White Collar Crime

Introduction

Crime scenes are varied depending on the different crimes being witnessed every day. Each crime scene is unique and requires distinct ways of protection and processing. Such approaches are guided by the key features of the crime scenes. For instance, an underwater crime scene needs special and delicate means to gather, preserve and protect evidence while inflicting minimal or no damage to the crime scenes. Whereas not all crime scenes are difficult to work with, it is important to note that documenting all details and preserving the integrity of a crime scene is never a walk in the park. Not even in light of best circumstances. However, this does not wash off the power of a crime scene potential to give viable leads until the perpetrators of the crime are brought to book. Following all the set procedures and regulations pertaining to crime scenes may not only give hints to the criminals, but also lead to their capture, trial and conviction.

Therefore, the trick is to approach the crime scene with diligence, gather and preserve the evidence without as much as overlooking any facet or features. Since the jury will need proof beyond reasonable doubt, law enforcers must, at all times, observe the rights of suspects and seal off all loopholes. Otherwise, cases may be dismissed, not because there was no evidence at the crime scenes, but law enforces did little to ascertain clear identity of suspects leading to dismissal on the basis of double jeopardy rule. Thus, to a greater extent, the chances of a case sailing through to prosecution and conviction stages depend on how best the crime scenes are processed. It brings out the importance of a crime scene as far as keeping the society safe and peaceful.

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The Crime Scene

Crime scenes are different. The type of investigation to be carried out is determined by the features first seen in a crime scene. Current paper tackles a white collar crime and by extension, gives a scenario of a white collar criminal investigation. White-collar crimes refer to those that do not involve violence or bloodshed. It can be claimed to be a high end crime in that perpetrators are usually influential people who hold prestigious positions in government or organization. Such crimes are mostly motivated by the need to get economic gains by an un-ethical use of one’s status. The crimes occur in many forms, some of which are: copyright infringement, fund embezzlement, fraud, bribery, identity theft, forgery, Ponzi schemes and money laundering.

Current case is about how influential individuals use devious means to cover up the embezzlement of funds from the companies they work for. In this case, a routine check of trucks at Weigh Bridge leads to the unearthing of a well-coordinated network of smuggling drugs through the delivery company trucks. When the officer transmitted the driver’s license numbers and checked the Department Of Transportation (DOT) card’s validity, the reports revealed that both cards were valid. However, the report also revealed the driver was driving on a suspended license. As the officer approached the two drivers to give the driver a citation, the officer began to interview the co-driver. Through this interaction, the officer learned the co-driver had been with the company for less than four months.

In the meantime, the police dog at the weight station alerted officers to the presence or potential presence of illegal drugs. The semi-truck trailer was now considered a potential crime scene. Therefore, access to the semitrailer and contents were restricted.

The officers then questioned the two drivers about their load, about where they had picked it up, where they had stopped, if anyone might have gained entry to the trailer. They revealed the last time they opened the trailer was at the Cutex Cosmetics Company, where the truck is registered. They appeared calm. Since the trailer was a suspect, the officers asked the drivers for the keys to the trailer. The drivers unlocked the lock and opened the door to the semi-truck trailer. The officers immediately discovered the trailer was loaded with stacks of boxes with Cutex Cosmetic brands on them. Although the dog’s barks became louder after the trailer was opened, the officers could only enter the trailer and visually inspect the contents from atop the boxes. As one officer entered the trailer and walked atop the boxes looking for any clues or irregularities, the officer reported he did not immediately see anything amiss. Since the dog was consistent with his whining signal, the officers requested additional assistance.

The drivers were kept within the weigh station as other assistance arrived. Together, the team unpacked the trailer with the assistance of a forklift. Stack by stack, the contents were photographed and documented. The time each team arrived, the time the investigation commenced and the times each step within the investigation transpired were documented. Meanwhile, the officer in the weigh station continued to interview the suspects in order to obtain any additional information.

Through teamwork and the police dog assistance, the officers finally identified two boxes toward the head of the trailer that warranted further inspection. By this time, the dog was able to enter the trailer. As the officers, photographed the boxes and began to unpack their contents, they were documented and labeled, as all the previous box stacks had been. In the first box, the police discovered that a row of cosmetics had been removed from a pallet and replaced with the drugs while the entire cosmetic products in the second box had been replaced by cash. The time of the discovery and the officers involved in the investigation were documented. The latch on the truck was re-examined for damage and dusted for fingerprints. No damage was noted.

Maintaining the chain of evidence, the contents were preserved and passed through the appropriate and documented hands . Each member handling the evidence signed off as they received it. The fingerprints and other microscopic evidence such as hairs were also gathered from the trailer, the box of cash, which were US Dollars, and the plastic bag containing the drugs were also picked. Each was labeled and preserved for further investigation. The truck drivers’ logs were also examined for stops along the way. After all, any stop could compromise the integrity of the contents loaded and/or provide an opportunity for criminal activity. It helped investigators reconstruct the crime.

Pictures of the scene were taken, as were fingerprints . The drivers were questioned again but each of them professed no knowledge of the drugs or money and they only reveled they picked up their daily consignment. According to them, store personnel at the Cosmetic Company loaded the trailer under the supervision of the sales manager himself. After eyeballing the contents, the boxeswere loaded into the trailer, the drivers closed and locked the trailer, signed off on the sales department log and proceeded to their destination. They explained this was a routine procedure.

At this point, both truck drivers were charged with drug possession and drug trafficking. They were read their Miranda Rights and taken to the station, where they were fingerprinted, photographed and held. When the officers questioned them again, their answers remained the same. The truck and its contents were impounded, transported to the evidence lot where police officers searched the truck’s contents further. No other drugs, illegal substances or other violations were discovered during this search. In the secured evidence lot, the truck was assigned a number and signed for. Any officer seeking entrance to the lot or the truck also signed the document.

Meanwhile, the crime lab processed the fingerprints, ran them through the FBI databases and discovered that none of them matched either driver. No other DNA evidence obtained from inside the semi truck trailer matched either driver (2011). Such evidence substantiated the drivers’ statements. However, the DNA and fingerprints obtained from the truck and the evidence did not match anyone else in the FBI fingerprint database.

Police investigated the crime and tried to reconstruct the events. By retracing the drivers’ steps before they reached the weigh station, detectives determined where the truck drivers stopped. They interviewed people at the truck stops and compared and contrasted their answers with the DOT electronic logs. Both substantiated the drivers’ story. However, no one paid any attention to the semi truck and trailer in the truck stops. Therefore, no one could say whether anyone had entered it illegally and/or altered its contents. Even the electronic tolls matched the electronic DOT logbook. Therefore, the detectives believed the answers lay within the Cosmetic Company’s warehouse and personnel.

Although the police could not determine whether anyone else had access to the trailer in between the shipper and the truck stop at the weigh station, police believed that someone at the Cosmetic Company might be responsible. Despite cooperation with police in Cutex Cosmetic brands and their interviews at the company, the case remained unexplained. The Police Department thought a few persons interviewed might be possible suspects, but they lacked more leads.

Devoid of matching evidence or a suspect, the police could not definitively prove who put the drugs or money in the trailer. Nevertheless, the law states that anyone possessing drugs and/or trafficking drugs, transporting them, violates the law. Since these drugs could have crossed states lines, this was even more serious because Cutex Cosmetic brands are in the neighboring State of Oaklohama and the drugs had been found in Texas.Officers also investigated the drivers’ backgrounds for any further clues or evidence and neither had any other violations. The trucking company insisted they were both good drivers and employees despite driving on suspension. It was later backed up by the sales department that the two were covering up for the regular driver of the truck in question since he was sick. Even their coworkers and the persons at the truck stops insisted they played by the rules. Nonetheless, possession and transport, regardless of the role therein mandated the charges of drug possession and drug trafficking. No one bothered to question this further since this statement was being given by the sales manager himself, who also surpervised the sales trucks.

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THE TRIAL

The Prosecution’s Case

When the trial date arrived, the prosecution used the police reports at the crime scene, the driver’s suspended license, the DOT reports and the crime lab’s reports. The state trooper’s testimony substantiated why the truck was stopped at the weigh station. The state trooper revealed how the dog indicated the trailer had drugs. Therefore, he had a probable cause to search and seize, pursuant to law. The arresting officers substantiated the state trooper’s story. Coupled with photographs of the semi truck trailer, the stacks it contained, the box of money inserted into one of the stacks and the bag of drugs it contained, the prosecution claimed that the drivers were guilty of drug possession and drug trafficking.

The Defense’s Case

The defense called the driver’s supervisors and coworkers as witnesses. Using the driver’s exemplary service record of more than fifteen years as a truck driver except for his driver’s license suspension over his vehicle emission test violation, the defense claims that the driver did not knowingly possess and/or transport drugs. Rather, the defense also asked truck drivers to witness stand what procedures were customary at the company’s warehouse loading, hold, whether drivers loaded their own trailers, if so when. Corroborating the drivers’ stories, the store keeper’s personnel load the trailers with few exceptions. In fact, the other drivers contended that many companies disallow or dislike truck drivers on the loading docks due to liability issues. For these reasons, truck drivers most often enter the sales and store keeper’s offices to get the necessary paperwork done. Then, most truck drivers either walk beyond the company’s yard or spend time in the cab of the truck while the employees or private contractors load the trailer.

The defense also called one of the Cutex Cosmetic brands employee as a witness. When questioned, the witness revealed the boxes loaded onto the trailer were pre-packed by the sales manager. They were only received a few hours before the two drivers came to have them loaded onto the trailer. When asked whether this was customary, the witness testified it did happen fairly regularly.Although the defense did not question the substance found, where it was found or how it was found, they called into question its location in the trailer. Going over the meticulous search its discovery necessitated and the drivers’ and company’s protocols and procedures, the defense engaged a line of questioning illuminating reasonable doubts. In essence, the defense sought to disprove intent.

Calling the forensic expert, the defense questioned him about his findings. The forensic expert contended that none of the fingerprints on the drugs or in the semitrailer matched either driver as well as none of the biometric evidence obtained from the boxes or from the inside of the trailer.. From the lock, the forensics expert stated the evidence matched only one of the driver’s fingerprints. Other fingerprints obtained from lock and the area just outside the lock contained other fingerprints without matches in the FBI database.

Closing Arguments

The prosecution presented its closing argument, contending that the semi-truck’s drivers signed off on the load they were carrying. When they were stopped at the weigh station, the dog alerted the officers and the search ensued. Ultimately discovering drugs, the drivers were arrested. Contending this was not a question of intent, the prosecution asked the jury to determine guilt based upon the discovery and the evidence presented.

The defense obviously challenged the prosecution’s view asking if anyone really knew how the drugs got there, when and who put them there. The defense claimed that a crime had, in fact, been committed, but that crime and those offenders have thus far eluded arrest or capture. Therefore, the defense vehemently insisted that reasonable doubt should mandate a not guilty verdict.

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Conclusion

Had the chain of evidence been broken, documentation deficient in some manner or the crime scene insufficiently documented, this would have proven difficult for the prosecution. It would have impacted the expert testimony given before the jury, its weight and its credibility. However, the officer’s investigation, its lack of biometric evidence relative the drugs seized, their placement in the cosmetic pallet and the pallet’s placement in the trailer raise a considerable doubt. Using the chain of the boxes, the absence of inspection at the store keeper’s place in Oaklohama and the absence of such inspection during the trailer’s loading, there is no way to definitively link the two drivers charged with drug possession and trafficking. More disturbing is the prosecution’s failure to investigate the packaging of the two boxes by the sales manager yet it was an irregularity.

As evidenced through the preceding exploration of crime scene investigation, procedures document the facts. They give juries and officers of the court the facts so that they can decide on guilt or innocence. Had the officers violated due process or the officers of the court violated civil procedures, such violations could have proved detrimental to the case. They could have excluded evidence, required dismissal of the case or induced some other unintended consequence. In this case, however, the jury has an unbroken chain of evidence, expert testimony and biometric evidence. Therefore, law enforcement has performed its duty. The decision is left to the jury. Hopefully they will recommend an investigation into the irregular acts of the sales manager. It is wrong to overlook such details just because the subject being doubted is an influential person.

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