Welcome!

News Feed Item

Stop the Presses! Let's Wait for the Evidence

Crminal Defense Attorney Steven Brill Says the New York County DA Oversteps Boundaries in Announcing Arrest of 106 including NY Police Officers and Firefighters

NEW YORK, Jan. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Certainly, a hot button issue in New York City has been, and will remain, any news connected to the 9/11 attacks. News that might relate to the first-responders involved in 9/11 and its aftermath, particularly allegations that implicate police or fire-fighters as exploiting or profiting from the 9/11 tragedy are exactly the kind of story that pushes its way onto the front page of the paper or lead story on a cable-news show.  It is no surprise, therefore, that after District Attorney Cyrus Vance issued a press release on January 7, 2014, indicating that 80 of 106 defendants indicted in an alleged Social Security fraud scheme, were retired New York Police and Firefighters fraudulently claiming disability due to injuries suffered on 9/11, that the headline in the New York Post read "9/11 SCAM SCUM."

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140110/MN44067)

While the press is perpetually eager to report a seemingly "juicy" story, what is both surprising and disturbing is the manner in which this has been handled by the New York County District Attorney's Office. It is nothing new that a prosecutor's office conducts an investigation, gathers confidential sources and informants, sets up sting operations and ultimately indicts multiple defendants on significant and serious charges.  It is also not unusual for a prosecutor's office to issue press releases informing the public of its efforts. What is unusual in this case, however, was the specific information contained in the press release and the manner in which the information was framed. In many ways, the press release seemed designed to create news that would incite the press and create exactly the sort of media frenzy that has resulted.

It cannot be overlooked that New York City is literally days into a new administration with a new mayor and new police chief. It cannot be a coincidence that Police Chief Bratton is quoted in just the third paragraph of the press release and made statements in both the Daily News and New York Post.  I would even hazard a guess that the timing of these arrests purposely occurred to parallel the incoming administration.  Furthermore, despite the fact that almost 20 percent of the alleged defendants are classified as "other" than police-officers or fire-fighters, and that "among the indicted applicants, [Social Security Disability Insurance] awards have been paid since as far back as 1988," years before 9/11, the tenor of the press release, statements made by the District Attorney and Police Chief, and the resultant media coverage is particularly geared to a sensationalized slant regarding these defendants.  For example Chief Bratton vilified the defendants as having "disgraced all first responders who perished during the search and rescue efforts on September 11, 2001, and those who subsequently died from 9/11 related illness, by exploiting their involvements that tragic day for personal gain."

Perhaps the most egregious and outrageous choice that the District Attorney made was to list publically the names, addresses and dates of birth of all the defendants. It was expected that this windfall of information would lead to journalists finding and publishing pictures of some of these defendants playing golf, fishing or jet skiing. While these pictures can inflame the passions of the public, and potentially taint a jury-pool, in and of themselves, photographs do no "win" the case for the District Attorney.  One thing is clear, it is not mutually exclusive to be physically or mentally disabled and still be able to have a modicum of enjoyment in life – and have a picture taken of that enjoyment to boot. In fact, buried in the press release, the District Attorney concedes that "many of the NYPD and FDNY applicants had limited physical disabilities that legitimately entitled them to state disability pensions."

Inflammatory pictures, press conferences and sound bites are good, but what ultimately matters in our justice system is proof.  What the prosecution must prove in a grand larceny case is that a defendant 1) "with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he 2) wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof."  Here the value of what was allegedly wrongfully obtained span a wide range – in some cases several thousands of dollars.   Sometimes a picture can say 1,000 words and be helpful in proving a case. Other times a picture is just a picture that captures an image of one individual for one moment in time. Without a doubt, if the prosecution offers a picture of a defendant "working" at a food stand during the San Gennaro Festival as somehow indicating that the person in the photograph is capable of full-time work under the strict and complex Social Security Disability Insurance law, it will fall, far short of its required burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Press releases, political posturing through sound bites, calculated and selective release of evidence intending to garner headlines may give the impression of an effective administration and a strong case. When the actual case begins, however, and the DA's office is obligated to present its proof, the prosecution cannot shirk its fundamental burden—producing credible, admissible evidence that proves its case to an impartial jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Today's headlines and news items will be forgotten and soon only facts and real evidence will matter. As a criminal defense attorney, I prefer to avoid a rush to judgment and will wait for that time.

Media Contact: Steven Brill, Sullivan Brill, LLP, 212-566-1000, [email protected]

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Sullivan Brill, LLP

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
As people view cloud as a preferred option to build IT systems, the size of the cloud-based system is getting bigger and more complex. As the system gets bigger, more people need to collaborate from design to management. As more people collaborate to create a bigger system, the need for a systematic approach to automate the process is required. Just as in software, cloud now needs DevOps. In this session, the audience can see how people can solve this issue with a visual model. Visual models ha...
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere Systems was created by file systems experts determined to reinvent storage by changing the way enterprises thought about and bought storage resources. With decades of experience behind the company’s founders, Avere got its ...
In the fast-paced advances and popularity in cloud technology, one of the most critical factors revolves around concerns for security of your critical data. How to assure both your company and your customers they can confidently trust and utilize your cloud environment is most often top on the list. There is a method to evaluating and providing security that exceeds conventional modes of protecting data both within the cloud as well externally on mobile and other devices. With the public failure...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
Microsoft Azure Container Services can be used for container deployment in a variety of ways including support for Orchestrators like Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and Mesos. However, the abstraction for app development that support application self-healing, scaling and so on may not be at the right level. Helm and Draft makes this a lot easier. In this primarily demo-driven session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, a Cloud Solutions Architect/Evangelist at Microsoft, wi...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...