Tag Archives: New Jersey

Super Storm Sandy and Fraud

Posted by Gregory Scavelli.

Super storm Sandy had a devastating impact on the North-Eastern portion of the United States, areas like Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut got trashed because of the regions un-preparedness in cases of the storm. To bring in a personal connection, the area that I am from on Long Island got it particularly bad, the Long Beach boardwalk that was a staple of the town since 1914 was completely broken down and destroyed and after that the town went into rebuilding mode. Now Long Beach is for the most part is better than the way it was before the storm. This was happening the other regions as well, the Jersey Shore was another area that got hit particularly badly. It’s been 4 years since the storm, but now that the re-building process is almost complete a lot of problems are steaming from it.

Since the storm New Jersey state prosecutors have filled criminal chargers to 161 cases for over 15 million dollars on account of fraud. More than one third of those cases have been fired this year. An example of an Ocean County motel pleaded guilty to falsely claiming that he had sheltered Sandy victims to get $81,000 in federal funds.

The problem facing many of these corporations is that many of them have no ethical business policies. For example raising the price of gas in the time of a crisis is very unethical because in most of these crisis situations people are low on money and making the pay extra for basic needs is unethical. Also, taking personal benefit in a crisis situation is also unethical, the example I earlier about the motel using falsified records to get reimbursed is just taking a situation in which people are suffering and using it for gain. Which is just a very un-ethical way of doing business.

Gregory is a sports management and marketing major with a minor in legal studies at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

Florida Man Pleads Guilty for Fraud

Posted by Cullen Dana.

Timothy Livingston, a business owner of Whole Lot of Nothing LLC, pleaded guilty to “hijacking customer’s email accounts to send unsolicited ‘spam’ messages.” He also admitted he and his fellow employee, who pleaded guilty along with another employee after Livingston did, created a “software that appropriated a corporate website belonging to a New York-based technology company in order to use its servers to send spam that appeared to be from the company.”

The man generated, according to his prosecutors, “$1.3 million and property” from his hacking scandal. Livingston entered “his plea in federal court in Newark, New Jersey to three counts” one being “conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with computers and access devices.”

Livingston agreed to give up $1.35 million as well as the property he gained from the scandal. He is scheduled to be “sentenced January 27, 2017.”

Cullen is a marketing major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

Fighting a Parking Ticket

Posted by Azhanae Evely.

I am going to tell you about my first encounter with being inside of a court room.  I was given a ticket for “No parking in a handicap zone.”  Through this experience, I learned a lot about how to prepare for a court hearing and what it is like being in court.

I live in East Orange, New Jersey, and there is a requirement for the overnight parking.  In front of where I normally park are two handicap spots back to back.

I woke up one morning finding a parking ticket. The ticket stated, “Court Appearance Required: The undersigned further states that there are just and reasonable grounds to believe that you committed the above offense and will file this complaint in this court charging you with that offense.”

The very first thing to do if you get a ticket is read the ticket. I had never thought to turn the ticket over and read the print there. Had I not read the back of the ticket, I would have been missed these words:  “If you intend to plead not guilty, to the offense charged in this complaint and summons and have a trial, you must notify the court administrator . . . of your intentions at least 7 days prior to your scheduled court date. If you fail to notify the Court Administrator, it may be necessary for you to make 2 court appearances.” The original court date that was printed on the ticket was 3/3/16. However, when I called into the court’s administrator’s office 7 days prior to the court date, I learned that they had never set a court date. Had I not called, I would have gone on the date given to me just to have to come back because it was not scheduled.

The next thing I learned is how to fight a ticket. The first thing I did was take pictures of my car in the spot. I took multiple pictures from different angles. The weather also worked to my advantage because at the time it snowed a lot and the salt on the ground actually made a ring around where my car was which gave sufficient proof that I did not tamper with the car to make it look like I was never over the line.

I looked up the statutes on what is an offense to parking in a handicap zone. The New Jersey Handicapped Parking Law in (C.394:4-207.9) says, “Access to parking spaces, curb cuts, or other improvements designed to provide accessibility, shall be unobstructed.”  I found that having the information helped when going into court because it can aid you in determining whether to plead guilty or not guilty. I had decided that I wanted to plead not guilty.

In East Orange, they have everyone that has tickets for parking sit in one room, which I found weird because everyone could hear you.  I can see why they do it; it is about having an open trial. The first thing that is done is the roll call. After a little while, the prosecutor comes into the court room and calls everyone up one-by-one by last name.

The first thing the prosecutor asked me was why I was there. After telling him what kind of ticket I got, he asked me why I committed the offense. This threw me off because we learned in business law class that you are innocent until proven guilty; yet, he was taking the stance as if I was already guilty of the crime.  So, I told him I wasn’t in the spot. This is where I showed him the pictures that I had taken.

The pictures indicated where the signs began as well as that there was no sign behind my car. I also showed him that there was a car in that handicap spot, which means I was not obstructing the spot. After they hear from you, they either tell you the best plan of action, or like in my case, just tell you to sit back down.

While in court they do ask you to turn off your devices, so my suggestion is to always have hard copies. The judge was the one to read everyone their rights and even talked about how they could appeal. He even mentioned the fact that the court can decide whether to go to trial depending on the severity of the case. When it was my turn, they asked me to state my name for the court records which I did. Then at that point the judge let me know because of the sufficient proof I provided his prosecutor, the ticket would be dismissed. It is almost like depending on what you show the prosecutor in the beginning affects the judge’s decision.

So, because I took the time to actually make sure I had images of that moment really helped me. It was better going in knowing as much as you can about the system, because you do not ever know what can really happen.

Azhanae is a business law student at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.

Uber Technologies vs. State of New Jersey

Posted by Renaldo Nel.

Uber is considering leaving the state of New Jersey if a proposed bill passes. This proposed bill’s main objective is to implement tough regulations regarding commercial insurance.  There is currently an ongoing debate whether there is a gap in the insurance coverage of Uber drivers. Insurance industry experts and New Jersey law makers argue that Uber’s operations are not covered sufficiently. Currently Uber’s commercial coverage, which it buys for its drivers, kicks-in the moment the driver accepts a ride request. Lawmakers want to change this and require that the insurance is in place from the point which the driver logs onto the Uber Application. They argue that there is commercial benefit whilst the driver is waiting for someone to request a ride.

Furthermore, lawmakers assert that the personal insurance cover of the driver often does not cover any incident that occurs if the driver is logged-on to the application. They argue that it is vital that the driver is insured between the time that he logs-on and the time he or she gets a ride request. Uber disagrees.

Uber states that more often than not, personal insurance will pay for any incident that occurs between the time the driver logs-on and waits for a ride. Uber furthermore states that they have insurance in place in the event that the personal coverage of the driver does not pay. If this is true, one would not know at this stage. Uber does however claim that “rides on the platform, beginning to end, from when the driver turns on the app to when they drop a person off is insured. Any claim to the contrary is incorrect” (Mohrer). Christine O’Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey, states that “It is clear under New Jersey law that people who engage as an UberX driver are not covered by their private passenger auto policy. That is a very clear conclusion.”

I believe the problem here is to find out what the actual truth is. We need to determine whether these drivers are sufficiently covered or not. If not, then extra commercial insurance would most definitely be needed. If Uber claims that they provide insurance for the time frame in controversy, then they should provide proof of this insurance.

I understand that law makers are only trying to protect the common citizen, however, I also understand Uber’s argument that the proposed law is burdensome. Uber claims that the level of coverage proposed is higher than that of what is expected from taxi operators. Furthermore, Uber states that four states, including Washington D.C., have passed transport network regulation, and that these regulations are not nearly as burdensome as those proposed in New Jersey.

Uber is many people’s livelihood, and I understand their frustration as it can easily be seen as a vendetta against Uber drivers. New Jersey lawmakers should take into consideration what other states have done and see how they can accommodate both parties.

Renaldo is an economics major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

Kentucky’s AG Sues Volkswagen for Emissions-Rigging Scheme

Posted by Alexa Christie.

In Frankfort, Kentucky, Attorney General Andy Beshear sues Volkswagen claiming the automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scheme violated the state’s consumer protection law. There were 3,800 vehicles registered in Kentucky with this defect. The lawsuit was filed in a state court. “”We have a very strong law that is meant to prevent companies like this … from making an outright lie that they then use to sell what’s a pretty expensive product,” Beshear said at a state Capitol news conference.” Beshear thinks that Volkswagen should be held accountable for this scheme of false advertisement. Last year, 600,000 cars were sold in the United States with software that was designed to cheat on required emissions tests.

Volkswagen was trying to advertise that their customers, who wanted a “green” car were getting one, when in fact they were not. A Volkswagen spokeswomen announced that the company, Volkswagen, was working with federal environmental regulators to resolve this problem. Texas, New Mexico, New Jersey, and West Virginia were also filing separate lawsuits against Volkswagen. The company has received more than $20 billion in fines from state and federal regulators. In September, Volkswagen admitted to using illegal software installed in their “clean diesel” engines.

Alexa is a business administration major with a concentration in management at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University, Class of 2018.

A Father’s Battle

Posted by Sydney Kpundeh.

A disgruntled New Jersey father has brought products liability design defect and failure-to-warn claims against The New Jersey Port Authority Transit Corporation to recover for injuries arising out of a take-home asbestos exposure. The case’s premise surrounds the father’s daughter, who started to exhibit signs of mesothelioma, which he claims were a result of secondary exposure to friable asbestos fibers through direct contact with her father and while washing his asbestos-laden work clothing. The father is an employee of the Port as a train operator, yard operator, and supervisor. His job duties included the repair and maintenance of asbestos-contaminated air brake systems on the Port’s multiple unit locomotives. When his daughter’s symptoms started worsening, he filed a product liability design defect and failure-to-warn case against the Port and various manufacturers of locomotives and locomotive brake shoes. He claimed that his daughter’s injuries could have been caused by her exposure to asbestos dust created when he replaced the brakes on cars he worked on after hours.

When the case was put before the court, all parties moved for summary judgment. The Port’s argument was that federal legislation and court precedent preempted state tort claims related to locomotives. The automobile defendants argued that there was no evidence that the father’s contacts with automotive brake dust were sufficiently frequent, regular, and proximate to establish causation.

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled that the injuries were preempted by the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) under the doctrine of field preemption. The court ruled in such direction because they examined a number of previous decisions that had been considered in the scope of the LIA’s preemptive effect and found that the only way to ensure uniformity is that they must rule the same way.

The failure-to-warn claims that the father filed against the various manufacturers and sellers of asbestos-containing automobile brakes were dismissed summarily because there was insufficient evidence of medical causation linking their products to second-hand exposure. “[T]he evidence showed that the father replaced brakes shoes contaminated with asbestos on four occasions over a period of eight years.”

When he was asked about these times, he could not recall the names of the manufacturers of the replaced brake shoes nor could he recount the number of times he installed new brakes manufactured by the named defendants. Therefore, “it was clear that even if the father was exposed to one of each of the automotive defendants’ products over the eight-year period in question, this exposure was so limited that it failed to meet the frequency, regularity, and proximity test that is required for this type of case.” Hence, this is why the case was dismissed.

Sydney is a political science major and legal studies minor at Seton Hall University, Class of 2016. 

California Woman Pleads Guilty Over Michaels Retailer Cards Theft

Posted by Daphine Llosa.

The current legal issue relates to conspiracy and breach. A conspiracy is an agreement by two or more parties to commit a crime to do something unlawful or harmful. A breach is an act of breaking or failing to observe a law or agreement. On Tuesday, November 17, 2015, Crystal Banuelos pleaded guilty of a conspiracy to attain personal information and commit cards theft from Michaels Companies Incorporated’s customers. Michaels is an arts and crafts, custom framing, home décor and seasonal products store. Prior to this case, there was another prosecution where Eduard Arakelyan (age of 24) and Arman Vardanyan (age of 26) were charged for being involved in a breach. This breach was discovered in 2011 where devices were installed on point-of-sale terminals so they may obtain Michaels’ customers’ personal information as well as bank account numbers. Both individuals pleaded guilty three years ago for stealing from 952 debit cards; they were sentenced for five years of prison.

Crystal Banuelos, the 28 year old California woman, had participated in a conspiracy to acquire 94,000 credit and debit card numbers. It took Banuelos around four months to admit to her charges and plead guilty in the federal court in Camden, New Jersey. CNBC mentioned that the prosecutors found that the individuals involved in the conspiracy had replaced close to 90 of the point-of-sale terminals in 80 different Michaels stores in “19 states with counterfeit devices that were equipped with wireless technology.” They used these counterfeit devices to acquire customers’ personal identification number information as well as any additional information that they may have found useful for their theft. Crystal Banuelos, along with others, had managed to create an exact imitation of these debit cards using the stolen information they gathered when they applied the counterfeit devices. They were able to obtain and collect more than $420,000 by withdrawing from automated teller machines. Two of the defendants, Angel Angulo and Crystal Banuelos, had 179 of these imitated cards in New Jersey. Some of the banks that were affected include: Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, etc. It has been announced that Crystal Banuelo’s sentence is scheduled to be on February 23, 2016.

Daphne is a graduate accounting with a certification in forensic accounting at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University, Class of 2016.

 

 

The Chairman’s Flight

Posted by Mario Damasceno.

In mid-February of 2015, federal prosecutors investigated United Airlines and its close relation with then chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Samson. The investigation arose shortly after Samson’s resignation, resulting from emails released that showed aids to Governor Chris Christie had intentionally organized lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. This is particularly significant because during his time in office, Samson would spend his weekends in Aiken, SC, which was located 50 miles from the Columbia, South Carolina airport, however, United never initially offered that route from its New Jersey hub.

The New Jersey paper known as the Record reported, “Federal aviation records show that during the 19 months United offered the non-stop service, the 50-seat planes that flew the route were, on average, only about half full,” and “was reportedly money-losing,” (The Economist). This, in turn, lead to the route being named, “The Chairman’s Flight.” The route itself “left United Airlines’ Newark hub each Thursday night bound for Columbia, S.C. On Monday mornings, United Express flew back to Newark,” (Bloomberg Business). Furthermore, federal prosecutors argued that, not by coincidence, “United cancelled the flight on April 1st, 2014—just three days after Mr. Samson resigned from the Port Authority” (The Economist).

The entire situation is worth looking into, and in fact, the Port Authority along with United Airlines have been issued subpoenas examining the communication between David Samson and the airline. Mary Schiavo, a former federal prosecutor and Department of Transportation inspector general stated, “If United realized they were offering this flight to curry favor with a public official, then United’s in the soup—it’s a bribe,” (Bloomberg).

Mario is a management major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.

 

Bachman, Justin. “Did United Put a Whole Route in the Sky for One Very Important Passenger?” Bloomberg Business. N.p., 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-25/did-united-put-a-whole-route-in-the-sky-for-one-very-important-passenger->.

Gulliver. “The Chairman’s Flight.” The Economist. N.p., 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2015/02/united-airlines>.

“United Airlines: The Chairman’s Flight.” Reinventing the Company 12 Sept. 2015: n. pag. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. <http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21664209-how-new-jersey-traffic-jam-helped-topple-head-airline-chairmans-flight>.

Fighting a DUI in New Jersey–A Review of Criminal Procedure

In a recent NJ.com article, expert lawyers in DUI laws revealed how they attack drunk driving charges.  Normally, defense lawyers rely on plea bargaining when a client is charged with a crime. Plea bargaining involves an agreement between a prosecutor and defendant where the defendant will plead to a lesser charge in return for dismissal of other charges or to the original charge in lieu of a lighter sentence. Sometimes it may involve a quid pro quo to the prosecutor for information leading to other crimes. But New Jersey does not allow plea bargaining in DUI cases. As a result, defense lawyers have no choice except to work to dismiss the DUI case entirely or prove the evidence results in a downgrade to a lesser charge.

According to the article, oftentimes, defense lawyers will find a technicality. For example, lawyers will challenge a blood draw (which now under both state and federal law must be preceded by a warrant) by demanding an explanation as to how it was performed. The results can be suppressed if the draw was not done by a physician or nurse, or the area was cleaned with alcohol instead of iodine. Some of the sample must be made available to the defense to conduct their own independent tests; failure to do so may result in suppression.

Blood results corroborated by field sobriety tests is stronger evidence of DUI; however, in cases involving injuries to a driver, field tests are foreclosed, leaving only the blood tests. If challenged, again, the case can be dismissed. Issues can arise from the accident scene itself, which can also result in a dismissal. As stated, warrants are necessary in order to perform a blood draw. According to William Proetta of Edison, a defense lawyer that was interviewed, “[I]f a person doesn’t consent or is unconscious, you need to call in a telephonic warrant. If emergency workers are asking the driver questions, without having Mirandized him, an attorney would argue those statements can’t be used against him.” Telephonic warrants are faster to obtain and are encouraged by the courts.

Breath tests using an Alcotest have a different set of procedures–all of which can be challenged in a suppression motion. Repair and calibration records may be subpoenaed, and failure by the State to do so may result in a dismissal. Officers conducting the test must get two successful readings and change the mouth pieces between each reading. The person must be observed for 20 uninterrupted minutes and cannot regurgitate or vomit, as this will produce a false reading. No cell phones or electronic devices can be present in the room.

Lawyers say there are many other ways to challenge the results. They recommend that people pulled over for a DUI not refuse the test, because refusal is a separate charge. The challenge becomes a little trickier in that they have to show the officer read the driver “the wrong statement” when asking if they will take the test. Also, the driver has to clearly say “No.” not once, but twice, to be considered refusal and ambiguous answers, such as, “‘I don’t know.'” or “‘I want a lawyer.'” are not enough.

Defense lawyers will employ experts, often former police officers who are trained in the Alcotest, to testify as to what the officers should have done. Also, discovery challenges are commonplace. If the prosecutor fails to produce discovery within 30 days, that can result in a dismissal. Dashcam video must produced as well; but that can be a double-edged sword. It can be used to impeach an officer’s testimony, or in the alternative, prove that the defendant in fact could not stand or was slurring his or her words.

A DUI can be proven by an officer’s observations as well, without the aid of other evidence. According to Ernesto Cerimele, a DUI defense lawyer in Newark,

If the officer’s report says the driver reeked of alcohol and admitted to drinking several beers, that still counts . . . . Even if the blood or Alcotest evidence is thrown out, if the officer’s observations of the driver and the ‘totality of the circumstances’ point to a driver being intoxicated, he can still be found guilty. The harder cases to defend against are frequently those where the officer fully documents everything he heard and observed in his police report.

Finally, the case can be dismissed if a trial is delayed beyond 60 days, pursuant to New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts’ guidelines. Based on hardship, inequity and the right under the Sixth Amendment to a speedy trial, a defense lawyer can move for dismissal if the prosecution does not have his or her case ready in time. In one case cited by the article, a prosecutor was given an extra 30 days to produce discovery and failed. That resulted in an immediate dismissal by the judge.

 

 

Shaneen Allen Gun Carrying Case

Posted by Daniel Lamas.

In October 2013, Shaneen Allen was arrested for carrying a registered gun across the New Jersey border. Allen, who is a Pennsylvania native, was going on a routine visit to New Jersey when she was pulled over. As she opened her glove compartment, the officer noticed the concealed weapon. Allen was questioned and arrested.

Allen’s punishment could have included up to three years in prison, but thankfully her attorney got her out of serious jail time. Allen was in hot water for almost two years. Recently, Governor Chris Christie issued a pardon to Allen and was praised by many gun rights groups. As an American, I feel that the Second Amendment is very important, not only to people as individuals, but mainly to show what this country was built upon.

Personally, I do not feel that Allen did anything wrong as she was a legal, registered carrier and had no bad intentions. Governor Christie did the right thing and helped defend a very important amendment that supports what our Founding Fathers would have wanted. Not many people would have been quick to pardon somebody in Allen’s situation, but luckily for her, Governor Christie had her back. People like Allen who are legal carriers are what keeps the country the way the Founding Fathers intended it to be. If more gun owners were registered like Allen, crime would be monitored easier and street violence would come to an ease.

Daniel is a business management and merchandising major at Montclair State University, Class of 2017.