Former Michigan State Professor Indicted on Fraud Charges
A prominent robotics expert and former professor at Michigan State University stands accused of defrauding MSU and other organizations, according to a February 19, 2018 report from Western Michigan CBS affiliate WWMT News Channel 3. The criminal complaint alleges that the man submitted false reimbursement claims for travel and other expenses, collecting more than $400,000 from January 2011 to January 2016 through his fraudulent efforts. Authorities allege that the professor would alter or completely fabricate receipts, or collect funds for products purchased and then refunded; he then used the funds to pay off considerable credit card debt. The specific charges are numerous instances of fraud, one of many white collar crimes under Michigan law.
Elements of a Fraud Case
In a white collar fraud crime case, the prosecuting attorney must show that:
- The accused made or presented a false statement to a person or entity. In the case involving MSU, there are allegations that the former professor submitted falsified receipts to support a request for reimbursement.
- The accused presented the false statement intended that the person or entity use the information. The criminal complaint against the defendant in the Michigan case intended that organizations use the receipts as justification to make payment to him.
- The person or entity did, in fact, use the information without knowing it was false. MSU and other organizations did submit payments to the accused defendant, in the amount of $429,000 according to the allegations.
- By using the information, the person or entity suffered damages. MSU and others sustained damages by making unwarranted payments to reimburse the former professor.
Note that prosecutors must prove all of these four elements of a fraud case to obtain a conviction. Failure to establish any one beyond a reasonable doubt will result in a dismissal of the charges.
Criminal Penalties for a Fraud Conviction
Under Michigan law, the penalties for a conviction on fraud charges depends upon the value of the damages.
- Where the value of the misappropriated property is less than $200, you face up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- A fraud conviction for property valued at $200 to $999 is punishable by a maximum of one year incarceration and $2,000 fine.
- When the damages range from $1,000 to $19,999, a conviction could lead to a prison sentence up to five years and a $10,000 fine.
- For property valued at $20,000 but less than $50,000, your sentence could be a maximum of 10 years in jail and a $15,000 fine.
- Damages ranging from $50,000 to $99,999 may lead to a sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.
- Where the value of the fraud is $100,000, a judge may sentence you to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Contact a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Regarding White Collar Crime Charges
The stakes are high when you are facing fraud or other types of white collar crime allegations, so you should trust a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to represent your interests. For more information or to schedule a consultation at our Grand Rapids, MI office, please contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office at 616-698-0000. You can also visit our website to learn more about our criminal defense services.