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Major Fraud Against the United States

The crime of major fraud against the United States is extremely serious. Often charged together with counts of mail or wire fraud, the crime was created in 1988 as part of the Major Fraud Act and punishes large scale schemes to defraud the federal government where the underlying contract or grant at issue is valued at more than $1 million.

Although the statute was enacted to deter large scale defense contractors from committing procurement fraud and war profiteering by imposing much higher fines than already permitted by the more general fraud statutes, its scope has been greatly expanded throughout the years to cover nearly all sizeable federally funded contracts.  See United States v. Brooks, 111 F.3d 365, 369 (4th Cir. 1997). Our federal criminal defense attorneys could help you if you have been accused of committing major fraud against the government.

What are Major Fraud Charges Against the US?

18 U.S.C. §1031 establishes that whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, any scheme to either defraud the United States or obtains property or money by means of a fraudulent or false representation may face major fraud charges. This includes any fraudulent behavior relating to any grant, contract or subcontract authorized by the federal government valued at more than $1 million.

This crime may be punished by up to ten years imprisonment. In addition to this significant jail time, any individual convicted of this crime may have to pay a $1 million fine. However, if the gain to the defendant or loss to the government exceeds $500,000 – or if the offense involved a conscious or reckless risk of serious personal injury – than the maximum fine is increased to $5 million. Additionally, if an individual is charged with multiple counts of fraud relating to the same underlying transaction or series of transactions, they may face up to a $10 million fine.

In determining the amount of the fine, courts are to consider the seriousness of the underlying offense, the harm or loss to the alleged victim, and the gain to the defendant. A judge also may consider whether the defendant has previously been fined for a similar scheme to defraud.

Finally, while the crime of major fraud against the United States initially only punished those involved in schemes to defraud the government with regard to procurement contracts, the statute was amended in 2009 via the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act to prohibit virtually all forms of fraud involving federal assistance, grants, contracts, and transactions made pursuant to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) where the underlying contract at issue is valued at more than $1 million.

Contact a New York Defense Attorney When Facing Major Fraud Charges Against the Federal Government

Being charged with major fraud against the United States is a serious matter that requires skilled and aggressive legal counsel. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman are here to help if you are facing these charges. To schedule your free case consultation, call today.

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