Members of the MRW Consulting Group have been instrumental in achieving many positive trial and forensic outcomes. Click on the headlines below to review each case.
- U.S. Government Seizure Dismissed and Funds Returned to Client, November 2012
In September 2012, members of the MRW Consulting Group® were engaged by an attorney from the Miami office of Akerman Senterfitt to provide assistance regarding a seizure of funds from a client by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
MRW determined that the Drug Enforcement Administration had executed a seizure warrant on September 7, 2012 at a bank where the MRW client maintained its bank accounts, seizing in excess of $20,000,000 from that client. MRW team members immediately went to the client’s business location where they conducted thorough interviews with the company President, Compliance Officer, Chief Financial Officer, In-House Legal Counsel, and other key employees in an effort to assess the effectiveness of the company’s anti-money laundering program and to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the seizure of funds by the Government.
During the initial visits to the client’s business location, the MRW team obtained a copy of the company’s general ledger and supporting documentation. A thorough review of the general ledger was conducted and matched with supporting documentation to demonstrate the legitimate nature of the transactions that generated the seized funds, and that information was provided to the Department of Justice.
On November 1, 2012 the client’s attorneys were informed by the Department of Justice that all of the seized funds would be returned, intact, to the client’s bank account.
- Income Tax Refund Fraud Linked to Identity Theft, October 2010
Upon filing her 2009 Federal income tax return, a client learned from the IRS that someone had already filed a return using her name and Social Security Number. Unable to obtain her own tax refund, the client contacted the MRW Consulting Group® for assistance in October 2010.
Within thirty days, the MRW Consulting Group® partners contacted the IRS and obtained confirmation that an identity theft had occurred and that the client’s refund had been delivered to the thief. The MRW Consulting Group® was able to negotiate with IRS the issuance of a new refund check to the client as originally requested.
- Tax Indictment Dismissed with Prejudice, September 2010
MRW Consulting Group’s extensive experience in criminal tax matters allowed them to provide the in-depth review and analysis of Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division Policies and Procedures, as well as Federal Court Procedures to assist the attorneys in obtaining a dismissal of all counts. The attorneys’ motion was based on a “Strategy from Numbers” approach that incorporated not only the determination of correct income tax figures, but also the review and analysis of pertinent administrative and judicial processes and procedures, or more accurately stated, lack of proper procedures. Based on our collective presentation of the facts with the clients’ attorneys in a meeting with the United States Attorney, the United States agreed and did not oppose the motion for dismissal with prejudice. The indictment was thus DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE and the prosecution was TERMINATED.
- Current U.S. Senator Failed to Practice Prudent Fiscal Management as Mayor of Anchorage, August 2010
The MRW Consulting Group®, LLP was retained by the Municipality of Anchorage to provide forensic services relative to financial matters referenced in reports prepared for the Municipal Assembly by the Municipal Attorney.
"The audit, first reported by the Anchorage Daily News, concluded that the administration of Begich, now a U.S. Senator, did not provide key reports to the Anchorage Assembly, and assembly members did not demand them." The Anchorage Press also reported that the MRW Consulting Group® made a two-hour presentation during an Assembly work session on August 20, 2010 by independent auditor Ronald Wise, a founding partner of the Florida-based MRW Consulting Group®.
The MRW Consulting Group® concluded the Administration failed to practice prudent fiscal management relative to budget issues by failing to assemble monthly reports of revenues and expenditures and submit those reports to the Assembly as required by the Anchorage Municipal Code. The MRW Consulting Group® further concluded the Assembly failed to practice prudent fiscal management by failing, as a body, to demand the production of the required reports before making financial decisions that had significant impacts on the Municipality's budget and fund balance.
The Anchorage Press stated "The MRW Consulting Group® found two pieces of news that have been widely reported, and which everyone in the work session—conservative budget hawks, well-meaning progressives and big government liberals alike—seemed to take to heart.
First, the Begich team failed to follow a city code that requires monthly statements to the assembly. The code says those reports should show "revenues and expenditures from each fund of the municipality" for the preceding month and in a year-to-date amounts. Begich wasn't the first mayor to ignore that reporting rule—at least, that's what they told Wise and continue to tell the news media—but Wise's contract limited his audit to 2008 activities. The auditor made no determination about whether it was a tradition in Anchorage for a mayor to ignore the reporting code, because he wasn't hired to answer that question.
The second piece of news Wise found is that the Anchorage Assembly failed to demand those monthly reports from Team Begich. That's the news assembly members, to their credit, seemed to take most seriously during the work session."
- Ex-Governor & Campaign Manager Acquitted of Corruption, March 2009
An MRW Consulting Group® partner assisted the team of attorneys from Carlton Fields, Miami, Florida with their pre-trial interviews of key government witnesses. The witnesses had testified before the federal grand jury or had been interviewed by special agents from the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division or FBI. Many of the interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish which helped the team to better assess and determine the facts developed by the government and what the defense team could use to refute the prosecutions’ allegations. Additionally, our extensive knowledge and experience of IRS, court and white collar criminal procedures was a valuable asset the defense team used to help prepare and better utilize the information obtained during the course of our pre-trial witness interviews.
After a seven week public corruption trial, a San Juan, Puerto Rico jury acquitted Carlton Fields' client, Luisa Inclan Bird, Esq. -- along with the Ex-Governor of Puerto Rico, Anibal Acevedo Vila -- of all nine counts of conspiracy, money laundering and lying to the federal agents after less than a full day of deliberations. In 2008 authorities accused Acevedo and 12 associates of participating in an illegal scheme to pay off more than $500,000 in campaign debts. One by one the associates began to plead guilty, leaving only Acevedo and Inclan to stand trial. One co-defendant agreed to testify against Acevedo in exchange for having charges against her dropped. Prosecutors presented some 30 witnesses, while defense attorneys surprised the courtroom earlier this week when they rested their case without calling a single person to testify. Acevedo’s lawyers urged the judge to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.
Ms. Inclan and Mr. Acevedo both faced allegations of charges involving illegal campaign contributions, misuse of campaign funds, and various tax crimes. The trial, which concluded March 20, followed a three-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Carlton Fields Shareholder Michael S. Pasano, who served as Ms. Inclan's lead defense attorney and was assisted by Carlton Fields Shareholder Paul A. Calli, said the prosecution's case was built largely on circumstantial evidence that failed to prove that she and the governor collaborated in a scheme to pay off campaign debts.
"In a case of circumstantial evidence, each and every circumstance needs to be proved independently, and the jury rightfully determined that the prosecution was not successful in doing that," said Pasano, the lead attorney from Carlton Fields on the case. "My client can finally move on with her life and I couldn't be happier."
- Client Acquitted of Anti-Trust Charges, November 2008
Members of the MRW Consulting Group® were part of the team that worked with attorneys from Carlton Fields, Miami, Florida during the pre-trial and subsequent four week criminal antitrust trial in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida. The issues raised by the prosecution were myriad, and several issues were novel. The MRW Consulting Group® was particularly instrumental in assisting with key witness interviews in both English and Spanish and for preparing financial analysis of both our defendant and key co-conspirator turned government witness.
Because detailed in depth financial analysis were completed before trial, the team of attorneys were able to request last minute adjustments, additions, and new updated summary statements during the course of the trial to help support the testimony of our client and assist with the cross examination of prosecution witnesses.
The fact that the jury found the defendants Not Guilty made trial, from the defense perspective, even better. The Indictment and prosecution in the case focused on the marine hose industry. The Indictment alleged a worldwide conspiracy operating from “at least as early as 1999 and continuing until as late as May 2007.” The Indictment alleged “rigging bids, fixing prices, and allocating market shares for sales of marine hose in the United States and elsewhere.”
The government alleged that executives of various internationally recognized marine hose manufacturers formed a price fixing “cartel” around 1999. Our client worked for one of the marine hose manufacturers as a technical and sales person for approximately 19 years. The Indictment claimed that our client joined the alleged conspiracy in 2000. The government’s investigation and prosecution was highly coordinated in the United States and with the UK's Office of Fair Trading and the European Commission. Several high level employees agreed to testify and in exchange for their testimony, the antitrust division agreed to reduced sentences.
At trial, one of the key co-conspirators admitted to making almost 7 million dollars from his criminal conspiracy (none of which he forfeited to the United States), some of which he pocketed by lying to and cheating the other members of his cartel by taking double-secret kickbacks. Another co-conspirator treated his employer’s bank accounts as his personal piggy bank, enjoying his private yacht and exclusive country club memberships at the expense of his employer.
- Embezzlement Scheme Discovered During Local Law Enforcement Review, April 2008
In August 2007, an MRW Consulting Group® Partner performed a review of a local law enforcement office in a southern state. The engagement concluded in April 2008 following the discovery of a significant embezzlement scheme by a high ranking official. Recommendations included enhanced inventory controls for law enforcement assets, enhanced efficiency through automation, establishment of updated policies and procedures, and improved internal controls relative to financial management.
- Favorable Settlement Resulted from Law Firm Forensic Audit, 2007
In 2007, MRW Consulting Group® Partners conducted an audit of a South Florida law firm. For this engagement, the client alleged that an attorney from their firm had left to start another law firm, taking clients and the related fees to the new firm. The forensic audit involved tracing funds that were deposited into the defendant's trust and operating accounts, comparing those deposits with fee liens that had been filed in public records, and making a determination as to the amount of fees that had been diverted to the new firm. At the conclusion of the audit, an expert report was provided to the client summarizing the findings, and the client was able to negotiate a favorable settlement regarding the diverted fees.
- Billing Procedures Assessed During Forensic Review of Municipal Utility Departments, October 2007
In October 2007, José I. Marrero and Ronald Wise performed a forensic review of the utilities departments for two cities in a southern Florida county. The objective of the audit was to reconcile the total amount of water produced by those cities with the amount that was billed for customer usage. The scope of the audit included determining the number of customers who were recipients of water provided by those cities, assessing the adequacy of billing procedures, and making recommendations regarding internal controls for billings, collections, inventories of unassigned meters, and related areas.
- Corporate Theft Uncovered During Corporate Forensic Audit, 2007
In 2007, MRW Consulting Group® team members conducted a forensic audit for a corporate client in Trinidad during which time they documented an embezzlement scheme that was allegedly conducted by the Plant Manager and his Administrative Assistant. The forensic audit determined that a separate corporation had been formed by the husband of the Administrative Assistant, and that this corporation submitted invoices to the corporate client for products that were allegedly not delivered. The audit involved detailed analyses of financial records, recovery and analyses of electronic data, interviews of key corporate employees, and a review of internal controls. The audit resulted in a written opinion regarding the implementation and operation of this scheme by the Plant Manager and his Administrative Assistant, as well as recommendations regarding the design and implementation of the client's internal controls.
- IRS Refund Resulted from City Finance Manager Forensic Audit, June 2007
In June 2007, an MRW Consulting Group® partner performed a forensic audit of a South Florida city. The scope of the audit included a forensic review of all receipts and disbursements of funds for the community and the police Department that had been maintained or controlled by the former Finance Manager for a two year period. During the audit, it was determined that Federal income tax had inadvertently been withheld from a bank account that was maintained by the community and documents were prepared enabling the community to claim an IRS refund of the withheld taxes.
- Increased Pension Recommended as a Result of Law Enforcement Pension Recalculation, 2006 and 2007
During late 2006 and early 2007, an MRW Consulting Group® Partner conducted a pension benefits analysis for a retired South Florida Chief of Police to re-calculate his current and future pension benefits, and compute the present value of the additional benefits based upon anticipated life expectancy of himself and his wife. This engagement included analyses of city statutes and pension regulations; and reviews of minutes of City Council meetings, correspondence, and contracts.
- Homeowners' Association Forensic Audit Alleviates Fear of Fraud and Abuse, 2006
In 2006, MRW Consulting Group® partners conducted a forensic audit of a South Florida condominium homeowners' association. This audit was requested after some homeowners expressed concern regarding a proposed special assessment by the elected board of directors. This audit included analysis of financial records and interviews with key board members, employees of the association, and the client's independent Certified Public Accountant. The audit determined that the extraordinary expenses that had been incurred by the association were a result of the creation of reserve funds in anticipation of routine maintenance, and for damages caused during an active hurricane season. A final report was issued detailing the results of the audit and confirming the existence of internal controls that were sufficient to prevent fraud and abuse.