Setting the Record Straight on Records: The Crime of Falsification
George Washington supposedly could not tell a lie. Pinocchio’s nose grew every time he lied so that he would learn a lesson. The little boy who cried wolf was ignored by the villagers after he lied so many times. Whether they are stories or lessons, society uses these allegories as ways to teach people the importance of telling the truth. If we as a society did not value the truth so much, then there simply would not be as many lessons connecting lying with punishment. Although some of these fables are meant to teach moral wrongs, the lessons actually tie back to criminal wrongs as well.
New York Law
In the state of New York, many citizens are familiar with the charges of forgery or fraud. While these are serious crimes, fewer people are aware of the more serious crime of falsifying and tampering with business records. In New York, “cooking the books” could land you with felony charges, carrying punishments of up to four years in prison, depending on the charge. The laws for falsifying business records are found in N.Y.P.L 175.05 and 175.10 for charges in the first degree and second degree respectively. Falsifying business records means that you, with the intent to defraud, create a false business record, destroy records, or even omit certain business records. If you falsify business records to cover up the commission of another crime, then this bumps your charge up to a felony.
Falsification of Business Records Arrests
New York makes full use of their falsifying business records statute. On May 9, 2016 LoHud reported on a Rockland County jail union boss entering a guilty plea for falsifying business records. John Cocuzza was charged with 17 felonies and 51 misdemeanors, all involving him falsifying work logs. Many of the logs suggested that he was performing other work duties, including monitoring inmates on suicide watch. Ultimately, the deal meant Cocuzza was only entering a plea with one conviction and a $250 fine, however the deal also meant Cocuzza was required to resign from his position at the Rockland County jail.
Just recently the New York Daily News reported on Steve Croman, a landlord known for allegedly threatening tenants. He was recently arrested on multiple charges of falsifying business records. In fact, Croman is accused of falsifying records related to his rental income to secure more than $45 million in mortgages. If convicted of all charges, Croman could face over two decades in prison.
Defending Against Your Charges
Although many charges of falsification are connected to changing records, or altering them, you could still be charged with falsifying business records without taking these actions. If a court finds that you omitted information in business records, when it was your duty to draft the record, or that you deleted records, then you may be charged under New York law. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know how best to defend against these charges, especially when it comes to whether or not you intended to falsify the records. This is why, if you are charged, you need the help of attorney Phillip J. Murphy. Phillip J. Murphy is licensed to practice in New York and has been practicing law since 1989. Contact us today to discuss your options.