Archive for the tag 'courts'

Source: mikey k/Flickr

Source: mikey k/Flickr

Thomas Dunikowski, who fired a rifle at a group of rowdy teens on his Stuart Street block in 2011, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Following a mistrial last year, when jurors acquitted him of attempted murder charges but deadlocked on assault charges, Dunikowski struck a plea deal with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and agreed to an eight year sentence, with five years of supervision after his release.

“I would just like to say that I am sorry to everyone that I hurt with this whole ordeal,” Dunikowski, 33, said in court before sentencing, according to the New York Post. “I am sorry they got hurt, and I am sorry I hurt my family and [brought] them through this.”

Dunikowski was arrested in June 2011 after opening fire from his second floor window, wounding two teenagers who refused to leave his stoop. He fired 27 shots as the teens, ranging in age from 14 to 17, fled.

The noisy teens had refused to leave his property, and had allegedly been previously kicking over garbage cans and making a ruckus on the block.

The Marine Park dad also reportedly struck a 21-year-old female bystander.

One Prospect Park West sits at the entrance to Prospect Park (Photo by Mary Bakija)

A Medicaid fraud bust at a Park Slope adult day care center resulted in the arrest today of residents of Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Sea Gate, one of whom is a member of Sheepshead Bay’s Community Board 15.

The three local defendants worked at Northern Manor Adult Day Health Care Program at One Prospect Park West. They are accused of falsifying medical records to bilk the Medicaid program out of more than $1 million. The center’s operators are also accused of hiring unqualified individuals to provide services.

The bust followed a long-term investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which has been probing adult day health care centers for potential abuses.

The attorney general’s office set up covert stings, sending healthy, vibrant seniors to the facility as undercover informants for the attorney general. They say their secret cameras recorded Larisa Rumynik, 48, of Brighton Beach, and Valentina Shapran, 51, of Sea Gate, falsifying medical admission forms to ensure the healthy patients would qualify for the programs.

The third local defendant, Liliya Kostyuk, 58, of Sheepshead Bay, is accused of providing social work services and psychological assessments that she was not qualified to perform, the attorney general’s office said.

Kostyuk is also a member of Community Board 15, a government body comprised of 50 unpaid community members appointed at the request of City Council members. The Boards are responsible for advising city and state agencies on planning decisions. According to Chairperson Theresa Scavo, Kostyuk has been on the Board for at least six years and is an appointee of former Councilman Michael Nelson. She did not hold any leadership posts on the Board.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” said Scavo on hearing the news of Kostyuk’s arrest. “Liliya? I’m speechless. she’s always seemed so quiet. I guess you can never judge.”

Each of the three defendants face up to four years in state prison if found guilty. The program’s director, Gelena Deverman, 35, of New Jersey, was charged with grand larceny for causing Medicaid to pay more than $1 million in phony claims. She faces 25 years in prison.

Northern Manor’s parent company, Northern Manor Multicare Center based in Nanuet, New York, in a separate civil settlement, admitted that it operated without a qualified social worker from mid-2010 to 2011. They also confessed to routinely admitting more registrants than it was certified to take.

The parent company agreed to pay a $6.5 million civil settlement in the case and to shut down the Brooklyn center.

“Today’s charges detail yet another example of egregious, despicable abuse of public resources for personal gain, sending the message that criminal behavior will be met with the full force of the law,” said Schneiderman in a press release. “Employees of this program will never again be able to steal from taxpayers and deprive vulnerable New Yorkers of the care they deserve.”

Adult day cares are surging in popularity across New York, seen as a less costly alternative to nursing homes. Such facilities are licensed by the state to provide medical and psychosocial care to seniors who are unable to care for themselves, and are paid approximately 65 percent of the rate paid to a nursing home that provides room and board.

However, the lack of oversight has seen a spike in fraud, with some centers offering gifts, kickbacks and incentives for recruiting potential Medicaid recipients.

Both the state legislature and City Council have sought reforms to limit abuse.

Law office of the phony Shlomo Dickerman (Source: Google Maps)

Law office of the phony Shlomo Dickerman (Source: Google Maps)

Authorities are still unsure of the true identity of the man they claim stole a lawyer’s name and set up a phony law firm in Brighton Beach, but they believe he’s a disbarred lawyer with a criminal history.

The man who went by Shlomo Dickerman, or Stephen G. Dickerman, is believed to actually be Steven H. Dickman, a Long Island lawyer who lost his license and was convicted of grand larceny, according to the Daily News.

The unknown man was arraigned on charges of identity theft and making fraudulent statements on Thursday. He was denied bail after the judge agreed that his identity was too uncertain to cut loose.

The New York Times reports:

The confusion over the defendant’s identity continued at a mind-bending arraignment Thursday, where the defendant continued to insist he was Stephen G. Dickerman. Not even the man’s fiancée, a retired public-school teacher, was certain of his true identity, a prosecutor, Lan Nguyen, said.

… At the arraignment, the judge read the charges against the defendant, saying his first and last name were unknown. Jan A. Rostal, a lawyer for the defendant, then spoke up. “I can clarify that the name of my client is Stephen G. Dickerman,” she said.

Ms. Nguyen, the prosecutor, pointed out that when the defendant was arrested, he had a New York State driver’s license in the name of Steven H. Dickman. That man, she said, “appears to be a disbarred attorney with a criminal history”: two convictions on grand larceny charges, of which one resulted in a three-year prison sentence.

“The government has really no idea who the defendant is at this point,” Ms. Nguyen said, adding that she was awaiting the results of a fingerprint analysis to see if the man was indeed Steven Dickman.

Ms. Rostal said the birth date her client had given to court officers, June 1942, did not match the one on the Steven Dickman driver’s license, February 1945.

The alleged fraudster obtained his phony identity by renewing the real Stephen G. Dickerman’s expired attorney registration, altering his address. The real Dickerman appears to have retired after 40 years, and Shlomo used his registration to represent clients he booked in his Brighton 11th Street office.

Apparently, he did a good enough job to fool other lawyers into thinking he was the real deal, even if not entirely capable.

“He did not appear, necessarily, to be a good lawyer; he didn’t appear to be a nonlawyer,” David S. Stone of Stone & Magnanini, who dealt with Shlomo last year, told the Times.

Correction (12:34 p.m): The suspected identity of the alleged fraudster is Steven H. Dickman, not Steven H. Dickerman as a previous version of this article erroneously stated. It has been corrected.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

The scene of the fire at 2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

The confession offered by 16-year-old Marcell Dockery was coerced by cops who “broke him the same way prisoners of war are broken,” according to the teen’s lawyer.

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery is facing several charges including murder, assault and robbery after the April 6 fire in Coney Island left one police officer dead and another in critical condition. Dockery is accused of setting the fire, and hours after his arrest he allegedly confessed in writing and on video that he sparked the blaze because “he was bored.”

But now his lawyer is arguing that the confession should be tossed, and is also requesting that a specialist on coerced confessions be brought in to interview Dockery.

Daily News reports:

Defense lawyer Jesse Young said his client “at the tender age of 16″ was no match for seasoned homicide detectives who grilled him for eight to 10 hours in an interrogation room.

“They broke him the same way prisoners of war are broken,” Young said Thursday in Brooklyn Supreme Court. “It doesn’t take much to break a 16-year-old and they did it.”

Young said the detectives extracted the confession in part by falsely promising Dockery that his mother would not be evicted from her apartment if he owned up to torching the mattress.

During a brief pre-trial hearing, Justice Danny Chun authorized funds for the defense lawyer to hire Richard Ofshe, an expert on the subject of coerced confessions, to interview Dockery and review the evidence.

The article also notes that the New York City Housing Authority has kicked off eviction proceedings against Dockery’s mother.

Law office of the phony Shlomo Dickerman (Source: Google Maps)

Law office of the phony Shlomo Dickerman (Source: Google Maps)

Authorities cuffed a man who they say stole a lawyer’s identity, set up a phony law firm in Brighton Beach, and represented clients in at least 11 court cases.

According to FBI investigators, a man claiming to be “Shlomo G. Dickerman” solicited clients through his 128 Brighton 11th Street office for approximately four years, despite that the would-be lawyer held no license to practice law or any law degree.

The accused, whose actual identity is still unknown to investigators according to the arrest affadavit, obtained the credentials of an actual lawyer named Stephen G. Dickerman.

The real Dickerman had allowed his New York attorney registration, which must be renewed every two years, to expire in 2008.

The following year, a man claiming to be Dickerman showed up at the registration office in Manhattan asking to renew the registration. He was shown a copy of the delinquent notice sent to the real Dickerman – which shared his name, birth date, address, Social Security number, the law school he attended and other private information.

Using a section of the form to update the information, the phony Dickerman changed his first name to Shlomo, claiming it was his Hebrew name, and entered a new home and business address. After paying a $350 registration fee, he went on his way as a registered attorney, and continued to renew the registration every two years.

The con artist then went on to represent clients, including a pair of undercover agents who recorded a meeting with him as recently as July 29. The phony Dickerman asked the pair for a $10,000 retainer, in addition to his $400-an-hour fee, before generously knocking it down to just $5,000.

They also recorded a court appearance on July 15, in which the accused man claimed to be the lawyer whose identity he duped.

FBI agents raided the office earlier this week, seizing computers, files and other documents belonging to the so-called Dickerman. The other lawyers at the same office are not suspected of wrongdoing and appear to be unaffiliated with the accused man, except for having rented space to him.

faberge

A New York court has ordered Faberge Lounge (2007 Emmons Avenue) to pay $25,000 and cease using its current name after the restaurant was successfully sued by Faberge Limited, the luxury European jeweler.

The restaurant’s owners were also ordered to alter its storefront design, which the court determined was too similar to that used by Faberge Limited.

“This is a strong outcome for Fabergé because it shows we can and will protect our interests, even when they extend beyond our core business. This judgment should be a deterrent to prevent future fraudulent attempt at using the Fabergé trademark without the authorisation of Fabergé Limited,” said Fabergé President Robert Benvenuto.

Even before the judge ruled, the restaurant had already covered up its sign, as Sheepshead Bites noted on July 24.

The luxury jewelry designer filed suit in June, claiming that the restaurant’s name and design violated its trademark. They also said that the purple and gold storefront “shamelessly appropriated both the FABERGÉ trademark and Fabergé’s storefront design to impart a luxurious high-end atmosphere for its restaurant.”

The Faberge brand dates back to 1842, and became world famous when they created the first Faberge Imperial Eggs for the Russian Tsar Alexander III. Faberge Lounge opened last year.

faberge

Judging from the photo above, it’s probably fair to say that Faberge Lounge at 2007 Emmons Avenue isn’t doing well in its legal struggle with the Faberge jewelry company, who is suing them for trademark infringement.

The restaurant covered up its signage some time last week, according to tipster Eleonora S. It follows the news that the 159-year-old luxury jewelry company filed suit against the restaurant’s owners in early June, claiming the lounge was using its image and trademarked name in a “shameless” attempt to associate itself with the brand.

The company was also ticked off at the use of Faberge’s iconic purple and gold storefront design, which mimics the ornamental eggs it’s most famous for.

The restaurant’s owners at the time the lawsuit was filed defended themselves saying no one would ever be confused between the two.

“We don’t sell eggs here,” owner Vladislav Yusufova told the New York Post. “We don’t sell jewelry. We sell French food in Sheepshead Bay. I don’t know why they are coming after us. I haven’t broken any laws here in America.”

We called to try and get in touch with the owner to confirm that this was a result of the lawsuit, but no one picked up the phone.

The restaurant opened in September 2013, replacing Fusion. It’s owned by the same people behind Signature, the restaurant next door that replaced Tzar. Tzar and Fusion were both shuttered after Superstorm Sandy flooded the property.

grimm2Congressman Michael Grimm, facing a 20-count indictment on tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices, may now head to trial in October, a month before elections.

SILive reports:

Speaking at a status conference in Brooklyn federal court on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gatta said that motion procedures and hearings in the case could be held by the end of September, with a trial to begin the following month.

… Gatta said that the discovery in the case is “not particularly voluminous” and that the case itself “is fairly straightforward.”

Grimm’s new attorney, Daniel Rashbaum, said that that “schedule may be OK. I don’t know yet.”

He sought a three- or four-week delay so that he could look at the evidence. By then, Rashbaum said, he’d have a better idea “what the discovery looks like in my mind.”

But U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen said she would give Rashbaum, who notified the court last week that he was taking over the defense, two weeks to “dive into the material.”

Prior to the conference yesterday, observers believed Grimm would not go to trial until after the November 4 elections, when he faces off against Democrat Domenic Recchia. If the prosecution’s request for an October court date is granted, it would be a significant blow to the pol, who will have to fight simultaneously for his seat and his freedom.

Source: .v1ctor Casale/Flickr

A tattoo declaring his innocence did little to stop a Brooklyn jury from convicting a man for a 2012 sexual assault in Brighton Beach.

Giorgi Shevardenidze, 27, was found guilty of attacking a woman at the Brighton Beach subway station on July 28, 2012, with prosecutors alleging he grabbed his victim around the neck and mouth from behind, and choked, smothered and groped her.

Before his trial, though, he sought to clear his name with some permanent ink. He appeared in court with a tattoo of a bell on his right hand, with the word’s “I am not guilty” beneath it.

Jurors didn’t take the hint, finding him guilty of aggravated sexual assault after approximately four hours of deliberations. The crime carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Shevardenidze targeted his 22-year-old victim, riding eight stops past his destination to follow her. But Shevardenidze’s lawyers said it was all just a big misunderstanding. Shevardenidze was drunk, took a stumble, and landed on a butt, they argued.

The Daily News reports:

“He targeted this young lady,” prosecutor Olatokunbo Olaniyan told jurors during closing arguments. “He saw that blond hair, he saw that dress and he saw a crime of opportunity.”

Taking the stand Monday, the defendant contended he was bombed after a night of heavy drinking and that he “lost my balance and… accidentally put a hand on her butt.”

He said he got off at that stop to buy weed.

His lawyers argued the woman suffered no injuries and “overreacted” to an innocent encounter.

The New York Post adds that Shevardenidze was arrested on May 19, charged with misdemeanor assault for punching and biting a man in Midwood.

The teaching center's Sheepshead Bay office (Source: Google Maps)

The teaching center’s Sheepshead Bay office (Source: Google Maps)

A former employee of a New York Methodist Hospital teaching facility in Sheepshead Bay has filed a lawsuit against the facility, claiming staff knowingly exposed the public to potential health risks, and terminated her employment when she tried to make it known.

According to the complaint filed earlier this week with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, plaintiff Shagufta Syed alleges that while working as the program director last year at Methodist’s Center for Allied Health Education, School of Radiation Therapy, located at 1401 Kings Highway, she learned that students who had not received a required health clearance — which would entail providing proof of receiving flu and hepatitis shots and being screened for contagious diseases — were “coming into contact with patients who had significantly compromised immune systems as a result of their cancer radiation treatment,” contrary to the Rules and Regulations of the State of New York.

Those students, she claims, worked with patients receiving radiation therapy at Methodist, SUNY Downstate Medial Center, the Brooklyn Hospital Center, LEROS, and the Lutheran Medical Center.

Upon telling one of her supervisors, Syed claims in the lawsuit that she received this response:

“Don’t worry about it. Nothing’s ever done right here.”

The complaint says Syed then reached out to the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology about the situation, and once her Methodist supervisors learned of this, she claims she was fired for doing so.

The complaint further alleges that upon submitting a claim for settlement, Methodist’s lawyers sent a letter claiming they had “documented facts” that could “prove costly” should Syed decide to pursue the litigation, but that those facts were not presented when requested pre-litigation.

Syed is claiming a loss of income from what she says is a wrongful termination, along with emotional distress, and is suing for the sum of $75,000.

“We cannot comment on the lawsuit brought by the individual whose employment was terminated,” Methodist said in a statement responding to the lawsuit. “However, we can assure you that, as required by regulatory agencies and accrediting bodies, our radiation therapy students receive the same health clearances as our employees before they are allowed to enter into clinical rotations.”

– Mary Bakija

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