Monday, June 26, 2017

Formal Invitation for the Bronx Democratic Party Annual Dinner



NEXT STOP FOR “CITY HALL IN YOUR BOROUGH” IS QUEENS


  Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz today announced “City Hall in Your Borough” will land in Queens on Monday, July 17. This will be the initiative’s third stop, following Staten Island and the Bronx.

Mayor de Blasio, deputy mayors, and senior Administration officials will run the city from Queens Borough Hall for a week to focus on the borough’s people and their concerns. The week will include a cabinet meeting, resource fair and town hall, as well as various stops and events throughout the borough.

“As we move City Hall from borough to borough, we hope to continue building a closer relationship between New Yorkers and their city government,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In Queens, we will continue focusing city resources on the borough’s most pressing needs.”

"Queens welcomes the Administration to Borough Hall and the opportunity to engage on the needs and challenges unique to the World's Borough,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “With 2.3 million residents, there will be much ground to cover for the families of Queens."

First Lady Chirlane McCray will also hold a series of events.

The announcement was also made via Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Katz’s Twitter accounts, @NYCMayor and @MelindaKatz. More details about the Queens edition of City Hall in Your Borough” will be made public in the near future.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

This was placed here because several Bronx residents grew up in the borough of Queens, and some people from Queens work in the Bronx. If you know who they are just place a comment, but remember this blog is moderated so keep your comment clean.

A.G. Schneiderman Leads 12-State Coalition In Opposing Regulatory Rollbacks That Would Jeopardize Americans' Health & Safety


AGs Tell U.S. Senators: Proposed “Regulatory Accountability Act” Would “Bollix, Stymie, and Derail” Implementation Of Popular And Necessary Laws 
Bill Would Leave New Yorkers And All Americans Without Critical Protections From Toxic Chemicals, Predatory Marketing Practices, Dangerous Labor Conditions, Unsafe Food And Drugs, And More
AG Schneiderman: Senate Must Put The Public First And Reject This Ill-Conceived, Reckless Legislation
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of 12 state Attorneys General, today wrote U.S. Senate leadership expressing “strong opposition” to S. 951, the proposed Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (RAA), which would jeopardize the health, safety, and wellbeing of the American public. In a letter addressed to Senate leadership the coalition contends that the RAA would bring the federal regulatory process “to a grinding halt,” thereby obstructing the implementation of laws that protect Americans from toxic chemicals, predatory marketing practices, dangerous labor conditions, unsafe food and drugs, and much more.
Joining Attorney General Schneiderman on the letter are the Attorney Generals of California, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
“New Yorkers depend on our federal laws – whether they protect from dangerous drugs, predatory business practices, or toxic children’s products,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The proposed Regulatory Accountability Act would cripple the implementation of these popular and necessary laws by handing the regulatory process over to wealthy special interests, needless procedure, and endless litigation. I join my colleagues in calling on the US Senate to put the interests of the public first by rejecting this ill-conceived and reckless legislation.”
The RAA was introduced in the Senate in April, 2017. The Act’s stated purpose is to reform the federal regulatory process “to cut red tape so federal programs operate as intended, and are effective and efficient.”  
While the Attorneys General recognize the laudable goal of promoting effective regulation, their letter forcefully argues that the many “ill-conceived and reckless provisions” of the RAA work against this goal by serving to “bollix, stymie, and derail the implementation of popular and necessary laws.” They point to several troubling provisions of the bill, including those that:
  • increase the likelihood that so-called “high impact” rules and “major” rules will be subject to lengthy and burdensome trial-type hearings that advantage deep-pocketed special interests over the general public;
  • give the federal agencies unreviewable discretion to determine a rule is “high-impact” or “major,” which would then trigger cumbersome new procedural rules and stymie the adoption of critical public safeguards; and
  • require proposed rules to undergo a new ill-defined “most cost-effective” standard of analysis that will invite litigation from special interests seeking to block, delay, and weaken proposed federal regulations, whether they be to a protect the environment, public health, workplaces, or food and drug safety.
The letter provides a striking example of how an equally prohibitive standard derailed a decade-long effort to regulate the notoriously deadly material asbestos.  In 1989, after studying the regulation of asbestos for over ten years and amassing a 100,000-page administrative record, EPA announced a final rule banning virtually all asbestos-containing products under the Toxics Substances Control Act.  The asbestos industry and its supporters filed a lawsuit challenging EPA’s action.  While the court agreed with EPA that “asbestos is a potential carcinogen at all levels of exposure,” it found the Agency had failed to demonstrate that it had met the standard for analysis – the “least burdensome alternative” – required by the Act, and vacated the rule.
Through the “most cost-effective” standard and many other provisions of the bill, the coalition argues that the RAA “would introduce unnecessary, unwieldy, and costly impediments into federal rulemaking that would dramatically increase the time necessary to put public safeguards in place, exclude the public from the rulemaking process, and lead to avoidable and prolonged litigation that favors deep-pocketed special interests.”
The letter urges the Senate leadership to oppose passage of the RAA.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Registered Nurse For Allegedly Defrauding Medicaid


Private-Duty Nurse Collins Anyanwu-Mueller Fraudulently Billed Medicaid For Over $390,000 Of False Claims For Severely Disabled Patients 
Schneiderman: Those Who Steal From Medicaid Will Be Prosecuted To The Fullest Extent Of The Law 
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest and indictment of registered nurse Collins Anyanwu-Mueller, 47, for allegedly submitting over $390,000 of false claims over the course of nearly five years for private-duty nursing services that he did not provide.
“When healthcare professionals steal public funds, they undermine an important system that connects thousands of New Yorkers with necessary medical services,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit will continue to investigate cases involving fraud – and those who steal from Medicaid will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”  
Anyanwu-Mueller was arraigned today in Westchester County Court in White Plains before the Honorable Larry J. Schwartz on an indictment charging him with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony carrying a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in state prison, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony that carries a maximum sentence of up to four years in state prison. If convicted, Anyanwu-Mueller faces up to 15 years in state prison.
Court papers filed by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) allege that Anyanwu-Mueller submitted claims for payment to Medicaid, in which he falsely purported to provide private-duty nursing services to two severely disabled Medicaid recipients who both required around the clock care at their respective homes located in New Rochelle and Peekskill, NY.
Between August 2010 and January 2015, Anyanwu-Mueller allegedly submitted false medical claims regarding a number of instances, including when the Medicaid recipients were in the hospital, when another nurse provided care, when the defendant was on vacation in Europe, when he was caring for another patient and for an extended period when he sent an unlicensed person to the recipient’s home but billed Medicaid as if he provided the care himself. Relying on the truthfulness and accuracy of his claims, which were uncovered as false during this investigation, Medicaid paid Anyanwu-Mueller over $390,000.
The judge set the bail at $75,000 and scheduled the defendant’s next court appearance on July 11.
The Attorney General would like to thank the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General for referring this matter.
The investigation was conducted by MFCU Investigator Timothy Connolly and Principal Auditor Investigator Lora Pomponio with the assistance of Supervising Investigator Peter Markiewicz, Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan and Regional Chief Auditor John Regan.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

North Carolina Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison in Connection With Trafficking 33 Guns to Sell on the Streets of Brooklyn


   Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 24-year-old man from North Carolina has been sentenced to 10 years in prison following his guilty plea last month to first-degree criminal sale of a firearm in connection with trafficking 33 firearms from his home state into Brooklyn.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Today’s sentencing is further evidence of our commitment to stop illegal guns from being sold on the streets of Brooklyn. Lax gun laws down South are responsible for most of the guns used to commit crimes here. This defendant will now spend 10 years in a New York State prison for his actions, which put the safety of Brooklyn residents at risk.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Marcus Gamble, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina. He was sentenced today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy to 10 years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision. He pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sale of a firearm last month.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on December 5, 2016, the defendant sold 10 loaded firearms to an undercover police officer and, on December 13, 2016, the defendant sold the undercover 15 loaded firearms for a total of about $27,000. The sales took place inside a car in the vicinity of Flatbush Avenue and Maple Street in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn.
On December 20, 2016, as the defendant was waiting for a third sale to commence, he was arrested inside a Golden Krust restaurant located at 568 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Eight guns and parts of an assault rifle were recovered from his backpack, according to the indictment.
The 33 guns the defendant transported to Brooklyn were mostly pistols and revolvers, including Smith & Wessons, Colts and Rugers. Some of the weapons were purchased legally in North Carolina to be sold illegally in Brooklyn and others were reported stolen, the investigation found. The defendant grew up in New York City, has extensive family ties to Brooklyn, but has been living in North Carolina for the past couple of years, according to the investigation.

Ydanis Rodriguez, NYC Council Member - : Widespread Coalition Calls for a 5 Boro Citi Bike Program



Elected Officials, Advocates, Business Leaders & Riders Rally for Five-Borough Citi Bike at City Hall

27 Council Members Sign Letter Calling on City to Take Action While #CitiBike4All Campaign Amasses Over 5,000 Signatures in Just a Few Weeks


   Elected officials, community leaders, business leaders and riders gathered at City Hall on Wednesday to rally for a five-borough Citi Bike. Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, has offered to expand bike share to all five boroughs, bringing another 6,000 bikes further into Queens and Brooklyn and into Staten Island and the Bronx for the first time- all at no cost to New York City taxpayers.  Advocates pushed for the city to accept the deal.
 
"This is too good a deal to pass up," said City Councilmember and Chair of the Transportation Committee Ydanis Rodriguez. "Improving our city's bus and subway networks will take time and money; Citi Bike is a quick, easy way to ensure that every New York resident can get around the city easily and affordably. The Citi Bike system is safe, it is affordable, it encourages healthy living, it opens up commercial and residential corridors, and at no additional cost to taxpayers, it should be allowed to expand to all five boroughs immediately."
 
 
#CitiBike4all, a campaign led by Transportation Alternatives, one of the city's lead pedestrian and bike advocacy organizations, has also amassed over 5,000 signatures to that effect in under a month.


The coalition is growing and reflects widespread public opinion: according to a Penn Schoen Berland and Transportation Alternatives poll in November 2016, 71% of likely New York City voters support Citi Bike expansion into all five boroughs.  The Mayor previously expressed his support for a five-borough Citi Bike.

"Every New Yorker deserves access to bike share because it is a cheap, flexible addition to the existing public transportation network," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director at Transportation Alternatives.  "Along with our partners in the #CitiBike4All coalition, we call for an equitable expansion of Citi Bike to all five boroughs so that neighborhoods in The Bronx, Eastern Queens, Staten Island and South Brooklyn can realize the health and neighborhood mobility benefits of bike share."
 
Citi Bike launched in May 2013 with 6,000 bikes at 332 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. By the end of 2017, the system will have doubled in size, with 12,000 bikes at 700 stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

With over 126,000 members and over 60,000 trips per day in peak season, Citi Bike has become an integral part of New York City's transportation network. Expansion to all five boroughs is necessary to ensure it can be an even more effective and equitable mode choice.

  Respectfully, Ydanis Rodriguez Chair, Transportation Committee Council Member, District 10 Brad Lander, Council Member, District 39 Paul Vallone Council Member, District 19 Mark Levine Council Member, District 7 Rafael Salamanca Council Member, District 17 Carlos Menchaca Council Member, District 38 Andy Cohen Council Member, District 11 Corey Johnson Council Member, District 3 Karen Koslowitz Council Member, District 29 Antonio Reynoso Council Member, District 34 Donovan Richards Council Member, District 31 Robert Cornegy Council Member, District 36 Elizabeth Crowley Council Member, District 30 Ritchie Torres Council Member, District 15 Fernando Cabrera Council Member, District 14 Jimmy Van Bramer Council Member, District 26 Vincent Gentile Council Member, District 43 Jumaane Williams Council Member, District 45 Bill Perkins Council Member, District 9 Stephen Levin Council Member, District 33 Daniel Dromm Council Member, District 25 Helen Rosenthal Council Member, District 6 Deborah Rose Council Member, District 49 Margaret Chin Council Member, District 1 Costa Constantinides Council Member, District 30 Chaim Deutsch Council Member, District 48 Vanessa Gibson Council Member, District 16.

EDITOR'S NOTE: 

The comments from those who are in favor and may have a special interest other than Mr. Steely-White's comment have been omitted. Most of the council members listed above in favor are term-limited after this election, and they will be LAME DUCK council members. They will have to find other jobs when their next term in office is up if they are re-elected. 

News From Congressman Eliot Engel


Engel Statement on LGBT Equality Day

  Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a member of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, issued the following statement on LGBT Equality Day:

“Today we celebrate LGBT Equality Day, right in the heart of Pride Month—a month when we commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots and celebrate the progress the LGBT community has made.

“The last 8 years brought about incredible progress for the LGBT community. From the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to marry, America has advanced LGBT rights in numerous ways. However, there is still much that needs to be done.

“Too many in the LGBT community still face discrimination and are denied the full equality they deserve. Republicans in Congress and in the White House are determined to roll back the clock on the progress that we have made. The Trump Administration has withdrawn protections for transgender students in public schools, proposed cutting funding for HIV and AIDS treatment, and appointed a Supreme Court Justice with an anti-LGBT record. These acts against the LGBT community are shameful, discriminatory, and must be spoken out against.

“Throughout my career in Congress I have been a strong supporter of LGBT rights. I was one of only a handful of members to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, and I am currently a cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would extend civil rights protections to LGBT Americans. I have also cosponsored legislation to address LGBT discrimination in schools, in our military and in the workplace. Every year I introduce a resolution supporting the National Day of Silence, an annual day of observance in schools aimed at bringing attention to the bullying, harassment, and discrimination faced by LGBT students.

“No doubt, the LGBT community has come a long way in a short time. But we still have a long way to go. Please know that I will continue to fight for policies that ensure equal rights and protections for every American.”

Engel Announces $246,519,289 in Title 1 Funding for Bronx Schools

  Congressman Eliot Engel, a leading member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has allocated $246,519,289 in federal funds to schools in the Bronx as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Title 1 allocations.

Part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Title I program provides financial assistance to school districts so that they can afford services to students at risk of not meeting state academic achievement standards, especially in areas with high concentrations of low-income families.

“The Title 1 program provides critical resources to help our local school districts with everything from modernizing their infrastructure to improving staffing, all to provide students with the best possible chance to succeed in the classroom” Congressman Engel said. “These funds also support preschool, after-school, and summer programming. They are critical to our schools, but unfortunately as part of his new budget proposal, President Trump has suggested cutting funding to schools districts and the students who need it most, including millions in cuts to aid through Title I. We cannot allow that to happen, and luckily Congress has the power of the purse. As the budget process progresses, know that I will fight hard to ensure Title 1 funding is sufficiently funded for 2018 and beyond.”

NEW YORK WORKS: MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES $5 MILLION GRANT FOR LIFESCI NYC INCUBATOR


First Grant from LifeSci NYC initiative goes to BioLabs@NYULangone for fully equipped lab and office space; will host 35 startups, creating hundreds of good-paying jobs

  Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the first funding from his LifeSci NYC Incubator Network is a $5 million grant to BioLabs@NYULangone, a new center for life science startups. The 180 Varick Street center, in Manhattan, is set to open by the end of 2017.

The incubator is part of the wider LifeSci NYC initiative and part of the Mayor’s New York Works plan, which is made up of 25 initiatives to spur 100,000 jobs with good wages over the coming decade, including 1,000 at companies growing out of the BioLabs@NYULangone incubator.

“With this grant we are investing in New York’s emerging Life Science economy, one that benefits New York workers and encourages collaboration between our great research institutions, innovators and startup businesses. When it comes to science and technology, we will leverage our competitive edge and spur 100,000 good-paying jobs over the next decade – all to make our city more affordable for all,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The 50,000 square-foot project is designed to house up to 35 startup companies seeking to turn laboratory discoveries into successful businesses with good jobs for New Yorkers. It will offer affordable lab and office space.

In December 2016, Mayor de Blasio launched the $500 million LifeSci NYC initiative, to spur an estimated 16,000 new, good-paying jobs and establish New York City as a global leader in life sciences research and innovation. New Yorkers hoping to secure a career-track job in a growing industry and struggling with the rising cost of living will have access to 1,000 paid internships, new training programs and job placements in a field with average salaries of $75,000. 

NYU Langone, is partnering with BioLabs on the incubator, which will occupy two floors in the building. BioLabs is a leading operator of shared laboratory space for life science startups nationwide. The new facility will include 48 benches in an “open lab,” or common lab; three private labs; three medium private labs; nine small private labs; along with 30 offices, conference rooms and state-of-the-art event space.

Companies selected for BioLabs@NYULangone will start with a package of tailored laboratory equipment and supplies. BioLabs staff will provide educational programming and operational support, enabling startups to focus on science and innovation, and ultimately move more quickly into their own spaces.

With more than 100 research foundations and nine academic medical centers, New York City is home to one of the largest concentrations of academic life sciences research in the world. However, challenges, including a shortage of affordable commercial laboratory space, have made it hard for New York City to hold on to young companies spinning out of its research institutions. While most traditional incubators in the space focus on very early-stage companies, BioLabs@NYULangone will host more mature startups, which have already attracted some venture capital investment, which are even more likely to grow and create more jobs.

With 16 percent growth in jobs since 2009, the life sciences sector is among the fastest growing in the city. It offers a wide range of technical jobs such as microbiologists and lab technicians, as well as non-technical jobs in areas like marketing and administration. Roughly 30 percent of jobs in the industry require a high-school diploma or Associate’s Degree, while another 50 percent of jobs require a Bachelor’s Degree.

Mayor de Blasio’s Ten-Point LifeSci NYC Plan:

1. Invest $100 million to create a new Applied Life Sciences Campus. The de Blasio Administration will provide funding to create a world-class facility along Manhattan’s East Side or in neighboring Long Island City that drives bio-engineering innovations, research and development (R&D) partnerships and entrepreneurial training. The campus will serve as an institutional anchor for the life sciences industry, much as Cornell Tech serves as an anchor for applied sciences and engineering.

2. Provide $50 million to expand network of life sciences R&D facilities. To remain at the forefront of the innovative research that leads to new businesses, the Administration will make targeted investments in New York City’s existing academic medical centers and research institutions. The City will provide capital to a network of up to eight non-profit research facilities, to help create new workspace for research with a high potential for commercialization and job growth.

3. Invest $10 million to expand network of incubators for life sciences start-up facilities. To provide affordable space for the next generation of life science startups, the City will invest in up to five new incubators and innovation centers, with the first (BioLabs@NYULangone) expected to open in late 2017. Incubators will be located near existing research centers to better support innovators and connect skilled workers with jobs.

4. Commit $20 million a year in matching funds to support early-stage businesses. Young life sciences startups often struggle to secure the capital they need to expand. By committing $20 million in seed and growth funding, and seeking matching funds from private sources, the City will help spur growth of up to 80 companies, helping them expand and create new jobs for New Yorkers.

5. Invest $7.5 million to create internships and life sciences curricula. The City will officially launch a new internship program later this year, which will connect students each year with opportunities at life sciences companies and institutions. Organizations that have already agreed to take on interns include global pharmaceutical companies such as Roche, research institutions such as the New York Stem Cell Foundation, and investors such as Deerfield Management. The City will also provide funding to support the development of new curricula for local colleges and universities, based on input from local employers, to prepare the next generation of life sciences talent.

6. Commit $300 million in tax incentives to attract investment in commercial lab space for life sciences businesses. The high cost of lab construction has resulted in a shortage of space for new life science companies. By offsetting that cost, the City will unlock affordable lab space for growing companies that provide accessible, middle class jobs for New Yorkers.

7. Modernize land use policies to encourage new space for life sciences firms. To more than double the potential areas for life sciences jobs, the Administration will clarify regulations to make explicit that lab space for life sciences R&D is permitted in the majority of commercial zones. In addition, the administration will leverage upcoming rezoning to include life sciences sites where appropriate.

8. Provide $7.5 million to create a Life Sciences Management Corps. The City will provide financing to life sciences startups to help them secure experienced entrepreneurs to help launch and grow their businesses in New York City. These entrepreneurs will be committed to growing companies, cultivating new talent and creating good and accessible jobs in the five boroughs.

9. Provide $3.8 million to expand training programs for entrepreneurs. The de Blasio Administration will provide funding to expand and improve on two successful programs, serving up to 500 companies over the course of the program. NYCEDC will expand its Bio and Health Tech Entrepreneurship Lab (ELabNYC) with new curriculum in areas such as corporate commercialization and project management. It will expand the SBIR Impact program, which helps life sciences firms compete for funding through the National Institute of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

10. Launch the Mayor’s Life Sciences Advisory Council. The Life Sciences Advisory Council launched in May of 2017. The Advisory Council has 15 members with experts from academia, industry, philanthropy and finance, advising the City of New York on its life science programs and catalyzing strategic partnerships with the industry. The council will work with the administration to promote New York as a global center for life sciences.

Learn more at LifeSci.NYC.

Attorney General's Special Investigations And Prosecutions Unit Releases Report On The Death Of Warren Corbitt


   New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit released a comprehensive report on its investigation into the death of Warren Corbitt in Dutchess County in October 2016.
On October 14, 2016, State Police received a call from the Village of Millbrook Police Department that a person was wielding a knife at a high school football game. One of the troopers responding to the call collided with Warren Corbitt, a civilian motorcyclist; the collision took place along the double yellow line in the middle of the road as the trooper attempted to pass the motorcyclist. In light of all the evidence – including that the troopers had activated the lights and sirens on their vehicle, that a civilian motorist behind Mr. Corbitt pulled to the side of the road, and that Mr. Corbitt's vehicle pulled to the middle of the road rather than to the side – SIPU found that criminal charges against the responding officer were not warranted.
SIPU’s investigation took into account statements by the civilian witness and other troopers; an accident reconstruction report that showed the trooper’s vehicle decreasing speed, activating the brake, and steering to avoid Mr. Corbitt; and a separate ruling by a DMV Administrative Law Judge that found that the trooper committed no violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law that caused or contributed to the accident.
“Mr. Corbitt’s death was a tragedy, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We undertook a comprehensive investigation into the incident, and remain committed to ensuring exhaustive and transparent accounting of all cases we investigate under the executive order.”
The report was produced as part of the Attorney General’s role as the state’s special prosecutor. In July 2015, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 147, appointing the Attorney General to that role to oversee investigations into incidents where unarmed civilians die during interactions with police, or incidents where there is significant question as to whether the civilian was armed and dangerous. In cases in which it’s determined that charges are not warranted, the Attorney General’s office releases a comprehensive report that details the findings of its investigation, as part of its commitment to transparency.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Allerton Avenue International Food Festival


  As usual every year several blocks of Allerton Avenue between Boston Road and White Plains Road are closed for the Allerton Avenue Merchants Association to host their Annual International Food Festival. The festival has been aided by the local elected officials, but mostly by the 80th Assembly person in whose district this merchant strip lies. Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj did not disappoint this year as he has for the past several years. 

  There were Bouncy Houses for the little ones to have fun in, many many different types of food that this area is now known for, informational tables, the Special Mark Gjonaj Horse Wagon Ride, and even elected officials. The photos below will tell the rest of the story. 


Above - Always needed at a festival is a face painter.
Below - PS 89 was trying to raise some funds to help support the school. 



Above - This vendor had a large supply of items that you may find around the neighborhood, or some you can't find elsewhere.
Below - The U.S. ARMY was looking for a few good men, and are stationed in front of the National Bakery.



Above - As the Food Critic for the Bronx Voice, I got to taste a piece of delicious cheesecake from Outback Steakhouse located in the Mall at Bay Plaza.
Below - Rob Salese (in the green shirt) was taking it off the stage and into the crowd.



Above - Some of the crowd who were at the Allerton Avenue International Food Festival.
Below - The First place, Second place, Third place, and Honorable mention runner up award winners for their different but tasty International cooking.



Above - You can see the beautiful horses that the Mark Gjonaj wagon. Notice the Red Light Camera pole, which could be a reason the driver id hiding his face.
Below - You can see the wagon is full of happy people.



Above - Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj with his lovely wife Roberta, and three future voters.
Below - Assemblyman Gjonaj stands between State Senator (and IDC Chair) Jeff Klein and State Senator Jamaal Bailey. 


A.G. Schneiderman Announces Trial Conviction And Sentencing Of Brooklyn-Based Gun Trafficker In AG-NYPD “Operation Midnight Run”


Quincy Adams Gets Extraordinarily Rare 25-Year Sentence For Systematically Trafficking Guns From Florida Gun Shows To NYC 
AG Schneiderman First-Of-Its-Kind Report Shows That 74% of NY Crime Guns Originate Out Of State, Including 86% Of Handguns Used In Crimes 
Schneiderman: If You Traffic Deadly, Illegal Weapons Into NY, We Will Catch You – And Prosecute To The Fullest Extent Of The Law
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the trial verdict and sentencing of Quincy Adams for his role as one of the leaders of a high-volume gun trafficking ring that funneled firearms from Florida to New York City, often beneath Chinatown buses. Adams received an extraordinarily rare sentence of 25 years in prison, followed by five years of post-release supervision, by the Honorable Danny Chun in Kings County Supreme Court. After a month-long jury trial, Adams was found guilty of two counts each of Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First Degree (Class B violent felonies) and Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Second Degree (Class C felony).
In October 2016, Attorney General Schneiderman released a first-of-its-kind analysis showing that 74 percent of all crime guns recovered by law enforcement originated out of state; nearly nine out of ten (86 percent) of recovered handguns come from out of state. The Attorney General’s report also found that 70 percent of likely-trafficked guns recovered in New York originated from just seven states with weak gun laws – with eight percent coming from Florida alone. The trafficking ring led by Adams was assisted by loopholes in federal law that allow private sales of firearms without a background check; unlike New York, Florida has not closed this so-called gun-show loophole.
“Gun trafficking rings drive the gun violence epidemic that is destroying lives in New York and across the country,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Even as we work to make our own communities safer, our efforts are undermined by illegal guns that pour in from other states with weak laws. If you traffic deadly, illegal weapons into New York, we will catch you – and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Midnight Run” and led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the NYPD’s Firearms Investigation Unit, began in the spring of 2014. The investigation involved a high-volume gun trafficking ring that systematically funneled firearms from Florida to New York City, often beneath Chinatown buses. The Attorney General’s office and the NYPD seized more than 70 illegal guns – including semi-automatic pistols, revolvers, and more – purchased from gun shows in Florida, many of which were then resold in New York for up to four times their original price. As the 196-count felony indictment detailed, Adams helped finance the ring’s purchases and personally transported a number of the weapons back to New York City.
Prior to Adams’ trial, the following co-defendants pleaded guilty and received the following sentences:
Natasha Harris – 15 years prison with 5 years post-release supervision
Octavio Batista - 12 years prison with five years post-release supervision
Michelle Cantres - 7 years prison with five years post-release supervision
Draxel Clarke - 5 years in prison with five years post-release supervision
Deryl Springs – 1-1/3 – 4 years prison  

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement With Infosys For Failing To Follow U.S. Visa Requirements For Foreign Workers In New York State


Infosys Placed Foreign Workers In New York Jobs Without Paying Prevailing Wages And The Taxes Owed On Them

  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today a $1 million settlement with Infosys Corporation, a global outsourcing and consulting company, that failed to properly compensate hundreds of workers and to pay applicable taxes, by systematically abusing the United States visa rules in placing foreign workers at client sites in New York State. Infosys Corporation has a significant presence in New York State and provides consulting and outsourcing services to many New York-based clients in the financial sector, among other industries. The settlement resolves whistleblower claims that Infosys Corporation, in the course of providing outsourcing services, routinely brought foreign IT personnel into New York to perform work in violation of the terms of their visas.

“We will not permit companies to violate our laws in order to undercut New York workers. My office is committed to ensuring that our state’s labor marketplace is fair, competitive and transparent for all,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows an employer to employ a foreign national temporarily in a “specialty occupation” in the United States. These visas are difficult to obtain: the application process is highly regulated and requires a submission that describes the intended occupation and specific geographic place of employment, and certifies that the salary of the proposed employee is commensurate with similarly employed United States workers. H-1B visa holders in New York are accordingly paid pursuant to prevailing wage requirements, and state taxes are withheld on salary earned while working in the State.
To perform the services offered by Infosys in New York State, its foreign workers needed H1-B visas.  But in order to avoid the difficulty and expense of obtaining such visas, the Office contends that Infosys knowingly and unlawfully obtained temporary visitor visas (B-1 visas) instead.  B-1 visas are much easier to obtain. Because they apply only to visits, B-1 visa holders are not permitted to perform work of the kind Infosys workers were sent to New York to do, and they are not subject to the H1-B prevailing wage requirements. 
Infosys workers using B-1 visas were doing work that would otherwise have been performed by U.S. citizens or H1-B visa holders, and were paid significantly less than what comparable U.S. workers or H1-B visa holders would have been paid in the same positions.  Consequently, New York was deprived of taxes that should have been paid on the higher wages that Infosys avoided by its misconduct. The settlement includes a recovery to the State for tax damages and applicable New York False Claims Act damages and penalties. The Attorney General’s investigation concluded the following:
  • Infosys provided instructions to employees on B-1 visas regarding how to deceive U.S. Consular Officials and/or Customs and Border Protection Officers.  This conduct included creation of a “Do’s and Don’ts” memorandum that was provided to Infosys employees entering the United States that explicitly instructed such employees to avoid talking about the work they were doing;
  • Infosys submitted, or caused to be submitted, “invitation letters” to U.S. Consular Officials that contained materially false representations about the true purpose of the Infosys employees’ visits to the United States; and
  • As a result of this conduct, in addition to securing employment of foreign workers at a much lower wage than applicable prevailing wage requirements, Infosys also avoided paying applicable payroll taxes on the wages of the foreign workers it improperly placed at New York client sites. 
Attorney General Schneiderman expresses his thanks to the whistleblower and its attorneys, and to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, for their assistance in bringing this case to resolution; and also commends the prior investigative work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas and other federal law enforcement, on which this investigation significantly relied.
The settlement is the latest tax-related recovery resulting from an action filed under the New York False Claims Act.  The Act is one of the state’s most powerful civil fraud enforcement tools because it allows whistleblowers and prosecutors to take legal action against companies or individuals that defraud the government. In April, the office announced a $40 million whistleblower settlement, the largest such recovery in the office’s history.  New York’s False Claims Act expressly covers tax fraud as a result of a landmark law authored by Attorney General Schneiderman while in the New York State Senate. In 2011, as one of his first acts in office, Attorney General Schneiderman created a Taxpayer Protection Bureau, which is charged to work with whistleblowers and enforce the False Claims Act in tax and other government fraud cases.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Prison Sentence, Fine For Former Judge Who Exchanged Favorable Rulings For Sexual Favors From Defendants


Paul M. Lamson To Serve Two To Six Years In State Prison For Exchanging Sexual Favors From Defendants For Beneficial Decisions
Schneiderman: We Will Continue Working To Root Out Abuse Of Power And Bring Those Responsible To Justice
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Paul M. Lamson, the former Judge for the Town of Fowler Justice Court in St. Lawrence County, was sentenced to two to six years in state prison and will pay a $2,500 fine for abusing his position as a Judge by providing beneficial rulings to defendants that appeared before him in exchange for sexual favors.  Lamson previously pleaded guilty before The Honorable Derek P. Champagne in St. Lawrence County Court to the charges of Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree in violation of Penal Law § 200.10, a class “D” felony, and Official Misconduct in violation of Penal Law § 195.00(1), a class “A” misdemeanor. 
“For a judge to exploit their power and take advantage of someone in such a vulnerable position is truly reprehensible, and erodes public trust in our judicial system,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue working to root out public corruption and abuse of power, and bring those responsible to justice.”
Lamson was the Town Justice for the Town of Fowler Justice Court from 2005 to December 1, 2016, when he resigned.  When entering his plea in St. Lawrence County Court, Lamson admitted to soliciting and accepting sexual favors from individuals who had pending criminal cases before him in the Town of Fowler Justice Court. He did so under an agreement or understanding that his judgment, action, decision, and exercise of discretion as the Justice for the Town of Fowler Court would be influenced with respect to those defendants’ cases.  Lamson also admitted that he provided favorable rulings on these defendants’ behalf as a result of these agreements or understandings. 
Attorney General Schneiderman remains committed to rooting out public corruption, including in cases that involve judicial abuse of power. On February 24th, the Attorney General announced the guilty plea of Delmar House, the former Village Justice for the Village of West Carthage Court in Jefferson County, for abusing his position as a Judge by reducing a fine for a defendant who appeared before him in exchange for sexual favors, and by paying a portion of that defendant’s fines in exchange for additional sexual favors. House pleaded guilty to Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree, and Receiving a Reward for Official Misconduct in the Second Degree. On May 2, 2017, House was sentenced to serve four months in a county correctional facility and five years’ probation, and ordered to pay a $5000.00 fine.
The Attorney General thanks the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police, and the New York State Office of Court Administration for their valuable assistance in this investigation. 

Doctor And Two Others Charged In Manhattan Federal Court For Illegal Distribution Of Oxycodone Pills


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division (“DEA”), James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“HHS-OIG”), announced the unsealing of an indictment charging of DAVID TAYLOR, a state-licensed doctor, with writing medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone over a five-year period. In addition to TAYLOR, VITO GALLICCHIO, and DANIEL GARCIA were arrested on charges that, from January 2012 through at least June 2017, they conspired with TAYLOR to distribute oxycodone. All three defendants are expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge James L. Cott later today. The case has been assigned to United States District Court Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said: “As the opioid epidemic wreaks havoc on too many of our communities, for years, Dr. David Taylor and his co-conspirators allegedly wrote prescriptions for and distributed medically unnecessary oxycodone. Doctors should be advancing the health of our citizens, not allegedly fueling the biggest health crisis facing the country, the opioid abuse epidemic. We are committed to holding accountable everyone involving in the illegal distribution of opioids, including allegedly corrupt doctors.”
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt said: “It is alleged that millions of dollars’ worth of pain medication was diverted onto the streets of Staten Island, enabling addiction and overdoses on the borough. These arrests will impact Staten Island’s opioid market by shutting down an illicit pill distribution operation located at the heart of the borough, along Hylan Boulevard.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “As alleged, the defendants distributed Oxycodone for at least five years, at the expense of those addicted to these pain killers. The NYPD will aggressively pursue those who distribute illegal prescription drugs."
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in federal court [1].
From January 2012 through at least June 2017, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, DAVID TAYLOR, VITO GALLICCHIO, and DANIEL GARCIA, and others conspired to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone.
TAYLOR, 74, GALLICCHIO, 48, and GARCIA, 57, are charged with one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. This offense carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad (Group TDS-NY), which comprises agents and officers from the DEA, the NYPD, the New York State Police, New York State Department of Financial Services, and New York City Department of Investigation. He also acknowledged the assistance of HHS-OIG and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
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 Indictments and the descriptions of the Indictments set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.