Federal prosecutors going after government contractors frequently use federal conspiracy charges against a potential defendant even if the case is weak. Contractors – Be AWARE OF PROSECUTORS’ DEADLY WEAPON under federal law Title 18 Section 371 of bringing criminal charges for federal Conspiracy to defraud the United States.
What happens is that the potential defendant would act as a witness against other defendants in exchange for immunity or a lighter sentence. Regardless of how immoral one may think, it is fully allowed. Our goal is to save our client’s reputations and minimize the impact on the company.
What is a Federal Conspiracy Charge?
A federal criminal conspiracy charge to defraud the Government refers to the legal accusation that the contractor has unlawfully agreed with others to engage in criminal activity related to their government contract. Under U.S. federal law, specifically under Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, it is illegal for two or more persons to conspire to commit any offense against the United States or to defraud the U.S. n any manner or for any purpose. For a government contractor, this could include activities such as fraudulently obtaining a government contract, knowingly providing substandard goods or services, or defrauding the government in any other way. If convicted, the penalties for a federal conspiracy charge can be severe, including substantial fines, forfeiture of assets, and imprisonment. The exact penalties depend on the nature of the conspiracy and the underlying offenses committed as part of the conspiracy.
Hurdles for Government Contractors Charged With Conspiracy to Defraud the United States Government.
Under federal law and the general conspiracy statute Title 18 USC section 371, federal enforcement agencies bring federal conspiracy cases to defendants they believe played a part in the conspiracy to defraud the United States Government and violate federal law. As a government contractor doing business with the federal government, federal law enforcement authorities may charge you with Federal Criminal Conspiracy Charge to Defraud the Government, where the main focus is really on another contractor or your subcontractor.
In other words, the government may threaten to bring conspiracy federal charges in the hope that you cooperate in the case against another defendant.
Can the government prosecution prove its case? Before getting to the federal conspiracy law charge the question usually lies in the behavior that the prosecution is going after. An example is the common charge of creating pass-through contracts in violation of the limitations on subcontracting regulations. If there is a statutory violation, then there can be no conspiracy to make false statements. Defending against contractor fraud is no fun. However, it must be dealt with. Unfortunately, this is how government prosecutors keep you within their grip despite knowing that you may have really done nothing wrong. However, there is hope if you are a federal contractor or individual facing criminal charges for conspiracy to defraud the government.
To “convict someone under the ‘defraud clause’ of the general conspiracy statute 18 USC 371, the government need only show (1) he entered into an agreement (2) to obstruct a lawful function of the government (3) by deceitful or dishonest means and (4) at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.” See United States v. Caldwell, 989 F.2d 1056 (9th Cir.1993).
In February 2022, Justice Department’s (DOJ) False Claims Act Settlements and Judgments Exceeded $5.6 Billion in Fiscal Year 2021. According to the News Release, this was the Second Largest Amount Recorded, Largest Since 2014.
The main federal conspiracy statute is Title 18 USC Section 371. The thrust of the statute states that there is a federal conspiracy law to make false statements against the United States when two or more people conspire to commit an act that is a crime under the U.S. Code. The DOJ and OIG offices quite often charge contractors with conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States when they are after a ‘bigger fish’ but believe that you or your company participated as a co-conspirator.
Is defrauding or federal law of conspiracy against the United States government a felony? Yes, government contractor defrauding the government is a felony. Defrauding the federal government is punishable by fines, imprisonment (up to 20 years) or both. Depending on the amount of money taken and other factors, it can also be considered a federal crime under the general conspiracy statute Title 18 section 371 —conspiracy to commit an offense or to defraud the U.S. If you are found guilty of defrauding the government, your punishment may include probation or prison time; civil fines and/or criminal restitution, loss of government contract privileges; and possible debarment from future federal contracts.
Where government contractors find themselves facing a federal contract charge in a federal criminal conspiracy case to defraud the government, the prosecutor charges the company or CEO with the crime of conspiring to defraud the United States under one or more contracts. This charge is often seen in SBA 8(a) small business fraud cases, SDVOSB fraud, and others.
The idea is that government attorneys often find that a co-conspirator will volunteer to give information against the other defendant in exchange for a lower sentence or getting dismissed from the case. A common ploy in a government contracting fraud case is to bring a federal conspiracy charge on anyone who may be remotely involved with the target of the investigation.
If you are involved in a federal conspiracy law charge in a government contractor fraud case, you want to be absolutely careful when making deals with federal prosecutors. Consider consulting with an experienced federal defense lawyer that also understands government procurement laws.
Federal Conspiracy Cases :: What are the Elements of a Conspiracy to Commit Fraud Charge Under Title 18 Section 371?
A federal conspiracy to commit fraud charge requires that the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) an agreement between two or more persons to commit an unlawful act; and (2) that one of the conspirators committed an overt act in furtherance of the agreement. Conspiracy defense lawyers may be able to assist defendants accused of such charges by providing advice on how to approach the case and form a defense.
Under Title 18 Section 371, to prove that an agreement was made, prosecutors must show evidence of intent and knowledge on behalf of all involved parties. Intent may be inferred from circumstantial evidence such as emails, text messages, or recorded conversations between conspirators. Knowledge can also be established through a pattern of behavior, evidencing an understanding that an agreement has been made.
The second element of the charge in federal conspiracy cases requires evidence of an overt act carried out in furtherance of the agreement. This can be any action taken, such as a purchase or payment, which helps to move the conspiracy forward. It is important to note that this act does not necessarily have to be illegal in nature, and can be as innocuous as making a phone call. Furthermore, the overt act does not have to be successful in order for a charge of conspiracy to stand.
Conspiracy federal charges can often carry serious penalties if convicted, so defendants need to hire qualified government contractor conspiracy defense lawyers who understand the nuances associated with such procurement fraud cases. The goal is to dispel allegations that you did violate federal law. Conspiracy lawyers may use a variety of defense strategies, such as attacking the prosecution’s evidence or asserting that the defendant was unaware of any agreement, to help reduce the potential consequences. If you have been accused of conspiracy charges, it is important to seek experienced legal guidance from experienced government contractor conspiracy lawyers right away.
What is a Conspiracy Federal Charge to Defraud in a Government Contractor Fraud Case?
As a government contractor facing a federal contract charge of defrauding the government, you may find yourself in a situation where the DOJ or OIG has chosen to issue you a target letter or threatened indictment for conspiracy to defraud the United States government. This is a tough situation to be in. The federal conspiracy statute charged under is more than likely 18 U.S.C. 371. The DOJ more than likely has evidence to move forward with a criminal case for conspiracy to defraud the federal government because the definition of conspiracy against the United States requires two or more persons to conspire (contractors or individuals) to commit an act that is a crime under the law,.
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to affect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. Whether or not the crime was actually committed is irrelevant.
You may have a defense to federal conspiracy cases if your conspiracy defense lawyer can show that none of the co-conspirators does an overt act to further the conspiracy. Conspiracy is typically the government attorney’s best tool to use against contractors or individuals. This is so because the threat of jail time or criminal liability tends to help the prosecution build a case against the true perpetrator. Having a government contractor fraud defense attorney and a federal conspiracy lawyer who understands federal procurement can make the difference between spending years in prison and prevail against the government’s criminal charges against you.
18 USC 371 Sentencing Guidelines – Penalty
Conspiracy to defraud the US sentence:Under 18 U.S.C. 371, the general federal conspiracy statute, the conspiracy to defraud the United States Government penalty can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, the nature of the conspiracy, and the applicable 18 u.s.c. 371 sentencing guidelines. It’s important to note that the United States Sentencing Guidelines provide a framework for determining appropriate sentences, but judges have discretion in applying them.
When determining the punishment for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. , the sentencing guidelines take into account various factors, including the intended offense that was the object of the conspiracy and the defendant’s role and level of participation. Here is a general overview of the 18 u.s.c. 371 sentencing guidelines:
1. Base Offense Level: The base offense level for conspiracy to defraud the United States penalty is typically determined based on the underlying offense that was the objective of the conspiracy. The guidelines provide specific offense levels for various offenses such as fraud, bribery, false statements, and other related crimes.
2. Specific Offense Characteristics: The guidelines may have specific offense characteristics that can increase or decrease the offense level based on certain factors. For example, if the offense involved a large financial loss or sophisticated means, it may result in an increased offense level.
3. Role in the Offense: The defendant’s role in the conspiracy is an important consideration. The guidelines provide for specific adjustments based on the defendant’s level of responsibility, such as being an organizer or leader of the conspiracy, a minor participant, or an obstruction of justice enhancement if the defendant attempted to hinder the investigation.
4. Relevant Conduct: The guidelines allow for consideration of relevant conduct that may not be the object of the conspiracy but is closely related to the offense. This can include other acts committed by the defendant or co-conspirators that have a significant impact on the offense level.
5. Criminal History: The defendant’s criminal history is also taken into account when determining the sentence. Prior convictions and the seriousness of those convictions can result in a higher criminal history category, which can affect the recommended sentencing range.
It’s important to note that the sentencing guidelines are advisory, and judges have the discretion to depart from them based on the specific circumstances of the case, mitigating or aggravating factors, and the exercise of their judgment.
To obtain specific information on the potential punishment under 18 U.S.C. 371 and the corresponding sentencing guidelines for a conspiracy to defraud the government tcase, it is crucial to consult the United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual and seek legal advice from a qualified attorney who can assess the specific details of the case and provide accurate guidance.
More on Title 18 Section 371 Conspiracy to Defraud the United States Government
The crime of conspiracy to defraud the United States Government under Title 18 Section 371. is not complete unless one of the co-defendants takes an overt act to further the conspiracy. A conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime between two or more people to commit an act. Defending a federal conspiracy charge as a government contractor would mean disproving that there was any agreement. Whether or not the crime was completed is irrelevant to being charged with conspiracy.
18 U.S.C 371 requires a participant to take overt action to form a conspiracy. Government contractors or even family members who participate in the day-to-day activities of the business, even though a very minor participant in a conspiracy charge, can find themselves facing federal criminal conspiracy charges. This minor participant can face maximum mandatory minimum sentences as major players in a government contract conspiracy case. See important information about cooperating and proffer agreements.
Conspiracy Overt Act requirement: Federal conspiracy statutes require that at least one of the two or more co-conspirators do some overt act to effect, further, or accomplish the underlying crime. For government contractors, it may be to get an invoice paid or to win a government bid. When an overt act is a requirement, then an agreement by itself is not enough. When one of the parties performs the overt act, then all co-conspirators become guilty of the conspiracy crime.
How to Defend Against Government Contractor Federal Conspiracy Charges?
There is a chance that you can minimize the pressure when being charged with conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States. When federal prosecutors bring federal criminal conspiracy charges against government contractors, there are three potential defenses to raise.
- You did not get involved in any agreement to commit a crime, so the conspiracy did not exist
- You had no intent to commit a crime
- You did not know the plan involved criminal activity
- You withdrew your support from the conspiracy
- You participated in the conspiracy under coercion or duress
However, it is not a defense that the defendant is charged with conspiracy based on an overt act by a co-conspirator who has been acquitted.
Every criminal case alleging federal conspiracy charges in white-collar criminal cases requires proving the elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The best approach for any federal contractor is to show that the predicate crime was never committed. Compared to traditional crimes. allegations of federal contracting crimes can be disassembled. For example, in a Buy American Act fraud case, if your defense lawyer can show that the underlying requirements were met, then a conspiracy charge could be thrown out. As government contractor fraud attorneys and federal conspiracy defense lawyers, our team would have to assess all of the facts in the prosecution’s evidence to then create reasonable doubt. Finding a lack of evidence is also critical. There is no mathematical formula to defend against a federal conspiracy charge.
- A common trend shows that criminal defendants are convicted where their defense team had no government contractor attorney on board familiar with the underlying actions
- Having government contractor conspiracy defense lawyers on your defense team who understand federal procurement laws is critical to developing a strong legal defense up front.
If you are charged as a co-conspirator, the prosecution will have to first prove that you have “conspired” or “agreed to” accomplish a crime. Furthermore, simply talking about a potential crime is not enough without agreement on its accomplishment. The agreement must also be to accomplish the criminal object, such as getting paid on a fraudulent invoice or installing substandard equipment or materials. Innocent ventures do not meet a conspiracy charge. DOJ and other federal prosecutors must, under the general federal conspiracy statute 18 USC 371, prove an overt act furthering the goal. See Tips on Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney to Handle Your Government Contracts Case.
Penalty for Federal Conspiracy of Government Contractors?
Penalty for conspiracy to defraud the United States: Federal conspiracy cases formulate the penalty. What is the object of the conspiracy and how serious was it? Conspiracy penalties for committing a crime against the United States drive a prison sentence of no more than five years. 18 USC Section 371 also says that the court can also issue a fine in addition to giving jail time. 18 USC Section 371 provides a maximum punishment of not more than five (5) years, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.00 for a felony offense. Having a government contractor fraud lawyer who can help you develop a solid legal defense is critical in the early stages of your case.
What Are Your Rights When You Get a Criminal Conspiracy Charge as a Government Contractor?
Every person has a right to remain silent and have an attorney present during government questioning or investigation. Did they issue you Miranda warnings? You have a right to speak with an attorney and not incriminate yourself. Many federal contractors make the mistake of speaking to federal law enforcement and then contacting a government contractor fraud defense attorney. Sometimes, the damage may already be done.
If you are charged with the federal crime of conspiracy to commit fraud, there is a chance that you can minimize the pressure when being charged with conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States under 18 USC 371 or are investigated for conspiracy to defraud the United States Government as a federal contractor or employee, call our federal government contractor fraud defense attorneys and federal conspiracy attorneys at 1.866.601.5518.