Friday, December 25, 2020

'SHARING IS CARING DAY' from Councilman Andy King and the Bronx YEP


Christmas Eve was the 15th 'Sharing is Caring Day' for the Wakefield community and fifteen soldiers from the area. Councilman Andy King, his wife Neva, and the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program members gave back to the community and thanked those who chose to join the army. 

As is the annual custom of sharing at the holiday time,  tables were set up in the JP Hall with all different gifts and clothing that was being given to the soldiers and community. Meals were prepared by Karibbean Flavar by Chef K for everyone to take home and have a delicious homemade meal. 

Councilman King said it is important to share what you have with the community. The importance of having the soldiers at the event was because Councilman King's father served in the Korean War. 

Above - Councilman King greets the soldiers outside the hall.

Below - Councilman King, his wife Neva with some of the soldiers who were in attendance.

Above - YEP Public Relations Chair Ayana Sheppard is speaking about Sharing is Caring Day. Also in the photo is Councilman King, YEP President Victor Rodriguez, and YEP Vice-President Aaliyah Sheppard,

Below - The two bicycles given away went to Jahnia and Ethan. 

Above - A group photo.

Below- The delicious meals that were prepared by Karibbean Flavor by Chef K, and given to all to take home.



Life Does not Have Guarantees, But Your Warranty Should Pay Special Attention to Warranties and Service Contracts when Making Large Purchases

 As part of its seven-part consumer alert holiday series, the New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is today informing New Yorkers about the differences between warranties and service contracts to help consumers navigate the marketplace this holiday season. Warranties are included in the price of a purchase and service contracts are a separate cost. Consumers are encouraged to understand what is already covered in the warranty before purchasing a separate service contract.

“Warranties and service contracts are often confused in the marketplace,” said New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection. “This holiday season don’t overpay for something that may be covered under an existing warranty, and always read the terms and conditions to understand what is covered before you buy.”


Warranties are legally enforceable assurances about certain parts of a transaction.  Ordinarily, the warranty involves representations about the item being purchased. For example, a watchmaker may warrant that his or her watches can withstand submersion underneath one hundred feet of water, or an appliance company warrants their appliances will be covered for defects up to one year after purchase.

Under New York Law, warranties may be made orally or in writing and can even arise by implication without any verbal statement. Proving a warranty was made is always easier with proper documentation.

Service Contracts 

Some products, such as automobiles and appliances, may offer a service contract.  Although similar to a warranty and often called an “extended warranty,” a service contract is not a warranty. Service contracts are contracts to perform repairs or maintenance on a product. To determine whether you need a service contract, consider the following:

  • whether the warranty already covers the repairs and the time period of coverage that you would get under the service contract; 
  • whether the product is likely to need repairs and the potential costs of such repairs; 
  • the duration of the service contract; and
  • the reputation of the company offering the service contract.

Unlike a warranty, service contracts are not included in the price of the purchase. If a warranty is already provided and covers repairs, you may be paying extra for a largely unnecessary service contract, particularly if the service contract is limited to repair of defects. An express warranty is one that is written in the product warranty, whereas an implied warranty is a legally enforceable promise that something will work as intended.

DCP recommends optimizing product and service warranties with the following tips:

  • Get it in writing. Request oral warranties in writing before purchasing the product.
  • Check company reviews. Go online and search for the company name and “warranty complaints” or similar search to see whether consumers face issues with that company’s warranties.
  • Read and understand the warranty before you purchase the product. Typically, companies will post their warranty terms and follow-up information on their company website so you can review them. 
  • Save all necessary paperwork such as the original receipt, a copy of the warranty and any maintenance or repair records. When there are issues, the company will ask for basic information like model number, serial number and date of purchase.
  • Use the product according to the specifications – including getting regular maintenance. Comply with all warranty requirements by maintaining and using the product in the manner specified in the warranty paperwork.

If something happens and you need to initiate a warranty:

  1. If there is a written warranty, read it first. The terms of your agreement are essential because they are almost always controlling. Even if the warranty has been breached, the remedy for breach may be dramatically altered by contract.
  2. Next, contact the warrantor. Write to or call the entity that issued the warranty. Your warranty should list the appropriate contact and that company's mailing address. If mailing, send all letters by certified mail and save copies of the correspondence for future reference.
  3. Contact the Division of Consumer Protection and file a complaint. The Division mediates consumer complaints with businesses. If you are unsuccessful getting your warranty claim covered, file a complaint online at

For additional information on warranties, consult the Federal Trade Commission website:

The Consumer Assistance Helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State Holidays, and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at To view consumer alerts, consumers can visit The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress on Day 300 of COVID-19 Pandemic - DECEMBER 25, 2020


6,950 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide

1,148 Patients in the ICU; 621 Intubated

Statewide Positivity Rate is 5.49%

122 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress on day 300 of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

"New York made it through Thanksgiving better than most places, so as we celebrate Christmas today it's critical we retain that momentum and remember that celebrating smart stops shutdowns," Governor Cuomo said. "While the vaccine is now here, we are still months away from widespread vaccination and finally reaching that light at the end of the tunnel. We are in a footrace between distributing the vaccine and slowing the spread. While the state is doing everything it can to get people vaccinated, it's on the rest of us to stay tough and keep practicing safe behaviors in the meantime. This has undoubtedly been a trying year, but if we work together and stay United as one New York Family, we will win this war once and for all."

Today's data is summarized briefly below: 

  • Test Results Reported - 226,560 
  • Tested Positive - 12,446
  • Percent Positive - 5.49%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 6,950 (+22)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 859 
  • Hospital Counties - 55
  • Number ICU - 1,148 (-12)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 621 (+0)
  • Total Discharges - 98,350 (+750)
  • Deaths - 122
  • Total Deaths - 29,270

Statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Federal Government Reversing Its Policy on Testing Airline Travelers from the UK


 "When British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the UK had discovered a new variant of the COVID virus that could be 70 percent more transmissible, it became clear just how dangerous it was that the U.S. government did not require travelers to obtain a negative test result before flying across the Atlantic.

"New York did everything it could within the limited authority it has over international flights, and within days we were able to convince British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic to voluntarily test passengers before they left the UK. I thank the airlines for their quick efforts.

"But testing travelers flying to just one out of 50 states was clearly not enough. I called for the federal government to reverse its policy and am glad to see that it has now done so. Testing people for COVID-19 before they get on planes is common sense. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past, and we must continue to do everything we can to keep New Yorkers and Americans safe.

Is Samelys Lopez Entering the Bronx Borough President Race?


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

We have been told from reliable sources that Samelys Lopez should be entering the race for Bronx Borough President soon. Ms. Lopez came in fourth in this years 15th Congressional District Democratic Primary with 8,272 votes of the 59,473 votes that were cast. Then Councilman Ritchie Torres won the 15th congressional primary with 19,090 votes. Then Assemblyman Michael Blake came in second with 10,725 votes, and Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr, came in third with 8,559 votes.

It is expected that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who supported Samelys Lopez in the neighboring congressional race will again be supporting her for Bronx Borough President. Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. is expected to support Rafael Salamanca for BP, while Michael Blake has come out in favor of Nathalia Fernandez for BP. It is not known yet who new Congressman Ritchie Torres may support if anyone for Bronx BP.

Candidate for Bronx Borough President Samelys Lopez would have the backing of the Democratic Socialist of America as she did in the congressional primary, and would be running with DSA candidates for various city council races in the Bronx. 

Currently term-limited City Council members Vanessa Gibson and Fernando Cabrera, non term-limited Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, State Senator Luis Sepulveda, former police officer Samuel Revelo, and businessman Victor Gutierrez have filed with the New York City campaign Finance Board as candidates for Bronx Borough President.

Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to Deploy Additional Flood Response Assets as Storm System Begins Impacting New York


New Yorkers Urged to Prepare for Heavy Rain Combined with Snowmelt Which May Produce Flooding in Multiple Locations

Swift Water Rescue Teams Strategically Placed Throughout the State; State Stockpiles Ready to Deploy Additional Resources

Strong Winds May Also Result in Widespread Power Outages, Property Damage

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed state agencies to deploy additional flood and storm response assets as warm temperatures and a large storm system have begun impacting the state and may lead to localized urban and river flooding. Specifically, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has pre-deployed swift water rescue teams to strategic locations throughout the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson and Capital Regions. Additionally, the Division has readied all 10 of the state's regional stockpiles and are prepared to deploy resources ranging from pumps, sandbags and generators to cots, blankets and pillows. Other state agencies are also preparing boats and other watercraft for deployment in the event they are needed. New Yorkers are being reminded to closely follow local weather reports for the latest updates

"Rain and warm temperatures have already moved into much of the state, and with so much snow still on the ground, there is a very real chance some areas may see flooding on Christmas morning," Governor Cuomo said. "Everything is being done to prepare for any potential impacts and the state stands ready to support any of our local partners who may need assistance. In the meantime, I urge everyone to celebrate smart and use caution if traveling over the next 48 hours."

Currently, forecasters are calling for 2 to 3 inches of widespread rainfall across most of the state, with 3 to 6 inches of rain possible across the eastern Catskills where there is significant snowpack already on the ground. The heaviest periods of rain are expected during the overnight hours. Not only does this storm raise the level of concern in terms of flooding, but forecasters are also predicting that portions of the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson and Capital Regions could see wind gusts of up to 50 mph during the overnight hours into Friday, with the potential for gusts of up to 65 mph in the New York City and Long Island Regions during the same time frame. This creates the potential for power outages due to downed tree limbs and other debris.

As most of the state faces the potential for heavy rainfall, lake effect snow has begun moving into the Western New York Region. Approximately 3 to 5 inches of snow are to be expected through Friday evening. Temperatures behind the system are expected to drop rapidly late Friday. New Yorkers traveling for the holidays should use extreme caution as standing water could freeze of Friday night, increasing the chances of black ice and hazardous travel conditions. 

The National Weather Service has continued to issue numerous Advisories, Watches, and Warnings for flooding, high winds and winter weather. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website

Agency Preparations

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center remains activated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will closely monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations and remain in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event.  State stockpiles are prepared to deploy assets to localities to support any storm-related needs, including pumps, chainsaws, sandbags, generators, cots, blankets and bottled water.

The State Office of Fire Prevention and Control also remains in constant coordination with partner agencies and local governments. The Office has pre-deployed its Swift Water Rescue teams to strategic locations throughout the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson and Capital Regions to provide additional rescue support if required.

Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with 3,587 supervisors and operators available statewide.  The need for resource deployments (operators, equipment, mechanics, EOI's, traffic signal technicians) will be continually reevaluated as conditions warrant throughout the event.  Drainage inlets, culverts and other drainage structures are being inspected and cleared of accumulated ice and snow. Flood and wind response tools (generators, pumps, chainsaws, light plants, hand tools, chippers, etc.) are being readied and loaded into response trucks for immediate dispatch, while plow trucks are being dressed for plowing and salting operations.

All available flood/wind/snow and ice response equipment is ready to deploy.  Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1599 large plow trucks
  • 175 medium duty trucks with plow
  • 40 snow blowers
  • 49 loaders with grapple
  • 16 vacuum trucks with sewer jet
  • 31 tracked excavators
  • 45 wheeled excavators
  • 53 tractor trailers with lowboy trailer
  • 15 tree crew bucket trucks
  • 33 traffic signal trucks
  • 6 water pumps (4-6 inch)
  • 79 chippers 10" (min) capacity

All affected residency locations will be staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of priority response operations.  Mechanic support will be available 24/7 to keep response equipment operational.

For real time travel information, call 511, visit, or logon to the new mobile site at

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 684 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 254 large snow plows, 105 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 62 loaders across the state with more than 118,000 tons of road salt on hand.  Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.  The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available for free on iPhone and Android devices. The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway here

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

New York State Park Police and Park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Response equipment is being fueled, tested and prepared for storm response use. Park Police are prepared to provide support to swift water operations in Binghamton area.  State Parks operations is supporting DOT with eight saw crews placed on standby and on-call drivers for state stockpiles in impacted areas.  Park visitors should check or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

Department of Environmental Conservation

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather.  All available assets, including swift water rescue teams, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

Department of Public Service

New York's utilities have approximately 5,500 works available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration effort across New York State. Staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm and will ensure the utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to experience the greatest impact.

State Police

State Police are prepared to deploy additional Troopers as needed to affected areas.  All State Police specialized vehicles, including boats, four-wheel drive vehicles and Utility Task Vehicles, are in service and ready for response.  In addition, swift water rescue teams are staged for immediate deployment.  All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation

The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation staff is performing preparations for the forecasted weather to ensure all facilities, assets and equipment are secured and ready. The Power Authority also is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) personnel are hard at work to ensure safe, reliable service continues throughout the storm and aftermath and ate monitoring the weather closely, preparing for heavy rain and winds across its service region. Drains are being inspected and cleared as necessary, and personnel and equipment are being staged at strategic locations for faster response. Equipment being prepared includes water pumps, tools for clearing vegetation and other debris, emergency trucks and other maintenance vehicles. Flood-prone areas are being closely monitored, and construction activities are being monitored and will be suspended as necessary. Buses will operate on reduced frequency as needed and MTA bridges will have a ban on tandem vehicles and empty tractor-trailers from 6 p.m. on December 24 to 10 a.m. on December 25 or as necessary. Customers should sign up for real-time service alerts via text or email. These alerts are also available via the MTA's apps: MYmta, Metro-North Train Time and Long Island Rail Road Train Time.

Port Authority

The Port Authority urges motorists to use caution; speed restrictions may be in effect at the bridges, as well as along roadways to and from the crossings. Travelers through the Port Authority's airports, bus terminals and bus stations are encouraged to reach out to carriers and airlines directly for the latest information on delays, cancelations or rebookings. For the latest information about Port Authority facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts or download one of the PA mobile apps. Residents and businesses clearing sidewalks and driveways are encouraged to remove snow from street drains to enable runoff in storm sewers.

Safe Travel

Please drive with care and keep these safety tips in mind: 

  • DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
  • DO NOT underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two m.p.h. can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.
  • Follow recommended routes. DO NOT ignore emergency detours to view flooded areas.
  • As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts.
  • Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.
  • Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately. 

Some of the most important tips for safe driving include: 

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
  • Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
  • If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, a set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag. 

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.  Before driving, ensure your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving.  Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars, be extra alert, and remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children.  Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It's important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 m.p.h., which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.  

Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic - DECEMBER 24, 2020


6,928 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide

1,160 Patients in the ICU; 621 Intubated

Statewide Positivity Rate is 5.55%

129 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have nine days left in the holiday season and today, 299 days into the COVID crisis, it is more important than ever for New Yorkers to stay Smart and Tough," Governor Cuomo said. "We are rapidly distributing the vaccine to the most vulnerable New Yorkers and frontline heroes, but COVID continues to spread at high rates throughout the nation and we cannot let our guard down even for a moment. The holiday season is normally a time for celebration, but this year is different - we must celebrate smart, and not allow COVID to be the grinch that results in increased viral spread as a result of the holidays."

Today's data is summarized briefly below: 

  • Test Results Reported - 226,296
  • Tested Positive - 12,568
  • Percent Positive - 5.55%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 6,928 (+64)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 941 
  • Hospital Counties - 56
  • Number ICU - 1,160 (-6)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 621 (-12)
  • Total Discharges - 97,600 (+743)
  • Deaths - 129
  • Total Deaths - 29,149

Thursday, December 24, 2020



Defendants Lured Victims Through Social Media; Beat Victims and Manipulated Them with Drugs 

 Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark and New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea today announced that nine alleged Bloods gang members have been indicted for Sex Trafficking of a Child, Sex Trafficking, Promoting Prostitution and additional charges for running a sex trafficking ring out of multiple Bronx motels and other hotels around the city. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “These defendants, who are allegedly part of the Hunts Point Family Bloods subset, ran a sex trafficking ring from Bronx motels and manipulated their victims through drugs and violence. The defendants used social media to get to the victims, preying on teens and young women. My Human Trafficking Unit is helping these victims through the trauma and will continue to dismantle these terrible operations that demean and damage victims.” 

 NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said, “These arrests reflect the NYPD’s ongoing commitment to shift the focus of our enforcement operations to target human trafficking and to connect human trafficking victims with the services they need to survive. I commend our detectives and those in the office of Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark for their sustained work in bringing this important case.”

 The indictment includes two counts of Sex Trafficking of a Child, eight counts of Sex Trafficking, second-degree Promoting Prostitution, three counts of third-degree Promoting Prostitution, fourth-degree Promoting Prostitution, Attempted Sex Trafficking of a Child, second and third-degree Attempted Promoting Prostitution, seven counts of fourth-degree Conspiracy, and fifth-degree Conspiracy. Defendants Ashley Garcia, Eliana Rivadeniera and Abigail Rodriguez were arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Michael Gross. They were granted supervised release and are due back in court on March 24, 2021. Five defendants are currently in custody and will soon be arraigned, one defendant is yet to be apprehended. If convicted of the top charge, several defendants face a maximum determinate sentence of 25 years in prison.

 According to the investigation, between May 6, 2020 and November 19, 2020, the defendants allegedly operated a sex trafficking ring from various Bronx motels, including the 7 Day Inn, located at 2338 Bruckner Boulevard; Best Western Plus, 926 Sedgwick; Pelham Garden Motel, 1990 East Gun Hill Road; and the Holiday Motel on the New England Thruway. They also allegedly operated in hotels around the city and forced their victims to meet with Johns at other private locations.

 According to the investigation, the defendants allegedly used social media platforms to reach out to their victims and lure them with money. The defendants took photos of the victims and posted them as ads on several prostitution-related websites. The defendants allegedly communicated with the Johns and would then tell victims where to meet the Johns and what sexual acts they had to perform. Some victims were regularly beaten by the defendants. During those incidents, the defendants punched, slapped and threw the victims to the ground. The defendants also plied victims with drugs, like Xanax and Percocet, to control them.

 District Attorney Clark also thanked Detective Denis Regimbal of the NYPD’s Vice Enforcement Unit/Bronx Zone who conducted the investigation under the supervision of Lieutenant Stephen Conforti, Captain Stanislav Levitsky and Inspector Neteis Gilbert, Commanding Officer of the NYPD Vice Enforcement Unit.

 Anyone who may have been victimized or may have information about other victims of alleged sex trafficking by these defendants are encouraged to call the NYPD Human Trafficking Hotline at 646-610-7272.


Angel Cano, 22, Bronx Luis Cano aka Lou, 23, Bronx Brandon Diaz aka Billz, 27, Bronx Elvis Dominguez aka LV, 24, Bronx Ashley Garcia, 19, Bronx Andrew Garcia aka Drew, 23, Bronx Shaquille Hernandez aka Budda, 22, Bronx Eliana Rivadeniera aka Faith, 23, Bronx Abigail Rodriguez, 31, Bronx.

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

49th Precinct Holiday Toy Giveaway at Starbucks on Eastchester Road.


Santa came to Starbucks on Eastchester Road with a police escort, as he went inside to give away a sled full of toys with his 'Elves for the Evening in Blue' from the 49th Precinct.

Deputy Inspector Natiw, his community outreach officers, local community leaders, and Assemblywoman Fernandez came to assist Santa in his mission to make a Merry Christmas for the children who came to Starbucks to enjoy some delicious cocoa, chocolate chip cookies (provided free by Starbucks), and receive a toy from one of Santa's Elves For the Evening in Blue. Joe Valdez the manager of the Starbucks store #29721 said that he was glad that his store could be a part of a wonderful evening for many children, and adults. 

Above - Santa with His 'Elves in Blue', and some children who received toys from Santa.

Below - Santa with a mother and her child sitting with Santa and all the toys next to them for other children.

Above - One of Santa's 'Blue Elves helps these two girls pick out what they want from the pile of toys from Santa.
Below - Santa poses with his 'Elves in Blue' from the 49th Precinct, and community Leader Shabbir Gul (far right).

Above - Starbucks store manager Jose Valdez with his employee who helped Santa, the Elves in Blue, stand next to Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez
Below  Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez sits with Santa as she holds her gift from Santa, and thinks about her new competition for Bronx Borough President.

NY Lottery “Money Dots” Launches on December 28



Quick Draw feature offers players eight chances to win up to $50

 The New York Lottery today announced the debut of Money Dots, a new wagering opportunity with the popular Quick Draw game, giving players additional chances to win cash prizes of up to $50.

“Money Dots is a unique new feature that is colorful and fun to play. As we continue to explore new ways to engage players and support our mission to education, we also consider player convenience,” said Lottery Director Gweneth Dean. “While Money Dots can be purchased at all locations where Quick Draw is sold, draws can be watched in-store or through our New York Lottery mobile app in real-time or on demand.”

Money Dots is played using the same field of 80 numbers available in every Quick Draw game. After the traditional 20 Quick Draw winning numbers are drawn, the remaining 60 numbers are assigned a color. Each color – Yellow, Purple, Green and Red – represents a different cash value of $5, $10, $20 and $50, respectively. 

Players win when a Money Dot is drawn that matches one of the Money Dot numbers printed on their ticket for that game drawing.

Each $1 Money Dots wager, which may be purchased separately from a Quick Draw wager, contains eight random Money Dots numbers. Advanced wagering for Money Dots will be available for up to 20 consecutive draws. 

About the New York Lottery

The New York Lottery continues to be North America’s largest and most profitable Lottery, contributing $3.38 billion in fiscal year 2019-2020 to help support education in New York State.

New Yorkers struggling with a gambling addiction, or who know someone who is, can find help by calling the State's toll-free, confidential HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (467369).  Standard text rates may apply.

Two U.S. Army Reservists Plead Guilty For Involvement In $3 Million Fraud And Money Laundering Scheme


 Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Frank Robey, Director of the Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit, announced today that JOSEPH IORHEMBA ASAN JR. and CHARLES IFEANYI OGOZY each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in connection with a scheme to commit fraud against victims across the United States, defraud banks, and launder over $3 million dollars in fraud proceeds.  Both defendants were arrested on October 31, 2019. OGOZY pled guilty on December 22, 2020 before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III.  ASAN pled guilty earlier today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses and his case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “U.S. Army reservists Joseph Asan and Charles Ogozy admitted today to their roles in an internet fraud scheme to bilk victims across the country of over $3 million. The defendants and their co-conspirators callously victimized older men and women and even a Marine Corps veterans association in their business email compromises and online romance scams. I thank the FBI and U.S. Army CID for their assistance in holding these reservists accountable for their dishonorable conduct.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said:  “Using false identities, email compromises, and fake schemes to scam others out of money are clear federal crimes. But the fact that Mr. Asan, Jr. and Mr. Ogozy, who themselves voluntarily wear our Nation’s uniform and swore an oath to uphold our Constitution, also targeted a veteran’s organization adds insult to the injury endured by some of the victims. Because they chose to break the law, these two Army reservists will now be rolling along to federal prison.”

Director of the Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit, Frank Robey said:  “To think that two Reserve Soldiers would perpetrate such brazen acts of fraud is beyond belief.  However, for these two, greed was more important than being faithful to the trust put in them by our government, and it was their undoing. They will be held fully responsible for the acts of fraud they committed.”

According to allegations in the Complaint, the charging instruments, and other publically filed documents:

From at least in or about February 2018 through at least in or about September 2019, ASAN and OGOZY were members of the U.S. Army Reserves who participated in a scheme to commit fraud against victims across the United States, defraud banks, and launder over $3 million in fraud proceeds in bank accounts that they controlled.  The funds laundered by ASAN and OGOZY were obtained primarily through (a) business email compromises, in which members of the scheme gained unauthorized access to or spoofed email accounts and impersonated employees of a company or third parties engaged in business with the company in order to fraudulently induce the victims to transfer money to bank accounts under the control of members of the scheme; and (b) romance scams, in which members of the scheme deluded unsuspecting older women and men into believing they were in a romantic relationship with a fake identity assumed by members of the scheme and used false pretenses to cause the victims to transfer money to bank accounts under the control of members of the scheme, including ASAN and OGOZY.   Notably, one of the victims of the defendants’ scheme included a U.S. Marine Corps veteran’s organization.

In order to launder over $3 million in proceeds from those fraud schemes, ASAN and OGOZY opened several bank accounts in the names of fake businesses called Uxbridge Capital LLC, Renegade Logistics LLC, and Eldadoc Consulting LLC and received fraud proceeds in those bank accounts.  ASAN and OGOZY then laundered the fraud proceeds to each other and to other co-conspirators based in Nigeria.  In connection with the opening of the business bank accounts, the defendants made multiple false statements to banks about the purported legitimate business of their companies, including misrepresentations that they were involved in shipping, real estate, and public relations.  In addition, a significant portion of the funds laundered by the defendants was deposited and withdrawn in cash that was not able to be traced by law enforcement.                                             

ASAN, 24, of Daytona Beach, Florida, and OGOZY, 31, of Hackensack, New Jersey, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, 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.

ASAN is scheduled to be sentenced on April 21, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Wood.  OGOZY is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Pauley. 

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and Army CID.  Ms. Strauss also thanked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance in the investigation.  

Governor Cuomo Announces Plan Under Development to Allow Fans to Attend First New York Buffalo Bills Home Playoff Game in More Than Two Decades


Under Proposed Plan, 6,700 Fans Would be Allowed to Attend the Game

Admission Contingent Upon Negative Test Result; Contact Tracing to Follow—New York to be First State in the Nation to Require these Measures

Tailgating to Remain Prohibited

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that plans are currently under development to allow fans to attend the Buffalo Bills' first home playoff game in more than two decades under strict COVID-19 protocols. Under the proposal, which is being developed cooperatively between the Bills and New York State, fans in attendance would be required to receive a negative COVID-19 test result before being allowed into the stadium. Contact tracing will also be conducted after the game. If implemented, this plan could serve as a model for reopening entertainment venues across New York.

"New Yorkers are incredibly proud of the Buffalo Bills and with their first home playoff game in more than 20 years coming up in just a few weeks, we are working closely with the team to develop a plan to allow a limited number of fans to attend the game," Governor Cuomo said. "Not only would strict mask and social distancing guidelines be in effect, but under the current proposal, this would be the first stadium in the nation to require that all fans obtain a negative COVID-19 test before entering. If a final agreement can be reached and the plan works, this could also serve as a model for reopening other entertainment venues across the state. Bills fans have been waiting decades for another home playoff game and after such a tumultuous year, they deserve the opportunity to be able to root for their team in person, as long as it can be done safely. Go Bills!"

Under the plan submitted by the Bills to the state, team staff will control all exit and entry points to the stadium and only fans with a documented negative COVID-19 test would be allowed inside. To facilitate testing prior to the game, the State Department of Health would facilitate the deployment of rapid testing resources. If implemented, this would be the first stadium reopening plan in the nation to require testing and contact tracing.  

Once inside the stadium, fans would be required to wear a mask at all times and adhere to strict social distancing protocols. Fans who refuse to comply with these protocols would be removed from the stadium by Bills' security personnel. Ushers will also be present in throughout the stadium to ensure all fans are in compliance. As part of the state's review, personnel from the Department of Health have traveled to other stadiums outside of New York where similar protocols are in place to confirm their effectiveness. 

Tailgating would remain banned under this plan and New Yorkers are being reminded to avoid gatherings and parties before, during and after the game as these events are prime for viral spread.

Mayor de Blasio Morning Briefing and favorite Media Availability



We passed on this one leaving our streak of not being called on at 36 days, We received the mayor's schedule for Thursday December 24th, and it looks like the Mayor is starting his Christmas holiday a day early. 373 days to go until Mayor de Blasio is term limited out.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. Well, holidays are upon us and there's good news because of that. And people are getting ready to support each other and show their love for each other and give each other gifts. Well, the people of the council district in the Bronx, the 12th Council District have a gift this morning, they have a new Council Member. I want to congratulate Kevin Riley, who was just elected in the special election yesterday in the 12th District in the Bronx. So, congratulations to the people of the Bronx. And congratulations, Kevin. I look forward to working with you as we bring this city back in 2021. So, that's some good news.   


I met a man who really inspired me, his name is Maliksha [inaudible] and he was an arts professor at Kingsborough College in Brooklyn, but he lost his job because of COVID. But he had something else he was doing, I guess you could call it an art side hustle, because he was an artist himself and he was creating his own artwork. And now, he is out selling it at this local market in Brooklyn. And he – was just beautiful images of New York. He's an immigrant from Turkey, but he loves this city deeply and he wanted to portray his love for New York City. He's created really colorful, beautiful, heartfelt visions of New York City. So many good stories, but we have to keep these stories alive. So, again, there's still a lot of us shopping. I cannot tell a lie, I was still doing shopping as a yesterday. Most years, I go right up to the last point on the 24th of December. I think there's a lot of you out there probably in the same boat. Shop local. Go to the local stores if you feel comfortable that. And if you would rather shop online, then shop online, but directly from our local New York City stores. Let's keep that money in the community. Let's give them that boost.  


All right, now, let's go back to the main event – every day we talk about COVID. We talk about the fight against COVID. And, obviously, you know, we talked about what our small businesses have been through, what all of us have been through, but now we have a different reality, because of the vaccine. And the news about the vaccine gets better every single day, literally does. We get more and more vaccine arriving every day. And we're seeing the positive impact of the vaccine being distributed every day. It's giving confidence to folks who received the vaccine. It's really moving us forward. There are so many people who need this vaccine and we're going to move very, very quickly to get that vaccine that everyone needs it. One of the examples – the best examples of who needs and deserves a vaccine, our health care heroes and our heroes at EMS – at Emergency Medical Service. Our EMTs, our paramedics, they did amazing work, really, really tough work, difficult work during the height of pandemic, and, of course, ever since. So, our EMS workers have been on the frontline since day one. We want to make sure they get vaccinated right away. We know that every time we get someone vaccinated, we're helping them in their family to be safe and we know that, that is peace of mind, that all those who serve us deserve. I spoke to a lot of EMS workers, paramedics, EMTs, and their officers when we were going through the worst of the pandemic. I went and saw the work they were doing, and I felt for them, because we were depending on them so deeply, they were giving it their all. So, I really want to thank each and every one of them – you did amazing work. This vaccine is now going to give you what I think is so important, both that health protection, but also that peace of mind. Because the vaccine is safe and effective, you're going to know that you're going to be okay.  


So, the work of vaccination, we're going to go over it in a moment with our Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro. This is going to protect members of EMS, but, at the same time, as we are celebrating that we're going to be able to provide this protection, starting right away, it's a sad moment too, because, just last night, one of the good people at EMS, one of the people who serves us and protect us passed away. Her name, Evelyn Ford, an emergency medical technician – 27-year member of EMS. She went in in 1994, and she was working in the emergency medical dispatch unit. Very, very sad that, just now, as we finally get to turn the corner, the vaccine has finally arrived, we lose a good woman who served us so well for so long. She is the 12th member of FDNY, EMS to pass away from COVID and our hearts go out to her, her family, her children, a very, very tough moment for this family. A moment where we all remember those who serve us – our condolences to the family and we will be with you every step of the way going forward. 


With that, to talk about the extraordinary work of EMS and the measures starting today to protect all the members of EMS, I turn to our Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro. 


Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro: Well, thank you, Mayor. As you said, what was going to be one of the few uplifting days that we've had this year as the vaccine rolls out to our EMS personnel today was saddened by the knowledge that Ms. Ford passed last night of COVID. And it really points to how important the vaccinations are to our members. We have had, in a department of 17,000 folks, close to 6,000 of them have had COVID over the past nine months. It's an incredible number. We have over 600 people right now on medical leave with COVID. So, there's no doubt that this comes at a very important time for us and we hope that we can vaccinate 450 people a day at three locations and start to bring this protection, this miracle that came to us and start to put COVID behind us. It's only a beginning. It's going to take quite a while, but we are very pleased that, today, members of EMS will begin getting vaccinated. This will continue throughout the next few weeks. And as more vaccine arrives and more becomes available to us, we hope to have our entire department vaccinated and protected at some point. So, that's where we are right now. 


Mayor: Thank you. And, Commissioner, I want to thank you. This has been the toughest of years and I think a lot of New Yorkers know this, but I want to emphasize Dan Nigro has served this city his whole adult life, like his father before him at FDNY. He was one of the folks who had to sustain the FDNY after 9/11. He was there on the scene and one of the people trying to do their damnedest to rebuild the FDNY after the horrible, painful losses of 9/11. And Dan has been, throughout this entire administration, leading the Fire Department with just tremendous heart and distinction. And I know this has been a really tough year. I know you feel it personally, Dan, but thank you to you and all the people who serve under you for keeping us safe this year. 

And yes, today's a day where we turn the tide and we really make sure that this miracle – as you said, this is a miracle – this vaccine is a miracle – is put together a record time. It's going to save lives, starting right now. So, thank God, your members will start to get the vaccinations right away. And what we've heard from all of the good folks, our health care heroes at Health + Hospitals who have been getting the vaccine now over these last days, there’s just tremendous satisfaction – that they have had a good experience with the vaccine and that it gives them both that knowledge that they are safe, but also that peace of mind. So, we want to get that done for so many good people who serve us and then more and more New Yorkers every single day, going forward.  


Now, look, as we get ready for the holidays – joyous, joyous time, even emits the pain we've been through. Joyous time because it signifies the end of this godforsaken year 2020, which we will not miss. But they're also warning signs that we have to acknowledge, because we are going through the second wave, because of this very troubling news we've gotten out of the United Kingdom about a new strain of the virus. We're getting warning signs all over the place that, even though, thank God, we have the vaccine, thank God, our hospitals are doing well, we are not out of the woods. So, let's talk about the holidays and what you have to do. First of all, I'm going to say it again. I know our Health Commissioner will say it a thousand times as well, if you don't have to travel, do not travel. Just cancel your travel plans. Stay local, stay safe. If you're doing any kind of gathering, keep it very small, keep it very safe. Practice distancing. Wear masks. One more time – we are in the final battle here, so all you have to do is get through these holidays. I believe, through January, it's still going to be tough. I'm very hopeful that February, we're going to start to see real, real improvement, especially because the vaccine will be distributed more every day. So, this is one last push, one last sacrifice, and then, next year, we get to bring back our traditions and gather again as we take each step to make safe. But to make sure that people understand, we have to have tough rules, especially if you do choose to travel. The State has very clear rules. If you travel, yes, there is a way to test while you're away and test when you come back and come out of the quarantine. But, otherwise, you are quarantining – that is the State law – and we will make sure that that quarantine is upheld. This is going to be the busiest travel time of the year. When you think about all these days up through New Years, intensive travel time. We need people not to travel. But, if they do, we're going to be very, very stringent about the rules. 


So, first of all, for folks coming in from the United Kingdom, we will have a new approach, given this new strain we're seeing there. Effective immediately, all travelers, literally every single traveler coming in from the United Kingdom will receive a Department of Health Commissioner's order, directing them to quarantine. This will be a personal and direct order to every single one of them telling them they must quarantine. And that will be given to all travelers beyond just those – I want to be clear – beyond anyone coming in just from the UK. Every traveler who comes into the city that we identify as someone coming into city or coming back to the city will also receive that Department of Health Commissioner's Order. Now, that will go out through certified mail. So, it will be going right to where people live, right to where they're staying. It’s going to be confirmed they got it and then people are going to be held responsible for following the quarantine. But, specifically, for folks coming in from the UK, given that particular concern, we're going to have Sheriff's deputies go to the home or the hotel of every single traveler coming in from the UK. So, when they arrive at the airport, they're going to have to fill out the form, notifying us that they are coming into New York City. We're going to provide them with that Commissioner's Order, but then there's going to be a follow-up direct home visit or hotel visit from the Sheriff's deputy to confirm that they are following the quarantine. Or, if they are not, they will be penalized. We cannot take chances with anyone who travels, particularly folks traveling in from the UK. So, to everyone, look, if you don't comply with the quarantine, that's $1,000 fine to begin, day-one. If you continue not to comply with the quarantine, it is $1,000 for each additional day. I want to really make sure I'm getting this point across. We don't want to penalize people. Everyone has been through hell this year. We don't want to, but, if you don't follow a quarantine, you're endangering everyone else in the city right as we're fighting the second wave. So, let's do it again. If you come in, you fill out the form, you follow the quarantine, God bless. If you violate quarantine, $1,000 for the first day. If you violate any day thereafter, $1,000 for each additional day. And we will collect those penalties. We are really serious about the fact that if you violate quarantine, you're creating a danger for everyone else. We're also going to have the Sheriff's deputies out in force. They've done amazing jobs. They will be at airports with our Test and Trace teams, making sure everyone fills out the appropriate form, everyone gets the information, everyone understands they're under a Commissioner’s Order – airports, train stations, bus depots, you name it. Also, Sheriff's Office, the deputies have been pulling over folks at highways coming into the city, that will continue. There's been over 10,000 car stops already. We are going to doing that intensively during this holiday season up through the weekend after January 1st. We need people to understand, if you're coming into the city from outside or you're returning, follow that quarantine. And the Sheriff's deputies are doing an amazing job. They have been a heroes of the fight against COVID. They will be out there in force. You will feel their presence. Listen to them, follow what they tell you to do, and that's how we're going to be safe. The best gift you can give the people you love is to keep them safe. The best gift you can give is to make sure that the people you love will be able to gather together next year in 2021. That only works if we all pay attention to what the doctors are telling us and follow these simple rules and stay safe.  


Okay, let's do today’s indicators. One, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19 – today's report, 224 patients. We want to be under 200, we are not. So, that's a bad sign. Also, hospitalization rate per 100,000 people – 3.19 people per 100,000 – 3.19 patients per 100,000. That is not good. We want to be under two. That is too high. Obviously, the next one, daily new cases of COVID-19 – seven-day average, way too high, 2,789 – way too high. We want to get back under 550 over time. And the current testing indicator, percentage in New York City residents testing positive – seven-day rolling average, 6.19 percent. We want to get back under five. We have a lot of work to do and these next weeks are going to be amongst the most challenging and we've got to really work hard to make sure that number does not keep growing.