White Collar Criminals: The Most Famous Criminals

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Famous White Collar Criminals


In the past few decades, there have been a handful of notable white collar crimes. Although the crimes make the news, the white collar criminals who committed them don’t always make headlines. Often, they remain overshadowed by their crimes. Learn about the most famous white collar criminals and what crimes they committed.

1. Jeffrey Skilling

If you don’t remember who Jeffrey Skilling is, one word could jog your memory – Enron. At first, Enron’s claim to fame was its innovation and large revenue. The company brought in over $100 billion. However, the company’s claim to fame quickly changed. In the early 2000s, the company seemed as if it was stronger than ever. All of that changed when the word came out that the company was not nearly as lucrative as it seemed. The stocks dropped quickly. After an investigation, the SEC found that Enron used illegal procedures to hide debt.

The president COO and CEO of Enron Jeffrey Skilling shouldered a great deal of responsibility for the illegal procedures. By working with his staff, Skilling was able to hide billions of dollars in debt. They used accounting loopholes and poor reporting practice. Although Andrew Fastow was also a key part of the scheme, Skilling was the driving force behind the crime. His actions earned him a prison sentence of 24 years and six months.

2. Bernie Madoff

Although people are now familiar with the term “Ponzi scheme,” the term was not around prior to 2008. Bernie Madoff was the reason that people learned about Ponzi schemes. While Madoff was a chairman of NASDAQ, he developed an investment firm. That investment firm raked in billions of dollars. However, the revenue was not legitimate. Madoff used false trading reports to build his firm’s wealth.

In 2008, Madoff faced charges of securities fraud. However, he had managed to evade authorities for about ten years. In the late 1990s, people suspected that Madoff used illegal practices. It wasn’t until his son reported him that Madoff found himself under arrest. In court, Madoff pled guilty to a total of 11 federal crimes. Among those crimes were money laundering, theft, and securities fraud. For his actions, Madoff received a sentence of 150 years in prison and restitution of $170 billion. His actions cost investors billions of dollars and ended with one of his son’s committing suicide.

3. Martha Stewart

In an incident that shocked the world, Martha Stewart came out as one of the most famous white collar criminals. In the early 2000s, Martha Stewart sold a large portion of InStock stock. While selling thousands of dollars in stock isn’t illegal, selling it before the company’s cancer drug fails to get FDA approval is a crime. Her actions showed that she had inside information about the drug. A judge found her guilty of obstructing justice, lying about a stock sale, and conspiracy. For her actions, Stewart earned a sentence of five months in prison.

Of course, Stewart wasn’t alone in her actions. The founder of InStock told his friends an family to sell their stock. Because his actions were illegal, the founder was guilty of security fraud, bank fraud, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

4. John and Timothy Rigas

Two of the most famous white collar criminals happen to be brothers. Their story starts with the bankruptcy of Adelphia. As the fifth largest cable company in the US, Adelphia had a revenue of about $3.6 billion. However, owners John and Timothy Rigas embezzled money from investors. They also used corporate money as if it were their own money. For John’s illegal actions, he earned 15 years in prison. Timothy Rigas earned a 20-year sentence.

5. Dennis Kozlowski

Only one year after Dennis Kozlowski earned a place as one of the top 25 corporate managers, he encountered trouble with the law. As CEO of Tyco, Dennis Kozlowski stole over $150 million from his company. He worked with his former CFO Mark Swartz to steal the money.

Both parties faced criminal charges for their actions. However, their first appearance in court ended in a mistrial. One of the jurors claimed that someone encouraged her to support the prosecution. However, the second trial had more concrete results. By the end of the trial, Kozlowski and Swartz had sentences of eight years and four months in prison.

6. Richard Scrushy

Since the 1980s, HealthSouth was under scrutiny for unethical practices. Many suspected that their financial actions were not legal. However, it took over a decade for that scrutiny to become fact. While Richard Scrushy was running the company between 1996 and 2002, HealthSouth falsified at least $2.7 billion in profits. The company defrauded Medicare and several other federal programs. Although the federal court acquitted Scrushy of his charges, he did not evade jail. Later on, a judge sentenced him to six years and ten months in prison for bribery. The bribery was for a different incident.

Other White Collar Criminals

You don’t need to look far to find other white collar criminals. Although you don’t always hear about them, they are out there. If you happen to be one of them, then you need help from an experienced lawyer. The consequences of committing a white collar crime can be severe.