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Fraud & White Collar Crime in Chicago

The con artist has long been a subject of fascination and even reverence in Hollywood, but the reality of fraud and white collar crime is almost always less glamorous and causes real pain. The story of jailed investor Bernie Madoff illustrates just how much financial damage one person can inflict through deception. Fraud comes in many forms; insurance fraud, for example, most often occurs when someone makes a false or exaggerated insurance claim for the purpose of collecting excess compensation. But so-called white collar crime covers a broad spectrum of non-violent crimes committed for monetary gain, including money laundering and tax evasion.

White collar crime and fraud usually involve very complicated matters of law best handled by an Illinois criminal attorney. While such crimes are taken seriously by law enforcement, those convicted of white collar crime typically are not considered dangerous and are seldom placed in prisons alongside violent offenders. Chicago criminal defense attorneys can often assess your legal issue and help with developing a good defense strategy. You can find an attorney by viewing FindLaw's local directory of Chicago criminal defense attorneys. For more information about white collar crime in the Chicago area, see:

Recently in Fraud & White Collar Crime Category

Two More Politicians Win Re-Election Despite Charges

We thought Derrick Smith’s re-election, while hilariously stereotypical in light of Chicago’s political history, was an outlier, a quandary, and a comical confluence of voter ignorance and party line voting. Sure, a guy facing 10 years in prison, recently expelled from office, won re-election. But that was a fluke, right?

Not exactly. Consider two other Chicago-area politicians who were also re-elected: Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Cook County judge Cynthia Brim. The former has been absent from work while dealing with mental health issues (and an ongoing corruption investigation) while the latter is planning on pressing the insanity defense in a battery case stemming from a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies.

Just another election in the Chicago Circus, right?

Appeals Court: You Weren't Bribed Enough to be Convicted

Dominick Owens, 46, ruined his career as a City of Chicago zoning inspector by taking two $600 bribes to issue certificates of occupancy for houses that were not inspected, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. A career lost over $600? You’re doing it wrong, bro!

Oh, but wait. Maybe he was doing it right. Earlier this year, he was convicted of taking bribes worth more than $5,000 and sentenced to a year and a day in prison. He faced a maximum of 10 years and a $250,000 fine, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Health-Care Fraud Crackdown Busts 2 Chicago-Area Scams

Several non-profit groups linked to a South Side businessman were supposed to use $11 million in state health-care grants to fund research into cures for cancer and HIV/AIDS. Now, Leon Dingle Jr., 75, along with his alleged co-conspirators, have been indicted on 23 fraud-related counts by a federal grand jury, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a separate case, another Chicagoland resident, Sharon A. Rinaldi, 57, is accused of over-billing Medicare by at least $100,000. In some cases, she allegedly billed for psychological counseling of patients who were already dead. In another incident, she billed for more than 24 hours of work in a single day, prosecutors say. She also claimed to be treating patients in Illinois between 2008 and 2011, when she was living in San Diego and Las Vegas. It turns out she may not have even been licensed since 2002, because of a default on her student loans.

Lobotomy Letters Spell Trouble For Disgruntled Former Employee

It was all in the name of revenge, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. A former employee of the Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital admitted to investigating officers that she was behind abusive letters that recommended to patients that they receive a lobotomy.

The odd revenge plot, which was meant to embarrass the Alexian Brothers, was allegedly carried out by Michelle Morrison. Police found stolen letterhead, patient files, address labels, and other paperwork in her home.

Stuart Levine Gets 67 Months, Proves 'No Honor Amongst Thieves'

Prosecutors called him an essential witness and a key part of the takedown of the corrupt Rod Blagojevich administration. His attorney referred to him as a "changed man" whose "sense of guilt and shame overwhelmed him." The judge labeled him one of the "most corrupt politicians" in northern Illinois.

Now, that's saying something.

After years of testimony and mea culpas, Stuart Levine now knows his fate. He was sentenced to 67 months (about five and a half years) for fraud and money laundering charges, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. He faced life in prison.

How Much Justice Could Conrad Black Afford?

Conrad Black was originally accused of stealing $400 million from his companies. Prosecutors charged him with the theft of $80 million, then reduced the charge to $60 million. After the jury found him not guilty of 9 out of 13 charges, it was even less. After the U.S. Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals got involved, only two questionable charges were left, amounting to about $285,000 in fraud. He paid $32 million in restitution, reports the Wall Street Journal.

All of that is last year's news. What's new for the newspaper magnate is that he was recently released from prison and wants the last two charges cleared. Why? The right to an attorney of one's choice, of course.

Last week, the 7th Circuit ruled that five members of the Chicago Outfit could not overturn their 2007 convictions for numerous crimes, including murder and extortion, Courthouse News Service reports.

The group, which is also known as the Chicago Syndicate or Chicago Mob, is probably most famous for its former leader, Al Capone. Frank J. Calabrese Sr. and James Marcello appealed their convictions, arguing that double jeopardy barred them from being indicted for the RICO violations, since they had been indicted for similar crimes in the past. The court did not agree.

On Tuesday, FBI agents arrested Rita Crundwell, the city comptroller for Dixon, on accusations that she misappropriated over $30 million in city funds in only the last six years. She is currently charged with just one count of wire fraud, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The accusations are particularly surprising considering the small northwest Illinois town has an annual budget of only $8 million to $9 million. Last year, the city implemented budget cuts in response to its recent financial crunch.

John Harris, Rod Blagojevich's former chief of staff, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 days in prison for his role in the former governor's bid to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacate by President Obama's election. The sentence is possibly the shortest prison term ever imposed in a Chicago public corruption case, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Harris, who served as Blagojevich's chief of staff for three years, was arrested at the same time as Blagojevich in 2008. While the disgraced former governor received a 14-year sentence, Harris escaped with a proverbial slap on the wrist.

Ex-Chicago Army Major Sentenced for Taking Bribes in Afghanistan

A former Army National Guard major from Chicago has been sentenced to five years in prison after admitting to taking bribes from military defense contractors in Afghanistan, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Christopher P. West pleaded guilty to eight counts of bribery, conspiracy and fraud in 2009.

The charges stemmed from allegations that West had accepted tens of thousands of dollars from military defense contractors while deployed in Afghanistan. The contractors allegedly paid him to sign off on bogus approvals for supplies that were never delivered to the U.S. military's Bagram Air Base, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.