Click here to close now.



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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
As someone who has been dedicated to automation and Application Release Automation (ARA) technology for almost six years now, one of the most common questions I get asked regards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Specifically, people want to know whether release automation is still needed when a PaaS is in place, and why. Isn't that what a PaaS provides? A solution to the deployment and runtime challenges of an application? Why would anyone using a PaaS then need an automation engine with workflow ...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Your business relies on your applications and your employees to stay in business. Whether you develop apps or manage business critical apps that help fuel your business, what happens when users experience sluggish performance? You and all technical teams across the organization – application, network, operations, among others, as well as, those outside the organization, like ISPs and third-party providers – are called in to solve the problem.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City, and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Let’s face it, embracing new storage technologies, capabilities and upgrading to new hardware often adds complexity and increases costs. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Seth Oxenhorn, Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at FalconStor, will discuss how a truly heterogeneous software-defined storage approach can add value to legacy platforms and heterogeneous environments. The result reduces complexity, significantly lowers cost, and provides IT organizations with improved effi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...