Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and City Councilman Robert E. Cornegy Jr., Announce Safe Summer Cyberbullying Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 17, 2017

 

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and City Councilman Robert E. Cornegy Jr., Announce Safe Summer Cyberbullying Initiative

Launched by the Anti-Bullying Partnership to Prevent Violence and Suicide

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with City Councilman Robert E. Cornegy Jr., and other members of the Anti-Bullying Partnership to Prevent Violence and Suicide, today announced a street campaign to raise awareness of cyberbullying, its devastating effects and what we can all do to prevent it.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Bullies have stepped out of the schoolyard and into our children’s cyberspace. With this campaign, we’re reaching out to parents to make them aware of the tell-tale signs that may indicate if their child has fallen prey to cyberbullying. We’re hearing all too often about tragic outcomes for children who are bullied, often by anonymous online taunts, which can have devastating effects on a young person. We’ve got to put a stop to this all too real crisis.”

Councilman Cornegy said, “The perception that bullying only happens on school grounds is false. Creating a community where students feel safe is important. For years we recognized an uptick of cyberbullying through social media. This initiative is one step in the right direction for addressing cyberbullying. I’m extremely excited to collaborate with Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, community leaders, parents and students to make our dreams a reality.”

Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant President Lynette Lewis-Rogers said, “Our children are under attack and the Brownstoners will not stand for it. We spoke out against drugs and gangs and now we, together with the community members of the Partnership, are speaking out about the deadly danger of cyberbullying. We are proud to be the championing force behind the Partnership as we work together to ensure that our parents, educators, children and community are equipped to fight this battle…and we will win!”

Anti-Bullying Partnership to Prevent Violence and Suicide said, “We are in a fight for the safety of our children. It is just critical! By banding together in this partnership, we are sending the message that the entire community is ready for a sustained battle against the scourge of cyberbullying and other forms of harassment that have exploded over the past few years.”

The Anti-Bullying Partnership to Prevent Violence and Suicide, created earlier this year, is a coalition composed of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Councilman Cornegy Jr.’s Office, Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Interfaith Medical Center, All for One, Restoration Plaza, New York City Police Department’s 79th and 81st Precincts, Thrive NYC and First Lady Chirlane McCray’s Office, New York City Commission on Human Rights and Samaritans NYC.

The Partnership has taken a multi-pronged approach to fight cyberbullying that has included community workshops for parents to promote internet safety and heighten awareness of cyberbullying, a street campaign to get local businesses involved in spreading the word about the dangers of cyberbullying and a fall campaign throughout School District 16 that will directly reach out to children.

The goals of the campaign are to help parents recognize the signs of unhealthy internet use among young people, identify community resources that are available to help them combat these issues and prevent young people from using verbal and physical violence to solve social conflicts.

Among other things, parents should be on the lookout for changes in behavior that may signal a child is being bullied such as withdrawal from friends and family, unwillingness to attend school, increased hostility, and desensitization towards violence.

The coalition has also reached out to local businesses including bodegas, nail salons and barbershops for help in promoting the campaign through the display of posters offering valuable – and in fact startling – information about cyberbullying and identifying resources where help may be obtained.

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Bronx Teen Indicted for Sexual Assaults of Four Women in Brooklyn Over the Course of Four-Hour Terror Spree in Crown Heights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 

Bronx Teen Indicted for Sexual Assaults of Four Women in Brooklyn
Over the Course of Four-Hour Terror Spree in Crown Heights

Defendant Allegedly Attacked Victims after Following Them Home

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced today that a Bronx teenager has been arraigned on a 32-count indictment in which he is charged with burglary as a sexually motivated felony, sexual abuse, forcible touching, and other charges for an alleged Crown Heights terror spree that took place over the course of four hours last month.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly terrorized four innocent women during a frightening crime spree in Crown Heights last month. Luckily, they managed to fight him off. He is clearly a danger to society and we will now seek to hold him responsible for his alleged actions.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Dennis Ofuoma, 19, of Tremont, in the Bronx. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Miller on a 32-count indictment in which he is charged with first-degree burglary as a sexually motivated felony, multiple counts of second-degree burglary as a sexually motivated felony, first-degree sexual abuse, forcible touching and other charges. He was remanded and ordered to return to court on September 28, 2017. The defendant faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, from approximately 11:50 p.m. on July 12, 2017, to approximately 3:40 a.m. on July 13, 2017, the defendant followed four separate women into their apartment buildings and attacked them. All four of the women fought the defendant off, including one who sprayed mace at the defendant. All four attacks occurred within the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

The defendant was allegedly identified from video surveillance recovered from two of the locations and the surrounding neighborhood, and was arrested two weeks later.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Lauren Silver, and Assistant District Attorney Sarah Arena, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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

 

Crown Heights Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison For Trying to Torch Subway Booth during Robbery Attempt

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 

Crown Heights Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison
For Trying to Torch Subway Booth during Robbery Attempt

Demanded Money, Doused Gasoline and Set Fire in Station Mezzanine

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 52-year-old Brooklyn man was sentenced to seven years in prison for an attempted robbery of an MTA station booth employee. The defendant demanded money, doused a flammable substance and set fire in the mezzanine area, causing a dangerous smoke condition in the Eastern Parkway subway station.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant tried to rob an MTA employee who was simply doing her job and put her and the public in serious danger when he started a fire inside a subway station, making the prison term he received today appropriate and just. I am committed to protecting our dedicated transit workers, who all too often are targets of threats and violence, and will continue to ensure that those who attack them are punished.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Everett Robinson, 52, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bruce Balter to seven years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision following his guilty plea last month to first-degree attempted robbery.

The Acting District Attorney said that on August 12, 2016 at 10:45 p.m. inside the Eastern Parkway subway station in Crown Heights, the defendant, holding a plastic bottle, approached the booth and sprayed a liquid that smelled like gasoline into the aperture (the slot where transactions are made). He told the MTA employee, “Let me get the money or I’ll light you up,” according to the investigation.

The defendant lit up a folded shirt, but it quickly caught fire and fell to the floor before he could place it inside the aperture. The defendant then fled. The mezzanine and booth quickly filled with smoke. The fire safety system in the booth was activated, preventing the fire from spreading inside the booth and two passers-by extinguished the fire in the mezzanine. The employee suffered no injuries.

On August 16, 2016, a police officer canvassing the area outside the station with the victim identified the defendant and placed him under arrest.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Justin Marrus of the District Attorney’s Orange Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Janet Gleeson, Bureau Chief.

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Sheepshead Bay Woman Indicted for Allegedly Forging Court Order Absolving Her of Her Debts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

 

Sheepshead Bay Woman Indicted for Allegedly Forging Court Order
Absolving Her of Her Debts

Defendant Created Court Document with Judge’s Signature;
Sent it to Crediting Agencies in Attempt to Wipe out Debts Totaling Approximately $77,000

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Sheepshead Bay woman has been indicted for forgery and related charges for allegedly creating a fraudulent court order containing the signature of a Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice, which absolved her of all debts accrued during her marriage, including those from her divorce proceeding.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly perpetrated a blatant fraud to get out of paying her debts. Perhaps even worse, in doing so, she exploited the trust in our courts and violated the integrity of the judicial system. We intend to hold her fully accountable for her shameful acts.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Natalya Rosenstock, 35, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The defendant was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on three counts of second-degree forgery, three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and three counts of second-degree falsifying business records. The defendant was ordered held on $50,000 bond or $15,000 cash bail and to return to court on October 4, 2017. She faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant, while a litigant in a divorce proceeding before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Rachel A. Adams, allegedly created a document purportedly signed by Justice Adams, ordering the absolution of all of the defendant’s debts accrued during her marriage and resulting from her divorce. These debts totaled approximately $77,000. The forged court order further required crediting agencies to clear the defendant’s record of any negative reporting between September 5, 2009 and the date of the order, June 15, 2016. In February 2017, the defendant then allegedly faxed the order to three credit reporting agencies. According to the investigation, the validity of the forged document was convincing enough that one of the crediting agencies did, in fact, delete many of the defendant’s debts from its records.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant’s alleged fraud was discovered when one of the crediting agencies that received the bogus court order contacted one of the defendant’s lenders. The lender then contacted Brooklyn Supreme Court, inquiring about the validity of the document.

The Acting District Attorney thanked New York State Office of Court Administration Inspector General Sherrill Spatz and Investigator Joseph Kuceluk for their assistance in the investigation.

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

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Renee Welker Hassel, of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michael Spanakos, Unit Chief, and 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.

 

Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez Dismisses 143,500 Old Summons Warrants that Subjected Residents to Arrest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

 

Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez Dismisses 143,500 Old Summons Warrants that Subjected Residents to Arrest

Vacating Summons Warrants 10 Years or Older Helps Resolve Staggering Backlog, Enhances Public Safety; Initiative by Four City DAs Follows Brooklyn’s Begin Again Program

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that, in the interest of justice, he moved to dismiss 143,532 summons warrants that were issued 10 or more years ago. The warrants in question were issued for failure to pay a ticket for a minor infraction, subjecting individuals to arrest as well as carrying other negative consequences. Today’s dismissals are part of an effort by the District Attorneys of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens who collectively dismissed nearly 645,000 old summons warrants.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Today, we took an important step in showing our commitment to improved relations between law enforcement and the community, and our focus on violent crimes instead of petty offenses. This action allows us, the courts and the NYPD to divert resources away from low-level warrants and towards serious offenses. Most of the summonses dismissed today have been issued to poor, black and Latino individuals, many of whom may not even be aware that they have open warrants that could trigger an arrest for minor infractions dating back many years. My Office has been spearheading the effort to address the crisis of outstanding summons warrants through our Begin Again program and I am gratified that we were able to significantly slash the backlog today in a way that enhances public safety and promotes fairness.”

“For too long, old, low-level, non-violent summons warrants have put New Yorkers at risk for arrest,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “That is why, almost two years ago today, I first called on the District Attorney’s in the five boroughs to clear these warrants and I’m thrilled that today we are able to take this tremendous step forward. We are a City that believes in justice, not in supporting a broken summons system. I want to thank Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Gonzalez, Public Advocate James, members of clergy and the DA’s from the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan as we take a critical step forward to bring more justice to tens of thousands New Yorkers.”

“Too often, when a warrant is issued for a minor offense, it has a major impact on an individual’s life,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Warrants for petty crimes are disproportionately dispensed in our most vulnerable communities, where they make it even more difficult for New Yorkers to get housing, jobs, and even citizenship. By dismissing old warrants for minor offenses, District Attorney Gonzalez is taking action to prevent a minor mistake from causing a lifetime of suffering.”

“I’m happy to hear that DA Gonzalez, along with his counterparts in three other boroughs, intends to continue and expand the thoughtful, helpful policies and practices which began during the tenure of DA Thompson. This shift will give otherwise productive, law-abiding citizens a break, while, at the same, de-clogging the court dockets of an exceptionally busy judiciary. Moreover, this allows space for serious cases to be heard faster and for citizens to move on with their lives, thereby freeing them to sample more of the American dream,” said Rev. Anthony L. Trufant, Senior Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church of Brooklyn

The dismissal of the warrants poses no risk to public safety as those individuals whose warrants are being dismissed have not been arrested in the past 10 years or their warrants would have been triggered. Furthermore, the warrants stem from summonses issued for minor infractions such as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, drinking beer in public, disorderly conduct, and being in a park after dark.

The summons warrants that were dismissed today, when left unresolved, subject those who have them to an automatic arrest when questioned by police on the street or during a traffic stop. They may also carry a number of negative consequences, including impeding one’s ability to apply for citizenship, to secure employment or obtain public housing, and subject undocumented immigrants to deportation.

Approximately 143,500 warrants were dismissed in Brooklyn; 160,000 in the Bronx; 240,500 in Manhattan; and 100,000 in Queens.

In 2015, recognizing the unfairness and inefficiency of having over 1 million outstanding summons warrants citywide, the late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson kicked off the Begin Again program in which the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office hosted warrants forgiveness events in churches to allow those with summons warrants get rid of them in a safe environment within the community. Over 3,000 New Yorkers attended these events and more than 2,100 summons warrants were vacated, with legal and social service providers at hand to offer assistance. Following the success, similar events were later held in Manhattan and the Bronx.

The movement towards drastically reducing the backlog of warrants gained momentum, culminating today following months of work with the Office of Court Administration, the New York City Police Department, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the Speaker of the New York City Council.

The Acting District Attorney thanked all of these offices, as well as the Legal Aid Society, the Kings County Criminal Bar Association, the Public Advocate for the City of New York and clergy members for their partnership in the Begin Again program.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 10 Years in State Prison for Attempted Rape of Woman in Williamsburg

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 10 Years in State Prison for
Attempted Rape of Woman in Williamsburg

Victim Rescued By Man and Stepson Passersby Who Witnessed the Attack

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced today that a 31-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to rape a woman who was walking on a sidewalk in Williamsburg. A man and his stepson who had just exited their car witnessed the man on top of the woman and came to her aid.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I commend the men who thwarted this horrific attack and helped the police catch this violent defendant. He’s a dangerous person who has now been held accountable for his actions and removed from the streets of Brooklyn.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Todd Deas, 31, of Porter Street, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dena Douglas to 10 years in prison and 15 years’ post-release supervision. The defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted rape on July 18, 2017.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on October 18, 2016, at approximately 12:25 a.m., in the vicinity of White and McKibben Street, the defendant followed a 27-year-old woman as she walked along McKibben Street, trying to talk to her. The victim attempted to ignore the defendant and walk away from him when he grabbed her arm. The next thing the victim remembered was waking up in the ambulance.

A 28 year-old man and his 46-year-old stepfather, who had just parked their car, heard a disturbance and saw the woman lying on the ground and the defendant on top of her, repeatedly slamming her body onto the ground. When the men approached, the defendant stood up, tightened his pants and walked away. The older man stayed with the woman, whose pantyhose and underwear had been ripped off of one leg.

Meanwhile, the younger man pursued the defendant on foot and called 911; he flagged down a passing patrol car and canvassed the area with police. The defendant was apprehended on Harrison Place.

The woman was beaten about the face; one eye was swollen shut and the other badly bruised, she also suffered numerous cuts and scratches on her face and neck and a bone fracture of her inner neck. She had also been strangled, which left her in and out of consciousness.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Lauren Silver and Assistant District Attorney Michelle Haddad, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims’ Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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Flatbush Man Convicted of Assault for Shooting Innocent 13-year Old in the Eye

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 4, 2017

 

Flatbush Man Convicted of Assault for Shooting
Innocent 13-year Old in the Eye

Second Victim, Who was the Intended Target, Shot in the Leg;
Defendant Faces up to 40 Years in Prison

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been convicted of assault for shooting a 13-year-old boy in the eye while attempting to gun down a rival. The intended target, a 24-year-old man, was struck in the leg.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant, who opened fire on a busy street in broad daylight, forever changed the life of an innocent boy who lost an eye. It’s truly a miracle that he survived. The defendant will now spend many years in prison to pay for his abhorrent actions.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Kareem Potomont, 24, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was convicted today of one count of first-degree assault, one count of first-degree attempted assault, one count of first-degree reckless endangerment and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Ruth Shillingford. Sentencing was scheduled for September 22, 2017 at which time the defendant faces up to 40 years in prison.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on April 14, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m., in the vicinity of Flatbush Avenue and Beverley Road, the defendant opened fire on the 24-year-old, striking him in the leg. The 13-year-old, who was waiting for a bus with his aunt and cousin, was struck in the right eye by a stray bullet.

The defendant was captured on videotape shooting the firearm and then fleeing the scene.
He was arrested three days later after being located in the basement of a house in Jamaica, Queens.

The older victim was treated for his gunshot to the leg and released. The child lost his vision in his right eye and eventually had the eye removed. He underwent multiple surgeries.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Yaniris Urraca, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, Chief of VCE, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Chief of Trials and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Mark Feldman, Senior Executive for Crime Strategies and Investigations.

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Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez and New York AG Eric Schneiderman Call for ICE to End Immigration Enforcement Raids in State Courts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 3, 2017

 

Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez and New York AG Eric Schneiderman Call for ICE to End Immigration Enforcement Raids in State Courts

Raids in NY Courthouses, including Family and Community Courts, Spiked this Year;
Victims and Witnesses being Targeted are Increasingly Fearful of Cooperating with Prosecutors

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today called for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop conducting raids in New York courthouses and to recalibrate their priorities so crime victims and witnesses are not targeted for removal proceedings. Instances of arrests and attempted arrests by ICE in courts have spiked approximately five-fold this year compared to 2016, according to service providers, and a growing number of victims have expressed reluctance to move forward with criminal prosecutions due to fear of being deported, according to the Brooklyn DA’s Office. These reports are consistent with findings detailed in a national report issued by the New York Attorney General’s office in March. Together, the reports provide overwhelming evidence that the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies have undermined public safety and must end.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The federal authorities claim they are making America safe again, but the truth is that their immigration enforcement policies are making all of us less safe. We encounter more and more victims and eyewitnesses to crime who are fearful of moving forward because of immigration status, and we see arrests by ICE spiking in our courthouses, including Family Court and courts dedicated to helping human trafficking victims and those with mental health issues. We must not allow a large number of our residents to live in the shadows and stop cooperating with law enforcement – but the Trump Administration is now creating this dangerous reality. ICE should treat courthouses as sensitive locations, like it does schools and houses of worship, to allow everyone free access to our justice system and stop the chilling effect felt by victims and witnesses.”

Attorney General Schneiderman said, “Targeting immigrants at our courthouses undermines our criminal justice system and threatens public safety. If the Trump Administration continues to arrest people in the heart of our justice system, immigrants will be less likely to serve as witnesses or report crimes – and that leaves us all at risk. I join District Attorney Gonzalez in calling for ICE to stop immigration raids in our courthouses. Everyone, regardless of their immigration status or the status of their loved ones, should have access to equal justice under the law.”

Steven Choi, the New York Immigration Coalition’s Executive Director, said, “The federal government continues to perpetuate a false narrative that immigrants are criminals. This does not make us safer – in fact, it instills fear in a community that is now too afraid to come forward with crucial, case-saving information. This is an issue of public safety and I am proud to stand with Acting DA Gonzalez and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to demand the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop making senseless arrests in New York courthouses. This is our New York: one that does not terrorize immigrants at the expense of due process and our democratic principles.”

Mizue Aizeki, the Immigrant Defense Project’s Acting Executive Director, said, “Since January, ICE’s campaign to terrorize our immigrant communities has extended into New York State’s courthouses. Today, we applaud Brooklyn’s Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for calling on ICE to end this terrible practice. ICE’s continued presence in our courthouses is having a horribly destructive impact on public safety and access to justice for all New Yorkers and must stop.”

Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Practice at The Legal Aid Society, said, “We applaud New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez for calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately stop courthouse raids. ICE’s presence in local courts undermines the essential functions of our criminal justice system and deters New Yorkers from seeking vital court protections and services. We hope New York City’s other District Attorneys join with us in our continued efforts to keep ICE from raiding courthouses.”

Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families, said, “When victims and witnesses are afraid to come forward, the very purpose of our judicial system is compromised. ICE’s continuing presence in New York’s courthouses poses a serious deterrent to immigrants who seek justice, including trafficking and domestic violence victims served by Sanctuary for Families and other providers. With the prospect of detainment and deportation looming, victims will be unprotected, witnesses will be silent and violators will go free.”
A recent survey by the Immigrant Defense Project has found that there were approximately 60 arrests and attempted arrests in New York State courts so far this year, with at least eight arrests in Brooklyn. Only 11 arrests were reported statewide in 2016 and 14 in 2015. ICE operations have expanded and the agency is arresting individuals in Family Court, Human Trafficking Intervention Court and Mental Health Treatment Court. Those arrested included lawful residents (Green Card holders), a domestic violence victim and people who appeared on low-level misdemeanors.

While ICE has designated certain locations such as schools, medical facilities and places of worship as “sensitive locations,” where it does not carry out enforcement actions, it has so far refused to designate courthouses as sensitive locations. The result is that a large segment of New Yorkers are now discouraged from appearing in state courts, including in housing disputes, to obtain orders of protection or to settle important matters such as child custody.

In addition, legal professionals, social workers and service providers have reported an increase in victims and witnesses who express reluctance to cooperate with state authorities out of fear of being targeted by ICE. For example, an elderly victim in Brooklyn who was allegedly assaulted by her son is reluctant to move forward with the case because the defendant is a Green Card holder and the complainant does not want to risk seeing him deported. This trend means that crimes will go unreported and criminals may not be held accountable and remain free to victimize others, placing all of us at risk and making us less safe.

AG Schneiderman has been leading the effort to protect New Yorkers from the overreach and backsliding of the Trump administration. He was the first legal officer in the country to offer a legal roadmap for localities to become sanctuary jurisdictions while complying with federal law, and has sued the administration for constitutional violations related to its immigration policies.

Acting DA Gonzalez has been a leader in prosecutors’ work to protect immigrants, creating a policy this spring to offer non-citizens plea offers that avoid collateral immigration consequences, hiring two immigration attorneys to advise his staff and holding monthly Immigration Forums to educate community members about common scams and how to avoid them. On August 8, 2017 The Brooklyn DA’s Office will hold a symposium for legal professionals on the intersection of criminal law and immigration law.

The Acting District Attorney and the Attorney General thanked the New York Immigration Coalition, the Immigrant Defense Project, the Legal Aid Society, Safe Horizon and Sanctuary for Families for their work and advocacy on immigration issues.

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Brooklyn Man Convicted of Murder for Fatal Shooting of East Williamsburg Metal Worker during Crime Spree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted of Murder for Fatal Shooting of East Williamsburg Metal Worker during Crime Spree

Victim Shot in the Chest after Confronting Defendant, Who was Breaking into Cars

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 22-year-old man has been convicted of murder, attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon for the 2015 fatal shooting of Michael Matusiak, a 53-year-old worker at a sheet metal shop in East Williamsburg.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Michael Matusiak was a beloved father who was senselessly shot to death after standing up to this defendant, who was breaking into cars. Mr. Matusiak should be alive today but for the brazen and callous actions of this defendant, who also shot two other people that morning including an innocent 13-year-old girl. He has now been held accountable.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Bryan Aponte, 22, of Bushwick, Brooklyn. He was convicted today of one count of second-degree murder, one count of second-degree attempted murder, one count of second-degree assault, and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, following a jury trial presided over by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog. Sentencing was set for August 30, 2017, at which time the defendant faces up to 57 years to life in prison

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on October 6, 2015, at approximately 7:50 a.m., the defendant was spotted breaking into and ransacking cars at the corner of Grattan Street and Knickerbocker Avenue in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He was confronted by Michael Matusiak, 53, and another man, 57, both workers at the nearby ABNY sheet metal shop.

After Matusiak shouted at the defendant, he turned around and fired, striking Matusiak in the chest and buttock. The 57-year-old man was shot in the torso and in the ear. A 13-year-old girl was shot in the hip by a stray bullet as she walked to school. Matusiak died at the scene. The other victims were treated at Elmhurst Hospital and released.

The defendant was arrested three weeks later in East New York, Brooklyn, at his grandparents’ home after they called police to say he wanted to surrender.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard Jackson, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Chow Xie, of the District Attorney’s Trial Bureau Grey Zone, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Lower East Side Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life in Prison for Murder and Gun Possession in Decades-Old Dispute That Started in China

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

 

Lower East Side Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life in Prison for Murder and Gun Possession in Decades-Old Dispute That Started in China

Defendant Shot Elderly Victim on Sunset Park Street, Following Encounter at Wedding

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 46-year-old man has been sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for murder and criminal possession of a weapon for the 2015 fatal shooting of a 68-year-old man in Sunset Park.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This was a particularly egregious and senseless murder – an elderly man who had done nothing wrong was shot in cold blood over an old dispute oceans away of which he had no part. This defendant was caught on video stalking, following and, finally, shooting this innocent victim to death in the street. Today’s lengthy sentence is just, given the horrific nature of this crime.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Wu Long Chen, 46, of the Lower East Side in Manhattan. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog to 25 years to life in prison for his conviction on one count of second-degree murder and 15 years in prison for his conviction on one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The judge ordered the sentences to run consecutive to one another. The defendant was convicted in June following a jury trial.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on December 7, 2015, at approximately 9:35 p.m., the defendant followed the victim after he left the wedding reception of a mutual friend, held at the Golden Imperial Palace restaurant on Sixth Avenue in Sunset Park. Both men had attended the wedding, but were seated at different tables.

The defendant was captured on surveillance video following the victim to Seventh Avenue and 61st Street, where he shot the victim in the head, chest and arm. When his gun jammed, the defendant dropped it and fled the scene. The victim walked into a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant, where he collapsed. He was taken by ambulance to Lutheran Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim, Ying Guan Chen, 68, was the father of the defendant’s former neighbors in China. Wu Long and the victim’s sons had heated arguments, decades ago in China, about Wu Long’s family building an additional floor to their property that hovered over the victim’s family’s home. Ultimately, there was a physical altercation between both families which, according to the defendant, resulted in a serious injury to one of his relatives. The defendant harbored a grudge, according to testimony, and since he couldn’t find the victim’s sons he sought retribution by killing the victim instead, even though he had no involvement in the dispute.

The defendant fled New York and was captured in Laredo, Texas on December 31, 2015, as he tried to make his way to Mexico.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard Jackson, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Lauren Silver, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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