Staten Island Man Indicted for 1980 Cold Case Murder of Lorraine Snell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 12, 2020

 

Staten Island Man Indicted for 1980 Cold Case
Murder of Lorraine Snell

Defendant Allegedly Strangled Woman,
Her Body Was Found in Vehicle Parked in Rear of Flatbush Supermarket

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, today announced that, following a lengthy and thorough reinvestigation of the 1980 strangulation death of 19-year-old Lorraine Snell, a 63-year-old Staten Island man who was married to her cousin at the time of the crime has been indicted for the murder.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “My thoughts today are with Lorraine Snell’s mother, Pearl, who has waited for decades to see her daughter’s killer brought to justice. With this indictment, the result of a thorough reinvestigation of the case and the evidence, including a crucial DNA association, we will now seek to hold the defendant accountable. I commend the NYPD and my Cold Case Unit for the meticulous work they did to put this case together.”

Police Commissioner Shea said, “These charges prove that the best investigators in the world do not ever forget victims, and they do not ever forget the justice that is owed to those victims’ families. I commend the Cold Case detectives whose dedication resulted in this arrest and our colleagues at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as James Burrus, 63, of Staten Island. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of second-degree murder. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on March 25, 2020. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on September 25, 1980, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Lorraine Snell left her home in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, where she lived with her mother, grandmother and three siblings. She went to the Midwood Terrace catering hall located on Flatbush Avenue to reserve the space for a party for her boyfriend. She was allegedly seen in the company of the defendant at the Midwood Terrace, according to the investigation, and the two left together at approximately 11 p.m.

On September 26, 1980, Lorraine Snell was discovered on the back floor of a station wagon that was parked in the rear of a C-Town grocery store located at 1895 Nostrand Avenue in East Flatbush. The cause of death was strangulation. The station wagon belonged to the owner of the C-Town supermarket, where the defendant was once employed.

The defendant allegedly admitted to police that he was with Snell at the Midwood Terrace and told police he walked her part of the way home. As a result of the reinvestigation, the defendant’s DNA was allegedly positively associated to foreign DNA found under the victim’s fingernail.

The case was investigated by Detective William Simon of the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad and Detective Michael Gaynor, of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant Dennis Klein.

Forensic Specialist Susan Horan, of the District Attorney’s Forensic Science Unit, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Lauren Silver, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Andrea Orlando, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Rachel Singer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Forensic Science and Cold Case Unit.

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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 Five-Week Paid High School Internship Summer Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Accepting Applications
For Five-Week Paid High School Internship Summer Program

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 juniors and seniors interested in participating in a five-week paid summer internship program. The summer 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 summer internship runs from July 7 to August 7, 2020.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Our goal every year is to provide interns with an understanding of how the criminal justice system operates and how my office works to keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust. We are delighted to offer an opportunity for high school students to gain 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. The interns are exposed to a plethora of careers available in the criminal justice system, as they consider their future professional goals.”

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 five-week internship, participants will receive a $150 weekly stipend plus a MetroCard. Internship hours will be Monday through Thursday 9:30am-4:00pm and Friday 9:30am-Noon. Interested applicants must submit their most recent school transcript, a one-page resume, 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  beginning March 9, 2020, to upload transcript, essay and resume. All application materials must be received no later than April 30, 2020. For questions or assistance please contact (718) 250-4873, (718) 250-3191 or email hsinternships@brooklynda.org.

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Seven Brooklyn Men Indicted for Stealing over $1 Million From Owners and Couriers Who Were Delivering Funds to Private ATM Machines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

 

Seven Brooklyn Men Indicted for Stealing over $1 Million From
Owners and Couriers Who Were Delivering Funds to Private ATM Machines

Allegedly Followed Cars, Deflated Their Tires and Stole Cash When Drivers Stepped Out;
15 Larcenies in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Bronx Charged in the Indictment

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that seven men from Brooklyn have been variously charged with conspiracy and larceny in connection with a long-running scheme in which they allegedly stole more than $1 million by breaking into vehicles that were delivering funds to replenish private ATM machines throughout New York City. The defendants allegedly surveilled two Brooklyn warehouses, targeted cars that were carrying cash from those locations and used various methods – including releasing air from a tire to facilitate entry – to enter the cars and steal the money.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly ran a brazen and lucrative scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from our local businesses. An intensive investigation by the NYPD and my Office has ended their citywide crime spree and we will now seek to hold them responsible for their numerous crimes.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Brooklyn residents William Jackson aka “Smoke,” 47, Lance Spearman aka “Lo,” 39, Jamel Cooper aka “Coop,” 44, Jeffrey Blount, 55, Sherrod Coleman aka “Rod,” 45, Johnnie Corbett, 31, and Freddie Barnes, 46. They are named in an 81-count indictment in which they are variously charged with fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy, multiple counts of second-, third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, third-degree burglary and related charges.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between December 2017 and July 2019, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to steal money from ATM owners and their drivers while they were delivering funds to refill private, non-bank-affiliated ATM machines throughout New York City. In order to facilitate the scheme, the defendants allegedly conducted surveillance on at least two ATM warehouses in Brooklyn – in Vinegar Hill and East Williamsburg – where cash is packaged and distributed to refill ATMs.

It is alleged that the defendants targeted commercial vehicles that left these facilities and used multiple cars to conduct the surveillance, the lookout, the theft and the get-away. The conspirators allegedly entered the target vehicles through unlocked doors, by force or, in some occasions, by releasing air from the rear passenger tire to gain entry when the driver attended to the flat tire. In total, the defendants allegedly stole $1,003,670 in 15 incidents charged in the indictment.

Those incidents include:

  • On February 27, 2017, defendants Jackson, Spearman, Blount and Coleman allegedly followed a van to a gas station in New Hyde Park, Queens. Surveillance video shows a sedan driven by one of the defendants obscure the van, which was left unattended, while Blount opens the back door and removes a box containing $4,000. Shortly thereafter, he is seen entering another vehicle with the box and drives away.
  • On March 2, 2018, defendants Jackson, Spearman, Blount and Coleman allegedly followed an ATM owner from the East Williamsburg warehouse after he withdrew $480,000. When he reached his Queens home and exited his vehicle to open the garage, one of the conspirators entered his car and drove away. The defendants then all drove to Nassau County, LI, and moved bags of cash into their own minivan.
  • On July 30, 2018, defendants Jackson, Cooper and Blount allegedly followed an ATM courier to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, released air from his car’s rear tire and stole $14,000.
  • On September 5, 2018, defendants Jackson, Cooper, Corbett and Blount followed an ATM courier to a location in Bushwick, Brooklyn where the three other defendants were waiting on foot. Spearman and Blount then allegedly entered the vehicle and removed an ATM cassette containing about $73,000 before the group fled in several vehicles.
  • On October 15, 2018, defendants Spearman and Blount allegedly followed an ATM courier in Brooklyn and released air from his vehicle’s rear tire. When he stopped at a gas station to refill the air, they stole $112,000 from his vehicle.
  • On May 14, 2019, defendants Spearman, Cooper and Blount allegedly released air from the vehicle of an ATM courier. When he stopped at a mechanic’s garage in Jamaica, Queens, Blount entered his vehicle and removed $50,000.
  • On May 21, 2019, defendants Spearman and Blount allegedly followed an ATM courier to a gas station in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. When the driver left his car unattended, briefly, Blount allegedly shattered the rear passenger window and stole $50,000.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Javier Munoz of the Organized Theft Squad under the supervision of Deputy Inspector Christopher Flanagan of the Financial Crimes Task Force and Organized Theft Squad, and Deputy Inspector Timothy McCoade, Chief of the Grand Larceny Division. He was assisted by Sergeant Joseph Tarsio, Sergeant Beslity and Detectives Michael McFadden, Rigel Zeledon, Brett Huzar and Edrian Irizarry.

Additional assistance in the investigation was provided by Supervising Analyst Brooke Middleton and Intelligence Analyst Alexandra Aber, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, and Senior Intelligence Analyst Danielle Jackson and Paralegal Kimberly Bifulco, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Kyriacou of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Jennifer Cilia, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Alfred Deingeniis, Bureau Chief, and Raymond Tierney, Executive Assistant District Attorney for Crime Strategies.

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

 

Mill Basin Man Sentenced to Three to Six Years in Prison For Scamming Investors Out of $440,000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

 

Mill Basin Man Sentenced to Three to Six Years in Prison
For Scamming Investors Out of $440,000

Defendant Stole Money He Offered to Invest for Family and Friends;
Pleaded Guilty to Grand Larceny

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Mill Basin man has been sentenced to three to six years in prison for stealing more than $440,000 that he was supposed to invest in securities for at least 22 people, including his friends, family, neighbors and others. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny in September.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant admittedly cheated many people, including friends and family, out of thousands of dollars in savings, betraying their trust. He has now been held accountable for the financial hardship he caused his victims. I strongly advise anyone considering investing with a broker or brokerage firm to make sure they are registered with the Financial Industry Regularity Authority (FINRA) and licensed to sell securities.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joseph Casertano, 57, of Mill Basin, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today to an indeterminate term of three to six years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny on September 25, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, between October 1, 2011 and July 31, 2017, the defendant told people that he had an investment company, Shelter Island Leverage, and convinced 22 people to invest in multiple initial public offerings (IPOs) in increments beginning at $12,500.

After the initial investment, the defendant reported high rates of return and some of the victims were given account numbers and statements showing various stock trades and account balances. Many of the victims opted to reinvest and continued to give the defendant more money, believing that the investment was highly profitable. The defendant’s first victim was a man he met at a local gym. Some of the investors convinced their friends and family to invest in the scheme. Among the victims were the defendant’s relatives, lifelong friends and neighbors.

When people attempted to withdraw money, the defendant told them they were precluded from withdrawing due to securities regulations. In some instances, he would give small amounts of money back as proof that the accounts were real.

Financial records show that the defendant never made any investments or opened any accounts, but instead deposited the investment checks into one of three accounts that he controlled. All expenditures from those accounts were personal, including vacations, restaurants and personal credit card payments. He also made cash withdrawals totaling more than $200,000.

The case was investigated by the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Pamela J. Murray 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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Long Island Man Sentenced to One-and-a-Half to Four-and-a-Half Years in Prison for Forging Deed in Scheme to Steal Brownstone Worth Over $1 Million from Elderly Brooklyn Homeowner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

 

Long Island Man Sentenced to One-and-a-Half to Four-and-a-Half Years in Prison for Forging Deed in Scheme to Steal Brownstone Worth Over
$1 Million from Elderly Brooklyn Homeowner

Defendant Pleaded Guilty to Grand Larceny and Money Laundering;
Ordered to Pay Restitution of $850,000

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Long Island man has been sentenced to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison for stealing a vacant brownstone worth over $1 million in a deed fraud scheme targeting an 80-year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant homeowner. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny and second-degree money laundering in December 2019.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant targeted an elderly homeowner, forging her signature and capitalizing on her absence in an underhanded effort to steal her home. I remain committed to protecting Brooklyn homeowners and I hope today’s sentence sends a clear message to those trying to take advantage of seniors or those considering selling their homes —you will be prosecuted and held fully accountable for your crimes.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Craig Hecht, 52, of Mount Sinai, New York. He was sentenced today to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who nullified the deed the defendant forged and issued a judgment order of restitution for $850,000 to the title insurance company for losses it incurred reimbursing the home buyer. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny and second-degree money laundering on December 4, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, Hecht and an unapprehended co-defendant stole the deed to 260 Clifton Place, a two-story Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone owned by an 80-year-old retired teacher. The victim and her family lived in the residence for over three decades. In 2010, the family vacated the property after a fire made the building uninhabitable.

Hecht formed an entity called Ernestina Thomas LLC that he filed with the New York State Department of State on April 20, 2015. Ten days later, the co-defendant opened a bank account called Ernestina Thomas LLC (ET). The victim did not know about or consent to any of this.

On September 18, 2015, according to the evidence, Hecht set up a closing where 260 Clifton Place was transferred to an entity called TDA Development. A deed with the victim’s forged signature, which transferred the property from her to TDA, was filed and recorded with the City Register. The bulk of the proceeds of the sale went into an ET account which the co-defendant controlled.

Shortly thereafter, Hecht offered 260 Clifton Place to a prospective buyer. On November 5, 2015, the co-defendant opened a bank account for TDA and the following day the property was transferred from TDA to the buyer at a closing for $850,000, with most of the proceeds of that sale going into the co-defendant’s TDA account. From the funds stolen out of the two closings, the co-defendant wired $190,000 to an account he had in Athens, Greece, withdrew another $120,000 in a series of cash withdrawals and transferred over $250,000 to an account held by Hecht’s wife.

The victim was notified of the theft when a neighbor called to tell her that someone was working on the house and introduced himself as the new property owner. She then notified the District Attorney’s Office.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the KCDA Investigations Bureau. Supervising Financial Investigator Vincent Jones, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, assisted in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Hristova, with assistance from Senior Assistant District Attorney Elliott Wertheim and Senior Assistant District Attorney Patrick Cappock, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and 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 of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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Brooklyn Woman Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Drowning 2-Year-Old Daughter Inside a Storage Container Filled with Water

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

 

Brooklyn Woman Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Drowning
2-Year-Old Daughter Inside a Storage Container Filled with Water

Child Was Found Unresponsive by Emergency Medical Services Personnel

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Sunset Park woman has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter for the 2016 drowning death of her 2-year-old daughter, Melody Zheng. The defendant put the victim in a container and held her under water until she stopped struggling. The jury also convicted her of attempted assault for holding her 4-year-old son’s head under water a day earlier.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant had a duty to care for her children and to keep them safe, but instead she used inexplicable and dangerous methods to discipline them – and caused the violent death her daughter. Nothing can bring back little Melody, who had an entire life ahead of her. But, with today’s sentence, we have obtained a measure of justice in this terribly tragic case.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Lin Li, 28, of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling to 18 years in prison. The defendant was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree attempted assault on June 4, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on March 13, 2016, at approximately 8:50 p.m., in an apartment on 47th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, the defendant took her 2-year-old daughter Melody Zheng into the bathroom to punish her. She placed Melody inside a storage container in the tub and filled it with water. The defendant then submerged the child’s head under the water until she stopped struggling, according to evidence presented at trial. She submerged her son under water a day earlier.

The defendant called 911 after submerging her daughter, who was found to be unconscious and unresponsive by EMS. She was taken to Maimonides Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 9:20 p.m. The Medical Examiner determined that Melody had multiple bruises and contusions that were consistent with her being held under water and drowned.

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

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Long Island Man Indicted for Strangulation Death of Pregnant Girlfriend Whose Body He Allegedly Discarded Outside Her Red Hook Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

 

Long Island Man Indicted for Strangulation Death of Pregnant Girlfriend Whose Body He Allegedly Discarded Outside Her Red Hook Home

Defendant Allegedly Dragged Victim Out of Car before Driving Off
and Abandoning Couple’s Two-Year-Old Son in Queens

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 25-year-old Long Island man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with murder for the strangulation death of Tatiana Walton, the defendant’s five months pregnant girlfriend and mother of his two-year-old son. The defendant allegedly dragged the victim from his car and left her body on the street outside her Red Hook home before driving off and abandoning their son on a stranger’s doorstep in Queens.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The alleged actions of this defendant – who’s charged with killing the pregnant mother of his child and abandoning his son – were truly shocking and appalling. We will never tolerate any type of intimate partner violence in Brooklyn and I am committed to prosecuting such cases vigorously and to hold violent abusers like this defendant responsible.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Kelvin Philp, 25, of Shirley, Long Island. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder and abandonment of a child. The defendant was ordered held without bail and to return to court on April 3, 2020. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count. He was also arraigned on a second indictment in which he is charged with aggravated criminal contempt and related charges.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on January 29, 2020, at approximately 1:45 a.m., surveillance footage taken near the corner of Lorraine Street and Ostego Street in Red Hook captured the defendant allegedly exiting a dark colored car parked outside the home of Tatiana Walton, 27, in the Red Hook West housing development. The defendant allegedly walked around to the passenger side of the vehicle, dragged the victim out of the vehicle and drove away a few minutes later.

An eyewitness who called 911 on January 29, 2020, at approximately 2:01 a.m., allegedly saw the defendant exiting a dark colored Honda Accord parked in front of the victim’s home and then drive away, leaving the victim on the ground.

Police officers responding to the 911 call found the victim on the ground unconscious and unresponsive. An autopsy performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of death was asphyxiation due to neck compression.

At approximately 2:54 a.m., soon after the alleged murder, surveillance footage from a Ring doorbell camera allegedly captured the defendant leaving his two-year-old son on the doorstep of a stranger’s home on 84th Street near 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens.

It is alleged that when the defendant visited the victim on January 29, 2020, he was in violation of a Kings County Family Court order of protection issued for both Tatiana Walton and their son on October 31, 2019.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Elaine Albenda and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ruthie Talansky, of the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau, under the supervision of Michelle Kaminsky, Domestic Violence Bureau Chief.

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

 

Sunset Park Attorney Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Approximately $280,000 From Two Families He Represented in Sale of Their Homes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

 

Sunset Park Attorney Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Approximately $280,000 From Two Families He Represented in Sale of Their Homes

Defendant Allegedly Received Down Payments to Hold in Escrow,
Issued Checks Returned for Insufficient Funds

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 70-year-old Sunset Park attorney has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with several counts of grand larceny for allegedly stealing approximately $280,000 in down payments he received to hold in escrow from two clients he represented in the sale of their homes.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly betrayed the trust of his clients and abused his power as an attorney, taking advantage of the escrow accounts he controlled to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. We will now seek to hold him accountable for this serious breach of trust.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Edmundo Roman-Perez, 70, of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree grand larceny, three counts of third-degree grand larceny and five counts of issuing a bad check. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 1, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between October 2018 and March 2019, the defendant represented a couple in the sale of their $1,350,000 two-family home in Sunset Park. It is alleged that the defendant received a $135,000 down payment from the buyers that he was to hold in escrow until closing.

In March 2019, shortly after the closing, the defendant issued two checks to cover the amount of the down payment, each in the amount of $65,600, both checks were allegedly returned because of insufficient funds.

Similarly, between November 2018 and April 2019, the defendant represented three brothers in the sale of their $1,500,000 two-family home in Dyker Heights. It is alleged that the defendant received a $150,000 down payment from the buyers that he was to hold in escrow until closing.

In April 2019, three days after closing, the defendant allegedly issued three checks to the victims, each in the amount of $49,187.10, to cover the amount of the down payment. It is alleged that all three checks were returned because of insufficient funds.

The case was investigated by Supervising Financial Investigator Deborah Wey of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Katherine Zdrojeski of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, Chief of the Public Integrity Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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

 

Brooklyn Man Arrested for Receiving $74,000 in Cash Payments for Pretending to Help Three Women Buy Mitchell-Lama Apartments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

 

Brooklyn Man Arrested for Receiving $74,000 in Cash Payments for Pretending to Help Three Women Buy Mitchell-Lama Apartments

Defendant Allegedly Boasted of Connections with Management

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man was arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with grand larceny and other charges for allegedly receiving $74,000 in cash payments from three women who wanted to buy Mitchell-Lama apartments in Coney Island. The defendant had no ties to Mitchell-Lama management and did not deliver on his promises to help secure the apartments.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly exploited the frustrations shared by many Brooklyn residents hoping to find affordable housing, despite a booming real estate market. We will not allow opportunists and scammers to corrupt the process by which eligible prospective tenants gain access to reasonably priced housing.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Akim Sokolovski, 63, a.k.a. Kim Greenberg, of Coney Island, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, on an indictment in which he is charged with five counts each of third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree grand larceny, and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on March 11, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between October 2015 and March 2016, the defendant, who lives in the Amalgamated Warbasse Houses located at 2790 West 5th in Coney Island, a Mitchell-Lama property, was introduced to the first victim through a mutual friend. The victim then introduced two friends to the defendant. All three individuals were interested in buying apartments in the complex, and Sokolovski allegedly presented himself as someone with access to management.

Furthermore, Sokolovski allegedly told each victim to pay him $15,000 in cash to help them avoid the waiting list. The defendant allegedly told the victims that the apartments would become available within six months to a year. After receiving the initial $45,000, he allegedly requested additional cash payments from two of the victims for other apartments. One victim gave him $25,000, while the other gave him $4,000.

The defendant never delivered on his alleged promises for help with the apartments and refused to return the payments. Mitchell-Lama developments are state-regulated complexes of affordable cooperative apartments. Securing an apartment typically involves a lengthy waiting period.

The District Attorney thanked the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal for its assistance in the investigation. KCDA Financial Investigator Marina Kuchmar also assisted in the investigation.

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

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

 

Queens Man Indicted for Fatal Beating of Brooklyn Video Game Designer in Early Morning Attack on Williamsburg Street Corner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 14, 2020

 

Queens Man Indicted for Fatal Beating of Brooklyn Video Game Designer in Early Morning Attack on Williamsburg Street Corner

Allegedly Attacked Victim After Being Refused a Cigarette;
Co-defendant Indicted in January

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 29-year-old Queens man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree manslaughter for the fatal beating of 26-year-old video game designer and entrepreneur Jose Zambrano. The defendant and a previously indicted co-defendant allegedly attacked the victim on a Williamsburg street corner after he refused to give them a cigarette.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The alleged violence this defendant and his accomplice inflicted claimed the life of a talented young man already making a name for himself in the business and video game communities. It is heartbreaking that such a senseless attack should deprive the victim, his family and friends from knowing his full potential. We will now seek to get justice for the victim and his loved ones.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Damian Diaz, 29, of Ozone Park, Queens. The defendant was arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, second-degree attempted assault, and related charges. Bail was continued at $250,000 bond or $25,000 cash. The defendant was ordered to return to court on April 21, 2020. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

Co-defendant Joshua Hernandez, 25, of Bushwick, Brooklyn, was arraigned on January 30, 2020 and charged with first-degree manslaughter. Bail was continued at $20,000. The defendant was ordered to return to court March 12, 2020. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on November 17, 2019, at approximately 4:30 a.m., Diaz and Hernandez approached Jose Zambrano, 26, at the intersection of Grand Street and Havermeyer Street in Williamsburg. It is alleged that one of the men asked the victim for a cigarette. When the victim refused, Diaz allegedly grabbed his arm.

Hernandez allegedly began striking the victim about the head before both defendants began taking turns hitting the victim until he and an eyewitness walked away. Defendant Diaz allegedly followed the victim, approaching him down the street and striking the victim again, causing him to fall to the ground.

Zambrano, an accomplished video game designer and entrepreneur, lost consciousness and was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he died four days later.

Police arrested Hernandez within an hour of the assault after he was identified by an eyewitness. Diaz was arrested on January 23, 2020 after police reviewed video surveillance that allegedly captured his involvement in the assault.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michael Diamond and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Bussanich, of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Danielle Eaddy, Bureau Chief.

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