From a post by Gerri L. Elder on Total Lawyers:
It seems that in New York, the police officers no longer have -after Mayor Guiliani cleaned up the city – enough existing criminals to justify their numbers. They have to resort to entrapping citizens into breaking the law.
Have you ever seen a lost wallet or misplaced purse and picked it up with the intention of returning it to its owner? In NYC you might be committing a crime – a crime that the NYPD set you up for.
Plainclothes NYPD officers have been planting purses in NYC department stores. They then secretly surveil who picks them up. In one Macy’s store, three people were arrested when they picked up the purses. These people, who could have easily intended to return the bags, are now faced with being indicted on charges that could send them to state prison.
This supposed sting operation is very similar to a previous scam run by the NYPD nine months ago called Operation Lucky Bag. That attempt at entrapment was shut down by a Brooklyn judge. Afterwards notes were added to the prosecutor’s handbook to clarify that in order to prosecute these types of cases there had to be proof that the person who found the valuables had criminal intentions since under the law – what the NYPD is supposed to enforce – a person who finds valuables has 10 days to turn any found property if it exceed $20 of value.
They’re back at it again though – with a particularly nasty twist that upgrades the charges into Class E felonies. The purses that now are being left lying around have real American Express cards in them that have been issued to the police department under fake names. This dramatically raises the risks to the citizenry; since the purses contain credit cards with an available balance exceeding $1000 the crime of picking up one of these bags is considered Grand Larceny in the Fourth (4th) Degree.
Grand larceny 4 carries a penalty of up to 4 years in prison. Legal defense fees for defendants can easily exceed $20,000. This seems a harsh thing to do someone who might have been a Good Samaritan.
So, as in all things today, if you see something or find someone keep on about your business. Do not help, do not get involved. By doing so you would be interfering in the domain of the NYPD and they will protect their jobs by having you incarcerated!
Tags: Crime | Entrapment | NY | NYC | NYPD | Operation Lucky Bag | Police