Saturday, November 17, 2018

Bronx Chamber Of Commerce Veteran's Luncheon

  Thursday the Bronx Chamber of Commerce held its annual Bronx Veterans Luncheon. Veterans from the past wars gathered at Masteros Caterers to salute their comrades who fought with them and those who did not make it home. The Chamber honored five retired and one active service members.

  Seated above are the honorees, Retired Sergeant First Class Peter C. Del-Debbio, Retired U.S. Marine Joe Faix, Retired U. S. Marine Lance Corporal Carrie H. Taft, Active National Guard and NYPD officer Sergeant Jena K. Quadland, Korea War Veteran Richard J. Naclerio, and Retired Navy Specialist Michael Borrero. 

Above - The crowded room as the Veterans celebrate their friends after the award ceremony. 
Below - More veterans and their spouses.

Above - Bronx Chamber of Commerce Chairman Joseph Kelleher is happy to introduce the new President of the Chamber Ms. Lisa Sorin as they are interviewed for Bronxnet Television.
Below - BCC Chairman Kelleher also showed off his singing talent during the luncheon.

Above - Everyone applauded the singing of BCC Chairman Joseph Kelleher.
Below - The final note of the luncheon, the playing of taps for those veterans who have died.


Mayor Bill de Blasio: …I’m frustrated too. I’m frustrated as a New Yorker who was stuck in traffic, like so many other people were. I’m frustrated as the Mayor of this city that for so many reasons people didn’t get what they should have had last night. Look, again, I have found a long time ago New Yorkers like straightforward explanations. They don’t like to be toyed around with. In truth, this was a kind of perfect storm. It emerged bigger and later than anyone expected, obviously affected the whole tristate area in a very severe way. We had exceptional dynamics like the 20-car pileup on the George Washington Bridge, knocking out the outbound lanes of the George Washington Bridge – something I can’t remember every happening before. We had the early time of year and the impact on the trees – and an extraordinary number of trees falling, something that hasn’t typically happened in a lot of our storms. But all of that gets back to a core reality, which is the timing. 

So, we went into Wednesday night with estimates from the National Weather Service in the one-two inches of snow range. That’s not a snowstorm that any of us would be afraid of. That’s not a snowstorm where we’re going to use all of the emergency measures and tell people don’t go to work, and stay off the roads. We’ve had – I remind you, a lot of us have been through this together – The biggest snowstorm in New York City history – 28 inches, 29, whatever it was in the final analysis. There are times where we need to tell people, don’t even think about going to work, clear the roads, leave room for Sanitation. Wednesday night, we had no indication of that. Thursday morning, we had no indication of that. I said earlier, I referred to what has typically been the 11 am National Weather Service report. It turns out that the timing yesterday was later even than usual in terms of when we got the report – it was 12:36, yesterday. It was the first indication of three-to-five inches of snow. And again, normally, three-to-five inches of snow would not have posed this kind of problem. 

It ended up coming exactly at the wrong time. It basically concentrated as the rush hour was beginning – heavy wet snow – heavier, faster than anyone expected. So, there are a lot of reasons why things ended up the way they did. But that said, we are trying to learn some lessons and figure out what we can do better. 

So, the first thing we’re going to do is there will be a full audit review of everything that happened with the City agencies. We’re also going to sit with our State partners because everyone is connected here – MTA, Port Authority, everyone – we all have to work it through together. Deputy Mayor Fuleihan’s timing is impeccable – his team at the Office of Operations will lead that review. I think we’re going to find that a lot of this was exceptional and unusual and some of it beyond our control, but we’re also going to find areas where we can do better. The central concern I have is that we have as a City done well when we can get information out to people early and in a clear way. We don’t do as well when we don’t get information to folks. This one is tough because the information broke so late and I do think, in retrospect, we could have tried to say at 1 pm, let’s say, we’re headed for a much bigger situation, go home immediately, you know, leave work early. That might have helped. I think unfortunately to some extent the die was cast at that point – people had already brought their cars into the City. It might have had a helpful effect, but I’m not sure it would have averted the essence of what we went through.

So, we want to do that review because we need to do better, but we also understand the essence of all of this is having good information on a timely basis, and unfortunately that just was not the case yesterday.

At this moment, after a very difficult time yesterday, and I’ll say, I know everyone’s feeling – among the agencies here – we’re all unhappy with what happened, but I also want to say people worked very, very hard to try and address the situation that was exceedingly difficult. The agencies, I want to give particular thanks to the NYPD and the FDNY who spent the whole night trying to undo traffic jams and get trees out of roads under very adverse circumstances. I know Sanitation was trying to do all they could do, and a lot of times the core problem was they could not get to their locations because of the traffic. They needed to go back for salt and there was no way to get back to their resupply. So, people worked very hard, very intensely. 

I want to say, as we got into the morning and finally Sanitation had the ability to get out into roads that were not clogged by traffic – I think they did a good job on the overnight, clearing up as much as possible and making things move better this morning. We still had some issues early in the morning in the Bronx. But, you know, in the final analysis, under very, very adverse circumstances, I want to just say, I think a lot of City agencies did everything they could do. But the essence of this, even if you say it’s, you know, an exceedingly unusual set of events that came together, we still can’t let it happen again and we have to learn from it, we have to drill for it. It was – in the final analysis, just over six inches of snow. That should not be able to have this impact on this city and we have to figure out a way in the future to make sure that that does not happen again. 

Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Department of Sanitation: So, yesterday, into the morning – we make our plans the day before because obviously we need to call people in – we were planning for a one-inch event, which is going to be primarily our salt spreaders. We did add plows to that in the late morning when we started to get that rumblings that maybe something else would happen. At that point in time, our staffing going into the afternoon, was allowing us to up to about 700 plows. We can – when we get very, very big, our biggest number for a blizzard would be about 1,600. So, there were points in time when we were between about 350 and 700 on the plowing side, depending on how many staff we had in, because we were in three shifts, we were not split. 
They already all had been working that day. So, everybody did work that day, but some had worked midnight to eight on the overnight before, some were working six to six, and some were working, starting at 4 o’clock. All of them worked overtime but we were in a three unevenly split shifts.

Mayor de Blasio: I just want to amplify this. So, imagine you’re in Kathryn’s shoes and you’re hearing one inch, two inches, and that’s salt only – or salt essentially. And then suddenly, you know, literally, it’s afternoon when you hear for the first time this thing has suddenly jumped up. Now, I will say, one of the things we’re going to work on – and this is not a diss on the National Weather Service, they do extraordinary work – but, you know, we have been burned a few times, not because they’re not trying but because weather’s unpredictable. I think we’re going to start being even more conservative. But even if you said, let’s throw on a few more inches, as Kathryn said, our biggest – you know, when you have a blizzard, 20 inches, 25 inches, 28 inches – like, that’s when it’s all hands on deck. When it’s two inches, three inches, four inches, you couldn’t imagine something like this possibly becoming what happened yesterday. Nonetheless, we have to figure out how to make the right adjustments. 
Again, that’s why I try to give you an extensive straightforward opening, that I think there were some limits about what we could do honestly. And again, my job is to offer New Yorkers straight-talk, not platitudes. If the fuller facts became available after 12:30 and rush hour began – rush hour officially begins at 3:30-4 o’clock – we were already in a really bad situation. 
No, no – I will say, personally, I had heard that the number went up, but per se, going up to three-to-five inches was not going to be a major weather event. We go through three-to-five inch storms all of the time. It was my own personal experience – left Gracie Mansion for an event at 6:30 and a few blocks into it, suddenly there’s this crazy traffic on the FDR and there’s no other place to turn. Something obviously was unusual and we all started – I started calling everyone and people started calling each other from their own experiences. But I think it’s really important to note, the thing that I think we would have had a shot at is with the right messaging, very, very quickly, we might have been able to get some people off the road and have a better chance of clearing it. The problem is, even hearing three-to-five inches would not have set off a sense of alarm. You couldn’t have imagined what we saw. If I just said to you, we’re going to have three-to-five inches of snow, you wouldn’t in a million years have pictured what ended up really happening. We’ve had much worse snow and never had something like that. So, this is a tough learning experience because we got something we never would have been able to predict from those numbers. I think the reason we have to do a review is, I’m sure there were some ways to pivot, but I’m trying to be honest with you, I think in essence the die was cast. Could we have gotten better information out, I think so. Could we have made some tactical moves that improved the situation, I think so. Could we have changed the basics? Not that late is my fear.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: Sure, so I’ll do both. So we did have a number of children last night that were on bus routes that were delayed. Some were delayed from one-two hours. There were a good number that were delayed from anywhere from two-five hours. The last student this morning, with the help of NYPD, because the bus was stuck, got home at about 3:00 am. So, it is absolutely not the circumstances we want for our children. But I do want to say this – our first priority is to make sure that children will be safe and yesterday every student got home safely. We had no incidents of students being injured. So for us we’re very grateful for that. We had extraordinary work that was done by our bus drivers yesterday. Bus drivers that sat with children waiting for their parents who were also stuck in the same traffic to come pick up the students. We had students that were coming back from a college visit in Pennsylvania that were stuck, because they couldn’t get into the city. We had teachers and administrators and school support personnel that stayed with students. We had teachers and support personnel stay overnight in some of our school. Some of them because they couldn’t get home because the roads weren’t passible and some of them because they stayed there so late with children that they wanted to make sure that everybody was okay. So this was a cascading event. We don’t want that. It was a perfect storm as the Mayor has mentioned. It hit right when those buses started to roll taking kids home.

KZA Realty Group Closes Three Commercial Deals That Bring Jobs And Street Traffic To The Bustling Bronx

  KZA Realty Group recently closed three commercial leases in the Bronx, a borough that is seeing bustling real estate activity in all sections.

“Businesses large and small are contributing to a renaissance in the Bronx by bringing jobs and vitality to their neighborhoods,” said Kathy Zamechansky, president of KZA Realty. “There has never been a better time to take advantage of everything that the borough has to offer.”
A former Radio Shack location at 3587 East Tremont Avenue includes a parking lot with room for 10 cars that will be shared with the neighboring Bruckner Hobbies store.
Owner Gianmarie Realty signed a 10-year lease for the 2,056 square foot space with Lam Mark Trading of Flushing, Queens. Kathy Zamechansky represented both parties.
Co-op City continues to see continued interest in its commercial properties. Green Earth Apothecary, a health food store that will carry vitamins, supplements, herbs, soaps, books and reflexology products, is coming to 153 Dreiser Loop.
They also customize herbal formulations to address high blood pressure, weight loss, asthma, stress reduction and postpartum protocols.
The five-year lease on the 1,161 square foot space includes a five-year renewal option. Zamechansky represented the owner, Riverbay Corp. Sherry Scanlon and Zamechansky at KZA Realty represented the lessee, Bridget Bonaparte, a resident of Co-op City.
At 469 East 147th Street (also known as 493 Brook Avenue), BX Properties Realty and Blue Sky Development Partners signed five-year lease with a one year renewable option for the 700 square foot space located in a new affordable housing complex. Zamechansky represented the buyer and the lessee, also represented by Sherry Scanlon at KZA Realty.
Blue Sky, a real estate development, consulting and brokerage businesses, focuses on assembling development sites for affordable housing and non-profit real estate deals in the Bronx.
KZA Realty Group has significantly added to the tremendous real estate expansion in the Bronx, recently closing three major commercial leases in the bustling borough.
About KZA Realty Group
KZA Realty Group is a commercial real estate brokerage and development consulting firm based in New York City. Founded in 1998 by real estate professional Kathy Zamechansky, KZA specializes in commercial planning, project management, community and government relations, finance, marketing, and communications. Ms. Zamechansky is the President of the Bronx Manhattan North Association of Realtors and a member of several community and business organizations in the Bronx and Harlem, including the Board of Directors of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, Board of Governors of the Bronx, the Manhattan Board of Realtors, the Board of Directors of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce, the Harlem Business Alliance and the Advisory Board for the Fund for the Future Women Leaders of the Bronx. In 2009, she was named one of the 25 Most Influential Women by The Bronx Times Reporter and was awarded the Realtor of the Year by the Manhattan North Association of Realtors (BMAR). She may be contacted directly via cell at (347) 386-9452 or email at

Two Alleged Associates of Gambino Organized Crime Family Indicted for Arson and Extortion

Defendants Charged with Setting Fire to Victim’s Car to Induce Protection Payment

  An indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Peter Tuccio and Jonathan Gurino with arson and arson conspiracy, extortion and extortion conspiracy and using fire to commit a felony.  The defendants were arrested today and are scheduled to be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione.  

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the charges.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants delivered a frightening message in the form of fire to force a businessman to pay protection money to a high-ranking gangster,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Today’s charges against two alleged crime family associates demonstrate that whether you are a made member or a young associate looking to advance in a crime family, the end result is the same – prosecution and prison.”  Mr. Donoghue thanked the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Investigation for their assistance in the investigation.
“Organized crime families have long relied on extortion and threats of violence in exchange for so-called ‘protection,’” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “As alleged, the defendants set a man's car on fire to send a message, but now they are the ones feeling the heat as they face justice for their crimes. As long as organized crime families and their associates continue to act outside the law, the FBI and our partners will investigate and bring charges against them.”
As alleged in court filings, a captain in the Gambino Organized Crime Family (referred to herein as Co-Conspirator-1), had been extorting a local businessman $400 per year.  During 2015, the businessman began dodging Co-Conspirator-1 to avoid making payments.  On December 3, 2015, Tuccio, Gurino and Gino Gabrielli observed the businessman leave a smoke shop in Howard Beach and drive away.  The three men followed at a high rate of speed and confronted him outside a pizzeria.  Tuccio asked, “how’s Co-Conspirator-1?” and commented on the business owner’s car, a 2014 Mercedes Benz.  The businessman fled into the pizzeria.  Later that night, the businessman heard a loud noise and saw that his car was on fire.  Shortly thereafter, the businessman paid Co-Conspirator-1.  As detailed in court filings, the businessman’s home security video system had recorded Gabrielli pouring a substance on the Mercedes, the car erupting in flames, and Gabrielli running away with his pant leg on fire.  Shortly thereafter, Gabrielli and Tuccio were caught on surveillance video entering Jamaica Hospital. 
Gabrielli pleaded guilty to arson in August 2016.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, the defendants each face a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence. 
The Defendants:

Age: 25
Queens, New York

Age: 25
Queens, New York

Kroger Shooting Suspect Charged with Federal Hate Crimes and Firearm Offenses

  Gregory A. Bush, 51, was indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crime and firearm charges arising out of the racially motivated murder of two African-American patrons at a Kroger grocery store, and the attempted murder of a third, on Oct. 24 in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. The indictment was announced by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman, and FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge James Robert Brown, Jr.                                                                                                                   
This indictment charges Bush with hate crimes for shooting and killing two victims because of their race and color; and for shooting at a third man because of his race and color. The indictment also charges Bush for using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to those crimes of violence. The indictment alleges that Bush committed the offenses after substantial planning and premeditation, that he killed more than one person in a single criminal episode, and that he knowingly created a grave risk of death to others on the scene.
The maximum penalty for the charges in the indictment is life imprisonment or the death penalty.  The Justice Department will determine at a later date whether, in this particular case, it will seek the death penalty.  
"The crimes alleged in this indictment are horrific," Acting Attorney General Whitaker said. "We cannot and will not tolerate violence motivated by racism. We will bring the full force of the law against these and any other alleged hate crimes against fellow Americans of any race. And so I want to thank the FBI, Trial Attorney Christopher Perras, and Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Gregory for all of their hard work that has made this indictment possible. Today we take one step closer to justice for the victims and their families and one step closer to helping this community try to heal."
“There is no place for hate-fueled violence in our community or Commonwealth,” stated U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “Federal, state, and local law enforcement stand united to ensure that Kentuckians can shop, worship, or attend school without the specter of fear.”
“The tragic events of October 24, 2018, are a grim reminder of why the FBI prioritizes investigations of civil rights violations among the top of its criminal programs,” said FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge James Robert Brown, Jr. “Today's indictment should be a reminder to those who are motivated by hate and are intent on committing violence; your hateful ideology will not have the last word. The FBI, and the Department of Justice, will be there, and you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure justice for the victims, their families and the Louisville community throughout the investigation and prosecution of this alleged, hate-filled and violent crime,” stated Stuart Lowrey, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Louisville Division. “Today, and every day, ATF’s ongoing priority is to reduce violent crime and secure the safety of our communities.”
An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

After Snowstorm Chaos, Comptroller Stringer Demands Answers From Department of Sanitation

  New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer sent a letter to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) following reports of havoc throughout the city due to poor preparation and an insufficient response to snow conditions.
In a city that routinely experiences heavy snowfalls each year, there is no reason that six inches of snow should have caused problems as severe as school buses taking more than 10 hours to bring kids home. New Yorkers need a full and complete explanation of what went wrong and how DSNY intends to prevent this from happening again


Veteran federal and state prosecutor to lead City watchdog agency

  Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he has nominated Margaret Garnett to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Investigation. Garnett currently serves as Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice in the Office of the New York State Attorney General, where she supervises more than 150 prosecutors and 130 criminal investigators while advising the Attorney General on criminal justice policy.

“Margaret has spent decades protecting the public’s interest, prosecuting criminals both inside and outside of government. She is fiercely dedicated to defending what’s right and will bring that independence and integrity to the Department of Investigation. I thank Mark Peters for his service and look forward to the City Council’s consideration of Ms. Garnett’s appointment,” said Mayor de Blasio.

Prior to her time with the New York State Attorney General, Garnett spent 12 years as a federal prosecutor in the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where she was responsible for prosecuting gang violence, racketeering, organized crime, violent crime, international terror and tax fraud.

As DOI Commissioner, Garnett will use her experience to protect New York City taxpayers and residents from fraud, waste and abuse.

“Nothing matters more than integrity in public service. As Commissioner for the Department of Investigation, I will make it my mission to ensure that everyone working for New York City adheres to the highest standard of ethics and is deserving of the public’s trust,” said Margaret Garnett. “I am honored and excited to lead this important, independent office, filled with distinguished professionals who carry out their mission with integrity and dedication every day. Throughout my career I have been an advocate for justice, cracking down on public corruption, organized crime and financial fraud. That unwavering commitment to doing what is right – often in the public eye – will only continue during my service at the Department of Investigation.”

In the interim, Leslie Brovner, formerly First Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Investigation, will serve as Acting Commissioner.

About Margaret Garnett

Margaret Garnett serves as the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice. Previously, Ms. Garnett was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division in New York’s Southern District, where she served as Chief of Appeals and Chief of Violent and Organized Crime Unit, among other roles. She tried fifteen criminal cases to verdict, including the then largest tax fraud case in US history. In 2011, Ms. Garnett received the Director’s Award for Outstanding Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney, the second-highest award in the Department of Justice. In 2016, Ms. Garnett received the 2016 Stimson Medal, given annually by the Association for the Bar of the City of New York to one exceptional Assistant United States Attorney from each division of the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. Ms. Garnett was previously an Associate at Watchell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Ms. Garnett has served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University Law and Brooklyn Law School, and clerked for the Honorable Gerard E. Lynch in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She received her B.A. at the University of Notre Dame, her M.A. from Yale University, and her J.D. from Columbia University. Garnett lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their twins.


  Friday November 16, 2018  Mayor de Blasio today updated New Yorkers on the City’s response to Thursday’s snow storm. The City continues its response and is working to clear roadways as quickly as possible. The NYC Department of Sanitation operations continue, with 325 salt spreaders deployed throughout the city. The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation continues its response to downed trees with 100 cutters working 12-hour shifts through the weekend to remove downed branches and tree limbs.

Parking and Trash Collection

  • Alternate Side Parking is suspended today to facilitate snow removal operations. Parking meters remain in effect throughout the city.

  • Refuse and recycling collections have resumed with delays expected.  

  • Motorists are advised to stay off the roads to allow for continued cleanup. If you must travel, allow for extra time, and use mass transportation whenever possible. New Yorkers are also urged to exercise caution and minimize walking outdoors, as conditions are expected to be slippery. 



·         The City’s Downed Tree Task Force has been activated to assist with coordinating cleanup of downed trees and limbs.

·         The Parks Department has 20 crews throughout the city with more than 100 cutters removing downed trees and limbs.

·         The Department has removed 65 downed trees throughout the city and will continue to work 12-hour shifts through the weekend.

Department of Sanitation

  • The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has deployed 325 salt spreaders to treat icy road conditions throughout the city. 


·         All FDNY ladder companies and special units have crews equipped with chainsaws coordinating with the Department of Parks and Recreation to cut and remove downed trees. Crews will be working throughout the weekend.


·         NYPD Emergency Services Unit has crews equipped with chainsaws coordinating with the Department of Parks and Recreation to cut and remove downed trees. Crews will be working throughout the weekend.

Department of Education

  • All New York City public schools are open. Field trips requiring yellow buses have been cancelled.
  • After-school programs, YABC programs, PSAL activities, and adult education programs have also been cancelled. Public hearings have been cancelled and will be rescheduled.
NYC Emergency Management
  • NYC Emergency Management continues to update elected officials with the latest information regarding the storm’s impact to New York City.

  • NYC Emergency Management is continuing to provide updates to the public through Notify NYC.

  • The Department continues to coordinate storm response and deployed Citywide Interagency Coordinators (CICs) throughout the city to facilitate response coordination with City agencies.


·         The Department of Transportation removed 18 downed trees along the Bronx River Parkway and Laurelton Parkway at Merrick Boulevard and is continuing to monitor. 
·         Department of Transportation crews have been deployed for snow and ice removal at 31 municipal parking fields, bike paths, and plazas throughout the City.


·         The New York City Housing Authority has removed 17 downed trees from its developments.

·         NYCHA has increased staffing through the weekend to address an increase in tenant calls and heat-related issues.

Scare at Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy

  Thursday police from the 50th precinct were called to Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy on West 237th Street in Riverdale after threatening  messages to students were found on social media. Deputy Inspector Terrence O'Toole said that police officers from the 50th precinct, School Safety officers, and other law enforcement converged on the school in the morning after being called by the school's principal. 

Rumors came from the school of an armed shooter, but DI O'Toole said there was no gun, just a Bic pen placed a certain way sticking in a coat pocket to make it appear that the pen was a gun. He added that no students were in any danger at any time, and that the police had to wait to contact the students parent before talking to the student in question.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bronx Man Charged With 2014 Murder

  Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the return of a superseding indictment charging ALEXANDER MELENDEZ, a/k/a “Kiki,” with the murder of Shaquille Malcolm.  MELENDEZ, who is already in federal custody on other charges, will be arraigned on the superseding indictment on December 29, 2018, before United States District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, the defendant murdered 20-year-old Shaquille Malcolm in the Bronx in 2014.  Now, thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and NYPD, the defendant has been charged with this terrible crime.  We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to hold violent criminals responsible for their actions.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. stated:  “As demonstrated by the addition of murder charges to Melendez’s alleged crimes, the illegal drug trade often leads to additional violent criminal activity that threatens the safety and security of our communities.  This individual believed himself to be above the law, and now he will face justice for his alleged crimes.  The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to root out these violent criminals and ensure they are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the Superseding Indictment[1]
In early 2014, MELENDEZ was a member of a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in the Allerton section of the Bronx, New York.  On January 2, 2014, as part of this conspiracy, MELENDEZ and others shot Shaquille Malcolm multiple times in the stairwell of an apartment building located at 2818 Bronx Park East in the Bronx.  Malcolm died at the scene.
MELENDEZ, 23,  is charged with one count of conspiring to distribute 280 grams and more of crack cocaine, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and maximum of life in prison; one count of using, carrying, and possessing firearms during and in relation, and in furtherance of, a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting the same, which carries a mandatory consecutive 10 year sentence in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of use of a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting the same, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison or death; and one count of murder while engaged in a conspiracy to distribute 280 grams and more of crack cocaine and aiding and abetting the same, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison or death.  The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and NYPD.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
[1]  As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Member Of The Genovese Crime Family Charged In Superseding Indictment With Destruction Of Evidence And Obstruction Of Justice

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the filing of a Superseding Indictment against JOHN TORTORA JR. a/k/a “Johnny T,” charging him with destruction of evidence, falsifying records, and obstruction of justice.  TORTORA was previously indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and murder for hire in United States v. Tortora, 18 Cr. 537 (SHS).  He was arrested on August 2, 2018, and has remained in custody since that time. TORTORA will be arraigned on the new charges on November 19, 2018 before the Honorable Sidney H. Stein at the United States Courthouse in Manhattan. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, in an attempt to hide his illegal racketeering activity, the defendant was willing to destroy evidence and obstruct justice.  Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the FBI and the Yonkers Police Department, the defendant’s alleged attempts to impede the criminal justice process have  resulted in his being charged with additional federal crimes.”
The charges in the Superseding Indictment[1] arise from TORTORA’s alleged role in destroying video recording evidence, and in the subsequent creation of a letter containing false information about the destruction of that evidence, which was provided to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, these acts were undertaken with the intent to impede the investigation into the racketeering activities of the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra. 
In addition to the previous charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering, and murder for hire, TORTORA, 61, of Yonkers, New York, is charged with destruction of evidence, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, falsifying records, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.  The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the Yonkers Police Department, and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Superseding Indictment and the description of the Superseding Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Bronx Man Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Attempting To Provide And Conspiring To Provide Material Support To Isis

Adam Raishani, a/k/a “Saddam Mohamed Raishani,” Attempted to Travel to Syria

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, announced that ADAM RAISHANI, a/k/a “Saddam Mohamed Raishani,” pled guilty to attempting to provide and conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (“ISIS”).  RAISHANI pled guilty today to a Superseding Information in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted in court today, Adam Raishani helped another man travel to Syria to join and train with ISIS, and he plotted to make that trip himself to carry out his own desire to wage violent jihad.  Thanks to the excellent work of the FBI and the NYPD, Raishani’s trip to ISIS was canceled at the airport.  This would-be ISIS terrorist now awaits sentencing for his crimes.”
According to the allegations in the Superseding Information, Complaint, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings:
Beginning in at least the fall of 2015, RAISHANI conspired with another ISIS supporter (“CC-1”) to provide material support to ISIS by means of CC-1 traveling abroad to join and fight for ISIS.  On or about October 30, 2015, CC-1 departed from JFK Airport for Istanbul, Turkey, where he planned to cross into Syria to join ISIS.  RAISHANI arranged for CC-1’s transportation from the Bronx, New York, to John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK Airport”), and RAISHANI accompanied CC-1 from the Bronx to JFK Airport.
RAISHANI continued communicating with CC-1 following CC-1’s departure.  For example, on or about January 2, 2016, RAISHANI sent an email to CC-1 stating:  “Glad tidings brother. Its [sic] been some time since your voyage. I pray to Allah The ALL MIGHTY to grant you success. Until next time.”[1]  On or about April 1, 2016, RAISHANI sent another email to CC-1 stating:  “I hope Allah has bestowed you what you were seeking. . . . May Allah grant you sincere and clean intentions and make you among the righteous in Janatal Firdaus [a reference to Islamic paradise]. . . . Please return this email and respond to what we agreed upon before your departure. Until next time.”  On or about May 3, 2016, CC-1 responded to RAISHANI, indicating that he had succeeded in joining the Islamic State.  CC-1 informed RAISHANI that CC-1 was “fine and well,” that CC-1 “wished you [RAISHANI] were here with me,” and that “here we are living with izza [honor].”
Also in May 2016, CC-1 posted content on a particular social media application (“Application-1”) indicating that CC-1 was living in the Islamic State and fighting on its behalf.  For example, CC-1 sent messages to another user of Application-1 stating:  “I’m living in the Islamic state safely and secure by the permission of Allah,” “[h]ere we are fighting the kuffars [non-believers],” and “I left the land of kuffars now I’m living in the khilafah [the caliphate].”  CC-1 also posted a photograph on Application-1 that shows CC-1 carrying an assault rifle and a flag representative of ISIS. 
Between January and June of 2017, RAISHANI had a series of meetings with individuals who were, unbeknownst to RAISHANI, a confidential source working at the direction of law enforcement and an undercover law enforcement officer.  In the course of those meetings, RAISHANI admitted that he had previously helped another person (CC-1) travel overseas to join the Islamic State, and stated that he intended to travel overseas to join ISIS himself.  During those meetings, RAISHANI also downloaded and viewed violent ISIS propaganda videos, and indicated his desire to wage jihad and his belief that the Quran can be read to justify the violence, including beheadings, engaged in by ISIS.   
By April 2017, RAISHANI was actively planning to travel abroad to join ISIS.  RAISHANI indicated that he aspired to join ISIS in Syria and that he aimed to travel before the end of Ramadan, an Islamic holy month that ran from approximately May 26 through June 24 of 2017.  In June 2017, RAISHANI made preparations to leave, including by paying off debts and purchasing clothing that he intended to wear for training with ISIS overseas.  RAISHANI indicated his intention to meet an ISIS member in Turkey, who would facilitate RAISHANI’s joining the terrorist organization in Syria.  On June 21, 2017, RAISHANI attempted to board a flight bound for Turkey (via Portugal) at JFK Airport, at which point law enforcement officers arrested him.
Following RAISHANI’s arrest, the FBI searched RAISHANI’s Bronx residence pursuant to a search warrant.  Among the evidence recovered was a letter from RAISHANI addressed to members of his family, which the FBI found in a safe in RAISHANI’s bedroom.  In the letter, RAISHANI – who left behind his wife and young son when he attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIS – advised his wife that she could still choose to “[j]oin” him in the Islamic State, and he expressed regret that she did not share his radical views and that he had been unable to convince her to accompany him to join ISIS.  RAISHANI also wrote:  “Do Not Divulge this document and other documents that I have giv[en] to you to the authorities.  Do not believe their plots.  Do not divulge my absences but instead say I went to do volunteering outside the country with my medical skills and health background.”          
RAISHANI, 32, of the Bronx, New York, pled guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiring to provide material support or resources to ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.  Sentencing is scheduled for March 8, 2019, at 3:00 p.m., before Judge Abrams.
Mr. Berman and Mr. Demers praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD, and the NYPD’s Intelligence Division.  Mr. Berman and Mr. Demers also thanked the New York Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
[1] Communications and conversations discussed herein are described in substance and in part.

Comptroller Stringer: Unemployment Continued to Fall as City’s Economy Steadily Grew

Third Quarter Economic Update Shows More New Yorkers Working Than Ever Before

   New York City’s economy experienced moderate growth as unemployment continued to fall to record-low levels in the third quarter of 2018, according to an economic update released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

“The numbers here show that New York City’s economy continues to be strong yet we still have improvements to make. While more New Yorkers are working than ever before, new jobs are concentrated in low-wage industries, preventing them from achieving economic security,” said Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “We have to ensure that economic growth lifts New Yorkers up – and to do that we must increase access to jobs with better wages as well as affordable childcare, housing, and educational and job training opportunities.”
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. Findings in the Third Quarter 2018 Update include:
NYC Economy Expands at Steady Pace
  • New York City’s economy expanded 2.8 percent in the third quarter of 2018, roughly the same pace as in the first and second quarters.
  • In comparison, the U.S. economy, as measured by the change in real GDP, grew 3.5 percent (advance estimate).
Unemployment Rate at Historic Low
  • The City’s unemployment rate, adjusted for seasonal variations, fell from 4.2 percent in Q2 2018 to 4.1 percent in Q3 2018, the lowest rate on record.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in Q3 2018, the lowest rate since 3.6 percent in Q4 1969.
  • More New Yorkers are working than ever before. The number of employed City residents increased by 6,200 in Q3 2018 to a record high of 4,055,300.
Private-Sector Jobs Growth Accelerated, Largely in Low-Wage Industries
  • Private-sector hiring grew at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in Q3 2018.
  • However, of the 15,100 private-sector jobs added in the third quarter, 11,700 (77.4 percent) were in low-wage industries.
  • The largest private-sector job gains were 10,100 new jobs in health care and social assistance, 3,600 jobs in leisure and hospitality, and 3,000 new jobs in professional and business services.
  • Housing-related sectors added just 200 jobs in Q3 2018 after losing 2,600 in the second quarter.
Earnings Measures Continued to Rise
  • Average hourly earnings (AHE) of all private NYC employees rose 4.1 percent to $36.38 in Q3 2018, compared to the same period last year. U.S. average hourly earnings grew 3.0 percent to $27.12 in Q3 2018.
  • NYC personal income tax (PIT) revenues, a proxy for personal income, rose 6.5 percent or $158.2 million on a year-over-year basis to about $2.6 billion in Q3 2018. The increase was driven by a 4.4 percent rise in withholding taxes and 13.6 percent increase in estimated taxes, 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, grew 13.6 percent in Q3 2018 on a year-over-year basis.
Commercial and Economic Indicators Strong
  • Venture capital (VC) investment in the New York metro area surged by 31 percent to $5.86 billion in Q3 2018 compared to a year ago. However, the number of deals in the New York metro area fell to 159 in Q3 2018 from 213 in the year before, following a similar trend nationwide.
  • New commercial leasing stayed strong, rising 18.0 percent from the year before to about 9.6 million square feet in Q3 2018. Commercial rents remained stable and vacancy rates fell slightly citywide.
  • The residential housing market weakened in part due to federal changes to SALT deductibility, rising mortgage interest rates, a lower limit on mortgage interest deductibility, and a stronger dollar overall.
    • Home prices in Manhattan, as measured by the average sales price and average price per square foot, fell on a year-over-year basis for the fifth consecutive quarter after nine consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth. The number of Manhattan sales also declined for the fourth consecutive quarter, causing an increase in listing inventories.
    • Unlike in Manhattan, housing prices increased in Brooklyn and Queens. The average sales price in Brooklyn rose 7.2 percent to $1,051,999, while the average sales price in Queens rose 3.4 percent to $635,281. However, the number of sales decreased, increasing listing inventories.
  • Average weekday ridership on MTA NYC Transit fell 3.1 percent in Q3 2018 from a year ago as subway ridership fell 2.6 percent and bus ridership fell 4.7 percent. Ridership on the Long Island Rail Road rose 0.8 percent, but remained unchanged on Metro North.
  • The City’s leading economic indicators signaled continued expansion. The current business condition index provided by ISM-New York, Inc. (which measures the current state of the economy from the perspective of business procurement professionals) rose to a record high of 74.7 percent in Q3 2018, from 58.6 percent in Q2 2018. Any number above 50 percent indicates continued expansion.
  • Initial unemployment claims, which shows the number of applicants for unemployment insurance, declined for the third consecutive quarter.
To view the full report and interactive webpage, click here.