Thursday, September 30, 2021

Former New York City Department of Education Senior Official and Three Others Charged with Extortion Conspiracy and Bribery


Eric Goldstein, the former CEO of the Office of School Support Services, Allegedly Solicited and Accepted Bribe Payments from Co-Defendants

 A complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Eric Goldstein, the former Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Department of Education’s (“NYC DOE”) Office of School Support Services (“OSS”), Blaine Iler, Michael Turley and Brian Twomey with conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and solicitation and giving of bribes relating to programs receiving federal funds.  Goldstein was arrested this morning, made his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Lois M. Bloom and was released on a $150,000 bond.  Turley was arrested in Arkansas this morning and will make his initial appearance in the Western District of Arkansas tomorrow.  Iler and Twomey will make their initial appearances in the Northern District of Texas this afternoon.   

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the arrests and charges.

“Goldstein is alleged to have abused his position as a senior executive with the Department of Education by soliciting and accepting thousands of dollars in bribes for pure financial gain.  In exchange, Goldstein’s co-conspirators obtained lucrative contracts to provide food services that consisted of substandard products that were served to students, teachers and staff in public schools.” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis.  “This Office and its law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring integrity in government contracts, and will not tolerate corruption that compromises the quality of food that is served in New York City public schools.”

“As alleged, Goldstein used his position within the DOE to help promote a business in which he had a financial interest, which is not only illegal, but also doesn’t allow for a fair bidding process between competing interests. As a result of this scheme, Goldstein—and his coconspirators—learned a lesson of their own today in what not to do with taxpayer money,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

As alleged in the complaint, from 2008 to 2018, Goldstein was the Chief Executive Officer of OSS.  In that role, Goldstein was the NYC DOE senior executive in charge of overseeing the management, budget and operations of several NYC DOE departments, including the Office of Food and Nutrition Services, also known as SchoolFood, which is responsible for managing the food service operations for all New York City public schools.  Iler, Turley and Twomey were the founders and operators of a food services company (the “Food Service Company”) that sold food products to retail and food service markets, including schools.   

Between 2015 and 2016, Goldstein, while he was head of OSS, together with Iler, Turley and Twome, formed and operated a grass-fed beef importation business called Range Meats Supply Co., LLC (“RMSCO”).  During the same time, between 2015 and 2016, Goldstein used his official position within SchoolFood to ensure that the food products promoted and sold by the Food Service Company would be purchased by SchoolFood and served in New York City public schools.  In exchange, Iler, Turley and Twomey transferred tens of thousands of dollars to RMSCO for Goldstein’s benefit, including a payment of $7,000 to Goldstein’s personal divorce lawyer and a $3,000 wire transfer to a close relative of Goldstein.

In one instance alleged in the complaint, in October 2016, SchoolFood stopped serving the Food Service Company’s chicken tenders after a NYC DOE employee choked on a bone that had not been removed from a chicken tender supplied by the Food Service Company.  Goldstein, who had final approval as to whether and when the chicken tenders would be allowed back in schools, delayed approving the reintroduction of the tenders until Iler, Turley and Twomey agreed to transfer the Food Service Company’s ownership interest in RMSCO to Goldstein as well as to transfer $66,670 to a bank account in RMSCO’s name that Goldstein had opened and controlled.  Following weeks of negotiations, on November 29, 2016, Iler, Turley and Twomey agreed to pay the bribe Goldstein was soliciting and one day later, on November 30, 2016, Goldstein approved reintroduction of the Food Service Company’s chicken products in schools.  The products were served in schools until April 2017 when, following repeated complaints from students and staff that the chicken tenders continued to contain foreign objects, including plastic, metal and bones, SchoolFood decided to remove all of the Food Service Company’s food products from New York City public schools.

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Governor Hochul Announces Availability of $20 Million in Stabilization Funding to Support Addiction Service Providers in New York State


Funding Will Help Cover Expenses and Revenue Loss during COVID-19 Pandemic 

 Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that New York State has secured $20 million in federal funding through the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program to assist addiction service providers with loss of revenue and operating expenses incurred as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.  

Prevention, treatment, and recovery providers overseen by the NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports will receive this funding to address fiscal and programmatic stabilization needs as they continue to deal with the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.  

"As addiction providers continue to deal with the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, this funding will greatly help them recover from the financial stress on their operating costs and infrastructure." Governor Houchul said. "This funding will also ensure that they continue providing uninterrupted and crucial addiction services to all New Yorkers in need." 

Funding will address both fiscal and programmatic gaps and can be used for program operating costs, debt relief, equipment, minor renovations, personnel costs, and other costs related to operational and infrastructure modifications made as a direct result of the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.  

Approximately 350 providers are eligible for funding. Eligible providers will receive notification from OASAS as to the amount available and required next steps to secure the funding.  Providers can review the scope of work for this funding opportunity here.

Over the past several years, New York State has instituted an aggressive, multi-pronged approach to addressing the opioid epidemic, and created a nation-leading continuum of addiction care with full prevention, treatment, and recovery services. To combat this epidemic, the state has worked to expand access to traditional services, including crisis services, inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment programs, as well as medication assisted treatment, and mobile treatment and transportation services. 

Governor Hochul was a member of the NYS Heroin and Opioid Task Force, which in 2016, recommended new, non-traditional services, including recovery centers, youth clubhouses, expanded peer services, and open access centers, which provide immediate assessments and referrals to care. These services have since been established in numerous communities around the state and have helped people in need access care closer to where they live. 

OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, "As we continue to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are doing all that we can to support our community-based providers who are facing unprecedented challenges. These providers are vital to the mission of OASAS to reach all New Yorkers in need, and with this funding they will be able to continue to provide uninterrupted services to those affected by addiction and their families."

Chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Senator Pete Harckham said, "Governor Hochul's securing of major federal funding for Substance Use Disorder treatment providers across New York to help stabilize operations and programming is great news. Providers are still trying to bounce back from disruptions to service caused by the Covid-19 pandemic while the need for treatment services increases. More resources for treatment providers mean more lives saved—it's that simple."

Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Assemblymember Phil Steck said, "Thank you, once again, to Governor Hochul for recognizing the importance of funding on every level of addiction treatment.  I am pleased to partner with OASAS in promoting and advocating for these important resources; especially during COVID and beyond."   

New Yorkers struggling with addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state's toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).  

Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, residential, or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at or through the NYS OASAS website.   

If you, or a loved one, have experienced insurance obstacles related to treatment or need help filing an appeal for a denied claim, contact the CHAMP helpline by phone at 888-614-5400 or email at

NYS Office of the Comptroller DiNapoli: Second Former Mechanic at State Police Garage Pleads Guilty to Felony


Civilian Mechanic Charged Thousands of Dollars' Worth of Auto Parts and Tools to State Police Account

 State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Madison County District Attorney William Gabor and New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen today announced that former state police mechanic Jeffrey Rapasadi has pleaded guilty to corrupting the government in the third degree, a felony, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor.  At the time of his plea, he paid back $12,865 in restitution and was placed on interim probation.

This is the second guilty plea that has resulted from their joint investigation.    

"Mr. Rapasadi betrayed the taxpayers by stealing resources meant to protect the public to fund his personal interests,” DiNapoli said. “Thanks to our partnership with the New York State Police and the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, he has been brought to justice.”

“This person was entrusted with maintaining a fleet of patrol vehicles used by State Troopers, but our investigation uncovered that he was using State Police resources for personal use including operation of a side business,” said Superintendent Bruen. “Integrity is a core value of our agency, and any employee found to be breaking the law will be held fully accountable.”

Rapasadi, 57, of Canastota was one of two non-sworn civilian employees responsible for maintaining police vehicles for the Troop D headquarters based in Oneida. Rapasadi was convicted of ordering auto parts and tools for personal use on the state police-paid account at United Auto Supply.

DiNapoli’s analysis of thousands of United Auto Supply invoices found that between April 2015 and October 2020, there were over $54,000 in inappropriate purchases on the state police account.

David Relyea, 64 also of Canastota pleaded guilty in early September to felony corrupting the government in the third degree and was sentenced to interim felony probation.  As part of his plea, Relyea paid back $20,000. He is due back in court for sentencing in December.

State police said they recovered more than $4,800 worth of state funded auto supplies, tools and parts at Rapasadi’s home.

Rapasadi retired during the investigation and was not employed with the state police at the time of his arrest. Rapasadi retired from state service on Nov. 12, 2020. He was employed by the state police for at least 30 years.   

Rapasadi appeared before Judge Patrick O’Sullivan in Madison County Court. He is due back in court on Dec. 2.

The Ali Forney Center - 11/5, save the date for We Are Family!



Save the date, November 5th!

We Are Family is an evening of affirmation for our homeless LGBTQ+ youth that there is family in our community and that people care about them. This is an event to raise funds for the Ali Forney Center’s meal program, which served over 378,000 meals in 2020 across our 17 sites in New York City. During the pandemic, while families from across the country and around the world were gathering to share meals and find safety, togetherness, and love, our youth were not offered that. The goal of this event is to not only fund our meal program, but also demonstrate for our young people that in spite of what their families believe they are worthy of being loved and they are worthy of having a family.

Join us with a special celebrity guest, the director of our meal program, and a young graduate of our culinary internship for a night of food and love to celebrate and protect the most vulnerable of our LGBTQ+ youth.

We Are Family is an in-person and virtual hybrid event, and we welcome you to join the celebration on November 5th.


Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating COVID-19 - SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

 Clinical specimen testing for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) at Wadsworth Laboratory

54,192 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours  

38 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday 

 Governor Kathy Hochul today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combating COVID-19.  

"Wear a mask, wash your hands, get your vaccine - it's that simple to keep your community safe from the spread of COVID-19," Governor Hochul said. "The vaccines are readily available, free and effective in keeping the virus at bay. Though we've made exceptional progress in our fight against the pandemic, we need to remain vigilant in doing what we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy." 
Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 283,866
  • Total Positive - 4,744 
  • Percent Positive - 1.99%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 2.58% 
  • Patient Hospitalization - 2,270 (-78) 
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 270 
  • Patients in ICU - 530 (-11) 
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation - 292 (-15) 
  • Total Discharges - 200,771 (+325) 
  • New deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 38 
  • Total deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 44,550 

The Health Electronic Response Data System is a NYS DOH data source that collects confirmed daily death data as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities only. 

  • Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC - 56,752 

This daily COVID-19 provisional death certificate data reported by NYS DOH and NYC to the CDC includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice and other settings.

  • Total vaccine doses administered - 24,231,422 
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 54,192 
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 384,915 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 81.6% 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 73.5% 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 84.0% 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 75.3% 
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 69.0% 
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 62.0% 
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 71.2% 
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 63.6% 



Defendant Allegedly Promised 16 People Rent-Stabilized Apartments, Likely Defrauded Dozens More, Preyed on Dominican Community 

 Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx woman has been indicted for stealing approximately $99,000 from 16 people in a scheme promising rent-stabilized apartments to low-income individuals. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “For months, in the middle of the pandemic, the defendant, Eligia Estrella, allegedly stole thousands of dollars from hard-working people who entrusted her with their savings to attain rent-stabilized apartments. She has been indicted for defrauding 16 people of about $99,000, but it is believed she victimized as many as 63 people, stealing a total of approximately $300,000.

 “The victims, who include a grandmother and granddaughter, paid hefty deposits believing they would soon live in better conditions. To further gain the victims’ trust, the defendant allegedly told them she had connections with the city’s Housing Preservation and Development, the Housing Development Corporation, NYC Housing Authority and City Councilman Ruben Diaz, Sr. I thank DOI for assistance in this case. I would also like to thank Telemundo Channel 47 for directing victims to our Investigations Division.”

 New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett said, “This defendant exploited the great need for affordable housing in this City and twice victimized 16 New Yorkers seeking affordable housing -- charging about $99,000 in unnecessary broker fees without any ability to provide housing, leaving the victims poorer and still housing-insecure, according to the charges. If an affordable housing program uses brokers, it will be disclosed in the marketing materials. If you suspect you have been defrauded we urge you to call DOI at (212) 825-3502. DOI thanks the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD for their partnership in exposing and stopping this fraud and HPD and HDC for their cooperation in this investigation.”

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Eligia Estrella, 59, of East 172nd Street, the Bronx, was arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Efrain Alvarado on a 66-count indictment charging third-degree Grand Larceny, third-degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, Petit Larceny, fifth-degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, first-degree Scheme to Defraud, and second-degree Scheme to Defraud. She is due back in court on December 14, 2021.

 According to the investigation, between March 2020 and November 2020, Estrella told a friend that she could get her a rent-stabilized apartment, and allegedly said she had connections with organizations and city agencies, as well as Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr.’s office. The defendant said the cost to obtain the apartment was $8,000 and that the victim had to pay $4,000 up front and pay the remainder when the keys and lease were turned over.

 Believing the defendant was helping her, the victim--who, like Estrella, is of Dominican heritage--told her friends and family members that Estrella was getting her a rent-stabilized apartment. They reached out to Estrella, trusted her, and told others about her as well. As charged in the indictment, 16 people had given Estrella deposits ranging from $3,000 to $16,000 for the apartments. After the victims paid the deposit, the defendant allegedly kept the money and the victims were never given the apartments.

 District Attorney Clark also thanked the NYPD Bronx Grand Larceny Squad, specifically Detective David Lee. District Attorney Clark thanked DOI Special Investigator and Forensic Auditor Lana Wong, under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General Michael Morris and Senior Inspector General Jessica Heegan, for their assistance in the investigation.

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

MTA Metro-North Penn Station Access - Finding of No Significant Impact


Faster Commutes. Expanded Service. Regional Connections.

Direct Metro-North service from the Bronx, Westchester, and Connecticut to Penn Station and Manhattan’s thriving west side is one step closer to reality. With four new ADA-accessible passenger rail stations in the East Bronx and significant improvements to railroad infrastructure, Penn Station Access will support economic development and attract regional talent by increasing accessibility to underserved areas, cutting current commute times, and introducing reverse commuting opportunities. It will bring Amtrak's Hell Gate Line into a state of good repair and improve reliability and on-time performance for intercity passengers. By improving reliability for our riders and expanding transit options, we are transforming our regional transportation system.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has completed its review of the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Section 4(f) Evaluation, dated May 2021, for the Penn Station Access Project. Based on the review of the EA and responses to agency and public comments received, the FTA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on September 24, 2021, concluding the FTA environmental review process for the project. The FONSI was issued in accordance with the FTA and Federal Highway Administration Environmental Impact and Related Procedures (23 CFR Part 771) and the Council on Environmental Quality regulations implementing National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1500).


MTA has published a summary of comments and responses on the EA and Section 4(f) Evaluation received during the public comment period. To read the FONSI and response-to-comments document, and learn more about the Penn Station Access Project, visit


Procurement is underway to award a design-build contract to construct this project, which will add four new accessible passenger rail stations in the East Bronx with direct Metro-North service to Penn Station, Westchester, and Connecticut.



The Penn Station Access Project Team

Governor Hochul Announces 20 New #VaxtoSchool Pop-Up Sites

Governor Hochul makes a VaxtoSchool campaign announcement 

120 Sites to Be Established Statewide Over 12 Weeks to Increase Vaccination Rates Among School-Aged New Yorkers

New Sites to Be Announced Weekly Over The 12-Week Period; Full List of Sites Will Be Updated Weekly Here

 Governor Kathy Hochul today announced 20 new #VaxtoSchool pop-up vaccination sites to increase vaccination rates among school-aged New Yorkers. On September 21, Governor Hochul announced a total of 120 sites will be established over a 12-week period statewide. The Department of Health is working with localities, community-based organizations, and healthcare centers on-the-ground to establish these sites in all regions of the state. Partners, host sites, and outreach efforts are tailored to the communities they are built to serve. New locations are established on a rolling basis, and more sites will be announced each week over the 12-week period.

"Parents and guardians—don't wait to get your child vaccinated," Governor Hochul said. "The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and the best way to keep eligible school-aged New Yorkers and our school communities protected from the virus. As part of our broader #VaxtoSchool effort, these new pop-up sites will bring the vaccine to communities across the state to make sure it's accessible to all New York families."

This announcement builds on New York State's commitment to making the health and well-being of students, teachers and families a top priority. As of September 29, 60.4 percent of 12 to 15-year-olds and 70.1 percent of 16 to 25-year-olds have received at least one vaccine dose.

Operational days for each of the #VaxtoSchool pop-up vaccination sites for school-aged New Yorkers are below. The full list of #VaxtoSchool sites is available here and will be updated weekly over the 12-week period to include new sites when they are announced. New locations are established on a rolling-basis, and more sites will be announced each week over the 12-week period.


Mosholu Montefiore Community Center

3450 Dekalb Avenue
Bronx, NY 10467

Open: Friday, October 1; 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Vaccine Type: Pfizer-BioNTech; Second shot POD

St. James Park

2550 Jerome Ave

Bronx, NY 10468

Open: Saturday, October 2; 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Vaccine Type: Pfizer-BioNTech

Tracey Towers - 40 W. Moshulu Parkway Building #20

Bronx, NY 10468

Open: Saturday, October 9; 8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Vaccine Type: Pfizer-BioNTech

Children aged 12 to 17 can take the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which is available under Emergency Use Authorization for children ages 12 to 15 and is fully approved for those age 16 and older. The other COVID-19 vaccines are not yet authorized or approved for this age group. If you are a parent or guardian of a school-aged New Yorker, you can also visit, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find a vaccine location closest to you. Make sure that the provider offers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and school-aged children, New Yorkers can visit our dedicated website or follow @VaccinateNY on Instagram.

Parents are encouraged to make sure their child is up to date on all recommended and required vaccinations. Please visit the Department of Health website for more information on recommended childhood and adolescent immunizations.

93 Days and Counting

 Dr. Chokshi, didn't you give me the Johnson and Johnson vaccine so I would only receive one shot. Why am I getting another shot? Are you injecting me with the Pfizer vaccine this time. I don't want to have a reaction like that reporter in the Bronx had. 

Speaking of the Bronx I was there last night for the Bronx Democratic Party Dinner. They had me stand in the same area as Attorney General Letitia James, and Public Advocate Jumanne Williams. What was Bronx Democratic Party Leader State Senator Jamaal Bailey looking for a candidates forum between the three unannounced candidates for governor. I hope Senator Bailey is mad at Kathy Hochul for not picking him as her Lieutenant Governor.

Bronx Democratic Party Dinner 2021

The 2021 Bronx Democratic Party Dinner Wednesday night had several firsts. It was the first Bronx Democratic Party Dinner under New Bronx Democratic County Leader State Senator Jamaal Bailey, It was the first Dinner during the 2020 Pandemic era, It was the first dinner with new governor Kathy Hochul, and it was the first dinner of the 2022 political season in the Bronx. 

There were some lasts however also, It was the last Bronx Democratic Party Dinner under Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and it was also the last Bronx Democratic Party dinner under Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Diaz Jr. and de Blasio have three months left in office. 

The honorees for the night were, Daniel J. Kane Jr. President Teamsters Local 202, David Caraballoso Vice President NYC District Council of Carpenters, Camille Joseph-Goldman Group Vice President, Charter Communications, Judy Secon Director of Programs and Operations NY Common Pantry, and Erica Vargas Assistant Director District Council 37.

Almost every Bronx Elected official was in the house, with some exceptions from the state senate, and congressional areas. All three statewide elected officials attended Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letticia James, and Comptroller Tom Dinapoli. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and presumed Mayor Eric Adams were joined by City Comptroller Brad Laner. Presumed Bronx Borough President current Councilwoman Vanesa Gibson was joined by the new presumed City Council members. 

Governor Kathy  Hochul waits with her speech in hand to be called up to speak.

Governor Hochul thanks Bronx Democratic Party Leader State Senator Jamaal Bailey whom she passed over in her search for a Lieutenant Governor. In her speech she said "As the Bronx goes, so does the state".

Presumed Bronx Borough president Vanessa Gibson is with Governor Hochul.

Mayor Bill de Blasio with Presumed 14th City Councilwoman Pierina Sanchez,

Current Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. with Presumed new Bronx Borough President and current Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson with guests.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James spoke, but did not say anything about running for governor. 

Bronx Democratic Party Leader Jamaal Bailey with Honoree Erica Vargas of DC 37.

NYC Public Advocate Jumanne Williams was in attendance.

Attorney General James Announces 84 Guns Turned in at Community Gun Buyback in Central New York


AG James Has Taken More Than 2,300 Firearms Out of Communities Since 2019

 New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that 84 firearms were turned in to law enforcement at a gun buyback event in the city of Rome hosted by her office and the Rome Police Department yesterday. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) accepts — with no questions asked — working and non-working, unloaded firearms in exchange for compensation on site. To date, Attorney General James has taken more than 2,300 firearms out of communities through gun buyback events and other efforts since taking office in 2019.

“Gun buyback programs are essential to protecting New Yorkers and preventing dangerous guns from ending up in the wrong hands,” said Attorney General James. “The threat of gun violence has loomed over our communities for far too long, and it is imperative that we take every step possible to eradicate this violence. My office will continue to use every tool at our disposal to keep our neighborhoods safe, and we thank the Rome Police Department for their invaluable support and partnership in this effort.”



“The Rome Police Department appreciates the partnership and support of the Attorney General’s Office and the community to make this gun buyback successful,” said the Rome Police Department’s Community Impact Unit. “We are grateful for the opportunity to get guns off the street, preventing them from falling into the wrong hands, and keeping the community safe. We are very supportive of any proactive approach to put an end to and prevent gun violence.”

The community gun buyback resulted in the collection of 84 guns, including 30 handguns, 34 shotguns and rifles, and 20 non-working guns. Since 2013, OAG has hosted gun buyback events throughout New York state and has successfully collected more than 4,300 firearms.

In exchange for the firearms, OAG offered monetary compensation, in the form of prepaid gift cards, when an unloaded gun was received and secured by an officer on site.

Gun violence is a public health crisis that is plaguing communities throughout New York, and this event is the latest action that Attorney General James has taken to combat this crisis and protect New Yorkers from harm. This year alone, Attorney General James has held 14 gun buybacks across the state, and has also secured dozens of dangerous firearms through takedowns of violent groups terrorizing New York. Earlier this year, Attorney General James announced the takedown of two major drug trafficking rings in Central New York, in which 15 guns, including nine ghost guns, were seized. To date, Attorney General James has taken a total of more than 2,300 guns out of communities since 2019.

Former CEO Of Melrose Credit Union Sentenced To Nearly 4 Years In Prison For Violating Bank Bribery Statute


 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that ALAN KAUFMAN, who at the time of the offense was the chief executive officer of Melrose Credit Union (“Melrose CU”), was sentenced today to 46 months in prison.  KAUFMAN was previously convicted, following a three-week jury trial, of participating in a scheme in which he accepted from Tony Georgiton free housing and hundreds of thousands of dollars in financing for the purchase of his personal residence, after approving millions of dollars in loans to Georgiton’s companies at favorable terms.  KAUFMAN was also convicted for accepting lavish vacations, including to Paris and Hawaii, from CBS Radio after increasing Melrose CU’s advertising purchases at CBS Radio.  KAUFMAN’s sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. 

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Alan Kaufman accepted lavish gifts from Tony Georgiton as a reward for favorable loan rates for Georgiton’s companies.  In addition, Kaufman accepted luxury travel and hotel accommodations in return for approval of advertising spending by Melrose Credit Union at CBS Radio and elsewhere.  Kaufman shirked his duty to act in the best interests of the credit union and its account holders, exploiting his position for personal gain.  Now, thanks to the work of the FBI, Kaufman will spend time in federal prison for his crimes.”

According to the Indictment, documents previously filed in the case, and evidence presented at trial:

In 2010, Georgiton purchased a home in Jericho, New York (the “Jericho Residence”), and permitted KAUFMAN to live in that home rent-free for over two years.  While KAUFMAN was living rent-free at the Jericho Residence, KAUFMAN personally approved the refinancing of over $100 million worth of loans at Melrose CU held by a company owned by Georgiton with favorable terms.  The head of Melrose CU’s loan department did not sign off on the loans made to Georgiton because, among other things, he believed that the terms were too favorable and did not comply with Melrose CU’s loan policy.

In 2011, KAUFMAN sought approval from Melrose CU’s board of directors (the “Melrose Board”) for Melrose CU to purchase the naming rights to a ballroom under construction in Astoria, Queens (the “Melrose Ballroom”).  That ballroom was owned by a company that was in turn owned by Georgiton.  KAUFMAN did not disclose to the Melrose Board that he was living rent-free in a house owned by Georgiton at the time he sought Melrose Board approval for the naming rights acquisition.  Over the next five years, Melrose CU paid $2 million to Georgiton’s company for the naming rights to the Melrose Ballroom.  KAUFMAN also directed that payment for the naming rights be paid a year in advance of the Melrose Ballroom’s actual opening for operations.   

In 2013, KAUFMAN purchased the Jericho Residence from Georgiton, with financing that largely came from Georgiton.  To purchase the Jericho Residence, KAUFMAN took out a $200,000 loan from Melrose CU, co-signed by Georgiton and secured by Georgiton’s shares in Melrose CU.  Georgiton also gave KAUFMAN a $240,000 unsecured personal “loan.”  Georgiton has never made a demand for payment on that purported loan and KAUFMAN has never made a payment on that purported loan.  Rather than repay the loan, the following year, KAUFMAN purchased a used Maserati sports car valued at over $100,000 for his wife. 

In addition, from in or about 2010 through in or about 2015, KAUFMAN solicited and accepted lavish vacations and other gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars from CBS Radio and other media vendors, after KAUFMAN approved advertising spending by Melrose CU.  For example, in 2010, CBS Radio paid for KAUFMAN and his wife, who also worked at Melrose CU, to fly to Paris, France, and stay at the Four Seasons George V Paris.  In 2012, CBS Radio paid for KAUFMAN and his wife to fly to Maui, Hawaii, and stay at the Four Seasons in Wailea.  In 2013, CBS Radio paid for KAUFMAN and his wife to attend the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

KAUFMAN did not seek approval for these vendor-paid trips from the Melrose Board, nor did he disclose these vendor-paid trips to the Melrose Board, in violation of Melrose CU’s anti-bribery policy.

In addition to the prison term, KAUFMAN, 62, of Jericho, New York, was sentenced to two years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit specified property, pay restitution to the National Credit Union Administration in the amount of $2 million, and pay a fine of $30,000.

On January 11, 2021, Georgiton was sentenced to three years’ probation, a fine of $95,000, forfeiture of $286,663.65, and a special condition of nine months’ home confinement.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  She also thanked the National Credit Union Administration for their efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021



PRI Allocated $20 Million in City Funding, Tasked with Preparing Communities Ahead of Next Pandemic 

 Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced their selection of Columbia University to launch and operate the Pandemic Response Institute (PRI), with its key partner, the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), and several community, research, and industry partners.


The PRI will be supported by up to $20 million in City capital funding for eligible costs and be dedicated to preparing New York City for future health emergencies and epidemics in a more effective and equitable manner, while positioning the city as a global leader to serve as a model for public health response. 


“The Pandemic Response Institute, operated by Columbia University with key partner CUNY SPH, will play a critical role in preparing for future pandemics, and promoting equity in public health,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Born out of New York’s quick action during the early days of the pandemic, this institute will put our hardest learned lessons to work so that when the next public health crisis emerges, New York City will not only be prepared, we will be ready to lead these global fights.”


“The Pandemic Response Institute will serve as our City’s anchor as we invest and ensure we have the tools we need to confront—and prevent—future public health emergencies,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “We are grateful to our partners at Columbia and CUNY SPH for putting forth an ambitious and comprehensive vision for such an urgent need for New York City.”


“The experience of confronting COVID-19 and recent natural disasters has proven that we must work together to prepare and respond to public health emergencies with a focus on racial and social justice,” said First Deputy Health Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer Dr. Torian Easterling. “These investments will prepare us to fight future health crises and ensure a just recovery and the opportunity to establish New York City as the public health capital of the world.” 


“One of the lessons we’ve learned over the last 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of a robust public health emergency response system,” said Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani. “The partnership with Columbia University and the other institutions will make the Pandemic Response Institute a hub of innovation, information and planning to better prepare us for the next health crisisA dedicated institute to analyze and plan for future crises, along with resources and collaboration with City agencies, will help minimize the impact of future disasters and strengthen our public health responses.”


“Our commitment to building a recovery for all of us includes ensuring a robust public health response to any future emergency,” said the City's Senior Advisor for Recovery Lorraine Grillo. “We look forward to working with Columbia and CUNY to bolster our city's infrastructure so we are better prepared to swiftly and equitably address any threat to the well-being of our communities.”


“Columbia University with key partner CUNY SPH demonstrated to us a high level of expertise that was unmatched,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb. “NYCEDC has every confidence these esteemed institutions and their partners will put New York City and all New Yorkers first. Keeping people safe and our economy open means we need an unprecedented public health response that is forward-looking and dedicated to addressing health disparities. NYCEDC is proud to help establish a Pandemic Response Institute that will be innovative and critical to our public health infrastructure.”


“The COVID-19 pandemic has opened our eyes to the critical need for strong and vibrant multi-sector partnerships to effectively protect New Yorkers from emergent health threats,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, University Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and Director of ICAP and Columbia World Projects, who is leading the PRI. “The Pandemic Response Institute will create an unprecedented nexus for engagement, expertise, and resources from across our city and beyond that will enable us to equitably prepare, predict, prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from major health emergencies.”


“We are enormously excited to partner with Columbia University in this vital effort,” said Ayman El-Mohandes, Dean of CUNY SPH. “Our school’s primary commitment to health equity and social justice, coupled with existing strengths in health communication, systems modeling, and community outreach will help to shape and support this initiative to advance a new vision for the health of all New Yorkers.”  


NYCEDC, DOHMH, and New York City Emergency Management reviewed and selected Columbia to launch this institute with a key partnership with CUNY SPH as well as other collaborators, following a Request for Proposals (RFP) in April. The university, through its Mailman School of Public Health, put forth an ambitious and compelling vision for the PRI, which was supported by an impressive and robust multi-sector group of partners, while looking to ensure all New Yorkers are prepared for future public health emergencies by having access to health solutions, information for decision-making, and the capacity to prepare and respond. 


The PRI will specifically focus on: 


·         Building or strengthening technologies and systems to support real-time data collection and sharing 

·         Driving cutting-edge research on public health innovation and creating capacity to rapidly scale technological solutions in future public health emergencies 

·         Piloting community-based partnership models and workforce training programs that improve emergency preparedness and advance health outcomes across all communities 

·         Centering racial equity in all activities of the Institute and addressing gaps in health infrastructure that have disproportionately caused harm to communities of color and others facing structural inequities. 


The PRI will bring together communities, nonprofit organizations, industry, and academic institutions, and coordinate with City agencies in activities related to and within the entire public health emergency cycle. These critical partnerships will help the institute to advance research, training, and innovation. 

The Institute will begin activities this year and plans to launch a community-based location in each borough.