White collar crimes are generally committed by businesses and government professionals. There are a lot of examples of white collar crime dealing with high status officials. For example, Felicity Huffman was apart of a college admission scandal where she illegally used money as a motivator to allow her daughter to get into USC. Felicity Huffman is a well known actress and has had a great career in acting; however she thought by paying off the school would be sufficient enough to put her daughter up ahead of everyone else that earns their way to that school. This is just one example of where the rich and powerful get their way and in the end, the sentencing for their crimes are generally not that long. I tend to go deeper and expand on many celebrities and show why they get off so easily, and what possibly things we can do as a society to have an equal punishment, regardless of wealth. Crimes are one of the many things that all humans have in common. If it is a serious crime or not, if you commit a crime you are subjected to jail time. There are two types of crime: They are white collar crimes and street crimes. White collar crimes are mostly nonviolent crimes committed by a high social status where their company commits crimes such as fraud, embezzlement, money laundering etc. On the other hand, street crimes can be any criminal offense in a public place, which can be robbery or burglary. There are many barriers proving the acceptability of one over the other. Lack of awareness, lack of education, and social class make white-collar crimes more acceptable to our society.
According to FBI.org from an unknown author in the article, “White Collar Crime,” explores the many characteristics about white collar crime and the negatives it brings along to society. The term “white-collar crime is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals” (FBI.org). Most of these crimes are to avoid or obtain money, property or any advantages to business with the intent of embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Embezzlement is one form of white collar crime that happens in closed doors, where no one can actually see the crime being committed. Embezzlement involves the taking of money from someone or organization for personal gain. The most common example is siphoning money into personal accounts as an employee (FinderLaw’s team) or lawyers/investment advisors improperly using client funds. One of the biggest cases in America from embezzlement comes from a man named Robert Vesco. Besides embezzling over 200 millions dollars, he ended up escaping capture by running away to cuba where there is no extradition laws (john L. Calcagni III). I believe our system is corrupt, the fact that he lived out his life with the money he stole and with no punishment on him is observed. Because of cultural and political differences, countries sometimes do not abide by the extradition contracts agreed upon; as a result, letting hundreds of people get away with their crimes.
Another common white collar crime committed in America is tax evasion. Tax evasion in pretty much what it sounds like, people trying to avoid paying taxes. Certain types of ways this can be done is by falsifying tax forms or illegally transferring property to avoid taxes on that property (Finderlaw’s team). One company that technically gets away with this in, in my opinion, is amazon. In 2018 alone Amazon paid zero dollars in taxes. How? Amazon has spent tens of millions of dollars into research and development over the years, and qualified for tax credits. In 2018 amazon had over 1.4 billion dollars in tax credits. President Trump signed a bill for the reduction of taxes, which amazon used to their advantage. And lastly reinvesting revenue. Over the years amazon was reinvesting in itself and didn’t even make a profit, which carried forward losses to right off on future tax bills. Which in 2018 those carried forward losses amounted up to 600 million dollars (CNBC).
Notably the most iconic person ever to go down in history as the most iconic fraudulent case would be the case of Jordan Belfort. Jordan Belfort, aka The Wolf of Wall Street, taken more than 1,500 individual investors out of $200 million. He was eventually sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $110.4 million for money laundering, fraud, and drug use. And of course the sentence was later reduced to 2 years (Crime museum). And by becoming The Wolf of Wall Street and making several autobiographies, he began to get notoriety and publicity, expanding his wallet after prison. Celebrities and high paying government officials tend to have a lot more benefits when it comes to the court system, and the system we live in general. The first example of this is being easily bailed out. For obvious reasons, the wealth they have collected.
They can be arrested and bailed out the same exact day to await their trial in comfort. To me this could make it hard for them to understand in full their mistakes they have committed. A lot of the times they do not understand the full consequences of their actions and go on being repeat offenders. An example of this would be Lindsey Lohan by habitually breaking probation but has had no consequences due to her status on money. A normal person who breaks probation will always go back to jail or prison. All of these benefits deal with the fact that they have money, money talks in this country. Which leads to my last benefit for being rich in the court system. If you have money, you will be in very good hands with one of the best defenders in the country. This to me is the biggest reason to why they get off so easily. Persuasion and great knowledge of the law allows them to bend the law to make it sound right (CareerRide.com).
Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy in the college admissions bribery scandal; paying $15,000 to help her daughter get a fake SAT score. As a result, she was sentenced to 14 days in jail and will also have to pay a fine of $30,000 dollars and perform 250 hours of community service (NBCnews.com). To put it into perspective, the maximum sentencing for this type of crime is 20 years. I believe that her status and the money that plays into her donations plays a huge factor on her amount of time in prison. If she did not have as much of a well known face, she would have had a much longer sentencing and a larger fine to pay. To be fair, with the money she earned, she did have a great defense attorney. This can make or break your case. And this is another factor for celebrities with lots of money, they can afford the best defenders in America. Is that fair? I do not necessarily think it’s fair for those who don’t have the money for a defender who can manipulate the law, but she can afford it with the money she earned. This is the biggest reason why her sentencing is so much lower than what it could have been.
One example of a case that did not see justice, and also has a lot of conspiracy over it, is the Epstein case. Epstien was charged with sex trafficking after finding lewd photos of girls in his manhatton mansion. One of the richest men in the world, could possibly never see the light of day again. And after allegations being settled in 2008, this is brought back up again with other major political ties to his private Island where he conducted his sex trafficing. I bring this up because with his high status, he had it much easier in prison as he awaited for trial. Usually in these cases they tend to be on suicide watch and have gaurds watchign 24/7. However, for some reason he was decalred okay to be off suicide watch and had no guards watching him for a certain period of time. And in result, he commits suicide in his prison sell. There is no sufficient evidence to justify what exactly happened to him and why there was no security around him, but money talks. I personally feel that this is a huge blow to the people who suffered from his actions because he never had to face his crimes in front of the world. He “bought” his way out the easy way.
How can we as a society stop or deter white collar crimes? According to Jed Rackoff, a senior judge on the bench of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, states that “Big fines paid by businesses that break the law provides no incentive for companies to change cultures that lead to that illegal activity” (Bill Synder, Stanford Business).
Which would make complete sense due to the fact that big businesses have big money. Paying fines for their crimes is just another way for them to just nudge it off and keep doing those crimes. They see it as what is costs to do business rather than a penalty, not seeing business the right way and changing the culture around it. According to Judge Rakoff, the fear of imprisonment is a strong motivator for big businesses to stop or deter white collar crime. “I found that to a person, [executives accused of white-collar crimes] feared prison, and they feared it mightily. They would have paid any amount of money, done anything to avoid going to prison. So prison does have a major deterrent effect…”(Rakoff). White collar criminals seem to fear prison and will do anything to not go, in this case is paying fines. But i want to see penalties meeting the crimes they committed rather than paying fines. Because if they keep on doing these crimes and paying off what they owe from that crime, then they will truly never learn from their mistakes.
Whether or not this is classified as a white collar crime, the subject of President Donald J. Trump is a huge news media coverage dealing with his impeachment process. The “witch hunt” the President is referring to is the act of the House calling for impeachment of him for abuse of power and obstruction of congress (CNN). in a broad spectrum i believe this can be classified as a white collar crime if you consider the president as a high official who conducted (possibly) in behind the scene crimes for political and financial gain. If convicted of these crimes and impeached, this could go down in history as one of the biggest white collar crime cases ever committed.
Law should not be skewed to the rich and implicated more harshly to common people. Celebrities, government officials, politicians,etc do not get more rights than common people. The law is meant to keep peace and check the misuse of power. Even if celebrities get away easily with crime, it should be condemned by people. If they have committed a crime then they should be convicted as harshly or lightly as other people with the same crime committed. In conclusion, white collar crime happens in closed doors. We cannot see or hear it but the people who do eventually get sentenced for white collar crimes get off easier than those of regular crimes. Maybe the act of robbing a bank and being physically there is more aligned to a harsher sentence than someone embezzling, money laundering and creating fraud behind the scenes with no physical theft. I rather see the theft portion treated the same or even harsher than small robbery crimes. We need to change the way we view white collar crimes, because a simple fine would not stop them from doing it again. It has been shown that the biggest fear to those people is imprisonment. We should lock down on that idea and imprison more harshly to those who commit these white collar crimes.