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MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld defendant Louis H. LaCount's multiple white collar crime convictions. The multiple counts included securities fraud and theft by a bailee of property. A Brown County jury had found LaCount guilty of securities fraud. After the jury verdict, LaCount pled guilty to other counts, including felony theft by bailee of property.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office represented the state in the Supreme Court, praised the decision. "By investigating and prosecuting white collar cases, my office will continue to work with law enforcement to protect Wisconsin's citizens and businesses from the crippling economic loss that accompanies white collar crime."
LaCount was convicted in Brown County Circuit Court of multiple white collar theft-type felonies stemming from his employment as a debt negotiator and office manager at Gates, Paul & Lear, L.L. C., a Green Bay area company. According to the criminal complaint, LaCount's illegal activity misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars. He received a 15-year prison term, enhanced for habitual criminality, and additional sentences to be served concurrently. He appealed his convictions to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. That court rejected his arguments, concluding in pertinent part:
That law enforcement officers did not violate LaCount's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures when it executed a search warrant and seized financial records from LaCount's office. That the circuit court properly allowed the prosecution to present expert testimony from David Cohen, supervisory counsel for the Division of Securities at the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, regarding the application of state securities law to the charged offenses. That the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to convict LaCount of securities fraud. That the circuit court did not violate LaCount's right to a jury trial when it determined that LaCount was a habitual offender under Wisconsin law.
"White collar crimes can involve complex financial and legal issues on appeal. Today's decision provides a straightforward treatment of the law applied to the facts of this case and largely adopts the arguments we presented to the Court," Van Hollen said.
A link to the decision and opinion can be found at:
The State of Wisconsin was represented in the circuit court by the Brown County District Attorney's Office. The State was represented on appeal by Assistant Attorney General James M. Freimuth of the Wisconsin Department of Justice Criminal Appeals Unit.