Tuesday, May 22, 2018

U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Additional Members Of The “Harlem Mafia Rollin’ 30s” Crips, Including “Big Homie” Randy Torres

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James P. O’Neill, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York City, announced the unsealing of a Superseding Indictment charging five additional defendants, including a leader of the Rollin’ 30s Crips, RANDY TORRES, a/k/a “Rico,” with racketeering and narcotics charges as a result of their membership in the violent Crips street gang.  TORRES, together with CHARLES VENTURA, a/k/a “Gutta,” DERRICK RICHARDSON, a/k/a “J Rock,” EARL BANKS, a/k/a “EJ,” and former Armed Services Member EMIL MATUTE, a/k/a “Silly,” join other members of the Rollin’ 30s who were previously charged with racketeering, firearms, and narcotics-related offenses, including WALSTON OWEN, a/k/a “Purpose,” RICHARD FELIZ, a/k/a “Dirt,” SHAQUILLE BAILEY, a/k/a “Shaq,” a/k/a “Jefe,” and MIGUEL CABA, a/k/a “Miggs.”

The Superseding Indictment charges FELIZ for the March 26, 2015, murder of Victor Chafla, an innocent bystander.  OWEN, FELIZ, BAILEY, CABA, VENTURA, and RICHARDSON are already in federal custody.  BANKS and MATUTE were arrested earlier today, and will be presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine H. Parker.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero.  TORRES remains at large.  
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, these defendants are members of a street gang that has engaged in drug trafficking, robbery, murder, and other acts of violence.  The indictment unsealed today alleges that Richard Feliz murdered innocent bystander Victor Chafla in a botched attempt to kill a rival gang member.  Gang violence is a threat to the safety and security of our neighborhoods, and we will continue to work to end it.”
NYPD Commissioner O’Neill said:  “The high level of collaboration employed by the NYPD and our federal partners increasingly results in appropriate, meaningful prison sentences for those convicted of engaging in these types of illegal enterprises and street violence.  I commend all of the detectives and investigators involved, and the U.S. Attorney for leveling these additional charges today.”
HSI Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “The charges against these men span from racketeering to murder; from firearms to narcotics-related offenses.  These members of the violent Crips street gang allegedly did whatever it took to fund their criminal enterprise and protect their interest.  But it is in the interest of HSI and its law enforcements partners, like the NYPD, to ‘close up shop’ on these alleged criminal operations by arresting the operators and bringing them to justice.”
According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment[1] and other documents in the public record, and statements made in court:
From at least in or about 2013 up to and including in or about 2017, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, RANDY TORRES, a/k/a “Rico,” WALSTON OWEN, a/k/a “Purpose,” RICHARD FELIZ, a/k/a “Dirt,” SHAQUILLE BAILEY, a/k/a “Shaq,” a/k/a “Jefe,” MIGUEL CABA, a/k/a “Miggs,” CHARLES VENTURA, a/k/a “Gutta,” DERRICK RICHARDSON, a/k/a “J Rock,” EARL BANKS, a/k/a “EJ,” and EMIL MATUTE, a/k/ “Silly,” were members or associates of a racketeering enterprise known as the “Rollin’ 30s,” also known as the “Harlem Mafia,” or “Dirt Gang.”  In order to fund the enterprise, protect and expand its interests, and promote its standing, members and associates of the Rollin’ 30s committed, conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, and robbery; and they conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics.
During a dispute with a member of an opposing crew, on March 26, 2015, FELIZ fired a gun in an attempt to kill that individual.  FELIZ instead hit an innocent father, Victor Chafla, in the head, while Chafla was standing outside the store where he worked stocking fruits and vegetables. Chafla died from his wounds a few days later.
Count Charges Defendants Maximum Penalties
2 Conspiracy To Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering RICHARD FELIZ Life in prison
3 Murder in Aid of Racketeering RICHARD FELIZ Life in prison or death
4 Use of Firearms Resulting in Death RICHARD FELIZ Life in prison or death
5 Narcotics Conspiracy RANDY TORRES, WALSTON OWEN, RICHARD FELIZ, and SHAQUILLE BAILEY Life in prison   Mandatory minimum of ten years in prison
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by a judge
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the NYPD and HSI.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are 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 below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Statement By Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood Upon Appointment By The Legislature

“I want to thank the legislature for entrusting me with the privilege of serving as New York’s 66th Attorney General.
It is a tremendous honor and I pledge to serve the people of the Great State of New York with honesty, integrity, and all of the skills I have acquired during decades of public service.
During my 11 years with the Attorney General’s office, I have seen first-hand the extraordinary talent and dedication of the people of this office. More than 700 attorneys, and another 1,000 investigators, analysts, support staff, and other professionals, are working hard every day to bring justice to the people of New York.
In the past few weeks, they have once again demonstrated their professionalism by pursuing the vital work of the people – rooting out fraud, fighting the opioid epidemic, protecting the vulnerable, and defending and enforcing the laws of our state.
At this moment, when so many New Yorkers are fearful of the effects of overreaching and discriminatory federal policies on them and their families, the role of the New York Attorney General’s office is more important than ever.
I’ve served in many roles in government throughout my career. But I believe this job – at this moment in history – is the most important job I have ever had.
I look forward to continuing to lead our office’s work to bring justice to all New Yorkers, without fear or favor.”

Bronx Man Pleads Guilty To Facilitation Of Sex Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Firearms, And Identity Theft Charges

Kevin Pinnock Posted Advertisements Online for Women he Forced to Engage in Commercial Sex

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ashan M. Benedict, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), and Angel M. Melendez, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today that KEVIN PINNOCK, a/k/a “Kev Savage,” a/k/a “Sav,” pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts to using the internet to facilitate sex trafficking, possessing crack cocaine with intent to distribute, possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and possessing stolen identification documents.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Kevin Pinnock used violence and coercion to force women to engage in commercial sex for his own profit.  With Kevin Pinnock’s guilty plea today, we seek to deliver justice to victims of sex trafficking and other forms of commercial exploitation and to deter others from engaging in this profoundly harmful criminal conduct.  Protecting the public from sex trafficking crimes remains a top priority for us and our law enforcement partners.”
ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan M. Benedict said:  “Kevin Pinnock was allegedly involved in a multitude of criminal activities, which included using a firearm to protect his position on the street as a dealer in narcotics. Through the efforts of the Agents and Detectives of the ATF/ NYPD Joint Firearms Task Force (JFTF) working alongside Agents of HSI, Kevin Pinnock will be forced to contemplate his alleged crimes while serving a substantial sentence in prison. I would like to thank all of the law enforcement agencies that worked collaboratively to further this case.  I would also like to extend my gratitude to the United States Attorney’s Office for their work in prosecuting the case.”
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “This man admitted his guilt in forcing women to perform sexual acts by threatening violence and abuse.  Pinnock was in for making a profit any way he can, with his crimes becoming more brazen; from robbery and ID theft to drug dealing and sex trafficking.  The plea today is only the beginning for Pinnock, who will now need to face the consequences of this actions.”
According to the Complaint, Indictment, Superseding Indictment, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during PINNOCK’s plea proceedings:
In 2015 and 2016, PINNOCK posted online advertisements to solicit customers to engage in commercial sex with women PINNOCK forced into prostitution by violence, abuse, and coercion.  PINNOCK retained virtually all of the profits from his sex trafficking business. 
In at least November 2016, PINNOCK sold crack cocaine and possessed a loaded firearm, which had been stolen, in order to protect his drug dealing business.  He also possessed dozens of stolen identification cards – including driver’s licenses and Social Security cards – which he sold to other individuals who were engaged in identity theft and fraud.  Many of the identification cards had been obtained through the commission of robberies.
PINNOCK, 22, of the Bronx, New York, was arrested on January 5, 2017, in the Bronx, and has been in federal custody since.  PINNOCK pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison to be imposed consecutively to any other sentence and a maximum sentence of life in prison; possession with intent to use or transfer five or more identification documents or authentication features, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; aggravated identity theft, which requires a two-year prison term to be imposed consecutively to any other sentence; and use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
PINNOCK is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Batts on September 23, 2018.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the ATF and HSI, and thanked the United States Secret Service, the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, the New York City Police Department, and the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

A.G. Underwood And Acting Tax Commissioner Manion Announce Conviction Of “Taxi King” Evgeny Freidman For Stealing Nearly $5 Million In MTA Taxes

Freidman Withheld Nearly $5 Million In MTA Passenger Surcharges From The State Of New York
Freidman Pleads Guilty To Felony Tax Fraud And Must Pay Restitution and Judgments Totaling $5 Million For MTA Taxes Owed To New York State
  Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood and Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion announced today the guilty plea of Evgeny A. Freidman, 46, of New York, NY for failure to remit to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance $5 million in 50-cent MTA surcharges between 2012 and 2015. During this time period, Friedman — the CEO of Taxiclub Management Inc. — managed a fleet of over 800 medallion taxicabs out of locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Woodside, and Long Island City. Today, in Albany County Court, Freidman pleaded guilty to Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree and agreed to pay restitution and judgments totaling $5 million to New York State.
“Today, the ‘Taxi King’ admitted that he built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Underwood. “Freidman pocketed money that should have provided much-needed investment in our transit system – and he’ll now have to pay back every cent. Our office will continue to hold accountable those who cheat the system.”
This case was the result of a joint investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (“DTF”).  The Attorney General’s indictment, filed in Albany County Court in June 2017, charged Freidman, together with Taxiclub Management CFO Andreea Dumitru, with four counts of Criminal Tax Fraud in the First Degree and one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, all class B felonies. 
According to statements made by prosecutors and documents filed in court, Freidman’s TaxiclubManagement, Inc. oversaw the operation of four NYC taxicab medallion management agencies: 28th Street Management Inc. (located at 313 10th Ave., New York, NY); Downtown Taxi Management LLC (located at 330 Butler St., Brooklyn, NY); Tunnel Taxi Management LLC (located at 44-07 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, NY); and Woodside Management Inc. (located at 49-13 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, NY). 
Between at least January 2012 and December 2015, Freidman was also the beneficial and managing owner of over 120 companies, each of which held multiple taxicab medallions. Through these companies and the four managing agencies, Freidman served as both the licensed owner and managing agent of a fleet of over 260 medallion taxicabs. In addition to the hundreds of medallions he owned, Freidman’s managing agencies leased hundreds of additional medallions from other owners. Taxi Club Management Inc. and the four managing agencies controlled over 800 medallion taxicabs between 2012 and 2015. 
During this four-year period, these taxicabs provided millions of rides to millions of New York City passengers. The vast majority of those rides were subject to a 50-cent New York State Tax known as the “MTA Tax,” which was automatically collected from passengers as part of their fare. Instead of remitting that tax to the DTF as required by law, Freidman and Dumitru allegedly orchestrated a scheme to withhold that money by improperly filing returns, failing to file returns, failing to remit the tax on filed returns and by filing falsified returns which underreported the true number of taxable rides. Through this scheme, Freidman and Dumitru allegedly withheld nearly $5 million in taxes from the State of New York that had been collected from passengers.
Today, in Albany County Court before the Honorable Peter A. Lynch, Freidman pleaded guilty to one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree, in violation of Tax Law Section 1805, a class “C” felony. Pursuant to his guilty plea, Freidman admitted that from January 1, 2012 through February 4, 2016, he was the CEO of Taxi Club Management, and the managing member of 28th Street Management, Downtown Taxi Management, Tunnel Taxi Management, and Woodside Management. In that capacity, Freidman admitted that he received MTA surcharge taxes collected from taxicab customers in the City of New York on behalf of taxicab medallions he owned or managed, and intentionally failed to remit those moneys to the DTF. In particular, over the time-period of January 1, 2015 through February 4, 2016, Freidman received over $50,000 in MTA surcharge taxes collected from taxicab customers in the City of New York on behalf of taxicab medallions he owned or managed, and intentionally failed to remit those moneys to DTF. Friedman further admitted that knew that he was obligated to remit this money to DTF, and he willfully failed to remit the money with intent to defraud DTF.
As part of his guilty plea, within 30 days of his plea, Freidman must pay restitution in the amount of $500,000 to DTF. Additionally, on or before the date of his sentencing, he must pay an additional $500,000 restitution to DTF, execute a closing agreement with DTF to cover all MTA tax liabilities between January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2015, and enter a confession of judgment in an amount not to exceed four million dollars $4 million in favor of DTF. Freidman’s sentence will be adjourned to allow him to complete his restitution payments; if satisfies the terms of the agreement, he will be sentenced to 5 years’ probation.  
The Attorney General’s Taxpayer Protection Bureau is conducting an ongoing parallel civil investigation into Mr. Freidman’s conduct. Separately, the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau has investigated Freidman’s failure to properly pay drivers; those investigations resulted in a 2013 settlement for $1.2 million and a 2016 consent order in New York Supreme Court, requiring Freidman and four of his taxi medallion management agencies to pay over $275,000 in damages and fines and to hire an independent monitor to examine compliance with TLC driver-related rules.  
The Office of the Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Taxation and Financing’s Criminal Investigations Division for its invaluable assistance on this case.
The charges against Andreea Dumitru remain pending; the charges against Dumitru are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.  
The Attorney General’s investigation was conducted by Investigators Mark Terra, Anna Ospanova and Deputy Chief Antoine Karam. Forensic accounting was performed by Associate Forensic Auditor Meaghan Scotellaro. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Chief Auditor Edward J. Keegan.

Senator Rivera on the Appointment of Barbara Underwood as the Attorney General of New York State

"I am proud to join my colleagues in the legislature in appointing Barbara Underwood as the first woman to serve as Attorney General of New York State. Underwood brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to an office tasked with fighting to protect the rights of New Yorkers. At such a critical moment for New York State and the Office of the Attorney General, Underwood's extensive credentials and leadership experience will ensure stability and purposeful direction while New Yorkers elect the next Attorney General. It is my honor to congratulate Underwood on her appointment and I look forward to working with her as she represents the interests of all New Yorkers." 

Bronx Week Parade 2018 PHOTOS

  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and his co-host for the Bronx Week Parade Bronxnet television personality Ms. Rhina Valentin arrived before the parade began, so they warmed up the people arriving as to just what they would see. BP Diaz said "You will see Bronx Pride on display by residents of the Bronx." 

  The three Bronx Walk of Fame inductees for 2018 were Ms. Tarana Burke the founder of the "Me Too Move moment", Mr. Richard Martin Lloyd Walters, better known as Bronx Rap artist 'Slick Rick', and Ms. Maggie Siff of star 'Billions' on Showtime Network. Ms. Siff had to catch a flight and missed the Bronx Week parade across Mosholu Parkway. 

Above- Honorees Tarana Burke and Slick Rick as they arrive to the reviewing stage.
Below - The honorees with BP Diaz, co-host Valentin, and Councilman Andy King.

The Bronx Week Parade continued for over an hour as schools, community organizations, elected officials, and others marched across the parkway, with some school or community organizations showing off their talents for the Honorees, Borough President, audience, and other watching the parade. Photos are below, in no special order. You can click on a photo to make it larger.

Op-Ed Submission From CMs King, Diaz, Cabrera and Deutsch

Legalize To Our Demise
By Council Members Andy King, Fernando Cabrera, Ruben Diaz Sr. & Chaim Deutsch

As we talk about legalizing Cannabis in New York, let’s look back on our nation’s history and see the good of endorsing harmful substances.  We recognize that alcohol is legal, but let's face it - it isn't good for you.  Alcohol impairs judgement and making it easily available for adults means easily available for young people.  For decades, our nation has seen alcoholism ruin marriages, families and lives.  We've seen countless alcohol-related vehicular deaths and alcohol-related activities destroy healthy academic careers. 

Are we ready to have the conversation about the costs of legalizing another harmful substance?  Cannabis, or marijuana, shouldn't be consumed by any young person, but our conversation recently on legalization has involved young black and brown men being policed unfairly, and all we hear in the media is: let's legalize marijuana to end this unfair policing. 

Can't we separate these issues? Of course we can, because they are two separate issues.  Poor policing has nothing to do with using drugs.  If we want to deal with different policing strategies in communities of color and white communities, then that should be the conversation.  Legalizing marijuana does not address those policing strategies.  What it does is send a poor message to kids that smoking weed is OK.