Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - March 3rd

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress

Here’s the situation: We launched Courage to Change because working-class candidates face fundamental disadvantages when running for office.

Right now, I want to paint you a picture of what that looks like. If you go to the DCCC and say, “Hey, I want to run for office,” you’re going to get a simple question: “How much can you raise from your friends and family?”

If you come from money, the answer is probably a lot. If you went to law school, the answer is probably a boatload of cash. But if you grew up in a working-class neighborhood, we all know your answer won’t be enough.

Here’s the hard truth: At least this cycle, we’ll probably never even the playing field. Candidates with wealthy connections or vast personal fortunes will always start out with the ball in their court.

That doesn’t mean winning is impossible. It just means that people like us — movements like ours — have to hustle that much harder, have to sacrifice that much more, and have to raise each other up.

Working-class people across the country have always had to fight that much harder, and our candidates for office are no different. But it is exactly because we have seen our neighbors overcome those obstacles that we know our leaders can do the same.

- Team AOC


While we like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez we feel that the Courage to Change PAC has made a big mistake in giving 15th Congressional candidate Samelys Lopez $20,000.00 for her campaign. We have heard stories already from very reliable sources that someone very close to candidate Lopez is already using AOC's Bronx campaign office to bolster his own 2021 campaign for city council. More than one person have told us that this person has solicited donations from people connected with the AOC campaign for his 2021 City Council race. We have also been told that part if not all of the money from the Courage to Change PAC will go to this person whom we believe  is running the Lopez campaign, since the consultants hired for the Lopez campaign have been fired. This person has also kept us from interviewing candidate Lopez, and asking her questions related to her involvement in Local Democrats of New York, and Bronx Progressives.

It is important that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, the Courage to Change PAC, and the public know this information we have in part which has come from people in the Ocasio-Cortez campaign.


New law will allow City to seize and impound certain vehicles involved in reckless driving unless owners complete a driver accountability program

  Mayor de Blasio today signed the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement bill into law, the latest step in the Administration’s Vision Zero plan to make New York City’s streets safer. The bill was introduced by Council Member Brad Lander and passed City Council with an overwhelming majority. The new law targets the most reckless drivers by allowing the City to seize and impound vehicles with 15 or more school speed camera violations or 5 or more red light camera violations during a 12-month period unless the registered owner or operator completes a driver accountability course.

“This is a major step toward our goal of achieving Vision Zero,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are putting all drivers on notice that if you behave recklessly behind the wheel, there will be real consequences. This law will make our streets safer for all New Yorkers, and I thank Council Member Lander for leading the charge.”

“We thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this landmark legislation, a monumental step forward for Vision Zero,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We know that vehicles with the highest number of red light and speed camera violations are significantly more likely to be involved in serious crashes. Through an unprecedented program of education and enforcement, including the possible loss of a vehicle, this new law will help us change driver behavior so we can keep driving down traffic deaths and serious injuries.”

“This bill being signed into law is a major step forward in this Council’s fight for safe streets,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I congratulate Council Member Lander for his tireless work to get to where we are today and I thank the safe streets advocates who were there by our side in this fight every single day. The Council is proud of our efforts to combat traffic violence and we will continue to build on this success in our ongoing fight for a city where people don’t have to live in fear of death or injury from cars.”

Introduced by Council Member Brad Lander, Intro 971 will create a dangerous vehicle abatement program. Owners of vehicles with 5 or more red light camera violations or 15 or more school speed camera violations incurred within 12 months may be required to take a safe vehicle operation course overseen by DOT. If an owner fails to complete the course, their vehicle may be seized and impounded by the City Sheriff.  Officials estimate that the new law will affect about 3,000 to 6,000 vehicles, or less than 1 percent of the nearly 2 million vehicles registered in the city. The law will take effect on February 26, 2021 and apply to red light camera and school speed camera violations incurred after October 26, 2020. The program will run for 3 years, at which point the Mayor and Council will decide to renew or modify this effort.

New York City school zone speed cameras issue violations to vehicles traveling more than 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Both speeding and red light violations carry a $50 fine.  DOT currently operates more than 600 speed cameras in school zones around the five boroughs. By the end of 2021, the number of cameras across the city is expected to reach 2,000. The city also operates red light cameras at 150 intersections.

“As the New York City Sheriff, one of my biggest priorities is to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers, and my office is ready to do its part and help keep dangerous drivers off the roads,” said NYC Sheriff Joseph Fucito. “I look forward to working with members of the de Blasio Administration, City Council and other city agencies to put this program in place and encourage safe driving habits.”

“The NYPD is proud to stand with the community in support of today's signing of the Reckless Driver Accountability Act”, said Inspector Michael Hurley, Executive Officer of the NYPD's Transportation Bureau. “The Department will strive to enhance the lifesaving benefits of this bill by continuing its focus on eliminating dangerous driving behavior.”

"The Center for Court Innovation commends the Mayor, DOT, and the City Council for embracing alternatives to curb risky driver behavior that in some cases remains undeterred, and can lead to death and serious injuries, through a restorative approach with accountability and consequences," said Adam Mansky, Director of Criminal Justice for the Center for Court Innovation. "In the Center's Driver Accountability Program, currently providing an alternative to fines or short jail time in several City courts, a trained facilitator uses exercises and discussion to raise participants’ awareness of the harms of dangerous driving behaviors and to identify and commit to strategies to improve their driving."

Happy Wednesday,

Assembly Member Karines Reyes is kicking off her campaign this weekend, and it's up to us to play a prominent role. Sign petitions to get her and her slate of community leaders on the ballot.

Saturday, February 29, 2020
11:00AM to 2:00PM

Evo Lounge
1306 Unionport Rd
The Bronx, NY 10462

The Bronx Democratic Party

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Three Members of The Rollin' 30s Crips Convicted At Trial

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dermot Shea, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced that yesterday, RANDY TORRES, a/k/a “Rico,” 38, WALSTON OWEN, a/k/a “Purp,” 36, and CHARLES VENTURA, a/k/a “Gutta,” 27, were convicted of racketeering charges relating to their involvement in the violent Rollin’ 30s Crips street gang.  OWEN and VENTURA were also found guilty of attempted murders in aid of racketeering and related firearms offenses.  The convictions followed a fifteen-day trial before United States District Judge Victor Marrero.

The jury found that TORRES’ involvement in the Rollin’ 30s racketeering conspiracy included the September 19, 2015 murder of Nester Suazo and that OWEN’s involvement included the March 26, 2015 murder of Victor Chafla.  Suazo was killed after Torres and other gang members fought with members of a rival Crip faction at a music video shoot in the Bronx.  Chafla, an innocent bystander, was caught in the crossfire during an attempt by Rollin’ 30s members to shoot at a member of an opposing street gang in the Bronx.  At the time he was shot, Chafla was standing outside the store where he worked stocking fruits and vegetables. Chafla died from his wounds a few days later.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As the jury unanimously found, the defendants were members of a violent gang, and were responsible for multiple murders.  Thanks to the dedication of our partners at the NYPD and HSI, the defendants now stand convicted in federal court for their crimes.”
According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictments and other documents in the public record, and the evidence at trial:
From at least in or about 2009 up to and including in or about 2017, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, RANDY TORRES, a/k/a “Rico,” WALSTON OWEN, a/k/a “Purpose,” CHARLES VENTURA, a/k/a “Gutta,” and others were members or associates of a racketeering enterprise known as the “Rollin’ 30s,” also known as the “Harlem Mafia Crips,” or “Dirt Gang.”  In order to fund the enterprise, protect and expand its interests, and promote its standing, members and associates of the Rollin’ 30s committed, conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, and robbery; and they conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics.
OWEN and VENTURA each face a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment; all three defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  Sentencing of the defendants has been scheduled for July 10, 2020.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD and HSI. 

Yonkers Man Charged With Bronx Kidnapping

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging OWEN DRAIN, a/k/a “Whiteboy,” a/k/a “Tommy,” with the November 19, 2019, gunpoint kidnapping of a victim in the Bronx.  The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Victor Marrero.  DRAIN was arrested this afternoon, and will be presented today before United States Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged in the Indictment, the defendant kidnapped a victim in a car at gunpoint.  Thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and the NYPD, the defendant is now charged in federal court for this extremely serious crime.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said:  “This arrest and indictment reflects the hard work that members of the NYPD engage in each day to hold responsible the small number of individuals committing much of the violence in New York City. I commend the efforts of the NYPD investigators and our law enforcement partners involved in this investigation.”
As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:
As alleged, on November 19, 2019, OWEN DRAIN kidnapped a victim at gunpoint and zip tied the victim during the course of the kidnapping.
DRAIN, 35, of Yonkers, New York, is charged with kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  The statutory maximum penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.           
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD and FBI. 
This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Ni Qian and Michael D. Longyear are in charge of the prosecution.           
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Attorney General James, Comptroller DiNapoli, And Department Of Investigation Commissioner Garnett Announce Sentencing In Straw Donation Scheme

Anna Mendez, Formerly of Tremont Crotona Day Care Center, Sentenced to 5 years’ Probation   

 Attorney General Letitia James, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, and New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett announced the sentencing of non-profit executive Anna Mendez for the misuse of nonprofit funds to fund straw political donations to former New York City Council candidate Albert Alvarez in New York County Supreme Court, Mendez was sentenced to 5 years’ probation.

“Anna Mendez misused thousands of dollars intended to aid our youngest and most vulnerable new Yorkers,” said Attorney General James. “Public corruption in any form will never be tolerated, and my office remains committed to holding bad actors across the state accountable. I thank the offices of the New York State Comptroller and the New York City Department of Investigation for their continued commitment to justice.”
"Our electoral  process is jeopardized when people like Ms. Mendez scheme to undermine laws to fund candidates," said New York State Comptroller DiNapoli. "Thanks to our partnership with Attorney General James and the New York City Department of Investigations, Ms. Mendez now faces justice and has been held accountable for her actions."
“Corrupting the election process is a crime that deserves a serious penalty," said New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett. “This defendant exploited New York City’s campaign finance system by misappropriating monies from a City-funded nonprofit and using them to support straw campaign donations. DOI was pleased to work with the state Attorney General and state Comptroller on this important investigation.”
On October 28, 2019, Mendez was convicted of 10 counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony. Mendez and her co-conspirator, George Gonzalez, were arraigned for their roles in the false filings on January 10, 2018. Mendez and Gonzalez provided funds to other employees of Tremont Crotona Day Care Center to contribute to Alvarez. Gonzalez also distributed contribution cards to these employees, which he had them falsely make out in their own names to conceal the true source of the funds. Alvarez then collected the money and false contribution cards. Even though he knew the contribution cards were false, Alvarez submitted them to the New York City Campaign Finance Board (the “CFB”) to steal at least $4,500 in public matching funds. In total, Alvarez received $92,400 in public matching funds. Alvarez plead guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor in connection with the case.
Gonzalez also pleaded guilty to felony counts of Grand Larceny and Offering a False Instrument for filing in connection with his role in the straw donation scheme. Additionally, former Tremont Crotona, Inc., Chairman of the Board, Alexander Pena, pled guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree for his role in corruption at the non-profit.
Since 2011, the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the State Comptroller have worked together to fight corruption through their Joint Task Force on Public Integrity.
The Attorney General would also like to thank the New York City Department of Investigation for their partnership on this investigation. The case was investigated by First Deputy Inspector General Ivette Morales under the supervision of Inspector General Andrew Sein, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella, and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort.

Attorney General James To Sue New York City Government For Fraudulent Practices By Taxi And Limousine Commission

TLC Knowingly Misled Taxi Medallion Purchasers by Publishing False Prices
AG James Seeks Restitution for Individual Medallion Owners
  New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a notice of claim for $810 million to the City of New York, alleging that it fraudulently inflated the price of thousands of yellow taxicab medallions and profited from it over a 14-year period. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General revealed that, between 2004 and 2017, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) marketed the licenses for thousands of taxi medallions to purchasers as investments and conducted auctions of these medallions in a manner which artificially inflated prices by hundreds of millions of dollars. The city not only engaged in a scheme that defrauded medallion owners, but continued to further market these medallions at overvalued rates even after internal reports raised warnings about the inflated values.
“Government should be a source of justice, not a vehicle for fraudulent practices,” said Attorney General James. “These taxi medallions were marketed as a pathway to the American Dream, but instead became a trapdoor of despair for medallion owners harmed by the TLCs unlawful practices. The very government that was supposed to ensure fair practices in the marketplace engaged in a scheme that defrauded hundreds of medallion owners, leaving many with no choice but to work day and night to pay off their overpriced medallions. What’s worse is that the TLC knew their actions were affecting some of the city’s most financially exposed immigrant families. We are taking action to ensure New York’s hard-working taxi drivers can be made whole again and are repaid the hundreds of millions the city unlawfully pocketed.”
A taxicab medallion is a numbered metal plate that is affixed to the body of a New York yellow taxicab. A medallion licenses a driver to accept “street hails” and to charge a fare that is regulated and set by the TLC. Since 1937, the TLC has controlled all sales of new medallions through auctions and has overseen all transfers of medallions between third parties. There are currently more than13,600 taxi medallions in New York City.
In the past, the City of New York and the TLC have promoted ownership of taxi medallions as “a solid investment with steady growth,” claiming that its “return” was “better than the stock market.” A former TLC Commissioner even once noted that medallions have “outperformed practically every other type of investment that exists.” The TLC has also previously lured purchasers by claiming the high value of taxi medallions could be used as collateral for a loan, to pay for a home or a college education, or to fund one’s retirement.
From at least 2004 up through 2017, the TLC took numerous actions to inflate the price of medallions and increase its profits. First, the TLC set up an artificial floor below which bids are never accepted. The city also permitted taxicab brokers and other large owners to not only “bid up” the price of medallions, but also collude on pricing.  
No later than 2011, the TLC knew that the price of a medallion had exceeded its underlying value, but failed to disclose that information to purchasers. Further, on at least 10 occasions in 2013 and 2014, the TLC published false and misleading medallion prices despite having exclusive oversight and approval over the sale of these medallions. In each instance, the TLC overstated the actual average and repeatedly made misleading statements as to the actual number of transfers.
This misinformation campaign led to highly inflated pricing, resulting in the cost of an individual taxi medallion sold at an auction increasing from $283,300 in 2004 to $965,000 in 2014 — an astronomical increase of more than 240 percent. A fleet of two corporate medallions (owned by non-drivers) surged even more at auctions between 2004 and 2014, increasing from $681,101 (or $340,550 each) to $2,420,500 ($1,210,250 each) — a 255 percent increase.
During this same period, New York City profited $810 million by selling medallions and by collecting a five-percent transfer tax on third-party transfers. More than one-third of that sum — $359 million — was made at three auctions alone conducted in a five-month period — between November 2013 and March 2014 — during which 400 newly-issued medallions were sold.
The TLC’s actions caused medallion prices to be inflated so significantly that the price for the medallions could not be supported or paid off by the income received through the operation of a taxicab at the fares regulated and set by the city itself.
In the notice of claim — required to be served to the city comptroller before legal action can commence — Attorney General James makes clear that the Office of the Attorney General intends to file a lawsuit against the City of New York if relief is not agreed to be paid within 30 days. Funds recovered will go towards restitution for medallion owners, as well as damages and disgorgement. Additionally, Attorney General James seeks injunctive relief to halt the TLC from continuing this unlawful conduct in the future.
The TLC is accused of common law fraud, unjust enrichment, and violations of both Article 23-A of the New York General Business Law and Section 63(12) of the New York Executive Law.
Individuals with additional information related to the TLC’s inflation of medallion prices should email