Archive for the tag 'courts'

Leonid Fridman (Source: Handout via DailyNews.com)

Leonid Fridman (Source: Handout via DailyNews.com)

The boss of a Brighton Beach-based construction firm was convicted of ripping off his own workers, failing to pay them required wages on a job at JFK Airport, and will now have to dole out $200,000 in backpay as part of his sentence.

Leonid Fridman, 60, owns Millenium Commercial Corporation, located at 200 Brighton 15th Street. The company was hired as a subcontractor for tile restoration in the renovation of the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport in 2009 and 2010, where he was required to pay employees prevailing wages on the taxpayer funded project – $50 per hour for laborers and $70 for tile setters. Instead, he doled out as little as $10 per hour, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

To hide the deceit, Fridman made phony documents, including payroll reports and fake paychecks.

“Mr. Fridman is being held accountable for stealing wages from workers who renovated parts of JFK,” said Schneiderman in a statement. “My office will continue to take strong action, including filing criminal charges, against employers who violate New York’s labor laws, steal taxpayer dollars and violate the public trust.”

Fridman pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the second degree, and agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution. He’s also banned from working on public works projects for five years, and is sentenced to five years of probation.

 

Engine where he worked. (Source: Google Maps)

Engine 329 in Queens, where Schreiner worked. (Source: Google Maps)

An FDNY firefighter arrested in 2013 for assaulting a black postal worker while yelling racist slurs was ordered to attend diversity classes and complete an anger management course on Wednesday.

The New York Post reports:

Luke Schreiner, 49, was convicted on misdemeanor attempted assault and harassment raps for his ugly attack on mild-mannered Rene Isidore, 57, in a September bench trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

“A fireman is supposed to save lives. Mr. Schreiner almost ended my life instead,” Isidore said in his victim impact statement.

“He grabbed me by my chest and pulled as if I was an animal.”

Schreiner originally faced a hate crime charge for the assault, which stems from a November 13, 2013 incident, but was acquitted on that charge last month because it was not the motivation for the assault, the judge determined.

“The defendant was upset and he struck [the mailman] because he believed the postal truck grazed his vehicle,” the judge said.

He was suspended for a month after the incident, in which he allegedly smacked Isiidore in the face, broke his sunglasses, and shouted racial slurs at him and a black woman passing by – all in front of his own Gerritsen Beach home.

A previous report from the Post likened the court transcriptions to Django Unchained screenplay, with the N-word repeated numerous times.

“You’re nothing but a f—— n—–! That’s why you work for the Postal Service,” testified postal worker Rene Isidore…

“You’re a n—-r​,​ too!” Schreiner yelled at a black passerby, prosecutor Damani Sims said in his opening statement. “You’re all n—–rs! You’re the color of my s–t!”

Schreiner was ultimately convicted of misdemeanor attempted assault and harassment charges.

The Daily News reports that he has two previous assault arrests, including one for road rage.

Photo by Knightmare6

Photo by Knightmare6

A Brooklyn court ruled that the city was not responsible for the drowning of a 10-year-old girl in 2008, saying that the city is “not an insurer” of the safety of parkgoers.

The case stems from the July 2008 drowning of Akira Johnson, who was swimming with her cousin, also 10, on Coney Island. They became distressed and a nearby lifeguard came to their aid, only saving Johnson’s cousin. The girl, lost to the water, washed ashore days later.

Brooklyn Eagle reports:

The family filed a wrongful death suit against the city with claims of negligence. A lower court judge found merit in the family’s suit and allowed the case to proceed. The higher appeals court, however, acknowledged the city’s responsibility to its park users, but held that the city’s lifeguards did not deviate from its public safety obligations.

Evidence showed that the city “had furnished a sufficient number of lifeguards, that those lifeguards were experienced and competent…that they were adequately trained and properly certified… and that they reacted to the situation in accordance with proper procedure,” the appeals court noted

The victim’s family argued that the training was inadequate as it takes place in a swimming pool.

New York Law Journal reports:

Plaintiff’s attorney Arnold E. DiJoseph argued that the lifeguards were not properly trained to handle rescues in rip currents. “Basically, they are trained in swimming pool rescues,” he said in an interview.

But a unanimous panel of Justices Ruth Balkin, John Leventhal, Joseph Maltese and Betsy Barros held the city had met its duty to maintain the beach in “reasonably safe condition,” citing the lifeguards’ prompt mobilization and the fact that they rescued Akira’s 10-year-old cousin in the same incident. At least six lifeguards responded when they observed the two children in distress.

“[The] city is not an insurer of the safety of the users of its parks, including its beaches,” the court ruled.

Litvin gives “pro” legal tips, discussing how the banks are out to rip you off.

Gennady Litvin / Source: About.me

Gennady Litvin / Source: About.me

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing a local law firm and its namesake attorney, accusing them of running a fraudulent mortgage rescue scheme that ripped off financially vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure.

The attorney general filed suit in New York County Supreme Court yesterday against Midwood-based Litvin Law Firm and Miami-based Litvin, Torrens & Associates, as well as their principal attorney, Gennady Litvin.

Litvin Law Firm is located at 1716 Coney Island Avenue, and Litvin lives in Brooklyn. The firm’s website claims it can provide “foreclosure defense in 31 states across the US,” as does Litvin’s About.me page. Their YouTube page has a handful of testimonial videos from satisfied clients, as well as legal tips from Litvin himself. And radio and TV ads touted connections to “state attorney generals and the federal government.”

But it was all a sham, according to the attorney general.

One of the testimonial videos, claiming that Litvin’s firm successfully eliminated her mortgage in Alabama – even though Litvin was not permitted to practice in Alabama.

The suit claims that the law firms targeted struggling homeowners, then billed them monthly fees ranging from $595 to $750 each for services they would not – and often could not – offer.

Using third-party marketers, the firms picked up clients from across the nation, claiming that they would have a “custom made attorney defense team” that provided “a level of service that usually is only enjoyed by large corporate clients.” They said they’d do “forensic loan audits” to find errors in their mortgage documents and defend against foreclosure, winning concessions from lenders.

In reality, they only had offices in two states and were not permitted to provide foreclosure defense in many of the places where they enrolled clients. Homeowners in most cases never spoke to an attorney, never received representation, and never saw the benefit of the hundreds or thousands of dollars paid to the firms. Most wound up negotiating with lenders on their own, according to the attorney general.

The third-party marketers have already been taken to task by the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to a permanent ban on mortgage and debt relief services and paying $3.6 million to pay back duped clients.

The Litvin Law Firm was given the boot from practicing in Rhode Island in January after that state’s attorney general found he was offering mortgage foreclosure assistance despite not being licensed in that state.

The attorney general is on the lookout for possible victims of Litvin’s scheme. If you believe you were a victim of the Litvin Law Firm; Litvin, Torrens & Associates; or any of its affiliated marketers, or if you believe you were a victim of another mortgage fraud, please file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. Complaint forms are available here. You may also call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

Schneiderman’s office is also reminding beleaguered homeowners of the free services available through the Home Owner Protection Program (HOPP), which uses funds from the National Mortgage Settlement to fund legal services and housing counseling across New York to provide foreclosure prevention services. Consumers can call 855-HOME-456 for help.

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.

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