

Frank Walker: 

White collar crimes, typically, it's their first time offence, they've been doing it for a while, but they haven't been caught.

Rob Rosenthal: 

If you or someone you know is accused of a white collar crime, do you know your rights and where to get help? Well, we're gonna find out right now, because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer. Hi again everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com, and my guest is Pennsylvania attorney Frank Walker. I wanna remind you right off the top, if you wanna ask Frank questions about your situation, it's easy to do, just go to askthelawyers.com, there's a button at the upper right part of the page that says Ask a Lawyer, click on that, and it'll walk you right through the process. Frank, good to see you again. Thank you for helping us out.

Frank Walker:

Good to be here, thanks for having me.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Well, let's just start off, tell me a little bit about your experience here representing people accused of federal white collar crimes, I'm guessing that's things like embezzlement or other financial crimes. You've done it a little bit of this?

Frank Walker:

I have. And unfortunately, the difference between the everyday, frequent flyer, if you will, or people in state court, like a DUI, repeat offender. White collar crimes, typically, it's their first time offence, they've been doing it for a while, but they haven't been caught. And typically they're with an organization, they're with a firm, they're with a business, a company and somehow they've gotten caught up in something, a federal indictment, and it's a huge deal, because they've never been accustomed this before, it's a different level of crime because you're dealing with a different level of offender.

Rob Rosenthal: 

How do people usually get caught up into this, Frank? Is it usually... I'm guessing it's both ways, sometimes they didn't realize it, it's inadvertent. And sometimes they knew exactly what they were doing.

Frank Walker: 

Well, and most of the times they know exactly what they're doing, but usually what happens is that the agencies, that we call it The Alphabet Boys, the FBI, DEA, ATF, whoever's involved, IRS, they get involved in these investigations and they start talking to the people at the small level, to small fish. They talk to them and then they work their way up. They work their way up, and the person's usually cooperating working their way up to the top, and by the time they get to the top, they get the big fish, and all of a sudden it's a huge deal in the media, front page because it's usually millions and millions of dollars, there's a lot of people who are victims, their money's been lost, and unfortunately, someone may be going to prison for a very long time.

Rob Rosenthal: 

What are some... And give me some examples, what are some of the charges maybe that you've helped or what are we talking about?

Frank Walker: 

I've seen credit card fraud. I've seen tax evasion. I've seen tax fraud. I've seen the straight theft. There's opportunities where people... They make credit card machines and they make them... They go on these retail theft rings all across the nation, crossing state lines, which is an offensive in and of itself, by committing a crime in different states. So you've seen it all over the place, so it's just from the street level all the way up to ivory tower, there are clients in between who definitely need our help.

Rob Rosenthal: 

So, do people usually know that they're being investigated, Frank? Is it a total surprise to 'em when someone shows up with a warrant and maybe handcuffs, or has there been, maybe warning signs along the way?

Frank Walker: 

There's usually warning signs. Again, you're talking about people who are working their way up. You start to see people more frequently that you wouldn't ordinarily see. You start to see different cars, different vans around your home, your place. You start answering questions you wouldn't ordinarily ask. People are coming around you you wouldn't ordinarily hang out with, and all of a sudden things start crashing down all at once. And then you see these people in court and you're thinking, "Oh wow, I recognize that person when they were coming to my office. I remember that conversation." So you start to think about different things you're doing on a daily basis, these are the things that add up to cumulative for evidence against you at court. So it's not just a surprise, it's usually over a period of time, and eventually it catches up to you. And once you realize it, it's too late.

Rob Rosenthal: 

When should they contact an attorney like yourself? When somebody shows up with a warrant, or sometime before that? What's your advice?

Frank Walker: 

Preferably earlier. Preferably when you start to hear rumblings, when you start to have people ask you questions, you wouldn't normally answer. And also when you start to see people... Starting to get into your, infiltrate your group, your circle of friends, 'cause we're in a habit by nature. We go to dinner at the same time. We go to dinner at the same place, we hang around certain people. Then all of a sudden people start coming to infiltrate, your ears have to go up a little bit, a little bit, a little bit higher at that point, you should have the instinct at that point. Because frankly, you're doing this for the first time, you're not too good at it because you're not a career person who does this for a living, which is good and bad, but you should contact an attorney immediately when you start to hear rumors, 'cause people start to talk they can't keep a secret. They start to talk, "Hey, I got a subpoena. So and so got a subpoena, and so and so was talking to so and so after hours," maybe you need to start lawyering up really, really quick.

Rob Rosenthal: 

If we're talking, say in embezzlement or financial fraud, what are some defenses that could possibly be used?

Frank Walker: 

Again, it was inadvertent or the loss amount. Typically, when you're in a crime where it's white collar crime, and you're dealing with a lot of money and a lot of victims, so the earlier you get involved, an attorney involved, they can really limit your exposure by going in, turning yourself in and say, "Listen, we understand we did something wrong, we understand what's at exposure here, but we want to limit that by saying that the loss amount stops today, stop counting, stop looking at additional information, don't bring an additional relevant conduct, 'cause I know if I get it more relevant conduct, my offence level goes up, my prison exposure gets greater." So main defenses are, "Stop counting at this point because I'm turning myself in and I put myself at the mercy of the court," and hope they can get a plea agreement.

Rob Rosenthal: 

But I think I know what your answer is gonna be here. When you talk about turning yourself in, don't turn yourself in without somebody like yourself there.

Frank Walker:

Absolutely, and whether it's me or anyone else, you find someone who's experienced in white collar crime specifically, and that crime for which you're charged. For example, if the attorney does murder charges all day long, they may be very good at murder charges, but they're not doing white collar defence. Specifically theft, tax evasion, anything like that, you wanna find someone who is in your area specific to your charges at that time.

Rob Rosenthal: 

And even if you think you didn't do anything wrong, do you still need an attorney?

Frank Walker: 

Absolutely, we as humans, we have this ability to think, "Oh, I can just confess everything to them, they're gonna be so nice to me, I'm just gonna tell him everything. I need to get this off my chest. I need to get this over with. This has been burdening me for so long." That's not the time for that. Get with an attorney, let loose with your attorney, tell them everything, get that off your chest with your attorney, not the agents, not the police, not the detectives. You wanna make sure you speak to an experienced attorney, immediately. Tell them everything.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Great advice, as always very helpful. Frank, thank you so much. I learn something every time we talk.

Frank Walker: 

No problem, thanks for having me.

Rob Rosenthal: 

And that's gonna do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Pennsylvania attorney Frank Walker. And I wanna remind you, if you wanna talk to Frank and ask him questions about your specific situation, go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the upper part of the page that says Ask a Lawyer, and you can ask away right there. Thanks for watching, I'm Rob Rosenthal with Ask the Lawyers.

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