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Manafort, College Admissions Scandal – Does the U.S. Need to Invest More in Catching White-Collar Criminals?

Should the U.S. invest more in combating white-collar crime?

by Countable | Updated on 3.14.19

What’s the story?

  • During Paul Manafort’s sentencing yesterday, his lawyers argued that the former Trump campaign chairman would never have ended up in a courtroom under normal circumstances.
“If not for a short stint as a campaign manager in a presidential election, I don’t think we’d be here today,” said Kevin Downing, Manafort’s lawyer.
  • A day earlier, while announcing charges in a massive college admissions scandal, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling noted: “We’re not talking about donating a building so that a school is more likely to take your son or daughter; we are talking about deception and fraud.”
  • Should it take a special counsel to catch tax fraud? Does there need be a massive conspiracy before we investigate admissions fraud? In summation: Does the U.S. need to invest more resources in catching white-collar criminals?

How much is spent?

  • Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had a budget of $7.6 billion in 2018. Border Patrol: $13.56 billion (2016). The FBI: $8.7 billion (2016).
  • As Vox explained, “Congress has elected to spend more than twice as much money on the two federal law enforcement agencies charged with stopping illegal immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, as they spend on the FBI.”
  • The FBI, they note, includes counterterrorism, counterintelligence, organized crime, and a range of other responsibilities—including policing white-collar crime.

What about sentencing?

  • In his first trial, Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison for an array of fraud charges—a sentence met with outrage by many legal experts.
"The sentence is very lenient, end of story," Duncan Levin, an expert in financial crimes and former federal prosecutor, told the BBC. "It is significantly lenient for a crime of this magnitude."
  • A 2017 study in the Iowa Law Review - Judging Federal White-Collar Fraud Sentencing: An Empirical Study Revealing the Need for Further Reform – reported that the majority of federal judges in white-collar cases "frequently sentence well below the fraud guideline".
"Federal trial judges now follow the advisory fraud guideline range in less than half of all cases," the authors wrote.
  • According to U.S. Sentencing Commission data, drug offenders on average serve much more time in prison than fraud offenders.

  • “Crimes committed in an office building should be treated as seriously as crimes committed on a street corner." -Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

What do you think?

Does the U.S. need to devote more resources to catching white-collar crime? Or is it a justice reform issue? Take action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

(Illustration Credit: Courtroom sketch of Paul Manafort / WILLIAM HENNESSY JR)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(175)
  • Ken
    Voted Yes
    03/14/2019
    ···

    Definitely. We spend so much time making sure the poor don’t get benefits simply because they’re poor. White collar crime usually involves high dollar tax evasion, bank fraud, money laundering, and other crimes against humanity. It’s not like all these white collar crimes are done in secret.

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  • Jackie
    03/14/2019
    ···

    Yes yes yes. They cost us billions of dollars

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  • Joseph
    Voted Maybe
    03/14/2019
    ···

    Unfortunately, throwing resources at crimes of opportunity and against integrity will just be a band aid on a gaping, hemorrhaging, gangrenous wound. The “system”, or “systems”, have been under attack for decades and what it will take to change the existing paradigm is often too overwhelming to contemplate. Money, wealth, and the delusional assumption of power & allowable actions money & wealth seems to permit has completely undermined the institutions this country once held dear and unassailable. Justice, political office, truth, education, religion, and many other institutions can be bought for a price now, and probably have been for a while. This downward spiral paradigm cheapens, corrupts, and dishonors many of the institutions this country once held vital, and possibly above all others. I shutter to think what catastrophe we will have to endure to see our institutions of integrity be reinstated. But then again, we are enduring several of them now with the current political environment, educational abuses, police abuses, journalistic abuses, political office and election abuses, global crises, environmental abuses...truly the list can go on & on. What will the outcome be as more & more abusers are getting caught? Will America return to the paradigm of truth above lying, hard work above shortcuts, integrity above dishonor, justice for all, all men are created equal, people above profits, freedom must equal responsibility? The most amazing truth of all is the decision & direction is up to us! At least that’s what this country was founded on over 240 years ago. We can no longer take anything for granted any more, and our participation can no longer be voluntary, it must now be compulsory. That, in part, is what Franklin meant when he stated we now have a Republic, as long as we keep it. And that takes action & public discourse every day. The road to Hell & all that it means is paved with good intentions. We need to divert from that path & that future NOW, or we will most certainly reap what we have sowed & create a future our children will damn us for.

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  • Ronald
    Voted No
    03/14/2019
    ···

    We should prosecute criminals. We should not go looking for a possible crime, that might have occurred.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    Voted Yes
    03/14/2019
    ···

    Yes, more Citizens are hurt by white-collar crime and often never receive any justice. Meanwhile, the white-collar Criminals often get off with, “please don’t do this again Mr. Bush, Mr. Trump, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Lay, Mr. CEO of any bank, or wall street investment group, CFO, Mr. FDA, Mr. USDA, Mr. Christian Priest, Mr. Oil & Gas man, Mr. Coal man, Mr. Politician.........

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  • Pascale
    03/15/2019
    ···

    Yes. Especially white-collar crime committed by the wealthy!

    Like (6)
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  • Pat
    Voted Maybe
    03/14/2019
    ···

    It needs to invest the same amount of money on all illegal activities. Since I don’t know the comparison between what is invested in “white collar” crimes and any other crime I can’t say it needs to invest more.

    Like (3)
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  • Chuck
    Voted No
    03/14/2019
    ···

    No I think they had better focus on these Treasonous Democrats and RHINO Republicans who have sold US out and their goal is to destroy the America we always loved that’s who the hell you should be focusing on!!!

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  • OlderNWiser
    Voted Yes
    03/14/2019
    ···

    Or, we could continue to imprison People of Color for no reason, sentence them to years of hard time, while patting white collar criminals on the back for destroying the lives of the 98% as we have been.

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  • Kate
    Voted Yes
    03/14/2019
    ···

    We have an epidemic of white collar crime. With the defunding of the IRS and other watchdog agencies and massive de-regulation, con artists, swidlers, fraudsters, and perjurers are multiplying. And modern technology and the prevalence of cybercrime makes it even easier to commit white collar crime. Billions of dollars are being stolen. Congress should focus on this problem.

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  • Annamarie
    Voted Yes
    03/14/2019
    ···

    White collar crime affect more citizens than any other type of crime. Stop ignoring this.

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  • Frances
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    And see that they are given more than a slap on the wrist and a short sentence in a country club like prison! They should have to go into a regular prison in gen pop!

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  • Scott
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    Corruption is acidic to our Republic! Look at what it did to Rome. Our nation is not immune to its effects. We must start getting serious about its prosecution!

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  • Richard
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    Normally the magnitude of white collar crimes impacts the finances many. My assumption is that their fines are not large enough. Take their money and investments. Too much jail time just costs us money for a life a unpleasantry but still not that harsh of a time in the federal prison.s

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  • Linda
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    And give them more than a slap on the wrist

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  • Lee
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    The rich have been walking free will minimal jail-time and /or fines for years when the much lesser crimes of the poor and working-class are given maximum punishment. The law is suppose to treat everyone equal and fairly. This is not the case. Police Murder on a daily bases and are nearly always acquitted and even get paid leave and retain their jobs when prison time would be proper justice. Rich kids kill with a car and might get 1-2 years community service. Poor kids with a joint? Look it up yourself..years in prison. Does that sound fair??

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  • Kat
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    This is a long time coming. Money has has privilidge. They also need to go to general pop. I think this could be humbling. None of this privilidge prison crap. They need to be treated like any other criminal bc that's who they are. They should also be sentenced just like any reg Joe or Jane. Not of this soft sentencing that we have been seeing

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  • Clint
    Voted Yes
    03/14/2019
    ···

    Yes and you can start with trump.

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  • Charlie
    Voted Yes
    03/14/2019
    ···

    The idea that wealth buys your child’s admittance in prestigious universities has been around for decades. It is time for this to stop now!

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  • Carol
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    White collar crime often involves large amounts of money and affects a broad range of people. Often those who cannot afford to lose their money.

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  • Larry
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    White collar crime goes on mostly because all the rich benefit from it. White collar crime tries to stay under the radar, as much as possible, while blue collar crime is legislated against almost immediately? White collar crime could be practically stopped very easily, but of coarse that would slow the payoffs to politicians to a trickle?

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  • Bruce
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    Every aspect of system coddles the wealthy and punishes the poor (and people of color). Of course, the criminal justice system does exactly the same thing. We must work much harder for equity and real justice for all!

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  • Joanne
    Voted Yes
    03/15/2019
    ···

    Once again the well to do get off with light sentences for serious financial crimes, or continued crimes while awaiting sentencing, while an ordinary schmo gets thirty years for stealing a hundred dollars in quarters. Manafort will probably go to a country club type of prison too. Same for the buying elite college entry scandal. What I am curious about is do the kids benefitting from the cheating really want to go to that particular college and learn something or not. Have any really gotten degrees?

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