Saturday, April 24, 2021



DC 37 members held 15-mile bike ride through Manhattan and Brooklyn to highlight sustainability work union members are already undertaking


 District Council 37 (DC 37), New York City’s largest municipal labor union, today called on Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to fund 100,000 good, green jobs over the next three years. With a special focus on creating union jobs in low-income, communities of color, these jobs would address both the growing climate crisis and the economic crisis by bringing people back to work and creating stronger workplaces and healthier neighborhoods.


In partnership with the Climate Works for All (CW4A) coalition, the union specifically called on the City to create good, green union jobs through putting solar panels on schools, retrofitting school buildings, electrifying school buses, expanding ‌composting‌ ‌and‌ ‌launching‌ ‌the‌ ‌commercial‌ ‌waste‌ ‌zone‌ ‌program


“Our city has seen firsthand what happens when we’re not prepared for the growing climate crisis,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37, AFSCME. “It’s critical the mayor funds projects that make our city more resilient and sustainable, while simultaneously ending the practice of contracting out these jobs to private consultants. DC 37 has the skilled labor and training programs within our union to fill these jobs. The City must create a pathway for good, green union jobs.”


As part of its request, DC 37 demanded the City fill these jobs with organized labor instead of outside contractors. Hundreds of millions of dollars are currently spent by the City on hiring outside consultants to do work that City employees could do far less expensively.


DC 37 recently announced a new training initiative to prepare workers for energy efficiency jobs related to addressing the impact of climate change. The DC 37 Green Jobs Training Initiative, which will launch next month, will provide technical training, environmental literacy, and hands-on experience to train a portion of its 150,000 members and the general public.


Building on DC 37’s existing education and workforce training programs that provide City workers with basic job skills, technical training, and leadership development, this new expanded partnership will provide city employees with the experience and confidence to be the next generation of green job workers. DC 37’s goal is to develop essential, sustainable training components and grow an energy efficiency economy, equipped to spearhead future demands of green jobs for a cleaner, more resilient New York City.


The DC 37 Education Fund (EdFund) manages training and workforce development on behalf of the union and has helped make it possible for thousands of DC 37 members to improve their foundational skills, technical competencies, and leadership capacity.   


“DC 37 members are already undertaking critical sustainability work, as illustrated in this Bicycle Tour, but as the climate crisis intensifies, so too must we intensify our workforce development efforts to train and prepare particularly public sector workers to meet the growing climate challenges, as they are the backbone of New York City,”  said Jon Forster, Co-Chair, DC 37 Climate Justice Committee.


"Our city is in the midst of crisis, and we must move through it towards an Equitable Recovery and a Just Transition.  Our climate solutions must be bold and visionary, and must also prioritize good, union job creation for communities most impacted by jobs loss. The Equitable Recovery plan, which will create 100,000 climate jobs for New Yorkers, is a result of collaboration between labor, community, and environmental justice organizations, and we're happy to be here with DC 37 demanding investment in these climate infrastructure and job creation strategies today,” said Phoebe Flaherty, Organizer, ALIGN.


Governor Cuomo Announces Statewide COVID-19 Positivity Rate Drops Below 2 Percent to the Lowest Rate Since November 3 April 24, 2021


Statewide Positivity Rate is 1.79%

Statewide 7-Day Average Positivity Rate Drops to 2.27%—Lowest Since November 9

Hospitalizations Drop to 3,294—Lowest Since November 27; Hospitalizations Down 540 in Past Week

767 Patients in the ICU; 482 Intubated

40 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York's statewide COVID-19 positivity rate dropped to 1.79 percent, the lowest since November 3.

Yesterday, Western New York's positivity rate was 2.84 percent, below 3 percent for the first time since March 27. The region's 7-day average positivity rate fell to 3.75 percent - every region's 7-day average positivity rate is below 4 percent for the first time since November 8, 2020.

"It's critical we continue practicing safe behaviors even as vaccinations climb, and while I know some may feel COVID fatigue setting in, we have to keep doing what we can to keep each other safe," Governor Cuomo said. "While the state continues to expand access to the vaccine, it's on all of us to wash our hands, wear masks and stay socially distanced to keep our momentum heading in the right direction. We're going to reach the light at the end of the tunnel and defeat the COVID beast, but we have a lot of work to do before we get there."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 233,067
  • Total Positive - 4,164
  • Percent Positive - 1.79%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 2.27%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 3,294 (-93)
  • Net Change Patient Hospitalization Past Week - -540
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 394
  • Hospital Counties - 52
  • Number ICU - 767 (-19)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 482 (-1)
  • Total Discharges - 173,311 (+438)
  • Deaths - 40
  • Total Deaths - 41,757

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State Vaccination Program


189,254 Doses Administered in the Last 24 Hours        

Nearly 1.2 Million Doses Administered Over Past Seven Days       

Vaccine Dashboard Updated Daily on the State's Vaccine Program; Go to 

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's vaccination program. 189,254 doses have been administered across the state's vast distribution network in the last 24 hours, and nearly 1.2 million doses have been administered over the past seven days.    

"The progress New Yorkers have made on vaccinations is something to take great pride in, but we are not out of the woods yet," Governor Cuomo said. "This virus is still out there and the footrace against the infection rate is still on. More than 30 percent of New Yorkers have been fully vaccinated, but if we slow down now we risk undoing our hard-earned progress. As we have done since day one, we will continue to work with local communities and providers to make sure the vaccine is accessible to every New Yorker, and to remind everyone that the vaccine is effective and necessary to defeat COVID once and for all." 

New Yorkers can schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site on the Am I Eligible App or by calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. People may also contact their local health department, pharmacy, doctor or hospital to schedule appointments where vaccines are available, or visit to find information on vaccine appointments near you. 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.  


Total doses administered - 14,295,610

Total doses administered over past 24 hours - 189,254

Total doses administered over past 7 days - 1,173,590

Percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 43.8%

Percent of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 30.7% 

Team Gjonaj Pelham Parkway Clean Up


Taking advantage of the warm weather Team Gjonaj did another clean up of Pelham Parkway around the Wallace Avenue crossing. Over a dozen people led by Farah Rubin of Councilman Mark Gjonaj's office grabbed a large green plastic bag and grabber to grab the litter or garbage that was on the south side island and service road area by Wallace Avenue. 

Team Gjonaj community liaison Farah Rubin on the right with a neighborhood volunteer. 

Steve Glosser, Vice-President of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association brings in a full bag of trash he collected, to pick up a fresh bag to fill.

Members of the Wildcats, who patrol White Plains Road help out here at Wallace Avenue.

Owner Of Illegal Racehorse Doping Websites Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court


Scott Mangini Peddled Performance-Enhancing Drugs Including “Blast Off Red Blood Builder,” “Extreme Explosion,” “Oral Epo,” and “Green Speed”

 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that SCOTT MANGINI pled guilty today to conspiring to unlawfully distribute adulterated and misbranded drugs with the intent to defraud and mislead, in connection with the charges filed in United States v. Robinson et al., 20 Cr. 162 (JPO).  MANGINI pled guilty before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken, and will be sentenced on September 10, 2021, before Judge Oetken.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Scott Mangini created and flooded the supply side of a market of greed that continues to endanger racehorses through the sale of performance-enhancing drugs.  Mangini designed and created dozens of products intended for use by those engaged in fraud and animal abuse.  His products were manufactured with no oversight of their composition, in shoddy facilities, despite prior efforts by state and federal regulators to shut down Mangini’s operation and strip his license.  Mangini’s guilty plea underscores that our Office and our partners at the FBI are committed to the prosecution and investigation of corruption, fraud, and endangerment in the horse racing industry.”

According to the prior Indictments, the Superseding Information to which MANGINI pled guilty, and other court documents, as well as statements made in public court proceedings:

From at least in or about 2011 through at least in or about March 2020, MANGINI and his conspirators manufactured, sold, and shipped millions of dollars’ worth of adulterated and misbranded equine drugs, including performance-enhancing drugs (“PEDs”) intended to be administered to racehorses for the purpose of improving those horses’ race performance in order to win races and obtain prize money.  MANGINI, a former pharmacist whose license was suspended in 2016, sold these drugs through several direct-to-consumer websites designed to appeal to racehorse trainers and owners, including, among others, “” and “”    

MANGINI contributed to the conspiracy by, among other things, using his training to design and create custom PEDs that were advertised and sold online, using misleading labels, packaging, and return address information, including sales to customers in the Southern District of New York.  Among the drugs advertised and sold during the course of the conspiracy were “blood builders,” which are used by racehorse trainers and others to increase red blood cell counts and/or the oxygenation of muscle tissue of a racehorse in order to stimulate the horse’s endurance, which enhances that horse’s performance in, and recovery from, a race, as well as customized analgesics that are used by racehorse trainers and others to deaden a horse’s nerves and block pain in order to improve a horse’s race performance.  MANGINI and his co-conspirators repeatedly touted illegal drugs sold on these websites as substances that “WILL NOT TEST” in the event of drug screens by racing officials.  For example, MANGINI’s pain-numbing product “Numb It Injection” was advertised as a “proprietary formula and without question the most powerful pain shot in the market today AND WILL NOT TEST,” and customers were expressly directed to administer the drug by “injection as close to the event or extreme exercise as possible.”

The drugs distributed through the defendant’s websites were manufactured in non-Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) -registered facilities and carried significant risks to the animals affected through the administration of those illicit PEDs.  For example, in 2016, MANGINI and his co-conspirator, Scott Robinson, who was previously convicted and sentenced in this case, received a complaint regarding the effect of his unregulated drugs on a customer’s horse: “starting bout 8 hours after I give the injection and for about 36 hours afterwards both my horses act like they are heavily sedated, can barely walk.  Could I have a bad bottle of medicine, I’m afraid to give it anymore since this has happened three times.”  Commenting on this complaint to MANGINI, Robinson wrote simply, “here is another one.”

MANGINI is among 29 individuals charged to date in a series of Indictments arising from an investigation of a widespread scheme by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses competing at all levels of professional horseracing.  By evading PED prohibitions and deceiving regulators,  horse racing officials, and the FDA, among others, participants in these schemes sought to improve race performance and obtain prize money from racetracks, all to the detriment and risk of the health and well-being of the racehorses. 

MANGINI, 55, of Boca Raton, Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the federal drug misbranding and adulteration laws.  This offense carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York FBI Office’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force and its support of the FBI’s Integrity in Sports and Gaming Initiative.  Ms. Strauss also thanked the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the New York State Police, and the New York City Police Department for their support of this investigation, and the FDA and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for their assistance and expertise.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Mortazavi, Anden Chow, Benet Kearney, and Andrew C. Adams are in charge of the prosecution.

Statements from Governor Cuomo and New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker Regarding Resuming Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations


Statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:

"World-renowned public health experts from the federal government and our own independent state task force have reviewed the data and reaffirmed that the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can resume. The state of New York will resume administration of this vaccine at all of our state-run sites effective immediately. The vaccine is the weapon that will win the war against COVID and allow everyone to resume normalcy, and we have three proven vaccines at our disposal. I urge every New Yorker to take whichever one is available to them first. The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can put the long COVID nightmare behind us once and for all."

Statement from State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker:

"Yesterday evening, following a thorough safety review, the CDC and FDA lifted the recommended pause on the COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said that the United States can resume the use of the vaccine for adults, 18 years of age and older. Following discussions with New York State's Clinical Advisory Task Force and Governor Cuomo, I recommend that New York State accept the federal recommendations and resume Johnson & Johnson vaccinations effective immediately.

"The data has shown the vaccine's known benefits far outweigh the potential and extremely rare risks, but we urge anyone with questions about the COVID-19 vaccines to speak with their healthcare provider. We will continue to communicate regular updates and guidance from the federal government to providers and the general public about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and all vaccines on the market.

"We encourage all New Yorker's to get whichever vaccine is available to them, as quickly as possible, so we can finally defeat this virus and continue our path towards fully reopening our communities and economy."

253 Days and Counting


The CDC has said it is O.K. to give the Johnson and Johnson vaccine again. I had no ill effects from the J & J vaccine Dr. Chokshi gave me, right Charlene.

I'm on my way to Sesame Street.


Over $155 million will be allocated to small businesses across the City
 Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Jonnel Doris announced that over $155 million will be allocated for small business recovery and job training in emerging markets in New York City’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22).
Since the beginning of the pandemic, SBS has launched 28 initiatives to help small businesses and jobseekers stay resilient, including a hotline that has helped over 57,000 callers and resources connecting 5,000 businesses to over $142 million in funding. Through the City’s ‘Fair Share: PPP’ program, 4,174 businesses received assistance in applying for $294 million in PPP. The FY22 Executive Plan is expected to reach 40,000 businesses across the five boroughs.
“Small businesses knit New York City together – and they were hit hard last year, even as Wall Street made record profits. But help is on the way,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These investments will keep New York City the most vibrant city in the world and help build a recovery for all of us.”
“Small businesses are the backbone of NYC’s economy, their survival is imperative to the City’s future," said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Co-Chair of the Racial Inclusion and Equity Task Force. "Our work is far from finished, but the City is committed to a fair, just, and inclusive recovery for all small businesses." 
“As the City continues on its journey to recovery, it is critical that we make small businesses the central focus of our relief efforts,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services and Co-Chair of the Small Business Subcommittee of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity. “SBS will continue to strive for an inclusive recovery, ensuring all small businesses have the resources they need to get back on their feet.” 
In the new fiscal year, the following new and existing programs will help to boost the resilience of small businesses across the City, create more job opportunities in emerging markets and revitalize commercial corridors.”
Facilitating Economic Resilience
NYC Small Business Loan Fund
The NYC Small Business Recovery Loan program is a $100 million fund, partly funded with private capital, dedicated to helping small businesses retain staff and keep their doors open. Using census tract data to target communities hardest hit by COVID-19, New York City will provide low-interest loans of up to $100,000 to approximately 2,000 small businesses.
Small Business Grant Program
The $100 million Small Business Grant Program will provide direct support to small businesses to boost our recovery and put New Yorkers back to work. It will include $50 million in rental assistance for small businesses in the arts, entertainment, recreation, food services, and accommodation sectors, and an additional $50 million focused on small businesses in low- to moderate income communities, using census tract data, to hire staff or meet unpaid expenses incurred since March 2020.
Commercial Lease Assistance Program
The existing Commercial Lease Assistance program will receive $10.4 million to provide expanded free legal services to help businesses sign, change or terminate leases, or address a commercial lease issue. This funding will help to expand outreach to small businesses in the 33 hardest hit neighborhoods identified by the Mayor’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity (TRIE) that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accelerate Small Business Reopening/Opening
The City will allocate $5 million to establish a small business recovery “one-stop shop” service to help businesses meet requirements for opening/reopening inspections, licensing and permitting as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Catalyzing Job Opportunities in Emerging Markets
Career Pathways
The Career Pathways Initiative will receive $2.5 million to support training in the technology, healthcare, industrial, and food service sectors, with a special focus on connecting underrepresented groups to careers such as web development, data analysis, commercial driving, cable installation, nursing and medical assistant.
Apprentice NYC
Apprentice NYC will receive $1.5 million. This initiative recasts a traditional workforce development approach to address 21st century skills, allowing workers to learn while they earn in careers in healthcare, tech, manufacturing, and food service.
Green Jobs & Manufacturing
HireNYC Construction Careers will receive $1.5 million that connects NYCHA residents and low-income New Yorkers to the construction trades through pre-apprenticeship training. This strategy leverages the City’s investments in capital construction projects to help maximize the number low income New Yorkers and NYCHA residents that enter the trades. This funding will also assist manufacturing businesses in developing blueprints to manufacture more products locally and reduce operating costs.
Revitalizing Commercial Corridors
Avenue NYC Program
The Avenue NYC Commercial Revitalization program will receive $1.2 million to expand outreach into more neighborhoods, exclusively in low- to moderate income neighborhoods with a focus on the 33 hardest-hit neighborhoods defined by TRIE that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Shop Your City Campaign
The Shop Your City advertising campaign will receive $1.1 million to support businesses by encouraging New  Yorkers to shop locally.

Partnerships for Parks - Webinars, SummerStage, and more!



New York City’s 2021 citywide elections arrive amidst a public health crisis, economic challenges, increasing threats to our climate, and a reckoning with injustices. Parks play a central role in addressing all of these issues and shaping the future of our communities and city. How do we elevate the urgent needs facing parks, get candidates engaged, and make our voices heard? This webinar, co-led by New Yorkers for Parks, will help you learn how to advocate for parks and green spaces to support healthy, vibrant neighborhoods ahead of a pivotal election with historic turnover in City government.

Join us to learn:

  • Advocacy tips to raise the profile of parks as an urgent issue and how to take action
  • The changes NYC will see in City government and the role elected officials play in influencing policies and funding for parks and green spaces
  • How ranked-choice voting works and its impact on the election

Featured speakers include:

Registration for this session is required and will close the day before the event. You will receive information on how to join the webinar once you register. If you have any questions, contact us at

Wednesday, April 28 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm



Community groups who support neighborhood parks and green spaces are most effective when they understand how NYC Parks operates and develop relationships with staff. NYC Parks can be a challenging system to navigate;   this webinar will help lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial relationship so you can best advocate for projects in your community.

Join us to learn:

  • Examples of successful community group relationships with NYC Parks staff.
  • How NYC Parks is structured, centrally and in each borough.
  • Tips on how to build successful working relationships.
  • Relevant COVID-19 updates to NYC Parks policies.

Registration for this session is required and will close the day before the event. You will receive information on how to join the webinar once you register. If you have any questions, contact us at

May 12 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm



As part of our 25th anniversary exhibition, It’s Our Park: 25 Years of Communities in Action, we created an in-depth view of the broad scope of work we accomplished over a quarter-century of caring for parks in New York City. Check out the Google Tours of this rich, 25-year history. Through text, photos, and videos you will travel to different neighborhoods and learn how PfP and our partners have helped shape the city by turning parks into thriving community spaces.



It's not summer without Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage. The festival is thrilled to announce it's coming back this summer with free performances in the Central Park venue and in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park.* Sing and dance in the parks this summer to celebrate!

After an incredibly difficult year for our city, this summer the festival will be celebrating live performing arts with distinctly New York genres—hip-hop, Latin, indie rock, contemporary dance, jazz, and global. Performances will follow all state and local regulations regarding large-scale outdoor events, including limited capacity and socially-distanced seating. Admittance will require a free ticket, proof of vaccine and/or negative COVID test, and health screenings. All in-person performances will be live-streamed on, rights permitting.  

Stay tuned for more details to come including the season lineup and how to reserve free tickets to attend. We can’t wait to see you in the parks this summer! 

* Pending updates to NYC health/safety guidelines.

Partnerships for Parks is a joint program of City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks that supports and champions a growing network of leaders caring and advocating for neighborhood parks and green spaces. We equip people and organizations with the skills and tools needed to transform these spaces into dynamic community assets.

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic April 23, 2021.


Statewide Positivity Rate is 2.03%; Lowest One-Day Positivity Since November 5, 2020 

Statewide 7-Day Average Positivity Rate is 2.45%; Lowest 7-Day Average Positivity Since November 10, 2020 

3,387 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide; Lowest Hospitalizations SinceNovember 28, 2020

786 Patients in the ICU; Lowest ICU Patients Since December 2, 2020 

483 Intubated; Lowest Intubations Since December 6, 2020  

45 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.

Earlier today, Governor Cuomo was in New York City where he announced that the region's 7-day average positivity, 2.57 percent, is the lowest it has been since November 26, 2020 and the region's hospitalizations, 1,663, is the lowest it has been since December 9, 2020. 

"New Yorkers are once again showing their communities and the nation the meaning of New York Tough," Governor Cuomo said. "The progress we have made statewide in the decrease of infections and hospitalizations and the increase in vaccinations is bringing us closer than ever before to reaching our goals and putting an end to this COVID nightmare. While the fight is not yet over, I encourage New Yorkers to continue their great work and follow the practices we know stop the spread: wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 240,930
  • Total Positive - 4,901
  • Percent Positive - 2.03%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 2.45% 
  • Patient Hospitalization - 3,387 (-180)  
  • Net Change Patient Hospitalization Past Week - -497
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 378
  • Hospital Counties - 52
  • Number ICU - 786 (-25)  
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 483 (-16)  
  • Total Discharges - 172,873 (+490) 
  • Deaths - 45
  • Total Deaths - 41,723

U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition Of United Kingdom Citizen For His Role In An International Carbon Credit Fraud Scheme


 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Jonathan D. Larsen, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), announced that CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT, a citizen of the United Kingdom, was extradited today from Spain.  WRIGHT is  charged with wire fraud and money laundering relating to his role in a telemarketing scheme involving the fraudulent sale of purported “carbon credits” to victims in the United Kingdom.   WRIGHT was arrested in Spain on January 27, 2021, and is the second defendant charged in the case.  WRIGHT is expected to be presented on Friday, April 23, 2021, before U.S. Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.  WRIGHT’s case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman. 

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Wright and his codefendants deceived retirees in the United Kingdom with false promises of big returns on restricted stock and environmentally friendly ‘carbon credits.’  Many of the victims lost their life savings, while Wright and his criminal associates allegedly hid the proceeds in the United States and overseas.  Thanks to the IRS and international cooperation, Wright is now in U.S. custody and facing charges in this District.”

IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen said:  “The charges in this case are particularly troubling because this scam allegedly targeted the elderly and retirees, many of whom as a result have lost their hard-earned nest eggs.  This case is a painful reminder that cold-callers promising substantial investments are almost always looking to prey on the elderly. For those with elderly loved ones, take the time to warn them about these scams.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment:[1]

From in or about 2009 up to and including in or about 2015, WRIGHT and other co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud victims in the United Kingdom through the sale of false, fraudulent, and materially misleading investments, and to launder the proceeds of the fraud through bank accounts in the United States and foreign countries.  WRIGHT used the services of telemarketing call centers to identify and cold-call potential victims, who were primarily elderly or retired individuals residing in the United Kingdom.  Over a series of telephone calls, the telemarketers persuaded victims to invest money under various false and misleading pretenses, including the promise of short-term, high-yield, no-risk returns, when in fact the investments were high-risk, illiquid, and in some instances, entirely fictitious.  Many victims were persuaded to make additional investments under the false pretense that they would not be permitted to sell their holdings until they purchased more.  In reliance on the false representations and promises, the victims wired funds to various bank accounts in the United States, including in the Southern District of New York, in the names of corporate entities controlled by one of Wright’s co-conspirators.  WRIGHT assisted in mailing and emailing of documents related to the fraudulent investments, including purchase contracts and investment certificates, to the victims.  Victims who tried to sell their investments found they were unable to do so.  The victims never received a refund on their principal or any return on their investments. 

In order to conceal the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme, WRIGHT and his co-conspirators set up overseas bank accounts in Cyprus, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, in the names of various shell companies, which were used to launder a substantial portion of the fraud proceeds.

The nature of the particular fraudulent investment vehicles being marketed to the victims changed over time.  From in or about 2009 until in or about 2011, WRIGHT and his co-conspirators sold the stock of Florida-based corporation DirectView Holdings, Inc. (“DirectView”), to the victims based on telemarketers’ false representations and promises that the shares were a no-risk, short-term investment in a debt-free company, and that the shares were likely to increase over 100 percent in value in a short period of time.  In fact, DirectView’s annual report filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) for the year ending December 31, 2010, contained dire warnings about the poor fiscal health of DirectView and the risk attendant in purchasing stock, including that the company “may be forced to cease operations” due to losses and cash flow problems, and purchasers “may find it extremely difficult or impossible to resell our shares.”

From in or about 2011 until in or about 2015, WRIGHT and his co-conspirators engaged in the sale of fraudulent “carbon credits.”  “Carbon credits,” which are issued as part of governmental and voluntary regulatory regimes, are permits representing the right to emit a certain number of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  “Carbon offsets,” which are tied to particular carbon-dioxide emissions reducing projects, represent a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and can be purchased by individuals and companies to “offset” their or third parties’ “carbon-footprints.”  The victims were falsely promised that the carbon-related investments they purchased could be easily sold, carried no risk, and would yield a significant, short-term return.  In fact, the carbon credits and offsets that were sold to the victims were fake, and did not represent any actual carbon credits or offsets.

WRIGHT, 48, a citizen of the United Kingdom, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, substantive mail fraud, and substantive wire fraud, with a penalty enhancement for telemarketing, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years; conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years; and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.           

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of IRS Criminal Investigation in this case.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises and Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Units. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Feinstein and Olga I. Zverovich are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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