Monday, April 30, 2018

Former Arkansas State Senator and Representative Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy and Bribery

  Former Arkansas State Senator and State Representative Henry (Hank) Wilkins IV pleaded guilty today to conspiring to accept over $80,000 in bribes in exchange for influencing Arkansas state legislation and transactions, including steering approximately $245,000 in Arkansas General Improvement funds to his co-conspirators, and to devising a scheme to conceal the bribe payments as donations to St. James United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where Wilkins also served as a pastor.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland for the Eastern District of Arkansas made the announcement.
Wilkins, 64, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who represented Arkansas’s House District 17 as a state Representative from 1999 to 2001 and again from 2011to 2015, and District 5 in the Arkansas Senate from 2001 to 2011, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States.
“By misusing his elected office to line his own pockets, Henry Wilkins undermined the integrity of our political process and abused the public’s trust,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “The Criminal Division is committed to rooting out such corruption and holding those responsible accountable for their actions.”
“Public corruption destroys the trust that is necessary for our republic,” said U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland for the Eastern District of Arkansas. “In this case, the citizens of Arkansas were betrayed by Mr. Wilkins, and elected officials who abuse their position for personal gain must be held accountable for that violation of the public trust. Investigating and prosecuting individuals such as Mr. Wilkins is essential to restoring confidence in elected officials. This office will continue to relentlessly pursue anyone who tries to undermine our system of government.” 
As part of his plea, Wilkins admitted that from 2010 to 2014, while serving in the Arkansas General Assembly, he accepted a series of bribes from lobbyists and non-profit organizations that were transmitted both in the form of cash and checks funneled from lobbying firms to a discretionary fund held in St. James’ name where Wilkins had access to the deposited funds.  In exchange for the cash and check bribes, Wilkins performed, and agreed to perform, official acts in his capacity as an Arkansas legislator including filing shell bills, sponsoring full bills, voting in favor of specific legislation, and steering approximately $245,000 in General Improvement funds to entities that funneled bribes to Wilkins through his church.
The FBI investigated this case. This is a combined investigation with the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice, the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western District of Arkansas, and the Western District of Missouri.

Two Alarm Fire at 3900 Greystone Avenue

  As you see fire truck ladders on different sides of 3900 Greystone Avenue are checking the crawl space below the roof. This fire was localized to one top floor apartment which was devastated. The fire began in the kitchen area of the apartment according to the superintendent of the building. He said that he tried to put out the fire, but it was to much for him to extinguish. He then closed the front door on his way out of the apartment to call the fire department. Twenty fire trucks from as far away as Fordham Road responded to what became a two alarm blaze. Five ambulances were on hand also. The apartment was unoccupied at the time the fire started, and there will have to be a usual investigation by the arson squad to determine just how the fire started. more photos are below.

Above - The back of the building where the fire started suffered the most damage with part of the roof collapsing into the apartment. 
Below - The front of the building suffered less damage as only the front window in the bedroom is broken. 

Above - The DEP was called, probably to explain why the hydrant was leaking from the top. and was so low to the ground.
Below - You can see some of the emergency vehicles that were parked on Manhattan College Parkway and around the building on other streets.

Joint Statement by Councilmembers Justin Brannan, Steven Matteo, Joseph Borelli, Paul Vallone, Barry Grodenchik, and Mark Gjonaj on FY 2019 Executive Budget

  “We are extremely disappointed that in the $89 billion budget Mayor de Blasio unveiled Thursday there is no property tax relief to help seniors, retirees, working and middle class families who are struggling to make ends meet, as their taxes have skyrocketed and their incomes have stagnated.

There also is no indication of how this administration intends to address the glaring inequities of a property tax system that charges the owner of a modest home in our districts more than the owner of a multi-million dollar brownstone in Park Slope.
We are all for making New York City more fair and that’s why we will continue to forcefully advocate for a property tax rebate throughout the budget negotiation process; homeowners in this city need property tax relief in a big way, and they need it now. I know we speak for just about every property owner in the five boroughs when we say, ‘C’mon man, give us a break!'”

A.G. Schneiderman Releases Open Letter To Weinstein Company Bankruptcy Stakeholders

AG Urges Stakeholders to Include Bid Enhancements to Compensate Victims, Protect Employees, and Not Reward Wrongdoers

  New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released an open letter to the various participants in the Weinstein Company bankruptcy cases, urging the stakeholders to use the sale process as an opportunity to ensure that survivors of past misconduct and current employees are protected. This open letter follows prior efforts by the Attorney General’s office to advance victim interests before and during the bankruptcy process.

“Our requests of each of the stakeholders are straightforward,” Attorney General Schneiderman wrote. “Bidders should propose bid enhancements that set aside financial resources to compensate and provide support services for injured employees and industry talent, both of whom are essential to the company’s future success.  Bid enhancements also should include nonmonetary terms that protect future employees and contractors and avoid rewarding wrongdoers.”  
In February, Attorney General Schneiderman filed a civil rights lawsuit against TWC, Harvey Weinstein, and Robert Weinstein, detailing a long pattern of sexual misconduct and repeated violations of New York law.
Since filing suit, Attorney General Schneiderman has sought to ensure that victims would be compensated, employees would be protected moving forward, and the perpetrators and enablers of the misconduct would not be unjustly enriched. As the letter notes, in March, Attorney General Schneiderman received express commitments from parties involved in a potential non-bankruptcy sale of TWC that those conditions would be addressed. While that purchase was ultimately not consummated for unrelated reasons, the Attorney General’s office has continued to work to advance those interests since the bankruptcy filing – engaging in the process in order to advocate for victims, including through victim representation on the Unsecured Creditors’ Committee.
In March, TWC agreed to release victims of and witnesses to sexual misconduct from non-disclosure agreements, a step the Attorney General’s office had long sought throughout his investigation and litigation. The Attorney General encourages anyone who would like to share their story as part of his investigation to contact his office at 212-416-8250.
Attorney General Schneiderman’s lawsuit remains active and investigation remains ongoing.

Bronx DA Scheduled Cases of Interest Week of April 30th

Cases of Interest for the Week of April 30, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018
Part #
Defendant Name
Case Details
Adam Fridson

 NYPD Officer charged with flashing two young girls while off-duty on Oct. 4, 2017.
Dolan, M.
Curtis Batchelor
Charged with Murder, Manslaughter, Rape and other related crimes for the 1999 killing of 56-year-old Elsa Grullon in Highbridge.
Borgstedt, A.
Oumar Fofana

Charged with Attempted Rape, Sexual Abuse and other crimes for allegedly trying to rape a 41-year-old store clerk near East 157th St. and Third Avenue in August 2015.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Part #
Defendant Name
Case Details
Powers, M.
Decision on Motions

Raul Olmeda

 NYC Police Officer charged on sex offenses and other related crimes stemming from alleged videos he made with teenage girl performing sex act.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Part #
Defendant Name
Case Details
Browne, W.
Possible Disposition
Clarence White
Charged with Attempted Murder, Assault and other crimes for allegedly shooting his wife in the face on July 27, 2017.
Whelan, P.
Darrin Rose
Bronx man charged with Murder and other crimes for allegedly fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend in their apartment on November 1, 2017.
Gottlieb, T.
Jonathan Jolivert

Charged with Murder for the March 24, 1993 death of Michelle Page Gilliam. Recent scientific developments enabled DNA under the victim’s fingernails to link Jolivert to the crime.
Perrotto, A.
Possible SCA
Karel Delgado
FDNY paramedic charged with Sexual Abuse and other sex crimes for allegedly groping female patient he was transporting to a Bronx hospital.
Falasca, K.
Decision on Motions
Naomi Olmeda
Charged with Murder, Manslaughter, and related crimes for the alleged slaying of her sanitation worker boyfriend inside his Throggs Neck home in March, 2017.

Thursday, May 3, 2018
Part #
Defendant Name
Case Details
Adler, S.
Brian Febus
Charged with Attempted Murder and several other crimes for attacking a woman after forcing his way into her apartment in a botched burglary attempt in May 2017.
Borgstedt, A.
Possible SCA

Lynneke Burris 
Charged with Rape and Robbery against a Bronx teacher in her Concourse Village apartment on April 13, 2018.

Friday, May 4, 2018
Part #
Defendant Name
Case Details
Sztejnberg, M.
Earnestine Russell
Charged with Grand Larceny for allegedly stealing $112,000 from a state-administered, federally funded grant designed to support after-school programs for middle school children.
Miras, J.
Gilrael Ruperto
To be sentenced after pleading guilty to a series of robberies targeting elderly women as as well as for jail house violence at Rikers Island.

Please note: All court proceedings are scheduled for after 9:30 a.m. 
at 265 East 161st Street, the Hall of Justice, Bronx Supreme Court 
unless otherwise specified.


  Mayor de Blasio held public hearings for eleven pieces of legislation that aim to reduce workplace sexual harassment. Intro. 612-A requires annual anti-sexual harassment training at City agencies; Intro. 613-A requires assessing workplace risk factors associated with sexual harassment within City agencies; Intro. 614-A mandates information about sexual harassment to be made available online for public access; Intro. 630-Acreates an "Anti-Sexual Harassment Rights and Responsibilities" poster; Intro. 632-A mandates anti-sexual harassment training for private employers; Intro. 657-A expands sexual harassment protections to all employees;Intro. 660-A makes improvements to clarify and strengthen the City's Human Rights Law; Intro. 663-A changes the City's Human Rights Law statute of limitations for sexual harassment to three years; Intro. 664-A relates to climate surveys and action plans to combat sexual harassment; Intro. 653-A mandates annual reporting on workplace sexual harassment within City agencies and; Intro. 693 relates to the Division of Labor Services employment reports. 

The Mayor also held a public hearing for and signed Intro. 241-B which establishes a charter revision commission. Appointments to the commission are authorized to be made by the Mayor, Speaker of the City Council, Public Advocate, Comptroller and Borough Presidents.

Cynthia Nixon Joins Picket Line With Columbia University Grad Workers Union on Strike

Cynthia Nixon joins striking graduate workers at Columbia University in their fight to secure a union contract.

  Cynthia Nixon, Democratic Candidate for Governor, joined the weeklong strike and picket line at Columbia University. Nixon called on Columbia University to recognize the Graduate Workers Union and begin negotiating a union contract.
“I stand in solidarity with you today because I know that your story is part of a larger story in New York. New York has become the single most unequal state in the country,” Cynthia Nixon said. “But one of the most powerful ways to tackle systemic inequality and austerity is through joining a union.”
3,000 teaching and research assistants at Columbia University began a one week strike on Tuesday, April 24 to protest the university’s refusal to bargain with the graduate workers union. The strike comes nearly a year and a half after Columbia’s graduate workers voted overwhelmingly to unionize with the United Automobile Workers Local 2110.
“I’ve been a union member ever since I started my acting career,” said Nixon. “I know the power and importance of unions. A union for the graduate workers at Columbia would help many of them them fight back against cuts to their already low-salaries of nearly $30,000 a year. A union can help combat sexual harassment in the workplace and help workers gain dignity, respect, and power.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi Patient Undergoes Dramatic Recovery after Being Hit by a Train

Trauma Team Saves the Life of Phillip Buffone

  Few people can say they survived being hit by a train, especially after sustaining severe traumatic injury. But thanks to the Trauma Center team at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, 36-year-old White Plains resident Phillip Buffone can, although he has no memory of it or the three weeks that followed.

On September 25, Mr. Buffone was waiting for his train at the Yonkers Metro North station, when he became dizzy, fell to the tracks, and was hit by an oncoming train.

When EMS brought him to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, his injuries were so severe that his body appeared to have been nearly severed in half. Life-threatening lacerations extended laterally from his spine around to his front, exposing his intestines. He also had significant damage to his colon and small bowel, and sustained multiple rib fractures, leg fractures, and nerve damage to one arm.

“We rushed Mr. Buffone right to the OR,” said trauma team surgeon Dr. Srinivas Reddy, “and, contrary to what you might expect, closing the huge laceration that nearly divided him in two was not the first priority. Repairing the internal damage and preventing infection from all that was introduced to his body were priorities. So, we washed out his abdomen, reconstructed his small bowel, and removed a portion of his colon first. We also inserted a shunt to maintain blood flow down his badly damaged left leg to his foot. Following these repairs, we then undertook a complicated closure of the major lacerations. It wasn’t easy, and he required 25 units of blood to make it through the repairs. I’m still amazed he’s alive.”

Mr. Buffone would remain heavily sedated and on a ventilator for three weeks to minimize his movements, thereby preventing the complex reconstruction of his abdomen from falling apart.  After being brought out of sedation, he spent an additional two weeks receiving rehabilitation in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, under the care of Drs. John Bliton and Zachary Sharfman.

“Once we got Mr. Buffone in the SICU, we worked to help him recuperate and stabilize his vital signs,” explained Dr. Bliton. “We were then able to support healing of the rib fractures and scheduled additional surgeries to fix the broken bones in his leg and return the blood supply to his left side extremities,” explained Dr. Bliton.

“The entire Surgical Intensive Care Unit got to know and care for Mr. Buffone,” said Dr. Sharfman. “He was intubated and sedated for approximately three weeks with an injury that few would survive. Once the breathing tube was removed and he woke up, we got to witness his miraculous recovery that the entire trauma surgery team, orthopaedic surgery team, plastic surgery team, and surgical intensive care unit fought so hard for.”

“The doctors and nurses at Jacobi were great,” said Mr. Buffone, who wanted to share the graphic photo of how he was brought in to credit those who saved him.  “I was almost cut completely in half, and they saved my life. They actually taught me how to walk again. I can’t say enough about them.”

On November 2, 2017, Philip had recovered enough to be transferred for rehabilitation to a facility near his home, in White Plains, New York.

“The fact that Mr. Buffone was able to walk out of our doors and go to rehab is nothing short of a miracle,” said Dr. Reddy.  “But this is the kind of work our trauma team trains for and stands ready to provide every single day.  After some accidents, we literally are able to put people back together again.”


  In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has thrown his support behind recent litigation filed on behalf of public housing tenants in New York City, which seeks to provide financial relief to New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants who went without heat and/or hot water during this past winter. The borough president is also demanding that the administration back off its defense against the lawsuit and meet its legal and ethical requirements to its tenants.

“Landlords in New York City have a responsibly to their tenants to deliver basic services and amenities. NYCHA is no different than any other landlord, and should be treated as such,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Tenants that went without heat and hot water during a bitterly cold winter should be compensated with lower rent, and the city should not be fighting to ignore its financial responsibilities in court.”

The borough president’s letter comes in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Legal Aid Society and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in State Supreme Court against NYCHA. The lawsuit demands that the agency issue rent abatements and immediate boiler repairs for residents who went without heat and hot water during the 2017 to 2018 “heat season” and, in particular, during the “bomb cyclone” winter cold spell that lasted from December 27, 2017 to January 16, 2018.

In his letter, Borough President Diaz notes that NYCHA broke both City and State law by failing to provide reliable heat and/or hot water to its tenants during that cold spell. Under the city’s Housing Maintenance Code, heat must be provided between October 1and May 31 when temperatures fall below a certain degree. Additionally, the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law requires owners to provide both hot and cold water 24 hours a day.

“When housing is not habitable, there should be consequences. Fighting tooth and nail to avoid the legal requirements of the agency is wrong, and will only serve to further erode the reputation of NYCHA among its more than 400,000 residents, if not all New Yorkers,” wrote Borough President Diaz in the letter. “It is a matter of principle, ethics, and law--- these tenants deserve compensation that accounts for a lack of basic services.” 

Read the full letter at

Saturday, April 28, 2018

‘Andrew Sandler Way’ Street Renaming Ceremony,

   Over 100 people came to the corner of West 238th Street and Waldo Avenue this morning by the Manhattan College Dorm. the reason was that picture hanging on the pole of a young Andrew Sandler. Andrew passed away a little over one year ago at the age of 31, but by that young age he forged his name into the community that the corner was renamed for him. Andrew began a career in politics starting as an intern for Congressman Eliot Engel. From there he went on to be a constituent aid for newly elected Councilman Oliver Koppell. Andrew Continued on with Koppell's replacement Councilman Andrew Cohen before applying for and receiving the approval of the members of Community Board 7 to be their new District Manager. The photos should tell the rest of the story.

Above - Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz speaks about how Andrew Sandler was the hero for people in need.
Below - Councilman Andrew Cohen holds a proclamation from the borough president pronouncing the day Andrew Sandler Day. Cohen also had nothing but praise for one of his best workers. 

Above - Andrew's sister Stephanie speaks about how community and work orientated her brother was, as she point down the block where her brother lived.
Below - The cover comes off Andrew Sandler Way.

Above - There was a little snag in pulling the cover off the new sign, but that was probably Andrew Sandler holding it back as he was known for not wanting to be recognized for his hard work.
Below - The family is given a replica street sign, with local elected officials also in the photo.

Manhattan College Students Clean up Parkway

  With all the negative publicity that Manhattan College students get over what happens in and around the college dorms and apartments the students rent, there was a positive note this morning as these fine Manhattan College students did their part to clean up an area of the Henry Hudson Parkway on the Southbound side by the West 239th Street overpass. 

  Behind the students you can see the adopt a highway sign which has been adopted by Manhattan College. The bags of garbage in front of the students was what they cleaned away from the side of the road. It is great to see that these Manhattan college students care about the area where they are living.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Charges Chicago Man with Attempted Carjacking on City’s Near North Side

  The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged a Chicago man with attempted carjacking for allegedly trying to take a vehicle at gunpoint on the city’s Near North Side.

EARRIOUS MOORE, 23, discharged a firearm while attempting to hijack a Mercedes-Benz sedan in the 1400 block of North Lake Shore Drive on April 26, 2018, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  An individual sitting in the car was shot and wounded and subsequently transported to a hospital for treatment, the complaint states.  Moore ran away from the vehicle and was apprehended by Chicago Police Department officers in the lobby of a nearby building, the complaint states.
The complaint was filed Friday.  It charges Moore with one count of attempted carjacking.  An initial court appearance will be held on April 30, 2018, in federal court in Chicago.
The complaint was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; and Celinez Nunez, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.  The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office provided valuable assistance.
The officials noted that the investigation continues.
The case was investigated by the Vehicular Hijacking Task Force, a joint federal and state initiative consisting of officers, agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chicago Police Department, ATF, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Illinois State Police, and suburban police departments.
“Citizens of Chicago and visitors to our city must be able to live their lives without fear of violent attacks,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch.  “Our office will use every available federal resource in working with CPD and our other law enforcement partners to pursue and prosecute violent offenders.  Our message to would-be carjackers and those using guns to commit crimes is simple: Committing a senseless act of violence like carjacking will earn you a home in federal prison for a long time.”
“Each and everyday CPD officers and detectives work hand in hand with our federal partners to make Chicago safer,” said Superintendent Johnson.  “Today's federal prosecution demonstrates the strength and commitment of CPD and the United States Attorney's Office to combat violence, and sends a simple and clear message that we will not tolerate carjackings and individuals will be held accountable for their actions before a federal court.”
“This case should serve as a warning to all violent offenders preying on innocent people,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Nunez.  “ATF and our law enforcement partners are joining resources to put an end to the senseless violence and restore peace in our neighborhoods.”
According to the complaint, Chicago Police Department officers on routine patrol were alerted to a carjacking incident in which an offender used a handgun to take a Jeep sport-utility vehicle from a victim in the 1000 block of North Rush Street in Chicago.  Soon after, the officers were alerted to the attempted carjacking of the Mercedes-Benz, the complaint states.
The carjacking charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Leader Of Bronx Gang “18 Park” Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison For Participation In Gang-Related Murders

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that one of the leaders of the violent Bronx gang known as “18 Park,” MARQUIS WRIGHT was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer to 35 years in prison for firearms offenses in connection with two murders that he helped to commit on behalf of the gang.  WRIGHT, 30, had previously pled guilty to two counts of possessing and using firearms in connection with his role in the September 28, 2008, murder of Brandon Howard, 18, and the May 29, 2011, murder of Johnny Moore, 16.  WRIGHT’s co-defendant, Jonathan Rodriguez, who also participated in the murder of Brandon Howard, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 24, 2018. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “The tragic and senseless murders of Brandon Howard and Johnny Moore reflect the dangers of gang- and drug-related violence in our city.  While nothing can bring back Brandon Howard and Johnny Moore, Marquis Wright’s sentence means he will spend decades in prison and not pose a threat to others in the Bronx.  I want to thank our law enforcement partners for their tremendous work on this important investigation.” 
According to the allegations in court documents, including the Information and a previously filed criminal complaint, and statements made during court proceedings:
From 2006 to 2016, the 18 Park gang operated primarily in and around the Patterson Houses, a New York City public housing development in the Mott Haven area of the Bronx.  Members of 18 Park sold crack cocaine and marijuana on a near-daily basis, turning the area in and around the Patterson Houses into an open-air drug market.  18 Park members used firearms and violence to assert the gang’s control over the area.  WRIGHT served as one of the leaders of 18 Park, and played an integral role in running the gang’s drug trade.  
On September 28, 2008, WRIGHT accompanied Rodriguez to a house party at 315 East 143rd Street in order to confront 18-year-old Brandon Howard, whom WRIGHT and Rodriguez regarded as a rival.  Rodriguez brought a gun to the party.  Upon arriving at the party, WRIGHT served as a lookout for Rodriguez as Rodriguez confronted Howard in the hallway immediately outside the party and shot Howard to death.   
On May 29, 2011, WRIGHT drove another 18 Park member, Wali Burgos, to the vicinity of 2625 Third Avenue so that Burgos could shoot and kill a member of a rival gang.  Burgos did not shoot a rival gang member, but instead fired his gun into a crowd and killed 16-year-old Johnny Moore.  After the shooting, WRIGHT drove Burgos away from the scene of the crime.  Burgos previously pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and admitted to his role in the murder of Johnny Moore.  On January 13, 2017, Burgos was sentenced to 262 months in prison. 
Mr. Berman thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York City Police Department for their work in this investigation.