Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

by
Appellant Michael R. Veon, a twenty-two-year member and eventual Minority Whip of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, was entitled to $20,000 annually to cover business expenses associated with maintenance of a district office, as well as $4,000 for postage. Pursuant to House Democratic Caucus (“Caucus”) procedures, Veon could seek additional funds from Caucus leadership if he exhausted his $20,000 allocation, and it was not uncommon for Caucus members to do so. In 1991, Veon formed the Beaver Initiative for Growth (“BIG”), a non-profit corporation. BIG received all of its funding from public sources, primarily through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”). Veon's Beaver County district office initially shared space with BIG, but opened two more district offices, for which the rent easily exceeded his caucus allotment. Veon was criminally charged with various offenses relating to BIG paying the district offices' rents. After some charges were withdrawn, Veon went to trial on nineteen counts. In the portion of the jury charge that was relevant to Veon’s appeal to the Supreme Court, the trial court defined the pecuniary requirement in the conflict of interest statute. The statute prohibited public officials from leveraging the authority of their offices for “private pecuniary benefit;” at issue here was whether or not that benefit extended to what the trial court in this case referred to as “intangible political gain.” In addition, another issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Commonwealth could receive restitution following prosecution of a public official for a crime involving unlawful diversion of public resources. The Court concluded the trial court committed prejudicial error in its jury charge regarding conflict of interest, and that it erred in awarding restitution to the DCED. Veon's judgment of sentence was vacated, the matter remanded for a new trial on conflict of interest, and for other proceedings. View "Pennsylvania v. Veon" on Justia Law

by
In 2001, Appellant Daniel Goodson was involved in a car accident. His insurance company paid $6,300 for the loss to the bank which still held title to the Appellant's car; Appellant received $135. Appellant, dissatisfied with his "meager" share of the insurance proceeds, presented a forged check for $6,300 to his bank with which to open a new account. The bank permitted Appellant to withdraw several thousand dollars before learning that the check was forged. The insurance company confirmed that it had not paid Appellant $6,300. Appellant paid back all the money he had withdrawn, but the State still pressed charges for forgery, insurance fraud and theft. Defendant challenged his sentence and conviction, arguing that he was not guilty of insurance fraud, and that his sentence was accordingly unreasonable. Finding that the trial court erred in convicting Appellant on insurance fraud charges, the Supreme Court remanded the case for resentencing based on forgery and theft. View "Pennsylvania v. Goodson" on Justia Law