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NY Appellate Court Vacates Extortionate Forfeiture Deal

On July 30, 2012, in states, by Scott Alexander Meiner

New York appellate court vacates a forfeiture order for conditioning a lesser sentence to the providing of $5,000 to City of Geneva Police Department. Unlike many attempted forfeiture actions, the forfeited funds were not the alleged proceeds of alleged crimes-nor were there any allegations that the funds were linked to any uncharged criminal activities in which the defendant engaged. Rather, it was bail money offered by the defendant’s sympathetic aunt-and then exchanged for a lesser sentence at the behest of the prosecution who warned of a sterner sentence for the defendant if he did not come up with $5,000:

“Prior to defendant’s entry of a plea to counts one and two of the indictment in satisfaction of the remaining counts, the prosecutor stated the terms of the plea offer on the record. With respect to sentencing, the prosecutor stated that, if defendant “could come up with $5,000 in cash that he would forfeit,” he would be sentenced as a second felony offender to concurrent terms of five years in prison and three years of postrelease supervision. The prosecutor further stated, “If he does not come up with the $5,000 cash,” or if he failed to appear for sentencing or was re-arrested, “then all bets would be off and [the court] might be inclined to give him 10 years in prison.”  Defendant was also asked to forfeit the vehicle he was driving when he was arrested. The court then asked defendant whether he wished to accept the plea offer, and defendant responded in the affirmative.  Before accepting the plea, the court noted that defendant’s aunt had posted $5,000 in cash for defendant’s bail, and inquired whether that “might be the source of the funds” to be forfeited. “That’s possible,” defense counsel answered, “and if it is, I’ll prepare the necessary paperwork to have that happen.” Defendant proceeded to plead guilty.”   People v McCoy KA 10-00800, Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division- Fourth Judicial Department, June 29th 2012.



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