The Financial Crimes Unit is dedicated to the detection and prosecution of cases involving the unlawful conversion of funds or property. Most of these cases involve fraudulent activities using checks, credit cards, bank accounts and mortgages. Victims of financial crimes are varied and may include some of the most fragile victims, such as the elderly or infirm, or some of the more affluent, such as private and professional corporations. Several Assistant Prosecutors in the Unit are supervised by a Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor; assigned Detectives conduct the investigations, supervised by a Captain of Detectives. Presently, this Unit is staffed by a Director, four Assistant Prosecutors, a Detective Lieutenant, five Detectives, and one Clerical Assistant.
The Financial Crimes Unit is a vertical prosecution unit. It handles the cases from inception to prosecution. When the Financial Crimes Unit receives an allegation of criminal conduct it must determine whether a criminal prosecution is warranted. If criminal prosecution is warranted, a criminal charge and/or a presentation to a Grand Jury, is conducted. If an indictment is returned, the Financial Crimes Unit, is responsible for the case through a trial or plea agreement.
The Financial Crimes Unit fulfills the need to investigate financial crime cases on the county rather than municipal level. Municipal police departments are often not able to thoroughly investigate complicated economic crime. Indeed, in many cases, governmental, bank, and financial records can only be obtained by grand jury subpoena, court order or search warrant, and therefore are beyond the reach of a municipal police department. Many “white collar” crimes are multi-jurisdictional in nature. Beyond this, such cases are far more complex than the “average” case. They usually require review of voluminous records by an experienced Detective.
Because of the complexity of the allegations and investigations, close interaction between the Assistant Prosecutor and Detective is necessary throughout the investigation; especially since these investigations often involve assembling and reviewing complex financial and business records, preparing and obtaining court orders for in- and out-of-state records and witnesses (such as bank records, handwriting, toll records), and frequently present witness problems involving the 5th Amendment or attorney/client privilege.
Prior to 2008, this unit was known as the Official Corruption & Economic Crimes (O.C.E.C.) Section, which was also responsible for corruption and criminal misconduct in government other than law enforcement. In 2008, these government case responsibilities were transferred to the Professional Standards Bureau, and O.C.E.C. became the Economic Crimes Unit. In 2010, as part of further organizational development, this unit evolved into the Financial Crimes Unit.
In 2012, the Financial Crimes Unit expanded to include an Insurance Fraud Division. The Insurance Fraud Division is partially funded through a grant from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, and works closely with that Office in identifying, investigating and prosecuting appropriate cases.
In 2014, the Financial Crimes Unit conducted 266 investigations. In addition to conducting original investigations, the Unit is a clearinghouse where outside departments obtain assistance with subpoena requests, search warrants and other legal process to aid in their investigations.
Following a joint investigation with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Unit indicted Lancie Marchan, former director of the East Orange Housing Department and subsequent CEO of East Orange Revitalization and Development Corporation, a non-profit corporation, with the theft of over $380,000 in federal HUD funds. Marchan pled guilty to the theft on November 20, 2014, and was sentenced to five years in state prison on March 6, 2015.
The Unit investigated and prosecuted the theft of approximately $125,000 by Edward Wilson, former office manager at a Livingston medical practice, from his employer. Wilson ultimately pled guilty to the theft charges on October 6, 2014, and was sentenced to a three year prison sentence with full restitution to the victim on December 1, 2014.