Economic Crimes Bureau
 
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Gregory C. Pavlides
Bureau Chief
Assistant District Attorney

The Economic Crimes Bureau is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes, arson and environmental crimes. The bureau has devoted an increasing portion of its resources to sophisticated and substantial financial crimes and has undertaken prosecutions in areas of white collar and environmental crimes. The bureau has been successful in obtaining criminal charges and punishments appropriate to the magnitude and significance of the white collar cases it has developed, gaining international recognition in the financial crime fighting community. Prosecutors have conducted lectures at national and federal government seminars and in developing countries on financial fraud and related crimes. They have also won international awards for two consecutive years for bringing noteworthy financial fraud cases.

Among the types of cases investigated and prosecuted by the bureau are cellular phone fraud, odometer rollbacks, trademark counterfeiting, video piracy, insurance fraud, computer crime and counterfeiting. The bureau has also been vigilant in the prosecution of frauds which siphon funds from government programs to unscrupulous individuals and businesses. These cases include welfare fraud cases, unemployment insurance schemes and prevailing wage cases.

The bureau has also continued in its traditional role of prosecuting significant embezzlement cases, where unsuspecting employers are victimized by trusted employees. In most cases, the crimes are concealed by manipulating company books and records until the damage is substantial.

The investigation and prosecution of arson cases has always been and remains an important function of the Economic Crimes Bureau. The bureau has sponsored, together with the Bureau of Fire Investigations of the New York City Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, several courses for fire marshals emphasizing courtroom techniques.

The Economic Crimes Bureau works closely with a special task force set up by the NYPD which aggressively investigates and prosecutes individuals who transport, store and sell large quantities of fireworks. Such individuals show a complete disregard for public welfare, often storing large quantities of explosives in residential neighborhoods or busy commercial areas, or sell dangerous powerful fireworks to minors.

The Economic Crimes Bureau has expanded its role in the prosecution of environmental cases affecting the residents of Queens. These include the illegal disposal of medical waste, the illegal taking of fish and clams and the illegal sale of animals considered endangered species.

In 1995, the initial arrest of a number of Nigerian nationals in Jamaica, Queens, resulted in "Operation Silver Parrot," the largest stolen and counterfeit credit card prosecution in the United States in the last decade. Immediately after the arrest, a joint task force consisting of federal and state law enforcement and investigators from scores of financial institutions assembled thousands of pieces of evidence and interviewed scores of witnesses. The task force received assistance from other law enforcement and industry sources such as Scotland Yard, police departments in Illinois and the telecommunications industry. The result was the first indictment in the United States to charge Nigerians with Enterprise Corruption (State RICO charges) in a 200 count indictment. The successful prosecution of Operation Silver Parrot was profiled on 60 Minutes, Time Magazine, Consumer Reports and other publications. In addition, the District Attorney addressed a Congressional subcommittee about the case and recommended changes which were later adopted by the US Post Office and private industry.

After Operation Silver Parrot, the Economic Crimes Bureau commenced a multifaceted law enforcement and industry sting operation at a commercial mail drop location in Queens. The investigation combined conventional law enforcement tactics with the use of wiretaps and other electronic surveillance to create a second Enterprise Corruption prosecution on financial fraud and related charges. "Operation Mail Stop" is being used as a model nationwide for a successful financial crime sting operation in a task force setting.

The combined impact of operations Silver Parrot, Mail Stop and other credit card fraud prosecutions has been credited by industry officials with causing a substantial decrease in Nigerian credit card fraud activity on the east coast. The bureau has also focused on other credit card fraud groups or individuals who have devoted themselves full-time to such crimes and incurred substantial losses to financial institutions.


 


 
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