It is incredibly frighting to find yourself the target of Blackmail, Extortion, or Coercion in New York City or anywhere inside or outside the Empire State. Whether you’ve done something wrong or not, when a harasser demands property – usually money – or that you engage in behavior you otherwise need not, fear can drive your decision-making process to a ruinous end. After all, should you fail to acquiesce, your attacker will make good on his or her threat to obliterate your life or career through humiliation, misrepresentations, or even something far worse. As Extortion lawyers and victim advocates protecting men and women from Blackmail, Stalking, Harassment and other defamatory type assaults, the attorneys at Crotty Saland PC have dealt with and quashed these real-life scenarios firsthand.
While every situation is as unique as the stalker perpetrating the attack, one recent client exemplifies how seizing control and assertively confronting a malfeasor within the four corners of the law can put an end to an extremely frightening and traumatic experience before it blows up into a public spectacle. In this particular incident, our client, a physician, was beyond grateful that despite his extorter ratcheting up threatening behavior on a Sunday, during the Super Bowl no less, Crotty Saland PC jumped into action. By Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours later, we located the blackmailer, confronted and served her with a cease and desist memorandum, and confirmed the removal of all defamatory social media accounts and posts she weaponized in an attempt to coerce our client into handing over money or providing medical treatment she was not entitled.
Before addressing the issues our client faced and how we put the nightmarish situation to a swift end, it is important to know that Extortion, aka, Blackmail, and Coercion are similar but distinct crimes. The former, a type of Fourth Grand Larceny codified in New York Penal Law 155.30(6), is by default a class “E” felony no matter the value of the property. The value, and other factors, can raise the level of the crime as high as to a class “B” felony in violation of Penal Law 155.42. The latter, Coercion, codified in Article 135 of the Penal Law. The most common offense charged is Third Degree Coercion in violation of Penal Law 135.60 when violence, serious physical injury, or sexual misconduct is not involved. Penal Law 135.60 is a class “A” misdemeanor with a potential penalty of up to one year in jail. Beyond the penal code sections and punishment, the other major difference is that the threats used in an Extortion are to wrongfully obtain property. The goal of Coercion, however, is to force a person to behave or not behave in a particular manner.
With the above aside, what started out as fairly common cosmetic medical procedure ended up devolving into threats, demands, and attacks on our client, his colleagues, and our client’s medical practice after a former patient became unhinged with the results. Although initially pleased, the patient became anxious about a temporary and generally superficial issue sometimes associated with the procedure. Not only did our client repeatedly speak to and meet with the patient to reassure her, but our client also went so far as to assist his future blackmailer to secure multiple consultations for second and third opinions – all of which confirmed no cause for alarm. Unfortunately, realizing there was no malpractice, grounds for a lawsuit, or legitimate reason to claw back money, the patient demanded that our client provide her with further procedures until she was content with her body and follow up care in perpetuity. Alternatively, our client could pay for other physicians to do the same. When our client rightfully balked at such a demand as there was no medical issue and he had gone above and beyond already, the patient began texting and reaching out to our client and his medical practice dozens upon dozens of times while creating social media accounts in his name, that of his colleague, and of his medical practice. The woman then proceeded to defame our client, post some personal information, and “tag” or reach out to friends, former patients, and other medical professionals. Collectively, this campaign of Extortion and Coercion sought to humiliate our client personally and damage his career both online and off unless our client surrendered to her demand for future medical procedures or money to have other physicians do the same.
Ultimately, after our investigators, former NYPD detectives skilled and trained in these matters, appeared at her home and served her with Crotty Saland PC’s multi-paged memorandum addressing her wrongdoing and the potential consequences of the same, the woman immediately acknowledged what she had done, apologized, and removed the postings.
Again, while each case is unique and requires its own analysis, skill and experiences is necessary to seize power from a would-be extorter and lawfully and assertively confront them with black letter law in an easily digestible manner. It is only then that you can best ensure these ugly attacks are resolved both efficiently and privately before your abuser can infect the public, your family, or your businesses associates with his or her tales. Should it be necessary to pursue protections through law enforcement or to obtain an Order of Protection, preserving evidence demands the legal know-how to ensure that those materials are admissible in a criminal or family court.
To learn more about Crotty Saland PC’s services protecting victims of Blackmail, Extortion, Coercion, Stalking, Revenge Porn, Defamation, and other forms of harassment, review the links above. Crotty Saland PC, a law firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, represents clients in both sides of the criminal justice system, in family court Order of Protection proceedings, Title IX and Code of Conduct investigations at colleges and universities throughout the United States, and other matters related to criminal law.