Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pharma Cannis Opens at 405 Hunts Point Avenue to Dispense Medical Cannabis

  The location of Pharma Cannis is 405 Hunts Point Avenue which Councilman Rafael Salamanca said was a 'strip club' closed while he was the District Manager of Community Board 2. The original location for this medical marijuana dispensary was several blocks away on what Councilman Salamanca said was 'a street in a dark area'. He and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo fought to have the location changed from 'a street in a dark area' to the present location on Hunts Point Avenue. 
   According to state law a medical cannabis (marijuana) site must not be within 1,000 feet of a school or church which is similar to the 200 foot rule when applying for a liquor license. As you will see in the photos below, there are several steps in the process before one receives the medical cannabis (marijuana), and there are many restrictions on just who is eligible for treatment of what condition. The cost is around one-hundred dollars per thirty day supply, which currently is not covered by any medical insurance. There are different types of the product available. a liquid form, a vapor form, and capsule form of the medication. Which form is dispensed will depend on the doctors prescribed treatment. The cannabis is stored in a vault, and a patient must register with the New York State Department of Health for a New York State Registry Card. 
  There are only certain certified doctors who can prescribe medical cannabis (marijuana), and the pharmacy does not have a list of the doctors. You must be refereed by a primary care physician only right now. After a tour of the dispensary there was an outside announcement of the rules, and speeches by a few people. Then there was an official ribbon cutting ceremony. This id the fourth dispensary location for Illinois based Pharma Care in New York State, and first in the Metro New York area. The Hunts Point Pharma Cannis dispensary phone number is 718-842-2001, or on the web for more information. 

Above - The front check in desk, and then you go into the waiting room until called by a pharmacy advisor.
Below - After waiting a few minutes, you are called into the advisory area where the advisor asks you a few questions about your health, and how the medical cannabis is helping you. 

Above - Assemblyman Marcos Crespo answers a question as to how this program was set up in the state legislature, as he awaits his tour of the dispensary. That is local Councilman Rafael Salamanca on Crespo's right.
Below - Councilman Salamanca speaks on the importance of this facility to the community, and how Community Board 2 members helped get the location. 

Above - It was time to cut the ribbon to officially open the dispensary.
Below - The ribbon is cut, and the dispensary is open for business. There are six full time employees at the Hunts Point Avenue site.

Accident - Corner Bronx River Ave. and Bruckner Blvd.

  You can see the ambulance above on the corner of Bruckner Blvd (East) and Bronx River Ave. The accident was between a van and an electric bike. The rider of the bike was taken away in the ambulance a few minutes later. There were no answers by the fire department, or the 44th Pct. officers who arrived before the ambulance left. 

Above - What appears to be the point of impact on the van.
Below - The electric bike which lies on the sidewalk by the corner of Bruckner Blvd. and Bronx River Ave.

The rider of the bike is taken by the EMS workers and firefighters on a gurney to the waiting ambulance. There were no answers as to the condition of the bile rider or where he was being taken.

Bronx Chamber of Commerce 2016 Holiday Party & Toy Drive - Wed. Dec. 14th, 6 - 10 PM

Bronx Attorney Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Preparing Fraudulent Tax Returns For Clients

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Caroline D. Ciraolo, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, announced that WILLIAM DOONAN, an attorney who operated a tax preparation business in the Bronx, New York, pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to charges related to his participation in filing fraudulent tax returns, falsely claiming more than $6 million in deductions.  DOONAN pled guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck. 
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “William Doonan used his law degree and tax preparation business to fleece the IRS out of millions of dollars in fraudulent tax deductions.  As he admitted today, Doonan claimed numerous false deductions for thousands of clients, defrauding the IRS and unlawfully depriving the public of tax revenue.”
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo said:  “William Doonan used his law practice to prepare thousands of false tax returns each year with phony deductions, costing the U.S. treasury more than $1.5 million.  His conviction sends a clear message – we will fully prosecute crooked tax preparers – whether they be lawyers and tax professionals or temporary storefront operators.”
According to the allegations contained in the Information filed in Manhattan federal court and statements made during the plea proceeding:
Since at least 2009, DOONAN has been in the business of preparing federal tax returns for clients in exchange for fees.  DOONAN, a New York licensed attorney since 1982, carried out his tax preparation business in the Bronx using the firm name “William Doonan, Esq.”  DOONAN prepared and filed more than 3,000 federal tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) each year and regularly prepared and filed client returns that were false and fraudulent.  For example, on some of his clients’ returns, DOONAN added false medical and dental expenses, state and local taxes, home mortgage interest, gifts to charity, job expenses, and certain miscellaneous deductions.  DOONAN also attached Schedules C to his clients’ returns that reported “consulting” businesses that the relevant clients did not own, operate, or materially participate in, and business losses that the relevant clients did not incur.  Between tax years 2009 through tax year 2012, DOONAN included in excess of $6 million in these fabricated and inflated items on his clients’ federal tax returns.
DOONAN, 69, of the Bronx, New York, pled guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return, and one count of obstructing and impeding the due administration of internal revenue laws.  Each charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.  As part of his plea, DOONAN agreed that he caused a tax loss of between $1.5 and $3.5 million, and has agreed to pay $65,820 in restitution to the IRS. 
DOONAN is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick on February 10, 2017, at 11:00 a.m.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara and Ms. Ciraolo praised the outstanding efforts of the IRS-CI in the investigation.  This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Jorge Almonte (of the Tax Division) is in charge of the prosecution.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Clinic Operator For Allegedly Defrauding Medicaid By Offering Sham Substance Abuse Treatment

Natalia Dochim Allegedly Induced Patients Into Bogus Substance Abuse Treatment, Then Pocketed Millions Of Dollars 
Schneiderman:  It Is Despicable To Use The Medicaid Program To Take Advantage Of Those Suffering From Addiction
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Natalia Dochim, 39, of Nyack, New York and charges against her two companies, Miromedical P.C. (“Miromedical”) and Ferrara Medical Care, P.C. (“Ferrara”). In papers filed in New York City Criminal and New York State Supreme Courts, Bronx County, prosecutors allege that Dochim, Miromedical, and Ferrara, submitted claims for reimbursement for substance abuse treatment services to Medicaid and to MetroPlus, a state-funded managed care organization (“MCO”), when they were not certified to provide such services and for medical services allegedly rendered to Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (“MFCU”) undercover investigators that never occurred.  Dochim was arrested yesterday on charges of Grand Larceny in the First, Second and Fourth Degrees; Health Care Fraud in the Second Degree; and Money Laundering in the Second Degree. If convicted on all charges, Dochim faces up to 25 years in prison. In addition to today’s arrests, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit filed an asset forfeiture and False Claims Act lawsuit against Dochim, Miromedical, Ferrara and others, freezing the defendants’ assets and seeking over $7.7 million dollars in damages plus penalties. MFCU also executed search warrants today at Dochim’s businesses located at 903 Sheridan Avenue in the Bronx and at 2364 and 2738 Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Manhattan.
“It is despicable to use the Medicaid program to take advantage of those suffering from addiction,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “New York is suffering through a serious opioid epidemic, and sham substance abuse services only deepen this crisis. Those who attempt to line their own pockets on the backs of those in need will be caught.”
“To prey on the most vulnerable New Yorkers for personal gain is appalling”, said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks.  “We will continue our longstanding partnership with the office of the State Attorney General to identify suspicious activity that can lead to fraud and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice as quickly as possible.”
Prosecutors allege that Dochim, aided by co-conspirators in her employ, lured Medicaid patients to Miromedical and Ferrara by paying kickbacks and offering prescriptions of Suboxone, a narcotic drug used to treat opioid addiction.  Once recruited, patients at Miromedical and Ferrara, prosecutors allege, encountered a façade of a substance abuse treatment program. Medically appropriate and necessary medical histories were not always obtained, physicals were not taken, initial counseling did not occur, and there was a complete lack of appropriate follow-up and monitoring. Subsequently, all patients were treated the same: mandated to enroll in one particular MCO (MetroPlus), sent to a purported “detox” program, and prescribed Suboxone at the maximum dosage in lieu of legitimate substance abuse treatment.  If actually provided, prosecutors allege, the so-called “detox” treatment that patients were required to obtain was, according to the claims submitted by Miromedical and Ferrara, merely vitamin injections, which is not an approved treatment for opioid addiction. 
Thereafter, prosecutors charge, Dochim, through Miromedical and Ferrara, submitted claims to MCOs and to Medicaid that bore little to no resemblance to the medical services actually rendered. Prosecutors allege services such as spirometry, a pulmonary function test, and allergy testing, were routinely billed but never provided.  Patient “recruiters” working inside Miromedical and Ferrara, it is alleged, also openly offered to buy back patient’s Suboxone prescriptions for cash.
Relying on the accuracy of substance abuse treatment claims submitted by Dochim, prosecutors allege that Medicaid managed care insurance paid over $1.7 million, and that Medicaid directly paid over $190,000, to Dochim, Miromedical and Ferrara, funds which they were not entitled and which Dochim is alleged to have then laundered through various shell companies.
Grand Larceny in the First Degree is a Class B felony with a maximum sentence of incarceration of twenty-five years.  Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Health Care Fraud in the Second Degree, and Money Laundering in the Second Degree are each Class C felonies with a maximum period of incarceration of fifteen years.  Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree is a Class E felony with a maximum period of incarceration of four years. Dochim was arraigned yesterday where bail was set at $250,000 cash over $100,000 bond.
The Attorney General would like to thank the New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”), notably the work of HRA’s Medicaid Provider Investigations and Audit Unit, and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services for their partnership and valuable assistance throughout the investigation. In addition, the Attorney General thanks the United States Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General and the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General Dennis Rosen, MFCU’s partners in combatting fraud against the Medicaid program. The Attorney General also thanks Medicaid managed care plans MetroPlus and Healthfirst for their cooperation in this investigation.
The investigation was led by Senior Investigator Albert Maiorano and Investigators David Ryan and Julie Clancy with the assistance of Supervising Investigators Dominick DiGennaro and Michael Casado under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan. Audit support was provided by Principal Auditor-Investigator Patricia Iemma and Auditor-Investigator Coleman Williams under the supervision of MFCU NYC Chief Auditor Thomasina Smith.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Erin Kelsh and David Arias with the assistance of MFCU NYC Regional Director Christopher M. Shaw. Thomas O’Hanlon is MFCU’s Chief of Criminal Investigations-Downstate. The civil case is being handled by Special Assistant Attorneys General David Abrams, Gerri Gold and Elizabeth Silverman with the assistance of MFCU Civil Enforcement Chief Carolyn Ellis. MFCU is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney.   
The charges filed in this case are accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

A.G. Schneiderman Obtains $1.6 Million Settlement With Queens Company That Targeted Hispanic Homeowners In Fraudulent Mortgage Rescue Scheme

A.G. Investigation Found Company Charged Illegal Upfront Fees, Urged Vulnerable Homeowners To Stop Making Mortgage Payments, Misrepresented Likelihood of Obtaining Loan Modification; Many Consumers Ultimately Forced Into Foreclosure Or Lost Their Homes As A Result Of Fraudulent Scheme   
In Addition To Consumer Restitution, A.G. Bans Company And Its Principal From Providing Any Mortgage Assistance Relief Service Or Debt Relief Product Or Service For Three Years 
    Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a $1.6 million settlement with Queens-based American Hope Group, Inc. and its principal, Mauricio Villamarin Martinez (collectively “American Hope Group”), following an investigation into a fraudulent mortgage rescue scheme that preyed upon financially vulnerable Hispanic homeowners who were desperate to save their homes from foreclosure. The AG’s investigation found that American Hope Group collected millions of dollars in monthly fees from consumers, yet routinely failed to deliver on its promises to provide substantial relief from unaffordable mortgage payments through loan modifications and other forms of foreclosure prevention. The settlement, a Consent Order, concludes the AG’s investigation into American Hope Group’s mortgage rescue scheme. 
“My office will aggressively investigate companies that scam New Yorkers out of their hard earned money by seeking to exploit financially distressed homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I’m pleased that this settlement will bring some relief to the hardworking New Yorkers who were cheated out of thousands of dollars, and in some cases even lost their homes, due to American Hope Group’s predatory schemes.”       
American Hope Group generated millions of dollars by inducing homeowners to pay an illegal upfront fee of $2850, followed by a recurring monthly fee of typically $695, by misrepresenting the likelihood of obtaining a loan modification, principal reduction, lower interest rate, or other foreclosure relief if homeowners utilized American Hope Group’s loan modification and audit services.  American Hope Group misrepresented that it was a leading organization in mortgage restructuring and that it had obtained millions of dollars in mortgage modifications.  Through its advertisements in Spanish-language newspapers, direct mail solicitations, and website, American Hope Group vigorously promoted the use of forensic and securitization audits as a means to identify errors in mortgage loan documents, defend against foreclosure, and win concessions from mortgage servicers. Although American Hope Group charged consumers thousands of dollars for these audits, the audits typically had very little value at all. 
American Hope Group also directed homeowners to avoid interactions with their mortgage servicers and, in some cases, directed homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments, thereby placing consumers in greater danger of foreclosure. Furthermore, the company’s advertisements lacked critical disclosures required by law that are designed to protect consumers, such as informing the consumer that American Hope Group is not associated with the government, that their services are not approved by the government or the consumer’s lender, and that the consumer’s lender may not agree to modify the consumer’s mortgage loan even if the consumer uses American Hope Group’s services.  American Hope Group also failed to disclose that the consumer could stop doing business with the company at any time and did not have to pay anything to the company if he rejects the offer of mortgage assistance obtained from the mortgage servicer.  Many consumers found themselves in a worse position vis-à-vis their mortgages than they would have been had they not turned to American Hope Group for help, often having to negotiate with mortgage servicers on their own, being forced into foreclosure, and even losing their homes. 
In addition to requiring American Hope Group to pay $1.6 million for consumer restitution, penalties, fees, and costs, the Consent Order prohibits American Hope Group from:
  • advertising or providing any mortgage assistance relief service or debt relief product or service for three years;
  • collecting advance fees for providing mortgage assistance relief services;
  • misrepresenting  the likelihood of obtaining a modification for a consumer or the likely terms of any such modification;
  • misrepresenting that forensic or securitization audits will help consumers obtain a loan modification or prevent foreclosure and refraining from advertising and conducting forensic and securitization audits;
  • telling consumers that they cannot or should not contact or communicate with their mortgage servicer.
The Attorney General’s Consent Order also prohibits American Hope Group from attempting to collect, collecting, selling, assigning, or otherwise transferring any right to collect payment from consumers who purchased its services prior to October 2015.  The Consent also requires American Hope Group to make required disclosures such as that mortgage assistance relief services may be obtained free of charge from approved non-profit housing counselors and that consumers need not pay for such services until they accept a modification.  If American Hope Group or its principal fails to comply with the terms of the Consent Order, they must pay $10 million.
“NYLAG applauds Attorney General Schneiderman for putting a stop to the deceitful operations of American Hope Group and for his tireless work in protecting New York’s most vulnerable homeowners,” said Beth Goldman, President and Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group. “NYLAG has worked with a number of families targeted by American Hope Group because of their limited English proficiency. While these cases are still pending, we have been able to help our clients receive loan modifications and other available assistance that is helping them to remain in their homes. The settlement reached today is a victory for all homeowners harmed by American Hope Group and will ensure that they cannot scam another victim. It sends a clear message to similar organizations that homeowner fraud will not be tolerated. Organizations that promise to save homes and deliver only debt and eventual foreclosure have no place in New York.”
“I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his efforts to curb the abuses associated with loan mod scammers targeting New York’s vulnerable, distressed homeowners, who are still in the midst of a foreclosure crisis that disproportionately impacts New York’s communities of color, and who can ill-afford to waste their time and money on the kind of useless, boiler-plate ‘audits’ peddled by the American Hope Group,” said Jacob Inwald, Director of Foreclosure Prevention at Legal Services NYC. “So many of the clients we represent have been victimized by unscrupulous scammers and associated ‘law firms’ who provide no meaningful assistance to homeowners before they reach us, so we hope that the Attorney General’s office will continue to vigorously pursue these bad actors.”
“Mortgage rescue scammers target vulnerable homeowners by luring them with false promises and false hope, taking thousands of dollars from struggling families who ultimately receive no legitimate help to save their homes from foreclosure,” said Nicole Arrindell, Senior Staff Attorney at MFY Legal Services. “Today’s announcement by Attorney General Schneiderman should send a clear warning that this type of illegal conduct will not be tolerated. We hope that this settlement will not only help these consumers recover their losses, but also will serve as a deterrent against future scams.”
If you believe you were a victim of American Hope Group, or if you believe you were a victim of another mortgage rescue scam, please file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. Complaint forms are available here. You may also call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-771-7755.
Free help to homeowners is available through the Home Owner Protection Program (HOPP), which uses funds from the National Mortgage Settlement to fund legal services and housing counseling across New York to provide foreclosure prevention services. Consumers can call 1-855-HOME-456 for help. Attorney General Schneiderman’s program funds roughly 90 organizations across the state, and HOPP has served a combined total of 60,000 families since its launch in October of 2012.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney Generals Melissa O’Neill, Elena González, and Stephanie Sheehan, Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine, and Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia, all of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Manisha M. Sheth.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of Non-Profit Employee For Allegedly Diverting $400,000 For Personal Use

Human Resources Director Of Hope Community Inc. Allegedly Directed Pay-Outs For Unused Vacation Time And Reimbursements To Accounts Held By Family And Friends
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of the former Human Resources Director of the non-profit Hope Community, Inc., Chantel Rodriquez Pierre, for a scheme that allegedly diverted over $400,000 into accounts controlled by her and her associates. Hope Community owns and operates low income housing in Manhattan and is currently under contract with the New York City Department of Homeless Services for $8.9 million over five-years to operate a homeless shelter for families. In early 2014, the non-profit outsourced its payroll functions to a new third party vendor, and Rodriguez Pierre allegedly misinformed the vendor that Hope Community had a policy of paying out unused vacation time. An investigation conducted with the assistant of the New York Department of Investigation found that over the next year and a half, Rodriquez Pierre allegedly directed the vendor to pay-out unused vacation time for several employees, along with bogus reimbursements, into accounts controlled by her and her friends and family.
“Diverting funding intended to help some of our most vulnerable citizens is reprehensible. We will not allow non-profits that are supposed to serve the public good to be used as personal piggy banks,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s charges send a strong message that personal enrichment at the expense of other New Yorkers will not be tolerated.” 
DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, “This Human Resources Manager was entrusted with protecting the best interests of her organization and employees, instead she now faces charges of cheating them by steering hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll funds from the not-for-profit designated by the City to provide shelter for homeless New Yorkers. DOI thanks the New York State Attorney General’s Office for its partnership in the investigation and looks forward to continued collaboration in weeding out bad actors who attempt to steal from earnest not-for-profit providers.”
Rodriguez Pierre was charged with five felony counts including Grand Larceny, Criminal Tax Fraud, and Repeated Failure to File Personal Income and Earnings Taxes. She faces up to 5-15 years in prison. Rodriguez Pierre was held on $50,000 cash bail or fully secured bond.
The case was investigated by Investigator Sixto Santiago under the supervision of Deputy Chief John McManus of the Investigations Bureau, which is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella and DOI’s Inspector General for City-funded Not-for-Profits, specifically Special Counsel Inna Spector and Auditor Jeffrey Freeman, under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General/Chief Forensic Auditor Ivette Morales, Inspector General Andrew Brunsden, Associate Commissioner Susan Lambiase, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Michael Carroll, and First Deputy Commissioner Lesley Brovner.    
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General John Chiara, Special Counsel of the Public Integrity Bureau, with assistance provided by Legal Support Analysts Casey Lasda and Graham Louis.  Forensic auditing analysis was provided by Forensic Auditor Kristina Kojamanian under the supervision of Deputy Chief Sandy Bizzarro of the Forensic Audit Section, which is led by Chief Edward J. Keegan, Jr. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel G. Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz.
The Attorney General would like to thank the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for their assistance with the investigation.
The charges are accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.


   Darryl Brown Sentenced: to 18 years in prison for the fatal shooting of his daughter’s boyfriend during a fight inside a Wakefield apartment building.
   Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for the fatal shooting of his daughter’s boyfriend during a fight inside a Wakefield apartment building.
   District Attorney Clark said, “This defendant, who was an off-duty New York City Correction Officer at the time, responded to a young man’s punches with a gunshot. And after he shot the victim, he failed to provide any assistance whatsoever. He let him die.” District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Darryl Brown, 58, of 739 East 242nd Street, was sentenced to 18 years in prison with five years post-release supervision before Acting Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary. Brown was convicted by a jury on Sept. 30, 2016 of first-degree Manslaughter after a two-week trial. 
   According to trial testimony, on March 20, 2014, Brown, a Department of Correction Officer who was off-duty, noticed Vonde Cabbagestalk, 21, who was in a relationship with his daughter, speaking to another man in his building’s lobby. Brown demanded to know why Cabbagestalk was there and an argument escalated, with Cabbagestalk throwing some punches at Brown. 
   Brown was seen brandishing a semiautomatic gun, at which Cabbagestalk tried to swipe. Brown fired one shot, striking Cabbagestalk in the chest and killing him. According to testimony, a neighbor, who did not witness the incident, heard Brown’s daughter yell “No, daddy, no!” and called police after Brown and his daughter left Cabbagestalk bleeding on the floor and ran back to their apartment.

  Daquan Lanier Sentenced: to 20 years in prison for the fatal shooting of a man who was defending his mentally ill mother.
   Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for fatally shooting a man who was defending his mentally ill mother as she was mocked outside her home. 
  District Attorney Clark said, “The victim used his fists to defend his mother from those harassing her. The defendant rushed to get a gun and in an instant, ended a young man’s life and destroyed his own.” 
  District Attorney Clark said that the defendant, Daquan Lanier, 21, of 225 East 149 Street, was sentenced today before Acting Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary to 20 years in prison and five years post-release supervision. Lanier pleaded guilty to first-degree Manslaughter on Oct. 11, 2016. 
  According to the investigation, on March 16, 2014, Lanier and two other men ridiculed Verbena Burgess, a woman with a history of mental illness who was singing and dancing outside her 562 Morris Avenue home. One man threw garbage and bottles at Burgess while the others cursed at her and demanded she stop singing. 
  The woman called her three sons, all of whom ran down from the apartment they shared and soon began to brawl with Lanier and his friends. Lanier and his friends quickly retreated but returned minutes later, with Lanier now carrying a gun.   
   Lanier fired one shot, striking Tony Andrew Burgess, 24, the eldest son of Verbena Burgess, in the back of the head as he fled, killing him instantly.

Bronx Borough President - Puerto Rican Heritage Month Celebration Thursday Nov 17


  As a mark of respect for the memory of NYPD Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, who was killed in the line of duty today November 4, 2016, flags are to be lowered to half-staff by order of the Mayor of the City of New York, Bill de Blasio. This includes the American flag, the New York State and City flags, and the POW-MIA flags on all City buildings as well as stationary flagstaffs throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York.

Flags lowered to half-staff: effective immediately, Friday, November 4, 2016
Flags returned to full-staff: date of interment

Friday, November 4, 2016


   After a call of a home break in just before 3 PM today on Beach Avenue two 43rd Pct. Sergeants were shot at during a chase and stop of a suspect in a red Jeep at 1757 Bronx River Avenue. The suspect identified as Manuel Rosales who fired at the police, was pronounced dead at the scene after police fired back at him. In the gunfight Police Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo was shot in the head and chest, and was pronounced dead at Jacobi Hospital shortly after arriving there. Sergeant Emmanuel Kwo was also shot by the suspect in the leg and is recovering at Jacobi Hospital.
Photos of the scene are below with statements from Mayor de Blasio, Police Commissioner O'neil, Bronx BP Diaz Jr., State Senator Jeff Klein, while State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. who was on scene  in his district called the incident very tragic.

Above - State Senator Diaz Sr. surveys the crime scene.
Below - The shooting took place just up the block.

Above - Police Brass leave the scene to travel to the press conference at Jacobi Hospital.
Below Police went door to door seeking more information.


Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Commissioner. It’s with tremendous sorrow that I inform you of the murder of Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo. Commissioner O’Neill and I broke the news of Sergeant Tuozzolo’s death to his wife, his mother, and his father just over an hour ago. Sergeant Tuozzolo was a 19-year veteran of the NYPD – longterm and devoted member of the 4-3 Precinct, and a loving father of two young children. 

The City is in mourning, and the family of the NYPD is in mourning, and particularly all the men and women of the 4-3 Precinct are in mourning right now. They lost a very good man, a devoted man, a man who committed his life to protecting all of us. 

We told his wife, his mother, his father that the NYPD would be with them, with their family for as long as they need help for years and years to come. We will support that family. 

I want to express – against the backdrop of this sorrow, I want to express our appreciation to everyone at Jacobi Hospital, to the doctors, the nurses, all the staff who labored so hard to save Sergeant Tuozzolo. We appreciate you efforts deeply. 

Commissioner O’Neill: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. It is with great anguish that I have to tell you today an NYPD was shot and killed while doing his job, while trying to keep the people of this great City safe. At 2:45 pm, a female called 9-1-1, saying a male armed with a gun had broken into her apartment on Beach Avenue in the Bronx. That information was dispatched over our Department radio. As patrol units from the 4-3 Precinct were responding, the radio dispatcher advised them that the suspect had just fled the scene, was driving a red Jeep. A few minutes later, at 2:52 pm, the suspect’s vehicle was observed at Noble Court and Bronx River Avenue by a marked patrol car roughly a half-a-mile from the original car. As officers approached the vehicle, which was stopped at 1575 Bronx River Avenue, the suspect, identified as Manuel Rosales, 35 years old, fired at the officers with a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun. Police returned fire, striking the suspect. During the exchange of gunfire, two uniformed sergeants were shot. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Both sergeants were immediately transported to Jacobi Hospital. Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, a 19-year veteran, was later pronounced deceased at the hospital. Sergeant Emmanuel Kwo, a nine-year veteran, was shot in the leg and is currently in stable condition. 

Sergeant Tuozzolo has worked at the 4-3 Precinct for 10 years. A preliminary investigation reveals that the suspect, Manuel Rosales, is the estranged husband of a female occupant of the apartment on Beach Avenue. Earlier today, the suspect forcibly entered the apartment armed with a gun. Present at that time was his 29-year-old estranged wife, their three-year-old son, another 13-year-old child, and a 50-year-old woman who was the original 9-1-1 caller. 

A preliminary review of the suspect’s history reveals 17 prior arrests within Suffolk County, New York, where he is believed to be living. Further investigation of his background is currently underway. 

I want to take this time to this time to thank the highly dedicated and professional staff here at Jacobi Hospital who did as much as humanely possible to try to save Sergeant Tuozzolo. I always talk about what a great job this is, but there’s nothing worse than a day like today. 


“This afternoon, The Bronx was the scene of a horrible tragedy as two New York Police Department sergeants in the 43rd Precinct were shot, one of them fatally. This heartbreaking incident puts into clear focus both the difficulties our police officers face every day and the true scourge of guns and gun violence faced by our police, our communities and our nation.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of these two sergeants and the entire NYPD as they mourn the loss of their partner and colleague," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

"I was saddened this afternoon to hear of the loss of a New York Police Department Sergeant and the injury of another from the 43rd Precinct. Police officers put themselves in harm's way every day and on every call that they respond to and incidents like these are a sad reminder of that fact. My thoughts are with their families and fellow members of the NYPD at this difficult time,” said Senator Klein.

More statements of sympathy for the killing of Police Sergeant Tuozzolo, and shooting of Sergeant Kwo will be forthcoming from other elected officials.
I arrived at the scene shortly before 3:30 PM as the ambulances were pulling away from the crime scene.


In major step toward achieving pay equity for women and people of color, City agencies will no longer be allowed to inquire about an applicant’s salary history before extending a conditional offer of employment 

Under Mayor de Blasio, for first time in City history, women and people of color hold majority of managerial positions in City government


    In a major effort to ensure fair employment practices and close the pay gap for women and people of color, Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed Executive Order 21 prohibiting City agencies from inquiring about the salary history of job applicants. Executive Order 21 is the most recent effort by the de Blasio Administration to ensure the families of NYC’s diverse workforce are supported and enabled to thrive. The Mayor also announced his intent to support Intro. 1253, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James, which seeks to prevent both public and private employers from inquiring about potential employees’ salary histories. The Mayor and First Lady were joined by senior Administration officials, elected officials, City employees and advocates. 

“It’s no secret that throughout our nation’s workforce, women and people of color are, on average, paid less for the same work as their white, male counterparts. As the employer of over 300,000 City workers, I have a responsibility to lead the way in putting an end to that cycle of discrimination,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Women and people of color constitute the majority of our City workforce and a large share of the people of working age in this city. It’s essential to the success of our local government and our city as a whole that everyone is treated – and paid – with the fairness and respect they deserve.”

“Back in 1976, when I graduated from college, women were paid roughly 60 cents for every dollar that men were paid. That means my classmates and I were valued less than our male peers and destined for a lifetime of less income. The disparity in pay is even greater for women of color,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “From the very beginning of our careers, women and men of color have been paid less than our colleagues for the same exact work. The Commission on Gender Equity, which I co-chair, is working hard to address this issue and create a city where everyone is treated equally. Today’s executive order will advance equal pay for equal work in our city, beginning with our hardworking public servants.”

While over 90 percent of the City’s workforce is unionized and paid in accordance with collective bargaining agreements – which have defined salary schedules driving uniformity and equitable pay practices – the City will take additional steps to ensure pay equity across the municipal workforce. A ban on salary inquiries prior to a conditional offer of employment provides a model for other employers in both public and private sectors.

By eliminating questions regarding an applicant’s previous compensation – which is often used as a benchmark from which to determine starting pay in a new position – employers take a vital step to stop perpetuating a cycle of suppressed wages for women and people of color within their workforce. 

The Executive Order, which goes into effect in 30 days, dictates that prior to making a conditional offer of employment, City agencies cannot seek to obtain information regarding an applicant’s salary history either through direct questioning of an applicant or through searches of public records. An applicant’s salary history includes prior wage, salary, benefits or other compensation. The Order allows for City agencies to inquire about previous salary only after making a conditional offer of employment that includes the salary for the job, and solely for the purpose of evaluating an applicant’s representations about their prior employment, such as degree of responsibility or breadth of role.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services will provide training for Agency Personnel Officers on the appropriate manner in which to ask about the pay history of applicants who have received conditional offers. Personnel Officers will train their Agency Human Resources staff. DCAS will also conduct periodic reviews to ensure that Agency practices comply with this Order and collect relevant data for its reviews.

“Requiring applicants to provide their salary history perpetuates and exacerbates the existing wage gap,” saidCity Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Executive Order 21, which will cover those seeking City employment, is an excellent start for potential City agency workers. While the City Council has already implemented this initiative internally, we will soon be considering additional legislation by Public Advocate James to go even further by prohibiting this practice in the private sector. I thank Mayor de Blasio for taking this essential step toward tackling pay disparities and look forward to a hearing on the bill that will apply it citywide.” 

“On the eve of a presidential election when a woman's name is on the ballot, we are still fighting for equal pay for equal work. We know that using salary history is not a fair or necessary means to determine an employee’s wages. This practice perpetuates a cycle of wage discrimination against women. It’s why I introduced legislation, Intro. 1253, earlier this year to ban the use of salary history in the hiring process. I’m proud to join Mayor de Blasio as he announces an Executive Order banning the use of salary history in hiring City employees and I’m grateful the Mayor will support my legislation to ban the use of salary history in both the private and public sectors. We will continue this fight until every single one of our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers are guaranteed equal pay for equal work,” said Public Advocate James.

Women in New York City continue to earn less than men and are more likely to live in poverty. The income gaps are widest among women of color, older women, immigrants, and women without a high school degree. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the mean income for women in New York City was equivalent to just 80 percent of what men earned, a gap of $10,470. The report also showed that across the United States, women employed full-time lose a combined total of more than $840 billion each year due to the wage gap. Reports on the gender wage gap vary slightly across the board, but according to 2015 U.S Census Bureau data, women earn approximately 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. The problem is even more evident for women of color, compared to what white males make: Black women make 64 cents to every white male dollar, while Latina women make 54 cents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Black and Latino men across the United States also earn less on average than their white male counterparts. According to the Pew Research Institute, in 2015, black men earned 73 percent of white men’s hourly earnings, while Hispanic men earned 69 percent. This translates to average hourly wages for black and Hispanic men of $15 and $14, respectively, compared with $21 for white men. 

For the first time, under the de Blasio Administration, women and people of color now hold more than half – approximately 52 percent – of managerial positions in City government. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ data also shows that the majority of City government employees are people of color, representing approximately 61 percent of the total workforce. 

Across the de Blasio Administration’s senior leadership – which includes senior cabinet members and the heads of agencies and mayoral offices – women occupy 52 percent of the leadership positions, and 44 percent of the leadership positions are occupied by people of color.

The de Blasio Administration has made meaningful changes to improve the lives of the City’s diverse workforce, including:

  • The provision of six weeks of paid time off for maternity, paternity, adoption, and foster care leave, at 100 percent of salary – or up to 12 weeks total when combined with existing leave; 

  • The expansion of Paid Sick Leave to all businesses with five or more employees. 

  • Supporting legislation that will allow Paid Sick Leave to be used for purposes of Paid Safe Leave. This amendment would ensure victims, survivors and those who are impacted by domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault offenses are able to take necessary time to rebuild their lives and seek safety while not sacrificing their paychecks or jobs.

  • An increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour for all City government employees and employees who provide contracted work for the City at social service organizations; 

  • Settled contracts with 99 percent of the municipal workforce, compared to zero when Mayor de Blasio took office – bringing salaries for female-dominated fields like teaching and healthcare in line with salary increases previously given to other municipal workers, and providing all City employees with new 7-year contracts that included 10 percent in raises. 

  • Universal pre-K for All, which has made it possible for thousands of parents to earn a living without sacrificing their children’s early education; 

  • New guidance from the City’s Human Rights Commission defining violations of pregnancy protections under the NYC Human Rights Law and requiring reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. The guidance explains how the law ensures pregnant employees are not unfairly terminated, pushed out of the workforce or discriminated against based on their pregnancy. 

  • The creation of more family-friendly workplaces, including the creation of lactation rooms for new mothers at social service agencies across the city. 

  • The formation of a first-ever Commission on Gender Equity to leverage the power of City government to expand and increase opportunity for all New Yorkers regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation; 

  • The establishment of the Office of Labor Policies and Standards at the Department of Consumer Affairs to ensure rules, regulations, and laws designed to improve working conditions are enforced properly, and that workers and businesses know and understand those laws.

  • The addition of caregiver protections under the New York City Human Rights Law to ensure people providing care to children under the age of 18 and those caring for parents, sibling, spouse, children of any age, grandparent, or grandchild with a disability are protected from employment discrimination, such as being terminated, demoted or denied a promotion because of their status or perceived status as a caregiver. 

“Every New Yorker deserves to be paid based on their qualifications for the job,” said Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis. “Inquiring about pay history during the hiring process often continues a cycle of pay inequity, which perpetuates lower salaries for women and people of color. The Mayor’s Executive Order today is a crucial step towards ensuring that all New Yorkers seeking employment with City agencies are paid what they are worth, regardless of their age, gender, or race. The Commission looks forward to working with employers, advocates, and elected officials on future efforts to fight employment discrimination throughout the city.”

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Memorial Service for Jeffrey Panish

In Loving Memory of 
Jeffrey Panish
November 6th,2016
Bronx House
990 Pelham Parkway South
Sunday, November 6th, 2016 
3:00pm - 5:00pm
Please come and join us to remember Jeffrey Panish, a community activist, a kind neighbor, a pillar of our community and a dear friend to many of us