I posted the other day about a federal fraud case here in the gorgeous Spring weather in Atlanta, Georgia. In that post I mentioned some of the ways to avoid a prison sentence for people facing federal fraud charges arising out of “white collar” or what we sometimes call “economic crimes.” I got a different client out of a federal prison in a fraud case recently, but this was done using a completely different strategy and method. This second matter involved one of those situations in which the client’s cooperation against others was the most valuable asset available to the federal criminal defense lawyer.
My client in this second matter is an extremely bright guy who made some mistakes and got involved in a fraud scheme. I could tell shortly after he and others were indicted together that the prosecutor suspected but did not yet realize that my client was actually the brains behind the operation. We decide to take the chance of going through the “proffer” exercise. I have written before on this, but it is worth describing once again.
When a federal prosecutor believes that a suspect or Defendant has valuable information that might assist in the prosecution of other people, the prosecutor will sometimes ask the defense lawyer to bring the client in for a “proffer.” The Government asks for these to see if the accused person has important and useful information, and also to assess whether my client might make a good witness if he or she decides to cooperate against others.