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More and more white-collar criminals are being banned from the Internet, even if their crimes didn’t occur online. And some critics say the punishment outweighs the crime.
While sex offenders have long had their web-browsing rights heavily restricted, now everyone from teenage hackers and wayward tech CEOs to people engaged in mail fraud have been given this new-fangled punishment, which means they cannot access a job forum — let alone check Facebook — without first asking a parole officer.
“What you’re doing is telling somebody, ‘I’m going to lock you into 1964, but you live in 2012,’” said Mark Schamel, a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. “All you’re doing is forcing people to violate probation to live their lives in the 21st century.”
Legal experts and First Amendment advocates say that in today’s Internet-centric age — when people file taxes, get directions and keep in touch online — the punishment outweighs the crime. Worse, they say, such restrictions make it more difficult to reintegrate into society.
“What judges are doing here on the Internet is like saying to a shoplifter, ‘Not only can you not go into that store, you also can’t go on the road, the highway, or even back out of your driveway,’” said Jeff Ifrah, an attorney who specializes in white-collar crime. “It’s really draconian and overbroad.”
Cleared of a crime? It doesn’t matter — your mugshot will live forever online, unless you want to cough up hundreds of dollars to have it removed.
Websites like Mugshots.com and Arrests.org have collected millions of mug shots by scraping police department websites, and if innocent arrestees want their photos taken down, they have to spend anywhere from $399 to $1,479.
The other option is allowing the embarrassing — and potentially career-killing — image to stay near the top of their Google results for years.
“It’s legalized extortion, in my opinion,” said Anthony Rickman, a Florida attorney who said he has handled numerous inquiries from clients seeking mug shot removal.
A serial killer is on the loose in Brooklyn. Three Middle Eastern shopkeepers have been killed with the same gun in the borough in the last four months.
“Detectives are operating on the premise that the gunman is one and the same in all three shootings,” New York Police Department chief spokesman Paul J. Browne told The Daily in an email yesterday.
The killer struck again Friday just before 7:30 p.m., shooting 78-year-old Rahmatolla Vahidipour in the head and chest three times at She She boutique in the Flatbush neighborhood.
His daughter Farzad told The Daily through tears, “That’s my father.”
Be careful out there. Led by a drastic uptick in assault, the rate of violent crimes jumped by a whopping 17 percent last year, the first time violent victimization rates rose significantly since 1993. And experts don’t know why!
Experts say it is far too soon to tell whether 2011 will prove to be a historical blip or an end to the steadily falling crime rates Americans have enjoyed for the last two decades. Even after last year’s sudden jump, violent victimization rates last year were 72 percent lower than 20 years ago.
“Any careful scholar worth their weight will not give you an answer to that, because we just don’t know,” said William Pridemore, professor of criminal justice at Indiana University. “For us, the question still is, why have they been going down for so long, and why are they so low? No one seems to have the answer to that either, and that’s been going on for a couple of decades.”
Meet the real-life A-team, an elite NYPD unit tasked with handling the highest-risk calls. In Part 2 of our series, watch Erik German ride along with an NYPD unit taking on the most perilous crimefighting in New York City.
“When you raise your right hand and get sworn in, they say it’s a front row seat to the greatest show on Earth,” said Det. John Kenny, 37, who has spent 8 years with the unit. “In ESU, we got the backstage passes.”
Officially designated the Emergency Service Division in 1930, the unit has gone through a number of names over the years but its motto — “anytime, anywhere” — and its ever-expanding mission has remained the same. The unit’s 400 members represent the NYPD’s best effort to hedge against all the iffy, tricky or terrifying scenarios that can’t be foreseen in a city of 8 million people.
Whether there’s a building collapse, plane crash or mass shooting — Emergency Service takes the call.
Thieves with firsthand knowledge of the oil business have descended on Texas oilfields, unleashing a multimillion-dollar crime wave.
According to the FBI, which last took count when crude prices surpassed $100 a barrel in 2008, the crime wave cost $78 million over a three-year span. Since then, said Lamar Pruit, senior supervisory special agent in Midland, a new oilfield task force has made 79 arrests, contributed to 39 convictions and recovered $2.3 million in stolen property. Criminals have been ordered to pay $15 million in restitution.
“Many times they’re oilfield workers or friends of oilfield workers,” Pruit said. “They know exactly what they’re looking for. And there’s miles and miles of territory to cover. They’re pretty much free to steal.”
A top Mexican drug operative nicknamed “the queen of crime” used popular Latin recording artists to smuggle weapons and funnel millions in methamphetamine profits, The Daily has learned exclusively.
Anel Violeta Noriega Rios of the bloody La Familia Michoacana cartel laundered money through many legitimate businesses, but a favorite was paying six popular Latin bands approximately $500,000 each for gigs that would normally cost $50,000, according to Mexican law enforcement document.
Michael Giacona served time for causing a fatal accident, but his punishment isn’t over. He has to stand at an intersection holding a sign declaring that he “killed Aaron Pennywell while driving drunk.”
In January, Giacona pleaded guilty to one count of drunken driving, paid a $500 fine and served three months of a 1-year jail sentence.
Still, Judge Michael Fields was worried Giacona wasn’t remorseful enough and decided to put a few unusual conditions on the newly released prisoner.
“Quite frankly, I am concerned about you and this decision,” Fields told Giacona, according to a court transcript. “You make me nervous, and the reason you make me nervous is I believe what the witnesses said about your behavior that evening: That you were, even after killing someone, still looking to get more alcohol.”
So, Fields pulled no punches, directing Giacona to wear the sign, put on an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet and to prominently display a framed picture of Pennywell’s wrecked Mustang in his living room.
Can’t wait for your income tax refund? Someone else may already have it.
Thieves armed with laptop computers and taxpayers’ names and Social Security numbers are flooding the Internal Revenue Service with bogus tax returns — and getting back refund checks and debit cards typically worth thousands of dollars. More than 460,000 taxpayers were victims of the scam between 2008 and 2011.
It’s “a very lucrative crime to commit,” said Tampa, Fla., police detective Sal Augeri. “There is relatively little risk of being caught, [there is] a seemingly endless amount of available money, and the crimes usually don’t involve violence.”
Crime Stoppers programs across the country are raising eyebrows for paying less and less out to anonymous tipsters while relying on employees whose salaries dwarf reward payouts.
Unlike most Crime Stoppers, which are run by volunteers in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, the Michigan group has five full-time and eight part-time employees whose annual salaries total $301,803. President John Broad makes $100,500 a year, according to tax records, about four times as much as the group paid in rewards in 2010.