Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of former tax preparer JACK CHANG in New York State Supreme Court to 3 to 6 years in prison followed by 3 years of post-release supervision, for stealing from clients and then threatening the prosecutor handling his case. In addition, CHANG was ordered to pay restitution of more than $116,000 to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.
CHANG, 55, pleaded guilty on July 16, 2010, to felony charges of Grand Larceny and Placing a False Bomb or Hazardous Substance, both in the Second Degree. The charges stem from an April 2009 arrest of CHANG for stealing more than $100,000 from at least six clients. Less than two months later, the Assistant District Attorney prosecuting that case received two letters from CHANG, one of which contained a white, powdery substance. Both letters threatened her with physical harm and death, as did a third, unsent letter found at the defendant’s home.
“Our Assistant District Attorneys put their lives on the line in the pursuit of justice,” said District Attorney Vance. “JACK CHANG mounted a premeditated and thoroughly researched campaign to intimidate one of our attorneys with letters sent to her home and her workplace, the latter of which contained corn starch meant to look like a toxic substance. I thank Judge Hayes for delivering an appropriate sentence that takes the severity of these actions, and the crimes against the defendant’s clients, into account.”
According to documents filed in court and described in the court’s official record, Assistant District Attorney Gilda Mariani, Chief of the District Attorney’s Office’s Money Laundering and Tax Crimes Unit, received two threatening letters from CHANG on June 9, 2009. At the time, ADA Mariani had been handling the prosecution of CHANG on grand larceny charges, and had previously supervised a 1995 prosecution of CHANG for similar crimes, which resulted in his conviction and a state prison sentence.
The first letter was delivered to ADA Mariani’s office. The second letter CHANG sent was delivered to ADA Mariani’s home and addressed to her husband. It contained a white powder that was later determined to be corn starch. The two letters contained a virtually identical message from CHANG, who wrote, “I finally got my 9 mil gun and I am insane, you are responsible for my insanity and I will make sure that you get at least one for each and every year I spent incarcerated.”
Initially, investigators assigned to the District Attorney’s Office focused on CHANG as a possible writer of the letters in part because one of the letters was delivered through the District Attorney’s Office intra-office mail system, and CHANG had been in the District Attorney’s Office on June 4, 2009, and June 5, 2009, in connection with the grand larceny prosecution.
Further evidence investigators obtained against CHANG included drafts of the threatening letters sent to ADA Mariani, which were contained in a bag of trash seized in front of CHANG’s house. During the execution of a search warrant at CHANG’s home, investigators discovered more incriminating evidence, including a computer printout of ADA Mariani’s biography, as well as another threatening letter directed towards her. The letter found at CHANG’s home stated, in part, “You will be captured and before you are sent to hell you will taste hell on earth.” Investigators also seized a computer printer and mailing labels resembling those affixed to the letters received by ADA Mariani.
The 2009 grand larceny case against CHANG stemmed from his theft of more than $100,000 over a five-year period, between 2003 and 2008. Acting as president of Unitax Planners, PA, an accounting and tax preparation firm in Queens, CHANG stole from at least six clients by using checks they intended for payment of their New York State and New York City taxes to pay personal tax expenses of his own. The victims’ checks were for sales and other corporate taxes. Instead of paying the state or the city, CHANG applied these checks to real estate property tax or water charges owed in connection with six properties associated with him.
District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorney Sean Sullivan, who prosecuted the defendant’s hazardous substance case under the supervision of Rackets Bureau Chief Eric Seidel. The District Attorney’s Office’s Investigations Bureau and Office Squad provided valuable assistance during the rackets investigation.
District Attorney Vance also thanked ADA Mariani and Senior Investigative Counsel Maurice Mathis, of the Money Laundering and Tax Crimes Unit, for prosecuting the defendant’s tax crimes case. The District Attorney’s Office Squad assisted in the investigation, as did the New York City Department of Finance’s Criminal Investigation Bureau.
JACK CHANG, D.O.B. 10/3/54
• Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, one count
• Placing a False Bomb or Hazardous Substance in the Second Degree, a class E felony, one count
• 3 to 6 years in state prison
• $116,000 in restitution to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance