Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal White Collar Crime Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2020 the government reported 273 new white collar crime prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 2.2 percent over the previous month.
White Collar Crime
This report summarizes the government's recent efforts when it comes to combating white
collar crime — the number of such cases, the investigative agencies involved, the laws cited, the
busiest federal districts and the busiest federal judges.
The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with white collar crime-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (see Table 1).
When monthly 2020 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was down (-22.9%).
Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 34.2 percent from levels reported in 2015.
The decrease from the levels five years ago in white collar crime prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1.
The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of white collar crime prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month
basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court,
the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends.
The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so
that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Figure 1. Monthly Trends in White Collar Crime Prosecutions
Within the broad category of white collar crime, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
Antitrust Violations - Extraterritorial Application Of
Antitrust Violations - Finance Markets, Other than Banking
Aggravated Identity Theft
Other White Collar Crime/Fraud
The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in December 2020 was for "Fraud-Other", accounting for 20.5 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Fraud-Health Care" (16.8%), "Fraud-Financial Institution" (10.3%), "Fraud-Federal Program" (9.9%), "Fraud-Tax" (8.8%), "Fraud-Other Business" (7.7%), "Fraud-Computer" (5.5%), "Fraud-Identity Theft-Aggravated" (4.8%), "Fraud-Telemarketing" (2.6%), "Fraud-Consumer" (2.2%), "Fraud-Identity Theft-Other" (2.2%), "Fraud-Other Investment" (2.2%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for white collar crime prosecutions in December 2020
was FBI accounting for 40 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of white collar crime referrals were:
IRS (15% ), SecServ (11%), Postal (6%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Figure 3. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
White Collar Crime Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In December 2020, 28 defendants in white collar crime cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts.
These courts handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In
addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before
an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter
starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court
where subsequent proceedings take place.
In the magistrate courts in December the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 18 U.S.C Section 1343 involving "Fraud by wire, radio, or television". This was the lead charge
for 17.9 percent of all magistrate filings in December.
White Collar Crime Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In December 2020, 245 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there
were an additional 16 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate
courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information
was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and
therefore cover all matters filed in district court during December.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of white collar crime matters
filed in U.S. District Court during December 2020.
"Fraud by wire, radio, or television" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1343) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.
"Fraud by wire, radio, or television" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1343) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1349.
"Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1349 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 6 five years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Bank Fraud" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1344.
"Bank Fraud" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1344 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 five years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions — up 10.1 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1349
that involves " Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy ".
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 22 percent — was registered for
prosecutions under " Fraud by wire, radio, or television " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1343 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 66.4 percent — was
" Fraud and related activity - access devices " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1029 ).
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease — 80.2 % — when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In December 2020 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government brought 95.4 white collar crime prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.
Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of white collar crime prosecutions that are filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The districts registering the
largest number of prosecutions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3.
Districts must have at least 5 white collar crime prosecutions to receive a ranking.
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)
The District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) — with 850 prosecutions as compared with 95.4 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during December 2020.
The Southern District of New York (Manhattan) ranked 2nd.
The Southern District of New York (Manhattan) was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 for most frequent use five years ago.
Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta) is now ranking 3rd.
The Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta) was ranked 9 a year ago.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis), now ranked
, and Western District of North Carolina (Asheville)
In the same order, these districts ranked 12th and 24th one year ago and 7th and 28th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of white collar crime prosecutions compared to one year ago — 191.3 percent — was
This was the same district that had the largest increase — 294.1 percent — when compared with five years ago.
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of white collar crime prosecutions — 67.2 percent — was
Southern District of Florida (Miami).
This was the same district that had the largest increase — 74.8 percent — when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked District Judges
At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new white collar crime crime cases of this type during December 2020 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 5 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of white collar crime filings per capita, while the remaining 6 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge Mark Howard Cohen in the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta) ranked 1st with 12 defendants in white collar crime cases.
Judge Max Oliver Cogburn, Jr. in the Western District of North Carolina (Asheville) ranked 2nd with 7 defendants in white collar crime cases.
Judge Joanna Seybert in the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) ranked 3rd with 6 defendants in white collar crime cases.