Thursday, June 22, 2017

Operation Pipeline: A.G. Schneiderman Announces Take Down Of Heroin Trafficking Ring – Marking Fifth Surge Initiative Drug Bust

16 People Indicted And Charged With 103 Crimes In Investigation That Uncovered Over 2.8 Pounds Of Heroin
Schneiderman: We’re Committed To Cutting off the Pipeline That Fuels The Epidemic
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of 16 individuals for trafficking heroin throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, Monroe County, and elsewhere in New York State – marking the fifth drug bust in his crackdown on suburban and upstate opioid and narcotics trafficking.
The 16 individuals arraigned today include both alleged narcotics suppliers and customers who resold the drugs. The indictments are the result of the Attorney General’s and New York State Police Department’s joint investigation, “Operation Pipeline,” part of Attorney General Schneiderman’s Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic “SURGE” initiative – a multi-pronged effort to target gangs and individuals who funnel heroin and other narcotics into suburban and upstate communities across New York State. Previous SURGE narcotics operations, such as “Operation Gravy Train” and “Operation Bricktown,” have recovered huge amounts of drugs, guns, and other paraphernalia related to drug trafficking.
“The opioid and narcotics crisis is destroying families across New York State – and we’re committed to cutting off the pipeline that is fueling this epidemic,” said Attorney General Schneiderman “Operation Pipeline and our S.U.R.G.E. Initiative demonstrate the productive partnership we’ve built with local law enforcement as we tackle this crisis head on.”
“Investigations into complex drug trafficking rings are most effective when law enforcement agencies work together, and this case is no different,” said State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II. “Through these partnerships, we will continue to target those who are bringing these dangerous and often deadly drugs into our neighborhoods.”
The indictment was unsealed today in Monroe County Supreme Court, with arrests made in a series of raids in Rochester, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, as well as in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, and California.
Like many suburban and upstate communities, Monroe County has seen a significant escalation in heroin-related deaths in recent years. According to a Rockefeller Institute for Government report, overall deaths from drug overdoses and chronic drug abuse in New York has increased 71% between 2010 and 2015.
Over the course of the investigation, which was led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York State Police Department, authorities monitored phone conversations between members of the heroin ring and their associates. As alleged in the indictment, the defendants conducted drug deals using cryptic and coded terminology –such as “a bomb” to refer to good quality heroin and number of “legs” to refer to the amount of heroin in each deal—transported narcotics from New York City to Rochester, and sold a total of $75,000 worth of heroin. Investigators seized over 2.8 pounds of heroin during the arrests.
The indictment charges the 16 individuals with a total of 103 crimes, including Operating as a Major Trafficker and various counts of Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (class A and B felonies), as well as Conspiracy to commit those crimes. Attorney General Schneiderman drafted the Operating as a Major Trafficker statute (P.L. 220.77) when he was a state senator. The law went into effect in November 2009 as part of reforms to the Rockefeller-era drug laws, and is the only felony narcotics charge in the state that carries a possible life sentence.
Those charged in the Monroe County June 9, 2017 indictment include:
Juan Carlos Romero Gomez a/k/a “Pancho”– Brooklyn, NY and Miami, FL
Omar Hernandez a/k/a “Buti”– Brooklyn, NY and California
Daniel Polanco a/k/a “Tito”– Brooklyn, NY
Santiago Waldron a/k/a “Santiago”– Bronx, NY
Angel D. Abreu a/k/a “Gordito” – Bronx, NY
Angel Colon, New York City area
Larry M. Polanco-Rodriguez – Perth Amboy, NJ
Julio Jonquet Castillo a/k/a “Julito” – Rochester, NY (currently incarcerated on unrelated charges)
Dagoberto Miranda a/k/a “Octavio” – Irondequoit, NY
Rafael Rodriguez – Rochester, NY
Jose Falcon a/k/a “Andy” – Rochester, NY
Rafael Montoya Morales – Rochester, NY
Samuel Maldonado – Rochester, NY
Miguel Rodriguez a/k/a “Gordo” – Rochester, NY
Jose Abril – Rochester, NY
Luis A. Rodriguez-Figueroa a/k/a “Colorao” – Rochester, NYand Springfield, MA
The investigation was conducted by the New York State Police and the Organized Crime Task Force Special Investigator Phillip Sindoni, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Peter Talty and Deputy Chief Eugene Black, and the overall supervision of Dominick Zarrella. 

Attorney General Schneiderman Announces Guilty Verdict For Brooklyn Landlord Who Harassed Rent Regulated Tenants

Daniel Melamed Found Guilty On Three Counts Of Unlawful Eviction; Could Face Up To One Year In Jail
The Case Marks A Victory For The Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, An Unprecedented Collaboration Between City And State Agencies
  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the guilty verdict of Crown Heights landlord Daniel Melamed, and the corporation that he controlled, on three counts of Unlawful Eviction of rent stabilized tenants. Melamed will be sentenced on September 13, 2017; he could face up to one year in jail.
The guilty verdict follows a months-long investigation into Melamed’s ownership and management of an apartment building at 1578 Union Street, where the Attorney General found evidence that Melamed used construction and deprivation of services in an attempt to get rent stabilized tenants to give up their apartments. Melamed’s June 2015 arrest was the first resulting from the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, a collaboration between State and City agencies announced by Attorney General Schneiderman, Mayor de Blasio, and Governor Cuomo in February 2015.
“We won’t hesitate to bring the full force of the law against anyone who harasses, intimidates, and jeopardizes the health and safety of tenants,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Daniel Melamed intentionally endangered rent-stabilized tenants in order to push them out – and line his own pockets. Today’s guilty verdict marks another win for our Tenant Harassment Task Force and the strong partnership we’ve created between the state and the city to hold bad landlords accountable.”
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Today’s Melamed verdict is the result of the strong partnership between the state, the Attorney General, and city to hold bad landlords accountable for breaking the law. In the five years since the Governor’s Tenant Protection Unit was created, it has made numerous criminal referrals of landlords that have led to convictions and jail, negotiated multi-million dollar settlements, returned 60,000 units to regulation, and recovered more than $4 million in overcharges to tenants. Unscrupulous landlords will not be able to hide wrongdoing from the Tenant Protection Unit and their partners in law enforcement, and working together they are not going to allow vulnerable tenants to be harassed and preyed upon.”
NYC Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer said, “Today’s verdict is a victory for all those who champion fair housing and responsible ownership. This is a clear message that we will not stand idly by and allow landlords to take advantage of their residents. I want to thank my staff for their continued work for tenants on a daily basis. I want to applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his dedication to the residents of New York City. We look forward to our continued collaboration as we do everything in our power to fight on behalf of tenants across our city.”
“Mr. Melamed was the first landlord indicted by our Tenant Harassment Task Force – a distinction he richly earned by tearing apart his own building to force out a family with a young child. Other landlords who put money ahead of people’s lives should take warning: we will not tolerate tenant abuse in New York City. I thank the Attorney General, our agency partners at HPD and DHCR, the office of the Buildings Marshal, and DOB staff for their great work in securing today’s verdict,” said City Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE.
Prosecutors from the A.G.’s office proved that Melamed presided over a disturbing pattern of dangerous and unlawful construction that jeopardized the health and safety of building tenants with the intent of evicting the remaining rent stabilized tenants. The evidence presented at trial showed that Melamed illegally shut off heat to rent regulated tenants, even when temperatures dropped below freezing; repeatedly exposed tenants to lead dust that exceeded acceptable levels by as much as eighty-eight times the permissible threshold; and removed the boiler in the middle of winter from the building without permission from any City or State agencies.
As proven at trial, almost immediately after buying the building, Melamed embarked on a campaign to rid it of rent stabilized tenants by cutting essential services such as heat, performing illegal construction and failing to contain and clean toxic lead dust.  The three remaining tenants testified against their landlord and detailed how they adapted to life under his ownership, including using ovens to heat their apartments, bathing using buckets, and covering their noses and mouths to protect themselves against the lead dust.  This trial exposed the lengths that Melamed went to force these tenants to leave their rent stabilized apartments. 
After taking part in a joint task force inspection of 1578 Union Street in Brooklyn and observing the extremely troubling conditions, such as a lack of heat and hot water, exposed friable asbestos in the basement, and a thick layer of dust that was present throughout the building, the TPU conducted tenant interviews and reviewed various records and then formally made a criminal referral to the Attorney General.

SAGE - Trump to Trans Elders: Drop Dead

Trump to Trans Elders_ Drop Dead

Last night, SAGE made history: We forced President Trump to back down. Sometimes we sign petitions or letters and never see results. But last night we saw a victory -- sort of. 

A few months ago, the Trump administration took the unprecedented step of eliminating LGBT elders from a federal aging survey that is used to determine how billions of dollars are spent on elder services, erasing any opportunity for LGBT older adults to self-identify. 

We know that when the money is distributed, those who aren't counted simply don't count. So SAGE mobilized more than 15,000 LGBT elders and allies who said loud and clear: We refuse to be invisible. 

Late last night, we learned that we made a difference. That's right, SAGE and our allies triumphed over the Trump administration! 

But it was only a partial victory, because although sexual orientation was added back into the survey, the revised survey continues to exclude transgender elders, and that is unacceptable.  

Once again, the Trump administration has picked on the most vulnerable among us. If they believe that a partial reversal of course will convince SAGE to abandon our transgender constituents, they are in for a big surprise. Their intimidation tactics won't diminish our sense of duty and loyalty to all our trailblazing pioneers, many of whom are the very members of the transgender community who stood firm at Stonewall nearly 50 years ago.  

We will not rest until all of our community is counted, included, and supported. But we only have 30 days to tell the Trump administration that we will not be slapped down. Over the next 30 days, SAGE and our allies will rally our voices to tell Trump that our older trans community cannot be pushed around.  

We will not be erased. 
We will not be eliminated. 
We will not go quietly.
We refuse to be invisible.



  “The MTA is at an important crossroads in its mission to serve the millions of New Yorkers who deserve safe, reliable transportation every day. There are few public servants more capable of helping navigate this critical evolution than Joe Lhota. I commend the Governor for his choice and I pledge my administration’s cooperation in helping the Governor, Chairman Lhota and the MTA meet the needs of New York City subway and bus riders.”


  Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during a town hall today, alongside Council Member Margaret Chin, a dedicated team of 10 specialists within the Public Engagement Unit to proactively support the NYC Rent Freeze and Homeowner Tax Exemption Programs across the five boroughs. PEU’s new Rent Freeze Team will conduct door to door outreach and make phone calls to eligible New Yorkers, using case management techniques to help them navigate the application process.

In partnership with the Department of Finance, the Department for the Aging and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, the goal is to enroll 10,000 New Yorkers this year into rent freeze and tax benefit programs for seniors and people with disabilities. Last year, 5,800 households were enrolled into the Rent Freeze Program. The Rent Freeze Program, also known as the Senior Citizen and Disability Rent Increase Exemption Programs (SCRIE and DRIE), provide tax credits to landlords that effectively freeze rent for low-income seniors and people with disabilities living in rent-regulated apartments. The Senior Citizen Homeowners (SCHE) and Disabled Homeowners Exemptions (DHE) provide property tax reductions for senior and disabled homeowners.

“Too many New Yorkers living on fixed incomes are feeling the burden of rising costs in our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “But we are fighting every day to make sure they can live, thrive and retire in place. The Public Engagement Unit’s new Rent Freeze Team will provide valuable guidance and information about these programs to renters and homeowners. New York City must remain a place for everyone, or it won’t be a place for anyone.”

“As the Public Engagement Unit knocks thousands doors across the City, we constantly meet New Yorkers who are able to live where they love because of these programs,” said Regina Schwartz, Director of the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit. “We are proud to partner with city agencies across the administration to increase our outreach to vulnerable New Yorkers, build new relationship with elected officials, community partners and connect individuals to government.”

New Yorkers participating in SCRIE save an average of $235 in rent per month and in DRIE an average of $135 per month over the lifetime of the benefit.

“We are excited that the Mayor is providing additional resources to help enroll as many eligible seniors and persons with disabilities as possible,” said Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha. “The renters and homeowners exemption programs offer significant relief for many New Yorkers who would be struggling to stay in their homes if not for this benefit. We look forward to introducing many more people to opportunity to take advantage of the City’s money-saving programs.”

“Obtaining affordable housing remains among the greatest need in New York City, especially for older adults with limited incomes,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado. “By proactively promoting the Homeowner Tax Exemption and Freeze Your Rent programs, the City is reaffirming its commitment to helping seniors age in place in their communities.”


In new report, borough president’s call for greater access to gifted and talented education, test prep programs, specialized high schools and more

  Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released a new report, titled “Fixing the Pipeline: Solutions to Disparities in Gifted Education in New York City,” outlining multiple recommendations for the future of gifted and talented education at all levels in New York City’s public schools.

The report, which is the work of the borough president’s joint “Gifted and Talented Education and Specialized High Schools Task Force,” was released in front of the Tweed Courthouse in lower Manhattan, home of the New York City Department of Education.

Top recommendations in the report included requiring that all communities have equal access to gifted and talented programs in kindergarten, that all students in public pre-K programs must be tested for gifted and talented programs, that Citywide and other middle school gifted classed must be expanded across the city, that test prep programs must be further expanded for the specialized high schools, and that a single test should not be the only source of admission to the city’s specialized high schools, among others.

"Today, we are giving the Department of Education a little ‘summer reading’ of their own, a report outlining what we believe are necessary changes the city could make today to bring more equity to programs for gifted learners in the five boroughs," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “We cannot send our children to Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech if they are not prepared. And we cannot expect them to be prepared if they do not have the same advantages that are offered to other communities."

"When it comes to gifted and talented education in New York City, the math does not add up. Our analysis clearly shows a historical inequity in delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students across the five boroughs," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams "Access to G&T programs and specialized high schools can no longer be allowed to be dictated by one’s zip code; parents who live in Belmont and Brownsville should expect the same grade-A programming and enrichment as parents in Tribeca. We don’t need small changes, we need bold changes."

The task force, which is comprised of government officials, community members and parents who are familiar with the issues gifted students face in New York City schools, hosted several public hearings earlier this year to discuss issues surrounding gifted and talented education in New York City public schools. Those hearings, as well as other work, informed the contents of this report.

The report can be viewed at

Rep. Adriano Espaillat Joins Federal Lawsuit Challenging President Trump’s Violation of Constitution’s Anti-Corruption Clause

Nearly 200 House and Senate Democrats File Suit to Stop Trump Accepting Unconstitutional Foreign Emoluments

  Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and 200 Members of Congress have filed a federal lawsuit against President Trump for violating one of the Constitution’s critical anti-corruption provisions: the Foreign Emoluments Clause.  The emoluments clause prohibits the President from accepting foreign payments without seeking and receiving Congressional authorization.

“The Constitution’s Emoluments Clause is a vital protection against foreign governments’ corrupting influence.” said Rep. Espaillat.  “The American people should have total confidence that the President is serving their interest, not his own financial enrichment. President Trump’s refusal to disclose or seek Congress’s authorization for his sprawling foreign financial interests is a brazen violation of the Constitution, and a danger to our democracy itself.  From this lawsuit to legislation, I will use every tool I have to hold this President accountable to the Constitution and to the American people.  In addition to joining my colleagues in filing this federal lawsuit, I have been pushing legislation, for months, which would amend the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to require the President to place any financial conflicts of interest into a genuine blind trust.”

From the beginning of his Administration, President Trump’s embrace of Russia, pandering to Saudi Arabia, and sudden weakness before China have raised urgent questions about his financial conflicts of interest. Since the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week, public reporting has revealed that President Trump has received additional foreign benefits – including new trademarks in China – and is brokering business deals in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf while regional tensions escalate.

The Emoluments Clause provides that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”