The sociologist Edwin Sutherland originally coined the phrase white-collar crime while attempting to understand and classify criminals of high status and respectability. Today, white-collar crime generally refers to fraud and theft in the business and government sectors. Additionally, white-collar offenses are typically devoid of physical violence — the end goal is financial gain.
First created in the early 20th century, the Ponzi scheme is a perfect example of a classic white-collar crime. Earlier this month, Ohio man Gregory L. Crabtree, 52, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in the sale of a security for his part in a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.
Part of the plea deal Mr. Crabtree accepted was the agreement that had the case gone to trial, the prosecution would have been able to prove certain facts, including the following:
Former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan was allegedly in charge of recruiting investors while Crabtree took care of day-to-day operations.
Crabtree and Donnan offered and sold short-term investments and advertised to potential investors that their business bought close-out and discontinued merchandise and was able to resell the goods for profit.
The men lied to investors and told them merchandise was presold and their business was profitable and stable.
Rates of 50 – 200 percent were promised to investors.
The federal government treats white-collar crimes seriously. If you suspect you may be under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service or any other law enforcement branch, consult a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your legal options.