On average, people donate more than $2.5 billion each year to over 40,000 American charities with military-related missions. While most of these charities are trustworthy, others prey on Americans’ patriotism and generosity. Late last month, the Federal Trade Commission announced Operation Donate with Honor, a nationwide law enforcement and education initiative aimed at stopping veteran-related charity fraud.

Here in Washington, Attorney General Bob Ferguson brought civil enforcement claims against two charities as a part of the Operation Donate with Honor initiative. The AG’s respective complaints allege that the charities violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act and the Charitable Solicitations Act by donating little to no money to their advertised causes and using deceptive practices to draw in donations.

Continue Reading A Note of Caution on Charitable Giving

Been a while — not sure “Roundup of White Collar News” is the catchy phrase we’re looking for after a month or so, but here we go:

  • Interesting explanation of the Carter Page FISA application over at Lawfare
  • The Attorney General announced the publication of the Cyber-Digital Task Force Report — Question: does anyone actually read a bureaucratic monstrosity like this?
  • Good for the DOJ — firing reservists because they’re performing military duty is awful, not just illegal
  • Good for the DOJ again — I can never get enough of health car fraudsters getting caught and being made to pay
  • Blows my mind that we’re even having a debate as to whether a president’s conduct amounts to treason
  • Very sad day for L.A. — Jonathan Gold, the man who informed me it was ok, even right, to put yellow mustard on my pastrami sandwich died today
  • Ron Rockwell Hansen, a former Defense Intelligence Agency case officer, was arrested in Seattle for spying on behalf of China — here’s the arrest warrant and complaint
  • So many ways to commit fraud — here’s gift card fraud complete with reverse engineering, algorithms, and other techy Seattle things that lawyers don’t understand, as exemplified by the indictment
  • Apparently, embezzling from a tribe is its own separate crime
  • I love the Washington Post but they get this story about civil asset forfeiture completely wrong and in the most lazy way by simply repeating an attorney’s allegations — a post to follow about how asset forfeiture really works
  • Another laugher from the Washington Post about the possible end of legalese — legalese will never die and we’ll have a future post on why
  • The SEC is going after a lawyer here in Seattle who specializes in sham IPOs

Last week, I teased the continuation of a series of posts about the Fifth Amendment.  That’s still coming, but I had to return to another common theme first.  My preview came at the end of a post about both the Fifth Amendment and parallel proceedings, which I’d also written about before. The Inception-ing of the blog continues with yet another brief comment on parallel proceedings, this time inspired by a news item that Justin flagged in last week’s roundup: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein gave a speech before the New York City Bar Association’s annual white collar crime conference.  The whole speech is worth watching or reading, but the highlight of the address was DAG Rosenstein’s announcement of “a new Department policy that encourages coordination among Department components and other enforcement agencies when imposing multiple penalties for the same conduct.”

Continue Reading Genug with the Parallel Proceedings . . .

News of the last few weeks has prompted me to return to two issues I’ve discussed here before: parallel proceedings and the Fifth Amendment. This time around, the Fifth Amendment issue is not double jeopardy, but instead the constitutional protection against compulsory self-incrimination.

Remember parallel proceedings? By that I mean the government conducting criminal and civil investigations of the same or similar conduct, and bringing related criminal, civil, or administrative enforcement proceedings around the same time. This creates all kinds of problems for defendants, including the difficulty and expense of fending off legal challenges on several fronts and the care needed to ensure that steps taken responding to one enforcement action don’t bite you in the other.

Among the most important dangers are those stemming from offering testimony in a civil or administrative proceeding. You see, “pleading the Fifth” and refusing to answer questions that might incriminate you doesn’t work the same way in civil and administrative settings that it does in the criminal context.

Continue Reading Parallel Proceedings Revisited

  • Disgusting — Seattle man charged with selling food that was supposed to be destroyed or recycled into agricultural feed to discount grocery stores
  • The Ninth Circuit said you don’t have to know you’re transporting ammo to be convicted of smuggling ammo
  • Panasonic Avionics Corporation agreed to pay a $137.4 million penalty for falsifying its books and concealing payments to third-party sales agents
  • VW’s board is thinking of going after its former CEO
  • The UK’s data protection watchdog has ordered Cambridge Analytica to release information on US professor David Carroll
  • Interesting interview from a a compliance chief regarding a “speak up culture”

  • Lance Armstrong settled a False Claims Act case for $5 million. His cycling team was sponsored at one point by the U.S. Postal Service. Apparently doping violates the terms of federal government sponsorship agreements. Who knew?
  • In Texas, the GM of a Venezuelan energy company entered a guilty plea for his role in an international money laundering and bribery scheme
  • Closer to home, former FBI Director James Comey will be in Portland tomorrow to plug his new book. He’ll be in Seattle on Sunday. I’ll be attending the Seattle talk.
  • It’s not just famously fired government officials who are active in the Pacific Northwest. Current prosecutors are busy as well. In Portland, a CPA’s 4/20 plans went up in smoke when the U.S. Attorney’s Office accused him of hiding income and diverting investor money from his accounting business to his marijuana business.
  • In Seattle, the former president and former vault-manager of a King County precious metals business were arraigned this week on charges that they fraudulently obtained millions of dollars from thousands of customers by misrepresenting shipping times for bullion and using bullion and money belonging to customers to fulfill other bullion orders. I can still think of at least one far more ambitious bullion-based criminal scheme:

Chaplin later regretted this satirization