Calling it a theme may be too strong, but Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. is plugging away on his mission to snag, a/k/a, arrest, white collar defendants who commit Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property felonies in New York City. One look at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office website will reveal a laundry list of defendants who have either been indicted for or convicted of a theft or fraud crime. In fact, the website even republishes articles by local newspapers on many of the same cases addressed in these various press releases. It need not take a legal scholar to grasp that C. Vance and Company runs one District Attorney’s Office that is serious and aggressive about prosecuting more than Gotham’s street crime.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, the newest “victim,” of law enforcement’s watchful eye is Rickey Smith for stealing more than $250,000 from the low-income Housing Development Fund Corporation. No small number, if true, the potential sentence for Grand Larceny in the Second Degree is as much as five to fifteen years in prison. Even though a conviction for New York Penal Law 155.40 does not require imprisonment for a first time offender, there should be little doubt that prosecutors will seek some amount of jail or prison. In addition to Second Degree Grand Larceny, a Grand Jury also indicted Smith for three counts of First Degree Falsifying Business Records. A lesser felony, New York Penal Law 175.10 is punishable by as much as one and one third to four years in state prison.
It is alleged that Smith, who previously served as the property manager for the Housing Development Fund Corporation (“HDFC”), “fleeced” the HDFC for his own personal gain and even purchased a Mercedes for north of $40,000. Smith is believed to have had access to HDFC funds because he managed the day-to-day financial operations of the HDFC properties through his company, Alexa Property Management, LLC.
Although the press release does not reveal what, if any restitution can possible be made, prosecutors contend that between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2010, Smith stole more than $250,000 by making unauthorized wire transfers from HDFC bank accounts to his personal bank accounts. Further, Smith used an HDFC debit card to access monies he was not entitled to use in a personal capacity. Not only did Smith allegedly purchase a vehicle with these funds, but it is believed monies were used by Smith to work on his own home. Ultimately, to hide the alleged fraud, prosecutors believe Smith created false or fake financial reports or documents.
Whether it is the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office or prosecutors from Queens or other New York Counties, law enforcement is pursuing white collar crime at a greater rate than it did years ago. Whether this is a product of the tough economic times where each dollar must be accounted for, investigating and prosecuting theft offenses from government and pseudo-government agencies will not likely slow down any time soon.
Whether Smith’s best defense is to mitigate his conduct, pay restitution as best he can or to challenge the “paper trail” is yet to be seen. Was there a confession? Where search warrants, if any, proper? Time will certainly tell.
To read and learn more about any theft crime in New York including Grand Larceny and any fraud offense including Falsifying Business Records, a review of the links above as well as the websites and blogs below will reveal ample information on these topics.
A New York City criminal defense firm established by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC represent clients in all New York white collar crimes from investigation through trial.