Saturday, October 29, 2016

Owner Of Real Estate Investment Firm Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 10 Years In Prison For $17 Million Securities Fraud

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CARLTON P. CABOT, the former owner and chief executive officer of Cabot Investment Properties LLC (“CIP”), was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 10 years in prison for defrauding hundreds of elderly investors in numerous CIP-sponsored real estate investments.  As part of the fraud, CABOT and his co-defendant misappropriated approximately $17 million of investor funds to pay for personal and business expenses, and concealed the fraud from the investors with manipulated financial statements.  CABOT pled guilty to one count of securities fraud on May 31, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman who imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Carlton Cabot took $17 million from vulnerable investors and spent it lavishly on himself, and then lied to cover it up.  The victims, many of whom were in their 70s and 80s, were simply looking for a steady income stream to sustain them in their retirement.  Now, instead of economic safety and security, they are faced with financial ruin.  Cabot has rightfully been held to account for his selfish and criminal acts.”
According to the allegations contained in the criminal complaint against CABOT, the indictment to which CABOT pled guilty and Cabot’s admissions during his plea allocution, and the statements made by the victims of CABOT’s fraud:
From 2003 through 2012, CIP – which was controlled by CABOT – sponsored and oversaw approximately 18 so-called tenants-in-common (“TIC”) securities offerings to investors located all over the United States (collectively, the “TIC Investments” and the “TIC Investors”). A TIC investment is a real estate investment in which investors collectively own a piece of commercial real estate and are entitled to receive a portion of the rental income from the property.
From 2008 through 2012, CABOT engaged in a scheme to defraud the TIC Investors by misappropriating funds belonging to the TIC Investments and concealing his misappropriations by knowingly providing false and misleading financial reports and other information to the TIC Investors.
According to the representations in the offering prospectuses for the TIC Investments, CIP was allowed to collect only “excess” rental income from the TIC Investments – i.e., any additional money left over after the TIC Investments had paid the operating expenses for the properties and the disbursements due to the TIC Investors.  Despite these representations, CABOT repeatedly transferred money out of bank accounts belonging to the TIC Investments and into CIP bank accounts that he controlled (the “CIP Operating Accounts”) before these funds could be used to pay for operating expenses and disbursements to the TIC Investors.   
CABOT then used these funds to pay for unauthorized purposes without the knowledge or authorization of the TIC Investors, including: (1) to cover the operating expenses and investor distributions of other TIC Investments that had no available funds; (2) to pay for millions of dollars of personal expenses, including expensive cars, rental apartments, and private school tuition; and (3) to pay for CIP business expenses, including an approximately $1,125,651 civil settlement to certain TIC Investors who had sued CABOT and others.
To conceal the misappropriation of TIC Investment funds from the TIC Investors, CABOT and his co-defendant, Timothy J. Kroll, CIP’s chief operating officer, provided false and misleading financial reports to the TIC Investors that intentionally hid the fact that CIP owed large sums of money to the TIC Investments. 
By the end of 2012, when CIP ceased its day-to-day operations, CIP and its principals, CABOT and Kroll, owed approximately $17 million to the TIC Investments, which has never been repaid.
In addition to his prison sentence, CABOT, 54, of Stamford, Connecticut, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $17 million in restitution and forfeiture. 
On October 7, 2015, Kroll pled guilty before Judge Furman for his role in the scheme.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.  He also thanked the Office of the Secretary, William F. Galvin, Massachusetts Securities Division, for its assistance with the investigation of this case.

Two Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Conspiring To Traffic In Counterfeit Goods

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent in Charge of New York, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), Robert E. Perez, Director, Field Operations New York, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced charges today against two individuals for conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods.  DAYE DONG and HONGYU CHEN are charged with importing counterfeit goods from China into the United States with the intent to distribute and sell the counterfeit products to retailers in New York City and elsewhere.  The defendants were arrested today and will be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox later this afternoon.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “These defendants allegedly sold counterfeit goods, fueling consumers’ desire for low prices on high end products.  But the cheap prices come at a high price for legitimate businesses.  Protection of intellectual property remains an important priority for my office and for our partners at CBP, ICE, and the NYPD.”  
HSI Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “People wrongly assume intellectual property theft is a victimless crime.  The reality is, individuals like those charged today are allegedly robbing from law abiding merchants and from the legitimate companies that manufacture these items.  Brand-name knockoffs are not a harmless way to beat the system.”
CBP Director Robert E. Perez said:  “U. S. Customs and Border Protection is proud of the expertise we provide in support of investigations that result in the takedown of criminal enterprises.  It is through interagency partnerships and collaborative efforts, like the one leading to today's arrests, that law enforcement successfully combats today's criminal organizations.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “This sale of conterfeit merchandise is a scheme that is old as crime itself.  Today’s arrests led by Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement ensures consumers have confidence in the products they purchase.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint[1]:
From March 2012 to October 2016, DONG and CHEN, who are married, imported counterfeit luxury and designer brand goods into the United States from China.  DONG and CHEN stored the imported counterfeit goods in two warehouses with the intent to transfer the goods to retailers in New York City, including a Manhattan retail store operated by CHEN, and elsewhere.  On October 27, 2016, federal and New York City law enforcement officers conducted a search of DONG and CHEN’s residence, warehouses, and retail store, and found more than 30,000 pieces of counterfeit goods, including handbags and wallets, for various luxury and designer brands. 
DONG, 49, and CHEN, 48, of Bayside, New York, are both charged with one count of conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods, and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.  Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 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 defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations.  He also thanked the New York Police Department for its assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan E. Rebold is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Yonkers Man Sentenced In White Plains Federal Court To More Than 22 Years In Prison For Kidnapping And Sex Trafficking A 19-Year-Old Victim

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that CLYDEDORO GRAHAM was sentenced in White Plains federal court to 270 months in prison for kidnapping a 19-year-old victim (the “Victim”), conspiring to engage in sex trafficking of the Victim, and attempting to engage in sex trafficking of the Victim.  CLYDEDORO GRAHAM was convicted in November 2015 after a seven-day jury trial before United States District Judge Nelson S. Román, who imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:  “Clydedoro Graham orchestrated a horrifying plot to lure a 19-year-old woman to his apartment, hold her against her will, and coerce her—through repeated sexual assault and other physical and psychological pressure—to work as a prostitute for him.  A unanimous jury convicted him of kidnapping and sex trafficking, and today, the Court imposed a significant sentence that reflects the viciousness of the defendant’s crimes.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint and Superseding Indictment filed in federal court, and the evidence presented at trial:
On the evening of June 16, 2014, CLYDEDORO GRAHAM was at his apartment in Yonkers, New York, (the “Apartment”) with his girlfriend and accomplice, Alisa Papp.  His cousin, Kevin Graham, and his friend, Hector Garcia, were also present.  As Papp, Kevin Graham, and Garcia knew, CLYDEDORO GRAHAM was a “pimp.”  That night, the four co-conspirators agreed to lure a prostitute to the Apartment for the purpose of forcing her to work for them.
CLYDEDORO GRAHAM was the leader of this scheme.  Using his cellphone, he went to, a website where prostitutes post advertisements.  He trolled through the advertisements searching for a target, and eventually decided on the Victim.  Kevin Graham called the Victim and led her to believe, falsely, that he wanted to hire her for a prostitution “date.”
When the Victim arrived, the co-conspirators were lying in wait.  Papp served as the lookout, making sure the Victim did not arrive with anyone else.  Kevin Graham met her outside and led her into the Apartment, while CLYDEDORO GRAHAM and Garcia hid inside.  Once inside the Apartment – and at the direction of CLYDEDORO GRAHAM – the co-conspirators took away the Victim’s purse and phone, removed the battery from her phone, and told her that she was there to work as a prostitute for them.  The Victim asked repeatedly to leave, but CLYDEDORO GRAHAM and his accomplices refused.
The co-conspirators told the Victim that she had no choice but to have sex with each of the men.  She refused and asked again to go home.  CLYDEDORO GRAHAM said she could give it up or they would “take it.”  CLYDEDORO GRAHAM, Kevin Graham, and Hector Garcia took turns having sex with the Victim, against her will.
Later that night, Kevin Graham and Garcia left the Apartment.  For the next two days and two nights, CLYDEDORO GRAHAM and Papp held the Victim captive in the Apartment.  Among other coercive measures, CLYDEDORO GRAHAM removed the doorknob from the interior side of the Apartment’s front door to prevent the Victim from escaping.  He then made plans to bring the Victim out onto the streets of Yonkers to prostitute her for his own benefit.
CLYDEDORO GRAHAM’s scheme unraveled on June 18, 2014, when two Yonkers police officers arrived at the Apartment after receiving a tip from individuals who had been searching for the Victim.  The officers demanded to speak with the Victim, immediately determined that she was being held against her will, and brought her to safety.
In addition to the prison sentence, CLYDEDORO GRAHAM, 28, of Yonkers, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s Westchester Violent Crimes Task Force, which comprises agents and detectives of the FBI, United States Probation, the City of Yonkers Police Department, the City of Peekskill Police Department, the New York City Police Department, the Westchester County Police, and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition Of International Arms Traffickers For Their Involvment In Conspiracy To Import Cocaine Into The United States

  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Mark Hamlet, Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today the extradition of MEMET GEZER, a/k/a “Muhammad Altrky,” a/k/a “Wissam Abdel Rahman Younes,” a/k/a “Mohamed Subhe Al Gazar” (“GEZER”) and SABER KARIMCH, a/k/a “Abu Farouk” (“KARIMCH”), international arms traffickers charged with conspiring to sell large quantities of military-grade weaponry to individuals GEZER and KARIMCH believed were representatives of a Mexican drug trafficking organization (the “DTO”).  GEZER and KARIMCH, were arrested by Montenegrin authorities on April 14, 2016, extradited from Montenegro today, and will be arraigned in front of United States Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox later today.  The case is assigned to Chief United States District Judge Colleen McMahon.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:  “Highlighting the global nature and impact of the drug trade, two men from the Middle East working with what they believed to be members of a Mexican drug trafficking organization, allegedly agreed to provide military-grade weapons, including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, to help protect cocaine shipments headed for the United States.  Thanks to the DEA’s relentless efforts, these alleged international arms traffickers are now on American soil facing criminal charges.”
Special Agent in Charge Mark Hamlet stated:  “This global conspiracy uncovered by DEA and its partners further highlights the dangerous and potentially deadly connection between arms dealers and drug trafficking networks worldwide.  DEA’s vast global presence allows us to pursue some of the world’s most dangerous criminals so they may face justice for their crimes in the United States.”
According to the Indictment and Complaints[1], which were unsealed in October 2016:
Between September 2015 and March 2016, GEZER and KARIMCH participated in a series of in-person meetings and telephone calls with individuals whom GEZER and KARIMCH understood to be representatives of a Mexican drug trafficking organization (the “DTO”).  However, those individuals were, in fact, two DEA confidential sources (the “CSes”).  During those meetings and telephone calls, which were recorded, GEZER and KARIMCH agreed to supply the DTO with high-powered weapons, including machine guns, grenades, and rocket-propelled grenades (“RPGs”), with the express understanding that those weapons would be used to protect large cocaine shipments as they traveled from and through Mexico for distribution in the United States. 
In early 2016, one of the CSes met with GEZER in a foreign country.  GEZER escorted the CS to a gated compound and showed the CS bulk quantities of weapons, including RPGs, grenades, sniper rifles, and machine guns.  In February 2016, GEZER sent the CS videos of some of the weapons that GEZER had shown the CS in the gated compound to confirm that GEZER was ready to proceed with the weapons deal. 
GEZER additionally offered to sell the CSes large sums of United States currency for a fraction of the currency’s face value, with the understanding that the money would help the CSes launder drug money for the DTO.  In early February 2016, GEZER showed one of the CSes what appeared to be approximately $2 million in U.S. currency, which GEZER indicated was a small fraction of what GEZER could make available to the CSes.
GEZER, 49, a citizen of Turkey, and KARIMCH, 50, a citizen of Syria, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison; two counts of attempting to import cocaine into the United States, each carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to aid and abet the possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking offenses, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  In addition, GEZER is charged with conspiracy to launder money, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 
The statutory maximum 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 outstanding investigative efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, the DEA’s Rome Country Office, and the Montenegrin National Police.  The defendants’ arrests and subsequent extradition are also the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrea Surratt and Ilan Graff are in charge of the prosecution.
The allegations contained in the Complaints and Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Did Anthony Weiner Screw Up Clinton's Chance at the Presidency

  It has been reported that the computer used by Anthony Weiner to send photos of himself and his young child to an underage minor girl is going to cause problems for Hillary Clinton, and could possibly give Donald Trump the advantage to win the election for President. 

  The computer in question was a jointly used computer used not only by Anthony Weiner, but also Hillary Clinton Chief of Staff Huma Abin Weiner's wife at the time he was caught sending lewd photos to the underage girl. 

   The FBI is now in possession of said computer, and has released a letter stating that it will now be reopening the Hillary Clinton e-mail case due to the fact that many e-mails have been found on the computer which could have been of a very sensitive nature or could have been classified material. 

   The FBI will continue to investigate the matter in the statement by the Director of the FBI.

     More details in future posts.

Tax Attorney And CPA Indicted For Tax Evasion And Diversion Of Tax Shelter Fees From Major Manhattan Law Firm

Tax Attorney Also Charged with Making False Statements to IRS, and Causing Another Person to Lie to the IRS

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Shantelle P. Kitchen, Special Agent In Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), announced that HAROLD LEVINE, a Manhattan tax attorney, and RONALD KATZ, a Florida certified public account, were charged today in Manhattan federal court in an eight-count Indictment with engaging in a multi-year tax evasion scheme involving the diversion of millions of dollars of fees from a Manhattan law firm and the failure to report that fee income to the Internal Revenue Service.   
Mr. Bharara said:  “As tax professionals and partners at professional firms, both Harold Levine and Ronald Katz knew better.  But as alleged, they engaged in a multi-year scheme to divert and evade taxes on millions of dollars of fee income.”
IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen said:  “Tax and accounting professionals who conceal their incomes, evade income taxes, and otherwise obstruct the Internal Revenue Service simply have no excuse for violating the very laws their professions are centered on.  IRS-Criminal Investigation works hard to ensure that everyone pays their fair sure and we take particular interest in allegations involving professionals who should simply know better.” 
According to the allegations in the Indictment[1] returned today in Manhattan federal court:
HAROLD LEVINE, a tax attorney and former head of the tax department at a major Manhattan Law Firm (the “Law Firm”), schemed with RONALD KATZ, a certified public accountant, to divert from the Law Firm over $3 million in fee income from tax shelter and related transactions that LEVINE worked on while serving as a partner of the New York Law Firm.  In addition, LEVINE failed to report that fee income to the IRS on his personal tax returns during the period 2005-2011.  For his involvement in this scheme, KATZ received and failed to report to the IRS over $1.2 million in fee income.     
As part of the fee diversion scheme, for example, LEVINE caused tax shelter fees paid by a Law Firm client to be routed to a partnership entity he co-owned with KATZ and thereafter used those fees – totaling approximately $500,000 – to be used to purchase a home in Levittown, New York.  LEVINE caused the home to be purchased as a residence for a Law Firm employee (the “Law Firm Employee”) with whom he carried on a close personal relationship.  Although LEVINE allowed the Law Firm Employee to reside in the Levittown house for over five years without paying rent, LEVINE and KATZ prepared tax returns for the entity through which the home was purchased to claim false deductions as a rental property.
In or about 2013, LEVINE was questioned by IRS agents concerning his involvement in certain tax shelter transactions and the fees received for those transactions.  During that questioning, LEVINE falsely represented that the Law Firm Employee paid him $1,000 per month in rent while living in the Levittown home.  In addition, when the Law Firm Employee was contacted by the IRS and summoned to appear for testimony, LEVINE urged the employee to represent falsely to the IRS that she had paid $1,000 per month in rent to LEVINE.
LEVINE, 58, of New York, New York, and KATZ, 59, of Boca Raton, Florida, are scheduled to be arraigned in magistrate’s court on Monday, October 31.  The case was assigned to United States District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, and a conference was set before Judge Rakoff for Tuesday, November 1, 2016, at 11:00 a.m.
LEVINE, who was charged with one count each of obstructing the IRS, conspiracy, tax evasion, and wire fraud, and two counts of making false statements, faces the following penalties, if convicted:
  Statutes Violated Number of Counts   Description      Maximum Sentence
  26 U.S.C. ' 7212(a)   1   Corruptly endeavoring to   obstruct and impede the    due administration of the  Internal Revenue Laws   Three    years in  prison
26 U.S.C. ' 7201 1-   Tax Evasion   Five  years in  prison
18 U.S.C. ' 1343 1             Wire Fraud   20 years  in prison
18 U.S.C. ' 371 1-   Conspiracy    Five  years in  prison
18 U.S.C. ' 1001 2-   False Statements  Five  years in  prison

KATZ is charged with one count each of obstructing the IRS (maximum penalty three years in prison) and conspiracy (five years in prison), and two counts of tax evasion (five years).
The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the Court.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the IRS. 
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Special Assistant United States Attorneys Stanley J. Okula and Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Noble are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Defendant Will Be Sentenced to 20 Years Consecutive to His PA Prison Term

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a 44-year-old convicted murderer has pleaded guilty to Manslaughter for raping and strangling a14- year-old girl in the Bronx in 1998, and will get 20 years in prison to run consecutive to his sentence in Pennsylvania.

District Attorney Darcel Clark said, “This defendant brutally killed a young girl and was finally brought to justice 13 years later, when DNA tied him to the crime. He is currently in prison for murdering his wife, and now this sentence ensures that he will remain there for many more years.”

District Attorney Clark said the defendant, James Martin, 44, pleaded guilty on October 27, 2016, to first-degree Manslaughter before Chief Administrative Judge Robert Torres. Martin is expected to receive 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on November 10, 2016. The sentence will run consecutively to 22 to 40 year sentence he is serving in a Pennsylvania prison for the 2005 murder of his wife. 

According to the investigation, on Feb. 23, 1998, the body of Marleny Cruz, 14, who was from the Dominican Republic and was living in the Bronx, was found on Valentine Avenue in the University Heights section of the Bronx. Her body was bruised and she had been sexually assaulted and strangled. 

In 2011, the Bronx Homicide Task Force connected DNA recovered from Cruz’s fingernails to Martin, who lived in the Bronx at the time, and he was indicted in 2012.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Homicide Counsel Nancy Borko of the Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Christine Scaccia, Deputy Chief of the Homicide Bureau and Chief of the Gangs/Major Case Bureau.   

Bronx Chamber of Commerce Salutes Six Veteran Heroes at our Veterans Recognition Luncheon and Bronx H.I.R.E. Veterans Jobs & Resource Fair

Driverless Cars and What They Mean for NYC:

Chair, Council Member Rodriguez's Opening Statement

Good morning and welcome to the Transportation Committee's hearing on "The Future of Driverless Vehicles in New York City." My name is Ydanis Rodriguez and I am the chair of the committee. We are joined today by council members...
We are here today because we know the car is undergoing a technological revolution and we want to know how this will impact our streets, our industries and what we should be doing as a city to best prepare. Since the first Ford Model-T rolled off the assembly-line, advances in motor vehicle technology have progressed at rapid pace. Today, motor vehicles are safer and more environmentally friendly than ever before.
While this committee has sought to promote alternative modes of transportation, it is not lost on me that the personal car remains the preferred way to get around for over a million New Yorkers. As technology evolves and older models become obsolete, we know that our city must be prepared, with an understanding of how to adapt with the technological shifts to promote the best public policy.
This is why we recently heard an important bill about how to encourage environmentally friendly electric vehicles with new infrastructure. We hope that with the support of the Speaker and our colleagues we can pass this bill, sponsored by Council Member Constantinides and myself, very soon.
It is also why we are here today, to learn from industry leaders and advocates about what we can expect and what we need for autonomous vehicles to become a reality, as well as suggestions regarding regulation and safety. The crash avoidance technology installed in driverless cars represents a major advancement and one that is intriguing to this committee that has placed such a focus on eliminating traffic deaths. Driver distraction, negligence and recklessness contribute to an unconscionable percentage of motor vehicle related injuries and deaths and if new technology can help avoid crashes, that is a positive prospect.
New York City must be prepared to embrace the future that is all but imminent. We cannot and will not be a city that stifles innovation, nor suppresses market demand. However, we will search for a balance that places the public good at the forefront of our work and therefore think carefully about how autonomous vehicles interact with our city and its millions of people. Newly released Federal guidelines regarding driverless vehicles are a clear signal that we are getting closer to the future.
However, many questions must be answered before we arrive. What will autonomous vehicles mean for the thousands of people that work on existing industries like the taxi and for-hire industry?What are the prospects that goods will be transported by trucks with this technology? How can we protect autonomous vehicles from life-threatening hacks into their systems? Is there new infrastructure needed for these vehicles and who will be tasked with funding it? What are the opportunities for New Yorkers to get some of these important jobs? Are there issues specific to New York City not addressed by the federal guidelines that our city should be prepared to regulate? This hearing is intended to start that conversation.
We are interested in hearing from all parties: government, industry, and advocates. Driverless vehicles will reshape the future of personal transportation, and this Committee wants to ensure that our goals are represented throughout this time of change. Today we want to hear about what we have in store, how it will affect New York and how New York can help to shape the entry of these vehicles onto our streets. We know that technology will drive our future and it is why I constantly seek to lift up STEM education in my own district.
I understand that our DOT and TLC have been considering this topic themselves and I am eager to hear their thoughts and ideas about this new technology.
Before we begin, I'd like to wish a congratulations and best wishes to our policy analyst Jonathan Masserano who is in Washington DC today preparing for his wedding. I would also like to thank the committee staff here today, Counsel, Kelly Taylor, Policy Analysts Gafar Zaaloff and Emily Rooney, Finance Analyst Chima Obichere as well as my staff, Carmen De La Rosa-very soon, Assembly Woman De La Rosa and Chief of Staff, Russell Murphy.

TLC, Mayor’s Office to Host Bronx Taxi/FHV Driver Resource Summit


 TLC Commissioner/Chair Meera Joshi

 Mayor de Blasio’s Community Affairs Unit

 City Agencies highlighting services and resources for Taxi and For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) drivers and their families.


 An inter-agency resource fair aimed at addressing the holistic needs of the taxi and FHV driver communities.

 City agencies will provide information about services and programs.

 TLC will be on hand to answer questions and provide assistance.


 Monday, October 31

 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Welcoming remarks by TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi


 955 Tinton Avenue, Bronx

NOTE: RSVPs to & appreciated but not necessary.


Projects include dunes to protect the coast; storm water management, green infrastructure and bluebelts to lessen storms’ impact; more precise flood maps; and restoration of Sandy-impacted public housing developments

   With the Sandy anniversary a day away, the de Blasio Administration today announced continued progress on the City’s OneNYC resiliency program which prepares our neighborhoods, economy and public services to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change and other 21st century threats. In the four years since the storm hit, New York City has become a stronger and more resilient city, making significant progress on coastal defense and climate resiliency measures in some of the most vulnerable communities across the city. Some projects include dunes to protect coasts; storm water management and bluebelt projects to lessen flooding impacts and protect water quality; more precise flood maps; and more than $3 billion for reconstruction and resiliency projects across New York City Housing Authority developments impacted by the storm, including elevation of key infrastructure above flood lines and flood-proofing of ground-floor facilities.

The pace of our progress is stronger than ever over the past 12 months. With resiliency measures already in place and many more underway in every borough, the city today is getting safer every day. Major coastal protection projects, like those being advanced in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Staten Island and Jamaica Bay (encompassing the Rockaway peninsula, South Queens and Southern Brooklyn), and others such as the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, the Red Hook Integrated Flood Protection System and the Hunts Point Resiliency Project, have met critical milestones in their planning and design process.

Several key recent milestones include:

  • Agreement with FEMA to launch a partnership to draft new, more precise flood insurance maps that are saving 35,000 homeowners tens of millions of dollars in flood insurance premiums already. These new flood maps will reflect both current flood risk and future climate conditions, including sea level rise.

  • Completion of a $28 million T-Groin project in Sea Gate to reduce coastal storm risk to residents and businesses on Coney Island, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

  • Reopening of the entire length of the Rockaway Boardwalk, setting a global standard for resilient shoreline design. The rebuilt five-and-a-half-mile stretch now extends from Beach 19th Street all the way to Beach 126th Street and will be fully complete by this summer.

  • Launching an extensive community design process for a $45 million investment in flood risk reduction and resilient energy in Hunts Point, including a resilient energy pilot project.

  • Created over 9,000 jobs since Sandy through the City’s resiliency program and successfully completed the Hurricane Sandy Business Loan and Grant Program, awarding over $54 million in support to nearly 350 businesses citywide. Through our BusinessPREP and RISE:NYC initiatives, we continue support small business resiliency with grants and innovative technologies.

  • Improved infrastructure citywide through partnerships with regional infrastructure providers, including working successfully with Con Edison to invest over $1 billion in investments to harden their steam, electric and natural gas distribution infrastructure.

  • Secured nearly $10 billion from FEMA for recovery and resiliency upgrades for our critical facilities. This includes over $3 billion for New York City Housing Authority projects with shovels in the ground on three major recovery projects totaling nearly $200 million and a fourth major project nearly completed; $1.7 billion for the Health and Hospitals Corporation (Coler, Bellevue, Metropolitan, Coney Island); and billions more for parks, water and wastewater projects, transportation, civic infrastructure projects and schools all across the city.

  • Construction is underway on a $22 million Bluebelt project in Midland Beach to reduce local flooding and that also supports the implementation of the USACE armored levee project for integrated water management on the East Shore of Staten Island.

On top of those, buildings and homes are being upgraded; investment in infrastructure is reducing long-term threats; and the neighborhoods where New Yorkers live, work and play are becoming stronger. Our progress this year has reaffirmed the value of engaging all New Yorkers in the process. From Lower Manhattan to Hunts Point, in Red Hook and Edgemere, and on the East Shore of Staten Island, we have worked together with community leaders and residents to ensure that we are putting our values to work as we strengthen the city.

“Four years ago, Sandy lifted the veil on many of the City’s vulnerabilities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Since then, we have put a tremendous amount of effort into defending our coastal communities and ensuring that our buildings and infrastructure are prepared to tackle 21st century threats. Our city is safer, more resilient and more sustainable today than ever before, and I thank our federal partners who have helped us along the way. Whether we’re talking about updated and more precise flood maps, or the reconstruction of the Rockaway Boardwalk, our city is continuing to make strides to strengthen the city’s resiliency.”

“Across the five boroughs, the City is delivering on its commitment to build a stronger, more resilient New York,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and the Chief Resilience Officer in the NYC Mayor’s Office. “As we mark the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy knowing that the city is safer and better prepared for the risks of a changing climate, and we are moving with urgency to do even more. Flood maps are being updated to reflect sea level rise; vital coastal defense projects are meeting major milestones; critical infrastructure is being upgraded; communities and small businesses are being strengthened. These actions, and many more, are just a part of the City’s $20 billion OneNYC resiliency program to adapt our city to be ready for the risks of climate change and other 21st century threats as we build a more equitable, more sustainable, and more resilient city.”

Hurricane Sandy struck New York City in October 2012, taking the lives of New Yorkers and causing $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity. It also laid bare pre-existing challenges in the City’s waterfront communities and highlighted our vulnerabilities to coastal storms and rising seas. The City’s climate vulnerabilities, which also include increases in heat and precipitation, are also exacerbated by other challenges, including an increasing population, aging infrastructure and rising inequality.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it was imperative that New York City emerge a stronger and more resilient city – one that did not just prepare for the next storm, but one that invested against a wider range of threats. In March 2014, Mayor de Blasio created the Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR) to implement the City’s comprehensive OneNYC climate resiliency program. Since Sandy struck, considerable progress has been made to recover from the storm and make the city ready for the future impacts of climate change.

To see the full list of the City’s progress on its OneNYC $20 billion multi-layered resiliency program, please visit our citywide resiliency map here.

"Our changing climate poses a number of threats to the City's critical drinking water and wastewater systems,” said Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. "From the construction of new Bluebelts on Staten Island, to sewers in southeast Queens, to the activation of the Croton Filtration Plant, our city is stronger and more resilient than we were four years ago."

“On the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, we are proud to announce NYCHA has made major progress in the recovery effort – moving large-scale, multi-million dollar projects forward with shovels in the ground and connecting residents to economic opportunities in the process,” said Shola Olatoye, NYCHA Chair and CEO. “As NYCHA builds back stronger and more resilient than ever before, we are committed to seeing the recovery effort through, improving residents’ quality of life and ensuring our developments are protected for this generation and the next."

“Hurricane Sandy changed the way that we see and build our waterfront parks,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “We now know that in addition to recreational and ecological amenities, these open spaces are the first line of defense in protecting our city from severe coastal storms. Projects like the Rockaway Boardwalk reconstruction and the East Side Coastal Resiliency plan showcase the progress we’ve made in the past four years to build smarter and stronger, and to plan for the long-term resiliency of our parkland.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Kicks Off Annual Holiday Canned Food Drive

   Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz(D-Bronx) has kicked off his annual canned food and turkey drive with students from local schools and participating residential buildings. 

The Assemblyman’s office will be accepting donations until December 16th with a pick-up for Thanksgiving scheduled for November 14th. Food will be donated to various non-profit organizations in the Northwest Bronx for families in need during the Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas holiday seasons.  The following canned and non-perishable food items are accepted: canned fruits and vegetables, cereals, dried beans, pasta, rice, tuna, coffee, teas, canned juices, powdered milk, jell-o, and soups.  No glass jars are acceptable except for baby food.

Some schools are also collecting one-dollar donations for the purchase of turkeys for needy families on Thanksgiving.

“Our annual food drive is always such a wonderful event, and I believe this year’s will be even better than the last,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “I am always encouraged to continue this event by the selfless actions of our community. We always see a huge swell of support for this, from buildings, to schools, to residents who drop off even a single can at my office. Every year this community donates an impressive amount of food for those in need, making me proud to represent such a generous community. I look forward to another great year of giving, and thank in advance everyone who participates through their donations.”   

Residents are encouraged to set up their own collection bins in their buildings as well, and a time for pick-up can be coordinated by contacting Assemblyman Dinowitz’s office.

Residents may donate their canned goods to Assemblyman Dinowitz’s office located at 3107 Kingsbridge Avenue; one block west of Broadway, just off of West 231st Street.  For more information, call (718) 796-5345.


Drivers should obey the speed limit, slow down, yield to pedestrians when turning and expect heightened enforcement

As evening darkness increases and daylight saving time ends, the danger to pedestrians, especially seniors, dramatically increases; DOT data shows severe pedestrian crashes increase by 40 percent in the late afternoon and evening hours from November through March

    The de Blasio Administration today announced that New York City was redoubling its efforts around Vision Zero as the City enters what has traditionally been the deadliest time of year for pedestrians on New York City streets. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, NYPD Chief Thomas M. Chan, TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi and Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado came together for the release at One Police Plaza in Manhattan. The Commissioners together announced new elements to the Vision Zero initiative to address what has traditionally been an autumn upturn in crashes involving pedestrians – especially seniors – as the sun sets during the evening rush.

“While we've made important strides to see that New Yorkers are safer than they were before Vision Zero, one death is one too many and there's still so much more we can do,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “To meet our ambitious Vision Zero goals, especially during the more dangerous reality of this season’s evenings and nights, we have focused our efforts even further. Our key Vision Zero agencies have teamed up to not only study crash data, but to work closely together and make critical adjustments that we believe will literally save lives.”

DOT conducted a close analysis of year-over-year crash trends – and observed the following:

  • The earlier onset of darkness in the fall and winter is highly correlated to an increase in traffic injuries and fatalities (see “heat map” below). Severe crashes involving pedestrians increase by nearly 40 percent in the early evening hours compared to crashes outside the fall and winter.

  • Lower visibility during the dark hours of the colder months leads to twice as many crashes involving turns.

  • In 2015, the year with the fewest traffic fatalities in New York City’s recorded history, 40 percent of the year’s pedestrian fatalities occurred after October 1.

  • Daylight saving time ended last year on November 1, 2015; in the eight days following last year’s “fall-back” clock change, nine New York City pedestrians lost their lives, one of the deadliest periods of the entire year. All of the victims were between 55 and 88 years old and only three of those deaths occurred during daylight hours.

“As the days get shorter and the weather colder, crashes on our streets involving pedestrians increase – and so we are enlisting data-driven strategies to address that upturn,” said DOT Commissioner Trottenberg. “Through education and enforcement with our sister agencies, every driver needs to learn about the limited visibility of this season and the dangers of fast turns, especially in the evening hours. Re-engineered intersections like the one at the Manhattan Bridge will also make crossing our busiest streets safer for everybody.”

"The NYPD takes the safety of all users of our City’s streets and roadways seriously and will play an active role in mitigating a potential spike in traffic fatalities as daylight saving time ends," said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas M. Chan. "There will be citywide Vision Zero enforcement activity during the evening peak hours, as well as a continuation of our education initiatives. This combination of efforts has been yielding positive results since the inception of Vision Zero."

“Vehicle-pedestrian crashes disproportionately affect older New Yorkers, who are 13 percent of the population and accounted for 38 percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2015,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Corrado. “Our Vision Zero day of awareness will highlight the important issue of pedestrian safety for not only elders, but New Yorkers of all ages.”

“Every driver, and especially our professional licensees, understand the challenges that seasonal driving presents, but with the earlier dusk coinciding with such a busy time for pedestrians, it is urgent that they be especially vigilant,” said Commissioner and Chair of the Taxi and Limousine Commission Meera Joshi. “The decrease in visibility poses a very real danger. It is essential for the increased risk this presents to be on every driver’s mind.”

Starting early Friday morning, DOT and NYPD street teams will engage in a Citywide “Day of Awareness,” distributing more than a million palm cards to educate drivers and other New Yorkers at high-priority Vision Zero target areas across all five boroughs. The palm cards underscore a pre-enforcement message about speeding, failure to yield and the dangers posed by increasing darkness in the fall – reminding drivers that with less sunlight, they will have less time to react to the unexpected.

The following are the Vision Zero multi-agency initiatives being pursued over the next few months:


  • Increased Evening/ Nighttime Enforcement: NYPD will focus additional enforcement resources on the most hazardous violations (speeding and failure-to-yield to pedestrians), with precincts increasing their on-street presence around sunset hours when data show serious pedestrian crashes increase.

  • Focus on Priority Locations: NYPD will deploy additional Traffic Safety personnel to provide coverage at intersections and corridors with high rates of pedestrian injuries and fatal crashes during key dusk and darkness hours.
  • Focused Initiatives Cracking Down on Dangerous Driving Behaviors: In October, November and December the NYPD will launch a series of initiatives to promote concentrated enforcement on speeding, cellphone/texting, failure to yield to pedestrians, blocked bicycle lanes, and other hazardous violations.

  • Drunk or Impaired Driving: NYPD will also focus resources on drunk-driving efforts, as the evening and nighttime hours in the fall and winter have historically been when the incidence of DWI also increases.

  • Taxis and For-Hire Vehicles: TLC inspectors will conduct speed enforcement to deter speeding among for-hire vehicle operators.


  • “Day of Awareness:” NYPD and DOT street teams will tomorrow be educating and engaging drivers and other New Yorkers at different Vision Zero priority areas in all five boroughs, including: in Co-op City, at the Hub and along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx; in Washington Heights, near Grand Central & Penn Stations and along Canal Street in Manhattan; in Jamaica Center, on Main Street, Flushing and along Queens Boulevard in Queens; in Downtown Brooklyn and along Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn; and near both Staten Island Ferry Terminals.

  • Targeted Messaging to Drivers to Obey Speed Limit and Yield to Pedestrians: The award-winning Vision Zero “Your Choices Matter” campaign will expand this fall with fresh content, including new radio advertisements timed to air specifically around sunset hours. In this new campaign, listeners will be educated to the correlation between darkness and crashes – and reminded to lower their speeds and to turn slowly. 

  • Daylight Saving Awareness: As it did in the spring when clocks “sprung forward,” DOT will lead a public-awareness campaign around the end of Daylight Saving Time, when DOT statistics from 2010-2014 show that serious collisions in early evening increase by approximately 40 percent. This year, Daylight Savings Time will end at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 6.

  • Senior Center Outreach: Older adults who attend DFTA’s network of senior centers have received education and outreach focused on improving safety conditions in their neighborhoods and sharing tips for getting around safely, presented by NYC DOT and NYPD.

  • Taxi Driver Outreach: TLC will educate for-hire drivers to the need to be cautious through text messages, the distribution of more than 20,000 palm cards and other channels. In addition, Vision Zero ads will run on Taxi TV, providing another opportunity to reach the broader public.

  • “Cross This Way” Curriculum: The expanded Vision Zero traffic-safety curriculum for 4th through 6th graders, announced by DOT and DOE in September, will continue to be taught in public schools throughout the fall and winter season.

  • Left Turns: Left turns cause three times as many fatal and severe pedestrian injury crashes as right turns. NYPD will distribute 150,000 palm cards and use variable message boards to advise motorists of their responsibility to yield to pedestrians when making left turns.

Street Design

  • Record Number of Upgraded Corridors and Intersections: DOT expects to complete at least 90 Safety Improvement Projects in 2016, the most ever completed in a single calendar year, including expanded pedestrian space, protected bike lanes, corridor improvements, and intersection treatments.

  • Manhattan Bridge Safety Improvements: The largest project completed this year, the Canal Street entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, had previously been among New York City’s most dangerous intersections for pedestrians. Between 2010-2014, over 147 people were injured at the intersection, five of them seriously, with one person killed. The $1.5 million project dramatically improves safety at the intersection with new signals, concrete curb extensions, along with extended and widened medians. Pedestrian crossings were shortened at most street crossings around the mouth of the bridge, which also saw its traffic lanes permanently reconfigured to provide more predictability for pedestrians.

  • Improved Lighting at Intersections: By the end of 2016, DOT expects to complete lighting upgrades at 1,000 priority intersections throughout the City, adding additional lamps to increase visibility over crosswalks. In addition, the agency is converting older sodium street lights to higher-intensity LED, which makes pedestrians and cyclists more conspicuous, and reduces the capacity for nighttime crashes. LED bulbs also offer the benefits of longer life at an overall lower cost.

“As it begins to get darker early, drivers need to be more aware than ever of pedestrians and cyclists on our streets,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. “This means fewer quick turns at intersections and lower speeds at all times. Drivers have the most responsibility on our streets and caution should always be prioritized to avoid serious injuries and death.”

Council Member Antonio Reynoso said, “Pedestrian safety is top priority throughout the year and especially during these months of early nightfall. I would like to thank the DOT and the NYPD for their research and for guiding us to safer, people-friendly streets.”

In 2016, as part of Vision Zero, DOT has implemented its most aggressive street redesign safety program, with increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. DOT has also improved the safety at a record number of dangerous intersections and thoroughfares, installing more than 18 miles of protected bike lanes along key high traffic corridors like Queens Boulevard, 6th Avenue, Chrystie Street, Jay Street, and Amsterdam Avenue and installed a record number of leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) – more than 500 – to give pedestrians a head start while crossing the street.

For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see