The Economic Crime Unit investigates significant economic crimes, crimes against older members of the community, and official corruption in municipal and county government. As criminals have become more sophisticated, the types and breadth of economic crimes have exploded. Also, many investigations take place over multiple jurisdictions and require the expertise of investigators trained in evaluating financial data. Some recent economic crime investigations have included a six-figure money laundering operation, large fraudulent check cashing rings, identity theft investigations involving multiple victims, misappropriation of monies from group homes and criminal conduct by home improvement contractors.
As society ages, the problem of crimes against older members has increased. Criminals often take advantage of older citizens who may not be aware of some of the latest scams. On occasion, these citizens are vulnerable and physically abused by family members or other caregivers. The Economic Crime Unit investigates allegations of elder abuse as well as cases involving theft and other frauds committed against older citizens.
Official corruption has been a chronic problem in New Jersey and the Economic Crime Unit has investigated cases involving misappropriation of funds, theft of governmental property, misuse of governmental property and other forms of corruption.
Economic Crime Unit cases are opened by citizen complaint, directly by the prosecutor or referral by a municipal police department, the Mercer County Inspector General, the state Division of Criminal Justice, the county Division of Consumer Affairs, the state Division of Taxation, the state Office of Attorney Ethics or another agency. In instances when the unit determines that criminal action is not warranted or feasible, referrals are made to many of the agencies listed above for possible civil enforcement actions or other civil remedies.
The unit provides a vehicle by which a matter can be investigated outside of the normal criminal justice process. In addition, the unit serves in many situations as a sounding board for complaints by citizens of the county. While many of these complaints do not result in a criminal charge or the opening of an investigation, the fact that the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office is readily accessible to the public through the Economic Crime Unit is both important and necessary.
In addition to conducting its own investigations, the unit provides investigative advice and support to the municipal police departments. This includes obtaining financial records from nationwide institutions through grand jury subpoenas and other types of court orders. Finally, the unit provides legal advice to local departments during these types of investigations and prosecutes the cases until resolution.