Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nigerian Man Sentenced To 41 Months In Prison For Participating In Business Email Compromise Scams


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that DAVID CHUKWUNEKE ADINDU was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 41 months in prison for participating in a wire fraud conspiracy and identity theft conspiracy.  These charges stemmed from ADINDU’s participation in fraudulent business email compromise scams that targeted thousands of victims around the world, including the United States.  Collectively, the scams attempted to defraud victims of more than $25 million.  Today’s sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “As part of a business email compromise scam, David Chukwuneke Adindu tricked thousands of victims around the world into fraudulently wiring him over $25 million.  As Adindu learned today, building a business based on fraud can come with a steep price, and that is years in a federal prison.”
           
According to publicly filed court documents and statements made at public court proceedings:

Between 2014 and 2016, ADINDU participated in Business Email Compromise scams (“BEC scams”) targeting thousands of victims around the world, including in the United States.  As part of the BEC scams, emails were sent to employees of various companies directing that funds be transferred to specified bank accounts.  The emails purported to be from supervisors at those companies or third party vendors that did business with those companies.  The emails, however, were not legitimate.  Rather, they were either from email accounts with a domain name that was very similar to a legitimate domain name, or the metadata in the emails had been modified so that the emails appeared as if they were from legitimate email addresses.  After victims complied with the fraudulent wiring instructions, the transferred funds were quickly withdrawn or moved into different bank accounts.  In total, the BEC scams attempted to defraud over $25 million from victims.

ADINDU and others carried out BEC scams by exchanging information regarding: (1) bank accounts used for receiving funds from victims; (2) email accounts for communicating with victims; (3) scripts for requesting wire transfers from victims; and (4) lists of names and email addresses for contacting and impersonating potential victims.                

In addition to the prison term, ADINDU, 30, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Guangzhou, China, was ordered to pay over $1.4 million in restitution. 

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Mr. Kim also thanked the Yahoo! E-Crime Investigations Team, and noted that the investigation is continuing.
         

Former Chief Financial Officer Arrested And Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Defrauding Company Of Over $2 Million


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today that RANDY WANG was arrested this morning on wire fraud charges stemming from his scheme to defraud his former employer, a company based in Manhattan that manages a global airline alliance whose members consisted of approximately 13 international airlines and their affiliates (the “Company”), by incurring more than $2.2 million in unauthorized charges on the Company’s credit card account, and then making changes to the Company’s accounting system to evade detection. WANG was arrested this morning in Long Island City, New York, and was presented today before United States Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “As alleged, Randy Wang took advantage of his position at a major New York-based company to charge millions of dollars’ worth of non-business-related purchases on the company’s credit card.  Wang allegedly purchased hundreds of electronic devices, including cell phones, computers, and tablets, and then falsified paperwork to hide the transactions.  Wang allegedly tried to take his employer for a ride, but instead he may be facing a trip to prison.”

HSI Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “Using his position as business manager, Wang allegedly developed a scheme to defraud his employer of millions of dollars by means of unauthorized credit card purchases and altered accounting records.  Twenty-five years ago, HSI New York formed the El Dorado Task Force specifically to target all levels of financial crime, including wire fraud like today’s arrest.  With more than 30 local, state, and federal law enforcement partners under one roof, El Dorado continues to be a leader in financial fraud investigations, working together to bring these perpetrators to justice.”

According to the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:

During the relevant time period, WANG was employed as a business manager for the Company, and for approximately the last two months of the scheme, WANG also served as the Company’s interim chief financial officer.  From January 2016 through October 2017, WANG incurred more than $2.2 million of unauthorized charges on the Company’s credit card account by making hundreds of purchases at both online and brick-and-mortar retailers.  WANG’s purchases, which were entirely unrelated to his official duties and were not for the benefit of the Company, included approximately 443 laptop computers, 241 mobile electronic devices, 24 tablet computers, and numerous other electronics.  In order to evade detection of his criminal conduct, WANG made changes to the Company’s accounting records to disguise the nature of the credit card charges.


WANG, 33, of Long Island City, New York, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the court.

Mr. Kim praised the work of HSI and the El Dorado Task Force.  

The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described therein should be treated as an allegation.

FIFTEEN RIKERS ISLAND INMATES INDICTED IN BRUTAL GANG ASSAULT OF NYC DOC CAPTAIN ON THANKSGIVING DAY


Defendants Held Meeting To Plan Attack Captain Beaten In Retaliation For Disciplining Bloods Member

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that 15 Rikers Island inmates have been indicted in the assault of a New York City Department of Correction captain on Thanksgiving Day in an orchestrated, retaliatory attack. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “This case presents a chilling picture of the society of violence on Rikers Island, with gang members who think they control the jails. But they do not; the rule of law does. Defendant Jason Reid gathered several of the defendants and 90 minutes later, a coordinated attack was unleashed on Captain Awais Ghauri in a show of gang power. Three weeks earlier, the captain deployed pepper spray to defuse a tense situation after a fight between inmates, and Reid — a member of the Bloods — threatened to assault the captain if he sprayed.

 “These inmates are sorely mistaken if they think they can mete out punishment to correction staff who are doing their jobs. If you play any role in making Rikers Island unsafe, we will arrest you, prosecute you and urge consecutive sentences if you’re convicted.

 “I urge the Board of Correction to work with DOC to find a way to implement severe consequences for inmates who repeatedly assault other inmates and correction officers. They cannot continue to brutalize with impunity. The mindset must be changed because this violence must be prevented.”

 Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said, “Each of these inmates is accused of playing a part in the unprovoked assault of a Correction Captain on Thanksgiving Day, and they are all now facing charges that can lead to additional jail time. We will never tolerate any assault on our officers. As demonstrated by these indictments and arrests, anyone involved in such an assault will face consequences. We would like to thank our Correction Intelligence Bureau and the Bronx District Attorney’s office for expediting this case.”

 District Attorney Clark said 15 defendants are charged with first-degree Robbery, Attempted Gang Assault in the first-degree, second and third-degree Assault, second and third-degree Robbery, Attempted Robbery in the first, second and third-degree, first-degree Riot; defendants are variously charged with first and second-degree Promoting Prison Contraband, Unlawfully Possessing Noxious Material, fifth-degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, second-degree Obstructing Governmental Administration, Tampering with Physical Evidence and second-degree Harassment. If convicted of the top charge of first degree Robbery, the defendants face up to 25 years in prison.

 Seven of the defendants were arraigned on December 12, 2017 before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary and remanded. They are due back in court on March 14, 2018. Eight defendants were due to be arraigned on December 14, 2017.

 According to the investigation, on November 2, 2017, in the Otis Bantum Correctional Center (OBCC), Reid threatened to “cut” Captain Ghauri after the captain used his pepper spray to diffuse an inmate altercation. On November 23, 2017, Reid, 33, allegedly called a meeting with multiple inmates in Housing Area 3 North of OBCC.

 Surveillance video shows the defendants meeting at 12:15 p.m., and approximately 90 minutes later, surveillance video shows Reid leading the attack, striking Captain Ghauri from behind, knocking him to the floor and repeatedly punching him. When Captain Ghauri began to defend himself, defendants Maurice Hennegan and Lyemel Summerville allegedly joined in the assault, punching the Captain several times. He suffered multiple injuries including a laceration on his neck and multiple abrasions.

 According to the investigation, 14 defendants stole a canister of pepper spray from a Correction Officer, attempted to steal another officer’s canister, and acting in concert they stood watch and physically blocked and threatened other Correction Officers from aiding Captain Ghauri. A Correction Officer assigned to the housing area came to the aid of the Captain, and she fought off several inmates.

 Defendant Juan Dejesus who, on December 11, 2017, was sentenced to 15 years for a Bronx shooting/stabbing case, aided in the robbery of the pepper spray and the assault on the captain by raising a chair to menace correction personnel. He also helped to dispose of the cannister.

 A 16th defendant, Christian Martinez, who was locked in his cell during the assault, later took possession of the pepper spray can and disposed of it. The investigation is ongoing.

 District Attorney Clark thanked the Department of Correction Intelligence Bureau and Investigators Anthony Scoma and Scott Frank under the supervision of Captain Johannah Banks and Acting Deputy Commissioner Antonio Cruz for their assistance. She also thanked Bronx Supreme Court Administrative Justice Robert Torres for facilitating the arraignments.

 An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Defendants Jason Reid AKA Chuk, 33, Bronx - Lyemel Summerville, 19, Brooklyn - Maurice Hennegan, 24, Brooklyn - Jakwan Ramos AKA Floss, 21, Bronx - Juan DeJesus AKA J Dollar, 25, Bronx - Menelick McQuicken, 26, Brooklyn - Aphell James, 36, Queens - Laquan Russell, 25, Brooklyn - Pirterson Loiseau AKA Pistol, 21, Queens - Isreal Jimenez, 22, Brooklyn - Jonathan Scott, 25, Brooklyn - Kenneth Threatts AKA Bloody, 21, Virginia, - Nathaniel Williams, 29, Bronx - Sherwin Benn AKA GT, 34, Queens - Amara Toure, 22, Bronx - Christian Martinez, 29, Manhattan.

A.G. Schneiderman: I Will Sue To Stop Illegal Rollback Of Net Neutrality


A.G. Schneiderman Will Lead Multistate Lawsuit
AG’s Investigation into 2 Million Comments that Stole Real Americans’ Identities Also Continues  
  New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released the following statement upon the Federal Communications Commission’s vote, announcing that he will lead a multistate lawsuit to stop the rollback of net neutrality:
“The FCC’s vote to rip apart net neutrality is a blow to New York consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet. The FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over consumers. Today’s rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do, and what we say online. That’s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that’s made the Internet a valuable asset in our democratic process. 
Today’s new rule would enable ISPs to charge consumers more to access sites like Facebook and Twitter and give them the leverage to degrade high quality of video streaming until and unless somebody pays them more money. Even worse, today’s vote would enable ISPs to favor certain viewpoints over others.
New Yorkers deserve the right to a free and open Internet. That’s why we will sue to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality.
Today’s vote also follows a public comment process that was deeply corrupted, including two million comments that stole the identities of real people. This is a crime under New York law – and the FCC’s decision to go ahead with the vote makes a mockery of government integrity and rewards the very perpetrators who scammed the system to advance their own agenda. 
This is not just an attack on the future of our internet. It’s an attack on all New Yorkers, and on the integrity of every American's voice in government – and we will fight back.
For seven months, Attorney General Schneiderman has been investigating the flood of fake comments submitted during the net neutrality comment process. The Attorney General’s latest analysis shows that two million comments stole the identities of real Americans – including over 100,000 comments per state from New York, Florida, Texas, and California. Yet the FCC has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation, despite widespread evidence that the public comment process was corrupted.

A.G. Schneiderman Sues U.S. Department Of Education For Unlawful Collection Activity Targeting Defrauded Student Loan Borrowers


Multistate Lawsuit Also Alleges that Trump Administration Unlawfully Failed to Act on Loan Discharge Applications Submitted by Defrauded Students; Since July, Unreviewed Claims Ballooned from 65,000 to 95,000

   Today, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, together with the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and Illinois, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education (the “Department”) and Secretary Betsy DeVos for unlawfully pursuing collection actions against federal student loan borrowers who were victimized by Corinthian College, Inc. (“Corinthian”). The complaint also alleges that the Department has unlawfully delayed review of the thousands of pending loan discharge applications that have been submitted by defrauded students that were victimized by a variety of for-profit colleges.

“Despite finding that Corinthian engaged in widespread fraud, the Department of Education continues to seize tax refunds and withhold the wages of victims of Corinthian’s fraud,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The Department has also failed to act on the thousands of loan discharge applications submitted by defrauded students, leaving many fraud victims with growing interest, ruined credit, and insurmountable debt.  The Department of Education is failing to do its job and protect student borrowers – so we are suing to hold the federal government accountable.”
After intense scrutiny by various government entities, Corinthian abruptly ceased operation in 2015. Corinthian owned and operated Everest Institute Rochester in Rochester, New York, as well as online and in-person programs based outside of New York that enrolled New York students. The Department’s own investigation of Corinthian concluded that Corinthian made widespread misrepresentations about post-graduation employment rates for certain programs, including programs that enrolled New York borrowers. 
Federal law provides that federal student loan borrowers may assert a defense to repayment of their loans where a school’s conduct violates state law. This law reflects the common-sense conclusion that defrauded students should not be required to pay for loans when their schools engaged in fraud to induce them to enroll. After the collapse of Corinthian in 2015, the Department received thousands of loan discharge applications. The Department approved discharges for more than 30,000 borrowers. However, after the transition to the Trump Administration, the Department stopped approving pending borrower defense claims. 
The number of total claims awaiting review has ballooned from 65,000 in July to over 95,000 in November. More than 1,600 of these claims are from New York borrowers, including approximately 900 New York borrowers who attended Corinthian. Defaulted borrowers with pending claims are significantly harmed by this delay because interest on the loans continues to accrue, borrowers’ credit reports remain marred, and borrowers’ are often unable to get additional financial aid to return to school.
In April 2017, Attorney General Schneiderman reached out to Corinthian students who attended certain programs at Corinthian Colleges to notify them about the loan discharge process.
Attorney General Schneiderman has been active in working to secure relief for victims of predatory for-profit colleges. In June 2017, Attorney General Schneiderman joined 18 attorneys general in demanding that the Department stop delaying loan discharges for defrauded students. In July 2017, Attorney General Schneiderman joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the Department for unlawfully delaying the Borrower Defense Rule, which was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans.  
In October 2017, Attorney General Schneiderman joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the Department for unlawfully delaying the Gainful Employment Rule, a Rule that is designed to protect students and taxpayers from predatory for-profit schools.       
Attorney General Schneiderman has also obtained restitution and debt relief for victims of predatory for-profit colleges, including $2.25 million restitution for DeVry students who were misled about employment and salary prospects and $2.4 million in loan forgiveness for students that took out private loans offered by Aequitas Capital Management to attend Corinthian Colleges.

STATEMENTS ON THE FCC DECISION TO REPEAL NET NEUTRALITY RULES


Today, Congressman Adriano Espaillat released the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality protections.

“An open internet is an empowering, enabling platform, one that allows communities across the country to fulfill their economic and educational potential,” said Rep. Espaillat. “Without net neutrality, broadband internet providers would be able to charge more for access and create a tiered system in which wealthy and powerful corporations can pay to have their content delivered to consumers at a faster speed. Smaller websites with less money would be left with slower loading times and consumers would have less access to the internet. This favors the wealthy and powerful, and particularly harms communities of color who rely on an open internet as a level playing field.

“Net neutrality has a broad range of support from a coalition of small businesses, artists, church leaders, students, and many more from around the country, and the FCC received more than 4 million statements of support during its public comment period. Simply, the FCC’s net neutrality rule protects Americans’ freedom of speech by maintaining an open internet for all.

“I stand firm in my belief that the internet should remain open and available to all Americans, regardless of their class, status, or geographic location. I strongly oppose FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to roll back net neutrality protections, and vow to continue my work to ensure first amendment rights for all.”

Engel Calls FCC Decision to Repeal Net Neutrality "Outrageous, Terribly Disappointing"

Congressman Eliot Engel, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality vote:

“I am terribly disappointed by today’s outrageous FCC vote to overturn net neutrality protections. This stunning example of regulatory overreach is bad for consumers and will have a chilling impact on American innovation. As such, Congress must now begin working on a legislative solution to reverse the FCC’s decision.

“Open Internet access is the foundation of freedom and innovation in the 21st century. Yet, the FCC’s dangerous assault on net neutrality gravely jeopardizes that freedom by punishing entrepreneurs and small businesses, throttling competition, and stifling the innovation that drives our economy. The FCC’s rule change could hit consumers with higher costs and less choice, and put control of their browsing experience into the hands of big providers.

“Millions of Americans across the country have raised their voices in the growing fight to protect net neutrality. Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled FCC has decided to ignore those voices. 

“Now is not the time to be silent. We must continue to make our voices heard on the street, in the media, in the halls of Congress, and ultimately at the polls. I will continue working with my colleagues to overturn this misguided decision.”

STATEMENT FROM BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT DIAZ

“Today's vote by the FCC to roll back Net Neutrality is a complete catastrophe. Technology, data and free access to both is ingrained into every facet of our lives, and this vote is the first step towards an impending system crash for New York City and in fact the entire nation. Congress needs to intervene to protect freedom and preserve equal access to the Internet.

“If the Republican-led Congress should refuse to act, New York State, including the Public Service Commission, should analyze what can be done now that the FCC has failed to protect a free and fair Internet. This should include the creation of a ‘State Uniform Telecommunication Code’ where states can together create a single standard for ISPs that protects the rights of consumers and the principles of Net Neutrality.

“It’s time to ask the question: ‘How can states protect Net Neutrality and a free Internet?,’” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

DEPUTY BOROUGH PRESIDENT GREENE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT


Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene announced that she would be retiring at the end of the year, following more than four decades of dedicated public service to the people of The Bronx and the State of New York.

“My life’s greatest reward was being able to serve the constituents of The Bronx,” said Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene. “My time working with Borough President Diaz has been a major highlight of my career, and I appreciate the opportunity to have served.”

“For more than eight years, Aurelia Greene has been my partner in borough hall. She stood with me every step of the way as we brought new investment and new attention to our borough, helping to guide my office’s agenda through the benefit of her considerable experience as a legislator and community activist,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “The people of The Bronx have always had a strong advocate in Aurelia Greene as both Deputy Borough President and as a member of the New York State Assembly. Her passion for service will be truly missed, and I wish her nothing but the best in her retirement.”

A native Bronxite, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene served as New York State Assembly Member representing the 77th District from 1982 to 2009, which includes the communities of Highbridge, Claremont, East/West Concourse and Morris Heights. Prior to her election to the New York State Assembly, Ms. Greene served as the Female Democratic District Leader for the 76th Assembly District and was an active civic leader in the South Bronx.

During her 27 year career in the New York State Assembly, Ms. Greene used her urban planning skills to negotiate for affordable housing and effective tenant groups, quality education, employment opportunities, affordable healthcare and housing, senior services, youth services, economic development and worked hard for a strengthened business community. She was a regular sponsor of educational and informational seminars to aid her constituents on issues of current concern. As the first woman to chair the Assembly’s Committee on Banks, she passed landmark legislation to fight predatory lending.

During her legislative career, Ms. Greene introduced a number of important bills which later became state law to improve the quality of life for residents of New York State. After many years of rising through the ranks of the New York State Assembly, in January 2006, Ms. Greene was elevated to the position of Speaker Pro Tempore. The first African-American to hold this prestigious position, Ms. Greene became responsible for officiating over the Assembly session proceedings in the absence of the speaker.

At the close of her tenure in the New York State Assembly, Ms. Greene served as a member of the Rules, Ways & Means, Social Services and Cities Committees and was Ranking Member of the Education Committee. Ms. Greene also served as the Chair of the State Assembly’s Bronx Delegation and, prior to becoming Deputy Bronx Borough President, was the longest serving Member of the Assembly in Bronx County.

As Deputy Bronx Borough President, Ms. Greene regularly chaired meetings of the Bronx Borough Board. Additionally, she assisted in the office’s management of both the budget and community board process, and was an invaluable source of guidance and advice to staff members in every department.

Ms. Greene has taught at Antioch College, as well as lectured at numerous universities and colleges in the metropolitan area. She has also served as a major proposal writer and experienced social counselor for numerous organizations.

Greene is a graduate of Livingston College at Rutgers University, where she majored in Community Development; and a former Public Agency Administrator. She was married to the late Reverend Jerome A. Greene, a prominent minister, administrator and educator in The Bronx. Ms. Greene is the proud mother of two children, Rhonda and Russell, and grandmother of five.

An announcement regarding the selection of a new Deputy Bronx Borough President will be made in the coming weeks.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

We are sorry to see Deputy BP Greene retire, and we also thank her for her outstanding career in politics.  We await the choice to replace her hoping that the new Deputy BP will be of the same caliber as Ms. Greene.

Bronx Elected Officials Host Annual Christmas Party



The phone number is - 718-991-3151

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Former Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison In Municipal Bond Securities Fraud Case


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CHRISTOPHER ST. LAWRENCE, the former Ramapo Town Supervisor, was sentenced to 30 months in prison today in connection with his scheme to defraud investors in municipal bonds issued by the Town of Ramapo (the “Town”) and the Ramapo Local Development Corporation (the “RLDC”).  ST. LAWRENCE was found guilty of 20 counts of fraud and conspiracy following a four-week trial last May before United States District Judge Cathy Seibel in federal court in White Plains.  It was the first conviction for securities fraud in connection with municipal bonds.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “For years, Christopher St. Lawrence, as Ramapo Town Supervisor, misled municipal bond investors about the state of Ramapo’s finances.  At a trial earlier this year, the jury quickly saw through his years lies, and today, he was sentenced to time in federal prison.  The integrity of the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market must be protected, and prosecutions like this one should put on all on notice that misleading investors in that market through fraud and deception will lead to prosecution and jail.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and the evidence presented in court during the trial:

As of August 2015, the Town had more than $128 million in outstanding bonds that had been issued for various municipal purposes, while the RLDC, a corporation created and owned by the Town under state law, had issued $25 million in bonds to pay for the construction of Provident Bank Park, a minor league baseball stadium in Ramapo.

While the fraud predated the construction of the stadium, the Town’s financial problems were caused largely by the $58 million total cost of the stadium.  The Town paid more than half of that cost, despite the rejection of the Town’s guarantee of bonds to pay for construction of the stadium in a Town-wide referendum in 2010 and ST. LAWRENCE’s public statements that no public money would be used to pay for the stadium.

The Indictment charged that ST. LAWRENCE lied to investors in the Town’s and RLDC’s bonds in order to conceal the deteriorating state of the Town’s finances and the inability of the RLDC to make scheduled payments of principal and interest to holders of its bonds from its own money.  ST. LAWRENCE lied to investors primarily by making up false assets in the Town’s General Fund. 

The General Fund is the Town’s primary operating fund.  The accumulated difference over time between how much money the Town receives in taxes and fees and how much it spends in a year is the fund’s balance.  The fund balance is a cushion that can be spent during difficult financial times.  The size of the fund balance relative to the amount of the fund’s revenue and trends in the Town’s General Fund balance over time are the primary indicators of the Town’s financial health. 

According to the Indictment and the evidence, ST. LAWRENCE lied to the RLDC’s bond rating service in January 2013 when he told them in a telephone call that the 2012 fund balance would remain unchanged from the 2011 balance.  Immediately after that call ended, ST. LAWRENCE told Town employees “to do [an upcoming] refinancing of the short term debt as fast as possible because . . . we’re going to have to all be magicians to get to some of those numbers.”

When the RLDC issued $25 million in bonds to build the stadium building itself in 2011, ST. LAWRENCE inflated the size of the Town’s General Fund by including a false $3.6 million receivable in the General Fund.  The Town’s financial condition was important to investors in the RLDC’s bonds because the Town guaranteed the payments of principal and interest on the bonds.  Without that fake asset, the General Fund’s balance would have been negative in that year.

In addition, ST. LAWRENCE inflated the General Fund with another fake receivable for $3.08 million from 2010 through 2015.  It first went on the Town’s books when the RLDC agreed to buy property known as The Hamlets from the Town for $3.08 million.  That sale never closed because the land turned out to be a habitat for rattlesnakes.  Rather than take the receivable off the Town’s books – and reduce the size of the General Fund balance by $3.08 million, thereby pushing it into negative territory – ST. LAWRENCE claimed the receivable had to do with the RLDC’s purchase of another property from the Town that had already taken place.  To keep it on the books, ST. LAWRENCE then caused the Town Attorney to tell the Town’s auditors over a period of years that the receivable would be paid back within a year, which was required if the receivable were going to stay in the General Fund.  Without this fake receivable alone, the Town’s General Fund balance would have been negative for years. 

In May 2013, the FBI searched Town Hall in connection with this investigation.  Less than 10 days later, ST. LAWRENCE inflated another receivable in the General Fund – this one for money from FEMA to reimburse the Town for expenses from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.  ST. LAWRENCE claimed that the Town was going to receive $3.145 million from FEMA when the Town hadn’t even submitted those claims to FEMA yet.  Without ST. LAWRENCE’s inflation of this receivable alone, the projected General Fund balance for 2012 would have been negative when the Town sold bonds in May 2013.

Finally, the Indictment alleged and the evidence showed that ST. LAWRENCE told investors in the Town’s and RLDC’s bonds that the RLDC was making the payments on its bonds from its operating revenue, meaning money it was making from its ordinary business of running the baseball stadium and selling condominiums at a development it had built.  That was important to investors because it led them to believe that the Town would not have to pay off the RLDC’s $25 million bonds.  It also made the RLDC’s bonds look less risky.  The RLDC actually made those payments from money it borrowed from the bank or money it got from the Town.  

In addition to the prison term, ST. LAWRENCE, 67, of Wesley Hills, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and a $2,000 special assessment.  Restitution, if any, will be determined at a future date.

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office.  Mr. Kim also thanked the Securities & Exchange Commission for its substantial assistance in the investigation and trial.

A.G. Schneiderman Releases New Details On Investigation Into Fake Net Neutrality Comments


New Analysis Shows as Many as 2 Million Comments Stole Real Americans’ Identities; To Date, Over 5,000 People Have Filed Reports with the AG’s Office at ag.ny.gov/FakeComments
FCC is Scheduled to Vote on Net Neutrality Tomorrow, Based on Corrupted Public Comment Process
In New Letter, A.G. Schneiderman Urges Postponement of Vote, Tells FCC: “Moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of the notice and comment process… and reward those who perpetrated this fraud”
  Today, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released new details of his office’s investigation into fake comments submitted during the net neutrality comment process, with a new analysis showing that two million of the comments stole real Americans’ identities.
“Millions of fake comments have corrupted the FCC public process – including two million that stole the identities of real people, a crime under New York law,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Yet the FCC is moving full steam ahead with a vote based on this corrupted process, while refusing to cooperate with an investigation. As we’ve told the FCC: moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda. The FCC must postpone this vote and work with us to get to the bottom of what happened.”
To date, over 5,000 people have filed reports with the Attorney General’s office regarding identities used to submit fake comments to the Federal Communications Commission on the repeal of net neutrality, on which the FCC is scheduled to vote tomorrow, December 14, 2017. People can check whether their identity was misused and report it to the Attorney General’s office at ag.ny.gov/FakeComments. Examples of the over 5,000 reports already submitted to the Attorney General’s office can be found below.
Attorney General Schneiderman’s latest analysis shows that as many as two million comments misused the identities of real Americans, including over 100,000 comments per state from New York, Florida, Texas, and California. A map can be found below, highlighting the number of fake comments submitted using stolen identities by state.
Despite widespread evidence that the public comment process was corrupted, the FCC’s General Counsel has said that the agency will not cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into the impersonation of New Yorkers, and that it will move forward with tomorrow’s scheduled vote.
In a new letter to the FCC, Attorney General Schneiderman directly rebuts the excuses for refusing to cooperate with an investigation of illegal conduct that could constitute, among other violations, criminal impersonation under New York law.
“Moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of the notice and comment process mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act and reward those who perpetrated this fraud in service of their own hidden agenda,” Attorney General Schneiderman wrote. “None of the assertions in your letter justify the FCC’s refusal to share evidence of who committed these illegal acts.”fake comments Map
Examples of Reports to Attorney General’s Office via ag.ny.gov/FakeComments –
“This person is my aunt. She never filed this. She is an elderly woman; someone is using her identification.” – Bronx, NY
“This is a 13 year old child – she did not post this comment, nor did anyone else in her household.” – Rochester, NY
“This comment was made on July 11th, 2017. This is a fake comment... I am her son, and can confirm it was not her. [She] died of cancer on June 8th, 2017.” – Albany, NY

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. host Chanukah celebration at Riverdale Y


   In observance of the Jewish festival of lights, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.  held a Chanukah celebration and Menorah lighting ceremony in Riverdale. The event took place at the Riverdale YM-YWHA, and featured musical performances by students from the Kinneret Day & Riverdale Y Nursery Schools. The event was co-sponsored by the Bronx Jewish Community Council. See the photos below. 


Above - Students from the Kinneret Day School got the audience into the festival mood by singing some traditional Chanukah songs.
Below - Children from the Riverdale Y Nursery School also gave a very heart warming performance.




Above - After saying the Chanukah Prayer Rabbi Israel Greenberg has Bronx Borough President light the middle (or Helper Candle) first. That candle is then used to help light the other candles on the menorah one by one as another candle is added each night until all eight candles are lit.
Below - Rabbi Greenberg now guides BP Diaz to light the first candle on the menorah.




Above - Rabbi Greenberg says another prayer now that the candles for the day have been lit.
Below - Rabbi Greenberg is with his two favorite Andy's. Councilman Andy Cohen representing Riverdale and Councilman Andy King representing Coop-City.



Tuesday, December 12, 2017

State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj Light the Bronx House Menorah




  Normally the giant menorah at Bronx House is lit outside, but due to the inclement weather the celebration of Chanukah was held inside this year for day one of the eight days of Chanukah.

  Bronx House Executive Director Howard Martin introduced Senator Klein who said what Chanukah means to him, and then Senator Klein introduced Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj to say a few words in his last few days as the 80th A.D. Assemblyman. Assemblyman Gjonaj said that while he is leaving the state assembly, beginning in January he will still be representing the area around Bronx House as the new Councilman from the district. Rabbi Israel Greenberg was then introduced who gave a little history of the holiday of Chanukah. 

 Rabbi Greenberg then said the three prayers said on the first day of Chanukah, and Senator Klein and Assemblyman Gjonaj lit the first light of the eight lights on the menorah. Each day another light is added until all eight lights are lit to symbolize the eight days of the small amount of oil that burned for eight days.


Above - State Senator Jeff Klein tells what the eight days of Chanukah means to him and others of the Jewish faith. 
Below - Rabbi Israel Greenberg Thanks Senator Klein for being with the community all his years in office, while also thanking Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj for his support also. The children in the background were from Bronx House, and provided songs after the menorah was lit.




Rabbi Greenberg says the three prayers for the first day of Chanukah, as Senator Klein and Assemblyman Gjonaj await to turn the first light on. The middle or ninth light is already lit, because when candles are used that candle lights the others.

Akayed Ullah Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Terrorism And Explosives Charges In Connection With The Detonation Of A Bomb In New York City


  Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States, Joon H. Kim, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dana J. Boente, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that AKAYED ULLAH has been charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in connection with ULLAH’s detonation and attempted denotation of a bomb in a subway terminal near the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City on December 11, 2017.  Three people were injured as a result of the detonation.  

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:  “The Department of Justice is relentless in taking on the terrorist threat.  In my time back at the Department, nothing has impressed me more.  Since 9/11, the Department has convicted more than 500 criminals of terrorism-related offenses, and the FBI has open terrorism investigations in every state.  To make law enforcement’s job easier, however, Congress must finally fix our broken immigration system so that we admit to this country those who are likely to succeed, not violent criminals, gang members, terrorists, or their sympathizers.  The fact that somebody won a lottery or is someone’s relative tells us nothing about their ability to assimilate.  Nevertheless, the Department of Justice will prosecute this case and every other case to the fullest extent of the law, and we will bring those who threaten America to justice.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Yesterday, in the heart of rush hour, as thousands came into New York City through the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Akayed Ullah allegedly came with a hate-filled heart and an evil purpose: to murder as many innocent people as he could and blow himself up in the process, all in support of the vicious terrorist cause of ISIS.  Although yesterday he allegedly stood in the tunnels under Port Authority plotting to kill, today he stands charged with federal crimes of terrorism.  Those alleged terrorists who target New York City do so because they feel threatened by the strength of our spirit, the height of our ambition, and the breadth of our freedom.  They come seeking to sow hate, fear, and terror.  But in New York City, they find instead strength, resilience, and hope.  Like many before him, Akayed Ullah will also find another great American virtue: justice.  That justice will be tough, it will be fair, and it will be swift.”      
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Akayed Ullah let loose his plan to conduct a mass casualty attack, setting off a pipe bomb, strapped to his body, inside a New York City subway terminal, as we allege today.  Like many others before him, we believe Ullah was inspired by a group that exploits technology in an effort to spread a violent ideology, effectively convincing sympathizers to commit terrorist acts worldwide.  The nature of this particular strain of the terrorism threat can often mean evaluating behavior that doesn’t mean anything until you combine it with other pieces of intelligence.  We rely heavily upon the community’s assistance to accomplish that task.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “The act of terror committed in New York City yesterday accomplished nothing.  It has not changed our way of life.  It was a cowardly act, fueled by a false sense of purpose—motivated by propaganda in the shadows of the internet.  What is clear is the resolve of New Yorkers to live in a free society, devoid of fear.  I want to commend the work of the NYPD-FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the prosecutors in the Southern District for bringing today’s charges.  Finally, our security requires every single member of the public’s help.  It requires their vigilance.  And it requires their care.  If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact law enforcement.”
As alleged in the Complaint:[1]
Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham 
ISIS is a foreign terrorist organization based in the Middle East and Africa whose publicly stated purpose is the establishment of an Islamic state or caliphate based in the Middle East and Africa that encompasses all Muslims worldwide.  ISIS has pursued the objective of an Islamic state through, among other things, killing and deliberate targeting of civilians, mass executions, persecution of individuals and communities on the basis of their religion, nationality, or ethnicity, kidnapping of civilians, forced displacement of Shia communities and minority groups, killing and maiming of children, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.  ISIS has recruited thousands of foreign fighters from across the globe to assist with its efforts to expand its so-called caliphate in Iraq, Syria, and other locations in Africa and the Middle East, and has leveraged technology to spread its violent extremist ideology and for incitement to commit terrorist acts.   
The December 11, 2017, Attack
On December 11, 2017, at approximately 7:20 a.m., an improvised explosive device (“IED”) detonated inside a subway terminal (the “Subway Terminal”) in or around the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal located at West 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in New York, New York (the “December 11 Attack”).  Shortly after the blast, members of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (“PAPD”) located an individual later identified as AKAYED ULLAH lying on the ground in the vicinity of the explosion. Surveillance footage captured ULLAH walking through the Subway Terminal immediately prior to the explosion, and then falling to the ground after the explosion. 
ULLAH was subsequently taken into custody by law enforcement.  During the course of ULLAH’s arrest, law enforcement officers located on his person and in the surrounding area what appeared to be the components of an exploded pipe bomb (the “Pipe Bomb”).  Specifically, law enforcement located, among other items, (i) a nine-volt battery inside ULLAH’s pants pocket; (ii) wires connected to the battery and running underneath ULLAH’s jacket;  (iii) two plastic zip ties underneath ULLAH’s jacket; (iv) several fragments of a metal pipe, including pieces of a metal end cap, on the ground; (v) the remnants of what appeared to be a Christmas tree lightbulb attached to wires; and (vi) pieces of what appear to be plastic zip ties, among other items.  
After ULLAH was taken into custody, he was transferred to Bellevue Hospital, where he made statements to law enforcement officers after waiving his Miranda rights.  During that interview, ULLAH stated, among other things, the following:
 ULLAH constructed the Pipe Bomb and carried out the December 11 Attack. ULLAH was inspired by ISIS to carry out the December 11 Attack, and stated, among other things, “I did it for the Islamic State.” 
 ULLAH constructed the Pipe Bomb at his residence in Brooklyn (“the Residence”);
 The Pipe Bomb was composed of a metal pipe, which ULLAH filled with explosive material that he created.  ULLAH used Christmas tree lights, wires, and a nine-volt battery as a trigger to detonate the Pipe Bomb.  ULLAH filled the Pipe Bomb with metal screws, which he believed would cause maximum damage.  ULLAH used zip ties to secure the Pipe Bomb to his body. 
 ULLAH carried out the December 11 Attack in part because of the United States Government’s policies in, among other places, the Middle East.  One of ULLAH’s goals in carrying out the December 11 Attack was to terrorize as many people as possible.  He chose to carry out the attack on a work day because he believed that there would be more people. 
 ULLAH’s radicalization began in at least approximately 2014.  ULLAH viewed pro-ISIS materials online, including a video instructing, in substance, that if supporters of ISIS were unable to travel overseas to join ISIS, they should carry out attacks in their homelands.  He began researching how to build IEDs on the Internet approximately one year ago.
On the morning of December 11, 2017, shortly before carrying out the attack, ULLAH posted a statement on his Facebook account referring to the President of the United States, stating, in substance, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.”  ULLAH also posted a statement that he believed would be understood by members and supporters of ISIS to convey that ULLAH carried out the attack in the name of ISIS.
Items Recovered from ULLAH’s Residence
On December 11, 2017, law enforcement agents conducted a search of the Residence pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant.  Law enforcement agents recovered, among other items, (i) multiple pieces of metal pipes; (ii) pieces of wire and fragments of what appear to be Christmas tree lights; (iii) multiple screws consistent with the screws recovered at the scene of the December 11 Attack; and (iv) a passport in ULLAH’s name with multiple handwritten notations, including:  “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”
Three individuals were injured as a result of the December 11 Attack.
ULLAH, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, is charged in the Complaint with one count of provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of using and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of destruction of property by means of fire or explosives, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison and potential maximum of life, all in connection with ULLAH’s alleged detonation of an explosive device in New York City.
Mr. Sessions, Mr. Kim, and Mr. Boente praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the FBI, the NYPD, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and the PAPD.  ULLAH’s arrest is the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force – which consists of law enforcement officers of the FBI, NYPD, HSI, PAPD, and other agencies – and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division. 
The prosecution is being handled by the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shawn G. Crowley, Rebekah Donaleski, and George D. Turner are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Jerome Teresinski of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.