Thursday, June 22, 2017

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


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

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


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

SAGE - Trump to Trans Elders: Drop Dead


Trump to Trans Elders_ Drop Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SAGE Logo

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR DE BLASIO ON THE APPOINTMENT OF JOE LHOTA TO LEAD MTA


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

MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES NEW RENT FREEZE TEAM FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT UNIT


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BPS DIAZ & ADAMS CALL FOR GREATER EQUITY FOR GIFTED STUDENTS


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The report can be viewed at http://on.nyc.gov/2sQkL84.

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


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

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

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

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

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

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR DE BLASIO ON THE DEPARTURE OF DEPARTMENT OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION COMMISSIONER FENIOSKY PEĂ‘A-MORA


   “I deeply appreciate Feniosky Peña-Mora’s extraordinary service to New York City. From his work awarding nearly $1.2 billion in M/WBE contracts, to instituting wide reforms that have already made the agency more responsive, to improving our response to Hurricane Sandy, he made our City a better place. He navigated the agency through a period of robust growth, overseeing more than 860 construction starts and completions valued at more than $9 billion – all while winning more than 80 design awards and helping 1,600 students participate in DDC engineering programs. This is impressive stuff. While I am sorry to see him go, we did know this day would come. Indeed, he put off his return to Columbia, where he is a tenured professor, for an additional year to continue to serve the city. As we search for an equally strong candidate to run this critical agency, I thank Feniosky Peña-Mora’s for his service.”

News From Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz


Assemblyman Dinowitz and Senator Peralta’s Bill Requiring the MTA to Examine Lead Paints Levels at Elevated Subway Lines Passes Senate and Assembly 

  Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Jose Peralta’s legislation requiring the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York City Transit Authority to conduct a study relative to the amount of lead paint in elevated subway tracks passed both the State Senate and the State Assembly. The bill is now at Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk, and who will decide whether or not to sign it into law. 
  
The bill was introduced by Senator Peralta and Assemblyman Dinowitz on May 1st. Under the proposal, the MTA will have to submit a written report offering recommendations to eliminate any possible exposure to lead paint by falling chips form the elevated tracks of the subway system.


 “I am pleased that both houses of the legislature passed this important public safety measure. This bill requires the MTA and the NYCTA determine and report which areas of the aboveground transit infrastructure are plagued with hazardous levels of lead paint and which parts of New York City’s aging transit system must be immediately remediated before the thousands of New Yorkers who rely upon city transit become sickened or poisoned. We cannot expect people to live and work while being forced to use subway platforms coated in flaking lead-paint chips that may increase their risk of lead poisoning,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. “It is almost inconceivable in this day and age that people must put up with any lead-poisoning related dangers, yet this legislation will go some way toward ending this problem.”


“I am glad we were able to move this vital piece of legislation quickly through both houses of the legislature in order to protect New Yorkers. In a little less than a month and a half, it was possible for us to introduce and pass this bill in regards to the amount of lead paint in elevated subway tracks, including the 7 line. This subway line cuts across several hard-working communities in my district, and unfortunately lead paint chips are falling onto the streets and sidewalks,” said Senator Peralta. “We must ensure we remove hazardous lead paint from tracks, stations and trestles. The safety of New Yorkers comes first.” 

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Senator Marisol Alcántara Pass Bill Cracking Down on Illegal Non-Rental Fees

Bill Requires DHCR to Notify Rent-Stabilized Tenants of Which Non-Rental Fees Landlords can Legally Charge 

  The New York State Legislature passed legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Senator Marisol Alcántara yesterday, the last scheduled session day, which cracks down on illegal non-rental fees some unscrupulous landlords use to pressure tenants out of their apartments or trick them into paying more than they owe. Pending the signature of the Governor, the DHCR will now be mandated to provide the full list of legally allowable non-rental fees on the lease rider it issues for all rent-stabilized tenants. The New York Times recently brought to light this issue, which affects many low-income tenants. Often, fees will appear on the monthly rent bill or other correspondence without any explanation, which leads many tenants to believe that they must pay these fees in order to stay in their housing, which is false. Rent-stabilized tenants deserve freedom from arbitrary and in some cases illegal charges that burden an already rent-burdened population in a city undergoing a housing crisis.


“As a result of unscrupulous practices by landlords who insert various non-rental fees into lease agreements and monthly rental bills, we have passed legislation that would put vital information on the legality of these fees into the hands of the tenants they’re targeted at. Recently, some landlords have been attempting to pressure tenants, who may not know their rights, into paying for various legal fees, late fees, and fees for background checks by putting those fees directly into the lease agreement and monthly rent bills. DHCR has called into question the legality of some of these fees, and has put out Fact Sheet #44 to help tenants know their rights. Landlords will no longer be able to bully tenants into paying for things that they are not obligated to pay for,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “It is my hope that the Governor will demonstrate his support of tenants’ rights by signing this into law.”

State Senator Marisol Alcántara said: “Rent-stabilized tenants have the right to know whether the fees their landlords charge are legal. This bill, which I urge the Governor to sign, will close a loophole that has allowed unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of their tenants. This will be especially helpful for low-income and immigrant tenants, who may be more unfamiliar with the state’s rent laws and who are at particular risk of tenant harassment such as the use of illegal fees.”

NEWS FROM cONGRESSMAN eLIOT ENGEL


Engel on Senate GOP's Version of Trumpcare

  Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement regarding Senate Republicans’ version of the American Health Care Act, or “Trumpcare”:

“For weeks, Senate Republicans have been careful not to let a single detail of their health care bill see the light of day. There have been zero hearings, zero committee reviews, and they’ve shown zero willingness to explain their plan, which will intimately affect millions of Americans and upset one-sixth of the nation’s economy.

“There is one thing, though, that Senate Republicans have claimed: their version of Trumpcare will be better for Americans than the House version that President Trump called ‘mean.’

“They’re not fooling anyone.

“Just like the House bill, the Senate’s Trumpcare still makes harsh cuts to Medicaid, still abolishes the Medicaid expansion that’s brought health care to millions, and still lets states gut the protections Americans rely on for quality coverage. It still lavishes tax cuts on corporations and the very rich, paid for on the backs of hardworking families. And it will still force Americans to pay more and get less.

“If Republicans want to lie to themselves about what they’re doing, that’s fine. But they need to stop lying to the American people.

“Just yesterday, the President promised that the Senate’s Trumpcare would be ‘a plan with heart.’ If this is ‘a plan with heart,’ I’d hate to see what Republicans think is a plan without it.”

Engel Cosponsors Voting Rights Advancement Act

Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a leading member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has cosponsored H.R. 2978, the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), legislation that would fully restore key aspects of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.

In Shelby County v. Holder the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the landmark 1965 law, including section 5, which required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to seek pre-approval of changes in voting rules that could affect minorities. The Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore full protections to the Voting Rights Act and create a new coverage formula that would apply to states with repeated voting rights violations in the last 25 years.

“The Supreme Court got it wrong in 2013 when they struck down key elements of the Voting Rights Act. Its time Congress took action to correct that mistake,” Congressman Engel said. “In the last four years we have seen some states, emboldened by the Shelby decision, enact laws that are designed specifically to suppress minority voting populations. This cannot stand. Congress must act to ensure every American’s right to vote is fully protected under law, and that is why we must pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act immediately.”

In addition, Engel has introduced a Constitutional Amendment, HJ Res. 28, that deals with several election law issues including voting rights, gerrymandering, and the abolishment of the Electoral College.

Assembly passes Sepulveda bill to allow high school students to pre-register to vote; bill moves to Senate


  With voter turnout at record low numbers, a new bill that just passed in the closing days of the New York State Assembly session could very well go a long way to bringing out new voters.
 
Bronx Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda's "Young Adult Voter Registration Act" would require each public high school within the state to make voter registration forms available to students.
 
While the voting age in New York State is 18, students who are 17-years-old could pre-register before reaching legal voting age," said Sepulveda.
 
"This would also be a step in helping to educate youth about civic responsibility and having a voice in determining who will represent their interests as younger members of society," he added.
 
"Regretfully, far too few New Yorkers vote in local, state or national elections, and voter participation has been declining," he said.
 
In the 2016 general election, New York State ranked 41st in the nation for voter turnout, with just more than 57 percent of registered voters casting ballots, Sepulveda said, with just under 56 percent of New York City voters and 52 percent of Bronx voters turning out.
 
"Affirmative steps are necessary to encourage and increase voter participation in all elections," said the Assemblymember.
 
 He attributed the decline and lack of participation, in part, to the fact that voters find it difficult to register to vote.
 
"Although state law provides mechanisms for distributing voter registration forms by state agencies as part of agency-based voter registration programs, the Department of Education does not participate in such programs," he noted, "despite it being uniquely positioned in the state to enhance the participation of young people in the democratic process by distributing voter registration forms to potential young voters."
 
The measure now goes to the Senate, where Queens Senator James Sanders Jr. is its prime sponsor.

“We need to encourage more young people to take part in the democratic process by voting," said Sanders. "I am proud to support Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda and to be the sponsor of this bill in the senate."

"Since the next generation will shape the future of our country, they should be informed in order to make smart choices," Sanders added. "I hope that registering to vote will encourage them to be more active in politics and in learning about the role of government in their lives.”

Assemblyman Sepulveda represents the 87th Assembly District covering Parkchester, Castle Hill, West Farms, Van Nest and Stratton Park.

COUNCIL MEMBER ANDY KING TO HOST CONSTITUENT NIGHT ON JUNE 27


  In order to better serve his constituents beyond the hours of 9-5, New York City Council Member Andy King and his staff will be hosting “Constituent Services Night” every other week in a different NYCHA housing development in the 12th Council District.

A Constituent Service Night Event will be held on Tuesday, June 27, 5:00 -7:00 p.m. at Boston Secor Houses, 3550 Bivona St., Bronx.. Services will include resources and solutions for housing, food stamps, immigration status and basic services. Representatives from Home Base/Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York and Urban Justice Center will be in attendance to address constituents’ needs as well as provide information and resources.

There are five NYCHA housing developments in the 12th District. They are Gun Hill Houses, Baychester Houses, Boston Secor, Eastchester Gardens and Edenwald.

NYCHA residents can preschedule an appointment by calling the Office of Council Member Andy King at (718) 684-5509. Ask for Cee Lewis.

Community Education Council 8 Meeting


  What should have been a quick meeting under 30 minutes with less that 30 total attendees including the CEC members, district staff and few parents seemed to be like an old school board meeting where over 50 parents were in attendance. Another thing that reminded me of an old school board meeting was the heat in the new auditorium, and that the air-conditioning was not working, which schools did not have during the school board era.

  What little voice the CEC has is when it comes to zoning, the item on the agenda was titled 'Throggs Neck Rezoning' by the Office of District Planning/Division of Space Management. No schools were listed on the agenda for the meeting which was held at the old IS 192 building on Hollywood Avenue. The schools now listed on the agenda were MS 371, PS 392, and MS 467 at the Hollywood address. Having been a Citywide parent leader, when you see school numbers such as those it means that the original school was either closed or redesigned due to continued poor student performance. 

  As the evening went on the issue was about overcrowding and poor planning by the district and Department of Education. The superintendent of the District 8, I was told is in her second year and it seemed that parents and CEC members (half of whom are leaving as of July 1st) still had no answers as there was a power point presentation concerning the overcrowding at the area public schools. PS 14 and PS 71 will have the temporary transportable classrooms removed (as they should have been during the previous mayoral administration) and PS 14 is to get a 344 seat addition to the building by the beginning of the 2018 school year. PS 14 is currently at a utilization rate of 155 percent. PS 71 is currently at a utilization rate of 138 percent. Information asked for was to be posted online tomorrow, and the following chart was shown in which enrollment figures are missing for PS 14, PS 71, PS 72, PS 304, and PS 392.


Below were the reasons for rezoning.




The current Throggs Neck Zoning is divided into three zoned elementary schools, and two overflow elementary schools currently. 


The issue will be revisited in the fall with the new CEC or new school board in place to vote on, as this was an informational meeting only.


The members of CEC 8 with Superintendent Ames in the middle.

Also on the CEC agenda was a resolution to adopt the Superintendent's Evaluation for the school year 2016 - 2017. The resolution passed by a five in favor, zero opposed, and four abstentions.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Brooklyn Man Sentenced To More Than 20 Years In Prison For Murder Committed In Broad Daylight In January 2016


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ashan M. Benedict, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that RAYSHAWN DEMOSTHENE, a/k/a “Smooth,” was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to a prison term of 244 months for the murder of Michael Morris in Brooklyn, New York, on January 11, 2016. DEMOSTHENE pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses on December 29, 2016, to murdering Morris. DEMOSTHENE was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “In broad daylight, on a residential street in Brooklyn, Rayshawn Demosthene executed Michael Morris. Demosthene’s cold-blooded murder and utter disregard for a fellow human life was driven by greed, a desire to steal drug money. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the SPARTA Joint Robbery Task Force of the NYPD and the ATF, Demosthene has been brought to justice and will serve a lengthy sentence for his crime.”

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan M. Benedict stated: “The defendant and his co-conspirators committed a cold-blooded, ambush murder of the victim in order to steal money the victim intended to use to purchase narcotics. In the process, they turned the streets into a shooting gallery, endangering the lives of any number of innocent bystanders. This investigation highlights the ever-present danger of violence that goes along with the narcotics trade, and how invariably that violence plays out on the streets. I would like to extend my gratitude to the ATF Special Agents and NYPD Detectives assigned to the ATF SPARTA Joint Robbery Task Force, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their outstanding work in ensuring that this killer faced the justice he so overwhelmingly deserved.”

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill stated: “The individual involved in this case not only participated in the illegal drug trade but compounded his actions by engaging in the wanton murder of another human being for nothing more than his own greed. Murder, no matter what the circumstances, can never be tolerated in a civilized society.”

According to the Indictment and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea and sentencing proceedings:

On the morning of January 11, 2016, RAYSHAWN DEMOSTHENE walked along a residential street in Brooklyn toward the car in which Michael Morris was sitting and opened fire. Morris, who was a resident of Virginia, had traveled to Brooklyn that day in the belief that he would purchase drugs in exchange for approximately $30,000 in cash. But the supposed drug transaction was a ruse. Unbeknownst to Morris, DEMOSTHENE and his co-conspirators had agreed beforehand to murder Morris and take his money. After Morris arrived in Brooklyn, DEMOSTHENE carried out the homicide by shooting Morris in the head and killing him.
In addition to his prison term, DEMOSTHENE, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, was also sentenced to five years of supervised release.
Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the NYPD and the ATF, and in particular the Strategic Patterned Armed Robbery Technical Apprehension (“SPARTA”) Task Force, which is composed of agents and officers of the ATF and the NYPD.

Chief Digital Officer Of Premium Cable Network Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Defrauding His Employer Of More Than $7 Million


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced that EMIL RENSING pled guilty in connection with his scheme to defraud his employer, a premium cable network (the “Network”), of more than $7 million through false statements about purported services to be provided to the Network by companies RENSING owned and controlled that were, in large part, never performed. RENSING pled guilty earlier today before United States Magistrate Judge James L. Cott in Manhattan federal court.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Emil Rensing, an executive at a premium cable network, defrauded his employer out of more than $7 million by causing the network to pay companies Rensing controlled for services that were never rendered. To conceal his role in the payments, Rensing used false and stolen identities and dummy email accounts. I want to thank the FBI for their work to hold Rensing accountable for his crimes.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment to which RENSING pled guilty, a criminal Complaint filed against RENSING, and statements made during the plea and other court proceeding proceedings:

EMIL RENSING defrauded the Network of more than $7 million over the course of his five-year employment with the Network. Through his position as Chief Digital Officer of the Network, RENSING caused the Network to contract with vendor companies owned and controlled by RENSING to perform digital media services for the Network and to perform those services through vendor personnel identified in the contracts. In truth and in fact, however, the promised services were, in large part, never performed, and the vendor personnel designated in the contracts to perform the services – which included several of RENSING’s former professional associates and business partners – had never heard of the vendors or performed services for the Network. These individuals were further unaware that their names were being used by RENSING in this manner.

RENSING concealed his fraudulent scheme by, among other things, using false and stolen identities to hide his own involvement in the scheme. As to one of the vendors used to perpetrate the scheme (“Vendor-1”), RENSING provided the Network with a false name and email address as the “contact” to be used by the Network to communicate with Vendor-1. As to a second vendor, (“Vendor-2”), provided the Network with the name of a personal acquaintance as a “project manager” and “contact” for Vendor-2 when, in truth and in fact, this acquaintance had nothing to do with Vendor-2. Unbeknownst to this personal acquaintance, also established an email account in that acquaintance’s name that RENSING, posing as the acquaintance, used regularly to communicate with the Network about the vendor’s billing and other administrative matters.

After the Network learned of RENSING’s fraudulent scheme, RENSING was interviewed by attorneys for the Network. During this interview, which was recorded at the request of RENSING and his counsel, RENSING made multiple false statements to further conceal his fraudulent scheme.


RENSING, 43, of Manhattan, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.

Nigerian Man Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Participating In Business Email Compromise Scams


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that DAVID CHUKWUNEKE ADINDU pled guilty this morning before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty in Manhattan federal court to a superseding Information that charged him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to use a means of identification in connection with a federal crime.  These charges stemmed from ADINDU’s participation in fraudulent business email compromise scams that targeted thousands of victims around the world, including the United States.  Collectively, the scams attempted to defraud victims of millions of dollars.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “As he has now admitted, David Chukwuneke Adindu participated in thousands of business email compromise scams, trying to trick various businesses into wiring millions of dollars to his overseas bank accounts.  Cyber is increasingly becoming a powerful tool for criminals, including those like Adindu who indiscriminately target businesses around the world with scams.  We are committed to tracking down and holding these cyber fraudsters accountable.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Adindu targeted his victims from afar, but the pain he likely inflicted upon them hit too close to home. Most people assume they won't become a victim of a business email scam, but this case should remind the public that everyone is at risk. Today's guilty plea is yet another example of our efforts to confront cyber crime worldwide.”
According to the Information and statements made at public court proceedings:
Between 2014 and 2016, ADINDU participated in Business Email Compromise scams (“BEC scams”) targeting thousands of victims around the world, including in the United States.  As part of the BEC scams, emails were sent to employees of various companies directing that funds be transferred to specified bank accounts.  The emails purported to be from supervisors at those companies or third party vendors that did business with those companies.  The emails, however, were not legitimate.  Rather, they were either from email accounts with a domain name that was very similar to a legitimate domain name, or the metadata in the emails had been modified so that the emails appeared as if they were from legitimate email addresses.  After victims complied with the fraudulent wiring instructions, the transferred funds were quickly withdrawn or moved into different bank accounts.  In total, the BEC scams attempted to defraud millions of dollars from victims.
ADINDU and others carried out BEC scams by exchanging information regarding: (1) bank accounts used for receiving funds from victims; (2) email accounts for communicating with victims; (3) scripts for requesting wire transfers from victims; and (4) lists of names and email addresses for contacting and impersonating potential victims.                
ADINDU, 29, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Guangzhou, China, was arrested on November 22, 2016.  ADINDU pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to use a means of identification in connection with a federal crime, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
ADINDU is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Crotty on September 26, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.
Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the FBI.  Mr. Kim also thanked the Yahoo! E-Crime Investigations Team, and noted that the investigation is continuing.