Sapone & Petrillo, LLP
Call Today 212-349-9000

New York Criminal Defense Blog

How can homeowners avoid mortgage fraud?

Whether you're a first time home buyer or have owned before, most people who buy a piece of real estate use a mortgage to finance the transaction. This is a detailed process that involves many parties working together. There are many opportunities for some party involved to make a mistake or potentially falsify information to improve the transaction.

In no uncertain terms, this is typically considered mortgage fraud, which regulatory agencies take seriously. If you face charges of mortgage fraud, you may not only have a financial crisis on your hands: You may face criminal consequences. It's never wise to take mortgage fraud accusations lightly, so make sure that you prepare a strong legal defense to protect your rights and future opportunities if the need arises.

Determining the penalties for white collar crime

The notion of "Club Fed" refers to federal prisons that are perceived to be more like resorts than penitentiaries, with those "detained" inside enjoying the same lavish amenities they did on the outside. The common school of thought is that anyone convicted of a white collar crime in New York would be sent to such a place. While there are different levels of security in the prison system (which can be reflected in what is available to inmates), the notion that all white collar criminal activity earns one an all-expenses paid trip to Club Fed is simply false. 

Data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows the arrest rate for white collar crime to be 5,317 for every 100,000 people. Those 5317 offenses will likely differ in gravity and scope, and the penalties imposed for them may show that difference. Many white collar offenses are prosecuted at the federal level, and even those that are not may still follow federal sentencing guidelines. The question then becomes what are such guidelines? 

Is a Ponzi scheme a type of pyramid scheme?

As someone working in New York, you've likely heard of pyramid schemes and Ponzi schemes before. Sometimes, they're lumped together. Other times, people call Ponzi schemes a "type" of pyramid scheme. But is that actually accurate? While these two types of schemes are similar in many ways, they also have a number of fundamental differences.

FindLaw defines a Ponzi scheme as an illusion of profitability which is created by paying early investors with the money that is obtained from later investors. This makes it appear as though the enterprise is growing and returning the profits of original investors. In reality, that isn't the case at all. Rather than any actual investment taking place or any growth occurring, investors are simply paying each other.

What are the differences between federal and state crimes?

If you have committed a crime, you could end up in a state court in New Jersey or you could be tried at the federal level. It can help to understand the differences between state and federal crimes even if you are not facing a criminal charge because this is a confusing area that can be difficult to understand.

According to the Department of Justice, some crimes can be prosecuted at the state and federal levels because they are a violation of both state and federal laws. Some crimes are solely federal, such as mail fraud, tax crimes and crimes related to interstate commerce. If a crime falls within both state and federal jurisdiction, the U.S. Attorney General will work with prosecutors from the state to determine who will handle the case. It can be subjective.

Authorities allege psychologist bilked $80K from Medicaid

The common conceptual image that many in New York may have of fraud schemes is likely of a high-profile executive who steals millions from a large company and corporation. In reality, however, fraud can occur amongst anyone from any walk of life. Any action meant to financially injure a person or organization perpetuated through deceit and misrepresentations may qualify as fraud. Many such cases may even arise from people supposedly looking to take advantage of procedural holes in systems with which they are familiar. 

This is what is being alleged in the case of a Connecticut psychologist. She first came to the attention of authorities after a former employee told them that the doctor continued to receive payments from Medicaid despite frequently canceling appointments with patients. A subsequent investigation into the matter supposedly revealed that the doctor had bilked the state's Medicaid program of close to $80,000 by billing for hundreds of claims for services with reportedly were never rendered. The doctor was recently arrested by authorities and now faces several felony charges that could leave her facing several years in prison. 

Always watch what you say when accused of white collar crime

Facing charges for alleged white collar crimes is not something to take lightly, no matter who you are or the nature of the allegations. As recent headlines make clear, even very wealthy and experienced individuals may face the music just like anybody else.

In every area of criminal defense, it is always wise for a defendant to avoid speaking about allegations before they are settled. Just as you should not volunteer information to a police officer who pulls you over, it is unwise to give any party information about the charges, unless they represent you as your attorney. Not only may anything you say come back to haunt you in court, the more details that prosecutors have to work with, the more convincingly they can make their case.

Proving the legitimacy of your business expenses

Most in New York hear the word "embezzlement" and picture someone relaxing on the deck of a lavish home in some tropic paradise that was completely paid for by the company's dime. At least that is the assumption that many had prior to coming to us here at Sapone & Petrillo, LLP after having been accused of embezzlement themselves. In theory, any misappropriation of company funds that is linked to you could qualify as embezzlement. How, then, are you to protect yourself from such a charge? 

The easiest and most effective way is to show that any of your company's money that you spent was used strictly for business purposes. This is where meticulous record keeping comes in handy. Provided that you can provide a legitimate paper trail to all of your business transactions, it is difficult to prove that you acted inappropriately. 

What is securities fraud?

People often invest in securities in New York with the naive expectation of generating significant returns on their investments in a short amount of time. In reality, short-term financial gains made from securities are much more modest, with some people even losing money on such investments. When the latter occurs (and you happen the be the one who brokered said deals), accusations of fraud are often quick to accompany such losses. How, then, are you to show that work was legitimate, and that a client is simply trying to punish you for his or her unrealistic expectations? 

Securities fraud falls under the larger category of financial fraud in general. Proving fraud requires establishing that you had malicious intent when arranging a financial transaction (in this case, the purchase of a security). Intent can be a subjective matter, which can be both good and bad depending on the interpretations of whomever is hearing the case against you. 

How serious is a tax fraud charge?

Most New Yorkers could agree that filing taxes is hardly an exciting activity. Each year, as that season comes and goes, countless residents walk away having evaded tax returns in some way. Many of those who commit tax fraud are unaware that the act was committed in the first place. Regardless of intention, this type of white collar crime can come with heavy penalties, giving the process potential to linger on much longer than the tax season itself. 

Forbes shares in an article on tax fraud and the role of the IRS that even the most innocent activites can seem suspicious. For this reason, it can be helpful to note the IRS statute of limitations. Unfortunately, Forbes goes on to state that the laws surrounding tax evasion are only becoming more strict: as of 2016, the IRS has six years to audit taxes in some cases. Depending on the details of the case, the statute of limitations could go beyond the normal three-year timeframe. For instance, if one omits a portion of income or skips over certain forms, they could face penalties down the road.

What is border corruption?

No matter which corner of the political arena you sit in, almost everyone in New York can empathize or sympathize with immigrants who illegally enter the U.S. in search of a better life. Fleeing from mass corruption, crime, violence, crippling poverty and war, many are desperate to leave those things behind, and we can certainly understand that. With these sentiments, it is perhaps also understandable when border corruption occurs, a type of white-collar crime that includes both drug and alien smuggling.

For its purposes, the FBI considers borders as not only the dividing lines between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico. All ports of entry into the U.S. are part of the “border,” including all international airports and seaports as well.

Sapone & Petrillo, LLP | One Penn Plaza | Suite 5315 | New York, NY 10119 | Phone: 212-349-9000 or 516-678-2800 | Map & Directions