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New York Criminal Defense Blog

How does the law treat community mailboxes?

You have likely seen examples in film or other popular media of kids destroying mailboxes for fun. While such images do typically represent delinquent behavior, few would likely the seriousness with which the destruction of mailboxes is treated by authorities. Indeed, the fact that vandalizing or destroying mailboxes is a federal crime has been detailed on this blog before. Recent years, however, have seen individual mailboxes become less common as communities are adopting the practice long utilized in apartment buildings of utilizing a community mail receptacle. These units make it easier for postal carriers to complete their rounds, and are built to be more secure than a standard mail box. Yet that added security does not necessarily mean they are immune from vandalism and theft. 

One might even argue that the fact that since you do not consistently have your eyes on your community mail receptacle, it is more vulnerable to abuse. That individual boxes require keys also means that more damaging effort is needed to open them. As is the case with individual mailboxes, it is also a federal crime to tamper with a community mailbox in any way. 

Defining internet auction fraud

The Internet offers you a wealth of opportunities to extend commercial endeavors far beyond New York City. Whereas in the past, if you had something to sell, you would typically only advertise the sale locally, you can now reach a national (or even international) purchasing audience. The exposure the Web offers also allows you to generate significant interest in what you have to sell, even to the point of creating a potential bidding war. Yet as many of those that we here at Sapone & Petrillo, LLP can attest to, overseeing an online auction should be done with caution. 

Internet auction fraud has quickly become one of the more commonly recognized fraud schemes. The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines "internet auction fraud" as either the misrepresentation of goods for sale or non-delivery of goods purchased through an internet auction site. You might think that you are not subject to scrutiny when placing items up for bid online (especially if you advertise them "as is"), yet that is not always the case. You must still operate in good faith when arranging any type of online transaction. Examples of actions that could lead to accusations of internet auction fraud include: 

  • Promising the sale of the same item to multiple parties
  • Favoring a single bidder in an auction-style scenario
  • Failing to deliver items purchased through an online auction

Former CFO and subordinate accused of embezzling nearly $1M

One of the founding principles of the American criminal justice system is that one is considered to be innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, that may not always hold true in terms of perception. When one is arrested for a crime in New York (especially one that is as high-profile and financially significant as embezzlement), it may be common to assume that they are guilty. This can be particularly troublesome in that if and when a case goes to trial, such assumptions might make it seem as though the decision regarding a defendant's fate has already been made. 

Statements that may be used to prejudice a potential jury pool can also be damaging. One might argue that what was released by law enforcement authorities regarding the arrest of a former Idaho theme park CFO and one of his subordinates is an example of this. The pair stands accused of embezzling almost $1 million of the theme parks money (details on how the embezzled funds were used, or whether or not the subordinate acted at the CFO's direction were not released). However, officials did say that the CFO was an educated man who knew what he was doing was wrong. 

7 examples of potential Medicaid fraud

Navigating the world of Medicaid can be complex and confusing, but it's critical to understand how this impacts patient services and financial operations. In some cases, doctors get accused of fraud for actions they take that do not line up with the government's views on the Medicaid system.

If you're facing these types of allegations, it's incredibly serious. The ramifications could ruin your career and everything you've worked so hard for over the years. You could even wind up facing jail time, depending on the allegations. You may go to federal prison. Even after a short sentence, you could lose your license and find yourself unable to practice when you get out.

False allegations of embezzlement

There are many different types of white collar offenses that executives, employees and others find themselves accused of. However, charges related to embezzlement can be particularly concerning and may lead to very harsh consequences. Worse yet, some people are accused of embezzling money when they are completely innocent and these false accusations can completely shatter their life. If you are struggling with allegations of embezzlement even though the claims are baseless, you need to immediately protect your interests and look into your legal options.

Being accused of embezzling money can result in various consequences, including losing your job, spending time behind bars and facing harsh financial penalties. Furthermore, these allegations can be damaging to your reputation. In fact, even if you are found innocent it may be too late and your reputation may be damaged, making it hard for you to find work or pursue other opportunities in your life.

IRS investigation rates and results

People in New York may have a particularly unique view on cases involving alleged tax evasion or other offenses related to the payment or the non-payment of federal income taxes simply because of their location. With New York being the financial heart of the country, several high-profile cases end up taking place in this area. Many of these recent cases even involve people with ties to the current federal government administration.

However, the reality is that people in any type of business or in any location may be at risk for these types of charges as the Internal Revenue Service does conduct audits which often leads to investigations despite the agency saying the primary focus of such audits is simply to collect any tax that may be due. In the 2016 fiscal year, nearly 4,400 investigations were conducted by the IRS. These investigations led to nearly 2,700 convictions with an imprisonment rate of close to 80 percent. The average time a person was ordered to spend in custody was 41 months.

What is tax evasion?

Paying taxes is regarded as an unpleasant process by most people in New York City. However, paying taxes is mandated under the law and failure to comply with these laws can result in steep fines or even jail time. The Balance offers the following information on tax evasion and the consequences of not complying with the IRS.

While many people conflate the two terms, tax evasion is not the same as tax avoidance. In fact, tax avoidance is the completely legal act of lessening the amount of taxes you owe using legal methods. For instance, if you utilize deductions that help lower your overall tax burden, this is considered tax avoidance and is considered wholly legal.

Avoiding accusations of charity fraud

Like many in New York, you might assume accusations of fraud to be limited to organizations operating in the professional, for-profit word. Your charitable work for a non-profit organization could certainly not be subject to such suspicions, right? That is what many of those that we here at Sapone & Petrillo, LLP have worked with believed, yet a lack of knowledge or poor management ultimately led to them facing fraud charges. How, then, can you avoid such penalties with your charitable organization? 

Given that research data shared by CNBC shows that $335 billion was given to charitable organizations in the U.S. as recently as 2013, it is little surprise that such entities are often the subject of legal scrutiny. You might think charity fraud only applies to those cases where one solicits money for a charitable cause and then pockets any and all donations, yet in reality, a majority of charity fraud accusations come as the result of questionable money allocations. 

How to avoid trademark infringement

If you have a small business, you may have chosen a logo, name or slogan that represents your brand. Using your mark on your brand is essential, as you want to draw customers to your business. However, it is important to use the right methods in choosing a trademark to avoid implementing another companies brand or slogan. Trademark infringement occurs when you use a trademark that another company has already registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You may be charged with infringement if your mark even closely resembles another trademark or sounds like another business name.

Before you choose your trademark, you should look on the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office website to ensure the mark is not currently in use by another company. Although registered trademarks are listed on the website, there may be common-law trademarks that are not. Common-law trademarks are ones that company is entitled to use because it was the first to use or design the mark. Yet, trademarks are not required to be registered and so they may not appear on the website. You may still be penalized for using a common-law mark.

Can Facebook be used against you in court?

You always felt like social media was a good way to interact with your friends and keep people involved in your life. It was fun, it was simple and you enjoyed it. You never thought much about what you posted or what people thought of it.

That is, you never thought about it until you got accused of a crime. Suddenly, you started worrying about everything you'd ever written. Could people use it in court? What would come back to haunt you? Had you forgotten completely about a post that would make you look very guilty -- whether you were actually guilty or not?

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