The pandemic forced law enforcement agencies to prioritize other investigations over white-collar crime. Now, some counties are placing an emphasis on trying to obtain convictions in those cases.
In the Hudson Valley, Orange County is renewing its focus on cracking down on white-collar crime with the recent creation of a multi-agency White Collar Crimes Task Force.
“We are going to communicate with the district attorney's office and other local law enforcement agencies to identify people in the community who have previously felt that their crimes went unnoticed or unattended to,” Orange County Sheriff Lt. Thomas Mallon said.
Orange County Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Borek said more attention is needed to combat these types of crimes.
Borek said white-collar criminal investigations were put on the back burner during the pandemic. It’s a situation that’s played out across the state.
A spokesperson for state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office said COVID-created backlogs are clearing up as they prioritize the investigation of public corruption.
“As a result of the pandemic and also the criminal justice reforms, resources became scarce," Borek said. "We had to devote more resources to violent crime cases. And it was as a result, in Orange County, as in the rest of the state, white-collar enforcement took a hit.”
Borek said it’s a method that was utilized when he worked as a special assistant attorney general with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and having the collaborative effort will help prosecute crimes that are often committed across multiple jurisdictions.
“For instance, in a home contractor fraud case, they may report it to their local police agency who may not know that the same target is doing the same thing in another jurisdiction, down the road,” Borek said.
It also gives residents a direct resource to reach out to if they are a victim of white-collar crime.
“Now we are directing them, we have created a task force," Mallon said. "They now feel confident they can come right to the sheriff's office or to the district attorney's office. We have a web page on Facebook.”