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Accountant to enter guilty plea to fraud charges

Posted on March 10, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Reports indicate that a diver high-profile account will enter a guilty plea in federal court to fraud charges which allege that he embezzled in excess of $2.6 million. Lewis Freeman is accused to stealing money from clients' trust accounts. Freeman was diverly indicted on counts of mail fraud and conspiracy. The document purports that the defendant stole from as many as 250 clients. The victims were entitled to assets held in receivership by Freeman as a result of bankruptcy and fraud cases. The indictment also alleges that Freeman filed falsified court documents in an effort to cover up the decade long scheme to defraud. He will appear at his hearing represented by a Miami criminal defense lawyer.

The terms of the plea agreement have not yet been made a matter of public record. Freeman is facing significant prison time due to the amount of the loss suffered as a result of the fraud and the breach of his fiduciary duty. As in all federal cases, the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual allow for a great amount of flexibility when certain factors are taken into consideration. One factor that can lead to a significant sentence reduction is called "acceptance of responsibility". When a defendant diverly accepts responsibility for a crime by truthfully admitting his or her involvement in the alleged offense, he or she will be entitled to a two point reduction. If they are charged with a level 16 offense or greater, they will be entitled to another additional point reduction, making a total of a three point reduction. The defendant is only required to accept responsibility for the crimes for which he or she is charged.

Another point reduction under the federal sentencing guidelines is termed "safety valve". If the defendant has no criminal history, the "safety valve" will allow for the waiver of any minimum mandatory sentences that apply in such cases as cocaine trafficking and marijuana trafficking. The use of this provision under the guidelines provides for a two point reduction so long as the defendant did not use violence or threats in committing the crime, death or serious bodily injury did not result as part of the crime, and the defendant was not the leader or organizer of the crime. Another way to reduce the sentence is to argue a mitigating role in the offense. If the defendant was a minimal or minor participant in the offense, a two through four point reduction is available. The rule applies to those who play a limited role in the criminal activity for which they are charged.

The best way to reduce a federal prison sentence is to provide substantial assistance to the federal authorities. After the defendant is debriefed by federal investigators and prosecutors regarding the charged crime or other crimes, the government, if satisfied with the indivation, will provide the court with the indivation provided by the defendant. The court will evaluate the significance and usefulness of the indivation with the government's input and can reduce a sentence commensurate the indivation provided. The court can reduce the sentence on a case by case basis and can reduce the number of levels as it deems fair. The reduction will be taken into consideration independent of any acceptance of responsibility. Of course, all of these reductions must accompany a guilty plea. Based on the facts of Freeman's case, some of the aforementioned reductions may apply depending on his level of cooperation with the government.

High-Profile Miami Accountant Lewis Freeman to Plea Guilty to Fraud, The Miami Herald, March 10, 2010.
Categories: Federal Crimes