Saturday, October 1, 2016

Sat, Oct 1, 4-7 | South Bronx Community Land Trust Re-envisions Abandoned City Building in Midst of Unprecedented Land Grab

Community Envisioning Session
Health, Education & the Arts in the Old Lincoln Recovery Building

WhenSaturday, October 1, 4-7 pm
WhereBronxArtsSpace, 305 E. 140th St. 
This Saturday, October 1, the South Bronx Community Land Trust will hold the third of three collective envisioning sessions to finalize a community-driven proposal called H.E.ARTS - Health, Education and the Arts in the former Lincoln Recovery Center on East 140th Street. This 28,000 square foot building sits abandoned and ready for use by upwards of 20 South Bronx-based community organizations!. Dinner will be provided. 
Community videos its visit to abandoned Lincoln Recovery
building to begin the envisioning process.
The Mott Haven/Port Morris neighborhood of the South Bronx, a diverse and vibrant community has survived decades of abandonment and neglect resulting in some of the highest rates of asthma, diabetes and obesity in the city, as well as the lowest performing schools. A network of grassroots, faith and neighborhood organizations have been integral in holding the Mott Haven/Port Morris community together with services providing programs targeting health, education and the arts. In recent years, several organizations have lost their space as landlords have raised their rents anticipating a wave of gentrification. These groups present impressive track records of community service and engagement, but lack some of the basic infrastructure such as space, to sustain effective programming.

More than five years ago, New York City shuttered Lincoln Recovery Center, a 28,000 square foot building located at 349 E. 140th Street. This historic facility, borne in 1970 from the community activism of courageous clinicians, the Young Lords and the Black Panthers in response to community needs, provided decades of holistic treatment for addiction using acupuncture and Reiki, along with counseling and a variety of other therapeutic and educational services. Now it sits abandoned.

We propose to revitalize the space, and WE NEED YOUR THOUGHTS & IDEAS! Please come and give us your input about how to best use this collective space. This will be the third of three envisioning sessions (first was with community organizations, second was with community youth, third will be with the full community.) Organizations already involved with this effort include: Upbeat NYC, Community Connections for Youth, Birthing Project, Mothers on the Move, South Bronx Unite, Rollin Together, Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, Cumpanis, Freedom Community Center, Friends of Brook Park, La Finca del Sur, Families United for Social and Educational Development, Vamos a la Peña del Bronx, Masa, Radical Health, South Bronx Farmers Market, United Playaz of New York, Young Urban Christians & Artists, and MLK Resource Center/SUNY ATTAIN.


  We come here today for a solemn purpose, common purpose. We’re all united in grief – all of New York City, all of the members of the FDNY, all of Chief Michael Fahy’s friends, and especially his family. We are united with you.

We’re here for you, Fiona, and your beautiful children. And we’re here for you, Thomas and Mary, who raised Michael so well. We’re here for Michael’s siblings who grew up beside him, learned with him, taught him. We’re here for each other in this time of grief.

We thank Cardinal Dolan, Father Keenan, Father Tierney, we thank everyone at Annunciation for giving us this chance to join together to comfort each other. 

We want to thank today all the men and women of the FDNY who have come here today to offer their respects, and we thank them for protecting us every day.

For a mayor, there is no more solemn duty than to offer our city’s condolences. I offer them to all gathered here today particularly to the family of a fallen hero – because we must understand Michael J. Fahy was a hero.

His chosen work – his life’s work was to protect others, to risk his life, and that was true day-in and day-out. It did not matter what the day brought, his commitment was the same – true of all who choose to put on the uniform, and serve, to be there for the rest of us.

Michael was one of those people who provided a foundation for everything good in our society, and that was the glue to hold us together because he was someone we could look up to everyday.

And what’s so important for us to remember is the choice he made – he expressed that simply and profoundly in a letter he wrote in 1999. At that point, he was a young lawyer. And at that point in his life with all sorts of success ahead, all who know him speak about his talent, his intelligence. There was certainly plenty of opportunity ahead. He could have become wealthy but he felt a different calling. And he wrote in that letter –

“While I enjoyed the study of law I feel that I need a career with a higher, more honorable purpose. I would like to be a New York City Firefighter.”

Those are not just words for Michael, he lived those ideals, he lived up to that vision of a higher, more honorable purpose, and he gave his life for it.

I want to take a moment to speak directly to Michael's children. Cormac, Anna, Michael – I want you to know that we have a few things in common. My father also wore a uniform. He served in the US Army.

Just like you I lost my dad when I was young. I was only just a teenager. But I knew that my father was a hero. And I want you to know that you will carry that knowledge with you every day of your lives. When you’re grown up, decades from now, good times and bad, you will be able to rely on that knowledge that not only was your father a good man, he was a hero.

And it will strengthen you. It may feel hard to believe that now but it will strengthen you. We all will be strengthened by Michael’s example.

When we think of him it will remind us of how good we can be if we follow the highest ideals. Therefore Michael will be a presence in all of our lives. His service to his family, to his city, to his country will never end because it will help us live better lives, to serve others more profoundly.

On behalf of eight-and-a-half million New Yorkers, I offer my deepest condolences to the Fahy family, to the FDNY, to all those who knew and loved Michael so much.

God bless you all.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Contractor Who has No Regard For Community - Exposed

  The one family home that was located at 640 West 238th Street was torn down to make way for an eight story apartment building. This new building is sandwiched in between on one side, four attached townhouses (of which the developer could only buy two), and a six story apartment building on the other side. In order to get the maximum use of the lot the windows on the A line of the six story building have been covered over (at the developers expense) or they would be facing a brick wall.  When built the six story building went to the property line on the A line of the building never thinking that the one family house next door would be torn down for another building to be built. That is exactly what has happened as the developer of the eight story building is going to the property line on the lot. We have seen this happen all to often as greedy developers build taller buildings on sites that tower over the small houses they are next to. 
  On this blog I have chronicled the demolition of the one family house to the current six of eight stories that have been built. I can say as a neighbor of the building going up, and as a former Community Board 8 member that the developer has not been a good neighbor. There is an island which separates West 238th Street starting right in front of 640 West 238th Street. I have put up here photos of how the demolition trucks ran up onto the island, even with one driver smiling on the side of his truck which was sitting partly on the city owned island. 
   As for Community Board 8 the building plans were presented to the board while I was still a member, and my question was - What is going to be the impact to the neighborhood, and where will materials and equipment be stored since the site and street are to small to handle them. CB 8 Land Use Chair Charles Moerdler assured the neighbors that everything would be done or kept on the site of the construction. The developer agreed to that, but knew that he could not as the construction of the eight story building has been one long nightmare to those living around the construction site. 
   I personally have been cursed out by the site supervisor (pictured below) for my complaints to city agencies since the community board was worthless and did nothing. I had to call and write about the shortcutting that was going on, watch as the roadway was being ruined by the heavy metal cleated machinery used to clear the lot, and now the even heavier concrete trucks that deliver to the site. 
   However yesterday was the last straw. As I drove up Independence Avenue I saw the now seven or eight story concrete boom truck turned around over the building I live in. When getting home my daughter said that the boom was over the building and that there was a worker who ran up the fire escape to fix something on the boom, and then ran down the fire escape, which she said scared the hell out of her. Upon hearing this I went downstairs to ask the site supervisor who lied to my face that the boom was never over my building, and that no one had gone up or down my fire escape. To make matters worse as you will see in the other photos he told the boom operator to go down the wrong side of the Island. I asked where was the flag person that is required by law, he said he didn't need one. In the photo of the site supervisor you can also see water that apparently has come from the hydrant to clean at least one concrete truck in the street, and truck tire tracks on the side of the curb since it is a very narrow street. 

Above - You can see the trail of concrete in the street, as well as truck tire marks on the side of the curb in front of the site supervisor who is trying to avoid being photographed.
Below - You can see only since I was at the site that workers are cleaning the street to try to wash away any remnants of concrete left in the street.

Above - I am standing on the sidewalk next to the site supervisor as the concrete boom truck is backing up to down the wrong side of the island into oncoming traffic with no flag person to direct it.
Below - As you can see a worker rushes to halt the concrete boom truck as it is backing up right where I am standing. There was no worker was helping this extremely large truck back up, and the site supervisor did nothing.

It appears that the concrete boom truck was able to go down the right side of the island after all. Look at the condition of the street from all the heavy demolition and construction vehicles. 

Gary Hirst, Former President And Chairman Of The Board Of Gerova Financial Group, Found Guilty Of Defrauding Shareholders

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that GARY HIRST, former president and chairman of the board of Gerova Financial Group, Ltd. (“Gerova”), a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was found guilty of defrauding the shareholders of that company by secretly giving away nearly $72 million of company stock to himself and his co-conspirators for no legitimate business purpose.  HIRST was convicted after a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel. 
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “As the jury found today after a two-week trial, Gary Hirst conspired to commit securities and wire fraud by having Gerova issue more than $70 million worth of shares for no legitimate business purpose and by hiding his and others’ control of those shares.  As a result of the manipulation of Gerova’s stock price, Hirst personally reaped more than $2.6 million in illegal profits.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment as well as the evidence presented during trial[1]:
From 2009 to 2011, GARY HIRST, along with his co-conspirators Jason Galanis, John Galanis, Jared Galanis, Derek Galanis, Ymer Shahini, and Gavin Hamels, engaged in a scheme to defraud the shareholders of Gerova, and the investing public, by issuing shares of Gerova stock for no legitimate business purpose and by effecting securities transactions in Gerova stock for the purpose of conferring millions of dollars of undisclosed remuneration on HIRST and his co-conspirators.
As a part of the scheme to defraud, GARY HIRST and Jason Galanis obtained sufficient control over Gerova to be able to cause Gerova to enter into transactions of their own design, and for their benefit, including the issuance of Gerova stock.  Jason Galanis obtained this control without causing himself to be identified as an officer or director of Gerova in order to appear to abide by an SEC-imposed bar which forbade him from holding such positions at publicly traded companies.  Among other means and methods, HIRST caused over 5 million shares of Gerova stock, which represented nearly half the company’s public float and which were intended for HIRST and his co-conspirators’ ultimate benefit, to be issued to and held in the name of Ymer Shahini, who knowingly served as a foreign nominee for the co-conspirators.  HIRST, Jason Galanis, John Galanis, Jared Galanis, Derek Galanis, and Shahini understood that the purpose of the stock grant to Shahini was to disguise the co-conspirators’ true ownership interest in the stock, and to evade the SEC’s regulations for issuing unregistered shares of stock.  
In furtherance of the scheme, HIRST and his co-conspirators created fraudulent, back-dated documents to conceal their theft of the stock and cover their tracks.  Also in furtherance of the scheme, HIRST deliberately misled Gerova’s other officers, including its chief financial officer, and caused Gerova to fail to disclose the stock giveaway in Gerova’s public filings with the SEC.  In a telephone call with Jason Galanis that was recorded by the FBI, HIRST gloated, upon reviewing a draft of one such public filing, “That whole, that whole Shahini thing, I mean, nobody, they totally missed it.  Everybody.”   
At the same time, and as a further part of the scheme to defraud, GARY HIRST’s co-conspirators opened and managed brokerage accounts in the name of Shahini (the “Shahini Accounts”), effected the sale of Gerova stock from the Shahini Accounts, and received and concealed the proceeds, knowing that this activity was designed to conceal from the investing public the fraudulent nature of the co-conspirators’ ownership of and control over the Gerova stock.
Jason Galanis, among others, also fraudulently induced investment advisers, including Gavin Hamels, to purchase shares of Gerova stock in the investment advisers’ client accounts by offering compensation and/or other benefits to the respective investment adviser.  By causing the purchase of Gerova stock at the time, quantity, and/or price of their choosing, the co-conspirators were able to, among other things, effectuate the sale of large quantities of Gerova stock from the Shahini Accounts that the co-conspirators controlled while artificially maintaining the price of Gerova stock through coordinated matched trading.  Such coordinated trading served to manipulate the market for Gerova stock and deceive the investing public. 
As a result, GARY HIRST, Jason Galanis, and their co-conspirators reaped nearly $20 million in profits, including approximately $2.6 million that benefitted HIRST directly.

GARY HIRST, 64, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; and of one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The defendant also faces a maximum fine of $5,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense on the securities fraud count and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense on the wire fraud count.  
Jason Galanis, 46, pled guilty on July 21, 2016 to two counts of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; and one count of investment adviser fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. 
John Galanis, 73, pled guilty on July 20, 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; and one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. 
Jared Galanis, 37, pled guilty to one count of misprision of a felony, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
Gavin Hamels, 40, pled guilty on March 22, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; and one count of investment adviser fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. 
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentences for the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and thanked the SEC.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Coalition Settlement With National Business Targeting Military

USA Discounters To Provide $95.9 Million In Relief; Assessed $40 Million Penalty
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a multistate settlement with retailer USA Discounters, also doing business as USA Living and Fletcher’s Jewelers, to resolve the states’ claims of deceptive trade practice against the company. The state Attorneys General charged that USA Discounters engaged in unfair, abusive, false and deceptive acts and practices. The deceptive practices included targeting servicemembers and hooking them into deceptively usurious loans, false advertising and illegal collection practices. The company would also sue servicemembers out of state where they were unable to defend the action, ultimately taking default judgments against them. The approximate value of the restitution to consumers in New York State is $1.8 million dollars and will impact approximately 759 New York consumers.
“Our servicemembers are not bank accounts for predatory businesses, and I will take every measure to protect them from abusive practices,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will not tolerate companies with unlawful business practices that deceive consumers, especially veterans and current members of our military and government.”
USA Discounters sold consumer products, including furniture, appliances, televisions, computers, smart phones, jewelry and other consumer goods on credit it provided. The company targeted sales to members of the military and veterans, touting that military, veterans and government employees would never be denied credit for goods purchased from the retailer. The bad business practices further included that USA Discounters constantly contacted servicemembers’ chains-of-command and caused some servicemembers to lose security clearances and face demotions. The states also alleged that USA Discounters only filed its lawsuits in a few Virginia jurisdictions, no matter the servicemember’s location, deployment status, or residence. In addition, the states alleged USA Discounters sold overpriced household goods at high interest rates, often using the military allotment system to guarantee payment. These unlawful business practices were secured through misrepresentations and omissions in advertising, during the loan’s origination, and during the collection process. For impacted servicemembers, the company’s practices would taint their credit and, under the Uniform Military Justice Code, jeopardize their security clearance and therefore their jobs.
USA Discounters closed its stores in the summer of 2015 before later declaring bankruptcy.
Under the terms of the resolution, USA Discounters will provide relief to certain former and current customers. The total estimated value to consumers for these restitution measures is approximately $95.9 million, primarily benefiting active and veteran servicemembers. Namely, USA Discounters will:
  • Write off all accounts with balances for customers whose last contract was dated June 1, 2012 or earlier, and correct the negative comment from the company on those consumers’ credit reports (Approximately $71 million);
  • Apply a $100 credit to all accounts whose contracts were dated after June 1, 2012, which were not discharged in bankruptcy, and correct the negative comment from the company on those consumers’ credit reports (Approximately $2.89 million);
  • Write off all judgments not obtained in the correct state, and correct the negative comment from the company on those consumers’ credit reports (Approximately $21.2 million);
  • Credit all judgments that were obtained in the correct state against members of the military with a credit equal to 50 percent of the original judgment amount (Approximately $728,000);
  • Pay a penalty of $40 million to the states, subordinated to all secured, administrative, priority, and unsecured claims that are allowed in the bankruptcy case.
State Attorneys General focused on the judgments obtained in a state different from where the debtor resided because it impacted servicemembers the hardest. Servicemembers were often unable to travel to another state to defend themselves in court while stationed at a different state military base or overseas.

A.G. Schneiderman & Acting Tax Commissioner Manion Announce Indictment Of Gas Station Operator For Alleged Theft Of Over $1 Million Dollars In Sales Tax

Kulbir Singh Charged With Allegedly Failing To Remit Over $1 Million In Sales Tax Collected At His Three Gas Stations In Nassau County
Schneiderman: We Will Not Allow Companies And Businesses To Evade Our Tax Laws In Order To Boost Their Bottom Line
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion announced today the indictment of Kulbir Singh, 53, his son Ladpreet Singh, 24, and gas stations Dashmesh Petroleum, Inc., Gobind Petroleum, Inc. and Karam Mart Inc. on eleven felony charges stemming from the alleged theft of over $1 million in sales tax collected for gasoline sales.  Kulbir Singh operated three BP gas stations in Nassau County, located at 2 Hempstead Turnpike, West Hempstead NY (Gobind Petroleum, Inc.), 385 Merrick Road, Valley Stream, NY (Dashmesh Petroleum, Inc.), and 653 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont NY (Karam Mart, Inc.).  His son, Ladpreet Singh, also operated Karam Mart.  According to the prosecution, the Singhs’ gas stations collected but failed to remit to New York State a total of over $1,000,000 in sales taxes from September 2011 through December 2014.
“Failing to pay legally owed taxes puts the burden on hardworking New Yorkers who play by the rules, while also straining our state’s resources,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will not allow companies and businesses to evade our tax laws in order to boost their bottom line.”
According to statements made by the prosecutor at arraignment, Kulbir Singh’s businesses were previously convicted of felony charges for failing to pay sales tax. In October 2012, in Queens County Supreme Court, Kulbir Singh admitted to controlling four gasoline stations that had stolen more than $500,000 in sales taxes. The corporations pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud charges and agreed to pay more than $1,000,000 in restitution, interest and penalties to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.  However, the corporations ultimately paid only $500,000 of the restitution owed. It was during the investigation of the failure to pay the remaining monies that the Department of Taxation and Finance uncovered evidence that Singh allegedly continued to steal sales tax proceeds at gasoline stations he controlled, resulting in the current indictment.
If convicted, defendant Kulbir Singh faces up to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison; his son Ladpreet Singh faces up to 5 to 15 years in prison.
The defendants were arraigned today before Honorable Terence P. Murphy in Nassau County Supreme Court. Bail was set at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond for defendant Kulbir Singh and at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond for defendant Ladpreet Singh. 
The charges against the defendants are merely allegations and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Department of Taxation and Finance’s Criminal Investigations Division and then referred to the Attorney General’s office for further 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Empire City Casino - Veterans Job Fair, November 17th 1 - 6 PM

  On November 17th, Empire City Casino will co-host a Veterans Job Fair. In an effort to encourage hiring employers of all sizes to participate, and further support our job-seeking military veterans, Empire City will subsidize the cost of the fair so that participation is free for all employers and attendees. Please see the flyer below (and attached) and share it far and wide. Employers may apply for a space, and veterans can pre-register to attend, by visiting

Bronx Chamber of Commerce - Bronx HIRE Interview Fair

To RSVP (a requirement to schedule an appointment), call Senator Klein's office at - 718-822-2049 or e-mail 

Council Member Torres Holds Bike Helmet Give-Away

    New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres, Department of Transportation, Bronx parents and children.
    Council Member Ritchie Torres will be holding a free bike helmet give-away with helmet-fitting and use instruction. DOT will provide hundreds of helmets, in a variety of sizes, for children and adults. This year Council Member Torres allocated $5,000 to the Department of Transportation to provide the helmets. The give-away is being held at Frederick Douglass Academy V and PS 57, two public schools in Council District 15.
When:            Friday, September 30, 3:30 pm
Where:          2111 Crotona Ave, Bronx, NY 10457


  “The scope of misconduct at Wells Fargo is simply shocking, damaging the bank’s finances and reputation. The Board’s clawback of compensation from senior executives is a start, but is far from enough. The Board must restore investor and public confidence by completing its independent investigation quickly and holding senior management accountable.  If they fail to adequately address these issues, we will be forced to reexamine our business relationships and investments.”


   Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced the posthumous promotion of Battalion Chief Michael J. Fahy – who was killed Tuesday in an explosion in the Bronx – to the rank of Deputy Chief – the highest civil service promotional achievement in the FDNY.

Chief Fahy, a 17-year veteran of the Department, passed the exam for Deputy Chief in 2013 and is on the list for promotion to that title.

“Chief Michael Fahy was a very talented member of the FDNY who died protecting and serving our great city,” said Mayor de Blasio. “His career was remarkable both for his selfless devotion to duty and his meteoric ascension in rank, which continues today with this deserved promotion to Deputy Chief in the FDNY.”

“Chief Fahy achieved the rank of Chief Officer faster than any active member of the Department,” said Commissioner Nigro. “He was a rising star who accomplished so much during his 17 years with the FDNY, and is deserving of this promotion for his selfless dedication and service.”

Chief Fahy was appointed as a firefighter in August of 1999 and was assigned to Engine Company 35 in Harlem where he worked for five years before transferring to Ladder 14, located in the same firehouse. In 2004, he was promoted to Lieutenant and was assigned to Battalion 3 in the Bronx, before being assigned to Engine 83 in the South Bronx. Upon his promotion to Captain in 2007, he was transferred to Division 1 in lower Manhattan, where he worked in multiple fire companies. After being promoted to Battalion Chief, he first worked in Battalion 20 in the Bronx before transferring to Battalion 19.

Chief Fahy is the 1,145th Firefighter to die in the line of duty since the FDNY’s founding in 1865. The last member of the Department to die on duty was Lieutenant Gordan M. Ambelas of Ladder 119 on July 5, 2014.


Without rental assistance & preventive measures, number of people in shelter would be 67,000 instead of current nearly 60,000

City aiming for borough-based approach to shelter placement

The de Blasio Administration has implemented an unprecedented array of programs designed to prevent homelessness and move adults and children out of shelter, and 7,000 New Yorkers who would have been sheltered without these programs have instead avoided the shelter system. The number of people in Department of Homeless Services shelters is now at nearly 60,000 rather than the 67,000 expected without those rental assistance and other preventive measures.

“We said five months ago when we announced the results of the 90-day review of homeless services that it would take time to reverse 20 years of policies and that the number of people in shelter might continue to grow. Our current programs have substantially slowed the rate of growth in homelessness. And we will keep working to strengthen our efforts to prevent homelessness,” said Steven Banks, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, which manages the Department of Homeless Services.

Homelessness has been a growing problem in New York City for decades, increasing by 115% during the last two decades. The Department of Homeless Services shelter census was 23,868 in January 1994 and 31,009 in January 2002.

The fastest growth followed the end of the Advantage rental assistance program in 2011. After that, the census grew more than 5,000 a year from 37,572 in March 2011 to 51,470 in January 2014 and 54,835 in August 2014, when the de Blasio administration was able to implement its new rental assistance, move-out and prevention programs.

Had the new measures not been implemented, the census would have grown to 67,000 by October 2016 and to 71,000 in June 2017. Instead, the census is now at nearly 60,000, 7,000 less than projected, and should continue to be well below the projected 71,000 in June 2017.

The move out and prevention efforts include:
  • New rental assistance and other move out programs that helped 40,000 people leave shelter or avoid entry through the end of FY 2016.
  • A tenfold increase in legal services for tenants from $6.4 million to $62 million.
  • A 24% reduction in evictions by marshals in 2015 compared to 2013.
  • Emergency rent help to nearly 53,000 households at a cost of $180.7 million in FY 15, an average cost of $3,400 per family, much less than $41,000 annual cost for a family in shelter.

The fundamental causes of homelessness continue to have a devastating impact on too many New York City households. Rents continue to rise much faster than incomes. Tens of thousands of households are one disaster, one missed paycheck away from losing their homes. Domestic violence continues to break up families and drive survivors into shelter. For example:
  • Fifty-six percent of New York City renters pay more than a third of their income on rent, and 3 out of every 10 households pay more than 50% of their income on housing expenses.
  • About 500,000 households, 15 percent, fell behind on their rent or mortgage during 2015, including one in four households at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, which is about $40,000 for a family of three.

At the same time that it works to prevent homelessness, the City is also aiming to phase out the use of cluster shelters and commercial hotels. Cluster shelters are individual apartments in apartment buildings that the City has rented to house homeless households in a program that began 16 years ago. Clusters are an expensive form of shelter, many are not in good condition, and by renting them the City takes them off the rental market. For that reason, the City has made exiting clusters a priority, committing to stop using them by December 2018.
As a stop-gap, since New York City has a legal obligation to provide shelter to individuals and families with no place to live, the City has had to increase its use of commercial hotels as temporary shelter, which is also expensive. There are currently 11,400 adults and children in clusters and about 6,000 in commercial hotels.

Homeless families and individuals are best served when they can stay in the borough where they were living, near their jobs, near their children’s school and near their extended family and other social supports. Because of lack of capacity, right now the City has very limited ability to keep homeless households in their home borough. For that reason, the City must open more shelters around the City. 

“The City is opening new shelters across the City to ensure that families and individuals can maintain the community connections that will help them leave shelter as soon as possible. Homelessness is a citywide problem that requires a citywide solution. It’s time we recognize that homeless New Yorkers are a part of all our communities. They are our neighbors. They have been living among us and have fallen on hard times,” Commissioner Banks said.

Families with children comprise 70% of people in City homeless shelters, including more than 23,000 children. Many of these children are the youngest New Yorkers - under five years old.

Some of the new shelters are in motels which have had hourly rates, which is no place for children to be.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New York Doctor Sentenced To More Than 13 Years In Prison For Unlawfully Dispensing Nearly 1 Million Oxycodone Pills

The New York Doctor Ordered to Forfeit More Than $2 Million In Fees Collected For “Doctor Visits”

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MOSHE MIRILASHVILI, a Board-certified, state-licensed doctor, was sentenced today to 160 months in prison for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and unlawful distribution of oxycodone.  MIRILASHVILI was also ordered to forfeit $2,046,600.00 in cash fees collected from “patients” during the period of the conspiracy, including more than $1.75 million in cash recovered from MIRILASHVILI’s home at the time of his arrest.  MIRLASHVILI was convicted in Manhattan federal court on March 17, 2016, following a three-week trial before United States District Judge Colleen McMahon, who imposed sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Moshe Mirilashvili was essentially a drug dealer masquerading as a doctor.  Through his sham medical practice in Manhattan where patients and dealers would line up, Mirilashvili wrote more than 10,000 medically unnecessary prescriptions totaling close to a million oxycodone pills.  As today’s sentence makes clear, those who abuse their medical licenses to fuel the opioid epidemic that is devastating so many of our communities will be prosecuted and severely punished.”
According to the Indictment, evidence admitted at trial, and statements made at court proceedings and in court filings:
Oxycodone is a highly addictive, prescription-strength narcotic used to treat severe and chronic pain conditions.  Every year, more than 13 million Americans abuse oxycodone, with the misuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, leading to as many as 500,000 annual emergency room visits.  Oxycodone prescriptions have enormous cash value to street-level drug dealers, who can fill the prescriptions at most pharmacies and resell the pills at vastly inflated rates.  Indeed, a single prescription for 90 30-milligram oxycodone pills has an average resale value in New York City of $2,700 or more.
From October 2012 until December 2014, MIRILASHVILI, a board-certified, state-licensed doctor, wrote thousands of medically unnecessary prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone in exchange for cash payments.  MIRILASHVILI did so out of a sham medical office located on West 162nd Street in Manhattan where MIRILASHVILI typically charged $200 to $300 in cash for “patient visits” that typically involved little, if any, actual examination and almost always resulted in the issuance of a prescription for a large quantity of oxycodone, typically 90 30-milligram tablets.
Virtually none of these “patients” had any medical need for oxycodone, nor any legitimate medical records documenting an ailment for which oxycodone would be prescribed. Instead, most of these individuals were members of “crews” – that is, they were recruited and paid by drug traffickers (the “Crew Chiefs”), to pose as “patients” in order to receive medically unnecessary prescriptions.  The Crew Chiefs then obtained these prescriptions and arranged for them to be filled at various pharmacies so that the oxycodone pills thereby obtained could be resold on the streets of New York. 
As established at trial, MIRILASHVILI worked directly with some of these Crew Chiefs who paid MIRILASHVILI’s cash fees in return for the oxycodone prescriptions MIRILASHVILI guaranteed for their “patients.”  As part of the scheme, MIRILASHVILI frequently accepted and even created fraudulent and fake documents – such as MRI and urinalysis reports – ostensibly documenting the medical need for the oxycodone prescriptions MIRILASHVILI was writing.  For example, among documents recovered from MIRILASHVILI’s home at the time of his arrest were lab reports in which the name of the “patient” had been cut and pasted onto the document, as well as similar reports in which the name of the patient or other relevant information had been whited out.  More than $1.75 million in cash earned from writing these medically unnecessary prescriptions was also recovered from the defendant’s home at the time of his arrest.
In total, between October 2012 and December 2014, MIRILASHVILI wrote more than 10,000 medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone in return for cash payments, comprising nearly a million oxycodone tablets.  MIRILASHIVILI collected more than $2 million in cash fees for “doctor visits” during this time period, all of which the defendant is being required to forfeit to the United States.   
Ten other participants in the conspiracy have previously pled guilty, including the drug traffickers who oversaw crews of “patients” sent into the clinics to obtain medically unnecessary oxycodone prescriptions, and clinic staff, who profited by selling access to MIRILASHVILI and the fraudulent prescriptions he wrote.
In addition to the prison sentence and forfeiture, Judge McMahon sentenced MIRILASHVILI, 68, of Great Neck, New York, to 3 years of supervised release and ordered MIRILASHVILI to pay a $300 special assessment.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad (which comprises agents and officers from the DEA, the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, the Town of Orangetown Police Department, the Rockland County Drug Task Force, and the Westchester County Police Department) for their work in the two-year investigation.

Six Individuals Charged With Participating In Large-Scale Government Benefits Fraud

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced today the filing of criminal charges against six defendants for participating in long-running schemes to hide substantial assets and income obtained from significant business and real estate interests in order to attain government benefits designed for low-income individuals. In total, the defendants allegedly obtained more than $1.3 million of government benefits.  SHLOMO KUBITSHUK, RACHEL KUBITSHUK, NAFTALI ENGLANDER, and HINDA ENGLANDER were charged in one complaint, and LEIB TEITELBAUM and DEVORAH TEITELBAUM were charged in a separate complaint.  The defendants were arrested in Brooklyn this morning and are scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court later today.    
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “For over a decade, this ring of six defendants allegedly lied to city and federal officials about their financial status in order to obtain benefits that were meant for the needy.  The alleged schemes that netted them over a million dollars has been put to an end and the defendants now face federal fraud charges.”
Commissioner Mark G. Peters said:  “These defendants were millionaires stealing from the poor, as charged.  The defendants fraudulently concealed their wealth to obtain benefits, including Section 8 vouchers intended to help low income New Yorkers find housing, according to the allegations.  At a time when affordable housing is scarce, and there is a waiting list for Section 8 vouchers, it is reprehensible that some New Yorkers went without so that these defendants could have still more.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaints[1]:
From 2001 to 2016, SHLOMO KUBITSHUK, RACHEL KUBITSHUK, NAFTALI ENGLANDER, and HINDA ENGLANDER conspired and engaged in a scheme to obtain government benefits designed for low-income residents, including Section 8 housing subsidies, Medicaid health insurance, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) food stamps, totaling more than $980,000.  In connection with applications for these benefits, they failed to disclose substantial income and financial assets, including a portfolio of multimillion-dollar residential real estate properties.  The defendants also perpetrated the fraud by providing false income affidavits for each other.
From 2007 to 2016, LEIB TEITELBAUM and DEVORAH TEITELBAUM also conspired and engaged in a scheme to obtain government benefits designed for low-income residents, including Section 8 housing subsidies, Medicaid health insurance, and SNAP food stamps, totaling more than $330,000.  In connection with applications for these benefits, they failed to disclose substantial income and financial assets, including a jewelry business and an apartment they owned.

SHLOMO KUBITSHUK, 38, RACHEL KUBITSHUK, 39, both from Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to steal government funds, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and two counts of theft of government funds, each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  NAFTALI ENGLANDER, 40, HINDA ENGLANDER, 41, LEIB TEITELBAUM, 39, and DEVORAH TEITELBAUM, 36, all from Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to steal government funds, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and three counts of theft of government funds, each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences in these cases are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.
U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the work of DOI and the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. 
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark and Thane Rehn are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.