Project Brooklyn CLEAR, Offering Treatment to Individuals Arrested with Small Amounts of Narcotics, Expanded to the Entire Borough of Brooklyn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

 

Project Brooklyn CLEAR, Offering Treatment to Individuals Arrested with
Small Amounts of Narcotics, Expanded to the Entire Borough of Brooklyn

Pre-Arraignment Diversion Provides Services from Time of Arrest and Dismissal of
Misdemeanor Charges; During Seven Months of Pilot Stage, 65% of Eligible Individuals
Opted into Program and 85% Completed it and Never Had to Appear in Court

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a pilot pre-arraignment diversion program to assist individuals who suffer from drug dependency and misuse has been expanded to the entire borough of Brooklyn. Under Project CLEAR (Collaborative Legal Engagement Assistance Response), individuals arrested for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance are offered the opportunity to receive treatment and other community-based services before their initial court appearance. If they meaningfully participate, the DA’s Office declines prosecution of their cases before they ever appear in court and their arrest record is sealed. The program, launched in February as a pilot in south Brooklyn, is now available boroughwide.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “As my Office implements a new approach to assisting those who are drug dependent, I am gratified that this opportunity is now available in all of Brooklyn. Project CLEAR has already helped scores of individuals who were arrested with small amounts of narcotics used to feed their habits; facilitated distribution of dozens of naloxone kits to prevent overdoses; and spared many from getting a criminal record. I would like to thank all of our partners who worked hard to make this initiative successful, and to Mayor de Blasio for providing additional funding that allowed us to expand it.”

Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said, “For the justice system to be truly fit-for-purpose, it must be able to help people who are experiencing different kinds of crises, including those related to drug dependencies. We applaud District Attorney Gonzalez’s innovations, which are worthy of credit and emulation.”

The District Attorney said that Project CLEAR was launched in February 2018 in six Brooklyn South precincts that experienced high overdose rates and later expanded to the entire Brooklyn South command. In mid-September, it expanded again to include all of Brooklyn.

Under CLEAR, individuals arrested on misdemeanor charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree (PL 220.03) and who are eligible for a DAT (desk appearance ticket) have the opportunity to resolve their cases by receiving services rather than appearing in court if they comply with independent assessment-based recommendations.

If the NYPD determines the individual is eligible, they call the Brooklyn DA’s Office and receive a return date for the DAT – typically within seven days of arrest instead of the traditional 30. The DA’s Office then notifies the EAC Network (Empower, Assist & Care), which dispatches a Peer Recovery Coach to meet the individual at the precinct. Peers are non-law enforcement personnel who are trained to assist those challenged by drug misuse. They encourage the individual to be assessed by the EAC Network within seven days. They also provide a naloxone kit and instructions on its proper use. If necessary, the peer can provide immediate access to detoxification services.

Arrested individuals can decline to participate and opt to make the scheduled court appearance on the return date seven days later and the cases will be prosecuted in the traditional manner. If they agree to an assessment within seven days, the cases get postponed for a 30-day period, during which the individuals are encouraged to meaningfully engage in services that were offered based on the assessment. The individual assessments are performed at the offices of EAC Network, a social services agency.

If the individual complies with their recommendations within 30 days, the DA’s Office is notified and exercises its prosecutorial discretion by formally declining to prosecute the arrest. The arrested individual does not have to appear in court and the arrest record is sealed. Throughout the process, The Legal Aid Society is available to assist both those who participate and those who opted not to participate in the program – a decision that has no effect on the disposition of their cases.

Since CLEAR launched, over 100 people opted into the program, representing about 65% of eligible individuals. Of them, 71 people, or about 85%, meaningfully engaged in the program and their cases were declined prosecution (the remainder are still enrolled). A total of 95 naloxone kits, used to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, were distributed to individuals who were also trained on using them.

While one of the main objectives of CLEAR is to provide better tools to stem the opioid epidemic, arrests for possession of any controlled substance are eligible. Of those offered the program, 38% were arrested with opioids, 40% with crack/cocaine and the rest with other types of narcotics or controlled substances. Of those offered the program, 35% were facing their first arrest, 26% had one or two previous arrests and 39% had three or more.

The District Attorney thanked the New York City Council and the Mayor’s Office for allocating resources, as well as the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the NYPD, The Legal Aid Society, EAC Network and VOCAL-NY, a provider that engages in harm reduction services, for their partnership in this program.

Brooklyn CLEAR is being directed by Senior Assistant District Attorney Karen Varriale, of the District Attorney’s Drug Treatment Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney David Heslin, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Meg Reiss, Chief of Social Justice.

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Sheepshead Bay Woman Sentenced to up to Six Years in Prison For Stealing More than $600,000 by Falsely Claiming She Could Fast-track Applicants Seeking Mitchell-Lama Apartments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 11, 2018

 

Sheepshead Bay Woman Sentenced to up to Six Years in Prison
For Stealing More than $600,000 by Falsely Claiming She Could
Fast-track Applicants Seeking Mitchell-Lama Apartments

Pretended to be Real Estate Agent and Property Manager;
Forged and Fabricated Applications, Rental Agreements, Receipts and Closing Documents

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 56-year-old Brooklyn woman who stole approximately $613,000 from 20 different victims while posing as a real estate agent has been sentenced to up to six years in prison following her guilty plea last month to three counts of second-degree grand larceny.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The defendant cheated more than a dozen innocent people out of their life savings and hard-earned cash, then gambled it away. I will not tolerate these kinds of fraudulent and criminal actions in Brooklyn. With today’s sentence, the defendant has been held accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Yelena Litvak, 56, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. She was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy to an indeterminate term of two to six years in prison for each count and ordered the terms to run concurrently. The defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree grand larceny on September 21, 2018. She signed a confession of judgment acknowledging her debt of approximately $613,000 to 20 victims.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between January 2017 and March 2018, the defendant represented herself as a real estate agent and property manager of various Mitchell-Lama housing developments throughout the city. Apartments at the city-sponsored developments, which provide affordable rental and cooperative housing for moderate- and middle-income households, are sold or rented through waiting lists kept by each development.

The defendant falsely claimed that she could facilitate the sales and rentals of apartments at the Kings Bay Housing Company in Brooklyn, Southbridge Towers in Manhattan and other developments. She mostly targeted middle-aged Russian immigrants in Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach, many of whom lost their life savings.

As part of the scheme, she offered to help individuals apply for apartments throughout the city. She claimed that she could fast-track their applications on the waiting list in exchange for cash payments. As part of her scheme, the defendant also forged and fabricated applications, rental agreements, receipts and closing documents.

A total of 20 people lost amounts ranging from $15,000 to $82,000. In total, she stole approximately $613,000 and gambled away the proceeds in casinos throughout the United States, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, Connecticut, and South Carolina.

The investigation was conducted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Boykin of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, New York City Police Detective Sherwin Ifill of the 61st Precinct Detective Squad, with the assistance of NYPD Detective Julio Tejada of the Brooklyn South Grand Larceny Squad.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Boykin of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorneys Inna Shapovalova, Lino De Masi and Michael Pesin-Virovets and Paralegal Angelika Rostkowska, also of the Green Zone, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Boye, former Green Zone Grand Jury Deputy Chief, Assistant District Attorney Glenn Singer, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney David Klestzick, Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Is Accepting Applications for High School Mid-Winter and Spring Break Internships

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 11, 2018

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Is Accepting Applications for
High School Mid-Winter and Spring Break Internships

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the start of the application process for high school juniors and seniors interested in participating in the mid-winter and spring break internship program. The internship is open to students who live and /or attend high school in Brooklyn and are interested in learning about the different careers and responsibilities within the criminal justice system. The mid-winter internship cycle runs from Tuesday, February 19, 2019 to Friday, February 22, 2019.  The spring internship cycle runs from Monday, April 22, 2019 to Friday, April 26, 2019.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We are proud to offer a week-long internship during the mid-winter and spring breaks for Brooklyn’s high school students.  During the week, students will receive exposure to the criminal justice system and gain an understanding and appreciation of a professional work setting.”

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

During the week-long internship, participants will receive a MetroCard to cover transportation expenses. Internship hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interns selected are expected to commit for the entire duration of the program.

Applicants are required to provide their most recent school transcript, a one-page resume, one letter of recommendation and must submit a 300-word typed essay (12 pt. font and double-spaced) on why they are interested in interning with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and what impact they think it will have on their future career goals and aspirations.

To apply, please visit: http://apply.brooklynda.org beginning October 11, 2018, to upload transcript, essay and resume. Only the recommendation letter should be emailed as an attachment to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office at hsinternships@brooklynda.org, with the subject line: Recommendation Letter (Applicant’s First and Last Name). All application materials must be received no later than Monday, November 12, 2018. For questions or assistance, please contact the High School Internship and Youth Initiatives Program Coordinator at (718) 250-4873. 

 

To learn more about the program visit: http://www.brooklynda.org/careers/internship.

 

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Seventeen Defendants Named in Multiple Indictments For Operating Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking Ring; Defendants include Inmate Serving Time in Federal Prison in Oklahoma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

 

Seventeen Defendants Named in Multiple Indictments
For Operating Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking Ring;
Defendants include Inmate Serving Time in Federal Prison in Oklahoma

Alleged Distribution and Sales in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, along with the New York State Drug Enforcement Task Force, today announced that 17 defendants have been variously charged in six separate indictments with conspiracy, sale and possession of a controlled substance in connection with a narcotics trafficking ring that sold and possessed over $1 million worth of narcotics during the course of the investigation.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly profited off the misery of drug addiction, particularly the growing heroin epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many young people who misuse this deadly and highly-addictive drug. I am committed to prosecuting major suppliers such as the ringleaders in this case to keep them from peddling narcotics in our communities.”

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said, “An investigation into a local drug ring uncovered three masterminds of the scheme in Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania and a federal prison, as well as local dealers in New York City.  Through collaborative work, law enforcement’s efforts led to today’s arrests and the dismantlement of a drug distribution organization responsible for fueling drug addiction in our city.”

The District Attorney said that the investigation was conducted using electronic, video and physical surveillance, and that the indictment charges that between July 2017 and April 2018, the defendants conspired to possess and sell heroin and cocaine in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. It is alleged that Ezequiel Reyes, who was based in Pennsylvania, was the boss of the narcotics ring, and a wholesale distributer who supplied many of the other defendants named in the indictment with heroin and cocaine to be resold on the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx.

Furthermore, it is alleged that Reyes depended on several individuals across the country to supply him with narcotics for distribution, including Noe Lopez, a federal inmate incarcerated at the Great Plains Correctional Institution in Hinton, Oklahoma, and an individual residing in Puerto Rico.

It is alleged that Lopez, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a quantity in excess of 1000 kilograms of marijuana and five kilograms of cocaine and laundering of monetary instruments in 2005 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas and was sentenced to 240 months in prison and forfeited $15 million, used a contraband cell phone to arrange large-scale sales of narcotics to Reyes. It is alleged that another individual also arranged for shipments of narcotics to Reyes, from Puerto Rico.

Of the 17 defendants, 15 were arrested yesterday and today. Most of the defendants were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Twelve of the defendants are charged with second-degree conspiracy, which is a B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The defendants are variously charged with operating as a major trafficker, second-degree money laundering, first-, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance; second- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and related charges.

More than seven kilograms of cocaine and four kilograms of heroin were recovered during the investigation, along with more than 1,800 glassine envelopes of heroin and seven firearms.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau and the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF), Group T-13, comprising agents and officers of the DEA, NYPD and NYSP.

The District Attorney thanked the following for their assistance: the United States Drug Enforcement Administration NYDETF,  Harrisburg, PA, Group; Postal Inspector David Heinke of United States Postal Inspection Service, Southeastern Pennsylvania; the Intelligence Division of the New York City Police Department; the United States Marshal Task Force in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Puerto Rico; Detective Michael Vance and other members of the Lancaster County, PA, Drug Task Force; and members of the York County, PA, District Attorney’s Office, York County Sheriff’s Department, York City Police Department, and Northern York Regional Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Scott, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprise Bureau, Senior Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bennett and Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Kyriacou, also of VCE, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Alfred C. Deingeniis, First Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

DEFENDANT ADDENDUM: 

  1. Ezequiel Reyes, 44, of York, Pennsylvania.
  2. Noe Lopez, 59, of Great Plains Correctional Institution, Hinton, Oklahoma.
  3. Primitivo Robles, 65, of Brooklyn, New York.
  4. Alister Simon, 40, of Brooklyn, New York.
  5. Carlson Small, 48, of Brooklyn, New York.
  6. Luis Figueroa, 55, of Queens, New York.
  7. Julio Figueroa, 49, of Queens, New York.
  8. Rafael Davila, 46, of Bronx, New York.
  9. Rolando Martinez-Flores, 28, of Mountville, Pennsylvania.
  10. Maria Rolon, 57, Brooklyn, New York.
  11. Andres Jose Sanchez, 59, Brooklyn, New York.
  12. Raul Muniz, 52, of Queens, New York.
  13. Luis Ortiz, 36, of Brooklyn, New York.
  14. Jose Santiago, 57, of Brooklyn, New York.
  15. Ricky Figueroa, 53, of Queens, New York.

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

 

 

Self-Proclaimed Spiritual Leader Indicted for Raping Two Women After Incapacitating Them

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

 

Self-Proclaimed Spiritual Leader Indicted for Raping
Two Women After Incapacitating Them

Had Victims Drink Liquid that Caused Them to Pass Out;
Each Woke up While Allegedly Being Raped by the Defendant

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 51-year-old man from East Flatbush, Brooklyn has been indicted on rape and related charges for allegedly incapacitating two women during religious ceremonies on two separate occasions, causing them to lose consciousness and then having intercourse without their consent.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We allege that this defendant is a sexual predator who used his religious stature to lure women, then drugged and raped them. We will now seek to hold him accountable for these despicable alleged acts, and I encourage anyone else who may have been victimized by him to call the DA’s Action Center at 718-250-2340.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Nigel Kennedy, 51, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Miller on a 13-count indictment in which he is charged with first- and third-degree rape, first- and second-degree sexual abuse and other related charges. He was ordered held on $35,000 bail and to return to court on December 11, 2018. The defendant faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant used to own a religious goods store and holds himself out as a religious and spiritual leader. He allegedly met the victims in this case at the store.

On August 30, 2016, at about 10 p.m., a 42-year-old woman accompanied the defendant to an apartment on East 52nd Street in East Flatbush for the purpose of a church ceremony. The defendant allegedly started chanting and poured a clear liquid that tasted like alcohol into the victim’s mouth. The victim lost consciousness and, when she came to, felt a person on top of her but was unable to move. She lost consciousness again and woke up at 5 a.m. the next day, naked on a bed, the evidence shows. The defendant allegedly told her he didn’t know how she got naked and the victim left, suffering from nausea, vomiting and dizziness throughout the day.

On May 16, 2018, at about 10:30 a.m., a 28-year-old woman went to the defendant’s home on East 32nd Street in East Flatbush for a spiritual reading. The defendant allegedly blew smoke in her face and poured a substance that tasted like alcohol into her mouth. The victim threw up and became dizzy as the defendant poured more liquid into her mouth, according to the evidence. She eventually lost consciousness and, when she woke up, her pants were off and the defendant was having intercourse with her. She tried to push him off but could not. The victim told him to stop but the defendant allegedly refused, telling her, “Relax, it’s part of the ritual.” When he got off of her, the victim left.

Both victims went to the hospital after they were raped, and sexual assault evidence collection kits were conducted. The same male DNA was recovered from both victims. The second victim identified the defendant and he was arrested on September 7, 2018 after arriving at JFK Airport from Trinidad.

The defendant’s DNA came back as a match to the DNA recovered from each of the victims.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Gwen Barnes, of the District Attorney’s Special Victim’s Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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

Bedford-Stuyvesant Man Indicted for 2005 Cold Case Murder of His Girlfriend

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

 

Bedford-Stuyvesant Man Indicted for 2005 Cold Case
Murder of His Girlfriend

Defendant Allegedly Shot Victim Once in the Head;
Charges Filed Following Comprehensive Reinvestigation

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that, following a lengthy and thorough reinvestigation of the 2005 shooting death of 22-year-old Desiree Cofield, her former boyfriend has been indicted on second-degree murder charges.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The victim in this case was a young mother of two little girls who was allegedly taken from them by this defendant. I’m pleased to announce today that following a thorough reinvestigation by the NYPD and my Cold Case Unit we are a step closer to obtaining justice for Desiree, as well as her family and friends.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Julius Esquilin, 36, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on December 12, 2018. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on February 19, 2005, at about 1 a.m., the defendant and his girlfriend, Desiree Cofield, 22, had a dispute outside 642 Greene Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which continued inside their apartment on the top floor of that building. A neighbor heard an argument, followed by a single gunshot and observed a blue light flash. The neighbor then heard the deceased’s daughter saying “mommy, mommy,” according to the investigation.

A neighbor called 911 after the defendant banged on the door yelling, “I know you heard that; call the police.” The defendant also called 911 and, when police and EMTs arrived, was acting aggressively. The defendant was screaming, broke picture frames and jumped on the victim’s body, the evidence shows. The police discovered the victim on a couch with a single gunshot wound to the head. Her 3-year-old daughter and 4-year-old nephew were awake in the bedroom (the victim and the defendant had a 2-month-old daughter together, who was not present when police arrived). The police recovered a .380 caliber shell casing, a matching live round and a note signed by the defendant, that said, “Even if I am gone I still love all of my daughters and my big mouth baby mother, Julius.” No gun was recovered.

According to neighbors, the victim’s relatives and prior police reports, the defendant had a history of abusing the victim.

The case was investigated by Detective William Simon of the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant Dennis Klein.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Samantha Magnani, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Rachel Singer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Forensic Science and Cold Case Unit.

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

 

Brownsville Man Indicted for Assaulting Two MTA Bus Drivers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 4, 2018

 

Brownsville Man Indicted for Assaulting Two MTA Bus Drivers

Sprayed Noxious Material in Separate Incidents During the Same Day,
Injuring Bus Drivers and Their Passengers

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 46-year-old Brooklyn man has been indicted for assault, reckless endangerment and related charges for discharging pepper spray inside two MTA buses during two incidents about 12 hours apart.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Transit workers provide invaluable services to our city and I am fully committed to protecting them. The defendant in this case allegedly used pepper spray to senselessly attack two bus drivers, putting them and their passengers at risk. He now faces felony charges because of the seriousness of his actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Andre Chandler, 46, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy on a 14-count indictment charging him with second- and third-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Bail was set at $30,000 and the defendant was ordered to return to court on November 26, 2018. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on August 23, 2018, at approximately 4 a.m., the defendant boarded a B15 bus without paying the fare. The bus operator allowed him to remain on the bus and the defendant requested a stop near the corner of Rockaway and Hageman Aves. in Brownsville. The driver observed construction in the way and advised the defendant that he would have to pull up a little further. The defendant then allegedly pulled out a canister and sprayed the partition with a noxious substance, causing the driver to choke and suffer burning to his eyes. A passenger who attempted to board the bus also started choking and tearing. The defendant fled. The driver was treated at Brookdale Hospital.

Later that day, at about 4:30 p.m., the defendant allegedly boarded another B15 bus. At the corner of East 98th Street and Blake Avenue in Brownsville, the evidence shows, he allegedly pulled out a pepper spray canister and started macing the bus, causing passengers to exit as they coughed and teared. The defendant fled, and the driver pursued him while calling 911. The driver observed the defendant throw the canister in a garbage can before returning to tend to the passengers. A responding officer later found a can of Counter Assault Bear Deterrent, a type of pepper spray, in the garbage can. The driver and two passengers were treated at area hospitals.

Surveillance footage from the bus was published in the media and police received information about the defendant’s identity. Both drivers subsequently identified the defendant in a double-blind photo array. He was arrested on August 31, 2018.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Nicholas Ford and Lauren Moore, of the District Attorney’s Orange Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Janet Gleeson, Bureau Chief.

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

Multiple Defendants Indicted for Allegedly Concealing Asbestos and Filing False Documents in Connection with Renovation Of Four Properties in Greenwood Section of Brooklyn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

 

Multiple Defendants Indicted for Allegedly Concealing Asbestos and
Filing False Documents in Connection with Renovation
Of Four Properties in Greenwood Section of Brooklyn

Defendants Allegedly Sought to Maximize Profits on Renovated Residential Properties

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced that five people and two businesses have been indicted in connection with the illegal renovation of four properties in Brooklyn. They allegedly conspired to bypass safety protocols, including asbestos abatement, using forged documents and falsifying business records to maximize profits.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants are accused of greedily taking dangerous shortcuts – bypassing safety measures that are put in place to protect the public from serious and unnecessary health risks – to maximize profits at any cost, including the well-being of employees and prospective tenants. This recklessness will not be tolerated in Brooklyn. We will now seek to hold these defendants accountable.”

Commissioner Peters said, “Over the past four years, DOI and its partners, including the Brooklyn District Attorney, have repeatedly exposed the dangers of property owners and contractors who hide the presence of asbestos at construction sites through false filings and the impact it can have on unsuspecting workers who labor under those conditions. The facts behind today’s arrests add another chapter to that disturbing narrative: Defendants told workers to continue demolishing a site despite the presence of asbestos, misled them, and falsified documents to the City to cover up the illegal work, according to the charges. DOI will continue to pursue arrests for any individuals who endanger workers and submit fraudulent paperwork to the City.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Carmine Casale, 45, of Brooklyn; Edmund Farkouh, 55, of Queens; Richard Juliano, 43, of Brooklyn; Scott Schnall, 50, of Brooklyn; Shirley Swift, 55, of Brooklyn; 5th Avenue 816, L.L.C.; and Scott Schnall, P.E. They were arraigned today on a 61-count indictment in which they are variously charged with fifth-degree conspiracy, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records, second-degree forgery, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, second-degree reckless endangerment, and willful failure to contribute. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun set bail at $20,000 cash for Juliano and Casale; $10,000 cash for Schnall and Farkouh; and released Swift without bail. The defendants were ordered to return to court on November 28, 2018.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between June 24, 2015 and October 18, 2016, the defendants allegedly conspired to maximize the profits on the sale of renovated residential properties at 816 and 816A Fifth Avenue and 817 and 817A Fifth Avenue, in the Greenwood section of Brooklyn.

It is alleged that the defendants conspired to avoid the high costs associated with legally required asbestos abatement prior to the issuance of building permits by concealing the existence of asbestos at the properties. Furthermore, it is alleged, as part of the conspiracy the defendants created and filed false documents with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the New York City Department of Buildings in support of the applications for building permits authorizing demolition and renovation of the Fifth Avenue properties, including the filing of asbestos assessment reports containing false entries regarding the inspection for the presence of asbestos; forging the signature and registration number of a DOB licensed general contractor on work permit applications; certifying and filing forged applications with the DOB in order to obtain final DOB approval to begin renovations at the properties.

The case was investigated by the Detective Investigators with District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, with the assistance of DOI Investigative Attorney Marc Assa and Deputy Inspector General Michael Antolini, under the supervision of Associate Commissioner Jay Flaherty, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Susan Lambiase and First Deputy Commissioner Lesley Brovner.

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

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

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Robbing and Slashing Subway Passenger

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for
Robbing and Slashing Subway Passenger

Defendant Slashed and Robbed Victim
Minutes After Attempting to Rob Another Passenger

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 26-year-old Brooklyn man was sentenced to seven years in prison for slashing a woman in the face before stealing her cellphone on a Manhattan-bound C train. The incident happened 25 minutes after the defendant attempted to rob another passenger.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “All New Yorkers depend on the subways to get to work, school, home and other places. They must be able to ride the trains safely without fear of being robbed or attacked. Today’s sentencing ensures that this defendant is held accountable for his actions and will not be able to harm anyone else in our community.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Christopher Lange, 26, of Flatlands, Brooklyn. He was sentenced yesterday by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Miller to seven years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision following his guilty plea to first-degree robbery earlier this month.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on April 12, 2017, at approximately 5:20 p.m., the defendant tried to grab a woman’s cellphone while on a C train at the Franklin Avenue subway station. As he got off the train, he told the victim, “You’re lucky I didn’t cut your little face.”

According to the investigation, the defendant approached another woman on a Manhattan-bound C train at Nostrand Avenue at approximately 5:45p.m. He slashed her face with a sharp object from her ear to her lip. Before fleeing the train, he grabbed the woman’s cellphone. Video surveillance at the train station shows the defendant getting off the train immediately after the slashing.

The defendant was apprehended in New Jersey on April 17, 2017. At the time of his arrest, he was still in possession of the victim’s phone. He was also carrying a razor blade.

According to the evidence, the defendant used the victim’s phone to call his family members. Based on those phone calls, police were able to determine the defendant’s last name. Witnesses at the scene of both incidents identified the defendant.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Chelsea Toder, of the District Attorney’s Trial Bureau Blue Zone, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Robert Walsh, Bureau Chief.

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Four Defendants, Including Former Postal Worker, Indicted for Stealing Checks from Mail; Many Intended for Impoverished Social Service Clients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 1, 2018

 

Four Defendants, Including Former Postal Worker, Indicted for Stealing
Checks from Mail; Many Intended for Impoverished Social Service Clients

Allegedly Rifled Through Mail Bags Searching for Envelopes Containing Checks

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with United States Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General, Northeast Area Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Matthew Modafferi, today announced that four defendants have been charged in connection with a scheme in which they stole U.S. mail, including checks intended for homeless and other impoverished people totaling more than $29,000 over a three-month period.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A former postal employee entrusted with the public’s most important and private mail, allegedly violated that trust when she and her co-defendants allegedly pilfered the mail and stole from the most vulnerable among us, including residents of homeless shelters. We will now seek to hold them accountable.”

Special Agent in Charge Modafferi said, “The Special Agents of the U.S. Postal Service of Inspector General are committed to protecting the integrity of the U.S. Mail. When a postal employee abuses their position and the public’s trust, USPS OIG Special Agents will work with their law enforcement partners to ensure all those involved are held responsible for their actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Vanessa Bandie, 29, of Canarsie; Lauren Johnson, 27, of East New York; Paul Daniels, 30, of East New York; and James Black, 30, of East New York. The defendants are variously charged in a 21-count indictment with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree bribe receiving, fourth-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, second- and third-degree identity theft, second-degree for receiving reward for misconduct, petit larceny, and official misconduct. They were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who ordered Johnson, Daniels and Black to return to court on November 28, 2018. He set Bandie’s next court date to December 5, 2018.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between October 25, 2016 and December 27, 2016, the defendants allegedly acted together to steal approximately $29,200 in checks ranging from less than $100 to more than $1,000 from 66 people, including checks totaling $3,700 from eight people who were residents of a housing facility run by the Bowery Residents’ Committee, a not-for-profit that provides services to homeless New Yorkers.

It is alleged that, according to the investigation, Vanessa Bandie, a letter carrier, was approached on her route in East New York by defendant James Black, who asked her to identify envelopes that looked like they might contain checks and, along with Lauren Johnson, bring them to a Pay-O-Matic check-cashing location where another defendant, Paul Daniels, would cash them. Bandie allegedly agreed in return for a portion of the proceeds. According to the investigation, Bandie and Johnson looked for envelopes from the New York City Human Resources Administration and other social service agencies, for the specific purpose of taking and cashing any checks they contained.

It is alleged that the defendants brought the checks to the Pay-O-Matic at 2488 Linden Boulevard, where employee Paul Daniels allegedly cashed the checks illegally for a portion of the proceeds. The scheme was discovered by a Pay-O-Matic security director who uncovered irregularities in Daniels work and reported it to inspectors for the U.S. Postal Service.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Detectives Shirley Chambers and Adrianne Jones, of the NYPD’s Kings County District Attorney’s Squad, along with Special Agents Jacabed Ventura and Ana Bourdon, of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Kurtz, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau and Special Assistant District Attorney Renee Hassel, of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Public Integrity Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Mark Feldman, Senior Executive District Attorney for Crime Strategies and Investigations.

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