Saturday, August 7, 2021

Convicted Bronx Fraudster Who Fled To Ghana Prior To Serving Sentence Is Extradited To The United States


 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Jacqueline Maguire, the Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Thomas Fattorusso, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), announced that TOUREY AHMED RUFAI, a/k/a “Joe Thompson,” a/k/a “Joe Terry,” a/k/a “Rufai A Tourey,” a/k/a “Ahmed Rufai Tourey,” who was previously sentenced to four years in prison and fled to the Republic of Ghana (“Ghana”) prior to surrendering to serve his sentence, was arrested in Ghana on April 14, 2021, and extradited to the United States earlier today to serve his sentence.  RUFAI’s sentence of four years was imposed by U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote on April 12, 2019, in connection with RUFAI’s participation in a fraud scheme based in Ghana involving the theft of over $10 million through business email compromises and romance scams that targeted elderly victims from at least 2014 through 2018.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “When a defendant released on bail like Tourey Ahmed Rufai cuts his ankle bracelet and flees the country, it is an affront to the victims of his crimes and the Court.  Thanks to the extraordinary work of the FBI, IRS-CI, and our law enforcement partners both in the United States and in Ghana, this fugitive was apprehended in Ghana and has been returned to the United States to serve his four-year sentence.”  

FBI Acting Assistant Director Jacqueline Maguire said:  “Justice will now rightfully be delivered – both to Mr. Rufai as he serves his prison sentence, and to the innocent victims from whom he stole millions of dollars. When Mr. Rufai decided to cut off his ankle bracelet and flee the United States, he did not understand the FBI’s ability to find fugitives in foreign nations through our extraordinary international law enforcement partnerships. We thank everyone involved, and especially our IRS-CI colleagues and our Ghanaian partners, in ensuring Mr. Rufai will be held accountable for his crimes.”

IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso said: “This extradition reflects that despite his best efforts, Tourey Ahmed Rufai could not outrun justice, even after two years on the run, and by fleeing to another continent.  Tourey Ahmed Rufai perpetrated an elaborate scheme driven by insatiable greed and a blatant disregard for the tremendous damage inflicted on innocent victims.  He will now rightfully serve out the prison term as originally handed down.”

According to court filings in Manhattan Federal Court:

Between 2014 and 2018, RUFAI, a Ghanaian national who was residing in the Bronx, New York, was a member of a criminal enterprise (the “Enterprise”) based in Ghana that was involved in defrauding more than 100 American businesses and individuals of more than $10 million through business email compromises and romance scams.  RUFAI and his co-conspirators received or otherwise directed the receipt of millions of dollars in fraud proceeds from victims of the Enterprise in bank accounts that they controlled in the Bronx, New York.  Some of these bank accounts were opened using fake names, stolen identities, or shell companies in order to avoid detection and hide the true identities of the members of the Enterprise controlling those accounts.  Once the defendants received the fraud proceeds in bank accounts under their control, the defendants withdrew, transported, and laundered those fraud proceeds to other members of the Enterprise, including those located in Ghana.     

RUFAI was released on bail shortly after his arrest on January 9, 2018, on conditions including a $150,000 bond co-signed by three individuals, surrender of all travel documents, and home detention with electronic monitoring through an ankle bracelet.  At his sentencing on April 12, 2019, RUFAI was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to self-surrender to prison on May 24, 2019.  Then, on May 12, 2019, 12 days prior to his surrender date, U.S. Pretrial Services learned that the defendant’s ankle bracelet had been removed and that the defendant had fled.  A bench warrant was thereafter issued for the defendant’s arrest.

On April 14, 2021, after the defendant’s bond was forfeited, the defendant was arrested in Ghana pending his extradition to the United States to serve his sentence.  

RUFAI, 33, of the Bronx, New York, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on  January 9, 2019.  In addition to a prison term of four years, he was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $109,868.61 and pay restitution of $320,449.97 to victims. 

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and IRS-CI in locating RUFAI in Ghana so that he could be arrested by Ghanaian law enforcement.  Ms. Strauss also thanked the FBI Legal Attaché in Accra, Ghana, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division, the U.S. Marshals Service, Ghana’s Economic and Organised Crime Office, Interpol - Ghana Police Service’s Criminal Investigative Division, Ghana National Security, and the Ministry of Justice & Attorney General’s Office of Ghana, for their assistance in the extradition of RUFAI to the United States.

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic - AUGUST 7, 2021


49,799 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours   

11 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday   

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

"The progress New Yorkers have made has been remarkable - and our comeback is proof of what it means to be 'New York Tough'," Governor Cuomo said. "Our fight is not over yet, and the Delta variant remains a threat to all that we have accomplished together. The vaccine is the most effective weapon we have against COVID, so if you still need to get your shot, I urge you to do so quickly at one of our many sites across the state."   
Today's data is summarized briefly below:  

  • Test Results Reported - 145,813  
  • Total Positive - 4,385  
  • Percent Positive - 3.01%  
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 2.86%  
  • Patient Hospitalization - 1,121 (+71)  
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 193  
  • Patients in ICU - 232 (+19)  
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation - 83 (+11)  
  • Total Discharges - 187,552 (+134)  
  • Deaths - 11  
  • Total Deaths - 43,128  
  • Total vaccine doses administered - 22,548,493  
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 49,799  
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 293,689 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 73.4%  
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 67.4%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 76.3%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 69.1%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 61.5%  
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 56.2%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 63.9%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 57.6%  

Governor Cuomo Announces Start of $45.1 Million Project to Reconstruct Key Ramp to Cross Bronx Expressway

Ramp from Northbound Sheridan Boulevard to Westbound Cross Bronx Expressway in the Bronx to be Rebuilt and Four Nearby Bridges Repaired

Project Builds on the State's Unprecedented Investment in the South Bronx 


 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of a $45.1 million project to reconstruct and realign the 700-foot-long entrance ramp leading from northbound Sheridan Boulevard to westbound Cross Bronx Expressway (Interstate 95) in the Bronx. The 70-year-old ramp will be replaced by a modern structure with wider shoulders, concrete protective barriers and a smoother curvature that will ease traffic flow and enhance safety along this busy corridor. Reconstruction of the ramp, which handles more than 8,000 vehicles a day, will help keep highway traffic off local roads. Structural repairs will also be made to four nearby bridges and new landscaping added to the pedestrian and bicycle path leading to Starlight Park. The project complements the state's unprecedented investment to enhance infrastructure in the South Bronx.

"This project will further the tremendous progress we have made in the South Bronx  by removing the physical barriers that for years have hampered growth and impacted quality of life," Governor Cuomo said. "The reconstructed ramp and other improvements help to reduce congestion and create better travel conditions along this vital corridor, fostering vitality and economic opportunity throughout the community."

The existing ramp, which currently consists of nine bridge spans, will be rebuilt using four spans, which will reduce the number of required bridge joints and significantly decrease future maintenance needs. Rebuilding with fewer spans, including the elimination of one pier that currently extends into the Bronx River, will also create more open space below the bridge and improve the environmental quality of the river. Scheduled for completion in spring 2023, the new ramp will provide a service life of approximately 75 years. New, energy-efficient LED lights will also be installed on the ramp. 

During construction, a temporary ramp will be built from southbound Sheridan Boulevard to the westbound Cross Bronx Expressway to ensure continued traffic flow. In addition, a temporary left turn signal will be installed at northbound Sheridan Boulevard to allow traffic to access the westbound Cross Bronx Expressway. 

Improvements - including bearing and joint replacements, pavement resurfacing and repairs to the concrete, railings and bridge decks - will also be made to three bridges along the Cross Bronx Expressway between West Farms Road and the Bronx River Parkway and the eastbound Cross Bronx Expressway exit ramp to southbound Sheridan Boulevard.

Additionally, the project will plant native trees and vegetation to enhance the natural landscape along the pedestrian and bicycle pathway leading from East 177th Street to Starlight Park. 
This project builds on the South Bronx's transformational progress under Governor Cuomo's leadership that also includes the transformation of the Sheridan Expressway from an interstate highway to a pedestrian-friendly boulevard; the rehabilitation of the Bruckner Expressway; and the ongoing Hunts Point Access Improvement Project.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "The start of this project marks another great step forward for the Bronx and demonstrates yet again Governor Cuomo's commitment to building a 21st Century transportation network that benefits all residents. The Department of Transportation is proud to have played a major role in helping to make the Governor's vision for a revitalized Bronx a reality through our work on the Hunts Point and the Sheridan Boulevard and Bruckner Expressway projects; and we are delighted to get going with this new and exciting project."


Senator Biaggi's Week in Review: 8/2/21-8/6/21


Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Dear Community,

On Tuesday, the New York State Attorney General’s Office completed its independent investigation into claims of sexual harassment by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation concluded that Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed former and current staff, violated federal and state law, and upheld a toxic and hostile work environment that allowed him to sexually harass and intimidate employees. You can read the entire Attorney General report here.

The report is beyond troubling, and my heart goes out to the victims of the Governor’s abuse. No one should have to endure such harassment as these women have faced. I commend the brave women who came forward to share their experiences in the face of actual and potential retaliation. I believe you, I support you, and I stand with you always. No longer can we let powerful men abuse their positions without facing consequences. It is time for Governor Cuomo to face accountability for his actions. We must draw a clear line –– harassment is in the workplace is unacceptable –– even when they are committed by the most powerful people in our state. The Governor’s actions are an abuse of power and they impact not just the individual women who came forward, but the function and integrity of New York State government. 

My hope is that the Governor will listen to the chorus of calls for him to step aside and resign— but that seems very unlikely at this moment. That is why I am calling on the State Assembly and Speaker Carl Heastie to move to impeach immediately. In New York State, the impeachment process begins in the Assembly who must draft and vote on articles of impeachment, before sending them to the Senate to conduct the impeachment trial. A key factor in New York’s impeachment process is that once the impeachment process is initiated, the Governor is required to step away from his duties as the trial takes place. In his absence, the Lieutenant Governor assumes the position of the Executive. Those of us who have called for the Governor’s resignation agree that he is no longer fit to lead our state, so it is our responsibility to ensure he does not serve another day in office.

Simply put, if we fail to hold the Governor accountable, we are sending a message that harassment and abuse are okay, and that he can get away with abusing his staff because he has a position of power. Additionally, New York is in a pivotal moment as we navigate the Delta variant, continue to help our communities recover, and distribute COVD-19 relief funds. We cannot afford to continue business as usual and allow this dysfunctional governor and his executive to be at the helm of our government during this critical time.

Finally, with the surge in the Delta variant, I also want to remind everyone to stay safe and vigilant. The best way for us to protect ourselves and our loved ones still lies in getting our communities vaccinated, and I encourage everyone who is eligible but has not yet been vaccinated to do so immediately. The threat and widespread existence of the Delta variant cannot be understated, and as New York gears up to face this spike in the new strain, getting vaccinated is more important than ever. 

With Gratitude,

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi


Editor's Note: 

The Following Comes from the Mici For City Council Campaign.

"Marjorie Velázquez is lying."

Aleksander Mici, candidate for New York City Council in the 13th District in the Bronx, released the following statement following Marjorie Velázquez's dishonesty regarding Bruckner Blvd up-zoning.

"Marjorie Velázquez is being dishonest about her opposition to the Bruckner Blvd up-zoning, which came less than 24 hours after I held a press conference and rally with hundreds of residents in attendance.

"Velázquez is endorsed by Open New York, an organization that expressly advocates for 'policies that encourage ... upzoning for greater densities, raising height-limits and reducing setbacks, and streamlining the approval process for social housing.'

"My opponent can't have it both ways. If she truly opposes up-zoning on Bruckner Blvd, she MUST renounce her endorsement by Open New York. If she refuses, she is either lying to them or lying to voters. But make no mistake, either way Marjorie Velázquez is lying."

Affordable Housing Lottery Launches For 283 Units At 1755 Watson Avenue In Soundview, The Bronx


 1755 Watson Avenue In Soundview, 

The affordable housing lottery has launched for 1755 Watson Avenue, a nine-story mixed-use building in Soundview, The Bronx. Designed by Aufgang Architects and developed by Azimuth Development Group, the structure yields 312,880 square feet for 326 residences, amenities, parking, ground-floor retail, and space for the Bronx Pentecostal Deliverance center. Available on NYC Housing Connect are 283 units for residents at 30 to 100 percent of the area median income (AMI), ranging in eligible income from $15,052 to $148,000.

Residents will have access to a wide range of amenities including outdoor terraces, outdoor recreation area, a community lounge, media room, yoga room, bicycle storage, shared laundry room, and parking. Units will have name-brand appliances and finishes and laminate flooring.

At 30 percent of the AMI, there are 33 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms with a monthly rents ranging from $375 to $672 for incomes ranging from $15,052 to $44,400.

At 40 percent of the AMI, there are 50 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms with a monthly rents ranging from $535 to $949 for incomes ranging from $20,538 to $59,200.

At 50 percent of the AMI, there are 31 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms with a monthly rents ranging from $696 to $1,227 for incomes ranging from $26,058 to $74,000.

At 60 percent of the AMI, there are 75 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms with a monthly rents ranging from $856 to $1,504 for incomes ranging from $31,543 to $88,800.

At 100 percent of the AMI, there are 94 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms with a monthly rents ranging from $1,225 to $2,143 for incomes ranging from $44,195 to $148,000.

Prospective renters must meet income and household size requirements to apply for these apartments. Applications must be postmarked or submitted online no later than October 4, 2021.

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


51,506 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours

Vaccination Rate Up 40% from 3 Weeks Ago; 150,000 New New Yorkers Receiving Their Vaccination Weekly - Pacing State Hasn't Seen Since June

5 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday 

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combatting COVID-19. New York State vaccination rate is up 40% from three weeks ago meaning 150,000 new New Yorkers are receiving their vaccination weekly. New York State last saw vaccination pacing like that in June.

"According to the numbers, New Yorkers are listening to the science and getting their vaccinations," Governor Cuomo said. "New Yorkers are doing the right thing to protect their communities and keeping vaccination rates up is crucial as we near back to school season. If you haven't already, get your vaccination as soon as you can." 
Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 134,202 
  • Total Positive - 3,700 
  • Percent Positive - 2.76% 
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 2.79% 
  • Patient Hospitalization - 1,050 (+72) 
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 176 
  • Patients in ICU - 213 (+24) 
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation - 72 (+6) 
  • Total Discharges - 187,418 (+129) 
  • Deaths - 5 
  • Total Deaths - 43,116 
  • Total vaccine doses administered - 22,498,694 
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 51,506 
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 286,174 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 73.2% 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 67.3%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 76.0%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 69.0%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 61.3% 
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 56.1%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 63.7%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 57.5%

Corrupt Puerto Rico Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Murder And Racketeering


William Vazquez-Baez Committed Murder-For-Hire and Provided Information, Weapons, and Drugs to a Violent Criminal Enterprise

 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that WILLIAM VAZQUEZ-BAEZ, a former member of the Puerto Rico Police Department (“PRPD”), pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court in connection with his years of corrupt assistance to a criminal enterprise known as La Organización de Narcotraficantes Unidos (“La ONU”), including his participation in the May 9, 2007, murder of Anthony Castro-Carrillo in Carolina, Puerto Rico.  U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman accepted the defendant’s guilty plea.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “William Vazquez-Baez perverted his official position for personal gain, and in so doing brought deadly violence into the homes of the very people he was sworn to protect.  Today’s plea represents a milestone in holding Vazquez-Baez responsible for the cold-blooded, murderous violence he wrought.”

According to the allegations in the Information and other filings and statements made in court:

From approximately 1994 until his arrest in connection with this case in May 2017, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ was an active police officer with the PRPD.  From in or about 2004 until in or about 2016, members of La ONU shipped thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York, including cocaine that was then distributed out of a Bronx daycare center, and protected their territory and trade through numerous acts of violence.  Members of La ONU paid VAZQUEZ-BAEZ a salary to corruptly use his position as a police officer to further the interests of La ONU.  For example, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ provided narcotics and intelligence, including information obtained from the police narcotics unit.  Members of La ONU would also contact VAZQUEZ-BAEZ, among others, when transporting large quantities of cocaine within the San Juan, Puerto Rico, area to ensure the shipment avoided areas of police activity.  VAZQUEZ-BAEZ also distributed payments to other corrupt police officers who assisted La ONU.

VAZQUEZ-BAEZ also assisted La ONU in acts of violence:

In or about 2006 or 2007, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ alerted La ONU members that Freddy Mendez-Rivera, a local resident, had complained to police about drug dealing occurring in his neighborhood, which led to members of La ONU kidnapping and then killing Mendez-Rivera.  Around the same time, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ alerted a senior member of La ONU that the kidnapping was being reported over the police radio.  VAZQUEZ-BAEZ advised that, because the fact that Mendez-Rivera had spoken with the police was known throughout the Carolina Narcotics division, it was important that the body never be discovered.  When later updated about what had happened, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ laughed and remarked, in substance, that Mendez-Rivera would not be giving the police information any further.

On or about May 9, 2007, members of La ONU hired VAZQUEZ-BAEZ to participate in the murder of Anthony Castro-Carrillo in Carolina, Puerto Rico, in exchange for a cash bonus.  VAZQUEZ-BAEZ and members of La ONU stormed Castro-Carrillo’s residence while dressed as police officers and shot and killed him.

In or about 2007, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ delivered a confidential informant, who was in VAZQUEZ-BAEZ’s custody, to members of La ONU, who pretended to be other police officers. Those members of La ONU then shot and killed the informant.           

VAZQUEZ-BAEZ, 52, pled guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.  The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

VAZQUEZ-BAEZ is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Furman on December 2, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

Ms. Strauss praised the investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the New York City Police Department.  Ms. Strauss also thanked the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Police Department for their support in this ongoing investigation. 

CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General James Issues Consumer Alert to Protect New Yorkers From Dangerous, Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards


 New York Attorney General Letitia James issued an alert to protect New Yorkers from the dangers of fake coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination cards. The sale or distribution of blank or fraudulently-completed vaccination cards to individuals who have not actually received a vaccine poses a serious threat to the health of New York communities, and will impede the progress that has been made in combatting COVID-19. Falsifying vaccine cards and records, as well as the unauthorized use of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) seals, also violate various federal and New York state laws and is subject to civil and criminal enforcement. 

“As the Delta variant becomes more prominent, it is more important than ever for New Yorkers to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Attorney General James. “Not only do fake and fraudulently-completed vaccination cards violate federal and state laws and the public trust, but they also put the health of our communities at risk and potentially prolong this public health crisis. I strongly urge New Yorkers to reject these fake vaccination cards and get the COVID-19 vaccine, so that we can move forward from this pandemic and return to normalcy as soon as possible.”

COVID-19 vaccines are now available to all New Yorkers 12 years of age and older, and must be administered free of charge. To find a New York state operated vaccination site, please visit this the state's COVID-19 vaccine tracker website. Other vaccination sites can be found online.

Legitimate CDC vaccination cards are provided to individuals once they receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If an individual receives the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — which require two doses — they will receive a vaccination card after their first dose that will be updated after the second dose. Those getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will receive their vaccination card after their single dose. New Yorkers are urged not to share pictures of this card online or on social media, or to at least blur out private information (date of birth, vaccination lot number, etc.). Scammers can use New Yorkers’ personal information to steal their identity, and use pictures to create fake cards.

New Yorkers can access proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result digitally on their smartphone using one of the two Excelsior Pass apps, which are available for free from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Use of the Excelsior Pass apps are voluntary, and with these apps, New Yorkers can easily retrieve and store a digital form of vaccine records or negative test results and avoid misplacing or damaging their vaccination card. New Yorkers can learn more about the Excelsior Pass apps online

Relatedly, this past April, Attorney General James and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general sent letters to a number of companies asking them to act immediately to prevent the sale of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards on their platforms.

Separately, last week, Attorney General James, leading a coalition of advocates, sent a letter to Facebook, urging the company to address and dispel harmful and inaccurate myths about the COVID-19 virus and the available vaccines on its platform that have targeted Latino communities. This letter came after Attorney General James and a coalition of attorneys general sent an earlier letter to both Facebook and Twitter, in March 2021, calling on the companies to enforce company guidelines against vaccine misinformation.

In April, Attorney General James issued an alert urging New Yorkers to report unlawful vaccine charges as the vaccines are and always have been free of charge.

Lastly, in March, Attorney General James issued an alert to New Yorkers to beware of scams making fraudulent promises to consumers that they could cut COVID-19 vaccine lines or receive additional stimulus payments. This alert followed an earlier alert, in December 2020, where Attorney General James warned New Yorkers about potential scams offering early access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Any New Yorker that believes they have been a victim of a COVID-19 vaccination card scam should contact the Office of the Attorney General by calling 1-800-771-7755 or filing a complaint online.

151 Days and Counting


Here's an old photo when I said we were putting residents first, and Fixing and Securing NYCHA. Well that was back in 2018, and now we are going to sell NYCHA to private investors to fix up, because we don't a clue or the money three years later. If I run for governor I wouldn't want this to get out along with the many other failures my administration had. 

Let me vacation, and talk to my consultants for a pathway to Albany. I like that, 'A Pathway to Albany'. Other parts of New York State are worse than New York City, so I won't have a problem winning those areas over. Now who will be running against me, and what can I get on them.  

Friday, August 6, 2021

Statement from Rep. Bowman on New Eviction Moratorium


 Following successful advocacy from Rep. Cori Bush, Rep. Jamaal Bowman and other lawmakers and activists pushing for an extension of the federal eviction moratorium, U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman issued the following statement:

 “This is a big win for our district, and I’m proud to have played my part in making it happen. Losing your home is one of the most destabilizing, inhumane things a person can experience. But thanks to the tireless work of so many activists, community leaders, and elected officials, millions of Americans won’t have to worry about being evicted as the Delta variant rages across the country.”



New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for the Long Island and New York City Metro regions for Friday, August 6, 2021. 

The pollutant of concern is: Ozone 

The advisory will be in effect 11 a.m. through 11 p.m. 

DEC and DOH issue Air Quality Health Advisories when DEC meteorologists predict levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 100. The AQI was created as an easy way to correlate levels of different pollutants to one scale, with a higher AQI value indicating a greater health concern. 


Summer heat can lead to the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component of photochemical smog. Automobile exhaust and out-of-state emission sources are the primary sources of ground-level ozone and are the most serious air pollution problems in the northeast. This surface pollutant should not be confused with the protective layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere. 

People, especially young children, those who exercise outdoors, those involved in vigorous outdoor work and those who have respiratory disease (such as asthma) should consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity when ozone levels are the highest (generally afternoon to early evening). When outdoor levels of ozone are elevated, going indoors will usually reduce your exposure. Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing should consider consulting their doctor. 

Ozone levels generally decrease at night and can be minimized during daylight hours by curtailment of automobile travel and the use of public transportation where available. 

New Yorkers also are urged to take the following energy-saving and pollution-reducing steps:

  • use mass transit or carpool instead of driving, as automobile emissions account for about 60 percent of pollution in our cities;
  • conserve fuel and reduce exhaust emissions by combining necessary motor vehicle trips;
  • turn off all lights and electrical appliances in unoccupied areas;
  • use fans to circulate air. If air conditioning is necessary, set thermostats at 78 degrees;
  • close the blinds and shades to limit heat build-up and to preserve cooled air;
  • limit use of household appliances. If necessary, run the appliances at off-peak (after 7 p.m.) hours. These would include dishwashers, dryers, pool pumps and water heaters;
  • set refrigerators and freezers at more efficient temperatures;
  • purchase and install energy efficient lighting and appliances with the Energy Star label; and
  • reduce or eliminate outdoor burning and attempt to minimize indoor sources of PM 2.5 such as smoking. A toll-free Air Quality Hotline (1-800-535-1345) has been established by DEC to keep New Yorkers informed of the latest Air Quality situation. 

Additional information on ozone and PM 2.5 is available on DEC's website and on DOH's website. 

The Friday, August 6, Air Quality Health Advisory regions consist of the following: Region 1 Long Island, which includes Nassau and Suffolk counties and Region 2 New York City Metro, which includes New York City, Rockland, and Westchester counties.


152 Days and Counting - I Need a Vacation


It was such a hard Bronx City Hall in Your Borough Week, that I need a vacation next week to prepare for 'Homecoming Week', or my announcement that I am going to run for Governor, now that King Cuomo (as Curtis Swila called him on Inside City Hall's Political Rundown) will have abdicated or will be impeached from his current office.

 If the state legislature begins impeachment procedures King Cuomo must step aside, and let Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul run the state during the impeachment procedure. One of my possible opponents State Senator Alessandra Biaggi was on Inside City Hall last night, and she is so anxious to find the governor guilty. She worked in the governor's office during the toxic period, and said nothing. I can call her 'Sergeant Alessandra Biaggi Schultz' if you remember the character from Hogan's Heroes. Sergeant Schultz's famous line was, 'I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing'. I'll have to read that full report from the AG to see exactly what Senator Biaggi saw, heard, and knows.



Next phase of the Environmental Justice for All Report moves forward; Our city cannot build a just and equitable recovery without addressing environmental injustices in frontline communities

 Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Environmental Justice Advisory Board today announced the commencement of a public comment period from August 5th to September 5th, 2021 to give New Yorkers the power to influence the scope of the Environmental Justice for All Report, an unprecedented comprehensive study of environmental justice issues that will lead to the development of a citywide Environmental Justice Plan. Once finalized, the scope will define the list of environmental justice concerns under review and methodologies to be used to examine City programs, policies, and public engagement processes that impact environmental justice issues and environmental decision-making. 

 “Addressing environmental injustice and racism requires accountability, reflection, and collaboration,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Environmental Justice for All Report needs to be shaped around New Yorkers’ lived experiences and expertise. Their voices will be the cornerstone of the City’s plan for environmental justice and equity moving forward.”


“The city's Environmental Justice Interagency Task Force has completed its first draft of the citywide environmental justice study which the advisory board is eager to get underway,” said Peggy Shepard, Co-Founder & Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Chair of the New York City Environmental Justice Advisory Board. “Now we need feedback from residents living and working in environmental justice communities to ensure that the city has accurately captured concerns and input from the most affected residents in the city's frontline neighborhoods before beginning the study, which will serve as the basis for our citywide report and plan of action. The Environmental Justice Advisory Board urges affected residents living in environmental justice communities to offer their concerns and recommendations to inform the scope of the study so it will be comprehensive and relevant.”


The draft scope, which has been summarized and translated into plain language and the City’s top five languages, was informed by comments from 1,070 New Yorkers, groups, and elected officials on the climate, environmental, and health issues that impact their communities during a comment period from February-April of this year. Nearly 70 percent of the survey participants came from Environmental Justice Areas, and they listed access to healthy food, poor indoor air quality, and pests as their top environmental justice concerns.


“Environmental decision-making must be inclusive of those most impacted by the policies and services we create,” said Ben Furnas, Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability. “We want to hear from all 8.5 million New Yorkers, and especially those in Environmental Justice Areas, on how we can address environmental injustices and mitigate the dire impact of climate change on frontline communities. I want to thank the Advisory Board for working with our team to create a community-led environmental justice study.”


“The release of the draft scope is one step in a transformative process for the City to deliver on our environmental justice commitments,” said Adriana EspinozaNew York City’s Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice. “With today’s announcement, we want to let New Yorkers know that we heard their concerns and priorities during the first comment period, and we are committed to providing opportunities now and in the future to co-create this landmark report.” 


In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into legislation Local Law 60 and Local Law 64 to codify environmental justice into the City’s decision-making process. Under the legislation, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability and an Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group are responsible for delivering the City's first comprehensive study of environmental justice. 


The Environmental Justice for All Report will study the city's Environmental Justice Areas, analyze environmental and climate issues, and identify which communities are being disproportionately impacted by environmental burdens and which are not seeing the benefits of green investments made by the City. The report will inform the development of a citywide Environmental Justice Plan.


New Yorkers can submit comments on the draft scope of the Environmental Justice for All Report by September 5th, 2021 online, over the phone, or in-person.



Visit to read the draft scope in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Haitian Creole, and Russian, and submit the comments electronically under the Public Comment section. You can also email your comments to



Leave us a voice message at 212-788-4144.



NYC Summer Townhall on Environmental Justice

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Register for the Town Hall

American Sign Language interpretation and live captioning will be provided. Interpretación disponible | 提供口 | Entèpretasyon ki disponib | Доступен перевод | ব্যাখ্যা উপলব্ধ


The People's Festival 

August 20 - September 3, 2021 in the five boroughs

More information on the locations and how to get involved here.


"Environmental justice touches all aspects of our city, from preparing our built environment for climate change to improving public health outcomes in frontline communities to increasing access to green spaces and more," said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. "The Environmental Justice for All report will ensure New Yorkers from every corner of our city can shape their future and have their voices heard."


“The issues of environmental justice and human rights are inextricably linked,” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights. “Access to green spaces, programs for sustainability, and education are key components to creating a city free of environmental harms.  We know that our environment affects everything from food security and health to education and housing, which is why it is imperative that New Yorkers make their voices heard during this period of open public comment.  Together we can create a New York City that is safe, healthy, and equitable for all.”


"Environmental justice is a fundamental issue of both fairness and public health," said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. "City government must ensure that it is actively addressing environmental justice through its own operations and the policies it puts in place. DCAS is proud to partner on the Environmental Justice Report and to do everything it can to advance this important cause."


“As we plan for equity, environmental justice must be at the forefront of our work. Whether it’s cleaning up polluted sites in long overlooked neighborhoods or making sure that we protect our vulnerable BIPOC communities from the impacts of climate change, we will continue to work towards a city that leaves no New Yorker behind.  Please, get involved and make your voice heard on this vital issue,” said Department of City Planning (DCP) Marisa Lago.


“The Environmental Justice for All Report will be a critical tool to help all New Yorkers better understand environmental and climate impacts in their neighborhoods and it will help the City plan to make the necessary investments to address those impacts, said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “We hope that a broad array of New Yorkers will provide feedback so that the Report will be as responsive as possible to New Yorkers' needs.”


“New York City is a collection of islands, and there is no greater challenge we collectively face than the increasingly alarming effects of climate change. Only through open communication, thoughtful planning and aggressive action can we overcome these challenges, building a more sustainable and resilient city for all New Yorkers. We are proud of our continued partnership helping to create this first-of-its-kind environmental justice report, which once finished, will lay the groundwork for how our city tackles this issue moving forward,” said DOB Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.


"Environmental justice advances health equity, which is a core priority for the Health Department," said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. "More hot summer days and poor air quality from wildfires on the other side of the country show how dire the stakes are. We urge New Yorkers – especially those living in communities most affected – to help guide future environment justice priorities.”


“Our parks and greenspaces are essential in addressing the impacts of climate change, and environmental justice must be at the forefront when we design, plan, and care for them,” said NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Margaret Nelson. “We are proud to have served as part of the working group that prepared this community-informed draft scope, and we thank Mayor de Blasio, the Office of Climate and Sustainability, and the Advisory Board for continuing to advance this important study.”


“New York City has a deep commitment to environmental justice – righting the wrongs of the past that have led to disparate health outcomes in communities across the city – and DSNY is proud to be a part of that work. We look forward to hearing from the public and working with the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability to implement environmental justice measures going forward,” said Edward Grayson, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation.


“This robust public process provides an important opportunity for New Yorkers to shape the City’s plans to put environmental justice front and center in support of the frontline communities most burden by environmental hazards,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll.  “As described in the City’s Where We Live fair housing plan, the legacy of housing crimination and environmental justice are deeply intertwined and have real ramifications for how we serve neighborhoods. We are excited to hear from the public on the issues outlined in the Environmental Justice for All Report, and to take that feedback into account as we push forward with our housing work. I want to thank the Advisory Board and the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability for leading this effort.”  


“NYCHA is fully invested in being an important part of this interagency effort to comprehensively analyze the environmental and climate issues affecting our residents and the city at-large,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ. “We want to thank the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability for spearheading this initiative and look forward to the insights that result from this engagement process.”


“Climate change is happening now—and its impacts are not distributed equally. In many cases, low-income communities and communities of color face the highest risks from flooding and extreme heat,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency. “This public process will ensure that the voices of New York City’s frontline communities are heard as we continue to plan new climate resiliency projects across the five boroughs.”  


“We look forward to learning more about the concerns of residents of the City’s environmental justice neighborhoods,” said Mark McIntyre, Director of the Mayor's Office of Environmental Remediation. “We are eager to help them share in environmental benefits such as free soil distribution to community gardens through the NYC Clean Soil Bank.”


"This is such an important moment in the work to make New York City a more environmentally just City," said Kate MacKenzie, Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Food Policy.  "Getting to solutions requires a truly inclusive process and this public comment enables that.  I know that food has come up again and again as a major issue of intersection with environmental justice and I am committed to working with food stakeholders in particular to make sure they are participating in this process."


"The New York Civic Engagement Commission is proud to support the work of the NYC Environmental Justice Advisory Board as they move towards developing an accountability framework which truly centers ‘recovery for all.’ It is vital that New Yorkers get engaged and contribute their voices and opinions during this public comment period, whether remotely or in person, including at The People’s Festival. We can only have a sustainable future by actively listening to each other and working together."