Thursday, December 14, 2017
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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
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.