Sunday, June 30, 2019


Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Dear Neighbor,
June was one of the hardest and most exciting months of my life. Finishing the last few weeks of session was exhausting, but ending with the passage of dozens of laws that will make positive change in our community was well worth the fight. Be on the look out for a full legislative update soon detailing what has been described as the most productive and progressive legislative session in New York’s history!

This month has also been exciting for the district, filled with productive community events, special graduations, and the start of summer activities. Now that session is over, I am happy to be home in the district, and look forward to getting more accomplished for our community!
With Gratitude,
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi

NYPD 45th Precinct Council Meeting – June 6th, 2019
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This month I had the pleasure of joining the NYPD 45th Precinct Council meeting, which serves the Throggs Neck community. Hearing the concerns of my constituents and discussing potential solutions to meet the needs of the community was an important opportunity to connect and be present.
Roundtable and Launch of the Healthy Terminals Act with 32BJ – June 7th, 2019
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This month I sat down with members of 32BJ SEIU and launched the Healthy Terminals Act, a bill that would raise wages and require employer provided healthcare for airport and terminal workers. The purpose of this bill is to ensure that transportation terminal jobs are good jobs that actually prioritize the well being of their workers’ by paying a living wage and providing benefits that support the health of workers and their families. I owe an immense amount of gratitude to 32BJ – they are my family and I will always fight tooth and nail to to protect their health and safety.
District Housing Resource Fair – June 7th, 2019
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This month #TeamBiaggi held a district housing resource fair featuring 30+ city and state agencies and local organizations committed to providing tenant and homeowner resources to support D34 families. Thank you to Roadmap 2 Health for providing healthy snacks and offering free health screenings in their mobile clinic!
2019 Riverfest – June 8th/9th
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I had the privilege of spending a beautiful weekend at the 2019 Riverfest produced by the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corporation (KRVC), hosted at the College of Mount Saint Vincent. I was joined by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Council Member Andrew Cohen, and really enjoyed listening to local music, participating in outdoor activities, and relaxing with our families. Truly a District 34 summer staple – sunset sail included! 
Principals and PTA Presidents Breakfast – June 10th, 2019
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This month I held a Principals & PTA Presidents Breakfast to celebrate the incredible educators and parents dedicating their time to the students of our district. This was great to hold conversation about next steps to improve our education system and the well being of students across New York state. Thank you to our host, The Woolworth Chapel at Woodlawn Cemetery, and our special guest former New York Ranger and hockey great Ron Duguay!
Civic Associations Roundtable – June 10th, 2019
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This month we held a Civic Associations Roundtable with members of District 34 at Bronx House. This was an important opportunity for me to listen to ideas and concerns from the community and find ways that we can partner on building solutions together.
TIME’S UP New York Agenda Meeting – June 13th, 2019
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Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and I, as well as Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, sat down with TIME’S UP Activists to discuss the New York State Women’s Equality Agenda with Carmen LoBue, Leslie Ann Silva, Mira Sorvino, and Jen Klein, as well as Co-Founder of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, Roberta A. Kaplan. These extraordinary women came to Albany to advocate for the passage of legislation that serves to protect workers across all sectors from sexual harassment and discrimination, including #BiaggiBill S3817A to eliminate the “severe or pervasive” standard for sexual harassment and #BiaggiBill S6574 to extend the statute of limitations for survivors of second and third degree rape.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Event – June 13th, 2019
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#TeamBiaggi joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx District Attorney's Office, NYC Department for the Aging, and the NYPD in advance of World Elder Abuse AwarenessDay to promote resources available to senior citizens in the Bronx, and condemn the recent violent incidents against elder residents.
Summer Solstice and Wellness Celebration – June 22nd, 2019
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This month I was excited to sponsor the Summer Solstice and Wellness Celebration at the New York Botanical Gardens, which featured live music, gardening activities, cooking demonstrations, and yoga. Thank you to everyone who came out and spent their day basking in the natural beauty of the Bronx!
Bronx Pride Parade – June 23rd, 2019
#TeamBiaggi participated at the first Bronx Pride parade of such a large scale, starting off with a rally outside the borough courthouse, then marching down Grand Concourse, and ending with a block party on 3rd Avenue! 
The Bronx High School for the Visual Arts Graduation – June 26th, 2019
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It was an honor to be the keynote speaker at the Bronx High School for the Visual Arts graduation. Thank you for the beautiful artwork that I will proudly display in my office. Congratulations to the class of 2019, and a special shoutout to former intern and graduating senior Laura!
Lunch with Women of Serbian Parliament – June 26th, 2019
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Sat down for lunch with several female members of the Serbian Parliament, facilitated by the U.S. Embassy of Belgrade, including Aleksandra Maletic, Dusica Stojkovic, Milena Bicanin, Natasa Vuckovic, Jelena Vujic-Obradovic. It’s so exciting to have the opportunity to share ideas and learn from global women in leadership roles, dedicated to making positive change in their communities.
Herbert H. Lehman High School Graduation – June 26th, 2019
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I had the privilege of delivering the keynote speech at the Herbert H. Lehman High School graduation this year. Principal Powers asked the entire class of 2019 to stand and say "I am a leader" before passing out the diplomas and it was truly a powerful moment to witness. Thank you for allowing me to share in this special day – go Lehman Lions!

The items listed have been left out intentionally, because the title "Press Clips" is used in the Bronx Chronicle by the Bronx Chronicle political reporter Robert Press.

Due to the Senate closure on July 5th in observance of the holiday weekend, our First Friday event is cancelled for the month of July. Looking forward to seeing everyone in August at our new office space, details to come!


As we went down this Newsletter from Senator Biaggi, it only covers the month of June. What was Senator Biaggi doing for the first five months? We wonder if Senator Biaggi's Chief of Staff (who quit May 15th) and Deputy Chief of Staff (who was fired May 31st) have been replaced and by whom? 

We see small crowds at community events that Senator Biaggi did attend, and of course we see the union 32BJ prominently displayed, but wonder what Airport or Airport Terminal is in the 34th State Senate District. We are sure the answer will be there are workers, but how many and where? We question the placement of an outdated June Bus Redesign Plan, and have not listed other upcoming events.

We will say that the PS 83 District Housing Resource Fair was very successful, and go to  for a photo of Senator Biaggi inside talking to members of the Bronx District Attorney's office.

Finally, we are disturbed that Senator Biaggi was not original in the idea to use the name 'Press Clips', which is used in the Bronx Chronicle by the Bronx Chronicle political reporter Robert Press. 

Attorney General James Announces Settlement With Dating App For Failure To Secure Private And Nude Photos

Users Promised Nude Photos Would be Kept Private When Company Knew Photos 
Were Vulnerable to Exposure 

Online Buddies Required to Pay $240,000 and Make Substantial Changes to Improve Security
  New York Attorney General Letitia James  announced a settlement with Online Buddies, Inc. (Online Buddies) for failure to protect private photos of users of its ‘Jack’d’ dating application (app), and the nude images of approximately 1,900 users in the gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Although the company represented to users that it had security measures in place to safeguard users’ information, and that certain photos would be marked “private,” the company failed to implement reasonable protections to keep those photos private, and continued to leave security vulnerabilities unfixed for a year after being alerted to the problem.  
“This app put users’ sensitive information and private photos at risk of exposure and the company didn’t do anything about it for a full year just so that they could continue to make a profit,” said Attorney General James. “This was an invasion of privacy for thousands of New Yorkers. Today, millions of people across the country — of every gender, race, religion, and sexuality — meet and date online every day, and my office will use every tool at our disposal to protect their privacy.”
Jack’d has approximately 7,000 active users in New York and claims to have hundreds of thousands of active users worldwide, and is marketed as a tool to help men in the LGBTQIA+ community meet and form connections, date, and establish other intimate relationships.
The Jack’d app’s interface has explicitly and implicitly represented that the private pictures feature can be used to exchange nude images securely and, more importantly, privately. App users are presented with two screens when uploading photos of themselves: one for photos designated as “public” and another for photos designated for “private” viewership.
The Jack’d app gives users the choice to post photos on a public page that is viewable to all users...                        

The Jack’d app gives users the choice to post photos on a public page that is viewable to all users, or a private page that is not viewable to anyone who users have not unlocked photos for.
The app’s public photos screen displays a message stating, “[T]ake a selfie. Remember, no nudity allowed.” However, when the user navigates to the private photos screen, the message about nudity being prohibited disappears, and the new message focuses on the user’s ability to limit who can see private pictures by specifically stating, “Only you can see your private pictures until you unlock them for someone else.”
The Jack’d app contains settings to unlock and re-lock private pictures...                            
The Jack’d app contains settings to unlock and re-lock private pictures, indicating that users are in complete control of who can and cannot view private photos. Additionally, Online Buddies’ marketing — including videos on the company’s official YouTube channel — explicitly stated that the app helped some users privately exchange intimate information.
Online Buddies specifically violated the trust of its customers by breaking the app’s user privacy policy, which says the company takes “reasonable precautions to protect personal information from…unauthorized access [or] disclosure.” This agreement was crucially important with Jack’d users since 2017 customer polls showed that these customers cared most about privacy, partly in response to increased bullying and hate crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Privacy and security have proven to be especially important to users in the Black, Asian, and Latinx communities because of the greater perceived risk of anti-gay discrimination within each respective community. A June 2018 study by the University of Chicago surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 1,750 young adults, aged 18-34, about discrimination, finding that 27-percent of whites reported “a lot” of discrimination against gays in their racial community, compared to 43-percent of Blacks, 53-percent of Asians, and 61-percent of Latinx. Approximately 80-percent of Jack’d users are individuals of color and had reason to fear discrimination from the exposure of their personal information or private photographs.
The investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s Office confirmed that Online Buddies failed to secure data — including users’ private photos — that the company had stored using Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service (S3). The investigation also confirmed that senior management of Online Buddies had been told in February 2018 of this vulnerability, and of another vulnerability caused by the failure to secure the app’s interfaces to backend data. These vulnerabilities could have exposed certain personally identifiable information for Jack’d users, including location data, device ID, operating system version, last login date, and hashed password. Together, the culmination of these vulnerabilities created a risk of unauthorized access to a user’s private photos (which may have included nude images), public photos (which may have included the user’s face), and personally identifying information (including their location, device ID, and when they last used the app).
While Online Buddies immediately recognized the seriousness of its vulnerabilities, the company failed to fix the problems for an entire year, and only after repeated inquiries from the press. During the period that Online Buddies knew about the vulnerabilities but had not yet fixed them, the company also failed to implement any stopgap protections, establish logging to detect any unauthorized access, warn Jack’d users, or change representations about the privacy of their private photos and the security of their personally identifiable information.
Between February 2018 and February 2019, Jack’d had approximately 6,962 active users in New York State, of whom approximately 3,822 had one or more private photos. Given the sensitive nature of private photos, investigators within the New York State Attorney General’s Office did not review specific images and thus could not determine exactly what proportion of such photos were nudes. However, after conferring with those familiar with Jack’d and other similar apps, investigators gathered that roughly half — or approximately 1,900 Jack’d users in New York — had private images that could be nude photographs.
As part of the settlement with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, Jack’d will pay the state $240,000, as well implement a comprehensive security program to protect user information and ensure that any future vulnerabilities are addressed promptly.

Gang Leader Sentenced To 17 Years In Prison For Violent Crime In Aid Of Racketeering

Leonard Mathews Ordered a Shooting in the Bronx that Injured Three Bystanders

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that LEONARD MATHEWS was sentenced to 17 years in prison for ordering a shooting that left three people injured, and for distributing crack cocaine.  MATHEWS was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, as well as firearms, ammunition, and crack cocaine distribution offenses following a seven-day jury trial in October 2018.  The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken.

According to allegations in the Indictment and evidence introduced at trial:
MATHEWS is a leader, or “big homie,” in the Gangsta Milla Bloods, or “GMB,” a subset of the United Bloods Nation gang that operates in the Bronx and engages in racketeering activity, including narcotics distribution.  On October 20, 2017, MATHEWS ordered a subordinate gang member to shoot someone with whom MATHEWS previously had a physical altercation.  The shooting resulted in the injury of three innocent bystanders on Morris Avenue between East Kingsbridge Road and East 196th Street in the Bronx.  On the night of the shooting, following a closed-door meeting with MATHEWS and other members of the gang, the same Bloods foot soldier that MATHEWS ordered to do the shooting stabbed and left for dead one of the principal witnesses to the shooting.
Judge Oetken sentenced MATHEWS, 27, of the Bronx, New York, to 84 months in prison on one count of aiding and abetting or willfully causing assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, one count of aiding and abetting or willfully causing the possession of ammunition by a felon, and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine.  In addition, Judge Oetken sentenced MATHEWS to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for one count of aiding and abetting or willfully causing the discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, to be served consecutively to the 84-month sentence imposed on the other counts.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative efforts of the Bronx Violent Crimes Squad of the New York City Police Department.

Annual Westchester Avenue Salsa Festival

  It was the Annual Salsa festival in front of Joe's Place on Westchester Avenue. Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. was on hand with Assemblyman Jose Rivera, and Freddy Perez Jr. the man who organized the event. Hundreds of people lined Westchester Avenue (and Joe's Place) which was partly closed to traffic for the event.

Above - Assemblyman Jose Rivera is given an award by Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. for his many years of public service, and for being a great Salsa lover.
Below - Assemblyman Jose Rivera thanks a lot of people including the 87th Assembly District Male District Leader John Perez (the brother of Freddy Perez Jr.) for John's activity in the Parkchester/Castle Hill community.

Pelham Parkway Plantings

  This was the final product of am area of Pelham Parkway North at Wallace Avenue supervised by the Friends of Pelham Parkway. Bushes and flowers were planted by Friends of Pelham Parkway and others. This is part of the beautification of the parkway area by the Friends of Pelham Parkway.

Above - Ronald and Gali plant a bush.
Below - Friends of Pelham Parkway President Roxanne Delgado helps a volunteer plant a bush. 

Seven Defendants Arrested for Distributing Heroin, Fentanyl and Cocaine Base Near Elementary School and in Public Housing in Brooklyn

  Three indictments were unsealed  in federal court in Brooklyn charging seven defendants with narcotics trafficking in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Jessie Smith, Kendall Johnson, also known as “Duke,” Tyrell Spellman, also known as “Rude Boy,” Saquan Warlick, also known as “SB,” Ruben Pabon, Byron Elder, also known as “Bezo,” and Adrian Mattei, also known as “Spanish D,” were arrested yesterday and arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the indictments.
“As alleged, Mattei sold heroin near a public elementary school in Bushwick, and the other defendants sold heroin laced with fentanyl and crack cocaine, inside the Bushwick Houses,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Drug dealers destroy lives and communities and threaten our young people in countless ways.  We are working tirelessly with our partners to hold accountable the criminals who contribute to the opioid epidemic and to ensure that the residents of our communities are free from the plague of drug trafficking.” 
“The subjects arrested in this case are allegedly pushing the drugs that are killing hundreds of people daily in this country,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in Charge Sweeney.  “They also exposed children going to and from school to a scary and violent world of criminal activity that would be difficult for an impressionable child to forget.  The FBI Metro Safe Streets Task Force is doing all it can every day to remove these dealers from the communities most impacted by their illicit actions.”
“Crack cocaine, heroin and fentanyl have a well-known history of destroying lives and devastating communities,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill.  “That’s why the NYPD and its law enforcement partners work tirelessly to rid our city of these deadly drugs and prosecute those who sell them.  I want to thank the investigators who worked on this case.  It is their dedication and hard work that keeps our most vulnerable communities – in this case schools and public housing – safe.”
According to the indictments and court documents, between July 2018 and June 2019, Smith and his co-conspirators distributed heroin, fentanyl and crack, and between November 2018 and June 2019, Pabon and Elder distributed more than 28 grams of crack, in and around the Bushwick Houses.  In August 2018, Adrian Mattei allegedly distributed heroin within 1,000 feet of Public School 257, an elementary school on Cook Street in Brooklyn.  Smith is charged with distributing and possessing over 1,000 grams of heroin. 
If convicted, the maximum sentences range from 40 years’ to life imprisonment.
The charges in the indictments are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Nadia E. Moore and Nicholas J. Moscow are in charge of the prosecution.
The Defendants:
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-283 (WFK)
ADRIAN MATTEI (also known as “Spanish D”)
Age:  32
Brooklyn, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-284 (RJD)
Age:  29
Brooklyn, New York

KENDALL JOHNSON (also known as “Duke”)
Age:  32
Brooklyn, New York

TYRELL SPELLMAN (also known as “Rude Boy”)
Age:  31
Brooklyn, New York

SAQUAN WARLICK (also known as “SB”)
Age:  21
Brooklyn, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-285 (PKC)
Age:  28
Brooklyn, New York

BYRON ELDER (also known as “Bezo”)
Age:  43
Brooklyn, New York

Governor Cuomo Announces State Police DWI Crackdown During the July 4 Holiday

Troopers to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints Statewide and Target Reckless and Distracted Drivers

  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies will increase patrols to crack down on drunk and drugged driving and other traffic infractions during the 4th of July holiday, beginning Saturday, June 29 and running through Friday, July 5. State Troopers will conduct sobriety checkpoints and target reckless and aggressive driving statewide in an effort to keep New York highways safe during one of the busiest summer holidays for travel.

"As we approach one of the busiest weekends for summer travel, State Police and local law enforcement will be cracking down on impaired driving of any kind to ensure our roads are safe throughout the holiday," Governor Cuomo said. "I urge all motorists traveling in the upcoming days to drive carefully, wear a seatbelt, and never drink and drive."

New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, "Troopers will be out in force this holiday weekend and will be on the lookout for impaired, distracted and reckless motorists who put others in danger. Our message is simple. Don't drink and Drive! Help prevent senseless tragedies caused by impaired driving. Stay safe, and don't make a fatal decision that costs your life or someone else's."

Last year, the State Police issued nearly 10,500 vehicle and traffic tickets during the 4th of July weekend. Troopers arrested 216 people for DWI and investigated 165 crashes, which resulted in four fatalities and 244 injuries.
During this enforcement period, drivers can expect a number of sobriety checkpoints and DWI patrols. Law enforcement will also be looking for motorists who are using their phones and other electronic devices while behind the wheel. Drivers should also remember to "move over" for stopped emergency and hazard vehicles stopped on the side of the road when they travel New York roadways.
Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the operation. The CITE vehicles allow Troopers to more easily identify motorists who are using handheld devices while driving. These vehicles blend in with every day traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.
DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "As motorists hit the road this summer, especially during the holiday, I encourage everyone to drive responsibly. Reckless behavior behind the wheel puts you, your passengers, and all those sharing the road in danger. I applaud our state and local law enforcement officers for helping to ensure our roadways are safe during this busy holiday travel time."
The Fourth of July initiative is partially funded by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). The GTSC and the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation remind motorists that their "Have a Plan" mobile app, is available for Apple, Droid and Windows smartphones. The app enables New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi or rideshare service and program a designated driver list. It also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and provides a way to report a suspected impaired driver.

If you drive drunk or drugged, you not only put your life and the lives of others at risk, you could face arrest, jail time, and substantial fines and attorney fees. The average drinking and driving arrest costs up to $10,000.
Arrested drunk and drugged drivers face the loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of unanticipated expenses from attorney fees, fines and court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost time at work.
The New York State Police, GTSC and NHTSA recommend these simple tips to prevent drunk driving:
  • Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
  • If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
  • Use your community's sober ride program;
  • If you suspect a driver is drunk or impaired on the road, don't hesitate to contact local law enforcement;
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

Attorney General James Announces Multistate Settlement With LPL Financial After Firm Violated Laws

LPL to Offer Relief to Investors and Pay More Than $25 million in Penalties 

  New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a multistate settlement with LPL Financial LLC (LPL) that mandates the firm offer to repurchase specific securities from investors after the firm sold unregistered securities to clients across the nation.  

“When New Yorkers invest with financial firms, they trust those firms to obey the law and act with integrity,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “LPL failed to meet these standards and was not transparent while making purchases on behalf of its clients. New Yorkers wronged by this firm’s conduct can rest assured that new protections are being put in place to safeguard against issues like this from taking place at LPL again.” 
The settlement — resulting from a yearlong, multistate task force investigation, coordinated by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and led by Massachusetts and Alabama — arises from LPL’s violation of Blue Sky laws. The firm failed to develop and maintain systems and procedures to prevent the sale of unregistered, non-exempt securities to certain customers between October 1, 2006 and May 1, 2018. Specifically, the investigation focused on LPL’s failure to retain and use, and then subsequently cancel, certain third-party services central to LPL’s compliance with state securities registration requirements. State securities regulators also found deficiencies within LPL’s compliance structure, including LPL’s failure to supervise and to maintain adequate books and records, which contributed to the firm’s offer and sale of unregistered, non-exempt securities.  
As part of the agreement made with the New York Attorney General’s Office, LPL will offer to repurchase certain securities still held in the accounts of eligible investors, or if eligible investors have already sold or transferred their securities, LPL will make a damages offer to investors. LPL will make repurchase offers to eligible consumers by or before November 2019.  
In addition to the relief offered to eligible New York investors, LPL will pay a $499,000 civil penalty to the New York Attorney General’s Office, and up to a total of $25,948,000 to all jurisdictions that had the option to be involved in the multistate settlement, which included nearly every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
LPL has also agreed to a comprehensive internal review of all operations and procedures to enhance its processes and supervisory systems to prevent future sales of unregistered securities. Further, LPL will review its vendor service protocols to ensure compliance with state securities laws.  

Friday, June 28, 2019

Leaders Of Brooklyn And Manhattan Chapters Of The United Brotherhood Of Carpenters Charged In Rampant Admissions-Bribery Scheme

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael C. Mikulka, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, New York Region (“DOL-OIG”), Andriana Vamvakas, New York Regional Director, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor-Management Standards (“DOL-OLMS”), and Margaret Garnett, Commissioner, New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging leaders of two local chapters of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (the “Union”) with accepting tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes in return for guaranteeing admission to hundreds of prospective union members.  SALVATORE TAGLIAFERRO, the president of the Local 926 chapter of the Union, and JOHN DEFALCO, the vice president of the Local 157 chapter of the Union, were each charged with one count of honest services wire fraud, one count of conversion of union assets, and one count of conspiracy, in connection with their involvement in a scheme to solicit cash bribes in exchange for union membership.  DEFALCO was also charged with one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of justice, in connection with his attempts to interfere with the investigation of the scheme.  TAGLIAFERRO and DEFALCO, who were arrested this morning, are expected to be presented later today.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, the defendants abused their leadership positions to line their pockets at the expense of their union and its members, whose interests they were duty bound to protect.  By allegedly demanding and accepting cash bribes in return for union membership, the defendants not only betrayed their union, but personally profited off the needs of those seeking work.  The charges announced today reflect our tireless commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to root out corruption in union leadership and our commitment to bringing to justice those who corrupt their positions.”
DOL-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Michael Mikulka said:  “An important mission of the Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations relating to labor racketeering and corruption in labor unions.  We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of allegations.”
DOL-OLMS New York Regional Director Andriana Vamvakas said:  “Safeguarding financial integrity and combatting financial malfeasance in labor unions is a very high priority for OLMS.  This indictment sends a clear message that OLMS will fully investigate and seek justice when anyone attempts to use their union position for personal financial gain at the expense of union members.”
DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said:  “These defendants allegedly conspired to sell sought-after union memberships for thousands of dollars, giving those who paid the steep price unearned access to coveted union construction projects and other exclusive benefits while the defendants collected the cash, according to the charges. Organized labor must be safeguarded from corruption that attempts to undermine its mission to protect the rights of working New Yorkers. DOI was proud to assist its partners at the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General in investigating this case.”
According to the Indictment[1] unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
From at least in or about 2017 up through and including in or about June 2019, TAGLIAFERRO and DEFALCO abused their positions as officers of local chapters of the Union by soliciting and accepting cash bribes from prospective Union members in exchange for securing the bribe payers’ admission to the Union.  In particular, DEFALCO and other co-conspirators identified prospective members and solicited cash payments from them, often in the amount of $1,500.  Then, once prospective members made the payments, DEFALCO sent those individuals’ names to TAGLIAFERRO, who used his authority as president of the Local 926 to ensure that they were accepted into the Local 926 and received Union membership cards, even though many such bribe payers did not have Union jobs and were not eligible for admission to the Union.  Hundreds of new members were admitted to the Local 926 as a result of this scheme.  DEFALCO and TAGLIAFERRO shared the bribe payments and made at least tens of thousands of dollars from the scheme.
DEFALCO and TAGLIAFERRO also took numerous steps to conceal their conduct from investigators, and DEFALCO attempted to tamper with witnesses and obstruct the federal investigation.  Among other things, DEFALCO pressured one co-conspirator to sign an affidavit falsely exculpating him and directed that co-conspirator falsely to exculpate DEFALCO, TAGLIAFERRO, and others if questioned.  DEFALCO and TAGLIAFERRO also discussed a false cover story to explain the involvement of another co-conspirator in the scheme, and DEFALCO instructed that co-conspirator to repeat this false cover story to a federal grand jury investing his conduct.  DEFALCO also instructed a co-conspirator to delete incriminating text messages between them that were responsive to a federal grand jury subpoena served on the co-co-conspirator.
TAGLIAFERRO, 54, of Staten Island, New York, and DEFALCO, 51, of Secaucus, New Jersey, each are charged with one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of conversion of union assets, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of honest services wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  DEFALCO alone is also charged with one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of justice, each of 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 sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and TAGLIAFERRO and DEFALCO are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of DOL-OIG, DOL-OLMS, and DOI.
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and its description set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Comptroller Stringer Report: Park Bathrooms Across the City in Decrepit State

Conditions rated unacceptable at more than 100 NYC Parks bathrooms due to unsatisfactory conditions, serious safety hazards, or a lack of cleanliness
In 10 community districts, there are less than eight NYC Parks bathrooms per 100,000 residents, with Brooklyn and Queens experiencing the biggest shortage
Over 1,000 NYC Parks bathrooms do not have changing stations for infants and toddlers and nearly 1,000 are not ADA Accessible
New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a new report, “Dis-comfort Stations: The Conditions and Availability of NYC Parks Bathrooms,” revealing unacceptable conditions at more than 100 New York City park bathrooms and a failure by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) to maintain basic cleanliness. The Comptroller’s report also found a severe shortage of bathrooms across NYC Parks properties. Access to NYC Parks’ bathrooms varies significantly across community districts, with some containing as few as four bathrooms for every 100,000 residents. Looking more broadly, New York City ranks a lowly 93rd in bathrooms per 100,000 residents among the 100 largest American cities.
“Our parks are essential public spaces, offering children, seniors, and all New Yorkers a safe and secure place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. But the City’s investment and maintenance of our park bathrooms is woefully inadequate. Our bathroom facilities should be comfortable – but our report reveals many of them just stink,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Every neighborhood, including in low- to moderate-income areas, deserves quality public spaces. NYC Parks must expand the number of these bathrooms in neighborhoods in need and provide the resources to bring existing facilities to an acceptable standard. Here’s the bottom line – we all have to go. It is the City’s responsibility to make sure there is a safe, clean place to do so in our parks.”
The State of NYC Parks Bathrooms
Comptroller Stringer’s report reviewed all 1,428 NYC Parks bathrooms in New York City, and the report found:
  • In NYC Parks bathrooms, nearly 400 sinks, toilets, walls, ceilings, changing tables, and other features were found to be damaged or missing in their latest inspection.
  • One hundred bathrooms citywide were found to be in “unacceptable” condition by NYC Parks’ own metrics.
  • Fifteen percent of NYC Parks bathrooms in Manhattan and 12 percent in Brooklyn were deemed unacceptable.
  • In nine community districts, more than 25 percent of NYC Parks bathrooms were rated unacceptable. The worst performing neighborhoods included Chinatown and the Lower East Side; East Harlem; Flatbush and Midwood; East Flatbush, Farragut and Rugby; Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville and West Harlem; Canarsie and Flatlands; Bushwick; and Sunnyside and Woodside.
‘Hazardous’ and ‘Unacceptable’ Conditions at NYC Parks Bathrooms
Comptroller Stringer’s report also found that 53 “hazards” were discovered in NYC Parks bathrooms that could lead to moderate to debilitating injuries. These included exposed wires, damaged or missing safety straps on changing stations, noxious odors, and insufficient lighting. Across the five boroughs, 38 bathrooms contained hazardous conditions, including 17 in Brooklyn, eight in Manhattan, seven in the Bronx, five in Queens, and one in Staten Island.
Dangerous and injury-threatening conditions are not the only problems that New Yorkers must contend with. NYC Parks inspectors also found 399 bathroom components that were in ‘unacceptable’ condition.
  • These included:
    • Twenty-nine toilets, urinals, sinks, and hand dryers that were out-of-service
    • Twenty-three soap dispensers missing or damaged
    • Twenty-three ceilings, walls, and floors deteriorated
    • Seventeen damaged changing tables
  • Of the 207 NYC Parks bathrooms with at least one feature in unacceptable condition, 57 were in Brooklyn, 57 were in Queens, 49 were in Manhattan, 37 were in the Bronx, and seven were in Staten Island.
A Lack of NYC Park Bathrooms
Comptroller Stringer’s report revealed that in addition to the decrepit state of many of the city’s park bathrooms, many New Yorkers are lacking access to these facilities at all. The availability of bathrooms varies widely across neighborhoods.
  • In 10 community districts, there are fewer than eight NYC Parks bathrooms for every 100,000 residents.
  • Neighborhoods with the lowest number of bathrooms include Bensonhurst, Flatbush and Midwood, Howard Beach and Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven, Borough Park, Jackson Heights and North Corona, and Crown Heights North and Prospect Heights.
  • Morris Heights, Fordham South and Mount Hope in the Bronx have the fewest number of NYC Parks bathrooms per capita of any community district citywide.
  • Moreover, many NYC Parks bathrooms provide meager access to residents of the city. A troubling 69 percent are not ADA accessible, 73 percent do not have changing stations for infants and toddlers, and 11 percent are not open year-round.
As part of the report, Comptroller Stringer offered recommendations to NYC Parks for reform, including upgrading existing bathroom facilities, installing changing stations in all 1,428 bathrooms, and building out new facilities in underserved areas throughout the city. To achieve these goals, NYC Parks must adopt procurement reforms to standardize the design and costs of new bathrooms. Comptroller Stringer also recommended NYC Parks increase investment in maintaining and operating existing bathroom facilities to improve safety and cleanliness, especially in neighborhoods with a high number of bathrooms riddled with hazardous conditions.
To read the Comptroller’s full report, click here.