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Despite the fact that our world is growing at an extensive rate and in many dimensions, we also have to confess that this adjustment is coming with its own load of setbacks. The modern world comprises a number of innovations and technical ideas which have gained an extensive use in many a fraternity. This implies that the use of technology and the incorporation of modern innovations and ideas have found its use in almost all aspects and areas of life. Some of the most commonly touched areas include; the industries, the business fraternity, the sport, education as well as the music fraternity.
The incorporation of innovative and current ideas has brought a lot of bliss and hence improved effectiveness in these fields. However, the fact that some of these high profile provisions are at the dispensation of certain individuals has led to the existence of avenues of crime (Zuckoff 2005). By taking advantage of positions as well as the ideas that an individual may have above the others, people have taken part in a number of high profile crimes. Such crimes committed by people of high status in the society are referred to as white collar crimes. Much of this could have been handled in the other cases although revisiting it can help lay an emphasis on what will make the subject of discussion in this case.
Both white collar and corporate crimes have become common in our countries today. A number of things might be attributed to the rise in this occurrence yet the most vivid one can be linked to the advancement in technology and improvement in several sectors. Each of these in a unique way has given room or appropriate platforms for the criminals to go about their conspiracies using the easiest channels without being noticed. The emergence of White collar crimes has brought about a number of effects both to the society and to the world at large. This explains why carrying out studies and research related to such crimes is a vital approach which can then be manipulated to come up with the right if not effective solutions to these problems.
In line with that, this work shall comprise a detailed analysis of certain issues revolving around a famous white collar criminal; Lou Pearlman. While exploring some of his deeds in line with these criminal activities, a number of factors will be discussed and outlined. Each of these aspects will all go a long way in giving a better picture of the effects of white collar crimes, for instance how they get to cost the individuals and the society as a whole. At the same time, some tacit solutions will be outlined and these can be used as starting points which can be applied in a bid to avoid repetition of such criminal occurrences.
Before moving to give a deeper detail of some of the activities that this criminal got involved in, it is vital to give a brief overview in line with the aspect of a Ponzi scheme. It is more than notable that the individual was sentenced for a long period of time. This can only trigger the equal conclusion that the magnitude of this crime was not a mere thing to go by let alone overlook.
So what is a Ponzi scheme? It can be described as an illegal operation in the field of investment in which separate investors are paid their returns through a weird form of channel. The interesting part of it all is that the payment of the investors does not arise from any specific profit but the organization handles it. The organization does this either by using their own money or by using the money paid to them by the subsequent investors (Zuckoff 2005). This scheme has a unique way of luring the investors, for instance, they are offered the kind of returns that other investment companies cannot. These may be in form of returns obtained on a short time basis. The intriguing feature of these returns is that they are usually abnormally high or perhaps consistent in a unique manner.
In order to achieve the effective perpetuation of the returns advertised by a Ponzi scheme, there is need for a continuous flow of money. At the same time, there should be an ever increasing trend in this flow especially from the investors as this is the sure way of keeping the scheme going. Due to the fact that the earnings in this scheme are usually less than the payments, the system is usually destined to collapse. When it does, the master minds get lost with the money hence resulting in huge amounts of losses. Such losses are usually incurred by investors who got involved or rather were enticed into it causing them to take part without having an idea of what the end has in store. This is one example of a high profile white collar crime which involves the flow of large amounts of money through underground channels and away from the noses of legal authorities.
Due to its immense nature, it gets to reach a point when the business done within spills over to the public. In most cases, this happens once the criminals have disappeared with the investors’ money hence (Dunn 2004). They are then reported by the victims in a bid to reverse the loss. The scheme is therefore interrupted by the legal authorities before its collapse. This is done when an anomaly is suspected in an investment process for instance a situation where a promoter sells unregistered securities. The above information therefore explores the contents if a Ponzi scheme hence we now have an idea of what Lou Pearlman involved himself in. The name of the scheme is derived from the identity of Charles Ponzi, an individual who became famous for employing the use of this technique in the year 1920.
We can then proceed to set the ball rolling for this discussion by narrowing down our analysis to the life and deeds of Lou Pearlman. So we might want to begin this by seeking to answer the question; who is Lou Pearlman? The man who was born in 1954 is a former impresario of popular boys’ bands. Some of these include; The Backstreet Boys, O-Town and NSYNC. Going by the contents of his autobiography, one gets to realize that this individual began to rub shoulders with fame at a stage so early. His popularity and gain of credentials started as early as high school where he used his influential nature, for instance, to get a ride on a blimp.
While still young, he was already business minded or perhaps money minded if you will. This can well explain why he managed to develop an intriguing business plan during his first year at Queens College. His plan was for a class project which was based on the idea of a Helicopter taxi service in New York. By 1970 he already had the business going and hence launched it using one helicopter before liaising with Theodor, a German businessman to get more ideas on the use and operation of blimps (Handy 2007). This venture was then followed by him getting back to America and then establishing a number of airstrips before switching his fascination to the entertainment industry.
In the music industry he started as a manager to two bands which performed and sold millions of albums all over the world. The success of this venture with him as the manager instantly made him a music mogul. Perhaps it is due to his extensive touch with money that he constantly was involved in lawsuits where people filed charges against him for a number of reasons. A part from the Ponzi scheme which is actually one of the major reasons as to why he was sentenced to jail for 25 ways, Lou had formerly been involved in a string of criminal activities. He constantly brushed shoulders with the federal government over allegations which ranged from illegal investment activities to other more personal/physical crimes as sexual assault.
Perhaps it is because of the many criminal activities that he engaged in and kept escaping convictions that led to his long service when he was finally caught. Apart from one US5 band, all the other music bands with which Lou worked have sued him in the Federal court before. It is interesting that all these cases have always been won by the individuals or parties who filed the cases against him. In some situations, the cases have ended up being settled out of court, perhaps through compensation of the losses incurred or damages caused. At the same time, all these cases have always ended up with an agreement of confidentiality which implies that none of the parties is given room to carry out any detailed discussion of Pearlman’s practices. Perhaps this explains why most of his crimes managed to stay underground for a long period of time before he was actually exposed and caught.
For instance, the Backstreet Boys band for which he doubled both as a producer and a manager filed a law suit against him posing the feeling that the contract they had with him was unfair (Zuckoff 2005). At the same time, the fellow boys band NSYNC had similar issues against him. His line of criminal activities became so rampant that even a 14 year old Pop star filed a lawsuit against him in 2002. The accuser alleged that Pearlman and his transnational records cheated him out of hundreds of dollars. This matter was later settled out of court but it gave a sure picture of Pearlman’s deliberate involvement in a vivid pattern of criminal activity. On top of that he was also involved in some other scandals like the talent scouting scandal. At the same time, he was also sued on allegations of involvement in certain sexual activities which were considered inappropriate and illegal.
The above mentioned are just but a few activities that Pearlman involved himself in. However, the one which will form the major part of discussion in this case is his involvement in what has been considered to be one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the United States of America since. In the year 2006, it was discovered that this individual had spearheaded a Ponzi scheme which was not only one of the largest but also the longest running. This already exposes the fact that this scheme involved the flow of numerous amounts of money. According to the obtained statistics, it was concluded that the scheme left over three hundred million dollars in debts (Dunn 2004). After he was caught while on the run, Pearlman pleaded guilty to money laundering, conspiracy as well as the mistake of making false statements during a proceeding on bankruptcy. He was then convicted in the year 2008 after which he was sentenced to serve a 25 years jail term.
From the brief introduction of the case above, it is already a fact so evident that the scheme that Pearlman involved himself in had a huge magnitude. This can perhaps be confirmed by looking at the amount of money that was left in debts when the scheme collapsed or rather discovered. Its effects were therefore massive. With that in mind, we shall therefore proceed explore in a detailed manner the beginning, the perpetration and the end of this scheme.
Apart from the many things that could have tarnished the image of this individual, it is the Ponzi scheme that would prove to be the major cause of his downfall. In 2006, from the investigations carried out by the legal authorities, it was discovered that he had perpetrated a long running Ponzi scheme. In this scheme, a good number of investors were defrauded. The scheme is argued to have taken a period of about 20 years. During this time, he enticed both individuals as well as banks hence causing them to invest his two companies, The Trans Continental Airlines Travel Inc and The Trans Continental Airlines (Handy 2007). One the things that could well raise eyebrows but perhaps did not is the fact that these companies only existed on paper.
During the period of the perpetration of the crime, Pearlman employed the use of falsified AIG, FDIC and Lloyd of London documents. He used them to win the trust of the investors in what he called the Employee Investment Savings Account program. Furthermore, the financial statements which he used were equally fake. He worked together with a fictitious accounting firm called Cohen and Siegel in order to make these statements. These are the very statements which he then used to secure bank loans. All these were a seemingly smooth flow of activities which not only provided the picture that this investment operation was a successful one but also ensured that it stayed unnoticed for such a long period of time.
The main approach which was given to this white collar crime was the conduction of a thorough investigation on some of the pertinent issues in relation to the matter. In 2007, it was announced by the Florida regulations that The Trans Continental Savings program was in actual sense a huge fraud. In connection to that, the state immediately assumed ownership of the company (Liston 2008). The revelation of the conspiracies was unearthed after a series of crackdown and analytic measures were conducted in line with operations of Pearlman and company as a whole. This is the very approach that led to the discovery that he used fake documents and illegal methods to attract investors into his trap.
Despite being caught, most of the money which he had collected from people was gone. This was estimated at 95 million dollars. In a bid to solve this problem, Judge Rene Roche of the Orange Country Circuit gave an order to Pearlman together with two of his advocates to return any assets that they had illegally obtained to the state. Such assets included any of those that he had obtained and taken abroad as a result of illegal transactions.
While he was trying to run away from the officials, he was arrested in Indonesia on June 14, 2007. He was then indicted by a federal grand jury on the 27th of June the same year. After the indictment, Pearlman was charged with three counts of bank fraud, one count of wire fraud as well as a count of mail fraud. Consequently he was sentenced to a 25 years imprisonment on May 21, 2008. This was after he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, making false statement during a bankruptcy proceeding and acts of money laundering. While he was being sentenced, the District Judge gave him a chance to reduce the length of his jail term. The Judge offered to reduce the sentence by one month for every Million dollar which Pearlman would help a trustee to recover.
The above given outline therefore shows the detailed circumstances that led to the arrest of Pearlman and his subsequent sentence to a 25 year jail term. It is a fact worth noting that this white collar crime had a massive effect especially on the financial stability of the individuals who were involved in the investment program. As indicated in the statistical results, over $300 million dollars were in debts by the time the fraud was being discovered. Efforts made to recover the money bore no fruits. This is an issue which therefore affected not only the individuals who were involved in it but other companies which were attached to it as well as the state as a whole.
Furthermore, records also indicate that an additional $95 million dollars were lost and were never recovered during the perpetration of this crime. This is a loss which equally touched not only the individuals involved but also other parties the whole state. We therefore can estimate the cost of this fraud or rather the loss caused by this crime to about $400 million dollars. This is quite a lofty bunch.
In a bid to obtain a solution to this problem, the legal systems employed the use of a number of strategies some of which have briefly been mentioned above. For instance, during the proceedings Pearlman was ordered to bring back to the state every asset he had taken abroad on an illegal basis. At the same time, the offer to reduce his sentence by one month for every one million dollar he helped a bankruptcy trustee to recover was another strategy to draw money from Pearlman back to the state. In addition to that, by the time he was being sentenced, an order was given by the preceding Judge that individual investors were to be paid first before institutions. In other words, the amount of money and the assets which were to be recovered from the Pearlman would to be distributed to the victims. During this distribution, the individual investors would be considered first followed by other companies or institutions which could equally have been victimized in this operation.
In conclusion, the information which has been outline above, in line with the main subject of discussion shows the extent to which white collar crimes can be detrimental. The effects of these crimes are not only felt by individual but also by the society as a whole. This is mainly because the criminal activities are usually realized when it is almost too late. This time finds in most cases when large amounts of money have fraudulently disappeared. Efforts to revive such situations barely lead to much good despite the fact that the legal authorities try to employ some of the most effective approaches.
Lou Pearlman whose issue on the Ponzi scheme formed the main discussion in this paper is a good example of the many criminals out there who might not have been found yet. They continue to ply their trade under the table and remain unnoticed. However, the fact that Pearlman was an unveiled, arrested and eventually sentenced to such a long period should serve as a good example to the would be perpetrators. As matter of facts, white collar crimes are far much too costly to ignore. Because of that, the war against them and the deserved prosecution of those found guilty should be given a high priority in this bid to fight crime.
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