Woman Sentenced to up to 4½ Years in Prison for Hate Crime Theft of $140,000 Cash and Gold Jewelry from Bensonhurst Woman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

Woman Sentenced to up to 4½ Years in Prison for Hate Crime Theft of
$140,000 Cash and Gold Jewelry from Bensonhurst Woman

Defendant Pledged to Remove Curses in Elaborate “Chinese Blessing Scam”

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 44-year-old woman was sentenced to 1½ to 4½ years in prison, following her earlier guilty plea to second-degree grand larceny as a hate crime. The defendant admitted to stealing about $140,000 in cash and gold jewelry from the victim, a Chinese woman, during an elaborate scam, convincing her she needed to remove a curse that threatened her family.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “After targeting vulnerable immigrant women, this defendant stole the victim’s life savings by exploiting the fears and beliefs of the culture they shared. Her deplorable conduct more than merits the prison sentence imposed today. I will aggressively prosecute those who seek to profit from our immigrant communities, and we will continue my Office’s efforts to educate everybody about common illegal schemes like this Chinese blessing scam, as we do in our monthly Immigration Forums.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Xuekun Su, 44, of China. She was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to an indeterminate term of 1½ to 4½ years in state prison, following her guilty plea last month to one count of second-degree grand larceny as a hate crime.

The Acting District Attorney said that the defendant, acting with other unapprehended individuals, approached the victim, a 61-year-old Chinese immigrant, on April 27, 2016, in the vicinity of Bay 22nd Street and 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The defendant and the other individuals engaged the victim in conversation and, after gaining her trust, claimed to be clairvoyants. They warned the victim that she or a member of her family would die because of a curse.

They convinced her that she could rid herself of the curse by gathering large sums of cash and jewelry to be blessed. The defendant and the others assured the victim that after the blessing removed the evil spirits surrounding her family, the items would be returned to her. The victim proceeded to gather approximately $140,000 in cash and various pieces of gold jewelry.

The victim then returned to the defendant and the others who, according to the investigation, instructed the victim to place the cash and jewels into a bag for the “blessing.” Manipulating the bag, the defendant and others removed the victim’s valuables and returned a closed one to the victim. They told the victim that the blessing would only work if she did not open the bag for many days. Later that evening, however, after the defendant and the others had gone, the victim opened the bag and found that her property was gone. She then contacted the police.

The defendant admitted that she had selected the victim based on her age and national origin, making her larceny conviction a hate crime under New York State law.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Dimitrij Prokopez and Sergeant Sean O’Hara, of the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division, under the supervision of Sergeant Gregory Marotta, Lieutenant Robert Rattigan, Inspector John M. Denesopolis, and Assistant Chief Brian McCarthy of the Criminal Enterprise Investigations.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jose Interiano, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Unit, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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Brownsville Woman Convicted of Manslaughter for Beating Her 4-Year-Old Nephew to Death with a Belt

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

 

Brownsville Woman Convicted of Manslaughter for
Beating Her 4-Year-Old Nephew to Death with a Belt

Defendant Struck Child Numerous Times, Claiming
He Wouldn’t Focus During Spelling Lessons

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 24-year-old Brownsville woman has been convicted of first-degree manslaughter for beating her 4-year-old nephew to death with a belt and its buckle while she was babysitting him.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The defendant’s crime is made even more atrocious by the excuse she offered for beating her nephew to death: that he wouldn’t focus on his spelling lessons. Little Ethan should have had many, many years to grow and thrive, but instead he was robbed of his life by this defendant’s vicious attack. I remain committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting those who seek to harm our children.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Christen Dale, 24, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. She was convicted today of first-degree manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik, who set sentencing for June 1, 2017, at which time the defendant faces up to 25 years in prison.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on February 25, 2015, inside of 287 Rockaway Parkway, where the defendant lived with her sister and her nephew, Ethan Ali, 4, the defendant was watching the child while her sister was at work.

At some point, according to testimony, the defendant began to beat him with a belt, striking him repeatedly with both the strap and the metal buckle. The defendant told police she had been trying to teach the 4-year-old to spell and became enraged when the child failed to focus on the lesson.

According to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Ethan suffered blunt impact trauma resulting in internal bleeding causing multi-system organ failure, and was left with extensive bruising on his torso, back, buttocks, thighs, arms and scalp.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Frank DeGaetano, First Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Deanna Paul, also of the Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief.

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Brooklyn Man Convicted of 1998 Rape in Park Slope Subway Station Following Cold Case DNA Hit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted of 1998 Rape in Park Slope Subway Station Following Cold Case DNA Hit

Faces up to 25 Years in State Prison when he is Sentenced Next Month

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 45-year-old Brooklyn man has been convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman on a subway platform in 1998. The defendant was charged with the rape as a result of a “cold hit” in which a DNA sample obtained from the victim’s rape kit was positively matched to the defendant’s DNA profile in the New York DNA databank.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Thanks to the DNA evidence collected at the time of this attack the defendant has now been held accountable for this brutal rape. This case once again underscores the importance of DNA evidence in proving guilt or innocence. I’d also like to commend the victim for having the courage to testify at trial and bring this defendant to justice.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Johnny Jacob, 45, of Brooklyn. He was convicted yesterday of first-degree rape following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo, who set sentencing for June 2, 2017, at which time he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on March 2, 1998, at approximately 9:30 a.m., the victim, who was 19 at the time and going to her first day of work, had just exited the M train at the 9th Street and Fourth Avenue stop. She was approached by the defendant, who ordered her to the back of the platform, while threatening to shoot her and placing what she believed to be a gun to her back. He forcibly raped her, then brought her outside of the train station and told her that he would kill her if she called the police.

The defendant, who was not known to the victim, then fled the scene. The victim ran to work, and her employer called 911 to report the rape. She was treated at Lutheran Hospital, where a rape kit was administered.

The defendant was arrested on October 4, 2013, after there was a DNA hit connecting the defendant to the semen found in the complainant’s rape kit. His DNA had been entered into the database following a conviction on federal money laundering charges.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Lisa Nugent and Assistant District Attorney Tamara Marshall, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief.

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North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty in Connection With Trafficking 33 Guns to Sell on the Streets of Brooklyn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 12, 2017

 

North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty in Connection With
Trafficking 33 Guns to Sell on the Streets of Brooklyn

To be Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 24-year-old man from North Carolina has pleaded guilty 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 guilty plea and promised lengthy sentence is further evidence of our commitment to fight the scourge of gun trafficking, particularly from southern states with lax gun laws, in an effort to keep these deadly weapons off of the streets of Brooklyn. This defendant has now been held accountable and faces 10 years in a New York State prison for his actions.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Marcus Gamble, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina. He pleaded guilty today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Foley to the top count in the indictment, first-degree criminal sale of a firearm, in exchange for 10 years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision when he is sentenced on June 26, 2017.

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 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.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Katie Lee Wright, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision Assistant District Attorney Jonathan R. Sennett, Deputy Chief of VCE, and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.

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Construction Company Owner Indicted for Manslaughter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

 

Construction Company Owner Indicted for Manslaughter

Ignored Workers’ Safety Concerns and Industry Protocols
Prior to Wall Collapse that Killed One Man and Seriously Injured Two Others

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler and Occupational Safety and Health Administration Regional Administrator Robert Kulick, today announced that the owner of a Bedford-Stuyvesant construction company and his businesses have been indicted on manslaughter and other charges after a wall collapsed at an excavation site, killing one construction worker and injuring two others.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Fernando Vanegaz should be alive today. Construction site deaths such as his are becoming all too common as builders ignore safety protocols and hire untrained workers to maximize profits. Even worse, we allege, is that in this case the builder went ahead with this illicit excavation even after the Department of Buildings explicitly prohibited it. I vow to continue investigating and prosecuting these unscrupulous builders whose practices endanger their workers and anyone near their sites.”

Commissioner Peters said, “We have seen the tragic results on construction sites too many times when contractors ignore repeated warnings of danger and put the lives of workers at risk. In this case the warnings were clear, but the defendant disregarded them at a deadly cost. The City expects construction companies and general contractors to follow the laws that protect worker safety. When they do not, DOI and its partners, like the Brooklyn District Attorney, will hold them criminally accountable.”

Commissioner Chandler said, “Fernando Vanegaz lost his life in a tragic and completely preventable accident. Our hearts go out to this young man’s loved ones, friends and co-workers. The criminal charges against this contractor are a warning to other bad actors in the construction industry that no building is worth a life, that cutting corners on the job site has very real consequences and that if you fail to protect your workers, the city will come after you. I thank DA Gonzalez and his team and our partners at DOI for their great work on this case.”

Regional Administrator Kulick said, “Mr. Vanegaz’s death and the injuries to the other workers were needless and avoidable. All workers have a right to a safe and healthful workplace and all employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. When employers abandon their responsibility the consequences can be devastating and irreversible. We remind employers and workers that implementing effective safety and health programs, including training, and adherence to OSHA standards are critical to identifying and eliminating hazards that can harm workers.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Michael Weiss, 47, of Throop Avenue in Williamsburg and his companies, RSBY NY Builders Inc. and Park Ave Builders Inc., both in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 14-count indictment in which Weiss is charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal tax fraud, first-degree falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, fraudulent practices under the workers’ compensation law, and failing to secure workers’ compensation insurance. An indicted co-conspirator is charged with two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and will be arraigned at a later date.

Weiss was ordered held on bail of $250,000 bond or $100,000 cash and to return to court on August 9, 2017. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count. His co-defendant faces up to one year in prison if convicted.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, on September 3, 2015, employees of Weiss and his companies were working at a construction site at 656 Myrtle Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where they were replacing a one-story building with a five-story building. Weiss ordered several of his employees to excavate in the rear of the lot in an area not permitted by the approved Department of Buildings plans and without knowledge of other professionals involved in the project.

Furthermore, it is alleged, despite repeated requests from his workers in the months, and even just hours before the collapse, Weiss refused to provide any material for shoring or underpinning of the excavation and adjacent exposed walls – despite OSHA regulations requiring him to do so – and refused to listen to the safety concerns of his workers, insisting they continue working in an unsafe area. At approximately 11:30 a.m., the wall of the adjacent building collapsed, and masonry blocks and other debris fell on three of the workers, killing one man and severely injuring two others.

The deceased worker, Fernando Vanegaz, 18, suffered severe head trauma, lacerations to his head, broken legs and cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the scene. A second worker suffered a fracture of the lumbar vertebra, a fractured hip and injury to his spine. He has undergone multiple surgeries and continues to have difficulty walking or engaging in physical activity. A third worker also suffered a lumbar vertebra fracture, a fractured nose and skull and orbital area, a crushed face and scalp, a fractured rib and other facial bone fractures. He had back surgery and continues to have difficulty with physical activity and suffers constant back pain.

The indicted co-conspirator was the owner of a construction company that had a safety registration with the DOB, with endorsements in concrete, construction and demolition, allowing his company to obtain permits from DOB to perform construction work in New York City. It is alleged that since Weiss did not have the appropriate licenses with DOB to apply for the necessary permits to perform the work he paid the co-defendant $10,000 to sign the work permit applications and insurance certificates as general contractor.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, Weiss began working on the site in June 2015 after being hired by the building owners to replace a one-story fruit store with a five-story mixed use building that would house a shoe store and residential apartments. Weiss hired seven workers with little to no training and without OSHA safety certifications to do the demolition.

In late July 2015, the next phase of construction began in which the untrained workers dug trenches around the perimeter of the existing cellar for foundation structures in accordance with DOB-approved plans, though DOB was not notified of this excavation prior to the work beginning as required by the building code, nor was the necessary shoring, bracing or underpinning provided. Furthermore, after the work began, Weiss instructed the workers to excavate beyond the approved area and in direct contradiction to the DOB-approved plans.

Throughout the excavation, it is alleged, several of the workers complained to Weiss that the excavation was unsafe because the adjacent walls were unstable, especially the rear concrete masonry wall because it had a crack. Weiss repeatedly refused to provide any materials to shore up the wall and refused a request to hire experienced workers.

By September 2, 2015, the excavation in the rear of the lot was more than six feet below the foundation of the adjacent building to the rear. This undermined the concrete masonry wall of the adjacent building. On that day, two of the workers again asked Weiss for lumber, according to the indictment, to shore up the wall. Finally, on September 3, 2015 at 8:00 a.m., Weiss’ employees reported for work. One worker, concerned about the crack, asked Weiss and his supervisor for 2 x 4s to shore up the wall, and informed Weiss that the wall could collapse.

Weiss stated that the materials were coming, and shortly thereafter lumber arrived. However, Weiss refused to allow them to shore up the wall with it, instead saying it was for formwork for the upcoming concrete pour and that he would bring lumber to shore up the wall the following day. He also allegedly told the workers they were working too slowly and ordered three workers, including the deceased, to work in the rear excavated pit. The wall of the rear adjacent building then collapsed onto the workers.

Furthermore, according to the indictment, Weiss failed to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage while employing seven construction workers at the site, then applied for coverage hours after the collapse. He also allegedly committed tax fraud by failing to report $75,000 in income on his state tax returns. Based on this unreported income he owed state taxes of $4,310 and unlawfully received a refund of $3,686. He thereby stole $7,996 from the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.

The case was investigated by Chief of Investigations with the DOI Buildings Special Investigations Unit Barry Romm and Chief Investigator James McElligott, under the supervision of Inspector General Gregory Cho, Associate Commissioner James Flaherty, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Michael Carroll and First Deputy Commissioner Lesley Brovner.

The case was additionally investigated by Detective Investigator Ismael Zayas, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio and Deputy Chief Edwin Murphy, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

The Acting District Attorney thanked the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, specifically, Tax Auditor I Shumaila Qureshi and Tax Auditor III Ronald Chan, under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner John Harford, Director of the Criminal Investigations Division.

The Acting District Attorney further thanked the investigators and supervisors of the Manhattan Area Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor.

The Acting District Attorney further thanked the New York City Department of Buildings, specifically, Geoff Eisele, PE, LEED, AP, Executive Engineer, Construction Safety; Inspector Burt Thomas and Matthew Burdge, Director of the Special Enforcement Team.

Finally, the Acting District Attorney thanked New York State Insurance Fund Underwriter Maribel Docal and Senior Investigator and Jacqueline Waters; and New York State Workers’ Compensation Fund Investigator Sherard John.

KCDA Investigative Analyst Megan Carroll and Digital Forensic Analyst Mirsada Bogdanovic assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Samantha Magnani, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Meredith McGowan, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Labor Frauds Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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

 

Photos presented at the press conference are available here:

 

East New York Man Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison For Three Gun-Point Robberies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

 

East New York Man Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison
For Three Gun-Point Robberies

Wounded One Victim and Fired at Another; Incidents Took Place Two Days Apart

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 23-year-old East New York man has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for committing three robberies during a two-day span. In one incident, the defendant shot a fleeing victim in the leg and also shot at another victim after a failed carjacking attempt.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant went on a violent crime spree. He used a gun to rob and to shoot at innocent people, one of whom was shot while trying to escape. He is clearly a danger to society and today’s sentence ensures that he will not be able to terrorize other members of our community for many years.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Anthony Samuel, 23, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice to 21 years in prison following his guilty plea last month to first-degree robbery.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on August 10, 2014, at about 5:30 a.m., outside 630 Utica Avenue, in East Flatbush, the defendant approached three women and two men in a parking lot behind a diner and displayed a gun. The three women fled in their car. One of the men then handed a chain to the defendant and fled. The defendant fired at him, striking him in the knee.

Later that morning, at 6:50 a.m., outside 1470 East New York in Brownsville, the defendant approached a man who had just parked his car and brandished a gun, demanding the victim’s belongings. The victim handed the defendant his car keys, wallet and credit cards, the evidence showed.

On August 12, 2014, at approximately 6:30 a.m., outside 2 Paerdegat 9th Street in Canarsie, the defendant approached a victim who was moving his cars to comply with alternate side street parking regulations. The defendant exited a vehicle, pulled out a handgun and demanded the victim’s wallet and keys. The victim complied, and then fled. The defendant attempted to drive away in the victim’s car, but failed. He exited the vehicle and discharged one shot in the victim’s direction, but missed him. The incident was captured on video surveillance. Police later recovered a 9-mm shell casing and the defendant’s DNA was recovered from the gear shift of the victim’s car.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Brian Wagner and Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Kyriacou, of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of David Klestzick, Chief.

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Brooklyn Man Indicted for Deed Fraud in Connection With Six Properties, Including Landmarked Residence in Fort Greene

KCDA-Seal-400x400----Brooklyn

Eric Gonzalez

Acting District Attorney
Kings County

May 9, 2017

COMMUNITY PARTNER IN JUSTICE NOTIFICATION

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Deed Fraud in Connection
With Six Properties, Including Landmarked Residence in Fort Greene

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been indicted for allegedly stealing a 19th century mansion in Fort Greene, as well as attempting to steal five other properties in a brazen scheme in which he transferred title of others properties to himself.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between February 2015 and December 2016, the defendant, Aderibigbe Ogundiran, 36, of 123 Albany Avenue in Crown Heights, engaged in a scheme to steal title to or the economic benefit from six residential properties in Brooklyn, targeting properties whose title holders were deceased or properties that no one seemed to be taking care of.

It is alleged that the defendant took advantage of the apparent inattention to the properties by filing fraudulent deeds or other instruments against the properties in an effort to gain control of them. In fact, he gained control or attempted to gain control of them in a variety of ways that included using aliases, corporate alter-egos, impostors, forged driver’s licenses, misuse of personal identifying information, and forged notarizations.

The indictment charges the defendant with committing crimes involving the following properties:

  • 176 Washington Park in Fort Greene
  • 123 Albany Avenue in Crown Heights
  • 42 Albany Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • 1024 Hendrix Street in East New York
  • 1424 Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • 49 Albany Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The Acting District Attorney said that in at least one instance, involving 42 Albany Avenue, the defendant collected rent from a tenant after leasing out an apartment. In another instance, involving 1424 Fulton Street, he was captured on videotape filing a Power of Attorney at the City Register’s office, after the actual owner of the property received an email alert of a document filed against the property.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Escalating real estate values in Brooklyn unfortunately make frauds like this inviting to thieves. We vow to continue to vigilantly prosecute scam artists such as this defendant, but at the same time I would urge homeowners to protect themselves by registering with the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) so that they are automatically informed of changes made to documents associated with their property – as happened with one of the victims in this case – which would alert them to potential theft and fraud related to their property.”

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Read the full press release here.

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Deed Fraud in Connection With Six Properties, Including Landmarked Residence in Fort Greene

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 9, 2017

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Deed Fraud in Connection
With Six Properties, Including Landmarked Residence in Fort Greene

Also Attempted to Steal Properties in Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York, Scheme Mostly Targeted Homes of Deceased Owners

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito, today announced that a Brooklyn man has been indicted for allegedly stealing a 19th century mansion in Fort Greene, as well as stealing or attempting to steal five other properties in a brazen scheme in which he transferred title of others’ properties to himself.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Escalating real estate values in Brooklyn unfortunately make frauds like this inviting to thieves. We vow to continue to vigilantly prosecute scam artists such as this defendant, but at the same time I would urge homeowners to protect themselves by registering with the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) so that they are automatically informed of changes made to documents associated with their property – as happened with one of the victims in this case – which would alert them to potential theft and fraud related to their property.”

Sheriff Fucito said, “The Department of Finance, Office of City Sheriff is strongly committed to investigating criminal activity concerning real property fraud. These crimes are financially devastating to the victims and their families, many of whom have spent a lifetime working hard and saving to buy a home. Brooklyn residents have expressed a strong desire to have suspects like this brought to justice and the Sheriff will work collaboratively with the District Attorney to ensure that happens.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Aderibigbe Ogundiran, 36, of 123 Albany Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Foley on a 64-count indictment in which he is charged with first- and second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, first- and second-degree attempted grand larceny, second-degree forgery, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first- and second-degree identity theft, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records and second-degree criminal impersonation. He was ordered held on $200,000 bond or $100,000 bail and to return to court on June 7, 2017. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison on the top count.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between February 2015 and December 2016, the defendant engaged in a scheme to steal title to or the economic benefit from six residential properties in Brooklyn, targeting properties whose title holders were deceased or properties that no one seemed to be taking care of.

It is alleged that the defendant took advantage of the apparent inattention to the properties by filing fraudulent deeds or other instruments against the properties in an effort to gain control of them. In fact, he gained control or attempted to gain control of them in a variety of ways that included using aliases, corporate alter-egos, impostors, forged driver’s licenses, misuse of personal identifying information, and forged notarizations.

The indictment charges the defendant with committing crimes involving the following properties:

  • 176 Washington Park in Fort Greene: This property is a landmarked 19th century five-story, 10-bedroom mansion located on a double-lot directly across from Fort Greene Park and is part of the Fort Greene Historic District. On March 8, 2015, Ogundiran used a Notary Public to notarize and file a deed transferring ownership from the actual owner of the property, a deceased man whose elderly sister lived in the house, to GCU Group, Inc., a corporation controlled by Ogundiran, using an impostor to pose as the deceased owner. The deed was filed with the New York City Department of Finance, Office of the City Register, which recorded the deed on June 26, 2015, transferring ownership to the corporation controlled by Ogundiran.
  • 123 Albany Avenue in Crown Heights: This property is a three-story brownstone. On March 13, 2015, the defendant once again hired a Notary Public to notarize signatures and file with the City Register, a deed purporting to transfer title of 123 Albany Avenue from the rightful owner to himself, once again using an impostor to pose as the rightful owner. The identity assumed by the impostor was that of a person who in fact had died in 2011. The fraudulent deed was recorded by the City Register on March 30, 2015.
  • 42 Albany Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant: This property was purchased in 2004 by an individual who died in 2010. On November 19, 2015, the City Register recorded a Power of Attorney against this property granting the defendant the right to engage in real estate transactions and other powers on behalf of the property. The deceased owner purportedly signed the Power of Attorney on June 15, 2015. On November 18, 2016, the defendant filed a deed purportedly signed by the deceased owner on July 30, 2015 conveying title to the property to Ogundiran for $500.
  • 1024 Hendrix Street in East New York: This property was purchased in 1997 by an individual who died in 2007. On October 6, 2015, the deceased owner purportedly executed a power of attorney benefitting 1024 Hendrix LLC, a corporation controlled by the defendant. On October 9, 2015, the City Register recorded a Power of Attorney against the property.
  • 1424 Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant: This property, a three-story residential building with commercial space on the ground floor, was purchased by three individuals in 2013. On November 9, 2016, Ogundiran filed a Power of Attorney with the City Register which was purportedly from one of the actual owners to a corporation incorporated and controlled by the defendant. The Power of Attorney contained the forged signatures of another of the owners and a Notary Public.
  • 49 Albany Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant: This property, a two-story house, was owned by an individual who died in 2007, leaving an only child who resided outside of the United States. On November 9, 2016, the defendant filed a forged Power of Attorney against 49 Albany Avenue. The Power of Attorney granted rights to a corporation controlled by the defendant and was purportedly signed by the deceased owner and a Notary Public.

The Acting District Attorney said that in at least one instance, involving 42 Albany Avenue, the defendant collected rent from a tenant after leasing out an apartment. In another instance, involving 1424 Fulton Street, he was captured on videotape filing a Power of Attorney at the City Register’s office, after the actual owner of the property received an email alert of a document filed against the property.

The investigation began after the resident of 176 Washington Park received notice that she would have to vacate the premises. She notified her attorney, who then filed a complaint with the New York City Department of Finance.

The case was investigated by Sheriff Detective Michael Trano, under the supervision of Sheriff Detective Sergeant Teresa Russo, of the New York City Department of Finance, New York City Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Also assisting the investigation from the New York City Department of Finance were Deputy City Register Zena Spence, Sheriff Detectives Kenneth Clark and Richard LeBlond, Deputy Director of Security Mark Rojas, and Security Coordinator Robert Farrugia.

The case was additionally investigated by Investigator Dedra Prince of the New York City Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Field Investigations and Postal Inspector Michael K. Slavkovsky of the United States Postal Inspection Service.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney James Mariani, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the Real Estate Frauds Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.

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

 

Flatbush Daycare Operator Convicted for Stealing Over $50,000 from City By Falsifying Records, Bribing a City Employee

KCDA-Seal-400x400----Brooklyn

Eric Gonzalez

Acting District Attorney
Kings County

May 5, 2017

COMMUNITY PARTNER IN JUSTICE NOTIFICATION

Flatbush Daycare Operator Convicted for Stealing Over $50,000 from City
By Falsifying Records, Bribing a City Employee

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that the operator of three Brooklyn daycare centers has been convicted for stealing over $50,000 from the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) by falsifying and submitting forms to receive City funds for a bogus center and for children who did not actually attend his centers.

The Acting District Attorney said that, between 2007 and 2011, the defendant, Owen Larman, 44, of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, opened three daycare centers in Brooklyn under the name Next to Home. The centers, serving infants, toddlers and school-age children, were primarily paid through ACS vouchers given to families to cover some or all of the cost of childcare services.

In August 2011, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) found that one of the defendant’s centers, located at 1159 Flatbush Avenue, was grossly overcrowded with inadequate staff to supervise the children. DOHMH issued a new permit allowing only seven children of school age to be on the premises. Prior to this date, the defendant had over 78 children at the site.

Following the issuance of the new permit, the defendant attempted over the next several months to open a new center at another location, 5566 Kings Highway. He was unable, however, to secure a lease for this location and therefore was never able to open a center there.

Despite this, the defendant went on to file 11 false forms with ACS from June 2012 to April 2013 stating that school-age children with ACS vouchers were receiving childcare services at that location. The forms were, in fact, for some children still receiving services at 1159 Flatbush Avenue in violation of DOHMH’s new registration and license for the site, as well as for some children who were not receiving services at any of the defendant’s centers.

As a result of these falsified forms, Next to Home received approximately $51,667 from ACS, which was deposited in the defendant’s account. Further, the defendant was able to accomplish the theft by bribing an ACS employee for almost three years, from May 2011 to January 2014.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant stole from the City, falsified documents and bribed a public employee – all inexcusable criminal acts under any circumstances. But in this case, the defendant not only broke the law to line his pockets – he did so while entrusted with the care and well-being of dozens of young children. I will not stand for anyone who compromises the safety of Brooklyn’s children in any way.”

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Read the full press release here.

 

Flatbush Daycare Operator Convicted for Stealing Over $50,000 from City By Falsifying Records, Bribing a City Employee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 5, 2017

 

Flatbush Daycare Operator Convicted for Stealing Over $50,000 from City
By Falsifying Records, Bribing a City Employee

Claimed City Funds for Children at Nonexistent Daycare Center;
Bribed City Employee to Facilitate Scheme

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that the operator of three Brooklyn daycare centers has been convicted of grand larceny, bribery, criminal possession of a forged instrument and related charges for stealing over $50,000 from the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) by falsifying and submitting forms to receive City funds for a bogus center and for children who did not actually attend his centers.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant stole from the City, falsified documents and bribed a public employee – all inexcusable criminal acts under any circumstances. But in this case, the defendant not only broke the law to line his pockets – he did so while entrusted with the care and well-being of dozens of young children. I will not stand for anyone who compromises the safety of Brooklyn’s children in any way.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Owen Larman, 44, of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn. He was convicted yesterday of second-degree grand larceny, third-degree bribery, 11 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and 11 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Guy Mangano. The defendant will be sentenced on May 31, 2017, at which time he faces up to 15 years in prison.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, between 2007 and 2011, the defendant opened three daycare centers in Brooklyn under the name Next to Home. The centers, serving infants, toddlers and school-age children, were primarily paid through ACS vouchers given to families to cover some or all of the cost of childcare services. The defendant stole approximately $51,667 in voucher funds from ACS between June 2012 and April 2013.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, in August 2011, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) found that one of the defendant’s centers was grossly overcrowded with inadequate staff to supervise the children. This center contained the defendant’s afterschool program and was located at 1159 Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The DOHMH took measurements of this afterschool center on June 3, 2011 and issued a new permit in August 2011 allowing only seven children of school age to be on the premises. Prior to this date, the defendant had over 78 children at the afterschool center. The DOHMH is the City agency responsible for inspecting all group childcare facilities in New York City.

According to trial testimony, following the issuance of the new permit permitting only seven school-age children at the 1159 Flatbush Avenue center, the defendant’s common practice was to misrepresent the number of children at his centers by having employees take some of the children temporarily off-site and hold them on buses in parking lots when he knew an inspection was about to occur. Additionally, the buses used by the centers were frequently overcrowded and unequipped to properly transport young children, at times with two to three infants sitting in one car seat and with older children holding infants when car seats were not available.

In October 2011, the defendant applied to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) for a permit for Next to Home to open a new center for school-age children at 5566 Kings Highway in East Flatbush. OCFS is the State agency responsible for issuing registrations for childcare programs serving school-age children. In December 2011, OCFS issued the defendant a permit to run a center at the Kings Highway location for up to 80 school-age children. The owner of 5566 Kings Highway, however, never issued the defendant a lease for this location. The next month, in January 2012, the defendant applied to ACS to receive childcare vouchers for children at that location, which ACS approved. Next to Home, however, never operated a childcare center at 5566 Kings Highway.

The Acting District Attorney said that, despite the nonexistence of a center at 5566 Kings Highway, the defendant went on to file 11 false forms with ACS from June 2012 to April 2013 stating that school-age children with ACS vouchers were receiving childcare services at that location. The forms were, in fact, for some children still receiving services at 1159 Flatbush Avenue in violation of DOHMH’s new registration and license for the site. The forms submitted by the defendant also contained the names of children who were not receiving any services by Next to Home Childcare. Further, the defendant forged the signature of a former Next to Home employee – an educational director – on each form, which required the signature of an approved signatory, such as an educational director at the site.

Relying on these false representations, ACS created and submitted 11 invoices to an outside payment vendor, which stated that Next to Home was entitled to payment for childcare services rendered at the Kings Highway location. As a result, the vendor paid Next to Home approximately $51,667, which was deposited into a bank account controlled by the defendant.

Additionally, some of the children for whom Next to Home received ACS voucher payments did not receive any childcare service from Next to Home at any location. From September 2011 to October 2012, the defendant submitted 10 false forms to ACS claiming that two children received childcare services at the Kings Highway Location and at 1159 Flatbush Avenue, when in fact those two children did not receive any childcare service from Next to Home during the time claimed on the forms.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, the defendant was able to accomplish the theft by bribing an ACS employee to fax him the ACS forms for the Kings Highway location each month. The ACS forms normally had to be mailed each month to the provider’s center, but since the defendant did not actually operate out of 5566 Kings Highway, he was unable to receive mail there. The ACS employee would fax the defendant the form each month, enabling him to fill it out and return it to ACS for payment. Between May 2011 and January 2014, the defendant returned forms to the ACS employee at least monthly, each time handing the employee $100 to $300 in cash. The ACS employee also was arrested and charged but signed a cooperation agreement and testified against the defendant at trial.

The Acting District Attorney would like to thank the DOHMH Childcare Bureau Assistant Commissioner Frank Cresciullo, and Public Health Inspectors Jenneal Murray and Cheydene McGhan.

The case was investigated by the New York City Department of Investigation.

The case was also investigated by Detective Investigator Jacqueline Klapak of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Michael Seminara, Supervising Detective Investigator.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Samantha Magnani and Senior Assistant District Attorney Vivian Young Joo, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Sara Walshe, of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michael Spanakos, Chief of the Public Integrity Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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