Saturday, January 29, 2022

American Woman Who Led ISIS Battalion Charged with Providing Material Support to a Terrorist Organization


 A criminal complaint filed in 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which is now unsealedalleges that Allison Fluke-Ekren, a United States citizen, organized and led an all-female military battalion on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and charges Fluke-Ekren with providing and conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Fluke-Ekren was previously apprehended in Syria and transferred into the custody of the FBI yesterday, at which point she was first brought to the Eastern District of Virginia. She is expected to have her initial appearance at the federal courthouse in Alexandria on Monday at 2:00 p.m.

As alleged in the criminal complaint, Allison Elizabeth Fluke-Ekren, aka “Allison Elizabeth Brooks,” aka “Allison Ekren,” aka “Umm Mohammed al-Amriki,” aka “Umm Mohammed,” and aka “Umm Jabril,” 42, a former resident of Kansas, traveled to Syria several years ago for the purpose of committing or supporting terrorism. Since her departure from the United States, Fluke-Ekren has allegedly been involved with a number of terrorism-related activities on behalf of ISIS from at least 2014. These activities allegedly include, but are not limited to, planning and recruiting operatives for a potential future attack on a college campus inside the United States and serving as the appointed leader and organizer of an ISIS military battalion, known as the Khatiba Nusaybah, in order to train women on the use of automatic firing AK-47 assault rifles, grenades, and suicide belts. Additionally, Fluke-Ekren allegedly provided ISIS and ISIS members with services, which included providing lodging, translating speeches made by ISIS leaders, training children on the use of AK-47 assault rifles and suicide belts, and teaching extremist ISIS doctrine.

The complaint details the eyewitness observations of six separate individuals who collectively observed Fluke-Ekren’s alleged terrorist conduct from at least 2014 through approximately 2017. For example, Fluke-Ekren allegedly told a witness about her desire to conduct an attack in the United States. To conduct the attack, Fluke-Ekren allegedly explained that she could go to a shopping mall in the United States, park a vehicle full of explosives in the basement or parking garage level of the structure, and detonate the explosives in the vehicle with a cell phone triggering device. Fluke-Ekren allegedly considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources. As alleged by the same witness, Fluke-Ekren would hear about external attacks taking place in countries outside the United States and would comment that she wished the attack occurred on United States soil instead.

The complaint further describes Fluke-Ekren’s alleged leadership role in the Khatiba Nusaybah. According to a witness, in or about late 2016, the “Wali” (or ISIS-appointed mayor) of Raqqa, Syria, allegedly permitted the opening of the “Khatiba Nusaybah,” which was a military battalion comprised solely of female ISIS members who were married to male ISIS fighters. Shortly thereafter, Fluke-Ekren allegedly became the leader and organizer of the battalion. Fluke-Ekren’s alleged main objective in this role was to teach the women of ISIS how to defend themselves against ISIS’ enemies. According to another witness, ISIS allegedly mandated women who were staying in Raqqa during the 2017 siege to attend the training. The siege was launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against ISIS with an aim to seize Raqqa, the former de facto capital of ISIS in Syria. The battle began on or about June 6, 2017 and concluded on or about October 17, 2017, at which point the SDF regained controlled of Raqqa. 

The members of Khatiba Nusaybah were allegedly instructed on physical training, medical training, Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) driving courses, religious classes, and how to pack and prep a “go bag” with rifles and other military supplies. According to eyewitness accounts, some of these classes were allegedly taught by Fluke-Ekren. One witness in particular allegedly observed that the leaders of ISIS and the other members of the military battalion were proud to have an American instructor. Fluke-Ekren also allegedly trained children on the use of automatic firing AK-47 assault rifles, grenades, and suicide belts.

U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia; Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Fluke-Ekren is charged with providing and conspiring to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed one or more crimes. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Two Members Of The Mount Vernon Goonies Street Gang Sentenced For Participating In The Murder Of Dean Daniels


 Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that RAHEEM JONES, a/k/a “Trigga,” was sentenced to 25 years in prison for participating in the 2014 murder of Dean Daniels and his participation multiple other shootings in furtherance of the gang.  In November 2021, co-defendant MARKEL OVERTON, a/k/a “Kellz,”was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his participation in the Daniels murder and other violent affairs of the Goonies gang.   

According to allegations in the Indictment and other documents filed in federal court, as well as statements made in public court proceedings: 

Between 2007 and 2017, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, JONES and OVERTON were members of a racketeering enterprise known as the “Goonies.”  In order to fund the enterprise, protect and expand its interests, and promote its standing, members and associates of the Goonies committed, conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder and robbery; they conspired to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute narcotics; and they obtained, possessed, and used firearms, including by brandishing and firing them.  Both JONES and OVERTON held senior status in the Goonies gang.

In the afternoon of September 22, 2014, OVERTON and JONES accompanied two Goonies associates to retaliate against Dean Daniels for robbing one of the Goonies associates of his car.  When they spotted Daniels, OVERTON and JONES waited in the car while the two Goonies associates left the vehicle with a gun to confront Daniels.  The Goonies associates shot Daniels twice in the vicinity of Park Avenue in Mount Vernon, New York before running back to the vehicle to flee the scene.  Daniels died as a result of the gunshot wounds.

JONES, 33, pled guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of using a firearm in connection with an assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, whichcarried a maximum penalty of life in prison, and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.

OVERTON, 32, pled guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy, which carried a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Mount Vernon Police Department and the FBI’s Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force, which comprises agents and detectives from the FBI, Yonkers Police Department, Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, Westchester County Police Department, Peekskill Police Department, Mount Vernon Police Department, New York City Police Department, and U.S. Probation. 

Senator Biaggi's Week in Review: 1/24/22-1/28/22


Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Dear Community,

Given the recent headlines regarding the New York Department of Health’s mask mandate, I want to clear up any confusion you may have and provide the latest updates on the matter. On Monday, January 24th, Justice Thomas Rademaker of the Nassau County Supreme Court judge issued an order striking down the mask mandate, ruling that the mandate was unconstitutional and in violation of the State Administrative Procedure Act. However, New York Attorney General Letitia James appealed to the Second Department and requested a stay of the decision.

The following day, on January 25th, Justice Robert Miller of the Second Department issued a temporary stay of the Supreme Court decision. He also ordered further briefing by Friday, January 28th. As a result of this, Tuesday’s decision unequivocally reinstates the mask mandate statewide, not only in schools but also in all contexts to which the regulation previously applied. This stay will remain in effect at least until the court hears further argument later this week. 

Although the future of the mask mandate remains uncertain at this time, I strongly encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask indoors and around others. Getting boosted, vaccinated, and wearing masks remain your strongest protections against COVID-19 at this time, and it is imperative that we continue to practice these habits to limit the spread of COVID-19. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the mask mandate, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. 

I also want to remind you all to stay safe this weekend, as a powerful winter storm is expected to impact the New York City region with heavy snow and strong winds Friday night into Saturday evening. Please limit travel and exercise caution during this time. For the latest updates about weather and travel conditions, sign up for Notify NYC alerts here or call 311. The NYC Emergency Management website also offers resources for winter storms that I highly recommend you review. Hope everyone stays safe and warm this weekend! 

With Gratitude,

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating Covid-19 - JANUARY 29, 2022

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

Statewide New Cases Declined by 50% Over Past Week

Statewide Hospitalizations Dropped By More Than 500 Over Past 24 hours    

125 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday

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

"We're getting through this winter surge and we know what to do. We know how to handle this. No one is more resilient anywhere in this country than New Yorkers," Governor Hochul said. "So let's use to the tools - vaccines, boosters and masks - let's be safe, and we'll get through this together as we always have."  

Today's data is summarized briefly below:     

  • Test Results Reported - 215,254
  • Total Positive - 12,332
  • Percent Positive - 5.73%   
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 7.30% 
  • Patient Hospitalization - 7,675 (-506)   
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 863
  • Patients in ICU - 1,186 (-63) 
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation - 715 (-26)   
  • Total Discharges - 270,856 (+1152) 
  • New deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 125
  • Total deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 52,748

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

  • Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC - 65,427

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

  • Total vaccine doses administered - 35,831,901
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 72,779
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 421,998
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 90.8% 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 82.0%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 95.0%     
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 84.5%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 80.1%     
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 71.8%     
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 87.4%     
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 74.0%    

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander Lays Out New Administration’s Roadmap


“Accounting Together for a More Thriving, Equitable, and Resilient City”
Highlights the Comptroller’s Strategic Priorities For First 100 Days and Beyond

 New York City Comptroller Brad Lander and his Transition Committee unveiled a transition report titled “Accounting Together for a More Thriving, Equitable, and Resilient City,” which articulates his vision and priorities for carrying forward the work of the office.  The report, which comes at the close of the new Comptroller’s first month in office, lays out a mission statement, values, and strategic initiatives—including a path towards an inclusive economic recovery, equity and justice, and climate resiliency.

“It is a privilege to work alongside the dedicated staff of this office to serve the people of New York in this time of tremendous challenges and opportunities for our city,” said NYC Comptroller Brad Lander. “This report is a strong roadmap for the work ahead of us, in partnership with New Yorkers, to build a just and durable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, better hold New York City’s government accountable to its promises, mitigate the risks we face, and invest in the more equitable, resilient, and innovative future we and future generations deserve.”

The transition report was introduced with a letter from Transition Committee Co-Chairs Carol Kellerman, former President of the Citizen Budget Commission, and Mark Winston Griffith, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center.

“Comptroller Brad Lander and the transition committee share a commitment to making government work better for people and a deep belief in the important role the Comptroller’s office can and should play in realizing this aim,” said Carol Kellerman. “We are confident that the Comptroller’s office, under Lander’s leadership and with the input of fellow New Yorkers, will leverage all of the available resources and tools to support an economic recovery that does not leave anyone behind while keeping the City on solid fiscal ground.”

“New Yorkers need a bold, active government to confront our biggest challenges, from affordability to safety to public health to the climate crisis. But that is only possible, and the people will only support it, when they see government delivering effectively on its promises. Comptroller Lander has made that a priority during his time in public service, and has laid a strong foundation for the work of the office in the first hundred days and beyond,” said Mark Winston Griffith. 

The New York City Charter assigns responsibility to the Comptroller’s office for an extraordinary range of work: conducting audits that help municipal agencies better serve the needs of all New Yorkers, telling the truth about the City’s finances and fiscal health, guaranteeing retirement security for public sector workers, issuing the bonds to finance NYC’s infrastructure, enforcing prevailing and living wage laws, resolving claims against the City, and many more critical functions. The transition process articulated a shared mission for the wide-ranging work of the office, and set forth three strategic priorities for Comptroller Lander’s tenure: creating an inclusive recovery, advancing equity and justice, and confronting the climate crisis with bold and sustained action.

The report also details plans to strengthen and reinforce the core duties of the office, including:

  • Deploying  better use of data analytics, increased transparency internally and externally, and innovative strategies for public engagement to analyze and improve how government delivers services.
  • Conducting equity and sustainability-focused audits to identify and make recommendations to reduce disparities across race, gender and ethnicity citywide, and to support and monitor City agencies’ efforts to combat and prepare for climate change.
  • Building a strong team and process for responsible fiduciary investing that takes a strategic and integrated approach to maximizing risk-adjusted market returns, determining and adjusting asset allocations, minimizing fees to outside investment managers, and investing for the long-term, while remaining attentive to the fund-level and systemic risks posed by dangers including climate change and inequality.
  • Improving and advancing procurement reform to deliver timely government services by ensuring timely contract registration and prompt payments to responsible contractors, and oversight to prevent abuses.
  • Overhauling the City’s capital project management systems to support greater public transparency, better prioritize infrastructure dollars to address NYC’s most critical needs and prepare the City for the risks ahead.

The full transition report is available here.

U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition Of Australian Tech Entrepreneur In Multimillion-Dollar Text-Messaging Consumer Fraud Scheme


Indictment Alleges Scheme to Fraudulently Charge Hundreds of Thousands of Mobile Phone Customers for Text-Messaging Services Without Their Knowledge or Consent

 Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joleen D. Simpson, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Boston Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that EUGENI TSVETNENKO, a/k/a “Zhenya,” a dual citizen of Australia and Russia, was extradited from Australia and arrived in the United States this morning.  TSVETNENKO was extradited on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, stemming from the defendant’s alleged participation in a scheme to charge mobile phone customers millions of dollars in monthly fees for unsolicited, recurring text messages about topics such as horoscopes, celebrity gossip, and trivia facts, without the customers’ knowledge or consent—a practice referred to as “auto-subscribing.”  The portion of the fraudulent scheme that TSVETNENKO and his co-conspirators orchestrated defrauded mobile phone users of approximately $41,389,725, and netted TSVETNENKO and his co-conspirators more than $20 million in proceeds.  TSVETNENKO will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Eugeni Tsvetnenko is alleged to have surreptitiously subscribed hundreds of thousands of cell phone users to a $9.99 per-month charge for recurring text messages they did not approve or want. As a result of their auto-subscribing scheme, Tsvetnenko and his co-conspirators are alleged to have silently drained over $41 million in illegal proceeds from their unknowing victims. Thanks to the continued efforts and coordination with our Australian law enforcement counterparts, Tsvetnenko, an Australian national, has now been extradited to the U.S. to answer the call of American justice.”

IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Joleen D. Simpson said: “Today's extradition is clear proof that Mr. Tsvetnenko's vast fortune and residence on another continent did little to shield him from answering the charges brought against him by American authorities. The defendants in this case have learned the hard way that the reach of Federal law enforcement extends far beyond the borders of the United States.” 

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said: “Tsvetnenko and his co-conspirators concocted a scheme that turned thousands of mobile phone customers into unwitting subscription service participants, as alleged. These customers incurred monthly charges for services they never subscribed to and, in many cases, disregarded as spam until the charges turned up on their monthly statements. Ultimately, as we allege, the defendants were able to steal more than $40 million and realize more than $20 million in profits. Today's case is a reminder for all of us to maintain awareness of the charges we incur on our financial statements. No matter how insignificant a fraudulent charge may seem, the bigger picture often tells a different story.”

According to allegations in the Superseding Indictment against TSVETNENKO, evidence presented at the trial of co-conspirators Darcy Wedd (Wedd) and Fraser Thompson (Thompson), and other public filings:

From at least in or about 2012 through in or about 2013, TSVETNENKO, Wedd, Thompson, and others engaged in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud consumers by placing unauthorized charges for premium text messaging services on consumers’ cellular phone bills through a practice known as auto-subscribing.  TSVETNENKO owned and operated several content provider companies and mobile industry companies in Australia that, among other things, created and sold premium text messaging content to consumers.  Wedd operated Mobile Messenger, a U.S. aggregation company in the mobile phone industry that served as a middleman between content providers (such as some of TSVETNENKO’s companies) and mobile phone carriers.  Mobile Messenger was responsible for assembling monthly charges incurred by a particular mobile phone customer for premium text-messaging services and placing those charges on that customer’s cellular phone bill.     

Beginning in or about early 2012, Wedd, Thompson, who was the Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations for Mobile Messenger, and two other senior executives of Mobile Messenger (CC-3 and CC-4) recruited TSVETNENKO to their auto-subscribing scheme to increase revenues at Mobile Messenger.  TSVETNENKO agreed and established two new content providers based in Australia, CF Enterprises and DigiMobi, to auto-subscribe on Mobile

Messenger’s aggregation platform.  CC-3 furnished lists of phone numbers to TSVETNENKO, along with an auto-subscribing  “playbook,” which provided TSVETNENKO with guidance on how to auto-subscribe without being caught.  The “playbook” described how to conceal the fraud scheme by making it appear as if the customers had, in fact, elected to purchase the text-messaging services, when in truth they had not.

The consumers who received the unsolicited text messages typically ignored or deleted the messages, often believing them to be spam.  Regardless, the consumers were billed for the receipt of the messages, at a rate of $9.99 per month, through charges that typically appeared on the consumers’ cellular telephone bills in an abbreviated and confusing form, such as with nonsensical billing descriptors that often consisted of random letter and numbers.  The $9.99 charges recurred each month unless and until consumers noticed the charges and took action to unsubscribe.  Even then, consumers’ attempts to dispute the charges and obtain refunds from CF Enterprises or DigiMobi were often unsuccessful.  Wedd, to whom CC-3, CC-4, and Thompson all reported, oversaw the scheme at Mobile Messenger.

TSVETNENKO, with the assistance of Wedd, Thompson, CC-3, and CC-4, started

auto-subscribing consumers in approximately April of 2012.  TSVETNENKO’s auto-subscribing

activities, which continued into 2013, victimized hundreds of thousands of mobile phone customers, who were auto-subscribed through Mobile Messenger and charged a total of approximately $41,389,725 for unwanted text messaging services.  Wedd, Thompson, CC-3, and CC-4 agreed that TSVETNENKO would keep approximately 70% of the auto-subscribing proceeds generated by CF Enterprises and DigiMobi, and that the remaining 30% of the auto-subscribing proceeds would be divided evenly among Wedd, Thompson, CC-3, and CC-4.

After obtaining proceeds of the fraud scheme, TSVETNENKO worked with other co-conspirators to launder the proceeds.  TSVETNENKO and his co-conspirators distributed the proceeds of the fraud scheme among themselves and others involved in the scheme by, among other things, causing funds to be transferred through the bank accounts of a series of shell companies and companies held in the names of third parties.  This was done to conceal the nature and source of the payments and TSVETNENKO and his co-conspirators’ participation in the fraud.

Through their successful orchestration of this fraud scheme, TSVETNENKO and his co-conspirators generated more than $20 million in fraud proceeds for themselves.  TSVETNENKO personally retained approximately $15.4 million in fraud proceeds for his role in the scheme.

TSVETNENKO 41, of Perth, Australia, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; one count of wire fraud, which also carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the IRS-CI and the FBI.  In addition, Mr. Williams thanked law enforcement partners in Australia, especially the Australian Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Federal Police, well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, for their significant support and assistance with the defendant’s extradition. 

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

Sunday, January 30: Catholic Charities of New York, in partnership with NYC Test & Trace Corps, to Host Three Vaccination Events in the Bronx at Sacred Heart and other locations


On Sunday, January 30th, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, in partnership with NYC Test & Trace Corps, will be distributing doses of the Pfizer vaccine to individuals over the age of 12 at several locations in the Bronx, as well as rapid and PCR testing for adults.

Since February 2021, Catholic Charities has administered over 3,000 vaccination doses to members of at-risk or marginalized communities in the New York metropolitan area. This includes a targeted focus on neighborhoods with low vaccination rates in the South Bronx such as Soundview and Claremont. 


Sacred Heart  1253 Shakespeare Avenue Bronx, New York 10452              

St. Thomas Aquinas (1900 Crotona Parkway, Bronx, New York 10460         

St. John Chrystosom (978 East 167th Street Bronx, New York 10459 

Vaccine distribution and Rapid/PCR testing will be available at all three sites from 8 AM - 6 PM (or until supplies last). 

Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers as Heavy Snow and Strong Winds Continue to Impact Downstate Regions Today

 State of Emergency Continues for Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties; Blizzard Warning in Effect for Suffolk County

Heavy Snow Expected to Continue Through Today for Long Island, New York City and Mid-Hudson Regions with Accumulations of Up to 12 Inches Possible in NYC and Up to 24 Inches Possible on Long Island

Governor Hochul Cautions New Yorkers to Stay Off Roads to Allow Emergency Response Crews to Work Safely

Long Island Rail Road Service Suspended on All Branches; Speed Reductions and Truck Restrictions in Place for Long Island Expressway and Parkways

 Governor Kathy Hochul today updated New Yorkers on the winter storm currently impacting downstate with heavy snow and strong winds. Governor Hochul declared a State of Emergency on Friday, January 28, due to the arrival of a coastal storm forecasted to bring heavy snow and gusty winds to parts of Long Island, New York City, and the lower Hudson Valley. 

Some areas in Long Island have already experienced snowfall rates of two inches per hour, with rates continuing or increasing in intensity through late this afternoon. Winds gusting up to 60 mph at times coupled with heavy snowfall will impact travel in these locations and could potentially cause power outages. Governor Hochul advised New Yorkers in impacted locations to stay home and avoid traveling, unless necessary.

"So far, we're seeing exactly what the forecast predicted — a lot of snow in a short period of time and gusty winds that will make it difficult to travel throughout the rest of the day, especially on Long Island," Governor Hochul said. "State emergency responders are already deployed to areas where the heaviest snow is expected, and they are ready to assist local emergency response efforts. The most dangerous phase of the storm is now, so please continue to avoid any unnecessary travel while our crews are working to clear the roads. Remember to keep a close eye on your local forecasts for the latest updates, and check in on your loved ones and neighbors to make sure everyone is safe."

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "We are still anticipating major snowfall today in parts of Long Island and New York City, so it is imperative to stay home and let emergency responders do what they need to do to keep us all safe. Blizzard-like conditions will persist throughout the day, so dress in layers and limit your exposure if you have to venture out."

A Blizzard Warning is in effect for Suffolk County and a Winter Storm Warning is currently in effect for Nassau County, New York City, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester areas.  For a complete listing of weather advisories in your area, visit the National Weather Service website.

Safety Tips

Winter Travel

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.

Before getting behind the wheel, make sure that your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert and remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 mph, which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.

Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
  • Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
  • Make sure your car is stocked with blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick-energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • Keep your gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up.
  • If you have a cell phone or two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and keep it with you whenever traveling. If you should become stranded, you will be able to call for help, advising rescuers of your location.
  • Make sure someone knows your travel plans.
  • While driving, keep vehicles clear of ice and snow.
  • Plan stops and keep distance between cars. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

Power Outage

If experiencing a power outage, New Yorkers should:

  • Turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment, e.g., computers, in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices. Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns. Consider using surge protectors wherever you use electronic equipment.
  • Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities, visit the State Department of Public Service.  
  • Check to see if your neighbors have power. Check on people with access or functional needs.
  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting - candles pose the risk of fire.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed - most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four (4) hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat - they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide. 
  • In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors. Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear. 
  • If you are in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building. If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance. Do not attempt to force the doors open. Remain patient - there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.
  • Remember to provide fresh, cool water for your pets.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions. If you must drive during a blackout, remember to obey the 4-way stop rule at intersections with non-functioning traffic signals.
  • Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not be working.

For more safety tips, visit the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Safety Tips web page.

Bronx Chamber of Commerce - Bronx Business News You Can Use


Legislative Updates, New Grants, Events and Much More
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Click here for this week's Friday Extra, brought to you by Sara.

This week's topics: 

  • Event Highlights: Women of Distinction & New Member Breakfasts
  • Bronx Chamber Foundation efforts
  • Legislative updates

and more!
NYS Secure Choice Savings Program
On January 26, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the convening of the New York Secure Choice Savings Program Board, of which Bronx Chamber President Lisa Sorin is a proud member.

This is the first phase in establishing a secure retirement savings plan for employees in New York's private-sector. Governor Hochul signed legislation last fall to ensure that the Secure Choice Savings Program, which was originally enacted in 2018, is self-sufficient and accessible to workers who do not have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.
"The New York Secure Choice Savings Program ensures private sector employees can save for retirement in a convenient, low-cost manner," Governor Hochul said. "My administration is committed to the financial stability and success of all New Yorkers, and guaranteeing they have a reliable retirement plan is a large part of that mission."

NYC Hospitality Alliance Industry Alert
On Monday, January 24 a New York City law took effect requiring food service establishments to provide “toilet facility” access to food delivery workers who work for third-party delivery companies. 
· The term “toilet facility” means a toilet facility on the premises of a food service establishment that is a dedicated facility for its patrons or that is a dedicated facility for its employees to the extent such establishment does not have a dedicated facility for its patrons.
· The only exception to this requirement is where accessing the toilet facility would require a food delivery worker to walk through such establishment’s kitchen, food preparation or storage area or utensil washing area to access such facility OR where accessing the toilet facility would create an obvious health and safety risk to the food delivery worker or to the establishment.
Click this link to read the bill.
Save the Date: Women of Distinction
Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope

Friday, March 25, 2022
11:30am - 2:00 pm
Villa Barone Manor (in-person event)

With MC Juliet Papa, 1010 WINS Radio

Sponsorships Available: Please contact
Replay of Bronx NYS Executive Budget Presentation

Missed the Bronx NYS Executive Budget Presentation
on January 27?

The Bronx Chamber and Third Avenue BID thank Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin for delivering Gov. Kathy Hochul's Executive Budget Presentation to our constituents. Special thanks to our Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson for her meaningful & unified message of "we are in this together" as we work to implement an equitable budget for NYS.

Your Feedback Is Requested
Chamber Community, we want to hear from you!
(These surveys are open to members and non-members alike)

General Chamber Survey
We are hard at work on our calendar of events, and making important changes to our internal processes in order to better serve our members and the Bronx business community at large - please click HERE to fill out our survey and provide your input on our programs, services, and events.

Mott Haven Consumer Survey
Through our Avenue NYC grant, the Bronx Chamber is doing a lot of work in the Mott Haven area of the South Bronx and we want to know what local area consumers think. Those who complete this quick survey will be entered to win a DoorDash Giftcard.

Women of Color Grant Program
  • Fearless Fund and The Tory Burch Foundation are partnering again to launch the Women of Color Grant Program along with The Cru
  • Together, they will award up to 150 deserving small businesses $10,000- $20,000.
  • Businesses will need to complete the entry form by February 9, 2022, for a chance to be selected for a grant and awarded an annual membership to The Cru
  • See Official Rules for full details, including entry qualification details and expectations if selected for the program
The Program
  • Receive $10,000- $20,000 in grants towards business growth
  • Participate in monthly meetings with a curated Cru of fellow grant recipients between April 2022 and April 2023

*Applications Close 2/9/2022*
NYC Free Tax Prep
Changes to tax credits mean more money for New Yorkers when they file
Earned Income Tax Credit. Child Tax Credit. Child and Dependent Care Credit. Claiming even one could return thousands of dollars to families and individuals in 2022.
NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) is coordinating the City’s Annual Tax Season to help eligible New Yorkers use NYC Free Tax Prep to file for free and keep their whole refund.

For more information about NYC Free Tax Prep services and eligibility for tax credits, visit

Chamber in the Community
Using funds donated by our business community members, The Bronx Chamber and our 501c3 Foundation is continuing to reach out to those affected in the January 9 Twin Parks apartment fire to identify and respond to needs, with a focus on post-relocation assistance to help families furnish and settle into their new homes.

Click here for a Resource Guide created by the Foundation Board with contact information of other organizations who can assist those impacted.
On Thursday 1/27, Chamber President Lisa Sorin participated in the NYS Latina Mentorship Initiative, which is supported by the office of Governor Kathy Hochul.
Chamber in the News

Click here to read what Bronx Chamber President Lisa Sorin had to say in a recent Crains NY article, State small-business relief program can’t spend its money

Tech Talent Pipleline: Jr. Software Engineering Showcase

Date/Time: February 3, 2022 from 2:00pm-3:00pm

Looking for software engineers for your company’s summer internship program? The Tech Talent Pipeline Residency (TTPR) is a city-funded, paid internship program that connects high-achieving CUNY Computer Science students to businesses looking to host technical interns over the summer. Join us to learn more! Can’t make it on Feb. 3rd? Fill out this form to speak with a representative from the Tech Talent Pipeline.