White-Collar Crimes

White-Collar Lawyer – Brett A. Podolsky

Facing a white-collar crime can be a terrifying time in a person’s life. A defendant can receive years in prison if convicted. If you hire a seasoned criminal lawyer like Brett A. Podolsky, you can increase your chances of avoiding detrimental consequences.

Are you facing any type of white-collar crime in the Greater Houston area? Click here to schedule a consultation with Attorney Brett Podolsky today.

Are you facing criminal charges for white collar crimes in the state of Texas? Allow attorney Brett Podolsky to help you navigate a complex legal system. He has a strong track record of defending his clients and getting the best results possible.

What is a White-Collar Crime?

White-collar crimes are criminal offenses that typically involve the theft of funds or property without violence. They may include state and/or federal charges. Below are some examples of common white collar crimes.

Credit Card Abuse

Credit card abuse is one of the most common white-collar crimes. When an individual uses another person’s credit card for purchases without their consent, it is considered credit card fraud.

Anytime a person takes someone else’s financial account details with the intent to make unauthorized purchases or removing cash from their account, it is considered credit card abuse. It includes: 

  • Using someone’s revoked or expired credit card
  • Presenting a credit card for purchases while knowing the owner did not give consent
  • Stealing someone’s credit or debit card
  • Selling a stolen credit card to someone else

Credit card abuse often crosses paths and mingles with identity theft, credit fraud, and check forgery. 

  • Identity theft includes fraudulently using someone’s identifying information like their birthdate, address, social security number, or other data to open a financial account or facilitate different types of fraud.
  • Credit fraud includes using another person’s Social Security Number or a fake number plus other data to apply for a credit card, loan, goods, or property. It may include using a fake name or address, or providing false information about earnings, financial obligations, and the ability to repay the debt.
  • Check forgery joins in credit card abuse when stealing someone’s credit or debit card along with unsigned checks for the purposes of committing fraud.

Credit card abuse occurs when individuals use a credit or debit account they know doesn’t belong to them and uses it without permission. Alternatively, that person may knowingly use an expired, canceled, or revoked card, even their own. 

Charges of credit card abuse can result from using a fictitious, false, or dummy card to obtain or receive goods, services, or other benefits. It also results from stealing with the intent to sell or use the card, stealing the account number of another person, or receiving goods or services paid with a stolen or illegally obtained credit card. 

The bottom line is that a person possesses a credit card or information that does not belong to them and intends to use it. The prosecution must not only prove the person used the fraudulent card, but that they intended to do so. Even physical possession of the card is unnecessary to charge credit card fraud. If an individual enters someone else’s credit card information into a web page to complete an online transaction, it can lead to criminal charges if the account holder did not authorize it.

Statute of Limitations on Charges of Credit Card Abuse

The statute of limitations for laying charges of credit card abuse is seven years after the date of the abuse. However, that limit may be suspended or “tolled” if the accused is serving time in jail, lives out of state, or otherwise cannot stand trial.

In this case, the actual statute of limitations may be longer than seven years.

Associated Penalties for Credit Card Abuse

Credit card abuse is punishable as a state jail felony or a third-degree felony.

  • A state jail felony brings six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • If the victim is elderly, the crime may be a third-degree felony with two to ten years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.


Forgery means altering or falsely drafting any type of document. The term document is broadly defined and includes coins and trademarks. The degree of punishment depends on the impact to the victim and other factors, such as:

  • The value of the property in question
  • The number of people affected by the crime
  • The number of times the crime was carried out
  • Whether the crime involved a will, deed of trust, or mortgage
  • Whether the accused is a minor

Penalties vary greatly from small fines to 20 years in prison. 

Forgery can be involved in:

  • Bank or mortgage fraud
  • Assisting in illegal immigration
  • Copyright or trademark infringement
  • Manufacturing or counterfeiting money
  • Using a lost or stolen credit card
  • Modifying a will or deed of trust

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a federal crime where an individual improperly obtains then uses another person’s personal information in some way that involves deception or fraud. The typical motive is economic gain. 

It is illegal to obtain and/or misuse someone else’s identifying data, personal or financial, including their Social Security Number, PIN, or credit card history acquired when:

  • Using lost, stolen, or improperly delivered mail, credit or debit cards, wallets or purses, or other personal identification material
  • Accessing another person’s name, Social Security Number, birthdate, Medicare or Medicaid number, address, birth certificate, death certificate, passport number, bank or credit account numbers, bank routing information, passwords, or challenge information, or biometrics, like iris scans or fingerprints
  • Makes unlawful access to another person’s data from a financial or government entity

A person could be charged with identity theft even if they did not benefit from the theft. The punishment depends on the circumstances and can be anything from a state jail felony to a first-degree felony. Prison time ranges from one year in state jail to 99 years in prison. The fines can reach $10,000, and the courts may require the perpetrator to pay restitution. They may also receive probation.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is the process of converting illegal money into legitimate currency. An individual uses money laundering to disguise the original source of funds or assets, usually generated through criminal activity like drug trafficking, fraud, smuggling, corruption, or extortion.

There are three stages to the money laundering process:

  • Placement – getting the criminally derived proceeds into the financial system
  • Layering – converting criminally derived proceeds into another asset or form of funds and creating complex financial transaction layers to blur the audit trail, source of funds, and the ownership of those funds
  • Integration and/or extraction – making the proceeds available to criminal control or to use as seemingly legitimate money. The funds may be sent to a legitimate enterprise (that may use fake employees) or used by the criminal for supporting a personal lifestyle. 

Authorities can bring money laundering charges if they can prove the accused: 

  • Knowingly maintained an interest in concealing, possessing, or transferring the proceeds of a criminal activity
  • Conducted transactions concerning the proceeds of a crime
  • Supervised others in money laundering operations
  • Investing or financing funds that were illegally obtained or intended to be used to further the commission of a criminal activity or intended to do so
  • Invested, expended, or received the proceeds of criminal activity or offered to do so.

Money laundering charges often accompany charges for drug or human trafficking or smuggling. It involves complex tactics and bookkeeping. Sometimes, people are unaware of their role in a money-laundering operation until they are implicated in the crime. 

The penalties for money laundering depend on the amount of money involved. Imprisonment can be six months to 99 years, and the fine can reach $10,000. 

  • $2,500 or more to less than $30,000 is a state jail felony
  • $30,000 or more but less than $150,000 is a third-degree felony
  • $150,000 or more but less than $300,000 is a second-degree felony
  • $300,000 or more is a first-degree felony

Learn how the FBI handles money laundering cases. 

Talk to a White-Collar Lawyer

Brett A. Podolsky is a board certified attorney; this places him in an elite tier of qualified attorneys in the state of Texas. As a former prosecutor, he can anticipate the arguments that the prosecution will make in order to better prepare for trial. Oftentimes, accusations for white-collar offenses arise because of mistakes in record-keeping. Mr. Podolsky will carefully examine every piece of evidence in your case to provide a solid legal defense for you.

If you need a Houston white-collar lawyer, schedule a free consultation with Brett A. Podolsky at 713-227-0087.

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Fraud covers a lot of ground, but at the core, it is the false representation or omission of material fact, either through words or conduct, intended to result in personal or financial gain. 

Most commonly, fraud occurs when one party promised they have performed or can perform things they actually cannot do when they enter into a business transaction, such as selling goods or services, lending, or real property transactions.

Fraud can be charged as a state offense, but mail and wire fraud are federal offenses, like other forms of fraud. It can include making a false representation, so another takes action. Even if the false representation was the result of negligence, it could still be considered fraud.

Most fraud is intentional but can be reckless instead. To prove fraud, the prosecutor must show:

  • False representation made by the accused
  • That the accused had knowledge the representation was false when it was made
  • The accused intended to induce the victim to act or avoid acting because of false information
  • The victim suffered damage as a result of relying on that false information

There are many examples of fraud.

Check Fraud

Check fraud involves a fake check resulting from:

  • Illegally manufactured checks
  • Fraudulently listed bank accounts
  • False or altered signatures
  • Lack of consent to the transaction by the person issuing the check

Check fraud comes with several names. For example, there is check kiting (floating a check), in which funds are accessed from an account before the bank accesses them to place in a different account. Paper hanging is writing a check on a closed account. 

Check fraud also stems from something called washing, where the check paper is chemically cleaned to access and misuse the data it holds. Checks can be counterfeited through intentionally printing fake checks. Check fraud also includes theft when checks are stolen and used to commit fraud. 

Check fraud even extends to payroll fraud when someone steals another’s paycheck or benefits.

Compounding Pharmacy Fraud

A compounding pharmacy specializes in custom compounding medications for various needs. These pharmacies make up a small percentage of those in the U.S. Compounding pharmacy fraud is a type of healthcare fraud. It may be a federal felony and, in any case, is a severe civil allegation. 

The pharmacy may be intentionally or unwittingly committing fraud and can be investigated, charged, and punished regardless of whether their actions were deliberate or not.

From the business owner and CEO to the marketers and pharmacists, everyone involved can be investigated for fraud.

Compounding pharmacy fraud comes in various types:

  • Best price fraud where higher prices are reported for medications made and sold to take advantage of rebates while decreasing liability
  • Medicare Part D fraud
  • Off-label marketing fraud
  • Drug-switching fraud
  • Illegal kickbacks
  • Good manufacturing practice violations
  • Auto-refilling fraud

The most commonly prosecuted compounding pharmacy fraud includes:

  • Defrauding a government insurance program like Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare
  • Falsifying pharmaceutical or financial records
  • Giving kickbacks to chiropractors, pharmacists, or other providers for referrals
  • Charging for the individual components of a compounded pharmaceutical
  • Overbilling or billing for unnecessary products
  • Providing unauthorized ongoing drug refills
  • Making and billing for products identical to over the counter or commercial products
Healthcare Fraud

Healthcare fraud occurs when someone uses deception to obtain medical benefits they would not otherwise be entitled to. It also happens when physicians or other healthcare providers make false statements to obtain payment for services. 

Healthcare fraud includes:

  • Lying on an application for health insurance
  • Double-billing for medical procedures
  • Billing for unperformed procedures
  • Medication fraud or obtaining prescriptions to sell
  • Using another person’s insurance information to receive medical treatment

Healthcare fraud includes many activities such as corruption and kickbacks, allowing a nurse to perform a physician’s duties, and providing unnecessary medical services. 

Upcoding, doctor shopping, and medical identity theft all fall under healthcare fraud. Also, fraud is perpetrated by waiving patient deductibles then claiming false charges to make up for the loss.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud means an individual commits specific actions related to making an insurance claim to defraud the insurer. It happens with auto insurance, worker’s compensation, medical insurance, homeowner insurance, and life insurance. 

Insurance fraud happens when someone:

  • Prepares a statement they know contains misleading or false information for the insurer
  • Presenting a statement in support of an insurance policy application that they know contains false or misleading information
  • Soliciting, offering, paying, or receiving a benefit in connection with the furnishing of goods or services under an insurance policy with the intent to defraud the insurer
Medical Fraud

The term medical fraud may be used for healthcare fraud or insurance fraud. 

An individual makes a false or misleading statement they are not entitled to. A medical professional lies to pad bills. Patients obtain specific prescriptions to sell on the black market. All of these are examples of medical fraud.

Wire Fraud

The federal government enacted wire fraud laws to cover the new technology used in interstate or international commerce. Initially, the laws covered telegraph and telephones, radio, and television communication. It now includes the internet.

Wire fraud occurs when a person uses deception and any type of electronic communication to defraud others of their money or property. It is a crime against property more than a crime against a person. 

Many wire fraud charges become federal because the FCC regulates phone lines, radio airwaves, and TV broadcasts. However, it does not govern the internet.

Examples of wire fraud include:

  • Chain letters
  • Check cashing conspiracies
  • Investment scams
  • Pyramid schemes
  • Payment for services never rendered

Penalties for Fraud

The penalties for fraud vary according to the situation and may include community service, probation, significant fines, and prison time. 

For example, credit card fraud is a felony in Texas that brings 180 days to two years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If the victim of fraud is elderly, a more severe charge of a third-degree felony may be brought, with two to ten years in prison, fines up to $10,000, and restitution for damages.

Penalties for White-Collar Crimes

The penalties for white-collar offenses are defined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code. The punishments vary greatly and depend on the type of offense, the value of the funds involved, the number of individuals who were affected by the criminal offense and whether the defendant has a criminal history. Some of the potential penalties include:

  • Class C misdemeanor: A fine up to $500
  • Class B misdemeanor: A fine up to $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail
  • Class A misdemeanor: A fine up to $4,000 and/or up to one year in jail
  • State jail felony: A fine up to $10,000 and/or up to 180 days in state jail
  • Third-degree felony: A fine up to $10,000 and/or between two to 10 years in prison
  • Second-degree felony: A fine up to $10,000 and/or between two to 20 years in prison
  • First-degree felony: A fine up to $10,000 and/or between five to 99 years in prison

Defending Against Allegations

A prosecutor has the burden of proof in criminal cases. He or she must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt. Every kind of white-collar offense has its own statutory definition, and the prosecution has to prove every element of the crime in order to secure a conviction. For example, the state has to prove that the defendant had intent to commit the offense. If he was coerced or accidentally broke the law, the charges against him may be reduced or even dropped completely.

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Are you or someone you know facing criminal charges? Contact attorney Brett Podolsky today for aggressive legal defense.

Houston criminal defense lawyer Brett A. Podolsky is a former prosecutor for the State of Texas. He uses his years of criminal trial experience and knowledge of the criminal laws to advise and defend people.

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