New York City government, from Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens to the Bronx, is on the lookout for ways to plug its various financial holes. Sometimes this results in spending cuts while other times agencies are looking to claw back monies expended or lost. Unfortunately for many struggling people, those who have received benefits associated with the New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) may be a target not only of an administrative investigation, but a criminal one that could lead to a felony arrest.
Crotty Saland PC, a New York criminal defense firm established by two former Manhattan prosecutors, has handled numerous investigations and inquiries by the Human Resources Administration into alleged benefits that clients were either over paid or not entitled to receive. These allegations have involved “thefts” and “frauds” from as little as approximately $20,000 to nearly $100,000. Fortunately for these clients, through negotiation and diligence, not only was Crotty Saland PC able to reduce the amount owed by thousands of dollars and set up a reasonable payment plan, but these clients avoided the fear, embarrassment, uncertainly and potential incarceration as a result of an arrest for Grand Larceny, Offering a False Instrument for Filing and other similar felony crimes.
In Crotty Saland PC’s most recent matter, the HRA accused our client of re-applying and re-certifying for City benefits totaling over $19,000. During the application and re-certification process, the HRA documented that our client “checked off” that the client was unemployed. Through their own investigation, the HRA found that our client may have been employed. Just as in similar cases regardless of the amount allegedly stolen from through benefit fraud, the HRA commenced an investigation and sought to have a “meeting” with our client. Generally speaking, as they did here, HRA investigators had financial records of some kind and other forms of corroboration that our client was not entitled to benefits and, thus, “stole” money from the government. Simply, if not properly addressed, our client faced felony prosecution.
While our client’s matter was resolved without prosecution, the question for anyone accused of fraud involving the HRA will likely be similar. Will the case be resolved civilly within the HRA or will it be referred to a local prosecutor’s office such as the Manhattan District Attorney? What statements that you make and documents you provide to an investigator can later be used against you in a criminal proceeding? Is it possible to take care of the case “in house” and even negotiate a settlement to circumvent an arrest?
Consulting with an attorney of your choice before speaking with investigators as to your conduct is always the best course of action. Ignoring letters and phone calls from the HRA on the other hand, could land you in the Tombs or Rikers Island. Don’t compound what may have been an innocent mistake or lapse in judgement destroy your future. Educate yourself on the law and legal process.
A New York criminal defense firm representing clients in New York theft and fraud investigations and arrests, the New York criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC represent clients in investigations by the New York City Human Resources Administration as well as other agencies throughout the region.