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New York Criminal Defense Law Blog

New York woman pleads guilty to embezzling $4.1 million

On March 28, a New York woman pleaded guilty to embezzling $4.1 million from her employer. Officials from the Erie County District Attorney's Office said it is one of the largest individual embezzlement cases prosecutors can recall handling.

The defendant, a 55-year-old East Aurora resident, began working as a comptroller at Towne Automotive Group in 2001. According to media reports, she wrote unauthorized checks from her employer's accounts and illegally transferred money into her personal bank accounts. Investigators were able to prove she misappropriated $4.1 million, but prosecutors say bank records only went back to May 2009, so she may have stolen a larger amount. Her scheme was uncovered in November 2016 when a business called Towne Automotive to discuss a $125,000 check it had received. The defendant was on vacation, so another employee looked at the books, discovering the fraudulent activity.

3 men get probation in major marijuana growing case

A case that was investigated by the New York State Police has ended with three men being sentenced after pleading guilty to first-degree criminal possession of marijuana. The men were charged with the offense for allegedly being involved in a major grow operation of the drug.

In addition to the three men, a fourth man pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense. The three who pleaded guilty to felonies claimed that they were taking care of the fourth man's plants. The three were sentenced on March 17 in Cayuga County. All three men were sentenced to serve five years of probation. Two of the three men received shock probation sentences with an additional 25 to 50 hours of community service.

Ponzi scheme allegedly drew in $97 million

Two New York City businessmen were indicted on March 7 for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that involved purported investments in Broadway show and concert tickets. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that the two men took in $97 million through the scheme from 138 investors from 17 states.

The SEC alleges that the men lured investors by promising that their money would be pooled to purchase bulk tickets to various popular shows, including "Hamilton," "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," Adele concerts and others. Some of the events had been sold out for months in advance, and the ticket purchases were reportedly never made.

Some of the most addictive drugs used in the US

Drug addiction starts small but often grows over time to be out of control. If you need money to support a drug habit, you may turn to dealing or other crimes to get the cash. This often leads to criminal charges and a record that can affect your ability to get a job or live a successful life once you are clean. While you may have been unaware of how addictive the drug could be when you starte d it, it is never too late to learn more about what you are dealing with and how to get help.

African-Americans disproportionately wrongly convicted

In New York in 2016, 14 people were exonerated for crimes they did not commit. African-Americans may be more likely to be wrongly convicted of a crime, according to a study that was released on March 7. The study, performed by the National Registry of Exonerations, looked at data from 1989 to 2016 and found that 47 percent of the 1,900 people exonerated were African-American. This is three times their population in the country. African-Americans were 12 times more likely to face wrongful conviction in drug crimes and seven times more likely to face a wrongful murder conviction compared to whites.

The National Registry of Exonerations also reported in a separate study that a record number of exonerations since 1989 occurred in 2016 with 166. More than one-third of those were in Texas where district attorneys in the Houston and Dallas areas have established integrity units to investigate potentially false convictions. Illinois had the second-highest number of exonerations of all states with 16.

Four arrested for defrauding Hurricane Sandy program

On Feb. 15, New York officials announced the arrest of four individuals accused of defrauding the Build It Back program, an initiative designed to help property owners rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. The alleged schemes resulted in the theft of $300,000 in disaster relief funds and the attempted theft of $1 million in property.

According to the Queens District Attorney's Office, three of the defendants illegally received disaster relief funds after filing fraudulent repair applications to the program. A 67-year-old Brooklyn man received $125,802, a 73-year-old East Meadow man received $86,560 and a 54-year-old Syosset man received $66,371. All three are charged with second-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, they face up to 19 years in prison.

Authorities indict 32 people for drug trafficking

In early February, 32 people were charged with international drug trafficking, according to New York City prosecutors. Authorities seized more than 103 pounds of heroin and fentanyl, worth around $22 million, in the operation.

Officials from the Bronx District Attorney's office said the drug trafficking ring involved the transportation of opioids from Honduras, through Mexico and then to California, where the drugs would be loaded onto tractor-trailers bound for New York. Authorities said a 37-year-old Fort Lee resident was charged with arranging the transport of the drugs into the United States. He was allegedly observed selling drugs from his family's restaurant on Fordham Road. Federal DEA agents and NYPD officers confiscated $32,420 during a raid of his apartment.

Dealing with the comeback of an old favorite: heroin

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deaths from opioid use is at an all-time high. In 2014, 47,000 people died from drug overdose. CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden remarked that the statistics illustrate the need for law enforcement to intensify efforts "to reduce the availability of heroin, illegal fentanyl and other illegal opioids." The fact is that since 2000, there has been a 200 percent increase in deaths involving opioid pain relievers such as heroin. This drug, which has been around for more than a century, is among the most popular illegal substances found in New York.

Signs of investment fraud

New York residents may have heard about Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme. In a Ponzi scheme, funds from new investors are used to pay off previous investors. This type of investment fraud usually collapses when there is no new money coming in. One of the signs of such a scheme is that the investment has relatively little risk and a high rate of return. In most cases, only high-risk investments offer high rates of return.

If an investment offers the same level of return each year, it could be a part of a Ponzi scheme. While the market may offer similar rates of return over long periods of time, growth rarely occurs in a straight line. Before putting any money into an investment, it may be worthwhile to check if it is registered with the SEC. Furthermore, the person or entity offering the investment should also be registered with the SEC.

Major pain pill trafficking ring busted

On Jan. 23, it was reported that a New York drug dealing ring that was responsible for pushing more than 160,000 oxycodone pills was busted by the authorities. Two individuals who were thought to be the leaders were taken into police custody at their homes.

Authorities stated that the alleged ringleaders would send out runners to different pharmacies throughout New York City. The runners were provided with fake prescription notes from one doctor's office. It was believed that the runners had approximately 1,000 prescriptions fulfilled between late 2011 and early 2017. In August 2016, the ring did scale back slightly when state officials created the I-STOP program, which gave pharmacies the ability to track a person's prescription history.

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