Saturday, March 30, 2019

Bronx Community Board 11 meeting Thursday March 28th

  In the gallery section of the Community Board 11 meeting there was information about Jump Pedal Assist bikes ending its pilot program in the South Bronx, and hoping to go borough wide. There will be a second generation bike which will be easier to maintain. One CB 11 member said that unlike Citi-Bike there are no set areas for Jump Bikes and some have become nuisances because they are left anywhere.  

A second speaker from the NY State Nurses Union said that Nurses have delayed a strike authorized vote for the first week in April, but will strike the local Bronx hospitals if no agreement is reached.  The Nurse said that hospitals are already preparing for a strike by getting nurses from out of state she referred to as Scabs. Comments from CB 11 members were from supporting the Nurses Union to one member saying that the so-called Scabs would probably do a better job than the current nursing staff in many local hospitals.

Councilman Mark Gjonaj (a non voting member of the board) spoke about the still proposed Morris Park Avenue Road Diet plan by Bronx DOT Commissioner Nivardo Lopez. Councilman Gjonaj said that the street has been removed from the DOT as one of the most accident prone streets, and because of that Councilman Gjonaj wants the road diet idea stopped. He is circulating petitions to be given to the Bronx DOT commissioner. 

The meeting moved along until in the Chair report CB 11 Chair Al D'Angelo proposed a resolution from the Executive Committee to hire a replacement for John Fratta who was advising CB 11. There was confusion by several board members who said that another staffer might not be needed, and the matter was laid over until the end of the meeting where CB 11 voted to go into Executive Session to discuss the employment matter. That is the right of the community board not to discuss personal matters in public, but any vote must be made in public. As the executive session went on, one by one board members started to leave, and the executive session ended when there was no longer a quorum to vote on anything. The public was invited back in, and the meeting was then adjourned.

The matter will be taken up at the next full board meeting. The Executive Committee may meet to try to come up with a solution to the matter of hiring another part -time associate in the interim. 

Above - Councilman Mark Gjonaj pleads his case against the proposed Morris Park Avenue Road Diet plan by the NYC DOT.
Below - Members of CB 11 including Bronx Borough President representative Tom Luciana at the far right who is answering a question about the bylaws of CB 11.

Metro North Morris Park/Parkchester Stations Meeting

Councilman Mark Gjonaj, Bronx Overall Economic Development President Marlene Cintron, NYC City Planning Chair Carol Sambol, and Bronx DOT Commissioner Nivardo Lopez were in attendance at Wednesday's meeting held in Lubin Hall. 

 Wednesday afternoon Metro North along with several NYC agencies held an update meeting on What's Happening with the proposed East Side Metro North Stations for Morris Park and Parkchester. This was an update meeting to show some of the requested items from the community be it parking by the new stations to areas of green space by the stations. 

The Metro North and NYC agencies were still looking for more comments on what was being proposed. There were different tables set up as to different aspects of the new stations. At one table you were given ten chips to spend in what you wanted by the stations. There was a choice of over a dozen different items from parking, green space, more businesses, housing, to name a few. those choice items requested however would cost anywhere from one to four chips depending on what each person felt they wanted until a person decided how to spend their ten chips. This information gathered plus the additional comments from other tables and a meeting today in Parkchester will be evaluated for a final draft of what is to be proposed for the Morris Park and Parkchester Metro North stations. Maps of two station areas are below.

Above - The Morris Park station.
Below - The Parkchester station.

Friday, March 29, 2019

News From Councilman Mark Gjonaj

Two Men Convicted Of 1997 Double Murder In The Bronx

  Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROBERT ACOSTA and JOSE DIAZ were convicted of the December 22, 1997, murders of Alex Ventura, 25, and Aneudis Almonte, 20.  The convictions follow a three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Kevin P. Castel. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “More than two decades ago, two young men were brutally murdered in a Bronx stairwell.  Although the case went cold, members of the NYPD and the FBI worked tirelessly to solve it.  A unanimous jury has now held Acosta and Diaz responsible for this terrible crime.”
According to the evidence presented during the trial:
In the 1990s, ACOSTA was the leader of a large-scale drug trafficking organization that distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine out of several buildings in northern Manhattan.  In the summer of 1997, the murder victims stole more than $200,000 in drug money from a stash apartment that belonged to ACOSTA.  To retaliate, ACOSTA hired DIAZ to kill both men. 
On December 22, 1997, DIAZ and a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) lured the victims to an apartment building in the Bronx, ambushed them in a stairwell, and murdered them both.  CC-1 stabbed 20-year-old Almonte six times, including once in the chest.  DIAZ shot Ventura, 25, in the head from point-blank range.  In exchange for these murders, ACOSTA paid DIAZ $12,000.      
ACOSTA, 47, of Yonkers, New York was convicted of murder while engaged in a conspiracy to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine (Counts One and Two), conspiracy to commit murder for hire (Count Three), and murder for hire (Counts Four and Five).  DIAZ, 53, of the Bronx, New York was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for hire (Count Three), murder for hire (Counts Four and Five), and the use of a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of a crime of violence (Count Six).  ACOSTA and DIAZ each face a mandatory sentence of life in prison. 
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD and FBI.

Manhattan Jeweler Pleads Guilty To Insider Trading

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JEREMY MILLUL pled guilty to participating in a scheme to trade on material, nonpublic information in advance of the Sherwin-Williams Company’s acquisition of the Valspar Corporation. MILLUL pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “As he admitted today, Manhattan jeweler Jeremy Millul received inside information about a publicly traded stock from a friend who worked as an analyst for a credit rating agency.  Millul then used that information to make illegal trades which earned him over $100,000 in illicit gains.  The integrity of financial institutions is critical to ensuring that the stock-buying public is trading in a fair market.  We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who share and utilize nonpublic information for their own personal gain.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint and Indictment filed against MILLUL and his co-conspirators, and statements made in related court filings and proceedings:[1]
Rating Evaluation Services and the Insider
When a company announces an acquisition, the acquiring company’s credit rating agency often evaluates, and ultimately issues a press release relating to, the impact that the acquisition could have on the acquiring company’s credit rating.  Therefore, companies often contact rating agencies before an acquisition is publicly announced in order to secure the rating agency’s views on how a possible acquisition could impact a company’s credit rating.  All the major rating agencies offer a service – sometimes known as a Rating Evaluation Service (“RES”) – that provides the company with a rating committee decision with respect to a proposed acquisition.
In March 2016, a credit rating agency in Manhattan (the “Firm”) assigned a credit ratings analyst (the “Analyst”), to work on an RES for the Sherwin-Williams Company (“Sherwin-Williams”) in advance of its contemplated but unannounced acquisition of the Valspar Corporation (“Valspar”).  In connection with this assignment, the Analyst had access to material, nonpublic information (the “Inside Information”) about Sherwin-Williams’ acquisition of Valspar prior to the public announcement of the acquisition.  The Firm’s written policies prohibited the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, which included the Inside Information.  During his tenure at the Firm, the Analyst reviewed and certified his duties of loyalty and confidentiality to the Firm and its clients.
The Insider Trading Scheme
In March 2016, the Analyst misappropriated the Inside Information about Sherwin-Williams’ acquisition of Valspar and passed it to MILLUL and Abell Oujaddou so that they could use it to make profitable trades.  On March 21, 2016, the first trading day after the public announcement of the acquisition, the price of Valspar stock increased approximately 23 percent over the prior day’s close.
MILLUL is a Manhattan jeweler who had a close personal friendship with the Analyst, as well as with a member of the Analyst’s immediate family.  The Analyst repeatedly provided MILLUL with Inside Information about the Valspar acquisition.  Although MILLUL had never owned a brokerage account in the United States and had never traded in U.S. securities prior to March 2016, he opened a brokerage account on March 13, 2016, and shortly thereafter purchased 480 shares of Valspar common stock.  On March 18, 2016, the last trading day before the acquisition was publicly announced, MILLUL also purchased 75 out-of-the-money Valspar call options.  After the acquisition was publicly announced, MILLUL sold his Valspar stock and options for approximately $106,806 in profits.
JEREMY MILLUL, 32, of New York, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the Court.
MILLUL is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Rakoff on July 30, 2019 at 4:00 p.m.
Abell Oujaddou previously pled guilty and awaits sentencing before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.
Mr. Berman praised the work of the FBI, and thanked the SEC for its assistance.
[1] As for the defendant who has pled not guilty, the description of the charges set forth herein constitute only allegations.

City Council Votes to Set Nutritional Standards for Beverages in Children’s Meals and Other Items

The Council also votes to increase oversight into the City’s cooling towers to prevent Legionnaires’ Disease

  The New York City Council on Thursday will vote to set nutritional standards for the default beverages offered with children’s meals by restaurants throughout the city. The legislation would make water, low-fat milk, or 100% fruit or vegetable juice the default beverage option instead of beverages with added sugar.

Additionally, the Council votes to allow individuals to request that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene redact the name of a physician from a birth record under certain circumstances.
The Council also votes on a package of bills that would increase oversight into the city’s cooling towers. This legislation includes bills that would require that cooling tower inspection results be made available to the public, that the Department of Buildings distribute information regarding cooling tower maintenance, cleaning, and inspections to building owners, and that the city conduct a year-long assessment of potential sources of Legionnaires’ disease in the city.
In addition the Council votes to increase fines for specific commercial vehicles that are parked overnight on a residential street. 

Finally, the Council votes on eleven resolutions related to the legalization, regulation, and sale of marijuana.
Setting Nutritional Standards for the Beverages Included in Children’s Meals
Introduction 1064, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would require that restaurants in New York City only offer water, sparkling water, flavored water, nonfat or one percent milk, non-dairy milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, or fruit or vegetable juice combined with water or carbonated water as the default options included with children’s meals. The bill would impose monetary penalties on restaurants that violate this law.
“Giving parents a healthier default drink option in their child’s fast food meal is a welcome and much needed change,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “This change will hopefully set a precedent for current parents and future generations to make better choices overall in the kinds of beverages they consume when they visit a fast food establishment. I want to thank Council Member Kallos for his work on this bill and would also like to thank the health advocates for their unwavering commitment to keeping New Yorkers healthy.”
“Healthy drinks with kid’s meals will be the new normal in New York City no matter where our kids are eating,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “While parents can still order whatever they want the default will now be a healthier drink. The data is in, we know this change will do a lot to keep sugary drinks away from our children, helping them avoid childhood obesity and grow up to be healthy adults. Thank you to Speaker Corey Jonhson for his tremendous support in getting this legislation passed. New York City and our children will be healthier because of it.”
Allowing for the Redaction of a Physicians Name from a Birth Record
Introduction 1308, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, would allow an individual to request that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene redact the name of a physician from a birth record when that physician’s license has been surrendered or revoked by the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct.
“We can never undo the damage done by abusers who exploit the vulnerability of women in an OB/GYN’s office. The least we can do is not subject survivors–and their children–to the pain of seeing their abuser’s name on a document as foundational and meaningful as a birth certificate. This legislation is a small but important step towards justice for brave women like Marissa Hoechstetter, and sends a clear signal that our government is here to support survivors in any way we can. I’m pleased the administration reversed their position on this bill, and I’m grateful to Speaker Johnson for his support in passing it,” said Council Member Mark Levine.
Relating to the Submission and Public Availability of Cooling Tower Inspections and Certifications
Introduction 1149, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to send owners and operators of cooling towers an electronic reminder prior to the filing deadline for annual certifications with a link to where these certifications can be submitted. This bill would also require cooling tower inspectors to report to DOHMH in real time when certain inspections occur. Finally, this bill would require building owners to make cooling tower inspection results available for public examination.
“When it is you, your aging parent, or your child on the line, you want to know that every cooling tower is being inspected properly to prevent Legionnaires’ before it can spread and kill anyone,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I hope that reminding building owners coupled with immediate enforcement for failing to inspect every 90 days will succeed in preventing any more New Yorkers from being sickened with Legionnaires’ Disease. Thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson for his leadership and support in getting this vital piece legislation passed in the City Council.”
Requiring Information Sessions be Held for Building Owners Regarding Cooling Towers
Introduction 1158, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, would require the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in consultation with the Department of Buildings, to hold information sessions at least twice annually for building owners regarding maintenance, cleaning, and inspections of cooling towers, and to post the information online.
Requiring Reporting on the Results of Building Cooling Tower Inspections.
Introduction 1164, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to report annually to the Council on the results of building cooling tower inspections and make such results available online.
“What happened last year with the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease could have been prevented with better transparency and consequences for those buildings not properly cleaning and maintaining their cooling towers. We compromised the public health of Northern Manhattan and the city of New York by not having stronger regulations for inspections of the cooling towers. I thank Speaker Johnson for bringing this bill package forward today for a vote and my Council colleagues for taking immediate action to mitigate the impact of the outbreak,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez
Studying Potential
Determinants of Legionnaires’ Disease.

Introduction 1166, sponsored 
by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, would require the Department of Health 
and Mental Hygiene to conduct a year-long assessment of potential sources of Legionnaires’ disease in the city other than cooling towers. “The last few summers have shown just how dangerous Legionnaires’ disease can be,” stated Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “Outbreaks in the Bronx and Manhattan sickened hundreds and proved fatal for more than a dozen New Yorkers. With global warming contributing to warmer, longer summer seasons, the conditions are perfect for Legionnaire’s disease to thrive. To impede future outbreaks, my bill requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to conduct a yearlong, comprehensive review of potential causes and risk factors associated with Legionnaires’ disease, as well possible action the City can take to prevent the spread of the disease. Once completed, DOHMH will make their findings public.”
Increasing Penalties for Commercial Vehicles Parked Overnight on Residential Streets
Introduction 1010, sponsored by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, would create a higher fine for commercial vehicles that are tractor-trailer combinations, tractors, truck trailers or semi-trailers parked overnight on a residential street. The fine for a first violation is currently $250, and for a second violation within a six-month period it is $500. This bill would create increased fines adjudicated through OATH in the amount of $400 and $800 for the first and second offenses, respectively.
“Introduction 1010 – the first pillar of my Commercial Truck Abuse Act – would establish a costly civil penalty in the respective amounts of $400 and $800 for parking 18-wheel big-rigs overnight in residential areas,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “The drivers of commercial tractor-trailers routinely abuse our City’s parking regulations, and degrade the quality-of-life of communities throughout the five boroughs by parking next to homes and other inappropriate locations, leaving pollution and debris in their wake. The current fines imposed on big-rig drivers have not been effective in curbing their abusive practices, which they deem the cost of doing business, but, in actuality, the greatest expense is the health and safety of our communities. Now, we will send a clear message to the bad actors operating within the trucking industry that the price for such flagrant abuses will be steep. I thank Speaker Johnson and my colleagues for supporting the enactment of this measure. The time has come to bring the force of law to bear on those who routinely flout the rules and engage in commercial truck abuse, and this legislation only represents the beginning of that endeavor.”
Resolutions Related to the Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana
Resolution 734, sponsored by Council Speaker Corey Johnson, calls on the New York State legislature to ensure that any law passed to legalize the market for the adult use of cannabis allows the city to enact its own regulatory measures on issues unique to its location including the home delivery and cultivation of cannabis in New York City.
Resolution 737, sponsored by Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, calls for the passage of legislation that grants New York City agencies the authority to regulate local licensing of the adult-use cannabis market in the city.
Resolution 738, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, calls for the passage of legislation prohibiting vertical integration and promoting small business growth in the recreational marijuana industry.
Resolution 741, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, calls for the passage of legislation that prioritizes individuals with prior marijuana convictions in issuing licenses to sell recreational marijuana and requires other applicants for marijuana licenses to support the hiring of such individuals.
Resolution 742-A, sponsored by Council Member Donovan Richards, calls for the passage of legislation that grants localities the authority to regulate public consumption of marijuana within their jurisdictions, including the authority to determine whether to enact any penalties and how to enforce such penalties.
Resolution 743, sponsored 
by Council Member I. Daneek Miller , calls on Congress to pass and the President to sign S.1689, known as the “Marijuana Justice Act of 2017,” which would amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for a new rule regarding the application of the Act to marijuana, and for other purposes.

Resolution  744, sponsored by Council Member I. 
Daneek Miller, calls for the passage of legislation that remedies disparate 
burdens placed on people of color in the enforcement of marijuana prohibition by reinvesting tax revenue generated from legal marijuana in their communities and encouraging their participation in the legal marijuana industry.

Resolution 745, sponsored 
by Council Member Francisco Moya, calls for the passage of legislation
related to the reclassifying of THC and all other marijuana based products from a controlled substance to the equivalent of flower marijuana.

Resolution  641, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams,  calls on the coordination of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the New York State Office of Court Administration, and New York City District Attorneys to expunge the records of all city misdemeanor marijuana convictions.
Resolution 296, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, calls on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to add unlawful possession of marijuana and criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth and fifth degrees to its list of “overlooked offenses,” and stop considering these offenses as grounds for termination of tenancy.
Resolution 75-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, calls on the New York State Legislature to pass the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which would legalize, regulate, and tax the sale of marijuana in New York State.
Additionally, the Council will be voting on an expense budget modification and a revenue budget modification for Fiscal 2019, including a $1.6 million allocation to fund the New York Immigration Family Unit Project to provide legal representation for New Yorkers facing deportation and face the expansion of the caseloads because of the new courtrooms added to the Immigration Court on Varick Street.  

Governor Cuomo Announces Nominations of MTA Chairman and Members to the Board

  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the nomination of a new MTA chairman, Patrick J. Foye of Nassau County, as well as four new members to the board. The Governor's proposal to reform and fund the MTA included a measure to address the diffused responsibility of the MTA Board by modifying appointments so that all terms align with the appointing elected official's term. Haeda Mihaltses of Queens County and Michael Lynton of Kings County will serve as appointments of Governor Cuomo. Rhonda Herman of Westchester County and Kevin Law of Suffolk County have been recommended by Westchester County and Suffolk County respectively.

"I vowed not to pass a budget without a comprehensive plan to reform the MTA's bureaucracy," Governor Cuomo said. "The MTA needs a board that will oversee and manage the transit system so it can best serve its riders, and this critical component of the MTA reform plan will ensure an unmatched level of accountability that New Yorkers deserve. I thank the outgoing members for their service and commitment to improving our state's transit networks."

Patrick J. Foye
Mr. Foye was named President of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in August 2017, where he has led key innovation and modernization initiatives and supported the day-to-day management of the agency. Previously, he served as an MTA Board Member from 2010 to 2012. Prior to joining the MTA, Mr. Foye led the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as Executive Director for six years, from November 2011 to August 2017, during which time he also served as President of PATH. At the Port Authority, he managed day-to-day operations at the bi-state agency and guided the development of the agency's ten year, $32.2-billion Capital Plan, while overseeing some of the nation's most significant P3 transactions, including the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport and the building of a new Goethals Bridge.
Mr. Foye also served as Deputy Secretary for Economic Development for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo from February 2011 to November 2011, managing initiatives for economic recovery, investment and job creation, and overseeing the Empire State Development Corporation. Prior to that, Mr. Foye was a Mergers and Acquisitions partner at Skadden Arps and managing partner of the firm's Brussels, Budapest and Moscow offices.

Haeda B. Mihaltses
Ms. Mihaltses, currently the Vice President of External Affairs for the New York Mets, joined the organization in 2014. She is the Mets main liaison with City, State and Federal officials and oversees relations with community stakeholders. Previously, Ms. Mihaltses spent twelve years in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Prior to joining the Mayor's office, Haeda worked at the New York City Council's Finance Division under Former Speaker Peter F. Vallone, ultimately serving as the City Council's first female Finance Director. In this role, she led budget negotiations between the New York City Council and the Mayor's Office.

Michael Lynton
Mr. Lynton currently serves on the Board of Snap, Inc., Warner Music Group., Pearson, PLC., and Ares Management, L.P. He served as the CEO of Sony Entertainment from April 2012 until February 2017, overseeing Sony's global entertainment businesses, including Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Michael also served as Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment since January 2004. Prior to joining Sony Pictures, he worked for Time Warner and served as CEO of AOL Europe, President of AOL International and President of Time Warner International, and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of Pearson plc's Penguin Group where he oversaw the acquisition of Putnam, Inc. and extended the Penguin brand to music and the Internet.

Rhonda Herman
Ms. Herman has served on the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council since 2008. She currently works at the Internal Revenue Service and has held various management positions in Information Systems, Small Business Self Employed and the Wage & Investment Divisions. She was a Girl Scout Troop Leader for 12 years and Co-president of the White Plains HS PTA. She now serves as Co-Chair of the Senior PTA Scholarship Recognition Program.

Kevin Law
Mr. Law became President and CEO of the Long Island Association, one of the most respected business organizations in New York State, in September 2010. Prior to that, Mr. Law was President and CEO of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), the 2nd largest public utility in the country with over 1.1 million customers. In 2011, Mr. Law was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as Co-Chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, a board that is leading the economic development initiatives in the region. Previously, Mr. Law was managing partner of the Long Island office of Nixon Peabody LLP. Mr. Law has served on both the Governor's "Fix NYC" Advisory Panel and the MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission.


 Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that three Rikers Island inmates have been sentenced to prison terms for an assault on a New York City Department of Correction Officer that left the officer with a fractured spinal column. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The Officer suffered a horrendous injury while performing his duty as a civil servant. He has been an inspiration in his long recovery and through rehabilitation. The main defendant will serve 10 years for the assault, concurrent with a 10-year term for his underlying Attempted Murder case. We had hoped he would have to serve more time to send a stronger message that gang violence will not be tolerated on Rikers Island.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendants, Steven Espinal, AKA Jefe Balla, 19, of Lancaster, PA,; Samson Waltson AKA Bam Balla, 19, of Creston Avenue, the Bronx; and Devin Burns AKA Dev Balla, 19, of Third Avenue, the Bronx were sentenced today by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Barry E. Warhit. They had pleaded guilty on February 20, 2019. Espinal and Waltson pleaded guilty in the Rikers case pursuant to offers by the judge.

 Espinal pleaded guilty to first-degree Gang Assault in the Rikers attack and to Attempted Murder second-degree and second degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon for his underlying case. He received 10 years in prison for each case, to run concurrently, and five years post release supervision. Walston pleaded guilty to first-degree Gang Assault for the Rikers attack and Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon second-degree for his underlying case, and received five years for the assault and two years for the weapon case, to run concurrently, and five years post release supervision. Burns pleaded guilty to second-degree Assault and received three years in prison and three years post-release supervision.

 According to the investigation, on February 10, 2018, inside the George Motchan Detention Center, Espinal began the assault, striking Correction Officer Jean Roston Souffrant, 39, in the head, causing him to fall and strike his head. The other inmates joined in the attack. CO Souffrant suffered a fractured spinal column and head injury.

 District Attorney Clark thanked DOC Investigators Timothy Fries and Anthony Scomma, DOC Liaison and Investigator Scott Frank, and Captain Vincent Fuca for their assistance in the case.

Attorney General James' Special Investigations And Prosecutions Unit Releases Report On Investigation Into The Death Of Saheed Vassell

  Attorney General Letitia James’ Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit (SIPU) released its report into the death of Saheed Vassell. Over the course of the investigation, SIPU found that the officers’ actions were legally justified, and that there was no adequate evidence to warrant criminal prosecution against the officers involved. In order to prevent another tragedy, and to promote the public’s confidence in how local law enforcement responds to such occurrences, the Office of the Attorney General outlined the following recommendations: 
  1. 911 operators and police dispatchers should receive comprehensive critical incident training. 
  2. The NYPD should review and reform its public information policies and practices regarding which facts it should release to the public in police-involved uses of force. 
Attorney General James released the following statement: 
“The death of Saheed Vassell was a tragedy, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. The Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit is committed to providing thorough and transparent investigations. We urge the New York Police Department to implement our recommendations."  

Wave Hill events April 11‒18

Sat, April 13
Artists in Glyndor Gallery this spring are drawing from personal and cultural experiences to reimagine their relationship to place. Visit the gallery for this weekend’s exhibition opening, then respond to the artwork by using your own silhouette as the canvas to map out your personal and cultural relationship to the land. Infuse your own memorabilia—junk mail, letters, maps and family records—into your landscape to trace your own roots and routes. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.
Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

Sun, April 14
Welcome migratory birds back to Wave Hill this spring. Explore the gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel Willowon a quest to spot both resident and rare birds as they pass through on their northern journey or settle down for the season. Severe weather cancels. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. Free with admission to the grounds. NYC Audubon Members enjoy two-for-one admission.
Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 9:30AM

Sun, April 14
Artists in Glyndor Gallery this spring are drawing from personal and cultural experiences to reimagine their relationship to place. Visit the gallery for this weekend’s exhibition opening, then respond to the artwork by using your own silhouette as the canvas to map out your personal and cultural relationship to the land. Infuse your own memorabilia—junk mail, letters, maps and family records—into your landscape to trace your own roots and routes. Free with admission to the grounds.
Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

Sun, April 14
Join naturalist and educator Gabriel Willow on a family-friendly walk through the gardens or woodlands. Ages five and older welcome with an adult. Severe weather cancels. Free with admission to the grounds.
Meet at Wave Hill House, 1PM

Sun, April 14
Meet the artists and curators of our spring exhibitions. Former Winter Workspace artists Camille HoffmanMaria Hupfield and Sara Jimenez return with installations reflecting their deepening practices. Each has explored narratives about contested space that draw on personal and cultural touch points, reflecting a synergy to their work and shared interests that will be reinforced by their projects this spring. Hoffman’s mixed-media paintings and installations take inspiration from the Philippine weaving and the Jewish folk traditions of her ancestors, layered geographies emerging from materials collected from her everyday life. Based in Brooklyn, Hupfield is a citizen of the Anishinaabek Nation from Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario, Canada. Her sculptural body-objects, crafted from industrial felt, are often activated through performance. Also based in Brooklyn, Filipina-Canadian artist Jimenez’s installations and performances draw from familial narratives, abandoned objects and colonial texts, as well as photos, maps and textiles, to focus on concepts of origin and home, loss and absence. In the Sunroom Project Space, Rachel Sydlowski’s installation consists of layers of historical wallpaper that serve as a background for complex, screen-print collages of flora and fauna, architectural details and decorative motifs from Wave Hill, Inwood Hill Park and other surrounding green spaces, transforming the Sunroom into an anachronistic collage of past and present. Free with admission to the grounds.
Glyndor Gallery, 2—4:30PM

Sun, April 14
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.
Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 2PM

Mon, April 15
Closed to the public.

Tue, April 16
Tour Glyndor Gallery with Wave Hill’s Curatorial Fellow or Gallery Greeter to get an insider’s view of current exhibitions.Here We Land features three, former Winter Workspace artists Camille HoffmanMaria Hupfield and Sara Jimenezwho return explore narratives about contested space that draw on personal and cultural touch points in their immersive installations. Rachel Sydlowski fills the Sunroom Project Space walls with complex, screen-print collages of flora and fauna, architectural details and decorative motifs from Wave Hill, Inwood Hill Park and other surrounding green spaces. Free with admission to the grounds.
Glyndor Gallery, 2PM

Wed, April 17
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for a public tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.
Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 1PM

Thu, April 18
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for a public tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.
Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 1PM

A 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River  and Palisades, Wave Hill’s mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscape, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.

HOURS  Open all year, Tuesday through Sunday and many major holidays: 9AM–5:30PM, March 15–October 31. Closes 4:30PM, starting November 1.

ADMISSION – $10 adults, $6 students and seniors 65+, $4 children 6–18. Free Saturday and Tuesday mornings until noon. Free to Wave Hill Members and children under 6.

PROGRAM FEES – Programs are free with admission to the grounds unless otherwise noted.

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one-day getaway offer. Purchase a discount round-trip rail far and discount admission to the gardens. More at
DIRECTIONS – Getting here is easy! Located only 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan, Wave Hill’s free shuttle van transports you to and from our front gate and Metro-North’s Riverdale station, as well as the W. 242nd Street stop on the #1 subway line. Limited onsite parking is available for $8 per vehicle. Free offsite parking is available nearby with continuous, complimentary shuttle service to and from the offsite lot and our front gate. Complete directions and shuttle bus schedule at

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at


 NYPD will strengthen enforcement tomorrow and on warm weekends throughout spring, when data show an increase in speed-related crashes

  Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that with warm weather in the forecast, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) would re-launch the Vision Zero “Warm Weather Weekends” spring safety campaign this weekend.  Saturday’s weather forecast calls for a high in the 60s, and according to crash data, motorists and motorcyclists drive more dangerously on warmer spring weekends.   

“Springtime weather is no excuse for dangerous driving that puts New Yorkers at risk,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Warm Weather Weekends are targeted enforcement derived from our data-driven Vision Zero campaign that helped make 2018 the safest year ever on our streets. The NYPD will be out in force to make sure everyone is more mindful of road safety, so we can save lives across our city.”

Drivers should expect heightened enforcement this weekend, from NYPD Highway Patrol and local precincts, each of which now has its own speed detection equipment. Officials will remind drivers that they should continue to obey the speed limit, turn slowly and yield to pedestrians. They will also be calling on drivers to “Look twice for motorcycles,” while reminding motorcyclists – who ride in greater numbers over weekends – to make sure they have the right licensure and registration, avoid risky passing between vehicles, and get practice before riding the open road.

“Through the Warm Weather Weekends campaign, we and our Vision Zero partners are taking preventive action after seeing far too many tragedies accompany the rise in temperatures, especially among drivers and motorcyclists,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Our message to New Yorkers is simple: we’re all excited that spring is here, and we want you to get out there and enjoy it -- but if you are driving a car or riding a motorcycle, please do so safely.”

“As the temperature rises and being outdoors becomes more inviting, the NYPD will continue to ensure that drivers watch for the additional pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists who will be on the road, especially when making left turns,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan. “Drivers need to be mindful of the harm caused by not yielding to these vulnerable road users. Motorcyclists can also prevent serious injuries by obeying the rules, especially our speed limits.”          

Warm Weather Weekends:  Officials were originally spurred to action by the events of April 29, 2017: In a year that was the overall safest-ever on New York City streets, that Saturday was the second deadliest day of the entire year.   The first warm weekend day at the end of an unusually cool month, April 29th was sunny with a high temperature of 87 degrees. In a number of different serious crashes around New York City that day, many of which involved speeding, 4 New Yorkers lost their lives and 204 were injured.

DOT then conducted a detailed analysis of traffic fatalities and severe injuries from 2007 to 2016, observing the rate of traffic deaths and serious injuries on warmer days in March through June.  Comparing crash data to weather records, DOT studied days where temperatures were 60 degrees or higher, and uncovered the following clear correlative trends:

·         The average number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) in traffic crashes on weekends starts to rise in March and peaks during June.  In April, the weekend KSI rate is 28 percent higher than in January/February.
·         The danger in the spring is most pronounced for motor vehicle occupants and motorcyclists: on warm weather Saturdays and Sundays in April, the KSI rate for drivers and car occupants is 41 percent higher than the winter weekend rate.  For motorcyclists, the KSI danger on weekends rises by 88 percent.
·         Data appear to show that higher KSI rates on warmer spring days are limited to Saturdays and Sundays.  On weekdays, DOT data show that the average number of KSI annually during April warm weather weekdays is only 4% higher than the January/February winter weekday rate. 
·         In response to this data, NYPD and DOT will bring back season-specific efforts to deter reckless behavior to keep all New Yorkers safe. 

“As the weather heats up this spring and into summer, motorists need to be more cautious of their speeds when driving on our city streets. Thank you to the NYPD and DOT for the joint enforcement effort to keep our city streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. “It’s vital that we continue to implement the Vision Zero agenda and other traffic calming measures to keep everyone safe while commuting throughout New York City.”

“The numbers do not lie, warmer weather results in more traffic accidents,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “With spring around the corner, we must be vigilant and remember that safety is as important as enjoying the warmer temperatures. Last year, Vision Zero’s Warm Weather Weekends campaign significantly reduced the number of accidents throughout the spring months. I wholeheartedly support the return of this campaign and I hope all New Yorkers can enjoy the warmer weather.”

“Widely-broadcast enforcement efforts are one of the best deterrents to reckless driving,” said Transportation Alternatives Interim Director Marco Conner. “We're pleased to see NYC DOT and the NYPD making sure drivers slow down, especially on warm-weather weekends when more New Yorkers are out running and biking.” 

About Vision Zero:

Vision Zero is the de Blasio administration’s initiative to use every tool at its disposal to end traffic deaths and injuries on New York City streets. In 2018, New York City experienced its safest year on record with the fifth straight year of fatality declines. Since the program’s inaugural year in 2014, when New York City became the first American city to adopt Vision Zero, the city’s traffic fatalities have declined more than 30 percent — bucking national fatality trends, which have increased 15 percent over the same period.

For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please