Saturday, May 27, 2017
Former CEO And President Of Real Estate Investment Company Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $1.6 Million And Evading Taxes
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROCKWELL GAJWANI pled guilty today to one count of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion in connection with embezzling over $1.6 million from the Manhattan-based real estate investment company for which he had served as chief executive officer and president. As part of his plea, GAJWANI agreed to pay $1,975,068.04 in restitution and $1,612,841 in forfeiture. GAJWANI pled guilty before United States District Judge Loretta A. Preska.
Sonia Ponce Stole From Medicaid By Submitting False Timesheets And Forging Signatures For Services That Were Not Rendered
Schneiderman: We Will Continue To Protect The Integrity Of The Medicaid System
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of Sonia Ponce, 57, of Freeport, for stealing approximately $75,000 from Medicaid by causing claims to be filed with Medicaid that falsely stated that home-health care services were provided to two of her relatives by the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), a home-care program funded by Medicaid. In March 2017, Ponce pleaded guilty to Forgery in the Third Degree and Petit Larceny, both class A misdemeanors. Today, the Honorable Anthony Paradiso in Nassau County District Court sentenced Ponce to one week in jail, three years’ probation, 150 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine.
“Taxpayer funds meant to care for our sick and disabled should not be abused by those taking advantage of the system,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We will bring to justice those who defraud Medicaid and continue to protect the integrity of the system.”
The defendant exploited benefits meant for her relatives who received home-care aide services provided by CDPAP. CDPAP allows a representative of a physically disabled person, often a relative, to assume full responsibility for their home care and recruit, hire, supervise and fire the personal aides providing the care. The investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) uncovered that Ponce used the personal identification numbers (PINS) of the aides to record them logging in and out of work at times when the aides weren’t working, including several days when the aides were out of the country.
Ponce also falsified the aides’ timesheets and submitted them to Recco Home Care Services, the CDPAP fiscal agent. On several occasions, Ponce picked up the aides’ paychecks from Recco, forged the aides’ signatures on their paychecks and cashed them. Ponce then used the cash to pay the aides for the work that they performed but kept the fraudulent portion of the check.
The Attorney General would like to thank the Nassau County Department of Social Services for referring this matter to the Office and for its assistance in conducting the investigation.
A.G. Schneiderman Announces Additional Arrests Of City Workers In Ongoing AFLAC Insurance Fraud Investigation
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictments of FDNY Emergency Medical Technicians Kathyleen Roman and Reynaldo Laruy, FDNY Firefighter Herman Tyson, and NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agent Ania Villalon in Bronx Supreme Court for allegedly committing insurance fraud and grand larceny against the American Family Life Assurance Company (“AFLAC”). The defendants allegedly stole thousands from AFLAC by forging physicians’ or supervisors’ signatures to file false insurance claims. These charges follow eight arrests in Queens and five in Brooklyn as part of an ongoing investigation of insurance fraud committed by City employees.
The defendants arraigned today are accused of the following:
- Herman J. Tyson, 35, of the Bronx. Tyson is accused of stealing $46,370 and is charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, both D felonies.
- Reynaldo LaRuy, 47, of Stroudsburg, PA. LaRuy is accused of stealing $60,503 and is charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree, both C felonies.
- Ania Villalon, 47, of the Bronx. Villalon is accused of stealing $11,040 and is charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, both D felonies.
- Kathyleen Roman, 36, of the Bronx and Stroudsburg, PA. Roman is accused of stealing $36,503 and is charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, both D felonies.
To date, six defendants have pleaded guilty to felony counts of insurance fraud and/or grand larceny. They have agreed to pay the following in restitution:
- Marc Criado Mastros, $118,630;
- Kenneth Lambert, $91,000;
- Devon Graham, $71,000;
- Caleb Laues, $41,000;
- Mourad Touati, $31,000; and
- Jose Solis, $27,000
Marc Criado-Mastros, was sentenced on March 9, 2017 before Judge Latella in the Supreme Court of Queens County. Mr. Criado-Mastros was sentenced to five years felony probation, restitution of $118,630, and an additional $5,931 in surcharges after pleading guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree, both class C felonies. The remaining defendants are awaiting sentencing or trial.
“New York consumers should not have to pay higher insurance rates because of the acts of dishonest individuals,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.“We will continue to crackdown on this scheme which has cost insurance companies hundreds of thousands in unnecessary payouts. We will not allow public employees to abuse their position of trust to skirt the rules.”
With offices around the state, and a jurisdiction that is not limited by county, the OAG is uniquely positioned to simultaneously prosecute defendants in multiple venues in cases like this one.
The Attorney General would like to thank the New York City Department of Investigation and the New York State Department of Financial Services for partnering with the OAG on this investigation.
Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said, “The Department of Financial Services is proud to have worked with the Attorney General on this investigation. Insurance fraud is a crime that not only impacts the industry but also the rates that consumers pay for insurance. DFS will continue to protect insurers and consumers to keep New York’s insurance market strong and fair for all.”
DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, “These arrests are the result of our continuing investigation into insurance fraud by City employees, including members of the police and fire departments, which had previously exposed more than a dozen employees for various schemes. Public servants, especially those working in our uniformed services, should be examples of integrity and upholding the law. Our investigation with the Attorney General is ongoing.”
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Investigators from the Department of Investigation included Assistant Inspector General Sara Levinson who was the lead investigator under the supervision of Inspectors General Shannon K. Manigault and Frank J. Carine, Assistant Commissioner Michael Healy, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Michael Carroll and First Deputy Commissioner Lesley Brovner. The investigation also received assistance from DOI’s Office of the Inspector General for NYPD. The New York State Department of Financial Services’ senior investigator, Cindy Licata, participated in key interviews of witnesses and crucial verification processes that helped lead to the indictments.
A.G. Schneiderman Announces $33 Million Multi-State Settlement With Johnson & Johnson To End Deceptive Marketing Practices Concerning The Quality Of Over-The-Counter Drugs
Agreement With 42 States And D.C. Requires Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary To Reform Marketing Practices
New York State To Receive $1.3 Million
A.G. Schneiderman: My Office Is Holding Drug Manufacturers Accountable For The Health And Wellbeing Of New York Consumers
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that 42 states and the District of Columbia have reached a $33 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., resolving allegations that the company’s subsidiary, McNeil-PPC, Inc., employed deceptive practices to market and promote numerous popular over-the-counter (“OTC”) drugs. In addition to reforming these practices, the corporation has agreed to pay New York State a total of $1.3 million.
Between 2009 and 2011, McNeil-PPC, Inc.—then a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson—manufactured and distributed OTC drugs that purported to comply with federally mandated current Good Manufacturing Practices (“cGMP”). However, an investigation conducted by the FDA and Attorneys General across the country revealed that a number of McNeil manufacturing facilities and the medications they produced did not meet the national cGMP standards.
The investigation’s findings resulted in the recall of several adulterated McNeil drugs that were initially introduced to the market in batches. The recalled medication included Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph Aspirin, Sudafed, Pepcid, Mylanta, Rolaids, Zyrtec, and Zyrtec Eye Drops—several of which are indicated for pediatric use.
“This is common sense: over-the-counter drugs, especially those used to treat children, must be manufactured in accordance with federally mandated standards,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Drug companies that use deceptive practices threaten New Yorkers' health and wellbeing - and we won't hesitate to hold them accountable."
In a complaint filed today in New York County Supreme Court, Attorney General Schneiderman alleges that Defendants, acting through McNeil, violated state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the cGMP compliance and the quality of their OTC drugs, as well as falsely reporting that these OTC drugs had sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, quantities, or qualities that they did not possess.
In addition to the monetary penalties, the consent judgment requires McNeil to reform its marketing and promotional practices. Under the terms of the agreement, McNeil must not:
- Advertise on its websites that McNeil’s OTC drug product facilities meet cGMP if the drug has had a Class I or Class II recall within the previous 12 months. Class I recalls involve a reasonable probability that use or exposure to the drug may result in serious detrimental health consequences or death. Class II recalls involve potential temporary or reversible health consequences or where potential adverse health consequences are unlikely.
- Fail to follow internal operating procedures regarding whether to take corrective or preventive action for OTC drugs during the manufacture of an OTC drug; and
- Fail to identify or provide information to participating Attorneys General within 60 days of a written request about vendors or warehouses in which recalled OTC drugs were distributed in their state.
The following states participated in the settlement: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
A.G. Schneiderman Announces $18.5 Million Multi-State Settlement With Target Corporation Over 2013 Data Breach
Agreement With 47 States And D.C. Represents Largest Multistate Data Breach Settlement To Date
Settlement Requires Target To Improve Data Security, In Addition To Paying Monetary Penalty And Providing Previously Negotiated Credit Monitoring For Impacted Consumers
New York To Receive Over 635K
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that 47 states and the District of Columbia have reached a $18.5 million settlement with the Target Corporation to resolve the states' investigation into the retail company's 2013 data breach, which affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts and exposed contact information for more than 60 million customers. The agreement represents the largest multistate data breach settlement achieved to date and will bring $635,224.33 to New York State.
"New Yorkers need to know that when they shop, their data will be protected,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This settlement marks an important win for New Yorkers – bringing over $635,000 into the state, in addition to the free credit monitoring services for those impacted by the data breach, and key security improvements to help protect Target consumers moving forward."
The states' investigation—led by the Attorneys General of Connecticut and Illinois—found that in November of 2013, cyber attackers accessed Target's gateway server through credentials stolen from a third-party vendor. The credentials were then used to exploit weaknesses in Target's system, which allowed the attackers to access a customer service database and to install malware on the system that was used to capture consumer data, including full names, telephone numbers, email and mailing addresses, payment card numbers, expiration dates, CVV1 codes, and encrypted debit PINs.
In addition to the monetary payment to the states, the settlement agreement requires Target to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program and to employ an executive or officer who is responsible for executing the plan. The company is required to hire an independent, qualified third-party to conduct a comprehensive security assessment.
The settlement further requires Target to maintain and support software on its network and to maintain appropriate encryption policies, particularly as pertains to cardholder and personal information data. The agreement also requires the corporation to segment its cardholder data from the rest of its computer network and to undertake steps to control access to its network, including implementing password rotation policies and two-factor authentication for certain accounts.
In December 2013, following a recommendation from the New York Attorney General’s Office, Target agreed to provide free credit monitoring to potential victims of the data breach in New York.
States participating in the settlement include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Defendant Also Sentenced to 20 Years Post-Release Supervision; Will Register as Sexual Offender
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark announced that a man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison followed by 20 years post-release supervision for choking and raping a female relative in her apartment in December 2015.
District Attorney Clark said “This crime is especially heartbreaking as the victim was raped by one of her own family members. For this despicable act, the defendant will spend 18 years behind bars, have 20 years post-release supervision and must register as a Sexual Offender.”
District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Russell Smith, 45, of Manhattan, was sentenced on May 19, 2017 to 18 years in prison and 20 years post-release supervision by Bronx Supreme Court Administrative Justice Robert Torres. Smith was convicted by a jury of first-degree Rape on Sept. 18, 2016.
According to trial testimony, on Dec. 20, 2015, Smith grabbed the now 40-year-old victim by her neck inside her apartment and raped her. DNA proved Smith had had sexual intercourse with her.
The Broadway Corridor resolution from the Community Board 8 Traffic and Transportation Meeting May 25th
Traffic and Transportation Committee
Bronx Community Board No. 8
5676 Riverdale Avenue
Bronx, New York 10471
Dated: May 25, 2017.
WHEREAS, Broadway between West 242nd Street and the City Line (“Broadway Corridor”) is a wide street, comprised of at least two northbound lanes and two southbound lanes, with parking on each side; and
WHEREAS, the New York City Department of Transportation (“DOT”) has presented a plan for safety improvements from West 242nd Street to the City Line; and
WHEREAS, DOT cites speeding as an issue along the corridor and states speeding is especially prevalent during off peak hours; and
WHEREAS, DOT cites a number of accidents between 2010 and 2014 on the Broadway Corridor;
WHEREAS, DOT recognizes Broadway as an important bus route for 9 NYC Transit lines, some of which connect to the subway lines; and
WHEREAS, Broadway is also known as U.S. Route 9, a designated truck route; and
WHEREAS, Broadway is the western boundary of Van Cortlandt Park; and
WHEREAS, DOT installed two signalized crossings (traffic lights) on Broadway and West 246th Street and at Broadway at the Tortoise and Hare Statue Park entrance in November 2016; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that speeding has been greatly reduced on the Broadway Corridor since the installation of these new traffic lights; and
WHEREAS, DOT has stated that it cannot study the effects of these new traffic lights for at least one year from the date of their installation;
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that lack of parking is an issue on the Broadway Corridor; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that they would like DOT to study the possibility of angle parking along Van Cortlandt Park; and
WHEREAS, DOT proposed the addition of parking spots along the Broadway Corridor which could be installed regardless of the plan being implemented; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that double parking is an issue on the Broadway Corridor; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that the wide 13’ parking lane permits the flow of traffic around double parked vehicles; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that if the DOT plan was implemented, which would narrow the traffic lanes, double parking would stop the flow of traffic on Broadway Corridor; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that, Van Cortlandt Park, as a renowned cross country and track destination, attracts schools from across the country to sporting events and that during these events, large buses double park along the Broadway Corridor on both sides of the street; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that if the DOT plan was implemented, which would narrow the traffic lanes, double parking of these buses at the sporting events would stop the flow of traffic on Broadway Corridor; and
WHEREAS, DOT proposes that the curbside bus stops on the northbound side of the Broadway corridor will be eliminated and replaced with bus bulbs thereby forcing buses to stop in a moving traffic lane to pick up and drop off passengers; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that if the DOT plan was implemented, the new bus stops would stop the flow of traffic on Broadway Corridor; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that similar changes as those proposed have been implemented in Manhattan and have caused devastating congestion;
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that the proposed protected bike lane may be dangerous to pedestrians entering and exiting the park, especially individuals with baby carriages which enter the bike lane first; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that the proposed protected bike lane may be dangerous to motorists exiting their vehicle, particularly with packages, carriages and children on the Northbound lane because of the narrowed lane with oncoming traffic and the bike lane on the other side of the vehicle; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that the proposed plan may be dangerous to motorists exiting their vehicle, particularly with packages, carriages and children in the Southbound lane, being reduced to an 8’ width, with oncoming width; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that the public would prefer bike lanes in the park and not in the street;
WHEREAS, the narrowing of lanes coupled with double-parked vehicles and buses stopping in traffic lanes will create congestion and gridlock on the Broadway Corridor;
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that if the plan was implemented, the congestion and gridlock will cause vehicles to use alternate streets in North Riverdale such as Post Road, Fieldston Road and Riverdale Avenue;
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that if the plan was implemented, the congestion and gridlock will cause emergency vehicles to be hindered in their vital functions; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony from the public that the Broadway Corridor has been made dangerous by the failure of DOT to maintain the striping of key crosswalks and intersections; and
WHEREAS, the Committee heard testimony that the businesses on West 242nd street and Broadway rely on the use of the service lane on West 242nd Street and that the proposed plan will hurt their businesses.
BE IT RESOLVED that the Committee does not approve the DOT plan as presented but finds that certain elements of the plan may be beneficial; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the Committee appreciates the efforts of Council Member Cohen for bringing safety issues of the Broadway Corridor to the forefront of community discussion; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the Committee recommends the restriping of the intersection at Broadway and Mosholu Avenue so as to narrow the intersection for pedestrian safety; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the Committee recommends that DOT install the additional parking spots identified along the Broadway Corridor; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the Committee recommends that DOT study the possibility of angled parking along Van Cortlandt Park; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the Committee recommends that DOT initiate a study to analyze the effects of the two new traffic lights on Broadway Corridor promptly after the one year period; and
BE IT RESOLVED that should the DOT study of the traffic lights reflect additional measures needed, that DOT reconfigure the timing of the traffic lights in order to slow traffic further; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the Committee recommends additional traffic lights on the Broadway Corridor; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the committee recommends aggressive enforcement of double parked vehicles on the Broadway Corridor;
BE IT RESOLVED that, at the Broadway exit from the southbound Henry Hudson Parkway, DOT study the elimination of the northbound lane on to Broadway, where two pedestrians have been injured, thereby directing all exiting cars to the existing lane controlled by a traffic light, as recommended in the Van Cortlandt Park Master Plan approved by Community Board #8.
BE IT RESOLVED, that DOT conduct a separate and distinct study of the area between Manhattan College Parkway and West 242nd Street in order to analyze the entire activity of this important transportation and commercial Hub;
BE IT RESOLVED that DOT move the bus stop on the west side of Broadway between Manhattan College Parkway and West 242nd Street from its current spot to a new location further north to alleviate some of the issues at this Hub;
BE IT RESOLVED that DOT consider the possibility of a traffic circle at Broadway and Manhattan College Parkway to alleviate some of the issues at the Hub; and
BE IT RESOLVED that DOT investigate the installation of unprotected, designated bike lanes on the northbound and southbound side of Broadway.
BE IT RESOLVED DOT initiate a study of alternatives for bike lanes along the Broadway Corridor, including the installation of unprotected, designated bike lanes on the northbound and southbound side of Broadway, in and out of the park, and present this study to this committee in a separate and distinct proposal from the safety plan presented herein.
In Favor: Sylvia Alexander; Margaret Donato; Myra Joyce (Community Committee Member); Joseph O’Brien; Dan Padernacht; Georgia Santiago
Opposed: Eric Bell
Abstain: Daniella Fuchs
'City Hall in the Bronx Week' by Mayor Bill de Blasio was a unique way of bringing the Mayor, First Lady, and just about every citywide department head to the Bronx with so many events that involved the mayor and citywide commissioners that are rarely seen here in the Bronx, I was able to cover several events (which are posted in the archive section on the left), but I have to say that to me the best event was the last one of 'City Hall in the Bronx' where Mayor de Blasio ended the week in Riverdale to say a few words at the Riverdale Jewish Center.
The mayor not being Jewish faith gave an inspirational speech that was on topic to the targeted audience of Jewish worshipers, but also recognized that without respect of one another there would be no civilization. He spoke of a crowded subway car where people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds are together packed in a cramped space, but the people all respect each other while the train moves on. It was a very enlightening speech in which another side of Bill de Blasio was seen, a man who loves the city he is running.
The photos below are outside of the synagogue after the mayor spoke out of respect. It as a wonderful site to see Mayor de Blasio standing where the Rabbi does, and speaking which I hope not to forget.
Above - As Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves he thanks Auxiliary Police Captain of the 50th Precinct for all the hard work he does for the community.
Below - The mayor was happy to pose with several of the Auxiliary officers who were on hand.
Above - The local elected officials Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, and Councilman Andrew Cohen have their photo taken with the mayor. Also in the photo is Sarah Cohen the daughter of Councilman Cohen, and possibly the next council member when her father is term -limited out of office in four years.
Below - Congressman Engel and Assemblyman Dinowitz must feel real safe standing with the police officers present for the mayor's visit.
Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Bronx House to unveil the plan to celebrated the anticipated expansion of the Senior Homeowners’ Exemption (SCHE) and Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption (DHE) on Friday.
With the Mayor were State Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto.
Above - State Senator Jeff Klein Speaks about the benefit to homeowners especially seniors who are on a fixed income of the program.
Below - Mayor de Blasio brought people to help show the benefits of the program, and how to apply.
Above - Mayor de Blasio talks with community leaders Edith Blitzer and Andres Seigel.
Below - The mayor chats with World War two veteran Ed Peck, as Bronx House Executive Director Howard Martin watches.
Above and Below - The mayor spoke to many of the seniors in the room, who were happy that they were able to talk directly to the mayor.