Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the unsealing of a complaint charging GARRETT KELSEY with sending threats to a Manhattan-based Jewish organization (the “Victim Organization”) by email and phone. KELSEY was arrested in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this morning and is expected to be presented before a Magistrate Judge in the Northern District of Iowa.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files Lawsuit Against Spinal Implant Company, Its CEO, And Another Executive For Illegally Paying Millions Of Dollars In Kickbacks To Surgeons In Exchange For Using Its Products
Suit Alleges Approximately Half of Company’s Spinal Product Sales Were for Procedures Performed by Surgeons Who Received Payments from Company
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (“HHS-OIG”), announced today that the United States has filed a civil healthcare fraud lawsuit against LIFE SPINE INC. (“LIFE SPINE”), MICHAEL BUTLER, the founder, president, and chief executive officer of LIFE SPINE, and RICHARD GREIBER, the vice president of business development of LIFE SPINE. The Government’s complaint seeks damages and civil penalties under the False Claims Act for paying kickbacks in the form of millions of dollars of consulting fees, royalties, and intellectual property acquisition fees to surgeons to induce them to use LIFE SPINE’s spinal implants, devices, and equipment. The lawsuit alleges that the surgeons who received these payments accounted for approximately half of LIFE SPINE’s total domestic sales of spinal products from 2012 through 2018. As set forth in the complaint, these payments violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and, as a result of this unlawful conduct, LIFE SPINE, BUTLER, and GREIBER caused hospitals and surgeons to submit false claims for payment to Medicare and Medicaid.
Coalition of 18 AGs Argue that Second Amendment Allows States to Adopt Gun Safety Laws
Attorney General Letitia James, working with a group of 17 additional Attorneys General from across the nation, today defended California’s ban on large-capacity magazines (LCM) holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. In an amicus brief filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Attorneys General argue that states have the right to enact reasonable firearm restrictions that protect public safety and reduce the prevalence and lethality of gun violence.
“Large-capacity magazines threaten our communities and have no place in our stores, on our streets, or in our homes,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “These rapid-fire bullet delivery systems not only endanger the safety and well-being of New Yorkers, but all Americans, which is why we remain committed to upholding California’s longstanding, constitutional laws. We must never stop fighting to safeguard our communities from senseless, preventable gun violence.”
Attorney General James and the 17 other Attorneys General filed this amicus brief in Duncan v. Becerra, a lawsuit challenging California’s prohibition on large-capacity magazines. The lawsuit was filed by a group of gun owners and the California Rifle & Pistol Association, a state affiliate of the National Rifle Association (NRA), after the passage of California’s Proposition 63 in 2016.
Since 2000, the State of California has prohibited the manufacture, importation, and sale of large-capacity magazines. In 2016, both the California legislature and the California electorate — through Proposition 63 — went further and banned the possession of LCMs that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, in order to improve enforcement efforts and to further stem the proliferation of large-capacity magazines in the state. Nine other states — including New York — and the District of Columbia have also enacted laws banning large-capacity magazines. The constitutionality of those laws have been unanimously upheld by federal courts of appeals.
In April 2019, a lower court struck down California’s prohibition on large-capacity magazines in total. California has appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit and the ruling is currently stayed.
In this amicus brief, the states collectively argue that a ban on large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction that California has the right to adopt because:
- The Second Amendment does not prevent states from enacting common-sense gun safety measures: The brief explains that states are entitled to adopt reasonable restrictions on firearms to address the unique conditions within their borders and protect public safety. Restricting access to large-capacity magazines is a reasonable restriction because it would reduce firearm injuries and deaths while leaving many other options open for individuals who wish to exercise their core Second Amendment right to self-defense.
- States have a responsibility to prevent gun violence and protect public safety: The brief notes that states have primary responsibility for ensuring public safety. This includes a duty to reduce the likelihood that their citizens will fall victim to preventable firearm violence, and to minimize fatalities and injuries when that violence does occur. The brief notes that deciding how best to protect the safety of state residents is a question better suited to legislatures than to courts.
- Regulating large-capacity magazines protects the public: The brief cites evidence that large-capacity magazines are especially attractive to mass shooters and criminals, posing increased risks to innocent civilians and law enforcement. At the same time, there is no proof that large-capacity magazines are necessary — or even commonly used — for self-defense.
In addition to filing today’s amicus brief, Attorney General James and the Office of the New York State Attorney General has consistently taken action to protect communities from gun violence. Attorney General James has continued the office’s gun buyback events taking 2,505 firearms to-date off the hands of New Yorkers. The office also cracked down on illegal trafficking of firearms across state lines so the safety of New Yorkers is not jeopardized by lenient gun laws in neighboring states. Additionally, the office developed Model Gun Show Procedures, a series of safety procedures for gun show operators in New York State, and announced new policies to help social media sites curb illegal sales of firearms on their platforms.
Joining Attorney General James in filing the amicus brief were the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
Attorney General James Objects To Mortgage Servicer's Unlawful Attempt To Strip Away Rights Of Homeowners
Attorney General Letitia James has taken action against Ditech Holding Corporation (Ditech) by filing a brief in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, opposing the mortgage servicer’s attempted end-run around statutory protections for homeowners.
“Bankruptcy Court should never be used as a tool to unjustly oust New Yorkers from their homes,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Ditech’s action is an illegal attempt to strip hundreds of homeowners of their legitimate claims and eviscerate New York’s carefully-created foreclosure process. Housing is a right, and we will continue to use every legal tool at our disposal to stand up for homeowners and to protect their rights.”
Ditech currently has more than 880 active foreclosure actions pending across New York State. Homeowners organized the Consumer Creditors Committee to ensure that the courts do not permit the company to sweep their rights under the rug. Homeowners are demanding that their claims and defenses — which include significant money damages — not be extinguished in Bankruptcy Court.
Attorney General James — in support of the Consumer Creditors’ Committee — is filing the objection to ensure that vulnerable homeowners, who were victims of predatory lending and mortgage servicing abuses, including seniors with reverse mortgages, can assert their rights under the protections of New York’s robust judicial foreclosure process.
In addition to filing this motion, the Office of the New York State Attorney General currently has an open investigation into Reverse Mortgage Solutions (RMS), a reverse mortgage servicer that is owned by Ditech.
This past March, Attorney General James took a similar action when a building owner in Manhattan attempted to flout rent regulation laws and displace tenants.
SPECIAL NARCOTICS GRAND JURY REPORT DOCUMENTS IMPACT OF FENTANYL ANALOGS ON OPIOID EPIDEMIC IN NEW YORK CITY
Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor and New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill announced today the release of a Grand Jury report documenting the impact of fentanyl analogs on the opioid epidemic in New York City. The report is the first of its kind issued by a Special Narcotics Grand Jury.
Comptroller Stringer: As Census Moves Online, New York City’s Digital Divide Threatens to Help Trump Undercount Communities of Color
Comptroller’s report finds numerous NYC neighborhoods where more than one-third of households lack internet access, rising up to 50% in others
Harmony Day is when police officers, young people enrolled in the Explorers Program (run by the NYPD), and children from all over the Bronx get together to have fun in Van Cortlandt Park. This year over 4,000 children participated with police officers from the Community Affairs units of all twelve Bronx Police precincts and young people enrolled in the precincts respective Explorers Program. There was fun, games, and lots of food for all. Harmony Day is a yearly event at Van Cortlandt Park for children, those enrolled in the Explorers program, and of course police officers coming from all areas of the Bronx to have fun together.
Above - A face painter was on hand to to make up the children.
Below - Officers from the local 50th Precinct get to take a break from all the fun.
Community Affairs officers from all twelve Bronx police precincts got together to sit for one group photo.
The Southeast Bronx Community Council would appreciate your coverage of our Third Annual Community Takeback!
This event draws 100s of attendees for food, games, music and activities! The focus is to support victims of gun violence and the communities that support them. There will be face painting, balloon artist, boxing lessons, break dancing, basketball lessons and art
contact Michael Beltzer at 917-485-8949 for more information.
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO ON THE PASSAGE OF THE NEVER FORGET THE HEROES: JAMES ZADROGA, RAY PFEIFER, AND LUIS ALVAREZ PERMANENT AUTHORIZATION OF THE SEPTEMBER 11TH VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND ACT
“The heroes who rushed to action during our city’s darkest hour put their lives on the line to protect their fellow Americans. It’s anextraordinary service and one deserving of our nation’s never-ending gratitude. With the passage of the permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund, no first responder or survivor will have to worry about receiving the support they deserve. On behalf of the people of New York, I am extremely grateful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Representatives Nadler and Maloney, and the entire New York delegation, as well as the responders, survivors, and activists for their resolve and for leading the charge to pass this bill.”
We’re excited to share with you the busy week we had in District 32 full of community events, Know Your Rights workshops, and Family Days.
There were also some devastating power outages at NYCHA Jackson Houses and alarming fires at 1466 Watson Ave. but we were on the ground to ensure that tenants' needs were being met, and in some cases needed to be evacuated. Our residents’ safety and well-being are our highest priority.
Furthermore, our weekend was packed with great community events, including the NYPD 41st Precinct Unity in the Bronx, 8th Annual Bronx Pride, 22nd Annual Children’s Day at Thessalonia Baptist Church, NYCHA Forest Houses Family Day, and the Hispanic Federation’s Annual Family Health Expo Vive Tu Vida.
We partnered with Bronx Legal Services, NYC Immigrants Affairs, and Bronx Immigration Partnership Emergency Preparedness Clinic to provide informational Know Your Rights workshops for our neighbors. With ICE raids happening across our state and country, we must remain vigilant.
Strengthening our international ties is very important for our communities and the district. I was honored to welcome our special guests from Bangladesh, Consulate General Sadia Faizunnesa and Minister of Planning Muhammad Abdul Mannan, in Parkchester and the President of Taiwan in New York, Tsai Ing-wen, with my colleagues at the Taipei Economic Culture Dinner.
Lastly, this past week, we heard of the tragic passing of Hector Figueroa, a legendary leader who fought tirelessly for workers’ rights and community justice. We will forever honor his legacy and continue his commitment to labor rights.
New York Senator, District 32
OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE
FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK
JUMAANE D. WILLIAMS
Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams continued his calls for action and accountability from Con Edison as outages are ongoing today, with thousands of people without power in Brooklyn and Queens. This comes days after about 50,000 people were without electricity during this past weekend's heat wave and over 70,000 lost power in the blackout on Saturday, July 13, with smaller outages through the intervening week.
Con Edison says it deliberately cut service in multiple neighborhoods on Sunday in order to prevent larger outages, but did so without warning. Power has not been fully restored in these areas as of Tuesday afternoon. The Public Advocate has questioned proposed rate increases that ConEdison announced earlier this year, particularly in light of the previous rate increase three years ago and Con Edison's failure to use the revenue to adequately update infrastructure. He made clear at a Monday 'Public Power' town hall that a new increase should not move forward unless satisfactory answers and assurances are provided that funding will improve the system to additional outages.
Public Advocate Williams sent a new request for information to Con Edison today in a letter to its President and CEO. A copy of the letter is below and can be downloaded here.
LETTER FROM PUBLIC ADVOCATE WILLIAMS
Dear Mr. McAvoy:
As I stated in my July 19, 2019 letter, my staff at the Office of the Public Advocate have been closely monitoring the blackouts that have impacted hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers over the past week. In addition to the concerns I expressed in the previous letter, I have some additional inquiries related to the most recent blackouts, especially the intentional power cut that took out power to 30,000 ratepayers in southeast Brooklyn.
A press release issued by your organization at 11 PM on Sunday, July 21, 2019 stated that the southeastern blackout was caused intentionally as part of a pre-emptive move to protect vital equipment. However, a press release dated two and a half hours earlier announcing the outage makes no reference to the intentional nature of the blackout. This raises a number of questions:
● When there is a need to make an emergency power cut, how is the decision made? How long ahead of such cuts are these decisions finalized? Who has to approve of these decisions?
● Knowing in advance that the grid would hit high demands due to the heat, what was done in advance to prevent and/or prepare for this power outage? Why was the public not made aware of this disruption of service until hours later? Is it standard practice to not warn communities ahead of such cuts? Is there a communications structure in place to inform customers?
●When these decisions are made, what considerations or aid are offered to those impacted? Is there any pre-emptive outreach to senior housing or other communities with low mobilization to mitigate the increased risk these communities face in a blackout during a heatwave? Does your organization offer any outreach or aid to assist those whom are dependent on electric medical equipment such as breathing machines?
● I understand Con Edison dispatched a team of 4000 electric operations personnel this past weekend in anticipation of issues related to the heatwave. Is Con Edison utilizing employees or outside contractors to provide these support services?
● If your company is utilizing outside contractors, what process determines the experience and training of staff at these firms? What quality control does your organization perform to enforce such standards?
● The peak demand last night was more than 10,000 MW short of the peak demand Con Edison has claimed the system is designed to withstand. Why was the affected equipment from the blackouts considered vitally at risk at a significantly lower level of demand? Is the actual peak demand your system can handle lower than the 13,300 Megawatts you have publicly claimed?
I know that your company is still working on investigating all of the blackouts from the past week. While I look forward to hearing the results of that investigation, I am concerned that preparations for any heatwaves may not be as adequate as necessary, and that many of our cities most vulnerable residents will pay the price. I know your organization is aware of how vital the resiliency and continuous operation of the grid is to the daily lives of all New Yorkers.
I look forward to your expeditious response. For further discussion, please contact First Deputy Public Advocate for Policy Nick E. Smith, at email@example.com, if you have any questions. Thank you.
Jumaane D. Williams
Public Advocate for the City of New York
Today’s report released by NYCHA monitor Barry Schwartz further confirmed that NYCHA is an absolute mess that requires dramatic and transformational change to help Bronxites and New Yorkers finally have quality public housing. The report is a damning indictment of an organization that in the Monitor’s own words, has a “history of cover-ups and false statements” and without “a sufficient focus on integrity” .
A humanitarian crisis continues within NYCHA. I have long stated that people need to be fired and held criminally liable for their neglect. There must also be a serious consideration about a federal emergency declaration to effectuate a dramatic overhaul of NYCHA. Bronxites and New Yorkers are the priority, and, we must put people first.
Monitor Schwartz makes it clear that NYCHA is making little progress ensuring every day and life saving improvements are made at scale. Whether it be the lack of transparency around lead paint inspections to overall mismanagement, he called "NYCHA an organization fraught with serious problems in structure, culture, and direction and perhaps even worse"
Mr. Schwartz calls NYCHA staffer's work “often incomplete, imprecise, and/or inaccessible” and “creating an inaccurate perception of NYCHA’s performance". Sadly, his comments cannot be surprising given NYCHA’s blatantly lying about the status of elevator and power outages, which happen all of the time within our district whether it be Morris, Jackson or Morrisania Air Rights or regularly closing out ticket orders before providing maintenance repairs, if they even occur at all.
However, the utter disregard, carelessness, and negligent habits formed by the agency that is tasked with helping some of our most vulnerable citizens is probably most evident in regards to the epidemic of lead paint throughout NYCHA housing.
NYCHA lied to Bronxites, New Yorkers and federal housing authorities about compliance towards federal regulations, while by its own “smoke-and-mirrored” data. This inhumane reality is compounded by not only failing, since 2010, to do the mandated biennial testing for apartments but also going five years without doing visual inspections in ALL of its apartments as mandated by law.
However, even if NYCHA conducted these tests, no one at the agency could “identify who is in charge of and accountable for properly addressing lead paint matters.” Simply put, there is no clear decision maker.
The Monitor’s report explicitly stated what those who have to deal with it on a daily basis already knew. That too many people within NYCHA are failing us with corrupt, and ineffectual lack of service, which is a flagrant disgrace towards the residents that they are purported to serve. We need better, we deserve better, and to truly #BelieveintheBronx, we need to be able to live, breathe, learn, and grow in public housing that will not harm us, and work with agency staffers who actually cares.
Assembly Member Michael A. Blake
Please join us for our next community Shabbat dinner at the Bronx Jewish Center,1969 Haight Avenue,Bx NY 10461 to be held on Friday, August 2nd starting at 7:00 PM. The special theme for that evening will be Shabbat in Egypt.... Yes,That"s right Eqypt. All of your favorite Egyptian style dishes will take center stage! We look forward to seeing you! Enjoy a delicious 4 course dinner with your fellow neighbors.Turn your Friday night Shabbat into an evening of spiritual awakening, inspiration,Jewish songs and culinary delight.
Please RSVP@718-812-1701 to let us know you are coming .Shabbat dinners are held the first Friday of every month.
“No, it isn't all about the food,” said Rabbi Pewzner of the Bronx Jewish Center. “What is important is that the ENTIRE community joins together and welcomes the start of the Shabbat . It will be a beautiful time for everyone. Please join us.We look foward to welcoming you.
Where: 1969 Haight Avenue Bx NY 10461
Cost: Free of charge and all are welcome to join!
Monday, July 22, 2019
720 West 181st Street (just off Broadway) in the heart of Washing ton Heights is the address of Congressman Adriano Espaillat's new Manhattan Congressional office. His Bronx office remains on the Grand Concourse as Congressman Espaillat covers parts of both the boroughs of the Bronx and Manhattan.
Above - It was a steamy almost 100 degrees as Congressman Adriano Espaillat waits to enter his new Manhattan office located at 720 West 181st Street.
Below - Congressman Espaillat is interviewed outside his new Manhattan office.