Articles Posted in In the News

What is likely being hailed as a major victory for law enforcement, Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown has announced the arrest of more than two dozen individuals involved in a Trademark Counterfeiting enterprise and the recovery of more than $500,000 in cash and fake goods with a street value of approximately $750,000. According to the Queens DA’s press release, the investigation that netted the haul of contraband and cash was dubbed “Operation Finish Line.” A three year investigation by prosecutors, Operation Finish Line netted the indictment of multiple crews as as well as businesses. These alleged organized crews imported imposter goods from China and distributed fake and fraudulent designer brands, including True Religion and Polo, throughout the United States. These rings generated approximately $10 million annually in their alleged counterfeit scheme.

While the individual and corporate defendants face a variety of crimes, many of the offenses are extremely serious that could result in as much as fifteen or twenty five years in prison. In fact, a dozen of those arrested in Queens face the charge of Enterprise Corruption (New York Penal Law 460.20). NY PL 460.20, is New York State’s version of the organized crime statute used by federal authorities to go after organizations such as the mob. Where there is a common goal, criminal scheme and ascertainable structure, prosecutors pursue this crime as the “hammer” in a criminal case for a very clear and obvious reason. It is certainly not missed by an experienced New York Criminal defense attorney who practices with regularity in criminal and supreme courts. Simply, if you are convicted of Enterprise Corruption as a person who has no prior brushes with the criminal justice system you will still face a minimum term of one to three years in state prison and as much as eight and one third to twenty five years.

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While the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office will not be resolving the age old question of whether a dentist is in fact a “doctor” (I do not want to be accused of being an antidentite by-the-way), DA Thomas J. Spota’s Herculoids (a little homage to Hana Barbara, folks), will soon be addressing whether a dentist can be criminally reckless if he or she performs procedures on a patient while intoxicated. According to reports, police arrested Robert B. Garelick, a Lindenhurst dentist, for Second Degree Reckless Endangerment (New York Penal Law 120.20) after he was accused of this exact conduct.

An “A” misdemeanor, Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree is punishable by a year in jail. You are guilty of NY PL 120.20 if you recklessly engage in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. To be clear, your conduct is not sufficient if it “may” or can “possibly” cause any type of injury, but creates a substantial risk of a physical injury that is legally classified as serious.

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According to reports, rapper-singers Drake and Chris Brown, along with their respective entourages, OD’d in testosterone and supposed manhood at Manhattan’s club W.I.P. Whether it was the result of one too many cocktail, it is alleged that Drake taunted Brown over the former’s “between the sheets dancing” with the over-hyped songstress, Rihanna. If reports are true, the sensitive Brown and sophomoric Drake engaged in bottle tossing mayhem that resulted in what appears to be some fairly serious injuries. Although this blog entry will not address the civil liability of SoHo’s club W.I.P. or the two Top 40 knuckleheads for the alleged brawl, there certainly could be arrest charges in Manhattan should the police and prosecutors be able to identify individuals and their conduct during the “chivalrous bout” over Rihanna’s honor.

If the police can identify the person who instigated the melee as well as those who were involved in and advanced the shenanigans, prosecutors must also be able to establish their respective actions. Not addressing all of the issues that would arise in a prosecution, what are some of the charges a defendant could face should everything fall into place for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office?

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has struck again in his pursuit of eradicating the worlds oldest illegal profession outside of Reno, Nevada. According to New York City newspapers as well as the New York County DA’s Office website, Anna Gristina has some new proverbial bedfellows in Grip Entertainment’s Vincent George, Jr., Vincent George, Sr., Asama Ahmad, Qabari Gaber, Theo Jones, David Lombardo, Assaf Nahomove and Sokol Perkaj. In varying capacities, each of the men face at least one count of Promoting Prostitution. Of significant concern for others, prosecutors claim that “johns” or men who paid for the prostitutes, will be prosecuted in coming days.

It is alleged that at least both Georges pimped out women in a prostitution ring that reached far beyond the Island of Manhattan. Prosecutors claim that the Georges father-son duo created Grip Entertainment as a front to launder money they illegally obtained through sex trafficking. Assisting them were six livery drivers – Ahmad, Gaber, Jones, Lombardo, Nahomove and Perkaj.

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Alec Baldwin, the brash Long Island native known equally for his comedic skills, left leaning politics and abrasive rants against his daughter and a flight attendant, seems to be a victim of stalker. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and numerous media outlets, Genevieve Sabourin has been “hot to trot” with the eldest of the Baldwin clan. Unfortunately for the Canadian Sabourin, Baldwin is not interested in the 40 year old, but with the 28 year old Hilaria Thomas with whom he recently had a child. Even potentially more upsetting for the accused stalker, Sabourin now faces the wrath of Cyrus Vance, Jr. as his prosecutors filled a criminal court complaint charging her with numerous crimes including two counts of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 240.30) and two counts of Stalking in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 120.45). Regardless of whether or not Sabourin is ultimately convicted, the Manhattan Criminal Court will issue an Order of Protection or Restraining Order preventing Sabourin to have any contact what-so-ever with Baldwin. Unless the case is dismissed in some capacity, this Order of Protection will remain in place until the case is resolved and then a final Order will be issued.

The conduct that is the basis of these crimes stems from Sabourin’s alleged pursuit of Baldwin that including texting her love for the “30 Rock” actor as well as a desire to have his child. Compounding matters, it is alleged that Sabourin went to Baldwin’s home in Manhattan where she hoped to make further contact. This is not the first time law enforcement claims that Sabourin chased Jack Ryan as she recently tried to engage the actor at his Hamptons home.

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Although it is not codified in the New York Penal Law, being a moron, putz or schmuck is arguably a damn serious offense and an epidemic plaguing many communities. If the allegations against Jordan Brooks Amos are true, then he should be thrilled that being an idiot is not a crime. According to the Web Crims, as well as many media outlets, Amos, a possible member of the 99% and Occupy Wall Street, really showed JP Morgan Chase who is boss. Well, at least he made some poor maintenance men and women who work at JP Morgan miserable and unhappy when he allegedly dumped a large bucket of urine and feces inside a ATM station in lower Manhattan. That’ll show the “fat cats,” Amos!

While I sometimes go off track with my blog, the purpose is not to comment on political groups, opinions or leaders. In my years as a Manhattan prosecutor and New York criminal defense attorney, I have certainly had the opportunity to form or articulate opinions. Here, however, I try to stick to the evidence (or lack thereof) and law. Whether Amos and his alleged cronies are members of #OWS or #IMAJERK is fairly irrelevant. If true, poring human waste in a place where regular working people go to access their money to pay bills and entry level or corporate employs go to work to support their families is just, well, stupid regardless of your political agenda.

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Did Meredith Graves get a “good deal” from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. after she accepted his misdemeanor non-jail plea bargain? Did DA Vance do the “right thing” in offering a non-felony plea? Certainly, the technical answer to both of these questions is an unequivocal “yes.” After all, it is not as if Graves, a registered nurse and fourth year medical student, had a legal defense. She could not argue the police lacked probable cause to arrest her or that the firearm in her possession was recovered as a product of an illegal search. Further, as we all know, ignorance of the law is no defense. The practical reality was that other than mitigation, no other true defense existed. In a case such as this, getting prosecutors to deviate down from a mandatory three and one half year sentence on a felony to no incarceration on a misdemeanor is significant.

Despite the fact that the offer is a heck of a lot better than the mandatory prison Graves would have faced if convicted of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 265.03), there is a real issue that I believe prosecutors ignored in resolving this case. Yes, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office recognized that the firearm in Graves’ possession was illegally possessed in New York, but it was not an “illegal gun.” Graves had a licensed firearm with the proper permits from her home state (whatever they may be). If evidence established that the weapon was purchased illegally, defaced, used in a crime or was involved in weapon trafficking, DA Vance rightfully would have taken a less forgiving approach. Further, unlike an arrest where a firearm is recovered as a result of some other infraction or crime, Graves had attempted to turn in the firearm and check the weapon at Ground Zero when she learned she was unable to possess it there. It does not take a criminal lawyer to recognize that DA Vance took all of this into consideration when ultimately determining what he believed to be the best resolution to this case and deviating from a normal offer or deal.

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Athletes, just like the people who pay to watch them catch balls, shoot baskets and swing bats, sometimes put themselves in compromising situations. Brandon Marshall, a star wide receiver recently traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Chicago Bears, is no different. According to the NY Post, Marshall is accused of punching a woman, Christin Myles, in the face during a late night (actually, an early morning) fracas. It is alleged that Marshall socked the young woman with enough force to give her a black eye. The fight is alleged to have occurred at a club in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Assuming the allegations are true, Manhattan prosecutors would likely charge Marshall with a top count of misdemeanor Assault in the Third Degree. New York Penal Law 120.00(1) is an intentional crime where you strike another person and cause that person a physical injury. The physical injury element requires substantial pain. Redness, swelling, and a more serious black eye would be enough to reach this threshold. Assuming there is a conviction, you would end up with a sentence ranging from community service or a conditional discharge to three years probation or as much as one year in jail.

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If one of Gotham’s leading tabloids is correct, the dragnet for alleged “Mommy Madam” Anna Gristina’s pimping accomplice is one step closer to exposing its target. According to the NY Post, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD have their eyes set on 30 year old VIP Life matchmaking recruiter Jaynie Baker as the next arrest in the latest high end prostitution bust.

Despite all the hubbub, Gristina, and possibly Baker, is only charged with a “D” non-violent felony for Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree. While prosecutors claim the mother of four scored millions of dollars during her time as a madam, she is not charged with Money Laundering, Enterprise Corruption or any other crime. As I stated in an earlier entry, this one count indictment is strikingly “odd.” In the recent past, high end escort services and their proprietors have been charged with significantly more offenses and much more serious crimes than one “D” felony that does not even carry a mandatory state prison sentence.

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If New York was the Biggest Little City in the World, then prostitution would be a taxable source of pleasure for the state and federal government. New York City, however, is not Reno and Anna Gristina is not the proprietor of the infamous Bunny Ranch. According to Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Gristina ran an enterprise that serviced well healed clients over a fifteen year period. In fact, according to Assistant District Attorneys, Gristina did not run a multimillion-dollar Gotham based prostitution ring alone. Instead, she ran her alleged brothel service with an at-large and unidentified co-defendant.

It is alleged that an Upper East Side apartment was a haven for late night and lunch time lovers who paid millions of dollars to Gristina over the course of fifteen years. It appears that prosecutors spent significant time and money pursuing Gristina and likely have powerful evidence. It is asserted that law enforcement sent in undercover police officers to investigate the alleged sexual fiascos (much to their chagrin and objection one would assume) as well as informants. Reports further indicate that there may be at least fifty hours of surveillance videos and recordings rated at least between “G” and “R” assuming there were no cams set up for a more detailed view. Unfortunately for Gristina, its is alleged that the madam even bragged that her connections in law enforcement would giver her a tip should Big Brother be onto her trysting scheme. Even Jason Itsler, the self proclaimed “King of all Pimps” did not not have that luxury (regardless, both have found themselves in custody during their alleged pimping careers).

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