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Conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud lead to federal charges

Several Maryland millionaires cavalierly referred to the money they scammed away from both individuals and corporate entities as "OPM," or "Other People's Money."They treated OPM somewhat like it was Monopoly money instead -- using it to fund their opulent dwellings and lavish lifestyles, plus a few well-place bribes among public officials, until the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) lowered the boom on them. They are charged with multiple conspiracies, bribes and wire fraud, among other charges. A number of others were also swept up in the arrests and there's likely to be more arrests as investigators dig deeper into the private financial records they kept.

Finding ways to manipulate and use other people's money for personal gain is often the very heart and soul of white collar crimes -- although most people aren't blatant enough to turn their criminal activity into a private joke.

Much of the money was pilfered from the company the trash kingpin founded while the majority of the company's shares were owned by others. In reality, the former owner continued to treat the company funds as if they were part of his personal piggy bank. He used some of the money to build his own lavish home, while others went to bribe public officials so that the company could get bigger and better contracts. He also spent $35,000 on a bribe that put his company's trash bill right on the water bills of residents in the areas he served -- making his collection automatic and easy and saving him tons of money in the long run.

Unfortunately for the men at the heart of the corruption charges, some of those peripherally involved in their schemes are already accepting plea deals. At least two former public officials have admitted to accepting bribes in exchange for information or other services. They're cooperating with police in order to get the most lenient sentence possible for themselves -- which generally means that prosecutors are shoring up their case against those they see as centrally involved and deserving of harsher punishment.

It's likely that the public officials who took the deal with prosecutors also took their attorney's advice -- plea deals are one good way to extract yourself from a much harsher sentence than necessary when the real target of a fraud investigation is someone else. For more advice, talk to an attorney today.

Source: Macomb Daily, "FBI charges Rizzo, father and others in Macomb County bribery scheme," Mitch Hotts and Norb Franz, May 31, 2017

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