NEW YORK, July 20 (Reuters) - Manhattan District Attorney
Cyrus Vance was installed as president of the District Attorneys
Association of the State of New York on Saturday, vowing to
press for enhanced penalties for gang activity, a national
expansion of DNA data collection and improvements in New York's
financial crime statutes.
Vance, who will seek a second four-year term as Manhattan
district attorney in 2013, will remain president of the
association for one year. He succeeds Westchester District
Attorney Janet DiFiore.
In an interview Friday, Vance outlined his priorities for
the group, which is open to all New York district attorneys, the
Attorney General, as well as U.S. Attorneys and their staffs.
State statutes covering gang violence -- in particular
witness tampering and obstruction -- should be enhanced, Vance
"Gang violence is continuing to flourish, not just in
Manhattan but downstate and upstate," he said.
Vance said he would seek to close loopholes in the law. For
example, state laws regarding witness tampering do not always
criminalize attempts to coerce witnesses in the early stages of
an investigation, before charges have been filed, Vance said.
In addition, gang assault is only applicable when the crime
causes serious physical injury rather than any type of injury,
Vance said. That makes it more difficult to prosecute gang
initiation rituals, which often involve assaults that do not
cause permanent damage, he said.
Vance also said he would work with Governor Andrew Cuomo and
federal authorities to advocate for other states to adopt New
York's all-crimes DNA databank system, the country's most
Earlier this year, the legislature approved a bill requiring
virtually anyone convicted of a crime to submit a DNA sample to
the database, a change Vance had strongly supported.
Finally, Vance said he would ask experts to weigh in on
potential improvements to the state's business crimes laws,
which he said are outdated, especially as cybercrime grows more
"While the federal government has constantly revised its
business crime statutes, New York State has not," he said. "I
think it's a task that's overdue. We should be evaluating what
our business crime laws should look like in 2012, as opposed to
For instance, the state's Martin Act, which was passed in
1921 and allows the attorney general's office to pursue
financial fraud cases without having to prove an intent to
defraud, does not distinguish between small-scale securities
fraud and complex, multimillion-dollar schemes in terms of
punishment, Vance said.
Vance will be succeeded as president by Nassau District
Attorney Kathleen Rice next summer. He is running for
re-election as DA next year, four years after taking over from
the legendary Robert Morgenthau.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax)
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