White Collar Criminal Law Explained

Join an acclaimed law school professor to explore the legally treacherous terrain of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and other white collar crimes.
White Collar Criminal Law Explained is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 12.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential to understand the criminality of Trump This is an outstanding course. The topic is rightly described by the lecturer as important to understanding many current headlines. As a law student, I appreciate the organization of the course and the methodical way in which the lecturer presents the material. I suspect he uses much the same approach with his students at GW. While the law can often be dry and removed, white collar crime is fascinating, timely, and involves much that relates to normal society. Professor Eliason is excellent. His lectures are well organized, clear, and entertaining. He does not try to exploit his topic for dramatic effect, but rather presents his material in a straight forward easy to understand manner.
Date published: 2021-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Should be Mandatory Released 2020 and highly relevant, although many examples chosen are more than a decade old. About as much material is presented as can be covered in 24 lectures. A notable deficiency is tax avoidance and evasion; how a billionaire could avoid paying tax. This is the reason for the four star rating. The unfortunate lecture 23 could be replaced, by another professor if necessary. The lecturer makes the categorical statement "immoral and unethical is not criminal". This statement is important to understand Supreme Court decisions later referenced. Visuals are useful but not critical. The lecturer speaks clearly and in logical phrases. Highly recommended. This course should be a mandatory part of US civics education.
Date published: 2020-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Presentation and Timely Topic I would like to add my "thumbs up" to this very well presented course. Prof. Eliason is professional in his delivery, yet always knows when to stop and explain a fine point in the discussion. Other reviewers have made it clear how very well the subject is covered. I feel video bullet points and outlines help keep things clear during nuanced explanations. From Ponzi to Madoff to Enron and Manafort - it's all here. The best part is being able to apply what I've learned today to tomorrow's news!
Date published: 2020-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent production values! I found the presenter extremely interesting for such a potentially dry legal subject. His fluid delivery and clarity make a complex area of the law understandable. I am not a lawyer, but could follow his examples easily. I especially enjoyed the last lecture which featured a colloquy with a member of the white collar defense bar.
Date published: 2020-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Primer! This course is true to its title and delivers a thorough and easy-to-understand introduction to white collar criminal law. Prof. Eliason is a clear, precise lecturer and, while some of the material necessarily involves a somewhat tedious parsing of statutory language, he is ever mindful of the big picture and peppers his lectures with real-world examples that help bring the subject matter to life and tie it to today's headlines. The course works well in either video or audio format, and I think novices and experts alike will gain interesting information and insights from these lectures. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2020-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb course! I learned so much from this lecture series. The presenter excels at explaining complex concepts, cases, and issues. I'd sign up for any course Mr. Eliason teaches. Thank you!
Date published: 2020-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting This is for the person who wants to understand better the news reports about white collar crime such as mail and wire fraud, securities fraud, obstruction of justice, computer crimes, and racketeering. Each lecture adds depth of understanding to common news reports. There are basically two kinds of lectures in this course: lectures about process and lectures about crime. The lectures about process include how a grand jury works and how plea bargains work. The lectures about crimes (the bulk of the course) focus on a particular kind of crime, such as mail and wire fraud, in an individual lecture. Dr. Eliason describes the essential elements that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt and he often gives history showing how the courts have interpreted the statutes. Dr. Eliason is a good public speaker (as one might expect from a lawyer). His experience is both as a federal prosecutor and also as a law school professor. One lecture is devoted to an interview with a white collar defense attorney. I used the video version but the audio version would have been just about as good.
Date published: 2020-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and captivating I took this course on Plus, but would gladly have paid double the standalone price for it. Interesting subject, great lecturer, good learning curve. I am an attorney in a civil law system (16 years experience), and my impression is that this course is perfect for everyone with curiosity about the subject (except experts in the field, of course, who likely would find it trivial). The review of the statutes is well-structured and clear. The lecturer is very good and a pleasure to watch and listen to. I have watched more than 100 courses on Plus. All but a very few were good, but so far I have found that only three of them were so good that I had to pause and write a review. This is one.
Date published: 2020-10-06
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In White Collar Criminal Law Explained, join Professor Randall D. Eliason of The George Washington University Law School for an in-depth investigation of how federal white collar crime prosecutions work-and why they sometimes don't. Over 24 lessons, you'll learn how prosecutors pursue white collar crimes, including fraud, bribery, obstruction of justice, extortion, perjury, money laundering, and more.


Randall D. Eliason
Randall D. Eliason

White collar criminal law lies at the intersection of law, business, and politics.


The George Washington University Law School

Randall D. Eliason is a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School. He received his JD cum laude from Harvard Law School and spent 12 years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He authors a blog on white collar crime and federal criminal law called Sidebars, and his writings have been published in scholarly journals, legal periodicals, and national newspapers. He is a two-time recipient of the Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award at The George Washington University Law School.

By This Professor

White Collar Criminal Law Explained
White Collar Criminal Law Explained


Defining White collar Crime

01: Defining White collar Crime

There’s no section in the US criminal code captioned “white collar crimes.” So what, exactly, is a white collar crime? What sets white collar apart from other areas of criminal law? Why do these crimes—and the criminals who commit them—captivate the public? In this lecture, establish a solid legal framework for the lessons ahead.

33 min
Anatomy of a Federal White Collar Case

02: Anatomy of a Federal White Collar Case

In this lesson, study the federal prosecution of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, as a window into how a federal white collar case works its way through the criminal justice system. Topics include the structure of the federal courts and Department of Justice and the critical role of federal prosecutors.

32 min
The Power of the Federal Grand Jury

03: The Power of the Federal Grand Jury

The federal grand jury has tremendous power in the US justice system—yet for many of us, the grand jury process remains shrouded in mystery. In the first of two lessons on what a federal grand jury is and how it operates, Professor Eliason pulls back the curtain and reveals the inner workings of this important institution.

30 min
Grand Jury Procedure and Search Warrants

04: Grand Jury Procedure and Search Warrants

Continue your look at federal grand juries by considering one of their most distinctive features: secrecy. Along the way, consider why a good federal prosecutor should disclose exculpatory information to a grand jury; what information qualifies as protected grand jury material; and the importance (and practical limitations) of another investigative tool, search warrants.

30 min
Mail and Wire Fraud and the Nature of Fraud

05: Mail and Wire Fraud and the Nature of Fraud

Two of the most popular statutes that federal prosecutors of white collar crime have at their disposal are mail and wire fraud. After considering the relatively straightforward elements of mail and wire fraud, turn to the heart of both crimes: the scheme or artifice to defraud.

29 min
The Limits of Mail and Wire Fraud

06: The Limits of Mail and Wire Fraud

One area that defines the outer boundaries of mail and wire fraud involves the definition of “property.” After examining Supreme Court cases that sought to answer the question of what qualifies as property, focus on the “in furtherance” requirement and its role in the landmark 1989 case of Schmuck v. United States.

30 min
Honest Services Fraud and Its Evolution

07: Honest Services Fraud and Its Evolution

In an honest services fraud case, there’s no need to show that victims suffered a monetary loss; instead, a prosecutor has to show they were deprived of their intangible right to honest services. As you explore the evolution of this criminal theory, learn why its most common use is to prosecute political corruption.

32 min
Conspiracy: A Partnership in Crime

08: Conspiracy: A Partnership in Crime

Conspiracy is one of the most common types of federal crimes charged. Professor Eliason reveals the benefits of a conspiracy charge for the prosecution, the reasons why we prosecute conspiracy, the elements of a conspiracy charge, and the two prongs of the primary federal conspiracy statute: 18 U.S.C. section 371.

29 min
Common Issues in Conspiracy Cases

09: Common Issues in Conspiracy Cases

In this lesson, consider the elements of a criminal conspiracy in greater detail. Central to the discussion are common issues that arise in conspiracy cases, including proving the agreement, proving the scope of the conspiracy, the “overt act” requirement, and the possibility of withdrawing from a conspiracy.

29 min
Public Corruption: Bribery and Gratuities

10: Public Corruption: Bribery and Gratuities

Bribery is the quintessential public corruption offense: a public official who accepts something of personal value to be influenced in the performance of some official act. After discussing bribery and the related offense of gratuities, Professor Eliason also covers two major Supreme Court decisions that dramatically limited the scope of these statutes.

31 min
Extortion by Public Officials

11: Extortion by Public Officials

The Hobbs Act defines extortion as the “obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.” What elements of extortion must prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt? And why is the phrase “under color of official right” so controversial?

29 min
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

12: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

One of our most important laws for fighting corruption overseas was born in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. In this lesson, unpack the importance of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the basis of prosecutions (sometimes of non-US companies) that have resulted in some of the largest financial settlements in US history.

31 min
Securities Fraud and Insider Trading

13: Securities Fraud and Insider Trading

To many people, insider trading is the textbook example of a white collar crime. Go inside the somewhat controversial legal theories involved in these prosecutions, which seek to maintain investor confidence in the securities market and establish (and maintain) a somewhat level playing field for investors.

32 min
Perjury and the Law of Cover-Up Crimes

14: Perjury and the Law of Cover-Up Crimes

In the first of several lessons on “cover-up crimes” (crimes committed to conceal other misconduct), examine the topic of perjury, or lying under oath. Unpack the two principal federal perjury statutes; learn the elements required to prove a charge of perjury; and consider the role ambiguity plays in perjury cases.

32 min
False Statements and Concealment

15: False Statements and Concealment

When you lie to the federal government, it’s not just wrong—it could land you in prison. Learn why charges of giving false statements are extremely common in white collar cases; analyze the breadth and simplicity of the federal false statements statute; and explore how this charge can help the government prove criminal intent or guilty knowledge.

29 min
Obstruction of Justice

16: Obstruction of Justice

Obstruction of justice covers a wide variety of misconduct, including tampering with witnesses, threatening jurors, and destroying evidence. After examining the primary obstruction of justice statutes, probe leading Supreme Court cases dealing with this white collar crime, including United States v. Aguilar and Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States.

33 min
Money Laundering Basics

17: Money Laundering Basics

Prosecuting money laundering continues to be a major priority for the Department of Justice. In the first of two lectures on this crime, examine the elements of domestic money laundering, then explore them in the context of two early cases: United States v. Jackson and United States v. Campbell.

32 min
Laundering Money across the US Border

18: Laundering Money across the US Border

Turn now to the international money laundering statute, 18 U.S.C. section 1956(a)(2), which requires that the funds in question be transported across the US border. One area of international money laundering you’ll investigate is cash purchases of US real estate by corrupt foreign officials—a primary laundering vehicle.

31 min
Conspiracy on Steroids: The RICO Statute

19: Conspiracy on Steroids: The RICO Statute

When Congress passed the RICO statute—short for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act—it primarily had organized crime in mind. First, see the benefits and drawbacks of the statute through the eyes of a white collar prosecutor. Then, better understand the specific elements of a RICO charge.

32 min
Hacking and Other Computer Crimes

20: Hacking and Other Computer Crimes

In our increasingly digital age, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a powerful tool for federal prosecutors to combat cyberattacks against individuals, organizations, and even the entire country. Review the seven different sections of the CFAA, each of which applies to a different type of computer crime and comes with different requirements.

33 min
Corporate Criminal Liability

21: Corporate Criminal Liability

Today, many legal experts question the rationale for corporate criminal liability, and some even suggest it should be abolished altogether. How did a Supreme Court case over 100 years old set the standards that still govern corporate criminal liability today? And why is there a growing reluctance to indict and prosecute companies for criminal activity?

31 min
Plea Bargains and Immunity Deals

22: Plea Bargains and Immunity Deals

Over 95% of all criminal prosecutions, including white collar prosecutions, are resolved short of trial by way of a plea bargain. In this lesson, focus on three tools critical to the white collar prosecutor seeking to build a case involving serious criminal misconduct: plea agreements, cooperation agreements, and immunity deals.

30 min
Defending the White Collar Case

23: Defending the White Collar Case

Professor Eliason sits down with Michael N. Levy for a look at white collar crime from the perspective of a defense lawyer—another critical legal player in any white collar case. It’s a chance for you to eavesdrop on an insightful, extemporaneous Q&A session that will add to your understanding of the nuances of white collar crimes.

35 min
Sentencing White Collar Criminals

24: Sentencing White Collar Criminals

Once guilt is established by a plea or a trial, the last part of the criminal process remains: sentencing. Start by examining the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which help the court fashion an appropriate sentence; then, look at United States v. Booker, the Supreme Court case that turned these guidelines from mandatory to merely advisory.

32 min