Saturday, February 6, 2021

Mexican Drug Traffickers Charged With Conspiring To Import Large Quantities Of Narcotics Into The United States Based On Seizure Of 2.5 Tons Of Methamphetamine And 100,000 Fentanyl Pills


 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Raymond P. Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that JOSE LORETO GASTELUM‑TORRES and FREDY ALEJANDRO GASTELUM‑VEGA were charged in a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to import approximately 2.5 tons of methamphetamine and 100,000 fentanyl pills into the United States.  The charge arises from a January 29, 2021, seizure by Mexico’s Secretaría de Marina (the “Mexican Navy”) of approximately 2.5 tons of methamphetamine and 100,000 fentanyl pills in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Thanks to the DEA, HSI, the NYPD, and the rest of our OCDETF New York Strike Force partners, as well as the Mexican Navy, a major shipment of potentially lethal drugs was interdicted before it could addict, poison, and potentially kill untold numbers of people in the United States.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond P. Donovan said:  “There is a tidal wave of fentanyl and methamphetamine being pushed from Mexico into the United States.  Case in point, these two traffickers were allegedly caught red-handed with over $90 million dollars’ worth of fentanyl and methamphetamine.  Traffickers see opportunities when drug overdoses rise, and they are trying to flood American markets with these synthetic, highly addictive, and dangerous drugs.  DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to target drug networks to keep Americans safe and save lives.”

HSI Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said:  “Those arrested allegedly sought to traffic thousands of fentanyl pills and multiple tons of methamphetamine, which would only exacerbate the plague currently devastating our community while steadily increasing addictions and overdose deaths.  The Strike Force has been a proven model for success in dismantling transnational narcotics trafficking organizations.  HSI showcased our unique value at the Strike Force in this case by leveraging our border resources to not only effectively address threats and vulnerabilities but moreover promote collaboration in furthering these investigations, making timely and significant arrests, and stopping deadly drugs from flooding our streets.”

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said:  “Today’s charges demonstrate that the investigative efforts of the NYPD in coordination with our law enforcement partners are far-reaching and focused.  As long as individuals, wherever they may be, are involved in illegal narcotics trafficking, the NYPD and our partners will relentlessly work to end the threat to public safety.  I commend and thank the NYPD investigators, members of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force Initiative, agents from the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the attorneys at the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District, for their dedication to this investigation.

As alleged in the Complaint unsealed in federal court[1]:

On or about January 29, 2021, the Mexican Navy located and began tracking an outboard‑powered boat traveling from Las Arenitas, Sinaloa, Mexico, northwest through the Gulf of California.  Approximately several hours later, the Mexican Navy interdicted the vessel in or around Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico, and arrested GASTELUM‑TORRES and GASTELUM‑VEGA.  Mexican Navy officers seized approximately 960 plastic containers from the boat, which contained approximately 2.5 tons of methamphetamine and 100,000 pills of fentanyl.

GASTELUM‑TORRES, 53, and GASTELUM‑VEGA, 33, of Mexico, are each charged with conspiring to import at least 500 grams of methamphetamine and at least 400 grams of fentanyl into the United States, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (“OCDETF”) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location.  This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. 

This investigation was conducted by the OCDETF New York Strike Force in partnership with the DEA’s law enforcement partners.  The OCDETF New York Strike Force comprises federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies supported by OCDETF and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.  The Strike Force is affiliated with the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA, NYPD, New York State Police, HSI, U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department, and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.  

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the OCDETF New York Strike Force and Mexico’s Secretaría de Marina.

The charge contained in the Complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described herein should be treated as an allegation as to the defendants charged in the Complaint.

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress During Covid-19 Pandemic - FEBRUARY 6, 2021

7,804 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide - Lowest Since December 27

1,481 Patients in the ICU; 995 Intubated

Statewide Positivity Rate is 4.31%

Statewide 7-Day Average is 4.58% - Lowest Since December 2

158 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.

"New York's positivity and hospitalization numbers continue to decline from the holiday surge, a reflection of the discipline New Yorkers have shown to defeat the virus," Governor Cuomo said. "The ultimate weapon to win the war is the vaccine and we are getting needles into arms every day, but we need more supply because we have the operational capacity to do much more. Super Bowl weekend is here and while the instinct may be to celebrate together, we cannot get cocky - we must continue doing the things we know are effective at taming the virus: wear a mask, adhere to social distancing, and avoid gatherings. We can beat this thing, but we must stay smart."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 261,285
  • Total Positive - 11,252
  • Percent Positive - 4.31%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 4.58%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 7,804 (-133)
  • Net Change Patient Hospitalization Past Week - -372
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 921
  • Hospital Counties - 57
  • Number ICU - 1,481 (-35)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 995 (-5)
  • Total Discharges - 132,012 (+847)
  • Deaths - 158
  • Total Deaths - 36,079

Head Of Merchant Bank Sentenced To 24 Months In Prison In Connection With Multimillion-Dollar Securities Fraud Scheme


 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that CRAIG ZABALA, the chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Concorde Group Holdings Inc. (“Holdings”), was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for participating in a scheme to defraud investors in Holdings, a purported merchant banking firm.  Among other illicit activity, ZABALA fraudulently induced at least 17 investors to invest approximately $4.38 million based on false and misleading statements, by failing to use investors’ funds as promised, and by converting investors’ money to his own use.  ZABALA pled guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud on October 22, 2020, before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken, who also imposed today’s sentence.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Craig Zabala defrauded investors out of more than $4 million through a purported financial services firm he controlled.  He lied to investors about how much money had been raised, who had invested, how close the firm was to an IPO, and how he would use investors’ money.  Zabala appropriated most of the money for his own use or to pay off investors in a Ponzi-like fashion.  Now he has been sentenced to prison for his crimes.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint, the Information, and other proceedings in this case:           

CRAIG ZABALA was the chairman, CEO, and president of various affiliated and intertwined purported financial services companies:  Holdings, Concorde Group, Inc. (“Group”), Blackhawk Capital Group BDC, Inc. (“Blackhawk”), DBL Holdings, LLC, d/b/a “Drexel Burnham Lambert” (“DBL”), Concorde Investment Managers, LLC (“CIM”), and Concorde Europe, Ltd. (“Concorde Europe”).  In or about August 2019, FINRA barred ZABALA from the broker-dealer industry, including because of his failure to cooperate with a FINRA investigation.

Holdings was a Delaware corporation formed in or about 2015, with an office in Jersey City, New Jersey, and a mailing address in New York, New York.  Holdings purported to provide financial services, including merchant banking, investment banking, asset management, and securities brokerage services, to entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses in the middle market, meaning small to mid-sized companies with revenue and market capitalizations of less than $1 billion, in North America, Europe, and Asia.  Holdings’ purported affiliates included Group, DBL, Blackhawk, CIM, and Concorde Europe.  ZABALA was a majority owner of Holdings.

Group was a Delaware corporation formed in or about 1995, based in New York, New York, that purported to provide the same types of financial services as Holdings.  Group’s purported affiliates included DBL, Blackhawk, CIM, and Concorde Europe.  ZABALA was a majority owner of Group.  Between in or about 2001 and in or about 2014, Group purportedly raised approximately $18 million from investors.

From at least in or about 2015 through in or about 2020, ZABALA and others perpetrated a scheme to defraud at least approximately 17 investors out of approximately $4.38 million in Holdings notes, warrants, and equity.  Almost all of these investors invested in a private offering by Holdings of $25 million in senior secured notes with attached warrants paying 13 percent interest (the “Holdings Offering”). 

ZABALA falsely represented that the proceeds from the offerings would be used to grow Holdings’ purported merchant banking business by investing in and buying other financial services companies.  In truth and in fact, and as ZABALA well knew, Holdings did not make any investments in or buy other companies; it was a shell company.

ZABALA falsely represented that Holdings was successfully raising money from investors, claiming that Holdings had raised nearly all of the $25 million targeted in the Holdings Offering and that the family office of a wealthy German family had invested millions of dollars in Holdings.  In truth and in fact, and as ZABALA well knew, Holdings only raised a few million dollars (the majority from one investor), and the family office never invested in, and never committed to invest in, Holdings.     

ZABALA falsely represented to Holdings Investors that Holdings would soon have an initial public offering (“IPO”), which would result in large profits to Holdings investors.  In truth and in fact, and as ZABALA well knew, Holdings was not close to an IPO.            

ZABALA converted at least approximately 70 percent of the approximately $4.38 million in Holdings investor funds in the form of cash withdrawals and other transfers to himself, payments to his girlfriend, payments of his personal credit card bills, and repayment of Group investors in a Ponzi-like fashion.

ZABALA, 69, of New York, New York, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $4,380,000, and to pay restitution of $4,380,000. 

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding work of the United States Postal Inspection Service’s New York Division, and also thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for their assistance and cooperation in this investigation. 

Governor Cuomo Announces More Than 110,000 Doses of Covid-19 Vaccine Administered in 24 Hours


111,316 First and Second Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Administered in 24 Hours

As of 11AM today, New York's Health Care Distribution Sites Have Administered 91% of the Total First Doses Received from Federal Government

Vaccine Dashboard Will Update Daily to Provide Updates on the State's Vaccine Program; Go to

Dashboard Now Includes Demographic Data

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 111,316 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered in New York in 24 hours. New York State's large distribution network of vaccination sites is capable of reaching many more New Yorkers than the current supply allows. The network remains ready for an increase in supply. As of 11AM today, New York's health care distribution sites have received 1,768,135 first doses and already administered 91 percent or 1,602,686 first dose vaccinations and 78 percent of first and second doses. The week 8 allocation from the federal government continues being delivered to providers for administration this week.

The Governor also announced that New York State's Vaccine Dashboard now includes demographic data. Yesterday, Governor Cuomo released new statewide demographic data on the vaccine acceptance rate across eligible populations.

"We're working hard every day to distribute the vaccine to as many New Yorkers as possible, as fast as possible, and we're now running out of supply each week before getting the next week's allocation," Governor Cuomo said. "New York has distributors at the ready that can greatly expand the number of people we're vaccinating every week—we just need the vaccines themselves to make that happen. We're also continuing to prioritize fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine by targeting our underserved communities with mass vaccination sites like the one in Yankee Stadium. The more people we vaccinate, the better it is for all of us - so I encourage New Yorkers to keep wearing their masks and social distancing so we can beat this virus once and for all."

Approximately 7 million New Yorkers are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. The federal government has increased the weekly supply by more than 20 percent over the next three weeks, but New York's vast distribution network and large population of eligible individuals still far exceed the supply coming from the federal government. Due to limited supply, New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient and are advised not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment.

The state's Vaccine Dashboard includes a county-by-county breakdown for vaccinations administered through the Long Term Care Facility program and vaccine administration progress for hospital workers. Vaccination program numbers below are for doses distributed and delivered to New York for the state's vaccination program, and do not include those reserved for the federal government's Long Term Care Facility program. A breakdown of the data based on numbers reported to New York State as of 11:00 AM today is as follows. The allocation totals below include 67 percent of the week 8 allocation which will finish being distributed to New York provider sites on Sunday.


  • First Doses Received - 1,768,135
  • First Doses Administered - 1,602,686
  • Second Doses Received - 864,250
  • Second Doses Administered - 461,497

Attorney General James Wins Nearly $7 Million in Relief for Defrauded Investors, Removal of Private Equity Fund Manager


Court Finds “Breaches of Fiduciary Duty, Misappropriation of

Enormous Sums of ACP Capital, and Outright Fraud”

Court Holds Six-Year Martin Act Statute of Limitations Applies Retroactively

 New York Attorney General Letitia James scored a major victory for investors defrauded by a private equity fund manager who misappropriated millions of dollars in investor assets. Yesterday afternoon, New York County State Supreme Court Justice Barry R. Ostrager found the defendants — fund manager Laurence Allen; ACP Investment Group, LLC; NYPPEX Holdings, LLC; ACP Partners X, LLC; and private equity fund ACP X, LP — liable for defrauding investors in ACP X, ordering Allen and the various corporate entities he controls to pay nearly $7 million in relief, in addition to appointing a receiver (a neutral third-party) tasked with winding down the fund so that investors can no longer be defrauded.

“This decision shows that corporate greed never pays,” said Attorney General James. “For years, Laurence Allen bilked investors out of millions of dollars and used this investment fund like his private piggy bank. With this decision, we are delivering nearly $7 million in relief to those who were defrauded and winding down this fund to finally end this fraudulent scheme. My office will continue to use every tool at its disposal to stop this type of illegal activity, as we seek to protect investors from the self-dealing of financial fraudsters.”

In December 2019, Attorney General James filed a suit against Allen and the corporate entities he controls for defrauding investors and misappropriating millions of dollars in ACP X assets to enrich himself and his companies between 2008 and 2018. In February 2020, she obtained a preliminary injunction against the defendants.

In the decision, Justice Ostrager found that Allen and the “maze of entities” he owned and controlled defrauded ACP X’s investors by making “hopelessly conflicted” investments of fund assets in NYPPEX Holdings, the holding company for Allen's own struggling broker-dealer. This deception was contrary to Allen’s promises and repeated representations to investors.

Further, the court found that NYPPEX Holdings “utilized these funds to pay Allen exorbitant NYPPEX annual salaries, totaling approximately $6 million, as well as to pay the salaries of his staff” rather than paying those returns to investors. Allen and the defendants under his control also fraudulently profited by taking millions of dollars in carried interest to which they were not entitled, and by wrongfully causing ACP X to cover NYPPEX Holdings’ operating expenses.

Justice Ostrager found that the evidence “revealed a shocking level of self-dealing, breaches of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of enormous sums of ACP capital, and outright fraud.”

In light of these facts, the court ordered Allen and the other defendants to disgorge approximately $7 million of ill-gotten gains, appointed a receiver to wind down the fund and protect investors’ remaining assets, and ordered additional injunctive relief to prevent future fraud.

The decision marks the first time that a court has addressed the question of whether the six-year statute of limitations for New York’s Martin Act — passed by the state legislature in 2019 — applies retroactively, finding that it does.

In a separate case addressing fraud by a private equity firm, Attorney General James yesterday filed a lawsuit against a New York private equity fund manager — GPB Capital — and five co-defendants for defrauding investors across the country out of more than $700 million through a Ponzi-like scheme that offered to pay investors generous monthly distributions they could never deliver. Attorney General James remains committed to taking action against financial services fraudsters who seek to take advantage of investors.

Governor Cuomo Announces Additional Downstate Covid-19 Testing and Community-Based Vaccination Sites to Suspend Operations Due to Impending Winter Storm


State-Run Testing Sites at Glen Island in New Rochelle, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, Bronx Bay Plaza and Lehman College in the Bronx, Jones Beach and Stony Brook on Long Island, on Seaview Avenue on Staten Island and On Fountain Avenue in Brooklyn to Suspend Operations on Sunday, February 7

Eight Community-Based Pop Up Vaccination Sites Also Postponed Until Later in Week

Governor Cuomo Previously Announced that State-Run Mass Vaccination Sites at Jones Beach and Stony Brook Will Also Suspend Operation on Sunday February 7; Appointments Rescheduled for Upcoming Week

 overnor Andrew Cuomo today announced additional COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites throughout downstate New York will suspend operations on Sunday, February 7 due to the impending winter storm. This follows the previously announced operation suspensions at the state-run mass vaccination sites at Jones Beach and Stony Brook. New Yorkers with testing or vaccination appointments at these sites will receive notification of these suspensions via text message and telephone. Appointments will be rescheduled for later in the week.

"Much of Downstate New York is expected to experience heavy snow and strong winds, creating the potential for dangerous travel conditions on Sunday. As we have already done at several state-run mass vaccination sites, we will be suspending operations at testing sites and community based 'pop up' vaccination sites to protect the safety of all those who work and have appointments at these locations," Governor Cuomo said. "Everyone with appointments can rest assured they will not lose their spots - all appointments will be rescheduled for later in the week and everyone will receive direct notification of these scheduling changes."

State-Run COVID-19 Test Sites

Operations at the following state-run COVID-19 testing sites will be suspended on February 7 due to the impending winter storm:

  • Glen Island in New Rochelle;
  • Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens;
  • Bronx Bay Plaza in the Bronx;
  • Lehman College in the Bronx;
  • Jones Beach on Long Island;
  • Stony Brook on Long Island;
  • Seaview Avenue on Staten Island; and
  • Fountain Avenue in Brooklyn.

New Yorkers with appointments scheduled on Sunday, February 7 will receive notice of the closure via text message and telephone. Appointments will be rescheduled for later in the week.

Community-Based 'Pop Up' Vaccination Sites

Seven community-based 'pop up' vaccination sites will also be postponed due to the storm and rescheduled for later in the week. Those eight sites include:

  • Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 W 138th New York, NY 10030
  • BronxWorks, 1130 Grand Concourse, BX, 10456
  • Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 1376 Prospect Ave, Bronx, NY 10459
  • Castle Hill Houses, 625 Castle Hill Ave, The Bronx, NY 10473
  • Marble Hill Houses, 5365 Broadway, Bronx, NY 10463
  • First Baptist Church of Corona, 100-10 Astoria Blvd., East Elmhurst, NY 11369
  • United Revival Mennonite Church, 390 Melrose St, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Appointments at these community based 'pop up' vaccination sites are scheduled directly with the host site or partner providers SOMOS Community Care and Northwell Health. Those entities are notifying New Yorkers with appointments scheduled on Sunday, February 7 of these postponements and the new dates of operation via text message and telephone.

Additionally, the site at Christian Cultural Center is cancelling Sunday operations as they were able to extend hours and fulfill all appointments on Saturday.

State-Run Mass Vaccination Sites

As Governor Cuomo previously announced, the state-run mass vaccination sites at Jones Beach and Stony Brook on Long Island will also suspend operations on Sunday, February 7 due to winter weather. New Yorkers with appointments these sites will receive an email or text message rescheduling their vaccination for later this week. As part of the rescheduling process and to the extent possible, timing of new appointments will be scheduled in alignment with the original appointment's time. If that new appointment time does not work for an individual given the change in day, they will be provided with a contact number to identify a different time that may work better for the individual.

Operations at the Westchester County Center, Yankee Stadium, Javits Center and Aqueduct Racetrack mass vaccination sites will continue as scheduled as those locations are located indoors and have the infrastructure and equipment in place to ensure New Yorkers with appointments can safely enter and exit the location. Operations at the remaining state-run mass vaccination sites throughout Upstate New York also remain unimpacted.

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli: Statewide Local Sales Tax Collections Declined 10 Percent in 2020


DiNapoli: Statewide Local Sales Tax Collections Declined 10 Percent in 2020

Local government sales tax collections declined by 10 percent overall in 2020, or $1.8 billion, compared to the previous year, according to a report issued by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. This decline was steeper than the drop during the Great Recession, when local sales tax collections fell 6 percent statewide in 2009 compared to 2008.

Job Recovery and Unemployment Rates:
New York City and New York State

Unemployment rates for New York State, New York City and the balance of the State spiked upward in April 2020. At that point, and in the months immediately before, the percentages of officially unemployed workers in the City and in the rest of the State were nearly identical—but those numbers have since diverged sharply.

Source: NYS Department of Labor; OSC analysis

For more current highlights on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the State’s finances and economy, visit our web page. This office is committed to keeping New Yorkers regularly updated on the State’s economy and finances.

329 Days and Counting


I have 329 days left until I leave office.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Councilman Mark Gjonaj's NYC Moving Forward Week in Review - 2/5/2021


Dear Friends,

I hope you and your families are doing well while we are still facing an unprecedented pandemic and the many consequences and uncertainties around it. 

Last week a major snow storm battered NYC dumping around 18 inches of snow, crippling the public transit and forcing many non essential workers home. We are glad that the city is back and most of the roads and streets were cleaned on time. Helping seniors in our District has always been our focus and through our partnership with the Wildcats, we are proud that over 120 senior homes were shoveled after the storm in District 13. 

While the Covid-19 vaccine is one of the key words to return to normalcy, there is still a lot to be done as far making it easier to make an appointment, outreach in cluster communities in more than one language, logistics and extended eligibility as well as convenience for the elderly and sick. Today I visited a vaccination site at the Sue Ginsburg Senior Center in our District and met and encouraged many NYCHA residents in Pelham Parkway Houses to take advantage of the vaccines to stop the spread. We are also thankful that a mass vaccination site at Yankee Stadium is now open for Bronx residents by appointment only by calling 1.833.SOMOSNY or visiting

As Chair of NYC Council Small Business Committee, I have joined my colleagues in NYC to ask Governor Cuomo to increase indoor dining to 50% capacity in NYC. Our city's struggling restaurants must be allowed maximal indoor dining to survive and certainly one on par with the rest of the state. 

We are looking forward to our Fiscal Year 2022 Discretionary Funding Tele-Townhall on Monday, February 8th. As a reminder, all not-for-profit community-based organizations in our District who can not join, can still apply for discretionary funding for Fiscal Year 2022, at: The submission deadline is Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

Remember we have been with you throughout this pandemic and you can count on us with your issues, needs and concerns. We are proud that we have been able to assist so many in need in District 13 as we have given out over 75,000 food boxes, 62,000 masks and so much more. 

While it is a difficult time for all, we will rise to meet the challenges. Please do not hesitate to contact my office at 718-931-1721 or email at


NYC Councilman Mark Gjonaj
District 13, Bronx

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to certain groups in NYC. The following groups have recently become eligible:
  • People ages 65 and older
  • Teachers and education workers
  • First responders
  • Public safety workers
  • Public transit workers
For more information, to make an appointment and for more eligibility requirements, Click Here.



Tomorrow, February 6th, on the first anniversary of a nearly fatal federal police terror attack New Yorkers are uniting for a press conference, rally, and march seeking justice for Erick Diaz Cruz and Gaspar Avendaño-Hernández who were both seriously injured in a violent shooting and unlawful kidnapping by plain clothes and secretive federal police seeking to enforce racist and broken federal immigration laws in the early morning hours of February 6th 2020. 

A large group of family friends, Brooklyn neighbors, and supporters will gather to march and demand Democratic President Joe Biden abolish the racist federal police terrorizing our communities and demand that Biden's Department of Justice deliver reparations and justice to Erick, Gaspar, and all families who have been attacked by his federal immigration police force. 

Camren Cruz, mother of Erick Diaz Cruz and Gaspar Avendaño-Hernández's partner, family friends, and New Yorkers from across the city. 

Behind 26 Federal Plaza at Foley Square  near Lafayette Street Worth Street, Centre St, New York, NY 10013

12:00PM, Saturday February 06th 



Perez brings extensive knowledge of the social and political challenges facing communities across New York City 

 Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed Roberto Perez as the new commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU). With his decades of experience and deep connections throughout New York City, Commissioner Perez will support New York City’s Vaccine for All equity efforts in our hardest hit communities and help deepen the bonds of police and neighborhoods. Perez is returning to CAU where he served as a Deputy Commissioner at the beginning of the de Blasio Administration.    

“This year is about building a recovery for all of us in New York City, and Roberto is going to help lead that effort in neighborhoods across the City,” said Mayor de Blasio. “I’ve known Roberto Perez for years and I’ve seen firsthand how deep his relationships are with communities across this city. Roberto is a true leader who is deeply committed to improving the lives of all New Yorkers, and I’m excited to see him lead the Community Affairs Unit.” 


Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City address this year featured a bold community agenda to build a new city where everyone belongs, a city where everyone feels fairness and get the decency they deserve. As CAU commissioner, Perez and his more than twenty staff distributed around the city are tasked with connecting city resources to community members, and helping to build a new city where the recovery is for all of its residents, and especially those living in the communities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  


“It's an honor to come back to CAU to lead a group of talented and committed the city workers who are the face and voice of this administration in each part of this city,” said Commissioner Roberto Perez. “One of the mandates of government is to be accessible to people, and we will continue following that mandate every day at our unit to build strengthen our commitment with all New Yorkers.” 


Perez is a native New Yorker and has lived in Queens for almost forty years. His professional experience spans to nearly a decade career in government positions where he has cultivated an extensive array of relationships and strategies to bring awareness to critical issues in front of elected officials and community leaders. Perez brings to CAU broad knowledge of the social and political issues impacting different communities throughout New York City.  


Perez’s prior position was at the NYC Department of Education where he was Senior Executive Director of Intergovernmental Affairs until recently. Perez will start immediately as CAU commissioner.  “Roberto Perez is a true professional and a dedicated public servant who lives and breathes New York City.  I and my fellow New Yorkers are fortunate to have his talented service as our Commissioner of New York City’s Community Affairs Unit,” said Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. 


“I congratulate Roberto Perez on his appointment as Commissioner of the Community Affairs Unit with the Mayor’s Office. Roberto is a professional and caring individual who prioritizes relationship-building and has a lot of credibility with the communities we serve in our city government roles. He has been a pleasure to work with during his time in the State Legislative Affairs unit and under his stewardship my office made significant updates to state law that will result in real wins for New York consumers and workers,” said NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Lorelei Salas.  


“Having a high-quality team in the City’s Office of State Legislative Affairs is intrinsic to effectively representing the City’s interests before State government. As director during Mayor de Blasio’s first term, I turned to people like Roberto Perez to join the team and achieve results for New Yorkers. Roberto’s skill set, affable nature, and hard work ethic enhanced the work of the Albany operation. He deftly engaged legislators, committee staff and other stakeholders on the key legislative and budgetary priorities, experience that will undoubtedly serve him well when interacting with the City’s diverse communities as Commissioner of the Community Affairs Unit,” said Department of Finance Commissioner Sherif Solimon. 

“I am pleased to see that Roberto Perez has been appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as Commissioner for The Community Affairs Unit," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "His years of service to The City of New York working successfully with different government agencies show that he will undoubtedly be a strong advocate and voice for Bronx residents as we work to achieve equity with vaccine distribution and to rebuild our city from this pandemic."