Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Brooklyn Woman Indicted for Grand Larceny For Stealing Approximately $157,000 in Section 8 Subsidies


Defendant Allegedly Used Another Person’s Social Security Number to Conceal Income, Employment from NYCHA While Collecting Rent Assistance for Crown Heights Home

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber, today announced that a Brooklyn woman has been indicted for grand larceny for allegedly obtaining more than $157,000 in Section 8 rent subsidies to which she was not entitled. As part of the alleged decade-long fraud, the defendant used another person’s Social Security number to conceal her employment and income from the New York City Housing Authority while collecting rent assistance vouchers for a two-bedroom apartment in Crown Heights. 

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “For over a decade – and at a time when affordable housing in Brooklyn is increasingly scarce – this defendant allegedly lied about her income and employment to obtain thousands of dollars annually in rent subsidies to which she was not entitled. In doing so, she stole precious resources intended to help low-income New Yorkers find housing, and we will now seek to hold her accountable for that. I want to thank DOI and the Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General for their assistance in this case.”  

Commissioner Strauber said, “For over a decade, this defendant made false statements about her employment and income to NYCHA in order to obtain more than $155,000 in Section 8 benefits she was not entitled to and provided NYCHA with someone else’s Social Security number to avoid detection, according to the charges. Theft of housing benefits diverts these important public resources from New Yorkers who are in need, and who qualify for them. I thank NYCHA and the Office of the Inspector General for the United States Social Security Administration for their assistance in this investigation; and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for its partnership in protecting New York City’s affordable housing.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Luzmila Corbin, 56, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. She was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo on an indictment in which she is charged with first-degree identity theft, second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and 17 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. She was released without bail and ordered to return to court on February 7, 2024. 

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant started receiving rental-assistance vouchers, known as Section 8, in February 2001. The defendant used the vouchers to rent a two-bedroom apartment on Rochester Avenue in Crown Heights. From 2009 to 2021, it is alleged the defendant claimed to be unemployed in her annual Affidavit of Income submitted to the New York City Housing Authority. In reality, however, the defendant was allegedly working as a food services aide at New York City Health and Hospitals where she made $34,000 to $59,000 a year.  

Furthermore, according to the investigation, the defendant allegedly used another person’s Social Security Number to prevent NYCHA from verifying her income. As a result of the fraud, in 2022, for example, the defendant paid only $212 of the apartment’s monthly rent of $1,654. The remaining balance was subsidized by NYCHA based on the defendant’s misrepresentation of her household income and assets. According to the investigation, between November 2010 and June 2022, NYCHA overpaid $157,493 in rent subsidies on the defendant’s behalf.

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

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Bronx Man Sentenced To 47 Months In Prison For Committing Shooting In Broad Daylight


Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that DUJOHN WILLETTE was sentenced to 47 months in prison in connection with a shootout he engaged in on September 27, 2021, that resulted in a 14-year-old being shot in the ankleWILLETTE previously pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman, who also imposed today’s sentence, to one count of possessing ammunition after conviction for a felony. 


U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “In September 2021, Dujohn Willette engaged in a shootout in broad daylight in the middle of a crowded street in the BronxResidents of the Bronx were endangered that day, and a 14-year-old was injuredWillette is a repeat offender, having been prosecuted by our Office twice before for illegally possessing firearmsAs today’s sentence demonstrates, our Office is committed to keeping New York City safe by vigorously prosecuting perpetrators of gun violence.” 


According to the Indictment and other filings and statements made in court:

At approximately 2:32 p.m. on September 27, 2021, WILLETTE was riding his moped on the sidewalk of East 228th Street in the Bronx.  As WILLETTE approached the corner of East 228th Street and White Plains Road, he rode past a group of men, jumped off his moped, and, while running backwards, fired a gun.  In total, WILLETTE and another shooter shot at each other seven times.  Below are two photographs showing WILLETTE firing his weapon:

Photo showing the defendant firing his weapon
Photo showing the defendant firing his weapon

In the crossfire, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the ankle. 

Before this conviction, WILLETTE had three prior felony convictions for illegally possessing firearms and had twice before been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possessing a firearm after a felony conviction. 

In addition to his prison term, WILLETTE, 35, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Special Agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Bosnia and Herzegovina National Arrested for Aiding Escape of Russian Defendant


Accomplice to Artem Uss – Fugitive Charged in Major U.S. Sanctions Evasion and Dual-Use Technologies Smuggling Case – Arrested for Alleged Assistance in Prison Escape

A two-count indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging Vladimir Jovancic, 52, a Bosnia and Herzegovina national who resides in Serbia, with obstructing justice and assisting escape from custody. Jovancic was arrested on Dec. 4 in the Republic of Croatia. In a related operation, Italian authorities separately arrested a second suspect in Italy on Dec. 4.

As alleged, Jovancic is one of several individuals who helped Artem Uss, a defendant in United States. v. Orekhov et al., flee from Italy to Russia following an Italian court ruling that Uss would be extradited to the United States to face charges. Uss is charged with heading a global scheme to smuggle millions of dollars in sensitive military and dual-use technologies and oil from Venezuela to sanctioned Russian oligarchs and companies.

“The defendant allegedly helped a Kremlin crony jump bail in order to evade justice — but now finds himself captured by the long arm of U.S. law enforcement,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “This case demonstrates the reach of the Department of Justice and further exposes the criminal networks propping up the Russian regime as it wages its unlawful and unprovoked war in Ukraine.”   

“As alleged, this defendant brazenly helped Artem Uss escape justice on an indictment charging Uss for his actions in fueling Russia’s war in Ukraine, evading sanctions and enabling oligarchs,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “I want to thank our partners in Italy for their valuable assistance and support. We will continue to work together to make sure everyone involved in this flagrant scheme to obstruct justice is held accountable.” 

“The defendant’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law has not gone unanswered. This indictment and arrest demonstrate the FBI’s continued focus on holding accountable those who assist criminals attempting to evade U.S. law, regardless of where they may try to hide,” said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “The FBI, along with our international partners, will continue to aggressively investigate, pursue, and prosecute those who facilitate corrupt practices that place our nation and our institutions at risk.”

“Today’s actions are a warning to anyone who is thinking about unlawfully aiding sanctioned Russian elites and their enablers,” said Co-Director of Task Force KleptoCapture David Lim.  “If you break our laws, we will use every available tool and leverage our strong international partnerships to pursue you until you are brought to justice.”   

Concurrent with this law enforcement action, the State Department announced a reward offe of up to $7 million under the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP) for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Artem Aleksandrovich Uss.

As alleged in the indictment and other court filings, Uss is the son of Alexander Uss, the governor of Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai region and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. Uss has ownership interests in several Russian companies in Krasnoyarsk Krai and elsewhere, as well as a senior position with a subsidiary of Rosneft, a sanctioned Russian state-controlled oil conglomerate. Uss also had several significant holdings in Italy, including a luxury hotel in Sardinia, a vineyard and other real estate.

Uss and his business partner, Yury Orekhov, allegedly orchestrated a transnational fraud, smuggling and money laundering operation under the umbrella of Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH (NDA GmbH), a privately-held industrial equipment and commodity trading company located in Hamburg, Germany. Uss and Orekhov each owned 50% of NDA GmbH. Using NDA GmbH as a front company, Uss and Orekhov sourced and purchased sensitive military and dual-use technologies from U.S. manufacturers, including advanced semiconductors and microprocessors used in fighter aircraft, missile systems, smart munitions, radar, satellites and other space-based military applications. These items were shipped to Russian end users, including sanctioned companies that serviced Russia’s defense sector. Some of the types of electronic components obtained through the criminal scheme have been found in Russian weapons platforms seized on the battlefield in Ukraine. Uss and Orekhov also used NDA GmbH as a front to smuggle hundreds of millions of barrels of oil from Venezuela to Russian and Chinese purchasers, including a Russian aluminum company controlled by a sanctioned oligarch and the world’s largest oil refining, gas and petrochemical conglomerate based in Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

Uss was apprehended in Milan, Italy, on Oct. 17, 2022, pursuant to a provisional arrest request from the United States. Following his arrest, and over the objection of both Italian and U.S. prosecutors, Uss was released on bail to home detention at his Milan residence with electronic monitoring. On March 21, the Italian court approved Uss’ extradition to the United States. The next day, Uss escaped from home detention and fled Italy, ultimately arriving in Russia, with the assistance of several individuals, including Vladimir Jovancic.

The investigation into Uss’ escape revealed that, in or about January 2023, Jovancic and other individuals affiliated with a Serbian organized crime group were recruited by Uss to help him flee to Russia in the event extradition was granted. Jovancic met Uss’ wife at a hotel in Milan, Italy, where they planned for Jovancic to deliver groceries to Uss’ residence in Milan as a pretext so that Jovancic’s presence would not raise suspicion if an escape was necessary. Uss’ wife also provided Jovancic with a cell phone and a 10,000-euro deposit for his services. Jovancic was later provided with a keycard to directly access Uss’ residence.

On the day of Uss’ escape, following the Italian court’s decision, Jovancic and several other co-conspirators went to Uss’ residence. Once there, Jovancic escorted Uss into a car and provided Uss with bolt cutters. Uss used the bolt cutters to remove his electronic ankle monitor and throw the monitoring device out the window. Jovancic and his co-conspirators then drove Uss across the border in Slovenia. Over the next several days, Jovancic and his co-conspirators shuttled Uss through Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina before crossing into Serbia, where Uss paid Jovancic an additional 40,000 euro before boarding a plane to Russia.

If convicted, Jovancic faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI and Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement New York Field Office are investigating the case, with valuable assistance provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. The Justice Department thanks the Croatian authorities and the Italian authorities for their critical collaboration, specifically, the Milan Prosecutor’s Office (Procura della Repubblica presso il Tribunale di Milano), the Carabinieri and the Ministry of Justice.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell for the Eastern District of New York is prosecuting the case, with assistance from Trial Attorney Scott A. Claffee of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Announced by the Attorney General on March 2, 2022, and under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation Opens Investigation into Civilian Death in Queens


The New York Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI) has opened an investigation into the death of Courtney Gordon, who died on December 3, 2023 following an encounter with members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

In the early morning hours of December 3, officers with the NYPD responded to a reported assault in progress at a residence on Beach 22nd Street in Far Rockaway. When officers arrived, they encountered Mr. Gordon outside the residence and attempted to engage him verbally. Mr. Gordon charged at two officers and injured them with a knife, and an officer opened fire in response. Mr. Gordon was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The injured officers are expected to recover. Officers recovered a knife at the scene.

Pursuant to New York State Executive Law Section 70-b, OSI assesses every incident reported to it where a police officer or a peace officer, including a corrections officer, may have caused the death of a person by an act or omission. Under the law, the officer may be on-duty or off-duty, and the decedent may be armed or unarmed. Also, the decedent may or may not be in custody or incarcerated. If OSI’s assessment indicates an officer may have caused the death, OSI proceeds to conduct a full investigation of the incident.

The announcement of an investigation is not an indication of misconduct. These are preliminary facts and subject to change.

Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at Congestion Pricing Rally

Governor Hochul delivers remarks at a congestion pricing rally

Governor Hochul: “I'm so proud of what we've done here. We'll keep our subway strong for the next generation. Less traffic, cleaner air, faster buses… And the rest of America will realize that we are fighting to save our planet, we're fighting to save our kids, we're fighting for our riders, and we are fighting for the greatest city on the planet, the City of New York!”

Hochul: “This is going to be transformative. We'll have the resources to invest in our system, a 110-year-old system, so it's positioned for the next 110 years because of the courage here today. That's what we're fighting for. But also, people deserve a quality of life here – it should be walkable, people should be able to take the train and be able to walk to their jobs.”   

From time to time, leaders are called upon to envision a better future, be bold in the implementation and execution, and be undaunted by the opposition. That's how you secure progress. That's what today is all about. And I am so proud to be here because everyone here knows that this city is worth fighting for.

We can save this city, because people love New York City, but it's facing some hard times. And because so many people love New York City, the streets are impassable, and the air quality has declined. So, I know, because of the courage of people here behind me, and elected leaders and people like Janno Lieber, the head of the MTA. Let's give him a round of applause.

And Carl Weisbrod and the Traffic Mobility Review Board. That's courage, that's courage. I thank them. And all of our partners in elected government, state government, city government, borough presidents, city council, and all of our advocates. You made this happen, and Betsy, you are my hero. You have done an amazing job on behalf of the riders, and I thank you.

But I have a few questions for you. Anybody sick and tired of gridlock in New York City? Anybody think we deserve better transit, especially those who live and work here? Anyone think that people with disabilities deserve to have more accessibility when they travel through this city? Anybody want cleaner air for our kids and for future generations? Well then you love congestion pricing, right?

Well, this is a great day and I know that not only for the people here but also our first responders, ambulances, firefighters, emergency personnel who are often stymied and delayed in getting to where they need to go. My friends, this is going to be transformative.

We'll have the resources to invest in our system, a 110-year-old system, so it's positioned for the next 110 years because of the courage here today. That's what we're fighting for. But also, people deserve a quality of life here – it should be walkable, people should be able to take the train and be able to walk to their jobs and never need a vehicle again because this is New York.

And I'm so proud of what we've done here. We'll keep our subway strong for the next generation. Less traffic, cleaner air, faster buses. I love faster buses. I like the buses going faster. And all these disability mobility [improvements]. But also, here's what the money can go for. Here's what the money can go for. What about the idea of the Interborough Express being funded with this money to be able to work in Queens and get to your job in Brooklyn or vice versa? We can get that done. What about ending the transit desert in East Harlem and finishing off the Second Avenue Subway? That's what we can do as well.

You know, cities all around the world have tried this, but nobody else in the United States of America. This is when we demonstrate leadership. We show we do it here. We overcome the opposition. We make it be successful. And the rest of America will realize that we are fighting to save our planet, we're fighting to save our kids, we're fighting for our riders, and we are fighting for the greatest city on the planet, the City of New York! Thank you everybody.                                                              

NYS Office of the Comptroller DiNapoli: Taxpayers Moving Out of State Spiked in 2020, Led by Those Leaving NYC


Office of the New York State Comptroller News

Net-outmigration Declined Significantly in 2021,
But Still Exceeded Pre-pandemic Levels

A report released today found more than one of every 100 resident personal income tax (PIT) filers left New York state in 2020, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant shift in taxpayer movement, with net out-migration quadrupling in 2020 compared to the prior year. While declining in 2021, the net number of taxpayers leaving remained one-third greater than the pre-pandemic average. The report examines PIT filings for the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 and follows up on DiNapoli’s May 2022 report that looked at pre-pandemic taxpayer migration trends.

“The pandemic upended everyone’s life and caused a big shift in the movement of New York taxpayers in 2020,” DiNapoli said. “While patterns shifted closer to pre-pandemic trends in 2021, net out-migration rates remained higher, particularly for families. Policy makers need to make sure the state remains an attractive, affordable place to work and to live. Doing so will help maintain the state’s largest revenue source to ensure vital services continue in order to provide a high quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

Taxpayer Filings in 2020 and 2021
PIT is New York’s largest revenue source, with $60 billion in tax liability paid by 10.9 million taxpayers in 2021. Despite the recession of 2020, the number of taxpayers grew, likely due to high financial market levels and enhanced unemployment benefits that increased personal income. In 2021, the number of filers declined but was slightly greater than the number in 2019.

The vast majority (87% in 2021) of PIT filers are residents; 10% were non-residents who only pay New York PIT on income received from work, businesses or other income sources located in New York. An additional 3% are part-year residents who file a return if they move into or out of the state.

The 2020 increase in filers was concentrated in full-year resident taxpayers, up by 161,679. The 2021 decrease was also attributable to these taxpayers, down by 235,000 compared to 2020 and 73,500, or 0.8%, lower than 2019. Most of the decline in 2021 was concentrated at incomes less than $100,000, partially offset by an increase in the number of higher income filers.

The number of nonresident taxpayers declined in 2020 but bounced back in 2021, exceeding pre-pandemic levels at all income thresholds.

The number of part-year filers increased in both 2020 and 2021 and was 19% greater in 2021 than in 2019, building on a steady increase in part-year resident PIT returns filed since 2009. This “churn” of taxpayers is important to closely examine and monitor. Nearly two-thirds of filers who moved out in 2021 retained no New York source of income after they left, suggesting a potential loss of economic activity.

Pandemic’s Impact on Taxpayer Movement
From 2015 to 2019, there was a consistently larger number of taxpayers leaving the state than coming in, with an average annual net out-migration of roughly 28,700 taxpayers during this period. In 2020, the number moving out of state increased dramatically, resulting in a net out-migration of nearly 112,500 – almost four times the number in 2019.

In 2021, the number of people moving into the state rebounded and was more than one and half times over the year prior, and was also higher than the average in-migration from 2015 to 2019. Still, the number of taxpayers moving out was greater, resulting in a net out-migration of over 39,200, more than one-third greater than the pre-pandemic average. In the aggregate, out-migration rates declined to just over 4 in every 1,000 taxpayers in 2021 from almost 12 in 1000 in 2020. However, this rate was greater than the 2019 rate of 3 in 1,000.

Single filers comprise the largest share of state PIT taxpayers, and accounted for over half of the net out-migration in 2020. Married and head of household taxpayers (families) also left New York at elevated rates in 2020, nearly double those in 2019. In 2021, families continued to exit New York at higher rates than prior to the pandemic. In 2021, an equivalent of one in every 100 married resident filers left New York. Married filers earning between $100,000 and $500,000 continued to experience the greatest out-migration, a trend that continued from prior to the pandemic.

NYC Drove 2020 Outmigration
State net out-migration in 2020 was driven by a sharp increase in taxpayers leaving New York City. With the pandemic impacting the city earlier and more severely, net out-migration from the city to places both in and outside the state spiked, with over two in every 100 city residents moving out in 2020. The surge was driven by taxpayers who left the state altogether, and city residents represented 71.5% of the state’s net out-migration in 2020.

In 2021, the migration pattern shifted once again. The city experienced a net gain of 2,221 taxpayers. The gain was mostly attributable to taxpayers from other parts of the state, and would have been greater if not for a total net loss of 761 taxpayers who left New York.
Prior to and during the pandemic, the majority of taxpayers leaving New York City relocated to the two other downstate regions, with the largest number moving to Long Island. However, the number of city taxpayers moving to the other regions of the state more than doubled in 2020 and remained above pre-pandemic levels in 2021.


Related Report

Community Board 11 Public Hearing on the City of Yes For Economic Development Thurday December 7th 7 PM.


Phase Two Of The Peninsula Affordable Housing Complex Breaks Ground In Hunts Point, The Bronx



Last week, development partners Hudson CompaniesGilbane Development Company, and MHANY Management Inc. celebrated the groundbreaking of Phase Two of The Peninsula in Hunts PointThe Bronx at the site of the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center. The two-building development will offer 100-percent affordable housing, as well as commercial, community facility, and open space.

The ceremony for the $297 million project was also attended by stakeholders from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the New York City Housing Development Corporation, and Wells Fargo Bank.

“Breaking ground on Peninsula Buildings 2A and 2B is testament to the development team and the city’s commitment to not only developing housing affordable to the neighborhood, The Bronx, and the city’s low and moderate-income residents, but undertaking the work hand in hand with community and neighborhood partners,” said Ismene Speliotis, executive director of MHANY Management, Inc. “The Peninsula development reflects a true effort in community engagement, and participation that results in beneficial outcomes not only for the individuals, families, businesses, and programs within it, but for all members and stakeholders within the surrounding community.”

“This marks a pivotal moment in transforming what was once a juvenile detention center into a living and thriving community in the heart of the Hunts Point Peninsula,” said Adolfo Carrión Jr, NYC HPD commissioner. “Complete with permanently affordable housing and resources long needed in this corner of The Bronx, this project is a testament to the continued commitment that the city and our development partners share in supporting families and transforming neighborhoods.”

The second phase of The Peninsula will bring 359 affordable units in studio, one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom layouts. Approximately 73 percent of the units will be available at or below 60 percent of area median income and 15 percent of the units will be set aside for households for the formerly homeless.

Residential amenities will include a gym, a shared laundry room, a children’s playroom, tenant lounge space with access to outdoor terraces, common area and apartment Wi-Fi, and bicycle storage. There will also be a 50,000-square-foot public plaza, a 155-vehicle parking garage, and 20,000 square feet of community facility space. The buildings will also have solar roof panels and sustainable features to harvest rainwater.

The first phase of The Peninsula was completed in 2022 and consists of 183 affordable housing units, a 14,000-square-foot cultural arts center, and a 57,000-square-foot industrial space building.

Once complete in 2029, the entire Peninsula campus will include four mixed-use residential buildings and a light-industrial manufacturing building, 740 affordable homes, 10,720 square feet of retail space targeting a grocery store, 260 parking spaces in two underground garages, 57,000 square feet of open plaza space, and 52,300 square feet of community facility space, including a DOE administered Head Start Facility, Inspiration Point’s cultural arts facility, a Health and Wellness Center operated by Urban Health Plan, and community programs operated by The Point CDC.

Construction completion is expected for summer of 2026.