Former NYPD Officer Sentenced to Four Years’ Probation for Falsely Claiming Burglary Suspect Tried to Strike Him and His Partner with Vehicle

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

 

Former NYPD Officer Sentenced to Four Years’ Probation for Falsely Claiming Burglary Suspect Tried to Strike Him and His Partner with Vehicle

Perjured Himself by Swearing He Saw Suspect Back Up and Almost Hit Partner,
Then Drive Forward and Narrowly Miss Hitting Officer

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a former New York City Police Department officer was sentenced to four years’ probation following his guilty plea to perjury, making a false statement and official misconduct for making a false written statement and lying in a criminal court complaint and in the grand jury.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant, a former police officer, admitted to the disturbing conduct of falsely charging an individual with a crime he did not commit. Our communities and our criminal justice system rely on the integrity and truthfulness of police officers so we must hold accountable those who abuse their positions and violate the public trust.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Michael Bergmann, 34, who was an NYPD officer for approximately six years and who was last assigned to the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to one day in jail and four years’ probation following his guilty plea in November 2019 to one count of first-degree perjury, one count of second-degree perjury, one count of making a false statement and one count of official misconduct. The District Attorney’s Office recommended a sentence of six months in jail followed by probation.

The District Attorney said that on February 1, 2019, Officer Bergmann and his partner, who were assigned to the Grand Larceny Division, were on patrol on 65th Street between Second and Third Avenues in the confines of the 72nd Precinct, according to the investigation. They pulled up in their unmarked police car alongside a vehicle that had just been parallel parked by a burglary suspect whom Officer Bergmann recognized, with the intention of arresting him for driving without a valid license.

After stopping their unmarked police car alongside the suspect’s car, both officers exited their vehicle. Officer Bergmann claimed in a criminal complaint and in grand jury testimony that the suspect then backed up his car, nearly striking his partner who was located near the rear of the vehicle, and then drove the car forward causing Officer Bergmann – who was directly in front of the car between its headlights — to dive to the ground to avoid being hit as the suspect drove away. Officer Bergmann claimed he suffered slight abrasions to his elbow as a result of his fall to the ground.

The suspect was arrested two days later and charged with various counts of attempted assault and reckless endangerment relating to this February 1, 2019 incident and separately charged with two unrelated burglaries. He was subsequently indicted for what occurred during the February 1, 2019 incident on one count of first-degree attempted assault, one count of attempted assault on a police officer, one count of first-degree reckless endangerment, two counts of second-degree attempted assault, one count of second-degree reckless endangerment, one count of third-degree assault, one count of third-degree attempted assault, one count of third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and one count of unlicensed operator.

On May 28, 2019, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office obtained video surveillance footage that depicts the February 1, 2019 incident and contradicts Officer Bergmann’s account of what occurred. The footage showed his unmarked police car pull alongside the suspect’s car after the suspect’s car completed parallel parking against the curb. It then showed the suspect’s car drive off when Officer Bergmann and his partner exit their vehicle without ever backing up and without coming close to striking Officer Bergmann, who was never in front of the suspect’s car and who did not move out of the way of the car or fall to the ground when the suspect drove away.

The case was prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau by Assistant District Attorney Salvador Reynozo and Deputy Bureau Chief Christopher Eribo, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Patrick L. O’Connor, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Chief of Trials, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Tali Farhadian Weinstein, General Counsel.

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Brooklyn Continued to Record Historic Decline in Violent Crime in 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 3, 2020

 

Brooklyn Continued to Record Historic Decline in Violent Crime in 2019

Murders Remained Below 100 for the Second Straight Year and
Shooting Incidents Went Down by Almost 7%, Bucking Citywide Trends

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that 2019 ended as a historically safe year in Brooklyn, with murders remaining below 100 for the second year in a row, ticking up by one to 99 homicides after the record-breaking low that was recorded in 2018. Shootings across the borough declined by 6.8% in contrast with a nearly 3% increase citywide. As part of the District Attorney’s Justice 2020 plan to ensure equal justice while maintaining public safety, the Brooklyn DA’s Office continued to put in place reform-driven programs that enhance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “In the past year, we continued to prove that criminal justice reforms do not jeopardize public safety – but rather enhance it. Thanks to the NYPD and to my hard-working prosecutors, violent crime keeps going down in Brooklyn. We again led the way in implementing initiatives ahead of the City and State, including declining to ask for bail in most misdemeanors and offering more ways to resolve low-level offenses without a court appearance – which lowered the jail population significantly, kept individuals with their families and did not lead to an increase in crime. I am committed to making headway in my Justice 2020 action plan to keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all.”

The District Attorney said that 99 murders were recorded in Brooklyn in 2019, compared with 98 in 2018. It is worth noting, however, that nine of the murders in the 2019 count were reclassified as homicides from incidents that took place in previous years, compared with only two reclassified cases in 2018. Therefore, 90 murders actually occurred over the past year – the lowest number in Brooklyn history. Of the 99 murders in the official count, 63 were due to shootings and 36 were by other means. Citywide, murders were up 7.8% for the year.

There were 290 shooting incidents in Brooklyn in 2019, a 6.8% decline compared to 2018 and four more than in 2017, which had the lowest number of shootings since record-keeping began. There were 22 fewer shootings in the Brooklyn South command and one additional shooting in Brooklyn North, compared to the previous year. Major crime, representing seven serious felonies, went down by 2.5%.

The historic drop in crime is also reflected by the continuing decline of arrests in Brooklyn by the New York City Police Department: 58,288 people were arrested in Brooklyn in 2019, compared with 68,407 in 2018, 80,084 in 2017 and 87,607 in 2016 – an astonishing reduction of one-third since 2016.

In preparation for the new criminal justice law that took effect at the start of 2020, the District Attorney’s Office asked for bail in just under 7% of misdemeanor cases in 2019 – the lowest percentage to date. The number of prosecutions also decreased by using new pre-arraignment diversion programs. To date, 426 cases were dismissed as part of Brooklyn CLEAR, 254 of them in 2019. The initiative allows individuals arrested with small quantities of narcotics to resolve their cases by receiving services rather than appearing in court if they comply with independent assessment-based recommendations. An additional 420 non-violent misdemeanor cases were not prosecuted after those arrested completed Project Reset, which resolves such offenses with appropriate programing before an arraignment, leading to dismissals so eligible individuals never have to appear in court.

In other ground-breaking initiatives over the past year, District Attorney Gonzalez established the first-in-the-nation Post-Conviction Justice Bureau, which reviews parole and clemency applications, facilitates and encourages sealing of past convictions and continues to investigate claims of wrongful convictions; launched the Community Resource Empowerment Center to offer educational and vocational opportunities to those sentenced to community service; and enhanced his Office’s work on safe reentry into society by making regular visits to state prisons, where he discusses resources available to those who finish serving their sentence, and by opening a boutique of donated business attire for formerly incarcerated individuals as part of his Reentry Bureau.

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Ten Alleged Brick Squad Gang Members Charged in 48-Count Conspiracy Indictment That Includes Two Murders and Seven Shootings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 20, 2019

 

Ten Alleged Brick Squad Gang Members Charged in 48-Count
Conspiracy Indictment That Includes Two Murders and Seven Shootings

Incarcerated Defendant Known as The Godfather Allegedly Led the Gang,
Had More Than $25,000 in His Prison Commissary Account;
Gang Allegedly Trafficked Narcotics in Brooklyn, Binghamton and Maine

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, today announced that 10 alleged members of the Brick Squad street gang are variously charged in a 48-count indictment with conspiracy to commit murder, sell narcotics and commit other crimes; murder; weapons possession; narcotics possession; and related charges.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants were allegedly part of a violent and well-organized gang that sold dangerous drugs and committed numerous acts of violence, including murder, in Brooklyn and beyond. My Office’s strategy, in cooperation with the NYPD, is to focus our resources on these types of criminal enterprises that are responsible for a large share of violent crime and mayhem in our communities. Incapacitating this alleged gang will make a measurable improvement in public safety and should send a message that we will continue to root out dangerous gangs and narcotics traffickers.”

Commissioner Shea said, “Working together, we have once again done the important work of stopping an organized group of dangerous criminals. I commend our NYPD investigators and our partners in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for their smart, precise approach to curtailing violence in New York City.”

The District Attorney said that six of the defendants were arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Guy Mangano and were either remanded without bail or held on $500,000 bail; the rest of the defendants will be arraigned today and on Monday. The defendants are variously charged with second- and fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first- and second-degree attempted assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree burglary and related crimes. The defendants face up to 25 years in prison on the top conspiracy charge and the five defendants charged with murder face up to 25 years to life in prison. (See defendant addendum).

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the defendants are members of a violent street gang known as Brick Squad, a.k.a., Immortal Stone Gorilla Gang (ISGG), a subset of the larger Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation (UGSN). UGSN is a subset of the Bloods. It is alleged that Brick Squad operated within the confines of the 73rd, 75th, 79th, and 84th Precincts, but also expanded its narcotics distribution to jurisdictions outside New York City including Binghamton, New York and Bangor, Maine.

It is alleged that between March 2017 and December 11, 2019, Brick Squad members engaged in violence to establish geographic dominance and enforce the laws and tenets of the gang. During the course of the conspiracy the defendants allegedly sought to establish and enforce a set of rules and hierarchy within their own ranks and make money for the organization through criminal activity, primarily selling heroin laced with fentanyl, crack cocaine and marijuana. To achieve those goals, some Brick Squad members participated in violent criminal acts, including murder and shootings.

It is alleged that Brick Squad members committed two murders during the course of the conspiracy:

  • On December 7, 2017, at approximately 2:50 a.m., in front of 601 Bainbridge Street in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, Jahsaun Washington, acting in concert with Stephan Khadu and Christopher Garcia, shot and killed a fellow Brick Squad member, John Fernandez, who they mistakenly believed was cooperating with law enforcement and who was also faulted for not making enough money for the gang.
  • On April 18, 2018, at approximately 8:38 p.m., in front of 175 Hart Street, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Quazeer Farmer, acting in concert with Stephan Khadu and Markel Pender, shot and killed Claudell Gary in the culmination of a year-long feud between the Gary family and Brick Squad members from the same Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

During the course of the conspiracy, it is alleged, incarcerated Brick Squad members, including ringleader Howard Smith, a.k.a., Hamo or The Godfather, Markel Pender, Lee Kennedy, and others communicated with non-incarcerated members in prison phone calls to keep up to date on the status of members or to discuss violent acts. Furthermore, it is alleged, it was part of the conspiracy for Brick Squad members to make money for the organization through criminal acts including committing a burglary and selling narcotics. The narcotics distribution was allegedly based in Brooklyn but expanded to other jurisdictions, including Bangor, Maine and Binghamton, New York.

It is alleged that the proceeds of the narcotics sales were distributed among the high-ranking incarcerated members in the form of frequent deposits from some of the defendants to the incarcerated defendants prison commissary accounts, e.g., as of September 2019 Howard Smith had $25,751 in his personal prison commissary account and Markel Pender had $12,587.

The defendants are also variously charged with seven shootings and a burglary in which a safe containing approximately $3,000 was allegedly stolen from the home of a rival, a member of the Gary family.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Douglas Rome, with the assistance of Detective Michael Algieri, under the supervision of Sergeant Andrew Dunton, Sergeant Calvin Fergus, Sergeant Scott McKenna, Lieutenant Richard Zacarese and Captain Thomas Passolo, and the overall supervision of Inspector Richard Green, of the Violence Reduction Task Force.

The case was additionally investigated by Junior Analyst Alexandra Aber and Supervising Analyst Brooke Middleton, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit. Paralegal Heidi Spitzer also assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorneys James Slattery and Jhounelle Cunningham and Assistant District Attorney Maria Paolillo, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Cilia, Deputy Bureau Chief, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan R. Sennett, First Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Alfred DeIngeniis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Raymond Tierney, Executive Assistant District Attorney for the Crime Strategies Unit and Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau.

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

DEFENDANT ADDENDUM:

  1. Quazeer Farmer, 20, of Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn.
  2. Christopher Garcia, 21, of Fulton Street, Brooklyn.
  3. Lee Kennedy, 35, of Bridge Street, Brooklyn.
  4. Stephan Khadu, 22, of Willoughby Avenue Brooklyn.
  5. Andrew Marquis, 21, of Paris Court, Staten Island.
  6. Jerome Noble, 30, of Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn.
  7. Markel Pender, 26, of Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn.
  8. Howard Smith, 49, of West 16th Street, Brooklyn.
  9. Dayshawn Speed, 28, of York Street, Brooklyn.
  10. Jahsaun Washington, 20, of Liberty Avenue, Brooklyn.

Note: materials displayed during the press conference can be viewed here.

 

Six Defendants Indicted for Running Two Internet-Based Sports Gambling Operations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

 

Six Defendants Indicted for Running Two
Internet-Based Sports Gambling Operations

Allegedly Accepted Over $11 Million in Wagers Over About Six Months

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that six men from Staten Island and New Jersey have been variously charged in two indictments for running illegal Internet-based gambling operations that took in over $11 million in wagers on various professional and collegiate sporting events.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime, but an unlawful conduct that is often connected to loansharking, money laundering and to organized crime. These defendants are charged with allegedly running lucrative gambling operations that took in millions of dollars in bets. We have now shut down their enterprises and will seek to hold them accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Ross Branca, 40, of Freehold, N.J., Stephen Barone, 56, of Jackson, N.J., Bryan “Faith” Kelly, 45, of Staten Island, Petrit “Pete” Lusha, 60, of Staten Island, Joseph “Joe Brooklyn” Melfi, 58, of Staten Island, and Anthony Sclafani, 73, of Staten Island.

They were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on two indictments in which they are variously charged with fifth-degree conspiracy, first-degree promoting gambling and first-degree possession of gambling records. Branca is additionally charged with second-degree money laundering. The defendants were released without bail and ordered to return to court on March 9, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between September 2018 and March 2019, Branca acted as a Master Agent who controlled a number of Agents, namely Barone, Kelly and Lusha, each with his own set of clients. Members of the conspiracy allegedly accepted sports wagers from betting customers directly and via telephonic and electronic communications to and from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, New Jersey and elsewhere. They recorded some of the accepted wagers manually and some through the Internet sports gambling website www.Gameday365.ag, which is operated out of Costa Rica.

In addition, Branca allegedly received advice and assistance on logistical matters from Sclafani, During the period charged in the indictment, the operation accepted $9,091,613 in wagers, according to the investigation. The evidence also shows that Branca laundered over $100,000 of gambling proceeds from one of his bettors.

It is further alleged that, starting in February 2019, Kelly also utilized another website, www.playbig365.com. The investigation revealed that Melfi was the Master Agent of that website. Members of this second conspiracy operated in a similar manner to the one allegedly run by Branca. Between September 2018 and April 2019, that website accepted $1,928,499 in wagers, according to the investigation.

The case was investigated by the New York City Police Department’s Criminal Enterprise Investigations. Financial Investigator Veronica Beltran, of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, and Investigative Paralegal Matthew Banwer, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Batsidis, of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gregory Mitchel, Bureau Chief, and Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, Chief of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit, 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.

 

Long Island Man Convicted of Murder for Shooting Brooklyn Pizzeria Owner to Death as He Arrived Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 9, 2019

 

Long Island Man Convicted of Murder for Shooting Brooklyn
Pizzeria Owner to Death as He Arrived Home

Defendant Faces up to 25 Years to Life in Prison When He is Sentenced

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 44-year-old man has been convicted of murder and other charges for the shooting death of the owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The victim was ambushed outside his home in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. He was carrying $15,483 in cash in a plastic bag when he was killed.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “With today’s verdict this defendant has been brought to justice for the murder of a beloved husband, father and fixture of the Gravesend community. I commend the jury for its hard work convicting this defendant, and for bringing some solace to the family, friends and many Brooklynites affected by this senseless tragedy.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Andres (“Andy”) Fernandez, 44, of Melville, Long Island. He was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on January 8, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on June 30, 2016, at about 6:40 p.m., the victim, Louis Barbati, 61, left his restaurant, L&B Spumoni Gardens, located at 2725 86th Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn. He was carrying a plastic bag containing $15,483 in cash.

About an hour earlier, according to the evidence, the defendant, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, was in the vicinity of the victim’s home on 12th Avenue in Dyker Heights and waited, the evidence shows. At about 7 p.m., the victim arrived at his home, parked his car on the side of the house and got out holding the bag of cash.

The defendant then walked across the street and shot the victim several times, killing him. He subsequently ran, without taking the money, entered a late-model Acura and fled. In addition to being at the murder scene, the defendant was present at L&B Spumoni Gardens earlier that day, according to the evidence.

Surveillance images of the defendant were distributed by the New York City Police Department and he was identified by several witnesses. He was arrested by federal authorities on November 3, 2016.

The District Attorney thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York for their assistance in the investigation.

The case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Chance Adam and New York City Police Department Detective James Hemmer, of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad.

Homicide Paralegal Supervisor Jannette Ayala and Junior Intelligence Analyst Eungee Hwang, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, assisted in the prosecution.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Dean, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jingu Chong, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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East New York Teenager Indicted for Fatally Shooting Man in Prospect Lefferts-Gardens Bodega Following Dispute

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 6, 2019

 

East New York Teenager Indicted for Fatally Shooting Man
in Prospect Lefferts-Gardens Bodega Following Dispute

Defendant Allegedly Shot into the Bodega from Sidewalk, Striking Victim Multiple Times

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an 18-year-old teenager has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting a man inside a Prospect Lefferts-Gardens bodega following an earlier dispute between the victim and the defendant’s friend.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “When this defendant allegedly opened fire, he claimed the life of a father of six and well-known member of the Flatbush community. He also endangered the lives of every other innocent person inside the store. There is no place in Brooklyn for gun violence. We will now seek to get justice for the victim and his loved ones.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joshua Louis, 18, of East New York, Brooklyn. The defendant was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The defendant was held without bail and ordered to return to court on February 28, 2020. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on October 10, 2019 at approximately 9:55 p.m., the defendant began looking for Dwayne Smith, 41, following an earlier dispute between the victim and a friend of the defendant. The defendant allegedly found the victim inside of KHF Supermarket on Flatbush Avenue, near Parkside Avenue, and fired into the store from the sidewalk multiple times.

Smith, an amateur filmmaker and clothing designer, was struck several times in the torso and was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died.

Surveillance video from outside the bodega shows the defendant allegedly pull out a gun and repeatedly shoot into the store. An eyewitness also identified the defendant as the shooter.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Gregg Licari of the 71st Precinct and Detective Gilbert Alonso of Brooklyn South Homicide. Paralegal Meghan Brancato, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, assisted in the investigation.

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

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

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Accepting Applications For Mid-Winter and Spring High School Internship Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 2, 2019

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Accepting Applications
For Mid-Winter and Spring High School Internship Programs

Internships Will Offer Insight into Criminal Justice System, Public Service and the Law

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the launch of the application process for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in participating in the mid-winter or spring internship programs.  The one-week internship is open to students who live and/or attend high school in Brooklyn and are interested in learning about the different careers and responsibilities within the criminal justice system. The mid-winter internship runs from February 18 to February 21, 2020 and the spring internship runs from April 13 to April 17, 2020.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We are delighted to welcome a new class of interns to learn about the various career opportunities available within the criminal justice system. These internships offer students hands-on experience into how criminal cases develop, from the steps taken to investigate and build a case, to how cases are presented in court. These internships are also an opportunity to learn valuable leadership and workplace skills participants can use in school and in their professional careers.”

Selected students will be assigned to one of the many specialized units within the DA’s Office, while also getting an overview of the criminal justice system. They can expect to assist with legal research and analysis; help prosecutors to prepare for trial; work on discovery; carry out file maintenance and organization of court documents; participate in Trial Zone workshops; participate in judicial, legal and law enforcement-related field trips; and observe criminal proceedings, including trials, guilty pleas and sentencings.

During the one-week internship, participants will receive a weekly MetroCard. Internship hours will be: Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the mid-winter session, and Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the spring session.  Interested applicants must submit their most recent school transcript, a one-page resume, one letter of recommendation, and a 300-word typed essay (12 pt. font and double-spaced) on why they are interested in interning with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and how the internship will impact their future career goals.

To apply, please visit: http://apply.brooklynda.org/videsktop/viRecruitSelfApply/ReDefault.aspx?FilterREID=3  beginning November 27, 2019, to upload transcript, essay and resume. Only the recommendation letter should be emailed as an attachment to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office at hsinternships@brooklynda.org, with the subject line: Recommendation Letter (Applicant’s First and Last Name). All application materials must be received no later than December 22, 2019. For questions or assistance please contact (718) 250-3191.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Ambush Shooting of Innocent College Student

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for
Fatal Ambush Shooting of Innocent College Student

Defendant Shot Victim from Behind, Continued to Fire After Victim Collapsed

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for the 2017 shooting death of an innocent 27-year-old man outside of the Farragut Houses in Downtown Brooklyn.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant has now been held accountable for the senseless and tragic murder of Melquian Anderson, who was a college student and was expecting a baby daughter – a young man in the prime of his life, who had everything to live for and who was cherished by his loved ones. I hope today’s sentencing brings them a small sense of solace.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Tavon Diaz, 24, of Downtown Brooklyn. He was sentenced today to 20 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder on November 7, 2019 following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on the evening of October 25, 2017, at approximately 8:45 p.m., outside of the Farragut Houses at 190 York Street, in Brooklyn, the defendant spotted Melquian Anderson walking up the block. The defendant then went inside of 190 York Street and returned outside with a loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun.

As the victim passed the front of the building, the defendant ambushed him, shooting him from behind. After the victim fell to the ground, the defendant ran towards him and shot at him six times, hitting him four times.

The defendant was arrested the following month, on November 22, 2019, and admitted being in the vicinity. He was identified by three witnesses as someone captured on video surveillance carrying a handgun immediately prior to the shooting.

The District Attorney thanked Detective Investigators assigned to his Investigations Bureau and Supervising Paralegal Janette Ayala, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, for their assistance in this investigation and trial.

The victim was pursuing a bachelor’s degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the time of his death and was expecting a baby girl with his girlfriend.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Chow Yun Xie, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Steven Bravo, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Construction Company Operator, Foreperson and Engineer Indicted for Manslaughter in Death of Laborer Buried in Debris Following Wall Collapse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 21, 2019

 

Construction Company Operator, Foreperson and Engineer Indicted for Manslaughter in Death of Laborer Buried in Debris Following Wall Collapse

Defendants Allegedly Ignored Workers’ Safety Concerns, Industry Protocols
And Concerns Expressed by Adjacent Property Owners

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson, today announced that the operator of a Sunset Park construction company, two other men and two businesses, have been indicted on manslaughter and other charges after a wall collapsed at an excavation site, killing a construction worker, Luis Almonte Sanchez, who was buried under thousands of pounds of debris. Three additional defendants have been indicted on lesser related charges.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Despite a construction-related conviction for attempted bribery a few years earlier, the construction company operator allegedly continued to play fast and loose with safety protocols, taking shortcuts to increase profit margins – this time with deadly consequences. We allege that the dangerous conditions at the site – which had been reported by laborers and neighbors – were ignored by these defendants and directly led to the death of Luis Almonte Sanchez, a 47-year-old family man. As new construction continues to proliferate in Brooklyn, it is incumbent upon builders to put safety first. As District Attorney, I am committed to protecting the safety of all workers.”

Commissioner Garnett said, “This indictment demonstrates the tragic results that we have seen far too often when individuals who purport to be construction professionals ignore safety problems and warnings. These defendants discounted the City’s construction code, making up the rules as they went along, creating the perfect conditions for a disaster that ultimately cost a worker his life, according to the charges. DOI thanks the Brooklyn District Attorney, the City Department of Buildings, and our other partners for their collaboration and commitment on this investigation.”

Commissioner La Rocca said, “Cutting corners on the work site costs lives. Luis Almonte Sanchez is no longer with us due to the defendants’ callous disregard for even the most basic excavation safety regulations, in service of padding their own bank accounts. I want to thank my colleagues District Attorney Gonzalez and Commissioner Garnett for their ongoing partnership during this investigation. This indictment sends a resolute message to bad actors in the construction industry: The City will not tolerate those who put profit ahead of the lives of their workers.”

Regional Administrator Mendelson said, “OSHA will continue to work with our law enforcement colleagues to achieve our mutual goal of safe and healthful workplaces by ensuring that employers comply with our agencies’ applicable laws and regulations, and by holding employers accountable if they disregard their safety and health responsibilities.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Jiaxi “Jimmy” Liu, 46, of Staten Island; Wilson Garcia Jr., 45, of Staten Island; Paul Bailey, 56, of Pelham, New York; Jia Rong “Tommy” Liu, 49, of Brooklyn; Siu Wah Maria Cheung-Mui, 31, of Brooklyn; Cindy Chai, 42, of Staten Island; Bailey’s Engineering, of Manhattan; WSC Group LLC, of Brooklyn; and WS Construction Inc., of Brooklyn.

Jiaxi Liu, Garcia, Bailey, WSC Group LLC, and Bailey’s Engineering PC are charged with second-degree manslaughter; Jiaxi Liu, WSC Group LLC, Garcia, Bailey, Bailey’s Engineering PC and Cheung-Miu are charged with criminally negligent homicide. Jiaxi and Jia Rong Liu, WSC Group, Garcia, Bailey, Bailey’s Engineering and Cheung-Mui are charged with second-degree reckless endangerment. Jiaxi Liu, Garcia and WSC Group are charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief. Jiaxi and Jia Rong Liu and Cheung-Mui are charged with first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. The defendants are also variously charged with third-degree insurance fraud; fraudulent practices, workers’ compensation law, Section 114 (3) and Section 96; third-degree grand larceny; criminal tax fraud in the third-, fourth- and fifth-degree; and second- and third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

The defendants were arrested and are expected to be arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun this afternoon.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between April and September 2018, construction workers employed by WSC Group Inc., performed demolition, excavation and foundation work at a construction site at 714 39th Street in Sunset Park. The construction involved removing a one-story industrial building and replacing it with a four-story manufacturing and community facility, including a new cellar level that would serve as an underground garage approximately nine feet below the first-floor level.

It is alleged that, despite repeated warnings of dangerous conditions at the site from workers and adjacent property owners, Jiaxi “Jimmy” Liu refused to stop work at the site. On September 12, 2018, at approximately 2 p.m., a portion of a support of excavation system (SOE) and an existing masonry wall – adjacent to residential apartment buildings – collapsed, trapping one of the construction workers who was performing foundation work in the immediate vicinity. That worker, Luis Almonte Sanchez, 47, an employee of WSC Group, was struck by one of the underpinning pin sections, which weighed between 15,000 and 45,000 pounds and was buried under the collapsing debris. First responders couldn’t recover Sanchez’s body until the following day due to unstable conditions at the site, which were worsened by significant rain.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, Jimmy Liu ran WSC Group, the company hired to perform the excavation work and it was his responsibility to give instructions to his foreperson and workers; His brother, Tommy Liu owned WSC Group; Wilson Garcia was the foreperson at the site; Paul Bailey was an engineer, acting as the Special Inspector at the site, and whose responsibility was to oversee the work and ensure that all building and administrative codes were complied with and that the construction site was safe for workers; Wilson Garcia served as the foreperson and “competent person,” designated to identify hazards and take immediate action to correct the hazards on site; Cheung-Mui was licensed as a construction superintendent by the DOB and was required to be on site to maintain a safe job site, maintain compliance with approved construction documents and perform daily site visits; Cindy Chai was the bookkeeper at WSC Group LLC and is only charged in connection with financial crimes alleged in the indictment.

It is alleged, according to the indictment, that the defendants were obligated by law to ensure that the construction site was in compliance with regulations promulgated by the DOB and Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure the safety of the work site, but, in fact, the site was not in compliance and, furthermore, the defendants failed to follow the design plans submitted and approved by the DOB. They allegedly solicited new plans, which were not submitted to DOB, but ultimately didn’t follow any plans, leading to hazardous conditions at the site. Among the issues: the excavation was too deep, the underpinning system wasn’t installed properly and safe bracing procedures were not followed.

Furthermore, it is alleged that in the days prior to September 12, 2018, Jimmy Liu and Garcia were informed by several of their workers of a number of potentially dangerous conditions, including that the rear wall was moving forward and that it had to be further braced with another beam across the lower portion of the wall in order to stop the wall’s movement.

Also, it is alleged, Jimmy Liu and Garcia were notified by a resident who lived immediately adjacent to the rear wall that her patio and garage had caved in. It is alleged that, despite those warnings, Jimmy Liu and Garcia refused to direct the workers to install additional bracing and never halted work at the site in order to assess or remedy the conditions. Nor did they notify DOB about the conditions.

Instead, it is alleged, they ordered workers to continue working on the underpinning at the rear of the site and in the days immediately preceding the collapse allowed a trucking company to continue to remove truckloads of dirt during a heavy rain storm, further destabilizing the site and causing the fatal collapse.

Additionally, it is alleged, some of the same individuals and companies were involved in another construction project located at 1759 Bay Ridge Parkway in 2017-2018, that was subject to numerous safety complaints that led to a DOB inspection, which uncovered numerous violations, and resulted in a stop work order. It is alleged that work continued at the site despite the order.

Finally, it is alleged, that WSC defrauded the New York State Insurance Fund of nearly $47,000 by making false statements about their employees, and that it also committed tax fraud by failing to file taxes between 2015 and 2018 and owes more than $28,000 for 2015 and 2016.

Following the 2018 fatal construction incident at 714 39th Street, DOB inspection teams conducted enforcement sweeps citywide of every construction site associated with the defendants and issued additional enforcement actions for site safety conditions where appropriate. In addition, DOB is taking additional administrative actions against any of the defendants that have licenses, registrations, or privileges with the Department.

The case was investigated by DOI, specifically Investigative Inspector Ross Hoffman, Chief Investigator James McElligott and Special Investigators Janaina Siguencia and Alejandra Gomero, under the supervision of Inspector General Gregory Cho, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort, with assistance from DOI’s squad of NYPD Detectives.

DOB Executive Engineer Construction Safety Enforcement Geoff Eisele and Supervising Inspector Greg Gonzalez assisted in the investigation. New York State Insurance Fund Investigator Maliaka Williams, Division of Confidential Investigations and OSHA Assistant Area Director Mitchel Konca and Safety Engineer James Ng, also assisted in the investigation.

The New York City Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Tax Auditor Giselle Decamps-Guthrie and Bureau Chief Gary Wong assisted in the investigation.

The District Attorney thanked Senior Assistant District Attorney Joel Greenwald of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Gregory P. Mitchel, Bureau Chief, Frauds Bureau Paralegal Stephanie Ducatel and Supervising Financial Investigator Debbie Wey of the Investigations Division for their assistance in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Samantha Magnani, Chief of the District Attorney’s Construction Crimes and Labor Fraud Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Elliot Wertheim, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief.

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

Materials that were displayed at the press conference can be viewed via this link: https://brooklynda-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/yanivo_brooklynda_org/EpkKAbLf80tLsS0l0lL8kcwBcFex_V4C3ThQ8zL6zNX4BQ?e=yxTahL

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Mass Shooting During Old Timers Day Celebration in Brownsville Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 18, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Mass Shooting During
Old Timers Day Celebration in Brownsville Park

Defendant Allegedly Triggered a Gun Battle, Which Left One Dead, 11 Others
Shot and Wounded

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with murder, assault and reckless endangerment for fatally shooting a man during the Old Timers Day celebration in Brownsville. The shooting ignited an exchange of gun fire between rival groups which left 11 innocent bystanders shot and wounded.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A beloved community celebration held peacefully and joyously became chaotic and tragic when this defendant allegedly opened fire in the middle of a crowd. Senseless gun violence that puts innocent people in harm’s way has destroyed too many lives and will not be tolerated in Brooklyn. We will now seek to bring justice to all of the people who were impacted by this defendant’s brazen conduct.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Kyle Williams, 20, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, two-counts of second-degree assault, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and first-degree reckless endangerment. The defendant was ordered held without bail and to return to court on January 15, 2020. The defendant faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on July 27, 2019, at approximately 11 p.m., in the Brownsville Playground, on Hegeman Avenue and Sackman Street, the defendant allegedly confronted Jason Pagan, 38, during Old Timers Day, an annual neighborhood celebration where more than 500 community members were gathered.

Following a verbal dispute, the defendant allegedly pulled out a gun and fatally shot Pagan in the head and torso. A shootout between rival groups then erupted during which 11 innocent people, caught in the crossfire, were shot and wounded.

The defendant was arrested on October 16, 2019, after investigators received tips from members of the community. Multiple eyewitnesses identified the defendant as the initial shooter. In addition, police recovered the gun the defendant allegedly used during the fatal shooting and obtained an admission from the defendant while he was in custody.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard L. Jackson, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Daphney Gachette, also of the 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.