Tuesday, December 12, 2017

State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj Light the Bronx House Menorah

  Normally the giant menorah at Bronx House is lit outside, but due to the inclement weather the celebration of Chanukah was held inside this year for day one of the eight days of Chanukah.

  Bronx House Executive Director Howard Martin introduced Senator Klein who said what Chanukah means to him, and then Senator Klein introduced Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj to say a few words in his last few days as the 80th A.D. Assemblyman. Assemblyman Gjonaj said that while he is leaving the state assembly, beginning in January he will still be representing the area around Bronx House as the new Councilman from the district. Rabbi Israel Greenberg was then introduced who gave a little history of the holiday of Chanukah. 

 Rabbi Greenberg then said the three prayers said on the first day of Chanukah, and Senator Klein and Assemblyman Gjonaj lit the first light of the eight lights on the menorah. Each day another light is added until all eight lights are lit to symbolize the eight days of the small amount of oil that burned for eight days.

Above - State Senator Jeff Klein tells what the eight days of Chanukah means to him and others of the Jewish faith. 
Below - Rabbi Israel Greenberg Thanks Senator Klein for being with the community all his years in office, while also thanking Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj for his support also. The children in the background were from Bronx House, and provided songs after the menorah was lit.

Rabbi Greenberg says the three prayers for the first day of Chanukah, as Senator Klein and Assemblyman Gjonaj await to turn the first light on. The middle or ninth light is already lit, because when candles are used that candle lights the others.

Akayed Ullah Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Terrorism And Explosives Charges In Connection With The Detonation Of A Bomb In New York City

  Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States, Joon H. Kim, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dana J. Boente, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that AKAYED ULLAH has been charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in connection with ULLAH’s detonation and attempted denotation of a bomb in a subway terminal near the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City on December 11, 2017.  Three people were injured as a result of the detonation.  

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:  “The Department of Justice is relentless in taking on the terrorist threat.  In my time back at the Department, nothing has impressed me more.  Since 9/11, the Department has convicted more than 500 criminals of terrorism-related offenses, and the FBI has open terrorism investigations in every state.  To make law enforcement’s job easier, however, Congress must finally fix our broken immigration system so that we admit to this country those who are likely to succeed, not violent criminals, gang members, terrorists, or their sympathizers.  The fact that somebody won a lottery or is someone’s relative tells us nothing about their ability to assimilate.  Nevertheless, the Department of Justice will prosecute this case and every other case to the fullest extent of the law, and we will bring those who threaten America to justice.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Yesterday, in the heart of rush hour, as thousands came into New York City through the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Akayed Ullah allegedly came with a hate-filled heart and an evil purpose: to murder as many innocent people as he could and blow himself up in the process, all in support of the vicious terrorist cause of ISIS.  Although yesterday he allegedly stood in the tunnels under Port Authority plotting to kill, today he stands charged with federal crimes of terrorism.  Those alleged terrorists who target New York City do so because they feel threatened by the strength of our spirit, the height of our ambition, and the breadth of our freedom.  They come seeking to sow hate, fear, and terror.  But in New York City, they find instead strength, resilience, and hope.  Like many before him, Akayed Ullah will also find another great American virtue: justice.  That justice will be tough, it will be fair, and it will be swift.”      
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Akayed Ullah let loose his plan to conduct a mass casualty attack, setting off a pipe bomb, strapped to his body, inside a New York City subway terminal, as we allege today.  Like many others before him, we believe Ullah was inspired by a group that exploits technology in an effort to spread a violent ideology, effectively convincing sympathizers to commit terrorist acts worldwide.  The nature of this particular strain of the terrorism threat can often mean evaluating behavior that doesn’t mean anything until you combine it with other pieces of intelligence.  We rely heavily upon the community’s assistance to accomplish that task.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “The act of terror committed in New York City yesterday accomplished nothing.  It has not changed our way of life.  It was a cowardly act, fueled by a false sense of purpose—motivated by propaganda in the shadows of the internet.  What is clear is the resolve of New Yorkers to live in a free society, devoid of fear.  I want to commend the work of the NYPD-FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the prosecutors in the Southern District for bringing today’s charges.  Finally, our security requires every single member of the public’s help.  It requires their vigilance.  And it requires their care.  If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact law enforcement.”
As alleged in the Complaint:[1]
Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham 
ISIS is a foreign terrorist organization based in the Middle East and Africa whose publicly stated purpose is the establishment of an Islamic state or caliphate based in the Middle East and Africa that encompasses all Muslims worldwide.  ISIS has pursued the objective of an Islamic state through, among other things, killing and deliberate targeting of civilians, mass executions, persecution of individuals and communities on the basis of their religion, nationality, or ethnicity, kidnapping of civilians, forced displacement of Shia communities and minority groups, killing and maiming of children, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.  ISIS has recruited thousands of foreign fighters from across the globe to assist with its efforts to expand its so-called caliphate in Iraq, Syria, and other locations in Africa and the Middle East, and has leveraged technology to spread its violent extremist ideology and for incitement to commit terrorist acts.   
The December 11, 2017, Attack
On December 11, 2017, at approximately 7:20 a.m., an improvised explosive device (“IED”) detonated inside a subway terminal (the “Subway Terminal”) in or around the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal located at West 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in New York, New York (the “December 11 Attack”).  Shortly after the blast, members of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (“PAPD”) located an individual later identified as AKAYED ULLAH lying on the ground in the vicinity of the explosion. Surveillance footage captured ULLAH walking through the Subway Terminal immediately prior to the explosion, and then falling to the ground after the explosion. 
ULLAH was subsequently taken into custody by law enforcement.  During the course of ULLAH’s arrest, law enforcement officers located on his person and in the surrounding area what appeared to be the components of an exploded pipe bomb (the “Pipe Bomb”).  Specifically, law enforcement located, among other items, (i) a nine-volt battery inside ULLAH’s pants pocket; (ii) wires connected to the battery and running underneath ULLAH’s jacket;  (iii) two plastic zip ties underneath ULLAH’s jacket; (iv) several fragments of a metal pipe, including pieces of a metal end cap, on the ground; (v) the remnants of what appeared to be a Christmas tree lightbulb attached to wires; and (vi) pieces of what appear to be plastic zip ties, among other items.  
After ULLAH was taken into custody, he was transferred to Bellevue Hospital, where he made statements to law enforcement officers after waiving his Miranda rights.  During that interview, ULLAH stated, among other things, the following:
 ULLAH constructed the Pipe Bomb and carried out the December 11 Attack. ULLAH was inspired by ISIS to carry out the December 11 Attack, and stated, among other things, “I did it for the Islamic State.” 
 ULLAH constructed the Pipe Bomb at his residence in Brooklyn (“the Residence”);
 The Pipe Bomb was composed of a metal pipe, which ULLAH filled with explosive material that he created.  ULLAH used Christmas tree lights, wires, and a nine-volt battery as a trigger to detonate the Pipe Bomb.  ULLAH filled the Pipe Bomb with metal screws, which he believed would cause maximum damage.  ULLAH used zip ties to secure the Pipe Bomb to his body. 
 ULLAH carried out the December 11 Attack in part because of the United States Government’s policies in, among other places, the Middle East.  One of ULLAH’s goals in carrying out the December 11 Attack was to terrorize as many people as possible.  He chose to carry out the attack on a work day because he believed that there would be more people. 
 ULLAH’s radicalization began in at least approximately 2014.  ULLAH viewed pro-ISIS materials online, including a video instructing, in substance, that if supporters of ISIS were unable to travel overseas to join ISIS, they should carry out attacks in their homelands.  He began researching how to build IEDs on the Internet approximately one year ago.
On the morning of December 11, 2017, shortly before carrying out the attack, ULLAH posted a statement on his Facebook account referring to the President of the United States, stating, in substance, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.”  ULLAH also posted a statement that he believed would be understood by members and supporters of ISIS to convey that ULLAH carried out the attack in the name of ISIS.
Items Recovered from ULLAH’s Residence
On December 11, 2017, law enforcement agents conducted a search of the Residence pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant.  Law enforcement agents recovered, among other items, (i) multiple pieces of metal pipes; (ii) pieces of wire and fragments of what appear to be Christmas tree lights; (iii) multiple screws consistent with the screws recovered at the scene of the December 11 Attack; and (iv) a passport in ULLAH’s name with multiple handwritten notations, including:  “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”
Three individuals were injured as a result of the December 11 Attack.
ULLAH, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, is charged in the Complaint with one count of provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of using and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of destruction of property by means of fire or explosives, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison and potential maximum of life, all in connection with ULLAH’s alleged detonation of an explosive device in New York City.
Mr. Sessions, Mr. Kim, and Mr. Boente praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the FBI, the NYPD, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and the PAPD.  ULLAH’s arrest is the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force – which consists of law enforcement officers of the FBI, NYPD, HSI, PAPD, and other agencies – and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division. 
The prosecution is being handled by the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shawn G. Crowley, Rebekah Donaleski, and George D. Turner are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Jerome Teresinski of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

High-Ranking “Ygz” Gang Member Sentenced To 45 Years In Prison For Murder Of 21-Year-Old

Kareem Lanier Also Sentenced for His Role in Three Additional Murders

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that KAREEM LANIER, a/k/a “Reem,” a/k/a “Black,” has been sentenced to a term of 40 years in prison, which must run consecutively to a prior prison sentence of five years, for his crimes as a high-ranking member of the “Young Gunnaz” or “YGz” gang, including murdering Dykeem Etheridge on January 24, 2011, and providing assistance to other YGz gang members in connection with three other murders.  LANIER was sentenced on Friday afternoon in Manhattan federal court by United States District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, before whom he previously pleaded guilty.

According to the charging and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during LANIER’s guilty plea and sentencing proceedings and other court proceedings in the case:
LANIER was a high-ranking member of a set of the YGz gang known as the “Morris Avenue Gunnaz,” which was based in and around Maria Lopez Plaza on Morris Avenue in the South Bronx.  From 2005 to 2017, members and associates of the YGz enriched themselves by committing robberies and by selling drugs, such as crack cocaine, and committed acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, against various people, including rival gang members. 
On January 24, 2011, a group of YGz members, including LANIER, assaulted Dykeem Etheridge, 21, as he exited a store on the corner of 154th Street and Courtlandt Avenue.  LANIER shot and killed Etheridge as he tried to flee the attack.  LANIER later told a fellow gang member that he killed Etheridge in order to enhance his status in the YGz.
On July 3, 2011, LANIER and other YGz members rode on bicycles to the territory of a rival gang on Park Avenue near 158th Street in the South Bronx.  Their goal was to shoot and kill a rival gang member on sight, and LANIER went along to support and encourage the other YGz members.  A member of the YGz shot at a rival gang member, who survived the shooting.  While LANIER and others were fleeing from the scene of the shooting, LANIER’s associate shot Curtis Smith, 23, a bystander, in the head.  Smith died several days later.          
On October 17, 2011, LANIER provided a firearm to a fellow YGz member, who then used the firearm in a shootout with members of a rival gang that resulted in the death of Devon Jackson, 16, in the vicinity of East 146th Street between Third and Collect Avenues in the Bronx.
On December 22, 2011, after several YGz members murdered Taisheem Ferguson, 17, near Morris Avenue and 151st Street in the Bronx, LANIER helped two of the participants in the murder flee from the scene by hailing and paying for a taxi cab so that they would escape before the police could catch them. 
LANIER, 26, of the Bronx, is the eighth defendant to be sentenced this year by Judge Caproni for participation in a YGz-related murder.
Acting U.S. Attorney Kim praised the outstanding work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York City Police Department in the investigation of this case.  He also thanked the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their support in this case.

Three Men Charged In Federal Court With Narcotics Offenses Relating To 13 Kilograms Of Cocaine And Nearly 19,000 Envelopes Of Heroin In Yonkers

  Joon H. Kim, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (the “DEA”), and Charles Gardner, Yonkers Police Department Commissioner (the “YPD”), announced today the arrest of ANSLEY R. ESTRELLA, RONALD E. LEON, and LUIS OSCAR REYES relating to 13 kilograms of cocaine and nearly 19,000 glassines of heroin in a house in Yonkers.  ESTRELLA, LEON, and REYES were all charged Friday in a complaint with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than one kilogram of heroin.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “After receiving a call about suspicious activity near a house in suburban Yonkers, responding officers allegedly discovered massive quantities of cocaine and heroin, as well as drug paraphernalia, in that home.  We commend our law enforcement partners for their swift and effective response to this potentially dangerous situation, and the citizens who notified them when something just didn’t look right.  Citizens can play an important role in keeping dangerous drugs, including opioids, off our streets.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated:  “A Parent’s worst fear is a heroin dealer setting up shop next door.   This case is a reminder that drug traffickers’ greed outweighs the safety of their neighbors. Law enforcement is committed to keeping a vigilant eye out for drug dealers like these whose trafficking encourages heroin abuse, crime and drug related violence, allegedly.”

Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said:  “A thorough investigation conducted by the responding Yonkers police officers resulted in the discovery of a large scale narcotics distribution operation and the arrest of three individuals.  We are working with our federal law enforcement partners on the follow-up investigation and the prosecution of these males.  I would like to thank the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s office for their support and invaluable assistance.”

According to the allegations made in the Complaint:[1]

On the evening of December 7, 2017, YPD officers received a call indicating that three men had pushed a fourth man into a house in Yonkers, New York.  YPD officers responded to the house, and saw ESTRELLA walk out of the house.  The man said he lived in the house with his girlfriend, and that nobody was in the house.  The officers could see – through the closed shades – silhouettes of people moving inside the house.  Nonetheless, the man repeated that nobody was in the house.

As YPD officers approached the open front door, they saw REYES, with a surgical mask on, and then LEON, also with a surgical mask on, who had blood on his face.  The YPD officers entered the house, where LEON denied being hurt.

YPD officers walked through the house to see if there were any additional people committing an ongoing crime or if there were victims in the house.  In a room on the second floor, they found white powder, respiratory masks, and, in an open closet, a large number of glassine envelopes and scales.

In the garage, a YPD officer found a car with an open shopping bag, in which the YPD Officer could see what appeared to be bundles of decks of heroin.

The YPD officers placed ESTRELLA, LEON, and REYES under arrest.  LEON had keys in his possession for the car in the garage.

The YPD obtained and executed a search warrant and did a full search of the house and the car in the garage, as well as two other cars.  During that search, the YPD found, among other things, 13 kilogram-sized bricks of cocaine, 18,598 glassine envelopes containing heroin, 813 tan pills stamped “M30,” a number of plastic bags and clear knotted twists containing white chunky substances, a scale, five small grinders, assorted stamp pads and stamps, a metal kilogram press, and a money-counting machine.

The Complaint charges each of ESTRELLA, LEON, and REYES with one count of narcotics conspiracy, and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and aiding and abetting the same.

Mr. Kim thanked the DEA and YPD for their outstanding work on the investigation.

The charges contained in the Complaint 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 Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as allegations.


City will help non-profit developers acquire and rehab cluster sites; will use eminent domain if necessary

  Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the City will help not-for-profit developers acquire and rehab residential “cluster site” buildings, currently used to house homeless families, and convert them into permanent affordable housing in a historic move to address the homelessness crisis in New York City. If negotiations to buy cluster site buildings are not successful, the City will use eminent domain to acquire them.

Over the past 17 years, New York City has used the cluster site program to provide shelter for homeless families, a practice that the de Blasio Administration committed to ending last February as part of its Turning the Tide on Homelessness in New York City plan. 

“Our city’s homelessness crisis wasn’t created overnight and it won’t be solved overnight. It requires us to come up with creative and bold new strategies to help those on the street and those in need of shelter and affordable permanent housing,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This initiative will transform dozens of dilapidated temporary apartments into quality, permanently affordable homes. The effort is a clear sign that we will go to any length necessary to help our neighbors get back on their feet.”

To implement Turning the Tide, the City is using a new tool to end the 17-year-old cluster site program through negotiated resolution or use of eminent domain. The de Blasio Administration is financing the acquisition of cluster buildings by trusted locally-based not-for-profit developers, who will rehabilitate them working with the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, creating affordable housing for homeless families and returning rent-stabilized units to market while utilizing a new strategy to end the use of cluster apartments for homeless families. The new owners will enter a regulatory agreement with HPD to ensure the long-term affordability of the cluster apartments as housing for homeless families and other low-income New Yorkers.

During this transition, the cluster apartments will continue to be operated as shelter for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness with funding and services provided by the City’s Department of Homeless Services. Homeless families residing at these locations who are prepared for housing permanency at the point of transition to not-for-profit ownership will be offered the opportunity to remain as tenants with a new rent-stabilized lease if they wish to remain in the building. All non-homeless tenants living in a cluster building at the time of purchase will also be given a new rent-stabilized lease that offers additional protections under HPD’s regulatory agreement.

The City has so far identified 25 to 30 cluster site buildings that qualify. Only buildings where 50 percent or more of apartments are cluster apartments will be considered. The targeted buildings are home to approximately 800 homeless families and 300 other tenants––meaning this group of properties will create over 1,100 permanent and affordable homes.

“Being in charge of the health and wellbeing of 8.5 million New Yorkers is no small task and as a physician, a public health practitioner and as a mother, I know how important having a permanent home is to a family,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Herminia Palacio. “Removing the uncertainty of housing can strengthen the health of a family and stabilizing families leads to stronger communities. Through this unprecedented step we will further support the many hardworking mothers and fathers who strive to make secure lives for their families. Thank you Mayor de Blasio for keeping us focused on homelessness, and for continuing to challenge us to be creative in our approach towards solving this crisis.”

“Addressing a crisis decades in the making demands aggressive action that leaves no stone unturned. As we end the Giuliani-era cluster program, already reducing citywide use by more than a third, this strategy is part of our commitment to using every tool at our disposal to help New Yorkers in need get back on their feet—while also creating permanent housing for homeless families and preserving affordability for thousands of New Yorkers for years to come,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Today’s announcement should make crystal clear that we mean business, moving forward on every front to phase out this 17-year-old stop-gap measure once and for all in our mission to better serve homeless New Yorkers and all New Yorkers.”

“HPD is working to create and preserve affordable housing at record pace, setting aside more homes for homeless families, and introducing new tools to protect tenants and keep them in their homes and neighborhoods,” said Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “This latest initiative with DSS will convert many of the remaining cluster buildings into permanent affordable housing and place the properties in the capable hands of trusted, locally-based non-profit partners, ensuring their quality and affordability for current and future families.  Solving the homelessness crisis means all options must be on the table and we are committed to working with DSS and many partners on this bold strategy to ensure homeless families and low-income New Yorkers have safe and secure homes.”

Since January 2016 when the City was using a high-point of approximately 3,600 cluster units and first announced its intention to end the cluster site program, the City’s Department of Homeless Services has reduced the citywide use of cluster apartments to shelter homeless families by more than 35 percent using multiple strategies. That included closing nearly 1,100 cluster units and counting, more than 600 of which were in the Bronx, where the vast majority of clusters have been historically located. In addition, the City has converted about 300 units across seven cluster site locations into State-licensed shelters operated by not-for-profit homeless services providers.

In January 2016, the City was managing 3,650 cluster apartments across the five boroughs. As of December 4, 2,272 homeless families remain in cluster sites. 

DHS Commissioner Steve Banks goes into more details of what this means to the homeless families in these 25 - 30 buildings the city wants to take over, and have non profits fix up and run.

Monday, December 11, 2017


Defendant Extradited From Florida After DNA Matched To Him This Year

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a man has been indicted for first-degree Murder in the rape and strangulation of a young Bronx woman 17 years ago. 

  District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant allegedly raped and then strangled the victim with a telephone cord, leaving her to be found dead by her family. This tragic case is a reminder that “cold” cases are not forgotten and we will pursue justice no matter how long it takes. I hope this victim’s family can get a measure of closure.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Christopher Gonzalez, 36, of Naples, Florida, was indicted on two counts of first-degree Murder and three counts of second-degree Murder. He was arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice George Villegas. He was remanded and is due back in court on March 12, 2018. If convicted of the top charges, he faces up to life in prison without parole. 

 According to the investigation, on December 2, 2000, inside an apartment building on East 180th Street, the defendant allegedly raped and then strangled Dora Del Valle, 19, with a telephone cord. The teen, who was house-sitting for her hospitalized uncle, was later found dead by family members. A fingerprint and significant DNA evidence collected at the scene was matched to the defendant this year. The defendant was extradited from Florida on December 8, 2017.

 An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Statement from Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein Re: Bomb Blast

This act of terror, meant to spread fear throughout our subway system, will never stop New Yorkers in their tracks. The people of this city are incredibly resilient, brave and vigilant. We live in a city that is a beacon of democracy and we will proudly carry on with our daily routines because we know that is the best foil to those who hate our way of life. My thoughts are with the families of those who suffered injuries. I commend the NYPD, the FDNY, the PAPD, EMS and every first responder for their effective response to this incident.


Part of new 300,000 affordable housing plan; “Open Door” and “HomeFix” will help 2,100 families own a piece of the Big Apple, fix their homes

  Mayor Bill de Blasio detailed two new programs that will help New Yorkers achieve and maintain the American Dream – owning their own home. Open Door aids first-time homeowners buy a condo or coop, and HomeFix helps New Yorkers make capital improvements to their homes. These two programs will reach at least 2,100 households in eight years.

“As we work to make this a fairer and better city, we want to help New York’s working families own a piece of their own city. Affordable homeownership empowers families and neighborhoods and opens pathways to the middle class,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The 2,100 goal builds on the nearly 10,000 homeownership projects financed by the City since 2014, many of them Mitchell-Lama cooperatives. The housing plan anticipates creating or preserving 20,000 homeownership opportunities by 2026. Owning a home helps families build assets that can help fund a college education and retirement. But for many, the dream of homeownership and home maintenance seems impossible.

“Homeownership is a critical ladder to greater financial security for families, and a stabilizing anchor for neighborhoods. Through these new programs, more New Yorkers will have a shot at owning a piece of their city, and making the repairs they need to stay in their homes and communities,” saidHPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.  “I want to thank the Mayor and all our partners for their work to make the dream of homeownership a reality for more of our working families.”

Along with the Neighborhood Pillars program, the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program, and Seniors FirstOpen Door and HomeFix are among a suite of new initiatives announced as part of the Mayor’s plan to accelerate the creation and preservation of affordable housing across New York City. The Mayor’s new plan, Housing New York 2.0, will finance 200,000 affordable homes by 2022 and 300,000 by 2026, enough to house the entire population of Boston.

The new homeowner assistance programs are:

Open Door: A financing program that incentivizes the construction of coops and condos for moderate- and middle-income first-time homebuyers. The program will create approximately 200 affordable homes a year, and 1,300 by 2026.  

HomeFix: A home repair program provides financing to low- and moderate-income homeowners by offering low-interest loans to fund needed repairs in one- to four-family properties. HomeFix will serve approximately 100 households a year, and 800 over the next 8 years. The program offers financial counseling.

Most of the nearly 10,000 homes financed since 2014 have had their affordability extended and rehabilitation financed, particularly in Mitchell-Lama coops.  The City is redoubling its commitment to saving the remaining Mitchell-Lamas and other existing homeownership opportunities, and will seek to preserve another 8,000 homes over the extended 12-year plan.

STATEMENT FROM BP DIAZ RE: Terror Attack in Times Square Subway

  “The people of New York City remain united against terror. While today’s attack on our subway system reinforces our need to be vigilant, it will not break our resolve to live our lives as we see fit.  No cowardly attack can change the core of who we are as New Yorkers.

“I especially want to thank our first responders, including the New York City Police and Fire Departments, Port Authority Police Department and the MTA Police Department, for everything they do on a daily basis to keep our city safe and secure,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: At 7:20 am, approximately, 7:20 am this morning, we had terror related incident in the subway, in the passageway between 42nd and Eight, and 42nd and Seventh. The Governor is going to speak. The Mayor is going to speak. I’m going to give you some more details.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: Thank you, good morning to everyone. The first news this morning was obviously very frightening and disturbing. When you hear about a bomb in the subway station, which is in many ways one of our worst nightmares, the reality turns out better than the initial expectation and fear.

You had a number of law enforcement agencies that did a fantastic job. The NYPD, the PAPD, the Port Authority Police, the MTA Police, they were all on it. You see behind us representatives of all the agencies coordinated. The Assistant Director of the FBI, Bill Sweeney, is here. So everyone worked together.

There was an explosion. The Police Commissioner will go over the details. It was a minor – it was an effectively low tech device. There were several injuries, we hope minor, and it was handled extraordinarily well. There was a disruption in train service and bus service while a sweep was being done, that’s all being restored now, as you will hear from Joh Lhota. The subway station – subway service, except at 42nd Street is being restored. The Port Authority Bus Terminal is re-opened, so buses will be running once again.

This is New York. The reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom. We are the Statue of Liberty in our harbor. And that makes us an international target, we understand that. With the internet now, anyone can go on the internet, and download garbage and vileness on how to put together an amateur level explosive device, and that is a reality that we live with. The counter-reality is that this is New York, and we all pitch together, and we are a savvy people, and we keep our eyes open. And that’s what see something, say something is all about. And we have the best law enforcement on the globe. And we are all working together extraordinarily well. 

I want to thank the Mayor and the Mayor’s Office for doing a great job this morning and we will go forward, and we will go forward together. All the service will resume. Let’s go back to work. We are not going to allow them to disrupt us. That’s exactly what they want and that is exactly what they’re not going to get. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you very much Governor. Let’s be clear, as New Yorkers, our lives revolve around the subways. When we hear of an attack on the subway, it’s incredibly unsettling. And let’s be also clear, this was attempted terrorist attack. Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals. Thank God our first responders were there so quickly to address the situation, to make sure people were safe. Thank God the only injuries, that we know at this point, were minor.

But I agree 100 percent with the Governor’s point. The choice of New York is always for a reason. Because we’re beacons to the world and we actually show that society of many faiths and many backgrounds can work, and we showed that democracy can work. And our enemies want to undermine that, the terrorist want to undermine that, so they yearn to attack New York City. But New York City is blessed with the finest law enforcement, and what our first responders did today was another example the ability to assess a situation quickly, contain it, and make sure people are safe.

Let me just say, it’s very important for my fellow New Yorkers to know. There are no additional known instance at this time, there are no additional known activities. We will wait for a fuller investigation, of course, by the NYPD, the MTA police, the Port Authority police, and the FBI, but at this point in time, all we know of is one individual, who thank God was unsuccessful in his aims. There are also no credible and specific threats against New York City at this time. But we will give you more information, of course, as the investigation unfolds.

The first responders responded brilliantly. Now the mission of the NYPD is to secure all major transit hubs and major sites in this city. So you will see expanded NYPD presence today all over the city. New Yorkers have come to understand when you see our specialized forces, when you see those long guns, and those highly trained officers, that’s something that should be reassuring to you. That means that the NYPD is on full alert and out in force and that means you are safe. 

Finally I want to say, the Governor invoked that phrase, we can’t say it enough times, when you see something, say something. This is the difference maker. We’ve seen it time and again. When an everyday New Yorker sees something that doesn’t make sense, hears something, sees a package, gets a feeling that something’s wrong. Don’t hold it yourself, tell a police officer. They are the ones who can take the information and act on it. It is so important to speak up because you could be saving many lives by doing so.

I’ll finish by saying this. This is most resilient place on Earth, we’ve proven it time and time again. We’ve proved it just over a month ago. We proved it on 9/11. We are going to prove it again today. The terrorists will not win, we are going keep being New Yorkers. Let’s get back to work. Thank you.

Commissioner O’Neill: Alright these are the preliminary facts. So – just – it just happened a couple hours ago, so you have to understand these are preliminary facts. At approximately 7:20 am, at a below ground walkway, which connects the IND line at 4-2 and Eight Avenue with the IRT line at 4-2 and seven, and that’s the shuttle at Time Square and the 1,2,3 train.

Police were called to a reported explosion. Responding units found an injured 27-year-old male. We’ve identified him as Akayed Ullah, A-K-A-Y-E-D-U-L-L-A-H. He had burns and wounds to his body. Preliminary investigation at the scene indicates this male was wearing an improvised, low-tech explosive device attached to his body. He intentionally detonated that device. Looks like that there were three other people in the immediate area also sustain minor injuries, but Dan Nigro is going to talk about that. The subject was placed in custody and transported to Bellevue Hospital.

Immediate police response to the scene included members of the Transit Bureau, Emergency Service Decision, Bomb Squad, Counter-Terrorism, MTA Police, State Troopers, and the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Taskforce.  In addition, the NYPD Strategic Response Group and Critical Response Command, were assigned to other key transportation hubs and other locations throughout the city as a precautionary measure.

This incident was captured on transit system video. A further review and interviewing witnesses is under way, a thorough background investigation Akayed Ullah is being conducted by the Joint Terrorist Taskforce. We are asking anyone who may have any information about this individual or incident to call the terror headline, and that’s, 8-8-8-NYC-SAFE.

Just as the Governor said, and as the Mayor said, we are New Yorkers, we don’t live in fear. If you see something doesn’t look right ,you have an obligation to come forward, call 9-1-1, flag down a cop, and give us a chance to investigate it. 

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro:  As the Police Commissioner mentioned the perpetrator detonated the device, it caused burns to the hands and the abdomen, also lacerations. Our EMS personnel removed the perpetrator to Bellevue Hospital where they’re being treated now. Three other people that were in proximity of the explosion removed themselves. Two of them took themselves to Mt. Saini West, one to Mt. Saini Queens. All with minor injuries that are consistent with being in the area of the explosion. That is ringing in the ears and headaches. So we have three minor injuries to people that were in that corridor and serious injuries to the perpetrator.

MTA Chairman Joe Lhota: Thank you. As the Commissioners have both said, and the Mayor and the Governor have both said, earlier this morning we received an alert of the explosion that happened in the tunnel and immediately the MTA and the transit authority shut down the lines on the Eight Avenue line, the A, the C, the E. Many of them were rerouted. I will tell you right now, they are all back. The only disruption we have right now is that on both the Seventh Avenue line, as well as the Eighth Avenue line, we’re bypassing the Times Square-42nd Street corridor. And also the shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square is currently shut down. We expect it to be back up and normal by – by this evening’s rush hour.

I do want to also state that on November 6th, just a month or so ago, we had a tabletop exercise with the NYPD to coordinate our efforts in the event that something like this ever happened. And the result of that was today in less than two hours we are back totally up to speed and getting our passengers around. I want to especially thank, not only the NYPD, but also our passengers and our customers for their patience.


  State Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, together with Mr. Edward Cox, President of the New York State Republican Party, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, Councilman Rafael Salamanca and the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, will be celebrating Christmas in the Bronx, with free toys for children present.

The Christmas in the Bronx event, has been held for the past four consecutive years, and this year will take place, on Tuesday, December 19, at 4:00 PM in the Auditorium of the I.S. 131 Albert Einstein School located at 885 Bolton Avenue (Corner of Story Avenue & White Plains Road), in Bronx County.

The first 1,000 children who attend between the ages of 1 thru 9 will receive a free toy.

Note: Child must be present to receive a toy.

For more information, contact Senator Diaz's office at 718-991-3161.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

100 PERCENT Diaz Sr. Resigns

By Robert Press

Ruben Diaz Sr. Resigns

  State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. has given State Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins his resignation from the New York State Senate as of midnight December 31, 2017. The letter says nothing about the soon to be former senator's accomplishments, and asks that the 32nd State Senate office be kept open to serve the 50 to 60 constituents served daily over the past 15 years. In case you didn't know, Reverend Ruben Diaz Sr. was elected to be the new Councilman from the 18th City Council district replacing term limited Annabele Palma. 
  Diaz had said that he was going to stay on until the last minute possible, but has changed his mind in resigning at the last moment in 2017. That should force Governor Cuomo's hand to call a special election since not only had Diaz Sr. left the State Senate, but so will have Westchester County State Senator George Latimer from the 37th district. That would mean two less Democrats in the State Senate, and would give the Republicans control over the state senate, even if all Democrats were to come back to the Senate Democratic Conference. 
 There are a few Assembly seats that will also have to be filled by special election, and the 80th A.D. here in the Bronx is one where current Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj will become Councilman Mark Gjonaj beginning in January 2018. 
  Speaking of the 80th A.D. Soon to be former State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. has sent out one of his famous 'What You Should Know' letters about a possible candidate in the special election for the 80th A. D. Is it that this candidate also lives in that part of the 80th A.D. that is in the 32nd State Senate district? Has Diaz Sr. learned from an old Amigo friend that if you are in an assembly district and also happen to be in a state senate district that you can play games to pick where you want to run? Is Diaz Sr. trying to have this person not run in the special election for the 32nd State Senate District, but run in the special election for the 80th A.D.? It seems that Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda has been fortunate that his friend Mayor Bill de Blasio took what would have been the possible next 32nd State Senator (as was originally planned) into the de Blasio administration. Is this other person who (I was told) just happens to work currently in the de Blasio administration going to be pushed into running against the former Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Gjonaj, who now happens to work for the Cuomo administration?  Let's throw in the fact that Jessica Ramos also of Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration has left her job to run against IDC State Senator Jose Peralta. Also IDC member Marisol Alcantara will be facing a challenge by former City Councilman Robert Jackson who should be supported by anti IDC forces. So much for peace in the Democratic State Senate. I have already told IDC Leader Jeff Klein it would be foolish to agree to dealing with those who pushed him to leaving the Senate Democratic Conference. As a constituent of Senator Jeff Klein I like the IDC and the way he has served his district, the Bronx, the city, and the state. 

  Upcoming events - 
Tuesday - December 12th 3:30 PM Bronx House Menorah Lighting 990 Pelham Parkway.
Wednesday - December 13th 10:00 AM Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. lights the official Bronx Menorah at the Riverdale Y 5625 Arlington Avenue. 
Thursday December 14th - Bronx Democratic County Organization Christmas Party 6 PM Andrew Freedman House 1125 Grand Concourse, It's 'Ugly Sweater' night.
Friday December 22nd - TEAM DIAZ Christmas Party 7 - 12 PM Maestro's Caterers 1703 Bronxdale Avenue "BY INVITATION ONLY' 'NO CHILDREN'. 718-991 3161 for more information. 
Check the archive section on the left to read more about these upcoming events or other items.

If you have any comments about this column or would like to have an event listed or covered here, you can e-mail me at 100percentbronxnews@gmail.com or call 718-644-4199.