Saturday, January 19, 2019

“Operation Punch-Out”: Attorney General James Announces Takedown Of Three Gun Traffickers

   Attorney General Letitia James announced the take-down of members of a gun trafficking operation that brought guns from Pennsylvania and illegally resold them in New York. In two separate, but related indictments in Bronx and Nassau Counties, three defendants were charged with trafficking assault weapons, semiautomatic pistols, a ghost gun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
“Even though New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, lax gun laws in our neighboring states jeopardize our safety,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Not only did these individuals illegally traffic highly dangerous firearms through the Iron Pipeline, but they did so in the presence of their children. New York has zero tolerance for activity that is both illegal and harmful and we will continue to go after any individual who tries to bring these weapons of death into our state.”
In a 45 count indictment unsealed on November 28, 2018, before Nassau County Court Judge Patricia Harrington, Tadarrell Jones, and Shyrein Joseph were charged with Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, and other related charges for their participation in the illegal gun trafficking operation, as the two sold guns, including assault weapons, in New York City and Nassau County.  Joseph was arraigned on January 15, 2019, before Nassau County Court Judge Robert McDonald and was remanded without bail.
According to the 45 count indictment, Jones and Joseph brought guns to New York from Pennsylvania and sold them to an undercover officer on five occasions between September 27 and November 1, 2016.  The investigation, led by the Attorney General’s Organize Crime Task Force (OCTF) along with the New York State Police Troop L Narcotics Enforcement Unit, resulted in the recovery of the following firearms and ammunition from Jones and Joseph:
  • .45 Caliber Springfield Armory Pistol
  • .44 Caliber S&W Revolver Magnum
  • .22 LR Caliber Semiautomatic Rifle ATI
  • 62 x .39 Caliber Semiautomatic Rifle AK 47
  • .223 Caliber S&W Semiautomatic Rifle
  • .44 Caliber Ruger Magnum Revolver
  • 744 rounds of ammunition
Additionally, Jones and Joseph brought their underage children to several of the firearms transactions. As a result, each defendant has also been charged with several counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child.  Each defendant, if convicted, each faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
In a separate and related 41 count Bronx County indictment, Reinaldo Rodriguez, a.k.a. Gringo, was charged with Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, and other related charges. The investigation revealed that Rodriguez was purchasing guns from an unindicted co-conspirator in Pennsylvania and bringing them to Bronx County for resale.  Rodriguez was arraigned on November 7, 2018 by the Honorable Harold Adler and remanded without bail. 
Over the course of the five months long investigation, authorities recovered the following firearms and ammunition from Rodriguez:
  • Four 9mm Semiautomatic Pistols
  • .22 Long Rifle Caliber Assault Weapon
  • .25 Caliber Beretta Semiautomatic Pistol
  • .32 Caliber Revolver
  • .45 Auto Caliber Semiautomatic Ghost Gun
  • 59 Rounds of Ammunition
As alleged, Rodriguez focused his operation on the purchase and resale of firearms, specifically from purchasing guns from Pennsylvania and bringing to New York to resell.  The investigation uncovered that once Rodriguez obtained a firearm, he would arrange to sell the firearm to one of his customers.  If convicted, Rodriguez faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
The Attorney General’s investigation included the use of physical surveillance, electronic surveillance, confidential sources, and undercover operations in Bronx, Nassau, and New York Counties. During the course of the recorded transactions, each of the defendants frequently referenced their ability to purchase other guns from outside of New York.
The Attorney General would like to thank the New York State Police Troop L Narcotics Enforcement Unit for their valuable participation in this investigation. 
 The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Photos of several firearms recovered from Jones and Joseph:
Photos of several firearms recovered from Rodriguez:


The City financed record-high for new construction with more than 10,000 affordable apartments; since 2014, the City has secured nearly 122,000 affordable homes

Mayor de Blasio announced that his administration financed 34,160 affordable homes last year, setting a new high-water mark for affordable housing production in New York City. This includes a record for both new construction, with 10,099 new homes financed, as well as for preservation, with 24,061 apartments. In 2017, the administration broke the previous record, set by former Mayor Ed Koch in 1989. This brings the total number of homes financed to date under the City’s ambitious Housing New York plan to nearly 122,000 apartments. Nearly 85 percent of all homes financed through the Mayor’s housing plan are affordable to low-income New Yorkers, of which more than 40 percent will serve families earning less than $46,950.

“Family by family, building by building, we’re giving people the security of knowing they can stay in the city they love. Last year, we created and preserved affordable housing that will reach 85,000 New Yorkers – enough to fill an entire neighborhood the size of Flushing. And we’re just warming up. This year, we’ll launch a new Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants that will fight for residents in every community,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“In New York City, we’re preserving and building affordable housing at rates that far outpace any other city and even most states. We’ve created a powerful machine that will continue to produce results for years to come, so that even as our city grows, New Yorkers will be able to stay in the neighborhoods they helped build,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.

"The 34,160 homes financed last year represent a new high-water mark for affordable housing, and real relief for hard-working families struggling to make ends meet," said Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “Last year, we broke all the records for affordable housing production, and a full 60 percent of the homes financed serve extremely- and very low-income New Yorkers. The 122,000 homes completed or underway reflect significant progress on large public sites, far-reaching policies to secure more affordable housing with no City financing, a lifeline to safeguard affordability at more of our city's Mitchell-Lamas, and major inroads on new programs laid out in HNY 2.0 from Neighborhood Pillars to Partners in Preservation. All this work complements our broader efforts to fight displacement and protect tenants, and we thank our Mayor and Deputy Mayor for their extraordinary vision and unwavering support, the tireless teams at HPD and HDC for their creativity and commitment, and all our dedicated partners for their steadfast support in our fight to keep this city affordable for generations to come.”

“HDC is proud to have provided more than $1.8 billion in bond financing toward another record-breaking year of affordable housing production for our city. The 122,000 homes created and preserved through Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan are providing security and affordability to New Yorkers today, while also anchoring communities for generations to come,” said Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin. “The 34,000 apartments financed last year are a testament to the visionary leadership of the administration, the ongoing support of our elected officials, the outstanding efforts of our countless partners across the public and private sectors, and of course our teams at HDC and HPD who are constantly working to meet the diverse housing needs of our dynamic and evolving city.”

To celebrate this historic milestone, the Mayor visited Tres Puentes, a new senior housing development financed through HPD’s Senior Affordable Rental Apartments program. These 175 new affordable apartments for seniors, including 53 formerly homeless seniors, were constructed on what had been a parking lot and underused space next to Borinquen Court, a 145-apartment federal Housing and Urban Development 202 senior project that the City previously preserved. This project is the prototype for the new Housing+ initiative proposed as part of HNY 2.0.

Protecting tenants is a core part of the City’s strategy to confront the affordable housing crisis. The newly created Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants will spearhead the City’s anti-harassment and outreach initiatives, aggressively enhance interagency enforcement and more closely engage with tenants and advocates. The City is also pursuing legislation to dramatically increase financial penalties against bad landlords and seize buildings from neglectful owners.

The 34,160 affordable apartments financed last year represent a direct City investment of $1.73 billion, leveraging more than $1.84 billion in bonds issued by HDC. This brings the total direct City investment under the Mayor’s housing plan to date to $5.05 billion, and the total bond financing to $8.12 billion. The City has continued to exceed its goals, not just in terms of numbers, but in terms of affordability, while staying within the amount of capital budgeted each year.

Affordable housing numbers are available here.

The plan continues to live up to its initial promises:

Rezoning Areas / Public Sites: The City advanced new construction on large public sites in rezoning and urban renewal areas, including major developments at Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City, Queens, MEC 125th Street in East Harlem, and the first phase of a multi-phase development in Coney Island, Brooklyn. These projects represent some of the 3,000 newly constructed apartments financed on public land last year; bringing the total under HNY to 10,480 homes. 

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing: Since MIH was introduced in March 2016, the City has financed 1,300 permanently affordable homes, and is now tracking 7,800 MIH apartments through rezoning applications; including 5,600 MIH apartments in 64 projects approved by the City Council that have not yet closed. 

421a: The City also produced 1,175 affordable apartments across 134 projects through 421a with no additional City funding. This is almost a four-fold increase from last calendar year in the number of apartments created, most of which are in high-cost neighborhoods.

Homeless and Supportive Housing: Through significant changes to our financing programs, the City secured 2,500 apartments for homeless New Yorkers – a record number that brought the total to almost 10,000 apartments set aside for homeless households over the life of the plan. In part, this includes the 4,770 supportive housing apartments the City has financed since the start of the administration.

Housing Connect: The City’s housing lottery posted 7,700 affordable homes in 2018, an increase of nearly 50% from the 5,200 affordable apartments that went through the lottery in 2017, and nearly triple the 2,900 posted in 2014. Since 2014, HPD and HDC have marketed 24,443 affordable apartments through Housing Connect, including 18,800 financed under HNY. The agencies also updated their guidelines to speed up the delivery of affordable housing and ensure those homes serve the New Yorkers who need them most. 

M/WBE Build Up: New program spurred 63 projects with 18,122 apartments to set and meet M/WBE participation goals that are expected to generate more than $306 million in spending. Since the program’s inception, 105 projects have been required to participate in the program for a combined expected spending amount of $481 million.

Advancing Key Initiatives of HNY 2.0

In November 2017, the administration launched Housing New York 2.0, a roadmap to achieve the accelerated and expanded goal of producing 300,000 affordable homes by 2026. Since then, HPD and HDC have made significant progress towards many of the key initiatives laid out in HNY 2.0, including:

Seniors: As part of Seniors First, a three-pronged strategy to help serve 30,000 seniors over the 12 year plan, HPD introduced Aging in Place to ensure seniors in preservation projects get the improvements they need to stay in their apartments and age in place. Last year, the City financed 1,830 apartments for seniors; bringing the total number of senior homes produced under HNY to 7,390. 

Anti-displacement: Created the new Neighborhood Pillars program to help finance the acquisition and rehabilitation of rent-stabilized and unregulated buildings, and Partners in Preservation to identify community-based organizations to develop and coordinate anti-displacement strategies with local stakeholders and tenants in targeted neighborhoods.

Mitchell-Lamas: Secured the continued affordability of 14,859 coops and apartments in Mitchell-Lama developments, including Masyrk Towers, Lindsay Park, Franklin Plaza Apartments, and Starrett City, the largest federally subsidized development in the nation. This brings the total of Mitchell-Lama homes and apartments preserved under HNY to 33,937.

Homeownership: Rolled out the new HomeFix program to connect existing homeowners to funding for repairs and counseling, and launched Open Door to build new affordable condos and coops. Last year, the City financed 10,295 homeownership opportunities for a total of 22,895 under the plan. 

Innovation: Launched ShareNYC, a new initiative to reshape the model of shared housing into a dynamic new source of affordable housing for New Yorkers, and Modular NYC to leverage the use of modular design and construction.

To learn more about how New Yorkers can apply for affordable housing, fight eviction, and freeze their rent, visit the City’s new housing web portal at



Amtrak Needs To Be More Flexible So We Can Get To “Y-E-S” ASAP For Westchester Commuters 
New Line From New Rochelle To East And South Bronx Would Offer Westchester Commuters First Ever One-Seat Ride To Manhattan’s Booming West Side, And Establish Critical New Reverse Commute Option; Will Be Huge Boon For Westchester Commuters 
 Brand New Service From New Rochelle Hub, With Four Bronx Stations, Would Create One-Seat Train Ride For East, South Bronx & Westchester To Penn Station, And Aid Reverse Commuters, Too; Reduced Travel Time, Access To Major Job Market, & Overall Convenience Will Help Drive Transportation Relief For Countless NY Commuters
Touting the significant benefits of a potential new Bronx-Westchester Metro-North transit line, that would operate on existing Amtrak tracks and tunnel, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today pushed Amtrak to “be more flexible” and work with the MTA come to an agreement on Penn Station Access as soon as possible. Schumer described the proposed project, the need for less of a hard line and more flexibility on Amtrak’s part, and the benefits Westchester commuters stand to gain as he made the case for getting this project moving faster – while also noting that none of this can happen without first rebuilding our badly damaged East River Tunnels through which all the trains would need to travel.
“The new line from New Rochelle to Manhattan’s West Side through the East Bronx would provide Westchester residents with their first ever one-seat ride to Penn Station. Simply put, this line would be a major boon for commuters coming to and from Westchester, saving time, expanding their options and creating fantastic route flexibility,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The fact that we can do it relatively affordably because it can be established on already built Amtrak tracks and the East River Tunnel, make this a compelling way to expand our transit system for beleaguered commuters.” Schumer noted, too, that, “The MTA must accelerate the repair and rebuilding of the Sandy-damaged East River tunnel, through which this line would have to run, with the $500 million I already secured from the federal FTA after the Sandy disaster.”
Schumer detailed how the MTA’s plan for starting a new Metro-North commuter rail service and four new proposed stations on Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line – at Hunts Point, Parkchester/Van Nest, Morris Park and Co-op City (all in the Bronx) – which would terminate/originate at the New Rochelle hub, and create a one-seat train ride for Westchester commuters to Manhattan’s booming West Side/Penn Station. Schumer said that the new line would, “Substantially reduce travel time, link communities to job markets, enhance economic development, and offer vital system resiliency.”
Schumer urged that, “Amtrak should take less of a hard line and instead be more flexible in their negotiations to finalize the Penn Station Access plan, including the anticipated maintenance and repair project for the Pelham Bay Bridge.” Schumer pointed out that any maintenance and/or repair of the bridge is not expected to begin for another 8-10 years, and an agreement on the cost of the project and how it should be divided can be determined at a later date, Schumer argued.
Schumer also urged Amtrak and the MTA to think creatively in their negotiations around access fees, which tenant railroads are required to pay hosts for using their trackage. Given that Amtrak and MTA share a larger regional transportation network, and are both host and tenant on different parts of that network, Schumer suggested, this could include an agreement in which the MTA provides some reciprocal value within the regional transportation network where Amtrak and the MTA share capacity such as the Hudson and Harlem Metro-North railroad lines.
"There's no need to iron out every single one of the nitty-gritty details involving access fees and maintenance of the Pelham Bay Bridge while the larger project languishes and loses momentum,” said Senator Schumer. “Let’s not keep the East Bronx and Westchester, which are clamoring for this project, waiting any longer than they already have. Amtrak and the MTA can come together now and agree to get this project on track – and sort out the finer details when the time comes. MTA and Amtrak share a lot of the railroad lines in the Greater New York area. Sometimes, MTA is the tenant; other times, Amtrak is. Amtrak should think creatively and consider what MTA could do on their Metro-North lines or elsewhere to provide value to Amtrak in exchange for Penn Station Access. This project isn't occurring in isolation; it's part of a complex regional transportation network, where both parties can and should continue their mutually beneficial relationship," Schumer explained.  
“My constituents in both the Bronx and Westchester deserve to have greater rail access, which not only will improve travel and reduce pollution, but will also provide economic benefits to the entire region. I’m proud to once again join Senator Schumer and all of my colleagues in government in calling on Amtrak to get on board with us and move this project forward,” said Congressman Eliot Engel.
“The strong bipartisan support for Penn Station Access speaks to the absolute necessity of the project. Penn Station Access will provide much-needed relief for commuters, saving them significant amounts of time and money by connecting Westchester and Manhattan’s west side. It will also improve transportation capacity and resiliency and drive economic growth throughout the region. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners at all levels of government to secure Amtrak’s cooperation in moving this project forward,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey
“Access to Penn Station is advantageous for those who live in Westchester along the Sound Shore and need to commute to the Bronx or parts of Manhattan for work, making those communities even more attractive to live in and raising property values in the process. This project would significantly revitalize our region through its creation of a one-seat ride into Penn Station from Westchester for the first time ever. Not only would this save significant time and money for hard-working commuters, it would also alleviate congestion issues at Grand Central Terminal while providing flexibility to the thousands who commute from the Bronx to Westchester each day,” said George Latimer, Westchester County Executive.
"Penn Access is vital to the economy, environment, and even security of our region.  It will help foster job growth and transit-oriented development throughout the Bronx and Westchester, while also reducing travel times for commuters and providing New Yorkers with a more resilient transportation system in the event of emergencies.  We applaud Senator Schumer for his leadership on this essential priority and call on Amtrak to partner with the MTA to complete Penn Access as quickly as possible” said Noam Bramson, Mayor of New Rochelle. 
Assemblyman Steve Otis (D-Rye) added, "Penn Station Access is a key change that will give commuters on the New Haven line more options and relieve overcrowding on some trains. Senator Schumer's advocacy on this issue has been important to making sure Penn Station Access becomes a reality."
"I commend Senator Schumer for his persistent efforts to broker a solution between Amtrak and the MTA, so we can move forward on the Penn Access Project. This project will greatly expand transportation options and resiliency for Westchester residents and NYC residents working in Westchester. With so much at stake, it is essential that the Amtrak and the MTA find a solution to this impasse" said New York State Senator Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers).
Schumer also noted that Penn Station Access is contingent on the completion of repairs to the East River Tunnels, which were badly damaged by millions of gallons of floodwater during Superstorm Sandy, and the larger East Side Access program. Previously, Schumer secured $432 million in unused Sandy relief funds for repairs to the East River Tunnels; the federal funds were awarded as part of an $800 million allotment of funding for transportation infrastructure resiliency projects. In 2016, following Schumer’s push, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released these funds to the MTA, which committed to use the money to advance repairs in the East River Tunnels.
According to Amtrak reports, corrosive damage from the storm continue to impact the East River Tunnels and will likely lead to an increase in delays and equipment breakdowns, with these problems growing worse as time goes on if repairs are not made as soon as possible. In order for this new East Bronx service launch to be successful, the East River Tunnels and East Side Access program must move forward first.  
In November, Schumer sent a letter to Amtrak and the MTA to make the case for Penn Station Access and increased Metro-North access for the people of East and South Bronx and Westchester. The letter, which appears below, also urged Amtrak and MTA to continue their ongoing work with the East Side Access program and on the badly damaged East River Tunnels, through which this new line would travel.
November 2, 2018
Richard H. Anderson
President and Chief Executive Officer
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)
1 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Joseph L. Lhota
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
2 Broadway
New York, NY 10004
Dear Mr. Anderson and Mr. Lhota:
We write to express support for increased Metro-North access for the people of East and South Bronx and urge your agencies to continue to accelerate your work together to develop a reasonable timeline for launching this new commuter service with all due speed. It is critical, of course, that this new service not be designed or implemented in a way that diminishes any existing mass transit, regional or intercity rail service. As you know, MTA’s plans for starting new Metro-North commuter rail service and four new proposed stations on Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line – at Hunts Point, Parkchester/Van Nest, Morris Park and Co-op City – would create a one-seat train ride for East and South Bronx and parts of Westchester which will substantially reduce travel time, link communities to job markets, enhance economic development and offer vital system resiliency. It is the history of New York, and especially the Bronx, that transit development is linked to job and community development, and expanding Metro-North to the East and South Bronx will increase service to areas that lack adequate mass transportation connections into Manhattan as well as into Westchester and Connecticut. We believe expanding mass transit options can spark job growth and will reduce commute times and benefit the whole region.
Given the interdependencies of Amtrak’s and MTA’s ongoing work with the East Side Access program and the East River Tunnel repairs, as well as the enormous complexity of operations at Penn Station, it is imperative your entities work together to develop an acceptable design, realistic schedule, appropriate cost-sharing and feasible work plan that allows for the completion of ongoing projects – as well as the necessary construction activities to support the introduction of this rail service serving the East and South Bronx as soon as possible. We expect MTA and Amtrak to work together in good faith and consistent with federal law to forge an agreement for all necessary infrastructure to implement this vital service, including the stations and necessary track and Pelham Bay Bridge work.
We have seen – and hundreds of thousands of New York commuters have directly experienced – what can happen when the transit agencies in charge of this infrastructure cannot or do not stay on top of needed investments and repairs. Superstorm Sandy badly damaged the tunnels serving Penn Station, including the East River Tunnels, with approximately 14 million gallons of floodwaters. It is of utmost urgency to the commuters of Long Island, and beyond, that the East River Tunnels be repaired and upgraded – as has already occurred on a number of vital vehicle and mass transit tunnels. According to Amtrak reports, corrosive damage from the storm continue to impact the East River Tunnels and will likely lead to an increase in delays and equipment breakdowns, with these problems growing worse as time goes on if repairs are not made as soon as possible. This is why we fought so hard to pass the original $64 billion Sandy relief Bill, and later fought to prevent certain transit money from this legislation from being spent in projects outside of New York – so that, instead, these funds could be spent to repair the East River Tunnels. As we understand it, the timeline for the East River Tunnel repairs is dependent on the completion of the East Side Access program and both projects must be completed, in conjunction with the construction of infrastructure and capacity elements identified under the Penn Access Project, in order for the new East Bronx service launch to be successful.
As mentioned, after considerable effort, we secured $432 million in Sandy relief funds that can be used by the MTA for the vital repairs to the East River Tunnels and these funds specifically seek to supplement funds that Amtrak has received from insurance settlements for this work. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released these funds to the MTA at our urging. It is our expectation that the MTA will make the full financial commitment needed to advance the East River Tunnel Repairs and work with Amtrak to develop a schedule for this work and related operations that permits it to advance quickly.
We cannot overstate the importance of each of these projects and the need to advance them quickly. Given the hundreds of thousands of commuters who depend on this link, and its central relationship to the health of the regional economy, failure is not an option. While we are sensitive to the wide variety of other issues facing both Amtrak and the MTA, the completion of all aspects of the East Side Access program, the repairs to the East River Tunnels, the launch of a new East Bronx service, and the continued management of the complex operations at Penn Station all require tight, constant and professional coordination between your agencies. We continue to ask you articulate a clear plan for the commencement and completion of these projects; that you reach agreement on the necessary commercial and access terms for use of Amtrak’s property, set ambitious deadlines to get the work done; and share these plans with the riding public. We are confident that, working together, you can create a reasonable timeline and work plan that provides the necessary investments, repairs, and benefits New York commuter deserve.
We appreciate your attention to this issue, should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact our offices.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator

The above is a press release from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer unedited. It appears that Senator Schumer's  appearance in the Coop-City section of the Bronx was to help his real agenda to get Westchester County better Metro North service on the backs of the people of the Bronx. 

The main stumbling block to this new (Westchester County/East Side of Manhattan) Metro North service is the repair of a bridge in the Bronx (which was close to where Senator Schumer held his press conference), that must be repaired if Metro North was to introduce this new train service. 

We now see Senator Schumer's real reason why he held this press conference, and that was for the benefit of people in Westchester County.

DiNapoli: State Pays Drug Treatment Center Nearly $4 Million for Ineligible Expenses

A national drug and alcohol treatment provider was able to collect $3.9 million in ineligible payments due to the processing of invalid claims and inadequate oversight by the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
"Phoenix House is contracted to provide services to New Yorkers who are trying to overcome substance abuse problems, but it requested and received funding it was not entitled to,” said DiNapoli. “Our audit revealed that millions of dollars were claimed and spent on ineligible costs. Officials from the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services must recoup this money, which should have been used for cost-effective addiction services to New Yorkers.”
OASAS, which oversees one of the nation’s largest programs for the prevention and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse, signed a five-year $47.6 million contract with Phoenix House New York (PHNY) in 2009 to provide outpatient, inpatient, and residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment services at several facilities in the New York metropolitan area. The state’s contract with PHNY was renewed in 2014 for another five-year term (July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2019) at a total cost of $51.4 million.
Auditors examined a three-year period ending June 30, 2016 and determined that PHNY received reimbursement for expenses that did not comply with the contract. This included approximately $2.9 million in unallowable or unsupported parent organization administrative expenses.
For example, PHNY's parent organization periodically allocates its administrative costs to its affiliates throughout the country. When an affiliate in one state did not have the revenue to fund their share of these costs, the parent organization reallocated a portion to PHNY and New York was billed for the other state's share. All told, New York was billed $850,000 for these costs.

In addition, PHNY received reimbursement from OASAS for expenses deemed to be ineligible under the contract. This included:
  • Equipment and property depreciation of about $700,000;
  • Unsupported employee salaries and raises totaling about $500,000;
  • Fundraising costs of about $400,000;
  • More than $200,000 paid to the foundation's public policy office and outside lobbyists; and
  • Entertainment and party expenses of about $12,700.
DiNapoli recommended OASAS take steps to recoup the $3.9 million from PHNY and take steps to establish better monitoring to ensure that only properly supported claims that are for contractually-approved expenses are approved.
The response from OASAS officials, who requested the audit by OSC, is included in the final report. The audit can be found online at

Friday, January 18, 2019


Winter Storm Watch in effect for New York City Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening

Snow and a wintry mix of sleet, freezing rain and rain are possible, with frigid temperatures to end the weekend

  The New York City Emergency Management Department today issued a hazardous travel advisory for Saturday evening through Monday, January 21. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Winter Storm Watch for New York City in effect from noon Saturday through 6 p.m. Sunday, January 20. A Winter Storm Watch means there is potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may cause difficult travel conditions. New Yorkers should prepare for snow covered roads and limited visibility. Commuters are advised to avoid travel Saturday night through Monday, as roads will be dangerous.

According to the latest NWS forecast, light snow may develop Saturday afternoon, becoming heavier Saturday evening. Snow will continue overnight, transitioning to a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain. By sunrise Sunday, the wintry mix may transition to moderate to heavy rain, continuing through the afternoon. Rain is expected to taper off mid to late Sunday afternoon, though a lingering shower is possible. A total of 2 to 6 inches of snow accumulation is possible with this event, with higher totals of up to 7 inches possible in northern parts of the city.

Temperatures are also expected to plummet throughout the day on Sunday, according to NWS. The steady drop in temperatures will cause any liquid on the roads to flash freeze, making travel extremely dangerous. New Yorkers are advised to avoid travel on Sunday. Temperatures begin to drop on Sunday from the 30s to single digits, with wind chill values as low as between zero and -10 degrees. Temperatures Monday will be in the teens, with sub-zero wind chill values. Wind chill values Monday night will be as low as -10. High winds are also in the forecast Sunday, with gusts up to 45 mph.

A Coastal Flood Watch is also in effect for southern Queens from late Saturday night through Sunday morning. A Coastal Flood Watch means that conditions favorable for flooding are expected to develop. Some roads and low-lying property including parking lots, parks, lawns, and homes or businesses near the waterfront may experience flooding, and widespread to moderate coastal flooding is possible. Coastal residents should be alert for later statements or warnings, and take action to protect property.

“New York City Emergency Management is working closely with the National Weather Service and key city agencies to monitor and coordinate the City’s preparations ahead of this weekend’s storm,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “The combination of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and the quick drop in temperatures will cause extremely dangerous road conditions. We are advising all New Yorkers to avoid all unnecessary travel and stay off the roads on Saturday through Monday.”

“Our Department is completely ready for this weekend’s winter storm,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “Our salt spreaders are fully loaded and ready to go, and our plows are ready to hit the streets once about two inches of snow has fallen. Additionally, our Sanitation Workers are working 12 hour “split shifts,” ensuring we have coverage around the clock. Importantly, we encourage drivers to stay off the roads to allow us to fully treat the streets around the city.”

“Hundreds of DOT staff are working closely with our sister agencies in preparation for this weekend’s winter storm,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.  “The combination of snow and dropping temperatures will make road conditions extremely dangerous. While DOT strives to keep New Yorkers moving safely, our best advice to anybody who must travel this weekend is to leave their cars at home and use public transportation.”

“Cold temperatures and wet winter weather can be dangerous for anyone, but particularly individuals at higher risk for hypothermia, such as those who are homeless, those without heat at home, and those who drink heavily or use drugs and become incapacitated outdoors,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Spend as much time indoors as possible this weekend and if you must go outside, please dress warmly. If you are without heat at home, call 311.  Stay alert for signs of hypothermia, like intense shivering or dizziness, and if you experience them, seek medical attention or call 911.”

NYC Emergency Management will continue to work closely with NWS and key city agency to monitor and coordinate preparations for the weekend’s storm. The City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will open Saturday afternoon. Key agencies and partners will staff the EOC to coordinate any response to potential impacts associated with the forecast.

NYC Emergency Management

·       NYC Emergency Management is hosting daily conference calls with City and state agencies to coordinate the City’s preparations for the weekend’s storm.
·       NYC Emergency Management continues to update elected officials with the latest information regarding the weekend’s storm.
·       LinkNYC is displaying winter storm messaging.
·       NYC Emergency Management has issued Advance Warning System (AWS) messaging to partners organizations that service New Yorkers with disability and access and functional needs.
·       NYC Emergency Management has activated the Downed Tree Task Force. This multi agency task force is responsible for coordinating the response to a large downed tree event.
·       NYC Emergency Management has activated the Tow Truck Task Force, a NYPD unit assigned to mitigate vehicles blocking roads for critical response vehicles.
·       New York City Emergency Management will activate the Emergency Operations Center at 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday.
·       NYC Emergency Management has activated the City’s Flash Flood Emergency Plan to ensure a quick, effective, and coordinated preparation and response to any flash flood events.  NYC Emergency Management works closely with NYPD, FDNY, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to mitigate the impact of flash floods. These actions include pre-inspecting and clearing catch basins in vulnerable locations throughout the city. New Yorkers are encouraged to report clogged catch basins and areas of standing water to 311.

Department of Sanitation
·       The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is readying 695 salt spreaders across the five boroughs. DSNY will activate PlowNYC and will dispatch 1600 plows if more than two inches of snow accumulates on roadways.
·       DSNY will assign 2,300 workers to split 12-hour shifts through the weekend.
·       Residents should follow their normal collection schedule and place their material on the curb. There may be delays in collection during snow operations.

Department of Transportation
·       DOT’s Bridges Division will pre-deploy crews to East River Bridges.
·       Crews will pre-salt and monitor Municipal Parking lots, and will address conditions as needed.
·       DOT’s Arterial, Parking and Citywide Concrete Units, will pre-salt and monitor pedestrian overpasses, muni lots and step streets.
·       Crews from JC Decaux have pre-treated all city bus shelters and are monitoring bus shelters citywide. 
·       DOT’s Ferry Division will pre-salt and clear walkways at the ferry terminal. Ferry vessels are currently expected to operate on a normal schedule, but passengers are advised to allow extra time for travel.
·       DOT will monitor conditions on the citywide Transportation network at the Joint Transportation Management Center with State DOT and NYPD, and coordinate efforts to address any issues.

Economic Development Corporation/NYC Ferry

·       NYC Ferry service is currently anticipated to operate on a normal schedule this weekend, including Monday, January 21 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. However, due to impending winter storm conditions, riders are advised to prepare for possible cancellations or delays. Please allow for extra travel time and check the NYC Ferry app and website for real-time updates. You can also sign up for push notifications by selecting your preferred routes within the notification section of the NYC Ferry app.

Department of Parks and Recreation

·       NYC Parks is readying its plow vehicles, salt spreaders, snow blowers and brushes for snow removal as needed. Parks prioritizes snow removal in areas like park perimeters and commuter hubs; once perimeter sidewalks are complete, Parks will clear interior pathways.
·       NYC Parks is readying forestry staff to respond to any tree emergencies.


NYCHA Heat Staff work regularly from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The agency has also activated a Heat Desk to have staff on site 24/7 to respond to any service interruptions citywide through the end of Heating Season. In preparation for this weekend, NYCHA has taken additional measures.

·       Increasing heating response teams to 14, with two shifts operating from 8 a.m. to midnight on Sunday, one shift from midnight to 5 a.m. on Monday, with a regular heat staff schedule from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The teams will be stationed in every borough and will be dispatched across the City as needed;
·       Increasing coverage by third-party vendors that now manage several of NYCHA’s heating plants across the city;
·       Skilled trades staff — including plumbers and electricians — will be available to respond to more advanced or technical needs for service restoration; and
·       Opening 12 warming centers across the city on Monday for residents experiencing heat issues while staff work on repairs.

Department of Environmental Protection

·       The Department of Environmental Protection will deploy resources to assist the NYC Department of Sanitation with snow removal and will pre-position staff to ensure critical wastewater treatment and drinking water functions continue without interruption.
·       Department of Environmental Protection crews will be pre-inspecting catch basins in flood prone areas to ensure they are free of debris and draining properly.  Additional crews will be in the field on Sunday to ensure catch basins are not blocked by snow.  New Yorkers are encouraged to help keep catch basins clear to allow for proper roadway drainage.  If a catch basin is blocked or not draining residents should report it to 311.
·       With temperatures expected to plummet from Sunday into Monday, property owners are also encouraged to protect their water pipes that may be located in unheated spaces.

Department of Buildings

The Department of Buildings (DOB) has issued a weather advisory to remind property owners, contractors, and crane operators to take precautionary measures and secure their construction sites, buildings, and equipment during high winds, with forecast wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour and the potential for ice accumulations on cranes and worksites beginning Saturday, January 19 through Monday, January 21. The department will perform random spot-check inspections of construction sites around the city. If sites are not secured, the department will take immediate enforcement action — issuing violations and Stop Work Orders, where necessary. To safeguard construction sites, builders, contractors, and developers should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following:
·       Tie down and secure material and loose debris at construction sites.
·       Cover electrical equipment from exposure to the weather.
·       Store loose tools, oil cans, and extra fuses in a toolbox.
·       Secure netting, scaffolding, and sidewalk sheds.
·       Suspend crane operations and secure crane equipment when wind speeds reach 30 mph or greater.
·       Suspend hoist operations and secure exterior hoists when wind speeds reach 35 mph or greater, unless manufacturer specifications state otherwise.
·       Brace and secure construction fences.         
·       Call 911 if there is an emergency on a construction site.
Buildings Bulletin 2015-029 outlines the requirements for vertical netting, debris netting and material-fall protection devices at buildings and construction sites. To view this bulletin, click here.

To secure a building, property owners should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following:

·       Bring inside loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, garden tools, and toys.
·       Anchor objects that would be unsafe outside, such as gas grills or propane tanks.
·       Close up and secure patio umbrellas.
·       Secure retractable awnings.
·       Remove aerial antennas and satellite television dishes.
·       Pay attention to local weather forecasts and bulletins issued by the National Weather Service on local radio stations.
·       Beware of falling braches if you are near trees.
Housing Preservation and Development

Residential building owners are legally required to maintain indoor temperatures at 68 degrees when the temperatures fall below 55 degrees outside during the day and a minimum of 62 degrees indoors overnight, regardless of outdoor temperatures. If an apartment lacks appropriate heat, a tenant should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should register an official complaint via 311. Tenants can call 311, visit 311 ONLINE at, or use the 311Mobile app (on Android and iOS devices) to file a complaint. Hearing-impaired tenants can register complaints via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf TDD at (212) 504-4115.The center is open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will take measures to ensure that the building owner is complying with the law. This may include contacting the building’s owner and/or sending an inspector to verify the complaint and issue a violation directing the owner to restore heat and hot water if appropriate. If the owner fails to comply and does not restore service, HPD may initiate repairs through its Emergency Repair Program and bill the landlord for the cost of the work. HPD may also initiate legal action against properties that are issued heat violations, and owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum litigation penalties and continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies.

Take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm until heat returns, including:

Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while the heat is out.
Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing.
If you have a well-maintained working fireplace and use it for heat and light, be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation. Never use a fireplace without a screen.
If the cold persists and your heat is not restored call family, neighbors, or friends to see if you can stay with them.
Do not use your oven or fuel-burning space heaters to heat your home. These can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell.
Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.

Code Blue

A Code Blue Weather Emergency notice is issued when the temperature is forecast to drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., including National Weather Service calculations for wind chill values.  No one who is homeless and seeking shelter in New York City during a Code Blue will be denied. Should you see an individual who appears to be homeless and in need out in the cold, please call 311 and an outreach team will be dispatched to offer assistance. During Code Blue Weather emergencies, experienced outreach teams work to connect homeless New Yorkers with the following resources:

·       Shelters: During a Code Blue, shelter is available system-wide to accommodate anyone who is reasonably believed to be homeless and is brought to a shelter by outreach teams. Accommodations are also available for walk-ins.
·       Drop-in centers: All drop-in centers are open 24-hours per day, including when Code Blue procedures are in effect, and will assist as many people as possible for the duration of the emergency. Drop-in staff and the dedicated outreach teams they work closely with each day can also make arrangements for homeless individuals at other citywide facilities.
·       Safe havens and stabilization beds: Chronically homeless individuals may be transported directly to these low-threshold housing programs.
·       Street homeless outreach: Teams will contact vulnerable individuals on their Code Blue Priority Lists a minimum of once every four (4) hours beginning at 8 p.m. during Code Blue Alerts and once every two (2) hours beginning at 8 p.m. for Enhanced Code Blue Alerts to encourage them to accept services, including transportation to a shelter placement. DSS coordinates borough-level Code Blue efforts directly with partner City agencies, including but not limited to NYPD, DSNY, and the Parks Department.
Cold weather can cause or worsen health problems. Certain individuals, including the unsheltered homeless, people with disabilities and those with access and functional needs are at an increased risk for injuries, illness or death. Others at an increased risk also include people who drink heavily or use drugs and become incapacitated outdoors, or those who live in homes without heat, and:
·       Are 65 years of age or older.
·       Are infants.
·       Have certain medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.
·       Have serious mental health conditions or developmental disabilities.
To learn more about winter weather safety, visit the Health Department’s interactive online infographic.

Prolonged exposure to cold can lead to frostbite – which often results in red and painful or pale skin – and hypothermia.  Symptoms of hypothermia include:
·       Intense shivering
·       Dizziness
·       Trouble speaking
·       Lack of coordination
·       Sluggishness or drowsiness
·       Confusion
·       Shallow breathing
If you see symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite, call 911 and follow instructions, or go to the emergency room.
Safety Tips

·       New Yorkers are advised to avoid unnecessary travel. If you must travel, use mass transit where possible.
·       Small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorist and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces.
·       If you drive, use extra caution. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
·       Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they stop less quickly than other vehicles.
·       Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible.
·       Know your vehicle’s braking system. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes require a different braking technique than vehicles without anti-lock brakes in snowy conditions.
·       If you are driving and begin to skid, ease your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. Straighten the wheel when the car moves in the desired direction. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
·       Try to keep your vehicle’s gas tank as full as possible.
·       Pedestrians should exercise caution and avoid slippery surfaces; some ice may not be visible. Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.
·       Seniors should take extra care outdoors to avoid slips and falls.
·       Have heightened awareness of cars, particularly when approaching or crossing intersections.
·       Be careful when shoveling snow. Follow your doctor’s advice if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart.
·       If you go outdoors, wear dry, warm clothing and cover exposed skin. Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered. Wear a hat, hood, scarf, and gloves.
·       Shivering is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Shivering is a signal to return indoors.
·       Be safe at work. Workers who spend a lot of time outdoors are at risk for cold-related health impacts. If you are an employer, implement safe work practices, provide appropriate protective equipment, and train workers on how to stay safe during cold and winter weather.
·       Limit alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol may make you feel warmer but it causes your body to lose heat faster. Alcohol also impairs your judgment, which limits your ability to take appropriate precautions or remove yourself from a dangerously cold environment in time. As a result, alcohol actually increases your chances of hypothermia and frostbite.

Power Outages

·       To prepare for a possible power outage, charge cell phone batteries, gather supplies, and turn your refrigerator and freezer to a colder setting. If you lose power, items that need refrigeration will stay cooler for longer.
·       If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload.
·       Make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios or televisions are working. Keep extra batteries.
·       If you lose power & have a disability, access and functional needs or use Life Sustaining Equipment (LSE) & need immediate assistance, dial 911.
·       Do not use generators indoors.
·       Heavy accumulations of ice can bring down trees and topple utility poles. Ice can disrupt communications and power.

For more safety tips, visit New Yorkers are also encouraged to download the Notify NYC mobile application, which is available for free download from iTunes or Google Play. Notify NYC is the City’s free emergency notification system. Through Notify NYC, New Yorkers can also receive phone calls, text messages, and/or email alerts about weather conditions and other emergencies. To learn more about the Notify NYC program or to sign up, visit or call 311. You can also follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.