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Coronavirus Relief Fraud & Crimes: NYC COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program

Even the best and most genuine plans to help those in need are not immune from theft, fraud, and misappropriation of monies. Whether by way of Grand Larceny, Forgery, Offering a False Instrument for Filing, among other criminal offenses, it is likely that the District Attorneys of each borough will pursue those who steal these funds. The objective of the New York City Covid-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program is a laudable one. With $20 million available to assist 20,000 immigrant workers and their families to provide much needed dollars and emergency assistance.

What is the COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program

Partnering 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 will establish the vehicle to provide between $400 per individual and $1,000 per family.

Potential Crimes & Charges

The crimes you may commit and charges would face if arrested are many. Of all of these, the most common would likely revolve around Grand Larceny as well as a Forgery and Offering a False Instrument for Filing Offense. Briefly, Grand Larceny occurs whenever there is a theft greater than $1,000.00. The degrees increase depending on the amount stolen. Forgery involves an intent to defraud or deceive and the changing, altering or deleting of a written instrument of certain varieties. Lastly, Offering a False Instrument for Filing is generally what the name of the offense sets forth. That is the filing of a document that contains false statements or information with this same intent to defraud a public entity.

Penalties and Punishment

The sanctions and sentences associated with the crimes depend on the degree you are convicted. For example, Grand Larceny in the 4th or 3rd Degree, Penal Law 155.30 and 155.35 respectively, are punishable by up to four and seven years in prison. You would be guilty of the first offense if you stole in excess of $1,000 and no greater than $3,000. The second involves the same theft but more than $3,000 but no more than $50,000.

Forgery in the Second Degree, Penal Law 170.10, is punishable by as much as seven yours in prison and Offering a False Instrument for Filing, Penal Law 175.35, is punishable by incarceration for as long as four years.

Each one of the above-mentioned offenses is a felony and conviction would remain permanently on your record.

Hypotheticals and Examples

Although it is unlikely that prosecutors would pursue crimes against immigrants who wrongfully applied for and received $400 as individuals, but what if you were not an immigrant and otherwise were able to pursue other relief offered, for example, by the Small Business Association or SBA? While a theft would not breach the $1,000 threshold since that is the maximum amount offered, and therefore be “only” a Petit Larceny, Penal Law 155.25, your conduct would nonetheless be felonious for falsifying and filing the records.

What is more likely actionable by the NYPD and prosecutors is where you “double dip” multiple times or you utilize many people to apply and commit one of these frauds and keep the money for yourself. In these examples, assuming you breach the $1,000 line, which you likely would, Grand Larceny and the other offenses would come into play when you found yourself standing in court waiting to see a judge with your criminal lawyer.

Your Case, Your Defense, Your Future

In a time of great devastation and a pandemic of a magnitude not known to this generation, budgets are tight, and monies are not free flowing. Should detective with the NYPD reach out to you or you are already in handcuffs, sometimes reality is far from an accusation. Did you honestly not understand the qualifications to access these monies? Were you unaware that you could not apply multiple times? For that matter, whether you acted maliciously or were mistaken, can you return those monies for those it was intended?

No matter the accusation and allegation of fraud involving Covid-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program, merely taking responsibility for a crime you did not commit will devastate your life and potential legal status in the future. Be smart. Do not let fear dictate your actions. Let the experience, knowledge and advocacy of Saland Law’s fraud defense lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors be your best avenue to clear your name.

Call the New York theft lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today.

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