Thursday, March 24, 2016

Financial Crime: a New Twist on the Sex-Offender Registry By Jean Eaglesham

Financial Crime: a New Twist on the Sex-Offender Registry, March 24, 2016
Utah is most aggressive jurisdiction in publicly shaming financial criminals
By Jean Eaglesham

States have taken the idea of the sex-offender registry and applied it to everything from kidnapping to animal abuse. Utah is expanding it into new territory: financial crime. 

An early version of the White Collar Crime Offender Registry, which has been online since February, includes more than 100 people convicted of tax, credit-card or insurance fraud; thefts from employers or friends; and bilking investors. 

They include 41-year-old Kenneth Ray Wagner. “Eye Color: Blue. Hair Color: Blonde … Targets: Insurance company.”  

The registry displays Mr. Wagner’s mugshot and explains that he was convicted in 2008 of fraud for dismantling his motorcycle, hiding the parts in a storage locker and claiming to his insurance company that it had been stolen.  

The list makes Utah the most aggressive jurisdiction in the country when it comes to publicly shaming financial criminals. No other state operates such a list. The Securities and Exchange Commission often shields the identities of offenders.  

The agency last month refused a public-records request by The Wall Street Journal for information on sanctions paid by specific individuals, saying that providing such information would be “a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority does require disclosure of events like some criminal convictions, regulatory actions and customer complaints. But it only applies to securities professionals, and the disclosures are intermingled in a database that includes more routine facts like work history.  

Utah lawmakers say their list, which is being administered by the state’s attorney general, will help protect investors by offering easy access to information about con artists. 

It could also create leverage to get felons to make their victims whole. Convicts who comply with court orders on time and pay restitution in full won’t appear on the list. 

“That’s the carrot,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said. 

The new policy plunges the state into a broader debate about using name-and-shame tactics to punish convicts who have already served their time. 

Registries have proliferated rapidly in the U.S., experts say. While some lists restrict access to law-enforcement agencies or fire officials, others can be viewed online by anyone, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition to the 50 states that publicly track sex offenders, five states including California require registration for arson. Minnesota, Illinois and six others maintain lists of methamphetamine producers. In Indiana, a public website lets visitors use Google Maps to find the location of homes that have been used as meth laboratories. Tennessee requires registration for animal abuse— something nine other state legislatures are debating. Florida law requires registration by anyone convicted of a felony of any kind for up to five years after completing the sentence. 

Utah itself maintains a sex-offender and kidnap-offender list, as well as its new financial-crimes registry.

In all, the number of Americans on such lists will soon approach a million, if it isn’t already there, said J.J. Prescott, a law professor at the University of Michigan. He warned of possible unintended consequences from applying a public alert designed for sex offenses to other crimes, such as the risk of drug-offender registries being used by addicts to find suppliers. 

"Do we want to be a nation of registries?” asked Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University.

Reminder: I Could Use Your Help with the Court Costs to Challenge Virginia SB666/HB1190 from Becoming Law on July 1st either with a Contribution or Sharing Past Posts with Family and Friends

Dear Readers, 

I have received a few contributions in the last 3 weeks for the lawyers fees to challenge SB666/HB1190 in court and I’d like to thank those of you who have made a donation. 

But for a website that receives 5,000-8,000 page views every month I’m a bit surprised by the very low response rate to my request for assistance. 

I don’t like asking for financial contributions, believe me. If I could do this alone I would but I can’t. 

If you plan on contributing to the cause in a month or maybe in a few months I would be very grateful. 

Please share the below post(s) with friends and family members who believe Registry Reform is needed in Virginia. At the bottom of each post there are icons to share the post on Facebook and Twitter, if you are a member of either of those sites, please share the posts. 

Thank you for your support! 

Mary Devoy 

March 14th Post:
Please Contribute to Court Challenge Against Virginia SB666 and HB1190 From Becoming 

March 2ndPost:
Virginia Governor Has Signed SB666 into Law, So I Am Now Taking Donations to Challenge This “Dumb” and Unconstitutional Law in Court 

March 1stPost:
Will Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Sign SB666 into Law Before Tonight’s Midnight Deadline? I Don’t See Why He Wouldn’t So I’m Ready to Challenge it in Court With My New License Plate!