Government contracts fraud is an active area of law nationwide, and Dallas is no exception. When federal or state dollars are channeled through programs to individuals and companies, the public demands and, by law, has a right to see the results from those funds.
But Who Watches the Watchers?
Government personnel is the guardians against fraud and abuse of these taxpayer dollars, but they’re not infallible. One recent investigation found a pattern of favoritism for unfinished or shoddy work to a Dallas-based company ran by a pastor who had a close personal friendship with a municipal employee.
Throughout the years, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleges, the city employee channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding to his friend despite multiple reports of unsatisfactory work.
The Texas Monitor reports that both the city employee and the contractor remain under investigation with no indication of when it will wrap.
Defending Government Contracts Fraud
The situation described above is a reminder of how complex government contracts fraud can be. It begs certain questions such as, if one link in the chain is corrupt, is the entire chain corrupt? At what point does incompetence end and a felony begin?
Without proper oversight, these cases can escalate from a few thousand to millions of dollars in damages. How do you protect yourself if you’re involved with any such deal that comes under investigation, even if you’re not completely innocent? What options do you have?
Here are some of the best defenses to consider:
Ignorance of criminal activity: It’s certainly possible you might be the beneficiary of fraud without actually committing it. This is not a specific judgment on the Dallas case. Just a hypothetical. But let’s say the contractor was unaware he was benefitting from the illegal use of government funds. He could argue that before the court to evade charges provided the prosecution lacks the evidence to explicitly prove his knowledge of the activity.
Awareness, but lack of understanding: You might be aware there is an unfair advantage in the situation, but if you believe it to simply be a loophole or situational advantage instead of an illegal activity, a court may show leniency.
Giving back any monetary benefits derived from the fraud: A willingness to dispose of the ill-gotten gains may not get you out of trouble altogether, but it can certainly mitigate damages. Unfortunately, the proactivity needed to make this work is hard to prove once charges already have been filed. Depending on the evidence against you, you may be at the mercy of prosecutors in this scenario.
Your Best Option
Government contracts fraud can derail lives and businesses. If you feel you’ve been unfairly accused or if you simply need the best path forward, trust a Dallas criminal defense attorney with experience dealing in these types of cases. John Teakell has been doing it for more than a quarter of a century. Reach out to him online or drop by the Dallas office to learn more about your best legal options.
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]