Archive for the tag 'charles hynes'

Source: ah zut/Flickr

The man believed to be behind the Friday morning attack of a Jewish man on the Midwood – Kensington border was not charged with a hate crime, despite calls from local elected officials who say that perpatrators of the so-called “knockout game” are specifically targeting Jewish victims.

The 2:00 a.m. attack on 18th Avenue and East 5th Street saw four men arrested, but Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office only filed charges against Amrit Marajh, who allegedly took the swing. He has been charged with misdemeanor assault, menacing and harassment charges, and has posted $750 bail. Police initially arrested him for a hate crime, a charge the district attorney did not press.

The assault is believed to be the latest incident of the violent “knockout game,” in which thugs take down unsuspecting passersby with a sucker punch before running off. The victim in this case was a 24-year-old Orthodox Jewish man.

Although it appears to be a national phenomenon, local leaders say the Brooklyn version has taken on an ugly racial edge, with the victims being Orthodox Jews living in Crown Heights, Midwood and Kensington.

CBS News reports:

One of the suspects, identified as Amrit Marajh, 28, was charged with aggravated assault as a hate crime, among other counts.

The other three suspects were released without charges.

… “I came across a group of people who were walking towards me, and I was able to hear them speaking loudly about this knockout game,” he said.

Kelly also told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin, “Just prior to it, (the assailants) were talking about the knockout game.”

The victim told investigators he heard one of the attackers say, “I’ll do it to this guy,” right before he was surrounded and punched, sources told CBS 2.

Marajh, through his lawyer, claims that the incident had nothing to do with the knockout game.

The Daily News reports:

Amrit Marajh, 28, had just left a bar on McDonald Ave. on Friday with four friends and was talking about boxing when the knockout game came up, police sources said.

“You can’t do that,” one member of the group said as they came upon Shmuel Perl, 24, according to a source.

Marajh allegedly said, “Yes I can, I’ll do it to this guy right now!” before punching Perl in the face, leaving him bruised.

Perl was not knocked out. According to news reports, all four appeared  intoxicated when they were arrested.

Authorities across the country have begun to question if the game even exists, or if the media is simply connecting a number of random acts that can occur on any given day.

The New York Times reports:

Yet police officials in several cities where such attacks have been reported said that the “game” amounted to little more than an urban myth, and that the attacks in question might be nothing more than the sort of random assaults that have always occurred.

And in New York City, police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the Knockout Game — or whether in fact it existed.

“We’re trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Friday. “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.”

Still, a diverse set of local elected have come forward to denounce the attacks. As we’ve already reported, Public Advocate-elect Letitia James, Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch and Councilman David Greenfield have condemned the attacks, as has Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Later today, Congressmembers Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, District Attorney-elect Ken Thompson, and Borough President-elect Eric Adams will hold a press conference doing the same.

Reverend Al Sharpton is also urging his supporters to speak out against the attacks, and is organizing a media campaign.

“If someone was running around talking about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent,” Sharpton said, according to CBS. “We cannot be silent.”

Sharpton aims to kick off a celebrity-driven public service announcement campaign to denounce the attacks.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Long-serving Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of challenger Ken Thompson, ending his 23-year-reign. A report by the New York Times dug deep into Hynes’ long history as Brooklyn’s district attorney and why he lost his latest reelection bid.

When Charles Hynes was elected to serve as the Brooklyn DA in 1990, the Times explained how the borough was a drastically different place:

He took office in 1990, at a time when crime was rampant, racial tensions seethed daily and Irish-Americans like Mr. Hynes were still a potent political force in the borough. By the time he cast a vote for himself in his bid for a seventh term on Tuesday, crime in Brooklyn had dropped 80 percent, and the anti-domestic-violence and drug-treatment programs he pioneered had been imitated around the country.

But as the borough became safer, it also became younger, more diverse and hungry for something different — leaving Mr. Hynes, at 78, the odd man out.

“He wanted to be the longest-serving district attorney in history, and loved what he did; he’s passionate about justice,” said Kenneth K. Fisher, a former councilman who has known Mr. Hynes for decades. But voters, he said, “just didn’t care about what he had done in the past; they wanted to know what he would do for them now, and he didn’t have a great answer to that.”

The mentality of “what have you done for me lately” played a large part in denying Hynes a seventh term. This past year, we reported on a series of negative stories that contributed to Hynes’ sinking chances. In May, Hynes took heat from a rivalover a planned CBS reality show that featured him and his office. Hynes was accused of scoring the show through political connections and critics charged that the show offered Hynes an unfair level of publicity in an election year.

Hynes also suffered criticism for his handling of molestation cases in Borough Park and other Orthodox Jewish communities. In June, we reported that the DA’s office prosecuted whistle-blower Sam Kellner, who helped police bring down a prominent Jewish cantor who had political ties to Hynes’ campaign. The case against Kellner, whose own son was allegedly sexually abused, fell apart when the evidence against him proved to be unreliable and key witnesses were believed to be untrustworthy. The Times also noted that Hynes was lambasted for giving into the demands of local rabbis who didn’t want the names of accused molesters released to the public.

The Times described how Thompson used Hynes’ recent missteps to his advantage, including a series of wrongful murder convictions:

There were reports that under his watch, prosecutors used discredited witnesses and bullying tactics to win a series of wrongful murder convictions. (Mr. Hynes’s office is reviewing at least 50 such convictions, all involving a retired detective, Louis Scarcella.)

These taints on Mr. Hynes’s long and often distinguished record provided his opponent in the Democratic primary this year, Kenneth P. Thompson, 47, with fodder for attack after attack on his ethics. Mr. Thompson also cast the incumbent as out of touch and stale, a creature of the politics-as-usual Brooklyn machine, which has championed him in every re-election bid.

Despite Hynes’ recent failures, the Times pointed to creative reforms initiated by Hynes that made him a model for district attorneys across the nation:

Yet in the early years of his tenure, the rumpled, charismatic district attorney was seen as a reformer who set the standard for district attorneys’ offices across the country by re-evaluating the inflexible tough-on-crime philosophy then in vogue. His programs offered alternatives to harsh sentences for drug addicts, allowing them to enter drug-treatment programs instead of prison, an approach that has won praise from district attorneys and defendants’ advocates alike for being more cost-effective and reducing the chances that offenders will relapse.

Other programs followed: a domestic-violence bureau and family-justice center that reshaped the way domestic-violence victims are handled by the city’s criminal justice system, and programs aimed at helping prisoners find work after being released. A small team he appointed to review the integrity of past convictions uncovered the first of the cases involving Detective Scarcella.

“He’s kind of known as, frankly, just a leader among D.A.’s when it comes to programs and thinking creatively about the criminal justice system,” said Scott Burns, the executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, on whose board Mr. Hynes sits.

With Hynes now out as DA, the New York Daily News outlined Ken Thompson’s plans as he steps into office. The top of Thompson’s priority list includes reforming stop-and-frisk and cutting down on bogus arrests:

The 47-year-old Democratic nominee for Kings County district attorney on Wednesday outlined a series of his ambitious plans — including assigning prosecutors to police precincts in East New York and Brownsville in order to vet questionable arrests.

Thompson’s legal soldiers will determine, outside of a courtroom, whether a cop unfairly quizzed a suspect and can choose to decline prosecution of the case without bringing it before a judge.

“The district attorney can help train the police,” Thompson said less than a day after beating out Charles Hynes, a six-term incumbent.

“It is not right to have someone subjected to stop-and-frisk, snake through the system and spend two days in jail just to get out.”

Columbia Law School University Professor Jeffrey Fagan, an expert on stop-and-frisk, questioned whether Thompson’s ideas would be possible without NYPD’s approval.
“It is ambitious,” said Fagan.

A NYPD spokesman declined to comment until they had a chance to review Thompson’s proposal.

While Thompson is planning major overhauls, he noted that he isn’t about to fire everyone connected to the Hynes office:

“We need new units. We need new programs,” said Thompson who aimed to assure rank-and-file prosecutors that they won’t face the axe if they pass his muster.

“My plan is to get into office, assess everyone, and make a decision.”

The Daily News noted that to help with the transition, Hynes has already invited Thompson to work with his office located at 350 Jay Street, promising a “smooth transition.”

Source: abegeorge2013.com

Former Manhattan prosecutor and Sheepshead Bay native Abe George dropped out of the race to become Brooklyn’s next District Attorney. The New York Times is reporting that George endorsed candidate Ken Thompson in hopes that a unified effort could take down Charles J. Hynes, whose office has been plagued with controversy in recent months.

Hynes, who is 78-years-old, has been serving as Brooklyn’s DA since 1990. Recently, he took heat for allowing CBS to film a reality show about his office. Critics charged that the show was going to give him undue free publicity in the heart of election season while also making public sensitive information regarding ongoing cases and investigations. Candidate Abe George went so far as to sue Hynes over the release of the show, charging that it represented nothing more than a glossy political ad, using political connections to make it happen.

Hynes has also taken criticism regarding the handling of sexual abuse cases in the ultra-Orthodox community. On our sister site, Bensonhurst Bean, we tracked a case where the DA’s office prosecuted a whistle-blower, Sam Kellner, who helped police bring down a prominent Jewish cantor who had political ties to the Hynes’ campaign. The case against Kellner is said to have fallen apart due to shoddy evidence and shady witnesses.

While George has fought hard to unseat Hynes, he is now stepping aside and throwing his support fully behind Thompson:

“Brooklyn can’t afford another four years of Joe Hynes, and I realize that in order to defeat Joe Hynes I must put Brooklyn ahead of my own ambitions,” he said. “Today, I am urging all of my supporters to back Ken Thompson for district attorney because together we can begin to clean up the mess Joe Hynes has created in Brooklyn.

“Ken is a man of integrity and justice who will fight to end the pattern of wrongful convictions and prosecutorial misconduct that has tainted the D.A.’s office.”

The Times noted that Thompson has proven to be a stronger candidate than George, citing his experience in high profile cases, his fundraising advantages and local political connections:

Mr. Thompson had already emerged as a more formidable candidate. He is a former federal prosecutor who returned to prominence in 2011 for his representation of Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel housekeeper who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, of sexual assault.

Mr. Thompson has been a strong fund-raiser, with $502,000 in his coffers, trailing Mr. Hynes by about $86,000. And within the last month, Mr. Thompson won the backing of two Brooklyn members of Congress, Representatives Yvette D. Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries, and the city’s biggest union, Local 1199 S.E.I.U., which represents health care workers.

Source: downtown_boston_2004 / Flickr

Source: downtown_boston_2004 / Flickr

District Attorney Charles Hynes is teaming up with the NYPD and City Councilman Domenic Recchia for a gun buyback event tomorrow, July 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Coney Island Gospel Assembly Church, 2828 Neptune Avenue between West 28th Street and West 29th Street, directly across from Kaiser Park.

According to the press release from the DA’s office:

The gun buyback initiative is aimed at taking illegal, functioning guns off the streets by offering a $200 reward for each eligible weapon surrendered, no questions asked. You will receive a $200 bank card for operable handguns and assault rifles and a $20 bank card for operable rifles and shotguns. The program was launched in Brooklyn in July 2008. A total of 2,714 guns have been collected through the gun buyback program.

Although the reasons may be obvious to some, it may not be obvious to others: The guns must be placed in a plastic or paper bag or a box. This is not Wyoming or Kentucky (or any other open carry state for that matter). Also, the DA’s Office also warns that, if you are transporting the gun by car, the gun must be transported in the trunk of the car. You may surrender as many guns as you wish, but you will only receive payment for up to three guns. (Ed. — There’s incentive for ya.)

In other words, don’t show up waving your guns in the air, yelling, “Now where’s my $200 bank card?!” at the top of your lungs.

To learn more, contact the DA’s office at (718) 250-2300.

Brooklyn District Attorney, Charles Hynes

Charles Hynes, the Brooklyn District Attorney, is being taken to court by DA candidate and Sheepshead native Abe George on the grounds of breaking election laws. George’s complaints stem from Hynes’s upcoming CBS reality show, which will  feature the activity of the DA’s office right before the election primary, according to a press release. Last March, we reported on the detailsof Hynes’s show, which will follow several high profile cases that Hynes and his team of lawyers are prosecuting. At the time, George blasted Hynes for the timing of the show, which he said will give Hynes an undue level of free publicity. George also alleged that Hynes used a political connection to ensure that the show would serve as a glossy political ad designed to paint him in a positive light right before the primary. George’s press release detailed the specifics of his lawsuit:

The lawsuit alleges that the incumbent Brooklyn District Attorney for the past 23 years has agreed to take an excessive campaign contribution from defendant CBS in violation of New York State election law during the final, critical months of his closely contested race for re-election this year. The contribution from CBS, which could amount to millions of dollars to Hynes, is under the guise of a reality television show called Brooklyn D.A. that CBS recently announced it will broadcast starting May 28 in six one-hour, weekly episodes starring Hynes and his office. It will far exceed the state limit for a corporate contribution, capped at $5,000 a year. In expending the time and resources of his office to coordinate with CBS in the production, filming, and promotion of the show, Hynes has also unlawfully used state money to further his own political campaign.

It is also worth noting that George’s lawsuit will be joined by the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation of Justice, a group committed to the prevention and eradication of wrongful convictions, and a group representing families and victims of wrongful convictions they allege Charles Hynes’ office prosecuted.

Dr. Davie’s office in Manhattan Beach. (Source: Google Maps)

Just days after it was revealed that CBS is planning a reality show following Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, the borough’s top prosecutor announced the indictment of a Manhattan Beach plastic surgeon accused of manslaughter by liposuction – a case that will be featured prominently in the television series.

Hynes’ office announced on Thursday the indictment of Dr. Oleg Davie, 51, charging him for recklessly performing liposuction on a patient he knew previously had a heart transplant, causing her death during the operation.

From the DA’s press release announcing the indictment:

According to the indictment, Isel Pineda had received heart transplant surgery on February 20, 2004 at NY Presbyterian Hospital. As a result of that surgery, she had a distinctive eight-inch scar in the center of her chest. In April 2012, Pineda, 51, came to Dr. Davie’s office on Park Avenue in Manhattan for a consultation and filled out forms indicating her medical history. On May 10, 2012, Dr. Davie performed the liposuction procedure on Pineda at his office at 133A West End Avenue in the Manhattan Beach section of Brooklyn. The indictment charges that Dr. Davie knew that Pineda was a former heart transplant patient yet still performed the operation on her. The District Attorney’s Office’s investigation determined that Dr. Davie was reckless and negligent to perform elective surgery on heart transplant patients. In addition, the anti-rejection drugs that Ms. Pineda was taking suppressed her immune system, putting her at risk for infection. After the procedure, Pineda went into cardiac arrest and collapsed in Dr. Davie’s office. Paramedics tried to revive her as she was rushed to Coney Island Hospital, where she died.

District Attorney Hynes said, “Any medical professional would clearly know if a patient has previously had heart transplant surgery because of the obvious scar on the chest. And doctors are well aware of the fact that they are discouraged from performing liposuction and similar procedures on patients with heart disease. To further hide his illegal activity, Dr. Davie falsified forms, concealing his knowledge of Ms. Pineda’s medical history. It is shameful that a medical professional would disregard his patient’s safety, putting her in serious danger. He will be held accountable for his actions.”

The DA also claimes that Davie falsified a copy of Pineda’s medical history forms, altering it to omit a mention of the heart transplant or that she had ever been hospitalized before the surgery. However, investigators say they found a copy of the paperwork from the consultation in Pineda’s purse the day she died, and on it she had disclosed the heart transplant and anti-rejection medications.

Davie had a long history of risking patient safety, according to prosecutors. They say the State Department of Health in 2011 had already restricted his practice to cosmetic medicine only, due to past negligence. He had been charged by the Bureau of Professional Medical Conduct with negligence, mischaracterizing cosmetic treatments, and filing false reports. In December 2012, after Pineda’s death, he surrendered his license to practice medicine.

Davie is charged with manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide and several other charges. He faces up to 34 years in prison.

The case will be one of the central storylines of the upcoming CBS miniseries, Brooklyn D.A., which has already drawn fire from other contenders for the office in this year’s election.

Brookyln District Attorney, Charles Hynes

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is up for reelection, and it looks like he will be getting an extra dose of scrutiny this year as a CBS reality show is set to document the D.A.’s office, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

The show is being called Brooklyn D.A. and will be a six-part miniseries that documents Hynes, his staff and some high-profile cases.

One such case includes that of a Manhattan Beach plastic surgeon, Dr. Oleg Davie, who fatally operated on a woman who had a heart transplant and is accused of negligence. The indicted doctor is expected to surrender this week.

The show will also focus on Hynes’ top aid Michael Vecchione, a veteran prosecuter who, according to the Daily News, has a controversial history:

Central to the show is Hynes’ powerful — and controversial — top aide, Michael Vecchione, “a veteran prosecutor with a big personality,” the treatment says, and notes some of his major successes — including getting a conviction against Gerald Garson, a former judge who took bribes. He also scored convictions against two detectives who were hit men for the mob and Clarence Norman, the head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

The show will also address criticism lobbed against Vecchione for his handling of other cases — including allegedly bullying a witness in the murder case against Jabbar Collins. The 1995 conviction was tossed after a witness said Vecchione threatened to hit him with a coffee table and throw him in jail if he didn’t finger Collins.

Collins was freed and filed a $150 million lawsuit against Vecchione. A federal judge called the prosecutor’s behavior “horrific,” and said he was “disturbed” Hynes didn’t punish him.

Controversy swirls around the existence of the show itself. Hynes’s opponents in the upcoming D.A. race charge that Hynes’ is getting undue free publicity.

D.A. hopeful Ken Thompson sent us a press release blasting Hynes’s reality show.

It is simply reckless for District Attorney Hynes to share sensitive information about ongoing cases and investigations with a film crew for self-promotion—information that leaked before the show even aired and could easily lead to more failed prosecutions and overturned cases.

We also reached out to Abe George, another opponent of Hynes who hails from Sheepshead Bay. In an email to Sheepshead Bites, he wrote:

Charles Hynes doesn’t want to be DA. He just wants to play one on TV. Hynes should spend more time addressing the misconduct that sent innocent men like David Ranta, William Lopez and Jabar Collins to prison and less time on his reality show.

George told Sheepshead Bites that he plans to send a letter to CBS requesting that they delay the show until the primary is over. George also alleged that the timing of the show’s release is the result of a political connection Hynes used to ensure a glorified political ad designed to paint him in a positive light right before the primary.

“It is clear to us that because of some political connection that Hynes has CBS is airing this show before the primary as a political ad to paint an embattled da in a more positive light,” George wrote.

In his defense, Hynes’s campaign spokesman, George Arzt, told the Daily News that, “Jealousy is not a positive for political figures.”

John Hockenjos, an MTA worker, was charged with reckless endangerment for allegedly try to run over a police officer.

Hockenjos (Source: NYDailyNews.com)

Diego Palacios, the police officer kicked off the force after his bogus arrest of a Sheepshead Bay man, may have been sentenced to four days in prison – but he served only one night.

New York Post picked up on our exclusive story last week – without giving credit to Sheepshead Bites – noting that Palacios pleaded guilty in exchange for a sentence of four days in prison and his resignation from the NYPD. The paper learned that Palacios had to spend only a single night behind bars, though.

Palacios was imprisoned after the Thursday afternoon hearing, in which he admitted to filing a false police report that claimed Sheepshead Bay resident John Hockenjos attempted to run the officer over with his car. That four-day sentence meant that Palacios would have been a free man again on Sunday.

But the sweetheart deal for a man who nearly put an innocent man in jail for seven years got even sweeter for Palacios: state law requires that inmates scheduled for discharge on a weekend should be freed on Friday.

Palacios spent the night in jail, and was freed the next day.

Hockenjos is fuming over the short prison sentence, and afraid for his safety.

“He’s a free man to do whatever he wants,” Hockenjos told Sheepshead Bites last week. “And I have to be in pure fear that there could be retribution. I should not be in this position.”

Video that saved Hockenjos from heading to prison after being falsely accused by Palacios of attempting to run him down in his car.

John Hockenjos, an MTA worker, was charged with reckless endangerment for allegedly try to run over a police officer.

Hockenjos in front of the courthouse. (Source: NYDailyNews.com)

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A cop who falsely claimed that a Sheepshead Bay man tried to run him down in a car was sentenced to four days in prison – only one day more than his victim was locked up based on the officer’s bogus charges.

Officer Diego Palacios pleaded guilty at a hearing on Thursday in Brooklyn Supreme Court in exchange for a sentence of four days and his resignation from the New York City Police Department, the District Attorney’s office told Sheepshead Bites.

The three-day sentence has Palacios’s victim, East 23rd Street resident John Hockenjos, furious – and afraid for his safety.

“This individual spends four days in prison, with no probation, and he gets out of jail today or tomorrow and he’s a free man to do whatever he wants,” Hockenjos told Sheepshead Bites. “And I have to be in pure fear that there could be retribution. I should not be in this position; there should at least be probation.”

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Video surveillance captured Klass robbing the liquor store.

The man who confessed to killing a beloved Midwood liquor store clerk during a 2010 robbery was sentenced to 35 years in prison, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced today.

Eion Klass, 36, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted robbery charges earlier this month, and was sentenced to 25 years and 10 years respectively.

According to the DA’s office, Klass was out on parole on August 19, 2010, when he attempted to rob a Midwood liquor store wearing a mask and a gun. During the robbery, he demanded the jewelry off of a woman in the store who turned out to be the girlfriend of the clerk, Yoseph Robinson. Robinson tried to stop Klass, leading to a struggle in which he was fatally shot.

Klass was arrested the following week.

Robinson himself was a beloved and inspirational figure, having been a repentant Jamaican-born drug dealer who converted to Orthodox Judaism. His death sparked a tremendous outpouring of support from Brooklyn’s Jewish community, and more than 1,000 people attended his funeral.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog also slapped Klass with 10 years for an unrelated robbery, in which Klass clubbed a man over the head and beat him before stealing jewelry and a cell phone. Klass will serve those 10 years concurrently.

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