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Florida couple accused of theft by fraud

A conviction on fraud or theft charges can have far-reaching consequences. When the accused is a reputable member of the community and a business owner, the damage to reputation can be devastating. A Florida married couple, both 54, now face these potential consequences.

The couple is accused of defrauding Miami-Dade County to the tune of about $222,000. Prosecutors claim that the husband overbilled a county-owned hotel at the Miami Airport for supplies furnished by two companies he owns. They claim that the wife, an county employee, used her management position at the hotel to facilitate the fraud. Prosecutors have charged them with fraud and grand theft.

Alleged crimes like this are sometimes referred to as white-collar crimes because they involve alleged theft by deception, not by violence, and are often charged against otherwise law-abiding people with reputable occupations. But those convicted can face serious consequences.

It is important to remember that as in any criminal case, the prosecution must prove the element of intent beyond a reasonable doubt. A case like this will likely involve a great deal of documentary evidence, including invoices, sales orders, and other financial records. It is very possible that this evidence can be interpreted in more than one way. It is possible, for example, that others at the hotel approved the invoices or the prices charged. It is possible that any billing irregularities were made by mistake. With the help of experienced defense attorneys, the accused couple may be able to raise reasonable doubt as to the prosecution's claim that they acted with intent to defraud the county.

Source: Miami Herald, "Couple accused of fraud at Miami airport hotel," July 16, 2013

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