Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Articles Posted in Theft Crimes

A San Francisco burglar just received a 327-year sentence for wreaking havoc on the city’s elderly residents. In 2014, German Woods began his criminal spree of home invasions and robberies. The 60-year-old burglar targeted vulnerable senior citizens who lived alone. He would hide in the shadows, attacking as they entered their homes. Many of the seniors spoke very little English, or none at all. In 2016, Woods was convicted on multiple charges, including some for elder abuse.

Consecutive Sentencing vs. Concurrent Sentencing

In the case above, Woods was charged on 17 counts, including burglary, robbery, and elder abuse. Each of these counts carries its own sentence. When a judge decides that a convict must serve multiple count sentences consecutively, each sentence is added to the next. This is how Woods ended up with a 327-year sentence. If, on the other hand, a judge decides on a concurrent sentence, all of the separate sentences will be served simultaneously. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with burglary.

Burglary Penalties in MA

In MA, burglary is loosely defined as unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a felony. Although theft is not necessary to justify a burglary charge, it is a common element of the crime. As with most crimes, the penalties for burglary depend largely on the underlying circumstances, prior criminal history, and the severity of the offense. For example, someone who enters a home for the sole purpose of trespassing will likely receive a lesser punishment than someone who enters a home, ties up the occupants, and steals valuable jewelry. If you are convicted of burglary in MA, you may face the following penalties:

  • Burglary: This crime is a felony offense and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. If it’s a first offense and no one was home at the time of the burglary, the sentence will generally be less severe. A second offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
  • Armed burglary: Burglarizing an occupied home with a weapon in your possession carries a 15-year minimum sentence for a first offense.
  • Burglary with assault: Assault doesn’t require the use of a weapon. In fact, you don’t even have to physically harm someone to commit assault. Simply causing another to fear for their safety is enough to justify an assault charge. Burglary with assault carries a 10-year minimum sentence for a first offense.
  • Home invasion: This offense is similar to burglary in that it requires unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a felony. However, to be considered a home invasion, the crime had to occur at night, in a home, and the defendant had to be armed, know someone was at home, and use force or threats. The penalty for home invasion is a minimum sentence of 20 years, and up to life in prison.

Remember, you don’t have to kick down a door to commit burglary. Burglary can be the simple act of unlawfully entering a structure, even if that means opening an unlocked door and stepping inside. A MA criminal defense attorney can protect your rights if you’ve been charged with burglary or any other crime. Continue reading

We’ve all heard the term embezzlement in the news and in crime movies, but most people don’t know what it actually means. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, you may be unsure of what your charges entail. Embezzlement is a form of theft, but it’s much more specific than shoplifting or taking a purse from the seat of a car. Embezzlement involves theft of assets by an individual who is responsible for managing those assets.

Embezzlement is most common within businesses and corporations, and when individuals are put in charge of managing loved one’s estates. This crime can be as simple as taking a few dollars here and there while working as a cashier or bank teller, or as complex as creating fake employee profiles and writing monthly checks to employees who don’t actually exist. In many cases, the individual keeps the money for himself or herself, but the transference of funds outside of the company to another individual can also constitute embezzlement. Consulting with a skilled Boston criminal defense lawyer is crucial to a positive outcome if you’re facing embezzlement charges.

Four Factors of Embezzlement

Defined as the theft or larceny of assets by a person with responsibility for those assets, embezzlement likely occurred if the following four factors were present:

  • A fiduciary relationship between two parties; one party must rely on the other.
  • The property in question must have been acquired through the relationship.
  • The defendant must have transferred the property to another person or entity, or he or she must have taken ownership of the property.
  • The action of taking the property was intentional.

Accounting embezzlement, which involves manipulating accounting records to conceal the stealing of funds, is one of the most common forms of the crime. When a person is given lawful possession of someone else’s property, for the purpose of managing it, but converts it to personal use, this is embezzlement. In some cases, people take large sums of money at once, while other people embezzle small amounts over an extended period of time. It is also possible to embezzle property, such as laptops or company vehicles. A MA defense attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you are facing this type of charge.

Penalties for Embezzlement in Massachusetts

The penalty for embezzlement in MA is largely dependent on the value and type of property stolen, as well as on the defendant’s prior criminal history.

  • Value of stolen property is worth $250 or less: If it’s a first offense, you could face fines of up to $600, and up to two-and-a-half years in prison.
  • Value of stolen property is worth $250 or more (or if the stolen property included firearms): You may face a fine of up to $25,000, and up to five years in prison.
  • Trade secrets: You could be looking at a fine of up to $25,000, and up to five years in prison.

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Oh the weather outside is frightful…and so is the nationwide uptick in crime during the holiday season. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. Most holiday crimes are related to theft or excessive alcohol. Theft is often a result of a lack of funds for Christmas presents or the knowledge that cars and houses are loaded with aforementioned presents. And alcohol-related crimes are often a result of too much holiday partying. Either way, it’s good to know how to safeguard yourself this December. And if you happen to be the one facing criminal charges this holiday season, contact a skilled defense lawyer if you want to avoid jail time and hefty fines.

  • Shoplifting: The most obvious reason for an increase in shoplifting during the holiday season is lack of funds. We are under more pressure than ever to surround the Christmas tree with boxes and boxes of holiday cheer. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford such a display. For this reason, among others, some people turn to shoplifting around the holidays. Theft is never “right”, but we understand that even good people make mistakes, especially when financial stress is particularly overwhelming. If you are facing shoplifting charges, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.
  • Vehicle break-ins: For much the same reason as shoplifting increases during the holidays, so do vehicle break-ins. Car burglars expect to find gifts in cars. This is especially true of cars parked near shopping centers. Parking lot thieves will often watch for people who drop a load of purchases in their car and walk back to the store to finish shopping.
  • Porch theft: Since Amazon and other online shopping sites first allowed us to spend more time at home in our pajamas, porch theft has skyrocketed. Many of our online orders are delivered by UPS, FedEx, or the US Postal Service while we’re at work during the day. A stack of boxes by the front door and no car in the driveway makes you an easy target this holiday season. To prevent porch pirates from ruining your Christmas, have packages delivered to work or to the residence of a friend who is home during the day.
  • Drunk driving: The holiday season often feels like one never-ending party. Many families have two or more office parties, family parties, parties at friend’s houses, fundraisers, and other festive gatherings to attend during Christmas and New Years. Although good friends and good eggnog can make for a lovely evening, don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve had a few drinks. To protect yourself and everyone else on the road, don’t drink and drive, and have a designated driver if you opt for too much cheer this holiday season. Beyond being dangerous, driving while intoxicated can impact your current or future employment, and even a first offense can cost you thousands of dollars. Not to mention, nobody wants to get an OUI for Christmas.

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If you are one of the many who still believe that convictions for “white collar crime” such as embezzlement or larceny do not bring jail or prison sentences…think again.

As we have discussed in the past, the authorities have been working very hard to dispel that belief. Take Robert Scatamacchia (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) for example.

The Defendant is not the type of man you would expect to see either at the defense table in court or wearing the appropriate garb in a Massachusetts prison.

But now, he has done both.

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Look, there is no question about whether robbery is a serious crime in Massachusetts.  Thus, the circumstances were certainly intense in Methuen yesterday.

36-year-old James Dobbins (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) was arraigned today at Beth Israel Hospital. He is charged with robbing a convenience store…armed robbery while masked.

The Defendant is in the hospital because he was shot at least four times by detectives. This took place when investigating officers went to talk to him about the robbery.

According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant called officers to the apartment complex. Then “without warning drew a black firearm, pointed it at the officers and began to move at them rapidly.”

Not the wisest thing to do should you wish to stay alive a bit longer.

He is alive, though, the Boston Herald tells us . Meanwhile, the four officers involved have since been placed on administrative leave, which is common procedure with such shootings.

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Kevin Burnham, a “decorated and highly-respected” Springfield police officer who retired in 2014 (and hereinafter, the “Defendant”) has been indicted with stealing approximately $385,317 which had been evidence in 170 drug cases. He has pleaded “not guilty” and released on his own recognizance.

The Defendant must turn in his passport, not travel out of state without Probation Department permission, turn his guns over to counsel who must give them to any successor counsel, and give his license to carry firearms to the police commissioner.

The defense attorney at the bail hearing was appointed “for arraignment only” and so now the Defendant must find his own criminal defense attorney by January 19th.

The Indictments charging the Defendant with larceny counts name a timeline of more than a four year period .
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Here is another tale of an free enterprise gone bad. The gent is from Medford. He is 28 years of age and his name is Casey Kolenda (albeit hereinafter, the “Defendant”).

According to the Boston Herald’s story on the subject, found here, the Defendant has pleaded guilty to making and selling counterfeit Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority passes. In return for his plea of guilt he was sentenced to three years in prison. The specific charges he plead to were seven counts of counterfeiting.

The victory announcement was made by Attorney General Maura Healey, who’s office prosecuted the case.
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Grand juries meet in private… Except for the prosecution of course. No judge, no defense attorney and no defendant. I would imagine you could almost quote by heart at this point the saying that “a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich”.

Different jurisdictions have different procedures which take place after there is an indictment to be sure that there was a legal basis for the indictment. In Massachusetts, grand jury minutes are given to defense counsel as early as possible so that the minutes can be reviewed. This is actually different from some other jurisdictions where the grand jury minutes are only given to the defense just before trial.

Incidentally, it is the prosecutor who tells the grand jury the law for the grand jury is to consider when considering an indictment. The minutes of that instruction, called “the charge”, are not routinely given to the defense.

In any event, an experienced criminal defense attorney knows how important the grand jury minutes are. There are a number of problems which could exist in the grand jury presentation which could lead to the dismissal of the indictment and the underlying charges.

An example of this just played out last week. A Hampshire Superior Court judge dismissed larceny charges against Nancy Whitley (hereinafter, the “defendant”), ruling that the prosecution had failed to provide a police interview recording of the Defendant to the grand jury that indicted her.
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Well, this Boston criminal lawyer believes that this Massachusetts robbery story can be placed in the column of “What Were They Thinking?”

Lowell gentlemen Brian Cunneen, 22, and John Hickey, 27, hereinafter the “Defendants”, are accused of attempting to rob a Manchester, New Hampshire, convenience store yesterday. According to authorities, the robbery did not go so well.

Too many interruptions.

It was early morning in Fitchberg. It was a Cumberland Farms store. It was a Massachusetts armed robbery.

And a state trooper was nearby.

Trooper Donald Gray was in the vicinity of 367 River Street, at the intersection of River and Daniel streets when he took the gentlemen (hereinafter, the “Defendants”) into custody. They were nabbed approximately 700 feet from the store, according to Fitchburg Police Captain Paul Bozicas.

Bozicas added that Fitchburg officers were responding at the time when they were notified that Gray already had the men in custody.

Authorities say that the Defendants were still wearing the masks they had allegedly worn during the robbery when the trooper stopped them.

Apparently, it was sheer luck that Gray was patrolling the Central Massachusetts community at the time. and he recovered a knife authorities suspect was used during the robbery of the Cumberland Farms store
“It was good luck he was right in that area,” said Bozicas. “Good policing is being in the right spot at the right time.”

The trooper was even able to recover the knife that the Defendants allegedly used during the robbery. The clerk in the store, by the way, was unharmed.

The Defendants are both from Fitchburg. One is 23 years of age and the other is 40. They face a number of charges, including armed robbery while masked.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Seemingly Hopeless Armed Robbery Cases

To be sure, if what authorities tell us is true, this is not going to be an easy case to defend. It is as close to being “caught in the act” as one can get without actually being…well…caught in the act.
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