Saturday, September 30, 2017

Former Managing Director At New York Broker-Dealer Sentenced In “Pay-To-Play” Bribery Scheme Involving Public Pension Fund

   Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that DEBORAH KELLEY, a former managing director of institutional fixed income sales at a New York-based broker-dealer (the “Broker-Dealer”), was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to three years’ probation, including six months of home confinement, for participating in a “pay-to-play” bribery scheme involving the New York State Common Retirement Fund (“NYSCRF”), the nation’s third largest public pension fund.   KELLEY pled guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and honest services wire fraud on May 30, 2017, before U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken, who also imposed today’s sentence.   

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Deborah Kelley bribed an official with control over the investment of more than $50 billion in state pension fund assets.  She did so to direct business to her brokerage firm and to reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional commissions for herself.  Kelly now has been sentenced for defrauding New York pensioners and depriving them of the honest services of the pension administrator.”

According to the Indictment charging KELLEY, other filings in Manhattan federal court, and statements made during her sentencing proceeding:


The NYSCRF is a pension fund administered for the benefit of public employees of the State of New York.  From January 2014 through February 2016, Navnoor Kang served as Director of Fixed Income and Head of Portfolio Strategy for the NYSCRF.  In that capacity, Kang was responsible for investing more than $53 billion in fixed-income securities on behalf of the NYSCRF.  Kang owed a fiduciary duty to the NYSCRF and its members and beneficiaries, and was required to make investment decisions in their best interests and free of any conflict of interest.  New York State law and NYSCRF policies prohibited Kang and other NYSCRF employees from receiving any bribes, gifts, benefits, or consideration of any kind, as KELLEY well knew.

The Scheme to Steer NYSCRF Fixed-Income Business in Exchange for Secret Bribes

From 2014 through 2016, Kang, KELLEY, and others participated in a scheme to defraud the NYSCRF and its members and beneficiaries, and to deprive the NYSCRF of its intangible right to Kang’s honest services.  The scheme involved, among other things, an agreement among Kang, KELLEY, and others to pay Kang bribes  in the form of entertainment, travel, and lavish meals, among other things  in exchange for fixed-income business from the NYSCRF.  Such bribes were strictly forbidden by the NYSCRF, and were paid secretly and without any disclosure to the NYSCRF and its members and beneficiaries concerning the conflicts of interests inherent therein. 

In exchange for the bribes paid by KELLEY, Kang used his position as Director of Fixed Income and Head of Portfolio Strategy at the NYSCRF to promote the interests of KELLEY and her brokerage firm.  Kang, in exchange for the bribes he received, agreed to steer fixed-income business to the Broker-Dealer.  In so doing, Kang, with KELLEY’s knowledge and approval, breached his fiduciary duty to make investment decisions in the best interest of the NYSCRF and its members and beneficiaries, and free of conflict, and deprived the NYSCRF of its intangible right to Kang’s honest services.  

As KELLEY paid bribes to Kang, the Broker-Dealer’s fixed-income business with the NYSCRF skyrocketed.  The value of NYSCRF’s domestic bond transactions with the Broker-Dealer increased from zero in the fiscal year ending March 1, 2014, to approximately $156 million in the fiscal year ending March 1, 2015, and to approximately $179 million in the fiscal year ending March 1, 2016.  Kang’s trades resulted in the payment of more than a half-million dollars in commissions to the Broker-Dealer, of which KELLEY personally earned nearly $200,000.

Obstruction of Justice

In late 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) opened an investigation into the entertainment and benefits that KELLEY had provided Kang, and the SEC subpoenaed both KELLEY and Kang for their testimony.  In advance of their testimony, KELLEY and Kang agreed to align their stories and testify falsely before the SEC in order to conceal their scheme.  In late 2015 and early 2016, KELLEY and Kang each falsely testified under oath before the SEC about expenses KELLEY had paid for Kang.  

KELLEY, 58, of Piedmont, California, was also ordered to pay a fine of $50,000, to forfeit $187,991.19, and to complete 1000 hours of community service.  Restitution will be determined within 90 days of sentencing.

In December 2016, Gregg Schonhorn, a former a vice president of fixed income sales at another New York-based broker-dealer, pled guilty for his participation in the scheme.  Kang, against whom charges for conspiracy, securities fraud, honest services wire fraud, and obstruction of justice are currently pending, is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  Kang is scheduled to proceed to trial on December 4, 2017.

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and noted that the investigation is continuing.   He also thanked the SEC, which filed civil charges against Kang, KELLEY, and Schonhorn in a separate civil action, and the Office of Inspector General for the Office of the New York State Comptroller.

Cuny Medgar Evers College Lecturer Charged With Federal Offenses For Selling Fake College Certificates

    Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Catherine Leahy Scott, New York State Inspector General, and Debbi Mayer, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General, Northeastern Regional Office (“ED-OIG”), announced today that MAMDOUH ABDEL-SAYED, a full-time, tenured lecturer at the City University of New York’s Medgar Evers College (“Medgar Evers College”), was arrested this morning and charged in Manhattan federal court with fraud, corruption, and obstruction offenses related to his selling of sham Medgar Evers College certificates that purported to represent the completion of health care courses at the College.  ABDEL-SAYED was arrested this morning and will be presented this afternoon in Manhattan federal court.    

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “As alleged, a faculty member of Medgar Evers College abused his position to enrich himself by creating and selling fake certificates stating students had completed health care programs at the college.  In allegedly doing so, Abedel-Sayed out of greed put public health at risk.  I want to thank our partners at the New York State Inspector General and Department of Education Office of Inspector General for their continued efforts to root out corruption at federally funded New York schools.”

New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said:  “This defendant ignored repeated warnings and allegedly still brazenly abused the name and resources of his college employer to operate what amounted to his own fraudulent trade school on the grounds of the City University of New York.  He allegedly traded on the reputation of Medgar Evers College and pocketed all the fees students paid while undercutting legitimate schooling being performed by his colleagues across the campus.  I will continue my overarching and ongoing investigation into the management and oversight of CUNY campuses while diligently pursuing anyone, as in this case, who allegedly violates the trust of their public position.”

ED-OIG Assistant Special Agent in Charge Debbi Mayer said:  “Today’s action alleges that Mr. Abdel-Sayed not only abused his position of trust for personal gain, but did so at the expense of students.  That is unacceptable.  OIG will continue to aggressively pursue those who misappropriate education funds for their own purposes.  America’s students and taxpayers deserve nothing less.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court and publicly available documents:

MAMDOUH ABDEL-SAYED is a tenured lecturer in the Biology Department at Medgar Evers College.  From at least 2013 through 2017, without authorization from Medgar Evers College, ABDEL-SAYED purported to teach health care courses at the College on topics such as Electrocardiograms, Phlebotomy, and Sonography, and provided students with sham certificates of completion for the courses, in exchange for which ABDEL-SAYED charged fees of up to $1,000 per certificate, which money he kept for himself.  ABDEL-SAYED attempted to avoid scrutiny from the College’s security guards in conducting the unauthorized courses.    

 In addition to charging fees for the unauthorized courses and sham certificates, ABDEL-SAYED encouraged students to use the certificates in obtaining employment in the health care field, including at New York City-area hospitals.  When asked by employment agencies to verify the authenticity of the certificates, ABDEL-SAYED falsely informed the agencies that the certificates were issued by Medgar Evers College.  In fact, ABDEL-SAYED created the sham certificates himself, and provided them to students even if the students did not attend his unauthorized courses, so long as the students paid ABDEL-SAYED for the certificates.  In addition, ABDEL-SAYED distributed copies of purported national certification examinations – which he informed students on a recorded conversation it was “illegal” for them to possess – in order to assist the students in passing licensing examinations supposedly administered by the State for certain medical techniques. 

After ABDEL-SAYED became aware of the investigation, he instructed an undercover law enforcement investigator, who had posed as a student and purchased several unauthorized certificates from him, to provide false information to federal law enforcement agents and to conceal those certificates from the agents.       

ABDEL-SAYED, 68, of Kearny, New Jersey, is charged with one count of conversion from a program receiving federal funds and one count of soliciting bribes, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and one count of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice, each of which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

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

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the New York State Inspector General’s Office and ED-OIG. 

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below constitutes only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Founder And Former CEO Of Technology Firm Sentenced To 49 Months In Prison For Multimillion-Dollar Fraud On Investors

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MARYSE LIBURDI was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 49 months in prison for her scheme to defraud investors in a technology company founded and operated by LIBURDI out of more than $7 million.  LIBURDI was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote, before whom she previously pled guilty.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Maryse Liburdi lied to investors about the condition of her company and used over a million dollars in investor funds to pay for her own rent, clothing, spas and salons.  For those crimes, today she received a sentence of 49 months in federal prison.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment to which LIBURDI pled guilty, a criminal complaint filed against LIBURDI, and statements made during the plea and other court proceeding proceedings:

Since at least in or about 2010, LIBURDI perpetrated a multi-year scheme to defraud individuals into investing in a technology company (the “Company”) founded and run by LIBURDI.  LIBURDI repeatedly made misrepresentations to investors about the Company’s revenue and assets, manipulated Company bank accounts to hide the Company’s true financial condition and, contrary to LIBURDI’s express promises to the investors, converted investor funds to her own use.

While LIBURDI repeatedly told investors that the Company had millions of dollars in revenue, the Company’s bank records show that, from at least 2008 until the Company ceased operating in January 2015, the Company earned little or no revenue.  Moreover, as reflected in the Company’s bank records, LIBURDI misappropriated investor funds, transferring over $1 million to her and her former husband’s bank accounts and to pay LIBURDI’s personal expenses, including luxury clothing.  For example, LIBURDI used funds from one victim investor for, among other things, transfers to a personal bank account in the name of LIBURDI and her former husband, rental payments for LIBURDI’s three-bedroom Manhattan apartment, payments for personal credit cards, and substantial personal expenditures on corporate credit cards, including, among other things, expenditures at various retail clothing, accessories, and cosmetics stores, salons and spas, and wine and liquor stores. 

In order to hide her scheme, LIBURDI manipulated the Company’s bank accounts by, on at least three occasions, writing checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars drawn on accounts with insufficient funds in order to fraudulently inflate the balance of a Company bank account and thereby hide the Company’s true cash balance from the investors.  For example, in October 2013, LIBURDI wrote and deposited into the Company’s bank account a $700,000 check drawn on a different account that had a balance of only about $2,000.  LIBURDI then falsely represented to the victims that the Company’s bank account held approximately $700,000 and showed investors a bank statement for the Company account listing the inflated balance.  As result of LIBURDI’s fraud, victim-investors in the Company lost more than $7 million.

In addition to the prison term, LIBURDI, 46, formerly of Victoria, Minnesota, and New York, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and was ordered to forfeit $7,069,904.46 and to pay $7,069,904.46 in restitution to the victims of her offense.

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He also thanked Italian law enforcement authorities, including Interpol Rome, for their assistance in LIBURDI’s arrest, as well as the Department of Justice’s Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rome and the DOJ Office of International Affairs.

High-Ranking “YGz” Gang Member Sentenced To 42 Years In Prison For Murder Of 17-Year-Old And Other Crimes

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JASON MOYE, a/k/a “Tall Jay,” was sentenced this afternoon to a term of 444 months in prison, which must run consecutive to a prior prison sentence of five years, for his crimes as a high-ranking member of the “Young Gunnaz” or “YGz” gang, including the December 22, 2011, murder of Taisheem Ferguson, a/k/a “Trey,” 17.  MOYE was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by United States District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, before whom he previously pled guilty. 

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “A few days before Christmas in 2011, in broad daylight on a busy street, Moye ordered a fellow YGz gang member to shoot into a crowd, senselessly killing 17-year-old Taisheem Ferguson.  With today’s sentence, Moye has been held to account for this tragic murder and for his other crimes.  We hope that today’s sentence brings some consolation and justice to the victims of Moye’s crimes, in particular the family of Taisheem Ferguson.  Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute gang violence in our community.”
According to the charging and other documents filed in the case, and statements made during MOYE’s guilty plea and sentencing proceedings and other court proceedings in this case:
MOYE was a high-ranking member of the Bronx-based street gang known as the YGz.  From 2005 to 2016, members and associates of the YGz enriched themselves by committing robberies and by selling drugs, such as crack cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, and committed numerous acts of violence, including the murder of both rivals and innocent bystanders. 
As part of his involvement in the YGz gang, MOYE participated in numerous acts of violence in the South Bronx.  In particular, on the afternoon of December 22, 2011, MOYE ordered a member of the YGz to shoot into a crowd of rival gang members who were approaching them on Morris Avenue near 151st Street in the Bronx.  The YGz member fired several gunshots as directed, one of which killed Ferguson.
MOYE, 29, of the Bronx, is the sixth defendant to be sentenced this year by Judge Caproni for participation in a YGz-related murder.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York City Police Department in the investigation of this case.  He also thanked the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office for their support in this case.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Convictions Of Wall Street Financier For Financial Fraud, Including Stealing From Bronx Church And Villanova University

Anthony Nyame, CEO Of General Capital Corporation, Convicted On Felony Charges, Faces Prison Time

  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the convictions of Anthony Nyame for stealing over $3.5 million from multiple victims.  In one scheme, Nyame stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his victims, including the First Ghana Seventh Day Adventist Church in the Bronx, by inducing them into believing that his Wall Street based company, General Capital Corporation, had the ability to secure millions of dollars in loans. In a different scheme, Nyame stole over $2.5 from Villanova University through a cyber-attack.
Nyame, of Bronx county, pleaded guilty in New York County Supreme Court to Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a Class “B” felony.  Previously, on September 13, 2017, Nyame pleaded guilty to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class “C” felony, and one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class “D” felony.  

“It is simply appalling that anyone would choose to fleece universities and churches in order to line their own pockets. New Yorkers deserve to know that when they seek to grow their organization, there isn’t a fraudster lurking in the shadows. We’ll continue our work to uncover financial fraud -- and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.

Part of Nymae’s theft involved stealing $2.7 million dollars from Villanova University, through cybercrime. According to court documents and statements made by the prosecutor, Nyame’s sent a spoofed email to Villanova University’s payment department.  The email caused an electronic wire payment of approximately $2.7 million dollars destined for a vendor of the University, to be redirected to Nyame’s bank account. Once Nyame received the wire, he transferred almost $200,000 out of the country before the bank could freeze the remaining balance.  
According to the indictment and prior statements by the prosecutor, Nyame also convinced many of his unwitting victims into believing that his company could arrange for tens of millions of dollars in loans provided they pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to collateralize the loans. In one case, Nyame allegedly promised to obtain a $30 million loan for a church located in the Bronx that was seeking to build a multi-family dwelling on its property. Instead of using the deposits to secure the promised loans, Nyame allegedly diverted monies from the church and other investors for his own personal use – including $71,000 in cash withdrawals and transfers to his personal bank account, $47,000 to pay for his Wall Street apartment, and an additional $26,000 for assorted personal items. Nyame also transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to multiple companies and people around the world.
As part of Nyame’s loan scheme, he allegedly sent forged documents and fake emails to his victims that purported to come from the United States Treasury, including fake emails from the former Under Secretary David S. Cohen. The goal of the forged documents and fake emails was to convince the victims that the loans were delayed because they were in the process of being approved and verified by the U.S. Treasury.
Nyame will be sentenced concurrently on both guilty pleas to a minimum of 1 year in jail if he pays restitution of $800,000 to his victims to the victims of his loan scheme, or alternatively up to 3 to 9 years if he does not pay any restitution to his victims.  
The Attorney General thanks Special Agent Thomas Brodowski of the United States Treasury, Office of the Inspector General, for his assistance in this investigation.

Operation Sticky Fingers: A.G. Schneiderman Announces Felony Convictions Of Members Of Massive Nationwide Organized Theft Ring

Joint AG-NYSP Investigation Leads To Guilty Pleas Of Three Defendants Who Will Be Sentenced To State Prison
Operation Sticky Fingers Was One of The Largest-Ever Busts Of An Organized Retail Theft Ring
 Ring Stole Over $12 Million In High-End Electronics & Ink Cartridges From Stores Like Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy In 28 States – And Resold Merchandise On Amazon And eBay
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty pleas of three individuals in Operation Sticky Fingers for their roles as members of a massive criminal theft and fencing ring that operated in New York and 27 other states across the country. Operation Stick Fingers was one of the largest-ever busts of a retail theft ring. 
During “Operation Sticky Fingers,” a ten-month investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force with support from the New York State Police, law enforcement seized more than 5,300 stolen electronics and ink cartridges from the enterprise’s kingpin, Richard Rimbaugh; the enterprise’s theft crew manager, George Athanasatos; and from various members of the theft crews. In addition, investigators seized more than $7.7 million dollars from the defendants’ homes, financial institutions, and Amazon and PayPal merchant accounts.
Athanasatos pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption, criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, and money laundering in the second degree.  He will be sentenced to 3 ½ to 7 years in prison and will forfeit $439,204.88 in illegal proceeds. Additionally, both Robert Scarano and Joseph Pooler pleaded guilty. Scarano will receive a sentence of 2 to 6 years in prison, while Pooler will be sentenced to 1 to 3 years. 
“Retail theft is not a victimless crime. Ultimately, consumers pay higher prices while the perpetrators of these schemes cash in,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “These guilty pleas -- and the forfeiture of hundreds of thousands of dollars -- mark a major victory in what was one of the largest-ever busts of a retail theft ring. Even as these schemes grow more complex and elaborate, we will continue to work closely with our partners in law enforcement to prosecute those who shortchange New York businesses and consumers.”
The Attorney General’s investigation uncovered that Rimbaugh, known to members of the enterprise as the “General,” allegedly instructed several theft crews to steal specific printer ink cartridges, computer software, and other consumer retail electronics based on his ability to resell those stolen goods on Amazon and eBay.  Rimbaugh allegedly dictated the price that the theft crews would receive for the stolen merchandise, typically paying between 30-50% of the retail value, then resold the stolen merchandise on the internet through his illegitimate business, American Media Soft, which he operated out of his Manhattan apartment. At this location, Rimbaugh allegedly received, sorted, catalogued, and shipped the stolen merchandise for resale.  Rimbaugh also routinely met with theft crew members to pay them for the stolen merchandise.  The crews are charged with stealing millions of dollars in merchandise – including electronic goods and printer cartridges – from Staples, Office Depot, BestBuy, and other retailers across 28 states. During the course of the investigation, OCTF investigators used physical and electronic surveillance to track the movements of the theft crews, monitor their shipments of stolen goods to Rimbaugh, and obtain numerous surveillance videos of the theft crews while stealing merchandise from retail stores across the country.
George Athanasatos, of Brooklyn, who was referred to by members of the enterprise as “Field Marshall,” admitted today that he reported directly to Rimbaugh and was the manager of three of the four theft crews that delivered stolen merchandise to Rimbaugh at his Manhattan apartment.  Athanasatos managed the day-to-day operations of these three theft crews and received a percentage of the total amount of money that Rimbaugh would pay the crew for their stolen merchandise.  Rimbaugh and Athanasatos dispatched the three theft crews on missions to various regions across the country and remotely managed their progress during each undertaking, which took place on a weekly basis. 
In addition to advising the theft crewmembers, Athanasatos admitted to providing the groups with coded maps detailing target retail locations, such as Staples, Office Depot, and Best Buy.  He also provided members of the theft crews with “booster” gear, such as custom-made vests known as “bazookas.” When worn underneath regular clothing, “bazookas” can conceal large amounts of merchandise while inside of the stores.  When departing the stores, the crews allegedly used “kryptonite” devices to deactivate security alarms at store exits, as well as short-wave radios, which made it easier for the crews to eavesdrop on store security in order to warn one another about the presence of security or law enforcement.  Multiple anti-security devices, such as “kryptonite”, Alpha Keys, and Spider Wraps, were seized from Athanasatos’ residence during the execution of a search warrant.
Robert Scarano, of Las Vegas, also pleaded guilty today to enterprise corruption.  He will be sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison. Scarano admitted to being the leader of a two-person theft crew that executed dozens of retail thefts and delivered thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise to Rimbaugh at his Manhattan apartment. Scarano is scheduled to be sentenced on November 15, 2017.
Joseph Pooler, a/k/a “Baby Arm Johnson,” of Stroudsburg, PA also pleaded guilty today to enterprise corruption.  He will be sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison. Pooler admitted to being the Sergeant of a two-person theft crew that executed dozens of retail thefts and delivered thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise to Rimbaugh at his Manhattan apartment. Pooler is scheduled to be sentenced on November 15, 2017.
The following defendants have previously pled guilty:
Frank Albergo, of Oviedo, FL, pled guilty to attempted enterprise corruption on April 26, 2017 and was sentenced to 1 ½ to 4 ½ years in prison for his role as a theft crew Lieutenant.
Krissylee Harris, of Brooklyn, NY, pled guilty to attempted enterprise corruption on May 10, 2017 for her role as a theft crew Lieutenant.                                        
Nusret Srdanovic, of Brooklyn, NY, pled guilty to enterprise corruption on April 26, 2017 and was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison for his role as a theft crew Sergeant.
Kevin Cerrato, of Elmont, NY, pled guilty to enterprise corruption on July 6, 2017 for his role as a theft crew Sergeant.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 4, 2017.
The charges against the following defendants are still pending:
Richard Rimbaugh, a/k/a “The General,” 64, Fence of the Enterprise, New York, NY
George Rapatsouleas, a/k/a “Skipper,” a/k/a “Nipplehead,” 31, Captain, Brooklyn, NY
Gregory Anastasiou, a/k/a “Captain Frank”, 38, Captain, East Stroudsburg, PA
Giovanna Bonello, 28, Lieutenant, Staten Island, NY
Roger Ringhiser, 41, Captain, Long Beach, NY,
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

A.G. Schneiderman, Gov. Cuomo, & Mayor De Blasio Announce Settlement With Major NYC Landlord To End Tenant Harassment And Hazardous Living Conditions

Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force Reaches Settlement With ICON Realty Management To Protect Tenants And Preserve Affordable Housing, Following Harassment And Hazardous Living Complaints From East Village, Lower East Side, And Brooklyn Tenants
ICON To Also Pay $500,000 In Penalties, Fees, And Costs
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a first of its kind settlement between the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force (Task Force) and ICON Realty Management (ICON). This settlement provides tenants broad relief, requiring the landlord to end harassment and hazardous living conditions for the hundreds of tenants in buildings owned and managed by ICON.
Tenants in several ICON-owned rent-regulated buildings in the East Village, the Lower East Side, and Brooklyn were forced to live in adverse conditions, enduring excessive dust and debris from construction in the building common areas and apartments, inconsistent and irregular heat and hot water, and lack of cooking gas and elevator service for extended periods. The Task Force investigation found that, on multiple occasions, ICON failed to obtain Department of Buildings (DOB) work permits, performed construction outside the scope of permits issued, and failed to appropriately clean or maintain the construction work areas. The Task Force investigation also found that ICON ignored tenants’ requests for repairs, failed to timely correct housing and building code violations, and subjected tenants to long-lasting interruptions of heat, hot water, and cooking gas services.
The Assurance of Discontinuance (AOD), executed today by the Attorney General’s office, requires ICON to adopt policies and procedures to prevent future violations and safety risks; corrects all outstanding housing, maintenance, and building code violations; establishes safe construction practices; provides rent abatements to tenants during disruptions of essential services; appoints a tenant liaison to immediately address tenant concerns; and establishes an independent monitor to ensure ICON’s compliance with the agreement. The settlement also requires ICON to pay $300,000 to the State of New York (on behalf of the Task Force) and over $200,000 in penalties, fees, and costs to New York City’s Housing Preservation & Development and Department of Buildings.
“Unscrupulous landlords should be on notice: we’ll use every legal tool at our disposal to protect New York’s tenants,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Too often, bad landlords see rent-regulated apartments as a goldmine – looking to make a quick buck by using construction to harass tenants out of their homes. No New Yorker should have to fear for their health or their safety in their own home. This settlement marks another win for New York’s tenants as our Task Force continues to protect their rights and hold landlords accountable.”
“This settlement agreement makes it clear that we have zero tolerance for a landlord’s illegal and harmful construction that exposes tenants to harassing and hazardous living conditions.  I am proud of the TPU and all the work we’ve accomplished with the Task Force to protect rent-regulated tenants from predatory and abusive landlords. New Yorkers have the right to safe decent homes that do not jeopardize their health and safety,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
"Property owners in this City have a clear legal responsibility to their tenants and those duties were repeatedly violated by this company. We will continue to work hand in glove with our law enforcement partners to protect New York tenants and punish deadbeat landlords,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force was created in 2015 in response to growing complaints that landlords were using construction as a mean to harass and endanger the health and safety of tenants. It includes the Governor’s Tenant Protection Unit, the New York State Attorney General (NYAG), and New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and Department of Buildings (DOB). The Task Force combines multi-agency resources to address actions that jeopardize affordable housing and endanger tenants.  It executes unannounced top-to-bottom inspections of buildings in New York City, interviews tenants, and shares agency data to build investigations and provide tenants with comprehensive relief. The work of the Task Force has led to criminal prosecutions, such as the case against Daniel Melamed, and/or civil litigation or settlement, such as today’s settlement with ICON.
Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner of New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said, “Landlords like ICON are exactly why Mayor de Blasio recently enacted eighteen new pieces of legislation strengthening New York’s protections against tenant harassment and increasing penalties for owners who continue to engage in it. One of these new bills, Intro. 1549, specifically addresses this type of behavior and ensures tenants have the right to sue landlords for harassment for repeated disruption of essential services. Landlords know that engage in construction harassment will face consequences.”
New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE, said, “We are proud of our work on the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force and my agency will continue to take strong action to ensure landlords who violate the laws and harass tenants will be held accountable. No landlord is allowed to use unsafe construction practices to harass tenants.”
“This agreement is a big win for tenants” said Yonatan Tadele of the Cooper Square Committee. “Tenants have suffered for years under ICON ownership and management. They've spoken out and tenaciously organized against ICON’s tactics. A coalition of Icon tenants from around the City, Icon Community United (ICU), brought their concerns to the Task Force. We are very glad to see such a strong settlement come forward.”



  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been indicted for Aggravated Cruelty to Animals and related charges for the brutalization of a small dog. 

   District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant was cruel and relentless in his incomprehensible attack on a small, defenseless animal. Surveillance video captured this horror and we will now work hard to obtain justice; we emphasize our continued dedication to protecting vulnerable animals.” 

  District Attorney Clark said the defendant, George Reid, 37, of 2414 Belmont Ave., was indicted for Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, Torturing and Injuring Animals and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. He was arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice George Villegas and bail was set at $25,000. He is due back on December 20, 2017. If convicted of the top charge, he faces up to two years in prison. 

  According to the investigation, on August 16, 2017 in his apartment building, the defendant allegedly repeatedly attacked his dog, punching, kicking and slamming the animal to the ground. At one point during the assault, the defendant held the small dog by the neck and punched the canine in front of a young girl. The crime was captured on surveillance video and the defendant was later seen taking out a garbage bag. The body of a small dog was observed in the building’s garbage bin later that evening.

  DA Clark thanked the NYPD Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, specifically Detectives Kevin Connors and Charles Cadiz, as well as ASPCA veterinarian, Dr. Robert Reisman. 

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


  On Wednesday, October 4Mayor Bill de Blasio will host a town hall with residents of the 15th Council District, including the neighborhoods of Bedford Park, Fordham, Mount Hope, Bathgate, Belmont, East Tremont, West Farms, Van Nest, Allerton and Olinville. The event is co-sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Congressman José E. Serrano, State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assembly Member José Rivera.

Residents of the 15th Council District are asked to RSVP by October 2 at 5 p.m. via email or by calling (212) 788-6732. Space is limited.

 WHAT:           Council District 15 Town Hall

WHEN:           Wednesday, October 4, 2017
                        Doors open at 6:00 P.M.
   Program begins at 7:00 P.M.

WHERE:         I.S. 254
                 2452 Washington Avenue
                        between 188th and 189th Streets
  Bronx, NY 10458

Bronx Chamber of Commerce 2017 Bronx Biz & Information Expo | Thursday, October 5th, 11:00 am-5:00 pm, at The Mall at Bay Plaza


  On the one-year anniversary of the Office of Minority and Women-owned Enterprises (M/WBEs), Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, Citywide M/WBE Director; the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs; the Department of Small Business Services and State Senator Marisol Alcantara hosted an M/WBE certification event at the Isabella Geriatric Center in Washington Heights.

At this certification event, Deputy Mayor Buery announced that, for the first time, the City has awarded over $1 billion to M/WBEs in one Fiscal Year (FY) – FY17. The $1 billion in awards to M/WBEs is double the value of contracts awarded in FY15. For context, the City awarded nearly $400 million to M/WBEs in FY15. Awards to M/WBEs increased to nearly $700 million in FY16.

The contracts have been awarded by the Mayoral agencies governed by Local Law 1, which does not include non-mayoral agencies such as NYCHA, EDC and Health and Hospitals. When including the awards of non-mayoral agencies, the City has awarded over $6 billion to M/WBEs since FY2015 under its OneNYC Plan– a plan that established a goal of awarding $16 billion to M/WBEs by close of FY 2025.

The Deputy Mayor also thanked leadership and member of both houses of the Legislature, in particular legislative bill sponsors State Senator Alcantara and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman for passing a State bill that expands economic opportunity for New York City’s M/WBEs.

A key goal of the de Blasio Administration is to certify 9,000 M/WBEs by 2019. The certification event helped firms learn how to obtain M/WBE certification, which is done by the Department of Small Business Services, with the City of New York and access free programs and services to help attendees grow and sustain their businesses. Certified firms are listed on the City’s online directory of certified companies where they are more visible to City agencies and private companies.

About S6513-B/A8508-A
S6513-B/A8508-A allows the City to spend up to $150,000 on purchase contracts (goods and services) with minority and women-owned businesses without requiring those businesses to first go through a time-consuming formal competitive bidding process. This increased discretionary spending limit for goods and services is now closer to the State’s $200,000 limit in this area. The City currently has $20,000 and $35,000 in discretionary spending limits for purchase contracts and construction, respectively.

This change would help minority and women-owned businesses overcome the historical disadvantages they have faced in the marketplace. The legislation also allows the City to award points or price preference to a firm for being a City-certified or State-certified M/WBE during the RFP evaluation process. In June 2016, the legislature passed the bill with a vote of 115-15 in the Assembly and unanimously in the Senate.


   The de Blasio Administration detailed plans to launch a Shared Street on 43rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue as part of the rezoning of Greater East Midtown. That comprehensive plan, developed with Council Member Dan Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, included major improvements to the public realm and streetscapes across the business district. The NYC Department of Transportation will begin piloting a new configuration of 43rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues in spring 2018 that will increase sidewalk space, provide room for tables, chairs and plantings and lower vehicle speeds—while maintaining access for deliveries. A full capital buildout of the space will be completed by 2021.

The rezoning of East Midtown directly ties new commercial growth to improvements in the district’s public transit and public space. In addition to the 43rd Street ‘shared street,’ New Yorkers will see major investments in subway stations, less congested sidewalks and expansive plazas across the district.

“This shared street will make a big difference in the quality of life for people working and traveling near Grand Central. It’s part of our commitment to a new formula for growth,” saidMayor de Blasio. “In the years ahead, this neighborhood will see major upgrades to subway stations, more expansive space for pedestrians, investments in its iconic landmarks, and a new generation of office buildings that will spur good jobs for New Yorkers.”

A “Shared Street” is a roadway designed for slow travel speeds where pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists all share the right of way. Vehicles are advised to drive 5MPH and the roadway is flush from building line to building line without the typical curb line grade separation. Shared streets can be designed and managed in a variety of different ways to balance the needs of all users while enhancing the safety, aesthetics, and overall experience of the area. Earlier this year, DOT created its first full-time Shared Street on Broadway between 24th and 25th Streets in the Flatiron District; on that block during evening rush hours, pedestrians had previously outnumbered vehicles by an 18:1 margin.   
East Midtown is the city’s largest business district, generating 250,000 jobs and 10 percent of the city’s property tax revenue. But its office buildings average 75 years-old and have become increasingly out-of-date and inefficient for today’s companies. The rezoning passed in August will spur a new generation of office buildings to grow jobs and keep New York competitive, while investing in the area’s streets and public transit.
“Our newest Shared Street, steps away from Grand Central Station, will be an amazing public space in the heart of one of the densest parts of New York City,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.  “In a part of Midtown where pedestrians can outnumber cars by as much as 16 to 1, we will strike a better balance.  Pedestrians, bicycles and slow-moving cars will all safely share this block of East 43rd Street, which will become more welcoming and more vital.  We thank Deputy Mayor Glen, Councilmember Garodnick and our community partners for their leadership in the continued transformation of this vibrant neighborhood.”

Wave Hill Events Oct 13–Oct 20

Wedged between two autumn high points—Wings over Wave Hill Day and Enchanted Wave Hill Weekend—this is a week to absorb the rich, fall landscape. Assistant Director of Horticulture Matt Turnbull’s walk on Saturday, Late-Season Blooms, would be a fine place to start. Perhaps begin the morning at master carpenter Frank Perrone’s woodworking workshop and come away with your own, one-of-a-kind, sculptural bird feeder—but make your reservations soon! After a light lunch in The Café, stroll back toward Glyndor Gallery and a reading of Mark Twain’s controversial “The War Prayer” by Call & Response exhibition artist Kiran Chandra. Food for body and soul!

Sat, October 14    Woodworking: Bird Feeder Workshop
Using basic woodworking tools, assemble a one-of-kind sculptural bird feeder for your garden’s avian friends with master woodworker, author and Wave Hill Director of Facilities Frank Perrone. The finished project can be mounted on a pole or hung from a wire, just in time for winter birdwatching! No carpentry experience required. Ages 12 and up welcome with an adult. Space is limited. $60/$50 Wave Hill Member. Registration required, online at or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. 

Sat, October 14    Family Art Project: October Treasures
Stroll along Wave Hill’s Conifer Slope or venture to the lower woodland to see the treasures autumn trees have laid upon the grounds. Use your findings, along with buttons, small stones and a bit of sparkle, to decorate a recycled box or metal tin, a home for your growing nature collection. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon

Sat, October 14    Garden Highlights Walk
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Sat, October 14    Garden Walk: Late Season Blooms
Trees are not the only colorful part of Wave Hill’s autumn landscape. Late-blooming plants such as asters, dahlias, perennial sunflowers and salvias create a spectacle equal to that of spring. Join Assistant Director of Horticulture Matthew Turnbull as he shares his seasonal floral favorites. Free with admission to the grounds.

Sat, October 14    Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer,” A Call & Response Interpretive Reading by Kiran Chandra
On select Saturdays, Call & Response artists present talks, readings, live music, performance art and workshops in and around Glyndor Gallery. Artist Kiran Chandra presents an interpretive reading of Mark Twain’s controversial 1905 text “The War Prayer.” When Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was a resident of Wave Hill House, he built a treehouse on the property. Chandra’s reading commemorates Twain’s structure and the writings at Wave Hill at the beginning of the 20th century. The reading will be performed in front of Chandra’s outdoor installation. Free with admission to the grounds.

Sun, October 15    Family Art Project: October Treasures
Stroll along Wave Hill’s Conifer Slope or venture to the lower woodland to see the treasures autumn trees have laid upon the grounds. Use your findings, along with buttons, small stones and a bit of sparkle, to decorate a recycled box or metal tin, a home for your growing nature collection. Free with admission to the grounds. 

Sun, October 15    Garden Highlights Walk
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.

Mon, October 16    
Closed to the public.

Mon, October 16    Members Trip: Mansions along the Old Croton Aqueduct   SOLD OUT
Meander along the Old Croton Aqueduct trail from Irvington to Tarrytown to admire mansions, architectural landmarks and Hudson River views, with Sara Kelsey of the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct. Hear about local history as you explore the 19th-century Tiffany Reading Room in Irvington, as well as the landscape and architectural features of the Lyndhurst estate, an unusual octagonal house, and other historic properties along the route. This trip includes significant walking, mostly along level terrain. Lunch on your own in Irvington. $65 Wave Hill Member includes transportation and tour fees. Reservations required, online at or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. Rain date:Monday, October 23.

Tue, October 17    Garden Highlights Walk
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Tue, October 17    Gallery Tour
Wave Hill’s Curatorial Fellow leads a tour of the current exhibition in Glyndor Gallery. This fall, the entire gallery is given over to new site-responsive projects honoring the tenth anniversary of Wave Hill’s Sunroom Project Space. Call & Response showcases the work of 50 artists who have exhibited in this unique venue, in projects ranging from art objects created from natural materials gathered onsite, to sound pieces, outdoor installations and performance works. Free with admission to the grounds.

Thu, October 19    Art Workshop: Plein Air-Journals    SOLD OUT
Using the intimate space of the journal page, depict human-made elements in the landscape in this outdoor workshop. Artist Wennie Huang shares traditional and alternative journal formats and provides individual guidance on drawing and plein-air techniques. Basic materials provided; participants receive a short list of additional recommended materials. This four-session workshop continues October 26,November 2 and 9. $185/$150 Wave Hill Member. Registration required, online at or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center.

A 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River  and Palisades, Wave Hill’s mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscape, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.

HOURS  Open all year, Tuesday through Sunday and many major holidays: 9AM–5:30PM, starting March 15.  Closes 4:30PM, November 1–March 14.
ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6–18. Free Saturday and Tuesdaymornings until noon. Free to Wave Hill Members and children under 6.

PROGRAM FEES  Programs are free with admission to the grounds unless otherwise noted.

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one-day getaway offer. Purchase a discount round-trip rail far and discount admission to the gardens. More at

DIRECTIONS – Getting here is easy! Located only 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan, Wave Hill’s free shuttle van transports you to and from our front gate and Metro-North’s Riverdale station, as well as the W. 242nd Street stop on the #1 subway line. Limited onsite parking is available for $8 per vehicle. Free offsite parking is available nearby with continuous, complimentary shuttle service to and from the offsite lot and our front gate. Complete directions and shuttle bus schedule at

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at