Two years ago, when New York and the rest of the country faced unprecedented challenges and the whole global economy seemed on the verge of collapse, state and federal agencies responded with much-needed programs that pumped money into local communities. Many of these programs undoubtedly helped the situation, keeping small businesses afloat and getting food into the hands of needy people. However, they also created opportunities for fraud.
Recently, federal prosecutors indicted 44 people in what they say was one of the largest fraud rings of the era. According to prosecutors, people affiliated with a charity group in another state took $240 million from programs meant to feed young children and kept the money for themselves, spending it on luxury goods and real estate in foreign countries. At least some of the parties allegedly violated laws against money laundering when they attempted to conceal the source of the money they used in their transactions.
Prosecutors said one of the people involved in the alleged scam claimed to have fed 5,000 children a day from a small second-story apartment. The indictments claim that the charity’s leaders invented names for these children by using a website that generates random names. Federal prosecutors said the leader of a nonprofit group helped people to participate in the fraud and resisted efforts by state leaders to investigate irregularities.
The charity leader faces charges including wire fraud. Other defendants face money laundering and other charges.
Defending against fraud charges
It can be very difficult to defend against fraud charges, and this is perhaps especially true in high-profile cases. The public may be outraged when they read allegations that claim money intended to feed children went instead into someone’s pocket. When the alleged fraud involves government funds, a defense can be particularly difficult. The federal government takes such cases extremely seriously and has the resources to give prosecutors all the resources they need to build a case against the accused.
Still, anyone accused of a crime has the right to a defense. A skilled attorney with experience in fraud defense can help defendants review their options and craft an appropriate strategy.