Sunday, April 28, 2019

Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr. - Rally Against Shelter in Parkchester Area Monday, April 29th 6:30 PM

By Councilman, Rubén Díaz Sr.
Bronx County, New York

Rally Against Shelter in Parkchester Area 
  I’m inviting everyone to join me next Monday, April 29th @ 6pm at 2008 Westchester Ave to rally against a proposed single men’s shelter. The proposed shelter will be located in close proximity of two schools and a library.

Nine Defendants Arrested In New York, Florida, And Texas For Multimillion-Dollar Wire Fraud Scheme

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James C. Spero, Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa, Florida, Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today that nine defendants, OLUWASEUN ADELEKAN, a/k/a “Sean Adelekan,” OLALEKAN DARAMOLA, SOLOMON ABUREKHANLEN, GBENGA OYENEYIN, ABIOLA OLAJUMOKE, TEMITOPE OMOTAYO, BRYAN EADIE, ALBERT LUCAS, and ADEMOLA ADEBOGUN, were arrested for defrauding businesses and individuals of more than $3.5 million through business email compromises, a Russian oil scam, and a romance scam. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, these defendants deployed three different email schemes to defraud their victims.  The common denominator in all three schemes was the defendants’ alleged fleecing of their victims through fictitious online identities.  The schemes allegedly earned the defendants $3.5 million – and also arrests on federal felony charges.”
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James C. Spero said:  “A transnational criminal organization allegedly conducting illicit domestic and international wire fraud has been dismantled thanks to the hard work of HSI Tampa and Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.  This case illustrates the unique investigative authority and international reach of HSI.”
As alleged in the Indictment[1] unsealed today from at least in or about July 2016, up to and including the present, the defendants participated in a scheme to defraud businesses and individuals through several categories of false and misleading representations, including but not limited to:
1 - Sending victims email messages that appeared to be, but were not, from legitimate business counterparties that included instructions to the victims to wire payment to those seemingly legitimate business counterparties into bank accounts that were actually under the control of, and/or maintained by, ADELEKAN, DARAMOLA, ABUREKHANLEN, OYENEYIN, OLAJUMOKE, OMOTAYO, EADIE, LUCAS, and ADEBOGUN (the “Business Email Compromise Scam”);
2 - Sending email messages and text messages to at least one victim offering an opportunity to invest in oil stored in Russian oil tank farms conditioned on that victim wiring upfront payments into bank accounts purportedly affiliated with the purported oil investment but actually opened by and under the control of ABUREKHANLEN, OLAJUMOKE, and OYENEYIN (the “Russian Oil Scam”); and
3 - Sending email messages and text messages to at least one victim from an individual (or individuals) purporting to be a female with romantic intentions toward the victim requesting, further to establishing a romantic relationship, the wiring of payment into a bank account under the control of OMOTAYO (the “Romance Scam”). 
In reliance on the foregoing false and misleading representations, the victims of the Business Email Scam, Russian Oil Scam, and Romance Scam wired or otherwise transferred in excess of $3.5 million into bank accounts opened in the names of shell companies and under the control of and/or maintained by the defendants. 
ABUREKHANLEN was arrested yesterday, April 24, 2019, in the Bronx, New York, and will be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman today.  ADELEKAN, OMOTAYO, LUCAS, EADIE, and ADEBOGUN were arrested earlier this morning in New York, New York, and will also be presented today before Judge Pitman.  OLAJUMOKE and OYENEYIN were arrested earlier this morning in Florida and will be presented in the Southern District of Florida later today.  DARAMOLA was arrested earlier this morning in Texas and will be presented in the Western District of Texas later today.
The defendants are each charged in the Indictment with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud.  Each defendant faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.  A chart containing names, age, place of residence, and nationality of the defendants is set forth below.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and HSI.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Place of Residence
Oluwaseun “Sean” Adelekan
New York, New York
Olalaken Daramola
Austin, Texas
Solomon Aburekhanlen
New York, New York
Gbenga Oyeneyin
Aventura, Florida
Abiola Olajumoke
Aventura, Florida
Temitope Omotayo
New York, New York
Bryan Eadie
New York, New York
Albert Lucas
New York, New York
Ademola Adebogun
New York, New York
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Project Dream - Prom Dress Giveaway at The Mall at Bay Plaza

  Prom Dresses can cost hundreds of dollars, but Saturday at the Mall at Bay Plaza over one-hundred donated prom dresses were being given away free to high school girls to wear to their prom. Jasmine Moya and Gia Velez students from Alfred E. Smith High School model the prom dresses they chose to wear to their high school prom. It was as if these two prom dresses were custom made for the two high school girls. Project Dream allowed girls to try on up to three different dresses before they chose which one they wanted, and yes there were shoes to match the dresses that were included in the deal. 

Above and Below - Just two of the racks of prom dresses that were being given away free to local high school girls to wear to their prom, and yes matching shoes were also on the clothing racks above the dresses. 

There was a Pop Up Fashion Show with models wearing clothes from Stores in the Mall at Bay Plaza  such as H & M and Macy's. 

Above - Ms. Caridad De La Luz was the hostess of the Pop Up Fashion Show.
Below - The Fashion show began.


Girl Scouts Spotted in Bay Plaza Mall

  Girl Scouts from Troops 1039, 1047, 1171, 1247, and 1401 based on Ogden Avenue near Yankee Stadium were found on the other side of the Bronx in the Mall at Bay Plaza selling their famous Girl Scout Cookies. Jazmin Edwards is holding a box of Girl Scout Cookies as her Troop Leader Katrina Smith, and her Mother Candice Edwards are behind the table collecting the money from the sales of the boxes of cookies. The ladies said that this was their second year at the Bay Plaza Mall selling Girl Scout Cookies, because last year was a huge success. Sales were going at the same pace as last year. 

Friends of Pelham Parkway Plant Roses on the Parkway

  It took some hard work, and a little of getting your hands dirty, but on Saturday these Friends of Pelham Parkway planted thirteen rose bushes which were given to them by the NYC Parks Department. The Rose Garden is located at the corner of Pelham Parkway North and Wallace Avenue.

Above - Ms. Roxanne Delgado the head of the friends of Pelham Parkway sets this rose bush in before placing support soil all around it. 
Below - It was a hard, but a job well done for these four members of the Friends of Pelham Parkway. 


  Margaret Garnett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), issued the following statement concerning ERIC LUNA, a former New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (“DYCD”) employee, who was sentenced today to six months in prison and three years’ supervised release in connection with the theft of more than one hundred City-purchased mobile phones, which LUNA then diverted and sold online and through other methods for a total of $124,098 in profit. As part of his sentencing, LUNA will forfeit $124,098, and pay an additional $124,098 in restitution to the City. U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel imposed the sentence in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. The office of Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, prosecuted the case. 

 DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said, “This City worker betrayed the public trust by using his position to steal dozens of cell phones procured by the City for agency personnel and re-sell them for his own financial gain. Luna made tens of thousands of dollars through this scheme, but it cost him his job and bought him jail time. DOI thanks the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District for their partnership and prosecution of this matter.” 

 LUNA, 36, of the Bronx, N.Y., was arrested in March 2018 and charged with theft of government funds and wire fraud. He was employed as a Community Coordinator with DYCD since August 2015 and received an annual salary of approximately $61,334 upon his resignation in April 2018.

  According to the criminal complaint and DOI’s investigation, beginning in August 2015, more than one hundred mobile telecommunications devices procured by DYCD for use by the agency were improperly diverted by LUNA, who then offered the devices for sale through third-party vendors and over the internet. The proceeds from those sales went into LUNA’s personal checking and online accounts.

 A second City worker, IGOR GOLDSHTEYN, 44, of Staten Island, N.Y., an employee of the City Fire Department (“FDNY”) was also arrested in March 2018 and charged in a separate but similar scheme, diverting mobile phones purchased by FDNY and selling those devices online for profit. GOLDSHTEYN pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds on December 7, 2018, and was sentenced to five years’ probation, ordered to pay a fine of $4,000, forfeit $18,000 and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $18,000.

 GOLDSHTEYN was employed with the FDNY since August 2015 and, at the time of his arrest in March 2018, served as a Certified IT Administrator receiving an annual salary of approximately $87,371. He was on leave from the FDNY from August 2018 until he formally left the agency in April 2019.

 DOI Commissioner Garnett thanked Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and his staff, for their partnership in this investigation, in particular, Assistant United States Attorney Dominic Gentile of the General Crimes Unit, who prosecuted the LUNA and GOLDSHTEYN cases. Commissioner Garnett also thanked New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications Commissioner Samir Saini, DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong, and FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, and their staffs, for their cooperation in this investigation.

Comptroller Stringer: Playground “Deserts” Leave Too Many NYC Children with No Place to Play

Playground construction is failing to keep pace with the growing population of children in several neighborhoods
Brooklyn is the most under-served borough, with only eight playgrounds for every 10,000 children
Playground maintenance is completely inadequate, with 521 NYC Parks playgrounds having at least one hazardous feature requiring “immediate attention”
Comptroller Stringer launches “Pavement to Playgrounds” campaign, utilizing an innovative model for building out city playgrounds and calling for the construction of 200 new playgrounds in the next five years
  New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a new report, “State of Play: A New Model for NYC Playgrounds,” documenting a severe shortage of playgrounds in New York City, particularly in neighborhoods that have seen the fastest population growth. Access to playgrounds varies significantly across community districts, with some containing more than triple the number of playgrounds as others on a per child basis, and neighborhoods with the largest population of children — e.g. Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Corona, Richmond Hill, and Flatbush — having fewer than four NYC Parks playgrounds for every 10,000 children. Looking more broadly, New York City ranks a lowly 48th in playgrounds per capita among the 100 largest American cities, evidence that the City has not sufficiently invested in recreational facilities and failed to anticipate, prepare, and respond to shifting demographics.
Meanwhile, conditions at hundreds of NYC Parks playgrounds were found to be substandard during their latest inspections. In 2018, inspectors found that 521 NYC Parks playgrounds had at least one hazardous feature that required “immediate attention.” These included 807 “Priority 2 Hazards” that “present the chance of slight to moderate injury” and 29 “Priority 1 Hazards” that “present the chance of life-threatening or debilitating injury.”
To address this urgent need, Comptroller Stringer outlined sweeping recommendations for reform, including calling on the City to build 200 new playgrounds in the next five years. Many of these new facilities would be built through Stringer’s newly envisioned “Pavement to Playgrounds” program — a proposed partnership between NYC Parks, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), local nonprofits, and community boards — to construct playgrounds and plazas on lightly used residential blocks. Other recommendations from the report include dramatically expanding the successful “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” program, increasing resources for NYC Parks maintenance, developing stronger protections for “Jointly Operated Playgrounds” on DOE property, and ensuring that playgrounds are designed to serve a wide range of ages to better promote learning, playing, and socializing.
“Playgrounds are essential public spaces, offering children a place to socialize, learn, be active, and exercise their imaginations. They are also spaces for children and families to meet their neighbors and develop strong bonds. But our findings reveal stark disparities in access to these critical public spaces in New York City,” said Comptroller Stringer. “That’s why our City needs to overhaul the planning, construction, and maintenance of our playground system. We can make a major impact on the lives and health of New York City children by substantially expanding the number of playgrounds in neighborhoods that are in dire need of these spaces, while also ensuring they are well-maintained and safe for every child.”

The State of New York City’s Playgrounds

Comptroller Stringer’s report examined all 2,067 municipal playgrounds in New York City, of which 1,028 are overseen by Parks, 796 are managed by NYCHA, and 243 are “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” conversions co-administered by NYC Parks and the New York City Department of Education (DOE).
NYC Parks


Schoolyards to
Playgrounds Conversions

  • Brooklyn is the most underserved borough, with only 8 playgrounds for every 10,000 children under the age of ten years old. Manhattan had 15 and Staten Island had 11 playgrounds per 10,000 children.
  • In eight Community Districts (CD), there are fewer than five playgrounds for every 10,000 children, including: Crown Heights South & Prospect Lefferts (CD9), Flatbush & Midwood (CD14), Bensonhurst (CD11), Borough Park (CD12), Jackson Heights (CD3), and Woodhaven & Richmond Hill (CD9).
  • To a large extent, these disparities are driven by a failure to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to changing demographics in our city. For instance, in the 15 neighborhoods with the lowest ratio of playgrounds, the number of local children increased by a robust 14 percent in recent years, from 275,088 in 2010 to 313,122 in 2017—or 89 percent of the net growth in children city-wide.

A Lack of Safety

Comptroller Stringer’s report also found that hundreds of NYC Parks playgrounds were rated as “unacceptable” by Parks Inspection Program inspectors due to a) multiple features being unsatisfactory, b) one feature having a serious safety hazard, or c) the playground having a failed cleanliness rating.
  • Brooklyn had 24 percent of its playgrounds designated as “unacceptable” — the highest percentage citywide.
  • More than 25 percent of playgrounds were found to be “unacceptable” in 12 Community Districts, including one in Manhattan, two in the Bronx, three in Queens, and six in Brooklyn (see above).
  • 521 NYC Parks playgrounds had at least one “hazardous feature” that required immediate attention (see below). This included 52 pieces of play equipment, 34 benches, 42 fences, and 282 paved and safety surfaces that presented a chance of injury.

Pavement to Playgrounds: An Innovative Approach to Scaling Up our Playground Network

Comptroller Stringer’s report outlined a new model for building out New York City playgrounds, inspired by a small neighborhood playground in Crown Heights. In partnership with DOT and local community boards, NYC Parks would identify neighborhood streets with minimal through traffic — either disconnected from the local grid or at dead ends — and build playgrounds mid-block (see rendering below). Angled street parking would be introduced so that the total number of parking spots would remain constant.

Expanding the “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” Program

Comptroller Stringer’s report highlighted the success of the City’s “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” program, a partnership between NYC Parks, the New York City Department of Education (DOE), the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA), and the Trust for Public Land.
Comptroller Stringer called for an additional 100 “Schoolyard to Playground” conversions in the next five years, specifically targeting high-need neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens that have experienced a substantial increase in their youth population.

Maintenance for Playgrounds

Given the high number of playgrounds with hazardous conditions, Comptroller Stringer called on NYC Parks to prioritize playground maintenance to ensure hazardous conditions are addressed through increased funding for maintenance and operations. These budget increases should be consistent with proposals outlined by the Play Fair Coalition — a consortium of more than 100 community-based organizations as well as NYC Parks employees.

Councilman Torres Calls For Metro North Clean Up on East 161st. Street Metro North Area

  Standing on the corner of Park Avenue and East 161st. Street Councilman Ritchie Torres called for the MTA to clean up the garbage from inside the gated area behind him which is on Metro North property. He said that he has an organization that would clean the garbage if the MTA would allow access to the filthy area.

Standing with Councilman Torres was a resident of the Morrisania Houses Ms. Tanya Pedler who said that rats come from all the trash and garbage thrown around the tracks. Also were members of Wildcat, an organization that hires people to clean up business areas. 

Councilman Torres was asked when he learned of the situation, answering a few weeks ago. There was no answer as to how the larger items got inside the gated area, or a solution to keep future items out of this gated area.

Above - The gated area leading to where Councilman Torres says the Metro North should clean or give him access to allow his clean up workers do the clean up.
Below - A Metro North train passes under 161st Street at the point where Councilman Torres called for a clean up.

SAGE - We told our stories—and it made a difference

Bipartisan legislation introduced after momentous trip to Capitol Hill
Never underestimate the power of sharing personal stories. Six weeks ago, SAGE organized its first-ever National Day of Advocacy, bringing dozens of LGBT elders together from across the country to speak directly to their representatives in Washington, D.C. These elders sat down, face-to-face, with their members of Congress to bravely describe the challenges they continue to confront as a result of their LGBT identities and the lack of federal support for LGBT aging programs in their communities. And it made a difference!

Weeks later, for the first time, bipartisan federal legislation to support LGBT elders was introduced in the U.S. Senate, championed by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, and Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. The Inclusive Aging Act would, among other things, ensure that our community’s pioneers have equal access to critical federally funded aging programs like Meals on Wheels and senior centers. It would also permanently establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (which is run by SAGE) and create a rural grant program to support care and services for LGBT and other minority elders.

This is a groundbreaking accomplishment and was only possible thanks to the many people who participated in SAGE’s National Day of Advocacy on Capitol Hill last month, which laid the foundation for this monumental achievement. Read more »
Help SAGE advocate for LGBT elders
This year, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, we have a special opportunity to lift up the stories of LGBT pioneers and educate the public about our community’s history of activism and the rights we are still fighting for today. SAGE is looking for individuals to participate in a variety of ongoing projects to help highlight the stories of LGBT elders and advocate for LGBT equality.

SAGE is specifically looking for elder advocates, allies and providers in Florida, a state where LGBT people are not protected from discrimination. SAGE wants to change that, and we need your help. In partnership with Equality Florida, SAGE is organizing in-person meetings between LGBT elders and allies and their members of Congress in Florida. If you are interested, please SIGN UP to advocate on behalf of LGBT elders, who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. SAGE will help you prepare for your meetings and work with you every step of the way—all you need is to be willing to share why you feel that LGBT people urgently need protections.
SAGE is also continuing to collect stories about Stonewall experiences. Did you participate in the 1969 Stonewall uprising? Do you know someone who participated? Do you want to simply share what Stonewall means to you? (Applies to people of all ages and identities.) If you have a Stonewall story to share, we want to hear from you! Participate in our Stonewall stories project by filling out our form.
A toast to fierce LGBT advocates in Philadelphia
On Thursday, April 4, SAGE supporters gathered at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia to honor LGBT trailblazers Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's secretary of health, and Ed Miller, the senior programs coordinator at Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center.

The event raised funds toward SAGE’s continued work with and on behalf of LGBT elders. SAGE also supported the William Way LGBT Community Center and their work with the LGBT and aging communities. See photos »
Mark Your Calendars!
Fire Island Pines Celebration
June 1, 2019 | 225 Bay Walk
Join us for the 27th annual edition of this classic summer event. Buy tickets »
June 7, 2019 | The Wonder Bread Factory Rooftop, 641 S Street NW Washington, D.C., 20001
Enjoy cocktails and appetizers as we kick off Capital Pride weekend. Buy tickets »
Hamptons Tea Dance
July 13, 2019 | Nova’s Ark Project, 60 Milestone Rd, Water Mill, NY 11976
Join SAGE and Callen-Lorde as we celebrate summer and raise money to support services for the LGBT community. Buy tickets »