Brooklyn Man Charged in 52-Count Indictment in Seven Separate Attacks on Women in East Williamsburg, Including at Morgan Avenue Subway Station

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

 

Brooklyn Man Charged in 52-Count Indictment in Seven Separate Attacks on Women in East Williamsburg, Including at Morgan Avenue Subway Station

Defendant Indicted on Hate Crime Charges for Allegedly Targeting Light-Skinned Women

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced today that an East Williamsburg man has been indicted on numerous charges of assault, strangulation and burglary as hate crimes and other charges for allegedly attacking seven women in East Williamsburg, allegedly selecting his victims based on their gender and skin color.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s alleged violent and unprovoked attacks endangered the women he targeted and caused widespread fear in the community. I am committed to prosecuting all hate crimes where victims, including as alleged in this case, are targeted because of their gender, skin color or race.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Khari Covington, 29, who resides in an East Williamsburg transitional housing center. The defendant was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 52-count indictment in which he is charged with second-degree burglary as a hate crime, second-degree strangulation as a hate crime, third-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree menacing as a hate crime and other related charges. His bail was continued at $150,000. The defendant, who’s considered a mandatory violent persistent felony offender, faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. He was ordered to return to court on April 13, 2021.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between August 5, 2020 and January 4, 2021, the defendant allegedly assaulted seven women, whom he targeted because they were women and light-skinned, according to his statements to investigators.

The incidents charged in the indictment include the following:

  • An assault on August 5, 2020 at approximately 9:45 a.m., inside 20 Morgan Avenue.
  • An assault on November 17, 2020, at approximately 8 p.m., inside the Morgan Avenue train station.
  • An assault on December 11, 2020 at approximately 9:15 p.m. at the Morgan Avenue train station.
  • An assault on December 28, 2020, at approximately 5 p.m., inside the Morgan Avenue train station.
  • An assault on January 1, 2021, at approximately 8:35 p.m., inside the Morgan Avenue train station.
  • An assault on January 2, 2021, at approximately 9:50 p.m., inside the Morgan Avenue train station.
  • An assault on January 4, 2021, at approximately 5:10 p.m., inside a smoke shop located at 12 Wilson Avenue.

Paralegal Michael Chung of the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau assisted in the case.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Adriana Rodriguez and Assistant District Attorney Sharmalee Brooks-Gordon, of the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kelli Muse, Chief of the Hate Crimes Bureau.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Dismisses All Outstanding Prostitution-Related Warrants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 29, 2021

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Dismisses
All Outstanding Prostitution-Related Warrants

262 Warrants Connected to Offenses That are No Longer Prosecuted Dismissed in First Phase;
DA Calls on Legislature to Repeal Loitering Law and Expunge Prostitution Convictions

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that he is moving to vacate open bench warrants related to prostitution and loitering for the purposes of prostitution – charges his Office no longer prosecutes. The first batch of 262 warrants dating back to 2012 were vacated this week and their underlying cases were dismissed, with older ones planned for dismissal at a future date. The District Attorney also called on legislators to repeal the loitering for the purposes of prostitution law and to expunge old prostitution-related convictions.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I decided to take this action for several reasons: first and most obviously, it doesn’t make sense for someone to have an outstanding warrant for something we no longer prosecute. But beyond that, these warrants have powerful negative consequences for the individual, and they undermine public safety. Because someone with an open warrant is subject to arrest at any time, those engaged in the selling of sex are more likely to be driven underground and be less likely to report abuse or other crimes, which makes both them and others less safe. An outstanding warrant could show up years after it was issued in a background check for an apartment rental or a job application, hamstringing someone’s ability to move on from their past to a more stable and less dangerous way of life.

“Vacating these warrants and dismissing these cases is consistent with my view that those who engage in these activities need to be offered assistance, not criminally prosecuted. I am also calling on Albany to repeal the law that prohibits what is known as loitering for purposes of prostitution, because of the vagueness of the law, the stark racial inequalities in its enforcement, and the disproportionate harm that enforcement of the law has caused to vulnerable trans women in our community. Additionally, I am asking the legislature to expunge past prostitution convictions so they will not hold people back from opportunities for a better future.”

The District Attorney said that the Brooklyn DA’s Office does not prosecute those arrested for engaging in prostitution, but rather refers them to services and dismisses their cases. Starting in 2020, when the law mandated that those arrested receive Desk Appearance Tickets with a future court appearance, the Office has endeavored to connect them with service providers and dismiss the charges before they even have to appear in court.

Common services involve therapeutic counseling, medical assistance and checkups, educational services, housing assistance, mental health or substance abuse screening and therapy, and legal assistance with immigration, children’s services or family court issues. Cases get dismissed whether individuals avail themselves of services or not. The Office processed fewer than 30 prostitution cases last year.

Of the 262 warrants vacated this week, 183 pertain to cases with a top count of prostitution (PL 230.00) and 79 with loitering for the purposes of prostitution (PL 240.37). Individuals subject to these warrants failed to appear in court during the pendency of their cases, making them subject to a mandatory arrest if they come into contact with law enforcement. There are about 850 additional warrants dating back from 2011 to the 1970s that are archived and cannot be currently accessed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will be dismissed at the earliest possible time and any arrests made on those warrants will not be prosecuted.

In addition, there are 25,575 convictions in Brooklyn for the two offenses mentioned above, dating back to 1975. Expunging them en masse is a legislative prerogative and the District Attorney called on legislators to pass a bill that would do that. A bill to repeal the loitering for purposes of prostitution law is currently pending in the Legislature and the District Attorney renewed his support for the repeal.

The District Attorney thanked the Office of Court Administration, especially Justin Barry, Chief Clerk of New York City Criminal Court, and Charles Blaha, Acting Borough Chief Clerk of Brooklyn Criminal Court, for facilitating the dismissals.

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Fifteen Alleged 900 Gang Members Charged in 77-Count Indictment That Includes Two Murders and Nine Shootings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 6, 2021

 

Fifteen Alleged 900 Gang Members Charged in 77-Count
Indictment That Includes Two Murders and Nine Shootings

Defendants Charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder and Possess Guns,
In Effort to Maintain Territorial Dominance in Bedford-Stuyvesant;
Four Additional Alleged Gang Members Charged in Separate Indictment

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, today announced that 15 alleged members of the 900 street gang are variously charged in a 77-count indictment with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and to possess weapons, attempted murder and related charges. Four additional alleged members of the 900 gang are variously charged in a separate 11-count indictment with conspiracy to commit murder and to possess weapons.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These indictments reflect our commitment to stem the surge in gun violence that we have experienced since last spring. Many of these defendants are accused of recklessly opening fire in broad daylight, endangering not only their rivals but innocent passersby, including children. I commend the NYPD and my prosecutors for all of the hard work that went into building these cases and am determined to continue working on similar investigations to take more shooters off our streets.”

NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said, “There is no place in our city for the kind of violence alleged in this case, which tears at the fabric of life for all. I commend our NYPD investigators, and the prosecutors in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, for working relentlessly to ensure these alleged gang members would be brought to justice.”

The District Attorney said that eight of the defendants named in the 77-count indictment were arraigned last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court. The rest of the defendants will be arraigned on a later date. The defendants are variously charged with second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first-, second- and fourth-degree conspiracy first- and second-degree assault, first-degree attempted assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. 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).

Three of the defendants in the 11-count indictment were arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court. They are variously charged with second- and fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault, and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. They face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top conspiracy charge.

The District Attorney said that, according to the 77-count indictment, the defendants are allegedly members of a violent street gang known as 900 Gang. 900 is an umbrella organization comprised of affiliated violent street gangs operating in Brooklyn. Stack Money Goons (SMG) and Jayson Fam (JSF) are two such gangs that affiliate themselves under the umbrella of 900. SMG and JSF control territory within the confines of the 79th precinct bordering the 90th Precinct.

It is alleged that between April 19, 2019 and November 20, 2020, 900 members engaged in violence to establish geographic dominance. SMG and JSF controlled certain geographic areas in Brooklyn, which included the Sumner Houses, Tompkins Houses and 303 Vernon Avenue developments of the New York City Housing Authority, located within the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn within the confines of the 79th and 81st Precincts. To achieve those goals, some 900 members participated in violent criminal acts, including murder and shootings. It is alleged that SMG and JSF’s primary rivals are members of the Hoolies gang, who operated out of a building complex located across the street from SMG and JSF territory. The Hoolies territory included 721 Willoughby Avenue and 300 Vernon Avenue, as well as the Roosevelt Houses NYCHA development.

It is alleged that 900 members committed two murders, as well as numerous shootings, during the course of the investigation:

  • On June 29, 2020, at approximately 1:13 p.m., Tysean Devonish allegedly posed as a young woman on Instagram and responded to a post allegedly made by Tracey Washington, an alleged Hoolie member, seeking individuals to open credit card accounts in connection with a credit card fraud scheme that he allegedly operated. They agreed to meet at 1620 Dean Street in Weeksville Gardens. At approximately 5:45 p.m., defendants Kaireil Haynie, Alexander Williams and Tysean Devonshire drove to the area and Washington took a livery car to the location. Haynie and Williams allegedly got out of the car they were in and walked toward the livery car. Haynie allegedly fired multiple times into the livery cab, striking Washington, who exited the cab and fled down Dean Street, where he collapsed. He was taken to Kings County Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
  • On September 28, 2020, at approximately 3:39 p.m., Alexander Williams requested a cab from Rainbow Car Service, picked up Wydeem Rudd, and traveled to Clifton and Franklin Avenues, where they exited the vehicle. The defendants, allegedly wearing hoods and masks, walked through the Lafayette Gardens housing project, entered the rear of 456 DeKalb Avenue, and allegedly ambushed and shot Tylee Felder, who was standing in front of the building. Rudd and Williams allegedly shot Felder six times, including once in the head, killing him. After shooting Felder, Rudd allegedly fired into a crowd outside the building. Two bystanders were shot and wounded.
  • On October 2, 2019, at approximately 1:25 p.m., Naccion McCray and Vincent Lilly allegedly walked from 303 Vernon Avenue (SMG territory) to a bodega located at 335 Vernon Avenue (Hoolie territory). As the SMG members were entering, they noticed an alleged Hoolie member was exiting. McCray allegedly took a few steps back, pulled out a pistol and fired multiple shots, striking the victim in the leg. One .40 caliber shell casing was recovered.
  • On October 3, 2019, at approximately 2:55 p.m., James Alston, Shawn Singletary and Jalen Elliot were walking on Graham Avenue towards Cook Street. Alston allegedly saw three rivals walking across the street in the opposite direction, drew a pistol and fired twice. There were dozens of bystanders in the area at the time, including a family with small children. One of the shots went through a store window, narrowly missing the head of an employee. Fortunately, no one was struck or injured. A .40 caliber shell casing was recovered that was a match to the casing recovered at the alleged McCray shooting scene a day earlier.
  • On October 31, 2020, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Jalen Elliot and two other individuals left 303 Vernon Avenue and walked to Marcus Garvey Boulevard. Elliot continued to walk southbound on Marcus Garvey, then allegedly withdrew a gun and fired at a group of individuals standing in front of 721 Willoughby Avenue. A 14-year-old girl was struck in the leg.
  • On May 16, 2019, at approximately 8:15 p.m., Nysair Harper rode a CitiBike from the Tompkins Houses (SMG territory) to Hart Street, opposite the Pulaski Playground, where the Hoolies had just broadcast over social media. Harper was allegedly trailed by a black sedan as he rode the bike. He allegedly fired multiple shots into the playground, then fled on the bike to where the sedan was parked nearby and got into the car. A 15-year-old victim was shot in the thumb and treated at a hospital.

During the course of the conspiracy, it is alleged, incarcerated 900 members communicated with non-incarcerated members in jail phone calls to keep up to date on the status of members or to discuss violent acts. The defendants also allegedly used social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram to demonstrate their gang membership and to broadcast gang activity. They allegedly also posted music videos to YouTube containing song lyrics referencing the status of rivalries and referring to acts of violence committed by gang members.

Additionally, gang members allegedly signified their status as shooters by adopting the names of famous basketball players on social media or in song lyrics. These basketball players included “Shaq,” “Kobe,” “Curry,” “Westbrook,” and “Harden.”

Finally, it is alleged, in the 11-count indictment that the defendants are members of 1800/Humble gang, which is also under the umbrella of 900 gang, and that they feud with rival gangs such as OTB (Only the Borough) to maintain geographic dominance in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. It is alleged that on December 25, 2019 Andre Starkey and Kareem Waters and others walked to the Kingsborough Houses in Crown Heights where they happened to cross paths with a rival. Waters and Starkey each allegedly pulled out a gun and fired at the person, who fled the area. No one was injured.

The SMG/JSF investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Robert Nelson and Detective Shane Maynard and the Humble investigation was conducted by Detective Darren McFadzean, all of the Gun Violence Suppression Division, under the supervision of Sergeant Scott McKenna and the overall supervision of Inspector Jason Savino.

The SMG/JSF case was additionally investigated and indicted by Assistant District Attorney Owen Sucoff, formerly of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau.

The SMG/JSF case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Ford and the Humble case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Gresham, both of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Cilia and Leila Rosini, Deputy Bureau Chiefs, 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.

77-COUNT INDICTMENT DEFENDANT ADDENDUM:

  1. Jabari Albright, 17, of East Harlem, New York.
  2. James Alston, 18, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
  3. Tysean Devonish, 23, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
  4. Jalen Elliot, 16, of Weeksville, Brooklyn.
  5. Lamel Gunn, 20, of Brownsville, Brooklyn.
  6. Nysair Harper, 17, of Far Rockaway, New York.
  7. Kaireil Haynie, 18, of Stuyvesant Heights, Brooklyn.
  8. Lamique Haynie, 20, of Stuyvesant Heights, Brooklyn.
  9. Vincent Lilly, 18, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
  10. Naccion McCray, 19, of East New York, Brooklyn.
  11. Zion McDuffie, 20, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
  12. Ronald Roberts, 19, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
  13. Wydeem Rudd, 21, of Bronx, New York.
  14. Shawn Singletary, 19, of Stuyvesant Heights, Brooklyn.
  15. Alexander Williams, 24, of Brownsville, Brooklyn.

11-COUNT INDICTMENT DEFENDANT ADDENDUM:

  1. Infinite Berry, 21, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
  2. Isaiah Johnson, 20, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
  3. Andre Starkey, 20, of East New York, Brooklyn.
  4. Kareem Waters, 22, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

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

 

Driver Who Fatally Crashed into Brooklyn Man in Front of Victim’s Young Daughter Indicted for Manslaughter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 4, 2021

 

Driver Who Fatally Crashed into Brooklyn Man in Front of
Victim’s Young Daughter Indicted for Manslaughter

Allegedly Sped in Vehicle that Didn’t Pass Inspection and had Dangerously Worn Tires;
First Indictment Secured by Brooklyn DA’s New Street Safety Bureau

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 21-year-old man has been indicted for reckless manslaughter and other charges in connection with the death of a 50-year-old Brooklyn father. The driver was allegedly speeding in a sports car with worn out tires and a forged inspection sticker when he lost control of his vehicle and slammed into Jose Barrera in front of the victim’s young daughter.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This horrific crash was no accident – it was a preventable crime that stemmed from reckless behavior before and during the collision. The defendant chose to drive a car he knew was not safe, allegedly sped on wet road conditions and took the life of a hard-working father. This is the first indictment obtained by my new Street Safety Bureau, which was created this summer to better address vehicular violence on our roadways. It will continue to thoroughly investigate and prosecute dangerous drivers when their unlawful actions cause traffic fatalities or injuries. I am determined to get justice for victims and to send a message that this conduct will not be tolerated in Brooklyn.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Kareem Denton, 21. He was arraigned on December 31, 2020 before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Raymond Rodriguez on a 16-count indictment in which is charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second- and third-degree assault, first-, second- and third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and related charges. The defendant was ordered released without bail and to return to court on January 28, 2021. His driver license was suspended, and he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which he is charged.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on July 11, 2020, on 39th Street in Borough Park, the defendant, allegedly driving over 60 mph in a 25 mph zone on a wet road, lost control of his Nissan 370Z and slammed into Jose Barrera, 50, killing him.

The victim was returning from grocery shopping and had just walked his 6-year-old daughter from his minivan to the curb seconds before the collision. His wife, who was still in the passenger seat, suffered minor injuries.

It is alleged that the defendant had dangerously worn out tires that likely contributed to the crash and that he allegedly knew about them. A mechanic had warned him about the bald tires, according to the investigation. Furthermore, the vehicle could not pass a New York State inspection and a forged inspection sticker was affixed to its windshield.

The District Attorney’s Street Safety Bureau was created last summer to assist in police investigations of traffic violence cases, with emphasis on protecting bicyclists and pedestrians, responding to scenes of serious collisions in real time and coordinating support services for victims and their families, among other duties.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jacob Uriel, of the District Attorney’s Street Safety Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Craig Esswein, Bureau Chief.

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

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Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces a Promotion and the Hiring of New Prosecutors, Enhancing Diversity of Leadership and Staff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 23, 2020

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces a Promotion and the
Hiring of New Prosecutors, Enhancing Diversity of Leadership and Staff

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced recent personnel moves that further enhance his Office’s professional excellence and diversity – a promotion of Assistant District Attorney Karla Watson to a Trial Bureau Chief and the appointment of 53 new Assistant District Attorneys who will serve Brooklyn by pursuing justice and public safety while strengthening community trust.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Our Fall 2020 class of newly hired Assistant District Attorneys is truly reflective of Brooklyn’s diversity, and I’m confident that this talented group of lawyers will do an excellent job serving our communities. The promotion of Karla Watson – a tireless and dedicated advocate for the people of Brooklyn – strengthens our Trial Division and makes its leadership ranks even more representative of the community we serve. I wish them all success and know they will make us proud.”

The District Attorney said that of the 53 new ADAs, 27 are attorneys of color. There are 24 men and 29 women. They finished a course of virtual training last month that familiarized them with all aspects of the criminal justice system – Criminal and Supreme Court practice and procedure and Grand Jury practices, as well as classes on criminal justice reform, prosecutorial  ethics, signs of wrongful convictions and more. They have since been assigned to various bureaus in the DA’s Office.

ADA Karla Watson has been promoted this month to Chief of the Red Zone Trial Bureau, which handles criminal cases in East New York, Canarsie, Flatlands, Fort Greene, Marine Park and Mill Basin. She most recently served as a Felony Deputy in the Red Zone.

A graduate of Hofstra University School of Law, ADA Watson joined the Brooklyn DA’s Office in 1999 and since then has worked in Trial Bureaus and the Domestic Violence Bureau, indicting more than 100 felony cases. She tried a wide variety of felony cases, including attempted murders, robberies, home invasions, serious assaults and gun cases. In 2014, she was promoted to Felony Deputy, supervising prosecutors in all aspects of case investigation, preparation and trial. She also investigates complaints in her role as EEO counselor, and represents the Office at precinct council meetings.

ADA Watson is replacing ADA Kin Ng, this year’s recipient of the NYC Bar Association’s Thomas E. Dewey Medal, who will be taking over as Chief of the Blue Zone Trial Bureau. The other Trial Bureau Chiefs are James Lin (Green), Danielle Eaddy (Orange) and Robert Walsh (Grey). Janet Gleeson will be taking on a new position as Chief of Court Operations.

The new ADAs and the law schools from which they graduated are listed below:

Meredith Abrams                                Columbia University School of Law
Pious Pavitar Ahuja                            American University, Washington College of Law
Sahira Asia                                          Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
Gillian R. H. Barna                             New York University School of Law
Ingrid Bilowich                                   Emory University School of Law
Lauren Bisogno                                   St. John’s University School of Law
Saeng Bounyasane                              Indiana University School of Law—Bloomington
Bria Carr                                             Drake University Law School
Audrey E. Chao                                   Columbia University School of Law
Kathleen Conlon                                 Brooklyn Law School
Amelia Digirolamo                             Boston University School of Law
Arique Dross                                       Charlotte School of Law
Janai Fraser                                         Rutgers University School of Law—Newark
Troy H. Gayle                                     Syracuse University College of Law
Adam Ghalmi                                      University of Connecticut School of Law
Kaley Annette Hanenkrat                   The University of Michigan Law School
Breana Harris                                      Louisiana State University, Paul M. Hebert Law Center
Devyn Hebert                                     Columbia University School of Law
Garrett D.C. Hines                              Tulane University Law School
Hannah Howard                                 New York University School of Law
Alexander W. Iorio                             Tulane University Law School
Prianka Kazi                                       Fordham University School of Law
Kaitlin Marie Kinsella                                    The George Washington University Law School
Sophie L. Kravet                                 Brooklyn Law School
Werner Kuang                                    Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
Katherine La-Rotta                             New York Law School
Charles Lewis                                     Texas Southern Uni.—Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Sherri Litvak                                       City University of New York School of Law
Paige Jill Mankin                                Fordham University School of Law
Aaron George Marrero                        Pace University School of Law
Michael Lesean McGee Jr.                 Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Inst. of Technology
Maria J. Miranda                                 City University of New York School of Law
Daniel Murphy                                    New York Law School
Marjeta Papa Nikolovski                    Pace University School of Law
Andrew Ogbahon                               Hofstra University School of Law
Moise Andre Oge                               St. John’s University School of Law
Paul Ostrer                                          University at Buffalo Law School
Pooja Parekh                                       New York Law School
Jonathan Randolph                             Parrish Temple Uni.—James E. Beasley School of Law
Ainissa Lytrice Proctor                       Charleston School of Law
Kellyann Ryan                                    New York Law School
Zachary Safrin                                    The John Marshall Law School
Andrew James Salinas                        Washington and Lee University School of Law
Iris Santiago                                        New York Law School
Brianna L. Seid                                   New York University School of Law
Douglas Steinberg                               The George Washington University Law School
Benjamin Eric Swanson                     New York University School of Law
Tyler Joseph Tagliaferro                     Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Zachary Charles Trkla                                     Northwestern University School of Law
Alicia M. Trujillo                                New York Law School
Alejandro Vera                                   University of Colorado Law School
Carmen L. Weaver                              William & Mary Law School
Andrew Jackson Yoo                          South Texas College of Law

Bronx Man Indicted for Alleged Grandparent “Bail” Scam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 16, 2020

 

Bronx Man Indicted for Alleged Grandparent “Bail” Scam

Allegedly Participated in Scheme That Claimed Victims’ Grandchildren Had Been
Arrested and Needed to be Bailed Out; Collected Cash from Victims via Courier

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Bronx man has been indicted for allegedly scamming eight senior citizens out of thousands of dollars through his role coordinating a scheme in which the victims were falsely told that a grandchild of theirs had been arrested and needed cash to be bailed out of jail. The defendant then allegedly sent a courier to the victims’ homes to collect the cash.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I am committed to protecting our senior citizen community from scams and fraudsters who seek to take advantage and prey on them. We should all be aware of bail scams like the one this defendant was allegedly part of and be wary of any phone calls from strangers asking for cash. Never agree to turn over money without contacting your grandchild, their parent or another relative to determine if they are safe, and report any suspicious solicitation to law enforcement.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Anthony Rosario Mendez, 24, of the Bronx. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 10-count indictment in which he is charged with seven counts of third-degree grand larceny, one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, one count of third-degree attempted grand larceny and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on February 26, 2021.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between March 15, 2019 and May 18, 2020, the defendant allegedly participated in a grandparent bail scheme that targeted at least eight victims – three grandfathers and five grandmothers – between the ages of 74 and 90. The victims lived across Brooklyn, including in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Bushwick, Brownsville and Marine Park. One victim lived in the Bronx. The victims each lost between $3,000 and nearly $20,000 as a result of the scheme.

It is alleged that in each case the victim received a phone call from an individual purporting to be an attorney and claiming that the victim’s grandchild was arrested and being held in jail. The victim was told to provide cash in an envelope to bail out the grandchild and that a messenger working for the attorney would come to the victim’s home to pick up the envelope. It is alleged that the defendant, who allegedly worked as a dispatcher, then sent a courier to pick up the envelope and deliver it to the defendant.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Detective Nathan Cavada of the Brooklyn North Grand Larceny Division.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Elliot Wertheim, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michael 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.

 

East New York Man Indicted for Sex Trafficking of 15-Year-Old Girl

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 11, 2020

 

East New York Man Indicted for Sex Trafficking of 15-Year-Old Girl

Defendant Allegedly Prostituted the Victim Multiple Times
After Taking Photos of Her to Use in Online Advertisements

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an East New York man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with sex trafficking of a child, promoting prostitution and rape for the alleged sex trafficking of a 15-year-old girl.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This disturbing crime demonstrates that the sex trafficking and exploitation of children is a very real and serious problem in our society. We must protect our youth, especially the most vulnerable, from predators, and we must continue to do all we can to raise awareness about human trafficking. I remain determined to protect all victims from the type of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by this defendant.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Bryant Entzminger, 40, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser on a six-count indictment in which he is charged with sex trafficking of a child, second- and fourth-degree promoting prostitution, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of third-degree rape. If convicted of the top count, he is facing a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender. The defendant was ordered held without bail and to return to court on January 5, 2021.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on October 13, 2020, the defendant, who was in the front passenger seat of a red vehicle, allegedly approached the victim as she was walking near Avenue J and invited her to his home.

The defendant allegedly drove the victim to his home in East New York where he engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim and asked her if she wanted to work with him to make some money.

The defendant allegedly dressed the victim in a suggestive outfit and took photos of her to use in online advertisements in order to arrange dates during which the victim engaged in various sex acts with men in exchange for money.

Between October 13 and October 25, 2020, the defendant allegedly took the victim to underground strip clubs where she was made to dance, strip and engage in various sex acts with men in exchange for money. The victim collected the money and gave it directly to the defendant.

It is also alleged that the defendant arranged dates for the victim to meet with men at hotels in Brooklyn to engage in various sex acts in exchange for money and brought the victim to a track in East New York where she solicited men to engage in various sex acts in exchange for money. The defendant allegedly instructed the victim what to charge men for various sex acts. In all these instances, the victim collected the money and gave it directly to the defendant.

In the late evening of October 24, 2020, the victim used a cell phone provided by the defendant to contact a friend and family member. Her family member contacted the New York City Police Department. On October 25, 2020, NYPD officers rescued the victim and brought her to Kings County Hospital for medical treatment.

It is alleged that, between October 13 and October 25, 2020, the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim multiple times.
The New York City Police Department investigation was led by Detective Elizabeth Gonzalez, under the supervision of Lieutenant Amy Capogna, who oversees the NYPD’s Vice Enforcement Human Trafficking Team. Captain Thomas Milano is the Executive Officer and Inspector Neteis Gilbert is the Commanding Officer of the Vice Enforcement Division.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Mary E. Monahan, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney David Weiss, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit, and under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau.

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

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Attorney Indicted for Real Estate Fraud in Connection With Eight Properties Valued at Nearly $8 Million

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 7, 2020

 

Brooklyn Attorney Indicted for Real Estate Fraud in Connection
With Eight Properties Valued at Nearly $8 Million

Scheme Targeted Homes in Foreclosure in Bedford-Stuyvesant, East New York
and Flatbush; Defendant Allegedly Collected Over $600,000 in Rent

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a suspended Brooklyn attorney has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with stealing the deeds to eight properties in foreclosure worth a total of $7.8 million by defrauding seven homeowners, most of whom believed he was negotiating a short sale on their behalf.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Brooklyn’s valuable real estate market continues to be an attractive target for fraudsters willing to deceive homeowners. These victims, who trusted the defendant to help them avoid foreclosure, instead allegedly had their homes stolen by him and were left facing financial ruin. I urge anyone considering selling their property to be prudent about with whom they do business. Be wary of any unsolicited offers of help with your property and do not sign any documents unless you consult with an independently retained attorney.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Sanford Solny, 63, of Midwood, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 63-count indictment in which he is charged with second- and fourth-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, and first- and second-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on February 4, 2021.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between May 2012 and November 2020, the defendant, an attorney whose license to practice law was suspended in April 2012, allegedly engaged in a real estate fraud scheme to steal deeds to and economically benefit from eight residential properties in Brooklyn, targeting seven victims who owned properties that were in foreclosure.

It is alleged that various individuals, including unlicensed brokers, contacted the victims and referred them to the defendant to negotiate a short sale, i.e., selling the property to someone else under terms communicated to and approved by a lender. In exchange, the lender would then drop the foreclosure action and forgive the loan amount owed.

The defendant allegedly met most of the victims at his office in Borough Park where he either falsely told them that they were required to sign their deeds over to him for the defendant to begin a short sale negotiation on their behalf or had the victims sign documents that the defendant claimed were part of the short sale process but, unbeknownst to them, actually relinquished ownership of their property to the defendant.

The indictment charges the defendant with crimes involving the following one and two- family homes with a total current value of approximately $7.8 million:

  • 53 Van Buren Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • 163 Montauk Avenue in Cypress Hills
  • 2 Jardine Place in Ocean Hill
  • 161 East 29th Street in East Flatbush
  • 2555 Bedford Avenue in Flatbush
  • 406 East 21st Street in Flatbush
  • 729 Eldert Lane in East New York
  • 394 Monroe Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant

In most cases, the defendant allegedly paid the owner’s fee, ranging from $1,000 to $18,000, for transferring the property to him or to various corporations he controlled. In some cases, the defendant allegedly told the victims that the lenders preferred or, on at least one occasion, required that the homeowners vacate the property for the short sale to occur.

There is no record of the defendant attempting to negotiate a short sale with any of the lenders on the properties, despite the federal and state laws that require lenders to make a record of any short sales or attempts to negotiate a short sale for properties the lender is foreclosing on. In fact, on two of the properties, the defendant allegedly actively obstructed attempts by owners to sell their property without him.

Over the months and years that the defendant claimed to be in negotiations, when victims asked him about the negotiations, possible sales or when the foreclosure actions would end, he allegedly offered an array of excuses and explanations.

The defendant allegedly collected over $600,000 in rent from tenants he brought in or existing tenants at the eight properties the victims transferred to him. As record owner, if any of the properties were to be sold, the defendant would also benefit from the increase in value accrued over the last several years.

As a result of the defendant’s alleged fraudulent scheme, the victims lost their properties and rental income. In addition, their credit scores and ability to obtain new loans rapidly deteriorated as most of the foreclosures remain active.

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

The District Attorney thanked the New York City Department of Investigation, the New York City Department of Finance and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Joseph DiBenedetto, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gregory C. Pavlides, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Michael 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.

 

Four Men, Including MTA Subway Conductor, Indicted for Trafficking Guns Purchased in the South to Sell on Brooklyn Streets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 12, 2020

 

Four Men, Including MTA Subway Conductor, Indicted for Trafficking
Guns Purchased in the South to Sell on Brooklyn Streets

Forty-Four Firearms Purchased During Year-Long Undercover Police Operation;
Sales Took Place Near Defendant’s Brownsville Home

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, today announced the indictment of an alleged gun trafficking ring that purchased firearms in South Carolina and Virginia that were then transported on the Iron Pipeline and destined to be sold on the streets of Brooklyn.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This indictment is part of our multi-pronged approach to stem the surge in gun violence that we have seen in Brooklyn and throughout the entire city this year. We are determined to work with the Police Department to focus specifically on the drivers of crime, including those responsible for the proliferation of firearms by bringing them to the streets of Brooklyn. I commend the detectives, especially the undercovers, and my prosecutors for their joint efforts in this important case.”

Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said, “This indictment is another example of how the NYPD and our law-enforcement partners remain focused on eliminating illegal guns from the streets of New York City. Bringing gun traffickers to justice is dangerous work, but the NYPD remains committed to protecting New York City communities and keeping people safe. I commend the members of our Firearms Suppression Section, and specifically the Firearms Investigations Unit, and the Brooklyn District Attorney for their efforts that resulted in these indictments.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Montoun Hart, 49, of Brownsville, Brooklyn; Vernal Douglas, 49, of Flatlands, Brooklyn; Christopher Hodges, 31, of Walterboro, South Carolina; and Ira Jones, 42, of South Boston, Virginia. The defendants have been variously charged in a 139-count indictment with first-, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm; second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; fourth-degree conspiracy and related charges. Hart and Douglas were arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Hart has been remanded and bail was set at $750,000 for Douglas. Jones is awaiting extradition from Virginia. Hodges is being sought.

The District Attorney said the investigation spanned from October 2019 to October 2020 and began based on information obtained about an individual who was allegedly known as a gun merchant in Brownsville. It is alleged that on November 4, 2019, an undercover detective met defendant Montoun Hart for the purpose of purchasing firearms from the defendant. The undercover allegedly made six controlled firearm purchases from the defendant from November 4 to November 19, 2019.

The undercover then facilitated a meeting between the defendant and another undercover, who posed as an associate of the original undercover and who would purchase firearms on his behalf. Between December 3, 2019 and December 30, 2019, the second undercover allegedly made three controlled firearm purchases from the defendant.

On January 17, 2020, the first undercover resumed purchasing firearms directly from Hart and conducted additional controlled firearms purchases. Over the course of the investigation, Hart allegedly conducted a total of 27 controlled gun buys with the undercover officers, selling a total of 44 firearms.

The investigation found that all three of Hart’s alleged suppliers operate independently from one another, but their individual practices are similar: once a supplier obtained a firearm, he would tell Hart the make, model and price via telephone, and often send a photo of it. Hart then passed the details on to his customer (i.e., the undercovers) and scheduled the sale. All of the alleged sales occurred within a block of Hart’s residence.

Douglas, who is employed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a subway conductor and lives in Flatlands, Brooklyn, also has an address in Williston, South Carolina, where he frequently travels. It is alleged that Douglas obtained firearms during trips to South Carolina and has also asked his sources in South Carolina to send him firearms via the mail.

It is alleged that Christopher Hodges, who lives in and operates out of Walterboro, South Carolina, accumulates firearms from a variety of sources and then travels up to New York via a Chinatown bus company to transfer the firearms to Hart.

Finally, it is alleged that Ira Jones, who lives and operates out of South Boston, Virginia, also travels up to New York with firearms for Hart to sell on the streets of Brooklyn.

Among the numerous firearms recovered are two assault weapons: a German Sport Guns .22 caliber rifle and a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol, as well as a Ruger .44 caliber revolver, a Smith & Wesson .357 caliber revolver, a Springfield Armory 9mm pistol, a Taurus 9mm, a Glock .380 caliber, a Glock 9mm, and a Ruger P89 9mm pistol.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Daniel Grandstaff, of the NYPD’s Firearms Investigations Unit, with the assistance of Sergeant Charles Arnone and Police Officer Tristan Trunk, of the 71st Precinct, under the supervision of Sergeant Matthew Griffin, Lieutenant James Donovan, Inspector Brian Gill and Assistant Chief Jason Wilcox, and the overall supervision of Rodney Harrison, Chief of Detectives.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Gillian DiPietro, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Cilia, VCE Deputy Bureau Chief, Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini, VCE Deputy Chief, and Assistant District Attorney Alfred De Ingeniis, VCE Bureau Chief, under the overall supervision of Raymond Tierney, Executive Assistant District Attorney for Crime Strategies and Violent Criminal Enterprises.

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

Materials displayed during the press conference are available here.

 

 

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate Conviction in 1987 Murder After Finding That Sole Eyewitness’ Mental Condition Wasn’t Disclosed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 30, 2020

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate Conviction in 1987 Murder
After Finding That Sole Eyewitness’ Mental Condition Wasn’t Disclosed

Defendant was Paroled in 2016 After Being Incarcerated for 29 Years

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that following an investigation by his Conviction Review Unit (CRU) he will move to vacate the murder conviction of Gerard Domond, who was incarcerated for 29 years before being paroled in 2016. The investigation unearthed documents that showed that the only eyewitness, who testified pursuant to a cooperation agreement, was held in a psychiatric ward before the trial. Because this information was never disclosed to the defense, the defendant was prejudiced unfairly. The full CRU report is available here.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Vacating Mr. Domond’s conviction highlights the fact that even in cases that are very old and difficult to investigate, our Conviction Review Unit will do all it can to correct miscarriages of justice. This investigation revealed that crucial information about the mental state of the only eyewitness was kept from the jury and from the accused, depriving him of a fair trial. I will not stand by a conviction that was obtained unfairly.”

Domond will appear in person before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic today at 2:15 p.m.

The reinvestigation pertained to the March 1987 murder of Patrick Hinkson, who was dropped off in a hospital by a man who said the victim was killed in the parking lot of Club Love in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. That witness provided the victim’s name and address, disappeared before police arrived and was never heard from again. No crime scene was ever established, and no forensic evidence was found.

The prosecution hinged on testimony from a witness identified in the CRU report as FP, who walked into the 77th Precinct three days after the homicide and described the shooting, which he said stemmed from an argument over drug money. FP had open narcotics and robbery cases and by the 1989 trial, he had been incarcerated for several months in Kings County Hospital (KCH) for what the prosecutor claimed was an AIDS diagnosis. The defense called several alibi witnesses, who claimed the defendant was in Georgia at the time of the murder, but some had failed to identify him in earlier interviews or had provided inconsistent dates for his return. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life.

When reviewing all available documents, the CRU found notes in the case file that indicated FP was being held pre-trial in the Psychiatric Forensic Unit in the G Building of KCH. Record searches and interviews with practitioners who worked there at the time, revealed that the G Building exclusively housed psychiatric patients and that FP likely suffered from “a very serious mental health condition.”

FP died in 2006 and his jail and hospital records no longer exist. Other potential witnesses could not be located. But the CRU concluded that the prosecutor should have known of FP’s mental condition and by withholding that information, the defendant was prejudiced and not afforded a fair trial.

This is the 29th conviction vacated since 2014 as a result of the CRU’s work. A public report about the first 25 exonerations can be found here.

This case was investigated by Senior Assistant District Attorney Bruce Alderman, of the District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Mike Trabulsi, formerly of the CRU, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale, Chief of the District Attorney’s Post-Conviction Justice Bureau.

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