Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 15th New York City Campaign Finance Board Fillings for the 13th and 18th Council Districts

  Below are the amounts taken from the NYC CFB website as to how much each candidate in the two open council districts has raised, spent, and the amount of money on hand. No CFB matching funds are included. 

13th Council District
Private Funds
Estimated Balance
Mark Gjonaj
Marjorie Velazquez
John Doyle
John Marino
John Cerini
Alex Gomez
Abuhaikal Muhammad
Victor Ortiz

18th Council District

Private Funds
Estimated Balance
Elvin Garcia
Amanda Frias
William Moore
John Perez

While there may be other people who have said they are running for either of the two open city council seats the names above are officially recognized by the NYC CFB, and listed for those districts. 

There are several names listed under the undeclared section of the CFB listings including current Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who have not made their intentions official to the NYC CFB.

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York Recovers $3.7 Billion in Forfeitures and Civil Actions In Fiscal Year 2016

In Excess of $1.4 Billion Recovered From Criminal and Civil Forfeiture Cases, More Than $2.2 Billion in Civil Actions

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the Office obtained recoveries of more than $1.4 billion in forfeiture actions, more than $2.2 billion in civil actions, and more than $31 million from restitution, criminal fines, and special assessments, between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016.

Manhattan Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “The $3.7 billion in forfeitures, penalties, and fines for fiscal year 2016 recovered by this Office demonstrate that those who break the law or commit civil offenses will not be allowed to profit from their misconduct. We are committed to taking the profit out of crime and compensating victims whenever possible through our prosecutions and civil actions.”


Forfeited funds are generally deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund (the “Assets Forfeiture Fund”) and the Department of Treasury Forfeiture Fund. The forfeited funds are used to restore money to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.

General Motors
$900 million forfeited

In September 2015, the General Motors Company (“GM”) entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with this Office based on charges that GM concealed a potentially deadly safety defect from its U.S. regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and, in the process, misled consumers concerning the safety of certain of GM’s cars. Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement, GM, among other things, agreed to the forfeiture of $900 million to the United States, which was completed in 2015.

Bank Julius Baer
$219,250,000 forfeited

In February 2016, Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. (“Julius Baer”), a Swiss bank headquartered in Zurich, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with this Office based on charges that Julius Baer conspired with many of its U.S. taxpayer-clients and others to help U.S. taxpayers hide billions of dollars in offshore accounts from the IRS and to evade U.S. taxes on the income earned in those accounts. Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement, Julius Baer, among other things, agreed to the forfeiture of $219,250,000 to the United States.

PokerStars and Related Cases
$81,003,765 forfeited

In July 2012, the United States reached an agreement with the two largest online poker companies in the United States, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. The United States had brought a civil forfeiture and money laundering action against these companies and their assets. Under the terms of the settlement, Full Tilt Poker forfeited essentially all of its assets to the United States. PokerStars agreed to forfeit $547 million, to be paid in several installments, and to reimburse the approximately $184 million owed by Full Tilt Poker to foreign players. The settlement further provided that PokerStars would acquire the forfeited Full Tilt Poker assets from the United States. Fiscal Year 2016, $48 million was forfeited to the United States by PokerStars and more than $33 million was forfeited by other parties in related actions. To date, in excess of $1.3 billion has been forfeited in the PokerStars civil forfeiture action and related cases.

U.S. v. Tucker et al., and Related Cases
$48 million forfeited

In February 2016, this Office charged Scott Tucker and Jason Muir with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) and the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) for operating a $2 billion nationwide internet payday lending enterprise that systematically evaded state laws in order to charge illegal interest rates as high as 700% on loans. In connection with that investigation, on February 9, 2016, the United States entered into a non-prosecution agreement with two tribal corporations controlled by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, a Native American tribe. As part of that agreement, the tribal corporations agreed to the forfeiture of $48 million in criminal proceeds from Tucker’s payday lending enterprise that were held in tribal bank accounts.

$40 million forfeited

In February 2016, VimpelCom Limited, an Amsterdam-based telecommunications company, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with this Office and the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice based on charges that VimpelCom conspired to make bribe payments to a government official in Uzbekistan between 2006 and 2012. Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement, VimpelCom, among other things, agreed to forfeit $40 million to the United States.

Civil Actions and Restitution, Criminal Fines, and Special Assessments

U.S. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. et al.
$1.2 billion collected

In April 2016, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., settled a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by this Office alleging that Wells Fargo had engaged in reckless underwriting of Federal Housing Administration mortgage loans for nearly a decade. As part of the settlement, Wells Fargo paid $1.2 billion and admitted to certain conduct alleged in the complaint, and a Wells Fargo executive also made admissions.

U.S. v. CenterLight Healthcare, Inc. et al.
$46.7 million collected
In January 2016, this Office simultaneously filed a lawsuit against and entered into a settlement with CenterLight Healthcare, Inc., and CenterLight Health System, Inc. (collectively, “CenterLight”), resolving False Claims Act claims arising from the enrollment of ineligible members in CenterLight’s managed long-term care plan. Under the terms of the settlement, CenterLight paid a total of $46,751,086.74 to the Medicaid Program, $18,700,434.70 of which went to the United States. In addition, CenterLight was required to reform its business practices and admit to conduct alleged in the complaint.

U.S. ex rel. Krigstein v. Motives, Inc.
$13.375 million collected

In July 2016, this Office simultaneously filed a False Claims Act lawsuit and entered into a $13.375 million settlement with Motives, Incorporated, an importer of clothing, and Motives Far East and Motives China Limited, foreign manufacturers of clothing (collectively, “Motives”), for conspiring to underpay customs duties. (United States v. Motives, Inc., No. 13 Civ. 9030 (GBD)). As part of the settlement, Motives paid a total of $13.375 million and admitted to allegations in the complaint.

United States ex rel. Peikin et al. v. Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and United States ex rel. Dhaliwal v. Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
$54 million collected

In June 2016, this Office simultaneously sued and settled with Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Salix”), a specialty pharmaceutical company. The settlement, in the amount of $54 million, resolved claims that Salix violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act by using its “speaker programs” as a mechanism to pay kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe Salix drugs and medical devices that were reimbursed by federal health care programs. In connection with the settlement, Salix admitted to paying doctors to serve as “speakers” at events that were primarily social in nature, that were held at high-end restaurants, and where the “speakers” spent little or no time discussing the relevant Salix product.

For further information, the United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Reports can be found online at

Investment Adviser And Broker Found Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court Of Securities Fraud, Wire Fraud, Conspiracy And Aggravated Identity Theft Charges

   Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CHRISTOPHER CERVINO, a/k/a “Smitty,” and SHEIK F. KHAN, a/k/a “Abida Khan,” were found guilty yesterday afternoon in Manhattan federal court after a three-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. for their roles in a securities fraud scheme involving a publicly traded over-the-counter company called VGTel, Inc. (“VGTL”).
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Yesterday, a unanimous jury found Sheik Khan, an investment adviser, and Christopher Cervino, a registered broker, guilty of securities fraud relating to a company called VGTel.  The stock fraud scheme Khan and Cervino participated in defrauded 100 investors of more than $15 million, including nearly $5 million from Khan’s clients.  For their roles in the scheme, Khan and Cervino now stand convicted of federal crimes.”
According to the Indictment, other filings in Manhattan federal court, and the evidence presented at trial:
The VGTL scheme was conceived and led by Edward Durante, a recidivist securities fraud defendant who pleaded guilty in August 2016 to various crimes related to VGTL, including conspiracy, securities fraud, money laundering and perjury.  The defendants’ efforts to artificially inflate the market for VGTL increased the stock price from approximately $.25 per share in April 2012 to as much as $1.90, and dramatically inflated the trading volume, which increased the defendants’ abilities to raise private investments in VGTL.  To compensate CERVINO for his efforts to control and manipulate the market in VGTL, Durante made at least two cash payments to CERVINO totaling $35,000, in addition to the substantial commissions Cervino received for executing trades in VGTL.  For her part, KHAN received more than $400,000 from Durante, including more than $100,000 in payments for liquidating her clients’ investments in safe annuities so that the money could then be invested into VGTL.  KHAN’s clients lost virtually the entirety of their investments in VGTL. 
CERVINO, 44, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and KHAN, 50, of Las Vegas, Nevada, were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  In addition to these charges, KHAN was also convicted of investment adviser fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and aggravated identity theft crimes, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.
The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.    
Mr. Kim praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance. 

A.G. Schneiderman Statement On District Court Decision In UPS Cigarette Case

   New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released the following statement, responding to today’s decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in his lawsuit against United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) for unlawfully shipping contraband cigarettes:

“Today’s decision is a win for New York and a win for public health.
“We’re very pleased that the Court agreed with us on all claims, finding that UPS has repeatedly violated numerous state and federal contraband cigarette trafficking laws – as well as its own agreement with the State – by shipping hundreds of thousands of cartons of cigarettes to consumers in New York.  
“Smoking is the number one preventable public health crisis; but to address it, we must stop the flow of illegal cigarettes – especially to our kids.
“I thank NYC Corporation Counsel Zach Carter and the Law Department for their partnership on this case, and look forward to continuing to work together to protect New Yorkers.”
The lawsuit was filed jointly by the State of New York and the City of New York in February 2015.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea And Jail Time For Manhattan Restaurant Owner Who Committed Wage Theft; Restitution For Dozens Of Workers

  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty plea of Konstantinos Aronis, owner of K.M.S. Restaurant Corp. (“K.M.S.”) who operated a business under the name Nations Café. Aronis and K.M.S. faced these criminal charges for failure to pay restaurant staff for hours worked and for filing false documents with New York State in order to hide underpayments and avoid paying unemployment insurance.
The defendants today pled guilty to all charges before the Honorable Justice Larry Stephen and K.M.S. Restaurant Corp. was then sentenced in court. Aronis will be sentenced on March 31st to 60 days in jail and five years of probation. In addition, Aronis and K.M.S. Restaurant Corp. paid $300,000 in restitution today and agreed to pay an additional $204,000 for the stolen wages pursuant to a restitution order. Aronis and K.M.S. Restaurant Corp. also agreed to pay $58,561 in restitution to the New York State Department of Labor, Unemployment Insurance Division, for unpaid unemployment insurance premiums. In total, Aronis and K.M.S. Restaurant Corp. will pay $562,561 in restitution to workers and the State of New York.
This conviction follows a number of other steps taken by Attorney General Schneiderman to protect New York’s workers from exploitation, including but not limited to: ending unscrupulous non-compete agreements for workers at multiple companies; obtaining national agreements from six retail corporations comprising 13 brands, such as the Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, and J. Crew, to end the harmful practice of “on-call scheduling;” and pursuing a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza for repeated violations of law and underpayment of workers at three franchise restaurants, which resulted in a $480,000 settlement.
Since taking office, the Attorney General has recovered more than $27 million for more than 20,000 workers victimized by wage theft, and levied more than $2.5 million in penalties against unscrupulous employers.
“A worker’s most basic right is the right to be paid for his or her work. We have zero tolerance for anyone who tries to exploit New York’s workers and the families they support,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will take aggressive action, including seeking felony convictions, payment of restitution, and jail time for any employer who breaks the law by failing to pay employees for their labor.”
“New York State will not tolerate the mistreatment of workers,” said New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “Under Governor Cuomo’s strong leadership, state agencies, including the New York State Department of Labor, continue to combat worker exploitation and misclassification to make sure all New York State workers are paid and treated fairly. I thank Attorney General Schneiderman and his team for working with us and for bringing Mr. Aronis to justice.”
The defendants admitted in court today that Aronis’ K.M.S. Restaurant Corp., located at 875 1st Avenue, New York, NY, failed to pay wages to its workers between May 2011 and May 2015. At varying times during this time period, the defendants employed numerous workers at Nations Café and two other restaurants located at 1066 2nd Avenue, New York, NY and 1072 2nd Avenue, New York, NY. The defendants violated the law by failing to pay their employees at least minimum wage for all hours worked and by failing to pay those employees overtime or one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek. 
Moreover, the defendants occasionally scheduled employees to work seven days a week and paid some employees a weekly salary instead of an hourly rate. The defendants also failed to keep accurate payroll records for each employee and failed to provide employees with paychecks indicating the hours each individual worked. 
Between May 2011 and May 2015, the defendants failed to pay at least minimum wage and overtime for all hours worked at the three restaurant locations resulting in $504,473 in wage underpayments owed to 34 workers. Additionally, the defendants filed false New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Form NYS-45 Quarterly Combined Withholding, Wage Reporting, and Unemployment Insurance Returns by reporting that they had paid all required Unemployment Insurance Contributions, when in fact they had not. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that the defendants underpaid Unemployment Insurance Contributions by nearly $60,000. 
The felony supreme court information, filed today in Manhattan Supreme Court, charges Aronis and K.M.S. with one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, an E felony, and one count of Failure to Pay Wages in Accordance with the Labor Law, an unclassified misdemeanor.
The Office of the Attorney General will pay out restitution collected from the defendants directly to the victimized workers.
As a condition of the plea, Aronis and K.M.S. Restaurant Corp. must re-file amended New York State Taxation and Finance tax documents to properly account for the employees that they employed between 2012 and 2016.
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Labor Office of Special Investigations, Labor Standards Division, and Unemployment Insurance Division for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution.

Attorney General Schneiderman Announces Felony Indictment Of State Senator Robert Ortt And Former State Senator George Maziarz

Senator Ortt Indicted On Three Felony Counts Related To Alleged Pass-Through Scheme Devised To Supplement Taxpayer-Funded Salary With Payments To Spouse For No-Show Job
Former State Senator Maziarz Indicted On Five Counts For Allegedly Orchestrating Scheme To Use Campaign Cash To Secretly Pay Staff Member Involved With Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the unsealing of an indictment charging State Senator Robert Ortt with three felony counts of Filing a False Instrument in the First Degree. Ortt’s predecessor in the state senate, former State Senator George Maziarz, was also charged in the indictment with five felony counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. All of the charges are Class E felonies. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of one and one-third to four years on each count. The case was referred to the Office of the Attorney General by the State Board of Elections.
According to the indictment and papers filed in court yesterday, Maziarz is alleged to have orchestrated a multilayered pass-through scheme that enabled him to use money from his own campaign committee, The Committee to Elect Maziarz State Senate, and also from the Niagara County Republican Committee, to funnel secret campaign payments to a former senate staffer who had left government service amid charges of sexual harassment. According to court filings, the two committees paid the former government staff member $49,000 in 2012 and $46,000 in 2013-2014. To conceal these payments—and to avoid public scrutiny of his decision to retain the former staffer for campaign-related work—Maziarz, acting with others, falsely reported the expenditures on five separate filings with the New York State Board of Elections as payments to pass-through entities, rather than to the staff member, in clear violation of New York State law.
The court filings and the indictment further allege that while serving as Mayor of North Tonawanda, Robert Ortt participated in an illegal scheme to pad his taxpayer-funded salary. As papers filed with the court allege, in order to make up for a difference in salary that Ortt would be paid as Mayor (Ortt previously served as Town Clerk/Treasurer), Ortt and others devised a pass-through scheme to pay Ortt’s wife for a job for which she performed no actual work. Ortt’s wife received approximately $21,500 from 2010 to 2014 as part of the scheme. It is alleged that the payments to Ortt’s wife were falsely reported as payments to one of the same pass-through entities that was used to pay for the former senate staff member for Maziarz.
“No-show jobs and secret payments are the lifeblood of public corruption. New Yorkers deserve full and honest disclosures by their elected officials — not the graft and shadowy payments uncovered by our investigation. These allegations represent a shameful breach of the public trust — and we will hold those responsible to account,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
"As we have seen too often in western New York, this case presents another instance when public officials served their own interests instead of those to whom they were positioned to serve," said Adam S. Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Buffalo office. "The defendants are alleged to have chosen greed over good and their behavior compromised the integrity of government.  It is the expectation of the public that government officials are not in their positions to self-deal.”​
“Campaign finance disclosure ensures New Yorkers have confidence that their elected officials are serving them honestly and with transparency, said Risa Sugarman, Chief Enforcement Counsel for the New York State Board of Elections. “The public has the right to know how their representatives spend the contributions they receive and that the disclosures are honest and accurate. We will continue to work together with the attorney general to assure New Yorkers that violations of the public trust do not go unpunished.”
A.G. Schneiderman also announced the guilty plea of Henry Wojtaszek.  Wojtaszek is a former Chairman of the Niagara County Republican Committee, a former Attorney for the City of North Tonawanda, and the current President of the Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation of New York. Wojtaszek pleaded guilty on Wednesday to violating Election Law Section 14-126-4, a class A misdemeanor, before Judge Gary F. Stiglemeier in Albany City Court.
The Attorney General’s Office wants to thank the New York State Board of Elections Division of Election Law Enforcement and Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman for their assistance. 
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Statement From NYC Comptroller Stringer on New York City’s Missed Opportunity to Benefit from A.G. Schneiderman’s Land Bank Grants

 Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced $20 million in grants to 19 Land Banks across New York State — bringing the Attorney General’s total contributions to Land Banks to $57 million since 2013. Land Banks serve not only as a revitalization strategy for blighted properties, but also transform empty lots and vacant properties into affordable housing. Though the creation of a Land Bank and Land Trust has long been proposed by Comptroller Stringer and advocates to mitigate our affordable housing crisis, they have not been created. As such, New York City was not a recipient of these grants.

“This is a mistake of our own making. We should be using every tool in the kit to solve our greatest challenges — and we aren’t. If we want to build more affordable housing, and if we want to support working families, we need to leverage government-owned lots that have sat vacant for decades. By now, we should have created a city Land Bank and Land Trust — and begun creating tens of thousands of units of low-income housing. We just left more money on the table.”
“In the age of Donald Trump, when Washington is working around the clock to undercut affordable housing and take an ax to NYCHA’s budget, we should be competing for every penny. But today New York City let a real opportunity slip by, and we shouldn’t let it happen again. We should create a Land Bank and Land Trust.”
In a February 2016 audit, Comptroller Stringer’s office found that the City owns more than 1,100 parcels of vacant land and sells hundreds of tax liens on persistently delinquent sites each year. In a companion report, Building an Affordable Future: The Promise of a New York City Land Bank, Comptroller Stringer announced his proposal for a New York City Land Bank and Land Trust. By utilizing vacant, government-owned lots through a Land Bank and Land Trust, the City could create over 57,000 units of permanent low-income housing.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bloods Gang Member Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 22 Years In Prison For 2006 Murder

   Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that LARRY GREEN, a/k/a “Mafia,” a/k/a “Maf,” was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 22 years in prison, in connection with the 2006 drug-related murder of Shawn Williams, a/k/a “Showtime” (“Williams”) in Paterson, New Jersey. Sentenced was imposed by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “This case is yet another example of the senseless violence that often accompanies drug dealing on our city streets. Today, Larry Green was sentenced to 22 years in prison for murdering a rival drug dealer over a turf dispute in Paterson, New Jersey. This case exemplifies the determination of this Office and our law enforcement partners to ensure that even after 11 years, the perpetrator would be held responsible for this ruthless murder.”

GREEN previously pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin.

According to the indictment previously filed in Manhattan federal court and public information:

GREEN, an enforcer of the Fruit Town Brims set of the Bloods street gang, was arrested on February 22, 2014, in Paterson, New Jersey. On March 17, 2016, GREEN pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin, from 2006 through 2014. GREEN admitted that, as part of the charged narcotics distribution offense, he and his co-conspirators were engaged in an ongoing dispute concerning, alia, drug distribution territory in Paterson. In connection with that ongoing dispute, on or about July 2, 2006, GREEN encountered Williams, who was inside a vehicle that was driving in the vicinity of 145 North Main Street, in Paterson. GREEN pulled out a firearm, and fired one shot at the vehicle, striking and killing Williams.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Newark Division, the Paterson Police Department, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Clifton Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces $20.9 Million In Grants To 19 Land Banks That Are Rebuilding Neighborhoods Across New York State

This Round Of Funding Brings OAG Support For Land Banks To $57 Million Since 2013, Boosting Neighborhood Revitalization Efforts Statewide
Funding Made Possible By Schneiderman’s 2016 Settlement Agreements With Morgan Stanley And Goldman Sachs
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced $20.9 million in new grants to 19 land banks that are working to protect homeowners and neighborhoods across the state by acquiring abandoned properties and returning them to productive use.  This new funding brings Attorney General Schneiderman’s total investment in land banks to $57 million since 2013.
The grants were awarded under the Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative (CRI). The Office of the Attorney General established the initiative in 2013 with funding secured through settlements with the nation’s largest banks over misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis. As of November 2016, when the Office of the Attorney General published “Revitalizing New York State,” a report on the land bank initiative, the New York land banks had:
  • Reclaimed more than 1,995 abandoned properties
  • Returned over 700 properties to market
  • Demolished 409 unstable structures
  • Preserved $19 million in property value for surrounding homes
This round of funding, which was made possible by settlements the Attorney General secured last year with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, provides renewal grants to the state’s original ten land banks and start-up grants to nine more newly established land banks, many of which are in rural areas across the state.
“Communities throughout New York are still suffering the fallout from the housing crisis, and my office will continue to support innovative efforts to help them recover,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “With today’s round of grants, all 19 land banks will build on the significant accomplishments already achieved over the past three years, helping put abandoned properties back into use, revitalizing towns and cities, and creating a safer, more stable, and more vibrant environment for New York’s families.”
The grant program is being managed by two community development intermediary organizations, Enterprise Community Partners and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which oversaw the application process, selected the grantees, and will be providing technical assistance to the land banks as they implement their plans.
The following grants were announced today:
  • Albany County Land Bank Corporation $1,040,834
  • Broome County Land Bank Corporation $  650,870              
  • Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation $1,230,000
  • Capital Region Land Reutilization Corporation $1,700,000
  • Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation $1,110,000
  • Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation $2,000,000
  • Newburgh Community Land Bank  $2,000,000
  • Rochester Land Bank Corporation  $1,500,000
  • Suffolk County Landbank Corporation $1,230,000
  • Troy Community Land Bank $  701,587
  • Allegany County Land Bank $  360,000
  • Cattaraugus County Land Bank $  764,625
  • Finger Lakes Regional Land Bank $  500,000
  • Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank $1,642,800
  • Nassau County Land Bank  $1,210,541
  • Oswego County Land Bank $1,000,000
  • Sullivan County Land Bank $  920,000
  • Chemung County Land Bank $  893,100
  • Steuben County Land Bank  $  500,000
Examples of funded projects include the following:
  • The Albany County Land Bank will leverage creative partnerships with local housing organizations to revitalize Albany’s five most distressed neighborhoods, which are Sheridan Hollow, Arbor Hill, the South End and West Hill and West End, including turning vacant lots into vibrant spaces.
  • The Capital Region Land Bank will utilize funding to strategically target revitalization efforts in communities challenged by high poverty and vacancy rates, including Schenectady's Mount Pleasant neighborhood and Amsterdam's East End. Redevelopment projects facilitated by the Land Bank will include the transformation of a large blighted building near two college campuses into affordable rental apartments.
  • The Troy Community Land Bank will continue to focus revitalization efforts on one of the most distressed census tracts in the City, with the aim of acquiring up to 24 vacant and abandoned properties and stabilizing and/or rehabilitating up to 16 of them, and demolishing those which are beyond the point of repair.
  • The Newburgh land bank will create fifty affordable rental units, help ten families realize their dream of home ownership, and – so that nothing goes to waste – recycle materials from demolished properties for use in future renovations.
  • The new Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank is piloting an innovative collaboration among four counties and two cities to significantly ramp up efforts to eradicate the blight of abandoned properties.
  • The Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation (BENLIC) will use the new funding to stabilize the most distressed properties in the Land Bank’s 2017-2018 inventory, which are located in low- to moderate-income communities. BENLIC will also complete a modular construction demonstration project in the Lovejoy neighborhood of the City of Buffalo.
  • The Rochester Land Bank Corporation (RLBC) will use new funds to carry out three programs: 1) Strategic Blight Removal which will facilitate up to 10 demolitions of blighted structures; 2) The Homeownership Assistance Program for Vacant Houses, a new initiative to assist first-time homeowners to purchase vacant homes with subsidies for renovations; 3) To develop a scattered-site affordable rental housing project that will produce at least 20 units of affordable housing.
  • The Greater Syracuse Land Bank (GSLB) will use new funds to complete up to 70 demolitions of deteriorated structures and up to 10 substantial rehabilitations of single family homes to be sold to low-income residents.
  • The Broome County Land Bank Corporation (BCLBC) will use new funds to acquire, demolish, and rehabilitate up to 17 foreclosed or abandoned properties in Broome County. Investment will be focused on two low-income areas in the County—the urban core of the Village of Johnson City and the City of Binghamton’s West Side. 
  • The Suffolk County Landbank Corporation (SCLBC) will use new funds to: 1. Complete up to 10 environmental assessments and redevelop vacant, tax delinquent commercial properties; and 2. Rehabilitate up to 12 former zombie homes. 
During the decade of the housing boom and bust, from 2000 to 2010, the number of vacant properties in New York State increased 27%. Following the collapse of the housing market, the New York State Legislature passed a law in 2011 establishing land banks — nonprofit organizations that can acquire vacant, abandoned, or foreclosed properties and rebuild, demolish, or redesign them. By restoring vacant or abandoned properties, land banks lower costs for local governments, benefit public schools, reduce crime and boost local economies.
Building on the foundation laid by the legislation, Attorney General Schneiderman launched the Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative to provide funding and allow land banks to fulfill their purpose. With this round of funding, the A.G.’s office will have dedicated a total of $57 million to fund New York land banks. In 2014, the Attorney General’s bill to expand the number of land banks from 10 to 20 became law.
Land bank programs act as an economic and community development tool to revitalize distressed neighborhoods and business districts. Land banks can benefit urban schools, improve tax revenues, expand housing opportunities, remove public nuisances, assist in crime prevention and promote economic development.
By transferring vacant and abandoned properties to responsible land owners, local governments benefit because they avoid the significant cost burden of property maintenance, such as mowing and snow removal. In addition, local governments benefit from increased revenue because the new owners pay taxes on the properties. In turn, local schools benefit because they receive more funding when there is an increase in the number of property owners in their school districts. Land bank programs can also increase the variety of mixed-income housing offered and provide more opportunities for affordable housing.
Land bank properties that become owner-occupied discourage criminal activity, benefiting public safety and decreasing the cost burden on local police and fire departments. Finally, the more residents and businesses that occupy property in a neighborhood, the more services and amenities will be needed, which boosts local economic activity.
The land bank initiative is one component of the Attorney General’s comprehensive strategy for helping New York families and communities rebuild from the housing crisis.  He has led the fight to hold the banks accountable for their recklessness and responsible for mitigating the damage they caused.  He has obtained settlements that brought more than $95 billion to communities across the country.
More than $5.5 billion of that settlement money has come into New York State alone. With those funds, the Office of the Attorney General has also:
  • Established the Homeowners Protection Program, HOPP, in 2012, which has funded nearly 90 agencies across the state and has provided legal services and counseling to help nearly 70,000 families stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure; nearly a third of them have mortgage modifications pending or approved. 
  • Created a web-based app,, a tool to help at-risk homeowners avoid mortgage foreclosure scams, including Deed Theft. More than 175,000 consumers have used the app since launch in 2014. 
  • Established the New York State Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) in 2014.  Since it began, MAP has provided $18 million in small loans to homeowners to clear other debts and qualify for mortgage modifications; it has prevented more than 650 foreclosures and preserved $153 million in property value for nearby homeowners. The Attorney General recently announced a $100 million expansion of MAP.
  • Launched the Zombie and Vacant Property Remediation and Prevention Initiative, providing almost $13 million in grants to 76 villages, towns, and cities across the state to combat the blight of abandoned foreclosure properties.
  • Launched “Neighbors for Neighborhoods” in August 2016, a $4 million pilot program that enables land banks to provide subsidies for local community members to take over individual, abandoned properties and convert them into long-term affordable rental units. 


Defendant Forced Prostitutes To Get Tattooed With His “Brand;” Sex Workers Were Given Cocaine, Held Captive 

   Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for a Criminal Sex Act and Promoting Prostitution stemming from a sex trafficking operation that held young women captive in a Bronx apartment. 

  District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant treated young women not only as sex slaves, but like animals, getting them tattooed with his initial and year of birth. He forced the victim in this case to perform a sex act on him, and threatened her when she wanted to leave the sex trade. He will serve 12 years, and we hope his victim will be able to reclaim her life.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Glen Bowman, 42, of 1850 Cross Bronx Expressway Extension, was sentenced yesterday, March 22, 2017, by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary to 12 years in prison with five years post-release supervision and must register as a sex offender. He pleaded guilty on February 15, 2017 to first-degree Criminal Sexual Act, and third-degree Promoting Prostitution. The judge issued a full final order of protection against the defendant, valid until March 21, 2037. 

  According to the investigation, Bowman and a co-defendant, Jessica Copeland, forced the victim and other young women to engage in sex for money at Bronx motels and got the women hooked on cocaine. Copeland pleaded guilty to sex trafficking on January 13, 2017 and was sentenced to two to three years in prison. 

 In July 2012, the victim, then 19, was made to get a tattoo on her arm depicting a stack of money with “GDT” and “established 1975” written on it. The “GDT” stands for Glen, Diamond, Tamia, the name of the defendant and two of his children. The 1975 stands for the year the defendant was born.

  At the sentencing hearing, the victim read an impact statement that said in part, “You are a monster. The way you treated me and many others like me is inhumane. We are people not property! We are not dogs, ATMs, sex slaves or whatever else you think we are.….. You have ruined so many lives, so many, but not mine.”

News From Congressman Michael Blake

Statement on the House Republicans attempt to repeal Affordable Care Act

In celebration of the 7th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday while we anticipate a potentially catastrophic vote on Friday, New York State Assembly Member and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake released the following statement:

On Thursday, we celebrated the 7th Anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a bill which provides health insurance for millions of Americans who could not afford it or were denied it because of a pre-existing condition. We celebrated the lives that were saved due to this bill and the families that are able to rest easier because they are not sacrificing healthcare for basic necessities while reaffirming the belief that the right to affordable health care must be a core value of our democracy.  However, we now face a challenge to our values.

Since its passage, Republicans have prioritized repealing the Affordable Care Act and taking away healthcare for 24 million Americans. This obsession with denying people their basic needs is inhumane and we must reject this unacceptable action when the House Republicans intend to vote on repealing health care later today.

President Trump and the Republicans in Congress have hitched their wagon to a bill that would be devastating to the American people, and as a result have found it nearly impossible to gain a consensus, resulting in endless revisions and delays on a bill that is simply unwanted. The House GOP didn't have the votes yesterday, and instead of trying to help people by expanding the law, they are going to to try again today to repeal it.

One of the greatest honors of my life was to serve President Obama in his administration to help with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The A.C.A. is personal for me as I was born with a heart murmur, my mother beat Breast Cancer and to this day deals with asthma, and my father succumbed to skin cancer. Healthcare is not just a policy on paper; it is saving lives. Yes, the law can have improvements but repealing it as absolutely unacceptable and inhumane. I urge all Americans to denounce this bill and stand up to oppose the repeal. We must continue to #Resist by calling 202-225-5265 to demand answers from Congressman Chris Collins on his horrendous proposal that would severely impact the coverage of 2.1 million New Yorkers who enrolled under the medicaid expansion and call on all House Republicans to answer why they are absolutely adamant in trying to take away health coverage for 24 million Americans. Congress must work in the best interest of the American people.  Healthcare reform should benefit all people not just profit CEOs of Insurance and Pharmaceutical companies. As an Assembly Member from the diverse county in America and a DNC Vice Chair, I will continue to fight for those most at risk, because true public service requires it.  We should do everything we can do to provide health care not take it away."

There was no vote on Friday as the House Republican leader withdrew the legislation for now.


   Our immigrant communities nationwide are living in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety under the Trump administration. That’s why it’s critical that we show leadership at the state level to let New York’s immigrant community know that we have their back.
Last year, the Independent Democratic Conference—working with immigration and legal advocates— announced funding for the Vera Institute of Justice’s New York Immigrant Family Unity Project to provide public defenders to those facing deportation—an initial down payment to ensure due process and prevent more families from being needlessly torn apart. Additionally, we created the Immigrant Defense Coalition to operate out of each of our member’s district office to provide legal services and resources to immigrants and their families.
We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership on this issue. It sends a strong message that New York will never turn its back on the immigrants who make our state great. We look forward to working with him further to advance this important cause.