Saturday, December 9, 2017

Real Estate Developers Sentenced In White Plains Federal Court For Conspiracy To Corrupt The Electoral Process In Bloomingburg

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that SHALOM LAMM and KENNETH NAKDIMEN were sentenced for conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process, in connection with an election in Bloomingburg, New York.  LAMM was sentenced today to 10 months in prison.  NAKDIMEN was previously sentenced on September 15, 2017, to six months in prison.  Both defendants were sentenced by United States District Judge Vincent Briccetti in White Plains federal court. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated:  “False and fraudulent voter registrations have no place in our democracy.  As the sentences imposed on Shalom Lamm and Kenneth Nakdimen show, those who try to undermine the integrity of our elections will be prosecuted and punished.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment, as well as statements made in related court filings and proceedings:

Starting in 2006, LAMM and NAKDIMEN, real estate developers, sought to build and sell real estate in Bloomingburg, New York.  From these real estate development projects, LAMM, NAKDIMEN, and others hoped for and anticipated making hundreds of millions of dollars.  But by late 2013, the first of their real estate developments had met local opposition, and still remained under construction and uninhabitable.  When met with resistance, rather than seek to advance their real estate development project through legitimate means, LAMM, NAKDIMEN, and others instead decided to corrupt the democratic electoral process in Bloomingburg by falsely registering voters and paying bribes for voters who would help elect public officials favorable to their project.

Specifically, in advance of an election in March 2014 for Mayor of Bloomingburg and other local officials, LAMM, NAKDIMEN, and others, and people working on their behalf, developed and worked on a plan to falsely register numerous people who were not entitled to register and vote in Bloomingburg because they actually lived elsewhere.  Those people included some who never intended to live in Bloomingburg, some who had never kept a home in Bloomingburg, and indeed, some who had never set foot in Bloomingburg.  LAMM, NAKDIMEN, and others took steps to cover up their scheme to register voters who did not actually live in Bloomingburg by, among other things, creating and back-dating false leases and placing items like toothbrushes and toothpaste in unoccupied apartments to make it seem as if the falsely registered voters lived there.

LAMM, NAKDIMEN, and others also bribed potential voters by offering payments, subsidies, and other items of value to get non-residents of Bloomingburg to register unlawfully and vote there. 
In addition to the prison terms, LAMM, 58, of Bloomingburg, New York, was sentenced to one year of supervised release, a $20,000 fine, and 400 hours of community service and NAKDIMEN, 64, of Monsey, New York, was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and 400 hours of community service.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI-Hudson Valley White Collar Crime Task Force, the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office, the Sullivan County Sherriff’s Office, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.  Mr. Kim also thanked the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, Election Crimes Branch, for its assistance in the case.

Former Hoboken City Council President Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For His Participation In A $7 Million Car Loan Scheme

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that former Hoboken, New Jersey, City Council president and attorney CHRISTOPHER CAMPOS was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 30 months in prison for fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in car loans.  CAMPOS used approximately 20 straw buyers to purchase more than 200 new automobiles based on false representations that, among other things, the straw buyers would use the cars for their personal use when, in fact, CAMPOS and his co-conspirators obtained the vehicles in order to lease them as livery cabs.  After a week-long trial, CAMPOS was found guilty on June 22, 2017, of bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.  U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni presided over that trial and imposed today’s sentence.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Christopher Campos, an attorney and former Hoboken City Council president, defrauded lenders out of millions of dollars.  He put up straw buyers to obtain loans for ‘personal use’ cars that in fact comprised a fleet of over 200 vehicles leased to livery drivers.  Campos has now received the significant sentence his crimes merit.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, Indictment, and the evidence presented in Court during the trial:

Between approximately October 2012 and September 2013, CAMPOS and his co-conspirator Julio Alvarez, among others, orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently obtain new automobiles that they intended to lease to livery cab drivers.  In order to secure financing in connection with the purchase of these new cars, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators enlisted and aided individuals with good credit histories (“straw buyers”) to submit fraudulent car loan applications to numerous lenders.  In order to obtain the new vehicles, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators sent straw buyers to several car dealerships located throughout the New York City area, where dealership employees helped straw buyers submit fraudulent loan applications. 

The auto loan applications submitted by the straw buyers falsely represented that the vehicles would be used for the buyers’ personal use, rather than as part of the defendants’ leasing business.  In addition, in many cases, the car loan applications misrepresented personal information about the straw buyers, including their incomes and assets.  CAMPOS also caused financing applications to be sent to multiple financial institutions at the same time so that the lenders would not know that the straw buyers were incurring obligations to other lenders in connection with the purchase of multiple new automobiles.

In total, the scheme carried out by CAMPOS, Alvarez, and others involved approximately 20 straw buyers, the purchase of approximately 200 new vehicles, and ultimately resulted in lenders disbursing over $7,000,000 in fraudulently obtained car loans.  Most of those loans ultimately went into default.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Mr. Kim also thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau (“NICB”), the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (“NYAIP”), and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles for their substantial assistance in the investigation and trial.

Operation Ghost Ride: A.G. Schneiderman Announces Sentencing Of Owner Of Albany Transportation Companies For Stealing Thousands In Medicaid Transit Scam

Percy Sanville, Jr., Owner of A&N Transportation, And Co-Owner of Ammediate Transport Submitted Bogus Medicaid Claims For Transportation Services
Sanville Sentenced to Two to Six Years in Prison
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the sentencing of Percy Sanville, Jr., 42, owner of A&N Transportation, and Co-Owner of Ammediate Transport upon his conviction of the crime of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony. Sanville was sentenced by Acting Supreme Court Justice Hon. Roger D. McDonough to two to six years in prison.
Sanville previously admitted that he submitted false claims to Medicaid for transportation for himself to physical therapy appointments between September 7, 2016 and November 30, 2016 that never occurred. Sanville’s business partner, Rafael Gonzalez also previously pled guilty to falsely billing Medicaid for transportation that never occurred.  Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced on January 5, 2018.
“The defendant and his business partner carried out an elaborate hoax to defraud Medicaid and exploit New Yorkers by billing Medicaid for transportation that never occurred,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Ghost rides result in costs being passed along to taxpayers, while undermining the vital services on which our most vulnerable depend. My office will not tolerate this behavior and will continue to bring scammers to justice.”
An undercover investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, referred to as “Operation Ghost Ride,” revealed earlier this year that Sanville and Gonzalez stole over $50,000 from Medicaid by submitting fraudulent claims for transportation services that were never provided.

Operation Decoy Delivery: A.G. Schneiderman Announces Conviction After Trial Of Ringleader In Insurance Fraud Scheme

Defendant Jean Mythro Davilmar Convicted Of 29 Felony Counts for Massive Scheme to Defraud
Defendant Filed Forged And Falsified Documents To Fraudulently Obtain Commercial Insurance Policies For Over 100 Vehicles 
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the conviction after trial of Jean Mythro Davilmar, 68, of Brooklyn, NY for his participation in a massive scheme to fraudulently obtain commercial car insurance policies and New York State vehicle registrations. Over an eight-year period, the defendant and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained thousands of dollars in discounted insurance policies for over 100 vehicles by registering the cars with fake companies including delivery services, prompting investigators to dub the case “Operation Decoy Delivery.” Davilmar and nine other co-conspirators filed forged and falsified documents with insurance carriers, the Kings County Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (“DMV”). After a four-week trial, which included testimony from 26 witnesses and the admission of hundreds of documents, the Honorable Justice Danny Chun found the defendant guilty of 29 felony counts. 
“My office won’t hesitate to prosecute insurance fraudsters – no matter how complex or elaborate the scheme,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Automobile insurance fraud leads to higher insurance rates for hard-working New Yorkers, while jeopardizing public safety by allowing falsely registered and improperly insured vehicles to operate on our roads. Those plotting similar scams to undermine state agencies or defraud insurance providers should take note: we will hold you accountable.”
“Insurance fraud is a crime that results in higher premiums for law-abiding New Yorkers,” said New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo.  “This defendant allegedly deprived insurers of hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums by engaging in an elaborate scheme that included falsifying and forging documents, lying about the purpose, locations and operators of vehicles, and using false addresses. DFS is proud to have assisted the New York State Office of the Attorney General in stopping this fraud and bringing this defendant to justice.”
“The National Insurance Crime Bureau applauds the staff of the New York State Attorney General’s Office for their continued efforts in combatting insurance fraud in New York,” said Kevin Gallagher, Regional Director of the Northeast Region of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “The cost of insurance fraud is shared by all consumers.  Commercial premium fraud enables unscrupulous individuals and businesses to gain an unfair advantage over those who follow the law. This conviction sends a strong message to other individuals who may be contemplating engaging in insurance fraud. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Attorney General’s Office in fighting against insurance fraud for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”
The evidence at trial showed that between May 2006 and June 2014, Davilmar and his co-defendants engaged in a complex scheme to obtain commercial auto insurance for themselves and others in the names of fictitious business partnerships by submitting falsified documents and making false statements to multiple governmental agencies and insurance carriers.
The defendants created fictitious business partnerships by filing false documents with the Kings County Supreme Court Clerk’s Office. The defendants then fraudulently obtained commercial automobile insurance for multiple vehicles under the names of these fictitious business partnerships. In order to obtain lower premiums, on the applications for commercial insurance, the defendants falsely represented that the vehicles insured under the policies would be engaged in low-risk businesses such as delivery services, performing carpentry, or photography. To further lower premiums, defendants made additional misrepresentations including providing false pedigree information for purported members of the business partnerships, falsely stating the geographical location where the vehicles were operated and garaged, and misrepresenting the actual operators of the vehicles.
After fraudulently obtaining insurance for vehicles under commercial policies, the defendants submitted false registration and title applications to the DMV, registering the vehicles under the names of the fictitious partnerships. These DMV applications allegedly included forged signatures, false addresses, and fictitious individuals listed as the buyers and sellers of the vehicles. In support of their falsified registration and title applications, defendants also submitted copies of the fraudulently obtained insurance cards as proof that the vehicles had valid insurance in New York State, a prerequisite before the DMV could issue registrations and license plates. 
The evidence at trial further revealed that when a policy was canceled for nonpayment or because the defendants could not maintain the facade that the cars were being used in low-risk businesses, the defendants opened another policy with forged documents and transferred the cars onto the new policy.  
Ringleader Davilmar, who testified at trial, admitted to forming fake companies in order to obtain insurance policies for multiple vehicles. The evidence at trial showed that Davilmar created over a dozen fictitious business partnerships, including Florist Locomotion, Landscaping Express, Cleaners Express, Mybeda Express, Bedamy Express, and Damybe Express. Several of the company names were anagrams of the first two letters of the defendant’s middle and last name and his daughter Bettina’s name. Through the submission of fraudulent documents, including business certificates for these fake entities, Davilmar and his co-conspirators obtained over 20 commercial insurance policies for over 100 vehicles, with coverage limits of up to $50,000 per accident for each vehicle. On cross-examination, Davilmar admitted to repeatedly using the alias “Jean Claude Marcelin” on documents filed with the DMV, the Kings County Clerk’s Office, and multiple auto insurance carriers.
In Kings County Supreme Court, Judge Chun convicted Davilmar of two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class D felony), 17 counts of Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree (a Class D felony), four counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (a Class E felony), five counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (a Class D felony), and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a Class E felony). Davilmar faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 to 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10, 2018.
In addition to Davilmar, nine other defendants charged by the Attorney General for their participation in this scheme have pleaded guilty, including insurance brokers Thomas Kurian, John Grima, and Keith Ashman. Kurian pleaded guilty to Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class E felony). Grima pleaded guilty to Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree (a class A misdemeanor). Pierre pleaded guilty to Forgery in the Second Degree (a class D felony) and Bettina Confident pleaded guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree (a class A misdemeanor).  
Additionally, the five co-defendants charged along with Davilmar in the Attorney General’s indictment pled guilty as follows: Joe Sainvilus Jr. pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (a class D felony); Jessica Davilmar pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony); George M. Thomas pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony); Hermine Celestin pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (a class A misdemeanor); and Keith M. Ashman pleaded guilty to Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree (a class A misdemeanor). All nine defendants are awaiting sentence.
These arrests are the culmination of a long-term investigation conducted by Attorney General Schneiderman's Automobile Insurance Fraud Unit. The Attorney General thanks the Department of Financial Services, the DMV, the New York Automobile Insurance Plan and the National Insurance Crime Bureau for their valuable assistance in this case.  The Attorney General also thanks the New York City Marshal’s Office, Progressive Insurance Co., Maidstone Insurance Co., National General Insurance Co., Farm Family Casualty Insurance Co., Assigned Risk Solutions, American Transit Insurance Co., GEICO Insurance Co., Travelers Insurance Co. and the CARCO Group for their instrumental cooperation during this investigation. The Attorney General also thanks the King’s County Clerk’s Office, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, and the United States Social Security Administration’s Inspector General’s Office for their valuable assistance. 


  Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced the arrests of two sisters, MILAGROS GRIJALBA and NEREIDA GRIJALBA, both former NYCHA Section 8 recipients, and NEREIDA GRIJALBA’s husband JOSE DIAZ, a Bus Operator with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (“MTA”) New York City Transit (“NYCT”) on charges they defrauded NYCHA out of approximately $198,000 in unwarranted rental subsidies, as part of two separate schemes, while they lived in homes they purchased in Orange County. DOI’s investigation began after receiving complaints that the sisters were not residing in their Section 8 apartments in Manhattan and the Bronx, respectively. The Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York is prosecuting the case.

  DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, “These two sisters were of like mind, cooking up twin schemes to collect rental subsidies from NYCHA while living in their own private homes miles outside of New York City, according to the charges. DOI will continue to investigate Section 8 theft and arrest those who steal scare dollars from the City’s public housing system.” 

  MILAGROS GRIJALBA, 42, of Middletown, N.Y.; NEREIDA GRIJALBA, 40, of Port Jervis, N.Y.; and DIAZ, 53, of Port Jervis, N.Y. each face the federal charge of Theft of Government Funds. NEREIDA and DIAZ also each face the federal charge of Conspiracy to Steal Government Funds. Upon conviction, Theft of Government Funds is punishable by up to ten years in prison and the charge of Conspiracy to Steal Government Funds is punishable by up to five years in prison.

 According to the criminal complaints and DOI’s investigation, MILAGROS GRIJALBA allowed a man claiming to be her son to reside in her Section 8 apartment in Manhattan, without NYCHA’s knowledge or permission, after she moved out of the apartment in 2009 and into a home she and her domestic partner purchased in Middletown, N.Y. for $270,000. The investigation revealed that MILAGROS GRIJALBA also concealed the presence of her domestic partner in the Section 8 apartment since 2004 and the income he earned. MILAGROS GRIJALBA’s conduct resulted in NYCHA overpaying $84,527 in Section 8 rental subsidies between June 2004 and May 2016. 

 In a separate investigation, DOI found that NEREIDA GRIJALBA moved out of her Section 8 apartment in the Bronx in 2012 and into a home she and DIAZ purchased in Port Jervis, N.Y for $280,000. After moving out, NEREIDA GRIJALBA sublet her apartment to an unauthorized occupant for approximately $1,000 a month, according to the charges. DOI also found that NEREIDA GRIJALBA and DIAZ concealed DIAZ’s presence in the Section 8 apartment and the income he received, approximately $102,703 in 2015. NEREIDA GRIJALBA and DIAZ’s conduct defrauded NYCHA of $113,570 between October 2010 and July 2016.

 DOI Commissioner Peters thanked the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim and NYCHA Chair and Chief Executive Officer Shola Olatoye, and their staffs, for their assistance and cooperation in these investigations.

 Criminal complaints are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

After Comptroller Stringer Audit, Department of Finance To Collect More than $9 Million in Taxpayer Dollars

A July 2016 audit uncovered thousands of properties belonging to corporate entities and deceased homeowners that were wrongly granted property tax exemptions
Comptroller releases new follow-up review that shows corrective action will result in collection of millions in previously uncollected revenue
   After a July 2016 audit of the Department of Finance (DOF) revealed the agency improperly granted nearly $60 million in property exemptions between FY 2012 and FY 2017 – with much of it going to corporate entities and deceased homeowners – a new follow-up review released today by Comptroller Scott M. Stringer found the department has taken steps toward corrective action. Those steps, following Comptroller Stringer’s recommendations, will result in the City’s receiving an additional $9 million in revenue in the current fiscal year.
DOF is responsible for implementing and monitoring tax benefits granted under the Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption – or SCHE – which provides a partial property tax exemption for those 65 or older whose primary residence is a one, two, or three family home, a condominium, or a cooperative apartment in New York City. However, a July 2016 Comptroller Stringer audit revealed that 3,890 properties improperly received a SCHE tax break between FY 2012 and FY 2017, resulting in a loss of close to $50 million in City property tax revenue. The prior audit also found 3,317 properties of deceased homeowners and corporate-owned properties had been improperly credited with an Enhanced School Tax Relief – or STAR – exemption worth more than $10 million. That initial audit recommended that the Department of Finance take steps to recoup lost revenue as a result of its wrongful application of those property exemptions.
Comptroller Stringer released a follow-up review of FY 2018 exemptions today, which found that DOF has taken corrective action since the original audit, removed the SCHE from over 2,000 properties where the homeowner had died, and also removed the Enhanced STAR exemption from more than 1,500 properties that did not qualify. As a result, the City will realize a gain of $9,201,392 in additional revenue for FY 2018 alone.
“We do this work to make government function better for New Yorkers, and to ensure that dollars that should go to our kids, our infrastructure, and services for those who need them most aren’t wasted. When government makes mistakes, New Yorkers expect agencies to respond – not with excuses, but with action. That’s exactly what happened here. While it’s extraordinary that ineligible corporations and individuals were receiving a tax break designed specifically for our seniors, that corrective steps have been taken is laudable. The Department of Finance deserves recognition for doing the right thing,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “The Department reviewed our initial audit, recognized their errors, and took responsible steps to fix the problem. That’s why we do audits: to induce corrective action. Now, millions of dollars of revenue will be collected. That’s a win for taxpayers and a step forward for accountability.”
Comptroller Stringer’s follow-up review specifically found that for FY 2018:
  • DOF has removed the SCHE from 2,057 properties where the homeowner had died, 67 properties that had corporate ownership, and 273 properties that contained four or more units;
  • DOF prorated the SCHE for an additional 262 properties that contained four or more units;
  • The Enhanced STAR exemption was removed from 1,523 properties; and
  • As a result, the City will realize a gain of $9,201,392 in additional revenue for FY 2018.
During the follow-up review, DOF indicated to the Comptroller’s Office that the agency will remove or prorate the SCHE from an additional 576 ineligible properties and remove the Enhanced STAR exemption for 403 of those properties.  Removing or prorating the SCHE and Enhanced STAR exemptions for these properties will result in a gain of $1,292,820 in additional revenue.
To read the July 2016 audit, click here.

Wave Hill Events Dec 22–Jan 4 Happy Holidays

  This is an unusually quiet year-end for Wave Hill. The Family Art Project crew is taking a well-deserved break before launching into the new year. Glyndor Gallery is closed in preparation for our Winter Workspace studio program—look for a heads-up about open studio days starting in mid-January. And the landscape is falling into a deep winter sleep—unless the temperatures continue to veer up and down!

To my mind, this makes it a perfect time to visit and absorb the peace and quiet of this little gem of a garden.

Fri, December 22    Members Sale in The Shop at Wave Hill
Wave Hill Members enjoy a discount of 20% on all their purchases in The Shop, from December 1 through December 22. 

Sat, December 23    No Family Art Project
On the last two weekends in December, the Family Art Project will rest up for the new year. It resumes on Saturday, January 6.

Sun, December 24    No Family Art Project
On the last two weekends in December, the Family Art Project will rest up for the new year. It resumes on Saturday, January 6.

Sun, December 24    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, December 25   
Closed to the public. Happy holidays!

Tue‒Fri, December 26‒29    Holiday Tea
Start your own holiday tradition with a luxurious holiday tea in historic Wave Hill House, dressed for the season with decorations from nature. Relax with classic elements of savory, scones, sweets and tea—and a cranberry cocktail. Pair this sumptuous repast with a stroll through Wave Hill’s stunning winter gardens for a splendid, quiet celebration of the season. Holiday Tea Service is $36. Wave Hill Members receive a 10% discount. Advance registration is required online.

Sat, December 30    No Family Art Project
On the last two weekends in December, the Family Art Project will rest up for the new year. It resumes on Saturday, January 6.

Sun, December 31    No Family Art Project
On the last two weekends in December, the Family Art Project will rest up for the new year. It resumes on Saturday, January 6.

Sun, December 31    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, January 1   
Closed to the public. Happy New Year!

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–4:30PM, November 1–March 14. Closes 5:30PM, starting March 15.

ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6–18. Free Saturday and Tuesday mornings 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

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Tree Lightings Around the Bronx

 Yesterday was a big day when it came to putting the lights on Christmas Trees in the Bronx. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. lit the Official Bronx Christmas tree outside the Bronx County Building. 

 In other Christmas Tree lightings State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman (and Councilman Elect) Mark Gjonaj were at the Rudy Macina Peace Memorial Plaza, and then at Loreto Park in Morris Park to light Christmas trees. Assemblyman Gjonaj's night was not over, as he then went to join Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Councilman Andrew Cohen on Mosholu Parkway to help light the Community Board 7 Christmas Tree. All events  had larger crowds than the past year. Below are some photos of the days events for Assemblyman Gjonaj.  

Above - The children from the PS 105 Chorus sing some Christmas songs as they wait for Senator Klein, Assemblyman Gjonaj, and Santa Claus.
Below - State Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Thomas Messina (representing Congressman Joe Crowley), and Joe Thompson (President of the 49th Precinct Council) arrive, but where is Santa?

Above - Was it his recent victory in the council race or was it because Santa is behind him that Assemblyman (Councilman Elect) Mark Gjonaj got this 'High Five'?
Below - Everyone stands near the Christmas Tree before Santa lights it.

Above - The lights were turned on, and it was off to the next Christmas Tree lighting.
Below - While they were waiting for Senator Klein and Assemblyman Gjonaj to arrive with Santa at Loreto Park children from PS 83 sang some Christmas Songs.

Above - There were so many people at Loreto Park that Senator Klein, Assemblyman Gjonaj, and Santa needed a police escort to get to the tree lighting.
Below - Senator Klein speaks while Assemblyman Gjonaj makes sure he has the right notes ready, since Assemblyman Gjonaj had one more Christmas Tree to light later on. 

Above - Santa gets ready to light this Christmas Tree.
Below - The Loreto Park Christmas Tree is lit.

Above - Assemblyman Dinowitz, Councilman Cohen, and everyone on the stage is not only waiting for Santa Claus, but also Assemblyman Gjonaj who (unlike Santa) was caught in holiday traffic on his way to the Community Board 7 Christmas Tree lighting on Mosholu Parkway.
Below - Right before the this Christmas tree is lit.

Community Board 7 always has a beautiful Christmas Tree. You can see it as you drive by on Mosholu Parkway at Bainbridge Avenue.


Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 6 a.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday

Alternate Side Parking Regulations suspended Saturday to facilitate snow removal; parking meters remain in effect citywide

  The New York City Emergency Management Department today issued a travel advisory for Saturday and Sunday. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for New York City from 6 a.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday. A total of 2 to 4 inches of snow is forecast, with locally higher amounts possible. The heaviest snow is expected to fall Saturday morning through Saturday evening. A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means periods of snow will cause travel difficulties. New Yorkers should prepare for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and are advised to exercise caution when driving, walking, or biking. Alternate Side Parking regulations are suspended Saturday to facilitate snow removal. Payment at parking meters will remain in effect throughout the city.

“Winter has come early and we don’t want anyone to be caught off guard by this weekend’s forecast,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “It’s time to unpack your winter gear; have your boots, hats, and scarves ready. Give yourself extra time to travel as conditions could be difficult.”

NYC Emergency Management also advised New Yorkers to prepare for cold temperatures this weekend. Temperatures are forecast to hover around freezing on Saturday. High temperatures Sunday are forecast in the upper 30s, but return below freezing Sunday night, with lows in the upper 20s. Cold weather can cause or worsen health problems. Certain individuals, including the unsheltered homeless, people with disabilities and those with access and functional needs are at an increased risk for injuries, illness or death. Others at an increased risk also include people who drink heavily or use drugs and become incapacitated outdoors, or those who live in homes without heat, and:
·         Are 65 years of age or older.
·         Are infants.
·         Have certain medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.
·         Have serious mental health conditions or developmental disabilities.
·         Have disabilities or access and functional needs (e.g. limited mobility, trouble leaving home).
New Yorkers are also encouraged to check on neighbors, friends, and relatives. Please take the following precautions:

Safety Tips

For Motorists

  • Make sure to have a mechanic check the following items: battery, antifreeze, windshield wipers and washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights (headlamps and hazard lights), exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster, and oil level (if necessary, replace oil with a winter oil or SAE 10w/30 variety).
·         Drive slowly. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
·         Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they do not stop quicker than other vehicles.
·         Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible.
·         Know your vehicle’s braking system. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes require a different braking technique than vehicles without anti-lock brakes in snowy conditions.
·         If you are driving and begin to skid, ease your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. Straighten the wheel when the car moves in the desired direction. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
·         Try to keep your vehicle’s gas tank as full as possible.
·         Keep the name and phone number of at least one local towing service in your car in case you break down or become stuck.

For Pedestrians
·         Exercise caution and avoid slippery surfaces; some ice may not be visible. Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.
·         Seniors should take extra care outdoors to avoid slips and falls.
·         Have heightened awareness of cars, particularly when approaching or crossing intersections.
·         If you have to go outdoors, wear dry, warm clothing and cover exposed skin. Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered. Wear a hat, hood, scarf, and gloves.
·         Shivering is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Shivering is a signal to return indoors.
·         Be careful when shoveling snow. Follow your doctor’s advice if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart.
·         Be safe at work. Workers who spend a lot of time outdoors are at risk for cold-related health impacts. If you are an employer, implement safe work practices, provide appropriate protective equipment, and train workers on how to stay safe during cold and winter weather.
·         Limit alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol may make you feel warmer but it causes your body to lose heat faster. Alcohol also impairs your judgment which limits your ability to take appropriate precautions or remove yourself from a dangerously cold environment in time. As a result, alcohol actually increases your chances of hypothermia and frostbite.
Prolonged exposure to cold can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, and can worsen existing medical conditions such as heart and lung diseases.

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops to a dangerously low level. It can lead to death. Symptoms include:

·         Intense shivering
·         Dizziness
·         Trouble speaking
·         Lack of coordination
·         Sluggishness
·         Drowsiness
·         Confusion
·         Shallow breathing

Frostbite occurs when parts of the body freeze, such as finger, toes, ears, nose, and cheeks. It can cause permanent damage. Symptoms include:

·         Red or painful skin
·         Pale skin
·         Unusually firm or waxy skin
·         Numbness

Call 911 and follow instructions, or go to the emergency room if you see symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite.

Homeless Services

A Code Blue Weather Emergency notice is issued when the temperature is forecast to drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., including National Weather Service calculations for wind chill values.  No one who is homeless and seeking shelter in New York City during a Code Blue will be denied. Should you see an individual who appears to be homeless and in need out in the cold, please call 311 and an outreach team will be dispatched to offer assistance. During Code Blue Weather emergencies, experienced outreach teams work to connect homeless New Yorkers with the following resources:

·         Shelters: During a Code Blue, shelter is available system-wide to accommodate anyone who is reasonably believed to be homeless and is brought to a shelter by outreach teams. Accommodations are also available for walk-ins.
·         Drop-in centers: All drop-in centers are open 24-hours per day, including when Code Blue procedures are in effect, and will assist as many people as possible for the duration of the emergency. Drop-in staff and the dedicated outreach teams they work closely with each and every day can also make arrangements for homeless individuals at other citywide facilities.
·         Safe havens and stabilization beds: Chronically homeless individuals may be transported directly to these low-threshold housing programs.
·         Street homeless outreach: Teams will contact vulnerable individuals on their Code Blue Priority Lists a minimum of once every four (4) hours beginning at 8 p.m. during Code Blue Alerts and once every two (2) hours beginning at 8 p.m. for Enhanced Code Blue Alerts to encourage them to accept services, including transportation to a shelter placement. DHS coordinates borough-level Code Blue efforts directly with partner City agencies, including but not limited to NYPD, DSNY, and the Parks Department.
Safe Home Heating Tips
Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely.
Fire safety tips:
·         Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in every room. Test them at least once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
·         Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use. Space heaters are temporary heating devices and should only be used for a limited time each day.
·         Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. Never drape clothes over a space heater to dry them.
·         Never leave running space heaters unattended, especially around children. Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
·         Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord or power strip. Do not plug anything else into the same outlet when the space heater is in use. Do not use space heaters with frayed or damaged cords.
·         If you are going to use an electric blanket, only use one that is less than 10 years old from the date of purchase. Also avoid tucking the electric blanket in at the sides of the bed. Only purchase blankets with an automatic safety shut-off.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
·         Carbon monoxide comes from the burning of fuel. Therefore, make sure all fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers are properly vented to the outdoors and operating properly. If you are not sure, contact a professional to inspect and make necessary repairs.
·         Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Most homes and residential buildings in New York City are required by law to have carbon monoxide detectors installed near all sleeping areas. Owners are responsible for installing approved carbon monoxide detectors. Occupants are responsible for keeping and maintaining the carbon monoxide detectors in good repair.
·         If you have a working fireplace keep chimneys clean and clear of debris.
·         Never heat your home with a gas stove or oven, charcoal barbecue grill, kerosene, propane, or oil-burning heaters. Kerosene heaters and propane space heaters are illegal in New York City.
·         The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are non-specific and include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. Severe poisonings may result in permanent injury or death.
If a carbon monoxide detector goes off in your home get outside immediately and call 911. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside immediately and call 911. For more fire safety information, visit
What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
Building owners are legally required to provide heat and hot water to their tenants. Hot water must be provided 365 days per year at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat must be provided during the “Heat Season”, between October 1 and May 31 under the following conditions:
·         Between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
·         Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., if the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any New York City tenant without adequate heat or hot water should first speak with the building owner, manager, or superintendent. If the problem is not corrected, tenants should call 311. For the hearing impaired, the TTY number is (212) 504-4115. The center is open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. You may also file a complaint via mobile app, 311MOBILE, or online at 311ONLINE.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will take measures to ensure that the building owner is complying with the law. This may include contacting the building’s owner and/or sending an inspector to verify the complaint and issue a violation directing the owner to restore heat and hot water if appropriate. If the owner fails to comply and does not restore service, HPD may initiate repairs through its Emergency Repair Program and bill the landlord for the cost of the work. HPD may also initiate legal action against properties that are issued heat violations, and owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum litigation penalties and continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies.
Take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm until heat returns, including:

Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while the heat is out.

Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing.

If you have a well-maintained working fireplace and use it for heat and light, be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation. Never use a fireplace without a screen.

If the cold persists and your heat is not restored call family, neighbors, or friends to see if you can stay with them.

Do not use your oven or fuel-burning space heaters to heat your home. These can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell.

Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.
If You Need Emergency Heating Assistance
The Human Resources Administration (HRA) administers the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which can help low-income renters and homeowners with heating bills and other energy expenses. For information on HEAP, click here. HEAP can help with:

·         Regular heating bills from a variety of heat sources (even if heat is included in your rent or you live in subsidized housing).
·         Emergency payments to keep you from losing your heat.
·         Replacing damaged furnaces, boilers and heating units.
For more information, visit New Yorkers are encouraged to sign up for Notify NYC, the City’s free emergency communications program. To sign up for Notify NYC, download the free mobile application, visit, call 311, or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.