Saturday, April 16, 2016

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Civil Forfeiture Complaint To Recover Proceeds Of $100 Million Wire Fraud Scheme

Complaint Seeks Forfeiture of Funds in At Least 20 Accounts Worldwide Stolen from American Company Through International Business E-Mail Fraud Scheme

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the filing of a civil forfeiture complaint against the funds in at least 20 bank accounts around the world that are alleged to constitute the proceeds of an elaborate scheme to defraud a United States company (the “Victim Company”).  In particular, the complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court alleges that the perpetrators of this fraud created a fake email address and posed as one of the Victim Company’s legitimate vendors (the “Vendor”) in communications with a professional services company (the “Professional Services Company”) that the Victim Company retained to handle the details and logistics of vendor payments.  Through these fraudulent communications, the perpetrators of the scheme caused the Victim Company to transfer nearly $100 million due to the Vendor to an account at Eurobank Cyprus, Ltd (“Eurobank”) that was actually under their control.  Almost immediately after funds were transferred into this account, the perpetrators of this scheme caused portions of the fraud proceeds to be further dispersed to accounts under their control around the world, including in Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Estonia, and Hong Kong.
Through the timely actions of officials at Eurobank, and in coordination with U.S. and Cypriot law enforcement authorities, more than $74 million of the stolen funds have already been returned to the Victim Company.  Foreign governments acting at the request of U.S. authorities have restrained 20 accounts worldwide that received portions of the remaining ill-gotten funds, and the funds in those accounts are the subject of the complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Criminals can be resourceful and unrelenting in their efforts to scam innocent victims out of money.  Here, the alleged perpetrators – through a fake email address and by impersonating a legitimate vendor – almost got away with $100 million.  Thanks to the timely actions of law enforcement here and abroad, as well as by Eurobank in Cyprus, where the stolen funds were first sent, $74 million has already been returned to the victim company.  With this civil forfeiture action, we seek to return the rest.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez, said: “This modern-day impersonation scheme used a fake email account to scam a business instead of the old way of in-person imitation by the perpetrators.  However, this scam was cut short in the end thanks to modern-day tools used by banks to stop suspicious transactions and cooperation by our foreign partners to restrain the transferred funds.”   
As alleged in the Complaint:
The Victim Company is an American-based corporation doing business worldwide.  Like many corporations, the Victim Company has contractors and vendors who are paid via wire transfer for services provided, including the Vendor, which is based in Asia.  During all times relevant to the Complaint, the Victim Company retained the Professional Services Company to communicate with vendors and handle the details of vendor payments.         
Over the course of several weeks in August and September 2015, the perpetrators of the scheme described in the Complaint managed to impersonate the Vendor by creating a fake email address that resembled email addresses used by actual employees of the Vendor.  Using this fake email address, the perpetrators then communicated with an email account maintained for the purpose of allowing vendors to communicate with the Professional Services Company on behalf of the Victim Company.  Through those email communications, the perpetrators of the scheme convinced the Professional Services Company to change the designated bank account to which the Victim Company would make recurring payments to the Vendor for services rendered.  As a result, payments from the Victim Company meant for the Vendor were transferred to an account under the control of the perpetrators of this scheme (“Subject Account-1”) rather than an account actually affiliated with the Vendor. 
Once this change was put into effect, the Professional Services Company, on behalf of the Victim Company, began directing a series of payments from Victim Company accounts in the United States to Subject Account-1 that were intended for the Vendor.  Specifically, between August 21, 2015, and September 14, 2015, approximately 16 payments intended for the Vendor as payment for services rendered to the Victim Company were wired for deposit into Subject Account-1, totaling approximately $98,879,545.80.  Officials at Eurobank developed concerns regarding these transfers and, as a result, restrained approximately $74 million of the transferred funds before they settled into Subject Account-1.  In coordination with law enforcement authorities, those funds have since been returned to the Victim Company.    
In regard to the approximately $25 million that actually settled into Subject Account-1, the perpetrators of the scheme then laundered portions of those crime proceeds through at least 19 additional accounts, including accounts in Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Hong Kong.  Those accounts, along with Subject Account-1, have since been restrained by foreign governments acting at the request of U.S. authorities. 
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Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of FBI.  He also thanked the
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) of the United States Department of the Treasury, the Law Office of the Republic of Cyprus Unit for Combating Money Laundering, and Eurobank Cyprus Ltd. for all of their assistance in the investigation and the return of funds to the Victim Company.
This investigation is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit and Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Edward B. Diskant and Megan L. Gaffney are in charge of the case.
The investigation is ongoing.

New York Hispanic Clergy Organization Annual Banquet

   The main ballroom at Maestro's Caterers was filled to capacity as the 28th Annual New York Hispanic Clergy Organization Luncheon. Reverend Luis Serrano, Chaplain of the New York City Police Department; Dr. Ariel Torres, Member of Radio Vision Cristiana International Board of Directors; Reverend Dr. Feliciano Espaillat, Community Dentist and Pastor; Dr. Julio Wally, Pastor of the Iglesia Alianza Cristiana Ebenezer; and Reverend Francisco Peralta, Assistant Pastor of Heavenly Vision Ministry in Bronx County received Certificates, Proclamations, and Recognition during the luncheon. 
    Elected officials on hand included U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, New York State Comptroller Tom Di Napoli, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., New York State Assembly members Marcos Crespo and Luis Sepulveda, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, City Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and the event was hosted by State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. The photos below will tell some of the story.

Above - You can see that the rom was packed for this event.
Below - New York State Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx DA Darcel Clark, and Bronx Democratic County Leader Assemblyman Marcos Crespo pose for the cameras.

Above - State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. welcomes everyone to the 28th New York Hispanic Clergy Organization Annual Banquet
Below - While they may not agree on everything, there is no love lost between father and son Diaz.

Above - U.S. Senator Charles Schumer addresses the packed room.
Below - After giving his speech in english, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino then repeated it in Spanish.

Klein & Salamanca to City: No mini Rikers in Hunts Point community

Elected officials & community rallied against ‘secret’ proposal to locate new 2,000 bed jail in Bronx neighborhood

      State Senator Jeff Klein and Councilman Rafael Salamanca joined community leaders and residents today to rally against a “secret” proposal to develop a mini Rikers Island in the growing Hunts Point community.

Two weeks ago, plans to locate new jail facilities throughout the boroughs, including Hunts Point in The Bronx, were reported. The proposal detailed closing the Vernon C. Bain Center barge. Currently moored in the area, the barge already houses approximately 800 inmates.

The new proposal would introduce a 2,000-bed adult jail to the area - more than doubling the number of inmates housed in Hunts Point.

While the de Blasio administration at first denied any knowledge of plans to locate new jail facilities to replace Rikers in communities across the city, including Hunts Point, a detailed 18-page document outlining plans for the possible facility was later exposed.

“The Hunts Point community has worked hard to develop their area, and a secretive plan to bring a mini Rikers to the area is simply unacceptable. An exposed document is not how this community should learn about a proposal that will impact their day-to-day lives. The Hunts Point community has its own vision for business, housing and growth. This proposal puts their vision behind bars.  We should be focusing on the best way to fix Rikers, rather than on blindsiding our neighborhoods, ” said Senator Klein.

“While I understand that we need to make strides in improving corrections infrastructure, primarily Rikers Island, the solution is not building a new facility in the South Bronx. I’m incredibly concerned that it took a leaked document provided to a newspaper for this community to learn about a proposal to place a possible jail in Hunts Point. Enough is enough. This neighborhood is making positive strides and already has had its fair share of these types of facilities. South Bronx families deserve better,” said Councilman Salamanca.

“Building jails is a bad idea because it does not fix the problem.  Hunts Point is resurrecting itself from a dark past.  The community is against it,” said Bronx Community Board 2 Chairman Dr. Iam Amritt.

Above - It appears that State Senator Jeff Klein had to be called in to fught the latest City proposal to build a new 2,000 bed adult jail into the Hunts Point area where an 800 bed jail currently sits. 
Below - Former Bronx Community Board #2 District Manager, and recently elected City Councilman (to replace the former Councilwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo who resigned in December 2015) claims ignorance as to the sighting of the new 2,000 bed adult jail in his council district, and former community board where he was the District Manager. 
In the background is a large fish company that is right across the street from the proposed adult jail site.

I was able to ask Councilman Salamanca about the power of the city council which seems to have diminished greatly under Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, after this project, the sighting of homeless shelters, The MIH and ZQA council approval over the opposition of the community boards, and the recent problems at the Kingsbridge Armory to name only a few. Councilman Salamanca could only say that he did not see any diminished power in the city council. 
If so why was the community not notified Councilman Salamanca?


Community Says NO To Co-Location 
Proposal At Meyer Levin JHS

On Monday night, April 11Council Member 
Jumaane Williams joined parents, teachers and 
students to testify at a Department of Education 
(DOE) hearing at Meyer Levin Junior High 
School to speak out against the forced co-location 
of Meyer Levin with the proposed Uncommon 
Charter School. For video of the Council Member's 
testimony, log on here. And hear from the students 
themselves in this unique video that demonstrates 
the extraordinary talent being nurtured at Meyer 

The forced co-location would displace Meyer 
Levin's performance arts space on the third floor, 
essentially "gutting" their performance arts program, 
which is the heart of the school's curriculum. Here 
are photos of what the community would lose if this 
co-location were allowed to proceed:

Since the rally, the Department of Education has felt 
the pressure and decided to postpone the vote about 
the co-location to May 18 at Long Island City HS in 
Queens, which was initially to take place next week. 
Plans are now underway to transport parents & 
student to the vote. Council Member Williams is 
working with his colleagues in government, State 
Perry to help preserve this much-needed resource 
in our community.

Wednesday, April 20
SUNY Downstate Medical Center Auditorium
395 Lenox Road, Brooklyn
7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 20
1097 Bergen Avenue, Brooklyn
7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 20
175 Lawrence Avenue, Brooklyn
7:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 21
2820 Snyder Avenue, Brooklyn
8 p.m.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Bronx Voice Hits the Bronx

   The newest newspaper in the Bronx called the Bronx Voice has become available from Riverdale to Throggs Neck, to Bay Plaza, and beyond. Below is a photo of the premier issue front page of the new Bronx Voice which will become a weekly Bronx newspaper starting the first week of May. Did I forget to say that the Bronx Voice will be free newspaper full of what the Bronx readers want. No games, comics, or dull columns, The Bronx Voice will have Bronx Life and Bronx News.

Construction on Riverdale Avenue Two Weeks After DOT Mills and Repaves the Street.

   Less than two weeks after the NYC DOT milled and then repaved Riverdale Avenue from West 239th Street all the way down the hill to West 239th Street there appears to be markings on Riverdale Avenue from West 238th to West 239th Streets. The photos below will show markings for gas and water line that are below the street as is done prior to any street construction. 

   It was said by Bronx DOT Commissioner at a public Community Board 8 Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting that the DOT was starting its yearly milling and repaving program because of the nice weather the New York City area was having. Unfortunately, it appears that construction may dig up the street that was milled and repaved two weeks ago in the near future as you can see in the photos.

Above - You can see just how fresh the repaving of Riverdale Avenue is at the intersection of West 238th Street, as the tar sealant still has not cured in place. Note the markings that have been placed on the newly repaved street.
Below - More markings show where placement of certain utility and water or sewer line are below the street level.

You can see the markings go up Riverdale Avenue towards West 239th Street where the repaving ends.

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj's Sanitation Forum- April 21, 2016

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj's
Legal Series Forum  
Join us for our first Legal Forum on
 NYC Sanitation Guidelines 

Thursday, April 21, 2015
6 pm to 8 pm
Bronx House
990 Pelham Parkway South
Bronx, N.Y. 10461
For more information, please contact the office of
Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj

Democratic Debate Statement from Council Member Jumaane Williams

"Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders both made excellent points about the state of our country and what can be done to move the United States forward. However, like many voters, I am still undecided on who to endorse. We need a candidate who will be bold in building affordable housing and ending the epidemic of gun violence that is plaguing our communities, including by adopting universal youth employment."

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, 
45th Council District,4517 Ave D, Brooklyn, NY 11203

Bronx Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing - Tuesday May 3rd

Bronx Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing
Tuesday | May 3, 2016 | Trump Golf Links Ferry Point
Take Advantage! 
Early Reservation & Member Discounts
for paid reservations by April 15th.
Sponsorship Opportunities available to promote
your company and cultivate business relationships.


     “Bravo to Betting on Zero director Ted Braun and his team who spent over three years examining the financial harm inflicted on tens of thousands of Latinos across the country by multi-level marketing company Herbalife. Six months ago, my undercover research exposed Herbalife as a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme where new recruits lured into a ‘business opportunity’ and wind up losing thousands of dollars. Legislation I recently introduced in the New York State Senate seeks to regulate multi-level marketing companies, like Herbalife, to prevent unsuspecting sellers from being victimized.

Shining the light on Herbalife and their deceptive business practices is incredibly important to me and this documentary, which premiered last night at the TriBeCa Film Festival, further vindicates my work protect victims by passing legislation.  I hope that other regulators take this issue as seriously as Mr. Braun and I do.” Said State Senator Jeff Klein.

Over 13,000 Petitions Collected for Adriano Espaillat

You helped us collect over 13,000 petition signatures, more than 10 times the amount needed to get on the ballot! I know how hard you worked to get us here, waking up early and staying out late. I am truly thankful. Because of your hard work, this campaign is off to a great start.
This is a big achievement and it will show everyone just how ready we are to win in June! But we are not there yet. I still need your help to knock on doors and make calls with me. If we all work together, we will win this primary and can begin the work of breaking down barriers and building a better future for everybody in the district.
Once again, thank you for your support. I'll see you out there.
Adriano Espaillat

Espaillat for Congress 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Stabbing Outside of MS 80 on Mosholu Parkway This Afternoon

  The large gathering of School Safety Officers, and 52nd Police Precinct officers and detectives that converged on MS 80 shortly after dismissal meant there had to be something wrong at the school. It appears that at least two students got into some kind of altercation, and one student wound up being stabbed. The student who was stabbed was rushed to a nearby hospital, either North Central or Montefiore as police did not disclose which hospital the student was taken to. 

In this photo you can see that there are surveillance cameras on the school corner, but it appears that the stabbing took place beyond the camera, but police want to look at the video to see if anyone is seen with the student who was stabbed before the incident.

This is the area where the stabbing occurred on the Mosholu Parkway Island opposite MS 80 at Van Cortlandt Avenue. Police are looking for any clues as to a struggle, and for the weapon that may have been used.

Above and Below - This officer is concentrating and looking to see if the weapon that may have been used either fell or may have been thrown down through the sewer grating. 

Ischia Bravo for Assembly

Join Us on Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dear Friend,
I was born and raised in this district and now am raising 
my two children here. I have seen the good, the bad, and 
the ugly. I joined this race because what our community 
needs is new leadership; the kind of leadership that 
understands the issues we face and will fight them head 
on. Whether it's enacting new measures to keep our 
streets safe, finding innovative ways to create good paying 
jobs, improving access to quality education and 
after-school programs, or protecting and building more 
affordable housing---- what our community needs is an 
Assembly member who will roll up their sleeves and put 
forth real solutions for these very real, everyday problems. 

I am working hard every day to fight for progressive values 
and help change the face of Albany so that working 
families actually feel the positive impact of good 
government policies. 

Thank you for your trust and faith in me,

STATEMENT FROM BP DIAZ RE: 2016 Gifted & Talented Testing Results

    “The newly released results of this year’s testing for Department of Education gifted and talented programs shows how much more work we need to do to make these programs accessible to all students, especially minority students. Far too few children in The Bronx are testing for these programs, and therefore many students are deprived of this option. Requiring all students in public universal pre-K programs to be tested for gifted and talented classes in the best way to ensure that more students have access to highest level of classwork, placing them on the path to specialized high school admissions and success in higher education.

“Today’s announcement that the Department of Education will open gifted and talented classes in the third grade in four districts that do not currently have such programs—including two in The Bronx—is a welcome one. The children of these districts deserve the same access as their counterparts in other communities, and I encourage parents in those school districts to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Parents in Bronx School Districts #7 and #12 can learn more about the new third grade programs by visiting:

GOTV with Pres. Bill Clinton, Rep. Engel & AM Gjonaj!

with President Bill Clinton, Congressman Elliot Engel & Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj!
You are invited to a rally in support of Hillary For America with President Bill Clinton, Congressman Elliot Engel, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and members of the Albanian American Community. Please bring your family and friends, and remember to vote in New York's April 19th Democratic presidential primary.

Friday, April 15, 2016
10:45am - 12:00pm

Mount Saint Vincent  - Smith Hall
6301 Riverdale Avenue
Bronx, NY 10471

Text NEW YORK to 47246*