Saturday, December 3, 2016

Former Police Officer Sentenced In White Plains Federal Court To 8 Years In Prison For Selling Date Rape Drug

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROBERT SMUTEK was sentenced today to eight years in prison for selling 1,4 butanediol, an illegal analogue of the date rape drug gamma hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB.  SMUTEK, a former police officer and resident of Sleepy Hollow, New York, sold 1,4 butanediol in a product called Potion 9 through his Internet website called Online Coral Calcium.  SMUTEK was sentenced yesterday in White Plains federal court by the Honorable Kenneth M. Karas.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Smutek, a former police officer, was peddling a date rape drug over the Internet from his suburban home.  The sentence imposed on him by the Court properly reflects the callous nature of his years-long drug dealing.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment as well as the evidence presented during trial and at sentencing:
SMUTEK sold Potion 9, which was packaged in a one-ounce plastic bottle containing a pink liquid, between 2009 and 2014, advertising it on his website as a “mood enhancer” that supposedly made the user feel euphoric.  According to the label, Potion 9 contained yohimbe, a derivation of a tree root found in South Africa, as well as other natural ingredients.  But according to the evidence at trial, Potion 9 actually contained 1,4 butanediol, an industrial solvent that converted to GHB in the body when ingested.  At sentencing, SMUTEK was held responsible for distributing 200,000 bottles of Potion 9 over five years and ordered to forfeit $1.2 million in proceeds from the scheme.
In addition to his prison term SMUTEK, 53, of Sleepy Hollow, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release. 
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Rhode Island Task Force of the Office of Criminal Investigations, Food & Drug Administration.  Mr. Bharara also thanked the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their assistance in the investigation.

Doctor Charged In Manhattan Federal Court For Illegal Distribution Of Millions Of Oxycodone Pills

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division (“DEA”), James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and Maria T. Vullo, Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, announced the arrest of Dr. EMMANUEL LAMBRAKIS, a state licensed doctor who wrote thousands of medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone, totaling nearly 2.4 million pills, over a five-year period.  LAMBRAKIS was arrested yesterday in connection with the charge and is expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge James L. Cott later today.  
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Although licensed as a doctor, as alleged, Emmanuel Lambrakis was a prolific and dangerous drug dealer.  He allegedly pumped medically unnecessary oxycodone pills into our communities, feeding the addiction of countless people.  This arrest is a critical part of our overall fight against the devastating opioid abuse epidemic.”
Special Agent in Charge James C. Hunt said:  “Drug dealers selling scripts for money give doctors a bad name.  The dismantling of a modern day opium den masquerading as a medical clinic in the heart of Queens shows the result of law enforcement collaboration.  The investigation identified that Emmanuel Lambrakis allegedly diverted oxycodone pills to New York City streets enabling the one thing law enforcement, communities, and health professionals are trying to avoid – opioid addiction and overdose deaths.”     
Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said:  “New York is a safer place because law enforcement authorities worked together to shut down the criminal activities this defendant pursued to enrich himself while endangering the public.  The Department of Financial Services appreciates the opportunity to have worked on this case with the office of U.S. Attorney Bharara and the Drug Enforcement Administration.”
The following allegations are based on the Complaint and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court[1]:
Oxycodone is a highly addictive, narcotic opioid that is used to treat severe and chronic pain conditions.  Oxycodone prescriptions are in high demand and have significant cash value to drug dealers.  In fact, oxycodone tablets can be resold on the street for thousands of dollars.  For example, 30-milligram oxycodone tablets have a current street value of approximately $20 to $30 per tablet in New York City, with street prices even higher in other parts of the country.  A single prescription for 120 30-milligram tablets of oxycodone can net an illicit distributor $2,400 in cash or more.
From at least approximately January 2011 until December 2016, EMMANUEL LAMBRAKIS operated two medical clinics in Queens, New York, where LAMBRAKIS wrote thousands upon thousands of prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone in exchange for cash payments.  LAMBRAKIS typically charged $150 in cash for “patient visits,” and these visits often involved numerous “patients” being seen by LAMBRAKIS at the same time in the same examination room.  During these “patient visits,” LAMBRAKIS would perform simple, perfunctory body manipulations (such as rotating the patient’s arm or leg) and engage in little or no conversation with the alleged “patient.”  Nonetheless, LAMBRAKIS would then cause the patient to receive a prescription for a large quantity of oxycodone, most often 120 30-milligram tablets or more.
Between January 2011 and the present, LAMBRAKIS wrote approximately 17,000 oxycodone prescriptions at one of his clinics, resulting in the distribution of nearly 2.4 million oxycodone tablets, which have a street value of at least $48 million.  On over 200 occasions, LAMBRAKIS wrote 30 or more prescriptions for 30-milligram oxycodone pills in a single day. As a result of LAMBRAKIS’s actions, it is estimated that LAMBRAKIS collected at least $2.5 million in fees from his “patients.”
LAMBRAKIS, 69, of Manhattan, is charged with one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone.  This offense carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad, which comprises agents and officers from the DEA, the NYPD, the New York State Police, Town of Orangetown Police Department, Rockland County Drug Task Force, Westchester County Police Department, and New York City Department of Investigation.  He also acknowledged the assistance of Health & Human Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, New York City Human Resources Administration, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly J. Ravener and Jessica K. Fender are in charge of the prosecution. 
US v. Emmanuel Lambrakis complaint.pdf The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phase 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.

A.G. Schneiderman And Comptroller Dinapoli Announce Conviction And Sentencing Of Florida Man For Theft Of Over $180K In NYS Pension Benefits

Robert Schusteritsch Stole Pension Benefits Intended For Deceased Brother For Over 7 Years; Impersonated Deceased Brother To Maintain Eligibility For Benefits
Schneiderman: Those Who Illegally Obtain Pension Funds Intended For Someone Else Do So At The Expense Of Hardworking New Yorkers
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today the conviction and sentencing of Robert J. Schusteritsch, 71, a resident of the State of Florida, for the crimes of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, and Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, in Albany County Court. Schusteritsch’s conviction comes after a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Comptroller, which revealed that Schustertisch stole over $180,000 in pension benefits issued by the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System to his deceased brother, Martin Petschauer, between July 2008 and September 2015. Schusteritsch was sentenced today to six months in jail and five years’ probation.
“Those who illegally obtain pension funds intended for someone else do so at the expense of hardworking New Yorkers who rely on their pension for a secure retirement,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Comptroller DiNapoli and I will continue our joint efforts to root out pension system theft and hold those responsible accountable.”
According to the Attorney General’s and Comptroller’s Office, Petschauer was a New York State pensioner who retired as Chief of the Pooling and Audit Review Section of the New York Metro Milk Marketing Area in approximately 1986. He passed away on July 9, 2008.  At the time of Petschauer’s death, his pension benefits were being direct deposited into a bank account held in a trust for the benefit of Petschauer; Schusteritsch was the sole trustee for his brother and had exclusive access to the bank account. 
"Today’s sentencing of Mr. Schusteritsch proves once again that stealing from New York State's pension system is risky business," said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "My office will continue to thwart pension thieves and protect our New York State & Local Retirement System in partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman."
When Petshauer died, Schusteritsch concealed his brother’s death from the bank and the Retirement System and kept the trust account open to maintain the direct deposits.  He then routinely accessed the pension deposits and spent the money for his own benefit. All told, Schusteritsch stole over $180,000 in pension benefits until the Retirement System discovered Petschauer’s death in October 2015.   Further, when the Retirement System learned of Petschauer’s death and stopped paying benefits into the trust account, Schusteritsch called the Retirement System’s call center on November 2, 2015, pretended he was Petschauer, and asserted that he was not actually dead, in an effort to maintain eligibility for the pension benefits.  
This past summer, Schusteritsch was arrested in his home state of Florida and transported to Albany County, where he was arraigned on an indictment charging him with the crimes of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, and Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor. On September 16, 2016, Schusteritsch pleaded guilty before Hon. Peter A. Lynch, Albany County Court to the entire indictment.
Today, Schusteritsch was sentenced by the Hon. Peter A. Lynch to six months in jail and five years’ probation, and signed a confession of judgment in the amount of $180,140.45 in favor of the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System.
The case is the latest joint investigation under the Operation Integrity partnership of the Attorney General and Comptroller, which to date has resulted in dozens of convictions and more than $11 million in restitution.
Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli thanked the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office in Florida for their assistance.
The Comptroller’s investigation was handled by the Division of Investigations working with the New York State and Local retirement System. 

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement With Medrite Urgent Care And Carmel For Paying For Positive Reviews Online

Medrite Agrees To Pay $100,000 Penalty And Take Measures To Increase The Honesty And Transparency Of Its Online Reviews
Car Service Company Carmel Also Agrees To Pay $75,000 Penalty And Increase Transparency 
Agreements Are A Continuation Of A.G. Schneiderman’s Groundbreaking “Operation Clean Turf” Investigation Into Reputation Management Industry, Astroturfing And False Endorsements 
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with medical emergency care service MedRite Care, LLC, d/b/a Medrite Urgent Care (“Medrite”) for paying for positive reviews on consumer-review websites. Over a 2-year period, Medrite paid thousands of dollars to internet advertising companies and freelance writers to write positive reviews of Medrite on consumer-review websites such as  Medrite never required that the reviewers visit its facilities and experience its services, and never required the reviewers to disclose that they were paid for the review.  Medrite must pay $100,000, $50,000 of which is suspended assuming compliance with the settlement agreement, due to the financial condition of the company.
Attorney General Schneiderman also reached a separate settlement with Baron T, Ltd, d/b/a Carmel Car & Limousine Service, Svc (“Carmel”), the car-ride service, resolving an investigation into the company’s practice of extending discounts to customers for positive reviews on consumer-review websites. Carmel incentivized customers to write positive reviews of its services on consumer-review platforms Yelp, Google, Google Play, and Apple’s iTunes by offering a $10 discount off rides. As part of the settlement, Carmel will take steps to help educate the Livery Community on false advertising and consumer reviews online.
“Honesty and transparency are the hallmarks of consumer protection -- especially when it involves medical services. Consumers shouldn’t be misled when it comes to making important determinations about their health and well-being. Our investigation into Medrite sends a strong message to companies that the rules preventing deceptive advertising and practices must be upheld online,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Those same rules also apply to other service industries, and I appreciate Carmel’s cooperation in this investigation. Their efforts to educate other companies about unlawful incentives in customer reviews will help create a more transparent industry.”
Medrite Urgent Care 
MedRite is an emergent care service with three locations in New York City.  It provides individualized adult and pediatric health care on a walk-in basis.  Samuel Fisch is the Chief Executive Officer of Medrite.
MedRite paid internet advertising companies thousands of dollars for reviews on several different consumer-review websites. For example, in September, 2012, Medrite paid an internet advertising company $375 to post 15 positive reviews on, CitySearch, Yahoo Local Page, and Google Plus. Medrite also hired several free-lance writers through the Internet, including with job postings on, to write positive reviews for $10 to $15 per review.  One writer responded to Medrite’s listing for Yelp reviews, “Send me your business name and I will give you a good review. I have been on yelp for 4 years and have more than 160 reviews already.”  Another writer responded, “Hello I saw your ad on craiglist and I would like to post a positive 5 star review for your business… .”
In early 2014, Yelp discovered that Medrite was sending email messages to people on Yelp through their Yelp accounts to write positive reviews for Medrite.  In particular, Medrite sent the following email to members of Yelp, “I see you are yelping a lot.  I own a company in nyc and would like to get more reviews… would you come checkout our company and write a review? (will pay).” 
In March, 2014, Yelp posted the following “Consumer Alert” on Medrite’s Yelp profile for 90 days which alerted consumers to its findings that Medrite was paying for reviews:
New York’s Executive Law§ 63(12) and General Business Law §§ 349 and 350 prohibit misrepresentation and deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business. Similarly, the Federal Trade Commission’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” 16 CFR Part 255 (the “FTC Endorsement Guidelines”) provides that it is a deceptive practice to provide an endorsement for a product or service that fails to disclose material connections between the endorser and the sponsoring advertiser. Medrite never required that the reviewers visit its facilities and experience its services, and never required the reviewers to disclose that they were paid for the review. Pursuant to the settlement, Medrite is prohibited from misrepresenting that an endorser is an independent user of the product or service being promoted. Medrite is also prohibited from compensating a reviewer who has not made the required disclosures. 
Carmel is a well-known car service based in New York City.  The investigation into Carmel found that between May 5, 2016 and July 27, 2016, the company sent 161,000 email messages to Carmel customers requesting feedback regarding their recent ride with Carmel.  Customers were asked to evaluate Carmel services by clicking “Perfect” or “Good,” listed with an opportunity for ten dollars ($10) discount off the next ride, or “Bad,” which did not offer any discount.  Upon clicking the “Perfect” and “Good” links, the customer was directed to a consumer-review website such as and provided a $10 discount off their next ride upon confirmation of the review. If a customer clicked on the “Bad” button, he or she was directed to a web portal at Carmel with the opportunity to leave feedback. However, in this case, they were not directed or otherwise told to post the review on a consumer-review website and were not offered a discount or any other form of compensation.
Paying for a positive review without disclosing the payment would lead a reasonable consumer to believe that the review was a neutral, third-party review.  Incentivizing customers to provide favorable reviews without disclosing such payments is a form of false advertising and a deceptive trade practice, and it violates New York Executive Law § 63(12), New York General Business Law §§ 349 and 350, as well as the FTC Endorsement Guidelines.
Carmel cooperated in the investigation, and pursuant to the settlement, Carmel also has agreed to educate the for-hire car transportation industry on false advertising law and online consumer reviews, including without limitation, the FTC Endorsement Guidelines. Among other things, Carmel will communicate with members of the for-hire car transportation industry by email and newsletter, take out one full-page advertisement in the livery industry’s trade newspapers, and conduct educational seminars.
Ensuring honesty on the Internet is of paramount importance to consumers because of the effect that online reviews can have in influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions.  According to one survey, 90% of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions.  Multiple studies have concluded that online reviews can make or break companies.  A 2015 Nielsen Study reveals that 66% of the global consumers trust consumer opinions posted online, making it the third-most-trusted source of information about businesses after word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family.  A highly-cited Harvard Business School study from 2011 estimated that a one-star rating increase on Yelp translated to an increase of 5% to 9% in revenues for a restaurant.  Cornell researchers have found that a one-star swing in a hotel's online ratings at sites like Travelocity and TripAdvisor is tied to an 11% sway in room rates, on average. 
These settlements announced today are continuation of Attorney General Schneiderman’s commitment to ensuring accurate and reliable consumer reviews. In September, 2013, AG Schneiderman announced “Operation Clean Turf,” the largest investigation into astroturfing by a law enforcement agency, resulting in settlements with 19 companies that paid over $350,000 in penalties. After an extensive undercover investigation into the reputation management industry, the office found that companies had flooded the Internet with fake consumer reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch; used techniques to hide their identities, such as creating fake online profiles on consumer review websites; and paid freelance writers from as far away as the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe $1 to $10 per review.  In addition, in February 2016, the office announced settlements with four other companies including Machinima, Inc., regarding either the payment for positive reviews that were either fake or did not disclose the compensation.


Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed Beverly Tillery and Beverly Cooper Neufeld to the Commission on Gender Equity, the advisory body that works across City Agencies to help achieve the Mayor’s commitment to reduce gender-based inequity and build a safer, more inclusive and economically mobile city for women and girls. Tillery and Neufeld have strong track records advocating for the end of various forms of violence and empowering women and the LGBTQ community.

“New York City is built on the ideals that every single person, regardless of gender, should be given the tools necessary to succeed. This commission plays a key role in this pursuit, working to bring together all New Yorkers and to ensure that everyone in this city has the means to move up the economic ladder and reach their aspirations,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Both Beverly Tillery and Beverly Cooper Neufeld have a proven track record standing up for women and the LGBTQ community, making them great additions to this commission as we look to create a fairer and equitable city for all New Yorkers.”

“We are working hard to improve gender equity in New York City. Although we have made some progress, there is much more to do,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, co-chair of the Commission on Gender Equity. “The two women appointed to the Commission on Gender Equity today have spent their lives standing up for women, girls and the LGBTQ community. They will not stop fighting until every woman is paid fairly for her work; every transgender person feels safe living as their authentic selves, and women have full representation at every table and in every hall of power. New York City won’t stop fighting either. I look forward to working with these two fierce leaders as we continue marching toward equity in New York City for all.”

About Beverly Tillery:
Beverly Tillery is the Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), an organization that works to address and end all forms of violence through organizing and education and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy. She is an experienced leader, advocate and national organizer with nearly three decades of experience working in social justice movements. Most recently, she was a Deputy Director of Education and Public Affairs at Lambda Legal, an organization dedicated to achieving full recognition of the rights of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. There, she led national educational and advocacy campaigns and community-based research projects aimed at changing policies as well as hearts and minds. Prior to Lambda Legal, she worked as an organizer, popular educator, strategist and staff leader at organizations such as Amnesty International, Service Employees International Union and ACORN.

About Beverly Neufeld:
To address the slow advancement of women's economic issues, Beverly Neufeld envisioned and launched in 2014 PowHer New York, a community working across typical barriers to connect organizations and issues, energize a movement and accelerate progress. Neufeld also leads a decade long campaign for pay equity reform, now a signature project of PowHer New York, which influenced the passage of the NYS Equal Pay Act and the Women's Equality Act. In 2016, working with 2020 Women on Boards and Catalyst, she rallied passage of a NYC Board Diversity Law for contractors and is pursuing similar state legislation. In September 2016, “PowHer The Vote" was launched under Neufeld’s leadership along with the support of over 100 groups. “PowHer The Vote” is a 10-week interactive program and social media campaign aimed at igniting and empowering a state-wide legion of activists to champion women's issues during the 2016 election season and beyond. A member of the national Paycheck Fairness Taskforce and the steering committee of the 850-member NYS Women's Equality Coalition, Neufeld is working on the federal, state and local fronts.

Previously, as President of the New York Women's Agenda, Neufeld invigorated the 20-year old institution with innovative programming, including the New York Women's Business Principles Initiative. As Executive Director of The White House Project, she oversaw research on women's leadership, and helped develop SheSource and "Vote, Run, Lead." Beverly was Finance Director for Congresswoman Nita Lowey. Her board service includes 2020 Women on Boards, Free the Children, Sing for Hope, Women's Campaign Forum and Westchester Children's Association.

A Community Conversation on The Future of Healthcare in NYC

Join NYC Health + Hospitals for a community conversation around the future of health care in our city.

Learn more about NYC Health + Hospitals and their services
Share your insight on how NYC Health + Hospitals can better serve your community
Help shape healthcare in your neighborhood

Date: Tuesday, December 13
Time: 6:30pm to 8pm
Location: CB 12 Office 
4101 White Plains Road, Bronx
(2,5 to 233rd St, Bx39, BxM11, B-L42) 
Refreshments will be served

Friday, December 2, 2016

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj - Winter Health and Wellness Fair

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj 
& Senator Jeff Klein  
 in conjunction with  

 Proudly Present

Winter Health and Wellness Fair
Monday, December 12th 2016
5:30pm - 8:30pm
Bronx House
990 Pelham Parkway South
Bronx, NY 10461

For more information, contact Lilyanna Pekic at (718) 655-5000

Please join us for an evening of health and wellness with these participating sponsors.


A.G. Schneiderman And DEC Commissioner Seggos Announce Conviction Of Local Business Owner For Discharging Polluted Water Into Creek

Michael Jones And His Company, Coast Transportation And Recycling, LLC, Plead Guilty To Environmental Law Crimes; Will Pay $87,500 In Fines  
Schneiderman: Those Who Jeopardize The Safety Of New York’s Vital Waterways Will Be Held Accountable
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the conviction of Michael Jones, 44, of Skaneateles, and his company, Coast Transportation and Recycling, LLC (Coast), for environmental law crimes related to discharging polluted water into Ley Creek and failing to obtain appropriate state regulatory permits.  
Today, before the Honorable Anthony F. Aloi, Coast pleaded guilty to one count of Environmental Conservation Law Section 71-1933(3)(a)(i), a Class E felony, for knowingly discharging pollutants without first obtaining a New York State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Permit.  Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Section 71-2711(3) and one count of ECL Section 71-2703(2)(c)(i), Class A misdemeanors, for illegally discharging liquid containing hazardous substances and for storing petroleum-contaminated soil on the Coast property. 
“We will continue working to safeguard New York’s vital waterways from harmful pollution,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Guarding our state’s natural resources is critical to protecting both the health of New Yorkers and local economies, and those who jeopardize this will pay the price.”
Today’s convictions are the result of an investigation conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
“As this defendant showed a callous disregard for the health and safety of Ley Creek and it’s residents, this conviction sends a strong and clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated in New York State,” said DEC Commissioner Seggos. “I applaud the work of our Environmental Conservation Officers and the Attorney General’s office in pursuing this case and ensuring that the state's laws are enforced and our environment is protected.”
In July 2016, an Onondaga County Grand Jury charged Jones and Coast, an automobile salvage and scrap recycling facility located at 15 Dippold Avenue in the Town of Salina, in a 10-count indictment with violations of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law. 
According to court filings and statements made by the prosecutor, DEC’s investigation revealed that in February 2010, two underground storage tanks were removed from the Coast facility.  These tanks, which contained fuel oil, had leaked and contaminated the surrounding soil.  More than 500 tons of petroleum contaminated soil (“PCS”) was ultimately excavated from the areas surrounding the underground storage tanks and stored on Coast’s property.  The PCS was not removed from the Coast facility until October 2014, and neither Coast nor Jones ever applied for or obtained the necessary permit.  The ECL and DEC regulations allow the temporary storage of PCS on site, but only for a period of 60 days.  Storage of PCS for longer than 60 days constitutes the operation of a solid waste management facility and requires a permit issued by DEC.   Solid waste management facilities are subject to strict operational and closure requirements to avoid the adverse impacts to public health and the environment associated with solid waste. 
Also according to statements made by the prosecutor, DEC’s investigation further revealed that on May 15 and 19, 2011, liquid runoff from the soil pile flowed across the Coast property and into a storm water drain on Dippold Avenue, which ultimately discharged into a tributary of Ley Creek.  Laboratory testing by DEC revealed that the liquid flowing into the storm water drain contained the hazardous substances benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, and xylene.
Additionally, on September 18, 2012, Jones directed a Coast employee to set up and operate an electric pump to discharge storm water that had accumulated in the Coast parking lot into another storm water drain, which also ultimately discharged into a tributary of Ley Creek.  Laboratory testing by DEC revealed that this storm water contained motor oil.  Jones and Coast discharged the oil laden storm water without having obtained a SPDES permit or having a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan in place, both of which are required by the ECL. 
The DEC previously filed an administrative enforcement proceeding against both Jones and Coast in June 2011, related to improper dismantling of vehicles at the yard.  An Administrative Law Judge found that both Jones and Coast had failed to conduct proper “fluid draining, removal and collection activities” at the Coast facility and had intentionally released fluids and discharged “petroleum onto the ground at the facility.” Jones and Coast were assessed a civil penalty of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000). 
Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on January 24, 2017. Coast will be sentenced to an unconditional discharge; Jones will be sentenced to three years’ probation and will pay a fine of $87,500.
The Attorney General thanks the DEC for their assistance in this investigation. 
Also assisting in the investigation was Investigator Joel Cordone, Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle and Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine Karam. The Attorney General’s Investigations Division is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. 
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Tarkowski with the assistance of Assistant Attorney General Hugh L. McLean of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton. 
If you witness an environmental crime, contact the NYSDEC 24-hour Poacher and Polluter hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267). 

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment And Arraignment Of Clinic Operator For Allegedly Defrauding Medicaid By Offering Bogus Substance Abuse Treatment

Natalia Dochim Allegedly Induced Patients Into Fake Substance Abuse Treatment, Then Pocketed Millions Of Dollars 
Schneiderman:  We Will Continue To Root Those Who Prey On New Yorkers In Need Of Substance Abuse And Addiction Treatment
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment and arraignment of Natalia Dochim, 39, of Nyack, New York, and corporate entities Miromedical P.C. (“Miromedical”) and Ferrara Medical Care, P.C. (“Ferrara”), on charges of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Health Care Fraud in the Second Degree, Money Laundering in the Second Degree, and Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree.  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 MFCU undercover investigators that never occurred.
“The opioid epidemic should not serve as an excuse for unscrupulous individuals to illegally line their own pockets,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Medicaid is intended to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens, and we will continue to root out those who prey on New Yorkers in need of substance abuse and addiction treatment.”
Prosecutors allege that Dochim, aided by co-conspirators in her scheme, 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 the 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.  Consequently, 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 MetroPlus paid over $2.3 million and that Medicaid paid over $330,000 to Dochim, Miromedical and Ferrara, funds to which they were not entitled and which Dochim is alleged to have then laundered through various shell companies.
Bronx County Supreme Court Justice William Mogulescu arraigned Dochim, Miromedical and Ferrara Medical Care on the charges and adjourned the matter to December 9. If convicted, the defendant faces up to twenty-five years in prison.
Bail was set at $250,000 bond over $100,000 cash, with a condition that the defendant must wear an ankle monitoring bracelet should she make bail.
The Attorney General previously obtained an order freezing the bank accounts and other property held by the defendants and attaching up to $7,743,013.71 of those assets. The Attorney General also obtained a temporary restraining order preventing dissipation or transfer of the property controlled by the defendants. 
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, MFCU’s partners in combatting fraud against the Medicaid program. The Attorney General also thanks 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.  Investigative support was provided by Confidential Legal Analyst Nicole Maher.  
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 merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of Former Village Justice For Allegedly Using His Position As Judge To Reduce Fines In Exchange For Sexual Favors

Delmar House Allegedly Reduced Fine For Defendant In Exchange for Sexual Favors While Serving As Justice For Village Of West Carthage
Schneiderman: Court Officials Who Exploit Position Will be Held Accountable
WATERTOWN – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of Delmar House, the former Village Justice for the Village of West Carthage Court in Jefferson County, charging him with one felony count of Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree and one felony count of Receiving a Reward for Official Misconduct in the Second Degree. 
House was the Village Justice for the Village of West Carthage Court from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2015.  He is charged with using his position as a judge during that time period to reduce a fine for a defendant who appeared before him, in exchange for sexual favors from that defendant. 
“Any court official who exploits their position to elicit sexual favors shows blatant disregard for the wellbeing of their victim, the trust of the public, and for the judicial system as a whole,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will keep working to root out public corruption and hold those responsible accountable.”
According to filed documents and statements made in court today, in or about April 2015, House, 49, of Carthage, agreed to and did reduce the fine for a defendant appearing before him in the Village of West Carthage Court for Vehicle and Traffic Law offenses, in exchange for sexual favors from that defendant.  In addition, according to documents filed in court and statements made in court today, House paid a portion of that defendant’s fines in exchange for additional sexual favors.  The defendant faces up to seven years in state prison if convicted. He was arraigned today before the Honorable Kim H. Martusewicz in Jefferson County Court.  The defendant pled not guilty and was released on pre-trial release and will be back in court on January 17, 2017 for a court conference.
The charges against the defendant are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, New York State Police Investigator Joseph Maurer and the New York State Police for their work on this matter.

BRONX MAN CONVICTED OF MURDER IN 2013 SHOOTING Defendant Also Convicted Of Gun Charge: Distinctive Tattoo On His Arm Holding Murder Weapon In Photo On Facebook

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a 21-year-old Bronx man has been convicted by a jury of the top charge of second-degree Murder in the 2013 shooting of a 19-year-old man in the Tremont section of the Bronx. He was also convicted of gun possession based on a photograph of him holding the murder weapon posted on Facebook. 
  District Attorney Clark said, “A Bronx jury has convicted this defendant of shooting a young man during a dispute. They also found him guilty of the gun charge, after being presented with a photo he posted on Facebook of him holding the weapon. This sends a message to those who espouse the culture of guns and violence that it is not tolerated in the Bronx.” 
  District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Jesswill Perez, 21, of 67 West 175th Street, was convicted today after a four-week trial before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Iacovetta of second-degree Murder and second-degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon with Intent to Use. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 15, 2016.
  According to trial testimony, at 7:30 p.m. on December 20, 2013, in front of a bank branch at 795 East Tremont Ave., Perez argued with Edwin Molina, 19, whom he knew. Perez pulled a .25-caliber pistol and shot Molina three times. Perez was arrested February 8, 2014 with the murder weapon and a 9-mm pistol in his possession. The firearms were suppressed at a pre-trial hearing but a Facebook photograph of Perez’ arm--with an ornate tattoo reading “Money Power Respect,” the hand holding the .25-caliber pistol--was entered into evidence.
  The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Kalman and Masateru Marubashi, under the supervision of Christine Scaccia, Deputy Chief of the Homicide Bureau, and the overall supervision of Nicole Keary, Deputy Chief of the Trial Division and Jeremy Shockett, Chief of the Trial Division. District Attorney Clark also thanked 48th Precinct Detective Carlos Mena.

Bronx Chamber of Commerce 2016 Toy Drive will Donate Toys to Children in Need though BronxWorks

December Events at KRVC

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bronx Man Pleads Guilty To Sex Trafficking Of Minors, Possession Of Child Pornography, And Gun Possession

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that DAVID HOPE, a/k/a “Capo,” pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein to his involvement in the sex trafficking of minor girls, possession of child pornography, and possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “For years, David Hope manipulated and exploited vulnerable minor girls in the cruelest of ways, selling them for sex for his own profit.  With David Hope’s guilty plea today, we seek to deliver justice to the victims, as well as a measure of real hope.  Protecting girls and young women from sex traffickers like Hope remains a top law enforcement priority for us and the FBI.”
According to the Indictment, Complaint, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during HOPE’s plea proceedings:
Since at least 2013, HOPE directed and conducted a criminal sex trafficking and prostitution enterprise (the “Enterprise”) that recruited and exploited minor girls and young women, and then prostituted them using an online classified ad website for his own profit.  HOPE, who was wheelchair-bound, operated the Enterprise at his apartment in the Bronx, New York (the “Hope Apartment”), Connecticut, and elsewhere.
HOPE recruited minors who looked up to him to participate in the Enterprise and other criminal activity.  HOPE, who was known to carry a firearm, employed myriad tactics – including manipulation, intimidation, coercion, threats, and violence – to recruit and maintain the girls and young women he sold for sex.  At least four minor victims were involved in the Enterprise. 
In or about November 2015, when he was arrested, HOPE also possessed on his cellphone a sexually explicit video of one of the minor girls he trafficked. 
In or about January 2015, HOPE possessed a defaced firearm (the “Firearm”) after he had been previously convicted of a felony crime.  Specifically, on January 16, 2015, when New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers were executing a search warrant at the Hope apartment, HOPE instructed a minor female to throw the loaded Firearm out of the rear window of the Hope Apartment.  Before it was thrown out the window, the Firearm was in the bed where Hope was sleeping.
HOPE, 29, of the Bronx, New York, was arrested on November 19, 2015, in the Bronx, New York, and has been in federal custody since.  HOPE pled guilty today to one count of sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of possession of child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the judge.  HOPE is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Stein on March 1st, 2017, at 2:30 p.m.
Mr. Bharara praised the extraordinary investigative work of the FBI.  He thanked the NYPD for its assistance throughout the investigation, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the Connecticut Child Exploitation Task Force for its assistance with investigating HOPE’s operations in Connecticut.  Mr. Bharara also thanked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) and the ATF/NYPD Joint Robbery Task Force (SPARTA) for its assistance in the early stages of the investigation.
Any individuals who believe they have information concerning the exploitation of children may contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-212-384-1000 or

Five Defendants Charged In White Plains Federal Court With A $33 Million Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Christina Scaringi, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging five defendants with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud in connection with a debt-elimination scheme to defraud homeowners and banks.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:  “The defendants allegedly preyed on vulnerable homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments and, with their greed, victimized them further.  When the defendants were done with the victims, after falsely promising to reduce or even eliminate their mortgage debt for fees, these homeowners were left much worse off, in even greater debt.  With the charges today, and thanks to the investigative work of the FBI and HUD, the defendants now face federal fraud charges.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney stated:  “As charged, the defendants exploited a program designed to help cost-burdened individuals enjoy the privilege of affordable housing.  Crimes of this nature not only hurt their victims financially, but often force upon them other forms of anguish while harming the financial integrity of the very programs established to help them. We urge everyone to protect themselves against this type of fraud and abuse.  If something doesn’t sound right, trust your instincts and do some checking. If you think you may be or have been a victim of mortgage fraud, we urge you to contact your nearest FBI office.”
HUD-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Christina Scaringi stated:  “HUD’s reverse mortgage program was created to help our senior citizens find greater financial security through FHA-insured loans.  The defendants’ alleged scheme to unjustly enrich themselves through the victimization of our senior citizens is a shameful act that will not be tolerated by the HUD OIG.  We will continue to aggressively pursue those who would prey on America’s senior citizens and encourage anyone having knowledge of such schemes to contact our HUD hotline.”
As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in White Plains federal court[1]:
In at least 2011 and 2012, BRUCE LEWIS, 65, JACQUELINE GRAHAM, 47, and an unindicted co-conspirator were partners in a business that they called the Pillow Foundation or the Terra Foundation (collectively, “Terra”).  Terra held itself out as a business that would investigate and eliminate mortgage debt in exchange for a fee.  Terra solicited clients who were having difficulties making their mortgage payments.
ANTHONY VIGNA, 59, was a lawyer who worked in-house at Terra and provided legal services to it and its clients.  ROCCO CERMELE, 54, was Terra’s director of operations who recruited clients, among other duties.  PAULA GUADAGNO, 58, was a real estate title professional who performed real estate title work for Terra.
LEWIS, GRAHAM, VIGNA, CERMELE, GUADAGNO, and others at Terra told potential clients that Terra could eliminate their mortgage debt in exchange for a fee.  In reality, Terra filed fraudulent discharges of mortgages at local county clerk’s offices in Westchester and Putnam Counties and in Connecticut.  These fraudulent documents made it appear as if Terra’s clients’ mortgages had been discharged, when in fact they had not. 
To profit from their scheme, Terra and the defendants charged monthly fees that they said covered, among other things, audits of the clients’ properties that they often failed to perform.  Terra and the defendants also encouraged their clients to take out second or reverse mortgages on the properties for which Terra had claimed to have discharged the first mortgages.  Once the clients had taken out these second or reverse mortgages, Terra and the defendants retained substantial portions of the proceeds.  Some of these second or reverse mortgages were made under HUD’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program.
In total, Terra and the defendants filed nearly 60 fraudulent discharges in Westchester and Putnam Counties in New York and in Connecticut.  The fraudulent discharges claimed to discharge mortgages with a total loan principal of over $33 million.  In reality, the Terra clients for whom the fraudulent discharges were filed were often left with both a second or reverse mortgage and their original mortgage that had not actually been discharged.
VIGNA, CERMELE, and GUADAGNO were taken into federal custody this morning and were presented in White Plains federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy.  LEWIS and GRAHAM remain at large.                                   
Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.  The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and HUD-OIG.  Mr. Bharara also thanked the Westchester and Putnam County District Attorney’s Offices and the Cheshire Police Department in Cheshire, Connecticut, for their ongoing assistance in the case.
This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Beidel, Michael Maimin, and James McMahon are in charge of the prosecutions.
US v. Bruce Lewis et al. Indictment.pdfUS v. Bruce Lewis et al. Indictment.pdfThe charges contained in the Indictment 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 Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.