Report: N.Y. needs new laws to fight 21st-century crime

A state task force found white-collar frauds too easy to commit

September 24, 2013 11:39PM (UTC)
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Police officers guard a cordon set up around a crime scene where one man was killed was killed in Woolwich, southeast London May 22, 2013. (REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth)

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- New York needs to update state laws to help authorities prosecute white-collar criminals, according to a special task force report released by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

The proposals in today’s report include expanding the definition of larceny to cover the theft of computer programs and personal identifying information, and eliminating the requirement that schemes to defraud target more than one victim.


“The Internet has become our 21st-century crime scene,” Vance said today at New York University’s Center for the Administration of Criminal Law, adding that the penal code hasn’t kept pace. For example, old definitions of larceny don’t cover theft by duplication, a common means of stealing computer code, he said.

Criminal law in New York state has been mostly unchanged since 1965, and the last notable alterations to white-collar crime enforcement were made in 1986, making fraud and corruption laws antiquated, Vance’s office has said.

Today’s report also recommends fighting public corruption by strengthening anti-bribery laws and enacting a law of “undisclosed self-dealing by public servants.” That measure would make it a crime for a public servant to have a secret interest in a government business above a certain threshold, such as owning property through a shell company that’s involved in public business.


The task force, convened almost a year ago, includes district attorneys, academics and defense lawyers. Their recommendations will be presented to the state Legislature and the governor.

--Editors: Stephen Farr, Andrew Dunn

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Kary in New York at


To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at



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