Facing any criminal charges can be stressful to those involved. When charges are at the federal level, there is often an added complexity as well as a risk of penalties for conviction that are significantly more severe than at the state level. Those who are charged with federal fraud have likely been under investigation for some time and may have a great deal of work to do to prepare a strong defense strategy.

One public figure in Mississippi is likely under that kind of pressure after both state and federal authorities recently indicted him and his wife for 13 counts of wire fraud. The man, who has been mayor of his city for three years, is accused of collecting donations at a gala fundraiser for youths struggling with mental health issues. The couple reportedly deposited the donations into an account for a newly created LLC. Charging documents allege that they then used money from the account for their own purposes.

Wire fraud involves the use of electronic or digital means to commit fraud. Investigators say the couple electronically transferred donations made through Paypal into the LLC account, then used the debit card for the LLC to make a downpayment on a luxury car. When they returned the vehicle, they allegedly deposited the refund into their personal account. Additionally, the indictment claims the two used donated funds to purchase a second vehicle, pay off credit card debt and purchase a rare breed of dog.

Each of the 13 wire fraud charges carries a 20-year sentence for conviction, and a conspiracy conviction may add even more time to a sentence. Clearly, there is much at stake given the complexity of the charges. Those in Mississippi or elsewhere who are under investigation or facing federal fraud charges have the right to solid defense representation at the earliest possible moment in the process.