Federal Criminal Defense
Michael was a top public corruption prosecutor in the Detroit United States Attorney’s Office for well over a decade, handling the office’s most high profile and challenging corruption cases, including the investigation and trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Apart from his unparalleled knowledge of and experience with public corruption laws, Michael is seasoned and adept in dealing with the media who come with the territory in these cases. It is common in public corruption cases that individuals and corporations are implicated in paying corrupt politicians, either through a campaign donation or payments to a non-profit entity associated with the official. These individuals and companies face the real prospect of being indicted. Michael is acutely aware of the nuances between those who are willingly paying bribes (and therefore guilty of a crime) and those who were pressured to pay corrupt officials and qualify as victims of extortion who are not chargeable with a crime.
Mail and Wire Fraud
Wire fraud charges are the darling of federal prosecutors because they are so easy to prove. To charge this 20-year felony, it requires only an alleged fraud scheme and one digital signal that crossed a state line. Virtually every text, email or cellphone call today does exactly that. And mail fraud only requires something sent via the mails or a private carrier like UPS or Fed Ex that furthers the fraud. Michael has vast experience with these charges, as they were almost always part of the hundreds of investigations and indictments he pursued as a federal prosecutor.
Healthcare fraud investigations and prosecutions have been growing exponentially over the last ten years, and are one of the most robust areas of federal criminal charges today. Almost every United States Attorney’s Office, including Detroit, has dedicated prosecutors who handle only healthcare fraud cases. Often working in conjunction with lawyers in the Department of Justice’s Health Care Fraud Unit, these prosecutors are bringing indictments at an increasing rate against those who work in the healthcare industry. Some of the biggest cases today involve funds established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It is important that anyone who is the subject or target of a healthcare fraud investigation or prosecution get experienced representation from someone like Michael, who can work with federal prosecutors to get the best possible result, or wage an aggressive and effective fight to protect and vindicate their rights.
Prescription Drug Offenses
Involving Medical Doctors and Nurse Practitioners
Along with the titanic rise in criminal investigations into healthcare crimes, doctors and nurse practitioners are landing in federal court at an increasing rate. Whether their cases involve prescription opiates or other regulated medicines, the charges are serious and the potential federal prison sentences lengthy. Michael has the experience and refined skills to lead those professionals through the mazes of investigation and indictment to obtain the best possible outcomes.
Michael has investigated federal tax offenses in virtually every one of his many public corruption and white-collar fraud cases. Michael has charged and tried cases before federal juries involving tax evasion and subscribing to a false tax return in violation of Title 26 of the United States Code. Some of Michael’s tax cases were particularly complex, such as those demonstrating evasion through a net worth tax analysis.
Many people do not know that the charge of bank fraud carries one of the highest penalties of any federal crime – 30 years imprisonment pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344. While the maximum sentence is unusually high, the actual length of sentences in bank fraud cases is driven by “loss amounts” calculated under the federal sentencing guidelines. Those who find themselves in a bank fraud investigation or prosecution need expert representation by someone like Michael who knows the statute well and the guidelines that govern it.
There are two main types of federal money laundering offenses that are commonly charged. One is a violation of Title 18, Section 1956 of the United States Code. This type of money laundering is where an individual conducts a financial transaction with money that he or she knows is from a certain type of criminal activity (such as fraud or illegal drug sales) and he or she does so with the intent to conceal the nature of the proceeds or to promote the criminal activity. This is the most serious money laundering charge, as it carries a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment. The other money laundering charge is a violation of Section 1957, which only requires proof that the person conducted or tried to conduct a monetary transaction with more than $10,000 of money the person knew to be the proceeds of the criminal activity. The maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment. Michael has investigated many federal money laundering cases, starting when he was a federal prosecutor in the drug unit of the Los Angeles United States Attorney’s Office in 1997.
Most people and businesses are aware of the fact that when they deposit or withdraw over $10,000 in cash from a bank, a report is filed with the IRS called a Currency Transaction Report (CTR). A lot of people mistakenly believe that this report only relates to their taxes. Many do not know that if an individual or corporation attempts to evade the creation of this report by depositing or withdrawing less than $10,000 on multiple occasions or at different branches of a bank, they have committed a felony. The crime is called “structuring.” Title 31, Section 5324 of the United States Code makes it a crime punishable by 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Structuring is a unique crime because it goes against the usual axiom in the criminal law that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” In order for a federal prosecutor to prove you guilty of structuring, “willfulness” must be shown; that is, the prosecutor must prove you knew you were committing a crime. The prosecutor has to prove you were aware of the CTR reporting requirement and that you purposely acted to evade it.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was passed in 1970 to combat the mafia. Since that time, federal RICO laws have been used to prosecute elected officials, unions, drug cartels, street gangs and other organizations, whether formal or informal. The RICO laws are the most complex and far reaching of any federal criminal statute. RICO charges also have the longest and most convoluted jury instructions of any federal crime. Michael is one of a very small number of former federal prosecutors who has both charged RICO and successfully tried a RICO case before a jury.