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The Government’s Crackdown On White Collar Crime

The insider trading discussed in the video is just one example of “white-collar crime,” which is defined as a nonviolent crime involving cheating or dishonesty in commercial matters; [1] other examples include embezzlement, bribery, and fraud. When a professional is accused of a white-collar crime, there is more at stake than personal freedom. In additional to prison, the government may pursue asset forfeiture or disgorgement, and a licensed professional accused or convicted of a white-collar crime is likely to lose her license.

The government doesn’t even need to charge an individual or business with a crime in order to destroy a company or a reputation. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for example, uses civil complaints – in which claims only need to be proven “by a preponderance of the evidence” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt” – to enforce securities laws. In SEC v. The Milan Group[2] the SEC alleged in a civil complaint that The Milan Group conducted a “Prime Bank” scheme that defrauded investors out of approximately $2.1 million. The complaint also named Milan’s Washington, D.C. attorney, Brynee K. Baylor, along with nine “relief defendants” – individuals and companies who, although they were not involved in the scheme, were hauled in to court to return money that they had received from Milan. The court ruled in favor of the SEC. Baylor, who claimed to only be receiving fees for her legal services to Milan, was ordered to pay $600,000 in civil penalties, $2,752,758.64 in disgorgement, and was ultimately disbarred. [3] Her law partner and the other relief defendants – who had no involvement in the scheme – entered into settlement agreements with the SEC.

If you, your business, or your business associates are under investigation by the SEC, the Justice Department, or any other government agency, a white-collar criminal-defense attorney can help you understand your options and defend you if criminal charges or a civil complaint are filed.

[1] Black’s Law Dictionary 134 (9th ed. 2009).

[2] Case No. 1:11-cv-2132-RMC (D.D.C. filed Nov. 30, 2011).

[3] In re Brynee Baylor, No. 15-BS-697 (D.C. July 30, 2015).


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