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New York Criminal Defense Blog

Is employing unauthorized aliens illegal?

The common assumption amongst most in New York is likely that it is impossible to "accidently" commit a crime (particularly a federal one). Thus, claims if innocence to criminal activity are often met with great deal of skepticism. However, there are indeed where circumstances unbeknownst to you could indeed invite criminal scrutiny, especially if you are in the business of employing the others. 

For example, you may have not been aware of the fact that employing an illegal alien is indeed a federal crime. Sure enough, Section 1908 of the U.S. Attorney's Criminal Resource Manual states that it is illegal to hire an unauthorized alien or to continue to employ one whose immigration status (at least with respect to his or her employment) had changed. Furthermore, you cannot refer employees (for a finder's fee) to other companies if those employees are in the U.S. illegally. Doing so could make you subject to significant fines and penalties. 

Answering the question of intent

Many in New York may view the question of you being accused of criminal activity as one that is fairly cut-and-dry: either you did commit an offense, or you did not. However, such a simplification does not always apply (particularly in cases involving perceived "white collar crimes" such as embezzlement). Many come to us here at Sapone and Petrillo, LLP having been accused of such a crime wondering how they landed in such a situation. After all, if your actions in managing another's property were genuine, how can you then be accused of a crime of this magnitude?

It all may come down to a question of intent. In defining "embezzlement," the U.S Department of Justice states that an intent on your part to deprive another of the benefits or use of his or her property musy be proven along with you converting or appropriating said property for own benefit. Say that a friend entrusted you with the management of some of his or her assets (with the supposed understanding that you would assume ownership of them after a certain time or certain conditions were met). It might be difficult proving that you intended to embezzle said assets if such an understanding was indeed in place. 

Participation in husband's ponzi scheme lands woman in jail

The popular representation of white collar crimes may often be that of a high-tech scheme concocted and carried out by sophisticated, "James Bond"-type perpetrators. Yet in reality, such offenses are typically committed by ordinary people caught up in fraudulent schemes. In fact, such crimes can often seem so unextraordinary that they could realistically be going on right under people's noses without them knowing about it. If and when such activity is brought to light, however, how those who find out about it react could potentially play a role in assigning culpability in the future. 

This point is clearly illustrated in a recent case involving a Minnesota woman. In late 2016, she allegedly discovered that her husband's options trading business was actually a ponzi scheme. Instead of investing his client's money, the man had used it to fund their lifestyle. Rather than insisting that he stop, however, she supposedly helped him carry on the scheme, sending reassuring emails and texts to clients while also helping to bring in new investors. In all, the couple reportedly stole over $1 million from 51 people. 

Authorities accuse man of running massive investor fraud scheme

Perhaps one of the reason why so many are seemingly quick to adjudicate those accused of crimes in New York as being guilty in the court of public opinion is that they view criminal activity as being largely "black-and-white" (either one did commit a crime, or he or she did not). Yet in many cases, it is not that simple. Cases involving fraud, for example, can often arise due to simple mismanagement or judgment errors (such as offering bad investment advice or inadvertently comingling funds). In these cases, the actions of the accused should be closely examined to see if there truly was any criminal intent involved.

If it is shown that there may be, then one may have to answer for it. That may be what is in store for a Texas man after he was arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering. Authorities say that the man lived a luxurious lifestyle, which they now believe may have been supported by inappropriate funds siphoned away from investor accounts for individual use. The charges against the man claim that he purposely embellished cost and production estimate, prompting investors to vastly overpay on projects whose profits he then largely diverted to himself, leaving them with in the way of returns. He is also believed to have had millions in personal expenses paid for by many of the companies he was affiliated with. 

Money laundering can occur even when you don't realize it

Money that is made illegally is sometimes funneled through legal channels to make it appear as if it was obtained lawfully. Doing this is a criminal act known as money laundering. You can face time in prison or fines when you are convicted of this crime.

There are several ways that money laundering can occur but these aren't always perfectly clear. It is sometimes possible that you can commit this crime without even realizing that you are doing it. Here are some important points to know about money laundering:

Do you qualify to have your federal record expunged?

There is a certain stigma that seems to accompany federal crimes, as though people in New York view them as being more serious than state offenses. The reality is that all criminally activity is equally serious; the only elements that designate a crime as being federal are jurisdictional issues. So ultimately, you would rather not have any infractions on your criminal record. Yet if you do, and yours happens to be for a federal offense, then you might be wondering if you qualify to have your federal record expunged. 

A better question may be is expungement even possible? Many believe that you simply to wait a certain period of time to qualify to have your record cleared. The truth is that if you were convicted of an offense, expungement is typically immediately off the table. Only in certain cases can you have an offense for which you were convicted (or pled guilty to) removed from your record. 

How does one prove intellectual property theft?

When you own your own business in New York (or are least charged with the marketing one), you may quickly discover that acheiving success often requires not only staying current with industry best practices, but also in observing and learning from your competitors. That may include taking some of the things that have helped make competitors successful and implementing them in your own business. Yet this prompts the question of at what point does doing so qualify as intellectual property infringement

"Intellectual property" is defined as those creations of the mind that companies use to grow and support their brands. These can include products, art, literary material, names, logos and symbols. Certain processes and trade secrets might also qualify as intellectual property. Your competitors may cry foul any time it appears as though you are implementing one of their ideas. It is important to know, however, that not all such scenarios qualify as infringment. 

Embezzlement allegations and your professional reputation

The consequences of being charged with embezzlement may disrupt a person's life in many ways. Aside from steep financial penalties and time behind bars, someone facing these allegations may have their life turned upside down by many other problems as well. For example, they could find themselves out of work or they may be unable to secure a job in a particular field in the future because of these charges. If you have been accused of embezzlement, it is important to defend yourself properly in order to protect your professional reputation. Unfortunately, even people who have been falsely accused of this offense have suffered irreparable damage to their career.

When someone has embezzlement on their record, it can become very difficult to find work, especially in certain fields. This can result in long-term financial challenges and create other problems as well, such as depression over the course of one's life. There are many different factors that need to be considered when it comes to an embezzlement case and each one is unique. You should take an individualized approach to your case if you are going through this and carefully examine any details that may seem minor but could have a significant impact on the outcome of the case.

Navigating a tax evasion charge

Like most white collar crimes in New York, a charge for tax evasion can be serious. However, because any process related to tax filing can be incredibly complex, gray areas often arise. There are some facts to know about tax evasion charges -- and the penalties that come with them -- that can make these areas appear clearer and more manageable. 

Those who are worried about a possible tax evasion offense are not alone: the United States Sentencing Commission reports that there were over 600 tax fraud cases in 2015. A large majority of offenders had no criminal history, and the average age for offenders was 50 years. Although the number of tax fraud cases has been on the decline, the penalties remain steep. The USSC also notes that roughly 63 percent of offenders in 2015 faced imprisonment, with an average sentence of 17 months. In addition, although the standard minimum sentencing increased from 24 to 26 months during that time, the past five years have shown that up to one quarter of offenders received sentences below the guideline range. 

Accused of wire fraud?

Wire fraud is often a misunderstood charge, possibly because many television shows and movies use the term in very loose ways, usually in a list of other charges that a suspect faces. While to is true that wire fraud charges often arise in conjunction with other charges, wire fraud is a serious crime in itself, and may singlehandedly result in significant legal consequences.

If you find yourself facing wire fraud charges, you have an important responsibility to do everything you can to defend your rights and fight the allegations. This probably requires a detailed, personalized legal defense, carefully prepared based on the facts of your individual case. Take great care to make sure that you do everything you can to protect yourself from life-altering, career-ending charges like these as soon as you possibly can.

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