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Nowadays, the gangs of New York are more likely to carry worthless checks or stolen credit cards than knives or hatchets.
In 2012, NYPD investigators first noticed an uptick in gang-related financial crime. So far this year, grand larceny, mostly due to credit card skimmers and bad checks, is up 5 percent. As a result, prosecutors in Brooklyn and elsewhere, who once ignored such activity, now aggressively prosecute gang-related financial crimes. The FBI says that white-collar crimes are quite lucrative, are not as dangerous as selling drugs, and offenders face lighter penalties if they are caught. Brooklyn DA Chief Investigator William Schaeffer put it this way: “You can make $25,000 selling drugs, and at any moment you’re in physical damage from rivals,” or “you can make $25,000 from [white-collar crime], and it’s tough to catch you, and if you do get caught the penalties are much less.”
The Manhattan DA has asked the state legislature to increase the penalties for some white-collar crimes, including possession of a credit card skimmer.
Dealing with white-collar criminal prosecutions
Most non-violent financial crimes are in Article 170 and Article 190 of the New York Penal Law, and nearly all of them can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Additionally, many of these offenses require non-police witnesses. Prosecutors have almost no control over these witnesses and only limited subpoena power, so it is not always easy to secure their testimony in court. Moreover, as time goes by, many civilian witnesses lose interest in these cases, especially if the defendant makes restitution.
That combination is ideal for a favorable result during plea negotiations. Given the inherent difficulties in bringing these cases to trial, with the extra paperwork and uncertainty, many prosecutors are willing to go the extra mile to avoid the risk. Furthermore, the groundwork is already laid for a reduced charge and a reduced sentence, and these items are the ultimate goals of almost any plea negotiations.
For a free consultation with an aggressive criminal defense attorney in New York, contact Merchant Law Group, LLP. Call us today at 212-658-1455.