Fraud cases are often complicated and convoluted. This is because there typically is little direct evidence with fraud cases involving a defendant who will acknowledge outright that they are committing fraud. Prosecutors are forced to argue that circumstantial evidence provides the support necessary to prove their allegations.
It also means that the cases often involve the detailed examination of financial records, payroll accounts, transactional documents and bookkeeping materials. These materials may not make for easy reading and may entail convoluted arguments, tying many disparate records and documents together in a way that a prosecutor hopes convinces a jury that out of the jumble of numbers, wrongdoing is shown.
This is why seemingly large examples of financial fraud, such as Enron, World Com and much of the fallout from the financial crisis of 2008, which resulted in billions of dollars of losses and the near meltdown of the U.S. economy, has produced so few prosecutions and even fewer convictions.
The problem with financial records is they can be incomplete or inconclusive, being just a collection of numbers. Prosecutors will often attempt to create the impression with jurors that there must be wrongdoing because a loss resulted or a venture failed.
Prosecutors may file multiple count indictments alleging that each transaction in a series was a separate fraud, which can make it appear that there was a great deal of misconduct when all of the transactions may have been merely individual parts of a larger whole.
Because each charge could significantly enhance a sentence, this form of indictment can carry great coercive force for a defendant, who could be faced with the potential of serving decades in a federal prison, and will be forced to make a Hobson’s’ choice of accepting a plea agreement on some lesser charges or risking a long prison term.
Anyone facing this type investigation or indictment should speak with an attorney, as the consequences of a federal conviction on fraud charges can be devastating.
Source: mprnews.org, “Feds indict ex-CEO of controversial Mpls. nonprofit on theft charges,” Tom Scheck, September 10, 2015