Manhattan DA Calls for Broader Powers to Fight White-Collar Crime

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said he wants to expand the powers of an already powerful state law called the Martin Act so he can more aggressively prosecute white-collar crime.

In a speech to the New York City Bar Association on Tuesday, Vance said the Martin Act is too "lenient" in its penalties and treats many offenders the same, regardless of the amount of money involved.

"A broker who fraudulently deprives one customer of $500 is subject to the same penalty as a high-level market manipulator who deprives the investing public of hundreds of millions of dollars," Vance said.

The Martin Act, enacted in 1921, was revived by former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who used it aggressively against Wall Street. Many view the state law as one of the most powerful prosecutorial tools in the country because it gives state prosecutors broad powers to subpoena documents from any company doing business in New York.

Vance said he'll be calling on Albany this year to increase the penalties for offenders who wrongfully obtain large sums of money, and lengthen the statute of limitations for misdemeanor violations.