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.
Friday, April 5, 2019
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.
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.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
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
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
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.
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
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. www.jccpelhamparkway.org.
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!
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.