Embezzlement cases in New York are often some of the most difficult crimes to defend for Grand Larceny lawyers and Embezzlement defense attorneys. Yes, every case is different, but Grand Larceny by Embezzlement often involves a “smoking gun” of a paper trail. In these cases, money is transferred out of an employer’s account and into the account of an accused. As a New York City and greater New York criminal defense attorney, it no longer surprises me to see people make these boneheaded and easily traceable transactions. Even worse, from a criminal defense perspective, as much as an accused may want to apologize for the infraction, admitting the indiscretion to the police, a detective or employer makes any criminal case that much stronger. From a personal and “human” side, we can all understand that people make mistakes and making a victim whole is what we should endeavor to do, but when you are accused of a crime you should always think things through before making any statement to any party.
Grand Larceny by Embezzlement is, at its foundation, merely a Grand Larceny case. The law in New York doesn’t concern itself as much with how property or money was stolen, but the value of the stolen property. The theft, when it exceeds $1,000.00 is a Grand Larceny felony (New York Penal Law Article 155) and the actual possession of the stolen property at that price point is a Criminal Possession of Stolen Property felony (New York Penal Law Article 165). Depending on the value of the property possessed or stolen, the Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property can be either an “E” felony, “D” felony, “C” felony or “B” felony. These crimes are punishable by sentences as great as four, seven, fifteen and twenty-five years in state prison respectively. Obviously, the stakes are extremely high should you be arrested, indicted or convicted for such a crime.
Having represented numerous clients accused of and arrested for Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property crimes in New York City as well as in suburban municipalities, identifying a particular defense – whether that is challenge the allegations or mitigating conduct – is one of the first steps once all the information is gathered. Sometimes, prosecutors are incorrect in their complaints or an employer has exaggerated their claimed loss for insurance or other reasons. Other times, the defense may reflect a strong mitigation defense explaining why, if true, the accused took money that he or she did not have a right to do so. Once recent Saland Law PC case reflected this latter defense.
In a suburban NYC jurisdiction, our client was charged with embezzling in excess of $100,000 as a bookkeeper for our client’s employer. Complicating matters, although in the United States legally, our client had not yet obtained his citizenship. Facing an indictment charging Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (PL 155.40) for a theft exceeding $50,000 and up to $1 million as well as Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (PL 165.52), our client was looking at up to fifteen years in prison and deportation. Certainly, incarceration was a frightening proposition for our client as was the risk of being forced from the United States and away from our client’s spouse and new born child.
After numerous conversations, discussions and negotiations, prosecutors ultimately agreed to allow our client to plead guilty to one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree for a theft exceeding $1,000.00, but not greater than $3,000.00. Further, the Supreme Court Justice who accepted our client’s plea, along with the the District Attorney’s Office, did not require any term of incarceration or probation. Simply, the client received a conditional discharge. Although our client paid full restitution, the court agreed not to put on the record any reflection of the value of the alleged theft or restitution thereby limiting our client’s exposure in terms of a crime of “moral turpitude,” an aggravated felony and deportation. While a non-felony disposition would have alleviated many collateral problems for our client, this resolution was approved by our client’s immigration attorney who believed it was an outcome that would best protect our client considering the circumstances.
While no criminal disposition is considered perfect, this case reflected the grim reality for our client that a trial on the facts and evidence would be devastating and very likely result in incarceration and deportation. All things considered, dropping from a “C” to an “E” felony, no probation or prison and a “tight” record to work with on the immigration case was a very good resolution. Make no mistake, avoiding criminal conduct, following the law and abiding by rules is the best defense to any criminal prosecution, but no person is infallible. Mistakes in life are made and one should have the opportunity to grow and learn from these mistakes, make things as whole as one can and maintain an intact family. This client was fortunately able to obtain just that.
To further educated yourself about New York’s theft and larceny crimes such as Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, review the links found in this entry or the websites and blogs listed below.
Established by former Manhattan prosecutors serving under Robert Morgenthau, the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC use their collective years as criminal defense attorneys, Assistant District Attorneys and Assistant United States Attorneys representing clients in all larceny and fraud related cases throughout the New York City and suburban region.