Individuals involved in running a business or organization with other people run the risk of being accused of wrongdoing when one of the owners or organizers is charged with fraud and other crimes. New Jersey charity organizers can learn a lesson from a recent case in which commission of a federal crime by one of two charity organizers could have had dire consequences for the other one.
A co-founder of a charity created to raise money for victims of a shooting at an elementary school noticed a discrepancy in the organization's deposit accounts and alerted federal authorities. An investigation revealed evidence that the other co-founder took money from the charity. Federal charges filed against the individual included wire fraud which is the use of a telephone or other electronic means of communication, including the Internet, to take property from others by the use of fraud.
Prosecutors can charge someone with wire fraud in connection with other crimes in which money is taken from victims through the use of fraud and deceit. Criminal activities involving mortgage fraud, an investment scam and bank fraud might lead to a wire fraud charge if the individual suspected of committing the crime used the Internet or a telephone to communicate with the victim.
The charity co-founder was fortunate to avoid being caught up in the investigation into the official misconduct and fraud that surrounded the organization. Although it is referred to as a white-collar crime that might make not sound as serious as some other criminal offenses, fraud is a serious violation of federal law that could result in harsh penalties including imprisonment and fines.