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Federal prosecution of white-collar crime has dropped by 31% from the levels reported in 2001 at the outset of a spate of corporate corruption scandals, according to a Syracuse University tracking service. This occurred at a time, from fiscal years 2000 to 2004, when overall federal criminal cases rose by 31%, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which compiles raw data from the U.S. Department of Justice. On a month-by-month basis, new case filings in July 2006-the latest number available-fell by 15% over the previous month with 498 new cases, the lowest level since May 2001, according to TRAC. A ‘lull before the storm?’ By contrast, immigration prosecutions more than doubled from fiscal year 2000 to 2004, surpassing federal drug prosecutions with nearly 38,000 filed cases, up from less than 17,000 in 2000, according to TRAC. Federal drug cases actually declined slightly in 2004 from nearly 33,000 in 2000 to less than 31,000 in 2004, the report states. Weapons prosecutions soared during the same period, from 5,500 in 2000 to nearly 11,000 cases by 2004. The statistics are surprising considering the number of investigations the government has going and the rain of subpoenas issued, according to Matthew Ja- cobs, head of the Silicon Valley white-collar practice at McDermott, Will & Emory. “Maybe they are not resulting in prosecutions, but there is a tremendous amount of activity, particularly in options backdating,” he said. The numbers could represent “a lull or the lull before the storm,” said Jacobs. White-collar crime is defined as 10 categories of charges involving bank fraud, wire, tax and mail frauds, conspiracy to defraud, false statements, tax evasion and theft of public money. Bank fraud (18 U.S.C. 1344) saw the most significant decline in prosecutions, a drop of 54% from five years ago, while the largest increase for the same period was a rise of 12% in fraud related to identification documents (18 U.S.C. 1028). New York and California’s Silicon Valley, which are typically thought of as centers for white-collar cases, were not in the top 10 districts when ranked for per-capita prosecution. The most active district by population was Kansas City, Mo., with 829 cases during July 2006, according to TRAC, up from No. 34 of 94 federal judicial districts. Philadelphia and Shreveport, La., round out the top three.

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