Posts Tagged ‘lawsuits’

New Sex Trafficking Case Raises Interesting Question about NYPD Liability

Monday, March 5th, 2012

This evening, the New York Post is reporting that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has indicted at least one person, Anna Gristina, for running an underage prostitution ring in Manhattan.  Shockingly, this brothel on East 78th Street – which will implicate a long roster of wealthy and prominent johns – purportedly had police protection from the NYPD.  Aside from the possible criminal prosecution of police officers for their involvement in this sordid affair (not to mention the PR disaster that this represents for the NYPD), there may be another reason for the NYPD to be seriously concerned: the possibility of lawsuits.

In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and later passed the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act of 2003, which provided for a civil remedy in Federal court for victims against their traffickers.  In a nutshell, victims of sex trafficking (for example, underage prostitutes) have the right to sue their pimps/traffickers for damages, lost wages, and punitive damages (which can be significant).  Many other types of civil actions – including civil RICO claims – might lie for this conduct as well.  These sorts of remedies are rarely pursued in these sad situations, however, as the pimps/traffickers typically do not have enough money to make a lawsuit worthwhile for the plaintiffs, and almost certainly never have enough money to truly make their victims whole, from a tort standpoint.  However, this case presents a unique twist on this tragic story: potentially, the victims of trafficking may be able to sue the police officers that provided protection (and thereby assisted in the trafficking) and by proxy the City of New York (with its very deep pockets) for its failure to monitor its officers and prevent their misconduct.  Indeed, this may be the case in which victims of sex trafficking could actually recover judgments worth millions of dollars.

Matthew Galluzzo, the author of this article, is a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP.  He  served for years as a rape prosecutor in the famous Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and continues to volunteer his time to assist in the effort to eradicate sexual violence.  If you or a loved one have been a victim of a sexual assault or sex trafficking, or been falsely accused of having committed such a crime, you should strongly consider calling him or emailing him to schedule a consultation.

Civil Rights Attorney explains Entrapment and NYPD’s “Operation Take Back”

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Over the course of the last four days, the NYPD arrested 141 people in New York City as part of “Operation Take Back” .  Basically, undercover officers approached people on the sidewalk and offered to sell them Apple products (iPhones and iPads) at deeply discounted prices.  Those people that purchased the goods were then charged with Attempted Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (Penal Law Section 110/165.40), a Class B misdemeanor, under the theory that they were knowingly attempting to acquire stolen iPhones or iPads.  Many of those people that were arrested received ACD’s (adjournments in contemplation of dismissal) at arraignments, but not after spending 24 hours or more in jail.  In many ways, the operation calls to mind the widely-criticized “Operation Lucky Bag” from earlier this year.

In our view, many of these arrests probably constitute entrapment by the police.  After all, there is not likely to be any evidence that any of the arrested people had any predisposition to purchase stolen iPhones or iPads, or that they were actively seeking to do so. Entrapment is a defense to a criminal charge whereby the accused argues that he would not have committed the crime but for police action.  The specific elements of the defense are available here.  Moreover, we are hearing reports that at least some of the arrested people had no reason to believe that the iPhones or iPads were stolen, as undercover officers told them that they owned the Apple products and urgently needed to sell them to make money.  If true, these police officers, in our view, acted outrageously and created false reasons to make improper arrests of law-abiding people.   (We doubt that any of these officers were actually wearing wires to record their conversations with their targets, precisely for this reason).  Accordingly, those victims of the police misconduct should contact civil rights attorneys to file lawsuits against the NYPD for false arrest and other violations of their constitutional rights.

If you or a loved one were arrested as part of “Operation Take Back,” you should seriously consider contacting the experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP.  Their team of former Manhattan prosecutors can help you defend against criminal charges from these arrests of file lawsuits on your behalf against the NYPD for false arrest.