Two Louisiana women have recently been convicted for alleged fraud in relation to the BP oil spill settlement. It is claimed that the two women filled out fraudulent financial assistance applications in an attempt to obtain additional compensation in the settlement.
One of the women supposedly wired in a false earnings statement when attempting to claim she lost a significant amount of wages following the oil spill. The other woman reportedly sent in non-existent tax returns to claim that she was also making non-existent wages prior to the spillage taking place. Though both women were facing possible imprisonment of 20 years and fines of up to $250,000, both women instead were placed on probation under the condition that they paid back the money that authorities reported they received.
As in all criminal cases, the burden is upon the prosecution to prove a white collar crime occurred. Though it sometimes may seem to those charged with a crime that there is no other option to accept the sentence proposed by the prosecution, it generally is worth getting a second opinion from a seasoned criminal defense attorney.
Without knowing about the circumstances of this particular case, we cannot know how strong of a case those prosecuting attorneys had against the women. However, the fact that the sentence was greatly reduced from what it could have been indicates that there could have been wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes involving the attorneys for the women and the prosecutors. In those circumstances where a criminal sentence cannot be avoided, a reduced sentence could be viewed as somewhat a victory for those that are charged.
Source: The Louisiana Record, “Sentences handed out for fraudulent claims stemming from 2010 BP oil spill,” Kyle Barnett, Aug. 12, 2013