Friday, April 5, 2019

Radio Talk Show Host Craig Carton Sentenced To 42 Months In Prison For Securities And Wire Fraud

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that CRAIG CARTON was sentenced to 42 months in prison for securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit those offenses.  CARTON was convicted after a one-week trial before Chief U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon, who imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Radio personality Craig Carton solicited investments for his ticket buying scheme by claiming to have an in with the operator of two New York-area arenas and a major concert promotion company.  He talked of his ability to buy blocks of tickets to live events and sell them for a profit on the secondary market.  But the talk-show host was all talk.  Carton’s purported agreements to buy blocks of tickets were part of an elaborate fiction.  Today he has learned that the price of defrauding investors is a term in prison.”
As set forth in the Complaint, Indictment, and the evidence presented at trial:
CARTON and Joseph Meli worked together to induce investors to provide them with millions of dollars, based on representations that the investor funds would be used to purchase blocks of tickets to concerts, which would then be resold on the secondary market.  CARTON and Meli purportedly had access to those blocks of tickets based on agreements that Meli had with a company that promotes live music and entertainment events (the “Concert Promotion Company”) and that CARTON had with a company that operates two arenas in the New York metropolitan area (the “Sports and Entertainment Company”).  In fact, neither the Concert Promotion Company nor the Sports and Entertainment Company had any such agreement with CARTON, co-defendant Michael Wright, Meli, or any entity associated with them.  After receiving the investor funds, CARTON, Wright, and Meli misappropriated those funds, using them to, among other things, pay personal debts and repay prior investors as part of a Ponzi-like scheme.   
In the fall of 2016, CARTON, Wright, and Meli exchanged emails and text messages regarding their existing debts.  On September 5, 2016, for example, Wright emailed CARTON and Meli, “for the sake of our conversation tomorrow,” and outlined “the debt past due and due next week.”  Wright listed several apparent creditors, to whom he, Meli, and/or CARTON were personally indebted for over $1 million.  Wright listed eight possible options for repaying the debt, including “Run to Costa Rica, change name, and start life all over again – may not be an option.”  CARTON responded to Wright and Meli, stating “don’t forget I have $1m coming tomorrow from ticket investor[.]  will need to be discussed how to handle.”  On September 7, 2016, CARTON emailed Wright and Meli, referenced a potential investor (“Investor-1”) in an upcoming holiday concert tour, and suggested “borrow[ing] against projected profits” on that investment. 
Later in the fall of 2016, CARTON began negotiating with a hedge fund (the “Hedge Fund”) regarding a transaction in which the Hedge Fund would extend CARTON capital to finance CARTON’s purchase of event tickets, which CARTON would then resell at a profit.  In early December 2016, Meli texted CARTON and Wright and discussed using the Hedge Fund’s capital “to repay debts,” and not for the purchase of tickets. 
The next day, December 7, 2016, CARTON emailed the Hedge Fund five agreements between (i) Meli and a company controlled by Meli (the “Meli Entity”) and (ii) the Concert Promotion Company.  In each of the purported agreements, the Concert Promotion Company agreed to sell the Meli Entity up $10 million worth of tickets to different concert tours.  However, these agreements were fraudulent and had not, in fact, been entered into by the Concert Promotion Company.
The following day, the Hedge Fund and CARTON executed the revolving loan agreement (the “Revolving Loan Agreement”), under which the Hedge Fund agreed to provide CARTON with up to $10 million, for the purpose of funding investments in the purchase of tickets for events.  The Revolving Loan Agreement provided, in sum and substance, that the proceeds of the loan would be used only to purchase tickets pursuant to agreements for the acquisition of tickets, including the agreements with the Concert Promotion Company, and for limited business expenses.  The Hedge Fund would receive a share of the profits from the resale of the tickets.
The Hedge Fund then sent $700,000 to the Meli Entity to finance the purchase of tickets pursuant to the agreements between the Meli Entity and the Concert Promotion Company.  Meli, however, then sent this money to a bank account controlled by Wright, who then, on December 12, sent $200,000 to CARTON’s personal bank account (the “CARTON Bank Account”), which CARTON then wired to a casino.  Also on December 12, Wright sent another $500,000 to an individual who had previously lent CARTON $500,000, which was due to be repaid that day.
Later in December 2016, the Hedge Fund sent an additional $1.9 million to the Meli Entity, to finance the purchase of tickets pursuant to agreements between the Meli Entity and the Concert Promotion Company.  Once again, the Concert Promotion Company had not entered into any such agreements.  Meli, Wright, and CARTON engaged in text messages regarding the disposition of these funds.  Some of the money was used by Meli to repay two individuals who had previously invested with Meli in a related scheme involving the purported investment in the resale of tickets, and by CARTON to pay casinos and to pay Investor-1 a purported return on an earlier investment in a ticket-related venture, among other things.
CARTON also induced the Hedge Fund to wire $2 million to the Sports and Entertainment Company, based on a purported agreement CARTON purportedly had with the Sports and Entertainment Company (the “Sports and Entertainment Company Agreement”).  The Sports and Entertainment Company Agreement purportedly gave an entity controlled by CARTON (the “CARTON Entity”) the right to purchase $2 million of tickets to concerts at one of the venues operated by the Sports and Entertainment Company.  CARTON, among other things, sent the Hedge Fund a copy of the Sports and Entertainment Company Agreement that purportedly had been signed by the chief executive officer of the Sports and Entertainment Company.  However, this agreement was fraudulent and had never been entered into by the Sports and Entertainment Company or signed by the chief executive officer. 
On December 20, 2016, when the Hedge Fund wired the $2 million to the Sports and Entertainment Company, CARTON contacted the Sports and Entertainment Company and told them, in sum and substance, that the wire had been sent in error and should be sent to the bank account for an entity operated by CARTON and Wright, for which Wright is the signatory.  After the money was rewired to that account, Wright wired $966,000 to Wright’s personal bank account and $700,000 to the CARTON Bank Account.  CARTON then wired approximately $188,000 from the CARTON Bank Account, including at least $133,000 in wires to several casinos.
In addition to the prison term, CARTON, 50, of New York, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $4,835,186.56 in restitution and to forfeit $4,590,000.  CARTON’S co-defendant, Michael Wright, pled guilty on September 27, 2018, to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. 
Joseph Meli pled guilty to securities fraud in October 2017 and is currently serving a 78-month sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood in April 2018.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thanked the Boston Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Eight Men Sentenced To Prison In Connection With Telemarketing Fraud Scheme Targeting The Elderly

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that eight defendants have been sentenced in connection with their participation in a scheme to defraud victims – many of whom were elderly – by soliciting payments over the telephone.  ARASH KETABCHI, a/k/a “Zach Peterson,” RAYMOND QUILES, CHRISTOPHER WILSON, a/k/a “Eric Fields,” JACK KAVNER, a/k/a “Bob Wiley,” a/k/a “Phil Powers,” JOSEPH McGOWAN, and ANTHONY MEDEIROS pled guilty in 2018.  ANDREW OWIMRIN, a/k/a “Andrew Owens,” a/k/a “Jonathan Stewart,” and SHAHRAM KETABCHI, a/k/a “Steve Ketabchi,” were convicted following a 12-day trial before United States District Judge Sidney H. Stein. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Motivated by greed and the possibility of a quick payday, these defendants aggressively targeted the elderly and other vulnerable victims by convincing them to invest their money in various businesses.  In reality, these so-called opportunities were just fraudulent schemes to steal victims’ money.  Now, they have all been sentenced to prison.”
According to the allegations in the complaint and indictments filed in connection with this case, other filings in Manhattan federal court, and evidence presented at the trial of OWIMRIN and SHAHRAM KETABCHI:
Beginning in October 2013 through March 2017, ARASH KETABCHI, WILSON, KAVNER, McGOWAN, and others operated a group of telemarketing companies (the “Telemarketing Companies”) that engaged in a fraudulent scheme (the “Telemarketing Scheme”), by which they promised to earn victims (the “Victims”) money in exchange for particular Victims making an initial cash “investment” in business development, website design, grant applications, or tax preparation services.  Many Victims, the majority of whom are over 70 years old, “invested” thousands of dollars with the Telemarketing Companies, but did not earn any of the promised returns.  When Victims of the Telemarketing Scheme sought refunds, or fought credit card charges, the Telemarketing Companies provided explanations and documentation to the credit card companies falsely representing that the Victims had received the promised services.  QUILES operated a company that provided so-called “fulfillment” services for the Telemarketing Companies, whereby QUILES’s company would send nominal items, such as boilerplate pamphlets, to Victims in order to help the Telemarketing Companies falsely demonstrate to credit card companies that they had provided services to the Victims.  OWIMRIN and MEDEIROS worked as sales representatives for the Telemarketing Companies.  SHAHRAM KETABCHI was responsible for, among other things, the submission of documents to the credit card companies in order to challenge the Victims’ attempts to recover their funds.
Five other individuals have pled guilty in connection with this case, and await sentencing:
Defendant Name
Count(s) of Conviction
William Sinclair
Olive Branch Marketing,
Paramount Business Solutions
Wire Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
(18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1349)
Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering
(18 U.S.C. § 1956(h))
Michael Finocchiaro
Olive Branch Marketing,
Paramount Business Solutions
Wire Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
(18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1349)
Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering
(18 U.S.C. § 1956(h))
Narcotics Conspiracy
(21 U.S.C. § 846)
Daniel Quirk
Carlyle Management Group,
Vanguard Business Solutions
Wire Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
(18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1349)
Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering
(18 U.S.C. § 1956(h))
Narcotics Conspiracy
(21 U.S.C. § 846)
Peter DiQuarto
Olive Branch Marketing,
Carlyle Management Group,
Vanguard Business Solutions.
A1 Business Consultants
Wire Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
(18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1349)
Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering
(18 U.S.C. § 1956(h))
Narcotics Conspiracy
(21 U.S.C. § 846)
Brooke Marcus
First Trend,
Elite Business Services
Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
(18 U.S.C. § 1349)
ARASH KETABCHI, 45, of Wayne, New Jersey, was sentenced by Judge Stein on March 27, 2019, to 87 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $1,059,803.84 and to pay $563,427.99 in restitution.
RAYMOND QUILES, 41, of Old Bridge, New Jersey, was sentenced by Judge Stein on March 27, 2019, to 366 days in prison and three years of supervised release, ordered to perform 480 hours of community service, and to forfeit $542,673.30.
CHRISTOPHER WILSON, 33, of Teaneck, New Jersey, was sentenced by Judge Stein on April 3, 2019, to 78 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $485,818.84 and to pay $397,850.80 in restitution.
JACK KAVNER, 32, of West New York, New Jersey, was sentenced by Judge Stein on April 3, 2019, to 51 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $150,000 and to pay $1,705,586.05 in restitution.
JOSEPH McGOWAN, 32, of Port Chester, New York, was sentenced by Judge Stein on April 3, 2019, to 72 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $1,763,582.05 and to pay $1,705,586.05 in restitution.
ANDREW OWIMRIN, 29, of Montvale, New Jersey, was sentenced by Judge Stein on March 27, 2019, to 52 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $100,000.
SHAHRAM KETABCHI, 48, of Rancho Mission Viejo, California, was sentenced by Judge Stein on March 28, 2019, to four months in prison, three years of supervised release, including six months of home confinement, and 480 hours of community service.  SHAHRAM KETABCHI was also ordered to forfeit $30,825 and to pay $563,427.99 in restitution.
ANTHONY MEDEIROS, 38, of Bloomfield, New Jersey, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nelson S. Román on September 11, 2018, to 66 months in prison and three years of supervised release.   
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the New York City Police Department. 
If you believe you have been a victim of these telemarketing companies:  A1 Business Consultants, Elevated Business Consultants, Element Business Services, Prestige Worldwide Enterprises, Olive Branch Marketing, CTO Consulting, Carlyle Management Group, or Vanguard Business Solutions, please contact Wendy Olsen-Clancy, the Victim Witness Coordinator at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at 866-874-8900 or  You may also report it to Detective Christopher Bastos of the New York City Police Department at 917-480-7167 or 

Attorney General James Announces Criminal Convictions of Six Defendants Charged in New York City Insurance Fraud Ring Take Down

Brooklyn-Based Fraud Ring Stole Over $120K from Insurance Carriers by Submitting Fake Accident Claims for High-End Vehicles  

  Attorney General Letitia James today announced the convictions of six individuals for their participation in a sophisticated auto insurance fraud scheme, in which the defendants cheated insurance carriers out of over $120,000 by submitting fake property damage claims for high-end vehicles.   

“This scheme was a brazen attempt to game the insurance system for profit,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “When individuals organize to commit insurance fraud, all New York consumers pay the cost. My office remains committed to rooting out fraud of any kind, and this is no exception.”  
The following defendants pleaded guilty in Kings County Supreme Court for their roles in the scheme:   
  • Carlington Haye, age 37, of Kings County, New York  
  • Keon Cole, age 35, of Kings County, New York 
  • Theresa King, age 28, of Kings County, New York 
  • Mkada Beach, age 38, of Kings County, New York 
  • Dexter Karl, age 29, of Kings County, New York 
  • Omari Brown., age 24, of Kings County, New York  
According to the Attorney General’s indictment and statements made by prosecutors, between January 2014 and September 2015, members of this insurance fraud ring conspired to submit 11 fake property damage claims, which included multiple false representations, including the manner in which car accidents and purported damages occurred. The defendants also resubmitted claims for the same vehicles with pre-existing damages multiple times. In order to maximize insurance payments, the defendants utilized high-end vehicles, including a Lexus, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and a Bentley. In furtherance of their scheme, the defendants also used the stolen identity of a United States service member in three of the fake claims.   
The defendants received payments ranging from $5,000 to over $20,000 for their fake property damage claims, and cashed insurance checks at two Pay-O-Matic check cashing branches in Kings County, New York. In total, the defendants fraudulently obtained a total of over $120,000 in insurance payments for their counterfeit claims.   
The Attorney General’s 42-count indictment, filed in Kings County Supreme Court on June 2, 2017, charged the defendants with Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree (a class C felony), Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree (a class D felony), Identity Theft in First Degree (a class D felony), Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class D felony), Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class E felony), Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony) and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree (a class A misdemeanor).   
All six defendants charged pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Defendant Teresa King pleaded guilty to Insurance Fraud in the Fourth Degree, a Class E felony, and was sentenced to 1 year in jail. Defendant Carlington Haye pleaded guilty to Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree, a Class C felony, as part of the plea will serve 90 days in jail, will be sentenced to 5 years’ probation, and must pay over $120,000 in restitution. Defendant Keon Cole pleaded guilty to Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, a Class D felony, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 5 years’ probation, and ordered to pay over $50,000 in restitution. Defendant Mkada Beach pleaded guilty to Insurance Fraud in the Fourth Degree and was sentenced to 5 years’ probation. Defendant Dexter Karl pleaded guilty to Insurance Fraud in the Fifth Degree, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to a conditional discharged and ordered to pay over $6,000 in restitution. Defendant Omari Brown pleaded guilty to Attempted Petit Larceny, a Class B misdemeanor, and was sentenced to a conditional discharge and also ordered to pay over $9,000 in restitution.   
“The National Insurance Crime Bureau would like to applaud the staff of the New York State Attorney General’s Office for their continued efforts to combat insurance fraud in New York,” said Kevin Gallagher, Regional Director of the Northeast Region of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “The cost of insurance fraud is shared by all consumers, and these convictions send a strong message to others who may be contemplating engaging in insurance fraud. We look forward to our continued partnership in combatting insurance fraud for all New Yorkers.”  
These convictions are the culmination of a long-term investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Unit. Attorney General James thanks the National Insurance Crime Bureau, New York State Department of Financial Services, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, New York City Police Department, New York City Department of Finance Office of the City Register, and the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for their invaluable assistance in this case. The Attorney General also thanks State Farm Insurance Co., GEICO Insurance Co., Nationwide Insurance Co., United Services Automobile Association, and Progressive Insurance for their valuable assistance.   

Attorney General James Announces Lawsuit Against New York City Stem Cell Clinic For Scamming Vulnerable Patients Out Of Thousands

Park Avenue Stem Cell Deceived New Yorkers Into Paying Thousands of Dollars For Unproven And Potentially Harmful Stem Cell Procedures 

  Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit filed against Park Avenue Stem Cell, a New York City for-profit stem cell clinic, and its managing doctor, Dr. Joel B. Singer, M.D., for allegedly engaging in fraudulent and illegal advertising regarding its stem cell procedures.   

Through advertising efforts, the clinic led vulnerable patients to believe it could treat a variety of serious medical conditions using the patients’ own stem cells, including, but not limited to: urological diseases, erectile dysfunction, cardiac/pulmonary disease, neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and ALS, various autoimmune diseases such as lupus, and orthopedic conditions. While stem cells hold promise for future use, there is currently no adequate scientific substantiation that stem cells can effectively treat any of these conditions.  Despite this, the Defendants charged consumers nearly $4,000 per procedure, with many consumers paying for multiple procedures. 
“Misleading vulnerable consumers who are desperate to find a treatment for serious and painful medical conditions is unacceptable, unlawful, and immoral,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “We will continue to investigate these types of clinics that shamelessly add to the suffering of these consumers by charging them thousands of dollars for treatments that they know are unproven.” 
The complaint also alleges that Defendants misrepresented that their procedures were FDA-approved, that their patients are participating in an established research study, and that their procedures have been endorsed by several scientific and medical organizations.  
In the United States, stem cell products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”).  Currently, the only stem cell-based products that have been approved by the FDA are blood-forming stem cells derived from cord-blood, which have been approved for limited use. Instead, the defendants, used stem cells obtained from the patient’s own adipose tissue, commonly known as fat, for a wide range of conditions.  
Until at least late 2018, Park Avenue Stem Cell was affiliated with the Cell Surgical Network, a California corporation that was sued by the FDA in May 2018 for allegedly administering stem cell products that were adulterated or misbranded and not approved. The FDA seeks a permanent injunction against the corporation, a related entity and their two main doctors.  As an affiliate, Park Avenue Stem Cell followed the protocols prescribed by CSN. 
For more information on important factors to consider when evaluating stem cell therapies, visit the FDA website

Comptroller Stringer Issues Subpoena for Information on $173 Million Purchase of 17 Buildings

“It has been reported that the City has now closed its deal to purchase 17 buildings in the Bronx and Brooklyn. I have repeatedly expressed concern regarding the $173 million price tag that, to date, has lacked any trace of transparency. My office has made multiple requests to see the appraisals and documents that support this seemingly inflated price, and the explanations provided by the City so far have raised more questions than answers. The City has refused to provide my office with all of the documents and information it relied on to make their decisions. The time for excuses is over and I am therefore issuing a subpoena for any and all appraisals and any other information supporting this deal.
“Let me be clear, converting cluster sites into affordable housing is good for New York City. I have long called for the phasing out of the cluster site program and strategic development of affordable housing – but how we get there is just as important. The difference in price between the original estimates and the final settled deal could have been used to create even more affordable housing units. New Yorkers deserve to know whether or not the City is spending their tax dollars responsibly. I am confident that our subpoena will bring these closely-guarded documents to light and provide answers as to whether or not this was a good deal for New Yorkers.”

Comptroller Stringer Calls on DOT to Immediately Explore Taking Over NYC Ferry

“New Yorkers deserve reliable and comprehensive public transit systems, but not at the expense of transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility. The Economic Development Corporation’s contract with NYC Ferry operator Hornblower raises serious questions about the exploding costs and liabilities that the City is choosing to absorb, all while handing over millions in revenue to a private contractor – questions that to-date have not been sufficiently answered.
“We must do better. That’s why I’m calling on the city Department of Transportation to immediately explore taking over NYC Ferry. This has the potential to improve efficiency and public savings across the board – capitalizing on DOT’s experience running the Staten Island Ferry, eliminating administrative redundancies, allowing the City to keep all fare box and concession revenues, and providing a level of budgetary and operational transparency that EDC has to-date refused to provide. Given all of these potential benefits, DOT should examine the feasibility of such a takeover as soon as possible.”

Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr - Open Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio

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

You should know that I received a copy of a letter that an organization called Aguila sent to Mayor de Blasio. Aguila is one of many agencies created by our Puerto Rican and hispanics pioneers in the Bronx, and that in the last few years has been confronting a sophisticated elimination.

Aguila and other hispanics organizations in the Bronx have been systematically transferred to other organizations from outside of the borough (mostly from Brooklyn) with apparent political direct connection to City Hall.

Please read the Open Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio


March 28, 2019

Honorable Bill de Blasio Mayor,
City of New York City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

Aguila, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Latino based organization based in the South Bronx that partners with the City of New York to provide housing and support services. Since our founding in 1998, we have helped thousands of families thrive while employing hundreds of people from the local community. Today, we remain committed to our mission and to the administration’s goals outlined in Turning the Tide on Homelessness — a leading, comprehensive plan to address homelessness in our City. Despite our good work, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has worked to systematically dismantle Aguila.

Aguila has made repeated attempts to meet and work with DHS leadership to improve conditions, address concerns and create a productive working dialogue. However, our phone calls, emails and overtures are consistently disregarded. Therefore, we write this letter to bring your attention to several matters that require further inquiry:

In 2018, MOCS/DHS requested that Aguila signed an affidavit stating that a relationship with the Podolsky’s did not exist. Under duress, I was coerced into signing this affidavit even though the City knows full well that Aguila manages multiple buildings owned by the Podolsky’s.

Aguila has been cited for a lack of security yet Aguila is consistently denied security personnel increases. Most recently DHS rejected a security wage increase for Aguila but then proceeded to approve similar requests from our peer providers. Aguila has been cited most recently, for clients’ biopsychosocial not completed within 30 days of intake (2016), yet CCC (social workers) initiative was not rolled out until 2017.

For over 10 years, Aguila operated the Briggs Family Residence. Subsequent to an RFP process, the Residence was assigned to another provider, Housing Bridges. The Mayor’s Office of Contracts informed Aguila staff that despite having the highest score, determined by the formal and established RFP process, the contract was being awarded to another provider. In short, the City did not like the result of the RFP process and therefore changed the rules.

Unlike other organizations, Aguila’s leadership is composed of Latina and Latino’s from the community that were not formerly members of the DHS administration, the Mayor’s transition team or are otherwise politically influential. Unfortunately, a clear trend has evolved whereby those with the proper relationships are awarded programs that have to date been operated by Aguila. In sum, a systematic dismantling and reassignment of Aguila is underway.

As DHS’ efforts to dismantle Aguila have progressed, Aguila’s staff have taken notice, as many of their coworkers are no longer employed. The uncertainty of not having a job has created a pervasive fear within the organization, leading to staff turnover, low morale, loss of employment of over 125 employees, plus over 400 plus vendors’ employees from various sectors, 9security, maintenance, extermination, etc., and ultimately a dismantling of Aguila’s internal infrastructure — all a result of DHS actions.

In furtherance of the City’s established goals in Turning the Tide on Homelessness to create additional housing, Aguila has presented multiple new shelter locations to DHS for consideration. Each time the location has been rejected with limited to no explanation despite meeting the City’s stated criteria for new facilities.

As one of three Latina women serving as Chief Executive Officer of a non-profit organization in the Bronx, I’ve developed a reputation as a steadfast advocate for the proper administration of public funds — it is our moral and fiduciary responsibility. In continuation of this commitment, Aguila requests that City Hall look into the above matters as well as the decision-making process and actions of the Department of Homeless Services and the Mayor’s Office of Contracts. In addition, until a full and comprehensive review is completed, DHS’ dismantling of Aguila should not be permitted to continue. These matters, and DHS’ motivations, must be fully understood.

Thank you for the consideration of this request.


Jenny Rivera Lozada
CEO-Aguila Inc.

Hermínia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services,
Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez Special Advisor
Steven Bank, Department of Social Services Commissioner
Marco A. Carrion, Commissioner of New York City's Community Affairs 
Jose Serrano, United State Congressman, 32nd District
Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President
Luis Sepulveda, NYS Senator
Gustavo Rivera, NYS Senator
Marcos Crespo, Assemblyman
Michael Blake, Assemblyman
Karina Reyes, Assemblywoman
Carmen dela Rosa, Assemblywoman
Ruben Diaz, Sr., Councilman
Rafael Salamanca, Councilman
Ritchie Torres, Councilman

News and Upcoming Events From Councilman Mark Gjonaj

Sign the Petition Against the Morris Park Avenue Road Diet Plan
Please support our local businesses and community by signing a petition and voicing your opposition to the proposed Road Diet Plan for the Morris Park Avenue Commercial Corridor and the main artery for many hospitals in our District.

Friends of Van Cortlandt Park - Applications Now Available for Summer Internships

Summer Tibbetts Brook Restoration Crew Internship
During the six-week summer internship in 2019, the Restoration Crew will remove non-native Water Chestnut from the waters of Van Cortlandt Lake to improve its health. The Crew will also assist in floodplain forest enhancement, improving the native habitat of the forests that border Tibbetts Brook, thus improving the brooks health. The internship is physically demanding and requires interns to work out on the water for six hours a day. Training in freshwater ecology, lake management, tool use and data collection will be provided to all interns. 
Garden 2 Market Internship
When we understand where our food comes from, and where it goes, we can make better decisions about what we buy and eat! This internship is for anyone interested in our food system and covers topics from growing to selling and eating. During the summer interns spend time in our garden learning about growing vegetables, composting and the social and community aspects of a garden, and time exploring food justice issues and learning about the business of running a farm stand. They learn everything from ordering and pricing to stocking the table and completing a sale. They gain communication skills and become advocates for healthy eating in their community. The internship includes many chances to taste and cook new foods and recipes- because no internship about food is complete without eating! 


Friends of Van Cortlandt Park


80 Van Cortlandt Park South Ste. E1
Bronx, NY 10463, US

Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway 42nf Annual Breakfast

  On Sunday March 31st the room at Bronx House was packed with supporters of the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway, and there was a distinct feeling of success. The Executive Director of the JCCPP Mr. David Edelstein  said that the emergency food program had distributed a quarter of a million dollars of food assistance to local people in need. He also spoke about the JCCPP Crisis Prevention Program, Assistance to over one-hundred and forty households to avoid Utility Turn-Offs, and the many hundreds of people who have been given the JCCPP's expert advice in applying for government benefits, or seniors who received holiday food packages. 

The honorees included State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, Councilman Mark Gjonaj, Newspaper Publisher Laura Guerriero, and Rabbi Yitzchak Gross.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez were held up in Albany due to the completion of the state budget talks, but had representatives receive their plaques for them. 

Above - Councilman Mark Gjonaj receives his award from David Edelstein Executive Director of the JCCPP. With Councilman Gjonaj are representatives of the Kosovo and Albanian governments. 
Below - Ms. Laura Guerriero Publisher of the Bronx Times Reporter receives her award. With Ms. Guerriero are (L - R)  Charles Landsberg President, Steven Glosser Treasurer, and David Edelstein Executive Director of the JCCPP.

Rabbi Yitzchak Gross receives the Young Leadership Award from David Edelstein Executive Director, Charles Landsberg President of the JCCPP.

The Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway is located at 2157 Holland Avenue Bronx NY. 10462. 718-792-4744.


  On Thursday April 4, 2019, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined with New York State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas to host the annual Bronx Greek Heritage Celebration at St. Peter the Apostle Greek Orthodox Church in Kingsbridge.  

Honorees at this year’s program included George Manesis, owner of Billy’s Sports Bar; Steve Zervoudis, owner of Galaxy General Construction; Anne Prokop, principal at the Greek American Institute; Costas Papavasilakis, founder of the Dale-Way Auto Body Center; Katherine Kapsis and Georgia Poulos, owners of Columbia Florist; and Merkourios Angeliades, president of M.A. Angeliades, Inc. 

The program included Greek dancing and songs performed by students of the Evdoxia Levesanos School and a short lecture on Greek heritage by journalist-sociologist Despina Afentouli, PhD.

"The Greek culture gave us a template for democracy and the Greek diaspora are pillars of our community today with their strong focus on family and helping the community," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "As Borough President, I thank all the honorees for making The Bronx a better place."

Join Senators Biaggi, Rivera, and Bailey at Their First Joint New York State Senate Post-Budget Forum on April 11 at Fordham University!

Former Reality Television Series “Bad Girl” Sentenced To 1 Year In Prison

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that SHANNADE CLERMONT was sentenced to one year in prison for making and attempting more than $20,000 in fraudulent charges using debit card information she stole from a man who died during the course of a prostitution date with her.  CLERMONT pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in November 2018 before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who also presided over today’s sentencing. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Former reality TV ‘Bad Girl’ Shannade Clermont lived up to her on-screen persona, as she admitted to stealing the debit card information from a man she visited for a prostitution date in his Manhattan apartment.  When the man died of an overdose, instead of notifying the authorities or calling for help, Clermont callously chose to use the man’s debit card information to make tens of thousands of dollars in illegal purchases.  As Shannade Clermont has now learned, her real-life bad behavior has real-life consequences, and has now landed her in federal prison.”      
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint and Indictment to which CLERMONT pled guilty and other filings in the case:
The New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York had been investigating the overdose death of a male individual (the “Victim”), who was found dead on the morning of February 1, 2017, in his apartment at 250 East 53rd Street in Manhattan, New York (the “Victim Apartment”).  During the course of that investigation, law enforcement learned that CLERMONT visited the Victim for a prostitution date at the Victim Apartment the previous evening (January 31, 2017), and stole the information for two debit cards in his wallet.  CLERMONT admitted that she stole the debit card information after the Victim passed out during the prostitution date.  CLERMONT then used the stolen debit card information to make or attempt to make more than $20,000 in fraudulent purchases during the months following the Victim’s death, including to pay her rent and phone bills, to purchase flights, and to make several online purchases of thousands of dollars of luxury clothing and other merchandise, including, among other items, Valentino shoes, a Phillip Plein jacket, Beats headphones, as well as a gift certificate at a beauty salon.
CLERMONT also created and used a fake email account in the Victim’s name to falsely represent to third parties that she was the Victim, in order to commit fraud using the Victim’s identity.  Specifically, on April 3, 2017, approximately two months after the Victim’s death, the fake email account was used to register an account with Western Union in the name of the Victim, which was used to initiate a fraudulent money transfer of $1,000 from the Victim to CLERMONT. 
In an interview by law enforcement after she was arrested, Clermont stated, in substance and in part, that she committed this crime at least in part due to the stress of keeping up her public image.
In addition to the prison sentence, CLERMONT, 25, of Los Angeles, California, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $5,775.27 and pay $4,696.40 in restitution. 
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD.