Saturday, April 14, 2018

New York Hispanic Clergy Organization Annual Banquet 2018

    Today was the Annual New York Hispanic Clergy Organization 2018 Annual Banquet. The five Honorees were Revsa Meily De Olmo, Rev. Oscar Giron,Licda. Maria Lusia Tifa De Wally, Rev. Dr. Fermin Medina Colon, and Rev. Roberto Lopez. The elected officials that were in attendance included Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. (who also was the Master of Ceremonies), New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. New York City Council members Fernando Cabrera and Rafael Salamanca, and New York State Assembly members Marcos Crespo, Victor Pichardo, and Luis Sepulveda.

   The Banquet was opened by Councilman Reverend Ruben Diaz Sr. who had control of the event until it ended almost two hours afterwards. It was nice to see both New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli heap praise on the Hispanic Clergy and now Councilman Rev. Diaz Sr. At times Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. seemed to be giving a campaign for Mayor speech, by saying the many things that could be considered problem areas for the current Mayor. However if it was a warm up campaign speech the BP needs to put more meat into it. It is now less than two weeks away from the special election to fill the vacant seat of former State Senator Rev. Diaz Sr., and Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda was right on target with his speech to the clergy. Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo gave what I thought was the most heated speech, as Crespo's speech reminded me of those I had seen on television of former Cuba Dictator Fidel Castro. Crespo paced back and forth, turning at times, and I was waiting for him to take off his shoe and bang it on the podium. After he spoke Crespo had to wipe the constant sweat pouring down his forehead. The photos below will tell the rest of the story.

Above - Ms. Evelyn Pichardo Sings the National Anthem.
Below - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. speaks about some of the problems in New York City today.

Above - Lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul walks into the Banquet room.
Below - Councilman Diaz Sr. introduces the Lieutenant Governor.

Above - Councilman Fernando Cabrera.
Below - Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda.

Above - Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.
Below - Honoree Revsa Meily De Olmo

Above - Honoree Rev. Roberto Lopez.
Below - Honoree Rev. Dr. Fermin Medina Colon

NEWS FROM - Cynthia for New York

In Crushing Blow to Cuomo, Working Families Party Endorses Cynthia Nixon for Governor

In a show of rapidly growing support from progressive activists, WFP votes 91.5% in favor of new leadership for New York’s working families

  In a show of massive grassroots power, the Working Families Party voted today to formally back Cynthia Nixon as their candidate for governor of New York. An overwhelming 91.5% of state committee members gathered in Albany voted to endorse Cynthia, a major blow to Governor Cuomo and a rejection of his divisive politics that threaten progressive policies and community groups.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Working Families Party and inspired by the enthusiasm of progressive working-class members of the party,” said Cynthia Nixon. “WFP activists and voters are the heart and soul of our movement to make New York a place that belongs to all of us-- a place with great schools for every child, good jobs, health care for all, and an end to mass incarceration. I've been a supporter of the WFP for years. It’s the party that I’ve always looked to as the political home for progressives in New York State, and a source of grassroots muscle for the movement.”

With chapters and thousands of active grassroots supporters in all corners of the state, sealing the endorsement of the Working Families Party will help bring a broad base of support to Cynthia's campaign. After an extended campaign to pressure the party and state committee members to endorse him, on the eve of losing the vote to endorse, Andrew Cuomo withdrew his name from contention, pretending that he never cared about winning the WFP’s support in the first place.  Cuomo's own words and actions have shown that this is an endorsement he badly wanted to win. He is willing to do absolutely anything to win – except act like a real Democrat.

Following the committee meeting, hundreds of members of the Working Families Party welcomed her to accept the nomination to chants of "Sí se puede," vowing to work alongside her to knock doors, organize and win the nomination. Showing stark contrast in excitement  and momentum compared to her opponent, Cynthia happily accepted the nomination to a cheering crowd and spoke of her platform to fight economic, racial, and gender inequality all across New York.

The WFP endorsement caps off a week of five consecutive progressive community organization endorsements, including New York Communities for Change (NYCC), Citizen Action of New York, Make the Road Action, and the New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN), representing 30 chapters across the state. Today’s endorsement echoes growing discontent among the progressive community with centrist policies and backroom dealings in Albany that leave working-class and communities of color out in the cold.

After the Working Families Party endorsed Cuomo four years ago, he went back on his promises, and his policies proved to exacerbate economic inequality and prioritize corporate donors over the needs of everyday New Yorkers. In the last 24 hours, Cuomo threatened the funding of the WFP and of community organizations who won’t endorse him, a hallmark of his political brand. In the coming months, Cynthia will work with the thousands of activists and members of WFP to grow a political movement to become New York's first woman governor.

Cynthia Nixon Receives Endorsement from New York Progressive Action Network
The State Affiliate of Our Revolution, the Organization Spun Out of Senator Bernie Sanders's 2016 Presidential Campaign, Backs Cynthia

 Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon was endorsed today by New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN), formally committing to work together to advance election reform, racial and social justice, and take on the democratic establishment in the race for New York governor. NYPAN, the main New York State affiliate of Our Revolution, came out of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and has grown to 30 chapters and 8 affiliates throughout the state with thousands of grassroots members.

“I am thrilled to receive this endorsement from NYPAN and my fellow New York progressives. I have seen firsthand the hard work NYPAN have been doing to organize for a better, more progressive New York, and stand up to Governor Cuomo's destructive policies by demanding we take big money out of politics once again. I look forward to fighting alongside NYPAN members every single day.

As governor, Cynthia would fight for a progressive agenda in New York by supporting policies to provide health care for all, legalize marijuana, and take corporate money out of politics.  

NYPAN co-chair Traci Strickland stated: “Cynthia Nixon, who, unlike the incumbent, is not an ambitious career politician, is not deterred by Cuomo’s horde of millions of campaign dollars collected almost exclusively from the 1% of corporate polluters, hedge fund billionaires, real estate speculators and other rich special interests. It is so refreshing to back a candidate who is an activist and not a politician, who believes in something other than their own self-interest, and who, like Bernie, will certainly mobilize thousands of enthusiastic voters to rally behind her historic candidacy”.

Engel Wants Seniors to be Aware of New Medicare Cards

  Congressman Eliot Engel wants all Medicare recipients in New York’s 16th Congressional District to know that they will soon be receiving new Medicare cards in the mail.

To better protect Americans against fraud, Medicare has begun sending beneficiaries new cards that include a unique Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, or Medicare Number. This new number is specific to you, and will replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently listed on your Medicare card.

Americans enrolling in Medicare for the first time will be the first to receive these new cards this month. If you are already enrolled in Medicare, you will be sent your new card at no cost in the coming months. Mailings to New Yorkers will begin after June 2018.

“These new cards are important to keeping our seniors safe from fraud,” Engel said. “I want all Medicare beneficiaries in my district to be aware that these new cards are coming, and that they are not part of a scam. However, seniors should be on alert for scammers looking to capitalize on this change. Seniors do not need to pay for these cards or provide any new information in order to receive them. If anyone has any questions regarding this change or Medicare in general, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office for assistance.”

For additional questions regarding this change, please visit or call 1-800 MEDICARE. If you would like to update your mailing address, visit or call 1-800-772-1213.



  Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) issued the following statement in reaction to news that FEMA will immediately cutoff temporary relocation services for nearly 90 families who sought refuge in communities throughout the United States, including in New York City. 

“In the wake of Hurricane Maria, hundreds of residents and families evacuated Puerto Rico and temporarily relocated for refuge in New York City,” said Rep. Espaillat (NY-13). “New York City has consistently stood with our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico and the surrounding devastated areas to ensure affected families access to FEMA resources and other emergency services dedicated to helping them rebuild their lives.

“My office was just informed that FEMA will evacuate nearly 90 families who received temporary housing throughout New York City following Hurricane Maria, and these families will immediately lose their Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) benefits and be asked to check out of their temporary hotels by April 21st, which is nearly a month sooner than the anticipated cutoff date of May 14th.

“I have reached out to FEMA and will be sending a letter to urge for an extension of the move-out date to allow these affected families a chance to properly transition to long-term housing as they are still reeling with the aftermath and upheaval caused to their daily lives following the storm. 

“Puerto Rico will rebuild and New Yorkers will continue to be there every step along the way. The constant outpour of support to Puerto Rico has been invaluable and our City has stood in solidarity to help individuals and families – our families – repair and rebuild during this critical time in history. Further displacing these individuals, American citizens who have already lost so much, will only setback our efforts and the progress that has been made so far in this road to recovery.”


  Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) issued the following statement on last night’s airstrikes against Syria following reported chemical attack.

“We are witnessing a humanitarian crisis in Syria following last week's chemical attack on Douma,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “As a global leader, united with our allies in the U.K. and France, the United States has to move forward in response to Syria's violation of international law committed against innocent civilians. Congress has a critical role in our nation's efforts to develop a clear diplomatic strategy and a response that will put forth a solution to this crisis and end attacks from the Assad regime once and for all. If the Trump Administration wishes to continue our military response, any strategy must be reviewed and authorized by Congress.”

Friday, April 13, 2018

Senator Klein & NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi Host 3rd Annual SUV Stakeholder Reception

Senator Jeff Klein and Jacobi celebrated the success of the Stand Up to Violence program at a stakeholder reception on April 11 and the announcement of $700,000 in funding secured by Senator Klein in this year’s budget. Christopher Mastromano, Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals and Jacobi Hospital, made opening remarks.

The event also honored five individuals whose contributions to the program have helped lead the way on reducing gun violence, including Reverend Dr. Sydney Hargrave, Assistant Chief Fausto Pichardo, Norma Saunders, Officer Jason Soto, Reverend Rabbi Dr. Keith Elijah Thompson.
“The SUV program has had an incredible impact on reducing gun violence in The Bronx. This innovative model has been able to get at the core of where violence comes from and put a preemptive stop to it. I’m proud that I’ve been able to continue to secure the funding needed to continue this program so that we can see further reductions in the future,” said Senator Klein.

“Whether it is a GSW, stabbing, or some other type of assault, Jacobi treats 470 victims of violence every year. That’s more than one, every single day,” says CEO Chris Mastromano. “But through intervention and defusing conflict, our hospital-based program is mitigating the public health crisis that violence has become in our communities.”

The program includes a team of 10 professionals who work together to reduce violence in Bronx communities. Since the start of SUV, gun violence has reduced dramatically in precincts where it has been introduced:

       43rd Precinct  42 percent decrease.
       49th Precinct  57 percent decrease.
       47th Precinct – 52 percent decrease.

Above - A group photo of Senator Klein, Pastor Jay Gooding, police officers from the local precincts, and Inspector Griffin of Bronx Borough Command.
Below - Senator Klein address the audience on how important this program is.

Above - Jacobi Hospital CEO Chris Mastromano tells about the decrease in gun shot wounds, but now the increase in stab wounds the hospital is getting.
Below - SUV workers Tokyo and Shariff are on each end with Pastor Gooding and Rabbi Thompson next in, followed by SUV director Erika Mendelsohn and her assistant Drommo.


  Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced today the arrest of five individuals for the theft of over $35,500 in public assistance funds, including a former New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) Job Opportunity Specialist and a Metropolitan Transit Authority (“MTA”) New York City Transit (“NYCT”) Train Operator. DOI’s investigation showed that thousands of dollars of public assistance benefits, including housing and food benefits, were funneled to relatives and acquaintances of the HRA employee even though they were otherwise ineligible to receive those benefits. The investigation began after HRA discovered questionable payments processed by the employee and referred the case to DOI. The office of the Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is prosecuting the case. 

  DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, “As charged, this defendant exploited her position issuing public assistance benefits, instead stealing these funds and doling out cash to her four associates who did not qualify for assistance. In return for this illegal conduct, this former City employee received kickbacks and other benefits; she now faces criminal charges along with her co-defendants who profited off this charged scheme. DOI and its partners will continue to weed out these bad actors who would steal from funds meant to help our City’s most vulnerable.”

 Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “Public assistance programs are a lifeline for many families. This defendant’s alleged actions violated the public trust and we now intend to hold her accountable. It is imperative that taxpayer money is safeguarded and used for the purpose for which it is designated. I remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners to root out schemes such as this that carry a heavy cost over the long term.” 

 DAWN BATSON, 56, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony; and Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor. Upon conviction, a class D felony is punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year’s incarceration.

 BATSON was employed by HRA as a Job Opportunity Specialist from September 2001 and was receiving an annual salary of $42,346 at the time of her termination in March 2014.

 According to the criminal complaints and DOI’s investigation, from December 2003 through February 2013, BATSON was assigned to several HRA Job Centers in Brooklyn processing applications for public assistance benefits, including cash assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) benefits, formerly referred to as food stamps. According to the charges, BATSON used her City position and access to issue certain benefits to her own family and neighborhood friends, including SNAP benefits, utilities, rent, and other housing-related payments, even though those individuals did not qualify for the benefits they received because they did not file the required HRA applications and/or were gainfully employed. In certain instances, BATSON caused rental payments to be made to a fictitious landlord. In some instances, defendants indicated they provided BATSON with payments in cash or other means in exchange for processing the benefits.

 The following individuals were also charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony; and Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor for their alleged roles in the scheme. According to the criminal complaints:

 Between July 2007 and July 2011, SEAN BARNWELL, 40, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was fraudulently issued HRA benefits checks on numerous occasions totaling $19,649. DOI found that BARNWELL was issued rental assistance checks as a landlord of several HRA clients when, in fact, he was never their landlord nor did he live with these individuals. In the vast majority of instances where BARNWELL received checks as a landlord, Batson accessed HRA databases to case files at around the same time that the checks were issued to the defendant.
 BARNWELL has been employed by the MTA as a Train Operator since February 2003 and earns an annual base salary of approximately $73,500 a year.

 Between December 2008 and February 2013, TERRY BOURNE, 41 of Brooklyn, N.Y., fraudulently received HRA benefits through BATSON despite BOURNE’s case file missing some or all of the required documentation. BOURNE received $7,324 in fraudulent benefits through Electronic Benefits Transfer (“EBT”) card issuances and checks. The investigation showed BOURNE approached BATSON for help obtaining benefits, and in exchange, gave BATSON her EBT card and PIN to use, and that Batson did so. TERRY BOURNE was also charged with Bribery in the Third Degree, a class D felony.

 The following individuals were charged with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony; and Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor. Upon conviction, a class E felony is punishable by up to 4 years in prison:

 Between January 2010 and September 2010, GIAN HAZEL, 54, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a family member of BATSON’s, conspired with BATSON to fraudulently receive $1,629 in HRA benefits, including rental and other housing assistance.

 Between September 2011 and February 2012, ALLAN BOURNE, 58, of Brooklyn, N.Y., fraudulently received SNAP benefits, cash assistance for utility arrears, and other public assistance benefits. A portion of BOURNE’s public assistance benefits was granted as relief from a fire or other disaster in BOURNE’s household. DOI found, however, that BOURNE’s household never suffered a fire and BOURNE was not homeless, but rather BOURNE paid BATSON $350 to receive the fraudulent HRA benefits and allowed BATSON to use his EBT card. BOURNE was also charged with Bribery in the Third Degree, a class D felony.

 Commissioner Peters thanked the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, Steven Banks, who oversees the Human Resources Administration, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and their staffs, for their cooperation and assistance in this investigation.

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

DOI is one of the oldest law-enforcement agencies in the country and New York City’s corruption watchdog. Investigations may involve any agency, officer, elected official or employee of the City, as well as those who do business with or receive benefits from the City. DOI’s strategy attacks corruption comprehensively through systemic investigations that lead to high-impact arrests, preventive internal controls and operational reforms that improve the way the City runs.

Bribery and Corruption are a Trap. Don’t Get Caught Up. Report It at 212-3-NYC-DOI. 

A.G. Schneiderman Announces State Prison Sentences For Capital Region Pair Convicted Of Money Laundering And Wide-Ranging Fraud Scheme

Mazzeo Sentenced to Additional 9 to 18 Years in Prison and Caruso Sentenced 6 Months in Jail; Victims to Receive Over $260,000 in Restitution
David A. Mazzeo and Michael Caruso Stole Nearly $150,000 from Investors and Lending Institutions, Laundered over $200,000, and Falsified Documents to Evade Taxes and Loan Default
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that David Mazzeo, 59, of Guilderland, New York, and Michael Caruso, 62, of Schenectady, New York, were each sentenced to state prison for their participation in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud several investors and lending institutions of nearly $150,000, and for laundering over $200,000 in ill-gotten gains to conceal their crimes from authorities investigating Mazzeo from 2012 to 2013.
David Mazzeo, facing his fourth investment fraud conviction in six years, received a prison sentence of nine to eighteen years that will run consecutive to his current 2 1/3 to 7 year sentence; Michael Caruso received a sentence of six months jail and five years’ probation. Both defendants were ordered to pay restitution to their victims: Caruso in the amount of $127,235, and Mazzeo in the amount of $133,091, for a total of over $260,000. On February 15, 2018, the pair were convicted of all counts after a two-week jury trial before Hon. Thomas A. Breslin in the Albany County Supreme Court.
Mazzeo and Caruso were both convicted of Money Laundering in the Second Degree (a class C felony) and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony). In addition, Mazzeo was convicted of three counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class D felony), one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (a class E felony), one count of Securities Fraud under the Martin Act (a class E felony), one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (a class E felony), and one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree (a class E felony). 
“The defendants engaged in an elaborate and brazen scheme to defraud investors in order to pay for previous scams,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s sentencings should serve as another reminder that there is zero tolerance for those who seek to defraud New Yorkers. My office will continue to root out investment fraud and hold scammers accountable.”
The evidence at trial showed that between July 2012 and September 2013, the two defendants engaged in a complex, quid pro quo scheme, whereby Caruso opened a personal bank account in his own name and let Mazzeo use the account to steal nearly $150,000 from multiple individuals, all while Mazzeo was under investigation for other investment fraud schemes. The pair used the money to pay themselves, to pay attorney fees and court-ordered restitution for Mazzeo’s prior crimes, and to pay off additional victims threatening criminal charges against Mazzeo. In exchange for Caruso’s assistance, Mazzeo assisted Caruso in drafting and obtaining numerous fake loan commitment letters to stave off lenders threatening foreclosure on Caruso’s former business, Prozone Lockers, Inc.  
Between July 2012 and September 2013, Mazzeo needed money to pay for his criminal defense attorney, to pay restitution to his criminal victims and to other victims threatening additional charges, and to pay for other personal expenditures. Mazzeo was convicted in May 2012 in Fulton County of the crime of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and sentenced to five years’ probation. As part of his probation sentence, Mazzeo was required to make restitution payments to the victim of his Fulton County crime. Shortly after Mazzeo’s first conviction, in June 2012, Mazzeo was again charged with the crime of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree in Montgomery County, for allegedly stealing $25,000 from an individual in an investment scam.  Caruso posted bail for Mazzeo in Montgomery County, signing a $50,000 bail bond on Mazzeo’s behalf.  Thereafter, in August 2012, Mazzeo was indicted in Albany County and charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree in connection with stealing $150,000 in a real estate investment scam and diverting the money to pay off prior victims. In early 2013, Mazzeo pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on the Montgomery County case and paid $25,000 in restitution to his victim. In February 2013, Mazzeo was convicted of felony grand larceny on the Albany County indictment and sentenced in April 2013 to five years’ probation and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to his victims.  
During the same time-period, Caruso owned and operated a failing businesses, Prozone Lockers, which primarily engaged in the manufacture of lockers for college sports teams.   The evidence showed that Caruso’s business had never been financially viable, and that in 2011, it began to fail. By May 2012, Caruso was facing eviction from his factory in Amsterdam, NY, and he desperately needed assistance in staving off default from his three lenders in Montgomery County.
Accordingly, just three weeks after Caruso bailed Mazzeo out on the investment fraud charges in Montgomery County, on July 18, 2012, Caruso opened a personal bank account solely in his name at First Niagara Bank. He then gave Mazzeo exclusive authority over the debit card on the account, so that Mazzeo could use the account to obtain money from new investment victims and avoid detection while he was under investigation by authorities looking at him for his prior crimes. The evidence at trial proved that during the entire time Mazzeo was under investigation, he exclusively used the Caruso account to conceal his new investment fraud scheme. However, after resolving his criminal cases by guilty pleas in 2013, Mazzeo opened an account in his own name.
For Mazzeo’s new scam, he approached individuals and told them he was close to securing deals in the coal or natural gas industry and just needed them to give him some money to put toward business expenditures necessary to finalize the deal.  With Caruso’s assistance, Mazzeo obtained nearly $150,000 from numerous individuals for these purported energy development projects. In reality, Mazzeo and Caruso used the money entirely for personal purposes by funneling the stolen monies through Caruso’s account.   These illicit transactions included payments to Mazzeo’s criminal defense attorney totaling over $20,000, restitution payments to Mazzeo’s prior victims totaling over $30,000, payments to other individuals threatening additional criminal charges against Mazzeo. Additionally, Mazzeo made nearly $37,000 in cash withdrawals and personal expenditures in the Albany area, such as Victoria’s Secret, liquor, and tobacco products. Stolen monies funneled through the account were also used by Caruso to prop up his failing business, Prozone Lockers.
In exchange for the use of Caruso’s account, Mazzeo and Caruso drafted and secured numerous phony loan commitment letters for Caruso between 2012 and 2013, which Caruso then knowingly submitted to numerous lenders threatening foreclosure on his business assets that would have resulted in his financial demise. Those lenders, including NBT Bank and the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency, relied on the fake commitment letters and held off Caruso’s financial demise for nearly 18 months.
The evidence at trial further showed that Mazzeo filed a false 2012 New York State personal income tax return in which he failed to report the money he had stolen, and he failed to file a 2013 New York State personal income tax return altogether, thereby evading over $4,000 in taxes on his ill-gotten gains.
Mazzeo was already serving a sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison for his prior fraud convictions, and his new sentence will not begin until he has completed that prior sentence.
The Office of the Attorney General thanks the New York State Tax Department’s Criminal Investigations Division for its assistance on this case.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces 120 Guns Turned In At White Plains Gun Buyback

A.G. Schneiderman's Statewide Gun Buyback Program Has Now Taken Nearly 1,700 Unwanted Firearms Out Of Homes and Off Streets – Part of AG’s Broader Efforts to Keep New Yorkers Safe from Gun Violence

  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that 120 firearms were turned into law enforcement at his office's gun buyback event today in White Plains. The Attorney General’s Office accepts, with no questions asked, working and non-working unloaded weapons in exchange for compensation on site. Since the Attorney General launched his statewide gun buyback program in 2013, the office has now collected nearly 1,700 firearms across New York State. The buyback was co-sponsored by the Westchester County Executive’s Office, the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, and the City of White Plains Department of Public Safety.

“Gun violence is one of the biggest public health crises we face. Unwanted, forgotten, and neglected guns can quickly become dangerous, endangering our children, our families, and our law enforcement officers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “These buybacks mean less guns in our homes and on our streets – part of our broader efforts to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence. Government has a fundamental responsibility to do everything in our power to protect our children and our communities from these entirely predictable and preventable tragedies. We’ll continue to do everything we can here in New York while fighting for the federal action we need to keep our communities safe.”
The Attorney General's office offers money in the form of gift cards when a gun is received by law enforcement officers. Gift cards with the appropriate amount are issued after each unloaded gun is received and secured by the officers on-site. Free gun locks were also made available for attendees of the gun buyback.
The program is entirely funded through criminal forfeiture funds that were seized from drug and gun traffickers by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force.
Today’s gun buyback resulted in 120 guns being turned in. That number includes 3 assault weapons; 44 handguns; 40 rifles; and 33 non-working or antique guns.
The statewide gun buyback program is part of Attorney General Schneiderman’s broader efforts to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence.
The Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force has focused on taking violent gun traffickers off our streets. Attorney General Schneiderman developed Model Gun Show Procedures, a series of safety procedures for gun show operators in New York State, and announced new policies to help social media sites curb illegal sales of firearms on their platforms. In 2016, the Attorney General released a first-of-its-kind analysis of tens of thousands of “crime guns” recovered by law enforcement, illustrating gun trafficking trends that undermine New York’s sensible laws. Attorney General Schneiderman has also been fighting for common sense gun laws in New York and on the federal level.

British Citizen Extradited From Morocco For Defrauding Investors Of More Than $36 Million

Renwick Haddow misappropriated investor funds and made false and misleading representations to investors in Bitcoin Store, Inc., Bar Works Inc., and related entities he controlled

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that RENWICK HADDOW has been extradited to the United States from Morocco and is expected to appear in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York today.  HADDOW was charged by Complaint in June 2017 for engaging in schemes to defraud victims by making material misrepresentations and misappropriating investment funds in companies created by HADDOW called Bitcoin Store Inc. (“Bitcoin Store”) and Bar Works Inc. (“Bar Works”), as well as related entities HADDOW controlled.  In July 2017, HADDOW was arrested in Morocco on the basis of a provisional arrest warrant for participating in these schemes.
According to the allegations in the Complaint[1]:
RENWICK HADDOW is a citizen of the United Kingdom. From November 2014 through June 2017, HADDOW solicited investments in start-up companies he created and controlled, including Bitcoin Store — a purported online platform for purchasing, selling, and storing the digital currency known as “Bitcoin”—and Bar Works, which purports to be a company that adapts former restaurants, bar premises, and other locations into co-working spaces.  When doing so, HADDOW made material misrepresentations about, among other things, the management, operations, and historical performance of those companies.
For example, HADDOW concealed his interest in Bitcoin Store and fabricated the purported “experienced team of leading investment professionals” working at the company.  In connection with Bar Works, HADDOW adopted the alias “Jonathan Black” to further hide his role in the schemes.  HADDOW claimed that “Jonathan Black” had an extensive background in finance and had a role in setting up “Car Share,” a car-sharing app.
HADDOW solicited investments through agent brokers and through his control of InCrowd Equity Inc. (“InCrowd”), which represented itself as a type of crowdfunding portal through which investors could purchase shares of start-ups supposedly vetted by InCrowd.  HADDOW did so without disclosing to investors that he had an ownership interest in both InCrowd, on the one hand, and Bitcoin Store and Bar Works, on the other.  HADDOW also misappropriated without permission funds purportedly invested in Bitcoin Store and Bar Works for his own use and the use of others.
RENWICK HADDOW, 49, has been charged with two counts of wire fraud — one relating to the Bitcoin Store scheme and the other relating to the Bar Works scheme.  Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has brought civil actions against the defendant, for its assistance.  Mr. Berman also thanked Moroccan Ministry of Justice, the General Directorate of National Security of Morocco, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, the United States Marshals Service, and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and noted that the investigation is continuing.  
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Distribution Of More Than $500 Million To Victims Of Madoff Ponzi Scheme

Payments Are the Second Distribution in a Series of Payments That Together Will Constitute the Largest Payment of Forfeited Funds in the History of the Department of Justice’s Victim Compensation Program

  Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that the Madoff Victim Fund established by the Department of Justice began its second distribution of $504.2 million in funds forfeited to the United States Government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“BLMIS”) fraud scheme.  These funds will be sent to more than 21,000 victims worldwide, the second of two payments totaling nearly $1.3 billion that the Madoff Victim Fund will return to victims.  More than $4 billion in assets have been recovered as compensation for losses suffered by the collapse of BLMIS, following the largest fraud in history.  Another $5 billion in assets recovered by the U.S. Attorney’s Office are being separately paid to Madoff victims through the BLMIS Customer Fund administered by the Securities Investor Protection Act Trustee.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Bernie Madoff committed history’s largest Ponzi scheme.  This Office prosecuted Madoff himself, and others who helped perpetrate his fraud, and continues to vigorously pursue money recoveries for his victims.  Today’s payment of more than $500 million is this Office’s second installment in a series of distributions that represent our ongoing commitment to find relief for victims of Madoff’s heinous crimes.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “In one of the most notorious and unconscionable financial crimes in history, Bernie Madoff robbed tens of thousands of individuals, pension plans, charitable organizations and others, all the while funding a lavish personal lifestyle.  Through the use of asset forfeiture, the Department of Justice has recovered over $4 billion of Mr. Madoff’s fraud, and we continue to work to compensate those he defrauded.  Last June, the Department approved more than 39,000 petitions for compensation.  Today, during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Department returns more than a half-billion dollars to nearly 22,000 law-abiding people and organizations. We cannot undo the damage that Bernie Madoff has done, but today’s distribution will provide significant relief to many of the victims of one of the worst frauds of all time.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “While today’s distribution of funds is indeed historical in scope, we understand no amount of money could ever restore the damage done by Madoff as a result of his selfish behavior and unforgivable financial crimes. To all of his many victims and their families, we realize this gesture may not provide the consolation necessary to remove the pain and suffering you have been brought to bear, but we are hopeful it provides some sense of relief, and we remain committed to achieve justice for all victims of inexcusable financial crimes.”
Since the early 1970s, BERNARD L. MADOFF (“MADOFF”) used his position as Chairman of BLMIS, the investment advisory business he founded, to steal billions from his clients.  On March 12, 2009, MADOFF pled guilty to 11 federal felonies, admitting that he had turned his wealth management business into the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, benefitting himself, his family, and select members of his inner circle.  On June 29, 2009, United States District Judge Denny Chin sentenced MADOFF to 150 years in prison for running the largest fraudulent scheme in history.  Judge Chin ordered MADOFF to forfeit $170,799,000,000 as part of MADOFF’s sentence. 
The Madoff Victim Fund is funded through recoveries by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in various criminal and civil forfeiture actions, and is overseen by Richard Breeden, the former Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, in his capacity as Special Master appointed by the Department of Justice to assist in connection with the victim remission proceedings.  
Of the approximately $4.05 billion that will be made available to victims through the Madoff Victim Fund, approximately $2.2 billion was collected as part of the civil forfeiture recovery from the estate of deceased MADOFF investor Jeffry Picower.  An additional $1.7 billion was collected as part of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. for MADOFF-related Bank Secrecy Act violations.  Additional funds were collected through criminal and civil forfeiture actions against MADOFF and his co-conspirators, and certain MADOFF investors.
Mr. Berman praised the work of the FBI and the Madoff Victim Fund, and thanked the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division for their assistance.   
For more information about the Madoff Victim Fund, compensation to victims of BLMIS, eligibility criteria, and payment information, please visit

Bronx Chamber of Commerce - Best of the Bronx Annual Gala - Wednesday April 18th

Our Annual Gala is 
Quickly Approaching.
See you all on 
Wednesday, April 18th!

News from Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda


Praise to Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD for announcing this week its expansion of the Neighborhood Coordination Officer program from local precincts to subway stations covered by Transit District 12 in the east Bronx, as well as a transit district in Brooklyn.
Having them on patrol in our subway stations means someone you know will be making sure your commute is safe and sound.”
The theft of cel phones, laptops and exposed jewelry has been a leading cause of high grand larceny numbers in the subway system. Outreach by Transit police to educate riders makes total sense to drive those numbers down.

And I am especially glad the program is being initiated in Transit District 12, which covers several neighborhoods in my Assembly district.
Transit District 12 covers the following lines and stations:

No. 2 and 5 lines:
3rd Avenue-149th Street, Jackson Avenue, Prospect Avenue, Intervale Avenue, Simpson Street, Freeman Street, 174th Street, West Farms Square-East Tremont Avenue, East 180th Street, Bronx Park East, Pelham Parkway, Allerton Avenue, Burke Avenue, Gun Hill Road, 219th Street, 225th Street, 233rd Street, Nereid Avenue, Wakefield-241st Street, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Gun Hill Road, Baychester Avenue, Eastchester-Dyre Avenue

No. 6 line:
3rd Avenue-138th Street, Brook Avenue, Cypress Avenue, East 143rd Street-St. Mary's Street, East 149th Street, Longwood Avenue, Hunts Point Avenue, Whitlock Avenue, Elder Avenue, Morrison-Sound View Avenues, St. Lawrence Avenue, Parkchester, Castle Hill Avenue, Zerega Avenue, Westchester Square-East Tremont Avenue, Middletown Road, Buhre Avenue, Pelham Bay Park   

Speaking at the monthly meeting of the 43rd Precinct Community Council, which recently held a highly successful annual appreciation breakfast, attended by Police Commissioner James O'Neill and other brass.

This very active precinct council meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7 the precinct, at 900 Fteley Ave., with guest speakers, updates on local crime and crime prevention tips.

The public is invited to ask the precinct commander and his officers any questions they may have about public safety issues.

If you are concerned about your community and quality of life, I urge to attend a meeting.

We had a great turnout for our job fair April 5 at the Sonia Sotomayor Community Center in Soundview, with about 300 job seekers showing up to interview with about 80 potential employers for jobs in healthcare, government, the general contracting industry, retail, finance, public service, business, Summer Youth Employment, technology training and job placement, and many more. Let's hope a lot of jobs came out of it.
And by the way, the next job fair will be Wednesday, May 9

There is a photo of Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo with his choice to replace Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, and the current 87th A.D. Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda. 

We have decided not to post the photo or the name of the person that the Bronx Communist Party, (excuse us) Bronx Democratic Party has chosen many weeks before the 87th Assembly seat is even vacant. when we asked Comrade Crespo what if Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda does not win the Special election for the 32nd State Senate seat, Comrade Crespo replied "Then I guess we have no candidate".

Our apologies to current Assemblyman and candidate for the 32nd State Senate seat Luis Sepulveda, but if he is going along with the charade of Comrade Crespo we will take that apology back.