Saturday, November 16, 2019

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. - Albania's Independence


Stand Up To Violence “Shooting Response Rally” on Tuesday Nov 49th 6 PM at 700 Adee Ave


CITY EXPANDS AWARD-WINNING, NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED SUPERVISED RELEASE PROGRAM IN RESPONSE TO STATE BAIL REFORM



Manhattan D.A. Vance to provide $100 million to launch the expansion with funds forfeited in D.A.’s investigations against major banks

City Council to pledge $7 million in funding

In anticipation of new State bail reform measures, New York City will launch an expansion of its successful Supervised Release program as a proven alternative judges will be able to assign in lieu of bail, or where additional support is required to ensure an individual returns to court.  Given the law’s new restrictions on who and when courts will be allowed to impose cash bail or remand defendants to jail, Supervised Release provides a much-needed alternative, with a proven track record of getting the vast majority of participants back to court and providing connections to vital pre-trial services. Community-based and supportive in design, the expansion of this successful pre-trial system aims to continue to make New York City the safest big city in the nation.

“With the lowest rate of incarceration of any major city, New York City is proving you don’t need to arrest your way to safety,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We are taking additional steps to ensure that people who can be safely supervised in the community are able to stay there, all while keeping crime at historic lows.”

Launched in 2016 by Mayor de Blasio with a $13.8 million investment from D.A. Vance, Supervised Release deploys social and case workers, rather than law enforcement officials, with a host of options to both make sure participants make their court hearings, while also matching those with specific needs to supportive services and resources.

Supervised Release has seen nearly 15,500 people enter the program since its launch. According to the most recent statistics, nearly 90% of clients made every court appearance while in the program, while 92% of clients had no felony re-arrests during that time. About 4,200 people have entered the program so far in 2019.

With its expansion, Supervised Release is expected to accommodate a three-to-four-fold increase in participants. The program will include the option of having enhanced tracks, thereby allowing it to serve any individual, regardless of charge, who a judge believes would benefit from the program.” 

The new Office of Pretrial Services, housed with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, will oversee the expansion and operation of Supervised Release, acting as the City’s primary coordinating point for the providers, court officials, judges, and law enforcement agencies involved in pre-trial activities.

“Over the past five years, New York City has undergone a fundamental shift in how we experience and understand safety, as crime has continued to fall alongside the City's jail population, even as law enforcement has lightened its touch,” said Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice  Director Elizabeth Glazer. “Supervise Release has played a critical role in this process, and offers a strong, proven solution to the challenges and opportunities provided by the State's bail reform measures.”

With the passage of bail reform in Albany earlier this year, courts must turn to non-monetary alternatives to bail, or release on recognizance, for all but the most serious of felony charges. Criminal justice organizations estimate that approximately 40% of those in New York City jails at the time the law was passed would have been ineligible for bail or jail under the legislation.

City leaders recognized the safety and fairness needs created by the new laws that could be addressed by Supervised Release’s expansion. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office, dedicating funds recovered in its investigations against major banks, has pledged $100 million that will help support Supervised Release. The City Council has also pledged $7 million in Fiscal Year 2020.  This brings the investment in Supervised Release to $37 million this year and $116 million each year in Fiscal Year 2021 and Fiscal Year 2022. 

“The success of New York’s new criminal justice laws depends on New Yorkers attending their court dates, said Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance, Jr. “My Office is proud to invest in pre-trial services that help defendants stay on top of their court appearances using funds recovered in our investigations against major banks. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Director Glazer for their ongoing collaboration to build on the remarkable success rate of New York City’s nationally recognized pre-trial services program.”

“Supervised release has been an incredibly successful tool, which is why I am thrilled to see this expansion. Giving opportunities to pretrial defendants is a critical part of our overall efforts to reform a system in a way that prioritizes rehabilitation, which is our ultimate goal,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Under D.A. Vance, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office has invested hundreds of millions of dollars recovered in enforcement actions against major banks in community-based and intergovernmental projects that strengthen communities, prevent crime, and accelerate reform in the justice system. In addition to providing majority funding for New York City’s first supervised release program in 2016, the Manhattan D.A’s Office is funding New York’s first statewide college-in-prison program, a nationwide effort to end backlogs of untested rape kits, and dozens of other transformative projects.

While Supervised Release’s cardinal aim is returning defendants to court, it is also an innovative, time-tested, and progressive model for how alternatives to bail can be driven by communities and supportive services, rather than law enforcement sanctions alone, including:

·         Incorporating culturally competent and evidence-informed therapeutic interventions which allow program staff to help clients navigate everyday challenges, build skills and support resilience.
·         Hiring staff who have lived experience in the criminal justice system to mentor participants to encourage successful completion of the mandates during the pre-trial period. Former participants could one day serve as mentors. 
·         Providing individualized support targeted to the needs of the individual, including referrals to mental health and substance use services, rather than blanket release “conditions.”
·         Incorporating smaller neighborhood-based and run organizations to build capacity within communities to work with individuals going through the court process.

These practices avoid bail alternatives used in other jurisdictions that have a law enforcement approach and rely on punitive and surveillance-oriented tools like drug testing, extensive electronic monitoring, and fees for supervision that are not shown to be effective, but often serve to draw people further into the criminal justice system.

“Over the past few years, New York City has proven that we can significantly cut the use of jail in our city and remain safe.  The success of the supervised release program has been a major part of these efforts,” said Tyler U. Nims, Executive Director of the Independent Commission in NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. “The expansion announced today by the Mayor, Council, and DA Vance is a commendable next step towards further reducing unnecessary incarceration, closing the Rikers jails, and making sure that we deliver on the promise of bail reform.  To achieve those goals, the program should be used as an alternative to incarceration rather than imposed on those who would return to court without supervision.”

“We are glad that the City has taken this crucial step toward making sure that the new bail legislation reaches its full potential,” said Marie Ndiaye, Supervising Attorney of the Decarceration Project at The Legal Aid Society. “An expansion of the Supervised Release program is key to ensuring that the most people are released pretrial and that those people have access to services and resources. These alternatives to incarceration programs are proven and central to finally closing Rikers Island and reducing the local jail population.”

Wave Hill events Nov 28‒Dec 5


Thu November 28

Wave Hill is closed today. Enjoy the Thanksgiving Day holiday. The gardens reopen Friday, November 29.

Fri, November 29

Black Friday Meditation

Avoid “Black Friday” busyness! Join us for a community meditation focused on gratitude and clearing your mind of holiday clutter. Get inspired by the outdoors and the peace and tranquility that nature evokes, and learn how to work loving kindness into daily life. Led by Neem Dewji of Yoga for Bliss. Registration not required. Please bring a meditation cushion and be on time; latecomers will not be admitted. Free with admission to the grounds.

Wave Hill House, 11AM–NOON

Sat, November 30

Family Art Project: Symbiosis Scenes

Symbiosis is everywhere! Lichen is formed from the symbiotic relationship between fungus and algae: cleaner fish help bigger fish by picking at dead matter on their skin. Sea anemones ride on the backs of hermit crabs and, in return, hermit crabs are protected from octopuses. These are just a few examples of plants and animals in relationship with one another. Create scenes of symbiosis in a diorama to highlight your favorite plant or animal partnerships. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

Sat, November 30

Gallery Tour

Tour Glyndor Gallery with Wave Hill’s Curatorial Assistant or Gallery Greeter to get an insider’s view of current exhibitions. A flower’s life cycle of budding, blooming and pollinating, as well as its process of decay, strongly echoes the human condition. The exhibition Figuring the Floral features artists who apply this symbolism to their work—touching on race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, aging and other facets of identity. Participating artists are Derrick AdamsNicole AwaiBahar BehbahaniChristian Ruiz BermanSanford Biggers, Cecile ChongMax Colby, Abigail DeVilleValerie HegartyChristopher K. Ho and Kevin ZuckerDiana LozanoNatalia NakazawaEbony G. PattersonBundith PhunsombatlertLina PuertaSimonette QuaminaDavid Rios FerreiraAlexandria SmithKatherine ToukhyLina Iris ViktorWilliam Villalongo and Saya Woolfalk. Free with admission to the grounds.

Glyndor Gallery, 2PM

 

Sun, December 1

Family Art Project: Symbiosis Scenes

Symbiosis is everywhere! Lichen is formed from the symbiotic relationship between fungus and algae: cleaner fish help bigger fish by picking at dead matter on their skin. Sea anemones ride on the backs of hermit crabs and, in return, hermit crabs are protected from octopuses. These are just a few examples of plants and animals in relationship with one another. Create scenes of symbiosis in a diorama to highlight your favorite plant or animal partnerships. Free with admission to the grounds.

Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

Sun, December 1

Garden and Conservatory Highlights Walk

Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for a public tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.

Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 2PM

Mon, December 2

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

HOURS  Open all year, Tuesday through Sunday and many major holidays: 9AM–4:30PM, November 1–March 14. Closes 5:30PM, starting March 15.

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

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

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one-day getaway offer. Purchase a discount round-trip rail far and discount admission to the gardens. More at http://mta.info/mnr/html/getaways/outbound_wavehill.htm


DIRECTIONS – Getting here is easy! Located only 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan, Wave Hill’s free shuttle van transports you to and from our front gate and Metro-North’s Riverdale station, as well as the W. 242nd Street stop on the #1 subway line. Free offsite parking is available nearby with continuous, complimentary shuttle service to and from the offsite lot and our front gate. Complete directions and shuttle bus schedule at www.wavehill.org/visit/.

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at www.wavehill.org.


STATEMENT FROM BP DIAZ RE: New York Yankees Merchandise & Local Bronx Businesses


 “I am pleased to learn that the New York Yankees, Nike and Major League Baseball were receptive to public pressure to do the right thing, and have heeded the concerns of our business community in the area surrounding Yankee Stadium. The news that these three entities have reversed their policy that would have prevented these longtime mom-and-pop stores from selling official Yankee merchandise is a welcome one.

“As one of the richest sports franchises in the world, it was incumbent on the Yankees to do what was right and protect this small business community that almost exclusively caters to their fan base. Inaction on this issue would have certainly reaped huge profits for the Yankees, Nike and Major League Baseball. However, it would have most definitely crippled our local economy that the New York Yankees promised to enhance, as part of the deal that built their new stadium with significant taxpayer funds.

“I want to thank Cary Goodman, the Executive Director at the 161 Street BID, for bringing this to our attention, as well as the New York Yankees for doing their due diligence and addressing this alarming issue that would have had a huge negative impact on The Bronx. I would also like to thank City Council Member Vanessa Gibson for her efforts on behalf of local businesses.

“As I have always said, if you want to do business in The Bronx, you have to do business with The Bronx. This agreement helps Nike, Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees do just that," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST EPA TO DEFEND CALIFORNIA’S ADVANCED CLEAN CAR STANDARDS


If successful, New York and 13 other states would be allowed to keep higher emissions standards that have become substantial tool in global warming fight

 The de Blasio Administration  filed a joint lawsuit opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to revoke the portions of a waiver it granted California in 2013 that permit the state to implement stricter greenhouse gas and zero emission vehicle standards. The action, filed in the D.C. Circuit by a coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, is part of the coalition’s ongoing fight to protect California’s Advanced Clean Car Standards.

These standards are followed, in whole or in part, by 13 other states, including New York State. They are a key part of local government efforts to protect their residents from the devastating effects of climate change.   

“The Trump Administration’s attempts to roll back emissions standards will be a disaster for our environment, hasten the impact of global warming, and endanger the health of New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New York City is leading the way in the fight against global warming by enacting our Green New Deal and ending greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We’ve consistently beaten the Trump Administration’s disastrous policies in court, and for the sake of the health and environment of all New Yorkers, we look forward to doing it again.”

“Global warming causes heat waves, rising sea levels, and droughts, which harm the most vulnerable individuals in our communities including the elderly and children,” said Corporation Counsel James E. Johnson. “EPA moves us backwards when it seeks to revoke an initiative that has supported the City’s efforts to reduce emissions and encourage the development of clean air technologies.  We have a duty to join this nationwide coalition to oppose EPA’s latest effort to roll back yet another environmental protection.”


New York City joined the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia; as well as the cities of Los Angeles, and San Francisco in today’s filing.

“The Trump administration continues to undermine the work, small and large, that is necessary to confront our climate crisis,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC's Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director.  “Here in New York City, we will continue to fight back against these reckless actions as we invest in the climate solutions that are allowing us to end our reliance on fossil fuels and pursue a just transition to a clean energy economy.”


DOB ANNOUNCES SUSTAINABLE ROOF REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW BUILDINGS GO INTO EFFECT


Green roofs, rooftop solar arrays will now be required for most new buildings and major roof renovations in NYC

  The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) announced thatLocal Law 92 of 2019 and Local Law 94 of 2019 require all new buildings and existing buildings undergoing certain major roof renovations to have a solar photovoltaic system, a green roof system, or a combination of the two. These systems must cover 100 percent of any applicable roof.

“In New York City, we are not shirking from the challenge of climate change,” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “These new laws are a sea change in how we approach new buildings, and help make our city a national leader in reducing emissions. With the biggest energy team in the country, we are ready and able to be a resource and provide technical assistance to the real estate industry as we work together to tackle this challenge head on.”

“Today’s announcement is another example of the innovative and necessary changes New York City is continuing to make to address the threats of climate change,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. “We know buildings account for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City and these laws are another step to get the City carbon neutral by 2050.”

“These laws use the power of design and construction to dramatically increase renewable energy and storm water management throughout the city,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “The leadership of the Department of Buildings in making this shift accessible to New Yorkers continues to be exemplary in bringing this work to life.”

Mayor de Blasio is committed to making NYC a global leader in the fight against climate change. Local Law 92 and Local Law 94 are components of the Climate Mobilization Act (CMA), which was passed by the City Council in April 2019, as part of the Mayor’s New York City Green New Deal and OneNYC 2050 plan.

In addition to new sustainable roof requirements for roofs, the CMA also established an Office of Sustainability within the Department, and has mandated additional requirements to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in NYC:
·         Buildings Mandate (Local Law 97 of 2019): The centerpiece of the Climate Mobilization Act, Local Law 97 requires all buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets.
·         Building Energy Efficiency Grade (Local Law 95 of 2019): Local Law 95 amends the ranges for how energy efficiency grades are calculated as required by Local Law 33 of 2018. Local Law 33 of 2018 required the display of energy efficiency scores and grades for larger buildings in New York City that are required to that annually benchmark their energy and water consumption. The energy label will be displayed near a public entrance and include both a letter grade and the energy efficiency score.

More information about DOB resources for and requirements for energy-efficient buildings can be found on the sustainability page of our website.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

U.S. Attorney Announces The Arrest Of Five Individuals In Scheme To Steal Thousands Of Checks From New York City Human Resources Administration


  Geoffrey S. Berman, 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”), Margaret Garnett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), and Michael Schmidt, New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance (“DTF”), announced the indictment of five individuals in a scheme to steal and deposit more than 4,000 rent subsidy checks worth more than $2.7 million issued by the New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”), and the indictment of one person in a related scheme to defraud the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.  SALIFOU CONDE, SEKHOU TOURE, and SYLVAIN GNALI GNAHORE were arrested on September 16, 2019.  ABRAHIM DUKURAY and ABOUBAKAR BAKAYOKO were arrested today and are expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker later today.  ALSENY KEITA remains at large.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, these defendants carried out a reverse Robin Hood scheme, stealing funds intended to aid those in need of financial assistance to line their own pockets.  The alleged thefts are an affront to the very notion of offering a helping hand; these people had their hands in the till.  Now they face serious criminal charges.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Public assistance programs are established to help less fortunate families overcome their socio-economic challenges.  When the system is corrupted by any means, to include fraud against the agencies that provide the financial assistance, everyone loses out.  Not only is there less money available for those who need it most, but the taxpayers who fund these programs have been taken advantage of as well.  As alleged, those arrested for their role in this scheme took money that didn’t belong to them. They’ve since learned the consequences of their alleged actions.”
DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said:  “The City’s Human Resources Administration relied on Salifou Conde to provide a service, delivering to HRA unclaimed rental supplement checks to ensure funds could be appropriately redistributed to New Yorkers.  Instead, the defendant allegedly used his access to steal thousands of checks, and with his co-conspirators, pocket millions in taxpayer dollars, according to the charges.  DOI is proud to work with its partners, including the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, to uncover schemes to defraud the government and steal public funds.”
Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt said:  “Individuals who attempt to defraud New York State and illegally pocket money they’re not entitled to must be held accountable.  The fraudulent scheme alleged in this case unfairly places an additional tax burden on honest New Yorkers and will not be tolerated.  We’ll continue to work with all levels of law enforcement to ensure a level playing field for all taxpayers.”
As alleged in the Indictment, which was unsealed today, and the previously filed criminal Complaints:[1] 
HRA is an agency of the City of New York responsible for administering certain of the City’s public assistance programs.  Among other things, HRA provides rental assistance to individuals and families with social service and economic needs.  For individuals who qualify, HRA provides rental assistance by sending monthly rent supplement checks to landlords to cover a portion of the cost of documented expenses such as rent or storage costs.
HRA rent supplement checks that are undeliverable are sent back to the same P.O. Box in New York, New York.  From there, a courier takes them from the P.O. Box back to HRA. CONDE took these undeliverable checks out of the mail.
Since in or about 2015, more than 4,000 HRA rent supplement checks worth more than $2.7 million were fraudulently deposited into more than 50 bank accounts.  CONDE, DUKURAY, KEITA, TOURE, and BAKAYOKO were part of a scheme to open these accounts using fictitious identities, obtain HRA supplement checks that could not reach their destination, deposit the checks into bank accounts, and then quickly withdraw cash.
 GNAHORE was a member of a related scheme to obtain tax refund checks issued by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, manipulate the checks, deposit them in fraudulently opened bank accounts, and then quickly withdraw funds from those accounts.
CONDE, 29, DUKURAY, 40, KEITA, 37, TOURE, 35, BAKAYOKO, 32, and GNAHORE, 43, are each charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison; one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, which carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding work of the FBI, DOI, and DTF.
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Complaints and the Indictment, and the descriptions of the Complaints and the Indictment set forth herein, are only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Operator Of Westchester Waste Disposal Business Pleads Guilty To Fraudulent Overbilling Scheme


  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that RALPH MANCINI, the owner and operator of County Waste Management, a waste disposal business based in Harrison, New York, pled guilty today to mail fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith.  MANCINI admitted as part of his plea that he had defrauded numerous commercial customers by overbilling them for the waste collected and dumped on their behalf.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “For more than eight years, Ralph Mancini, the owner and operator of County Waste Management, illegally overbilled local businesses that contracted with him to do their waste disposal.  Mancini has now pled guilty to hauling in over $800,000 from his victims, and faces serious time in prison.”
According to the Information, other court documents, and statements made in Court, from in or about 2008 through 2016, MANCINI overbilled a total of approximately 17 commercial customers, including educational institutions, department stores, grocery stores, and other establishments, by more than $800,000.  MANCINI sent the fraudulent invoices by U.S. mail, which fabricated the tonnage of waste collected and thereby charged customers for waste services that had not actually been performed.
MANCINI, age 57, of Harrison, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
 MANCINI is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Rom├ín on February 14, 2020, at 11:00 a.m.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He also thanked the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the Westchester County Solid Waste Commission for their assistance in the investigation.

Attorney General Sues B&H Foto & Electronics For Defrauding New York Out Of Millions In Sales Tax


Leading Photo and Electronics Retailer Knowingly Failed to Pay Sales Tax on Millions in Receipts from Manufacturers Tied to “Instant Rebates”

  New York Attorney General Letitia James today filed a lawsuit against B&H Foto & Electronics Corp. (B&H) for violations of New York’s Tax Law, the New York False Claims Act, and New York’s Executive Law. The suit claims that B&H — the nation’s largest non-chain photo and video equipment retailer — knowingly failed to pay sales tax due on tens of millions of dollars it received from electronics manufacturers to reimburse the company for “instant rebate” manufacturer discounts B&H passed along to its customers.

“B&H proudly claims that it puts principles over profits, but for 13 years, the company actually chose profits over principles by defrauding New York taxpayers out of millions of dollars owed to the state,” said Attorney General James. “B&H deliberately chose not to pay the sales tax it knew was due to New York State in order to gain a competitive edge over companies that chose to follow the rules. No company is above the law, which is why my office filed this lawsuit, and will do so against any company that tries to skirt its responsibilities by illegally trying to tilt the playing field.”
Today’s lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, concerns B&H’s failure to pay taxes on “instant rebates,” which are point-of-sale discounts the company offers its customers, for which it receives reimbursement from manufacturers. While these arrangements are subject to New York State sales tax, B&H never paid that tax, despite its repeated and explicit acknowledgements — internally, to outside vendors, and externally, to a competitor — that under New York tax law, it owed sales tax on these reimbursements. The lawsuit alleges B&H violated the state’s Tax Law and the New York False Claims Act. Attorney General James is seeking treble damages, penalties, and interest to redress these violations.
The Attorney General’s investigation and subsequent lawsuit arose from a qui tam lawsuit filed under seal by a whistleblower. The New York False Claims Act permits whistleblowers who know of information concerning false or fraudulent conduct that victimizes the state through the failure to pay taxes to bring an action on behalf of the government.

BRONX MAN INDICTED FOR FATALLY SHOOTING MAN IN BUSY GRAND CONCOURSE SUBWAY STATION


Shooting Happened in Front of Victim’s Five-Year-Old Son

 Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been indicted for Murder, Manslaughter and additional charges for fatally shooting a man in a busy Bronx subway station. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant allegedly shot the victim in front of his fiveyear-old-son and multiple commuters who were at the subway station at the time. We will pursue justice for the victim’s loved ones, especially the young boy who lost his father in such an awful way.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Rafael Hollis, 29, of 1264 Sheridan Avenue, was arraigned today on second-degree Murder, first-degree Manslaughter, two counts of seconddegree Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Endangering the Welfare of a Child before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Margaret Clancy. Remand was continued and the defendant is due back in court on January 22, 2020. 

 According to the investigation, on October 4, 2019 at 6:30 p.m., at a subway station located at 167th Street and Grand Concourse, the victim, James Cubille, 24, met with his ex-girlfriend to pick up his son. The defendant showed up and argued with the victim. Hollis then took out a gun and allegedly shot Cubille in the torso in front of the victim’s son and ex-girlfriend. The victim was declared dead on arrival to Lincoln Hospital. The defendant fled the scene and turned himself in to authorities two days later.

 District Attorney Clark thanked NYPD Detective Matthew Crawley of the 44 th Precinct and NYPD Detective Christine Reyes of the Bronx Homicide Squad for their assistance in the investigation.

An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

BRONX WOMAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR MANSLAUGHTER IN DEATH OF INFANT SON


 Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx woman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years post-release supervision in the killing of her five month-old son, who died after his mother slammed his head against a wall, fracturing his skull, and did not seek medical attention for him. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant inflicted grievous head injuries on the infant and left him to suffer for more than an hour before obtaining medical attention. She will now serve time in prison for callously causing the death of this innocent child whose life had barely begun.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Joann McLeod, 32, of 1420 Bronx River Avenue, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison and five years post-release supervision by Bronx Supreme Court Justice James McCarty. She pleaded guilty to first-degree Manslaughter on October 22, 2019.

 According to the investigation, between midnight on June 3, 2018 and 9 a.m. on June 4, 2018, inside McLeod’s apartment in 1420 Bronx River Avenue, the defendant picked up her five-monthold son, Raymond Porfil Jr., shook him and slammed his head against a wall several times. She purposefully did not obtain medical attention for the infant for more than an hour, including leaving the apartment for a period of time.

 District Attorney Clark thanked NYPD Detective Christian Gutierrez of the 43rd Precinct Squad and NYPD Detective John Ferretti of the Homicide Task Force for their help in the investigation.

BRONX MAN INDICTED IN FATAL STABBING OF MAN IN LONGWOOD BODEGA


 Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been indicted for Murder and additional charges in the fatal stabbing of a man inside a bodega in the Longwood area of the Bronx.

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant allegedly stabbed the victim inside a bodega owned by the defendant’s father. The victim lived in the neighborhood and had previously been in the store. This was a senseless act of violence.” 

District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Ronny Torres, 26, of the Bronx, was arraigned today on second-degree Murder, first-degree Manslaughter and fourth-degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Margaret Clancy. The defendant was remanded and is due back in court on January 21, 2020.

 According to the investigation, on October 24, 2019, inside a bodega located at 950 Longwood Avenue, the defendant stabbed Frankie Williams, 37, multiple times in the stomach and chest with a sharp object. The incident was captured on video surveillance. The victim was taken to Lincoln Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

 District Attorney Clark thanked NYPD Detective Darrin Smalls of the 41 st Precinct and NYPD Detective Patrick Sullivan of the Bronx Homicide Squad for their assistance in the investigation.

An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt. 

DC9 Endorses Michael Blake for Congress (NY-15)


  District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trads issued its endorsement of New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake in his congressional run. 

Assembly Member Michael Blake currently serves the 79th Assembly District, covering parts of the Bronx, and now he is in the race for the 15th Congressional District seat. 

“Assembly Member Michael Blake has been a tireless advocate for hardworking New Yorkers throughout the Bronx, and District Council 9 is proud to support Blake in his congressional race,” said Davon Lomax, Political Director for District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. “We have already seen Assembly Member Blake’s unparalleled commitment to his communities, ensuring every individual has access to equal opportunity, and now he will continue this work by serving as our Congressman.”

“I am grateful for the endorsement of DC 9 who are Building A Better Bronx and support our #BelieveInTheBx vision for The 15th Congressional District to create jobs and opportunities for Union members across The Bronx and New York. For more than 100 years, DC 9's Painters are the men and women who bring to life a home, a building, a school and neighborhoods across The Bronx and New York,” said Assembly Member Michael Blake. “From being the ones who create jobs and apprenticeships for communities of color, women and New Yorkers to focusing on how Infrastructure will create opportunities for all Bronxites, DC9 continues to be a force for good. We will continue Building A Better Bronx together to remove lead from The Bronx when others failed to act while also demanding great wages and benefits for union workers. Together, we #BelieveInTheBx.”

WILLIAMS' SCHOOL DIVERSITY BILL PASSED BY NYC COUNCIL


  The New York City Council today passed legislation by Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams codifying the creation and continued existence of the School Diversity Advisory Group, originally convened by Mayor Bill de Blasio, to develop solutions to addressing the systemic segregation in New York City schools. The Advisory Group has released two reports to date, with detailed proposals for increasing diversity in city schools and in select programs. The legislation, Intro 1550-A, is one of three bills sponsored by the Public Advocate which was passed by the City Council today.

"I'm a New York City public school baby, and I'm proud of that fact and the education I received," said Public Advocate Williams. "But despite that pride and because of that history, I know that our deeply segregated school system, and our students within it, are in desperate need of reform. The School Diversity Advisory Group is critical because it involves taking the input of these people experiencing our education system up close in order to change it. My bill today expands the reach of that group across years, administrations, and boroughs."

Established in 2017, the advisory group was tasked with "working to reshape citywide policies and practices such as admissions and program planning." Intro 1550-A, which passed overwhelmingly today, codifies the advisory group to be made up of Council appointments, a public advocate appointment, and mayoral appointments. This codification would build upon the critical work already done by the group and extend it beyond any one administration as part of a multi-year framework. It would also require quarterly meetings and public hearings in each of the five boroughs. 

Members of the group will include at least 27 members tasked with producing an annual public report that examines ways to increase school diversity. The annual report will require a multi-year plan to be developed and adopted by the Department of Education to address integration in schools. The report will also require a one-year look back measurement to track measurement of goals achieved.

In addition to the passage of Intro 1550-A, the Council also passed two other pieces of legislation sponsored by the Public Advocate, including Intro 720-C, related to construction safety, and Intro 716-A, related to affordable housing. 

Inauguration of Northwest Bronx Democrats for Change


Swearing-in Ceremony - Flyer.png

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. - Puerto Rican Heritage Month Celebration Wednesday November 20th


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Former Park Avenue Bank Director Mendel Zilberberg And Co-Conspirator Charged In $1.4 Million Bank Fraud


  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 Jay N. Lerner, Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging attorney MENDEL ZILBERBERG, a former director of Park Avenue Bank (the “Bank”), and ARON FRIED with bank fraud and related charges for perpetrating a fraudulent scheme to obtain a $1.4 million loan from the Bank.  The defendants caused the Bank to issue the loan to a straw borrower on the basis of false statements and misrepresentations, when in fact the defendants received and used the loan proceeds, resulting in a loss of over $1 million to the Bank when the loan defaulted.  ZILBERBERG was also separately charged with embezzlement and misappropriation of Bank funds while he was a director and insider of the Bank.  ZILBERBERG and FRIED were arrested this morning and will be presented later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, Mendel Zilberberg and Aron Fried conspired with another to defraud the bank where Zilberberg served as a director.  In a textbook case of self-dealing and breach of fiduciary duty, Zilberberg allegedly exploited his position at the bank to grease the skids for a loan given under blatantly false pretenses, a huge chunk of the proceeds of which he himself dipped into.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr said:  “As alleged, when Fried and his co-conspirator realized they wouldn’t be able to secure a loan the traditional way – by legitimately obtaining the money from an authorized financial institution – they brought a straw borrower and bank director into their circle to effectively carry out the fraudulent activity.  As alleged, Mendel Zilberberg, the bank’s director, played a key role in carrying out this scheme, driving the loan through the approval process while shrouding the details in secrecy.  When the bank realized a loss of more than $1 million, the defendants allegedly walked away with the money from the defaulted loan.  Making false statements and misrepresentations on a loan application is a federal crime, a lesson those charged today have learned the hard way. Furthermore, bank insiders, of all people, should model the legal and ethical obligations of the financial institutions they serve, instead of breaking the law.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
In or about 2009, ARON FRIED and a co-conspirator not named in the Indictment (“CC-1”) sought to obtain a fraudulent loan from the Bank in Manhattan in order to finance an investment in a home health care business.  However, knowing that CC-1 would not be credit-worthy and had a criminal record, FRIED and CC-1 used a straw borrower (the “Straw Borrower”) for the loan application who was recruited by CC-1.  To effectuate the scheme, FRIED and CC-1 partnered with MENDEL ZILBERBERG, then a director of the Bank, who had the power to personally shepherd the fraudulent loan through the Bank’s approval process and guard it from scrutiny.  Together, the defendants concocted a false premise for the loan, supported the loan application with false representations, and set up pass-through bank accounts to funnel the proceeds of the fraudulent loan to themselves.  Specifically, the defendants made or otherwise caused false statements to be made to the Bank regarding, among other things, (a) that the borrower on the loan was the Straw Borrower, when in fact the actual borrowers and beneficiaries of the loan were ZILBERBERG, FRIED, and CC-1; and (b) that the purpose of the loan was for business investments by the Straw Borrower, when in fact the actual purpose of the loan was to benefit ZILBERBERG, FRIED, and CC-1.  
Based on the false representations made to the Bank and ZILBERBERG’s involvement in the loan approval process, the Bank issued a $1.4 million loan to the Straw Borrower, which was quickly disbursed to the defendants through multiple bank accounts and transfers.  In total, ZILBERBERG received at least approximately $466,000 of the loan proceeds, FRIED received at least approximately $434,000 of the loan proceeds, and CC-1 received the remainder of the loan proceeds.  The loan ultimately defaulted, resulting in a loss of over $1 million.
ZILBERBERG, 61 of Monsey, New York, and FRIED, 46 of Toms River, New Jersey, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud, and one count of making false statements to a bank, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, as well as one count of conspiracy to make false statements to a bank, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  ZILBERBERG is also charged with one count of embezzlement and misappropriation of bank funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the FBI and the FDIC, Office of the Inspector General, and noted that the investigation remains ongoing.  Mr. Berman also thanked the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“SIGTARP”) and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance with the investigation.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.