Friday, June 24, 2016

Espaillat Calls on DOJ to Provide Federal Election Monitors to Oversee June 28th Primary


Letter Calls for Action Following Pattern of BOE Voter Disenfranchisement

State Senator Adriano Espaillat called on the U.S. Department of Justice to provide federal election monitors in the congressional primary on June 28.

The letter addressed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch follows a similar call made last week by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) requesting the U.S. Department of Justice provide federal election monitors following the purge of tens of thousands of Brooklyn voters in New York’s April presidential primary.

In the letter today he notes “The New York City Board of Elections has repeatedly failed to execute its primary responsibility to ensure all duly qualified voters can fully participate in our democracy.” Read the full letter below.

Full letter:
June 24, 2016
The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Lynch,  
I am writing following rampant voter irregularities in the April primary and request that you assign federal election monitors to oversee the congressional primary on Tuesday, June 28, in New York’s 13th District, for which I am a candidate.  
For almost 50 years since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and its periodic renewals, the federal government has ensured equity at the ballot box throughout our nation. Until it was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013, Section 4 of the voting rights act required review by the Justice Department before election procedures, polling sites, and district boundaries could be changed. These protections extended to several states and municipalities, including New York’s 13th Congressional District in the Bronx and Manhattan.
As a resident of this District, my neighbors and I need the return of these protections.
Just ask the voters in the 79th election district in northern Manhattan’s 71st Assembly District, who have voted in four different poll sites in as many elections, or the 69th ED in the 72nd AD, where voters bounced around between two poll sites over several election cycles. Or ask the 120,000 overwhelmingly Latino voters purged from Brooklyn’s voter rolls—an egregious example of voter disenfranchisement. The New York City Board of Elections has repeatedly failed to execute its primary responsibility to ensure all duly qualified voters can fully participate in our democracy. With the BOE undertaking no significant reforms since the voter purge in April’s presidential primary, voters across the 13th District and beyond, deserve federal oversight.
I am not alone in my concern. Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez has already voiced similar concerns about voter disenfranchisement in New York’s 7th District. As a candidate in a congressional district where 55% of residents are Latino, this disenfranchisement is especially worrisome. 
These pervasive challenges make it difficult to have confidence that voters will not face barriers at the ballot box on Election Day. The most basic tenet of democracy is the right to vote, and I believe it is essential for the Department of Justice to assign federal election monitors in the 13th congressional district.
Adriano Espaillat


This is a noble gesture by State Senator Espaillat, but why was it not done in part last week when Rep. VelazQuez sent in her request. 
This only appears to be a gimmick to try to get more votes.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

New York City Pharmacy Owner Arrested For $8.5 Million Fraud As Part Of Largest National Medicare Fraud Takedown In History

  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Scott J. Lampert, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced today that SAJID JAVED was charged with participating in a health care fraud scheme that used nine pharmacies in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, through which JAVED submitted more than $8.5 million in fraudulent claims to Medicaid and Medicare.  JAVED’s arrest is part of an unprecedented nationwide sweep led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, resulting in criminal and civil charges against 301 individuals, including 61 doctors, nurses, or other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $900 million in false billings.  Twenty-three state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in today’s arrests.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) also suspended a number of providers using its suspension authority provided in the Affordable Care Act.  This coordinated takedown is the largest in the history of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, both in terms of the number of defendants charged and loss amount. 
JAVED was arrested earlier today and is expected to be presented in Manhattan federal court later this afternoon.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, Sajid Javed induced others to forego their prescription medications for a kickback, and then fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid more than $8 million for the drugs that were never actually dispensed.  This alleged scheme not only put patients at risk, it also contributed to the multibillion-dollar pillaging of federally funded public health care subsidies.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said: “These alleged criminals arrested around the country today and here in New York City are stealing money meant to help people seeking medical assistance.  It’s not a visible theft in public view, but the victims of the crime suffer greatly when they can’t get the assistance they need.  We are asking anyone who sees this sort of crime and fraud taking place to be vigilant, and report it to us at 1-800-CALL-FBI.”
HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert said: “Prescription drug scams, such as the one alleged in this case, work to undermine our nation's health care system.  Today’s arrests coordinated with our law enforcement partners serve as a stern warning to those who attempt to plunder government health programs meant to care for our most vulnerable citizens.”
As alleged in the Complaint and in other documents filed in Manhattan federal court[1]:
While owning and operating nine different pharmacies located in Brooklyn and Queens, SAJID JAVED conducted a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid programs by seeking reimbursement for prescription drugs that were not distributed to customers.  Specifically, from January 2013 through December 2014, JAVED obtained more than $8.5 million in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid for prescription drugs that his pharmacies never actually dispensed.  JAVED defrauded Medicare and Medicaid into providing him with these reimbursements by obtaining prescriptions from other individuals, who were willing to forego delivery of the medications in exchange for a share of the reimbursed proceeds, in the form of kickbacks.  JAVED offered to pay, and did actually pay, kickbacks in furtherance of this scheme.
Including today’s enforcement actions, nearly 1,200 individuals have been charged in national takedown operations, which have involved more than $3.4 billion in fraudulent billings.  Today’s announcement marks the second time that districts outside Strike Force locations participated in a national takedown, and they accounted for 82 defendants charged in this takedown.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (“HEAT”), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations and since its inception in March 2007 has charged over 2,900 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $8.9 billion. 
JAVED, 45, of Fresh Meadows, Queens, is charged with one count of health care fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and one count of illegal remuneration in connection with a federal health care program, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and HHS-OIG.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher DiMase and Sarah Paul are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Engel On House Adjournment Following Democratic Sit-In

   Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement after the House adjourned till July:

"Standing alongside my colleagues earlier today, I said that Republicans had tossed out the old rules about how the House functions. We no longer debate legislation and vote on it on the House floor, because the Republican Majority has decided that they are too afraid. Too afraid to stop terrorists from buying guns, too afraid to allow background checks, too afraid of what research about gun violence will show. Let's face it, they are too afraid of the NRA. So instead of working to fix these problems by voting on a solution that 90 percent of Americans agree on, the Republican Majority has decided that the House won't do any more business this month. They have decided that they would rather abdicate their responsibilities and skip town than work to address the issue of gun violence, which is killing more and more Americans every day. Their behavior is shameful, but we will not be discouraged in the face of their cowardice.    

"Democrats will stay on the floor and continue to fight, even if Republicans walk away. Because this is too important for any more moments of silence.

"As we've said all day: no bill, no break."

NYC Public Advocate Letitia James Endorses Jamaal Bailey for New York State Senate

  Today, New York City Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James endorsed Jamaal T. Bailey to represent the open Senate seat in the 36th District.

“Jamaal Bailey has been working hard on behalf of his community, both as the Community Relations Director for Speaker Carl Heastie and as a District Leader of the 83rd Assembly District. I am confident he will bring the same vigor and dedication to the people of the 36th Senatorial District,” said Public Advocate James.

“I’m grateful for the support of Public Advocate James,” said Bailey. She has been a staunch activist for the people of New York City and I hope to do the same for the constituents of Mount Vernon and the Bronx when elected to the State Senate.”

Public Advocate Letitia James is the first citywide elected official to endorse Jamaal Bailey.


The petitioning is still going on, and candidate Bailey must make it to the ballot first. 

49th Precinct Community Council Meeting Tuesday, June 28th 7:30 PM at 49th Precinct Community Center, 2121 Eastchester Road


Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Construction and management contracts for millions were never put in writing, 
limiting ability to track how taxpayer dollars were spent

  Audits released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer found poor financial oversight and weak management by the boards of trustees at two New York City charter schools, Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School and Merrick Academy Queens Public Charter School. Each school’s board of trustees oversees the institutions’ finances and management to ensure the resources are available for children to receive a quality education.
The two audits uncovered that both schools spent millions of taxpayer dollars on renovations and the purchase of services and supplies but didn’t keep proper or consistent financial records, including written contracts. The New Beginnings board spent nearly $1.7 million on renovations without written contracts, detailed project plans, or adequate evidence that the board of trustees even signed off on the spending. Merrick Academy substantially altered a $1.3 million contract for educational and administrative services without putting the changes in writing and incurred an additional $4.5 million in expenses to relocate and renovate a new school building without formal approval from the board.
“Ensuring that every dollar we spend on schools goes toward the education of the next generation must be our highest priority,” Comptroller Stringer said. “Verbal agreements and informal arrangements to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are neither good business practice nor the appropriate way to fund our children’s education. There must be accountability to protect these resources from waste, fraud and abuse.” 
The separate audits reviewed oversight of financial operations by the board of trustees at the Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School and Merrick Academy Queens Public Charter School from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014. New Beginnings is located in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and is authorized by the New York City Board of Education; in Fiscal Year 2013, it served K-5 and K-6 in Fiscal Year 2014. Merrick Academy is a SUNY-authorized charter school in Springfield Gardens, Queens, which served students in grades K-6 but now serves students in grades K-5.
Major findings at New Beginnings:
The New Beginnings Board of Trustees did not responsibly manage the school’s finances 
  • New Beginnings officials told auditors that they did not solicit competitive proposals for nearly $1.7 million of construction costs, which means the school might have overpaid for the work. Though the board expressly told auditors that there had not been competitive bidding for the construction, after school officials saw the audit’s preliminary findings, they claimed to have received documents from the former executive director that they said showed a competitive bidding process had taken place.
  • Auditors also uncovered that there were no written contracts or project plans for $1.5 million of the nearly $1.7 million spent on construction work during the audit period. Because there were no contracts or plans, there is no way to determine if taxpayer dollars were spent, appropriately.
  • Auditors found a lack of financial controls over New Beginnings’ handling of tens of thousands of dollars in cash received from families for school lunches, afterschool programs, and general fundraising. The audit found that $8,200 in cash collected during FY 2014 was not deposited into the school’s bank accounts and there was no evidence this money was then spent appropriately.
  • New Beginnings was required to have $70,000 in an escrow account to pay for legal and audit expenses in case the school was forced to dissolve. At the end of FY 2013, however, the school only had $2,529 in the account and for nearly three quarters of that year, the account balance fell below the required $70,000 minimum.
School administration made payment requests in multiple small increments in an apparent attempt to skirt oversight requirements
To ensure that spending on large purchases is appropriate, New Beginning’s policies require checks for $5,000 or more to be signed by two school officials. Because of this requirement, auditors examined checks for amounts just below and above $5,000 to see if school officials complied with this financial control.
Auditors identified nearly $60,000 worth of checks – for amounts ranging from $4999.00 to $4,999.99 – which were made out to Antares, LLC, a firm used to pay the school’s former executive director. These twelve checks were signed only by the Vice Chair of the Board, who still holds that position. When questioned by auditors, the Vice Chair admitted the payments should not have been handled this way, but claimed it never occurred to her that the checks were intentionally designed to bypass greater oversight.
Auditors also reviewed a sample of 77 payments of more than $5,000 – which must be approved by two school officials. Of these payments, auditors identified $215,771 in spending – 13% of the sample total – which only had one signature, in direct violation of the school’s rules.
When auditors looked at a larger sample of 192 payments worth $2.2 million – including the 77 for more than $5,000 and 115 for less than that amount – they identified eight transactions, which constituted 12% of the total sample spending, that lacked supporting documentation. 
The Board of Trustees did not submit financial disclosure forms or remove board members who violated policies 
Despite clear language in the school’s charter stating that failure to submit financial disclosure forms is grounds for removal, 6 of 8 board members did not submit the required Financial Disclosure Reports by the deadline for FY 2013 and 3 of 8 were missing for FY 2014. Although the school’s charter states that a Board member should be removed if they fail to submit a disclosure report, no actions were taken – putting the school at risk of having its Charter revoked or terminated.
Auditors recommended that New Beginnings’ Board: 
  • Ensure all contracts are approved, signed and dated by the Head of School. Further, all such contracts should be approved by the Board and evidence of such approval should be maintained;
  • Make certain that it has proper estimates, plans and costs for any alterations done on premises;
  • Implement adequate cash controls and financial management for school-related activities; and
  • Maintain the minimum required balance of no less than $70,000 in its escrow account in accordance with its charter agreement.
Major findings at Merrick Academy include: 
Merrick Academy substantially altered the terms of a million-dollar contract for management and educational services without putting those changes in writing or documenting what services the payments they did make were for.  As a result, it is impossible to determine if funds paid went toward work that was actually performed.
In 2010, Merrick Academy entered into a five-year contract with Victory Schools, Inc. to provide management and educational services, create student assessments, and manage administrative and financial operations. Originally, Victory was supposed to be paid $1.3 million per year, but was paid only $600,000 in FY2013 and $624,000 in FY 2014, based on a “verbal agreement,” which both the school and contractor claimed reduced the scope of Victory’s involvement.
The changes to the original contract were neither documented by Victory nor approved by the SUNY Institute, as required by the school’s charter agreement. As a result, there is no way for auditors or the public to know what services Victory was paid millions of taxpayer dollars to perform, or if they were received.
Merrick’s Board of Trustees failed to oversee financial decisions or approve $4.5 million in costs associated with the school’s move to a new location, neglecting its duty to manage the school’s finances
  • There was no evidence that the Merrick board formally considered and approved relocation and renovation plans that moved the school from its previous location in Queens Village to a new site in Springfield Gardens, Queens. This means that there is no public document explaining why the school chose to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on the move.
  • Despite spending over $431,000 in renovation expenses at the new location, $534,000 in costs to break the old location’s lease, $81,000 in moving expenses and incurring $3.5 million in additional rental expenses at the new site, board minutes show almost no discussion of the financial implications of moving and no evidence a vote was ever taken to approve the move. 
School officials consistently failed to follow operating procedures, increasing the possibility the school overpaid for goods and services 
  • Auditors found no evidence of contracts, purchase orders, or work orders for 16 of the 54 vendors that received $10,000 or more in payments from the school.
  • These 16 vendors received $907,198, or 38% of the total $2.4 million paid to the vendors.
  • One contractor, Everlast Solutions Corp., was paid $302,000 to work on renovations at the school’s new location, but auditors were unable obtain a copy of the contract from the school.
  • Of 119 payments totaling $1,437,541 which auditors reviewed, 13 payments worth $311,338 – 22% of the sample total – weren’t authorized by the appropriate staff member, increasing the risk that inappropriate payments were made.
Merrick Academy could not show that it consistently performed required criminal background checks for all employees, increasing the risk that inappropriate individuals could have had contact with school children
  • Auditors examined a sample of 29 employees and determined that Merrick did not have evidence that background checks took place prior to their start date for 23 (79%) of them.
  • Five of those employees worked for the school without proper clearance for between six months and four and a half years.
Auditors recommended that Merrick’s board:
  • Ensure that any changes to its agreement to provide management and educational services are formalized in writing and approved by the SUNY Institute;
  • Take steps to ensure that all contracts, purchase orders, or work orders are approved and documented;
  • Review, consider, and vote on all significant financial matters and keep proper minutes; and
  • Ensure that criminal background checks are obtained for employees before allowing them to work at the school.
“If you’re going to spend taxpayer dollars, you better be able to show what you paid for. When public money is spent without accountability, it raises serious questions about whether our children are getting the services they need to succeed. We can’t compromise on the education of our kids. These boards need to make immediate changes and ensure not another penny is spent without oversight and accountability,” Stringer said.
To read the full audit of the Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School, please click here.
To read the full audit of Merrick Academy Queens Public Charter School, please click here.


  The Bronx’s unemployment rate has fallen to one of its lowest numbers ever, according to newly released statistics from the New York State Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate in The Bronx dropped to 6.1 percent in May 2016, down from 6.6 percent in April 2016 and 7.8 percent in May 2015. This is the lowest unemployment rate the borough has seen since Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. first took office in May 2009, topping last month’s previous all-time low.

The total number of Bronxites employed also remains high, 567,500, with nearly 100,000 more Bronx residents employed today than when Borough President Diaz took office seven years ago. In addition, just 37,000 Bronx residents are currently unemployed, the lowest number of Borough President Diaz’s tenure.

“We are always looking to continue to build on the results that have helped decrease unemployment in our borough to record lows,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “We will refuse to stay complacent as we seek to lower the unemployment rate even further, create new jobs, strengthen our existing businesses and grow our local economy. I want to thank all of our elected officials, community boards, business community, non-profits, neighborhood leaders and our more than 1.4 million residents. Everyone can be proud of these efforts.”

The Department of Labor’s statistics can be found at

Since Borough President Diaz took office in 2009, The Bronx has seen more than $9.4 billion in total development, which has led to the creation of thousands of new jobs. In addition, a partnership announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in August 2014 between the New York State Department of Labor and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, as part of the “NY Works,” program is placing Bronx residents in these jobs, helping to ensure that new development here benefits everyone, especially Bronxites.

Espaillat Unveils Plan to Strengthen Local Schools

  Today, State Senator Adriano Espaillat unveiled a new policy paper, putting forward his priorities for federal investment in local schools. Senator Espaillat has already released policy proposals outlining his ideas to prevent displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods, address the epidemic of gun violence, and reduce the exploding costs of child care.
Senator Espaillat has led the race in putting forward specific policy ideas to address the biggest issues of the day. No other campaign in the race has put forward detailed policy papers to solve problems impacting residents in the 13th District.
Espaillat’s latest policy paper, Opportunity for All: Tapping the Potential of Every Child, lays out his vision for supporting education at the federal level, which includes an expansion of foreign language learning, access to AP and technology courses, and support for afterschool programs. 
In the Legislature, Espaillat spearheaded the Ladder program, which allocated funding for school construction to the tune of $300 million dollars, creating 16 new schools in the 13th District, and helped fight overcrowding in our classrooms. Espaillat also filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and has been an outspoken voice for New York City schools to receive full and fair funding. Espaillat was a vocal supporter of universal pre-k when it was debated and ultimately enacted in 2014. The program now serves almost 70,000 New York City children. 
“To build a strong foundation for our future, we need a quality public education system that taps the potential of every child,” said Senator Adriano Espaillat. “Every parent who wants to send their child to a dual language program should have that option, every student who is capable should be able to enroll in AP courses, and to prepare all of our children for the jobs of the future, they need to receive a dedicated national curriculum on technology. To do this, not only is more investment required but bolder thinking. In Congress, I will provide that leadership to expand access to opportunity to every child.”
In Congress, Senator Espaillat will fight for a series of reforms to help local schools.
  • Increase federal funding for innovative dual language programs, and support initiatives like the Bilingual Family Literacy Breakfast Program: Our world is more interconnected than ever before, and this trend will only continue. Teaching our young students another language at an early age will catalyze cognitive development and promote academic achievement. But today, most public school students in New York City receive no foreign language instruction until high school, when it becomes exponentially more difficult to develop language proficiency. Congress must make bold investments toward a multilingual future and create a language learning system for the 21st Century that serves our children from an early age.
  • National Curriculum on Technology: A fully implemented national curriculum on technology would help harness the full potential of the digital revolution. In order to prepare our children for the jobs of the future, they need to receive instruction in coding, robotics, virtualization, and all science applications.
  • Expand AP courses through the federal Advanced Placement Incentive Program grant: This grant increases the participation of low-income students in pre-AP and AP courses and tests. Grants can be awarded to local school districts or to nonprofit organizations in the community to make AP courses more accessible, particularly to students of color. In order to unleash the full academic talent of our young students, they must have the opportunity to showcase their skills.
  • Title I Schools: Title I schools should be allowed to extend after school programs to 6pm and provide our students with additional opportunities and resources to succeed.

  It does not take an election for congress for a State Senator to say what he will do to improve a lacking educational system. Why has this not been already proposed by this State Senator in Albany? 
Yes I know it is federal monies, but it could have been applied for all these years, and Senator Espaillat ran two times before for this congressional seat. Why all of a sudden in this election does he say it? 
Where was he the two previous elections - SILENT?

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Bronx Clinic Owner For Alleged Five Million Dollar Medicaid Fraud

Joseph Wright Allegedly Duped Innocent New Yorkers Into Receiving Unnecessary Medical Treatment By Luring Them To His Clinic “Assistance By Improv, Inc.”  With False Promises Of Affordable Housing
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Joseph Wright, 52, of Middletown NY, for allegedly stealing over $5 million dollars from Medicaid. Prosecutors allege that Wright, as owner of a purportedly not-for-profit organization “Assistance By Improv II, Inc.” (ABI), located at 953 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, lured thousands of low-income New Yorkers to ABI with the promise of affordable housing, arranged to have them subjected to unnecessary medical tests and then filed false claims for reimbursement with the State Medicaid program. 
“This defendant allegedly took advantage of the hopes and needs of the most vulnerable of our neighbors to line his pockets with millions of taxpayer dollars,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This elaborate scheme drained Medicaid of important resources that should have been used on medical patients in need, and my office won’t stand for those who seek to use the program as a personal piggy bank.”
NYS Medicaid Inspector General Dennis Rosensaid, “This joint investigation and today's arrests serve notice to those who attempt to exploit New York's Medicaid program for their personal gain. My office and our partner agencies will continue to work together to root out fraud, waste and abuse and hold wrongdoers fully accountable.”
Prosecutors alleged in papers filed in court that Wright unlawfully owns and operates ABI as a medical mill that masquerades as a charitable housing organization. ABI claims in newspapers, on television and on city bus advertisements to be dedicated to providing affordable housing for developmental disabled New Yorkers. Prosecutors allege that Wright ignored ABI’s professed charitable mission and duped potential clients, most of whom were Medicaid recipients, into surrendering their personal health care information and undergoing purported medical screening to qualify for housing. 
Prosecutors allege that potential clients were directed to see various doctors and counselors at ABI, and were often subjected to unnecessary purported medical tests and procedures. Thereafter, staff at ABI under the direction of Wright, and at the behest of various doctors and counselors employed by ABI, submitted false claims for reimbursement to Medicaid for services allegedly rendered to the Medicaid recipients who provided Wright, his staff and ABI with their client identification numbers.
Wright, prosecutors allege, used the doctors’ and patients’ Medicaid identification numbers to submit a staggering volume of claims for services allegedly rendered to Medicaid recipients. In an eight-month span, eight Medicaid providers employed by Wright and ABI submitted over 125,000 claims for medical services allegedly rendered to Medicaid recipients. The value of these claims totaled in excess of $1o million dollars, for which Medicaid reimbursed these eight doctors over $5 million dollars, and they in turn paid Wright millions of dollars.
Prosecutors allege that Medicaid paid these claims based upon each doctor’s representation as to the accuracy and veracity of each claim submitted. An overwhelming number of these claims though were for treatment in connection with a primary diagnosis of “counseling and advice on contraception” or “other contraceptive/sex counseling” and bore no resemblance to the purported treatment actually provided, if any. Often these claims were completely fictitious and factually impossible. According to claims records maintained by the Medicaid program, prosecutors allege, these doctors saw hundreds of patients a day and each patient received the same medical diagnosis. Many of the doctors practiced outside their field of specialty according to their claims data and the claimed medical diagnosis and treatment was often one each doctor was unqualified to give.  Furthermore, given the number of claims filed each day by each doctor, the doctors could not have physically rendered the treatment they claimed to have provided. 
To date, the Attorney General’s investigation uncovered no evidence that any of ABI’s patients ever received any housing despite being subjected to unnecessary medical examinations, medical tests, and multiple visits to ABI.
Wright, arrested today by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), is charged with Grand Larceny in the First Degree, Health Care Fraud in the First Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree. Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Health Care Fraud in the First Degree are both class B felonies with a maximum term of incarceration of 8 1/3 to 25 years in State prison.
Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree is a class C felony with a maximum term of incarceration of 5 to 15 years in State prison.
Wright was arrested and is expected to be arraigned later today in New York City Criminal Court, Bronx County.
Today, in addition to Wright’s arrest, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit executed a search warrant at the premises of ABI at 953 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York.
The Attorney General’s Office thanks the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”), Computer Services Corporation, the New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) and the New York Office of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations for their valuable contributions to this investigation. 
The case was investigated by Special Investigators Denitor Guerra and Thomas Dowd with assistance from Supervising Investigator Dominick DiGennaro, all under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan. OMIG Investigator Nigill Johnson also assisted in the investigation. The audit investigation was conducted by MFCU Auditor Investigator Lisandra Defex under the supervision of Principal Auditor Investigator Emmanuel Archer and Regional Chief Auditor Thomasina Smith. Also assisting in the audit investigation were Stephanie Paton and Margaret Tsui of OMIG and Leslie Dykeman from Computer Services Corporation.
The charges against the defendant are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

Senior NYPD Officials And Others Charged With Federal Public Corruption Offenses


NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant Charged With Accepting Bribes In Exchange for Official Acts

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and William J. Bratton, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today that Deputy Chief MICHAEL HARRINGTON, Deputy Inspector JAMES GRANT, and Sergeant DAVID VILLANUEVA of the NYPD were arrested this morning, along with a Brooklyn-based man, JEREMY REICHBERG, on bribery charges.  HARRINGTON, GRANT, and REICHBERG were charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud for a bribery scheme involving the receipt of tens of thousands of dollars in meals, trips, home renovations, and other benefits in exchange for an array of official NYPD actions, including private police escorts, ticket fixing, and assistance in settling private disputes.  VILLANUEVA, formerly a supervisor in the NYPD’s gun licensing division, was charged in Manhattan federal court with bribery offenses in connection with his receipt of cash bribes to expedite and approve gun licenses.  In addition, the guilty plea of Police Officer RICHARD OCHETAL, who formerly worked in the gun licensing division, was unsealed today.  OCHETAL pled guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for the approval of gun license applications, and is cooperating with the Government in the investigation.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The alleged conduct violates the basic principle that public servants are to serve the public, not help themselves to cash and benefits just for doing their jobs.  Jeremy Reichberg allegedly showered senior police officials, Commanding Officers Michael Harrington and James Grant, with bribes, and in exchange, got ‘cops on call,’ a private police force for themselves and their friends.  As alleged, Sergeant David Villanueva and Officer Richard Ochetal in the NYPD’s gun licensing division were also on the take, issuing gun licenses in exchange for cash, liquor, and limo rides.  It is heartbreaking to see police officers who have taken the oath to serve and protect allegedly bring dishonor to an institution and profession deserving of the greatest honor.  I thank the FBI for their work on this important investigation and the NYPD for its commitment and courage to police itself.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriquez said:  “The abuses of power alleged in this case are not victimless crimes.  The victims are the citizens of New York, who rely on officers to fulfill their sworn duty.  The victims are the upstanding police officers who do everything in their power to uphold the law and protect the public.  The victims are public trust and confidence in law enforcement, both critical to ensuring public safety.  The FBI, along with our partners, will continue to root out this kind of decay at every level in order to protect our citizens from the devastating consequences of corruption that undermines safety, and erodes the trust between law enforcement and the public.”
NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “These charges and today's arrests are a culmination of the joint investigative efforts of the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau along with the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.  During the past three years, NYPD Internal Affairs and FBI investigators worked diligently in pursuing leads into alleged corrupt activity involving uniformed members of this department.  Two separate investigations, by the NYPD and the FBI, merged seamlessly and resulted in today’s arrests of four members of the department as well as another individual.  This investigation is not over and we will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners to go where the facts of these cases lead us.‎”
According to the allegations in the Complaint against GRANT, HARRINGTON, and REICHBERG; the Indictment against VILLANUEVA and Brooklyn-based gun license “expeditor” ALEX LICHTENSTEIN, a/k/a “SHAYA,” who had been previously charged; and the Information to which OCHETAL pled guilty, all unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:
For several years from approximately 2012 through 2015, REICHBERG, who described himself as a “community liaison” for the NYPD, along with another individual who had pled guilty and is now cooperating with the Government (“CW-1”), engineered a scheme to provide lavish benefits to high-ranking members of the NYPD, including GRANT and HARRINGTON, so as to be able to call upon those members for police-related assistance for themselves and their communities over time.  GRANT and HARRINGTON, for their part, accepted numerous benefits and, in return, took several official police actions for REICHBERG and CW-1.  GRANT was, throughout this time period, a high-ranking police official and commanding officer of a precinct in Brooklyn, before becoming a Deputy Inspector and the Commanding Officer of the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  HARRINGTON was an Inspector in Brooklyn North and, beginning around November 2013, the Executive Officer in the NYPD Chief of Department’s Office, which is responsible for overseeing all of the NYPD’s uniformed operations.
As alleged in the Complaint, among the benefits accepted by GRANT were a private jet trip to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, costing $57,000 for the plane alone; a two-night stay in a hotel in Rome, worth more than $1,000; contracting work on his home worth approximately $12,000; and jewelry.  Among the benefits accepted by HARRINGTON were private security work worth tens of thousands of dollars for a company he unofficially helped manage; hotel rooms for a trip to Chicago for his family worth in excess of $6,000; and thousands of dollars in dinners.
GRANT and HARRINGTON helped REICHBERG and CW-1 with numerous police-related requests.  For example, both performed and arranged for police-related escorts for REICHBERG, CW-1, and their associates, at REICHBERG and/or CW-1’s request.  Both diverted police resources to investigate private, civil matters.  Both assisted with VIP access to parades and other New York City events.  GRANT provided cards that enabled REICHBERG, CW-1, and their associates to avoid tickets when pulled over by police.  GRANT also helped REICHBERG obtain a gun license from the NYPD, and attempted to help CW-1 obtain a gun license from the NYPD.  HARRINGTON sent police resources to religious sites upon request. 
REICHBERG and CW-1’s influence in certain spheres of the NYPD was, at a certain point, so significant as to have people believing that they had a say in promotions.  REICHBERG and CW-1, for example, advocated for GRANT to become the Commanding Officer of the 19th Precinct, which GRANT ultimately did, and which led to them being permitted to make the call informing him of the news.  REICHBERG also advocated for HARRINGTON to become a senior police official in Brooklyn after HARRINGTON left the Chief of Department’s office, which was unsuccessful.  A judicially authorized wiretap on REICHBERG’s phone in early 2015 revealed numerous conversations in which REICHBERG was dispensing advice on promotions to members of the NYPD and taking steps to facilitate promotions.
United States v. VILLANUEVA and LICHTENSTEIN; United States v. OCHETAL
VILLANUEVA was, for many years, a Sergeant assigned to the NYPD’s Licensing Division, which is responsible for reviewing all applications for gun licenses submitted by residents of New York City.  The Licensing Division receives approximately 5,000 applications for gun licenses per year.  Licensing Division personnel review those applications both for disqualifying characteristics, such as prior felony convictions, and for other characteristics that lead to discretionary denials.
From at least 2012 through 2016, VILLLANUEVA was given cash bribes and other benefits by LICHTENSTEIN, who ran a business charging clients thousands of dollars to expedite their gun license applications.  LICHTENSTEIN used some of the money paid by his clients to pay VILLANUEVA for his work in expediting and approving the applications for LICHTENSTEIN’s clients.  OCHETAL, a Police Officer who worked under VILLANUEVA, did first-level reviews of many of these applications and was instructed to approve them.  OCHETAL was compensated in the form of some of the cash that LICHTENSTEIN gave to VILLANUEVA.
In reviewing and approving applications for LICHTENSTEIN’s clients, VILLANUEVA and OCHETAL omitted some of the required checks, such as criminal history checks, and in other instances ran checks only after they approved licenses.  They also approved applications despite red flags that, had they not been bribed, may have led those applications to be rejected.  For example, they approved applications of individuals with prior arrests and previous allegations of domestic violence.  In addition, VILLANUEVA and OCHETAL approved applications for licenses to carry firearms, which require certain business-related justifications, in scenarios were there was no real business justification for the request.  A review of the applications of LICHTENSTEIN’s clients reveals that VILLANUEVA and OCHETAL were able to secure licenses for those clients often within weeks, whereas the process normally takes months to, in some instances, over a year.  VILLANUEVA and OCHETAL did this for LICHTENSTEIN’s clients because of the cash payments coming from LICHTENSTEIN, as well as other benefits, such as limousine rides, bottles of liquor, and a wine tour.
GRANT, 43, of Staten Island, New York, HARRINGTON, 50, of the Staten Island, New York, and REICHBERG, 42, of Brooklyn, New York, have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.  VILLANUEVA, 42, of Valley Stream, New York, was charged with one count of bribery, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison.  LICHTENSTEIN, 44, of Pomona, New York, is charged with two counts of bribery, each of which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison. OCHETAL, 37, previously pled guilty to one count of bribery, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI, the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division, and noted that the investigation is continuing.  
These cases are being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Martin Bell, Russell Capone, and Kan M. Nawaday are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint and the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark Attends C B 7 Meeting

  The June full board Meeting of Community Board 7 was graced by the presence of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark. DA Clark spoke about some of the changes she has already made to the office. The meeting was held at the Bronx Botanical Garden. 
  DA Clark is in the background standing next to current CB 7 Chairwoman Adaline Walker-Santiago. Board members and CB 7 District Manager Andrew andler are seated at the table.

Rep. Engel Announces 2016 Title I Funding for Bronx Schools

  Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced today that the U.S. Department of Education has allocated $224,714,082 in federal funds to schools in Bronx County as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Title I allocations.

Part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Title I program provides financial assistance to school districts so that they can afford services to students at risk of not meeting state academic achievement standards, especially in areas with high concentrations of low-income families.

“For more than 50 years, the Title I program has provided critical resources to help local school districts modernize infrastructure, improve staffing, and offer students the tools they need to succeed academically,” Congressman Engel said. “In addition, Title I funds support preschool, after-school, and summer programming that reinforces regular schooling and helps prepare children for the next phase of their academic journey. These funds are critical to our Bronx schools, which is why I will continue to champion the Title I program in Congress.”

These allocations are subject to potential adjustments by the Department of Education at the end of FY 2016.


  On Thursday, June 30, 2016, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and State Senator Jeff Klein will host the borough’s official kickoff to the Independence Day Celebrations, the annual “New York Salutes America” boardwalk festival and fireworks extravaganza at Orchard Beach located in The Bronx. Over 10,000 people are expected to be in attendance.

“This is a great fun-filled evening one can spend with their friends and family,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This is one of our jewel events; which this year includes the addition of our second annual eating contest, where people from across the city can experience the best that The Bronx has to offer. I urge everyone to join myself, State Senator Klein and thousands of your neighbors as we kick-off our city’s Independence Day celebrations and salute America together.”

"The Fourth of July is a celebratory time for all Americans.  Every year I look forward to our fireworks extravaganza, which has become a cherished tradition for our Bronx families. As we reflect upon the extraordinary history of our nation, we must remember the sacrifices of our brave U.S. servicemen and women, whose courageous acts contributed to our nation’s freedom," said State Senator Jeff Klein.
The event is free; open to the public and includes fun activities for the kids, such as magicians, balloon artists, music performances and much more. The event will begin at 6 p.m., with the eating contest starting at 7:45 p.m.and the fireworks show beginning at 9:20 p.m.

This year, the fireworks music score will feature an eclectic mix of music all performed by Bronx natives, many of whom are Bronx Walk of Fame inductees. From Doo Wop to Hip Hop, Classic Rock, Swing, Funk, Soul, Pop and Latin, you'll hear from such Bronxites as Dion, Steven Tyler, Bobby Darin, Nitty, The Chiffons, Anthrax, Irene Cara, Grand Master Flash, Ace Frehley, Kurtis Blow, Prince Royce and Jennifer Lopez.

In addition, the “Bronx Empanada Eating Contest” returns for the second year in a row, featuring mini-empanadas from Havana Café. Contestants will be selected at the beach prior to the contest and must be present to participate. Winners of the contest will win a Bronx Prize Package.


  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has announced that Geneal Chacon has been appointed as the borough’s representative to the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which holds approval power over the actions of the New York City Department of Education.

A native of Trinidad and resident of the West Bronx, Ms. Chacon is a parent of three public school students and a parent association president at P.S. 277. Ms. Chacon is also a former president of the Presidents’ Council of District #7 and a former member of the district leadership team.

“Ms. Chacon is a leader in both our schools and the Caribbean-American community, and is a model of the immigrant success story. I am proud to appoint her as my borough’s representative to the Panel for Educational Policy. Helping Bronx students obtain a good education is one of the most important responsibilities we have as public servants. Ms. Chacon is committed to the continued development of strong education options for our children, and I look forward to partnering with her as we work together to create and expand successful education models in The Bronx and across the City,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“I want to see change in education, in families and in communities. I believe you have to be the change you want to see, and I hope that through working with Borough President Diaz and my fellow members of the Panel for Educational Policy, we can affect positive change in our city’s public school system,” said Ms. Chacon.

Ms. Chacon replaces Robert Powell, who resigned from the Panel for Educational Policy in February 2016.

News From Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

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Stopping The "Bots" That Make it Impossible to Buy Concert Tickets


In January, the Attorney General issued a report that uncovered practices and abuses that prevent New York consumers from accessing tickets at affordable prices – or even accessing them at all. The investigation revealed that illegal ticket bots, which can instantly snatch up thousands of tickets, are one major reason why ticketing is a rigged system. In response to the Attorney General’s report, the state legislature passed a bill this week that will imposes stiff penalties on the ticket brokers who use these illegal bots. While this legislation is a major step forward, the Attorney General will continue pushing for additional measures to ensure that New Yorkers can find affordable ways to see their favorite concerts and sporting events.

Addressing The Scourge Of Zombie Homes

The Attorney General has worked tirelessly to help New York families rebuild after the devastating housing crisis, and has fought for legislation which would address so-called “zombie properties” – vacant and abandoned homes that drag down property values and threaten the safety of neighborhoods. This weekend, the legislature passed a bill that would help crack down on this continued problem by requiring banks to maintain these abandoned properties--a significant step forward in helping to fight blight and revitalize neighborhoods that are still recovering from the housing crash across the state. 

Protecting the Rights of Workers In the Job Market

Attorney General Schneiderman announced that Law360, a legal publication company, agreed to stop using mandatory non-compete agreements for its employees. The company required a majority of its employees to sign non-compete agreements that prohibited them, for one year after leaving the company, from working for any media outlet that provides legal news. Reports have found that these employee contracts keep wages down, inhibit innovation, and thwart workers’ career advancement. Read the Wall Street Journal story here.

Exposing Scammers Who Exploit Tragedy

The Attorney General announced the felony conviction and sentencing of Caterina M. Curatolo, a scammer who obtained more than $87,000 in benefits by falsely claiming to be a Hurricane Sandy victim. An investigation by the Attorney General’s office revealed that Curatolo engaged in an elaborate scheme to defraud government agencies, private insurance companies, and a charitable organization by representing herself as a Sandy evacuee.  Curatolo pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay over $87,000 to New York City and the American Red Cross. Read the New York Daily News story here.

Protecting Consumers From Summer Scams

Attorney General Schneiderman reminded New Yorkers of common scams that occur during the summer and offered tips to protect consumers against abuse. Scam artists are known to prey on New Yorkers, particularly during the summer months, as consumers embark on home improvement projects and plan family vacations. The Attorney General urged New Yorkers to notify his office of any summer scams by contacting his Consumer Complaint Hotline at 1-800-771-7755 or online at For more tips, read the consumer guide here.

Have a question, comment, or complaint? Click here. You can also learn more about the various initiatives of the Attorney General's office by visiting our website at You can also call our General Hotline: 800-771-7755