Articles Posted in Grand Larceny by Extortion

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Eliot Spitzer, the onetime New York State Governor and Attorney General, has once again found himself immersed in controversy. According to reports, however, the new tabloid fodder is not centered around alleged wrongdoing on the part of Client 9, but his alleged Attempted Extortion and Blackmail by Svetlana Zakharova, aka, Svetlana Travis. More specifically, Zakharova (Travis) had claimed that Spitzer met her in February 2016 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City where he choked and pushed her inside one of the rooms. Although merely speculation, it was reported that Travis worked as a high end Russian call girl and escort for as much as $5,000.00 a night. Despite Travis’ claims, after making the report to the police she refused to cooperate and returned to Russia. At some point she made financial demands of Spitzer who in turn initiated a civil suit against Travis only later dropping it.

Although I am not privy to the NYPD’s and Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation that led to the arrest of Svetlana Travis, the law of Extortion does not change from case to case. Instead, evidence must fit into the legal parameters of this crime. This blog entry will address this Grand Larceny offense and how the facts as they may be satisfy the elements of this alleged crime and conduct.

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By now everyone who provided a credit card to Ashley Madison, a real name or an address knows that hackers have exposed their personal information. Sure, what the hackers did was wrong and illegal, but there is little to nothing anyone one of us can do about that. Instead, the issue is now how do you protect yourself from would be fraudsters and criminals who have sifted through the information posted online? What if one of these individuals contacts you? Demands money? Threatens you? Is there any recourse? What, if any, crimes have been committed? Does it matter that the information is arguably public since it has been posted? This blog entry will attempt to answer some of these questions from the perspective of the New York Penal Law. Federal violations will be discussed at a later time.

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As an experienced New York criminal defense attorney serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and the surrounding counties such as Westchester, I am routinely confronted with legal question surrounding New York Grand Larceny crimes and other New York larceny laws and theft laws. In today’s blog post I want to address one of the more ‘weird’ legal situations that arises when a joint property owners “steals” commonly owned property from the other party he or she shares ownership.

To avoid confusion at the outset, let’s pause a moment and allow me to share a little Legal Property 101. Under the common law, there are different types of ownership rights one can have in property. Obviously the most basic is full ownership by a single person. However, more than one person may own one piece of property. When referring to land (real property) we usually call this a concurrent estate or co-tenancy. Now, there are different subsets of concurrent estates that vary in different jurisdictions, but their definition and consequences on ownership rights go beyond what we need to know here. For purposes of our discussion, when I refer to “joint” or “common” ownership of property I mean property over which each individual owner has an equal and undivided right of possession in that property. Each owner is entitled to have and use the property. It does not matter if that property is a car, bank account or computer.

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