The White Collar Crime and Public Corruption Unit is charged with the responsibility of prosecuting any crime that can be committed with a pen, a balance sheet, or a computer instead of a mask, gun or knife. In other words, the Unit targets crimes of sophistication, deception and ingenuity rather than those of fear, violence or intimidation. These crimes include public corruption, traditional financial crimes, and a variety of other criminal activities generally characterized as white collar crimes.
The Unit also prosecutes traditional financial crimes such as embezzlement, forgery, obtaining money under false pretenses, wrongful conversion, forgery, banking violations, extortion, criminal usury, perjury, and false swearing, in addition to crimes relating to mortgage and loan fraud, which recently have become more widespread with the collapse of the housing market and struggling economy. The Unit places heavy emphasis on those that have a significant impact on individual victims or on the public at large. Recognizing the extreme stress and financial upheaval suffered by victims of financial crime, one of the Unit’s primary goals in these prosecutions is asset location and restitution recovery for victims.
The proliferation of computers and smartphones has given rise to an array of computer –facilitated crimes, requiring the Unit to become deeply involved with high tech methods of identifying and prosecuting such crime. Consequently, the Unit has seen a significant increase in crimes committed through the use of computers and the internet, especially child pornography and online sex crimes against children. The Unit works closely with law enforcement agencies specializing in computer crime including the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.
In addition, the Unit also handles cases involving criminal trademark and copyright infringement, state tax code violations, welfare fraud, unemployment insurance fraud, pension fraud, worker compensation fraud, and violations of state election law, among other financial crimes in which the tax payer is the victim.