Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (“HHS-OIG”), and Dennis Rosen, New York State Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”), announced the unsealing of a Complaint charging thirteen defendants with participating in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from New York State’s Medicaid program through fraudulent claims related to transportation services.
Saturday, February 15, 2020
AG James, NY Drug Enforcement Task Force, And NY Strike Force Take Down Bronx Gun And Heroin Trafficking Ring
Individuals Illegally Sold 16 Firearms, Including 4 Assault Weapons, 11 High-Capacity Ammunition Feeding Devices, Hundreds of Rounds of Ammunition, and Heroin
Latest Bust in AG’s Efforts to Crack Down on Gun Traffickers, Take Illegal Guns Off of New York’s Streets
New York Attorney General Letitia James and the New York Strike Force announced a 107-count indictment, charging five individuals for their roles in a gun trafficking operation that illegally sold 16 firearms in the Bronx. The indictment — unsealed in Bronx County Supreme Court today — charges Luis Alsina, Michael Alsina, Miguel Rodriguez, Josue Pagan-Adorno, and Rafael Cruz with trafficking numerous assault weapons, semiautomatic pistols, revolvers, 11 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, and more than three hundred rounds of ammunition. The indictment additionally charges Luis Alsina and Michael Alsina with various counts pertaining to the sale of approximately 250 grams of heroin.
“Let these arrests serve as a loud and clear message: there is zero tolerance for gun trafficking in New York,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “These five individuals allegedly made a business of flooding our communities with dangerous weapons - including assault weapons -and drugs, putting our city in harm’s way. I thank our partners in law enforcement for their invaluable support and for their help to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.”
Some of the weapons and rounds of ammunition recovered through this gun trafficking operation.
This taked own was the result of a joint investigation between the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, and the New York Strike Force — a crime-fighting unit comprising federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Iron Empire,” included the use of physical surveillance, electronic surveillance, and undercover operations. During the course of the recorded transactions, the defendants repeatedly referenced their ability to obtain guns from Pennsylvania and bring them into New York to be sold.
The five defendants were charged with Criminal Sale of a Firearm, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, and Conspiracy for their participation in the illegal gun trafficking operation. Luis Alsina and Michael Alsina were also charged with Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, as well as Conspiracy for their participation in an illegal heroin distribution scheme.
According to the indictment, Michael Alsina acted as a broker between his firearms suppliers and undercover officers, to whom he sold firearms and/or ammunition on ten occasions between June 22, 2019 and November 12, 2019. Luis Alsina provided the firearms and/or ammunition to Michael Alsina for seven of those ten sales and also sold firearms directly to undercover officers on three other occasions from June 22, 2019 through December 27, 2019. Rafael Cruz supplied two firearms for sales brokered by Michael Alsina, while Josue Pagan-Adorno and Miguel Rodriguez transported firearms for sale to undercover officers.
The indictment also alleges that Luis Alsina and Michael Alsina combined to sell approximately 250 grams of heroin to undercover officers on four occasions spanning from August 7, 2019 through September 5, 2019.
The investigation resulted in the recovery of the following firearms and ammunition from the defendants:
- Seven 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols
- Three .32 caliber revolvers (one inoperable)
- Two 5.56-millimeter semiautomatic rifles (assault weapons)
- One 7.62x39-millimeter semiautomatic rifle (assault weapon)
- One .40 caliber Carbine (assault weapon)
- One 7.62x39-millimeter single shot rifle
- One .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol
- One .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol
- One .38 caliber revolver
- 11 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices
- One bullet-proof vest (uncharged)
- Approximately 317 rounds of ammunition
The 107-count indictment — unsealed today before Bronx County Supreme Court Judge Ethan Greenberg — charged the five individuals with multiple crimes, including Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, among other charges. Luis Alsina and Michael Alsina were also charged with Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First Degree, a Class B violent felony. If convicted of this crime, Luis Alsina and Michael Alsina face a maximum of 25 years in prison. Miguel Rodriguez and Rafael Cruz each face a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted, and Josue Pagan-Adorno faces a maximum of 7 years in prison if convicted.
Luis Alsina and Michael Alsina are also each charged with multiple offenses related to the sale of heroin, including Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree. If convicted on these charges, they each face an additional maximum of 10 years in prison.
Those charged in today’s indictment include:LUIS ALSINA, 30, Bronx, New York;
MICHAEL ALSINA, 27, Bronx, New York;
MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, 32, Bronx, New York;
JOSUE PAGAN-ADORNO, 29, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania;
RAFAEL CRUZ, 22, Bronx, New York.
Operation Iron Empire is the latest example of Attorney General James’ commitment to cracking down on illegal gun trafficking rings and taking these weapons off our streets. Just last week, the Attorney General’s Office arrested and charged several individuals for their roles in a separate gun trafficking ring operating on Long Island. That investigation resulted in the seizure of 32 firearms, including assault weapons, 18 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, and more than one thousand rounds of ammunition.
“We will not tolerate illegal firearms getting into the hands of criminals," said Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark. "Fortunately an undercover detective intercepted these weapons before they could do harm. My Office has prosecuted many traffickers who bring firearms from out of state, but this case shows there is much more to be done. I am proud to be a partner with Attorney General James and our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to combat the flow of illegal guns into my county.”
“It is a fact, illegal drug trafficking and gun violence threaten the lives of New Yorkers,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “As a result of this investigation we have taken 16 firearms, four assault weapons, and five gun and/or drug traffickers off the streets of the Bronx. I commend our state, local, and federal counterparts whose diligent efforts resulted in these arrests and seizures.”
“This investigation uncovered a scheme to sell firearms illegally, without any regard for who might purchase the weapons or the intended use,” said New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “We have zero tolerance for those who willingly break the law while putting others in danger. I want to thank the Attorney General’s Office and our partners for their outstanding work.”
“This case highlights our continuing focus on keeping illegal firearms, and the threat they pose to the public, out of New York City,” said New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “I want to thank our NYPD investigators, and our federal and state partners, for working together to stop these defendants from allegedly selling guns and drugs on the streets of the Bronx.”
“The danger posed to our communities with the number of assault weapons, pistols and ammunition being trafficked through the Bronx is profound, and the risk to people’s lives was imminent,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of HSI New York. “While guns continue to be bought and sold in the streets, HSI continues to work with our law enforcement partners to see that these guns are removed from neighborhoods and those involved in the trafficking are arrested and face prosecution for their actions.”
The Office of the Attorney General wishes to thank the members of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York Strike Force for their partnership in this investigation. The New York Drug Enforcement Task Force comprises agents and officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York State Police, and the New York City Police Department.
The New York Strike Force includes the New York Division of the DEA; the New York State Police; the New York City Police Department; Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Marshals Service, the New York National Guard; the Clarkstown Police Department; the U.S. Coast Guard; the Port Washington Police Department; and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
The Office of the Attorney General also wishes to thank the Mt. Arlington, New Jersey Police Department for their valuable participation and assistance in this investigation.
The joint investigation with the DEA’s New York Field Division Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force was directed by OCTF Investigators Bradley Rutty, Angel Lopez, and Andrew Scala; with the assistance of the U.S. Army National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, and Supervising Investigator Paul Grzegorski, under the supervision of OCTF Assistant Chief John Sullivan and Deputy Chief Christopher Vasta. The Attorney General’s Investigations Division is led by Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
MAYOR DE BLASIO AND CHANCELLOR CARRANZA CELEBRATE SUCCESS ON NATIONAL EVALUATION SYSTEMS OF PRE-K FOR ALL
National program assessment systems find Pre-K for All leads to positive outcomes for students
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza celebrated the results of two different national program assessment tools that show the vast majority of pre-K programs are demonstrating predictors of positive student outcomes, meaning children are more likely to demonstrate reading, math, language, and social skills such as being independent, understanding shapes, and using expanded vocabulary.
The Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale—Revised (ECERS-R) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), two tools used to measure the quality of pre-K programs across the country, show that Pre-K for All continues to improve. On ECERS-R, 95 percent of evaluated City programs met or exceeded the threshold that predicts positive student outcomes, a 7 percentage point increase from when programs were evaluated in 2016-17. On CLASS, 99.8 percent of sites with scores met at least one of three thresholds for positive student outcomes in 2018-19, representing a 0.8 percentage point increase from 2016-17. City pre-K programs are outpacing or on par with 2018 National Head Start averages in CLASS scores.
“These results confirm what we knew all along: Pre-K for All lays a foundation for success for kids all around our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are investing in our future by ensuring that every single 4-year-old in New York City has access to free, high quality Pre-K.”
“We know that when students get in the classroom at a younger age, they are set up for academic success in later years, and this is evidence that in New York City, Pre-K for All is a strong foundation for our students,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K is available to every four year-old in the City, and I encourage all families to take advantage and apply today!”
Developed by early childhood education experts across the country, ECERS-R and CLASS are nationally recognized instruments to assess and monitor program quality, and help educators create high quality programs for the children and families they serve. Programs are assessed on a three year cycle, meaning in a three year period, a program will receive a CLASS and ECERS-R assessments at least once.
High quality programs measured by ECERS-R and CLASS engage families as strong partners and encourage families to support children’s learning with meaningful activities outside the classroom. Teachers are emotionally supportive, sensitive and responsive to students’ unique perspectives, and create a positive classroom environment. The space is clean and well maintained with child-size furniture conducive to student learning; meals and snacks are well balanced, and children’s work is displayed throughout the room.
Pre-K for All is having an impact on academic performance and closing the achievement gap. For the first time this school year, third graders who had participated in the City’s pre-K program took State tests. According to 2019 State test scores, the White-Black and White-Hispanic achievement gaps were narrower for students who attended Pre-K for All compared to those who did not, illustrating the long term benefit of the program. Additionally, third grade students who attended Pre-K for All outperformed students who did not attend Pre-K for All.
A summary of the 2018-19 Pre-K ECERS-R and CLASS assessments is available online.
Applications for free, full-day, high-quality 3-K and Pre-K for All opened on Wednesday, February 5. Families can find programs and apply online at MySchools.nyc. Families can also apply over the phone at 718-935-2009, or in person at a Family Welcome Center. The online application is available in ten languages, and families can submit an application over the phone or in person in over 200 languages. All New York City families with children born in 2016 can apply for pre-K, and all families with children born in 2017 can apply for 3-K in the 2020-21 school year.
The Pre-K application will remain open until March 16. The 3-K application will remain open until April 24. Families can make changes to their application at any time before submitting, and can find out their school district by calling 311 or visiting schools.nyc.gov/find-a-school.
Access to free, full-day, high-quality pre-K prepares children for kindergarten and puts them on the path to success throughout their time in school. Research has shown that every dollar invested in high-quality early education saves taxpayers as much as $13 long-term. Specifically in New York City, research has found that families with children enrolled in free, full-day pre-K save an average of $10,000 per year on childcare costs, and access to Pre-K for All increases the chance that a low-income child is properly diagnosed with asthma or vision problems and receives appropriate treatment. Since 2014 the City has more than tripled the number of 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-K, from approximately 19,000 in 2013-14 to approximately 70,000 students enrolled today. The City is now going a step further with the expansion of 3-K for All.
For the 2020-21 school year, 3-K will expand to two additional districts: District 1 (Chinatown, East Village, Lower East Side) and District 14 (Greenpoint, Williamsburg). This expansion comes in addition to District 12 (Central Bronx) and District 29 (Cambria Heights, Hollis, Laurelton, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans) as announced in 2018. Each year, the City has outpaced its planned 3-K for All growth. Originally, 3-K was expected to be in only eight districts by Fall 2020; with this expansion, 3-K for All will serve 26,000 children citywide for the 2020-21 school year. Families applying to 3-K can begin filling out an application now, and additional programs in Districts 1 and 14 will be added to the application in the coming weeks.
Pre-K for All and 3-K for All are part of the Mayor and Chancellor’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda, which is building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. 3-K for All and Pre-K for All are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier; Universal Literacy is working towards ensuring every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All is improving elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensuring that all 8th graders have access to algebra. Equity and Excellence for All is also offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All is giving all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools. Efforts to create more diverse and inclusive classrooms, outlined in the 2017 New York City school diversity plan and through diversity pilots taking root in eight districts, are central to this pathway.
Celebrate our 25th anniversary by sharing your pictures and stories with us!
PfP turned 25 this year, and we couldn’t have done it without you. Since 1995, Partnerships for Parks has been working side-by-side with communities across New York City to sustain local parks and green spaces. To celebrate, share your memories of the work you’ve done in your park with us by submitting a photo and story using the hashtag #wearepfp or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll feature one of our favorite submissions each month on all our social media platforms. See guidelines below.
Community volunteers in action at Poe Park, 2004
Friday, February 14, 2020
In case you missed the news: A corporate executive is running against AOC in the Democratic primary.
This is an all hands on deck situation. With ties to a big finance firm, who knows how much corporate cash this opponent can raise to attack us on the airwaves.
Special interests have been looking for their chance to strike back against AOC since she won her first primary. They knew this movement couldn’t be bought, and that AOC would fight for working people, not the wealthy.
Now, they have their champion. As a former member of the board of directors of a finance firm, it’s clear exactly whose interests they’ll be fighting for.
"Simply put, It is unacceptable for a government meeting of this magnitude to offer less than 24 hours notice to the general public and expect people to attend."
"New York's Medicaid program is seriously at risk, yet the Governor is treating the healthcare needs of some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers as an afterthought."
"This hastily called meeting is the clearest demonstration yet that this administration is not genuinely seeking recommendations or input from stakeholders. To expect working class, elderly, and disabled New Yorkers who rely on Medicaid to participate on such short notice is terrifyingly out of touch."
"As Chair of the Senate Health Committee, I will continue fighting against these threats to the health care coverage that 1 in 3 New Yorkers rely on and for the individuals and institutions who provide that care."
We could not agree any more with Senator Rivera. Legislation must be done in public with public participation.
So Senator River, and the rest of the New York State Senate and Assembly, please explain the lack of public input into the 'No Cash Bail' law?
The safety of New Yorkers should not be an afterthought of the legislature, to be fixed at a later date, if all parties agree to it.
The Defendants Are Charged In Connection with a June 2018 Shooting in Which a 13-Year-Old Was Struck By Gunfire
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 today of an Indictment charging two members of the Woodycrime gang (“Woodycrime”) with various racketeering, firearms, and narcotics offenses, including assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder in aid of racketeering for committing a June 7, 2018, shooting in Nelson Playground in the Bronx, during which two individuals, including a 13-year-old child, were struck by gunfire.