Saturday, January 13, 2018
Acting Boss Of Bonanno Organized Crime Family And 9 Other Members Of La Cosa Nostra Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Racketeering And Related Offenses
Mobile Phone Industry Executive Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 5 Years In Prison For Role In Multimillion-Dollar Consumer Fraud Scheme
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that FRASER THOMPSON was sentenced today to five years in prison for his participation in a fraudulent scheme to charge mobile phone customers millions of dollars in monthly fees for unsolicited, recurring text messages without the customers’ knowledge or consent – a practice known as “auto-subscribing.” The fraud committed by THOMPSON and his co-conspirators resulted in the theft of over $100 million from consumers throughout the United States. THOMPSON was convicted by a jury on September 5, 2017, following a three-week trial, and was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court by the Honorable Katherine B. Forrest.
One Defendant Allegedly Used Funds for Clothes, and A Funeral
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark and Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters today announced that two Bronx women who held board member positions at now-shuttered East Tremont Head Start Alumni Day Care Center have been charged with Grand Larceny and related crimes for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the non-profit for their personal use.
District Attorney Clark said, “The defendants betrayed the trust of the organization they had long been board members of, together allegedly stealing nearly $130,000. Their reckless actions contributed to the closing of this daycare, resulting in children and workers who had to be placed in other facilities. We will not tolerate rip-offs of government funds.”
Department of Investigation Commissioner Peters said, “These defendants used this Cityfunded nonprofit like their personal ATM, pocketing tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases, to pay for shopping at Macy’s and QVC, rent, and even a funeral. As the board chair and treasurer of this nonprofit, these defendants exploited their insider access and disregarded their duty to help the low-income children that East Tremont Head Start was supposed to serve. DOI was pleased to partner with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office to stop the criminal conduct uncovered in this investigation.”
District Attorney Clark said defendants, Paulette New, 63, of Southern Blvd., and Angela Grindley, 56, of Morgan Ave., were indicted on third-degree Grand Larceny and third degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. New was additionally indicted on second degree Grand Larceny and second-degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. Both defendants were arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett. They were released and are due back in court on January 30, 2018. If convicted of the top charge, New faces a maximum of five to 15 years in prison and Grindley faces a maximum of twoand-a-third years to seven years in prison.
According to the investigation, from April 2011 to April 2015, New, who was the chairperson of the board of the East Tremont Head Start Alumni Day Care Center, improperly used approximately $100,000 of the Center’s funds. The defendant allegedly frequently withdrew money from the Center’s account from ATM machines and made several transfers to her bank account, using much of the money to purchase personal items from televised home shopping sites QVC and HSN. She also allegedly used the Center’s fund to pay for her sister’s funeral.
According to the investigation, starting in 2013, Grindley, who was on the board as the daycare’s treasurer, allegedly received more than $29,000 from the nonprofit.
The investigation was conducted with DOI’s Office of Inspector General for City-funded not-for-profits.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.
Bystryn: There are only two acceptable recommendations: a fee on both plastic and paper bags or a hybrid model that bans plastic bags and institutes a fee on paper
Chair of New York’s Plastic Bag Task Force, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos, issued the Task Force's (88 page) comprehensive report outlining eight potential solutions to address the scourge of plastic bag waste in the state. The report was sent to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for consideration. In response, NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn, who was a member of the Task Force, issued the following statement:
As a member of the Plastic Bag Taskforce, I have consistently maintained there are only two acceptable recommendations: a fee on both plastic and paper bags or a hybrid model that bans plastic bags and institutes a fee on paper. It is the long-held position of the environmental community that a successful solution must include a fee component on all single-use bags. Improving recycling will not achieve this effect. The current recycling market is insufficient to handle even the paltry amount of film plastic that is currently recycled, let alone the full amount of film plastic we generate. We must instead focus on reducing the number of plastic bags produced. We know from countless examples around the world that when consumers take responsibility for their actions by bringing their own bag or paying a fee to cover their environmental impact, single-use bag consumption drops precipitously. I am disappointed the final report fails to convey this position. Therefore, I dissent from the Task Force's final report.
MAYOR DE BLASIO RELEASES MONUMENTS COMMISSION’S REPORT, ANNOUNCES DECISIONS ON CONTROVERSIAL MONUMENTS
Carefully considered recommendations from Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers resulted in decisions on several controversial monuments, as well as guidelines for future situations
Mayor de Blasio announced decisions on several monuments on City properties, made after careful consideration of the recommendations and guidelines laid out in a report provided by the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers.
“Thousands of New Yorkers got involved in this process, and there’s been an important conversation going on across the city,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Reckoning with our collective histories is a complicated undertaking with no easy solution. Our approach will focus on adding detail and nuance to – instead of removing entirely – the representations of these histories. And we’ll be taking a hard look at who has been left out and seeing where we can add new work to ensure our public spaces reflect the diversity and values of our great city.”
The commission’s recommendations emphasize additive measures and public dialogue to ensure monuments and markers on City property are given accurate and inclusive historical context. Their report, which lays out a process for evaluating monuments or markers that may create controversy and strong public response in the future, can be found here.
The Mayor embraces the commission's additive approach, its focus on careful historical analysis, and the open public process it recommends, and has instructed City agencies to translate the commission's recommendations into workable city procedures.
In addition to creating guidelines that can be applied to future scenarios, the commission’s report made recommendations on specific actions for four monuments and markers on City property. The Mayor’s decisions for City action on these specific sites are below:
· J. Marion Sims statue (5th Ave/103rd Street, Manhattan)
The City will relocate the statue to Green-Wood Cemetery and take several additional steps to inform the public of the origin of the statue and historical context, including the legacy of non-consensual medical experimentation on women of color broadly and Black women specifically that Sims has come to symbolize. These additional steps include: add informational plaques both to the relocated statue and existing pedestal to explain the origin of the statue, commission new artwork with public input that reflects issues raised by Sims legacy, and partner with a community organization to promote in-depth public dialogues on the history of non-consensual medical experimentation of people of color, particularly women.
· Canyon of Heroes/Henri Philippe Pétain plaque (Broadway, Lower Manhattan)
The City will keep all markers memorializing ticker-tape parades in place and explore opportunities to add context such as wayfinding, on-site signage, and historical information about the people for whom parades were held. The Downtown Alliance has also partnered with the Museum of the City of New York to research more detailed biographical information on the individuals with markers along Broadway, and will make this information accessible through an app and web page.
· Columbus Circle
The City will keep the monument in place and take additive measures to continue the public discourse, including placing new historical markers in or around Columbus Circleexplaining the history of Columbus and of the monument itself, and commissioning a new monument, at a location in the city not yet determined, recognizing Indigenous peoples.
· Theodore Roosevelt statue (American Museum of Natural History)
The City will keep the monument in place and partner with the museum to provide additional context on-site through signage and educational programming, which can offer multiple interpretations of the sculpture, the artist’s intentions, and the nature of the piece as part of the history of AMNH. The Department of Cultural Affairs will explore commissioning a new artwork in the vicinity to further those dialogues.
Any permanent changes to City property – including relocation or addition of plaques and new work – must undergo a formal approval process by the Public Design Commission.
The commission’s report makes a powerful argument for expanding the histories that are represented on City property through historical research and education, and by adding to the communities, individuals, and histories that are represented in statues, monuments, and markers. To support this effort, the Department of Cultural Affairs will commit up to $10 million in capital funds over the next four years to create new permanent artwork honoring various communities that are underrepresented on City property.
The determination process for these new works will include extensive public engagement, as well as in depth historical research. The Ford Foundation has announced a grant of $250,000 to establish the NYC Public History Project, supporting academic review of items on City property, New York City history, how these two intersect, and where there are opportunities to expand the history represented on public property to reflect the shared past of New Yorkers more fully.
The report also makes several recommendations regarding the potential for monuments to serve as anchors for curricula and other educational initiatives – an opportunity to examine how history is made, who gets to tell it, and how it’s represented publicly. The City will partner with nonprofit groups, educational institutions, and community organizations to foster additional public dialogue around specific monuments, as well as the City’s collection more broadly. In collaboration with DOE, Parks, DCLA, PDC and others, students in the city will be encouraged to actively engage with art, monuments, and markers through their studies of history, art, and society.
Throughout the review period, the commission also conducted extensive engagement with the public: more than 500 individuals attended public hearings, with nearly 200 offering verbal testimony, and an online survey received more than 3,000 responses. A summary of the public engagement process can be found at nyc.gov/monumentscommission. The report recommends a framework for addressing future controversies regarding items on City-owned property based on this robust dialogue. Using public property as a site to explore and challenge the ways that people and their experiences are – or are not – represented in our collective histories presents an opportunity to spark dialogue and bring people together in an effort to foster a more inclusive understanding of what binds us together as a society. The commission’s recommended evaluation processes for art, monuments, and markers on City property embrace this vision for fostering public dialogue, creating new curricula, and promoting a more inclusive version of our shared past.