White Plains law firm named “go-to” firm in 2012

Goldberg Segalla LLP, a law firm with offices in White Plains and around the tri-state area, has been named a 2012 “go-to” firm by ALM, which publishes several law magazines and legal guides.

Go-To firms were chosen after ALM researchers asked general counsel at the top 500 companies which outside law firms they turn to for help.  ALM also researched court dockets and securities filings, as well as leading legal and business publications, including The American Lawyer.  The “go-to” firms will be published in ALM’s annual guide, “In-House Law Departments at the Top 500 Companies.”

This is the second media honor for Goldberg Segalla.  In 2010, the National Law Journal included Goldberg Segalla among 20 firms on its “Midsize Hot List.”

Goldberg Segalla, founded in 2001, employs more than 120 lawyers at offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, New York, White Plains and Long Island; Princeton, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa. and Hartford, Conn.  The firm specializes in catastrophic personal injury, products liability, fire and arson, drug and medical device, commercial and business litigation, insurance coverage, intellectual property, construction defect, labor and employment, trucking and transportation and municipal liability.

Desk of the DA: Credit card scams

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore’s monthly message for December involves credit card “skimming,” or using illegal devices to read your credit card number:

As Westchester County’s chief law enforcement officer, I want to share with you my concern about an emerging trend here in our county and across the country known as “skimming.” This form of electronic theft involves the planting of illegal card reading devices and hidden cameras in and around ATMs to capture account information and PINs from unsuspecting customers. Bank personnel and members of law enforcement are carefully monitoring this crime trend to identify and arrest offenders and protect individuals’ finances. Particularly in this busy holiday shopping season, it is also important to raise public awareness of this issue.

Skimming is one of the new techniques criminals have developed to cash in on or steal your personal financial information. A specialized law enforcement task force, including members of my office, the Westchester County Police and nearly a dozen local police departments across our county, is working alongside the U.S. Secret Service to investigate instances where skimming has occurred. In the last 14 months, eight individuals in Westchester have been arrested on charges related to illegal skimming with devices discovered at banks in Yorktown Heights, Yonkers, Bronxville, Greenburgh, Tarrytown and Rye Brook.

The skimming method used by thieves at ATMs involves placing a skimmer, an illegal card-reading device that looks like the authentic reader, on top of an actual card-reading slot at an ATM. In addition, thieves may place a concealed, pinhole-sized camera nearby, in order to record the cardholder’s PIN. In stores and restaurants, skimming devices have also been used by dishonest employees to capture credit card account information when they swipe customers’ credit cards to pay for a bill. When skimming devices are used, customers usually go about their business, unaware that they have provided information to thieves. The thieves retrieve the recorded information and create counterfeit cards. Using the stolen account and PIN information, the thieves can “cash out” an account or fraudulently charge purchases to the credit card.

Some experts believe that skimming is costing banks across the country millions of dollars in losses. For victims, knowing that thieves have gained access to their personal financial information is very unsettling. Skimming devices may be difficult to detect, but I urge you to keep these important safety measures in mind when you are using your credit, debit or ATM card:

Check for any sign of tampering with the slot where you insert your card. Look at the area above and around the ATM for any sign of a concealed camera. As you punch in your PIN, use your hand to cover the keypad so that a hidden camera is unable to capture it. Never share your PIN or allow someone to punch in your PIN for you. Check your bank and credit card statements frequently and report any suspicious charges or activity to your financial institution immediately

Victim speaks out in $20 million grifter case

It’s actually a spokesman of the victim in the $20 million fraud case involving Katonah pianist and composer Roger Davidson, who prosecutors say was bilked out of $20 million by Chappaqua grifters Vickram Bedi and Helga Ingvarsdottir over a six-year period through an elaborate scheme of lies and nefarious story lines involving international intrigue.

Davidson’s new spokesman, Christopher Cooper, responded today to counterallegations that Bedi made after his arraignment Tuesday that he never deceived Davidson, who is heir to an oil fortune, and that Davidson concocted the plots involving foreign nationals hacking into his computer out of paranoia. Cooper, in essence, said Bedi’s version was bunk.

“Roger Davidson has a single priority: to ensure that Vickram Bedi is held responsible for their crimes he committed and is punished to the extent that the law allows. The Davidson’s family maintains their faith that the truthful accounting of the events surrounding this case  will emerge in the only venue that matters: a court of law.”

Davidson also has a civil case against Bedi that’s pending before acting state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Loehr.  Bedi’s criminal case is before county Judge Barbara Zambelli.

Two guilty pleas in fatal beating of Yonkers man, brother of mayoral aide

Two men today agreed to serve time in state prison for the fatal beating of Robert Lopez, the brother of Yonkers mayoral aide Lorraine Lopez, outside of a Yonkers bar in May.

James McGeechan, 29, (far left) and Benis Melendez, 22, (left) pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter at a pre-trial appearance in Westchester County Court. As part of the plea deal, McGeechan will serve 11 years in prison, while Melendez will serve five, according to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office.

Lopez was beaten unconscious May 17 outside Sal’s bar and restaurant at 209 Nepperhan Ave. after he tried to diffuse a tense confrontation, prosecutors said. McGeechan and Melendez, accompanied by their girlfriends, returned to the bar at 4:30 a.m. after they had been asked earlier to leave. McGeechan began arguing with the bar manager and Lopez, a security guard who had just finished his shift at another establishment, stepped in and asked McGeechan to “just leave and go home.”

When Lopez walked out of the restaurant, he was beaten into a coma. He died 10 days later. Police arrested Melendez at the scene later that morning.  McGeechan was arrested three days later.

Both men will be formally sentenced on January 31. They had faced up to 25 years in prison had they been convicted at trial.

McGeechan’s former girlfriend, Nicole Ryan, who went with him to the bar that night, is facing charges of witness intimidation, a felony, and hindering prosecution, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors allege she threatened to kill a witness to the attack by pretending her hand was a gun and saying, “If you talk to police, you’re dead.” She is due in court on Dec. 15 and faces up to four years in prison if convicted of witness tampering.

“Charity Corps” to offer free legal advice to nonprofits

The New York State Bar Association and state Attorney General’s office announced today that they are teaming up to link volunteer attorneys with nonprofit organizations that need legal advice but can’t afford to hire lawyers.

Called the “Charity Corps,” the program will launch in 2012 and serve as many as 50 nonprofits in its first year, with organizations serving the needs of indigent people receiving top priority. Corps lawyers will offer nonprofits advice on issues such as board governance, fiduciary responsibilities, and nonprofit law compliance.

“New York’s attorneys stand ready to serve our important charitable sector – housing, shelter and youth programs, mental health and crisis intervention clinics, high school dropout prevention programs, relief and development assistance, civil rights organizations, veterans’ assistance groups and others – by helping them with their governance and legal compliance needs,” Bar Association president Vincent E. Doyle III said in a news release.

The pro bono lawyers who sign up for what has been named the “Charity Corps” will be trained by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, which supervises charitable organizations to protect donors and ensure donations are used properly. The Bar Association will administer the program and a committee chaired by Lesley Rosenthal, the VP general counsel and secretary of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, will oversee it.

“Nonprofits are vital to our local communities and state, and we are committed to ensuring that they continue their important work – especially at a time when their services are most in need,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in the same news release.

Nonprofits who want to be part of the program must apply by Dec. 31 at http://www.nysba.org/CharityCorps.