Don’t shoplift or don’t get caught may be the best advice anyone – criminal lawyer or not – can give to someone who plans on shoplifting or even wants that angel on his or her shoulder when that spur of the moment pang kicks in. While the former is a far better choice, the reality of the world is that many people do shoplift and countless numbers of those people get arrested and prosecuted for crimes. Whether you are a foreign national with an H-1B or an F-1 visa, a financial services provider regulated by FINRA, an accountant, lawyer, teacher, nurse, bartender, construction worker, student or stay-at-home-mom, the charges you will likely face are the same. Certainly, destroying merchandise by tearing off security devices, changing tags, or being part of a larger crew may impact the ultimate charges you face or tenacity of the District Attorney’s Office in pursuing those charges, but assuming the value of the items stolen is $1,000 or less then the two likely crimes are Petit Larceny, NY PL 155.25, and Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, NY PL 165.40. This blog entry will address these potential shoplifting offenses and arrests at both The Westchester and Galleria Mall in White Plains, New York.
The Palisades Mall in West Nyack, Rockland County, is one of the area’s premier shopping centers. But having high end stores selling expensive merchandise does lend itself to a fair share of problems. Yes, the costs of some items may be prohibitive, but the bigger issues is when someone decides that while at the Palisades Mall they are going to shoplift and steal from The Home Depot, Modell’s, Gap, Staples, DSW or any of its dozens of stores. Depending on the nature of the theft, and remember you do not need to leave the store or the mall itself to be arrested for shoplifting, and the value of the property you attempt to steal, an accused shoplifter can face either misdemeanor or felony charges. These crimes range from Petit Larceny to Grand Larceny as well as the “sister” crimes of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. This blog entry will address shoplifting Crimes in Rockland’s County’s Palisades Mall, prosecution for these crimes in Clarkstown Justice Court and the potential offenses that can land an alleged shoplifter ultimately in Rockland County Court.
Whether you are a high school teacher, elementary school nurse, administrative staff or a paraprofessional, if you are employed by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) an arrest and prosecution raises numerous flags in both the criminal court and with the City of New York. Simply, any arrest – misdemeanor or felony, through a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or being hauled before a judge in criminal court – involves numerous moving pieces that you must address to preserve your career. Certainly, any arrest for any person is compromising. A shoplifting arrest in Manhattan where you are given a DAT for PL 155.25 or PL 165.40, a cocaine or other drug possession charging PL 220.03 in Brooklyn or even a turnstile jump or failure to pay a cab resulting in an arrest for PL 165.15 in Queens may not seem to be the most serious crime in the spectrum of New York City prosecutions, but to a DOE teacher or other employee, the concerns are real. Again, any arrest is compromising, but even if there is a limited likelihood for incarceration and you are not charged with an Assault, Grand Larceny or DWI, there are steps you must take in addition to those you are pursuing before the criminal court where you and your criminal defense attorney are fighting the allegations. To start, you should examine and review Chancellor’s Regulation C-105 that dictates the policy and management for arrests involving DOE employees.
New York Blackmail and Extortion comes in different “flavors” and “sizes”. These cases are often as unique as the circumstances, victims and perpetrators. Often, when there is an extortion, threat of embarrassment, demand for money or mere harassment, a victim is hesitant to go to the police even when the law is clearly on his or her side. Similarly, there are situations where the harassment, emails, calls, threats, demands, stalking or other conduct may actually skirt violating the New York Penal Law. Call the police anyway? Risk your business, name or family relationships? Are there other options that can potentially put an end to this misery? Simply, when does a victimizer’s actions violate the New York Penal Law and what if anything should, or can, you do?
This blog entry will not serve as a substitute for an in depth analysis of your particular case. In fact, it in no way will address your case but instead identify potential issues and how you can take control of a situation that may derail your life if you let it fester and grow.
Healthcare Fraud (a/k/a Health Care Fraud) is crime vigorously pursued by local District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Attorney General. The basic idea or theme behind any New York Penal Law Article 177 crime, investigation or arrest is that a defendant “with intent to defraud a health care plan… knowingly and willfully provided materially false information … for the purpose of requesting payment from a health plan for a health care item or service and, as a result of such information …, [the defendant] or another person received payment in an amount [to which the defendant or another person was] not entitled.” Depending on the nature or aggregate value of the payment received, Healthcare Fraud in New York State (it is irrelevant if alleged fraud occurs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, White Plains, Yonkers or Albany) is either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Once an individual is alleged to have received from a single health plan at least $3,000.00, the crime graduates to the class “E” felony of Health Care Fraud in the Fourth Degree. This crime is punishable by as much as four years in prison. Obviously, should the aggregate amount be greater, the felony and incarceration exposure increases significantly.
With this general understanding of New York’s Health Care Fraud statute, the following blog entry will provide a little more insight into what actions can be the basis of a criminal violation.
In People v. Khan, 18 NY 3d 535 (2012), the Court of Appeals grappled (that may be an overstatement) with the nature of proof required for a conviction under the Health Care Fraud statute. There, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the New York City Human Resources Administrations conducted an undercover investigation of NYC Pharmacy, Inc. NYC Pharmacy Inc. is a pharmacy located in Upper Manhattan.
The Martin Act, New York General Business Law 352 and related subsections, is the hammer in a prosecutor’s toolbox to investigate and prosecute securities fraud in New York State. The New York State Legislature passed this “blue sky law” to regulate fraudulent securities transactions and to provide the New York Attorney General (a prosecutor with jurisdiction anywhere in the State of New York), with grounds to bring a civil law suit against perpetrators of financial fraud. In 1932 the act was expanded to allow the Attorney General to bring criminal charges, and request criminal sanctions, against perpetrators of financial fraud.
In a prior bog entry, I addressed some of the potential felony arrest charges you can face if you commit credit card fraud, debit card fraud or check fraud in New York. As a New York criminal lawyer and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, I have either prosecuted or defended hundreds of these crimes involving stolen or fake credit cards, bogus checks and other alleged scams netting a few dollars to millions of dollars. While certain crimes associated with check fraud and credit card fraud in New York are not necessarily impacted by the value of the ill gotten gains (Forgery, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and Falsifying Business Records – see other blog entries and CrottySaland.Com for information on these offenses), the degree of other crimes and offenses share a direct correlation with the associated theft or larceny. Beyond the “D” and “E” felonies listed above, these crimes include Grand Larceny and felony Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.
Grand Larceny: Credit Card, Debit Card & Check Fraud
There are few things more frightful and concerning than being arrested in a nation where you do not reside. Compounding matters, because the United States has a unique criminal justice system, you may not have any idea about the arrest process and what you may face whether you were charged with a crime in New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, etc.), White Plains or some other jurisdiction. Not only will you have to contend with collateral immigration issues of your arrest such as how to renew your visa (if you can), what will you do if you plan on leaving New York and returning home before your case is resolved? For example, if you are issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) to return to Manhattan Criminal Court weeks after you go back to your home nation, how will you avoid a Bench Warrant from being issued and an arrest upon your return to the United States? Even if you wanted to stay and fight your case, what will happen if you overstay your visa?
Before addressing the issues mentioned above, please note that this blog entry merely addresses misdemeanor crimes in New York and not felony offenses in the context of an arrest of a foreign national. Not only are felony crimes much more serious, but these crimes have a separate set of procedural rules that may not be applicable to their misdemeanor brethren. Having addressed that, some of the more common misdemeanor arrests that foreign nationals face and those I have defended against as a New York criminal lawyer have been shoplifting (Petit Larceny – New York Penal Law 155.25 and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree – New York Penal Law 165.40), possession of drugs such as cocaine, heroin or other controlled substances (Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree – New York Penal Law 220.03), jumping a turnstile or failing to pay a cab driver (Theft of Services – New York Penal Law 165.15) and possession of a marijuana joint or pipe open to public view (Criminal Possession of Marijuana – New York Penal Law 221.10). Far from an exhaustive list, if you, as a foreign national, provided a local address, the NYPD officer who arrested you may have given you a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) for your return to court on a future date. You will not be processed through “the system” in the same manner as if you committed a felony or a similar misdemeanor without establishing ties to New York City.
According to New York City’s top prosecutor, a Manhattan Chase Bank teller’s passion for the Benjamins may have cost him much more than the $240,000 he is alleged to have swindled from his employer. Unfortunately for Sephoen Tsang, a Chinatown branch worker, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has escalated the “war” on white collar crimes in recent months with equal passion to Tsang’s alleged thieving ways.
It is claimed by prosecutors that Tsang made numerous fake and false entries into the computer system at Chase Bank regarding the movement of $243,000 in funds. Although prosecutors claim that internal computer systems records from November 29, 2011 appear as if Tsang moved $243,000 from his teller drawer to the bank vault and and then again to the ATM machines, these transactions never transpired. Instead, the money was allegedly stolen outright.
“Go get ’em, Cy!” That was likely the cheer that echoed through the halls of TD Bank corporate headquarters after the Manhattan District Attorney and his troops announced the indictment and arrest of 94 individuals in an alleged check fraud and Grand Larceny ring that pilfered approximately $450,000 from the global bank. While the loss of $450,000 has absolutely no impact on the bottom line of such a large institution, and is likely viewed merely as one of the many costs of doing business in the 21st century, such a theft is significant in terms of consumer and banker confidence and security. The alleged fraudsters may have believed they were in a real life Staples commercial when they allegedly looted approximately 90 accounts and spent the ill gotten gains on cards and dice at area casinos (Hey, “That was easy.”), but they were certainly wrong. The sad reality for the accused is that many of those arrested now face up to fifteen years in state prison. Reminiscent of the Queens District Attorney’s Office 16 million dollar and 100 plus person indictments charging Enterprise Corruption, Grand Larceny and other crimes, Manhattan prosecutors, like District Attorney Brown’s crew, are poised to to send a strong message to would be identity, cyber and check fraud thieves. In fact, taking a page out of the book of his predecessor, Robert Morgenthau, for fighting crimes in the streets and in the suites, DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. stated:
“Our job is to protect New Yorkers, whether on the streets, online, or in the banking system. The most recent cases brought by my Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau show how pervasive cyberfraud schemes are, and how they depend on individuals willing to play various criminal roles. Whether you are a ring-leader or a small player, if you are caught committing fraud, you will be prosecuted.”