Posts Tagged ‘NYPD’

Report: Over 100 Former NYPD and FDNY Members to be Arrested for Social Security Fraud Following DANY 9/11-Related Investigation

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

The Wall Street Journal has reported that 106 people will be arrested soon for allegedly committing social security fraud in connection with post-9/11 trauma and mental illness claims. According to reports, the prosecution’s theory will be that certain individuals provided false information in claims filings which led to huge, unjustified benefits receipts. Specifically, it appears that they will allege that people who submitted these claims either were not completely forthcoming or flat-out lied about the condition they claimed entitled them to the benefit.

Potential felony charges could include grand larceny (PL Article 155), assuming that the alleged theft is over $1,000 per person, falsifying business records (PL Article 175), offering a false instrument for filing (PL Article 175), insurance fraud (PL Article 176), and others.

Each individual case, however, must be examined carefully, as there are sure to be strong defenses to many of the charges and with regard to many of the individuals. After all, many of New York’s Finest and Bravest did in fact suffer debilitating injuries and PTSD as a result of the 9/11 tragedy. However, we expect that any FDNY and NYPD retirees receiving social security disability pensions as a result of 9/11 will at least be investigated, and possibly even be presumed to be guilty of fraud in the eyes of the prosecution (especially so if their applications for disability were assisted by any of the individuals that have already been indicted and arraigned). Thus, it is quite possible that some people will be unfairly charged and prosecuted.

Oftentimes, in matters involving disability fraud, a defendant can negotiate a plea bargain whereby he avoids significant jail time – or jail time altogether – in exchange for repaying the ill-gotten benefits (i.e. paying restitution). However, in this case, we expect that many individuals accused of 9/11-related disability fraud will be unable to pay back the huge sums that they have received. Unfortunately, these guilty individuals that cannot repay their stolen money may face the serious prospect of state prison sentences instead, and thus absolutely need top-notch representation to help them avoid that outcome.

If you or a loved one have become entangled in this investigation in any way, you need to speak to a competent attorney immediately so as to ensure that all the appropriate steps are being taken to preserve and bolster all possible legal defenses. For more information, click here.

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.

Criminal Defense and Civil Rights Attorney Discusses the Occupy Wall Street Protesters and their Arrests

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

On November 17, thousands of protesters massed in or about the Wall Street area as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The NYPD was prepared and sent hundreds of officers to the area in anticipation of several scheduled protests.  Many of the protesters were arrested and are currently being processed for various misdemeanors and violations.  We understand that most of the protesters are being charged with the following crimes: Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree (Penal Law 195.05, a Class A misdemeanor), Resisting Arrest (Penal Law 205.30, a Class A misdemeanor), and Disorderly Conduct (Penal Law 240.20, a violation).  These misdemeanor charges are potentially punishable by up to one year in jail, and the Disorderly Conduct violation is punishable by up to 15 days in jail.

We have heard reports that most of the protesters that have been arrested throughout the Occupy Wall Street movement are being offered ACD’s (adjournments in contemplation of dismissal) or Disorderly Conduct at arraignment, but most of the protesters are rejecting those plea bargains.  We expect that the protesters are rejecting those offers both out of principal and as a means to preserve their civil lawsuits against the city.  Obviously, a false arrest and malicious prosecution civil lawsuit cannot be meaningfully pursued against the City of New York by someone that pleaded guilty to Disorderly Conduct, because that plea would justify the arrest and prosecution.  (In contrast, the acceptance of an ACD may or may not preclude a lawsuit).

A person is guilty of Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree when he “intentionally obstructs, impairs, or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function, by means of intimidation, physical force or interference, or by means of any independently unlawful act, or by means of interfering, whether or not physical force is involved, with radio, telephone, television or other telecommunications systems owned or operated by the state, or a county, city, town, village, fire district or emergency medical service or by means of releasing a dangerous animal under circumstances evincing the actor’s intent that the animal obstruct governmental administration.”

A person is guilty of Resisting Arrest (Penal Law Section 205.30) when “he intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a police officer or peace officer from effecting an authorized arrest of himself or another person.”  An “authorized arrest” has to be a lawful arrest; we expect that many of the protesters will (and should) argue that their arrests were unlawful because they were simply exercising their First Amendment rights to engage in political discourse.

There are several subsections of Disorderly Conduct (Penal Law Section 240.20), meaning that one can be guilty of this violation in numerous ways (and we expect the police and prosecutors to charge each defendant with violating multiple sections of this violation at a time).  The statute reads that a person is guilty of this charge when, “with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof:

1. He engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior; or

2.. He makes unreasonable noise; or

3. In a public place, he uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture; or

4. Without lawful authority, he disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons; or

5. He obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or

6. He congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse; or

7. He creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.”

In our opinion, we think that these Disorderly Conduct charges could be defeated in numerous ways. A protester could argue that he had no intent to cause public annoyance or alarm, but was instead only intending to cause political change and make a political statement.  Also, a protester could argue that the arrests were unlawful violations of their civil rights.

Interestingly, we think that protesters charged with misdemeanors would have a better chance at trial.  The reason for this is that people charged with Class A misdemeanors have the right to jury trials.  Given the number of people in NYC that sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, we think that prosecutors might have difficulty convincing jurors to convict a protester, regardless of the merits of the proof.  In contrast, those protesters charged with Disorderly Conduct violations are not entitled to juries, and would be tried by (most likely) less-sympathetic judges.   Don’t be surprised if prosecutors reduce the Class A misdemeanor charges in these protest cases to Class B misdemeanors (Attempted Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree, Penal Law Section 110/195.05, or Attempted Resisting Arrest, Penal Law Section 110/205.30).  That reduction does not significantly change what the prosecutors have to prove, but it allows the prosecutors to try the cases without juries (because the defendants do not have the right to a jury trial for Class B misdemeanors).  The upshot for the defendants is that the maximum jail penalty for a conviction for a B misdemeanor is 90 days rather than one year.

If you or a loved one were arrested pursuant to the Occupy Wall Street movement, you should consider contacting the experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP.  You absolutely need an attorney that understands how the criminal case and a potential civil lawsuit are intertwined, and the aggressive former prosecutors at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP are experienced in both fields.  Give them a call to schedule a consultation about your case and to discuss your possibility remedies.

False Arrest and Police Brutality Attorneys Discuss the Eroding Credibility of Police Officers, and What It Might Mean for Criminal Defendants and Civil Plaintiffs

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Recently, the news media has published numerous reports of corrupt and out-of-control New York police officers.  The federal authorities arrested eight current and former police officers for running an illegal gun-running operation, approximately 17 police officers were indicted for a ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx; another officer was arrested for attempting to steal from a supposed drug dealer’s apartment; a narcotics officer recently testified to widespread falsification of charges and the routine planting of drugs on innocent individuals in the trial of another corrupt police officer; a racist cop in Staten Island admitted to framing a black man and calling him a racial epithet; a deputy inspector was captured on video sucker-punching a protestor in the face for no apparently good reason; a drug addict claims that she was given crack by a police officer and forced to perform oral sex on him, a Brooklyn police captain was taped instructing his officers to fulfill ticket “quotas”and last year four police officers shot a young man over a dozen times despite the fact that he was totally innocent of any crime (the last case, incidentally, was handled by the authors of this blog).

For years (and especially in the wake of September 11), the majority of New Yorkers believed that their police officers were heroes, and thus were willing to accept their testimony as gospel.  Many also assumed that the accusations of police corruption were just the rantings and ravings of liberal radicals, criminals looking for excuses, or their attorneys.  However, the current media onslaught of confirmed police misconduct has forced more and more people to accept what for them may be an uncomfortable reality:  THERE ARE A LOT OF CORRUPT AND DANGEROUS POLICE OFFICERS IN THE NYPD.  (Which is to say nothing of the New York corrections officer that recently was arrested after trying to accept cocaine and cash from a prisoner in exchange for helping that prisoner escape from Riker’s Island.)  The authors of this blog are cautiously optimistic that as the public gains more and more awareness about police corruption, criminal defendants and civil claimants will be more successful in convincing juries that they were victims of misconduct, abuse, and/or false arrests.

This is not to say that every police officer is corrupt.  Indeed, the authors of this blog include three former prosecutors that count numerous police officers and detectives among their friends, and they appreciate and have tremendous respect for the police officers that conduct themselves properly in what is unquestionably a difficult job.  Nevertheless, the inescapable truth to be gleaned from these reports above is that not all police officers are telling the truth about the people that they have arrested, or about the facts of those arrests.  To those who say that these known corrupt officers represent just a small minority of the force, it is fair to respond that the majority of corrupt police officers probably aren’t being caught.  Perhaps most unsettling to the author is the apparent unwillingness of the “good officers” to call out or report the corrupt “bad officers” around them.  In short, the mindset of the Blue Wall of Silence appears to persist to this day.

One of the root causes of false arrests is that police are encouraged – and even incentivized – to make arrests.  We have heard recordings of a police captain in Brooklyn ordering his officers to fulfill a ticket-writing quota, and the cooperating police officer in the trial discussed above testified that narcotics officers were expected to make a certain number of arrests per month, or suffer consequences.  Moreover, police officers can make a significant amount of overtime (paid as time-and-a-half) by making and processing arrests and then coming to court on their RDO’s (regular days off) to testify at court in the grand jury.

Some of the most common false arrest charges include the vague Disorderly Conduct (Penal Law 240.20), Resisting Arrest (Penal Law 205.30), and Obstructing Government Administration (Penal Law 195.05).  These charges are very common in cases of police brutality, in that they are used to justify the use of force and “cover-up” the injuries the falsely arrested person suffered at the hands of the police.  These cover-ups can be “necessary” in the minds of the officers in cases where they suspect that the arrested person will contact Internal Affairs (IAB), the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), and/or file civil lawsuits against them for police brutality.  Police officers can also easily falsify charges of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (Penal Law 220.03), and Criminal Trespass (Penal Law 145.00).

If you or a loved one have been falsely arrested or been the victim of police brutality, you should strongly consider the aggressive and intelligent lawyers at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP.  Their team of former prosecutors specializes in criminal defense and civil rights, meaning that they can both defend you against false criminal charges and/or pursue lawsuits against the police officers that violated your constitutional rights.  They have had exceptional success defending people against criminal charges in high-profile cases involving false arrest and police brutality, and also have experience pursuing huge civil lawsuits against the NYPDGive them a call to schedule a free appointment and assessment of your case, and to discuss whether they can help you.

Understanding Your Rights After a False Arrest and “Decline Prosecution”: Explained by a New York Civil Rights Attorney

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

NYPD officers regularly arrest people without probable cause.  A wrongful arrest such as this often results in an innocent person spending a night, or more, in jail before he/she is released from custody. Sometimes the falsely arrested person has to spend months, even years, battling his/her case. Needless to say, criminal cases can result in huge legal fees, missed days of work, tremendous anxiety, and, at worst, the deprivation of liberty for those unfortunate enough to be forced to remain behind bars.  Fortunately, victims of false arrest can seek justice for these wrongs by filing lawsuits against the city.

What you might not know, however, is that even those people who are fortunate enough to have their cases dismissed early in the process can still potentially win money in civil lawsuits against the city.  Almost every night, the District Attorney’s Office issues a “decline prosecution,” whereby the office overrules the decision of the arresting police officer and releases the arrested person from custody (oftentimes, from Central Booking).  In some ways, the DA’s decision to dismiss the case can be construed as evidence that the police officer’s decision to arrest was in fact wrongful.  Thus, the person freed by the District Attorney this way can be surprisingly successful in winning a decent and quick settlement with the help of an experienced attorney.  Oftentimes, the person released from custody before seeing a judge for the first time (arraignment) has no idea why he is being released – if this sounds familiar to you, the DA probably decided to “decline prosecution” in your case, and you may have a viable lawsuit against the city.

If you or a loved one have been falsely arrested and had your case dismissed by the District Attorney’s Office, you should consider contacting the experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP.  Their team of former prosecutors understands how best to pursue civil lawsuits against the city for false arrest and malicious prosecution, and can maybe help you or your loved one win a settlement. They work on contingency, meaning that you don’t pay them a dime unless you collect.  Call them to schedule a free consultation to discuss the possibility of pursuing justice in civil court.