A prosecutor needs to protect all people regardless of whether they are citizens, residents or even illegally living in the United States. While members of the defense bar can, and usually do, spar with their prosecutorial counterparts in order to ensure the burden of proof is met in any criminal complaint or allegation, it does not diminish the role of the District Attorney (or defense lawyer for that matter). In fact, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., who championed protecting immigrants as one of his platforms, is exercising the power of the New York Criminal Justice System to assist people who fall pray to those seeking to take advantage of immigrants. According to the DA website, Vance Inc. has obtained the arrest and indictment of Hit Shrestha, “a Nepalese national, for systematically defrauding other Nepalese nationals of thousands of dollars.” As such, Shrestha faces multiple felony charges including Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 155.30) and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 190.65).
According to the New York County District Attorney’s Office, Shrestha allegedly convinced multiple Nepalese immigrants to pay her a fee ranging from $3,000 to $7,000 so she could arrange for their family members to come to the United States. These fees included air travel and immigration forms. Prosecutors further claim that Shrestha bonded with new immigrants from her home country of Nepal by inviting them to dinner, introducing them to local people in the Nepalese community and helping them find employment.
Despite what appeared to be honest and good intentions, the DA’s Office believes that Shrestha merely scammed her countrymen and women. In fact, prosecutors assert that an alias of Nitu Rana was utilized and Shrestha even represented herself as the sister of Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba, a well-known Nepalese public figure and wife of former Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadeur Deuba. Preying on other’s belief in this relationship, it is alleged that Shrestha convinced her targets to pay these fees after she advised them that there would be a seat on the plane carrying Dr. Deuba’s delegation the United States. When the family member did not arrive as promised and the victims of the alleged scam complained, prosecutors believe that Shrestha threatened to have them deported.
As noted above, a Grand Jury indicted Shrestha for one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. “E” felonies, both of these crimes are punishable by up to four years in prison. What is interesting is that according to the press release, Shrestha is only charged with one theft count where the financial threshold is greater than $1,000, but equal to or less than $3,000. Where the claim is that Shrestha defrauded multiple victims in excess of $3,000, one would think an indictment would reflect more counts of Grand Larceny (for each victim) and the higher level crime of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 155.35). This Third Degree offense involves thefts in excess of $3,000, but equal to or less than $50,000. Either prosecutors did not have those other individuals available or the Scheme to Defraud offense covers those complainants. Briefly, when charging this latter offense, prosecutors need only to establish the identity of one of the victims and not every individual.
Whether prosecutors are holding off on more or greater charges or this is the indictment in its final form, those who might abuse immigrants should take note. District Attorney Vance is serious about fighting this type of crime and will certainly not hesitate to prosecute offenders.
To learn about the crimes of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, please follow any of the highlighted links. Both the NewYorkTheftAndLarcenyLawyers.Com website and New-York-Lawyers.org website, as well as the blogs and links listed below, are tremendous resources for information, cases and legal decisions on these theft statutes.
Established by two former Manhattan prosecutors, Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm. The New York criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law PC represent those accused of all white collar crimes throughout New York City and the region.