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Thou Shalt Not (Allegedly) Steal: Clerk Embezzles $1 Million from New York Archdiocese

It may not be the first of the ten commandments, but according to the Book of Vance, Jr., violating “thou shalt not (allegedly) steal” is understandably and correctly a grave and serious crime against the public. In the minds of some in the law enforcement community, any theft, regardless of how large or insignificant it may be, is a greater sin than disregarding the axiom “thou shalt not answer ‘ready for trial’ in an illusory manner.” But let us not digress…

According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Cyrus Vance’s keepers of the grail have once again notched a victory against Team Hades. This time the arrestee in Manhattan Criminal Court was an accounts payable clerk who is alleged to have perpetrated a $1 million Embezzlement from the Archdiocese of New York. 67 year old Anita Collins is not only accused of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a violation of New York Penal Law 155.42, but it is not her first brush with the law. In fact, the Church apparently failed to do its due diligence on the accused and was unaware she completed five years probation after her felony Grand Larceny conviction in 1999.

According to DA Vance, the only reason why Collins stopped syphoning money from the religious institution for over seven years was because she was caught. During her alleged one woman crime spree, Collins spent $14,000 at Brooks Brothers, $18,000 at Bloomingdale’s and $23,000. While this may or may not be true, Collins had to realize that sooner or later that someone, somewhere, would notice that she allegedly issued in excess of 450 checks payable to “KB Collins” that were deposited into accounts she controlled. Not only is the aggregate of the alleged theft $1,073,000, but Collins likely faces hundreds of counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree as well.

What will be interesting to see is the potential sentence recommended by the prosecution. While a conviction from 1999 falls outside the ten year time frame for a defendant to be considered a “predicate felon,” probation, incarceration and other factors can extend this period. Whether or not a judge is required to take the prior conviction into consideration or not, even if Collins was a figurative “angel” she would face a mandatory minimum of one to three years and a maximum of eight and one third to twenty-five years in prison on a “B” felony. Although the Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 175.10) is a lesser “E” felony, up to four years imprisonment is possible on each charge. While each theft and larceny was added together or aggregated to reach the million dollars, the First Degree Falsifying Business Records offenses are prosecuted in multiple charges. Simply, the NY PL 175.10 was committed each time Collins made a false entry in the business records of the Archdiocese of New York in order to further the alleged thefts.

It appears that Collins faces powerful evidence of biblical proportions. It cannot be understated that if true, the evidence appears formidable. Led by prosecutor Amy Justiniano, an Assistant District Attorney trained for years in the elite Trial Bureau 50, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will not show the same forgiveness and mercy that one would expect from a member of any religion’s clergy. Instead, there is little doubt that prosecutors will seek an extended term in prison despite Ms. Collins’ age. What happens next and where this case ends up will likely be splashed across the headlines in weeks or months to come.

To learn the basic elements as well as the detailed factors that establish New York’s Grand Larceny crimes and related theft offenses, follow any of the highlighted links above or below. From analysis of cases in the news to criminal statutes and court decisions, Saland Law PC’s numerous legal resources are an excellent first stop to get a grasp on New York’s white collar and larceny crimes.

Founded by two former New York County Assistant District Attorneys, Saland Law PC’s New York criminal defense attorneys represent those accused of white collar and theft offenses in New York City and the surrounding counties.

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