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The Florida Bar

Low Level White Collar Crime Still the Primary Focus of South Florida Police Efforts?

Revisiting the Level of Fraud Primarily Policed in South Florida

podcast overview & partial transcript

Criminal defense lawyers in South Florida share differing views when it comes to white-collar crimes.

In a brief entitled “Florida’s approach to white-collar crime: coordinated or chaotic?” Crystal T. Broughan argued that Florida was a haven for white-collar crime in the United States and that the Florida criminal justice system has considered white-collar crimes to be less important than general theft crimes committed against persons.

Defending of White Collar Crime in South Florida

In the past, criminal defense attorneys proficient in defending clients accused of white collar offenses had capitalized on Florida law enforcement’s failure to routinely share statistics or intelligence information regarding fraudulent schemes. Arguably, prosecutors still find difficulty in proving such allegations in an arena where from the onset Florida fraud victims generally find themselves at a loss at even identifying what government agency to file complaints with. Even the Broward County Sheriff’s office has gone on record just over a decade ago as stating that “Florida has a fragmented and ineffective approach to investigating white-collar crimes.”

While it is true that steps have been taken to ramp up the investigation and prosecution of Florida fraud crimes, I think that a strong argument can be made that the complex schemes and sheer number of high dollar/high profile cases in Florida seem to be out running the policing efforts of the state.

From a criminal defense standpoint, not much is changed with regard to how to effectively represent clients charged with such offenses. I would argue that this is primarily due to the fact that South Florida prosecutors are filing actions primarily on the same old low-level white-collar fraud schemes.

Of course there’s the occasional high profile, high dollar, highly publicized arrest and prosecution of Ponzi schemers such as Scott Rothstein in Florida. An individual who was first suspected long before being turned over by the victims of his crime. Suspected by local news reporter who commented publicly on the issue. The fact is that the sheer number of individuals who have violated Florida fraud statutes in recent years would seem to indicate that there are many more perpetrators of high level fraud crimes who are evading detection. Most individuals believe that it is not until a breakdown in the overall scheme, such as in unforeseen dips the Florida economy expose their crimes by and through the victims. In short, many have little faith in the policing powers of the state to expose more than a fraction of the serious white-collar crimes taking place right under the noses of both suspecting victims in Florida law enforcement.

If you have questions or comments about this broadcast please contact me William more directly by calling (954) 523-5333 or emailing.

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