Counterfeit sunglasses being sold on NYC street.

New York City Counterfeit Culture Is Alive And Well

It is awards season, which means you cannot turn on the tv, or pass a newsstand without seeing a story about what your favorite stars were wearing on the red carpet. A celebrity’s answer to the shouted question “Who are you wearing?” drives trends, and increases the demand for whatever luxury good they are not-so-subtly hawking. 

However, one of the things that makes a luxury a luxury is scarcity. There is a gap between supply and demand that drives up the prices of luxury goods and makes them a tempting target for counterfeiters looking to make a quick buck. As a New York City-based criminal defense firm, we are quite familiar with trademark counterfeiting crimes. We have defended these crimes on both the state and federal levels.

New York City is the epicenter of counterfeit culture. Canal Street may be a bit tamer than it used to be, but if you “know a guy” you can get your hands on knock-offs of almost anything — clothing, watches, movies, music, shoes, purses, iPhones, auto parts, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, you name it. 

It is tempting to whip out your wallet if you want a name brand product you cannot otherwise afford, or if you have the opportunity to flip such goods for a profit. But, possessing counterfeit goods comes with legal risks. 

Are you buying or selling? 

One of the interesting things about New York counterfeiting laws § 165.71,  § 165.72 and § 165.73, is that it is illegal to sell counterfeit goods, but not to buy them (unless you’re buying with the intent to sell, deceive, etc.). If you buy 100 pairs of designer imposter sunglasses out of the trunk of some guy’s car, you have technically done nothing wrong, even if you know the glasses are fake. However, if you then turn around and sell those glasses, you have broken the law. 

To be clear, our firm is not encouraging anyone to go out and purchase counterfeit goods, it is simply an important legal distinction that deserves mention. 

What is the law? 

Under New York state law: “a person is guilty of trademark counterfeiting… when, with the intent to deceive or defraud some other person, or with the intent to evade a lawful restriction on the sale, resale, offering for sale, or distribution of goods, he or she manufactures, distributes, sells, or offers for sale goods which bear a counterfeit trademark, or possesses a trademark knowing it to be counterfeit for the purpose of affixing it to any goods…” 

Let’s break this down and put it in plain English. 

It is illegal to know the goods you are selling, re-selling, or might sell in the future are counterfeit. It does not matter if you made the goods yourself, bought them, or are just holding them for someone else. 

The more the goods are worth, the more serious the crime. 

Is there any defense if you are caught with counterfeit goods? 

The definition above makes it seem as though there is little wiggle room if you are caught selling or holding counterfeit goods. To some extent that is true, but there is a bit of a loophole built into the law. It is technically only illegal if you know the goods you have are counterfeit. The government must be able to prove that you knew the goods you had were fake. 

It may also be possible to get a charge thrown out if the way the government found out about your stash was improper. 

Experience You Can Trust

The criminal lawyers at Heiferman & Associates are experienced at defending people who have been charged with counterfeiting crimes. If you have been arrested or charged with a trademark counterfeiting crime, we are ready to help. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. 

Handcuffs laying on top of a pile of money, a concept of grand larceny.

Is Grand Larceny a White Collar Crime?

New York has a longstanding reputation of being a hotbed of financial crimes. New York City represents a global financial capital and thus, New York City prosecutors on the state and federal level are particularly sensitive to potential financial crimes being committed. Prosecutors in New York have continued to crack down on financial crimes. This means, that if you are suspected of committing a financial crime, such as grand larceny, you should be prepared to come up against the full resources of the government as they pursue the prosecution of your case.

In New York State, grand larceny occurs when a person is guilty of stealing property valuing over $1,000 or has stolen property that is specifically listed in the New York Penal Code, such as property consisting of a public record or of a credit card or debit card. Depending on the value and nature of the stolen property, grand larceny may be a Class E felony all the way up to a Class B felony for grand larceny in the first degree, when the value of the stolen property exceeds one million dollars. A Class E felony carries a potential sentence of up to four years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000 or twice the amount the defendant gained from the commission of the theft. Being found guilty of a Class B felony can land you in jail for up to 25 years and facing a fine of up to $30,000.

Grand Larceny as a White Collar Crime

Yes, grand larceny is a white collar crime. Essentially, a white collar crime is a non-violent, financial crime. Other examples of white collar crimes include:

  • Securities fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Embezzlement
  • Insurance fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Bribery
  • Tax evasion including the sale of cigarettes that are unstamped
  • Public corruption
  • Medicaid Fraud and Medicare Fraud
  • Possessing or Selling Counterfeit Goods such as bags, jewelry, shoes, clothes, etc.

These types of crimes are financially motivated and can occur on a large or small scale. They are generally considered to be more sophisticated crimes. The phrase “white collar crime” came into existence because most of these crimes, historically, were committed by business professionals.

While white collar crimes are non-violent, for the most part, they are still taken very seriously by New York prosecutors. The potential penalties an alleged perpetrator of such a crime are severe. In addition to the jail time and fines, a person convicted of a white collar crime will carry a stigma around indefinitely. A professional reputation will rarely recover from such a conviction.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

At Heiferman & Associates, our team of dedicated criminal defense attorneys is well versed in handling white collar crime cases. Our white collar criminal defense attorneys possess strong accounting backgrounds that are crucial in defending complex white collar cases. We know the government will do everything in its power to secure a conviction and we are here to mount the strongest possible defense to see to it that this does not happen. Heiferman & Associates is here to fight for you as you face these serious criminal charges. This is the time when you need dedicated legal counsel by your side as soon as possible. Contact us today.

Heiferman & Associates gives an overview of tax evasion.

Tax Evasion

People do not serve time for making simple errors or omissions on their tax returns. The IRS understands the U.S. tax code is complex, to say the least. An error in filing your taxes is not a crime. Purposefully hiding income, under-reporting income, or claiming deductions you are not actually entitled to, however, is a crime. Other tax crimes include the possession, sale or trafficking of unstamped/untaxed cigarettes. Tax evasion is serious.

What is tax evasion?

The IRS has two categories of tax evasion. The first form is an evasion of assessment, which occurs when the taxpayer takes some action in order to prevent the accurate assessment of a tax. It may involve hiding assets or transferring assets in order to stop the IRS from being able to determine their real tax liability. Intentionally under-reporting income would be considered an evasion of assessment. The intention to evade is key. There must be proof that the inaccuracy was not just the result of negligence.

The second form of tax evasion is an evasion of payment. This is when a person is hiding money when they owe payment of their taxes. This means a person is taking affirmative steps to hide assets that could be used to pay the tax owed. Some may try to accomplish this by hiding assets in a foreign bank account, out of reach of the IRS. Evasion of payment is not merely a failure to pay your taxes. It is more than that. The affirmative steps to hide money and assets to prevent payment of taxes are necessary. In both forms, the taxpayer must have taken affirmative steps to avoid the accurate assessment of his or her taxes or the payment of his or her taxes. Additionally, in both cases, the government carries the burden of proving that the taxes are legitimately owed.

Specific examples of forms tax evasion could take include:

  • Filing a false statement or return
  • Failing to file a tax return
  • Providing false information during an audit
  • Failure to pay taxes owed
  • Hiding sources of income
  • Transferring property to another’s name
  • Destroying records
  • Generating false invoices.

Both the IRS and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance are aware that the commission of tax fraud is all too common. Each year, these government entities investigate large numbers of tax fraud cases. The government is not understanding with those that seek to defraud and withhold money owed. Penalties for tax evasion include fines of up to $250,000 in addition to any outstanding tax liability. Tax evasion can also land you in prison, and it can also lead to serious immigration consequences.

Queens Criminal Defense Attorney

The government puts vast resources towards investigating and prosecuting those charged with tax evasion. If you are charged with tax evasion, the government may wish to make an example out of you in an effort to deter others from thinking about engaging in such a crime. The result is that you may end up with a criminal conviction for tax evasion. A serious crime that will land on your permanent record. Heiferman & Associates will fight these charges with the full force of the law. We have successfully defended clients accused of tax crimes in state and federal court.  Contact us today.

Heiferman & Associates discusses what a white-collar crime is.

What Is a White-Collar Crime?

“White-collar crime” refers to financial crimes. White-collar crime encompasses various forms of embezzlement, fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and more. Law enforcement takes these crimes extremely seriously, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe. Therefore, if you have been charged with any of the following types of white-collar crime, it is imperative that you contact a New York white-collar crime defense attorney, (or federal white-collar crime defense attorney) as soon as possible. 

Common types of white-collar crime

  • Embezzlement – Embezzlement is the theft of funds placed in trust or belonging to an employer. For example, when an employee siphons money from his or her employer into a personal account, this is a form of embezzlement. In addition, an investment advisor who improperly uses client funds commits embezzlement. 
  • Tax Evasion Tax evasion is a crime in which an individual knowingly avoids paying taxes that are legally owed to the government. Examples of tax evasion include filing tax forms with false information and hiding assets to avoid tax liability. 
  • Securities Fraud – Securities fraud is a form of white-collar crime that primarily involves misrepresenting information investors use to make decisions. There are many types of securities fraud, including:
    • Misleading investors about a company’s health, prospects, or finances
    • Making false or misleading statements in public reports from publicly traded companies 
    • Insider trading, which occurs when an individual with inside information about an investment or company makes trades based on that information
  • Money Laundering – Money laundering involves filtering illegally obtained money through a series of transactions in order to make the money appear legitimate.
  • Other types of white-collar crime – There are several additional types of white-collar crime, including:
    • Insurance fraud and mortgage fraud – These types of fraud respectively involve fraudulently collecting on an insurance policy or misrepresenting information on a mortgage loan application to secure a loan.
    • Ponzi schemes – A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud that pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. 

Contact a white-collar criminal defense attorney today 

If you have been charged with a white-collar crime, you face a number of serious consequences. Therefore, in order to ensure that you receive the most aggressive defense possible, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. When you hire Heiferman and Associates, PLLC, to fight your charges, you will benefit from attorneys who have insight into the tactics the government uses to prosecute individuals accused of white-collar crimes. Regardless of the charges you face, our aggressive and experienced New York, New Jersey and Federal District Court attorneys will stand by you every step of the way, working to preserve your future and your reputation. If you have been charged with a state or federal crime, you need the powerful representation we are prepared to provide. Please contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.