As a New York theft lawyer and a defense attorney, I routinely represent clients in Grand Larceny arrests, indictments and investigations in the New York City region. In this capacity I find myself counseling professionals to recognize the collateral consequences and ramifications of a New York theft and fraud arrest beyond of the four walls of the criminal court. In fact, only last week, I drafted an entry as to the suspension of a lawyer who had initially been arrested for Grand Larceny and later pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor theft crime of Petit Larceny. The following case I am about to address further “hits home” the gravity of a larceny conviction – misdemeanor or felony – upon the professional licensing of attorneys in New York. Whether you are stealing from an escrow account, shoplifting or perpetrating a theft in the form of a tax crime, understand there can, and often will, be consequences should your case not be handled properly.
In Matter of Maffia, D34357, NYLJ 1202547493906, at *1 (App. Div. 2nd, Decided March, 27, 2012), the Grievance Committee moved to confirm a Special Referee’s report of professional misconduct for an attorney was was convicted in Suffolk County of Petit Larceny pursuant to New York Penal Law 155.25. As I have noted many times, NY PL 155.25, whether by shoplift or theft of monies, is a wrongful taking of another’s property regardless of how insignificant the value may be. Petit Larceny is an “A” misdemeanor. In the case before the Grievance Committee, although respondent (defendant) did not admit to it, prosecution accused the defendant of stealing $5,743 and as part of the plea deal required him to make restitution.
In an attempt to mitigate his conduct and prevent a suspension or revocation of his license to practice law in the State of New York, the respondent called his former law partner as a witness. This law partner testified that he could not recall receiving the funds in question that were to be disbursed to a third-party victim. Further, both the responded and the law partner testified that it was law office neglect and failure, as opposed to intent to steal, that was the causation of the theft. In an attempt to further mitigate his conduct, the respondent explained how during the period in question he suffered two hear attacks.
Despite his attempts to mitigate the plea and the fact that he did make the third-party victim whole, the respondent was unable to prevent the suspension of his license for six months. At bottom, the respondent pleaded guilty and admitted to a crime. The respondent withheld money from a victim that he was entrusted to keep and “had a heightened obligation to ensure that the money reached the intended recipient.”
The above case should make it overwhelmingly clear that to disrupt or destroy one’s professional license, one need not be convicted of a felony. Further, one need not perpetrate a large scale fraud. While not minimizing a $5,000 theft, the dollar amount pales in comparison to what many of us see regularly on the news and in the local papers. Regardless of whomever your New York Grand Larceny lawyer or Petit Larceny attorney may be and irrespective of whatever defense you both feel is the strongest, always remember that for lawyers, accountants, doctors and other professionals, the end of a criminal case may signify the beginning of battles to come with career altering issues.
To better understand New York‘s Grand Larceny laws or other fraud and white collar crimes, please follow any highlighted links to specific contact or review the NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com, New-York-Lawyers.org, or this blog and associated website (links below). With a general understanding of the laws, statutes and cases that constitute the New York Penal Law, consult with your attorney and put yourself in the best place to defend your case in the courtroom and beyond its four walls.
Saland Law PC is a New York white collar criminal defense firm founded by former prosecutors who served in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Saland Law PC’s criminal defense attorneys represent clients in New York City, Westchester and other suburban counties.