Saturday, February 13, 2021
For the month of January 2021, New York City saw reductions in every major index crime with the exception of grand larceny auto (GLA). Overall index crime fell 21% compared with January 2020, driven by a 32% reduction in grand larceny (2546 v. 3788). There were also fewer murders in January 2021 compared to the previous year (25 v. 27). Shooting incidents, however, increased to 77 v. 66 in January 2020 (+16.7%).
The NYPD remains fully committed to curtailing gun violence on the streets of New York City. To that end, our officers continue to make increasing numbers of gun arrests across the five boroughs. For the month of January 2021, there were 486 gun arrests. This is an increase of 61.5% compared to January 2020, or +185 arrests – marking the greatest number of gun arrests for any January in the CompStat-era. Patrol Borough Brooklyn North and Patrol Borough Bronx are leading the way with 138 and 104 arrests, respectively. The NYPD continually monitors and analyzes trends in violence, shifting officers to areas experiencing upticks in shootings – addressing conditions in real time. There is a very small number of criminals who are the persistent drivers of violence, and the NYPD’s best investigators are continually working to build strong cases against these individuals and their associates.
“As we move into 2021, I remain very optimistic about the continuing work of the NYPD to improve both public safety and trust across New York City,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “All New Yorkers have weathered a great deal during 2020, but your NYPD cops remain undaunted in their vital work – not only driving down crime – but also engaging with our many community partners in order to build trust in every borough, in every neighborhood.”
Statistics on Index Crimes
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New York Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement in response to a legal action filed by Amazon:
“Throughout this pandemic, Amazon employees have been forced to work in unsafe conditions, all while the company and its CEO made billions off of their backs. This action by Amazon is nothing more than a sad attempt to distract from the facts and shirk accountability for its failures to protect hardworking employees from a deadly virus. Let me be clear: We will not be intimidated by anyone, especially corporate bullies that put profits over the health and safety of working people. We remain undeterred in our efforts to protect workers from exploitation and will continue to review all of our legal options.”
Governor Cuomo Announces COVID-19 7-Day Average Positivity Rate Drops Below 4% for First Time Since November 30
7-Day Average Positivity Drops to 3.90%, Down 51% from Post-Holiday Peak in Early January & 36 Consecutive Days of Decline
AG James Partners with New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Center for NYC Neighborhoods, and Enterprise Community Partners to Expand OAG’s “Protect Our Homes” Initiative
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced an $800,000 grant to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (Center) as part of an anti-displacement program aimed at increasing awareness of scams and deed theft in vulnerable neighborhoods. The program uses settlement funds obtained by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and includes a Homeowner Help Desk and a grassroots “support your neighbor” outreach campaign.
The OAG’s expansion of its “Protect Our Homes” initiative is a part of the New York State Anti-Displacement Learning Network, a $10 million program from Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise) that works to preserve community stabilization and allows residents to remain in their homes in 10 municipalities and counties across the state.
“COVID-19 has exposed and expanded the economic pressures New Yorkers were already under, and homeowners in gentrified areas throughout New York City continue to be targeted in schemes designed to steal their homes,” said Attorney General James. “Deed theft is a crime that threatens to rip away homeownership and perpetuates a terrible cycle of displacement. This initiative is critical to helping New Yorkers stay in their homes, and my office will continue to work alongside our government and community partners to combat these predatory and heartless crimes.”
The anti-displacement network grant is a dual-track program aimed at protecting homeowners at risk of financial distress, foreclosure, and displacement in South/Central Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, and the Northeastern Bronx. Using data analysis, the program will identify individual owners at higher risk of becoming the target of scammers and provide targeted outreach to these homeowners. Further, the anti-displacement network grant will support the expansion of the Homeowner Help Desk, which will be staffed by nonprofit housing experts. In addition to individual outreach, the program also includes a comprehensive outreach campaign to provide communities with the information and resources needed to protect themselves and their neighbors against scams. The Homeowner Help Desk will tailor its outreach and services to the most at-risk communities of color, focusing on the specific need to disrupt patterns of fraud, speculation, and displacement, as well as protect home equity built over decades.
“New York City takes the threat of deed theft and scams seriously, and we want to make sure struggling homeowners get the help they need to keep their homes, maintain safe, quality housing, and build equity that can be passed on to the next generation,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “Especially in light of the economic effects of COVID-19, we are glad to have the support of Attorney General Letitia James as we work with the Center and so many others to actively reach out to vulnerable homeowners.”
“We are thrilled to work in partnership with the OAG, HPD, and Enterprise to deploy our Homeowner Help Desk so that New Yorkers can protect their homes, assets, and hard earned equity from scams and displacement,” said Christie Peale, CEO/Executive Director of Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “The Help Desk is an especially critical tool for supporting and stabilizing communities of color, reducing the racial wealth gap, and empowering homeowners and their neighbors.”
“Enterprise is pleased to fund this important strategy to ensure that homeowners have the assistance and resources to stay in their homes,” said Elizabeth Zeldin, Director of Enterprise Community Partners. “The ‘Protect our Homes’ expansion is a critical strategy to prevent deed theft and scams and to promote stable homeownership in key NYC neighborhoods.”
Deed theft has become a common tool of career criminals and unscrupulous real estate developers to illegally obtain real estate so they can sell it at a huge profit in high-demand housing markets, like Brooklyn. This illegal scheme especially affects people of color, the elderly, and other vulnerable homeowners who are scammed into signing over the deeds to their homes to con artists. Deed theft usually happens when scammers forge deeds to look like they purchased the home, or when homeowners are tricked into signing their homes over to a scammer without knowing what they are doing. Scammers then seek to evict the homeowner and sell the house to a third party at a significant profit.
In January 2020, Attorney General James launched the office’s “Protect Our Homes” initiative, a program that uses prevention and enforcement actions to combat deed theft in New York City. The OAG also formed an interagency deed theft taskforce with members including the district attorneys from all five boroughs in New York City and the Office of the Sheriff of the City of New York. The anti-displacement program builds off these efforts by focusing on the neighborhoods most at-risk of deed fraud, enlisting community members to talk about deed theft with their neighbors, and educating community members about how to spot deed fraud scams.
Those who believe they have experienced deed theft are encouraged to contact the OAG by calling the help line at 1-800-771-7755, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling out the online complaint form.
Friday, February 12, 2021
Mayor de Blasio today announced a three-pronged plan to vaccinate homebound seniors and the essential frontline home care workers who care for them. Beginning next week, the City will launch on-site senior vaccination clinics and, with the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March, stand up a vaccination drive for homebound seniors. To minimize risk for homebound seniors throughout the month of February, the City will aim to vaccinate 25,000 home health aides over the next month, offering dedicated appointments in the areas where they live and work.
Audrey Strauss, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea, announced that RICKEY JOHNSON, a/k/a “Nigel Dawn Defarren,” was arrested last night based on a criminal Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court charging JOHNSON with making threatening interstate communications and threatening United States officials. JOHNSON allegedly posted public videos on Instagram in which he threatened to kill a United States Senator, a member of the United States House of Representatives, other current and former elected officials, and several cable news broadcasters. JOHNSON will be presented before United States Magistrate Gabriel W. Gorenstein in Manhattan federal court today.
On Tuesday, February 16th, our office will be co-hosting a discussion
about Free Tax Preparation and Financial Counseling.
The discussion will be held between 5:30pm - 6:30pm.
Please follow this link to be directed to the zoom discussion.
We invite you to join and listen in on this discussion as we are joined by:
New York State Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez
Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams released the following statement in response to revelations that the Cuomo administration deliberately withheld information about the true toll of COVID-19 in nursing homes in order to avoid an investigation by the Department of Justice.
Alexandria just reintroduced a bill in Congress with Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Earl Blumenauer to require President Biden to declare a national climate emergency.
If Congress demands a climate emergency, Biden can redirect billions of dollars of funding toward the production of renewable energy, create millions of high-wage jobs, and upgrade the public infrastructure to expand access to clean and affordable transportation, high-speed broadband, and water.
We need to start calling this moment what it is: a national emergency. We are out of time and excuses. Even Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed that Biden should declare a climate emergency.
Congress has the power to do it, and they must act. Alexandria is helping lead the way, but she needs the support of a grassroots movement fighting alongside her.
Team AOC has trained hundreds of volunteers who make calls every Saturday during our Green New Deal deep canvassing phone banks to talk with everyday people in our district and beyond about the importance of building back our economy fossil free. All of your support helps us mobilize more volunteers, make more calls, and grow our power for climate justice.
If we want to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, ensure that our nation has an equitable economic recovery, and prevent yet another life-altering crisis – then we need to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and invest in building a just and fair fossil free future.
STATEN ISLAND LANDLORD CHARGED WITH SUBMITTING FALSIFIED LEAD PAINT ABATEMENT CERTIFICATION TO CITY DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING PRESERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Margaret Garnett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced today the arraignment of a Staten Island landlord on a charge of providing a false certification of correction for a lead-based paint violation issued to him by the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”). HPD is responsible for issuing housing violations for lead-based paint conditions. DOI began its investigation after HPD reported the apparent false certification to DOI. The Office of the Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon is prosecuting this case.
DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said, “Lead-based paint violations are serious hazards that if uncorrected pose great danger to tenants living inside the affected apartment. Landlords who ignore these conditions, or worse, provide false documentation to the City to avoid paying penalties, must be held accountable for their negligence and attempts to circumvent the law. DOI thanks the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for their prosecution of this matter.”
Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said, "This defendant, who is a landlord of a Staten Island apartment building, has been charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree for allegedly submitting fake lead-abatement paperwork. Lead paint poses serious potential health risks, especially in children, and anyone who would falsify such paperwork concerning its safe removal must be held responsible. I want to thank the Department of Investigation for their assistance with this case, as well as ADA Jonathan Chananie, head of RCDA’s Public Corruption Unit, for prosecuting this case.”
SERGEY KRIKUNOV, 56, of Staten Island, N.Y., is charged with one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E Felony. Upon conviction, a class E felony is punishable by up to four years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint and DOI’s investigation, in October 2019, KRIKUNOV, was the landlord at 283 Van Duzer Street and submitted lead abatement-related paperwork for one of the building’s apartments, including a certificate of correction for a lead-based paint violation that was purportedly performed by Jerome Environmental Services, LLC. An HPD employee reviewing KRIKUNOV’s submission noticed that the letterhead for Jerome Environmental Services, LLC on the certification did not match what the company would normally submit and contacted Jerome Environmental Services, LLC, which confirmed it had not conducted abatement work at the property. HPD referred the matter to DOI investigators who conducted interviews with HPD personnel and employees of Jerome Environmental Services, LLC, the tenant in the apartment, who stated the landlord had painted the walls himself, and reviewed paperwork filed by the defendant. The investigation determined that Jerome Environmental Services, LLC had not performed any lead-abatement work at the apartment in question and did not issue the purported certificate of correction the defendant submitted as part of his filing with HPD.
HPD inspected the apartment where the lead-based paint violations were issued, cleaned the areas, and tested them for residual levels of hazardous lead dusts several times since the discovery of the alleged falsified certification. Upon HPD’s final inspection, the apartment passed.
Commissioner Garnett thanked City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Louise Carroll and Richmond District Attorney Michael E. McMahon, and their staffs, for their cooperation and assistance in this investigation.
The investigation was conducted by DOI’s Office of the Inspector General for HPD, specifically Special Investigator Eric Johnson, under the supervision of Inspector General Jessica Heegan, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella, and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort.
A criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty
NYS Office of the Comptroller DiNAPOLI: PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM IN NYC STUMBLED, BUT FINDING FOOTING
Later Funding Phases Reached More Small Businesses, Minority Neighborhoods
“The PPP was meant to be a lifeline for struggling small businesses, but it has proven difficult for many of New York City’s mom-and-pop operations to navigate,” DiNapoli said. “Federal lawmakers have made changes that better focus the program on reaching small businesses and the additional funding is a welcome shot in the arm. Lawmakers and administrators should keep modifying the program to make sure aid reaches the communities and industries most affected by the scourge of the pandemic.”
One of the key federal legislative provisions aimed at mitigating the pandemic’s damage to the nation’s economy was the creation of the PPP, designed to help small businesses and sole proprietors. The program offers low-interest, forgivable loans for small businesses that could be used to cover payroll costs, rent and utilities. The maximum amount borrowers can request through the program is $10 million. Washington allocated a total of $953 billion for the PPP in three rounds of funding in March ($349 billion), April ($320 billion) and December ($284 billion).
Phase One of PPP Left Out Hardest Hit Small and Minority Businesses
DiNapoli’s report noted that during Phase One, the program’s requirements prevented or discouraged small businesses from applying. The PPP initially required that 75 percent of loan funds be used to cover payroll costs (later lowered to 60 percent) in order to qualify for loan forgiveness. For smaller family-run businesses, payroll can often be a much smaller share of operating costs. In New York City, four-fifths of businesses have fewer than 10 employees.
Many major lenders only accepted PPP applications from customers with existing accounts. Prior to the pandemic, the JPMorgan Chase Institute found that businesses in communities of color were the most cash-strapped and the least likely to have existing relationships with large banks. Many major lenders only accepted applications for the PPP program from customers with existing accounts. While most PPP loan records did not contain information on the race and ethnicity of business owners, many of the Bronx neighborhoods where businesses received fewer loans had higher concentrations of Hispanics and African Americans than the Manhattan and Staten Island neighborhoods where more loans were granted.
In the first phase of PPP loan disbursements, which began in April 2020, an average of 7 percent of all businesses in the city received loans, though the share varied widely by neighborhood. Of the 55 neighborhoods in the city, 46 had below-average shares of businesses receive loans, underscoring how heavily concentrated the loan disbursements were in just one-fifth of the city’s neighborhoods.
Only three neighborhoods had more than 10 percent of their businesses receive loans in Phase One: Chelsea/Clinton/Midtown in Manhattan, and Tottenville/Great Kills/Annadale and New Springville/South Beach in Staten Island.
In Brooklyn, only Brooklyn Heights/Fort Greene was above the citywide average at 7.7 percent, while in Queens, only Sunnyside and Woodside surpassed the average, with 9.3 percent of businesses receiving loans in Phase One. All other neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, and every neighborhood in the Bronx, got a lower-than-average share of business loans.
Later Phases of Program More Successful
In Phase Two, 38.6 percent of businesses received loans through the program. In addition, loan distribution was more even, with 40 neighborhoods above the citywide average of 41 percent. The distribution also became more equitable with small loans accounting for 31.6 percent of loans disbursed. Congress expanded the period of eligible costs and extended the minimum loan repayment term. In addition, many lenders also sought out new clients without established banking relationships.
Through the program’s two phases, 45.6 percent of city businesses received PPP loans, slightly below the national average of 50.9 percent. Although they lagged in participation, the average loan size to city businesses was $143,500, higher than the national average of $100,700. New York City received a total of $18.1 billion in loans through the program.
DiNapoli’s report found in New York City’s:
- Construction industry PPP loans covered 57 percent of wages, while 48.2 percent of firms participated in the program. The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants and hotels, had 50.4 percent of wages covered by the program, with 50.8 percent of businesses receiving PPP loans. Both sectors were below the national averages of 59.3 percent and 57.9 percent respectively.
- Personal services firms, including salons, funeral homes and others, 59.7 percent of wages were covered by the PPP, though only 32.4 percent of firms participated; both of these levels were significantly below the national average of 67.6 percent.
- Retail sector received loans covering 34.6 percent of wages, with 48.5 percent of businesses participating in the program. Though New York City retail businesses received a slightly higher share than retail firms in the nation, they had a lower share of wages covered, and had the smallest average loan size of any industry sector at $73,200.
Phase Three: Further Enhancements but Additional Monitoring Needed
Federal lawmakers revamped much of the program in Phase Three to better target funds to small businesses. Earmarks of funds within Phase Three may also lead to greater diversity among borrowers, and to an increase in the level at which smaller businesses participate. The act provided $35 billion for first-time borrowers targeted in low-income communities, including $15 billion to businesses with no more than 10 employees.
Washington expanded the permitted uses for funds received through the program and allows certain businesses that have already received a PPP loan to apply for second-draw loans, limited to $2 million. Second loans would generally be available for businesses with 300 employees or less that can demonstrate financial losses. These enhancements should help to ensure that loan distribution is improved and that loans are available for all small businesses that need them, both in New York City and across the country.