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White Collar Crime

Most people associate white collar crime with organized crime rings, mafias, mobsters, gangsters and racketeering. New York and the surrounding areas are notorious for having headline-making mobsters and mafia prosecutions. However, these stereotypes are not the only people involved with white collar crime. People who commit white collar crime are typically business people seeking an unlawful financial gain. These offenses can be federally prosecuted or prosecuted through New York’s Penal Law.

White collar crime is often considered a victimless offense, as most “victims” have been so minimally affected they don’t even realize a crime has been committed against them. However, federal and state prosecutors are eager to punish white collar offenders, and will impose hefty penalties on those convicted, including lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines.

It may be easy for some people to get caught up in a crime scheme or organization, and not even be aware they can be prosecuted for committing a white collar crime. If you have been charged with a white collar crime in New York, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your best interests and defend the allegations against you.

Queens White Collar Crime Defense Attorney

Contact the Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner if you have been charged with a white collar crime in Queens or New York City. Rochelle S. Berliner is dedicated to fighting the charges against you, and helping you avoid the most serious penalties and punishments.

Call 718-261-5600 for a consultation about your alleged white collar crime offense.


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New York White Collar Crime Charges

Many different criminal offenses make up the term “white collar crime.” Sometimes those charged with committing white collar crimes may not realize they are committing a criminal offense, or are involved in a criminal organization or scheme.
The elements of common white collar crimes in New York are as follows:

  • Issuing a Bad Check – N.Y. Penal Law §§ 190.05:

A person can be convicted of this offense if they knowingly write a check when there are insufficient funds in the bank account associated with the check to cover the amount of the check. This offense is punishable as a class B misdemeanor.

  • Forgery – N.Y. Penal Law §§ 170.00-170.15:

A conviction for a forgery offense can be in the first, second or third degree. Forgery in the third degree occurs if a person falsely makes, completes or changes a written instrument in order to defraud, deceive or injure another.
Forgery in the third degree is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

A person can be convicted of forgery in the second degree if they commit forgery in the third degree, and the instrument is one or more of the following:

  • Deed
  • Will
  • Contract
  • Assignment
  • Commercial Instrument
  • Credit Card
  • Codicil
  • A public record
  • Certificates or other articles in place of money
  • A medical prescription
  • An instrument issued or created by a public office

Forgery in the second degree is a Class D felony.
A person can be convicted of forgery in the first degree if they commit forgery in the third degree, and the instrument is:

  • Money
  • Stamps
  • Securities
  • Any other government-issued valuable instrument
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Any other instruments representing interests in or claims against a corporation or organization.

Forgery in the first degree is punishable as a Class C felony.

The offense of Identity Theft, or otherwise known as Identity Fraud, can be committed in three different degrees. Identity theft in the third degree occurs when a person knowingly assumes the identity of another person with the intent to commit fraud by presenting themselves as the other person, acting as the other person, or by using personal identifying information of that person, and:

  • Acquires money;
  • Uses services;
  • Purchases goods;
  • Obtains property;
  • Causes financial loss;
  • Commits at least a class A misdemeanor when committing the fraud; or
  • Uses the other person’s credit.

Identity theft in the third degree is punishable as a class A misdemeanor.
Identity theft in the second degree can occur if a person knowingly assumes the identity of another person with the intent to commit fraud by presenting themselves as the other person, acting as the other person, or by using personal identifying information of that person, and:

  • Acquires money in an amount over $500;
  • Uses services in an amount over $500;
  • Purchases goods in an amount over $500;
  • Obtains property in an amount over $500;
  • Uses the other person’s credit in an amount over $500;
  • Causes financial loss in an amount over $500;
  • Commits, attempts to commit, or acts as an accessory to a felony;
  • Commits a third degree identity theft, but has a previous conviction for an identity theft offense or larceny offense.

Identity theft in the second degree is punishable as a Class E felony.
Identity theft in the first degree can occur if a person knowingly assumes the identity of another person with the intent to commit fraud by presenting themselves as the other person, acting as the other person, or by using personal identifying information of that person, and:

  • Acquires money in an amount over $2,000;
  • Uses services in an amount over $2,000;
  • Purchases goods in an amount over $2,000;
  • Obtains property in an amount over $2,000;
  • Uses the other person’s credit in an amount over $2,000;
  • Causes financial loss in an amount over $2,000;
  • Commits, attempts to commit, or acts as an accessory to a class D felony or higher; or
  • Commits identity theft in the second degree, but has a previous conviction for an identity theft offense or larceny offense.

Identity theft in the first degree is punishable as a Class D felony.

  • Unlawful Use of Credit Card or Debit Card – N.Y. Penal Law §§ 165.17:

A person can be convicted of this offense if they use or display a credit card, debit card, or public benefit card he knows has been revoked or cancelled when obtaining property or services.
Unlawful use of a credit card, debit card or public benefit card is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

This offense can be in the first or second degree. A person can be convicted of this offense in the second degree if they engage in a scheme or plan that is systematic and an ongoing course of conduct in order to defraud another person or to obtain, and does obtain, property from more than one person through fraudulent means.

A scheme to defraud in the second degree is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

A person can be convicted of this offense in the first degree if they engage in a scheme or plan that is systematic and an ongoing course of conduct in order to defraud at least ten persons or to obtain, and does obtain, property from at least ten persons through fraudulent means. Or, if they commit a scheme to defraud in the second degree, and the value of the property is more than $1,000, or if they commit a scheme to defraud in the second degree, and the fraud was committed against a vulnerable elderly person.

A scheme to defraud in the first degree is punishable as a Class E felony.

A person can also be convicted of a scheme to defraud the state by unlawfully selling prescriptions if they engage in a scheme or plant that is systematic and an ongoing course of conduct to make, sell, deliver for sale or offer for sale one or more prescriptions and obtains the goods or services from the state in an amount if excess of $1,000.

A scheme to defraud the state by unlawfully selling prescriptions is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

  • Falsifying Business Records – N.Y. Penal Law §§ 175.05-175.15:

Falsifying business records can either be a first or second degree offense. Falsifying business records in the second degree occurs if a person:

  • Makes a false entry in business records with the intent to defraud;
  • Alters, deletes or removes a true record in business records with the intent to defraud;
  • Fails to make a true entry in a business record with the intent to defraud; or
  • Prevents the making of a true entry in a business record with the intent to defraud.

Falsifying business records in the second degree is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. Falsifying business records in the first degree occurs when a person commits falsifying business records in the second degree, but also intends to commit, aid in the commission of, or conceal another crime.

Falsifying Business Records in the first degree is a Class E felony.

  • Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument – N.Y. Penal Law § 170.20-170.40:

Someone who illegally possesses a forged instrument can be convicted of this offense in the first, second or third degree. Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree can occur if a person has knowledge the instrument is forged and intends to defraud, deceive or injure another with the forged instrument.

This offense is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree occurs when a person commits criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree, but the instrument is one or more of the following:

  • Deed
  • Will
  • Contract
  • Assignment
  • Commercial Instrument
  • Credit Card
  • Codicil
  • A public record
  • Certificates or other articles in place of money
  • A medical prescription
  • An instrument issued or created by a public office.

This offense is punishable as a Class D felony.

A person can be convicted of criminal possession of forged instrument in the first degree if they commit a criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree, but the instrument is a:

  • Money
  • Stamps
  • Securities
  • Any other government-issued valuable instrument
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Any other instruments representing interests in or claims against a corporation or organization.

Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the first degree is punishable as a Class C felony.


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New York State Penalties for White Collar Crime

New York’s Penal Law provides the state’s sentencing guidelines for maximum white collar crime penalties a convicted offender can receive in Articles 70 and 80. However, the length of imprisonment and/or fines may vary depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense, whether the offender was a second or persistent felony offender, and the offender’s criminal history.

  • Class C felony convictions can result in a maximum 15-year prison sentence, probation from 3 to 5 years, and/or a fixed fine up to $5,000 or double the defendant’s gain from committing the offense.
  • Class D felonies can lead to a maximum seven-year prison sentence, a probation sentence between 3 and 5 years, and/or a fixed fine not more than $5,000 or double the defendant’s gain from committing the offense.
  • Class E felonies can result in imprisonment up to four years and/or a fixed fine not more than $5,000 or double the defendant’s gain from committing the offense. An offender may also face from 3 to 5 years on probation.
  • Class A misdemeanor convictions can result in a one year prison sentence, probation from 2 to 3 years,  and/or fines not exceeding $1,000.
  • Class B misdemeanor convictions can lead to three months imprisonment and/or fines up to $500.

White collar criminal offenses can also result in restitution or reparation to the victim for the alleged offender’s gain or the victim’s costs or losses from the commission of the offense.


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Federal White Collar Crime Charges

Many white collar crimes are both federal and state offenses, and can be prosecuted by either or both New York and the federal government. Federal offenses will be prosecuted in New York’s federal district courts.

The most commonly prosecuted federal white collar offenses are violations of RICO (18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968). RICO, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, is a federal law that was enacted to prosecute both individuals and groups who commit at least two criminal acts associated with racketeering activity that involve interstate commerce within a ten year period.

Mail fraud is also a commonly prosecuted federal crime.This fraud, as defined in 18 USC § 1341, is usually a scheme to defraud someone of money or property through the use of the United States Postal Service or a private mail carrier, like UPS or Fed Ex. An example of mail fraud involves “selling” non-existent property to a resident of another state through the mail.

Wire fraud is also a federally prosecuted offense, and is similar to mail fraud. This federal offense, which is defined in the Wire Act (18 U.S.C § 1084), involves any type of fraud through the use of any wire, such as telephones, radio or telephone that crosses state lines. This crime can be very easy to commit because it is so broad and can involve almost anything.

Ponzi Schemes are white collar investment frauds that are often heard about in the news. In these elaborate plans, an investment manager takes money from new investors to pay returns to old investors, instead of paying the investment returns from a profit actually earned by the organization. The investors usually don’t even know they have been a victim of this offense because they are still receiving returns, and the schemes usually involve many people.


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White Collar Crime Resources in New York

New York Medicaid Fraud Control Unit – The New York Office of the Attorney General created an initiative to investigate, penalize and prosecute individuals and companies that are responsible for white collar schemes associated with Medicaid and healthcare fraud. The Attorney General’s office is located at:

New York Attorney General
120 Broadway
New York City, NY 10271
(212) 416-8000

United States District Court for Eastern District of New York – This federal court is where most federally prosecuted white collar crimes in Queens and the surrounding areas will be prosecuted. This site has resources for individual cases and information about the court. The court is located at:

U.S. District Court
Eastern District of New York
225 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, New York 11201

The FBI White Collar Crime Division – The Federal Bureau of Investigation White Collar Crime Division’s web site describes common white collar crime scams, prevention tactics for victims or potential victims of white collar crimes, and current programs initiated by the FBI to crackdown on white collar crimes.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission – The Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, is a federal government agency that seeks to protect investors from white collar crimes committed by businesses and corporations, monitors the business practices of organizations and businesses, and maintains the United States’ financial markets.


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Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | White Collar Crime Lawyer in Queens

If you have are facing criminal chargse for an alleged white collar offense in New York City, you will want to immediately retain legal counsel. Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner represents clients in such areas as Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan.

Queens criminal defense attorney Rochelle S. Berliner is dedicated to fighting the allegations against you and helping you receive the best outcome possible for your particular situation. Call 718-261-5600 or submit an online form today for a free, confidential consultation.

Free Consultation

Submit your information using this form to schedule a free consultation with attorney Rochelle Berliner.

Name* Phone* Email* Subject* Message*

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