Saturday, February 9, 2019

Chief of Department on the Police-involved Shooting in the 44 Precinct, Bronx

  Chief of Department Terence Monahan.

February 4, 2019.

At approximately 11 a.m. today, officers from the 44 Precinct were made aware of a stolen vehicle wanted in connection to a violent citywide robbery pattern that was located in the vicinity of 162 Street and Sheridan Avenue.
The pattern was being actively investigated by our Central Robbery Division, and involved a violent crime spree that went across three boroughs. It began yesterday morning at 6 a.m. in the 41 Precinct, with a carjacking. The suspects then drove to the 13 Precinct in Manhattan, where they committed a robbery.
The suspects then traveled to the 61 Precinct in Brooklyn, where they allegedly committed an additional two robberies and carjacked another vehicle, a black Hyundai Sonata. This car was being tracked by our Central Robbery Division using our Domain Awareness System. A license plate reader connected to this system triggered an alert for that vehicle here in the 44 Precinct just before 11 a.m.
This alert was brought to the attention of 44 Precinct personnel, who began to search for the vehicle in this immediate vicinity. Moments later, uniformed officers from the 44 Precinct observed the vehicle double parked in front of 909 Sheridan Avenue. They also observed three individuals approach the vehicle and get inside.
At this time, uniformed officers assigned to the 44 Precinct approached the vehicle. One of the uniformed officers approached the vehicle from the driver's side. The suspect's vehicle suddenly began to drive in reverse, pinning the officer between the suspect's vehicle and another parked vehicle.
The officer then discharged her service weapon in the direction of the vehicle, striking the driver. The vehicle came to a stop and all three occupants of the vehicle were taken into custody. The officer has been taken to an area hospital and is being treated for injuries to the hip area and legs.
One other officer sustained an injury to their left hand during the incident. The driver of the vehicle was taken to Lincoln Hospital with gunshot wounds to her chest and left side of her torso, where they are listed in critical but stable condition.
In addition to the robbery pattern I've already mentioned, it should be noted two of the suspects arrested today were also arrested for the involvement in an additional carjacking and robbery on January 22nd in the Bronx. This investigation is ongoing and we will keep you apprised of updates as they happen.

Member of Brooklyn Street Gang, Cypress Gansta Crips, Sentenced to 30 Years’ Imprisonment for Murder of a Bloods-Affiliated Rival

  Tyvon Bannister, also known as “Turtle,” a member of the Crips-affiliated Cypress Gangsta Crips (CGC) street gang, was sentenced by United States District Judge Brian M. Cogan to 30 years’ imprisonment following his conviction for the July 8, 2014 murder of Rayvon Henreques.  Bannister pleaded guilty in May 2018.

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 sentence.
“With today’s sentence, Bannister will spend decades in prison for callously ending the life of a 26-year-old man simply because he was associated with a rival gang,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “This Office will continue working tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to make our community safe by eradicating these destructive street gangs and holding their violent members accountable.”
“The primary mission of the NYPD and our law enforcement partners is to arrest, prosecute, and send away with a meaningful prison sentence anyone who instills fear in New Yorkers through their criminal actions. With this sentence today, the result of our efforts are tangible. I thank our colleagues at the Eastern District and the FBI for their unceasing professionalism and dedicated work in removing from our streets those who commit crime and disorder, especially when it’s in the form of gang violence,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill.
Bannister is a member of the CGC, which is comprised of individuals residing in and around the Cypress Hills Houses (“Cypress”), a large New York City Housing Authority complex in East New York, Brooklyn.  Cypress has been plagued by gang and drug-related violence arising largely from a long-standing feud between the CGC and a local Bloods-affiliated gang.  On July 8, 2014, Bannister and another gang member shot and killed Henriques in front of a nightclub in East New York.  Henriques was targeted because of his association with the Bloods-affiliated gang.     
The Defendant:
TYVON BANNISTER (also known as “Turtle”)
Age:  25
Brooklyn, New York

Attorney General James Continues Efforts To Defend Temporary Protected Status Holders

Files Amicus Brief in Support of TPS Recipients in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 

  New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced joining a coalition of 22 Attorneys General in filing an amicus brief in Ramos v. Nielsen to prevent the potential deportation of hundreds of thousands of people who hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This brief asks the Ninth Circuit to uphold the preliminary nationwide injunction that plaintiffs obtained in the district court, blocking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from terminating TPS designations for Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Sudan. 

“Immigrant New Yorkers are critical to the economic and cultural strength of our state,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “The Trump Administration continues to take away the vital protections for these communities, and as a result, is putting their safety and wellbeing at risk. My office will continue to use every resource at our disposal to protect New York’s vast immigrant communities.” 
TPS protects individuals who are in the United States and whose home countries face armed conflict, natural disasters, or other crises that make the return of TPS holders to their home countries unsafe. Many TPS holders have lived here for a decade or more and have started families and businesses, bought homes, and significantly contributed to their communities. 
Under the Trump Administration, DHS changed its long-standing practice of looking at the entirety of the conditions in a country when determining whether it is safe for TPS holders to return. Without any substantial explanation, DHS argued that it can only look at the original condition in the home country that prompted its TPS designation when deciding whether to extend that designation. This new policy ignores other intervening conditions that pose serious threats to the safety of TPS holders. The plaintiffs in this case alleged that DHS enacted its new rule without following legal requirements; the district court agreed and stopped DHS from implementing the new policy pending the final outcome of the case. 
The amicus brief notes that DHS’s new rule is contrary to the public interest and will harm the people of New York and other states in a number of ways, including its impact on: 
  • Family members, including hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizen children, who will suffer trauma and hardship from unnecessary and forced separation; 
  • The economy and the workforce, which are enriched by the employment, entrepreneurship and contributions of TPS holders; 
  • Public revenues, which are enhanced by the taxes contributed by TPS holders, including an estimated $100 million in property taxes collected annually from Salvadoran homeowners with TPS alone; 
  • Health and child care delivery, which will suffer from disruptions in care provided by TPS holders who work at child care facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals, as well as provide in-home care; 
  • Public health, which will be hindered by the loss of employer-sponsored insurance for TPS holders and their families; and 
  • Public safety, which will be damaged by making former TPS holders less likely to report crime. 
In the brief, the states also argue that the district court’s decision to enter the preliminary injunction on a nationwide basis was correct, based on the substantial evidence the court had before it regarding the national impact of the federal government’s decisions to rescind TPS designations. 
Attorney General James joined the filing of this brief along with Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. 
A copy of the amicus brief is available here. 

Comptroller Stringer Statement on Mayor de Blasio’s FY20 Preliminary Budget

“New Yorkers depend on the City to enact a balanced, progressive budget that supports the critical social services our most vulnerable citizens depend on – from childcare to education, from senior centers to affordable housing.
“To ensure we can always provide a strong social safety net means also preparing the City for potentially tougher times ahead. That’s why we cannot continue to spend $3 billion a year on homelessness – without reducing the homeless population. That’s why we cannot continue to spend more money at Rikers Island for fewer detainees – but see violent incidents rise ever higher.
“While New York’s economy remains strong for now, there are many warning signs – from the State’s $2.3 billion budget gap, to the recent volatility in the markets, rising jobless claims and a looming trade war. I’m happy to see that the Mayor plans to implement what I’ve been calling for now for several years, which is a real agency PEG program. It’s past time for City agencies to seriously evaluate how effective their spending really is in achieving results for New Yorkers. I look forward to working with the Mayor and the City Council to ensure we have a budget that works for all New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs. My office is currently reviewing the preliminary budget and will release a comprehensive analysis in the coming weeks.”

Stringer Investigation: New Documents Show MTA Ignored Warnings and Misled Public for Years with Subway Delay Data

As far back as 2015, agency insiders criticized delay data as “suspect,” “incomplete or unreliable,” but agency chiefs still trumpeted misleading stats
MTA’s new “Major Incidents” metric similarly misleads by failing to account for incidents caused by planned work on subway tracks or signals
Stringer blasts MTA’s “Culture of Concealment,” urges more transparency in current data reporting
  Relying on internal MTA documents never released publicly, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer today released a damning investigation that reveals how the MTA has misrepresented its performance and delay data for years and shifted the focus from the subways’ real operational problems. Shockingly, these practices endured despite repeated warnings from agency insiders that much of the delay data released to the public was all but meaningless. The investigation, based on internal documents primarily prepared by the MTA’s Performance Analysis Unit, as well as interviews with key MTA officials, makes clear that a history of distorted metrics has prevented transparency into what is going on underground in our subways. More specifically, the investigation found that the MTA failed to provide clear guidance on how to identify the causes of millions of delays, relied on distorted metrics to report system progress, and hid delay data where causes were unknown.
“It is an insult to anyone who has ever been late to work or stranded at the station that MTA leadership passed along bogus delay data just to make the agency look good, even as its own staff were raising red flags,” said Comptroller Stringer. “While the new leadership deserves credit for trying to clean things up, the MTA still has a long way to go to ensure accuracy and reliability and to regain the public’s trust. For too long the MTA has failed to transparently report what is actually going on underground, a problem which can only mean more delays and more frustration for the working New Yorkers who rely on the subway every day.”
The Comptroller’s investigation found:
Incomplete and Unreliable Delay Data
From mid-2015 forward, numerous in-house MTA analyses concluded that the Authority’s internal systems could not accurately identify the causes of delays and, in particular, chronically misattributed delays to “Overcrowding.” A July 2015 internal MTA memo described the methodological breakdowns in stark terms: “No policy or guidance exists on how dispatchers should properly identify the cause of a particular delay or on how delays should be assigned to incidents… Dispatchers rely on train crews to report the cause of delays, and these explanations are suspect.”
Meanwhile, in January 2016, another memo noted that “much of the delay data is incomplete or unreliable, particularly the classification/categorization of delays and the assignment of delays to particular incidents.” Despite multiple warnings, MTA officials continued for years to publicly promote misleading information around delays, resulting in the agency being portrayed in a more positive light.
Meaningless and Disappearing “Wait Assessment” Results
Throughout 2016, MTA officials repeatedly asserted that subway service was improving based on apparent increases in “Wait Assessment” scores, a metric intended to measure the reliability and consistency of train service and touted by the MTA as its most important indicator of customer service quality.
However, internal analyses obtained by the Comptroller’s Office showed MTA analysts warning that alleged improvements in “Wait Assessment” were statistically insignificant and likely the result of “sample error.” After technological advancements in data collection finally made clear that “Wait Assessment” scores had actually gotten worse, not better, the MTA quietly stopped touting the metric without ever acknowledging that the prior reporting had been incorrect.
Hidden “Unknown” Delay Causes
For nearly a decade, the MTA further distorted its disclosures by effectively hiding delays it had chalked up internally to “Unknown” causes. Instead of publicly listing these delays simply as “Unknown” in a separate category, MTA officials folded them into other publicly identified delay causes – burying the “Unknowns” without any explanation.
In this way, in Monthly Operations Reports provided to the public and the MTA Board from 2013 through mid-2018, the MTA hid 525,710 delays internally grouped under “Unknown.”
Flaws in New Metrics
Similar to the MTA’s misattribution of “Unknown” delays, the MTA’s current reporting of “Major Incidents” – defined as any event that delays 50 or more trains – conceals critical information. Specifically, “Major Incidents” exclude a large category of service disruptions tracked internally by the MTA – “Planned Work,” which includes track and signal maintenance that regularly bogs down whole subway lines. To date, the MTA has yet to acknowledge publicly that its “Major Incidents” metric excludes such work and, as such, fails to capture what is actually going on underground.
Under New York City Transit President Andy Byford, the MTA has recently acknowledged some of these issues, introduced reforms, and begun to reduce delays. Yet the report reveals systemic deficiencies, some of which remain embedded in the MTA’s performance reporting and continue to obscure the true causes of delays.
Comptroller Stringer is calling on the MTA to:
  • Structure public reporting of delay data to maximize transparency, reliability and accountability.
  • Publicly define all delay categories, specifically indicating what each one includes and, as necessary, omits.
  • Ensure that all protocols relevant to performance reporting are formally codified in official policies and procedures, including establishing written definitions and instructions for all key terms, data categories, and work protocols.
  • Adequately train all relevant personnel on protocols relevant to performance reporting.
  • In the context of public reports of “Major Incidents,” provide the public with information about all categories of service disruptions tracked as incidents within its Subway Incident Reporting System (SIRS) that cause 50 or more delays, including specifically “Planned Work.”
  • Transparently disclose in each Monthly Operations Report and on the MTA’s subway performance dashboard, the methodologies used to calculate performance metrics, including all exceptions and revisions to those methodologies, and including methodological weaknesses.
  • Make available on the MTA’s website or through an Open Data portal each month all data in the SIRS database and any other databases relied on for public reporting.
To read the full findings of Comptroller Stringer’s investigation, click here.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Endorses Michael Blake for Public Advocate

"No one will do a better job representing us as Public Advocate than Assemblyman Michael Blake. His work in the Assembly on issues that our community cares about from schools to the M.T.A. show me that he will make a difference. Michael already does a lot of the work that a Public Advocate should do, and, we need to bring out a strong vote for him in the northwest Bronx in the special election on February 26th,"-Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

Standing on the right side of the issues.
Assemblyman Michael Blake is the only one of the 17 candidates for Public Advocate who lives in the Bronx. He has consistently fought for the same progressive issues that I have fought for and believe in. He has striven for fair housing laws, including the fight to properly secure funding for NYCHA in the state budget. He believes in fair and equitable public transportation for everyone including parents and those with disabilities who struggle with accessibility. Find out more about his stances on important policy issues regarding voting rights, criminal justice reform, as well as how he will serve as Public Advocate here atBlakeforNYC.


It is very interesting that while Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is endorsing Michael Blake in the upcoming Special Election for Public Advocate on February 26th, While Councilman Andrew Cohen is supporting former City Council Speaker Mellisa Mark-Viverito. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Bronx Soldier Returns Returns Home

  New York National Guardsman Spec. Robert I. Goins hugs his children Allana and Jayden during a very special assembly at their school PS 111 on Baychester Avenue. Spec. Goins of the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion left for active duty in Egypt almost one year ago. Councilman Andy King was instrumental in setting this event up, and presented Spec. Goins with a New York City 12th Council District Certificate of Recognition. This event was suppose to occur on Thursday, but Spec. Goins was held up and missed his original plane home. Spec. Goins is a graduate of PS 111 where his children now attend school. Both children and a third son Evian, sisters Ivory and Imari, wife Sylvia and his mother were on hand to greet Spec. Robert I. Goins on his return home. The first question the proud dad asked his son was why do you go to school? Son Jayden answered 'To Learn Dad'.

Above - Spec. Robert I. Goins arrives at PS 111 with Councilman Andy King waiting to escort him into the school. Spec. Goins answered a few questions from the media, one of which he answered that he missed his family the most. 
Below - Spec. Goins is reunited with his family after spending almost one year abroad supporting for his country

Above - Spec. Goins, his family, Staff from PS 111, are with Councilman King as the Goins children hold the Certificate of Recognition from Councilman King to their father.
Below - With his hand holding his son Jayden Spec. Robert I. Goins answers questions from students from PS 111. 

Above - It was time for photos, as Spec. Goins stands proud holding his youngest son Elijah, as Jayden and Allana stand next to their dad.
Below - Allana and Jayden, are with their aunts Iriani and Ivory, and mother Sylvia.

Above - Spec. Goins with Councilman Andy King, and Neva Shillinford-King.
Below - Spec. Goins with retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant John Perez. 

Norman Seabrook, President Of Correction Officers Benevolent Association, Sentenced To 58 Months In Prison For Accepting Bribes In Exchange For Investing Union Money In New York-Based Hedge Fund

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that NORMAN SEABROOK, the former president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association (“COBA”) was sentenced to 58 months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme in which he accepted a $60,000 bribe payment, and the promise of future bribe payments, in exchange for SEABROOK’s investment of millions of dollars of COBA money in a hedge fund.  SEABROOK was found guilty of honest services fraud offenses on August 18, 2018, after a 10-day trial in Manhattan federal court.  Today’s sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Tens of thousands of hardworking correction officers once looked to Norman Seabrook as their leader and champion.  Seabrook now stands convicted of betraying them for a bag full of cash and the promise of more.  His conduct resulted not simply in the membership’s loss of faith in its leader, but the loss of millions of dollars in retirement benefits due to union members.  My Office has worked tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to hold Seabrook and those who conspired with him to account.  Today’s sentence sends an important message to any other person in a position of power that no one is above the law, and that violating a sacred trust in return for a cash payoff will land you on the wrong side of a prison door.”           
According to the allegations in the Indictment, Superseding Indictment, and Complaint, other filed documents, and the evidence at trial:
COBA is New York City’s largest correction officers union and the largest municipal jail union in the United States.  COBA represents over 20,000 active and retired correction officers in New York City, including at Rikers Island.  NORMAN SEABROOK, the defendant, was the president of COBA for over 20 years.  SEABROOK wielded enormous power over the affairs of COBA, and was rarely questioned by his executive board, as he had the ability to affect their assignments, pay, and hours.  SEABROOK’s control extended to the union’s finances, including the administration of its “Annuity Fund,” a retirement benefits program funded by the City of New York that invests more than $70 million for correction officers’ retirements.  
Toward the end of 2013, on a trip to the Dominican Republic with, among others, Jona Rechnitz, a real estate businessman who is now a cooperating witness for the Government, SEABROOK told Rechnitz that he worked hard to invest COBA’s money and was not getting anything out of it, and it was time that “Norman Seabrook got paid.”  Rechnitz was friendly with and had done business with Murray Huberfeld, a founder and part owner of Platinum Partners (“Platinum”), a Manhattan-based hedge fund that principally ran two funds.  Rechnitz was aware that Platinum was looking to attract public and institutional investors – as opposed to its more typical investor set of high net-worth individuals – and told Huberfeld that SEABROOK would likely invest COBA money in Platinum if Huberfeld were willing to pay SEABROOK money on the side.  Huberfeld agreed to the proposition, and Huberfeld worked out a formula in which SEABROOK would be paid a kickback of a portion of the profits from COBA’s investment that Huberfeld estimated would be between $100,000 and $150,000 per year.
SEABROOK then began investing COBA’s money, at first going through the motions of having Platinum make a pitch to COBA’s Annuity Fund board and having advisers conduct diligence.  Those advisers included attorneys who wrote letters expressing concern that public pensions like COBA do not typically invest in higher-risk vehicles like hedge funds.  SEABROOK concealed those letters from the other members of COBA’s Annuity Fund Board in order to secure their approval for the investment.  In March 2014, COBA’s Annuity Fund made a $10 million investment in one of Platinum’s funds.  In June 2014 – this time without running the investment by the COBA Board or seeking any approval – SEABROOK invested $5 million, or 40 percent, of COBA’s own assets in the same fund, money that had been set aside for use in the event of a union emergency.  In August 2014, the Annuity Fund invested another $5 million in Platinum.  By that point, COBA was the largest investor in that Platinum fund for all of 2014, and amounted to more than half of all incoming investments for the fund.  At the same time, Platinum was experiencing significant redemptions by other investors.
Toward the end of 2014, SEABROOK wanted the first of his kickback payments, and demanded it from Rechnitz.  Huberfeld told Rechnitz that the fund had not performed as well as expected, and that he could pay SEABROOK only $60,000.  Rechnitz agreed to lay out the cash, and Huberfeld agreed to reimburse Rechnitz on Platinum’s behalf.  Huberfeld suggested that to paper over the reimbursement, Rechnitz invoice Platinum for a number of Rechnitz’s courtside tickets to New York Knicks games, in the amount of $60,000, and Platinum would then cut a check to Rechnitz.
Rechnitz paid SEABROOK the first $60,000 kickback on December 11, 2014.  Before meeting SEABROOK that evening, Rechnitz went to one of SEABROOK’s favorite stores, Salvatore Ferragamo on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and bought an expensive men’s handbag for SEABROOK.  Rechnitz put the money in the bag, and met SEABROOK a few blocks away in SEABROOK’s COBA sport utility vehicle with tinted windows, where he handed SEABROOK the bag.  Rechnitz and SEABROOK had dinner with two other persons nearby, then attended a Torah dedication ceremony nearby, after which SEABROOK left Manhattan.  These events have been corroborated by, among other things, phone records, emails, license plate reader records, surveillance footage, and a receipt from Salvatore Ferragamo.  On the same day, Rechnitz’s assistant prepared a $60,000 invoice to Platinum for Knicks tickets, which Rechnitz forwarded by email to Huberfeld.  Three days later, Platinum paid Rechnitz by check.
Huberfeld, through another associate, Jeremy Reichberg, continued to lobby SEABROOK for more money in 2015.  However, after a lawsuit filed by a former COBA board member referred to the Platinum investments, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office grand jury investigation resulted in subpoenas to Platinum and COBA in May 2015, no further investments were made.  As part of the lawsuit, SEABROOK filed a false affidavit in which he claimed that COBA’s board members had authorized his unilateral and unauthorized June 2014 transfer of $5 million of union funds to Platinum.  He also claimed that he himself had paid for his March 2014 trip to Israel when it had, in fact, been paid for by Rechnitz.  This lie under oath served to hide SEABROOK’s connection to the Platinum Partners investment and the bribe arrangement behind it.
On May 25, 2018, Huberfeld pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the use of the sham invoice as part of his role in the conspiracy.  He is due to be sentenced by Judge Hellerstein on February 12, 2019, and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 
On January 2, 2019, Reichberg was found guilty of honest services fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice in connection with a separate scheme in which he and Rechnitz provided gifts and benefits to a number of high-level officers of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) in exchange for official police action for themselves and their associates.  He is due to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods on April 4, 2019.
In addition to the prison term, SEABROOK, 58, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $19 million.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau.

Manhattan Man Arrested For Attempting And Conspiring To Provide Material Support To Terrorist Organization

Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion Was Arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport While Allegedly Attempting to Travel Overseas to Join Lashkar e-Tayyiba

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that JESUS WILFREDO ENCARNACION, a/k/a “Jihadistsoldgier,” “Jihadinhear,” “Jihadinheart,” “Lionofthegood,” was arrested last night at John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK Airport”) in Queens, New York.  ENCARNACION was charged by a criminal Complaint earlier today with attempting and conspiring to provide material support to Lashkar e-Tayyiba (“LeT”), a Pakistan-based designated foreign terrorist organization responsible for multiple high-profile attacks, including the infamous Mumbai attacks in November 2008.  ENCARNACION is expected to be presented later today before Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman in Manhattan federal court.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, Jesus Encarnacion, a Manhattan man, plotted to travel to Pakistan to join and train with the terrorist organization Lashkar e-Tayyiba, which is infamous around the world for perpetrating the lethal 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and other atrocities.  The excellent work of the FBI and NYPD stopped Encarnacion’s alleged plan to support this deadly terrorist organization before he took flight, and now he will face federal terrorism charges.”
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said:  “Encarnacion allegedly attempted to travel to Pakistan to join a foreign terrorist organization and conspired with another individual to provide that organization with material support.  The National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding accountable those who seek to join and support designated foreign terrorist organizations.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “As alleged, not only did Mr. Encarnacion express a desire to execute and behead people, he scheduled travel and almost boarded a plane so he could go learn how to become a terrorist.  These organizations are using the internet and social media to appeal to the most barbaric impulses in people, and train them to kill.  The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to do all it can to stop these alleged criminals before innocent people are killed.”
NYPD Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “As alleged, Jesus Encarnacion had expressed his desire to commit a terrorist attack while living in New York City and never abandoned those plans.  Allegedly, one of his stated motives for traveling overseas was to get the training and experience he believed he needed to someday return to the United States and carry out attacks.  I want to commend the FBI Agents, NYPD Detectives and representatives of 54 other agencies that make up the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the investigation that led to this arrest.”
As alleged in the criminal Complaint,[1] filed today in Manhattan federal court:
In November 2018, ENCARNACION expressed his desire to join a terrorist group in an online group chat, where he met another individual (“CC-1”).  CC-1 introduced ENCARNACION to an individual who, unbeknownst to CC-1 or ENCARNACION, was in fact an undercover FBI employee (“UC-1”).  ENCARNACION repeatedly expressed, in the course of recorded communications through a social media service with CC-1 and through an encrypted messaging service with UC-1, his allegiance to and support for LeT, which, since approximately 2001, has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States Secretary of State. 
Over the past several months, ENCARNACION has discussed his desire and plans to join LeT overseas so that he could receive training and participate in violent acts of terrorism.  For example, ENCARNACION told UC-1 that he was “ready to kill and die in the name of Allah” and sought UC-1’s assistance to help ENCARNACION travel to abroad to serve as an “executioner” for LeT, stating, “I want to execute.  I want to behead.  Shoot.”  ENCARNACION further stated that he aspired to commit terrorist attacks (“a bombing and shooting”) in the United States, but lacked “guidance” and “guns” to do so.
During the months that followed, ENCARNACION and UC-1 agreed on a plan that ENCARNACION believed would allow him to join LeT in Pakistan.  ENCARNACION told UC-1 that he had made arrangements to travel to a particular city in Europe (the “European City”), as the first step of traveling to Pakistan to join LeT.  ENCARNACION purchased an airline ticket for a flight scheduled to depart on February 7, 2019, from JFK Airport, to the European City.  On February 7, ENCARNACION traveled to JFK Airport, where he was arrested by the FBI after he attempted to board that flight.
ENCARNACION, 29, of Manhattan, is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of agents from the FBI, detectives from the NYPD, and officers from numerous other agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which assisted significantly in this case.  Mr. Berman also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.                    
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below are only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Founder And President Of Online Gaming Company Charged In Manhattan Federal Court For Participating In Multimillion-Dollar Fraud Scheme

Robert Alexander Charged with Lying to Investors and Misappropriating Investor Funds

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that ROBERT ALEXANDER was arrested this morning on securities fraud and wire fraud charges stemming from his participation in a scheme to defraud investors by soliciting investments in his online gaming company (the “Company”) through false representations and using investor funds for his own personal use.    
ALEXANDER is expected to be presented today in Manhattan federal court before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang. 
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, Robert Alexander lied to investors in his online gaming company, fabricating information about his professional background and promising to use investor money solely to further the aims of the business.  Instead, Alexander allegedly used more than $1.3 million in investor funds on, among other things, gambling excursions, entertainment venues, and other personal expenses. As this arrest demonstrates, fraud on investors is no game, and we will continue to partner with the FBI to investigate and prosecute those who defraud investors.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said:  “Time and time again, we come across evidence of investment funds being misappropriated to pay off personal debts or fund extravagant lifestyles. As evidenced by today’s arrest, those who allegedly use these funds for other than their intended purpose are taking a gamble—the bigger the risk does not always mean the greater the reward.”
According to the Complaint[1]:
Beginning in at least 2013 and continuing through in or about 2017, ALEXANDER engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in the Company.  Specifically, ALEXANDER solicited and maintained investments in the Company through numerous false representations, including concerning his own professional background, the Company’s financial condition, expected returns on investment, and assurances to investors that their investments would be used solely for the Company’s business purposes.  
Also in furtherance of his scheme and contrary to representations made to investors, ALEXANDER used more than approximately $1.3 million of the funds he obtained from investors for his own personal expenses instead of for the Company’s business purposes.  For example, ALEXANDER used investor funds to make payments toward his personal credit cards, to fund his gambling excursions to multiple casinos, to make rental payments for his personal residence, and to make car payments for a luxury car purchased for one of ALEXANDER’s family members.
ALEXANDER, 49, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was arrested this morning.  ALEXANDER is charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud.  The securities fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  The wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the work of the FBI.  He also thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission.  
The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Defendant Forced Victim Into Prostitution by Beating Her and Using Coercion; Victim Made to Walk Streets and Was Advertised on Internet

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for Kidnapping, Predatory Sexual Assault, Sex Trafficking and other charges related to his forcing a woman into prostitution. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant brutally beat, sexually assaulted and held the victim against her will. He also used coercive control tactics to compel her to engage in prostitution for his profit. Today’s sentence will keep a depraved man off our streets.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Lemuel Skipper, 28, of 1610 Sedgwick Avenue, was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of 20 years to life in prison today by Bronx Supreme Court Justice James McCarty. The defendant will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release. A jury found the defendant guilty of two counts of first-degree Kidnapping, Predatory Sexual Assault, two counts of Sex Trafficking, first-degree Aggravated Sexual Abuse, second degree and fourth-degree Promoting Prostitution, and second-degree Assault on January 14, 2019. 

 According to the investigation, on or about and between July 20, 2015 and July 22, 2015, the defendant lured a 26-year-old woman to an apartment to intentionally advance and profit from the prostitution of the victim. While holding her captive, the defendant slapped and punched the victim, and sexually assaulted her with an object. The defendant then took the victim to the areas of Westchester Square and Southern Boulevard to force her to engage in prostitution. The victim managed to get away by having someone drive her to a local Bronx hospital, where she called police. Hotel records, phone records, and advertisements were retrieved during the investigation.

 In prosecuting this matter, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office presented evidence from Dr. Chitra Raghavan, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Deputy Director of The Forensic Mental Health Counseling Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as an expert in TraumaBonding and Coercive Control in Sex Trafficking. During New York State’s first-ever Frye hearing (a hearing to determine whether expert testimony is based on established and accepted scientific methods) on this topic, this Office successfully proved the scientific community’s acceptance of Trauma-Bonding and Coercive Control in Sex Trafficking.

 District Attorney Clark thanked Detective James Barrenger of the Bronx Special Victims Squad, for his assistance with the case.

North White Plains Road Merchants Hold Meeting

  'Shop Locally' was the theme of Thursday night's North White Plains Road Merchants meeting. Brought together by Ms. Jennifer Tausig the Executive Director of the Mosholu Preservation Corporation Community and Economic Development arm were local elected officials who represent the North White Plains Road Business District from Gun Hill Road to the city line at East 243rd Street. City Council members Andy King and Andrew Cohen are on either side of State Senator Jamaal Bailey. Each elected official spoke about the merits of the shopping area, and how each would like to improve the business district. Questions were then take from the thirty or so merchants who attended this meeting. Election of officers was put off until the next meeting. 

Merchants I spoke to were happy to see the elected officials take an interest in their business district, and many questions came up during the meeting. Questions of when to have meetings for the best attendance by the merchants, a walk through by the elected officials, bookkeeping, police issues, quality and quantity of similar stores, and the current housing situation in the business district were among some of the questions to the elected officials which they tried to answer. 

Above - State Senator Jamaal Bailey,
Below - Councilman Andrew Cohen answer questions from the merchants in attendance.


New York City Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, today announced her endorsement of Public Advocate candidate Jumaane Williams. Gibson currently represents the 16th District in the Bronx which includes Claremont, Claremont Village, Concourse, Concourse Village, Highbridge, Morrisania, Morris Heights and Mount Eden.

"I'm proud to have worked with Jumaane on criminal justice reform and public safety initiatives, including the creation of the first ever Mayor's Office to Prevent Gun Violence and the successful expansion of the cure violence program," said Council Member Gibson. "I know firsthand Jumaane's commitment and compassion to helping others and standing up for what's right even when it's not popular. He has advocated for and been in the trenches with seniors, tenants, veterans, and youth to name a few. Jumaane has a proven track record of success and I'm proud to support his candidacy for Public Advocate."  

In her capacity as a Council Member for the 16th district in the Bronx, Gibson previously served as the first woman and person of color to Chair the City Council's Public Safety Committee, and now serves as Deputy Leader and Chair of the Subcommittee on Capital.Council Member Gibson also previously served as a member of the New York State Assembly representing the 77th district in the Bronx.

"I am honored to have earned Council Member Gibson's endorsement for our campaign to be New York City's next Public Advocate," said Jumaane. "From day one, this has been a grassroots effort by the people and for the people. Though we may be from different boroughs, Vanessa and I have a shared vision of a New York City that shines as a progressive beacon for the rest of this country. I look forward to campaigning in the Bronx with Vanessa, and I'm proud to have her support to be the next Public Advocate."

Today's endorsement adds to the more than two dozen city and state elected officials who have endorsed Jumaane's campaign. Jumaane has also secured more endorsements than any other candidate in the race from progressive political clubs, organizations, unions, and community groups. A full list of Jumaane's endorsements is available  

NYC Public Advocate Candidate Nomiki Konst Calls Out Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jumaane Williams for Real Estate Contributions in TV Debate

After pledging to “stop the gentrification” Mark-Viverito rezoned her district making it unaffordable for many lifelong residents, Williams took real estate money in Lt Governor’s race after pledging not to                                              
At the first televised debate Nomiki Konst took a clear stand that real estate developers’ contributions to our elected officials have directly contributed to making New York City more unaffordable.  Nomiki took on former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for rezoning of her East Harlem district after taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from real estate developers and signing a letter welcoming Amazon to New York City. “This is exactly why we need a watchdog in the Public Advocate’s office, not another politician that does one thing and says another when it’s convenient and popular.” 
“After Speaker Mark-Viverito rezoned her own district, residents who had spent their entire lives in East Harlem were no longer able to afford to live there,” said candidate Nomiki Konst. “New Yorkers cannot trust the same people to solve the problem who caused it. I have never taken contributions from real estate developers and will fight every day to make New York more affordable.”
“Speaker Mark-Viverito refused to answer whether she would give back her contributions from real estate developers that prevent her from being a productive Public Advocate,” Nomiki said. “She has proven that she will side with real estate developers over her constituents.” 
Konst also called out Councilman Williams for accepting money from the Ratner family during his bid for Lt Governor last year — despite his pledge not to accept real estate money — which he has yet to return.
New Yorkers will go to the polls to choose the next Public Advocate on Tuesday, Feb. 26th. The election is non-partisan. Konst, a former investigative reporter, national surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic socialist, is on the ballot under the Pay Folks More party line.