Saturday, May 12, 2018

Three Charged With Conspiring To Distribute More Than 100 Grams Of Carfentanil In The Bronx

Carfentanil, a Fentanyl Analogue 100 Times More Potent Than Fentanyl, can be Lethal in Doses of as Little as 20 Microgram

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,  James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division (“DEA”), Angel M. Melendez, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), George P. Beach II, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the arrests and unsealing of Complaints charging MIGUEL ESCANO, EMANUELLI RIVERA, and PEDRO DISLA ROJAS with conspiring to distribute heroin and more than 100 grams of carfentanil, a controlled substance analogue of fentanyl.  ESCANO, RIVERA, and ROJAS were presented yesterday before Magistrate Judge James L. Cott in Manhattan federal court.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “These defendants are alleged to have been engaged in the production and distribution of large quantities of carfentanil.  Carfentanil is a potentially lethal drug 100 times more potent than fentanyl.  As little as .00002 grams can kill.  A substance meant as an elephant tranquilizer should not be hitting the streets as a recreational drug.  Thanks to our law enforcement partners for their efforts to stem the tide of lethal opioids.”
DEA Special Agent-In-Charge James J. Hunt said:  “This investigation is about more than just arrests and seizures, it is a public health warning.  Carfentanil is death, and drug dealers are packaging it for sale on the streets of New York City.  Law enforcement is battling the opioid suppliers on the front lines and this drug has the potential to double or triple overdose rates if we don’t get it off the streets quickly and warn users of its extreme danger.”
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “The individuals charged today are alleged to have introduced a drug that is one hundred times more potent than fentanyl to our Bronx neighborhoods.  Law enforcement is paying close attention to those who are profiting in this nefarious drug game to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested and face prosecution.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “Anyone who continues to peddle this poison on the streets of New York City should be prepared for the full weight of our nation’s best investigators to bear down on them.  I commend everyone involved in this case, particularly the members of the New York Drug Enforcement Strike Force, as they have proven again just how effective our law enforcement partnerships really are.”
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said:  “The work of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force stopped these dangerous and potentially deadly drugs before they could reach the streets of New York.  We have no tolerance for those who allegedly continue to traffic narcotics with no regard to the damage they inflict in our communities, and anyone who does can expect to end up in prison.  We will continue to work with our federal and local partners to prevent the flow of these illegal drugs from reaching our neighborhoods.”
According to the allegations in the Complaints[1]:
On three separate occasions between January and March 2018, ESCANO sold an individual acting at the direction of law enforcement a substance containing carfentanil in transactions that involved 50 grams, 70 grams, and 70 grams, respectively.  RIVERA assisted with the January 2018 sale.  Carfentanil is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other mammals, is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and can be lethal in doses of as little as 20 micrograms depending on the way it is administered and other factors.  
As law enforcement officers prepared to execute a search warrant on a Bronx apartment on May 9, 2018, RIVERA exited the apartment and was arrested.  Law enforcement seized approximately 100 grams of suspected narcotics in connection with the arrest of RIVERA, which have not yet been tested because the substance needs to be examined in a laboratory environment in light of the potentially lethal nature of carfentanil.  Following the arrest of RIVERA, law enforcement officers searched the apartment and found ROJAS inside.  During the search, law enforcement officers seized, among other things, suspected narcotics and materials commonly used in the production and distribution of narcotics, such as respirator masks, grinders, strainers, glassine bags stamped with the names “Sweet Dreams” and “Nasty Boyz,” a wooden press, and a stamp with the words “My Angel.”  Law enforcement arrested ROJAS in connection with the search of the apartment.
RIVERA, 32, of the Bronx, and Rojas, 38, of the Bronx, were each charged with one count of conspiring to distribute carfentanil and heroin, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
ESCANO, 30, of the Bronx, was charged with one count of conspiring to distribute carfentanil, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
The statutory maximum and minimum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for information purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, the Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department, and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
The charges contained in the Complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaints and the description of the Complaints set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Former Energy Company Executive Pleads Guilty In Connection With The Bribery Scheme Of Former Executive Deputy Secretary To The Governor Of New York

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that PETER GALBRAITH KELLY JR., a former executive at Competitive Power Ventures (“CPV”), pled guilty to defrauding CPV by misrepresenting that the former Executive Deputy Secretary to the Governor, Joseph Percoco, had obtained state ethics approval for his wife to work at CPV.  After an eight-week jury trial, co-defendants Joseph Percoco and Steven Aiello were convicted of charges relating to bribery.  The jury was deadlocked on the charges against Kelly.  Joseph Gerardi was acquitted of all charges.  KELLY pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud before United States District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “Braith Kelly was involved in a criminal scheme to bribe of one of the most powerful men in New York in exchange for favorable treatment for his energy company.  Today he pled guilty for his part in the scheme and now faces time in prison.  Corruption in Albany casts a shadow over the many honest public servants who do good work in the administration of government, and deprives the citizens of New York of the honest representation they deserve.”
According to the evidence introduced at trial, other proceedings in this case, and documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court:                                                                           
KELLY ran monthly payments to Percoco and his wife through a consultant who worked for the Energy Company in order to disguise the source of the payments.  KELLY also made sure that Percoco’s wife’s photograph and full name were not included in promotional materials for the Energy Company, and he falsely told his superiors at the Energy Company – on two separate occasions – that Percoco had obtained an ethics opinion from the Governor’s Office approving of Percoco’s wife’s employment with the Energy Company, when in fact no such opinion existed.  For his part, Percoco concealed the criminal scheme by failing to include the Energy Company as the source of payments on his State-mandated financial disclosure forms.                                                                                                
KELLY, 54, of Canterbury, Connecticut, pled guilty to an Information that charges him with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud.  It carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greatest of $250,000, twice the gross pecuniary gain derived from the offense, or twice the gross pecuniary loss to persons other than the defendant resulting from the offense.  KELLY is scheduled to be sentenced on September 28, 2018, by Judge Caproni.
Percoco was convicted on March 13, 2018, after an eight-week trial, of soliciting and accepting bribes in return for taking official state action to benefit CPV and Syracuse-based real estate developer COR Development (“COR”).  Percoco is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Caproni on June 11, 2018.
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. 
U.S. Attorney Berman praised the work of the Buffalo Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and New York Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, which jointly conducted this investigation with special agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Mr. Berman also thanked the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

Statement Of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman On The Conviction Of Former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

  Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly Speaker, took an oath to act in the best interests of the people of New York State.  As a unanimous jury found, he sold his public office for private greed.  

I commend the career prosecutors of our Office’s Public Corruption Unit, whose determination in securing this important conviction fittingly underscores the importance of pursuing cases against corrupt politicians, no matter the difficulty.  One of the most worthy endeavors of this Office is combatting public corruption.  We will continue to do so with the independence and resolve the Southern District is known for and the citizens of New York so rightly deserve.

Daniel Delvalle, Member Of Bronx Drug Crew, Sentenced For Murder Of Kenya Miller

  Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that DANIEL DELVALLE, a/k/a “BD,” a/k/a “Danny,” 31, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to a term of 156 months in prison for his participation in the murder of Kenya Miller, 26, on June 29, 2010.  The sentence imposed by Judge Buchwald will be served consecutively to the 120-month prison term imposed on DELVALLE on June 4, 2014, by United States District Judge William H. Pauley III, for DELVALLE’s participation in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.  

United States Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Daniel Delvalle was responsible for the murder of 26-year-old Kenya Miller.  As a result of that horrible and senseless crime, he will spend 23 years in prison.  We thank our law enforcement partners for their outstanding efforts, and we will continue to work with them to keep our communities safe.”
According to the Indictment, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the sentencing proceedings:
Between approximately 2006 and 2012, two rival drug crews based their operations in and around the E. Roberts Moore Houses (the “Moore Houses”) in the vicinity of Cauldwell and Concord Avenues in the Bronx, New York.  One such crew was headed by DELVALLE.  Members of the DELVALLE crew primarily sold crack cocaine supplied to them by DELVALLE.  Members of the DELVALLE crew also possessed and used firearms in order to protect themselves and their drug territory, and they were responsible for a number of drug-related shootings in the area. 
On June 29, 2010, Miller was killed by a member of the DELVALLE crew (“CC-1”).  Miller’s murder was ordered by DELVALLE, who had been upset with Miller for allegedly assaulting members of the DELVALLE crew.  As a result, on the day of the murder, when DELVALLE saw Miller in the vicinity of the Moore Houses, DELVALLE told CC-1, in substance and in part, to retrieve a firearm and to kill Miller.  CC-1 followed those instructions: CC-1 retrieved a gun belonging to the DELVALLE crew, followed Miller into an apartment building, and then shot Miller several times in an elevator.    
Mr. Berman praised the work of the New York City Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.                    


  It was the Annual TEAM DIAZ Abrazo in Honor of Garifuna-American Month. Well almost TEAM DIAZ as two members were missing. Newly elected State Senator Luis Sepulveda and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. were absent from the event for various reasons. No matter former State Senator now Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. took center stage and the Abrazo went on as you will see from the photos below.

Above and Below- As is custom the elected officials pose with members of the audience before the Abrazo.

Above - Another photo with the electeds.
Below - Members of the Garifuna Cultural Group Anyana Yankunu Dance Group performed. 

Above - The invocation is given by Evangelist Dr. Mery Alvarez. What is Assemblyman Marcos Crespo thinking?
Below - The National Anthem is sung by Rosemary Bermudez.

Above - Without the Bronx Borough President 'In the House"', Assemblyman Crespo stands in for him to say a few words.
Below - The five honorees (l-r) Mr. Pablo Blanco, Ms. Daysi Fernandez, Ms. Luz F. Solis, Ms. Emi VAlerio, and Mr. Eduardo Solano. 

Above - Honoree Eduardo Solano receives Proclamations and citations from the elected officials.
Below - Honoree Emi Valerio Receives her Proclamations and citations from the elected officials.

Honoree Luz F. Solis receives her Proclamations and Citations as did Honorees Ms. Daysi Fernandez and Mr. Pablo Blanco.

NY Attorney General's Office Requests Public Comments As Part Of Review Of Fidelis Sale

  Acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced today a request for public comment as part of the office’s review of the $3.75 billion sale of substantially all of the assets of the New York State Catholic Health Care Plan, Inc. d/b/a Fidelis Care New York (“Fidelis”) to Centene Corporation (“Centene”). Most of the proceeds of the sale will be used to create an endowment for the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

“This will be the largest charitable transaction in the history of the Attorney General’s office,” Acting Attorney General Underwood said. “Our office is committed to ensuring that the new foundation continues Fidelis’ critical mission of providing safety net health care to vulnerable New Yorkers. We have already undertaken significant measures to assure continued access to quality, affordable health care, and encourage New Yorkers to make their voices heard during this comment period.”
In April 2018, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Financial Services approved transfer of the managed care plans owned and managed by Fidelis to Centene Corporation, a for-profit company.
Under the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law, the proceeds of the sale of charitable assets belong to the charity and must be used to further its charitable mission. The Attorney General is responsible for reviewing the transaction to determine whether the price and terms of the sale are fair and reasonable, and whether the purposes of the charity will be promoted by the sale.
The Charities Bureau has been conducting an extensive review of the Fidelis petition under Section 511-a of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law.  The petition is now being made available for public comment through May 23, 2018 at
Because of Fidelis’ important role in providing safety net health care for New Yorkers, the Attorney General’s office has secured a number of commitments from Centene as part of her office’s review of the sale. Those commitments include requiring Centene to:
  • continue to provide services and enroll members in every county in which Fidelis currently operates;
  • continue Fidelis’ current network of providers and ensure that those providers will be paid the same rate for at least three years;
  • and provide funds for an independent health care expert (chosen by the Attorney General’s office) to review whether the health care services being provided are consistent with those provided by Fidelis and that Centene’s commitments are being honored.
Under the proposed transaction, Fidelis will transfer the proceeds of the sale to a new health care foundation, Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, Inc. This Foundation will provide grants to address the health care needs of vulnerable New Yorkers, including social determinants of health. The Foundation’s plan for use of the sale proceeds is set forth in the petition beginning at paragraph 147. In addition, the Foundation will transfer to the State of New York $1.4 billion for use by the State in addressing the health needs of vulnerable New Yorkers; the State has agreed to provide sufficient information to the Charities Bureau to assure that this undertaking is honored. 
The Charities Bureau will review all public comments prior to making a final decision on the Fidelis petition. 

Comptroller Stringer Releases First Agency Watch List Report: Department of Correction

Stringer calls for increased transparency of spending and results
Agency Watch List report to be released quarterly on three City agencies that must deliver better results: DOC, DOE, and DHS
  As the New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice holds hearings on the Executive Budget, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released the first “Agency Watch List” report on the Department of Correction (DOC), one of three agencies the Comptroller’s Office is monitoring for spending and results. The watch list is a tool to track the relationship between spending on and results of programs run by city agencies, and highlights areas where the public lacks sufficient data to determine program value. This analysis of DOC found that despite a record low inmate population, the agency’s costs continue to climb rapidly – with little evidence that the higher spending is resulting in material changes in conditions at Rikers. There is also insufficient transparency around other critical initiatives, such as recidivism reduction programs and mental health services, making it impossible to assess whether the agency is maximizing every dollar in these critical areas.
The Agency Watch List, first announced in Comptroller Stringer’s Preliminary Budget Presentation, spotlights City agencies – the Department of Correction (DOC), Department of Education (DOE), and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) – that raise the most alarming budgetary concerns due to rapidly increased spending and meager measurable results. Reports, to be released on each department quarterly, will review trends and recommend indicators that should be publicized and monitored to evaluate the effectiveness of agency spending in achieving the Administration’s stated goals.
“Providing New Yorkers with the services they deserve is a critical responsibility – but with a cooling city economy, the Agency Watch List is a new tool to ensure that the City is making every dollar count. Our city agencies must do better when it comes to tracking the results of their investments – and sharing those results with the public,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “When it comes to the Department of Correction, we know that some numbers are moving in the wrong direction. The DOC is putting far more money into far fewer inmates and yet we’re still seeing more violence. We have to do better to ensure a smart, modern, and fair corrections system. That starts with collecting the data and raising common-sense questions about the effectiveness of enormous – and growing – budgets. Transparency matters, and that’s what our Agency Watch List brings.”
Comptroller Stringer’s report provides an extensive analysis of available data, including rates of violent incidents, spending on overtime pay for correction officers, and participation in new recidivism programs. But the data provided by DOC and the Administration is incomplete, and fails to adequately illustrate the results of new spending. As such, the Comptroller’s Office is calling for more data to be released publicly on the Department of Correction’s spending on anti-violence initiatives and re-entry services – including alternative housing strategies and inmate education initiatives – in order to fully determine whether spending is in line with the Administration’s stated goals.
The report includes the following findings:
Inmate Population Down, but Spending, Staffing, and Violence Up
  • Since 2014, New York City’s inmate population has fallen 20 percent, from an average daily population of 11,400 in FY 2014 to under 9,200 in FY 2018, through October 2017;
  • Yet total agency spending is projected to rise 29% over the same period, as of the FY 2019 Executive Budget;
  • Over the same period, the ratio of inmates to correction officers has fallen, from 1.28 to 0.87, while the cost of staffing per inmate has increased from $96,695 in FY 14 to over $144,000 in FY 17; and
  • Yet the number of violent incidents has nearly doubled over the same period, from 774 incidents per 1,000 average daily population in 2014 to over 1,300 incidents per 1,000 average daily population in the first four months of FY 18.
Participation in Re-Entry and Recidivism Services Up but Results Not Tracked
  • Program spending is projected to increase five-fold, from $3.8 million in FY 14, to a projected $21.4 million in FY 19;
  • In new initiatives to reduce idleness, spending is projected at $11 million in FY 19, roughly even with FY 18; and
  • Expansion of the I-CAN recidivism reduction program to medium-risk inmates has resulted in a significant increase in the number of participants, which is good news. But information on the outcome – reduced recidivism – is lacking.
Despite Increased Investment in Health and Mental Health Services, Clinic Visits Flat
  • Spending on Health Affairs and the Health Management Division has risen from $3.1 million in FY 14 to $5.5 million in FY 18 (budgeted, as of the FY 2019 Executive Budget); and
  • The number of total inmate health clinic visits has been largely consistent between FY 14 and FY 17, only increasing slightly from 77,825 to 79,844 in those respective years.
Key Data Not Provided by City to Measure Results
A number of key indicators are not currently publicly reported, resulting in a gap between the Administration’s stated goals and the measures available to evaluate their success. As part of the Agency Watch List report, the Comptroller’s Office is calling on the Administration to immediately make these statistics publicly available and incorporate them into the Mayor’s Management Report:

  • Average length of stay (not reported in FY 2018 Preliminary MMR)
  • Average cost per inmate (not reported; calculated by Comptroller’s Office)
  • Crisis intervention team deployments (not reported)
  • Inmates reported receiving mental health services as a percent of those with diagnosis (not reported)
  • Overtime spending per uniformed headcount (calculated by Comptroller’s Office)
  • Average number of fixed posts requiring coverage (not reported)
  • Percent of inmates eligible for discharge planning who receive a plan (not reported)
  • Inmates earning a GED (not reported)
  • Post-release job placements and retention (not reported)
  • Re-admissions (not reported)

Comptroller Stringer: New York City Growth Moderates in the First Quarter of 2018

Economic growth slowed to 2.7% in the City in 1st quarter of 2018
Job growth uneven as private sector gained 13,000 jobs in medium- and low-wage industries, while high-wage jobs drop by 2,200
Unemployment rate at historic low
  The pace of New York City’s economic growth slowed during the first three months of 2018, according to the Quarterly Economic Update released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. The analysis found that Gross City Product grew by 2.7% from January through March, less than the 3.4% growth in the previous quarter (Q4 2017), but still outpacing the national economy, which expanded by 2.3%.
The report highlighted several economic indicators showing a mixed economic performance, including a record low unemployment rate, declining commercial leasing activity, and sluggish private sector job growth favoring low- and medium-wage industries.
“While our economy has been strong, weakening economic growth is a reminder that it won’t continue forever,” said Comptroller Stringer. “Over the last few years our economy has gone from a sprint to a jog, and now, with signs of a cooling job market and slowing economic growth, we’ve come to a walk. And while unemployment is at an all-time low, the concentration of job growth in low-wage industries is concerning for those New Yorkers who are trying to get ahead in our economy. We need discipline today, to prepare for the possibility of tougher times ahead. We will continue to monitor the economy’s condition closely, but this quarter’s results highlight the need for prudence in the management of our finances.”
Overall, in the first three months of 2018, private-sector employers added 13,000 jobs. However the distribution of these jobs, entirely in low- and medium-income industries, is cause for concern, especially as high-wage industries, such as information services and financial activities lost 2,200 jobs in the first quarter.
Released every three months, the Comptroller’s Quarterly Economic Update tracks New York City’s economic health and analyzes the City’s economy in a national context. The report includes information on economic growth, unemployment, average wages, business activity, real estate transactions, and other economic indicators.
Findings in the First Quarter Update include:
City Economic Growth Slowed
  • New York City’s economy started 2018 at a moderate pace, growing 2.7% in the first quarter, from 3.4% growth in previous quarter, Q4 2017.
  • The City continued to outpace the national economy, which grew 2.3% in Q1 2018, less than the 2.9% growth in Q4 2017, as measured by the change in real GDP.
Private-Sector Hiring Cooled
  • The analysis found that New York City added 13,300 jobs in Q1 2018, an annualized increase of 1.2% and the lowest rate of growth since Q4 2016.
  • Of the 13,000 private-sector jobs created in the first quarter of this year, 10,900 were in low-wage industries and 4,200 were in medium-wage industries.
  • Job gains were partially offset by a 2,200 job loss in high-wage industries including information and financial services.
  • While job growth cooled, wages rose slightly, as Average Hourly Earnings (AHE) of all private sector employees in New York City rose 2.3% on a year-over-year basis to $35.84 in the first quarter of 2018.
Unemployment Rate Fell To Record Low as Labor Force Participation Rate Stayed Unchanged
  • Despite the apparent weakness in employment growth, NYC’s unemployment rate, adjusted for seasonality, fell to 4.3 percent in Q1 2018, the lowest rate on record.
  • The number of unemployed people in New York City declined by 6,700, from 187,100 in Q4 2017, to 180,400 in Q1 2018.
  • The unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2018 fell in all five boroughs to the lowest first-quarter levels on record: 6.1% in the Bronx, 4.4% in Brooklyn, 4.3% in Staten Island, 3.9% in Manhattan, and 3.8% in Queens.
Personal Income Tax Revenues Register a One Time Boost from Tax Reform
  • NYC Personal Income Tax (PIT) revenues rose 33.0 percent, or $1.1 billion, on a year-over-year basis to over $4.4 billion in Q1 2018, possibly the highest level on record.
  • The main factor was an increase in both estimated tax payments and withholding, the two main components of PIT revenues. Estimated tax payments, which reflect trends in taxpayers’ non-wage income, including interest earned, rental income, and capital gains, more than doubled to about $1.4 billion in Q1 2018.
  • The injection of one-time tax revenues is largely due to changes to the U.S. tax code at the end of 2017. Lower tax rates on pass-through business income incentivized the self-employed and others with business income to shift profits from last year to 2018. In part as a result of the changes to the tax code, Wall Street bonuses grew 17% from the previous year.
  • The surge in tax collections is not expected to last, but rather to return to more normal levels going forward.
Venture Capital Investment Keeps Growing
  • Total investment in the New York metro area rose 61.1% on a year-over-year basis from $1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2017, to $2.6 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
New Commercial Leasing Falls, As Does the Vacancy Rate
  • New commercial leasing activity in Manhattan declined to 7.1 million square feet in the first quarter, 7.0% lower than in same quarter last year.
  • Nonetheless, the Manhattan commercial vacancy rate fell to its lowest first quarter rate in ten years – 8.8% — due to a drop in total available space. Total available space in Manhattan fell by over 3.0 million square feet in Q1 2018 from a year ago.
Residential Sales Fall in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens
  • In the first quarter of 2018, Manhattan residential housing prices continued to soften as both average sales prices and average price per square foot fell for the third consecutive quarter.
  • The number of home sales also fell in Brooklyn and Queens. However, while Brooklyn housing prices declined by 1.2% to $982,093, the average sales price in Queens rose 11.9% to $624,554.
MTA Transit Ridership Declined
  • Average weekday ridership on MTA NYC Transit fell 4.3% in January and February of 2018 from a year ago, as average weekday bus ridership fell 7.0% and average weekday subway ridership fell 3.3%.
  • During the same period, Long Island Rail Road ridership fell 2.8% and Metro North ridership fell 1.3%.
Leading Economic Indicators are Mixed, but Positive
  • The current business condition index provided by ISM-New York, Inc. rose to 60.3% in the first quarter, above the 55.3% in the prior quarter. Readings greater than 50% indicate growth.
  • Initial unemployment claims decreased 12.7%, on a year-over-year basis, the biggest decline since Q4 2014.
  • However, total building permits in the City fell 18.5% to 5,170 in the first quarter from the same time a year ago.


Defendant, A NYC Department of Correction Officer, Raped A Female Relative

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting a female relative for a period over three years, beginning when she was 10 years old. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “This defendant was convicted by a jury of despicable, horrific crimes against a young girl. Now 15 years old, she bravely testified in court about years of abuse starting when she was 10 years old. I hope this sentence will help in this survivor’s healing.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Jose Urena, 48, a NYC Department of Correction officer, was sentenced today to 15 years to life in prison by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Alvin M. Yearwood for Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child; 15 years in prison and 20 years post-release supervision for each charge of first-degree Rape and first-degree Incest, and one year in jail for each of two counts of second-degree Sexual Abuse and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The sentences are to run concurrently. The defendant was convicted on April 16, 2018. 

 According to the investigation, between June 1, 2013 and August 31, 2014, the defendant engaged in sexual conduct, including sexual intercourse, with the girl. On November 8, 2016 and between January 1, 2016 and February 29, 2016, the defendant did subject her to sexual contact by touching her intimate parts.

 District Attorney Clark thanked BethAnn Holzhay, Director of the Crime Victims Assistance Unit, for providing counseling and support to the victim during the case.


Defendant Will Register As Sex Offender 

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to promoting prostitution of two females, including one minor. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “This defendant is behind bars after a 17-month investigation that uncovered voluminous evidence showing the defendant preying on vulnerable females. The defendant’s plea assured that the victims would not have to testify but would gain justice, and hopefully allows them to reclaim their lives. We will continue to go after anyone who thinks they can use individuals as sex slaves.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Vinod Patel, 52, of Paulding Avenue, was sentenced today to two-and-a-third to seven years in prison by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Alvin M. Yearwood. The defendant pleaded guilty to third-degree Promoting Prostitution on March 29, 2018. He must also register as a Sex Offender. 

 According to the investigation, which began in October 2016, the defendant promoted prostitution from his home for over a year. He pleaded guilty to promoting a 20-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl and advertising them on

 District Attorney Clark thanked Detective Gloria Chavez of the NYPD Vice Human Trafficking Team for her hard work on the case.

SAVE THE DATE: Bronx Democratic Party's Annual Gala Dinner Wednesday July 18th

Broadway Democrats, Village Independent Democrats & Three Parks Independent Democrats All Endorse Cynthia Nixon for Governor

  Hard on the heels of several major progressive endorsements, Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon was endorsed by the Broadway Democrats, Village Independent Democratic Club and Three Parks Independent Democrats. The groups are some of the New York City’s most active, grassroots political organizations dedicated to a stronger, more accountable State Democratic Party.
“I am honored to receive the support of the Broadway Democrats, Village Independent Democratic Club, and Three Parks Independent Democrats,” said Cynthia Nixon. “These organizations understand that in order to implement progressive policies we need progressive leaders at all levels of government. As I continue my campaign, I know that the hardworking organizers and activists in these groups will be vital in energizing voters on Primary Day.”
Cynthia won the Broadway Democrats endorsement Thursday evening after addressing its members. Though Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was also in attendance on behalf of Governor Andrew Cuomo, over 60 percent of the club voted in favor of endorsing Cynthia. She also received the Village Independent Democrats and Three Parks Independent Democrats endorsement, with members voting overwhelmingly in favor of Cynthia.
The Broadway Democrats, Village Independent Democrats, and Three Parks Independent Democrats endorsements mark the fifth, sixth and seventh endorsements in just two weeks. Since the beginning of May, the New Kings Democrats (NKD), Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Democracy for America, and Daily Kos have also thrown their support behind Cynthia’s bid for governor. This adds to an even longer list of endorsements over the last few weeks, including the Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, Citizens Action, and the New York Progressive Action Network, with more announcements expected in the coming weeks.

News From Congressman Eliot Engel,

Trump “Failed to Offer Better Deal” on Prescription Drug Pricing

  Congressman Eliot Engel, a top member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement on today’s speech by President Trump on prescription drug pricing:

“Today, President Trump had an opportunity to champion meaningful, comprehensive action for American consumers struggling with the rising costs of prescription drugs – and he failed.

“This is nothing new for the GOP. Earlier this week, House Republicans said no to even considering an ambitious Democratic plan to address the high cost of drugs. Last month, in the Energy and Commerce Committee, they voted to block an amendment that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to simply examine the rising price of the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

“And back in October, when I and other Energy and Commerce Democrats voted in favor of allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices—something the President once claimed to support—the GOP voted it down. That proposal was, unsurprisingly, absent from President Trump’s speech today – another in a long list of broken promises.

“Rising prescription drug prices are a key concern of millions of American seniors and working families. Prices of many medications that have been on the market for decades are surging. Medication for Americans with chronic conditions more than doubled in price over the past decade to nearly $13,000 – taking up four-fifths of the average Social Security retirement benefit.

“These rising costs have real implications for working families: the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about a quarter of Americans didn’t fill a prescription in the previous year because of the prohibitive cost.

“This cannot stand. Americans demand a better deal – and today, President Trump failed to offer one.”

Engel Announces $20,000 in NEA Funding for Wave Hill

   Congressman Eliot Engel, a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, today announced the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded a $20,000 grant for Wave Hill, Incorporated in the Bronx. The grant money will be used to provide workspaces, professional opportunities, and resources to encourage and support the development of local artists. 

“I am pleased the NEA has recognized the artistic and creative contributions made by Wave Hill, one of the great havens for artistic expression in New York’s 16th District,” Engel said. As a long-time advocate of federal funding for the arts, I am always pleased to see vital federal dollars come into our community, especially when they will help expand creative and learning opportunities for local artists. I know Wave Hill will do a wonderful job ensuring this NEA grant will provide great benefits.”

““The NEA’s support is crucial to Wave Hill’s commitment to offering artists access to our incomparable site and our horticultural and curatorial expertise, as well as giving them an opportunity to engage with the public,” said Wave Hill Senior Director of Arts, Education and Programs, Jennifer McGregor.

Wave Hill Events May 24‒May 31 Memorial Day

Sat, May 26    Family Art Project: At Home in the Sky
With watercolor brush in hand, find a place to perch and view the vistas unique to Wave Hill. What do you see flying off into the wild blue yonder? Experiment with the scale of birds near and far, and with brushy, atmospheric strokes in our outdoor sky-painting project. Rain or shine! Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon. 

Sat, May 26    Garden Highlights Walk
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Sat, May 26    Gallery Tour
Learn about Glyndor Gallery exhibitions on a tour led by Wave Hill’s Curatorial Fellow. Avifauna: Interplay of Birds + Habitatfeatures artworks that delve into the relationship between birds and their habitats—from the role birds play in propagating plants to changes in how natural and built environments affect migration patterns. Artists working in photography, video, artist books, wall painting, installation, drawing and sound include Tatiana Arocha, Tanya Chaly, Marna Chester, Nina Katchadourian, Paula McCartney, Jeff Mertz, Peter Morgan, Sarah Nicholls, James Proseck, Jenna Spevek and Fred Tomaselli. In the Sunroom Project Space, Austin Ballard: Rumors is on view. Fabricating furniture using cane webbing and epoxy clay, Austin Ballard constructs an immersive domestic setting. Intended as functional sculpture, the forms are reminiscent of Victorian furniture and recall Wave Hill’s history as a private home. Free with admission to the grounds.

Sessions of Yoga in the Garden resume on June 3.

Sun, May 27    Family Art Project: At Home in the Sky
With watercolor brush in hand, find a place to perch and view the vistas unique to Wave Hill. What do you see flying off into the wild blue yonder? Experiment with the scale of birds near and far, and with brushy, atmospheric strokes in our outdoor sky-painting project. Rain or shine! Free admission to the grounds. 

Sun, May 27    Garden Highlights Walk
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.

Mon, May 28    Memorial Day Garden Highlights Walk
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights on this holiday Monday. Free with admission to the grounds.


Tue, May 29    Garden Highlights Walk
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Tue, May 29    Gallery Tour
Learn about Glyndor Gallery exhibitions on a tour led by Wave Hill’s Curatorial Fellow. Avifauna: Interplay of Birds + Habitatfeatures artworks that delve into the relationship between birds and their habitats—from the role birds play in propagating plants to changes in how natural and built environments affect migration patterns. Artists working in photography, video, artist books, wall painting, installation, drawing and sound include Tatiana Arocha, Tanya Chaly, Marna Chester, Nina Katchadourian, Paula McCartney, Jeff Mertz, Peter Morgan, Sarah Nicholls, James Proseck, Jenna Spevek and Fred Tomaselli.In the Sunroom Project Space, Austin Ballard: Rumors is on view. Fabricating furniture using cane webbing and epoxy clay, Austin Ballard constructs an immersive domestic setting. Intended as functional sculpture, the forms are reminiscent of Victorian furniture and recall Wave Hill’s history as a private home. Free with admission to the grounds.

Thu, May 30    Members Trip: Storm King Art Center    
Experience art and nature in harmony at Storm King Art Center, one of the world’s leading sculpture parks. Explore its 500 acres of rolling hills, verdant fields and woodlands, and a collection of more than 100, large-scale sculptures by Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi and more. Our day trip includes transportation, a docent-led walk and time to explore. Lunch on your own at the Storm King CafĂ©, then visit a local sculptor’s studio. $75. Registration required, online at or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center.

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–5:30PM,  March 15–October 31. Closes 4:30PM, starting November 1.

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