Judges are putting many white-collar criminal defendants in the same category as accused killers and rapists. White-collar criminal defendants are seeing that bond is becoming hard to get, especially international defendants.
Judges are difficult to convince that the defendants from other countries involved in massive fraud schemes won’t flee. The government believes that many of these defendants can’t be trusted and are denying bail.
Authorities believe that defendants have access to loads of cash and international ties. They believe that if they are released on bond before trial, they’ll flee. Courts agree with this theory.
Several international suspects in Detroit have been held pending trial with no chance at bail. Three of the defendants are Medicare fraud suspects and two are charged with insurance-fraud-by-arson.
Public may be punishing financial greed
One of the defendants is a pharmacist with two children here in the U.S. He has pleaded with the court four times to be released on bond but so far, the court has denied his request.
Some experts believe that the courts are responding to the public’s feelings toward financial greed stemming from the world economic crisis. “Everyone is all about punishing the money guy at this point,” said Lisa Wayne, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Others believe that internationals accused of illegal activity are still seen through the Sept. 11 events.
What’s most alarming for criminal defense lawyers is that the presumption of innocence is being ignored. “Everybody assumes that foreigners are going to flee,” said Criminal Defense Lawyer Bill Swor, who is representing three foreign defendants in fraud cases — all denied bond. “It seems that the courts are more sensitive to that and more receptive to that argument.”
A new frontier for white-collar lawyers
They should be, countered Tom Spokaeski, assistant special agent in charge of Detroit’s Office of Inspector General, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Spokaeski, a fraud investigator, said Medicare fraud has become rampant, costing the government billions in losses. “We’re tired of seeing the brazen manner in which people are defrauding our Medicare system,” Spokaeski said. “We need to stop this epidemic.”
With fraud on the rise nationwide ($2.3 billion in false Medicare billings), white-collar crime is being heavily pursued by law enforcement. The government is prosecuting more white-collar crimes in general.
“This is a new frontier for white-collar lawyers,” said Lisa Wayne, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “I think that you’re seeing that because judges and prosecutors are beholden to the community,” said Wayne, who said she believes the public is increasingly intolerant of financial criminals.
The philosophy, she said, is simple: “These guys need to be punished.”