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Man pleads guilty to fraud charges related to bakery business

Missouri executives have access to funds in most businesses. Any of them with criminal tendencies might be tempted to acquire some for personal use. White collar crime, including embezzlement and fraud, can start with taking a dollar or two that one feels won't be missed. But once begun, it may be that access to huge sums of money creates a slippery slope.

A strong criminal defense advocate can help when an investigation points to you. Regardless of the charges, your rights must be protected. Carefully reviewing evidence, dealing with prosecutors and defending or defeating the charges are all tasks that benefit from skill and experience.

For example, a large bakery mail-order business is reportedly missing about $16.6 million. The former controller of the fruitcake company was charged with several counts of criminal activity. Investigators report he wrote fraudulent checks from a business account to pay personal creditors. He and his wife, who is also charged with money laundering and several related acts, allegedly enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle, including use of a private jet, between 1998 and 2013.

According to reports, the defendant earned about $50,000 annually, and his wife didn't work outside the home. In a deal with prosecutors, the 65-year-old pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, making a false statement to a financial institution and mail fraud. The reduced charges carry potential jail time totaling 60 years, and fines of almost $3 million. As part of the negotiation, he agreed to make restitution. Prosecutors seek return of real estate and other items such as jewelry, collectibles, gold, wine, guns and furs. Records show sentencing is set for Sept. 10. The executive's wife is free on bond, scheduled for trial on Aug. 25.

Crimes such as embezzlement are often proven through an extensive paper trail. A knowledgeable review of the investigative evidence combined with a clear understanding of the personal circumstances involved will allow for an effective defense strategy. This may lessen the long-term consequences to career, family and finances, and help determine if trial should be avoided, and negotiations with prosecutors should become the focus.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Fruitcake King Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud" David Lee, May. 22, 2014

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