William McDonald

  • New Treasury Efforts to Fight Money Laundering Through New York Real Estate

    By William McDonald, Esq. January 22, 2016 To combat the scourge of money laundering from transnational criminal syndicates, the United States Treasury has issued new Geographic Targeting Orders (“GTOs”) to Manhattan and Miami Dade County requiring title insurance companies to reveal beneficial owners of entities purchasing real estate for cash. GTOs are directives with limited duration issued by the Secretary of Treasury through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FINCEN”) and are authorized under the Bank Secrecy Act (31 USC 5326).  After passage of the Patriot Act, TROs, by definition, last for 180 days. The January 13, 2016 announcement from FINCEN specifies that this GTO ...

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    Monday, January 25th, 2016

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  • Pay Your Attorney Now: Supreme Court Considers Legality of Seizing Untainted Money

    By William McDonald, Esq. The headline is not just shameless attorney self-promotion, but in fact reflects sound advice to anyone or any company facing a government investigation.  More often than not, the U.S. Attorney’s Office seizes a defendant’s assets at the same time he is placed under arrest.  In these cases, the defendant not only finds himself under arrest facing charges, but also unable to use any of his own money to hire a defense attorney of his choice to fight the charges. This practice began in the 1970s and was ultimately sanctioned in the Supreme Court case of United States v. ...

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    Friday, November 20th, 2015

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  • DWI – To Blow or Not to Blow?

    By William McDonald, Esq. October 20, 2015 Lately, it seems not a weekend goes by without another news story about a DWI crash into a house, or tragically, a fatality.  With such horrible trends continuing, law enforcement is sure to step up DWI prevention through checkpoints and aggressive policing. As a DWI defense attorney, I am always asked: “If I am arrested, should I blow or refuse?”  This seemingly simple question is actually rather complex.  Many factors affect whether taking the chemical breath test is a good or bad idea.  For example, there may have been an accident involving a fatality or serious ...

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    Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

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  • Second Circuit Upholds use of Undisclosed Third Party Software to Provide Probable Cause in Search Warrant

    By William McDonald, Esq. July 15, 2015 While the crimes themselves are despicable, child pornography prosecutions often feature cutting-edge forensic investigation techniques and challenges that are applicable to a wide range of white collar crimes. On June 11, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected a defendant’s challenge, and held that law enforcement may use third-party aggregating software in order to develop probable cause in support of a search warrant, and that the warrant application need not identify the software utilized. In United States v. Thomas, 2015WL3619820, ___F.3d___(2015), the defendant pleaded guilty to the production of child pornography in ...

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    Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

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  • Best Practices for Internal Investigations

    By William McDonald, Esq. June 22, 2015 On May 19, 2015, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, the leader of the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) Criminal Division, gave a speech offering companies “best practices” guidance for corporate internal investigations. Presently, the DOJ is guided by the nine factors outlined in Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip’s 2008 memo entitled “Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations.”  These are collectively known as the “Filip Factors.”   Factor 5 states that the charging decision depends in part on “the existence and effectiveness of the corporation’s pre-existing compliance program.”  U.S. Attorneys Manual (“USAM”) 9-28.300.  Caldwell emphasized that a company ...

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    Monday, June 22nd, 2015

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  • New York Court of Appeals Rules that a Traffic Stop based upon a Police Officer’s Mistaken View of the Law is Constitutional

    By William McDonald, Esq.  April 20, 2015 New York State has long granted greater Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule protection to defendants under its holdings than federal courts have.  One example is found when a police officer in good faith bases a stop and search of a defendant upon a mistaken belief about the law.  Under the federal “good faith” exception, a mistaken view of the law is not necessarily fatal to a police officer’s illegal stop and search of a defendant.  In contrast, the New York Court of Appeals held in People v. Bigelow, 66 N.Y.2d 417 (1985), that there is no ...

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    Monday, April 20th, 2015

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  • GM Ignition Switch Investigation Shows Value of Competent Internal Investigation

    By William McDonald, Esq. March 18, 2015 General Motors (“GM”), who faced a very public scandal in 2014 over ignition switch defects, now faces a large class-action multi-district lawsuit on behalf of individuals who suffered injury due to the alleged defect. When the scandal broke, GM hired outside counsel to investigate the ignition switch defect and GM’s delays in recalling vehicles.  The investigation, completed in 70 days, featured 41 million documents and more than 350 interviews with 230 witnesses.  The report containing the investigation’s conclusions has been named the Valukas Report, after the attorney leading the team that conducted the investigation.  The final ...

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    Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

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