Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Employee Inside East New York Bodega

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 17, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting
Employee Inside East New York Bodega

Defendant Returned to Store Two Hours After Argument and Fired More than a Dozen Times, Narrowly Missing Two Employees and a Customer

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for fatally shooting an innocent 80-year-old bodega employee at point-blank range and firing at three other people, following an argument with the East New York store’s employees over the price of a beer.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “An innocent 80-year-old man lost his life in this senseless and violent attack. The defendant showed an inexplicable and utter disregard for human life and has now been held accountable. I hope that today’s sentence brings a measure of solace to the victim’s family and others who narrowly escaped harm that day.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Mark Thomas, 43, of East New York, Brooklyn. The defendant, who was deemed a mandatory persistent violent felon, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Ruth Shillingford. He was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree attempted murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment on August 1, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on December 12, 2017, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the defendant tried to purchase a beer from an employee of a bodega located at 797 Stanley Avenue, offering $1.50 for a beer that cost $2.00. The defendant began to argue with the store’s employees and proceeded to curse at them, using racial epithets. After the employees got the defendant to leave the store, he threatened to come back and kill them.

About two hours later, at approximately 6:25 p.m., the defendant walked into the store and fatally shot Abdullah Yafaee, 80, in the chest from less than five feet away. While the victim lay wounded on the floor of the store, the defendant turned to two other employees behind the counter, firing at them as they ducked for cover. The defendant fired two additional shots at a customer who fled to the rear of the store. After leaving the bodega, the defendant fired at least nine additional shots into the store.

Following the shooting, the defendant walked south on Ashford Street and fled the scene in a white 2008 GMC Suburban. The defendant was arrested December 13, 2017 after detectives found his vehicle while canvassing the neighborhood. Detectives recovered the hat, boots and gloves the defendant was seen wearing in the bodega’s surveillance video. Four employees who witnessed the shooting identified the defendant during line-up procedures.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jamie Begley of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Sean Hughes of the District Attorney’s Red Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Three Luna Park Housing Corporation Tenants Arrested for Submitting Forged Documents for Illegal Purchase of Highly Desirable and Affordable Mitchell-Lama Apartments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 17, 2019

 

Three Luna Park Housing Corporation Tenants Arrested for
Submitting Forged Documents for Illegal Purchase of
Highly Desirable and Affordable Mitchell-Lama Apartments

Part of Continuing Investigation that Led to Charges Against
Co-op Board of Directors President and Treasurer, and Co-op Office Manager

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, today announced that three Luna Park Housing tenants have been arrested on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument, offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records to illegally obtain, or help another person obtain, apartments in the Mitchell-Lama complex in Coney Island.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A system that was put into place to ensure fair and equitable access to affordable housing was corrupted and we allege that these defendants took advantage of a scheme to illegally purchase or help others purchase apartments to which they were not entitled. Their alleged actions deprived honest, law-abiding home seekers a chance to obtain affordable housing, so we will now seek to bring these defendants to justice for their respective roles in this alleged corrupt scheme.”

Commissioner Garnett said, “These defendants sought an unfair advantage for themselves by making false statements and submitting fabricated documents to government officials at the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, according to the charges. This corrupt scheme undermined fair access to affordable housing in Brooklyn. But working with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, and our federal and City partners, we are holding accountable those individuals whose alleged actions manipulated the process and we are actively working to remedy the vulnerabilities we uncovered. I thank the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for its partnership and vigilance on this matter.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Leonid Dakhe, 64, Tatyana Langman, 71, and Sabina Berkovich, 40, all of Coney Island, Brooklyn. They were arraigned yesterday by Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Michael Yavinsky on complaints in which they are charged with multiple counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records and one count of second-degree making an apparently sworn false statement. All of the defendants were released without bail. Langman and Berkovich were ordered to return to court on December 18, 2019. Dakhe was ordered to return to court on December 11, 2019.

The District Attorney said that Mitchell-Lama apartments are sold through waiting lists kept by each development. In order to apply for a Mitchell-Lama apartment with an open waiting list, one must contact the managing company of that development and request an application, which, upon approval, is forwarded to the Housing Preservation and Development Corporation for final approval.

Furthermore, Mitchell-Lama rules allow family members of tenants who meet all the requirements and have lived at the home for at least two years to remain as lawful tenants after the tenant of record has vacated the apartment. Those occupancy rights of family members are referred to as succession rights.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between July 16, 2015 and August 26, 2015, defendants Tatyana Langman and Sabina Berkovich submitted false documents, falsely claiming to be mother and daughter, so that Berkovich could allegedly gain succession rights to Langman’s apartment located at 2900 West 8th Street, in Luna Park.

It is alleged that the defendants, acting in concert with each other and others, submitted the following falsified and forged documents: a letter purportedly from Langman falsely stating Berkovich was her daughter and resided with her; a forged birth certificate that falsely indicated that defendant Langman was defendant Berkovich’s mother; a forged marriage certificate related to Berkovich’s marriage that falsely identified Berkovich’s maiden name as Langman and omitted the names of Berkovich’s parents; and additional false documents such as bank records.

Furthermore, it is alleged, that between January 23, 2018 and January 26, 2018, defendant Leonid Dakhe, acting in concert with others, fraudulently obtained succession rights to a Mitchell-Lama apartment in the Luna Park complex located at 2820 West 8th Street, by submitting a succession application that falsely stated he was the brother of the prior tenant, and that he resided in the apartment with the tenant for more than a year. Among the falsified documents allegedly submitted were: a forged birth certificate falsely indicating that the defendant and the prior tenant had the same mother; a TD Bank statement and a Chase Bank statement from 2016 in which the name of the account holder and the account holder’s address were forged or falsified to indicate that the defendant was the account holder and resided at 2820 West 8th Street, and a New York State tax document for tax year 2016 in which the taxpayer’s address was forged or falsified to indicate that at the time of the statement the defendant resided at 2820 West 8th Street.

Today’s arrests stemmed from a long-term investigation that led to the indictment in May 2019 of the President and Treasurer of the co-op’s Board of Directors and the co-op’s Office Manager, for allegedly conspiring to steal and sell the right to purchase apartments at Luna Park between January 1, 2013 and May 6, 2019.

The case was investigated by DOI, specifically Assistant Inspector General Maria Horvat, under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General Michael Antolini, Senior Inspector General Jessica Heegan, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort, with assistance from DOI’s NYPD Squad of Detectives.

The District Attorney thanked KCDA Detective Investigators assigned to the Investigations Bureau for their assistance in this case, as well as KCDA Financial Investigator Ludwig Sanchez, of the Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau; and Investigative Analyst Megan Carroll of the Investigations Division

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Theresa Robitaille, of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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

 

Two Former New York City Police Detectives Sentenced to Five Years’ Probation for Having Sex with Woman in Their Custody in Exchange for Her Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 10, 2019

 

Two Former New York City Police Detectives Sentenced to
Five Years’ Probation for Having Sex with Woman in
Their Custody in Exchange for Her Release

Sentenced Under Plea Offer Made by the Court; Prosecutors Requested Prison Time

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that two former New York City Police detectives were sentenced to five years’ probation following their guilty plea to bribe receiving and official misconduct for having sex inside a police van with a young woman they had arrested, before releasing her without authorization and without reporting the arrest. Prosecutors requested a term of incarceration.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants lost their jobs and are now convicted felons because of the appalling abuse of power to which they admitted. This incident led to a change in New York law, closing a loophole that allowed officers to claim that sex with a detainee was consensual. Unfortunately, we could not apply that new law retroactively. While my Office recommended prison time, we accept the Court’s sentence.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Eddie Martins, 39, and Richard Hall, 34, who were formerly assigned to the NYPD’s Brooklyn South Narcotics. They were sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to five years’ probation following their guilty plea in August to the entire indictment against them – two counts of third-degree bribe receiving and nine counts of official misconduct. The District Attorney’s Office requested a term of incarceration of one to three years. However, since the defendants pleaded guilty to the entire indictment the Court offered this non-custodial disposition.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on September 15, 2017, at approximately 7:30 p.m., the defendants, who were on-duty and riding in a Dodge Caravan, working as part of a team of plainclothes detectives assigned to Brooklyn South Narcotics and conducting a buy and bust operation in the confines of the 60th Precinct, left their post without authorization and drove to Calvert Vaux Park in Gravesend, Brooklyn.

Just after 8 p.m., the officers conducted a car stop of an Infinity Coupe driven by an 18-year-old woman with two male passengers. There was a quantity of marijuana in the front seat cup holder. The officers instructed the three occupants to step out of the car and asked if they had any drugs on them, according to the investigation. The young woman responded she had marijuana and two Klonopin pills. The detectives handcuffed the woman, told her she was under arrest and would be getting a desk appearance ticket. They let her companions go, the evidence showed.

After leaving the park, while inside the police van, the woman had sexual intercourse with Martins and performed a sex act on Hall, according to the evidence. The defendants then drove back to the vicinity of the 60th Precinct in Coney Island and released the woman, giving her back the Klonopin pills. They did not report the incident to their supervisor or to anyone else and had no authority to rescind the arrest or to release the detainee, according to the indictment.

DNA recovered from the woman was a match to both of the defendants. Video surveillance shows the woman exiting the police van at approximately 8:42 p.m., the investigation found.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Frank DeGaetano, First Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, Senior Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Nasar, of the Special Victims Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Anthea Bruffee, First Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Appeals Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Joseph P. Alexis, Chief of the Trial Division.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate Murder Conviction In Connection With 1993 Shootout Outside Housing Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 3, 2019

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate Murder Conviction
In Connection With 1993 Shootout Outside Housing Development

One of Two Sole Eyewitnesses Credibly Recanted and the Second – Her Sister –
Incredibly Claimed She Doesn’t Recall the Incident

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that following a thorough investigation by his Conviction Review Unit (CRU), he will move to vacate the murder and assault conviction against Carlos Weeks, 46, who has been incarcerated since 1993. The investigation found that the testimony from the only eyewitnesses who identified him as the person who fatally shot the male victim and wounded a 10-year-old girl cannot be credited. One of them credibly recanted her testimony and the other claimed she has no recollection of the incident.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “An extensive investigation into this old case revealed that the two witnesses who identified Mr. Weeks as the shooter were not credible. Accordingly, we cannot stand by this conviction and will release the defendant, who spent 26 years behind bars. I would like to thank the prosecutors from my Conviction Review Unit for their persistence in this case. Their sole mission is to investigate questionable convictions and they will continue this crucial work in an effort to correct every miscarriage of justice that happened in Brooklyn.”

Weeks will appear in court today at 2:15 p.m. before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo at 320 Jay Street, 15th floor.

The District Attorney said that on July 6, 1993, a shootout between two small groups of men broke out in front of a building in the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Frank Davis, 21, was fatally shot and a 10-year-old girl who was caught in the crossfire was seriously wounded. Police recovered shell casings from three different guns.

Ten days after the incident, a man named Marshall Taylor, who was arrested in East New York on an unrelated matter, told the authorities that in the prior week, the defendant approached him while he was pumping gas and confessed that he, with two accomplices, committed the fatal shooting in retaliation against a group that had robbed them.

Less than an hour after he made the statement, Marshall’s mother, Carmella Taylor, was brought to the precinct and stated that she lived in a building adjacent to the scene of the shooting and that she saw the defendant, who she knew from the building, firing a gun. Shortly thereafter, Carmella’s sister, Lorraine Taylor, also provided a statement, saying she was in the same 12th floor apartment with her sister, heard shots, ran downstairs with her sister (to look for their children who were playing outside) and saw the defendant throw a gun inside a car and drive off.

Both sisters identified the defendant in a lineup. In subsequent testimony, both stated that they saw the defendant shooting when they looked out of the 12th floor window and Carmella added that, after she ran down the stairs to the first floor, she saw the defendant run into the building. Other testimony indicated that three men were shooting at the victims with the deceased and his friend returning fire.

About a year after Weeks’ indictment on the charges, Marshall Taylor committed suicide while incarcerated. (CRU discovered that his picture appeared in two photo arrays that were prepared in connection with the homicide but it’s unclear if he was ever considered a suspect.) At the 1995 trial, both Taylor sisters initially refused to testify and did so only after material witness orders were issued.

The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He was sentenced to 27½ years to life in prison.

The CRU made repeated attempts to interview the Taylor sisters. Lorraine was initially reluctant to speak and, when reminded by investigators of her account, she was asked by her husband, who was present, if she saw that much of what transpired. Lorraine then teared up and said “no” and “there was so much pressure.” In subsequent interviews she admitted that she never saw the faces of any of the shooters and went to the precinct to help her nephew Marshall Taylor. She said that she felt pressured to testify at trial and was receiving threats that made her want to relocate – something that was promised in exchange for her testimony.

After multiple attempts by the CRU to speak with Carmella, she claimed that she did not remember the 1993 shooting or testifying about it – a claim CRU discredited as implausible. The defendant was also interviewed by CRU. He claimed that he and two friends were robbed at gun point by the deceased and the friend who was with him at the time of the shootout. He added that he wasn’t involved in the shooting and drove up to the scene after it ended. An examination of the 12th floor window suggested that it was likely that trees and the distance hindered the sisters’ view of the shooting, but whether they could see the shooter remained inconclusive because the height of trees may have increased in the past 26 years.

The CRU concluded that Lorraine’s recantation was credible and supported by the record: she was reluctant to testify at trial, both sisters were relocated after testifying, no other evidence corroborated their account and it strains credulity that the shooter would still be fleeing the scene by the time the sisters finished running down 12 flights of stairs or that the person the defendant spontaneously confessed to would be related to the only eyewitnesses to the crime. Accordingly, DA Gonzalez will move to vacate the conviction and dismiss the underlying indictment against Mr. Weeks.

To date, the work of the Conviction Review Unit has resulted in 27 convictions being vacated. In addition, the CRU has found that of the cases reviewed thus far, 80 convictions are just and will not be recommended to be vacated. Approximately 80 cases are pending review.

This case was referred to CRU by Davis Polk LLC and The Legal Aid Society.

This case was investigated by Assistant District Attorney Michael Trabulsi, formerly of the District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit, with the assistance of Bruce Alderman and Lori Glachman, also of CRU, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale, Chief of the District Attorney’s Post-Conviction Justice Bureau, and the overall supervision of Tali Farhadian Weinstein, General Counsel.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces Project Reset in Partnership with the Center for Court Innovation and the Brooklyn Museum To Allow Those Arrested for Certain Minor Offenses to Avoid Prosecution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 2, 2019

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces Project Reset in
Partnership with the Center for Court Innovation and the Brooklyn Museum
To Allow Those Arrested for Certain Minor Offenses to Avoid Prosecution

Arts-Based Educational Course and Other Programming are Offered In Lieu of Prosecution;
Cases Get Dismissed Upon Completion and Without Court Appearance

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that Project Reset, a diversion program that holds people accountable for minor crimes without prosecuting them, has been launched in Brooklyn and includes a first-of-its-kind arts-based educational course at the Brooklyn Museum, a recognized leader in the field of arts education. Conducted in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), the Brooklyn Museum, The Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Defender Services, Project Reset allows those charged with certain misdemeanors who receive a desk appearance ticket (DAT) to resolve their cases by completing a diversionary course without ever having to set foot in court.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Project Reset aligns with my commitment to reduce our reliance on convictions and incarceration while still holding offenders accountable. This program addresses the conduct of those who commit misdemeanor offenses and confronts the consequences of their actions in a more meaningful way than traditional court sanctions. I am especially proud that we have partnered with the Brooklyn Museum because involving our local communities and Brooklyn’s incredible cultural institutions as partners in justice is one of my goals as we strive to strengthen fairness and trust. This partnership helps harness the transformative power of art as a response to low-level crimes. With the forthcoming expansion of DAT arrests under the new criminal justice reform law taking effect next year, this program will help us handle misdemeanors more efficiently and equitably while reducing the footprint of the criminal justice system.”

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, “As we work together to move away from an overly punitive criminal justice system, Project Reset is a key component in providing alternatives to traditional criminal prosecution. These community-based diversion programs are a fair and proportionate solution to arrests for low level offenses, and they are also highly effective, since participants are less than half as likely to be arrested as their peers. The Council is committed to this successful program. We reached an agreement with the Administration to fund Project Reset citywide, with a $710,000 allocation from the Council and $3.2 million allocation from the Administration. I commend District Attorney Gonzalez and the Center for Court Innovation for their leadership in this work.”

Adam Mansky, Director of Criminal Justice at the Center for Court Innovation said, “The Center for Court Innovation is pleased to work with our longtime partner, the Brooklyn DA’s Office, to launch Project Reset throughout Brooklyn. Project Reset is a new way of responding to low-level offending that is appropriate, meaningful, and proportionate, and wholly avoids the threat of jail, warrant, or conviction. By diverting people out of the criminal justice system and into community-based programming, Project Reset will make justice in Brooklyn more humane and effective. The Center for Court Innovation is grateful to the City Council and Speaker Johnson for supporting this important work.”

David Berliner, President and Chief Operating Officer, Brooklyn Museum, said, “We’re so thrilled to announce this innovative collaboration with the Center for Court Innovation. At the Brooklyn Museum, we’ve long been committed to programs that champion social justice issues, and this partnership provides a meaningful way for the arts to play a unique and critical role in criminal justice reform.”

The District Attorney said that Project Reset launched on May 20, 2019 in all 10 Brooklyn North precincts and expanded to the entire borough on August 5, 2019. Under this initiative, all individuals arrested for certain misdemeanors, including criminal mischief, petit larceny, disorderly conduct and others, who receive a DAT are screened for eligibility. Their assigned counsel will receive an email about the arrest from the Brooklyn DA’s Office giving counsel seven days to conduct outreach and consultation with the prospective participant. During the course of the next three to four weeks, and before the scheduled court appearance to answer the charges, the participants will have to complete appropriate programming.

The Brooklyn Museum offers two courses – one for young adults up to age 25 and another for adults age 26 and up. During the immersive, two-hour curriculum that was created for Project Reset, participants view, analyze and discuss a work of art from the Museum’s permanent collection in a group setting, and learn about its origins and meaning. The discussion is led by teaching artists, whose own work centers around themes of social justice and prison reform. Participants then work independently to create their own artwork in response to the discussion in an effort to learn about accepting responsibility and changing one’s personal narrative while simultaneously being exposed to art and cultural offerings within their community.

Another offering is being held at the Downtown Brooklyn offices of Brooklyn Justice Initiatives (BJI), a project of CCI. Tools for New Thinking is a 90-minute session providing space for adult participants, working with social workers, to identify and discuss situations that they feel escalated unnecessarily and resulted in regrettable outcomes, while learning how their values and thoughts can lead to better outcomes. Participants who can benefit from tailored services based on their particular needs, are offered an individual session with BJI.

If a person completes the session, representatives of BJI notify the Brooklyn DA’s Office, which then declines to prosecute the arrest. The case is then sealed, and the person never has to appear in court. Participants have access to defense attorneys throughout the process.

The list of misdemeanors currently accepted for Project Reset is as follows: Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree, Criminal Trespass in the Second and Third Degrees, Criminal Tampering in the Third Degree, Reckless Endangerment of Property, Making Graffiti, Possession of Graffiti Instruments, Petit Larceny, Theft of Services, Unauthorized Sale of Certain Transportation Services, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, Trademark Counterfeiting in the Third Degree, Forgery in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree, Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree, Promoting Gambling in the Second Degree, Unlawful Assembly and Disorderly Conduct.

Since the launch of the program, 182 people completed Project Reset (51 of them completed a session in the Brooklyn Museum) and had their cases dismissed. They represent over 50% of eligible individuals. It is estimated that more than 1,000 cases are eligible annually.

Project Reset started in 2015 as a pilot in Brooklyn for 16- and 17-year-olds. An evaluation of that pilot found that participants were significantly less likely than defendants in a comparison group to be convicted of a new crime within one year. It also documented improved case processing times and case outcomes, as well as positive perceptions of the program, with more than 95% of participants saying they had made the right decision by entering the program and that they would recommend it to someone in a similar situation. Project Reset has since expanded to serve all ages and the program has been implemented in Manhattan and a number of precincts in the Bronx. Brooklyn is the only borough where all defendants who receive DATs are eligible without restrictions.

The program is in alignment with Justice 2020, DA Gonzalez’s plan of action aimed at keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening community trust by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all, which calls for, among other things, “making jail the alternative.”

Project Reset is being funded through appropriations from the New York City Council as well as private funding from the Cohen Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Art for Justice Fund.

Project Reset is being directed by Senior Assistant District Attorney Karen Varriale, of the District Attorney’s Alternatives to Incarceration Unit, under the overall supervision of Meg Reiss, Chief of Social Justice.

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Note: a video about the program can be viewed here.

 

Brooklyn Man Charged with Murder and Reckless Endangerment for Deliberately Chasing Down and Crashing His Car into Cyclist

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 27, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Charged with Murder and Reckless Endangerment for Deliberately Chasing Down and Crashing His Car into Cyclist

Alleges He Saw Victim Breaking into Defendant’s SUV

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 41-year-old Brooklyn man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with murder and reckless endangerment for deliberately running over a cyclist in Bushwick who he allegedly observed breaking into his car.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Rather than call the police when he allegedly saw a crime being committed, this defendant allegedly turned his car into a deadly weapon and needlessly took a life. Lawless behavior cannot be tolerated, and we will now seek to hold this defendant accountable for his actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Korey Johnson, 41, of Ocean Hill, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree reckless endangerment. The defendant was remanded without bail and ordered to return to court on December 6, 2019. He faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, on September 3, 2019, at approximately 6 a.m., the defendant allegedly saw Donald Roberts, 47, breaking into the defendant’s 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked on Broadway near Ellery Street in Bushwick. It is alleged that the defendant entered his car and chased after the victim as he biked off, deliberately speeding down Broadway and entering oncoming traffic during the pursuit. It is alleged that the defendant intentionally drove his Jeep into the victim, striking him from behind and crashing his SUV into a row of parked cars before the car flipped onto its side.

The victim was taken to Woodhull Hospital where he died from severe blunt force trauma. Police arrested the defendant at the scene of the accident after he was extracted from his vehicle.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Chow Xie of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Bureau Chief.

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

 

Man Indicted for Practicing as a Neuropsychologist Without a License and Treating at Least 12 People, Including Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 26, 2019

 

Man Indicted for Practicing as a Neuropsychologist Without a
License and Treating at Least 12 People, Including Children

Defendant Maintained Offices in Brooklyn Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens;
Defendant’s Girlfriend, Who Allegedly Ran Office, Also Charged

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Los Angeles man, who used to reside in Nassau County, has been indicted for pretending to be a neuropsychologist and treating patients in Brooklyn over several years. The defendant is not licensed to practice medicine or psychology in New York or elsewhere.

District Attorney Gonzalez said “It is unbelievable that someone would put patients, including children, at risk by pretending to be qualified to diagnose and treat them. The alleged conduct in this case is truly outrageous and potentially endangered vulnerable people. I urge anyone who believes they have been defrauded by these defendants to contact my Action Center at 718-250-2340.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Glenn Payne, 59, of Los Angeles, California. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik on a 55-count indictment in which he and a co-defendant, Vernette Tobierre, his office manager, are variously charged with fifth-degree conspiracy, first-degree scheme to defraud, unauthorized practice of a profession, unauthorized use of a professional title, third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, petit larceny, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and endangering the welfare of a child. Payne was ordered held on $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash bail and to return to court on October 30, 2019. Tobierre, who is 46, was arraigned on this matter on January 14, 2019 and her next court date is October 25, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between June 5, 2012 and May 30, 2018, Payne allegedly illegally practiced neuropsychology on children, adolescents and adults, operating under the auspices of The Brooklyn Heights Office of Advanced Neurotherapy out of various locations, including 300 Cadman Plaza West, the Maple Medical Office Building on Bedford Avenue and the offices of the non-profit Kings Against Violence Initiative at Kings County Medical Center. Payne falsely claimed to have a Masters of Public Health and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

It is alleged that Tobierre acted as the general office manager and receptionist for the practice, collecting cash and electronic payments on behalf of the “Office of Dr. Glenn Payne” as well as scheduling patient appointments, faxing and emailing correspondence, answering the phone and communicating with patients.

It is alleged that patients were referred to Payne from pediatricians or friends in the medical field for assistance with troubled children, according to the indictment, and appointments were scheduled by Tobierre, who was introduced as Payne’s wife or assistant. She informed the patients or their parents that he did not accept medical insurance and all payments had to be made in cash, using Chase QuickPay or by electronic transfer. Patients were charged between $60 and $250 per session.

Finally, it is alleged, the defendant falsely claimed to have affiliations with Kings County Medical Center and SUNY Downstate Hospital.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Deidre Moskowitz of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Senior Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, also of the Frauds Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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

Brooklyn Soccer Coach Sentenced to Four Years in Prison For Molesting 10-Year-Old Boy on His Team

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

 

Brooklyn Soccer Coach Sentenced to Four Years in Prison
For Molesting Young Boy on His Team

Child was Abused on Multiple Occasions in Park Bathroom After Practice;
Second Victim, a Teenage Relative, Discovered During Course of Investigation

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 41-year-old former soccer coach has been sentenced to four years in prison following his guilty plea earlier this month to course of sexual conduct against a child and other charges in connection to the molestation of two boys.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s actions are an upsetting and shocking betrayal of trust. This defendant molested a boy on his team and his own relative who both had every expectation to believe they would be safe with him. I remain steadfast in my commitment to bringing sexual predators who target our children to justice.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Pablo Pineda, 41, of Mott Haven, the Bronx. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Barry Warhit to four years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, forcible touching, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and failure to register as a sex offender before Justice Warhit on September 10, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on several occasions between July 1, 2017 and April 27, 2018, at Friends Field, located on East 4th Street near Avenue L, in Midwood, Brooklyn, the defendant molested a boy on his team multiple times beginning when he was 9 and continuing to age 10. The child was molested and exposed to pornography in a park bathroom after soccer practice.

The victim’s mother filed a police report on June 20, 2018, after she discovered text messages from an unknown number asking the victim to go to the movies and not tell his mother. The defendant was arrested the following day.

Investigators who discovered inappropriate text messages on the defendant’s phone later learned that the defendant molested a teenage relative between May and June 2018.

The defendant was supposed to be registered as a sex offender stemming from a 2005 conviction in Texas involving child sexual abuse.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cohen, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn Man Convicted of Murder of Manhattan Chef

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 20, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted of Murder of Manhattan Chef

Victim was Stabbed Multiple Times; Defendant Set Fire to Cover Up Crime

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been convicted of murder, burglary and arson stemming from the January 2016 stabbing death of a popular Manhattan chef inside his home in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. The defendant, who fled following the stabbing, was apprehended in Virginia after four months on the run.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A beloved family man and popular chef was senselessly and brutally murdered in his home. This verdict is a small measure of justice for Romulo Heras’s wife, children and grandchildren. This defendant has now been held accountable for this terrible crime.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Jahkeem Scott, 21, of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. He was convicted yesterday of second-degree murder, second-degree arson and first-degree burglary following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison on the top count when he is sentenced next month.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on January 22, 2016 at approximately 9 a.m., the defendant entered the victim’s home through a window on the first floor. The victim, Romulo Heras, 61, was a nighttime chef at Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village in Manhattan and was home asleep at the time.

The defendant, intent on committing a burglary, stabbed the victim 31 times about the body, neck and head. Prior to leaving the apartment, the defendant stole numerous items from the victim’s home, according to the evidence.

Surveillance video footage from inside the apartment building depicts the defendant carrying a laundry bag of items as he leaves the victim’s building, the evidence showed.

To cover up the burglary and resulting murder, the defendant set six separate fires to Heras’s apartment. The victim’s body was discovered by members of the New York City Fire Department who responded to the fire.

The defendant fled to Virginia after the crime and was apprehended in May 2016.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Andy Palacio, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Daniel Murphy, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to Launch Saturday Night Lights Soccer Program in East Flatbush and Brownsville Through Collaboration with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the NYC Soccer Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 12, 2019

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to Launch Saturday Night Lights Soccer Program in East Flatbush and Brownsville Through Collaboration with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the NYC Soccer Initiative

The Free Program Will Offer Lessons and Games Every Saturday

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the launch of Saturday Night Lights in East Flatbush and Brownsville, a soccer program in collaboration with the NYC Soccer Initiative and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The free program will begin on September 21, 2019 at the Winthrop Beacon Community Center in East Flatbush. The soccer program is open to boys and girls ages nine to 18.

The weekly sessions will offer an opportunity to learn character building skills by working as a team and with experienced coaches. The program will run every Saturday night from 6 to 9 p.m., year-round.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “In Brooklyn, we are excited that the Saturday Night Lights program, which exists in East New York, is now expanding to East Flatbush and Brownsville, thanks to the generosity of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

“These terrific programs give our children a place to spend their Saturday nights in a safe and productive environment where they not only learn sports and sportsmanship, but help our children build confidence and develop life skills. This is a valuable investment in communities that often lack the resources and facilities to constructively engage young people and complements our existing youth programs such as our Chess Partnership, our Explorers Program, our Anti-Bullying Initiative and our Brooklyn Scholars program.

“The goal of my Justice 2020 Action Plan is to enhance public safety while building community trust. Saturday Night Lights achieves both these goals while reducing the criminal justice footprint.”

There are no academic or pre-registration requirements to participate in the soccer program. Parents can enroll their children at the Winthrop Beacon Community Center, located at 905 Winthrop Street in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The program is part of a two-year grant awarded to City in the Community, the non-profit organization of the New York City Football Club, by the Manhattan District Attorney, which is funding the program.

For more information on our Saturday Night Lights programs, please visit: http://www.brooklynda.org/youth-initiatives/.

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