Was Martin Shkreli’s sentence for federal securities fraud fair?

Was Martin Shkreli’s sentence for federal securities fraud fair?

“To carry out these frauds, Shkreli was all things to all people.”  – Government’s Sentencing Memo to the Judge

Martin Shkreli’s sentence of 7 years (84 months) for federal securities fraud was much, much less than his federal sentencing guidelines range of about 27 years to 33 years.  The government attorneys argued that he should get at least 15 years, while his attorneys argued for 12 to 18 months. In the end, the judge split the baby and gave him 7 years.

So, although Shkreli’s sentence was well above the 12-18 months his defense team asked for, it was still far below the advisory sentencing guidelines range and less than half of the government’s request of 15 years.

So, how did he do?  Was his sentence a fair one?

Being sentenced in federal court is one situation where you do not want to be above-average.  According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, over the past four or five years the average sentence for convictions of securities fraud, like Shkreli’s, has gone from a little over 6 years down to about 4 years.  So, Shkreli got an above-average 7 years.

Despite the unique and colorful circumstances surrounding Shkreli (including his wacky pronouncements before and during trial), his attorney, Benjamin Brafman. was smart in his submissions and arguments to the judge, distinguishing his client from other defendants who are convicted of this type of offense.  Although not that many federal securities fraud cases are brought across the country, in 2016 alone 14 of those were sentenced in the Eastern District of New York, where Shkreli’s case was handled.

His attorney, Brafman had a lot to work with in arguing to the judge at sentencing, including that Shkreli was a first-time, non-violent offender, and most importantly, that there was no need for restitution to any victims as no one was out any money.  Of course, the forfeiture portion of Shkreli’s case got plenty of coverage, especially because an album by the Wu-Tang Clan worth a few million appeared in a federal court filing.

The takeaway is that while Shkreli may have been “all things to all people,” as the prosecutor suggested, while he was committing the acts that led him to being sentenced in federal court, and he may have said a number of outrageous things before and during trial, it appears that the judge in this case concluded he was simply another offender up for sentencing. The judge considered the arguments both for and against Shkreli, applied the law, and seemed to find a good middle ground at 7 years.

As a federal criminal defense lawyer who has stood next to famous (or infamous) clients at sentencing, one thing I always ask for at sentencing is that the judge not single out my client for being in the public eye, or for choosing to take a shot at trial.  The judge seems to have appropriately done just that in Shkreli’s case, even though Shkreli and his legal team surely are disappointed in how much time he got.

Successful plea agreement in high profile Federal Criminal Case against International Cyber-hacker Sergey Vovnenko

Successful plea agreement in high profile Federal Criminal Case against International Cyber-hacker Sergey Vovnenko

Defense Team led by Tim Anderson, Esq., Secures Favorable Sentence in High-Profile Hacking Case

cyber-crime

Newark, New Jersey – February 21, 2017
A team of federal criminal defense attorneys led by Tim Anderson of Red Bank, New Jersey, concluded its representation last Thursday in New Jersey federal court, of a client charged with identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a high-profile hacking case. Federal District Judge Esther Salas sentenced Sergey Vovnenko to 41 months in prison, in a case in which Vovnenko potentially faced over 30 years in prison.

Vovnenko, whom the U.S. Attorney’s Office called “the administrator of two criminal online hacking forums,” was sentenced last week to 41 months in prison for his role in an international cybercrime operation.

Vovnenko’s case began in 2015, when the United States Attorney’s Office of New Jersey extradited him from Italy to New Jersey, to face a six-count federal indictment for his role in an international cybercrime conspiracy, including four counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of unauthorized access of a computer, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

After Vovnenko arrived in the United States, he retained Tim Anderson and his team to negotiate a favorable plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Months of work and negotiations by defense counsel resulted in the Government agreeing to dismiss four of the six counts against Vovnenko, and with Vovnenko pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A, which also carried a two-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

At sentencing, Tim Anderson and his team successfully argued Vovnenko’s case before the Court, and Judge Salas sentenced Vovnenko to 41 months in prison, while also crediting him for the time he spent in jail in Italy awaiting his eventual extradition to the United States.

During sentencing and post-sentencing interviews, Anderson credited Vovnenko with having “changed for the good” and believed that Judge Salas treated Vovnenko “very fairly.”

The defense team was led by attorney Tim Anderson of Red Bank, New Jersey, and included Mr. Anderson’s associate, attorney Daniel Petersen, and Vovnenko’s co-counsel, attorney Eugenie Voitkevich of Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Also, see as reported by CBS News and Law 360

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Tim Anderson Law is a boutique criminal defense firm that focuses on federal and state criminal defense, with over 24 years of federal criminal trial experience.   Through over 20 years of successful defenses, Tim Anderson has earned an AV® (“Preeminent”) peer-review rating, the highest possible, from the Martindale-Hubbell nation-wide directory of attorneys, for preeminent legal ability and highest ethical standards.  Tim Anderson Law has obtained many dismissals, not-guilty verdicts, decisions not to prosecute, substantial downward departures in sentencing, reduced charges, and favorable plea agreements in the Newark, Camden, and Trenton federal courts, as well as in Superior Courts throughout New Jersey.   The firm has significant experience and knowledge of the intricacies of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which has led to many outstanding outcomes for its federal clients.

Tim Anderson Law | 225 Broad St. Red Bank, NJ 07701 | (732) 212-2812  | https://timandersonlaw.com | tim@timandersonlaw.com

Eugenie A. Voitkevich is a solo practitioner in Woodbridge, New Jersey, who is fluent in Russian and focuses on both civil and criminal litigation.

The Law Office of Eugenie A. Voitkevich | Woodbridge, New Jersey |  (732) 407-1047 or  email: eav@triallawyernj.com | triallawyernj.com or russianlawyernewjersey.com

Bank Fraud

Bank Fraud

“Because that’s where the money is.” Bank fraud is different than bank robbery or theft, but the same reasoning applies as when Willie Sutton was once asked, “Why do you rob banks?” Banks always have been and always will be subject to fraud because that’s where the money is, as a New Jersey federal defense attorney will tell you.

A Crime of Secrecy

Bank fraud may be defined by a New Jersey federal defense attorney as an intentional misrepresentation to fraudulently obtain money or other assets from a bank or other federally insured financial institution. Perpetrators of bank fraud act in secret, hoping that some time passes before their fraudulent act is detected. The lack of violence or force in committing bank fraud makes it among the offenses categorized as white collar crimes.

An Inside Job or an Outside Job

Inside bank fraud is perpetrated by someone who works for a bank or has access to restricted information. It can be particularly difficult to detect because of the number of individuals who have positions of responsibility with each bank. Included among insider bank fraud are:

Forging documents to conceal a theft

  • Making fraudulent loans
  • Identity theft
  • Using the bank’s funds to invest in the stock market
  • Wire fraud

Outside fraud involves people not associated with the bank. Common crimes a New Jersey federal defense attorney sees include:

  • Forging checks
  • Check kiting
  • Passing bad checks
  • Identity theft
  • Stolen debit/credit cards
  • Money laundering
  • Accounting fraud

Bank Fraud is a Federal Crime

Bank fraud is taken very seriously and punished accordingly. Citing the federal statute:

“Whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice
(1) to defraud a financial institution; or
(2) to obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities or other property owned by or under the custody or control of a financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises;
shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”

Defenses to Bank Fraud

By its very nature, bank fraud is complex. Consequently, investigations into alleged misconduct are extensive, lengthy and take time to develop. Most people who are targeted as potential defendants are aware their behavior is under scrutiny. That is the time to act and retain experienced counsel. An understanding of not only the complexities of financial transactions but also the difficult burden of proof prosecutors have in such cases is essential to providing an effective defense.

Each case must be evaluated and proceed on its individual merits, but common defenses to bank fraud include:

  • Lack of criminal intent; the heart of any fraud charge is the intent of the accused. If a reasonable doubt can be created that the individual acted in good faith and made an honest mistake, the prosecution’s case can be weakened.
  • Lack of fraud; bank regulations and transactions are increasingly complex. Lawful transactions can be mistaken for fraud.
  • Search and seizure issues; the evidence needed to prosecute a bank fraud case may involve thousands of documents. Each must be gathered in a lawful manner.

Contact a New Jersey Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer for Legal Advice

If you are the subject of an investigation regarding bank fraud, you need to act quickly. Time is of the essence. Call Tim Anderson at 732-212-2812.

Health Care Fraud

Health Care Fraud

If you have been charged with health care fraud, you will want to contact a New Jersey health care fraud defense attorney. The penalties for health care fraud can be very severe. However, this crime may be difficult to prove and your attorney can help explain your defenses and options.

Types of Health Care Fraud

There are many types of health care fraud that a New Jersey health care fraud defense attorney can explain to you. Some common types include:

  • Physician. Fraud committed by a physician can include submitting bills for services that were not provided, seeking compensation for uncovered services and seeking kickbacks for referrals.
  • Patients. Fraud committed by a patient can include obtaining prescription drugs for illegal or recreational purposes, seeking false reimbursements and forging medical documents.
  • Hospital. Hospitals may engage in fraud by not using proper staff, performing unnecessary services and submitting inaccurate claims.

False Claims Act

One key federal law related to health care fraud is the False Claims Act. This act makes it illegal to submit false claims to the government. Your attorney can explain that to prove this claim, federal prosecutors will generally have to show:

  • Intent. A person must have had the intent and knowledge to engage in fraud. So a simple mistake would not be considered a federal crime.
  • Claim Made. A person must have taken an affirmative step by submitting an actual claim to the federal government.
  • Misrepresentation. A person’s misrepresentation must have been material, meaning that it influenced the government to take some act.

Sentencing and Penalties for Health Care Fraud

The penalties for health care fraud can be very severe:

  • Prison. A person could face up to 20 years or more in federal prison for the most severe health care fraud cases. In addition, there are other sentencing guidelines depending upon who the person allegedly defrauded, e.g. Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fines. If a person is accused of engaging in an ongoing health care fraud scheme, they could face monetary penalties in the millions of dollars.
  • Restitution. If the person allegedly benefited from the fraud, they may be ordered to pay back the amount that allegedly was improperly obtained.

Contact a New Jersey Health Care Fraud Defense Lawyer

If you are facing such charges, contact experienced New Jersey health care fraud defense attorney, Tim Anderson, by calling 732-212-2812.