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New York Criminal Defense Blog

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?

Prominent prime minister lives lavishly after embezzling funds

When peoples' jobs require them to work with large amounts of money, they often have access to significant resources and power to move them around as designated by their superiors. However, improperly implemented protocols for monitoring functions, as well as a lack of transparency can be incredibly damaging to any New York firm if they have employees who are dishonest. Participation in financial crimes can wreak an extreme backlash of consequences that can ultimately destroy a firm's reputation and brand name in the most severe cases. 

In a recent example of people misusing their power, a couple of bankers with Goldman Sachs have been indicted on charges of embezzling money that allowed Malaysia's Prime Minister to live a lavish lifestyle. Among his ludicrous purchases was a Picasso painting. A sovereign wealth fund was created and managed by the Prime Minister, but he relied on the help of the bankers to embezzle the funds that he used to support his lifestyle. 

Alleged bomb mailer arrested

Residents in New York and across the United States were aware that for a series of days, officials were reported to have intercepted multiple packages mailed to prominent persons. The contents of these packages were potential bombs and the intended recipients were all democratic politicians or well-known supporters of democratic politicians and the democratic party.

As reported by CNN, there were a total of 13 packages that are said to have been mailed with the intent of harming or killing the people to whom they were addressed. The official complaint refers to the contents of each package as an improvised explosive device. Of the 13 packages, two are said to have contained evidence that directed law enforcement officers to the person who they have since placed under arrest in conjunction with these devices and mailings.

With no money lost New York fraud case may be difficult to prove

The New York court system is no stranger to fraud cases, but a recent case involving bank loans to two media companies may prove difficult to prosecute because the banks who lent the money suffered no financial loss.

Defendants in the case include executives who allegedly funneled loan money into company accounts in order to pay off other loans and maintain a particular publication's credit profile. In order to obtain the loans, the executives allegedly provided the banks with false information and did not use the money to purchase high-end computer servers, the purpose expressed in the loan applications. 

Embezzlement charges await former Microsoft executive

When one is accused of embezzlement in New York, many might automatically assign guilt to them based on the assumption that charges would not be made without sufficient evidence to support them. Yet the fact is that an alleged embezzlement offense (or any financial crime, for that matter) might have several layers to it that might skew the lines between simple judgment errors to gross misconduct. It is for this reason that those accused of such crimes should not be viewed as culpable until all the facts pertaining to case have been revealed. 

Even in the face of seeming overwhelming evidence, judgment should be withheld until the appropriate moment. That the case of a now-former Microsoft executive. The man helped to broker the deal that allowed the software giant to partner with the National Football League in allowing the latter to use the former's products in its gameday operations. As a result of the partnership, Microsoft bought several tickets to the Super Bowl, which representatives from the NFL provided to the man assuming that he would distribute them to the appropriate parties. Instead, the man sold the tickets and pocketed the proceeds. It has also been alleged that he fraudulently billed for over $1.5 million in marketing services that were never provided and received payment for said services from third-party vendors and promotional providers. Microsoft investigated his actions and later fired him. He now faces federal fraud and embezzlement charges. 

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.

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