Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JEFFREY GOLDSTEIN, a doctor who practiced in Manhattan, pled guilty today to conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, in connection with a scheme to prescribe Subsys, a potent fentanyl-based spray, in exchange for bribes and kickbacks from Subsys’s manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics. GOLDSTEIN pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood.
Friday, August 16, 2019
Fourth Manhattan Doctor Pleads Guilty To Accepting Bribes And Kickbacks From Pharmaceutical Company In Exchange For Prescribing Fentanyl Drug
Former Leader Of Violent Kenyan Organized Crime Family Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For Narcotics, Weapons, And Obstruction Offenses
Akasha Crime Family Leader Baktash Akasha Abdalla Sought to Import Large Quantities of Heroin and Methamphetamine into the United States, Conspired to Possess Machineguns and Destructive Devices, and Participated in Bribery Scheme in an Unsuccessful Effort
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA, a/k/a “Baktash Akasha,” was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to import and importing heroin and methamphetamine, conspiring to use and carry machineguns and destructive devices in connection with their drug-trafficking crimes, and obstructing justice by paying bribes to Kenyan officials in an effort to avoid extradition to the United States. The defendants were provisionally arrested in Kenya on November 9, 2014, after providing 99 kilograms of heroin and two kilograms of methamphetamine to confidential sources acting at the direction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). Their bribery scheme was thwarted on January 29, 2017, when the defendants were expelled from Kenya and DEA agents brought them to the U.S. AKASHA ABDALLA previously pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker, and U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero imposed today’s sentence.
Brooklyn Man Sentenced To 57 Months In Prison For An Account Takeover And Money Laundering Scheme Affecting Tens Of Thousands Of Victims
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JASON MICKEL ELCOCK, a/k/a “Prezzi,” was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 57 months in prison for engaging in a decade-long scheme to steal personal and financial information from tens of thousands of individuals and businesses and unlawful possession of a firearm, resulting in a loss of more than $1.1 million to banks and online retailers. ELCOCK pled guilty on March 12, 2019, to wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, and unlawful possession of a firearm. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero imposed sentence earlier today.
DRIVER/MOTORCYCLIST ALERT: NYPD AND DOT ANNOUNCE RETURN OF “WARM WEATHER WEEKENDS” TRAFFIC SAFETY CAMPAIGN
Last weekend saw six traffic fatalities, almost all involving excessive speeds; With a similar weekend weather forecast, NYPD will strengthen enforcement down to the precinct level
The New York City Police Department and the Department of Transportation (DOT) today issued an alert that with beautiful weather forecast for this weekend, the Vision Zero “Warm Weather Weekends” safety campaign would be in effect. This weekend’s weather forecast calls for sunny days with highs in the 80s on both Saturday and Sunday, very similar to last weekend’s weather – when New York City saw six fatalities in five different crashes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Preliminary investigations show that most of last weekend’s crashes involved motorists or motorcyclists traveling at excessive speeds.
“The NYPD is stepping up its enforcement of speeding drivers this weekend,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan. “Tragically, last weekend showed us that the blatant disregard of our speed laws are directly resulting in lives lost and families forever damaged. Our officers will be working to target this dangerous driving behavior. The NYPD is committed to Vision Zero; we expect all motorists to drive safely, and hold accountable all those that do not.”
“With the Warm Weather Weekends campaign in full effect and after seeing far too many tragedies this year, we and our Vision Zero partners are taking strong preventive action,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Last weekend, we saw once again the unmistakable and dangerous results of speeding, with several horrible crashes. Our message to New Yorkers for this coming beautiful weekend could not be simpler: we want you to get out there and enjoy this weekend -- including at the final Saturday of our Summer Streets event. However, if you are driving a car or riding a motorcycle, please do so safely.”
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 and avoid risky passing between vehicles.
About Vision Zero:
In 2014, New York City became the first City in the United States to implement Vision Zero. Through a combination of enforcement, education and engineering, New York City made dramatic changes that have helped drive down fatalities for five consecutive years, bucking national trends. To maintain progress, since the beginning of 2019, New York City has released a Vision Zero Year 5 Report, as well as a major update to its Pedestrian Safety Action Plans. In July, to address an upturn in cyclist fatalities, the Mayor released the Green Wave plan, which further expands these efforts.
For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see www.nyc.gov/visionzero.
SENATOR RIVERA CALLS ON IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF $16 MILLION IN AUTHORIZED FUNDING TO SUPPORT TITLE X RECIPIENTS
Senator Rivera urges Governor Cuomo to Release Critical Funding for Family Planning Providers Before some are Forced to Close their Doors
"Two weeks ago, Public Health Solutions announced that it would close its two family planning clinics in Brooklyn. This decision is a clear example of the dangers to our State's public health posed by the Trump administration's gag rule on the Title X Family Planning Program.
As a result of this action, thousands New Yorkers, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, will see their health and overall well-being jeopardized. They will not be able to access the quality and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services they need.
New York State has the resources to fight back and ensure that these centers continue to provide comprehensive and quality healthcare to New Yorkers. I urge the Governor to release the $16 million in state funds authorized during the budget to support family planning providers in the event of lost federal Title X funding. The immediate release of this life-saving funding will demonstrate New York's long-standing leadership on reproductive rights. We must act now and release this funding."
MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF STREAMLINED CONTRACTING PROCESS FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICE PROVIDERS
Nonprofit organizations providing critical services to New Yorkers will receive advance payments at the beginning and every year of their contracts to improve their fiscal stability
Mayor de Blasio announced today that the Administration has delivered on the commitment to improve the human service contracting process resulting in 90 percent of all fiscal year human service contracts submitted for registration across the City’s health and human services agencies. The streamlined approval process has cleared a longstanding backlog of human service contract registrations that has delayed payments to social services providers.
These changes reflect the Mayor’s long-standing commitment to invest in nonprofit providers, resulting in a historic turning point to increase the fiscal stability of organizations that deliver critical services for New Yorkers.
“Our nonprofit partners are vital for delivering high-quality human services to communities throughout the city,” saidMayor de Blasio. “These providers invest their time and expertise with our City agencies to identify solutions for long-standing contracting challenges. That value can be seen across the city.”
Streamlining contract registration ensures that nonprofits receive timely payments for services, and are eligible to receive a 25 percent advance on their contract budget. Advance payments made at the beginning of the contract term supports fiscal wellbeing for nonprofits. During the first weeks of the current fiscal year, eligible nonprofits have received more than $700 million dollars in advance payments for service delivery.
The City’s Health and Human Service agencies implemented a new policy for timely contract registration of July 1 contracts following a recommendation from the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee, a public-private partnership launched by the Administration in 2016. The policy change has demonstrated strong success already with ACS, DFTA, DHS, DOHMH, DOP, HPD and HRA having 90 percent of contracts ready for registration with the Comptroller’s Office on time.
The Nonprofit Resiliency Committee has advance other important successes. The launch of the Health and Human Services Cost Policies and Procedures Manual, made New York City the first major city in the country to develop a standard approach to defining health and human service costs, as well as setting uniform policies and procedures for the reimbursement of indirect rates.
Additionally, all City human service agencies have adopted a centralized electronic system (HHS Accelerator) to streamline the collection, review and approval of contracting, invoicing and audit documentation. By using a standardized digital
invoicing system, providers are paid within six days, on average, allowing for greater financial stability.
The City’s investments to date in the nonprofit sector have totaled over $600 million, and have supported wage increases for employees – including a minimum wage of $15 per hour and a 9 percent increase, funding for indirect rates, and rate enhancements for several critical programs such as homeless shelters, Beacon youth centers, and case management for senior centers. In this fiscal year, the City deepened its commitment by agreeing to increase reimbursement for human services providers’ indirect rates, which typically cover administrative overhead costs.
These actions build on the Administration’s launch of the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee (NRC) in September 2016, which represented a substantial change in the City’s approach to working with nonprofit service providers, resulting in a fuller and more collaborative partnership. The NRC is chaired by the Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services – most recently Dr. Herminia Palacio – and managed by the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS).
“At DSS, we fight poverty and support low-income New Yorkers 24/7/365—and we don’t do this work alone. Every day, we work in close collaboration with essential non-profit service providers to deliver on our legal and moral obligations as a City, and we're proud of the progress we've made with them to continually strengthen that collaboration,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Through the reforms we’ve implemented, including integration of DHS and HRA under the Department of Social Services, we’ve been able to address years of contracting backlogs that we inherited, improve timeliness of contracting, and streamline the process for providers. Along with our quarter-billion dollar investment in these partners to raise their rates and implementation of model shelter budgets to standardize costs and services, we’re making good on our commitments to right-size this work stream once and for all.”
“In the two years managing the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee, I’m proudest of the bridge built between City Hall and the human services community,” said Jennifer Geiling, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee, Deputy Director, Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. “Together we have made it easier and faster to do business with the City and are making significant investments in strengthening nonprofit organizations.”
“The Nonprofit Resiliency Committee has helped deepen collaboration between City government and its nonprofit partners, and produced concrete changes to City practices in areas like funding, program development, and contracting – all in recognition that nonprofits must be strong in order for their services to be effective,” said Matthew Klein, executive director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “Our office looks forward to continuing our work with the NRC to ensure that service providers can deliver high quality programs that benefit all New Yorkers, and especially our most vulnerable residents.”
We stand with Rashida and Ilhan. Yesterday, Israel officially banned both of these incredible progressive leaders from entering the country — all because they’ve taken up the fight for human rights.
Any leader who truly valued democracy would welcome Ilhan and Rashida into their country with open arms. As rightfully elected members of Congress, disrespecting them is akin to disrespecting all members of Congress.
It’s obvious that Trump had a hand in this. Immediately after the announcement, he went on another Twitter tirade to capitalize on the brazenly extreme move:
That’s why AOC is standing in solidarity with Ilhan and Rashida by refusing to go to Israel until every member of Congress is given the same treatment. Will you sign your name to demand that your member of Congress do the same?
Democracies don’t ban leaders from other democracies from entering their country. This not only undermines the diplomatic relationship between our two countries, but also undermines Congress’ right to oversight.
Since we give Israel billions of dollars every year, our leaders should have the ability to see what’s going on there — not just the leaders who Netanyahu agrees with.
As Trump exports his bigotry across the world, we must remain united against its effects. We must stand with Ilhan and Rashida.
As someone who cares about parks in your borough, we invite you to join us at Bronx Parks Connections. We have an exciting line-up of speakers including NY State Senate Women of Distinction Honoree, Borough Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa. We hope to see you there!
Attorney General Letitia James joined a multistate coalition in opposing the Trump Administration’s attempt to illegally limit immigrants' access to the asylum process. Under the rule, individuals entering the United States at the southern border, except in limited circumstances, are no longer able to seek asylum unless they applied for and were denied protection in at least one country they traveled through prior to their arrival. In a comment letter filed today, the coalition urge the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to rescind the policy.
“The Trump Administration has been relentless in its efforts to deny refuge to those who need it most,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Turning children and families away from our border is literally a matter of life or death for these individuals who are fleeing danger. America has always stood as a beacon of hope and we will continue to fight back against these disgraceful and inhumane policies.”
In the comment letter, the coalition maintains that, among other things, the rule violates both the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the INA, any foreign national may apply for asylum upon their presence or arrival to the United States. These asylum protections were built on the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which sought to mitigate some of the horrors visited upon refugees during and after World War II. The INA sets forth very specific circumstances under which an individual can be barred from asylum, and provides protections for particularly vulnerable groups. In promulgating the rule, the Trump Administration failed to provide adequate notice or articulate a reasoned explanation, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
Additionally, the rule will have a particularly negative effect on unaccompanied children, LGBTQ applicants, and women asylum-seekers, for whom applying for asylum in a third country is extremely dangerous. In fact, recognizing the rule is likely contrary to law and a federal court has already halted its initial implementation.
In submitting the comment letter, Attorney General James joins the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
DOI ARRESTS CITY SANITATION WORKER ON CHARGES OF IGNORING TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS AND FINES INCURRED FROM MISUSING NEW YORK STATE LICENSE PLATES HE TOOK FROM THE TRASH
Margaret Garnett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced today the arrest of a City Department of Sanitation (“DSNY”) worker on charges of taking New York State license plates from the trash, affixing them to his car and accumulating more than $17,000 in parking or traffic violations and in unpaid E-ZPass tolls and fees. The license plates in question were found on the defendant’s car parked outside the Brooklyn District garage where he worked. The Office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is prosecuting the case. DOI initiated its investigation after receiving a complaint from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
JASON RIVERA, 45, of Staten Island, N.Y., is charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor. Upon conviction, a class D felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year’s incarceration
DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said, “Misusing New York State license plates, ignoring traffic and parking violations, and failing to pay tolls are crimes that will result in arrest and prosecution. These kinds of crimes undermine the government’s ability to do its job and maintain a standard of safety on the roads. These offenses are particularly egregious when committed by a City employee who used his job as a means to commit the crime, according to the charges. I thank our law enforcement partners who worked this investigation with DOI, specifically the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the City Department of Finance.”
According to the criminal complaint, RIVERA found the New York State license plates in 2016 and gave them to an unknown friend to use on a vehicle. In 2017, the plates were returned to the defendant, who affixed them to his car. While on the defendant’s car, City Department of Finance records showed that the license plates accumulated 72 parking or traffic violations, totaling $5,500; and E-Z Pass records showed $1,793.50 in unpaid tolls and $10,600 in unpaid fees. At the time of the violations and unpaid tolls, the license plates were not registered to the correct vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter, thereby thwarting the ability of the related agencies to properly collect these fines and fees.
RIVERA has been employed by DSNY since August 2006 and is currently receiving an annual salary of approximately $77,300
Commissioner Garnett thanked the Office of the Brooklyn District Attorney, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, and the City Department of Finance for their assistance on this investigation, and the City Department of Sanitation for its cooperation.
A criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
RIKERS ISLAND INMATE SENTENCED TO 8 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CHOKEHOLD ATTACK THAT LED TO DEATH OF FELLOW INMATE
Defendant Pleaded Guilty to Strangulation
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Rikers Island inmate has been sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree Strangulation in the 2018 death of a fellow inmate.
District Attorney Clark said, “In an unprovoked attack in front of several people, the defendant approached the 35-year-old victim and put him in a chokehold, triggering a fatal asthma attack. This was a senseless death. We must continue to do all we can to make our jails safe for anyone who must be there.”
District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Artemio Rosa, 28, an inmate at Rikers Island, was sentenced to eight years in prison by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Hornstein. Rosa pleaded guilty to first-degree Strangulation on July 24, 2019.
According to the investigation, on July 9, 2018 in the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island, the defendant approached fellow inmate Casey Holloway and put him in a chokehold for approximately 30 seconds. This caused Holloway to have an asthma attack, and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene shortly afterwards.
District Attorney Clark thanked the New York City Department of Correction and the New York Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
Congressman Adriano Espaillat Statement on the Decision to Deny Members of Congress from Entering Israel
Congressman Adriano Espaillat released the following statement in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to deny Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05) entry into Israel:
“As a co-chair of the Latino-Jewish Caucus and a member of the Foreign Affairs committee, I strongly disagree with the Israeli government’s decision to deny entry to my colleagues, Congresswoman Omar and Congresswoman Tlaib, and condemn President Trump for encouraging this politically biased decision,” said Congressman Espaillat.
“While I may not share all of my colleagues’ opinions on these issues, this action flies in the face of our values as a nation, which Israel has long said it shares. Criticism should not be silenced and this attempt to close off dialogue undermines the ability to attain mutual understanding.
“I have traveled to Israel in my official capacity and found it a valuable and educational experience, where I learned first-hand of Israel’s challenges and how it works to protect its citizens’ security. Only through person-to-person dialogue and shared leaning can we bring together people of varied perspectives in order to promote peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. That is precisely why the Israeli government should encourage the visit of the first two Muslim American women in Congress, rather than prevent it.
“I strongly urge the Israeli government to reverse this decision and allow Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar to continue with their travel.”
MAYOR DE BLASIO, CHANCELLOR CARRANZA ANNOUNCE EASIER AND MORE TRANSPARENT MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS PROCESS
Families will now have one form and one deadline for middle and high school admissions
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced a shorter, easier, and more transparent process for students applying to enter middle and high school for the 2020-21 school year. Now, there will only be one application round and deadline for families to keep track of. All admissions processes will have one round, from 3-K to high school. Students will be placed on a waitlist for each school listed higher on their application than the school to which they are offered admission, informed of their spot on the waitlist, and immediately offered admission off these waitlists as seats become available.
“Parents have enough on their plate—tangling with bureaucracy to get their child into school shouldn’t add to the load,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We are changing the middle and high school application processes so families don’t have to go through the gauntlet just to get a placement. There will be one application round and one deadline to make everyone’s lives easier.”
“We’ve heard from families and educators that they want a simpler, more transparent, and more accessible system of school choice, and today we’re taking a step forward,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “This common-sense change will make a real difference for families across the five boroughs, and improve our middle and high school choice process for years to come.”
The DOE is eliminating the second application rounds for middle and high school. The main round application process and timeline will remain the same, with middle and high school applications opening in October with a December deadline. Students will receive their offer in March. Families can still appeal for travel, safety, or medical hardships; if families have any hardship, they will be able to access in-person support at Family Welcome Centers, rather than wait to participate in a second process. The waitlists will open after offers are released and will be a simpler, clearer process for families, increasing:
· Transparency: By knowing their waitlist position, families have a better understanding of their chances of getting into a preferred school option in the event that seats become available.
· Ease: This is a shorter process that requires less paperwork. Rather than having to complete a second application and wait weeks—often into May or June—for a second decision or offer, families will complete one process, receive one offer, and receive any additional offers based on waitlist position.
· Consistency: Families will now have one admissions system at all grade levels, with the changes to the middle and high school process making it more similar to the elementary school admissions process. Currently the elementary school process has one round, and the middle and high school processes have two rounds with different names; now, families will not need to learn a different process each time a child applies to a new school—allowing them to focus on school options and not process.
There will be a robust set of resources available to schools and families to ensure educators and families have information about the changes being implemented, and the DOE will engage families once school is back in session. Schools will have resources to support families, and Family Welcome Center staff will be fully trained in these new processes to help guide and support families. The DOE will also share information at middle and high school fairs this fall, and update the website and family-facing materials.
Information will be distributed to all principals and throughout the fall, the DOE will conduct training for school staff on the application process. In February and March, the DOE will provide targeted, in-depth training on waitlist management and systems.