Corrupt corporate officials are often the subject of television dramas, but in real life, aggravated enterprise corruption is a serious criminal offense. New York penal law § 460.22 is designed to combat the ongoing problem of organized crime in the state. Enterprise corruption refers to a series of crimes that are committed by a professional company and multiple people. Aggravated enterprise corruption is the more serious offense; the details of this crime are very specific and relate to a particular set of actions taken over a designated course of time.
In order to be charged with aggravated enterprise corruption, you must have:
- Committed at least three crimes, two being classified felonies.
- Committed at least one felony within five years from the start of the criminal activity.
- Committed each crime within two years of the original criminal activity.
A person will be charged with aggravated enterprise corruption if any of the following conditions are met:
- At least two of the crimes are armed felonies or at least Class B
- One crime is an armed felony and a violation of § 2 of the criminal possession of a disposable weapon statute
- Two crimes violate § 2 and one crime is a Class B felony
What is the difference between aggravated enterprise corruption and regular enterprise corruption?
Enterprise corruption is elevated to an aggravated charge when an individuals participate in crimes that are at least Class B felonies. A person can be charged with standard enterprise corruption (New York Penal Law § 460.22) when he or she intentionally participates in criminal activity within a company, intentionally acquires interest or control of an enterprise through criminal activity or willingly and knowingly invests proceeds from criminal activity into an enterprise.
Criminal Activity Defined
New York state defines a criminal act as any of the felonies listed in the statute including assault, insurance fraud, forgery and hindering prosecution.
An insurance company that has been in business for several years has lost business in the wake of the Affordable Care Act. The company’s CEO has a meeting with shareholders, all of whom have invested significant funds into the business and will not accept it going under without negative consequences. The CEO does not have any viable solution to acquire new customers and enough revenue to sustain the company, but insists that actions are already under way to restore the company’s profits.
Two shareholders stay behind after the meeting and ask the CEO for details; the CEO admits that they do not have a real plan, and one of the shareholders suggests “changing some policies around” without clients knowing. The CEO is hesitant but asks to hear more.
Over the course of the next two years, the CEO, a handful of shareholders and multiple insurance representatives engage in insurance fraud and forgery to yield a higher profit. When the truth is discovered, some of the felonies the CEO and related persons are charged with include conspiracy in the second degree, insurance fraud in the first degree and bribery in the first degree.
As a Class A-I felony, aggravated enterprise corruption carries a possible sentence of life in jail.
The best way to defend an aggravated enterprise corruption charge is to prove that some of the crimes committed were not felonies. If you can defend and disprove at least one Class B felony, you can reduce your aggravated enterprise corruption charge.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Enterprise corruption is complex, and a defense attorney can help organize your defense and present the most sound, logical argument as possible to the court. If you are convicted of aggravated enterprise corruption, you could receive a max sentence of life in prison. In order to defend yourself and reduce possible sentencing, you should work with an attorney who is well-versed in criminal defense and has significant experience in white collar crimes.