Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mount Vernon Man Pleads Guilty To String Of Livery Cab Armed Robberies

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ALLANMON MAVUMKAL pled guilty today to four counts of Hobbs Act robbery in connection with a spree in which he threatened livery cab drivers and robbed the drivers of cash, personal items, and their cabs.  MAVUMKAL pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted today, Allanmon Mavumkal terrorized four livery cab drivers with a knife, robbing them of their money and cars.  Now Mavumkal is facing significant prison time for his violent acts.” 
According to the Complaint, Superseding Indictment, and other statements made in open court:
On September 21, 2017, MAVUMKAL hailed a livery cab in the Bronx, and directed the driver to a particular destination.  After arriving at the drop-off location, MAVUMKAL threatened the driver with a large knife, which was captured on video footage from the cab, ordered the driver out of the cab, and then drove away in the cab.  The day before, on September 20, 2017, MAVUMKAL robbed three other livery cab drivers in the Bronx and Mt. Vernon in a similar fashion.
MAVUMKAL, 30, of Mount Vernon, New York, pled guilty to four counts of Hobbs Act robbery, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the New York City Police Department in this case.

Virginia Man Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Scheme To Manipulate The Market For Fitbit Stock

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROBERT WALTER MURRAY was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for manipulating the market for the stock of Fitbit, Inc. (“Fitbit”), by filing a sham tender offer with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in November 2016.  MURRAY’s sham tender offer resulted in a temporary change in Fitbit’s market capitalization of over $100 million.  MURRAY pled guilty on November 7, 2017, before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, who imposed today’s sentence.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Robert Murray manipulated the market in Fitbit stock by making a false filing with the SEC about a tender offer.  Hoping to take a quick profit from trading in Fitbit stock options, Murray’s attempt to game the system has instead earned him a federal prison sentence.” 
According to allegations in a Complaint and Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as previous court filings and statements made in public court proceedings:
On November 8, 2016, MURRAY, falsely purporting to be an officer at a China-based entity called ABM Capital, created an account on the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (or “EDGAR”) system.  The next day, MURRAY submitted a filing on EDGAR that reported that ABM Capital had offered to purchase Fitbit for approximately $12.50 a share, a significant premium to the price of Fitbit stock at the time.  This filing was made public on November 10, 2016, and, when it was, Fitbit’s stock temporarily increased in response to the news.  While Fitbit’s stock had closed at approximately $8.55 a share on November 9, 2016, it reached a high of approximately $9.27 per share, with significantly increased trading volume, after MURRAY’s fake tender offer filing was made public.  This resulted in a temporary increase of Fitbit’s market capitalization of around $100 million.  The tender offer that MURRAY filed, however, was entirely fictitious, and was instead meant only to increase the value of options in Fitbit stock that MURRAY had purchased just days earlier. 
MURRAY also took significant steps to hide his connection to the tender offer filing.  For example, he created a separate email account to register with the SEC and to file the sham tender offer, and took efforts to disguise his IP address when accessing that account. 
In addition to the prison sentence, MURRAY, 25, of Chesapeake, Virginia, was sentenced to two years of supervised release.  The Court further ordered MURRAY to forfeit a sum of $3,914.08. 
Mr. Berman praised the exceptional work of the Office’s criminal investigators, and thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission for their assistance. 

Former Cocoa Company Executives Plead Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Defrauding Lenders Of $400 Million

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that PETER G. JOHNSON and PETER B. JOHNSON pled guilty today to defrauding a group of lenders (the “Banks”) by submitting false “borrowing base” reports designed to secure and maintain a $400 million line of credit for their cocoa trading company, Transmar Commodity Group Ltd. (“Transmar” or the “Company”).  The defendants each pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.                                               
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As they admitted today, Peter G. and Peter B. Johnson, executives of a cocoa company that supplied some of the world’s largest chocolate companies, defrauded lenders out of hundreds of millions of dollars by continuously and repeatedly lying about the collateral According to the allegations in the Indictment and other documents filed in federal court, as well as statements made in public court proceedings:           
Transmar was a closely held, family-run cocoa commodity trading company.  PETER G. JOHNSON was Transmar’s president and chief executive officer.  PETER B. JOHNSON, the son of PETER G. JOHNSON, was an officer of Transmar, as well as responsible for the operations of Transmar affiliate Euromar Commodities GMBH (“Euromar”). 
From at least 2014 through at least December 2016, Transmar maintained a credit facility from the Banks that varied from approximately $250 million to approximately $400 million.  To secure and maintain these hundreds of millions of dollars in credit, PETER G. JOHNSON, PETER B. JOHNSON, and others schemed to misrepresent material information about Transmar’s finances, making it appear that Transmar had far more credit-eligible collateral than it actually had.
The scheme centered on periodic “borrowing base” reports (“BB Reports”) that the Banks required Transmar to submit, sometimes as frequently as weekly, as a condition to continued credit extension.  The BB Reports were supposed to accurately reflect and quantify those portions of Transmar’s collateral that qualified for financing under the terms of credit agreements between Transmar and the Banks. 
Beginning no later than 2014, Transmar employees, acting with the knowledge and at the direction of PETER G. JOHNSON and PETER B. JOHNSON, manipulated the BB Reports and related documents to give the false impression that Transmar had sufficient eligible collateral to support the amount of credit the Banks were extending.  The manipulation involved, among other devices, counting inventory that Transmar had already sold or was otherwise ineligible for inclusion, counting accounts receivable for which Transmar had already received payment, recording fake accounts receivable, and arranging “circle” transactions through which amenable third-party intermediaries agreed to “buy” goods from Transmar with Transmar’s own money, funneled to the third parties through Euromar. 
The defendants acknowledged their manipulative devices in internal Transmar correspondence.  For example, on or about July 31, 2015, PETER G. JOHNSON sent an email to PETER B. JOHNSON discussing the use of “multiple circles” or “borrowing games” in connection with the BB Reports, and suggesting that Transmar “clean the book of these in due course and before they get questioned and exposed.”  On June 14, 2016, PETER B. JOHNSON responded to an email regarding a circle transaction by lamenting, “this is the problem with fake circles and non-existent last minute intermediary deals, there is never a payment to settle them.”  PETER B. JOHNSON then suggested that Transmar “reissue the invoices (ie change the date of issuance” because “[t]here isn’t going to be an audit [of the BB Report] for a year and its [sic] causing huge problems to keep writing up fictitious contracts and paperwork.” 
Transmar filed for bankruptcy in December 2016.  At that time, the Company owed the Banks approximately $360 million.
PETER G. JOHNSON, 69, of Harding Township, New Jersey, PETER B. JOHNSON, 38, of Morristown, New Jersey, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution.  That offense carries a maximum prison term of 30 years.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rakoff on August 6, 2018.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 


Council to vote on first pieces of legislation under Speaker Corey Johnson’s leadership

  The New York City Council will vote on a package of legislation to better serve the needs of runaway and homeless youth. In addition, the Council will vote on legislation that clarifies the requirements for becoming construction site safety providers. Next, the Council will vote on a resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to amend the penal law to include individuals in police custody as being categorically incapable of consenting to sexual conduct with a police officer. Finally, the Council will vote on land use items covering Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Runaway and Homeless Youth Package:
Developing a Plan to Serve All Runaway and Homeless Youth
Introduction 410-Asponsored by Speaker Corey Johnson, would require the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to report annually on runaway and homeless youth. The bill would also require that DYCD to develop a plan to provide shelter to all runaway and homeless youth who request shelter.
“There are few crises more heartbreaking than that of youth homelessness. Sadly, this is a crisis that disproportionately impacts the LGBTQ community, of which I am a proud member. We must do everything we can to help all of our young people. My bill, Introduction 410-A, will require the City to produce a plan to provide shelter to every youth who needs a bed. Every young person who needs shelter deserves access to youth-specific services and this plan will set the framework for getting us there. I’d like to thank Youth Services Committee Chair Debi Rose for her leadership and my colleagues who have lent their support to this legislation,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. 
Extending Time Limits for Runaway and Homeless Youth
Introduction 490-Asponsored by Council Member Vanessa Gibson, would require that runaway and homeless youth be permitted to remain in runaway and homeless youth shelters for extended time limits, doubling the permitted time in a crisis shelter from 30 days to 60 days and extending the time in a transitional independent living facility from 18-24 months.
“By extending shelter time limits, we are giving runaway and homeless youth much needed stability and providing them with an opportunity to make the good and healthy choices that will keep them on the pathway to success. These are young people who are alone, abandoned, and often fleeing abusive situations at home. It is our fundamental responsibility to remove every barrier to young people’s success; this legislation is a common sense measure that will allow us to better serve our children,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson.
Expanding Youth Shelter Services to Homeless Young Adults
Introduction 556-Asponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would require the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to include shelter services for homeless young adults, youth ages 21 – 24, as part of its continuum of runaway and homeless youth services.
“I’m convinced that expanding the safety net of shelter to those in greatest need from 21 to 24 years old will have a real impact in saving lives. Homelessness leaves runaway youth vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation, contact with the criminal justice system, STDs and, worst of all, suicide. This bill, once enacted into law, will have lasting impact on runaway homeless youth across the City. I thank Speaker Johnson for his partnership and making this issue a priority in the Council,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.
Calling on the NYS Legislature to Include Individuals in Police Custody as Being Categorically Incapable of Consenting to Sexual Conduct with a Police Officer
Resolution 177, sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger, calls on the New York State legislature to amend Penal Law section 130.05, related to lack of consent for sexual acts, to add persons in police custody to the list of persons deemed incapable of consenting to a sexual act when it is with a police officer.
“There can be no meaningful consent given without coercion when an individual is in the custody of a law enforcement official. Our state penal code acknowledges this dynamic in circumstances involving corrections officers and prisoners and parole officers and their parolees. My resolution calls on the state to do the same for law enforcement officials. I thank Speaker Johnson and my colleagues for supporting my push to align our laws with basic common sense and human decency,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.
The City Council will also vote on the following land use item(s)…
 Interborough Rapid Transit Company Powerhouse, Manhattan
The Council will vote to landmark the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Company Powerhouse, located in Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s district. The IRT opened in 1904 to power the pioneering IRT Subway and was the largest generating station constructed up to that time. The immense powerhouse represents a unique integration of 20th century engineering and classical architectural expression. This vote comes after receiving overwhelming support from the community.
Empire State Dairy Company Buildings, Brooklyn
The Council will vote to landmark Empire State Dairy Company Buildings, located in Council Member Rafael Espinal’s district. This vote comes after much input from the community.
827-831 Broadway Buildings, Manhattan
The Council will vote to landmark 827-831 Broadway Buildings, located in Council Member Carlina Rivera’s district. The decision to landmark the property received unanimous support from the community.

A.G. Schneiderman Releases Top Ten Frauds Of 2017, Warns NY Consumers To Beware Of Scammers

Top New York Frauds Reported To A.G.’s Office Include Internet, Automobile, Consumer Services, Housing, And Utilities
Schneiderman Provides Tips To Avoid Scams, Urges New Yorkers To Report Fraud At 1-800-771-7755
  To mark National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released the list of the top ten consumer fraud complaints received by his office in 2017. Attorney General Schneiderman also offered a variety of tips for New Yorkers on how to avoid future scams.
“The best weapon against fraud is an informed consumer,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Fraudsters will always look for new ways to line their pockets at the expense of unsuspecting consumers. I encourage New Yorkers to educate themselves – and to continue reporting scams to my office, so that we can continue to crack down on scammers seeking to take advantage of New York consumers.”
The Attorney General’s office analyzed the consumer complaints received statewide throughout 2017. For the twelfth year in a row, Internet-related complaints topped the list with 5,153 complaints. This category covered a range of issues, including child safety, privacy, civil rights, spyware, spam, consumer fraud, and free speech. Internet-related complaints were followed by 3,188 Automobile complaints, which involved sales, services, financing, rentals, and repairs. Consumer-related services ranked third with 2,463 complaintswhich included complaints concerning alarm companies, dry cleaners, furniture repair and refinishers, restaurants, hair and nail salons, movers, watch repairs, and other services for personal household use. Consumer-related services was followed by 1,961 Landlord/Tenant complaints such as rent security deposit issues and allegations of tenant harassment. Rounding out the top five, there were 1,827 Utilities-related complaints, which included reports on cable and satellite companies, energy services and suppliers, and wireless and residential phone carriers.
The following is the 2017 list of the top ten consumer complaints by category:
1. Internet
(internet services & service providers; data privacy & security; child safety; consumer frauds)
2. Automobile
(buying; leasing; repair; service contracts; rentals)
3. Consumer-Related Services
(security systems; restaurant/catering services; tech repairs)
4. Landlord/Tenant Disputes
(security deposit releases; tenant harassment)
5. Utilities
(wireless and residential phones; energy services & suppliers; cable and satellite)
6. Credit
(debt collection; credit card billing; debt settlement; credit repair; credit reporting agencies; identity theft)
7. Retail Sales
(any sale of goods for personal household use: food, clothing; rent-to-own)
8. Home Repair/Construction
(home improvement services not delivered or done poorly)
9. Mail Order
(purchases made online or from a catalog)
10. Mortgage
(mortgage modifications; mortgage and loan broker fraud; foreclosures)
The Attorney General also offered a list of tips all consumers should use to protect themselves and their families:
  1. Internet: It’s important to ask the right questions when choosing an Internet plan that’s appropriate for your needs and to ensure you are getting the Internet speeds you were promised. If you are not receiving the speed you are paying for, call your Internet service provider to find out why. Remember to refrain from conducting any transactions that involve personal, financial, or credit card information while using an open and unsecured Wi-Fi connection – identity thieves often stake out open networks seeking victims. Scammers also use variants of a known company’s Internet address to try and lure users into visiting fake websites. Learn more about common online scams here.
  2. Automobile: New York’s New and Used Car Lemon Laws provide a legal remedy for buyers or lessees of new cars that turn out to be lemons. You may be entitled to a full refund if your car does not conform to the terms of the written warranty and the manufacturer or its authorized dealer is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts. The law allows consumers to shop around for the best deal when leasing a car, set limits on early termination, and gives the Attorney General’s Office jurisdiction to resolve excess wear-and-tear disputes. To file a new or used car “lemon law” complaint, click here and here.
  3. Consumer-Related Services: We rely on a range of services in our day-to-day living, from home repair to snow-removal to party planning. Make sure to use a written contract for all services that clearly defines restrictions and obligations of both the consumer and service-provider. Consumers should shop around, get estimates from at least three vendors, and check with the Better Business Bureau and other references to confirm the company is reliable and reputable. File a complaint online here.
  4. Landlord/Tenant Disputes: The Attorney General’s Tenant Harassment Task Force investigates situations where landlords and management companies are suspected of using construction as a means to harass tenants. Incidents of harassment include: landlords operating without proper permits; construction projects operating in violation of stop work orders; and landlords who openly ignore requirements for tenant protection plans in order to contain the spread of lead and/or asbestos which may be exposed during renovation. Tenants may lodge complaints by completing and submitting a Tenant Rights Complaint Form or calling 1-800-771-7755. Learn more about housing issues here.
  5. Utilities/Wireless and Residential Phone Service: A common complaint with long-term wireless service contracts involves the sometimes hefty price for cancellation. If you are unsure exactly what plan best fits your calling habits – and want to avoid paying a large termination fee – it might be best to avoid an extended contract. Regardless of the length of your contract, remember to carefully read and understand all terms before signing it. File a complaint online here.
  6. Credit: Debt collection is the most common type of credit fraud, and consumers must know their rights. Debt collectors may not harass or abuse consumers, nor provide misleading information – for instance, claiming to represent a government agency. Debt collectors cannot sue on debts outside the applicable statute of limitations, the time frame established for the enforcement of legal rights. Consumers have the right to demand verification of the debt. Anyone with credit problems should contact credit counseling agencies licensed by the New York State Department of Financial Services for assistance in managing the situation and avoiding collection scams. Learn more here.
  7. Retail Sales: Check return and refund policiesThe law requires all merchants to post their refund policies. A store that fails to do so must give consumers 30 days to get a refund in the manner that the purchase was made. Be especially vigilant of “final sales” or “cash-only – final sale” notices, as you will have little or no recourse if the merchandise proves to be defective. Some stores require the original packaging and charge a hefty restocking fee for returned items. Learn more here.
  8. Home Repair/Construction: Before entering into a contract, shop around for estimates, check in with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers, and neighbors for references. Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed and negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the jobs. Never pay the full price up front. You have three days after signing a home improvement contract to cancel it. Learn more here.
  9. Mail Order: Whether ordering online or from a catalog, make sure the company has an operating customer service line and lists a real street address. Companies operating on a ‘fly-by-night’ basis often have no working customer service number and list only a P.O. Box. Learn more here.
  10. Mortgage: Mortgage rescue scams prey on homeowners in their greatest time of need. Look out for offers that claim to stop or delay foreclosure payments for an upfront fee or make payments on your behalf. Beware of companies that suggest a government affiliation or claim to be with the government, or those that work with attorneys but do not provide legal services. The Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) funds a network of more than 85 trusted partners dedicated to providing homeowners with free, qualified mortgage assistance relief services across New York. To find a nearby HOPP provider, call the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-855-HOME-456 or visit
Tips for other common scams
Although not in the top ten, the Attorney General’s office continues to receive consumer complaints about two common phone schemes known as the IRS scam and the Grandparent scam.
IRS scams
In the IRS scam, the caller poses as a U.S. Treasury Department, IRS, or other government official, demanding payment for unpaid taxes and threatening consumers with arrest if they do not pay up. These scammers often use fake government logos in their email and caller ID spoofing so that the victim’s caller ID box says “Internal Revenue Service” or displays the phone number of the Internal Revenue Service. 
Beware of scammers posing as government officials via phone calls or emails. The IRS will never demand immediate payment or payment information over the phone. Do not engage this type of caller or provide any personal information and report the call to our office by submitting a complaint here or calling our consumer hotline at 1-800-771-7755. Scams should also be reported to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
Grandparent scam
In the Grandparent scam, a grandparent receives a call from someone posing as a grandchild claiming that he or she is traveling and facing an urgent need for money – to make bail, pay a fine, or pay for automobile repairs or medical expenses. The caller begs the grandparent not to tell their parents. The victims are then given instructions to send funds to the scammers. Scam artists are now instructing grandparents to buy certain gift cards and then provide the scammer with the information on the back of the card so they cannot be traced.
Be suspicious of anyone who calls claiming to be your grandchild and asks you to immediately wire money or buy large dollar amounts of gift cards. Grandparents should verify any supposed emergency by calling friends and family before wiring money or buying gift cards. Learn more about common scams targeting senior citizens here.
Student Debt: 
Beware of phony student debt relief companies that claim to lower or eliminate student loan debt. Do not pay up-front fees. Scammers often use official sounding names to make it sound like they are a government agency, and, in many cases, fail to provide promised services or merely submit paperwork for a free debt relief program offered by the federal government. Students should contact their loan servicer themselves to see if any relief is available. For federal student loans such as Stafford or PLUS loans, students should ask if they are eligible for an income-based payment plan or if they qualify for deferment or forbearance.
Health Care Fraud: The Attorney General will soon be releasing a separate report about health care fraud complaints that it received in 2017. In 2017, the Health Care Bureau Helpline received 5,565 complaints. Of these complaints, the Helpline investigated and resolved 2,515 individual consumer cases and provided another 3,050 consumers with information or referrals to the agency most appropriate for the inquiry. Along with other consumer relief discussed in the report for 2017, the Helpline secured approximately $1,936,997 for consumers in restitution and savings resulting from (i) incorrect medical billing; (ii) wrongful rejection of health insurance claims; and (iii) health plans’ failures to properly process insurance claims. 
Attorney General Schneiderman reminds New Yorkers that in addition to being vigilant consumers, they should also report instances of fraud to his office. Consumers are encouraged to file complaints to the Attorney General’s office by submitting a Consumer Bureau Online Complaint Form or calling 1-800-771-7755.


Two new routes launching this summer from Lower East Side and Soundview will serve more than 1.4 million riders per year  

  Mayor Bill de Blasio and community leaders celebrated the start of construction on the Lower East Side’s new NYC Ferry landing. The dock is one of four new landings for two new ferry routes slated to open this summer, shortening commutes for thousands of New Yorkers traveling to and from the South Bronx and Lower East Side. When service launches, nearby Lower East Side residents will have a 9-minute ferry ride to Wall Street or a 17-minute ride to Midtown, versus a 13-minute walk just to get on the nearest subway.

The Lower East Side Route will serve nearly one million riders annually traveling to and from Manhattan’s Wall Street/Pier 11, Corlears Hook, Stuyvesant Cove, East 34th Street; and Long Island City, in Queens. The route is expected to substantially reduce travel times for more than 8,000 families living in four NYCHA developments, the Baruch, Jacob Riis, La Guardia and Vladeck Houses.

The Soundview Route, also launching this summer, will serve an estimated 400,000 riders traveling to and from the Soundview area of the Bronx, East 90th Street, East 34th Street and Wall Street/Pier 11 in Manhattan each year.

“Docks are under construction and new ferries are on the way for this summer’s new service. Neighborhoods like the Lower East Side haven’t had the transit options they deserve. We can’t wait to launch two new ferry lines that will help New Yorkers get to work and to school, and to connect with their city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“It’s been less than a year since the first NYC Ferry boat carried its passengers from the Rockaways, and already this has become an established part of our city’s transit. With two new lines and nearly one and a half million more passengers using the system this year, we’re bringing more transit service to neighborhoods that need it,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.

“The start of construction on the Lower East Side and Soundview landings is an exciting step toward expanding an already successful ferry network. NYC Ferry is opening up opportunities and connecting residents to neighborhoods throughout the city,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett.

Four docks are being constructed at Corlears Hook, East 90th Street, and Stuyvesant Cove on the East River and at Clason Point Park in the Soundview Section of the Bronx. Construction of the ferry docks requires embedding piles into the East River to secure the ferry landing barge, support the gangway and guide the ferry vessels into the landing, as well as installation of the access gangway onto the barge. Additional shore-side work will also be required, including installing utilities, security gates and signage.

Last year, NYC Ferry’s inaugural year, the system launched four routes, the Rockaway, Astoria and South Brooklyn and East River routes, and served nearly three million riders, surpassing initial projections by 34 percent or nearly 800,000 riders. With the Lower East Side and Soundview routes, the system will have a total of six routes.

In response to high demand, NYC Ferry is adding six higher-capacity boats to its fleet. These bigger boats are each outfitted with larger engines and designed to hold up to 349 passengers. The first three of these larger vessels are expected to arrive in the New York Harbor over the summer.

With 20 vessels operating at 21 landings across New York City by the end of summer 2018, the ferry system will provide a new and easily accessible transit option for traditionally underserved communities and where jobs and housing are growing rapidly. A NYC Ferry ride is $2.75, the same as a subway ride, and includes free transfers to other ferry routes. 

Wave Hill Events Mar 23‒Mar 30 Cactus and Succulents Day!

With a cooking demonstration, a talk and a tour of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory, we’re all about cactus and succulents this weekend. Excellent house plants—and abundant in The Shop at Wave Hill—succulents are a fine topic for a late March Sunday. Wave Hill’s collection consists of lots of potted plants that are grouped by botanical family and displayed on greenhouse benches (at a convenient waist height). The plants are kept small—those that grow too large are re-propagated by cuttings—so there is room for a large and very diverse range of species. It’s an astonishing and charming collection.

Sat, March 24    Family Art Project: Palisades in Plaster
Take a look at the rock formations that make up the magnificent cliffs of the Palisades facing Wave Hill. Learn about the minerals that make up the soil around us. Use plaster made from the mineral gypsum to create your own sculptural rock formation, or tint or color it to make a gem. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Sat, March 24    In The Shop: 20% Off All Succulents
In honor of Cactus and Succulent Day, save on your purchase of succulent plants. Cactus and Succulent Day event.

Sat, March 24    Cooking Demo: Cactus and Succulents
Prickly pear, aloe and dragon fruit are a few examples of edible succulents. Find out how to select, prepare and serve these unlikely edibles, and sample some out-of-the-ordinary recipes featuring cacti and succulents, with a chef from Wave Hill exclusive caterer Great Performances. Free with admission to the grounds. Cactus and Succulent Day event. 

Sat, March 24    Winter Workspace Session 2 Open Studios
This winter, Glyndor Gallery is transformed again into studio spaces for artists to develop new work and offer opportunities for public interaction in the context of the garden. Individual artists share their studio practice with the public on this open studios day. This year’s Session 2 artists are Michele BrodyTamara Kostianovsky, Athena LaTocha, Maika’i Tubbs and two New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellows, Ashton Agbomenou and Yelaine Rodriguez. Free with admission to the grounds.

Sat, March 24    Talk & Tour: Caring for Cactus and Succulents
Cactus and succulents make ideal houseplants if you understand their basic needs. Drawing on his eight-plus years of experience maintaining Wave Hill’s eclectic collection, Wave Hill Gardener Harnek Singh shares tips and techniques for keeping your succulents healthy and attractive. Afterwards, join him for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Cactus and Succulent House. Select plants available for sale in The Shop at Wave Hill. Free with admission to the grounds. Cactus and Succulent Day event. 

Sun, March 25    Family Art Project: Palisades in Plaster
Take a look at the rock formations that make up the magnificent cliffs of the Palisades facing Wave Hill. Learn about the minerals that make up the soil around us. Use plaster made from the mineral gypsum to create your own sculptural rock formation, or tint or color it to make a gem. Free with admission to the grounds.

Sun, March 25    Garden & Conservatory Highlights Walk
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.

Mon, March 26
Closed to the public.

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

Jumaane For New York - Join The Fight Against Gun Violence

Dear Friends,

This week, the New York State Assembly made history, passing major legislation to fight the public health crisis of gun violence.

New Yorkers can not afford for these life-saving measures to languish in the State Senate or on the Governor's desk. 

If we are serious about protecting the public from the scourge of gun violence- not just grabbing headlines -we need bold advocates in Albany with long, consistent records of fighting gun violence and opposing NRA-controlled conservatives to drive real progress in the conversation and in legislation. 

As the People's Lieutenant Governor, I will continue the passionate work to stop not only the mass shootings that make the news, but the daily gun violence that plagues our streets from Brooklyn to Buffalo.

Help us to keep pushing for life-saving gun safety measures in New York. 

Jumaane D. Williams


It is nice to see that City Councilman Williams is not getting arrested to get some publicity. It is unfortunate that he only thinks of Brooklyn and Buffalo, and not the rest of New York City or New York State.

Friday, March 9, 2018

New Scathing Report & Survey on Mold in NYCHA Unveiled by the Independent Democratic Conference, NYCHA Tenants & Advocates

While mold remains unabated, Senators fight for legislation to protect NYCHA tenants

Senators Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) and Marisol Alcantara (D-Manhattan), joined by tenant leaders, NYCHA mold victims, the Citywide Council of Presidents, At Risk Community Services, the Black Institute and advocates, issued a new, disturbing report, “Break the Mold: Cleaning Up NYCHA’s Mess.”

This report comes on the heels of the Independent Democratic Conference’s report, “The New Flint,” which compared the lead scandal at NYCHA to the lead-water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The new investigation and survey looked at mold and lack of remediation efforts in NYCHA buildings across all five boroughs.

More that 59% of NYCHA residents surveyed said they had problems with mold, which could result in serious lung and respiratory problems.

“NYCHA lets our tenants live in the most squalid, unlivable conditions imaginable and we must stand up on behalf of the 400,000 people who live there and demand that they clean up their act. Mold, lead and leaks lead to serious health problems and NYCHA tenants, living in the city’s largest affordable housing stock, deserve better. These human rights violations will not be tolerated and I will continue to fight for the safety and rights of these tenants,”  said Senator Klein.

“The problems in NYCHA in multiple areas including lead paint, life-threatening mold, and failing boiler maintenance expose the complete culture change that is required at the agency. Public housing residents and elected officials alike deserve answers, not more of the same complacent attitude and disrespect which NYCHA officials have given them. My Occupant Protection Plan bill would require NYCHA to post signs when areas of lead poisoning are found, giving NYCHA residents the ability to take their own precautions and hold NYCHA accountable,” said Senator Alcantara.

The IDC surveyed NYCHA residents in all five boroughs regarding mold and the authority’s response.

Key Findings
      59% of those surveyed reported that they have found mold in their apartment

      56% reported that it took more than two weeks to respond, or never did respond

   24% of those surveyed responded that it took management more than a month to remove the mold

      24% responded that someone in their household suffers from asthma

    52% responded that they have had or have leaking roofs, windows, or pipes that has caused water to leak into the apartment

Mold exposure, even at 24 to 48 hours, could result in health issues like itchy and watery eyes. Prolonged exposure leads to serious lung and respiratory problems, and exacerbates problems for asthma sufferers, making it important to remedy mold and the moisture issues that create mold immediately.

The Authority does not employ professionals trained in mold remediation, and had itself removed from a law that required certified workers perform such work. The IDC wants to close this loophole.

The IDC will be advocating for legislation for the state to declare a state of emergency at NYCHA and for design build in NYCHA buildings to expedite repairs.

The New York State Senate passed the IDC’s legislation to install a state-appointed  independent NYCHA Monitor, who would be a watchdog and ensure money invested in public housing is spent appropriately, this independent monitor would report to the Assembly, Senate and Governor.

Senator Klein would like residents to have input on the Independent Monitor’s selection and called on the Council of Presidents to convene to discuss the selection of a candidate for the job.

To clean-up the mess NYCHA has left residents with the IDC has proposed a package of legislation including:
  • Closing the NYCHA Mold loophole - NYCHA cut itself out of a law requiring certified professionals to abate mold. The IDC wants to close that loophole and mandate that licensed professionals perform mold remediation in NYCHA apartments.
  • City Council oversight - The New York State Senate also passed legislation to increase transparency by empowering the New York City Council to get the information they seek from NYCHA when their members request it.
  • Requiring 311 to accept NYCHA complaints - Currently NYHCA complaints are fielded directly by NYCHA and there is no public record or accountability. Requiring 311 to take and track complaints would provide transparency and allow residents to better track action.
  • The Repair Certificate Program - With buildings in dire need of repair, we need experienced developers to make quality, expedited fixes. In exchange experts would receive zoning bonuses for other projects.
  • Lead Based Paint Reports - This legislation would require NYCHA to submit lead based paint reports to the legislature, which would include valuable information on lead paint inspections by the authority.  
  • Property tax abatements for lead removal - This legislation incentivizes the removal of lead paint from buildings by providing owners with a tax abatement to keep their tenants safe.
  • Mandatory lead screening for children - This legislation would require children to be screened for lead when they enter kindergarten, second or fourth grade.
  • Follow-ups for children who test for elevated blood levels - Primary care physicians would be required to conduct follow-up tests to monitor blood lead levels if a child tests for elevated lead levels. In addition, the state must ensure there is a full environmental review of the child’s home if elevated blood lead levels are found.
  • The Occupant Protection Plan - Buildings inspected between 2012 and 2018 would have to be re-inspected for lead paint. All buildings constructing in 1978 or earlier would have to develop plans to protect occupants from the hazards of lead paint.

“CCOP has heard the cries of the Residents of Public Housing  and we will stand TOGETHER AND SPEAK IN ONE VOICE to say, ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.’   We will not continue to sit by and accept the deplorable conditions that the Residents have been forced to endure for so many years. We the Residents of Public Housing are truly Living a tale of the Two Cities.  However we too have a voice and we are speaking out,” said Daniel Barber, Chair of the Citywide Council of Presidents.

“The problems regarding NYCHA mold remediation are well known.  This goes for mold as well as lead, vermin and a host of other issues the tenants are facing every day. The lawsuit that was jointly filed on behalf of At-Risk Community Services, Inc. and CCOP, against NYCHA, is specifically focused on getting them to step up and fix all of the things that are broken, including mold,” said Elie Hecht, attorney-spokesman of At Risk Community Services.

“With alarming frequency I hear about mold infestations throughout my development. Nobody should be subjected to these very avoidable conditions, and I'm thankful that Senator Klein and the IDC continue to expose this recurring problem. The next step to help alleviate this issue is to ensure certified professionals remediate the mold, which is exactly what the legislation mentioned today aims to do,” said Monique Johnson, President of Throggs Neck Resident Council.

"The people who live in NYCHA housing are entitled to live in the same standards that those in Park Slope or on the Upper Eastside are entitled to. Gracie Mansion isn't complaining about mold issue nor should NYCHA residents, "stated Community Advocate Tony Herbert/Chair of The NAACP-NYCHA Branch's Citywide Civic Engagement Committee.


Ms. Monique Johnson challenged the mayor to spend two weeks at the apartment of her choosing in the Throggs Neck Houses.

My question to Senator Klein was if he has done a survey on any Asbestos contamination in NYCHA apartments, and Senator Klein replied "That's Next".