Crime and punishment

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Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

So here’s a question for you.

How desperate does someone have to be in order to steal quarters from coin-operated washers and dryers? And how much do you think you could get?

Ok. So that’s really two questions. And yes, I am serious. Someone really did that.

According to published reports, Alisha Russell of Syracuse, NY, allegedly stole more than $14,000 worth of quarters from machines in an apartment complex in upstate New York. Russell, who once worked as the leasing agent at the complex where the thefts occurred was recently arrested on grand larceny charges.

Russell reportedly “had a key to the machines and regularly collected money from them as part of her job.”  Police say she lost her job for unrelated reasons before the investigation into the coin thefts — which occurred over a 10-month period — began.


How much is that little doggy in the window?

In other news, a Long Island man was also arrested on several charges including grand larceny and identity theft last month.

Police caught up with Victor Franco, 23, after he allegedly used a fake credit card to buy a puppy from a Merrick, NY, pet store. And this wasn’t just any puppy. It was a French bulldog that cost more than $3,000. In fact, the grand total was $3,592.21.

At the time of Franco’s arrest, police said the dog “still hadn’t been returned” to the shop, and added that it would be returned if they found it.

Franco also stands accused of using a fake credit card to buy a cell phone worth more than $200.

What is wrong with people?

To summarize, two people in two different parts of New York were arrested on grand larceny charges after they allegedly committed two very different crimes.

In one case, someone allegedly stole $14,000 worth of quarters from coin-operated washers and dryers at an apartment complex in upstate New York. In the other case, someone allegedly used a fake credit card to buy an expensive puppy dog from a Long Island pet store.

All of which leads to yet another simple — but rhetorical — question.

What is wrong with people?

And on that note, have a great weekend everyone…

A taxing situation: IRS turns its back on honest citizens

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

When it comes to controversial issues, I’m clearly not afraid to speak my mind.

But when I do so in this forum I usually try to keep my emotions out of it. I prefer to present both sides of the argument in a calm, rational, mature and objective fashion. It’s the same philosophy I had as an award-winning reporter: Present “Side A” and “Side B” and let the readers reach their own conclusions.

Based on what I just read, this post will be different. I am extremely angry and utterly disgusted by the alleged IRS conduct revealed in a Washington Examiner editorial. But in all honesty I am hardly surprised.

IRS Philosophy: For Illegal Immigrants, (Almost) Anything Goes

Published yesterday, the editorial details IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s response to an investigation conducted by Indiana Senator Dan Coats. Based on his findings, Coats raised serious questions about the federal tax agency’s policies regarding the fraudulent use of Social Security Numbers.

Essentially, Coats says, the IRS looks the other way when illegal immigrants use fake Social Security numbers in order to secure jobs. Koskinen doesn’t deny it. If anything, he says, letting the activity to go unchecked is a good thing because it “helps the agency collect more in taxes.”

Koskinen says the agency does not condone the theft and/or use of Social Security Numbers belonging to other people in order to claim refunds, however.

As A Victim of Identity Theft, I Beg To Differ

He cannot be serious.

Koskinen’s agency may not condone the theft and fraudulent use of Social Security Numbers in order to claim refunds — but the IRS does nothing to stop it, little to correct it and nothing to help victims of identity theft who are entitled to legitimate refunds.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

How do I know? I speak from experience.

A few years ago, I actually filed my tax returns early and happily anticipated the large refund I had coming. There was no problem with state return. But issues surfaced when my accountant tried to file my federal return electronically. The next thing I knew, someone from his office was asking if I’d been declared as a dependent or if I’d already submitted  my federal return electronically.

To make a long story short, it turned out that someone had used my Social Security Number and married name to file a fake return and get my refund. Now keep in mind that this happened after I’d gotten divorced and officially reclaimed my maiden name. It took several consultations with authorities and months in order to resolve the situation — and in the end the IRS issued the refund check using the wrong last name anyhow.

When I called them out on the mistake, they gave me limited options: put the check in the bank or wait even longer for another one.

Needless to say, I took the money.