Saturday, October 13, 2018

5th Annual Domestic Violence Awareness By the Carrion Movement "THERE IS LIFE AFTER ABUSE"

(L - R) - Ms. Jayda Palau, Ms. Zelideth Diaz-Hatch, Ms. Tanya Carrion, Master of Ceremonies Jose Rivera, Ms. Alison Santiago, and Ms. Meryland Cuevas-Canela. 


That was the theme of the 5th Annual Domestic Violence Awareness event held at the UFT Bronx headquarters. It was to teach people that while a person (men as well as women) that there is life after abuse. 

It was a quick four and a half hours as there were many different segments of this event. There were 'Life Stories' by some who have experienced Domestic Violence. You could see real tears as the speakers told their stories, and real concerns they had while in the abuse part of a relationship, but also fears of what may happen now that those relationships have ended. The stories were very different, telling some of the many horrors of Domestic Violence, and what it does to the victims other than the injuries. The lack of belief of the story by some of those in authority,

Two elected officials were present who spoke, Assemblyman and Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo, and recently elected 87th A.D. District Leader John Perez. While Assemblyman Crespo spoke of his travels to Puerto Rico with Governor Cuomo, District Leader Perez spoke of the Domestic Violence he had endured during a marriage. 

There was different entertainment as you will see in the photos, Zumba, children performing, and singers where people went up front to dance. 

Above - Event organizer Tanya Carrion stands with Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (r), and District Leader John Perez (l).
Below - Ms. Jayda Palau told a very revealing story of her Domestic Violence that she endured. 

Above - Assemblyman Marcos Crespo congratulates Ms. Palau for telling her story of abuse.
Below - District Leader John Perez tells of a very bad case of abuse his former wife hurled on him while they were married.

Above - A song by Juanky.
Below - The Skk Dancers.

Above - Miguel and John Q in a song performance.
Below - Ms. Tanya Carrion joins with Ms. Jayda Palau and others to dance to the music.

A group photo with Miguel and Jon Q, Emcee Jose Rivera, and the Domestic Violence survivors who came up to dance.


  Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced today the arrest of a Correction Officer with the New York City Department of Correction (“DOC”) on charges of bringing in contraband, specifically what is believed to be marijuana, into the Manhattan Detention Complex. DOI’s drug-sniffing dog, Buster, was positioned at the front gate during a routine screening on Friday morning, October 12, 2018, at about 9:40 a.m. and alerted on Correction Officer THOMAS STEWART as he entered the facility where he is assigned. The case is being prosecuted by office of New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

 DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, “This is the second arrest this week involving insider corruption at the City’s jails. In this case, and the one earlier this week in the Bronx, a correction officer violated his oath to protect safety within the jails, the safety of his fellow officers, by smuggling in contraband, according to the charges. We know that contraband fuels an underground trade and violence behind bars. We thank the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for its partnership on these important arrests.” 

  STEWART, 37, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree, a class D felony; Promoting Prison Contraband in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the Fourth Degree and Official Misconduct, all class A misdemeanors. Upon conviction, a class D felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison, and a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year’s incarceration. 

 STEWART has been employed by DOC as a Correction Officer since June 2017, he receives an annual base salary of approximately $44,333, and was suspended immediately after his arrest.

 According to the criminal complaint and DOI’s investigation, on October 12, 2018, DOI’s drugsniffing dog, Buster, alerted on STEWART as he entered the front gate at the Manhattan Detention Complex. After Buster alerted, the defendant surrendered two brick-sized packages wrapped in black plastic tape that he had concealed on himself. The investigation determined that the bricks weighed approximately 142.6 grams, or over five ounces, and contained multiple rubber balloons filled with a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. DOI later recovered $140 in cash from the defendant who indicated he had been paid that sum to bring in the contraband to give to a prisoner.

 The investigation is ongoing.

DOI Commissioner Peters thanked Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and his staff for their prosecution of this matter; and DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann and her staff for their cooperation in this investigation.

 A criminal complaint is an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty 


  James McGovern, who I appointed to conduct an independent investigation of whistleblower claims by Anastasia Coleman and Daniel Schlachet, has informed me that he has substantiated their claims. He recommended and determined the following: (1) That they be restored to their prior employment and provided with back pay; (2) I exceeded my authority by integrating the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation within the Department of Investigation and that all actions in that regard should be reversed; (3) I erred in my conduct and should be disciplined in the form of a letter of apology. I will accept and follow Mr. McGovern’s recommendations. 

 Accepting oversight, even when you are the subject of that oversight, is critical for good government. Now that this process is complete, I look forward to continuing the systemic and important oversight work of DOI, the City’s Inspector General.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Comptroller Stringer Releases Investigative Survey of NYCHA Doors

  Unlocked doors, missing latches, and broken locks were found at 65 percent of developments located in every borough
61 developments found severely vulnerable – with over half their entrances unlocked
  Today, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released the results of a survey of NYC Housing Authority building doors that revealed over 1,000 broken and defective doors at 195 NYCHA developments. When tested, the doors swung open – or were held open by rope, tape, or chains.
The Comptroller’s audit and investigations team visited 299 NYCHA developments, including 3,538 buildings within them. 65 percent of developments had unsecured doors. Further, 61 developments were severely vulnerable, with over half of their entrance doors unlocked. 47 percent of all front entrances were not equipped with security cameras.
The Comptroller launched the comprehensive, citywide review after a NYCHA resident spoke out at a town hall about safety concerns. She reported that her building lacked a working door for 19 years, the entire life of her grandson.
“All New Yorkers should feel safe in their own homes – but hundreds of broken latches, busted locks, and doors held open by chains and rope leave NYCHA families without that basic sense of security,” said Comptroller Stringer. “Unsecured doors are unacceptable. NYCHA must promptly secure, repair and replace broken doors.”
The Comptroller’s comprehensive building-by-building review of NYCHA’s exterior door security was conducted in summer 2018. The full findings include the following:
Nearly 200 Developments Affected
  • Auditors visited 299 developments citywide, pushing or pulling on over 4,551 exterior building doors – and found that 195 developments were affected by unsecured doors:62 percent of Bronx developments had at least one door unsecured; including 14 developments where over half of the doors were open to intruders.
    • 73 percent of Brooklyn developments had at least one door unlocked; including 13 developments where over half of the doors were open to intruders.
    • 59 percent of Manhattan developments had at least one door unlocked; including 32 developments where over half of the doors were open to intruders.
    • 67 percent of Queens developments had at least one door unlocked; including 2 developments where over half of the doors were open to intruders.
    • 89 percent of Staten Island developments had at least one door unlocked; no developments had more than half their doors open.
Over One Thousand Broken, Tampered, Open Doors Across All Boroughs
  • Citywide, 1,023 building doors were broken, tampered with, or unlockable, leaving developments open to intruders, including roughly 23 percent of all front doors and 21 percent of all rear or side doors.
    • In Manhattan, 37 percent of the developments’ 761 front doors were open and 33 percent of 269 rear or side doors were unlocked;
    • In the Bronx, 24 percent of the developments’ 767 front doors were open and 20 percent of 276 rear or side doors were unlocked;
    • In Staten Island, 19 percent of the developments’ 108 front doors were open and 21 percent of 28 rear or side doors were unlocked;
    • In Queens, 18 percent of the developments’ 470 front doors were open and 9 percent of 81 rear or side doors were unlocked; and,
    • In Brooklyn, 17 percent of the developments’ 1,432 front doors were open and 14 percent of 359 rear or side doors were unlocked.
Roughly Half of All Front Doors Unmonitored
  • Auditors also searched for security cameras by front doors, and found that just 53 percent (1,887) of all 3,538 entrance doors had cameras placed by the entrance.
Following the auditors’ citywide review, Comptroller Stringer called on NYCHA to immediately assess its security measures, and recommended that NYCHA improve residents’ safety by taking the following steps:
  • Repair or replace all damaged exterior doors identified in this Citywide review and equip them with sturdy, functional hardware;
  • Regularly inspect all exterior doors and maintain all doors and locks in good working order;
  • Ensure that security cameras are operational and located at all publicly accessible entrances and exits; and,
  • Conduct a top-to-bottom review of its security and maintenance systems and procedures to ensure that when exterior doors are obstructed or unsecured, staff are made immediately aware of the conditions, and the doors are promptly fixed.
“Thank you Comptroller Scott Stringer for bringing the importance of our entrance doors to be secured as a priority. Residents safety should always be first,” said Rhonda Bennett, Tenant Association President of Polo Ground Towers.
“We want NYCHA to be more transparent and responsive on this issue. For example, the front door leading to the vestibule has been broken for the last three months. We thank NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and his office for doing the work on this issue. We look forward to working with them in ensuring this gets addressed,” said Neva Harper, President of Shelton Houses Residents Association.
“Residents in Lehman Village complain about how the front doors don’t lock in the lobby and how people are getting robbed. We as residents should be able to live in a safe and healthy environment,” said Patricia Burns, Tenant Association President at Lehman Village.
“Bronx River is compiled of eleven buildings, with two of them being senior buildings. As residents we don’t feel safe because none of the entrance doors lock properly and the lighting is very dim. We have had seniors getting robbed in the buildings because doors do not lock. Doors are of poor quality and are mostly broken. NYCHA set up for Bronx River to have intercom and it has yet to happen. Please, we are in need of help with security/safety improvements and we hope this report sheds light and puts pressure on the importance of this matter,” said Norma Saunders, Bronx River Resident Association President.
To read results from the investigative survey, click here.


  Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) released the following joint statement in response to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi:

“As attacks on the press have proliferated in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other countries around the world, the disappearance and possible death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is deeply alarming. If the reports detailing the involvement of the Saudi government are true, the United States should not be afraid to take bold action to demonstrate to the world that we will not stand by in the face of such an appalling violation of international human rights. 

“We fully support the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s letter to the administration invoking the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to trigger an investigation and determination of sanctions. If Saudi Arabia is found to have been involved in the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, inaction is simply not an option. The United States should leverage our support and strong relationship with Saudi Arabia to advocate for respect for human rights and push back against these types of actions, which isolate Saudi Arabia. As Congressional leaders, we must show that the United States will stand up against injustices and human rights violations in any country, including our partners. We wish the administration would do the same.”


The Certification of No Harassment pilot is a new tool to shield New Yorkers from tenant harassment

  Today, the de Blasio Administration announced the implementation of the Certification of No Harassment (CONH) Pilot Program, a new law that requires buildings that meet certain criteria to certify that no tenant harassment has taken place before being granted construction permits to significantly alter their properties. Today, the City also published the listof more than 1,000 buildings with approximately 26,000 units that will now be subject to the CONH program.

“New York City is stopping tenant harassment in its tracks,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We are taking a proactive approach to enforcement and targeting at-risk buildings for increased scrutiny in order to protect affordability across the city.”

Owners of buildings included on the program list will be required to apply for a Certification of No Harassment before they are approved for construction permits by the Department of Buildings. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development will conduct the investigation to certify that no tenant harassment has taken place. Owners denied a CONH will not be able to significantly alter their buildings for five years, unless they provide permanently affordable housing to be built without City subsidy, tax benefits, or inclusionary housing. The list of flagged CONH properties will be updated by HPD and included on HPD’s and DOB’s websites.

“This administration has been working on multiple fronts to proactively and aggressively combat tenant harassment, while preserving affordable housing at record pace.  Now, the City has a new tool to root out harassment that will be applied to more than 1,000 buildings, including 26,000 apartments in neighborhoods identified as most at risk,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I want to thank the City Council, in particular Councilman Brad Lander, for their leadership, and the many advocacy groups who partnered with us to take another strong step to protect tenants and ensure New York remains a city for everyone.”

“We look forward to working with our partners at HPD to prevent bad-actor landlords from getting construction permits. This new effort builds upon our agencies’ work together in the city-state Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, which has secured unprecedented penalties, including jail time, for landlords who abuse their tenants,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE.

“The Council is proud to have worked with HPD and DOB to make this Certification of No Harassment Pilot a reality,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “In the midst of an affordability crisis, tenants in New York have enough to deal with without worrying about harassment from unscrupulous landlords. I will continue to fight for tenants and expansion of tenant protection laws.”

Two versions of the CONH program have been in place in Hell’s Kitchen since 1974 and for Single-Room Occupancy buildings (SROs) citywide, but the program was significantly expanded thanks to the City Council’s 2017 CONH legislation. The broadened 36-month pilot includes buildings that meet the following criteria:

·  Buildings which meet a threshold of distress within 11 community board districts throughout the city.  The Community Boards have either undergone city-sponsored neighborhood-wide rezonings or have a high concentration of distressed buildings

      Any building citywide where a full vacate order has been issued, or where a building is enrolled in HPD’s Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP) and remained active in the program for more than four (4) months.

·   In addition, any building citywide where there has been a final determination of harassment in court, or by NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) within the preceding five years will be added to the list and will automatically be denied a CONH upon application. 

Once a building owner subject to the program applies for a Certification of No Harassment, HPD will notify tenants, community groups, the community board, and local elected officials. HPD will then conduct an investigation into whether tenant harassment has taken place at the property within the last five years. If HPD determines that there is evidence of harassment, a hearing will be held at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and the building owner can be potentially barred from seeking DOB permits.  If no evidence of tenant harassment is found, HPD will grant the building a Certification of No Harassment.

The expanded CONH program is the product of a working group led by Council Member Brad Lander and HPD.   The group was comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, including government agencies, City Council members and staff, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, Cypress Hills LDC, Los Sures, United Neighborhood Housing Program, Urban Justice Center, Make the Road, Fifth Avenue Committee, Mobilization for Justice, Housing Conservation Coordinators Inc., The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, Faith in NY, New York State Association of Affordable Housing, Rent Stabilization Association, Community Housing Improvement Program, Real Estate Board of New York, NYU Furman Center, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp., and other experts interested in identifying ways to further deter harassment. 

Working with members of the group, the City continued to analyze data to find characteristics of buildings where tenant harassment was suspected, reported, or confirmed. The group looked at many factors and learned that buildings that are physically distressed or recently sold may be associated with reports of harassment.


  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Lynne Patton toured various South Bronx NYCHA Houses and visited the Patterson Houses, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) development.

The Patterson Houses “temporary” boilers have been installed since 2011, despite having been fully funded for replacement. During last winter’s severe cold snap the boilers became a symbol of the inability of NYCHA to properly address the heat crisis that faces its more than 400,000 residents during the colder months.

Above - Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. talks about the problems at the Patterson Houses where funding was provided in 2011 to install new boilers, but to date nothing but temporary boilers have been placed at the Patterson Houses.
Below - HUD Regional administrator Lynne Patton says that the federal government gives the city $2.5 Billion dollars for NYCHA every year, but it seems that very little gets done and there is little if any accounting for the monies that NYCHA gets. She added that she spoke recently with the acting head of NYCHA, and was disappointed to hear his response that NYCHA only has enough money to handle emergency situations. 

Above - The temporary boilers in the street in front of the Patterson Houses that have been there since 2011.
Below - New temporary boilers being added in the yard behind one building that will be burning oil to provide heat. A furnace is being built along side this building to let the fumes from the boiler go above the building. 

BP Diaz and HUD Regional administrator Lynne Patton look inside one of the new temporary boilers being installed at the Patterson Houses.


  Join Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) on Thursday, October 18th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Mural Pavilion – Harlem Hospital Center located at 512 Lenox Avenue for a career fair open to job seekers and employers throughout New York’s 13th congressional district.

“New York has a thriving business community, and I’m hosting this career fair to help individuals looking to make a career transition or who are searching for part-time, full-time, or seasonal positions meet local and national business leaders seeking to fill available opportunities within their respective companies,” said Rep. Espaillat (NY-13).

Employers are encouraged to register and may download the registration form and email the completed form to or by Thursday, October 11, 2018. Interested companies may also call 212 - 663 - 3900 to reserve space.

This event is open to the public.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against 5 Doctors And 2 Other Medical Professionals For Illegally Distributing Oxycodone

Coordinated Arrests Made in 6 Cases Aimed at Cutting Off the Supply of Diverted Opioids

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James J. Hunt, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), James D. Robnett, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), Scott Lampert, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS-OIG”), James P. O'Neill, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigations (“DOI”), announced today the unsealing five Indictments and a criminal Complaint in Manhattan federal court charging a total of 10 defendants with illegally distributing oxycodone.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “These doctors and other health professionals should have been the first line of defense against opioid abuse, but as alleged in today’s charges, instead of caring for their patients, they were drug dealers in white coats.  They hid behind their medical licenses to sell addictive, dangerous narcotics.  This Office will do everything in its power to bring to justice anyone responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has taken so many lives.”    
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt said:  “From drug cartels to street distributors, law enforcement is targeting all levels of drug traffickers amidst the worst drug crisis in American history.   The worst villains in the fight against drug abuse are doctors whose criminal actions fuel addiction and overdoses.  As a result of separate investigations from three DEA offices, five doctors, a pharmacist, a nurse practitioner and three associates have been arrested for their role in distributing millions of unnecessary oxycodone pills, allegedly. SAC Hunt commends the men and women from DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squads, our law enforcement partners and Southern District of New York for their commitment and hard work.” 
IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge James D. Robnett said:  “Medical professionals and others callously placed individuals in harm’s way simply because of greed. It takes a special kind of person to prey on the sick and vulnerable. The special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation will continue their mission to disrupt the flow of ill-gotten gains from these criminals.” 
HHS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Scott Lampert said:  “These individuals allegedly engaged in a greed-fueled scheme that put lives at risk and callously contributed to the opioid epidemic that continues to plague our society.  These charges should serve as a warning to medical professionals that act like drug dealers and profit off of the vulnerable individuals they should be helping.  Along with our law enforcement partners we are committed to ending the illegal distribution of opioids in this country and protecting the public’s health and welfare.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “Our entire country is suffering through an opioid abuse crisis, and we need to do everything we can to save as many lives as possible.  We need to help people from falling into a black hole of addiction and fatal overdoses.  We have to push New York City and our nation to thrive, and to turn this epidemic around.  A good step in that direction is to investigate and put away the criminals who have so clearly betrayed their professional oaths – who have put illegal profits above their own integrity, and above the well-being of their fellow man.  I commend each of our law enforcement partners on the Drug Enforcement Task Force, and all the New Yorkers who alert the police when they suspect criminality.  This is how each of us – cops, prosecutors, and all the people we serve – are sharing the responsibility for public safety.  And this is how we are making our way forward.”    
DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said: “These joint investigations demonstrate the scourge that opioid abuse has on our community and the emphatic response from law enforcement: Any individual who seeks to promote prescription fraud and drug abuse will be exposed, arrested and prosecuted. DOI stands firmly with its federal partners on this serious issue and we will continue to work together to stop this crime and save lives.”
According to the allegations in the five Indictments and one Complaint unsealed today: [[1]]
DANTE A. CUBANGBANG, JOHN F. GARGAN, MICHAEL KELLERMAN, and LOREN PIQUANT, who together operated a medical clinic in Queens, were arrested yesterday evening and will be presented in Manhattan federal court today.   According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today, CUBANGBANG, a physician, and GARGAN, a nurse practitioner, prescribed over 6 million oxycodone pills to individuals they knew did not need the medication for any legitimate medical reason.  CUBANGBANG and GARGAN prescribed more than twice as many oxycodone pills that were paid for by Medicare and Medicaid than the next highest prescriber in New York.  CUBANGBANG and GARGAN doled out these prescriptions during office visits that lasted no more than a few minutes and involved little to no physical examination.  Together with KELLERMAN and PIQUANT, who worked in the clinic and recruited patients, the defendants collected more than $5 million in all-cash office visit fees, which they laundered and divided amongst themselves. 
CARL ANDERSON, a Staten Island physician, and ARTHUR GRANDE were arrested yesterday evening and will be presented in Manhattan federal court today.  According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today, ANDERSON prescribed nearly a million oxycodone pills to patients he knew had no legitimate medical need for the medication, including GRANDE, who sold the pills on the streets of New York.  ANDERSON often saw his patients, some of whom displayed visible signs of drug addiction, without appointments and with little notice, in the middle of the night, and required that they pay hundreds of dollars in cash for each prescription.  Noisy crowds of pill-seeking patients often gathered outside of ANDERSON’s office and in his waiting room, prompting occasional 911 calls from neighbors.  Even after some of ANDERSON’s patients died of drug overdoses, he did not alter his prescribing practices. 
ANTHONY PIETROPINTO, a psychiatrist residing in Manhattan, was arrested this morning and will be presented today before Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.  According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, PIETROPINTO wrote thousands of medically unnecessary oxycodone prescriptions in exchange for $50 to $100 in cash per visit.  PIETROPINTO wrote these prescriptions to drug-addicted individuals, including one patient who overdosed on drugs, and who had previously been prescribed by PIETROPINTO both oxycodone and naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioid overdoses, because PIETROPINTO was aware of, but disregarded, that patient’s addiction issues.  PIETROPINTO saw these patients in a rented office space after hours, and instructed his patients to not fill prescriptions at large chain pharmacies because pharmacists at those pharmacies would call and question PIETROPINTO about why he wrote prescriptions for large amounts of oxycodone. 
NKANGA NKANGA, a Staten Island physician, was arrested this morning and will be presented in Manhattan federal court today.  According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today, in exchange for cash payments, NKANGA wrote thousands of oxycodone prescriptions for patients, some of whom displayed visible signs of drug addiction, without conducting any physical examination, or even seeing them in an examination room.  NKANGA also wrote prescriptions in the names of patients who did not even visit his medical office.  On one occasion, for instance, NKANGA asked a patient, “how many people are you representing today,” and then wrote prescriptions in the names of people, even though three were not present.  NKANGA regularly prescribed over 100 oxycodone pills per patient per month until July 2018 when he reduced all patients’ monthly allotment, telling one patient he was “very worried” about scrutiny from law enforcement.    
NADEM J. SAYEGH, a physician with offices in the Bronx and Westchester, was arrested this morning and will be presented in Manhattan federal court today.  According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today, SAYEGH maintained a corrupt relationship with a co-conspirator, issuing oxycodone prescriptions in his name, variations of his name, his family members’ names, and the names of other individuals in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash, expensive dinners, high-end whisky, cruises, and all-expense-paid trips.  SAYEGH wrote some of these prescriptions, for which there was no legitimate medical purpose, for individuals who did not visit his medical office, including a patient who was overseas and another patient who was incarcerated.        
MARC KLEIN, a pharmacist in White Plains, was arrested this morning and will be presented in Manhattan federal court.  According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today, KLEIN filled oxycodone prescriptions that he knew were illegitimate, including prescriptions filled by a customer in multiple variations of his name and date of birth, and prescriptions filled in the names of individuals who never were present in the pharmacy.  KLEIN filled thousands of these oxycodone prescriptions, “fronted” controlled substances, and made false reports to New York State authorities, in exchange for cash payments and a vacation.   KLEIN admitted, in substance, that he and his employees could be called “licensed drug dealers” because “oxy pays the bills” at KLEIN’s pharmacy. 
CUBANGBANG, 50, of Franklin Square, New York, GARGAN, 62, of Manhattan, New York, KELLERMAN, 54, of Queens, New York, and PIQUANT, 37, of Bronx, New York, have been charged in an Indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  CUBANGBANG, GARGAN, and KELLERMAN are also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
ANDERSON, 57, of Staten Island, New York, and GRANDE, 53, of Staten Island, New York, have been charged in an Indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 
PIETROPINTO, 80, of Manhattan, New York, has been charged in a Complaint with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and two counts of distribution of controlled substances, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
NKANGA, 65, of Staten Island, New York, has been charged in an Indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and four counts of distribution of controlled substances, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
SAYEGH, 64, of Yonkers, New York, has been charged in an Indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of distribution of controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of health care fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and aggravated identity theft, which carries a two year mandatory minimum prison sentence to be served consecutive to any other term of imprisonment. 
KLEIN, 47, of White Plains, New York, has been charged in an Indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and 14 counts of distribution of controlled substances, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
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 their respective judges. 
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the DEA Tactical Diversion Squads in New York, Long Island and Newark as well as HHS, DOI and IRS.  DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad, New York (Group TDS-NY) comprises agents and officers from the DEA, the NYPD, the New York State Police, New York State Department of Financial Services and New York City Department of Investigation.  DEA’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad (LIDO –TDS) comprises agents and officers of the DEA, Nassau County Police Department, Rockville Centre Police Department, Suffolk County Police Department, Port Washington Police Department and Internal Revenue Service.  Newark Tactical Diversion Squad (Newark-TDS) comprises agents and officers from the DEA, Elizabeth Police Department, Essex County Sheriff’s Office, Toms River Police Department, Clinton Police Department, West Orange Police Department, Pohatcong Police Department, Long Branch Police Department, and Marlboro Police Department.  Assistance was also provided by the Yonkers Police Department and Greenburgh Police Department.
Parts of this cases were conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
The charges contained in the Indictment and Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
[1]     As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Indictments and Complaint, and the description of the Indictments and Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

2 Florida Men Plead Guilty To Multimillion-Dollar Credit Card Fraud Scheme

Defendants Used Companies to Cause More Than $7 Million in Unauthorized Charges to Thousands of Consumers

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JAMES BECKISH and JOSEPH ANTHONY DEMARIA pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to make unauthorized charges on credit cards through sham companies that purportedly offered nutraceutical products for sale over the internet.  BECKISH and DEMARIA pled guilty before United States District Judge Edgardo Ramos.

According to the Complaint, the Information to which BECKISH and DEMARIA pled guilty, and statements made during the proceedings today:
Between 2013 and 2017, BECKISH, DEMARIA and others, created and operated dozens of companies that purported to sell dietary supplements and similar products called “nutraceuticals” over the internet.  The websites of the defendants’ companies purported to sell products like dietary supplements but, in reality, were primarily used to repeatedly bill consumers who never ordered their products, or even if they did, almost never received them.  The defendants used these websites as a cover for unauthorized and recurring charges that were placed on thousands of credit card numbers that the defendants had purchased or obtained, or had acquired from consumers who had attempted to order the products in question.  For example, in one email, DEMARIA asked BECKISH: “Are we shipping these guys actual nutra products? Lol.”  To which BECKISH responded:  “Nope.” 
BECKISH, DEMARIA, and others created these different companies and websites, because they knew that credit card processors would stop doing business with them over time as consumers noticed the unauthorized charges and sought refunds.  These refunds, called “chargebacks” by credit card processors, are generally low for legitimate businesses but reached extremely high percentages for many of the companies associated with the defendants’ scheme.  In certain instances, the chargeback rates quickly approached or even exceeded 20 percent – that is, consumers were seeking refunds of more than 20 percent of the charges placed by certain of the defendants’ companies.  Credit card processors, in turn, paid millions of dollars in refunds for fraudulent charges associated with the defendants’ companies between 2013 and 2017 in attempts to refund affected consumers.
In total, BECKISH and DEMARIA both pled guilty to causing more than $7 million in loss during the duration of the scheme.  
 BECKISH, 32, of Miami, Florida, and DEMARIA, 33, of Miami, Florida, each plead guilty to one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  BECKISH and DEMARIA also agreed to pay restitution and to forfeit $7,231,878.  Sentencing for BECKISH is scheduled for January 16, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Ramos. Sentencing for DEMARIA is scheduled for January 18, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Ramos.
The statutory maximum sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence imposed on the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the Secret Service. 


Bronx Plan will include additional pay for teachers in 180 high-needs schools and Collaborative Schools Model of decision-making

  Mayor de Blasio and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew announced that the City of New York and the UFT have reached a preliminary contract agreement for over 129,000 City workers – approximately 36 percent of the City’s workforce. This agreement is pattern compliant for the 2017-2021 round of bargaining. Once ratified, 60 percent of the City’s workforce will be under a contract agreement.

The 43-month agreement includes the new Bronx Plan. The plan, which will include schools citywide, is named for the challenges our Bronx schools faced and is designed to address their specific needs and the needs of schools facing similar difficulties. For the next three schools years, this comprehensive set of interventions will drive improvement at 180 historically underserved schools. The Bronx Plan will encourage staff to come, stay and invest in these schools and students with a hard-to-staff pay differential for certain critical positions. Of the 180 schools, 120 schools will participate in the Collaborative School Model granting them additional resources for data-driven, collaborative decision-making processes.

The agreement also strengthens teacher development including by expanding nationally recognized teacher leader roles and changing requirements for in-service teachers earning credits after a Master’s degree; launches a remote teaching pilot program; and continues salary increases for UFT-represented staff, including teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, paraprofessionals, and school psychologists.

“With this agreement, 1.1 million New York City students will get the school system they deserve, and more than 129,000 educators will get the salary, resources and support they need to continue molding our future leaders,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I’m proud that this agreement includes the new Bronx Plan, a new program that will help us retain strong teachers in schools with historically high rates of attrition. It’s another way we’re lifting up our students and laying the groundwork to make New York City the fairest big city in America.”

“A major feature of this agreement is the way it empowers teachers to help improve their schools by giving them a seat at the table where important decisions about resources and strategy are made. This contract, and in particular the Bronx plan, takes some radical steps by putting key decision-making powers in the schools. It creates a unique labor/management environment and gives us the opportunity to introduce real change,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “While the old governance structure would never have let us get to this point, mayoral control was key to the creation of universal pre-k, and has helped us make progress in city schools. Given the importance of the issues and the long-term initiatives that are part of this contract, the UFT is calling for the continuation of mayoral control as the governance structure for New York City public schools.”

“Supporting great teachers means supporting great results for our students and families, and this agreement is truly an investment in New York City’s 1.1 million students and families,” saidSchools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “I am particularly excited about our Bronx Plan, which will advance equity by bringing resources and support into some of our most historically underserved schools. I thank Mayor de Blasio and President Mulgrew for their partnership and collaboration as we move closer to Equity & Excellence for All.”

“This agreement proves that we can balance the needs of our students and teachers in a way that is also fair to New York City taxpayers. By maintaining a respectful dynamic between the City and its workers, we are bringing innovative reforms to schools that have historically been underserved, and, when ratified, bringing a majority of the workforce under a contract agreement for the second time under this administration. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and UFT President Michael Mulgrew for their continued partnership and for always putting the needs of the kids first,” said Robert Linn, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Labor Relations.

The Bronx Plan
The Bronx Plan will help retain teachers in schools that have historically had very high rates of teacher attrition – leading to great investment in the schools and students – and give teachers and school communities’ greater voice in decision-making.

The plan includes:

Additional Pay for Hard-to-staff positions: The Chancellor will be able to designate up to 180 schools to receive a “Hard-to-Staff Differential” to attract and retain good teachers, guidance counselors and other hard-to-staff positions. UFT members will be eligible for an additional $5,000-$8,000 in salary per year.

The schools will be selected this fall. Schools in the Bronx and other boroughs with high teacher attrition will be a focus of this program.

Collaborative Schools: Of the 180 schools, 120 schools, with the greatest focus in the Bronx, will also participate in the Collaborative Schools Model. The schools will begin their collaborative planning processes this fall. The program will:

Give teachers and community members a substantial voice in a school’s decision-making process;
Provide data coaching to assess needs and drive long-term planning;
Bring Equity and Excellence programming to these schools on an accelerated track;
And provide a $25,000 Innovation Fund to each of the 120 schools annually to be allocated by school committee members.

Stronger Schools Citywide
The agreement includes additional innovations to better serve students and families, and drive improvement across the system. The reforms are focused on recruitment, development, and retention of teachers across the City, including:

New teacher leadership positions: Starting in September 2019, the City will offer two new teacher leadership roles, Teacher Development Facilitator and Teacher Team Leader. Teacher Development Facilitators will take on additional responsibility supporting student teachers in their schools and preparing them to be successful from Day 1 in a full-time position. Teacher Team Leaders will work outside the classroom, developing Master Teachers, Model Teachers, and Teacher Development Facilitators across the City. Teacher Development Facilitators will be eligible for an additional $3,000 in salary per semester, and Teacher Team Leaders will be eligible for an additional $14,000 in salary per year.

The new teacher leadership roles build on the creation of three roles under the last UFT contract: Master Teachers, Model Teachers, and Peer Collaborative Teachers. There are approximately 1,500 teacher leaders across the City, and these investments in teacher leadership were recognized when New York was recognized as a Great District for Great Teachers in 2017.

Strengthening teacher advanced learning requirements: Starting in September 2019 for teachers with three or fewer years of experience, teachers applying for a salary increase (“differential”) for advanced learning beyond a Master’s Degree will have the opportunity to focus on high-quality, relevant coursework aligned to the school system’s needs. Approved courses, known as A+ courses, may include culturally responsive education, best practices in math or science, bilingual or special education, or computer science.

Remote teaching pilot: Starting in Spring 2019, 15 Bronx high schools will participate in a 3-year, remote-teacher pilot program. The video-conferencing courses will be led remotely by teachers, with the support of teacher assistants in the classroom. The pilot will expand access to AP courses, advanced foreign language courses required for an Advanced Regents Diploma, and elective courses, allowing schools to expand course offerings.

Teacher evaluation observations: Starting in September 2019, we are revising teacher observations in our teacher evaluation system -- more closely tying the number of evaluations teachers receive to their experience and effectiveness. Tenured teachers previously rated Developing and Ineffective will be observed more frequently than teachers rated Effective and Highly Effective; probationary teachers will be observed more frequently than tenured teachers. Observations will be completed in cycles throughout the year to ensure more valuable feedback and development opportunities for teachers.

Pre-screening: As part of the contract, the DOE is working to develop a pre-service suitability screen, which will determine prospective teachers' suitability to teach in addition to the rigorous background check and qualification processes they currently undergo. The screen is currently under development.

Healthcare Savings
Continuing to build off the health care savings reached during the first four years, this agreement incorporates the second health savings agreement with the Municipal Labor Committee reached in June of this year. The agreement will provide total health care savings of $1.1 billion through Fiscal Year 2022 and $1.9 billion of annual savings.

The total cost of the tentative UFT agreement through fiscal year 2022 is $2.1 billion, which is offset by substantial healthcare savings and funding already in the City’s Labor Reserve, for a new net budget impact of $572 million.

Fair Wages
The agreement respects workers with a fair deal and provides pathways for teachers to help their colleagues while earning additional pay.

UFT employees will receive the following compounded wage increases:
February 14, 2019       2.00 percent
May 14, 2020              2.50 percent
May 14, 2021              3.00 percent

Once ratified, this will be the third major labor agreement with the UFT struck by the de Blasio Administration. The first was struck in 2014, after the UFT had gone without a contract for five years.

The proposed 3-year, 7-month contract would begin on 2/14/19 and expire on 9/13/22. Terms of the agreement must be approved by the union’s full in-service membership.


It looks like the new chancellor has answered my question to him almost two months ago about the lagging performance levels of Bronx public school children when compared to the rest of the city's public schools. 

However I remember a plan like this many years ago to help schools that became Schools Under Registration Review by the city. That was called the Chancellor's district which encompassed schools throughout New York City. It appears that schools in this Chancellor's District in the other four boroughs did well enough to disband said district. It left however struggling Bronx public schools. 

It is heartening as a former parent leader who gave advice to past chancellor's, that the current schools Chancellor Richard Carranza appears to have heard what I have said to him on a recent visit he had to a Parkchester charter school. Let's hope though that this Bronx Plan is not another way in which the United Federation of Teachers is trying to look out for their members and not the children.