White Collar Crime Prosecutions Hit a 33-Year Low

man in suit handcuffed

Texas has seen some high-profile white collar crime cases in recent years. However, new data suggests prosecutions brought for corporate corruption is falling.

According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research center at Syracuse University that tracks federal data, white collar prosecutions fell under the Trump administration. They are down 8.5% from a year ago to 4,973 and are half of what they were eight years ago, reported CBS News.

The news channel reported the federal white-collar caseload is now just over 3% of the 170,487 prosecutions brought by the feds to date in the 2019 fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30.

The number of prosecutions was on course to be the lowest since 1986, the report stated. TRAC co-director Susan Long pointed out there are a lot fewer wide collar prosecutions than in the past.

She said in the 1980s and 1990s, the number of white-collar prosecutions regularly approached 10,000 a year. In the past three years, that number has not even reached 6,000.

Although the decline in white collar prosecutions appears to coincide with a move toward greater immigration law enforcement, the trend predates the Trump administration.

Federal white-collar prosecutions hit a peak in 2011 under President Obama and dropped ever since. Annual numbers under the Trump administration are not markedly lower than the number of cases brought in the last few years of the Obama era.

John Coffee, a professor at Columbia University Law School said the reduction in white collar prosecutions may reflect the time that has elapsed since the financial crisis.

Brandon Garrett of Duke Law School in North Carolina who authored the book “Too Big to Jail,” says fines for white collar crimes have dropped as well as the number of cases brought.

He noted the penalties for corporations fell dramatically in the second half of 2017. “If you look at the past 18 to 20 months, there is no comparison to the Obama years,” Garrett said.

What Are the Main White Collar Crimes in Texas?

A raft of distinct offenses comprises white collar crimes. These are federal offenses that are uniform across the nation. They include:


Embezzlement involves the misappropriation of assets entrusted to an individual. The embezzler attains the assets lawfully and has the right to possess them, but the assets are then used for improper purposes.


Fraud is a misrepresentation of facts or deception that causes monetary losses. It may involve a person taking on the identity of another to access their bank account. The main types of fraud include mail fraud which uses federal mail, credit card fraud, and healthcare fraud.

Money Laundering

The Texas Penal Code recognizes the intentional transfer, concealment, or any transaction with the money acquired from a crime as breaking the law.


Bribery involves a payment to someone who is in power or in a position of influence for a favor such as paying a planning official to write a favorable report on an application.

Insider Trading

Insider trading involves using inside knowledge to buy stocks and shares and to gain an unfair advantage. For example, someone might sell stock in a corporation because they find out the company is facing a lawsuit and buy the stock back at a lower rate after the bad news becomes public.


Cybercrime is a relatively new area of white collar crime. Offenses include phishing scams and gaining Internet users’ credit card numbers, hacking and using ransomware for malware-based cyber attacks.

Talk to a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer about White Collar Crimes

White collar prosecutions may be falling and fines dropping but this remains a serious offense. If you have been charged with a white collar crime you should talk to a lawyer who is well versed in this area of the law. Talk to our Dallas white collar crimes lawyer at (214) 720-9552.

At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we are experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to providing aggressive and ethical representation to individuals and businesses charged with crimes.