Birmingham Criminal Defense Blog

Alabama Woman Charged With Tax Refund Theft of $550,000

Posted in White Collar Crime, Your Rights

Federal tax crimes are becoming increasingly targeted by prosecutors across the country. Alabama is no exception.

In a recent case, an Alabama woman was indicted by a federal grand jury alleging she engaged in a tax refund scheme and fraudulently collected more than $550,000. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham, the charges include grand theft of government property, wire fraud, and money laundering. The indictment accuses that the defendant stole tax payer refunds between February of 2013 and February of 2014.
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The defendant also faces wire fraud charges, allegedly for causing the IRS to electronically transfer over $500,000 in fraudulent tax refunds from outside Alabama. According to the indictment, the defendant opened a bank account and filed fraudulent tax returns. Federal prosecutors allege defendant used ill-gotten returns to purchase a luxury Lexus ES350.

Penalties upon conviction, including fines and jail terms, could be severe. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, defendant is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The IRS has initiated an exceptionally large number of investigations this year into identity theft and other refund fraud schemes. The new identity theft investigations have resulted in more than 1,800 active cases throughout the United States. The IRS Criminal Investigation department is working as part of a larger effort in collaboration with the IRS to combat identity theft and refund fraud. According to both departments, the goal is to hold identity thieves accountable and prevent future fraudulent refunds from being issued. The agency also wants to protect victims from tax fraud losses.

Given the proliferation of internet use and widespread data sharing, more people have been able to commit tax fraud by accessing data and using online filing systems to collect refunds. The IRS claims it is one of the fastest-growing crimes nationwide and one of the biggest challenges to the agency. Representatives claim they are making substantial progress in combating refund fraud.

However, this means that more people will be scrutinized, investigated and charged. If you are under investigation by the IRS for federal tax fraud or other crimes, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to protect your rights and prevent unwarranted charges and penalties.

If you are contacted by the IRS involving an investigation or potential criminal allegation, remember not to go through the interrogation process without a lawyer. Our Birmingham defense attorneys are experienced in complex identity theft and computer crimes cases and can effectively protect your rights.

If you made a mistake or were wrongly accused of tax fraud, you need an experienced attorney who can protect your rights.

Even if you purposely misstated the facts on your return, it is important to consult with an attorney so you are not over-charged in federal court. Since the beginning of 2014, the Criminal Investigation department of the IRS has worked aggressively to pursue and prosecute crimes related to tax refund fraud.

If you have been arrested in Birmingham, call Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Aggressive Prosecution of Cyber Crimes in Alabama, November 3, 2013, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

United States v. Paladino: On Federal Child Pornography Charges

Posted in Sex Crimes

Being charged with possession or manufacture of child pornography is one of the most serious federal crimes in terms of sentencing.  If you are convicted of possession of child pornography, there is a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.  In other words, upon conviction, you will spend at least five years in a federal penitentiary. If you are convicted of manufacturing child pornography, there is a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.

In, United States v. Paladino, defendant unknowingly arranged to meet an undercover officer to obtain pornographic videos featuring young boys, after responding to an Internet advertisement.  After several email exchanges, defendant went to pick up the package from the undercover agent.   At that point, authorities attempted to arrest defendant, but he fled and led them on a high-speed chase.  During the chase, he struck several cars and threw away the package.  He was eventually apprehended. Continue Reading

United States v. Ridolfi: Constructive Possession in Firearms Cases 


Posted in Federal Criminal Appeals

Federal firearms offenses can carry serious penalties, including mandatory minimum sentences.  In United States v. Ridolfi, an appeal heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of one or more firearms, including two shotguns.

shotgun-shells-1207089-mAccording to court records, a man called police around four in the morning and told authorities that a man had just rung his doorbell and then walked away from his house.  Police were on scene in less than a minute and approached defendant, who was sitting in a car with another man.  As the caller described, both men were wearing winter hats with earflaps.

Defendant told police that he and his cousin were driving to his girlfriend’s house when they got lost. They pulled off the road to use their GPS.  The men were allegedly perspiring and acting nervous, so authorities pulled them out of the car and questioned them separately.  Defendant’s cousin said they were at the girlfriend’s house all night and were heading home. Both men denied ringing the doorbell. Continue Reading

United States v. Marks: Departure from Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Posted in Possession of Controlled Substance

United States v. Marks, an appeal heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, involved a defendant who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and to launder money.

cocaine-stripes-489547-mSeven years after pleading guilty, his attorney contacted the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) assigned to the case and told her that his client had knowledge of two inmates who had made a key that fit various locks in the prison and planned to escape.  In exchange for this information, he requested that his client receive a reduction in his sentence and that the AUSA draft a motion requesting such modification.

The AUSA did not draft the motion but did pass the information along to authorities at the prison.  The two inmates who were attempting to escape were transferred to a maximum-security facility. The AUSA then told defendant’s attorney that she would not be filing the motion, because he did not participate in a meaningful way in preventing the crime of escape. Continue Reading

Felony Charges Filed After Hit-and-Run and Interstate Manhunt

Posted in Alabama Manslaughter Law, Speeding/Traffic Tickets

Any accident involving personal injury or reckless driving, especially a hit-and-run, can result in serious criminal charges and penalties. In addition to the underlying charges related to the accident, defendants are likely to face additional charges penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident. After a multi-state investigation and ongoing manhunt, an Alabama man is facing felony charges for hitting a Mississippi Highway Patrolman’s vehicle and then fleeing the scene. The defendant was apprehended and is now facing criminal charges in Mississippi and Tennessee.

The 26-year-old resident of Gadsden was taken into custody on Highway 72 West. Officers received reports of a stolen vehicle and spent hours searching for the suspect with vehicles and a K9 unit. The defendant will be charged with Aggravated Assault on an Officer with a Deadly Weapon, Felony Fleeing, as well as misdemeanor traffic violations and misdemeanor drug possession. Officers reported that the defendant surrendered when he was approached. He was charged and booked in the Colbert County Jail, facing charges in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. Officers reported that the offenses commenced in Tennessee when he crashed into another vehicle and sped away. Police chased him from Tennessee into Mississippi when he smashed into the Mississippi Highway patrolman’s vehicle several times. The defendant continued on into Alabama on Highway 72 before he turned off on a county road and abandoned his vehicle. He was eventually caught on foot.

Leaving the scene of an accident will mean more severe criminal charges and penalties in the event you are caught. Whether the accident was your fault or not, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. Those who are caught can lose their license, face significant fines and go to jail. If you have fled the scene of an accident, or you were accused of leaving the scene of an accident, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our Birmingham criminal defense lawyers are experienced in providing sound counsel and strategic advocacy in hit and run cases. We understand that the criminal process can be overwhelming and will help you in navigating the criminal justice system.

Under the Alabama Code Title 32, Chapter 10, individuals who are involved in a motor vehicle accident have a duty to remain on the scene. When involved in an accident, you must provide your name, address, insurance, contact information, and driver’s license to the other driver or to a law enforcement officer. In the event of an injury, you also have a duty to provide assistance, call 911, or make arrangements to get the other person to the hospital. Any accident resulting in an injury must be reported to police. In this case, the defendant allegedly fled the scene without reporting any injuries or property damage.

The defendant in this case is facing severe felony charges for fleeing the scene of an accident and assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon. Both of these charges could result in significant time behind bars. If convicted, he could face 10 years in prison, significant fines, and loss of license, as well as court costs, restitution payments and other penalties.

More Blog Entries:

Alabama Criminal Convictions Profitable for Private Prisons, Sept. 20, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Alabama Crimestoppers Hits $100,000 in Payouts

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law

Law enforcement agencies will pursue every available avenue when looking to build a case. Whether tracking suspects, reviewing surveillance evidence, or reaching out to potential informants, collecting evidence is critical to getting a conviction. According to WFSA local reports, Alabama Crimestoppers has awarded more than $100,000 to informants who have helped law enforcement solve crimes throughout the state. While the prosecution benefits from disposable funds, many defendants do not have the same luxury when building their defense.

The Central Alabama Crimestoppers organization works closely with law enforcement departments throughout the state. According to a representative, the agency just recently used its resources to distribute information to news media, field phone calls, and interview informants to apprehend individuals suspected of a burglary. The agency is responsible for collecting any information relevant to stopping a crime or catching individuals who have committed a crime. They will often take calls from relatives of a suspect, someone who knows the suspect, such as a neighbor or colleague, or another individual who has had contact with a suspect, such as a bank teller. In contacting Crimestoppers, the informants can report potentially incriminating information without facing retaliation. The organization offers an anonymous tip line to help protect informants who want to report a crime.

While law enforcement agencies can use anonymous tip lines, defendants should be aware that they are up against multiple agencies and unidentified informants. When facing criminal charges, it is important to work with an experienced defense attorney who can leverage the playing field. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are experienced with independent investigations on behalf of our clients. We will also review all evidence submitted by the prosecution and look for any evidence that was illegally obtained or is inadmissible on other grounds. When up against the significant resources of law enforcement agencies throughout Alabama, defendants need strategic and aggressive advocacy to reduce charges and penalties.

Representatives from Crimestoppers report that they don’t have caller ID or voicemail; however, they do have a live answering service 24-hours a day. Crimestoppers has been used to pursue criminal charges in a wide range of cases, involving petty theft or property crimes, as well violent crimes, kidnappings, bank robberies, or homicides. While Crimestoppers enthusiasts say that the hotline helps to get criminals off the street, it also can result in false reports and false accusations. A woman seeking to prevent her husband from getting custody can report violent crimes or make other false reports to invoke criminal charges.

Anyone with a motive for revenge or retaliation can use the hotline without consequences. For individuals who are under investigation or charged with a crime, the results can be life-altering. A conviction can result in a damaged reputation, significant fines, loss of custody, prison time, and other penalties. If you have been charged because of an anonymous tip, an experienced attorney can help you to protect your rights. While the Crimestoppers agents and law enforcement agencies believe that the hotline is a valuable tool, all evidence obtained through anonymous sources should be scrutinized. According to reports, information obtained through Crimestoppers has resulted in 1460 arrests since 1997. This year alone, the agency has already paid out over $8,000.

More Blog Entries:

Aggressive Prosecution of Cyber Crimes in Alabama, November 3, 2013, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Prison Overcrowding: Number of Inmates Still on the Rise in Alabama

Posted in Uncategorized

Alabama is already leading the nation with the highest rates of incarcerated inmates, especially for non-violent crimes. Despite significant declines in the sentences being handed down in Alabama, state prisons continue to be overcrowded. According to recent reports, there are several reasons. For one, the state suffers from delays in the parole and probation processes as well as other problems related to policies and laws that result in high numbers of inmates. Not only is this a burden to taxpayers, but it also means that many convicted offenders have been over-penalized for their offenses.

According to research, led by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and conducted by attorneys, judges, law enforcement officials, and advocacy groups, Alabama still has a problem with prison overcrowding. The Prison Task Form was created to spearhead reform to reduce overall spending, reduce incarceration rates, and improve public safety throughout the state. A research manager presented the first findings, showing a decline in arrests from 10,000 in 2009 to 7,000 in 2013. There has also been a near 25% drop in prison sentences since 2013. Despite these shifts, the prison population has remained the same.

Advocates suggest that part of the problem is that inmates have not been given credit for “good time,” which can help them earn credit towards a reduced sentence. This should be available to any inmates with sentences over 15 years, making up nearly 80% of the prison population. Research also indicates that nearly half the inmates who are eligible for parole have been waiting over a year. Those who have been convicted of drug or property crimes are eligible for parole but aren’t given the opportunity. Research shows that the parole rate has actually declined and the duration of time it takes to get released has actually been extended. This means fewer parole releases and longer prison sentences for inmates.

Researchers believe that the failure to parole inmates is due to a lack of pressure in the system. Another problem is that inmates are not given the help and resources they need to help with reintegration. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are committed to providing strategic counsel and defense from the outset. We understand the complications with the Alabama justice system and can help individuals charged with violent crimes, property crimes, drug related crimes, and other offenses protect their rights. Once convicted in Alabama, it can be difficult to get your sentenced reduced and reintegrate with a criminal record.

For many individuals who have been charged with a crime, getting assistance for addiction or other mental health conditions is necessary. The survey found that many inmates lacked resources and services to help with these conditions. The advocacy groups pointed to a need for increased community supervision and resources to help inmates reintegrate and prevent future arrests. The group also advocated for a review of the pardons and parole board to give more inmates the opportunity for release. Legislators are hoping for an overhaul and reform, including several bills that will be prepared for the March session.

More Blog Entries:

Lethal Drug Shortage: Future of Alabama Executions Unclear, April 14, 2014, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Montgomery Cocaine Dealer Convicted in Federal Court

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law

Drug crimes in Alabama are prosecuted aggressively and penalties handed down harshly. Whether being charged in state or federal court, individuals facing drug-related criminal charges need experienced and aggressive defense. In a recent case, a leading Montgomery cocaine dealer was convicted in federal court. According to reports, the alleged drug dealer was one of Montgomery’s largest cocaine dealers. He was convicted on nearly two dozen drug related counts in federal court. Law enforcement and prosecutors alleged that the defendant was managing a mass supply of cocaine in the area and was supplied by a major trafficking organization based out of California. Trafficking also occurred out of Atlanta.

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In any drug case, defendants must consult with advocates who can help them navigate the criminal justice system. This means helping with major decisions, including whether to plead guilty or not guilty, whether to accept a plea bargain and representation during police interrogations, as well as advocacy throughout the criminal trial process. This defendant was the only target who didn’t plead guilty before trial. All other defendants cut a deal with the prosecution.  Reports indicated that the defendant elected to go to trial despite a significant body of evidence against him, including a palm print on a bag of cocaine.

Drug cases can be challenged on a number of grounds. From illegal search and seizure to challenging involvement, the transaction, and whether the substance was actually illegal, it is important that an experienced attorney review every possible defense. Our Birmingham  defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. We will take a comprehensive approach to identify every weakness in the prosecution’s case, clarify a defense strategy, and work aggressively to defeat charges or reduce penalties.

According to reports, the jury deliberated for three hours before returning a guilty verdict on over 20 criminal charges. The deck was stacked against the defendant, as authorities had seized nearly 12 kilos of cocaine and $17,000 in cash from false compartments in his truck. There was also a significant amount of crack cocaine seized from the truck. According to authorities, the street value of the drugs seized in the raid was over $1 million. After a search of the defendant’s home, officers also recovered $10,000 cash. In any drug case, the methods and search and seizure process should be reviewed. Any cash or drugs that were illegally obtained, without consent or a search warrant, can be suppressed from evidence. In some cases, getting evidence thrown out can result in the complete dismissal of a case.

The defendant was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice. Federal investigators were interested in the interstate case as the defendants were allegedly trafficking significant shipments. An Assistant U.S. Attorney reported that official sentencing recommendations have not yet been made to the court. The amount of cocaine involved in this case is likely to increase the sentence which will be handed down in December. Two of the other defendants in this case have already been sentenced.

More Blog Entries:

Lethal Drug Shortage: Future of Alabama Executions Unclear, April 14, 2014, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Alabama Band Teacher Accused of “Bondage Sex” With Students

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law

Sex crimes allegations and charges will often arise between students and teachers, students and coaches or other authorities. In a high-profile case, an Alabama high school band teacher has been accused of forcing at least 8 female students into what authorities have labeled, “bondage-style sex.” The alleged victims have stated that the band teacher abused them over a three-year period. The teacher was arrested earlier this month and could face severe charges and penalties. The 32-year-old band teacher has been accused of gagging and tying up students and using bondage devices on them in the band room at a high school in Brewton.

Individuals who are accused of a sex crime or who are under investigation with regards to allegations of sexual abuse should consult with an experienced attorney. Our Birmingham sex crimes defense attorneys understand the severity of a sex crime allegation and the potential penalties faced by defendants. In addition to a conviction with potential penalties of fines or jail time, offenders will be placed on the sex offender registry for life. Our priority is to minimize the consequences of a sex crime allegation by protecting your rights through strategic and informed advocacy. We will work to protect your reputation, your family, and your future.

By all accounts, this teacher was a favorite among students and had a positive reputation throughout the district. According to a web bio, the teacher improved the band program by growing it from 70 to more than 100 students. He had been a teacher for 6 years before the arrest took place in Thomas, Georgia. According to authorities, the defendant was returned to Brewton where he faces one count of a school employee engaging with a sexual act with a student. Despite these initial charges, authorities maintain that this investigation is still in its early stages and the teacher could face additional charges. Authorities are urging other victims to come forward and share their stories.

The investigation started when one of the alleged victims reported her account to police. At the time that the suspected victims suffered the alleged abuses, they were between the ages of 15 and 17. According to reports, the teacher admitted to having sex with one of the students and has also admitted to sending text messages to others. Reports did not indicate whether defendant has hired an attorney since his arrest. If convicted, defendant will likely face the loss of his teachers license, fines, jail time, and be forced to register as a sex offender.

Sexual abuse allegations can negatively impact any professional, especially one that works with children or teens. Sadly, even if a defendant is acquitted or if a student makes false accusations, the stigma can often follow a teacher or professional for the rest of their career. Whether you are under investigation or have been charged with a sex crime, it is never too early or too late to involve an experienced attorney. Your rights are at stake, from the moment of interrogation or arrest, through trial.

For more information or to speak with an experienced Birmingham defense lawyer, contact Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Alabama Criminal Convictions Profitable for Private Prisons, Sept. 20, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

 

Alabama Student Fabricated Sexual Assault and Kidnapping

Posted in Alabama Criminal Law, Sex Crimes

False accusations can severely impact the lives of the accused and tie up valuable resources. In a recent and highly publicized Alabama case, a University of Alabama student falsified a report that she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted. Since the initial reports of the abduction,  university police have updated their press release stating that the alleged victim has “admitted to fabricating the event.” Despite the time and resources spent on the initial man hunt, authorities have determined that no assault occurred and that the investigation is closed. Is that really the end? What happens when an alleged victim comes clean and admits that a crime was not committed?

Unfortunately, fabricated police reports and false accusations happen, wreaking havoc on the lives of the accused and costing law enforcement valuable time and resources. In some cases a victim may want attention or they may seek revenge against a former spouse or other target. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. In the event that you are accused of a crime or you are being unfairly targeted in a criminal investigation, our attorneys can effectively protect your rights. We will take the time to review the facts of your case and challenge evidence presented against you. Our objective will be to defeat the underlying charges and minimize penalties in the event of a conviction.

In this case a woman alleged that three men pulled her into a vehicle and attempted to assault her. Immediately after she filed a report, the university police department issued a statement describing where the attack occurred. The victim also told police that she was forced inside a vehicle where to other men were waiting. She said that the men touched her inappropriately before she was able to fight them off and make her escape. According to her police statement, the vehicle drove off in an undetermined direction. She ultimately stated that no one was seriously injured in the attack. Investigators issued a public statement that they were seeking three men with “dark skin” driving in a black sedan.

Fortunately, no individual suspects were unfairly targeted, but the case is a reminder that police reports and statements can be falsified and that criminal charges may wrongly ensue. This is not the first time that a college student has faked a kidnapping. Last fall a Georgia student faked a kidnapping to hide a bad grade.

The costs of a false accusation can be immense. Not only does it waste valuable resources, but it detracts police from preventing real crimes. False accusations can be severely damaging to an alleged suspect. Even if a case is dismissed, the accused may face personal and professional repercussions. Fabricating a kidnapping or admitting to false accusations is also a crime and the accuser may be held criminally liable. If you were falsely accused of a crime, remember that you do have rights. An experienced advocate can review your case, conduct an independent investigation and challenge any accusations made against you.

If you have been arrested in Birmingham, call Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Lethal Drug Shortage: Future of Alabama Executions Unclear, April 14, 2014, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

Arrested Juveniles More Apt to Offer False Confessions, Sept. 24, 2013, Birmingham Drug Defense Lawyer Blog

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