Saturday, May 6, 2017


  Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced the findings of an investigation into the use of Department of Correction (“DOC”) assigned “take home” vehicles by high-ranking DOC staff, including the Commissioner of DOC. DOI’s Report uncovered misuse of the City-owned vehicles for unauthorized travel, including trips to Maine, the Hamptons, Cape Cod and other transportation to beaches, amusement parks and local airports. Using City-owned vehicles for these purposes is expressly prohibited by City policy, DOC’s own policy, and Conflicts of Interest laws. DOI’s investigation revealed 21 senior-level employees routinely abused take-home vehicle privileges and cost City taxpayers thousands of dollars in wasted money spent on gas and tolls to cover personal trips. As a result, DOI is referring the findings for these 21 individuals to the appropriate enforcement bodies for further review and has issued recommendations to address the vulnerabilities identified in the Report that contributed to this systemic misuse. A copy of DOI’s report can be found at the following link: 

  Commissioner Mark Peters said, “DOC staff, including the Commissioner, routinely misused City vehicles and violated City rules. This widespread disregard of policy undercuts DOC’s ability to ensure order and discipline at an agency already struggling to control violence and crime in its jails, issues that DOI has been investigating for the past three years. Most disturbing in this report is the conduct of senior officials who must be accountable for their actions.” 

  DOI’s investigation began with an anonymous allegation that DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte, and other high-ranking and executive staff, were misusing their take-home vehicles for personal use. DOI reviewed vehicle usage in Calendar Year 2016, mapping over 24.5 million GPS data points, analyzing dozens of vehicle usage maps, vehicle assignment records, gas card data and E-ZPass statements to determine if unauthorized trips were taken. Of the 98 take-home vehicles and corresponding maps that were reviewed, DOI determined that approximately 40% of those maps demonstrated irregular travel to locations out-of-state or outside of the five boroughs on weekends and holidays, with the most egregious examples including multiple trips to shopping malls, area airports on nights and weekends, beaches, spas, resorts and other destinations without corresponding timesheets. 
  DOC vehicle policies expressly prohibit unauthorized out-of-state travel, E-ZPass usage for non-official charges, and requires all DOC drivers to maintain vehicle usage logs or “trip sheets” to prove compliance with the policies. Interviews with DOC’s Transportation Division revealed that each of the subjects in DOI’s Report received copies of the City Handbook, which describes City take-home vehicle policy and DOC’s vehicle policies. 

  DOI’s investigation revealed misuse of take-home vehicles by DOC top-level executives: 

  Commissioner Ponte drove his assigned vehicle out of New York State on 28 occasions, for multiple days at a time, with many of the trips to areas of Costal Maine, and used his vehicle outside of New York State on personal business for 90 calendar days in 2016 – approximately 24.6% of the calendar year.
   Chief of Staff Jeff Thamkittikasem used his City vehicle to drive to a friend’s house in Virginia for a birthday party, informing DOI that since he answered phone calls and emails while he was out of town he considered it to be the equivalent of being at work, even submitting his timesheet to reflect he had been at work during that time. 
  Acting First Deputy Commissioner Cynthia Brann told DOI that she used her City vehicle on weekends almost exclusively for shopping, including trips to Woodbury Commons Outlets and the Gallery at Westbury Plaza, among others.
  Deputy Commissioner (“DC”) Gregory Kuczinski, who oversees the Department’s internal investigations, took over 20 trips to Westchester County in his take-home vehicle on personal business, including a vacation day to go golfing and multiple trips to John F. Kennedy (“JFK”) and LaGuardia airports to transport family.  
  DC Kuczinski was previously fined $1,500 by the Conflicts of Interest Board (“COIB”) for having a subordinate transport him and his family to JFK Airport for a family vacation in 2015, in which Kuczinski admitted in a statement that he did not have authorization to use the vehicle which was, by his admission, “to be used for official business only.”
 All of these senior staff members informed DOI that they considered themselves to be on “24-hour call” and therefore needed to respond from wherever they went, making the use of their City-assigned vehicles permissible during these times, however, no staff member reported having ever actually responded to any departmental emergency from the locations cited by DOI in its Report and some staff admitted that personal response from long distance was not practical in any event. The City’s Department of Administrative Services (“DCAS”) also confirmed that no 24-hour, on-call allowance or exception exists. 

  Beyond misuse of vehicles, DOI’s investigation also found DOC recordkeeping and maintenance is unorganized, with staff routinely failing to submit or maintain monthly trip sheets. As a result of this systemic abuse of car privileges and additional compliance issues, DOI has issued recommendations to DOC, including:

   DOC should reissue to all staff who drive City-assigned vehicles the Citywide rules and regulations that prohibit the use of City vehicles for personal use, and each driver acknowledge receipt of the policies. 
  DOC must enforce existing policies related to vehicle usage, including the requirement that drivers maintain trip sheets, and DOC should have a centralized way of tracking these trip sheets. 
  DOC should conduct periodic audits of E-ZPass and gas card usage to ensure that unauthorized out-of state travel is not occurring. 
  DOC should conduct annual audits of vehicle usage. GPS data should be used to aid in these audits.
  DOI Commissioner Mark Peters thanked Deputy Commissioner and Chief Fleet Officer Keith Kerman of the DCAS Fleet Services Unit, and his staff, for their assistance and cooperation in this investigation.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Ben Franklin Democratic Club Dinner

  Last Night the Ben Franklin Democratic Club Dinner was held. In TRUE DEMOCRACY this reporter was told by 81st A.D. Female District Leader, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz's Chief of Staff Randi Martos not to attend the club dinner even though other reporters were welcome to attend.

  It is the loss of those who were honored not to get the publicity they would have gotten here and in my column in the Bronx Voice. 

  As State Comptroller Tom di Napoli said at a recent Ben Franklin club meeting 'that political clubs are loosing the power they once had as has been evidenced by the past presidential election'. Come to think of it, the room that night was not as crowded as it has been in the past.

   I can only guess that this year's Ben Franklin dinner was not as good as last year's dinner, could that be the reason why I was kept away? 

Bronx Attorney Sentenced To Prison For Preparing Fraudulent Tax Returns For Clients

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Stewart M. Goldberg, the Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, announced today that WILLIAM DOONAN, an attorney who operated a tax preparation business in the Bronx, New York, was sentenced today to 24 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick for preparing and filing thousands of false and fraudulent returns that claimed more than $6 million in bogus deductions. DOONAN pled guilty on November 1, 2016, before Judge Broderick to one count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return, and one count of obstructing and impeding the due administration of internal revenue laws.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney John H. Kim said: “William Doonan’s so-called ‘business’ didn’t prepare taxes, it manufactured lies and false tax returns that resulted in more than $1.8 million in lost revenue for the IRS. In filing thousands of federal tax returns, Doonan used his legal knowledge to circumvent the law. Thanks to the dedicated investigators of the IRS, he will be held to account for his criminal misdeeds.”
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg said: “William Doonan used his status as an attorney to attract clients to his tax preparation business. But instead of performing honest and professional work, he routinely falsified their returns, adding more than $6 million in phony deductions and causing the IRS to incur more than $1.8 million in lost taxes. Doonan’s prison sentence today makes clear that those who prepare and file fraudulent returns face significant penalties.”
According to the allegations in the Information to which DOONAN pled guilty, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made in court proceedings:
DOONAN, a New York-licensed attorney since 1982, carried out a tax preparation business in the Bronx using the firm name “William Doonan, Esq.” Every year from 2010 through 2013, DOONAN prepared and filed between 3,000 and 5,000 federal tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) for taxpayer-clients in exchange for a fee. Several thousands of these returns were false and fraudulent in that they attached Schedules C to the clients’ returns that reported “consulting” businesses the clients did not own, operate, or materially participate in, and business losses that the relevant clients did not incur. DOONAN also prepared returns that attached Schedules A that reported false medical and dental expenses, state and local taxes, home mortgage interest, gifts to charity, job expenses, and other miscellaneous deductions. Between tax year 2009 through tax year 2012, DOONAN included in excess of $6 million in these fabricated and inflated items on his clients’ federal tax returns. As part of his plea, DOONAN agreed that he caused a tax loss of between $1.5 and $3.5 million.

In addition to the term of imprisonment, DOONAN, 69, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to one year of supervised release, ordered to pay $65,820 in restitution to the IRS, and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000.

Mr. Kim and Mr. Goldberg praised the outstanding efforts of IRS-Criminal Investigation in the investigation.

Former Minister Of Mines For The Republic Of Guinea Convicted Of Receiving And Laundering $8.5 Million In Bribes From Chinese Companies

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Kenneth A. Blanco, the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, announced that MAHMOUD THIAM was convicted in Manhattan federal court yesterday of money laundering charges stemming from his scheme to launder $8.5 million in bribes that THIAM received from senior representatives of a Chinese conglomerate. THIAM was charged with using his official position as Minister of Mines for the Republic of Guinea to facilitate the award to the Chinese conglomerate of exclusive and highly valuable investment rights in various sectors of the Guinean economy. THIAM was convicted after a seven-day trial before U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As a New York federal jury has now found, Thiam abused his official government position to enrich himself at the expense of one of Africa’s poorest countries. Thiam laundered the proceeds of his bribery scheme into the United States to fund his lavish lifestyle, buying a multi-million dollar estate in Dutchess County, and paying for private schools for his children. Thanks to the work of the FBI, Thiam’s scheme was exposed and he was swiftly convicted.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco said: “As a high-level Minister in Guinea, Thiam sold out his country and then used U.S. banks and real estate to hide millions in bribes paid to him by a Chinese conglomerate. Corruption is a global disease that undermines the rule of law everywhere. The Justice Department is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who commit these crimes and use the U.S. financial system and free marketplace to conceal and benefit from their crimes.”

According to the Indictment, other filings in Manhattan federal court, and the evidence admitted at trial:

THIAM, a United States citizen who was Minister of Mines and Geology of the Republic of Guinea in 2009 and 2010, engaged in a scheme to accept bribes from senior representatives of a Chinese conglomerate and to launder that money into the United States and elsewhere. In exchange for these multimillion-dollar bribe payments, THIAM used his position as Minister of Mines to facilitate the award to the Chinese conglomerate of exclusive and highly valuable investment rights in a wide range of sectors of the Guinean economy, including near-total control of Guinea’s significant mining sector.

In order to receive the bribes covertly, THIAM opened a bank account in Hong Kong (the “Hong Kong Account”) and misreported his occupation to the Hong Kong bank to conceal his status as a public official in Guinea. Upon receiving the bribes, THIAM transferred millions of dollars in bribe proceeds from the Hong Kong Account to, among others, THIAM’s bank accounts in the United States; a Malaysian company that facilitated and concealed THIAM’s purchase of a $3,750,000 estate in Dutchess County, New York; private preparatory schools in Manhattan attended by THIAM’s children; and at least one other West African public official.

To further conceal the unlawful source of the bribery proceeds that THIAM transferred from the Hong Kong Account to banks in the United States, THIAM lied to two banks based in Manhattan and on tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service regarding the bribe payments, his position as a foreign public official, and the source of the funds in the Hong Kong Account. In total, THIAM received approximately $8.5 million in bribes from the Chinese conglomerate.

THIAM, 50, of Manhattan, was convicted of one count of transacting in criminally derived property, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. THIAM is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Cote on August 11, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided substantial assistance in this matter. The Office is grateful to the government of Guinea for providing substantial assistance in gathering evidence during this investigation.

A.G. Schneiderman Sues Waste Handling Companies And Individuals For Brentwood Dumping, Which Closed Roberto Clemente Park To Community For Years

Illegal Dumping Of Tens Of Thousands Of Tons Of Construction Waste Containing Hazardous Substances Has Kept Park Closed Since 2014 
Suit Seeks To Hold Waste Handling Contractors, Brokers, And Haulers Liable For Making The Park Off-Limits To Community
Funds Obtained From Suit Will Fund Restoration And Improvements Of Brentwood Parks
Schneiderman: Those Responsible For Closing Roberto Clemente Park Must Repay Their Debt To The Brentwood Community
  Standing outside Roberto Clemente Park, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the filing of a federal lawsuit seeking to recover damages from companies and individuals for the dumping of contaminated construction waste that has deprived the Brentwood, Long Island community of their use of the park since 2014.  Attorney General Schneiderman’s suit alleges that the individuals and companies involved in the dumping of hazardous substances in the popular town park – a group of construction contractors, waste brokers, and waste haulers – are liable under federal and state law to pay damages related to the Brentwood community’s lost use of the park.   
“Parks aren’t luxuries; they are vital to the public health, economies, and social fabrics of the communities they serve,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We believe the companies and individuals named in our suit are responsible for the dumping of hazardous substances into the heart of Brentwood and causing a much-beloved park to be closed off to the community for years. Those responsible for closing Roberto Clemente Park must repay their debt to the Brentwood community.”    
Between August 2013 and April 2014, tens of thousands of tons of urban soil and construction and demolition debris (“C&D”), transported from construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area, were illegally dumped in Roberto Clemente Park, a park owned by the Town of Islip. The Town closed the park in May 2014 when environmental testing revealed elevated levels of a wide array of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and pesticides, as well as asbestos, in areas of the park where the dumping occurred. Since that time, the park has remained closed, as cleanup contractors have removed approximately 39,000 tons of construction waste. The Town hopes to reopen portions of the park this summer.
In the lawsuit filed today, Attorney General Schneiderman alleges that a group of contractors who arranged for the disposal of soil and C&D contaminated with hazardous substances from construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area, companies who brokered the removal and disposal of the contaminated waste, and the haulers who dumped the waste in Roberto Clemente Park are liable for damages under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) and state public nuisance and negligence laws for closing the park to the Brentwood community. Under CERCLA, states may hold those who transport, or arrange for the transport of, hazardous substances that are released to the environment liable for the injury, destruction, or loss of natural resources – including public parks and other lands held in trust by states – resulting from the release.  
The lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, asks the Court to find the companies and individuals named in the suit liable under CERCLA and state law for the community’s loss of use of Roberto Clemente Park since 2014, and require them to pay related damages under state law. As compensation to Brentwood residents for their years of lost use of Roberto Clemente Park, and consistent with CERCLA, all monies obtained through this action will be directed by the State toward restoring and enhancing parks in the Brentwood community.  
Those named in the complaint include:
  • “JOHN DOE”
In March 2016, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota obtained criminal convictions of two individuals, Thomas Datre, Jr. and Christopher Grabe, and a waste hauling company, 5 Brothers Farming Corp., for their role in the illegal dumping. In addition, the Town of Islip is currently seeking civil enforcement against parties involved in the dumping in order to recoup the cost it has incurred in cleaning up the park. 
Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for its assistance, especially Sharon Brooks, Principal Economist, and Patrick Foster, Chief, Natural Resource Damages Section. The Attorney General also thanks Suffolk County District Attorney Spota’s office for its assistance in the investigation of this matter.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces $225K Settlement With Lower East Side Landlord For Harassing Rent-Stabilized Tenants

Companies Controlled By Sami Mahfar Harassed Rent-Stabilized Tenants Through Unsafe Demolition And Renovations, Creating Unsafe Levels Of Lead
Settlement Includes $175,000 To Support NYC Lead Remediation Efforts In Rent Stabilized Housing 
Attorney General’s New Proposed Legislation Would Subject Landlords to Criminal Penalties for Tenant Harassment
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement agreement with several companies controlled by Sassan “Sami” Mahfar and Sina Mahfar, which own or owned four residential buildings: 22 Spring Street, 102 Norfolk Street, 113 Stanton Street, and 210 Rivington Street, on New York City’s Lower East Side.  These companies employed several illegal methods to harass rent-regulated tenants, including engaging in construction work that put dangerous amounts of lead into the air, failing to provide essential services such as heat and hot water, and hiring a “relocator” company that used illegal tactics in seeking buyouts from tenants. A number of the affected tenants were Chinese or Spanish-speaking families who had lived in the buildings for many years.
In April, the Attorney General proposed new legislation that would make it easier to criminally prosecute landlords who engage in tenant harassment, including the type of conduct covered in this settlement. Current state law demands prosecutors reach an inexplicably high bar in order to criminally charge landlords with harassment of rent-regulated tenants.
“Landlords must not use harassment or subject tenants to unsafe construction to drive rent-stabilized tenants out of their homes.  Unfortunately, across the city, unscrupulous landlords look to take advantage of New York’s real estate market at the expense of their rent-regulated tenants – and we won’t hesitate to fight back using all tools at our disposal,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “But landlords who harass and force their tenants to endure unsafe conditions should also face criminal charges – and I call on the legislature to act on my new bill, which would criminalize this type of activity.” 
Between 2013 and 2016, the Mahfars’ companies – which included SMA Equities, LLC, 22 Spring SM, LLC, 22 Spring SMSIS, LLC, 102 Norfolk Street, LLC, 102 Norfolk Street SM, LLC, SM Stanton, LLC, SMSIS Rivington, LLC, and SMBRO Rivington, LLC – undertook a deliberate campaign to coerce their rent-stabilized tenants to move out of their apartments.  The companies engaged in widespread demolition and construction work in the buildings, which failed to comply with federal, state, and local requirements for protecting the health and safety of residents. Repeated inspections found areas under construction containing unsafe lead concentrations, requiring repeated stop-work orders and immediate remediation measures.  At 102 Norfolk Street, for instance, inspectors found lead levels as high as 40,000 and 110,000 micrograms per square foot.  Under the New York City Health Code, the limit for lead concentration on floors is 40 micrograms per square foot.
The companies hired Misidor LLC, a tenant “relocator,” to negotiate buyouts at 22 Spring Street and 210 Rivington.  Misidor’s principal, Michel Pimienta, repeatedly harassed tenants and threatened that, if tenants did not accept buyouts, they would suffer through unsafe and disruptive construction. In October 2014, the Attorney General’s office reached a settlement with Misidor and Pimienta enjoining them from engaging in tenant relocation work and imposing financial penalties. 
Further, the companies failed to make certain required filings with city and state housing agencies and made false filings with the New York City Department of Buildings, including misrepresenting on permit applications for construction that the buildings were not occupied by residential tenants entitled to protections of the rent regulation laws.
Tenants complained that, while undertaking extensive renovations of vacant apartments, the companies failed to correct pending building code violations, including loss of electricity, lack of heat and hot water, and lack of janitorial services, or make needed repairs in rent-regulated apartments. 
The settlement agreement requires that the companies pay $175,000 to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development for lead remediation and/or enforcement and $50,000 in penalties, fees, and costs to the State, comply with all laws and regulations applicable to any residential buildings owned or controlled by the companies or by Sami Mahfar or Sina Mahfar, follow additional procedures designed to protect tenants from harm caused by any future renovations, and hire an independent management company approved by the Attorney General’s office to manage the buildings which they still own.  A number of tenants have already secured substantial rent abatements and other concessions, including the waiver of major capital investment-based rent increases, through their own lawsuits in housing court.  The vast majority of the housing code violations in the buildings have now been cleared.
Attorney General Schneiderman has continued his efforts to protect tenants who are being harassed by their landlords.  Last month, the office indicted Dean Galasso for mortgage fraud,as part of his work with the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, a collaboration between city and state agencies. Attorney General Schneiderman also recently issued a “Know Your Rights” guidance for tenants who are being threatened based on immigration status.
The $175,000 in settlement money to HPD will be used to purchase 15 new X-Ray Florescence (XRF) Equipment. During apartment inspections, HPD’s Code Enforcement team uses XRF Technology to analyze the composition of paint in New York City apartments to identify whether or not lead-based paint is present and determine if it is a threat. The new devices are lighter, faster, more efficient, and will allow for more comprehensive inspection results. Building owners are required by law to remediate any threat of lead-based paint which can be extremely hazardous to children 6 years of age and under. For more information on building owner responsibilities with regard to lead-based paint, visit HPD’s Lead-Based Paint webpage. Rent-regulated tenants should be aware that they do not need to tolerate harassing tactics designed to force them to vacate their apartments. Under the law, landlords who seek to buy out tenants must not use threats, intimidation, frequent and persistent communication or any false information or misrepresentations in the course of making a buyout offer; refrain from offering any additional buyouts to tenants for 180 days if asked to do so in writing; provide all tenant buyout offers in writing; and accompany buyout offers with a full disclosure of tenants’ rights, including the right to refuse the buyout.  Rent-regulated tenants who believe they are being harassed by their landlord should visit the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force website at  
"We cannot and will not stand idly by when unscrupulous building owners put their residents’ lives at risk by failing to correct hazardous conditions," said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. "Thanks to the dedication of the NYS Attorney General’s office, this settlement money will allow for the purchase of state-of-the-art tools to better serve residents across the city. These devices will help HPD’s lead unit more effectively and efficiently protect the city’s families and children from the hazardous effects of lead exposure."

Statement By A.G. Schneiderman On House Passage Of The American Health Care Act

  “The healthcare bill passed today by House Republicans is a threat to the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers. In addition to the devastating impact this bill would have on every New Yorker’s access to affordable healthcare, the legislation that passed the House today is unconstitutional in several critical respects—and I stand ready to challenge it in court.

First, House Republicans’ attempt to effectively deny women access to reproductive healthcare services is a cruel and unconstitutional attack on women’s rights - especially the most vulnerable.
Further, the Collins-Faso Amendment is a cynical ploy by House Republican leadership and President Trump that exceeds Congress’s authority by interfering with how New York has long elected to fund its Medicaid program.
This bill threatens to slash essential healthcare services for millions of New Yorkers who need them the most.
For these reasons, if this disastrous and unconstitutional healthcare bill is ultimately signed into law, I will challenge it in court.”

Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on U.S. House Passage of the AHCA

  “The House GOP just voted to strip healthcare from the sick, give a giant tax cut to the wealthy, and eliminate protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. House Republicans should be ashamed – this is literally a matter of life and death. Even though healthcare is one sixth of the U.S. economy, this bill was passed with no Congressional Budget Office score, no analysis, no real cost estimates, and no clear idea of its economic impact. This is as scary as it is disgraceful.

“Every New Yorker should be alarmed by what’s happening in Washington. While some say this bill will be decimated in the Senate, I don’t take comfort when lives are put in Mitch McConnell’s hands. And if the AHCA ends up becoming law – in this form, or another – the effects could be catastrophic. That means as New Yorkers, we all need to step up, we all need to mobilize, and we all need to take action to stop this bill from becoming law.”


  You know, it has been almost six months since election day, and I always tell the story that in the days leading up to election day, even though so many of the polls and so many of the pundits had projected a certain outcome, there was one totally objective institution that was ready either way – it was the NYPD. And in the planning meetings for election night, the NYPD leadership were going over different scenarios. And they said, if Secretary Clinton wins, we’re going to do this, and, if Mr. Trump wins, we’re going to do that. And I think a lot of people in the room thought, well, you know, you may only need one of those options. But, in fact, the NYPD was ready, and, lo and behold, at the end of election night, November 8th, the security at Trump Tower became a major priority for the NYPD. 

And I would say this honestly, having been in the planning process, and everything since – it was a mission unlike any other the NYPD had ever taken on to have the President-elect of the United States in a building in the middle of Midtown Manhattan – a building that was directly exposed to the streets around it. There’s literally not been a precedent in the history of this city or the history of this nation, and I want to credit the men and women of the NYPD for the way they seamlessly went into action to protect Trump Tower and everyone in it, and then, working in the days after with the Secret Service, developed more extensive plans and have carried them out ever since, while simultaneously keeping things moving in Midtown. We all know that was tough in the beginning, but, more and more, the NYPD managed to find a way to balance security with the flow of traffic and do something remarkable for this city and for this nation. The problem was, in that entire time, we didn’t know if the NYPD would ever be reimburse for this extensive effort. And as the days went by and the millions and millions of dollars added up, it was quite clear this would have a ramifications for everything else we were doing – that NYPD was taking officers and resources away from other vital missions, but they had to because it was one of the highest priorities in the city. 

We went an attempted to get support from the federal government the reimburse us. And the first time, it was tough, but we knew there would be another bite at the apple with the decision on the continuing resolution. And we’re here today to celebrate the extraordinary work of my colleagues around me, and you’ll hear from them in a just a moment, but I want to really thank them on behalf of 8.5 million New Yorkers because they had to right this wrong. They had to get the Congress to agree to do something it previously wasn’t willing to do, and to recognize the reality that no city in the history of this country ever had to take on a burden like this, and if it wasn’t reimbursed, it would undermine the other public safety efforts of the NYPD – that’s what was at stake. We all know $24 million from election day to inauguration – between $100,000 and $150,000 a day ever since. We’re talking about ultimately tens of millions of dollars that was on the line. 

Now, I went through this process and I talked to all of our members of Congress, and I also talked to some Republican members of Congress along the way, and I saw the impact that my colleagues were having, because, you know, there’s not always an atmosphere of generosity towards New York City in the U.S. Congress. Even though this city does so much for our nation – it’s one of the great economic hubs of the nation and we provide so much in revenue to the federal government. Somehow, there’s not always a spirit of generosity back. My colleagues here had to go and fight a tough battle to convince people to do unto others as they would want onto them – to think if it were their city, their town. How would they want the federal government to treat them? And they really wore down the opposition and they opened up minds, and I heard from Republican members of Congress that they increasingly understood there was a fairness argument here and they have been swayed by the arguments of Congresswoman Lowey, and Congresswoman Maloney, and Congressman Nadler, and our other colleagues who couldn’t be here today but deserve tremendous credit as well – Senator Schumer, Congressman Donovan, Congresswoman Meng, among others, who worked so hard. And I always appreciate when a Republican speaks to his fellow Republicans, and Dan Donovan went and did that. He went and spread the message to his fellow Republicans – this was a matter of fairness and if the shoe was on the other foot they’d want that federal helps.

So, look, this delegation fought the battle and they won the battle, and I want to thank each and every one of them. 

We’re waiting for the final process that will unfold in the weeks ahead, but we know the basic numbers, and we know that we will be substantially [inaudible] whole for that time up to inauguration day. And we know that the stage has been set to get substantial reimbursement for the days after. And we also know we’ll have to go back over time and make sure that it stays that way. But to all of our colleagues – and I mentioned, obviously, Senator Schumer – I want to mention Senator Gillibrand, as well, who was front and center on this. I want to mention the work of Congressman Serrano, who I spoke to the other day, who did great work on this. Everyone I’ve mentioned deserves out thanks and I know everyone I mentioned will continue this work. 

And I’ll finish by saying, look, I had rarely had an opportunity to see inside the process like I did this time. And I talked to the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee in the company of Congresswoman Lowey. We went to see Congressman Frelinghuysen together. Having her testify directly one of the people with the greatest influence – how personally important this was to her made a huge difference here. Seeing these folks work the internal process, even against the odds, it was very, very impressive because it could have easily gone a different way. I want to give them tremendous credit because they brought home a victory for New York City.


State Assembly Member and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake released the following statement:

“The passage of the American Health Care Act by House Republicans is a tragic betrayal of public rust. Today​, ​the House acted irresponsibly by passing a bill that will lead to a loss of coverage for 24 million people, raise costs and severely weaken coverage for pre-existing conditions. It is inhumane and an international embarrassment by Congressional Republicans to choose politics over saving lives. As a baby​,​ I was born with a heart murmur; my mother is a breast cancer survivor,​ and​ I represent an Assembly District with a disproportionate number of residents facing health inequities. It is personal when access to health care is denied to those who are most vulnerable.

Congressional Republicans ​continue to play politics with the lives of close to 24 million Americans, and if this bill becomes law, hundreds of thousands of people who have relied on the Affordable Care Act to detect and treat serious illnesses will be at risk for more serious illness and a more difficult quality of life. This is one of few instances where the US Congress has shown a clear disregard for the welfare of American people.

Trumpcare is not a replacement for Obamacare but rather a tax break for the top one percent disguised as an attempt to lower costs while giving drug and insurance companies the bulk of nearly $600 billion in new tax breaks. This bill eliminates the Affordable Care Act's subsidies based on a person's income and cost of coverage and replaces them with lower subsidies based mainly on a person's age. Currently, more than 80% of A.C.A. enrollees benefit from these subsidies. It loosens the age-band so that insurance companies can charge older people at least five times more than younger people. Equally despicable, it weakens the protections for those with pre-existing conditions and especially targets women by denying protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, C-section, and postpartum depression.

These are not the values of the American people, and we must continue to hold our representatives in Congress accountable. We must continue to make our voices heard and actions seen. As it goes before the Senate, we must demand that our leaders shut this bill down.
​  ​
Universal health care is a right, not a privilege, and our leaders should act accordingly. Today ​reminds us ​why we must continue to​ #Resist and reject this unjust and unconscionable behavior by Congressional Republicans. If they want to take away our health care, then​​ we should take away their jobs in Congress.”

Statement From Bronx Democratic Party Chairman Marcos A. Crespo

The healthcare bill passed yesterday by House Republicans is a threat to the health and livelihood of all New Yorkers and especially to our Bronx constituents. Not only is this bill disastrous and but it would also have an inhumane impact on how residents of The Bronx have access to affordable healthcare. 

The damage that this bill could inflict upon our lower income citizens, including families with children and the elderly, by causing millions of Americans to lose their health insurance - the majority of which would have been eligible for Medicaid - is unsurmountable. Let alone the Republicans incentive that would allow insurers to discriminate against citizens with pre-existing conditions, which would leave more Americans than ever before without coverage.

But worst of all, is the cruel attempt from House Republicans to deny women access to their reproductive healthcare services by declaring that services that treat women for c-sections, sexual assault and postpartum depression are now pre-existing conditions. 

It is because of these threats to eliminate essential healthcare services for our constituents that our Congressional Officials from the Bronx, Adriano Espaillat, Eliot Engel, Joseph Crowley, and Jose M. Serrano all lead the vote against this measure.

As Bronx Democrats, New Yorkers and Americans, we not only thank them for their constant leadership, but for their efforts and for their fight on all of our behalf, as we pledge to support them in their continued efforts to end the Trump Care Act.


"In a shameful and disgraceful move, House Republicans passed the so-called "American Health Care Act" which, in their quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act, will jeopardize the healthcare of at least 24 million Americans. House Republicans adamantly pushed for a bill that not only restricts women's access to critical healthcare, but also turns its back on the millions of Americans suffering from pre-existing conditions, including sexual assault victims, domestic violence survivors, and new mothers having postpartum depression or a C-section. Simply put, this bill looks to strip away health coverage from the sick and the poor in our country, leaving the taxpayer to foot a larger healthcare bill in the long run. As the Ranking Member of the New York Senate's Health Committee, I cannot stand idly by while this appalling partisan measure strips New Yorkers from the health care they need.  That is why I am committed to working harder than ever to pass the single-payer bill I proudly sponsor in the New York State Senate and finally provide New Yorkers with the healthcare they deserve."

Bronx Week Concert 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017


Defendants Sold Heroin & Fentanyl in Bronx and Four States; Five Kilos of High-Quality Heroin Found Stashed in Car Hauler

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a joint investigation by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration Strike Force along with the New York City Police Department has resulted in the indictment of 14 people for trafficking heroin and fentanyl in the Bronx, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

  District Attorney Clark said, “These defendants allegedly peddled ultra-pure heroin as well as heroin laced with fentanyl, callously disregarding how poisonous and volatile this mixture is. The narcotics came from Mexico and were trucked cross-country to the Bronx, where one of the main defendants allegedly sold large quantities out of his home on a residential street to dealers who sold it in the Bronx and down the east coast. Two have been charged as Major Traffickers which could carry life in prison. We will aggressively prosecute those who foster the opioid catastrophe.” 

  DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said, “Sometimes, the most dangerous drug dealer is the one next door. This criminal operation exemplifies how illegal drugs are trafficked into NYC neighborhoods and how DEA works with our law enforcement partners to shut them down. In this case, a street-level drug buy led to the identification of transnational heroin suppliers responsible for fueling opioid addiction throughout our communities.” 

  NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said, “As we have seen too many times before, heroin laced with fentanyl is lethal. Making the situation worse, the heroin’s purity was far greater than what is commonly seen in New York City. This morning, 14 defendants find themselves under arrest on serious drug charges. And thanks to the detectives, agents, and prosecutors, the Bronx will be safer tonight with this poison off our streets.”

  District Attorney Clark said a 159-count indictment charges 10 people with operating in the Bronx, and a second indictment with 32 counts charges four people from Manhattan and New Jersey. 

  Nine of the defendants were arrested in a takedown yesterday and arraigned before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary. They are due back in court on June 14 and 21, 2017. Two defendants—Ramon Walters and Troy Callwood--are charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, and they and the other defendants are variously charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance.

  According to the investigation, which gets its name from the high-quality heroin— referred to as “fire”—and the brand stamp on some of the glassines of heroin—a pair of dice— one of the main defendants in the case is Ramon Walters, 42. He worked with other defendants to obtain the narcotics from Mexico, and set the sale price, mixed the drugs and stored them at his home at 1517 Lurting Avenue, where other members of the conspiracy came to get the narcotics. 

 The house was protected by hi-tech surveillance cameras and flood lights, and when authorities executed the search warrant there, Walters was discovered flushing alleged fentanyl down a toilet. About $10,000 was seized.

  Authorities seized five kilograms of 80% -plus purity heroin in Pennsylvania, which was stashed in the trunks of two cars on a car carrier. The total amount of drugs seized is equivalent to 15,474 glassines of narcotics with a street value of $300,410. 

 The case was initiated by the Bronx DA’s Office and NYPD’s Bronx Narcotics in May, 2016. DEA Strike Force joined the investigation in August, after which the sources of the supply and distribution network were identified.

  Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in New York said, “These individuals are a part of the reason why heroin is flooding our city streets and flowing into the hands of our young people. We remain committed to working together with our law enforcement partners and within their task forces to rid the streets of these deadly drugs and arrest those drug pushers.”

  New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “Because of the critical partnerships forged through the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force and the collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners, we were able to dismantle a dangerous heroin/fentanyl drug trafficking operation. The arrests of these criminals reinforces that we will continue to be vigilant in stopping the flow of these dangerous narcotics into our neighborhoods. The sale of such highly addictive drugs perpetuates a cycle of substance abuse which poses a significant threat to safety and quality of life within our communities, and it will not be tolerated. I commend our members and our law enforcement partners for their hard work in uncovering this operation.”

  District Attorney Clark thanked Bronx District Attorney’s Detective Investigators Brian O’Loughlin and John Reilly, under the supervision of Lieutenant Rocco Galasso and Chief Frank Chiara, NYPD Detective Alejandro Olan and Deputy Inspector Lorenzo Johnson of Bronx Narcotics and DEA Strike Force Group Z-52 for their assistance in this case. District Attorney Clark also thanked the Somerset, NJ Prosecutor’s Office, Union County, NJ Prosecutor’s Office, Luzerne County, PA District Attorney’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, New Jersey State Police, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

 District Attorney Clark also announced that her office filed a civil lawsuit yesterday in Bronx Supreme Court suing the defendants for the alleged proceeds of their drug trafficking during the six-month investigation. The civil action is being litigated by Assistant District Attorneys Cristina Paquette and Jennifer Shaw of the Asset Forfeiture Unit under the supervision of Lisa Waller, Deputy Chief of the Civil Litigation Bureau.

  The (DEA) New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police, the U. S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, the Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

 An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt. 

DEFENDANTS - RAMON WALTERS, 42, 1517 Lurting Avenue, Bronx EARL WILLIAMS JR., 39, 1032 Aldus Street, Bronx DENIA HERNANDEZ, 39, 1517 Lurting Avenue, Bronx ROBERTO DAVILA, 42, 3124 Country Club Road, Bronx LUIS PADRO, 45, 2523 University Avenue, Bronx TROY D. CALLWOOD, 45, 2714 Gifford Avenue, Bronx JASON RUIZ, 30, 906 Simpson Street, Bronx FRANCISCO SEVERINO, 32, 3419 Irwin Avenue, Bronx DILANGIE FABIAN, 28, 735 Walton Avenue, Bronx MICHAEL VIERA, 55, Bethlehem PA ELVIN CASTILLO, 40, Hillside, NJ JOAN SILVERIO, 37 Manhattan FAUSTO MUNOZ RODRIGUEZ, 37, Paterson, NJ JOHN DOE. 


Defendant Wounded Postal Worker, Robbed Two People of Their Cars at Gunpoint

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark announced that a Bronx man has been indicted on 39 counts including Attempted Murder, Assault, Robbery and Criminal Possession of a Weapon stemming from a violent crime spree in the Wakefield section of the Bronx that left a U.S. Postal Service employee grazed by a bullet. 

  District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant allegedly turned the streets of Wakefield into a chaotic, dangerous place as he carjacked two vehicles at gunpoint and fired a shot into a U.S. Postal Service truck, wounding the Postal Service employee. He allegedly fired a shot that ended up in someone’s living room. He now faces charges that, upon conviction, could put him in prison for 25 years to life.” 
  District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Clarence Brooks, 27, of East 229th Drive, was arraigned yesterday, May 2, 2017, before Bronx Supreme Court Justice William Mogulescu. He was continued remanded and is due back in court on July 26, 2017. 

  Brooks was indicted on Attempted Murder first and second degree, Attempted Assault first degree, second and third-degree Assault, three counts of second-degree Menacing, first and second-degree Reckless Endangerment, first-degree Criminal Use of a Firearm, two counts each of second-degree, third-degree and fourth-degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Criminal Possession of a Firearm, two counts each of first, second and third-degree Robbery, two counts of fourth-degree Grand Larceny, two counts of Petit Larceny, two counts each of fourth-degree and fifth-degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, two counts of third-degree Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, five counts of fourth-degree Criminal Mischief. 

  According to the investigation, on April 4, 2017, at Carpenter Avenue and East 232nd Street, Brooks allegedly approached the driver in a 2004 Honda Accord and tapped on the glass with a silver firearm, went to the driver’s door and ordered him out and then drove away. A short time later, Brooks allegedly leaned out the driver’s door of the stolen vehicle and fired a bullet at the windshield of a U.S. Postal Service truck. The bullet grazed the worker’s upper right arm. 

  Brooks then allegedly went to a 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, opened the passenger side door and told the driver to drive him, then he entered the vehicle and put a silver gun against her torso. She refused and Brooks ordered her out and drove away in the vehicle.

  Brooks then allegedly caused a collision with another vehicle, and he fired multiple shots through the driver’s window of the Pathfinder and then exited the vehicle, fleeing police officers pursuing him. The shots he fired to break the window struck an adjacent parked vehicle and one went through the window of a first floor apartment, where a man was watching television. He was not injured.

  An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Bronx Chamber of Commerce Best of the Bronx Annual Golf Outing

Trump’s Executive Order Puts Older LGBT Americans’ Liberty in Peril

LGBT elders threatened by Administration’s license to discriminate
  Today, President Trump issued an Executive Order that dangerously sets the table for future government-supported religious discrimination  against LGBT people, especially our elders. This Executive Order gives Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time opponent of LGBT equality, sweeping discretion to authorize religious-based discrimination in all federal agencies, threatening a dramatic expansion of religious exemptions in federally funded services and programs. It would also allow religious organizations lobbying for the right to discriminate a different set of rules that favor them. SAGE is one of many secular non-profits that opposes discrimination and will now be forced to operate on an unfair playing field.
SAGE CEO Michael Adams states: “Anti-LGBT religious leaders and denominations are aggressively lobbying the federal government to authorize religious-based discrimination against LGBT people, including elders who rely on federally funded services. SAGE was founded to fight that discrimination, which LGBT elders face every day. We will do everything in our power to fight efforts by the Trump Administration to facilitate religious-based discrimination against our older community members, who have fought for decades for the equality that we have gradually won.” 
Given the history of religion-based anti-LGBT teachings, LGBT elders have every reason to be deeply concerned by the Trump Administration’s attempt to favor religious voices over all others. Tragically, religious-based discrimination too often forces LGBT elders who need care and services back into “the closet” in order to protect themselves from mistreatment.
This forced self-erasure of LGBT elders, combined with a recent Trump Administration plan to erase LGBT elders from a critically important federal survey on who receives government-funded elder services, represents a dangerous threat to LGBT elders.   
SAGE will continue to stand with and for our LGBT pioneers. We will not back down. We refuse to be invisible.

SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With offices across the country, SAGE coordinates a growing network of local affiliates. Learn more at