The criminal defense attorneys at Heiferman & Associates have been helping defendants in Queens who are accused of money laundering clear their name, and defend their rights, for over 20 years.
Justin Heiferman cut his teeth prosecuting white collar crime cases with the Nassau County District Attorney Economic Crimes (Financial Crime) Bureau, and working in finance. Now, he leads a team of aggressive defense attorneys who are well-known for the work they do on behalf of residents of Flushing and the surrounding areas who have been accused of white collar crimes. The firm’s mix of criminal defense and business savvy serves clients well.
Money Is At The Core Of The Big Apple
New York City has been the financial capital of America since colonial days. It has more billionaires per capita than any other city in the world. It has a start-up scene that rivals Silicon Valley. If NYC were a country, its economy would be bigger than Switzerland’s. And all this money attracts crime like a magnet.
Money is the world’s biggest driver of criminal activity. Most criminals do not get into the criminal world because they enjoy a life of crime, they get into it because it is a quick way to make a buck… or a few thousand bucks.
Money laundering then becomes important because ill-gotten gains can be difficult to hide away or spend without drawing unwanted attention. If you can turn dirty money into something legitimate, you can both hide your criminal activity and gain a respectable-looking foothold in the broader economy. This legitimate veneer can in turn disguise more criminal activity.
Uncle Sam Takes Money Laundering Seriously
Money laundering is a victimless, white collar crime. It does not injure anyone or make the streets less safe at night. But if you get caught, you are not getting a slap on the wrist.
The government takes money laundering extremely seriously. People who are convicted of it may spend years in prison depending on the amount of money involved, the method of concealment, and the severity of crime that made the money dirty in the first place.
There are two reasons why the government is so intent on punishing money laundering. First, the government takes offense to the fact that criminal proceeds are not taxable. Uncle Sam wants his cut of the action.
Second, when money flows, it leaves a trail. The government often follows this trail in order to investigate suspected criminal activity. Money laundering makes that trail impossible to follow.
The Government Wants Its Cut
During Prohibition, the government realized it could nab gangsters who were good at hiding their suspected criminal activity by going after them for tax evasion. The Supreme Court even ruled that being forced to file a tax return does not violate the 5th Amendment’s protections against self-incrimination. Al Capone is perhaps the most well-known criminal prosecuted in this manner. He was imprisoned not for the many murders he was suspected of, but for not paying taxes.
The government sees money laundering as something that interferes with its ability to go after criminals for tax crimes, or as a way to commit tax crimes in and of itself. Both the state of New York and the federal government have made money laundering a crime for this reason. It is therefore possible to be charged in both state court and federal court for the same offense.
Follow The Money
The second reason the government comes down hard on money laundering is because it makes it harder for investigators to track down other crimes.
The expression is “crime doesn’t pay” but the reality is it does pay, often quite well. That is why many people commit financial crimes. Sometimes the only available evidence of crime is the money that it generates. By following the money, the government can gather information on what crimes are occurring and who is involved.
Money laundering makes following the money impossible because it mingles illicit funds with legitimately earned money. Because it frustrates the government’s investigations, lawmakers decided to make money laundering itself a crime.
An Expanding Definition on Money Laundering
The government likes prosecuting people for money laundering so much it continues to expand the definition of the crime.
Today, it is not just gangsters who use a cash-generating business to hide other funds that are being charged with money laundering. Doctors and lawyers who deposit a check into the wrong account, or commit billing errors are also being charged with money laundering. People in finance who would previously be lauded for their cleverness are being charged for innovative transactions.
The government is going money laundering crazy because it is easy for prosecutors to intimidate people into pleading guilty, giving them an easy win.
Experience You Can Trust
At Heiferman & Associates, we are not intimidated by money laundering charges. Our firm has over 20 years of experience handling both criminal and financial matters. We enjoy the challenge of defending cases where those worlds intersect. We have legal and accounting backgrounds. We aggressively defend clients in state and federal courts in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere.
You can trust our criminal defense attorneys to aggressively defend you against charges of money laundering in both state and federal court. The government must prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt, and there is always room for doubt when financial decisions and documents are the main evidence prosecutors are relying on.
If you have been charged with money laundering, and you do not want to roll over and accept the charges like the government expects you to do, the Heiferman Law team is here to help. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.