Saturday, January 14, 2017

News From The Bronx Chamber of Commerce

Dear Members & Friends:

January 2017 Newsletter with Highlights & 2016 Year in Photos is available by clicking on the following hyperlink:
Delivery date of the first annual 2017 Bronx Business Directory & Resource Guide is January 12, 2017 and ahead of schedule!
  • The 2017 Bronx Business Directory & Resource Guide will list all members alphabetically and by category for referrals and new business contacts.
  • The Directory will be distributed to more than 2,000 member businesses, new businesses, and select governmental offices.
  •  Membership in 2017 to the Bronx Chamber will significantly increase with your encouragement of additional companies to join.
  •  The 2017 Bronx Business Directory & Resource Guide will be updated each month with an addendum listing new members that join to benefit from referrals.
  •  Together, we WILL grow the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, enhance its influence and further improve the image of The Bronx.
The Bronx Chamber of Commerce is one of the most influential, professional and successful organizations and voice for businesses in Bronx County. Professionals and companies are drawn to the successful companies and active members affiliated with The Bronx Chamber of Commerce. BCC Membership includes businesses ranging from large corporations, Cultural Institutions, Universities and Colleges, Hospitals and Medical Centers, non-profits, and mid-sized to small companies.

2017 Sponsorship Opportunities

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce provides Small Business Members the opportunity to sponsor events at affordable costs, receive significant value promoting your company or organization and provide financial support to the business community.

1. Individual Awards Luncheon Sponsorship's: 1 Table of 10 Tickets at each event, company logo on formal invitation, recognition on signage during the event: each $1,500 value.

a.    African-American Heritage Awards Luncheon
b.    Hispanic Heritage Awards Luncheon
c.    Irish Heritage Awards Luncheon
d.    Italian Heritage Awards Luncheon
e.    Veteran's Awards Luncheon
2.   Valentine Party & Networking Event Sponsor includes company logo on formal invitation and all promotions: $1,000.

3.    Halloween Party & Networking Event Sponsor includes company logo on formal invitation and all promotions: $1,000.
4.    Twilight Golf or Summerfest Sponsorship includes company logo on formal invitation and all promotions: $1,000.
5.    Business 2 Business Breakfast or Evening Sponsorship: $500 - $1,000 dependent upon availability.
For more information on Sponsorship Opportunities contact: Nunzio Del Greco, President & CEO at (718) 828-3900 or email:

Members and Friends of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce are requested to nominate up to 6 companies or organizations to receive Special Recognition and Distinguished Awards at the 2017 BRONX HERITAGE AWARDS and VETERANS AWARDS LUNCHEONS.
To process your nominations, please forward name, contact information and biography up to 150 words for each nominee as soon as possible for the upcoming 2017 Awards Luncheons:
African-American Heritage Awards Luncheon
February 23, 2017 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
F&J Pine Restaurant

Irish Heritage Awards Luncheon
March 23, 2017 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Rambling House

Hispanic Heritage Awards Luncheon
September 28, 2017 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Tosca Marquee

Italian Heritage Awards Luncheon
October 12, 2017 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
F&J Pine Restaurant

Veteran's Awards Luncheon
November 16, 2017 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Maestro's Caterers
Please forward your 2017 Award nominations to Nunzio Del Greco, President and CEO via email:

Thursday, March 9, 2017 Marina del Rey Caterers
5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Bronx Business Awards
2017 Gala Celebration
Members and Friends of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce are requested to nominate companies or organizations to receive Special Recognition and Distinguished Awards at the Bronx Business Awards 2017 Gala Celebration in following categories:
  • Developer of the Year
  • MWBE Company of the Year
  • Non-Profit Organization of the Year
  • Health Provider of the Year
  • Educational Institution of the Year
  • Made in The Bronx Award of the Year
Please forward your nominations on or before January 16, 2017 to Nunzio Del Greco, President and CEO via email:

Monday, May 22, 2017 

Trump Links at Ferry Point
11:00 am - 8:00 pm
Best of the Bronx
2017 Golf Outing
Members and Friends of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce are requested to nominate companies or organizations to receive Special Recognition and Distinguished Awards at the Best of the Bronx 2017 Golf Outing in following categories:
  • Bronx Business Man of the Year
  • Bronx Business Woman of the Year
  • Best of The Bronx Award of the Year

Nunzio Del Greco
President and CEO
Bronx Chamber of Commerce
"The Network For Business Success"
1200 Waters Place, Suite 106
Bronx, NY 10461
"You never know where your next big deal is going to come from"!


Also signs legislation relating to the date of submissions for the FY 2018 preliminary budget

   Mayor Bill de Blasio today held a public hearing for and signed two pieces of legislation – Intro. 1314, in relation to extending the boundaries of the Queens Plaza/Court Square Business Improvement District, and Intro. 1415, in relation to the date of submissions for the fiscal year 2018 preliminary budget.

“Business Improvement Districts serve a special purpose in our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “They ensure that commercial districts are maintained, promoted and developed in a way that would allow businesses to flourish economically. Intro. 1314 would provide additional support to local business owners within the Queens Plaza and Court Square BID, increasing their ability to maintain, sustain and grow their businesses. I would like to thank Commissioner Gregg Bishop, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer for supporting this legislation, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and the rest of City Council for passing this bill.”

“Business Improvement Districts are drivers of economic growth in neighborhoods across the five boroughs,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “The expansion of this BID ensures that more of the small businesses in Long Island City can enjoy the benefits of being part of a Business Improvement District.”

The first bill, Intro. 1314, extends the boundaries of the Queens Plaza/Court Square Business Improvement District and increases the authorized amount to be expended annually while also modifying its method of assessment accordingly. BIDs provide support to local businesses to help them thrive. The health of the city’s small businesses is essential to the vitality of the local neighborhoods and the very foundation of the City’s economy. These additional funds will help the neighborhood – and the businesses within it – be the best they can be.

We are honored to be here today with Mayor de Blasio and Majority Leader Van Bramer to celebrate this great milestone, which is the culmination of years of effort by the great LIC Community. The LIC Partnership looks forward to working closely with all the great businesses and stakeholders in the expansion area by enhancing services, increasing business opportunities and drawing more foot traffic from the surrounding transit hubs,” said Elizabeth Lusskin, President of the Long Island City Partnership, which oversees the management of the Long Island City Business Improvement District. “We give great thanks for the guidance and hard work of the BID Expansion Steering Committee and its co-chairs Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, Angelo Ippolito and Paula Kirby. We also give special thanks to Council Majority Leader Van Bramer, who has supported this effort from its inception and personally worked so hard to see it become a reality on behalf of this special area of LIC. We also thank SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop and his great team for shepherding us so ably through this complicated process.”

The second bill, Intro. 1415, relates to the submission dates for the fiscal year 2018 preliminary budget.

A.G. Schneiderman And Acting Tax Commissioner Manion Announce Felony Conviction Of Unregistered Long Island Tax Preparer

Susan Murillo Submitted Fraudulent Returns In An Attempt To Steal Refunds From The New York State Department Of Taxation And Finance
    Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Acting Taxation and Finance Commissioner Nonie Manion today announced the conviction of Susan Murillo, 46, of Elmont, NY, for Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class “E” felony.  Murillo was arrested in October 2016 on felony charges arising from her unregistered tax preparer business and her submission of fraudulent tax returns on behalf of taxpayers.  A joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (“DTF”) uncovered the submission of over 200 fraudulent New York State personal income tax returns for tax years 2011 through 2014, resulting in the theft from the DTF of $57,236 and the attempted theft of an additional $103,749.25.  
According to statements made by the prosecutor at the time of the plea, Murillo, who was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance at the time, ran an unregistered tax preparer business out of her house in Elmont, NY.  Between 2012 and 2015, Murillo submitted over 200 fraudulent returns claiming thousands of dollars in fraudulent deductions related to Child Dependent Care Credit, College Tuition Credit, and Volunteer Firefighters’ and Ambulance Workers’ Credit. 
“Exploiting state programs intended to provide financial assistance to New Yorkers for personal financial gain is shameful. We will not have any tolerance for those who undermine our tax system and avoid paying their fair share,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.
“This conviction sends a powerful and timely message: If you decide to use a tax preparer this filing season, ensure the person is trustworthy,” said Acting Commissioner Manion. “Please also remember that once you sign the return, you become legally responsible for its accuracy.”
In November 2016, Murillo pleaded guilty before the Honorable Thomas A. Breslin, Justice of the Albany County Supreme Court, to Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class “E” felony).   She was sentenced yesterday to five years of probation and a confession of judgment for the total amount stolen.
The prosecutor stated that Murillo’s plea also covered the other felony charges related to her unregistered tax preparer business, including  the submission of over 200 fraudulent returns prepared by Murillo on behalf of taxpayers, resulting in a theft of $57,236 in fraudulent refunds prior to the detection of the falsities.  DTF was able to stop the issuance of an additional $100,000 in additional fraudulent refunds. 
Tax payers should check to ensure that tax preparers are registered with New York State by using the Tax Department’s searchable online database of 40,000 tax preparers. Certified public accountants, attorneys and enrolled agents have other professional requirements and are, therefore, not required to be registered.
The Attorney General thanked the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s Criminal Investigations Division for its cooperation in the case.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment And Arraignment Of Long Island Attorney And Operators Of “Three-Quarter” Houses On Charges Of Medicaid Fraud And Money Laundering

Attorney Anthony Cornachio, CEO Of Two New York City Drug Treatment Programs, Allegedly Paid Yury Baumblit And Rimma Baumblit, Operators Of “Three-Quarter Houses,” To Force Residents To Attend Medicaid-Funded Drug Treatment
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment and arraignment of attorney Anthony Cornachio, 74, of Garden City as well as the indictment and arraignment of NRI Group, LLC. (“NRI”) and Canarsie A.W.A.R.E., Inc. (“Canarsie”), both Medicaid-enrolled drug treatment programs companies controlled by Cornachio. Also announced today was the indictment and arraignment of three-quarter housing operators Yury Baumblit, 66, and Rimma Baumblit, 60, of Brooklyn, and their company Back on Track Group, Inc.
In papers unsealed today in New York State Supreme Court, Kings County, prosecutors allege that Yury Baumblit and Rimma Baumblit, in exchange for payments from Cornachio’s companies, forced residents of their three-quarter homes to attend treatment at NRI and Canarsie regardless of the residents’ actual need for drug treatment services or face eviction. All of the residences leased by Back on Track Group, Inc. and operated by Yury Baumblit and Rimma Baumblit as three-quarter homes were located in Kings County. During the course of this scheme, which dates back to at least 2013, Cornachio allegedly paid Back on Track Group, Inc. over $900,000.00 in illegal kickbacks.  As a result of this kickback scheme, prosecutors allege that Cornachio, through NRI and Canarsie, submitted, and caused to be submitted, at least $1.7 million in false claims for reimbursement to Medicaid. These claims, prosecutors allege, were fraudulent because they resulted from illegal kickbacks and were often medically unnecessary.
“New York’s homeless and substance abuse programs are funded by taxpayers to provide a basic human right and assist those suffering from addiction,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Treating vulnerable New Yorkers as pawns to maximize Medicaid reimbursement to generate unjust profits is shocking, and those who steal from Medicaid will be caught and prosecuted.”
Kings Country Supreme Court Acting Justice Daniel Chun arraigned both the individual and corporate defendants on counts of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, Money Laundering in the Second Degree, and a violation of Social Services Law prohibiting the payment of kickbacks related to the provision of services under the State’s Medicaid program.  Justice Chun also arraigned Anthony Cornachio on ten additional counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.
Grand Larceny in the First Degree is a Class B felony with a maximum term of incarceration of twenty-five years in state prison.  Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and Money Laundering in the Second Degree are each Class C felonies with a maximum term of incarceration of fifteen years.  Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and Social Services Law §366(d) and §366(f) are each Class E felonies with a maximum term of incarceration of four years.
In addition to the indictment announced today, the Attorney General previously obtained an order freezing the bank accounts and other property held by the defendants and attaching up to $5,221,649.28 of those assets.  The Attorney General obtained a temporary restraining order preventing dissipation or transfer of property controlled by the defendants.  In connection with this investigation, in mid-November, MFCU investigators executed a search warrant at Cornachio’s home in Garden City, Long Island and filed a False Claims Act and forfeiture complaint against the defendants seeking over $5 million dollars in damages plus penalties. 
Three-quarter homes in New York City are private entities that provide housing to indigent, formerly homeless individuals and those transitioning out of periods of incarceration, and are largely funded from each residents’ monthly housing allowance provided by the New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”). 
At the time of his arrest in November, Cornachio was the village attorney for the Village of Island Park, Long Island, and a trustee of Nassau Community College.
In early 2016, Yury Baumblit and Rimma Baumblit were similarly indicted for an alleged kickback arrangement they had maintained with a different substance abuse treatment program.  That indictment, which is currently pending in Kings County Supreme Court, charges Yury Baumblit and Rimma Baumblit with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and other crimes; they remain incarcerated awaiting trial on both matters.
Throughout this investigation, the Attorney General has worked closely with the various City, State, and Federal Agencies.  In particular, the Attorney General would like to thank the New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) for its cooperation and valuable assistance throughout the investigation and notably the work of its Medicaid Provider Investigations & Audit Unit.   In addition, the Attorney General thanks the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of New York State Medicaid Inspector General for their assistance. 
The investigation was led by MFCU Senior Investigator Albert Maiorano, with the support of Investigator David Ryan and Supervising Investigators Dominick DiGennaro and Michael Casado under the supervision of MFCU Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan.   The audit investigation was led by Principal Auditor-Investigator Investigator Patricia Iemma, with the support of Senior Auditor-Investigator Nicholas Thottam and Auditor-Investigator Jillian White, under the supervision of Principal Special Auditor Investigator Emmanuel Archer and NYC Regional Chief Auditor Thomasina Smith.   Investigative support was provided by Supervising Legal Assistant Wendy Dorival and Confidential Legal Analyst Kelvin Caraballo.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Megan Friedland and Erin Kelsh under the supervision of 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 Alee Scott 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, and in the previously-filed case noted above, are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.


A Fourth Officer Is Sentenced to Community Service For Filing a False Report 

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that three New York City Department of Correction Officers have been sentenced to serve time in a beating of an inmate and its coverup in a Rikers Island jail. 

   District Attorney Clark said, “I hope these sentences continue to send the message that excessive force by those sworn to maintain order on Rikers Island will not be tolerated, nor will covering up violence or corruption. These correction officers will now pay the price for their roles in this crime.”

  Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, "Correction Officers should safeguard the facts as well as the City's jails; instead these defendants lied to cover up their crimes and violence. Now, these correction officers are convicted felons, part of the more than three dozen correction staff DOI has arrested in the last several years." 

  District Attorney Clark said Michael Dorsainvil, 36, was sentenced to two years in prison with 1 ½ years post-release supervision, Christopher Huggins, 34, was sentenced to one year in jail, Mark Anglin, 38, was sentenced to four months in jail to be served on weekends and 150 hours of community service, and Ronald Donnelley, 63, received a Conditional Discharge and 100 hours of community service. 

  District Attorney Clark said Huggins and Donnelley were convicted October 27, 2016 by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Michael Gross of first-degree Offering a False Instrument for Filing. Huggins was also convicted of second-degree Assault. 

  District Attorney Clark said Dorsainvil and Anglin were convicted by a jury on October 26, 2016 of first-degree Offering a False Instrument for Filing after the trial before Justice Gross. Dorsainvil was also convicted of second-degree Assault.

  According to trial testimony, on March 15, 2013, inmate Carl Williams was being escorted back to the George Motchen Detention Facility following a court appearance and began cursing at the officers when they confiscated a bag of food from him and threw it in the garbage. 

  According to testimony and to video played at the trial, Anglin, Dorsainvil and Huggins placed Williams into a holding cell. They entered the cell and held him down on the floor while Huggins used his knee to batter Williams’ head. Donnelley stood outside watching. Williams suffered contusions, bumps and cuts to his face and head, and needed nine stitches for a cut to his mouth.

  During a review by the Department of Correction, discrepancies were discovered in the use of force and witness reports. The defendants claimed that they intervened because Williams was threatening to hang himself with a string pulled from his bag, a claim that was contradicted by Department of Correction video recordings of the incident that showed Williams had no bag with him when he entered the holding cell.

Comptroller Stringer, NYC Funds: After Two Years of Advocacy, “Proxy Access” Nearly A Market Standard

Number of companies with meaningful proxy access has grown 5,266% in just two years

17 companies targeted for proxy access due to a lack of diversity have named a woman or minority director in the last two years

NYC Funds’ 2016 Post-Season Report highlights proxy access, political spending disclosure, and other governance initiatives

   More than 300 U.S. companies – including nearly half of the S&P 500 – have enacted rules which give large, long-term investors the ability to nominate directors to companies’ boards, allowing investors to ensure these boards are diverse, climate-competent, and able to create long-term value, according to the New York City Pension Funds’ 2016 Post-Season Report released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. The report also highlights other shareowner efforts over the last year, including work on disclosure of political spending.
“Just two years ago, we launched a nationwide campaign to change the rules of the road for director elections. We emphasized diversity, accountability, and transparency in companies – and there’s no doubt it’s resonating across the marketplace. Companies are taking action because of the work we started just a couple years ago,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “Incorporating a multitude of perspectives and listening to diverse viewpoints is critical for businesses in the 21st century. It’s clear we’re moving in the right direction, but there’s more to do.”
The New York City Pension Funds’ “Post-Season Report” provides an overview of shareowner initiatives by the New York City Pension Funds in 2016.
Highlights include:
The Boardroom Accountability Project
Proxy Access is the ability of large, long-term investors to nominate board directors on a company’s ballot. In 2010, the SEC enacted a universal proxy access rule, which was subsequently challenged in court and overturned on technical grounds. In response, Comptroller Stringer and the New York City Pension Funds launched the Boardroom Accountability Project in 2014 to bring this right to the U.S. market, company by company. Firms were targeted if they had little or no board diversity, excessive CEO pay, or substantial exposure to risks related to climate change, such as a reliance on carbon-intensive business practices.

  • In 2014, only six U.S. companies had meaningful proxy access. Today, more than 322 companies do – an increase of 5,226 percent.
  • Ninety-six companies targeted by the New York City Pension Funds have enacted proxy access – roughly 30 percent of those that have proxy access today. Seeing the changing landscape, hundreds of other companies have implemented proxy access on their own or in response to engagement from other investors.
  • In 2015, when the New York City Pension Funds filed proxy access proposals with 75 companies, just eight percent of them agreed to implement the proposal before a shareowner vote. In 2016, 72 percent of 72 target companies enacted proxy access before votes were cast.
  • The 18 proposals that did go to a vote in 2016 received an average 58 percent support. Thirteen of them received majority support.
  • At least 17 companies that were targeted for inadequate board diversity over the last two years – including AbbVie, Cabot Oil & Gas, Ebay, Fidelity National Financial, Priceline, and Union Pacific – have added at least one female and/or minority director.
Political Spending Disclosure
Over the last year, the New York City Pension Funds and Comptroller Stringer have encouraged numerous energy companies to increase transparency around political spending and enact policies that give their boards of directors oversight over this practice. These moves enable investors to determine whether corporate political spending actually aligns with the long-term interests of the company and investors.

  • In response to a first-time proposal, Eversource Energy adopted a policy that ensures board oversight and disclosure of political spending. The proposal was withdrawn.
  • Three companies – Consolidated Edison, PNM Resources, and PPL Corporation – agreed to enhance their public disclosures before proposals were filed.
  • Two additional companies, Cabot Oil & Gas and DTE Energy, agreed to improve their disclosures after strong votes from investors on the pension funds’ proposals.
The 2016 Post-Season Report also includes information on a number of other initiatives, including efforts to enhance disclosure of workplace diversity data at Capital One, claw back incentive pay from executives at Wells Fargo, institute governance reforms at Mylan, and encourage ExxonMobil to release information on climate change risks.
To read a full copy of the report, click here.
Comptroller Stringer serves as the investment advisor to, and custodian and a trustee of, the New York City Pension Funds. The New York City Pension Funds are composed of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System.
In addition to Comptroller Stringer, the New York City Pension Funds’ trustees are:
New York City Employees’ Retirement System: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, John Adler (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Letitia James; Borough Presidents: Gale Brewer (Manhattan), Melinda Katz (Queens), Eric Adams (Brooklyn), James Oddo (Staten Island), and Ruben Diaz, Jr. (Bronx); Henry Garrido , Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; John Samuelsen, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; Gregory Floyd, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.
Teachers’ Retirement System: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Appointee, John Adler; Chancellor’s Representative, Raymond Orlando, New York City Department of Education; and Debra Penny, Thomas Brown and David Kazansky, all of the United Federation of Teachers.
New York City Police Pension Fund: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, John Adler; New York City Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha; New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill (Chair); Patrick Lynch, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association; Michael Palladino, Detectives Endowment Association; Edward D. Mullins, Sergeants Benevolent Association; Louis Turco, Lieutenants Benevolent Association; and, Roy T. Richter, Captains Endowment Association.
New York City Fire Department Pension Fund: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, John Adler; New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro (Chair); New York City Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha; James Slevin, President, Gerard Fitzgerald, Vice President, Edward Brown, Treasurer, and John Kelly, Brooklyn Representative and Chair, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York; John Farina, Captains’ Rep.; Paul Ferro, Chiefs’ Rep., and Jack Kielty, Lieutenants’ Rep., Uniformed Fire Officers Association; and, Thomas Phelan, Marine Engineers Association.
Board of Education Retirement System:  Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña; Mayoral: Issac Carmignami, T. Elzora Cleveland, Vanessa Leung, Gary Linnen, Lori Podvesker, Stephanie Soto, Benjamin Shuldiner, Miguelina Zorilla-Aristy; Michael Kraft (Manhattan BP), Debra Dillingham (Queens BP), Geneal Chacon (Bronx BP) and Peter Calandrella (Staten Island BP); and employee members John Maderich of the IUOE Local 891 and Donald Nesbit of District Council 37, Local 372.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files Civil Rights Suit And Enters Settlement With Real Estate Developer To Enhance Accessibility At Three Buildings With More Than 2,400 Rental Apartments

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit against SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES, INC. (“SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES”) and two of its affiliates, RIVER PLACE I, LLC and RIVER PLACE II HOLDING, LLC, by consent decree. Under the settlement, SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES has agreed to make retrofits at two large rental complexes in Manhattan – One River Place and Silver Towers – to make them more accessible to individuals with disabilities. SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES also has agreed to inspect a third rental complex in Manhattan, One Freedom Place, and, where necessary, make retrofits at that building as well. Additionally, SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES must establish procedures to ensure that its ongoing and future development projects will comply with the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). Finally, SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES has agreed to provide up to $960,000 to compensate aggrieved persons and pay a civil penalty of $50,000. The consent decree was approved yesterday by U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “This lawsuit demonstrates our commitment to fulfilling for all New Yorkers the promise of the Fair Housing Act — that people with disabilities have the same access to housing as everyone else. Today’s settlement requires Silverstein Properties to adopt procedures to ensure accessibility at its current and future development projects, making retrofits at buildings that it has already developed, and compensating aggrieved parties.”
The FHA’s accessible design and construction provisions require new multifamily housing complexes constructed after January 1993 to have basic features accessible to persons with disabilities. According to the allegations in the Complaint, One River Place and Silver Towers, two rental complexes located in Manhattan that together contain more than 2,200 rental units, were designed and constructed with numerous inaccessible features, including excessively high thresholds interfering with accessible routes in the public and common areas as well as into and within individual units, insufficient spaces in bathrooms and kitchens for people in wheelchairs, and bathroom configurations preventing installation of grab bars. The inaccessible conditions at One River Place were first brought to the attention of the United States Attorney’s Office by testing performed by the Fair Housing Justice Center.
Under the settlement, SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES agrees to make extensive retrofits at One River Place and Silver Towers to make them accessible. SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES also agrees to arrange for inspection of a third rental complex in Manhattan, One Freedom Place, and, where necessary, to make retrofits at that property as well. Together, the three properties contain more than 2,400 rental apartments.
The settlement also requires SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES to establish procedures to ensure FHA compliance at its ongoing and future development projects. These include retaining an FHA compliance consultant to ensure that each residential building developed by SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES will, as constructed, comply with the FHA’s accessibility requirements. The FHA consultant also will conduct a site visit to identify non-compliant conditions and recommend appropriate solutions prior to the completion of construction. In addition, SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES agrees to institute policies and training to ensure that its employees and agents will comply with the FHA’s accessibility requirements.
Finally, the settlement requires SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES to provide up to $960,000 to compensate aggrieved persons. SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES also agrees to pay a civil penalty of $50,000.
The government’s lawsuit also asserts claims against the architect of One River Place and Silver Towers, COSTAS KONDYLIS & PARTNERS, LLP. Those claims remain pending.
Aggrieved individuals may be entitled to monetary compensation from the fund created through today’s settlement. Aggrieved individuals may include those who were:
  • Injured by a lack of accessible features at One River Place, Silver Towers, or One Freedom Place;
  • Discouraged from living at One River Place, Silver Towers, or One Freedom Place because of the lack of accessible features;
  • Required to pay to have an apartment at One River Place, Silver Towers, or One Freedom Placemade accessible;
  • Prevented from having visitors because of a lack of accessible features at One River Place, Silver Towers, or One Freedom Place; or
  • Otherwise injured or discriminated against on the basis of disability due to the design or construction of One River Place, Silver Towers, or One Freedom Place.
People who may be entitled to compensation should file a claim by contacting the Civil Rights Complaint Line at (212) 637-0840, using the Civil Rights Complaint Form available on the United States Attorney’s Office’s website, or by sending a written claim to:
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York
86 Chambers Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10007
Attention: Chief, Civil Rights Unit

Manhattan Woman Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Commodities Fraud In Connection With Scheme To Defraud Investors Of More Than $23 Million

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that HAENA PARK pled guilty in Manhattan federal court today to commodities fraud. The charge relates to PARK’s scheme to defraud more than 40 individual investors out of more than $23 million. PARK solicited investments for the purpose of trading in a variety of securities and commodities, including off-exchange foreign currency contracts, through the use of false and misleading statements about, among other things, her historical trading performance. PARK was arrested on June 2, 2016, in Manhattan, New York, and pled guilty today before United States District Judge Ronnie Abrams.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Through her guilty plea today, Haena Park has admitted to commodities fraud, lying about her rates of return and trading expertise to lure prospective investors to her fund and then losing almost all of the $23 million she raised through her lies. To keep her fraud scheme alive, Park sent fake account statements to her investors and used new investor money to pay back old ones.”
According to the Indictment and statements made at today’s plea hearing:
From September 2009 through June 2016, PARK raised more than $23 million from more than 40 individual investors, purportedly for the purpose of trading in a variety of securities and commodities, including equities, futures, and off-exchange foreign currency (“forex”) transactions, through the use of her firms, Phaetra Capital Management LP and Argenta Group, LLC. In connection with the scheme, PARK made a series of false and misleading representations to investors, including that PARK was an accomplished forex trading adviser earning annualized returns as high as 48.9 percent for her investors. In truth and in fact, PARK was not an accomplished forex trader, her trading was consistently unsuccessful, and the trading results emailed to investors by PARK were false and did not reflect the trading losses actually incurred by PARK. Rather, from September 2009 through June 2016, PARK lost approximately $19.5 million of the $20 million that she traded, including in commissions and fees, principally in highly leveraged futures and forex transactions.
To prevent or forestall redemptions by investors, and to continue to raise money from investors to fund her scheme, PARK generated fictitious account statements, which she sent to investors on a monthly basis. Instead of accurately reporting the trading losses PARK was suffering, the account statements indicated that the investors were making money nearly every month. To hide her trading losses, PARK used new investor funds to pay back other investors in a Ponzi-like fashion. In total, PARK distributed approximately $3 million back to investors from funds deposited by new investors.

PARK, 41, of Manhattan, New York, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. PARK is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Abrams on April 28, 2017, at 2:30 p.m.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations and the El Dorado Task Force. He also thanked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission for their assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine I. Magdo is in charge of the prosecution.

U.S. Attorney Files Civil Rights Suit Against National Developer To Remedy Pattern And Practice Of Inaccessible Construction Of Rental Buildings

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against EQUITY RESIDENTIAL and its affiliate ERP OPERATING L.P. (together, “EQUITY RESIDENTIAL”) to require them to remedy conditions at 170 Amsterdam Avenue, a large rental complex in Manhattan that was completed in 2015, to make the building accessible to people with disabilities and to ensure that EQUITY RESIDENTIAL will take steps to make accessible the multiple rental complexes that it is currently developing.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “With today’s lawsuit, we seek to ensure that a national developer, Equity Residential, not only will fix the inaccessible conditions at 170 Amsterdam Avenue, but also do what is necessary to ensure accessibility at its ongoing construction projects. This is one of more than a dozen suits this Office has brought in recent years to fulfill the Fair Housing Act’s promise of accessibility for people with disabilities.”
The Fair Housing Act’s (“FHA”) accessible design and construction provisions require multifamily housing complexes constructed after January 1991 to have basic features accessible to persons with disabilities. According to the allegations in the Complaint, EQUITY RESIDENTIAL has engaged in a pattern and practice of FHA violations by designing and constructing numerous rental buildings that contain inaccessible conditions, including 170 Amsterdam Avenue as well as earlier constructions like the 1210 Mass Apartments in Washington, D.C., and The Veridian in Silver Spring, Maryland.
According to the Complaint filed today in Manhattan, in 2015, EQUITY RESIDENTIAL designed and constructed 170 Amsterdam Avenue, a 236-unit rental complex on the upper west side of Manhattan, with inaccessible conditions similar to those present at the 1210 Mass Apartments and The Veridian. As alleged, the inaccessible conditions at 170 Amsterdam Avenue include excessively high thresholds from individual apartments to private gardens, insufficiently wide doorways within individual apartments, and insufficient clear width at the entrance to the on-site fitness center. The Complaint also alleges that EQUITY RESIDENTIAL currently is actively involved in designing and constructing several other rental buildings, including in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Seattle.
In the Complaint, the United States seeks a court order requiring EQUITY RESIDENTIAL to make appropriate retrofits at 170 Amsterdam Avenue and to take steps necessary to ensure that the rental buildings EQUITY RESIDENTIAL is currently developing will be designed and constructed in compliance with the FHA’s accessibility requirements.
EQUITY RESIDENTIAL was previously sued in 2006, in Maryland, for not complying with the FHA in constructing rental buildings like the 1210 Mass Apartments and The Veridian. In March 2016, the court presiding over the Maryland lawsuit issued a decision finding that EQUITY RESIDENTIAL had violated the FHA’s accessibility requirements in constructing seven rental buildings, including the 1210 Mass Apartments and The Veridian. In December 2016, EQUITY RESIDENTIAL settled the Maryland lawsuit and agreed to remedy inaccessible conditions at the 1210 Mass Apartments and The Veridian and the other five rental buildings. However, the settlement of the Maryland lawsuit did not address the lack of accessible features at 170 Amsterdam Avenue, which was designed and constructed even while the Maryland suit was pending.

Next Club Event is this Thursday, January 19th


City land in three boroughs to become 100 percent affordable housing M/WBE projects; developments include space for a local farm, leadership academy, LGBT community center, tech incubator

   Mayor Bill de Blasio, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been today announced the selection of eight Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise teams to lead the construction of six new 100 percent affordable housing developments on vacant City-owned land. The developments will include about 440 homes for seniors and other New Yorkers with a variety of income levels, including extremely-low income and formerly homeless households.

The sites are located in the Bronx’s Melrose and Crotona Park East sections, Brooklyn’s East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods, and Central Harlem.

“These Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise firms are offering first-rate projects that will serve a diverse set of New York communities and New Yorkers. I congratulate them, and expect to see important work from each of them as we continue to work together in the future to protect affordability and quality of life in all our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Just shortly after announcing a 25-year high of affordable housing stock in New York City, we're enlisting the talent of Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses to continue building the equitable, affordable city we envision – a city that works with everyone and for everyone," said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Citywide M/WBE Director. “These skilled entrepreneurs will create new homes for more than 400 families while putting us well on track to fulfill the Administration's bold commitment to increase contracting opportunities for M/WBES."

Aimed at increasing contracting opportunities for M/WBE firms in City housing and economic development projects, HPD issued a Request for Qualifications to create a pre-qualified list of M/WBE developers. The development of these properties was specifically restricted to respondents from that list through a Request for Proposals. In addition to hundreds of homes, these developments will incorporate community space for a green market, a high school capacity building program for STEM students, a tech center and an LGBT community center.

With the creation of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBE’s, the City made a commitment to award at least 30 percent of the value of City contracts to M/WBE’s by 2021 and to double the number of certified M/WBE firms by 2019. The new office is working toward these goals by helping City agencies build and improve their M/WBE programs, increasing access to capital for M/WBEs, capping interest rates at 3 percent on City-financed loans, providing resources for additional capacity-building and technical assistance programs, and streamlining the M/WBE certification process.

A series of initiatives specifically to increase the role of M/WBEs in City housing and economic development projects includes the establishment of a $10 million predevelopment loan fund to help emerging firms secure financing to purchase land and get projects underway, and an additional $10 million fund to help those firms secure the bonds they need in order to qualify for City business.

Winning proposals in Brooklyn:

1921 Atlantic Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant will be developed by a team of M/WBE firms, Dabar Development Partners, LLC and Thorobird. The 25,762 square-foot site will be transformed into a mixed-use project with 183 affordable homes for seniors, and low- and moderate-income households. The project will feature a community facility operated by Oko Farms and NHS. A new fresh food grocery store will be created.

1510-1524 Broadway in Bedford-Stuyvesant will be developed by MacQuesten Construction Management. Partnering with the not-for-profit East Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation, the M/WBE will create 59 affordable homes for extremely-low income individuals on the 20,059 square-foot parcel.

461 Alabama Avenue in East New York will be developed by CB Emmanuel Realty. In partnership with the non-for-profit Services for Underserved, the M/WBE firm will transform the 10,000 square-foot lot into a supportive housing development, with 55 homes for formerly homeless and low-income households. The nonprofit will provide onsite supportive services for the homeless. The building will feature a recreation room, a landscaped yard and roof for resident use.

Winning proposals in the Bronx:

1490 Southern Boulevard Crotona Park East will be developed by Type A Real Estate Advisors, LLC, into a 95-unit senior housing development, affordable to senior households with incomes between $25,400 and $38,100. Working with the LGBT Network and the Jewish Association Serving the Aging, the project will offer support services for senior residents and a community space with programing for the LGBT community of all ages.

359 East 157th Street in Melrose will be developed by Infinite Horizons, LLC. With MBD Community Housing Corp., the M/WBE firm will build 20 affordable homes on the 4,700 square-foot parcel. The homes will be affordable to individuals with incomes between $50,750 and $63,500, and families with incomes between $65,250 and $81,600. The development will feature a green roof and solar panels.

Winning proposal in Manhattan:

263-267 West 126thStreet in Harlem will be developed by M/WBE firms Lemor Realty Corporation and Apex Building Group. The companies will build a passive-house development with 29 affordable homes on the 8,492 square-foot property. The project will house a restaurant and space for the tech incubator company Silicon Harlem, which offers the Apps Youth Leadership Academy, a seven-week course for high school students focused STEM education and enrichment.

“This is the first group of developers to take advantage of the City’s expanded resources for M/WBEs through our new innovative initiative, and to come out of our training programs with actual contracts for affordable housing projects,” said Jonnel Doris, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to do business with these entrepreneurs. It’s a big day for the City, making clear that an investment in M/WBEs is a benefit to all New Yorkers.”

“This administration is deeply committed to expanding the pool of developers helping us create and preserve affordable housing,” HPD Commissioner Vicki Been said. “The six M/WBE teams selected to develop these City-owned sites reflect the diversity of our great city and its neighborhoods. The winning developments will create 440 affordable apartments, including supportive housing, senior housing, and housing for the homeless in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan. I want to congratulate CB Emmanuel Realty, Dabar Development Partners, MacQuesten Construction Management, Infinite Horizons, LLC, Type A Real Estate, and Lemor Realty and Apex Building Group on their designation and their partnership in developing quality affordable housing that will strengthen our neighborhoods.”

Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin said, “HDC applauds HPD’s selection of M/WBE firms to develop six vacant City-owned sites into dynamic mixed-use affordable housing complexes. HDC is proud to support initiatives that increase opportunities for M/WBEs in the City’s affordable housing efforts. These latest designations will further strengthen the capacity of M/WBEs and diversify the affordable housing industry – key goals of the Mayor’s Housing New York plan.”

“Mayor de Blasio has made a historic commitment to Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises and our Department is proud to support this work. Under the Mayor’s leadership, our Department has helped the City reach a new all-time high of 4,500 M/WBE firms certified to contract with the City and our goal is to double this figure by 2019,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “City contractors should reflect the rich talents and diversity of our people and the firms hired today for these six affordable housing developments reflect the City’s ongoing commitment to this principle.”