White Collar Crimes in New York

Watch the following educational legal video by New York Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Aiello as he discusses white collar crimes in New York.

In my experience, the government – at the state, federal, and local levels – has initiated far more criminal investigations in which they focus on trying to get money back. There’s been a proliferation of these white collar cases. Suddenly, many people who would never have been caught up in the criminal justice system – law abiding people, married people with families – are getting caught up in the system because of something in which they were involved, and which they may not have even thought was a crime.

A substantial amount of money may be involved, perhaps in the form of benefits acquired over a period of time. In today’s day and age, with the government always facing a chronic shortage of funds, they follow the money. Once they’ve followed the money long enough to ascertain that a particular individual has accumulated hundreds of thousands – or millions – of dollars in bank accounts, stock portfolios, assets, or real estate, they will typically bring a forfeiture action.

As a client who may have been arrested on a white collar charge – which could involve anything from sales tax or income tax to stock fraud – because, as a successful businessman, you’ve been able to accumulate assets. The government sees those assets and that represents a windfall for them. As part of their indictment, they bring a forfeiture action and freeze all of those assets. Now, for the entire pendency of the case, your assets are tied up. You can’t access your own assets.

Now, you’re fighting on two fronts. You’re fighting to get your money released so that you can live your life – continuing to pay your mortgage and car bills, while supporting your kids’ education – while simultaneously defending your case. You can’t hire an attorney to defend you if you don’t have access to your funds. If that happens, it’s very important to make sure your attorney can negotiate with the government to obtain the release of certain funds so that you can at least live your life.

Our system is based on a presumption of innocence which means, even though you’ve been arrested for a crime, that doesn’t mean you’re guilty of that crime. The prosecution may think you’ve done something wrong, but you have a defense to their claim. Sadly, it’s likely to take a year to prove your innocence because the case will not be resolved in a month or two – or even three. If yours is a complicated case – which white collar cases usually are, because they involve the element of intent. Intent simply means what was in the defendant’s mind at the time he was doing something, and that’s what these cases usually turn on. Intention is very difficult to prove. Because it’s a high proof for them, their pursuit of it can take a long time.

Your attorney must make sure that you are in a position to defend yourself, and you need resources to do that – not only to cover attorney fees, but also to hire expert witnesses. You’re probably going to need forensic accountants. You may also need psychiatrists, and you’re definitely going to need an investigator. Defending white collar cases requires your attorney to assemble a whole team.

Because the government has people working on these cases non-stop, the only way you can hope to measure up against that is to assemble your own team to focus on your side. A lot of this, unfortunately, comes down to resources. If you don’t have adequate resources available, you start out behind the eight ball. If they forfeit your assets, we must work toward getting at least some of those assets released so that you can hire an attorney, continue to pay your bills as they come due, and so you can defend yourself.

Robert J. Aiello is a principal and founding member of the law firm and a trial attorney.  His practice is devoted primarily to criminal defense in State and Federal Courts. Mr. Aiello has been involved in many high-profile cases throughout his career. Contact us at our Maspeth, Queens office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with experienced New York criminal defense attorney Robert Aiello.