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 DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media 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. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
The technologies behind big data and cloud computing are converging quickly, offering businesses new capabilities for fast, easy, wide-ranging access to data. However, to capitalize on the cost-efficiencies and time-to-value opportunities of analytics in the cloud, big data and cloud technologies must be integrated and managed properly. Pythian's Director of Big Data and Data Science, Danil Zburivsky will explore: The main technology components and best practices being deployed to take advantage...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
"When you think about the data center today, there's constant evolution, The evolution of the data center and the needs of the consumer of technology change, and they change constantly," stated Matt Kalmenson, VP of Sales, Service and Cloud Providers at Veeam Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER gives detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPOalso offers sp...
Today, we have more data to manage than ever. We also have better algorithms that help us access our data faster. Cloud is the driving force behind many of the data warehouse advancements we have enjoyed in recent years. But what are the best practices for storing data in the cloud for machine learning and data science applications?
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science" is responsible for guiding the technology strategy within Hitachi Vantara for IoT and Analytics. Bill brings a balanced business-technology approach that focuses on business outcomes to drive data, analytics and technology decisions that underpin an organization's digital transformation strategy.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...