Articles Posted in Theft Crimes

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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Unhappy anniversary! Today is the anniversary of what is considered the greatest art theft in history.

Do you remember the 1990 theft of priceless paintings from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum? The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) does. They are still working on the criminal investigation into the heist which took place 23 years ago today.

The missing paintings include three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, a portrait by Edouard Manet, and sketches by Renoir.

Law enforcement admits to being puzzled for years by the heist. Apparently, the robbers entered the museum and tied up two night watchmen in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990. After many investigative dead ends, officials say, the probe “accelerated” in 2010 and “crucial pieces of evidence” were developed identifying the robbers and their associates.

Today, the FBI has released word that they had identified the people who stole the masterworks in a daring heist from the museum. They apparently even know where the artworks had traveled in the years after the robbery. The only problem is that they do not know where the paintings are now and are appealing to the public for their help in finding them.

The appeal involves a Five Hundred Million Dollar reward.

“The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence in the years after the theft the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft. With that confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England,” Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the Boston office of the FBI, said. He added that after the attempted sale of the paintings about a decade ago, the FBI do not know where the artworks were taken.

Officials said at the Boston news conference that they would not release the names of the individuals who masqueraded as police officers to gain entry in the early-morning robbery at the Gardner when the paintings were stolen. DesLauriers explained that because the investigation is continuing it would be “imprudent” to disclose their names or the name of the criminal organization. He said the probe was in its “final chapter.”

“I think we’re all optimistic that one day soon the paintings would be returned to their rightful place,” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz added.

In the meantime, the FBI says that it is continuing its search both in and beyond the Connecticut and Philadelphia areas and launching a public awareness campaign that would include a dedicated FBI website , video postings on FBI social media sites (see the bottom-listed FBI site), digital billboards, and a podcast. The FBI said anyone with information about the artwork can contact them at 1-800-CALL FBI or the museum directly or through a third party. Tips may also be submitted online at, the FBI said.

DesLauriers said the Gardner heist had received extensive media coverage in the Boston area, but officials wanted to “widen the ‘aperture of awareness'” to reach more of the American public. The officials noted that a $5 million reward has been offered for information leading to the recovery of the paintings. Anthony Amore, the museum security chief, said that officials have reason to believe the paintings have changed hands several times.
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During the last few years of Attorney Sam’s Takes, I have pointed out many times that cases that used to be handled by civil lawsuits have now entered the criminal justice arena. I have opined that part of the reason for this is that these cases, or at least the prosecution of them, brings headlines and publicity that political prosecutors are looking to get.

No where has this been more noteworthy then in the areas of theft and fraud. Most of the cases that we see have to do with politicians and/or fraud against public agencies. These cases often include wire fraud, insurance fraud, mail fraud, Social Security fraud and so on. I would imagine that since the World Wide Web is our latest “out West” area, as we learn more about it, there will not only be more Internet crimes, but also more prosecutions.

The fact is, fraud took place long before we had an Internet. It was not always prosecuted as a crime however. Often, the matter was resolved by a civil lawsuit.

For example, let’s say I make a deal with someone that I am going to sell them a book of my blogs for which they will pay an insane amount of money. I live in the Boston area and my purchaser lives in Toledo Ohio. I sent him the book and he sends me a check.

The check bounces.

Now, I cannot reach the gentleman no matter what mode of communication I try. What do I do?
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Not that it is among the most serious of offenses we often discuss, but if you are hoping to cheat the MBTA out of its fares…you mat want to save that idea for another day. Massachusetts is striking back!

As the good folks at Boston’s premiere news/talk radio station WBZ (1030 am) report, transit police officers are conducting an ongoing criminal investigation into the practice.

Well, it is, after all, a theft crime.

The results so far?

In the span of 45 minutes at the Back Bay Station, MBTA Transit Police officers bagged four alleged fare evaders.

The investigation has brought other rewards to law enforcement as well.

For example, just this past Monday, at the Chinatown Station, officers stopped a fare evader and found out she had a warrant for her arrest. Rosa Medrano, 43, was wanted in Salem. “One in 10 people that we stop for fare evasion, we’ve found in the past have had warrants,” said Transit Police Sgt. Preston Horton. Medrano was the first fare evasion/warrant arrest of the New Year.

Naturally, like all walks of law enforcement, this shiny new investigation has catchy title. For example, the fancy-named operations to catch similarly-situated disgraces of humanity like armed robbers and sexual predators (often on the trains themselves) come to mind. This one is called “Operation Fare Game”. It targets busy stations and ones with multiple ways in and out. The department even received additional financial aid for the operation. Superintendent O’Connor explains that when the fine increased from $15 to $50 dollars last summer, his enforcement increased as well.

“We began to increase the teams we use to address fare evasion. It is also part of our point of entry policing where if we believe that if we stop people who are fare evading that we’ll likely reduce the amount of disorder in our system,” he said.

That makes sense. Crack down on fare-beats and the criminal justice system should work much more efficiently again! I am embarrassed that i had not suggested it before…!

Various diabolical schemes have been used to fare-beat. For axample, as Sgt. Horton describes, after stopping someone passing through a gate in front of a plain clothed officer, “He did have a card. It had money on it..He’d pretended to tap and then piggybacked behind another person.” That man got a citation, along with another woman who walked in without paying behind her friend.
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Earlier this week, Attorney Sam’s Take began a discussion about facing criminal charges for shoplifting. Allegations of shoplifting still confuse some people. They wonder whether it is the type of charge for which the accused is likely to face jail time. Others figure that shoplifting is known to be a crime of desperation and so charges for it are likely to be instantly dismissed.

Well, as you have no doubt learned from this daily criminal law blog, it depends. Every case is different. However, it would be a mistake to assume that a charge of shoplifting is likely to be instantly dismissed because it is a crime of “desperation”.

The old idea of a starving man stealing a loaf of bread to feed his poor family is no longer they typical case of shoplifting. More often, it is the theft of certain clothing, jewelry or electronics. Further, many such cases are not particularly spontaneous. Often, trickery with receipts and returns are involved. They all fall under the same heading of “larceny“. Shoplifting is but a sub-category of such theft crimes.

The criminal statutes involved divide the severity of the crime by how much is stolen. Steal something worth very little and it is hard to imagine your facing jail time. Steal something very valuable, or do it several times, and you may well be facing jail time.

That is not the whole story of what you are facing, however.
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Shoplifting is another of those misunderstood crimes. In Massachusetts, it is certainly considered a crime…and a crime that prosecutors are happy to prosecute.

There are, however, some realities, positive ones this time, of which you may or may not be aware. An experienced criminal law attorney would be though. As usual, the first thing you should do upon being accused is to get yourself one of those.

In the meantime, allow Attorney Sam’s Take to tell you a little about it.

In most cases, shoplifting cases are misdemeanor cases. Often, if you are not actually arrested, you will receive a summons which gives you notice of a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing that is to be held in your honor. The first thing to do is retain the appropriate lawyer.

“Sam, are you sure about that? I mean, when I was served the summons, I asked the officer if I needed a lawyer and she said ‘no’ “

That is not a surprise. Police officers are not generally big fans of criminal defense attorneys. They tend to think that the legal system would churn much more smoothly without us.

“So, the officer was lying to me?”

No, technically, she is correct. You are not required to have a lawyer at a clerk’s hearing. In fact, there is no requirement to even show up for the hearing.

Of course, before you make such decisions, you might want to consider what a clerk’s hearing is for.
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For some reason, Attorney Sam’s Take has not discussed theft crimes at the workplace all that much. It happens, though, more than you might think. The crimes can be charged as larceny or embezzlement, among other things. These are white collar crimes that are increasingly ending up in incarceration…despite (usually) the lack of a criminal record.

Let’s turn our attention to Northampton, MA. There we see 21-year-old Cody Collier Slavis of Huntington and 22-year-old Roberto Roldan of Palmer (hereinafter, collectively, the “Defendants”).

The Defendants are two former employees of a local Walmart and have been accused of stealing and reselling more than $9,000 worth of merchandise from the store. They are said to have sold much of the merchandise on Craigslist and other outlets that resell used electronics.
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Well, the Boston area universities, colleges and high schools have been back in order for about a month now. It did not take very long for issues regarding school campus crime and safety to arise.

Every years, Attorney Sam’s Take discusses many such crimes as they happen. After all, our kids are the future. And those folks allegedly victimizing them…are our present…as well as our future.

There have already been two incidents in which armed gunmen are said to have robbed students and a recent graduate on Brookline Streets. Both robberies took place during the daylight and involved Boston University students. There was also a third which took place on another part of campus.

The most recent of the robberies took place on Friday night. Authorizes say that three teenagers with a handgun robbed a recent college graduate at St. Paul and Thatcher streets just after 5 p.m. The three fled on foot toward Commonwealth Avenue. Police are also looking for three suspects who robbed three male BU students at gunpoint nearby on Egmont Street on September 25th, according to police and the university. The string of armed robberies began on September 23rd on Hamilton Road when two teenagers robbed two BU students, police and the university said.

In both September armed robberies, the suspects are described as black males between the ages of 16 and 20 with a handgun. Brookline police yesterday did not provide a description of the suspects in the most recent armed robbery.
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