“Crime doesn’t pay,” goes a cliched admonition, and a New Jersey investment advisor recently learned this the hard way. She had been charged with securities fraud and transacting in criminal property. All told, she was accused of bilking investors of more than $11 million in a 13-year period. Facing charges as serious as these, a strong criminal defense was surely a paramount concern for the advisor. She eventually pled guilty as part of a plea agreement and was sentenced to 14 years in a federal penitentiary.

The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that the advisor stole the money from naive or retired people in a Ponzi scheme. They claimed her luxurious, travel-heavy lifestyle was funded by the fraudulently acquired monies. Two family members and three companies operated by the advisor also fell under suspicion. All charges faced by the advisor, her relatives and her companies have been resolved, a part of which includes restoring more than $11 million to the defrauded parties.

Our criminal justice system is not about “locking them up” and throwing away the key. A prison term is not supposed to be a societal vendetta, but is meant to penalize and correct. Achieving this goal is only possible if the punishment fits the crime. When prosecutors possess compelling evidence of crimes in New Jersey, they have been known to ask the judge to “throw the book” at the accused. Representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney is likely to counter a perceived overreaction with the reality of what actually occurred.

Criminal defense attorneys do what is best for their clients. That is what they are retained to do. If some chance exists that the client may be acquitted, the attorney will likely attack the prosecution, all guns blazing. But if the evidence against the client is overwhelming, the lawyer will likely bring to bear the art and science of hammering out a plea bargain. He or she will strive to ensure that the client does not spend a single day more in prison than absolutely necessary, and preferably none at all.

Source: Financial Advisor Magazine, “Jersey Advisor sentenced to 14-year prison term for bilking investors,” Jim Mcconville, Sept. 9, 2011