Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TERRELL POLK was sentenced today to 35 years in prison in connection with his participation in a crack cocaine conspiracy and related firearms charges. As the evidence at trial established, POLK committed three shootings of drug rivals in the Bronx, New York during August 2015. POLK was convicted following a trial before United States District Judge George B. Daniels, who also imposed today’s sentence.
Friday, February 28, 2020
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Brian A. Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, announced today that RICHARD GAFFEY, a/k/a “Dick Gaffey,” pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman to wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and other charges. GAFFEY, a resident of Massachusetts, is charged along with Harald Joachim von der Goltz, Ramses Owens, and Dirk Brauer in connection with a decades-long criminal scheme perpetrated by Mossack Fonseca & Co. (“Mossack Fonseca”), a Panamanian-based global law firm, and its related entities. Harald Joachim von der Goltz pled guilty to his role in the scheme on February 18, 2020.
Files Lawsuit Against Bronx-based Property Management Corp for
Violations of NYC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit against Chestnut Holdings of New York, Inc., a property management corporation, for failing to comply with provisions of New York City’s lead poisoning prevention law. The suit alleges that Chestnut Holdings has put the health of its tenants at risk by repeatedly violating the New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, which requires property owners to take several critical measures to prevent children under six from being exposed to paint with dangerously high levels of lead.
“All New Yorkers – in every city, village, and town across this state – have a right to live in homes that don’t make them sick,” said Attorney General James. “Exposure to lead paint in our aging housing stock puts children in grave jeopardy and our future at risk. This highly toxic metal causes serious and irreversible harms, and I am committed to ensuring that landlords follow the laws to protect young children from lead poisoning.”
Chestnut Holdings manages more than 6,000 apartments in approximately 134 buildings, most of which are located in the Bronx.
“This administration has made it clear that landlords who disregard their responsibilities and put tenants in danger will not fly under the radar. Through the Mayor’s LeadFreeNYC initiative, we will continue to work with our partners on all levels of government to keep New Yorkers safe and drive lead exposure down to zero," said NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Louise Carroll. “I commend the New York State Attorney General for taking this action, and thank my team at HPD, along with our colleagues throughout the city and state who work day in, day out to protect the people we serve.”
“All New Yorkers deserve safe homes, free of the dangers of lead poisoning,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I am proud to stand with Attorney General Letitia James to fight for Bronx residents and to stand with all New Yorkers to demand that landlords and management companies treat their tenants with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
The New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act requires owners of apartments and houses built before 1960 to take critical safety measures such as identifying apartments where children under six live, conducting annual investigations of those apartments for hazards that are conducive to lead poisoning, and remediating those conditions where they occur. The Act also requires owners and agents to take measures to prevent lead poisoning when an apartment turns over.
This complaint alleges that Chestnut Holdings engaged in repeated illegal acts under Executive Law § 63(12) violating several provisions of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, including failing to inspect apartments to determine if a child under six lives there, failing to conduct complete annual investigations of apartments for hazards that are conducive to lead poisoning, and failing to take the necessary measures when an apartment turns over. Additionally, Chestnut Holdings has repeatedly certified in new leases that it has complied with the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act’s turnover requirements, even though it had not done so.
In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks injunctive relief requiring Chestnut Holdings to comply with the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, including bringing all apartments into compliance with the Act’s requirements, penalties for its repeated violations of the Act, and disgorgement of money it would have expended to comply with the Act.
Lead poisoning is a serious and immediate problem, particularly in New York. New York State has the highest percentage of buildings built before 1950 in the nation. In fact, lead paint has been found in approximately 43 percent of all of New York’s dwellings.
Children under six are more likely to be exposed to lead than any other age group, as their normal behaviors could result in them chewing lead paint chips; breathing in or swallowing dust from old lead paint that gets on floors, window sills, and hands; and can be found in soil, toys, and other consumer products. Children who have been exposed during critical stages of early development to even very low levels of lead are at risk for neurological and physical problems. Lead poisoning in New York City is highest among children of color and children living in high-poverty neighborhoods.
Attorney General James thanks the City of New York and the New York State Homes and Community Renewal for their assistance with data collection during the investigation.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark and New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett today announced that three New York City Department of Correction Officers have been indicted on Attempted Assault, evidence tampering, lying on official reports and other related charges involving a fight with three youths in Horizon Juvenile Center.
District Attorney Clark said, “The officers allegedly fought with three 17-year-old residents, and one officer gave a resident a bloody lip. Another officer allegedly removed blood-stained sheets from the facility. The three officers did not report the incident as required; when they did so under order, they allegedly gave a false story. We will not abide misconduct or coverups from those who are supposed to secure our jails, and from those who work with juvenile detainees.”
Commissioner Margaret Garnett said, “These defendants, entrusted with the care of youth in secure detention facilities, sowed further violence and disorder instead of diffusing it, according to the charges. Excessive force by Correction Officers and attempts to cover up those actions with false information, misstatements, and evidence tampering cannot be tolerated and will be fully investigated and prosecuted. DOI thanks the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their partnership in securing today’s indictments and ensuring that youth in our juvenile system are protected from wanton behavior by officers working in these facilities.”
District Attorney Clark said the defendants, Edenuel Serrano, Keith Glover and Tahiem Stewart, were arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Lester Adler. The defendants are due back in court on June 10, 2020. Serrano was charged with Attempted Assault in the third degree and Tampering with Physical Evidence; Glover was charged with Attempted Assault in the third-degree and third-degree Assault; Stewart was charged with third-degree Assault. Additionally, all three defendants were charged with Official Misconduct, first-degree and second-degree Offering a False Instrument for Filing, and first-degree and second-degree Falsifying Business Records.
According to the investigation, on April 8, 2019, at Horizon Juvenile Center in the Bronx, a facility then jointly operated by Administration for Children’s Services and the New York City Department of Correction for pre-trial detention of 17-year-olds, the defendants entered a 17- year-old resident’s room to allegedly start a fight with that resident, who had earlier had an argument with Serrano. Once inside the room, Serrano allegedly placed the resident in a chokehold. Upon seeing the resident in distress, two other 17-year-old residents entered the room and joined the fight, followed by Glover and Stewart. While the three officers fought the three residents, Stewart allegedly punched a resident in the face, causing him to bleed on the bedsheets and on the floor of the targeted resident’s room.
According to the investigation, video from the facility then showed Serrano removing the bedsheets from the room, walking them through the facility, and then handing them off to another officer who then brought the sheets into an office area with no cameras. Approximately 20 minutes later, Serrano was seen exiting the facility holding a black trash bag, which he put in his car before driving off. The sheets were never recovered.
According to the investigation, the officers did not report the incident as required by DOC policy on use of force. The residents complained to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services the next day. OCFS then notified the facility. The officers were ordered to complete use of force reports. In their reports, they offered a narrative of the incident that was at odds with the video and with testimony from other witnesses. Serrano, in particular, reported that he removed the bedsheets from the resident’s room because the resident complained to him after the incident that he had had a nosebleed the night before. However, DNA swabs taken in that resident’s room and analyzed by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner revealed that the blood belonged to the other resident, who had been punched in the face.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.
Sat, March 14
Celebrate Family Art Project’s 30th birthday with us! Plant your story in our collective story quilt and celebrate your unique relationship with the land that holds us. Together we’ll take inspiration from the work of Robin Wall Kimmerer as we consider how caring for the land starts with restoring our relationship to it. Join in photographing family faces and nature spaces, then layer them on bundle-dyed quilt squares. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.
Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM
Sun, March 15
Celebrate Family Art Project’s 30th birthday with us! Plant your story in our collective story quilt and celebrate your unique relationship with the land that holds us. Together we’ll take inspiration from the work of Robin Wall Kimmerer as we consider how caring for the land starts with restoring our relationship to it. Join in photographing family faces and nature spaces, then layer them on bundle-dyed quilt squares. Free with admission to the grounds.
Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM
Sun, March 15
Winter Workspace Drop-In Sunday
Artists in the Winter Workspace program share their studio practice with visitors on this Drop-In Sunday. This Sunday, participating artists are Maya Ciarrocchi, Beatrice Modisett and Elizabeth Velazquez. Free with admission to the grounds.
Glyndor Gallery, 1–3PM
Sun, March 15
Garden highlights walks offer an intimate look at our living collections. Wave Hill Garden Guides help you explore the grounds and make sure that you do not miss any seasonal floral wonders. Free with admission to the grounds.
Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 2–3PM
Sun, March 15
“Mind The Gap” is an original project developed in 2011 by PUBLIQuartet. The concept bridges the gap between diverse musical genres through group improvisation. Their brand of rock meets jazz meets stylistically crazed group composition touches on deeper connections between traditional, modern and contemporary music. Concerts begin at 2PM and last approximately one hour with no intermission. Ticket prices (including admission to the grounds): Adults: $30 at the door/$14 at the door for children ages 8-18. Purchase your tickets in advance and save $2 per ticket. Wave Hill Members save 10%. Order tickets online at wavehill.org or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. Learn more at wavehill.org.
Wave Hill House, 2PM
Mon, March 16
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/
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. Follow us on: Facebook / Instagram / Twi
“For the last 11 years it has been the honor of my life to serve as the Assembly Member for the 85th Assembly District. The work we have done together in our community, alongside other leaders throughout the Bronx and with colleagues around the State has been transformational. I will forever be grateful of what we have accomplished, the friendships I have forged and the amazing individuals who have served as part of my staff over the years and helped me deliver a body of work we can all be proud of.
“However, I have decided not to seek re-election, but instead pursue opportunities outside of government that will allow me to continue to serve my community, be closer to my daughters and family, and also acknowledge and support a new generation of leadership that must continue the work that remains ahead.
“When I first interned in the NYS Assembly for then Assembly Member Ruben Diaz Jr., I could never have imagined what doors would open. I will forever cherish the privilege my community has given me to serve. The Bronx is and will always be my home. To have worked alongside such an amazing community and hard-working colleagues in government and helped lead the many improvements we have seen in our Borough is nothing short of a dream come true. I’m grateful to every single person who over the years supported my efforts, mentored me and believed in the leadership and vision we brought to this work. I look forward to fulfilling my responsibilities in Albany and in the 85th Assembly District for a short time after the completion of the legislative session. The future of the Bronx remains bright and that is what matters most.”
While we have thoughts as to why Assemblyman Marcos Crespo has decided to leave politics, and we have the strong feeling that he is not going to be the last current elected official to not seek re-election this or next year.
We can only wish the soon to be Mr. Marcos Crespo the best in his future endeavors, and congratulate him on his fine work in the 85th Assembly District, the Bronx, and New York State Assembly.
We wish the next assembly member from the 85th district only the best, as we wish the next county leader, whom we have spoken to in the past about this day coming.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Here’s the situation: We launched Courage to Change because working-class candidates face fundamental disadvantages when running for office.
Right now, I want to paint you a picture of what that looks like. If you go to the DCCC and say, “Hey, I want to run for office,” you’re going to get a simple question: “How much can you raise from your friends and family?”
If you come from money, the answer is probably a lot. If you went to law school, the answer is probably a boatload of cash. But if you grew up in a working-class neighborhood, we all know your answer won’t be enough.
Here’s the hard truth: At least this cycle, we’ll probably never even the playing field. Candidates with wealthy connections or vast personal fortunes will always start out with the ball in their court.
That doesn’t mean winning is impossible. It just means that people like us — movements like ours — have to hustle that much harder, have to sacrifice that much more, and have to raise each other up.
Working-class people across the country have always had to fight that much harder, and our candidates for office are no different. But it is exactly because we have seen our neighbors overcome those obstacles that we know our leaders can do the same.
- Team AOC
While we like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez we feel that the Courage to Change PAC has made a big mistake in giving 15th Congressional candidate Samelys Lopez $20,000.00 for her campaign. We have heard stories already from very reliable sources that someone very close to candidate Lopez is already using AOC's Bronx campaign office to bolster his own 2021 campaign for city council. More than one person have told us that this person has solicited donations from people connected with the AOC campaign for his 2021 City Council race. We have also been told that part if not all of the money from the Courage to Change PAC will go to this person whom we believe is running the Lopez campaign, since the consultants hired for the Lopez campaign have been fired. This person has also kept us from interviewing candidate Lopez, and asking her questions related to her involvement in Local Democrats of New York, and Bronx Progressives.
It is important that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, the Courage to Change PAC, and the public know this information we have in part which has come from people in the Ocasio-Cortez campaign.
New law will allow City to seize and impound certain vehicles involved in reckless driving unless owners complete a driver accountability program
Mayor de Blasio today signed the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement bill into law, the latest step in the Administration’s Vision Zero plan to make New York City’s streets safer. The bill was introduced by Council Member Brad Lander and passed City Council with an overwhelming majority. The new law targets the most reckless drivers by allowing the City to seize and impound vehicles with 15 or more school speed camera violations or 5 or more red light camera violations during a 12-month period unless the registered owner or operator completes a driver accountability course.
“This is a major step toward our goal of achieving Vision Zero,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are putting all drivers on notice that if you behave recklessly behind the wheel, there will be real consequences. This law will make our streets safer for all New Yorkers, and I thank Council Member Lander for leading the charge.”
“We thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this landmark legislation, a monumental step forward for Vision Zero,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We know that vehicles with the highest number of red light and speed camera violations are significantly more likely to be involved in serious crashes. Through an unprecedented program of education and enforcement, including the possible loss of a vehicle, this new law will help us change driver behavior so we can keep driving down traffic deaths and serious injuries.”
“This bill being signed into law is a major step forward in this Council’s fight for safe streets,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I congratulate Council Member Lander for his tireless work to get to where we are today and I thank the safe streets advocates who were there by our side in this fight every single day. The Council is proud of our efforts to combat traffic violence and we will continue to build on this success in our ongoing fight for a city where people don’t have to live in fear of death or injury from cars.”
Introduced by Council Member Brad Lander, Intro 971 will create a dangerous vehicle abatement program. Owners of vehicles with 5 or more red light camera violations or 15 or more school speed camera violations incurred within 12 months may be required to take a safe vehicle operation course overseen by DOT. If an owner fails to complete the course, their vehicle may be seized and impounded by the City Sheriff. Officials estimate that the new law will affect about 3,000 to 6,000 vehicles, or less than 1 percent of the nearly 2 million vehicles registered in the city. The law will take effect on February 26, 2021 and apply to red light camera and school speed camera violations incurred after October 26, 2020. The program will run for 3 years, at which point the Mayor and Council will decide to renew or modify this effort.
New York City school zone speed cameras issue violations to vehicles traveling more than 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Both speeding and red light violations carry a $50 fine. DOT currently operates more than 600 speed cameras in school zones around the five boroughs. By the end of 2021, the number of cameras across the city is expected to reach 2,000. The city also operates red light cameras at 150 intersections.
“As the New York City Sheriff, one of my biggest priorities is to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers, and my office is ready to do its part and help keep dangerous drivers off the roads,” said NYC Sheriff Joseph Fucito. “I look forward to working with members of the de Blasio Administration, City Council and other city agencies to put this program in place and encourage safe driving habits.”
“The NYPD is proud to stand with the community in support of today's signing of the Reckless Driver Accountability Act”, said Inspector Michael Hurley, Executive Officer of the NYPD's Transportation Bureau. “The Department will strive to enhance the lifesaving benefits of this bill by continuing its focus on eliminating dangerous driving behavior.”
"The Center for Court Innovation commends the Mayor, DOT, and the City Council for embracing alternatives to curb risky driver behavior that in some cases remains undeterred, and can lead to death and serious injuries, through a restorative approach with accountability and consequences," said Adam Mansky, Director of Criminal Justice for the Center for Court Innovation. "In the Center's Driver Accountability Program, currently providing an alternative to fines or short jail time in several City courts, a trained facilitator uses exercises and discussion to raise participants’ awareness of the harms of dangerous driving behaviors and to identify and commit to strategies to improve their driving."
Assembly Member Karines Reyes is kicking off her campaign this weekend, and it's up to us to play a prominent role. Sign petitions to get her and her slate of community leaders on the ballot.
Saturday, February 29, 2020
11:00AM to 2:00PM
1306 Unionport Rd
The Bronx, NY 10462
The Bronx Democratic Party
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dermot Shea, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced that yesterday, RANDY TORRES, a/k/a “Rico,” 38, WALSTON OWEN, a/k/a “Purp,” 36, and CHARLES VENTURA, a/k/a “Gutta,” 27, were convicted of racketeering charges relating to their involvement in the violent Rollin’ 30s Crips street gang. OWEN and VENTURA were also found guilty of attempted murders in aid of racketeering and related firearms offenses. The convictions followed a fifteen-day trial before United States District Judge Victor Marrero.
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 Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging OWEN DRAIN, a/k/a “Whiteboy,” a/k/a “Tommy,” with the November 19, 2019, gunpoint kidnapping of a victim in the Bronx. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Victor Marrero. DRAIN was arrested this afternoon, and will be presented today before United States Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses.