Saturday, November 19, 2016


State Senator Jeff Klein and AHRC NYC Executive Director Gary Lind unveiled a new art center on Thursday at Howie Stone Adult Day Care.  They were also joined by the family of the late Howie Stone. Pictured below are State Senator Jeff Klein, AHRC NYC Executive Director Gary Lind, members of the Stone family.

pic 1.jpg

The innovative art center is funded with a $156,000 grant from Senator Klein. Inside a virtual reality room, participants use strokes of motion to help create masterpieces. For those without motor skills in their hands, eye movements become their brushes in another space. The center also offers digital and traditional photography.

I am proud to have secured $156,000 in state funding for the creation for this center, which blends tradition and technology for these budding artists. It is crucial to provide these therapeutic resources and tools for our participants so that they can continue to experience self-empowerment,” said Senator Jeff Klein.

“We at AHRC New York City are grateful for the funding from New York State made possible through the leadership of Senator Jeffrey Klein. This funding has provided us with the means to create a new community art center, merging fine art and innovative state of the art digital technologies and will offer access to artistic self-expression to  people who have intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities and traumatic brain injuries and have interests in the arts. It will also offer local artists from the Bronx without disabilities, for example, students from Lehman High School, an opportunity to share their creativity, to use the space and to mentor artists with disabilities,” said Gary Lind, executive director, AHRC New York City.

Above - Bill Stone is by some of the projects made at the AHRC center.
Below - The grant includes monies for a new media center with computer enhanced activities.

Dorothy Stone says a few words about the new art center at the AHRC site named after her son, and how her son Howie Stone loved to draw. She added that Howie would of loved to use the modern tolls others now have.

Former Valeant Executive And Former Philidor Ceo Charged In Manhattan Federal Court For Illegal Fraud And Kickback Scheme

Kickbacks Paid Out of Valeant Corporate Funds Spent on Philidor Option Were Laundered Through Secret Shell Companies

  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the arrests of GARY TANNER, a former executive at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (“Valeant”), and ANDREW DAVENPORT, the former Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of Philidor Rx Services LLC (“Philidor”), for engaging in a multimillion-dollar fraud and kickback scheme.  TANNER was arrested in Gilbert, Arizona, and will be presented later today before a Magistrate Judge in Phoenix.  DAVENPORT was arrested this morning in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and will be presented later today before a Magistrate Judge in Philadelphia. 
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Today, we charge corporate fraud at Valeant Pharmaceuticals.  Gary Tanner, a former Valeant executive, and Andrew Davenport, the CEO of Philidor, allegedly concocted a fraudulent scheme to illegally use Philidor as a vehicle for personal profit and self-dealing.  Their alleged kickback scheme illegally converted Valeant shareholder money into their own personal nest eggs.  As alleged, while purporting to be arms-length business counterparts, the two men were, in fact, partners in crime.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney said:  “As shareholders, we should be able to put our faith in those responsible for making decisions on behalf of our investments. We should be able to rely on them for placing our best interests above their own. But as evidenced by today’s charges, our right to honest services is sometimes exploited by those who engage in kickback schemes that pose significant risks to investors.”
As alleged in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:[1]   
Valeant is a publicly traded pharmaceutical manufacturer headquartered in Canada, with its principal place of business in New Jersey.  Philidor was a specialty mail-order pharmacy that was formed in or about January 2013 with the assistance of Valeant, including the provision of financing, personnel, and supervision.  During the course of Philidor’s existence, at least 90 percent of the drugs dispensed by Philidor were Valeant-branded drugs. 
TANNER was the Valeant executive primarily responsible for the Philidor relationship, as well as Valeant’s alternative fulfillment (“AF”) program more generally.  Valeant’s AF program attempted to cause doctors to prescribe, and patients to purchase, Valeant Pharmaceuticals instead of generic substitutes or alternatives by helping obtain insurance coverage for those drugs or providing other incentives for prescription and purchase of Valeant drugs.  As part of his work at Valeant, TANNER interacted directly with Philidor’s executives, including DAVENPORT, and senior Valeant executives. 
Despite being well compensated by Valeant to represent its interests, TANNER used Valeant human and financial resources to benefit Philidor and its largest owner, DAVENPORT, in a variety of ways, including by arranging for Philidor to receive $2 million in Valeant financing, as well as the support of numerous Valeant staff, including a Valeant-paid sales force that was dedicated to promoting sales through Philidor.  DAVENPORT recognized the importance of TANNER’s support to Philidor’s success, stating in an email to TANNER concerning Philidor: “We both know that this endeavor would face a nearly insurmountable uphill struggle to succeed in the present Valeant environment without your confident support and the efforts of your team.”    
Some of TANNER’s actions benefiting Philidor placed Valeant and its shareholders at risk.  Among other things, TANNER resisted efforts to diversify Valeant’s AF program to include other commercially available alternatives to Philidor, increasing Valeant’s dependence on Philidor and what is known as “payor risk,” i.e., the risk that actions by insurers and other payors concerning Philidor could adversely affect Valeant’s financial performance.  When asked directly by senior Valeant executives whether he had a financial interest in Philidor, TANNER falsely denied having any such interests.
In the fall of 2014, TANNER and DAVENPORT took advantage of Valeant’s dependence on Philidor to help orchestrate Valeant’s agreement to purchase an option to acquire Philidor (the “Option Agreement”) at a cost to Valeant shareholders of almost $300 million, including $100 million in up-front payments, a $33 million time-based milestone payment, and potential future multimillion-dollar sales-based milestone payments. 
Even while TANNER was repeatedly certifying that he was in full compliance with Valeant’s Standards of Business Conduct, which prohibited any conflicts of interest without full disclosure and approval by company management, TANNER and DAVENPORT were making preparations for TANNER to receive multimillion-dollar kickbacks out of the sums paid by Valeant for the Philidor option.  Among other things, TANNER and DAVENPORT set up shell companies and shell company bank accounts to be used to launder and distribute the kickbacks.  While these preparations were underway, TANNER served as an adviser to his employer Valeant in its negotiations with DAVENPORT over the Option Agreement, even while he secretly advised DAVENPORT on his negotiations with Valeant using a secret Philidor email account that TANNER maintained in the name of “Brian Wilson.”
When the Option Agreement was signed in December 2010, Valeant sent $100 million to the bank accounts of the beneficial owners of Philidor, including DAVENPORT; that sum was followed soon thereafter by the $33 million time-based milestone payment.  Over $40 million of those sums were sent to entities that DAVENPORT controlled, including to an entity called “End Game LP.”  DAVENPORT kicked back close to $10 million of that sum to TANNER.  Those sums were laundered through shell company bank accounts, including a company TANNER had created in the name of Befrielse Consolidated, LLC (“Befrielse”).  TANNER used the kickback funds to purchase a new home, to pay for personal expenses, retire debts, and make investments, among other things.  DAVENPORT used his share of the proceeds to purchase tens of millions of dollars in securities and to purchase luxury goods and items, including the installation of a $50,000 custom wine cellar. 
After the Option Agreement was executed, TANNER continued to use his position at Valeant to advance the interests of Philidor and DAVENPORT, including by expanding the number of Valeant products sold through Philidor and resisting Valeant’s efforts to collect cash from Philidor that Valeant was entitled to collect.  In communications concerning the scheme, using TANNER’s secret Brian Wilson email account, DAVENPORT discussed with TANNER how TANNER would secretly continue to promote DAVENPORT’s interests, even while he purported to represent Valeant’s interests as the Valeant executive responsible for Philidor.  Among other things, DAVENPORT stated that he pictured his and TANNER’s “butch and sundance ride into the sunset (or off the cliff as in the flick),” to which TANNER responded, using the secret Brian Wilson account: “[G]ave me a good chuckle when I just saw it. Will have to keep playing the game :).”  
Neither the nature of Valeant’s relationship to Philidor, nor Valeant’s increasing dependence on Philidor to achieve its sales and profitability goals, was disclosed to the public by Valeant until investor websites and news organizations revealed suspect aspects of Philidor’s operations and Valeant’s connection to Philidor in or about October 2015.  Following and in connection with these revelations, several insurers and other payors terminated their contracts with Philidor, resulting in realization of the payor risk that senior executives at Valeant had sought to avoid by diversifying away from Philidor, and Valeant’s stock price declined dramatically.  

TANNER, 39, of Gilbert, Arizona, and DAVENPORT, 48, of Haverford, Pennsylvania, are each charged in four counts: one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; one count of honest services wire fraud; one count of conspiring to violate the Travel Act; and one count of conspiring to commit money laundering.  Counts One, Two, and Four each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  Count Three carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.   
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the FBI.  He further thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its cooperation and assistance in this investigation.  He added that the FBI’s investigation was ongoing. 
The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information on the task force, please visit       
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force and the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard Master, Robert Allen, Richard Cooper, and Ian McGinley are in charge of the prosecution.   
The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Ahmad Khan Rahimi Indicted In Manhattan Federal Court On Terrorism Charges

Rahimi Allegedly Detonated and Attempted to Detonate Bombs on Public Streets in the Chelsea Neighborhood of Manhattan

  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Mary B. McCord, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division, announced that AHMAD KHAN RAHIMI, a/k/a “Ahmad Rahami,” was charged today in Manhattan federal court in an eight-count Indictment for offenses related to his alleged execution and attempted execution of bombings in New York City on September 17, 2016.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.  Rahimi will be arraigned before Judge Berman tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Two months ago, Ahmad Khan Rahimi allegedly planted bombs in the heart of Manhattan and in New Jersey.  The bomb that exploded in Chelsea shattered windows hundreds of yards away and propelled a 100-pound dumpster over 120 feet, injuring over 30 people.  Now indicted by a grand jury, Rahimi will face justice in a federal court for his alleged violent acts of terrorism.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B. McCord said:  “Ahmad Khan Rahimi has been indicted in New York and separately charged in New Jersey for allegedly planting and detonating bombs that resulted in numerous injuries.  It was through world class investigative work that the defendant was identified and arrested before he could do any more harm.  Pursuing those who seek to conduct attacks on our homeland will always remain the highest priority of the National Security Division.”
As alleged in the criminal Complaint that was filed on September 20, 2016, and the Indictment that was filed today[1]:
On September 17, 2016, RAHIMI transported two improvised explosive devices from New Jersey to New York, New York.  RAHIMI placed one of the devices in the vicinity of 135 West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, New York (the “23rd Street Bomb”) and the other in the vicinity of 131 West 27th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, New York (the “27th Street Bomb”). 
At approximately 8:30 p.m., the 23rd Street Bomb – consisting of a high explosive main charge – detonated, causing injuries to over 30 people and multiple millions of dollars of property damage across a 650-foot crime scene.  The injuries included, among other things, lacerations to the face, abdomen, legs, and arms caused by flying glass, metal shrapnel and fragmentation embedded in skin and bone, and various head injuries.  The explosive components appear to have been placed inside a pressure cooker and left in a dumpster.  The explosion propelled the more than 100-pound dumpster more than 120 feet.  The blast shattered windows as far as approximately 400 feet from the blast site and, vertically, more than three stories high. 
Shortly after the 23rd Street Bomb detonated, the 27th Street Bomb was located by law enforcement.  The 27th Street Bomb, which failed to detonate, consisted of, among other things, a pressure cooker connected with wires to a cellular telephone (likely to function as a timer) and packaged with an explosive main charge, ball bearings, and steel nuts. 
Earlier that day, at approximately 9:35 a.m. on September 17, 2016, another improvised explosive device, which also was planted by RAHIMI, detonated in the vicinity of Seaside Park, New Jersey, along the route for the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K race.  The start of the race – which was scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. – was delayed on account of other law enforcement activity. 
On September 18, 2016, at approximately 8:40 p.m., additional improvised explosive devices that RAHIMI also planted were found inside a backpack located at the entrance to the New Jersey Transit station in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  One of these devices detonated as law enforcement used a robot to attempt to defuse it.
On September 19, 2016, at approximately 9:30 a.m., RAHIMI was arrested by police in Linden, New Jersey.  RAHIMI fired multiple shots at police, striking and injuring multiple police officers before he was himself shot, subdued, and placed under arrest.  In the course of RAHIMI’s arrest, a handwritten journal was recovered from RAHIMI’s person.  Written in the journal were, among other things, mentions of explosive devices and laudatory references to Usama Bin Laden, the former leader of al Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki, a former senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Nidal Hasan, who shot and killed 13 people in Foot Hood, Texas.

RAHIMI, 28, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, is charged in the Indictment with one count of using a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of bombing a place of public use, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of destroying property by means of fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of interstate transportation and receipt of explosives, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(d), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and two counts of using of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), each of which count carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison and, if convicted of both counts, a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
In addition to the pending charges in Manhattan federal court, RAHIMI also has been charged in the District of New Jersey in a Complaint with offenses in connection with his alleged efforts to detonate explosives in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives from the New York City Police Department.  Mr. Bharara also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division for its assistance.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas J. Lewin, Emil J. Bove III, Andrew J. DeFilippis, and Shawn G. Crowley are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
The charges contained in the Complaint and the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.US v. Ahmad Khan Rahimi indictment.pdf

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 10 Defendants In Conspiracy To Smuggle Aliens Into New York City

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment and a Complaint, which together charge a total of 10 defendants with conspiring to conceal, harbor, and shield from detection, and move and transport, illegal aliens across the Mexico-United States border and into the New York City area.  Seven defendants were taken into custody today; three defendants remain at large.  The six defendants who were arrested in Texas will be presented and arraigned before United States Magistrate Judges in the Southern and Western Districts of Texas; one of the defendants, CARLOS SANTANA, was arrested in Brooklyn, New York, and will be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein later today.  
As alleged in the Indictment and Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:
United States v. Maria del Carmen Vasquez et al., 16 Cr. 708
From in or about June 2015 up to and including about October 2016, MARIA DEL CARMEN VASQUEZ, JORGE VASQUEZ-RAMIREZ, JUAN JOSE JIMENEZ BRAVO, MAYTE ZUNIGA BRACHO, ENARDYS FERNANDEZ, CARLOS SANTANA, JORGE GONZALEZ, and ELSA GUADALUPE DURAN conspired to conceal, harbor, and shield from detection, and move and transport, aliens in knowing and reckless disregard of the fact that the aliens had come to, entered, and remained in the United States in violation of law. 
During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants each performed various overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, including traveling from Texas through the Southern District of New York to transport aliens and to pick up money, making hotel arrangements for aliens, and renting cars for use in transporting aliens to New York City.  Certain defendants also attempted to transport aliens across the United States-Mexico border and into Texas.
United States v. Luis Batista Casola et al., 16 Mag. 7320
Similarly, in or about July 2016, LUIS BATISTA CASOLA and YOENDRIS BATISTA MATOS conspired to conceal, harbor, and shield from detection, and move and transport, aliens in knowing and reckless disregard of the fact that the aliens had come to, entered, and remained in the United States in violation of law.  During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants accepted money from aliens in exchange for arranging the aliens’ transport from Texas to New York City and other locations in and around the United States.
Each defendant in United States v. Vasquez, et al. and United States v. Casola et al. faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
A chart containing the names, ages, and residence information of the defendants who were arrested today is attached.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI, and expressed gratitude for the coordinated efforts of the Homeland Security Investigation Offices in Laredo, McAllen, San Antonio, and Austin, Texas; as well as the HSI Attaché offices in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, Customs and Border Patrol, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Joint Task Force – Investigations.  Mr. Bharara also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Southern and Western Districts of Texas for their assistance and support of the investigation.  Mr. Bharara also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Dominican Republic and Mexico; in particular, he recognized the efforts of the Procuraduría General de la República and the Transnational Criminal Investigative Units of the National Police.
These cases are being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Benet Kearney, Frank Balsamello, and Jessica Fender are in charge of the prosecutions.
The charges contained in the Indictment and the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
JUAN JOSE JIMENEZ BRAVO, a/k/a “Juan Carlos” 34 Laredo, TX
JORGE GONZALEZ, a/k/a “Jorgito,” a/k/a “Barbie” 46 Laredo, TX
ELSA GUADALUPE DURAN, a/k/a “Elsa Cruz” 48 Laredo, TX

United States v. Luis Batista Casola et al.

LUIS BATISTA CASOLA, a/k/a “Cuba,” 48 Laredo, TX

Statement By A.G. Schneiderman On $25 Million Settlement Agreement Reached In Trump University Case

 Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued the following statement on the $25 million settlement agreement reached in Trump University case:
In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of ​millions of dollars through a scheme known as Trump University. Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeal​s​ and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. Today's $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.
I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws. The victims of Trump University have waited years for today's result and I am pleased that their patience--and persistence--will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.


Three Defendants Pressured Teen To Go To Motel With 45-Year-Old Man; Alert Cops Interrupted Sexual Abuse 

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that four individuals have been charged with second-degree Attempted Rape and other charges involving a 14- year-old girl whom they took to a motel to engage in sex with a 45-year-old man. 
  District Attorney Clark said, “The defendants allegedly attempted to force this girl to engage in sex for $50. Thanks to observant police officers, the repulsive act was stopped. While she works to recover from the trauma, we will work to find her justice.”
  District Attorney Clark said Kashalema Kidd, 20, Savon Falu, 21, and Justin Palmer, 16, all from the Bronx, and Avis Ruiz, 45, of Brooklyn, were indicted for seconddegree Attempted Rape and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Falu was also charged with first-degree Promoting Prostitution, and Kidd, Falu and Palmer were charged with second-and third-degree Promoting Prostitution. Ruiz was charged with Forcible Touching, second- and third-degree Patronizing a Person for Prostitution and third-degree Sexual Abuse. 
  Kidd and Ruiz were arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice William Mogulescu, who set bail at $10,000 and $50,000 respectively. They are due back in court on November 28, 2016. Palmer and Falu were previously arraigned before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett, who set bail at $100,000 each. If convicted of their top charge, Falu faces up to 25 years in prison, while Kidd and Palmer face up to 15 years and Ruiz faces up to four years. 
  According to the investigation, on the morning of October 27, 2016, Falu, Kidd, and Palmer arranged an agreement with Ruiz to have sexual intercourse with the victim in a motel in exchange for $50. Sergeant Miguel Sanchez and Police Officer Robert Altieri of the 47th Precinct approached the three defendants and they ran toward the motel. The cops followed and found the girl and Ruiz in a room, and were able to apprehend the perpetrators prior to consummation. 
  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gerard Donahue of the Criminal Enterprise Bureau under the supervision of L. Newton Mendys, Supervisor of the Criminal Enterprise Bureau, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Lauren Dichiara of the Child Abuse/Sex Crimes Bureau; Denise Kodjo, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Enterprise Bureau, James Goward, Chief of the Criminal Enterprise Bureau and under the overall supervision of Stuart Levy, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division and Jean T. Walsh, Chief of the Investigations Division. 
  An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.


   Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx woman has been sentenced to five years in prison for robbing a 103-year-old, legally blind Co-op City resident who was returning to her apartment from a community center. 
   District Attorney Clark said, “Robbing an elderly person is cowardly and cold hearted. The defendant now will serve a prison term for her callous actions.” 
  District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Sharon McNeil, 53, of various addresses in the Bronx, was sentenced today, November 17, 2016, before Bronx Supreme Court Justice William Mogulescu to five years in prison with three years of post-release supervision. McNeil pleaded guilty to an offer by the judge of second-degree robbery on September 29, 2016. 
  According to the investigation, on April 1, 2016, Louise Signore, who is legally blind, was returning to her home from a nearby community center and was pushing a shopping cart holding her handbag with $30 in it, a magnifying glass, a hearing aid and other items. Video shows that McNeil followed Signore into the building and waited behind a door with a window while the centenarian checked her mail. Then McNeil followed Signore on to the elevator. 
   McNeil got off with Signore when the elevator reached her floor, and wrested the shopping cart from Signore, who fell to the floor during the altercation. McNeil took the cart and left the victim on the floor yelling for help.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fieldston Construction continues to Bother the Schools Neighbors

The above photo was taken in early June this year as the Fieldston School came before Community Board 8 with plans for an addition to the school in the fenced rooftop area facing Greystone Avenue. The parking lane was to be used during the construction which should have finished as the new school year began. 

As of this week in November the parking lane is still blocked with construction materials, and you will note that at dismissal times the street Greystone Avenue is closed by double parked buses who wait to load children from the school.

Above - Construction materials and barriers block more than just the parking lane by the Fieldston school on Greystone Avenue.
Below - What it looks like during dismissal by the Fieldston School on Greystone Avenue. The school completely blocks Greystone Avenue.

Is It DEP or now the EPA?


   You may have known this as a NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) truck, but if you look closely at the sign on the door you will now see NYC Environmental Protection or EPA. Just why the name change is anybody's guess, and some people like myself who have been battling the DEP over the past 21 years are amazed as well. This former DEP now EPA truck was found on Independence Avenue next to the parking lot of the Riverdale Temple where there was a water leak which was draining into the parking lot below street level. Other photos will show the EPA working the night before to find the leak which was in the process of being repaired the next day. 

Above and Below - Night work by the now NYC EPA to find the source of a water leak on Independence Avenue in Riverdale.

NYC EPA workers stand around the large hole dug on Independence Avenue, and are in the process of the repair job.

Comptroller Stringer Audit: Tens of Millions of Dollars in Fines from Bad Landlords Go Uncollected

HPD’s collection unit fails to collect more than 97 percent of settlements and judgments 
Thousands of tenants – many of them low-income – face no heat or hot water, lead paint, and other violations while landlords go unpunished 
Massive bureaucratic backlog of more than 1,000 cases exists, some on hold for nearly a decade 
HPD agrees with Comptroller’s recommendations

   The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) – the agency that promotes the construction and preservation of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers – has failed to collect tens of millions of dollars in fines from landlords, a new audit released by New York City Scott M. Stringer shows. In Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015, nearly $35.1 million in judgments and settlements was to be collected from landlords across more than a thousand cases by HPD’s Judgment Enforcement Unit – the unit within the agency responsible for doing so. Yet, $34.2 million was still uncollected as of October 29, 2015, a collection rate of just 2.46 percent. The audit recommended HPD explore hiring additional attorneys and working with other City agencies to improve its collection rate. The agency agreed with the Comptroller’s recommendations.
Hundreds of New Yorkers living in affordable housing across the five boroughs face deplorable conditions like no heat or hot water, lead paint, and more. Yet, despite HPD’s issuing violations and taking landlords to housing court, enforcement cases did not actually result in fines being collected or landlords being sanctioned.
“We are not giving these families, our fellow New Yorkers, a fair shot. Even though we know these tenants – many who need us most – are often living in unfathomable conditions, we aren’t holding landlords accountable. It’s unfair and it’s unacceptable,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “When we fail to protect affordable housing for our neighbors, we’re giving landlords a free pass to break the law. When bad landlords win, tenants lose. This system must be based on a higher standard of accountability. This is $34 million that could help address record homelessness, provide more affordable housing, support tenants, and help give working families a fair and fighting chance. Instead, it’s been left on the table, and tenants are suffering. It’s just not right.”
When HPD issues violations, it is authorized to impose civil penalties up to $1,000 per day until the hazardous condition is corrected and take landlords to Housing Court to force repairs. If a landlord fails to make repairs or pay a Housing Court judgment, the case is transferred to HPD’s Judgment Enforcement Unit for collection.
This investigation uncovered a massive backlog of cases at HPD’s Judgement Enforcement Unit. As of the end of March 2016, nearly half of the 2,100 open cases of violations were not assigned to an attorney – with some left open for nearly a decade. Over one fifth of open cases existed for three years or more.
The audit also found that when the agency did work on cases, HPD and its enforcement unit did not use every tool at their disposal to encourage property owners to pay fines and correct violations. Although the agency has the power to directly collect tenants’ rents and foreclose on properties to collect unpaid fines, HPD staff informed auditors these methods were rarely – if ever – used.
Specific findings include:
HPD Did Not Collect Fines for Hazardous Building Conditions
  • HPD transferred 650 cases that were opened in FY14 to its Judgement Enforcement Unit. As of October 2015, however, just 3.36 percent of the $20.3 million owed had been collected.
  • The agency referred 433 cases initiated in FY15 to the Judgement Enforcement Unit. But as of October 2015, only 1.22 percent of the $14.8 million owed had been collected.
  • Overall, by October 2015, HPD and its enforcement unit had collected just 2.46 percent of the $35.2 million owed by landlords in FY14 and FY15.
Thousands of Backlogged Cases Languished for Years
  • After a case is transferred to HPD’s Judgement Enforcement Unit for collection, it is assigned to the next available attorney. As of the end of March 2016, there were 2,100 open judgement enforcement cases – including 1,043 “backlogged” cases that had been transferred to the enforcement unit but not yet assigned.
  • Of these 1,043 unassigned cases, nearly two-thirds had languished for at least a year – and the oldest case was nearly nine years old.
  • On average, the other 1,057 cases – that had been assigned to attorneys – were left open but unassigned for two years.
  • Each attorney’s caseload consisted of 250 cases, on average, potentially discouraging them from taking legal actions that require increased time and effort.
HPD agreed with all six of the audit’s recommendations, including that it:
  • Work with other City agencies to identify payments to building owners – including, but not limited to rental assistance and tax abatements – which can be redirected to pay back HPD fines and judgments;
  • Consider hiring additional attorneys or reassigning attorneys from other parts of the organization to work through the backlog of cases; and
  • Transfer backlogged cases to either the City’s Law Department or an outside collection agency.
“Every New Yorker deserves safe housing with heat and hot water, and the City must be more proactive. I’m pleased HPD agrees with our recommendations, so together, we can send a clear message to bad landlords: break the law and there will be consequences,” Comptroller Stringer said.
To read the full audit, click here.

Morris Park Community Association & Bharati Foundation Presents "BOOKS With BHARATI" on Friday, December 9th 6:30PM at MPCA Community Center 1824 Bronxdale Ave.

The Morris Park Community Association
The Bharati Foundation
Presents “Books With Bharati”
An Evening of Reading for the Youth and the Community
Friday, December 9th 6:30PM at MPCA Community Center
Must RSVP by December 2nd at or call Tina 718-823-0596

SBA Roundtable with Hispanic Business Owners


City maintains historic levels of reserves, protecting fiscal health

   Mayor Bill de Blasio released New York City’s November Financial Plan Update on Thursday. The $83.46 billion Fiscal Year 2017 budget remains balanced, including $1 billion in savings in FY17 and FY18 and $719 million in FY19 and FY20. This marks the first time the de Blasio Administration has a Citywide Savings Program in the annual November budget update. 

“This year’s Plan proves yet again that we can be both progressive and fiscally responsible,” said Mayor de Blasio. “With this updated budget, we are announcing $1 billion in savings – and our Plan to build on these savings during next year’s budget process. We are once again proving to New Yorkers that we will continue to prioritize the initiatives most important to the city’s future while protecting the City’s fiscal health.”

The Plan released Thursday reduces this year's tax revenue projection by $127 million. This shortfall will be covered by agency and debt service savings, which have also allowed the Administration to reduce the FY18 out-year gap by $576 million.

Click here to view the November Plan.

Increased Pension Contributions

The November Plan includes $120 million dedicated to covering pension fund obligations in FY18 in light of the fund’s underperformance this year. Pension fund performance will push city taxpayer contributions to $241 million in FY19, and $361 million in FY20. The City is required to cover any returns below an assumed fund growth rate of 7 percent. The funds grew 3.2 percent in FY15 and 1.5 percent in FY16.


The November Financial Plan recognizes savings, including:

  • Contracting directly with storage service vendors to reduce annual costs by 40 percent, resulting in savings of $3.7 million annually beginning in FY18.
  • Reducing use of paper checks by increasing the number employees and vendors paid electronically, and eliminating inter and intra agency checks, saving $1 million in FY18, $2 million in FY19 and $3 million in FY20.
  • Using city vehicles more efficiently by expanding car sharing and intra-agency transfer of available vehicles, which will eliminate underutilized vehicles and reduce rental expenses, saving $10 million in FY18, $13 million in FY19 and $11 million in FY20.
  • Debt service savings, equaling $151   million in FY17, $33 million in FY18, $72 million in FY19 and $83 million in FY20.


This budget maintains the unprecedented levels of reserves achieved by Mayor de Blasio:

  • $4.0 billion in the Retiree Health Benefit Trust.
  • $1 billion annually in the General Reserve.
  • $500 million in the Capital Stabilization Reserve.

THIS WEEKEND!!!! Public Access to Jerome Park Reservoir


The New York City Environmental Protection Agency will open the grounds of Jerome Park Reservoir in the Bronx for special limited access November 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

The two-mile perimeter along the Reservoir will be open to the public.  Entrance to the Reservoir will be through the Gate House located at the west side of Goulden Avenue, just south of West 205 Street, across the street from Bronx High School of Science. There will be a security check, and no bags, cameras, or cell phones will be allowed inside. EPA will give visitors the opportunity to check cell phones, but should not bring any bags.   
Smoking is not allowed near the reservoir, so please do not bring any cigarettes, cigars, lighters or matches with you.
Please wear closed toe shoes.
Dogs will not be allowed.
All participants will be required to sign a liability waiver before admittance.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Kicks Off Annual Holiday Canned Food Drive

NY-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.