I get calls like this one all too often:
(Potential Client) PC: “My business partner has apparently been siphoning away business by creating
a new business entity with a similar name to the business we own together. Then he has our clients
make their checks payable to the new entity. I think he’s taken hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What do I do? I want him to pay!”
So the caller has a choice. But which is more important? Which is faster? Which will give more
satisfaction? It’s hard to know. But careful questioning can help the PC figure it out.
But keep in mind:
1. once prosecutors get involved neither you nor your get to control how the case proceeds
2. The combination of civil lawsuits plus a criminal indictment is attractive because each can
feed off the other. Especially if the civil lawsuit goes first because of discovery rules. (Then
package what you learn & send it to the prosecutor.) Sometimes a criminal case will result in
a plea deal with restitution as part of the package.
3. If PC starts raising the criminal issue in depositions (or just casual talk) he could
a. destroy his eviscerate his case –the other side might plead the 5th Amendment.
Worse, if the local gendarme do take the case, the “partner” could delay the lawsuit
until after the criminal case is over.
b. Worse, depending on local state laws, PC could herself, be guilty of extortion
(threatening criminal prosecution to gain an advantage in civil litigation).
4. Here in the DMV (D.C., Md., and Va.) police and local prosecutors might not be all that
interested in the case, they could easily see it for what it is–a business dispute. But if there is
no victimization of the general public or a stranger, well …. They may not care very much.