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Minneapolis Federal Criminal Defense Law Blog

Alleged tax fraucd scheme at work in Minnesota

For most Minnesota residents today, the use of computers has become common practice for either personal or professional purposes. The convenience, productivity and even entertainment factors associated with this are real indeed. So too, however, are the growing number of concerns about potential safety of electronic information. At the same time that new forms of crime have emerged, the need to treat allegations of such crime carefully is also present.

Recent reports have surfaced about a situation within the Bloomington School District that has brought new attention to cybercrime activities. According to sources, an employee of the school district receiving an email that is alleged to have been a phishing email, a form of communication said to be designed for the specific purpose of inappropriately obtaining sensitive information.

Judge dismisses Ponzi scheme lawsuit against bank

Embezzlement charges are certainly nothing to take lightly yet it is always important for Minnesota residents and businesses to remember than every criminal allegation is just that. There is a reason that defendants are offered the chance to defend themselves because not every person or entity accused of a crime is actually guilty. In addition to being found not guilty at the end of a trial, sometimes a legal action may even be dismissed altogether.

Such is the case today as a federal judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to support a lawsuit against a bank based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Prior to this lawsuit being filed nearly four years ago, multiple individuals were convicted for their roles in a Ponzi scheme. According to reports, almost 700 people were involved in that case as investors. Together, they are said to have lost or been defrauded of more than $190 million.

Alleged weapons theft leads to federal conspiracy charges

Minnesota residents who may be arrested and charged with criminal offenses may sometimes be surprised that they are actually charged with federal crimes. In some situations, this may cause additional concern and raise questions about the nature of the penalties that may be experienced if convictions are ultimately experienced.

Such may well be the case today for three people after their recent indictments on federal conspiracy charges as well as other offenses. According to reports, the three defendants are said to have stolen 75 out of the approximately 100 stolen weapons in all of Minnesota last year in a single heist. As a result, conspiracy to possess and distribute stolen firearm charges have been levied against each of the three. Several of the guns are said to still be unrecovered.

What is the Lacey Act?

Minnesota residents may have heard of the Department of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and likely understand that this entity governs fish and animals in the country. However, the agency is actually responsible for a lot more that what some may think. Among the many laws that it may enforce is the Lacey Act. Originally put into law in 1900, it has been updated most recently in 2008. Just what does the Lacey Act stipulate, provide or prevent?

The Lacey Act governs the sale, export and import of not just fish or wildlife but also plants. In addition, it has some control over the activities related to products or parts from those fish, wildlife or plans. For example, the importing of furniture or flooring made from wood that was obtained from illegal logging activity may be in violation of the Lacey Act.

What is cyber terrorism?

Most Minnesota residents who have a computer are probably familiar with things like antivirus software or spyware programs. These products are designed to protect computers and networks against hackers or computer viruses that may corrupt or steal data. The online world has given rise to new opportunities in many ways and some people have turned to it for illegal activities. However, just as with any type of crime, the line between what is ethical and what is not can sometimes be hard to distinguish.

What Minnesotans should know but may not know is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in pursuing what may be classified as acts of cyber terror. This might involve allegations of an attempt to gain access to sensitive corporate data to somehow obtain or maintain a vital competitive advantage. It may involve accusations that a person or entity has attempted to illegally collect data in an attempt to commit fraud in an effort to achieve personal financial gain. Identity theft is another form of alleged cyber terrorism.

Understanding lotteries and bets in Minnesota

Have you ever made a casual bet with friends over a football or card game? Have you ever purchased a lottery ticket? If you have done things like this in Minnesota, you are likely enjoying some innocent fun and not breaking any laws. However, there are forms of gambling that are deemed illegal in the state and understand what can be legal and what can be illegal is important for all residents.

According to the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, a lottery is legal in Minnesota. How does the state define a lottery? It is characterized by a game in which participants may win by chance rather than skill. Awards may be random and may be in the form of money, property or some other reward. A bet, in contrast may well include some element of chance but also includes an element of skill on the part of anyone participating.

What does Minnesota consider a legal bet?

From a lottery to horse racing to sports games, there are many situations in which Minnesota residents may engage in some sort of betting or chance-taking on making a financial profit. Understanding what is legal and what is not in this realm can be difficult. If the laws are not fully understood, it can be all too easy to cross a line even unintentionally and find oneself facing criminal charges.

According to the Minnesota Officer of the Revisor of Statutes, the state law considers a bet any deal in which one party agrees to either lose or gain some benefit, property or money to another party. A bet is expected to involve some element of chance although that does not negate the presence of some skill being involved as well.

Man indicted on multiple charges by federal grand jury

Minnesota entrepreneurs know that business transactions can be very complex, especially when mergers, stock sales and shares and other things are involved. It is not only the transactions themselves that can be complex but the ensuring tax responsibilities as well. It can be the smallest of details that make the biggest of differences in what needs to be reported as income and paid as tax.

One Minneapolis resident today understands this in a whole new way. Recently indicted on multiple counts by a federal grand jury, the man's future remains unknown. He is said to have been sentenced to 24 months in a federal prison roughly 18 years ago for securities and wire fraud. Today, the counts against him include filing false income tax returns, tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the United States government.

Legal tax-reduction tips

A recent post explored the sometimes very fine line between legal tax deductions or other methods used to minimize tax responsibilities and alleged criminal acts. Many Minnesota residents understandably want and even need to find ways to limit how much income tax they must pay. This does not by any means indicate that they are criminals or trying to get out of paying their fair share. It simply means they want to not pay more than they need to. The U.S. Tax Code acknowledges many ways that people can legally do this.

Accounting Today offers some insights into specific things you could investigate that might provide you with legal options for reducing your tax debt. Adjustments to your Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account are among these options. Your employer may offer you the opportunity to change your elections and you may want to do this. Leveraging shelter gifts is another way that you could benefit legally.

The fine line between mistakes and fraud on tax returns

Most Minnesota residents have probably heard about people being charged with tax fraud. If convicted, defendants may experience serious penalties for these offenses. But, just what constitutes fraud when it comes to income taxes? Does the Internal Revenue Service take into account that tax code and procedures are very complicated and can be easily mistaken by taxpayers?

The short answer to that last question is yes however it is important to know that there may be very fine lines between what is considered fraud and what is considered an innocent mistake in the eyes of the IRS. According to Forbes, one of the ways that the IRS differentiates these two is the intent of the taxpayer. If a person is believed to have willfully and consciously ommitted or altered information on a tax return, for example, that is more likely to lead to a charge of fraud than if a person clearly made a mathematical error in calculation.

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