COVID-19 NYC Immigrant Emergency Relief Program Theft and Fraud Crimes

Even the most well-intentioned programs designed to help people in need cannot escape the possibility of theft, fraud, and deception. It could be based on allegations of Grand Larceny, Forgery, Offering a False Instrument for Filing, or other criminal offenses, but whatever the particular charges, you should expect that you will need the advocacy of a COVID fraud crime attorney after prosecutors and law enforcement agencies involved pursue you for allegedly misappropriating funds, particularly under the current circumstances of the pandemic. The purpose of the New York City Covid-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program is, no doubt, a praiseworthy one. $20 million has been made available to help some 20,000 immigrant workers and their families, and to help allow for much needed money and emergency assistance for those members of our community.

COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program

Launched as a partnership with George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City have established a program intended to allow for between $400 per individual and $1,000 per family, provided the individuals meet certain qualifications.

Related Crimes & Offenses

The myriad offenses an individual could commit, or bee accused of in this arena are diverse and numerous. Given the possible statutes invoked relating to offenses committed in this area, the most common would almost certainly be various degrees of Grand Larceny, Forgery and Offering a False Instrument for Filing. Put simply, Grand Larceny is committed whenever there is a theft of property or money greater than $1,000.00 in value. The severity of this charge increases as the amount stolen increases and passes certain threshold amounts. Forgery includes an intent to defraud or deceive another person along with the changing, altering or deleting of parts of a document with certain specific requirements. Finally, Offering a False Instrument for Filing is quite simply what the title of the crime sets forth - the filing of a document that includes knowingly false statements or information with the intent to defraud the public entity.

Sentences & Incarceration

The penalties and sentences connected with the crimes and offenses discussed above depends on the degree of the particular crime of conviction. By way of example, Grand Larceny in the 4th or 3rd Degree, Penal Law 155.30 and 155.35, are punishable by up to four and seven years in prison respectively. An individual could be found guilty of the former crime if he or she stole in excess of $1,000 and no greater than $3,000. The latter includes the same theft, but where the aggregate amount of theft is more than $3,000 but not in excess of $50,000.

Forgery in the Second Degree, Penal Law 170.10, is punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison and Offering a False Instrument for Filing, Penal Law 175.35, is punishable by prison time for up to four years.

Each one of these aforementioned criminal offenses is a felony, meaning a crime punishable by a year or more in state prison, and a conviction of such a felony offense would create a permanent criminal record for one so convicted. Remember, even if you only received $400 in aid, which would amount to a misdemeanor of Petit Larceny pursuant to Penal Law 155.25, the District Attorney could still charge you with far more serious offenses for the forgery and fraud you are alleged to have committed when wrongfully securing the monies.

Hypothetical Scenarios

While it may be unlikely that prosecutors would pursue crimes against immigrants who wrongfully submitted applications for $400, as a matter of public policy and priorities, what if the individual applying was not an immigrant at all, or was capable of applying for and being granted other forms of relief, for example, programs being offered by the Small Business Association? While theft of misappropriation of $400 would not surpass the $1,000 threshold for a felony Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree charge, but would instead likely be a misdemeanor Petit Larceny charge under Penal Law 155.25, a person’s actions of that nature could nevertheless be a felony under a different statute for falsifying and filing the records.

Another possible scenario that would could prompt criminal charges and an arrest by the NYPD and prosecutors is where a person “double dips,” or takes advantage of this program multiple times, or where a person utilizes the identities of many qualifying people to apply and commit a series of frauds and keep the lion’s share of the relief funds for that one individual. In this kind of an example, the misappropriated funds could be aggregated, or combined together, and assuming that results in a breach of the $1,000 threshold, which it likely would, Grand Larceny and the other felony charges would be charged by way of a felony complaint or indictment.

Protect Yourself, Your Rights and Your Future

In times such as these, one filled with great unrest and uncertainty surrounding the epidemic and its fallout, funds are restricted, and money is not coming as easily as it once was for many. Should law enforcement, whether the NYPD or another agency, reach out to you to “talk,” or you find yourself in police custody, it can be harrowing. Did you fail to understand the requirements to access these relief funds? Were you not aware that it was prohibited to submit multiple applications? Along those lines, can you return any money you were not entitled to? These are all good questions that must be addressed, depending on the particular circumstances.

No matter what the particular allegations or theft charges involving Covid-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program may be, pleading guilty and taking responsibility for a criminal offense you did not commit will have devastating consequences for your life and legal status going forward. Do not let the severity of the allegations distract. Allow the experience, knowledge and advocacy of the theft defense lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law be both your sword and shield before you find yourself in a struggle you will not find your way out from safely and your life intact.

Call the New York theft lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

Client Reviews
From the moment I contacted Jeremy Saland he inspired trust and confidence. His honesty and extensive knowledge about the court process made me feel like I was in good hands. He helped make a stressful and difficult experience more manageable and tolerable by clearly informing me on the legal steps we had to take and knowing exactly what to expect for our day in court. Thank you for your professionalism and help Jeremy! I will be eternally grateful. Alexandra
I was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny. I was filmed on surveillance camera and the police was trying to find me for several days. Although I had to spend the night in prison/ tombs he was able to set me free the next morning without bail. A court date was set for August but he was able to negotiate with the DA and after only three weeks I had to appear before court, pay a restitution fine and was sentenced with an ACD for a period of 6 months. Alex
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