Archive for the tag 'courts'

Sampson (File photo)

Sampson (File photo)

The U.S. Attorney’s office unveiled an updated indictment of State Senator John Sampson yesterday, growing the list of corruption allegations to include lying to the FBI about actions his office took to benefit a liquor store, of which he held secret ownership.

Politicker reports:

The U.S. Attorney’s office today announced that Mr. Sampson, who once led the Senate Democrats, is accused of “making false statements to FBI agents about directing members of his Senate staff to take actions to benefit a Brooklyn liquor store in which Sampson secretly held an ownership interest.”

According to prosecutors, Mr. Sampson was recorded hiding his stake in an unnamed liquor store in its license application.

“During a series of telephone calls that were captured on the Sampson Wiretap, the defendant … told the Partners that [his] ownership interest should not be disclosed in the Application” today’s indictment reads.

Mr. Sampson was also recorded instructing an anonymous government staffer to help the store deal with outstanding tax obligations. The senator even appeared to be aware of the potential illegalities involved, telling the staffer to “do it on your own cell phone and do it on your own time.”

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch’s office also accuses the senator of lying about the liquor store and his office’s involvement when speaking to federal agents.

An attorney for Sampson sought to downplay the charges, saying the senator has been “fully cooperative” in the investigation and that he “has not betrayed the public trust.”

The Sheepshead Bay portion of Sampson's district, which connects to the remainder of his district via a one block stretch. (Click to enlarge)

The Sheepshead Bay portion of Sampson’s district, which connects to the remainder of his district via a one block stretch. (Click to enlarge)

“After years of investigation and two indictments, the government has not charged Senator Sampson with a crime relating to the misuse of his public office. The new charge in the superseding indictment simply alleges an unrecorded statement to an agent of the FBI, which the government chooses not to believe, with respect to a matter for which the government fails to charge any substantive crime,” the attorney said.

Following redistricting, Sampson’s district grew to represent a huge swath of the heart of Sheepshead Bay, between Avenue Y and Avenue U, from East 14th Street to Knapp Street.

Sampson is already facing charges unveiled in May 2013, after he was recorded by former State Senator Shirley Huntley, who turned into a cooperating witness after pleading guilty to stealing taxpayer money through a nonprofit organization. In the recorded conversation, Sampson allegedly sought Huntley’s advice after being approached by a businessman offering bribes for him in his business at JFK Airport.

Sampson was also accused of stealing $400,000 from the sales of foreclosed homes, and was charged with two counts of embezzlement, five counts of obstruction and two counts of making false statements to the FBI.

It was then alleged that the senator sought to silence witnesses in the case by requesting the witness list from a friend in the U.S. Attorney’s office so that he could “take them out.”

Later that same month, state officials began investigating the fate of more than $39,000 earmarked for a charity for inner city youth. While the taxpayer funds went to the group, the nonprofit was unable to provide records for how it was spent. Shortly after the organization received the funds, its leader and Senator Sampson opened the liquor store mentioned in yesterday’s indictment, Gateway Wine & Spirits, and the charity went defunct. The treasurer of the charity said he was never made aware by the group’s leader or the senators office of the $39,560 grant.

At the time, Sampson’s spokesman said that the senator had withdrawn his stake in the liquor store and that questions about it were “moot.”

The spokesperson also made statements at the time that are contrary to allegations made in yesterday’s indictment.

Times Union reported in 2013:

[The spokesperson] said no law enforcement officials had inquired about the matter.

“Why would they?” He asked. “We’re looking for storms in teacups, I suspect. The senator did what any senator, when their constituents petition them, would do.”

The investigation continued to expand in 2013, with three cases of campaign donations that appeared to vanish from Sampson’s accounts, and allegations that businessmen who lobbied his office were charged retainer fees for duties that are supposed to be part of his job as a legislator.

(Source: GerritsenBeach.net / Flickr)

Elizabeth Villafane, a resident of Coney Island, is claiming in a lawsuit that a New York Police Department officer fired one to two shots at her and her dog, according to a DNAinfo article.

Villafane has three kids and lives in a New York City Housing Authority building. In the lawsuit, Villafane claims that she had been expecting her mom when two officers came to her apartment to execute a warrant and arrest her for a ticket she had received previously for not leashing her dog outside.

Here’s the story from DNAinfo:

“Bubba is a greeter. Every time I open the door, he wants to go out and smell whoever is there,” Villafane told DNAinfo New York.

But the 115-pound hound apparently startled the officer, who ran down the building hallway [when the dog came to the door]. Then Bubba took after the officer, with Villafane chasing after the dog to grab him.

“The worst thing you can do with Bubba is run because he thinks you want to play,” Villafane said.

When a second officer farther down the hallway spotted the canine, he got out his revolver, according to the lawsuit. Seeing the drawn gun, Villafane wrapped her arms around Bubba — but the officer still fired one to two shots at them, the lawsuit says.

The officer missed Villafane and her dog, according to the lawsuit. The suit was filed on December 17 in Brooklyn’s Supreme Court.

State Senator Marty Golden. Photo by Erica Sherman

State Senator Martin Golden is lauding a federal judge’s decision to remove part of New York State’s gun-control law that would’ve limited a handgun’s magazine capacity to seven instead of 10.

“This ruling clears up the one flawed piece of this law, which sets an arbitrary limit on the amount of ammunition for handguns,” Golden said in a press release.

The judge’s ruling was a response to The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and other gun-rights organizations’ lawsuit against the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (NY SAFE Act). The gun rights organizations filed the lawsuit shortly after the act passed in January 2013. Golden voted for the bill at the time, which also requires, among other things, gun dealers to run background checks on people buying ammunition and firearms, but took issue with the magazine limit.

Golden, a former police officer, said that the ruling – which repealed the SAFE Act’s limitation on the amount of bullets in a handgun – would “keep New Yorker’s safe” by allowing retired police officers and legal gun owners to retain those three bullets.

While the federal judge, William Skretny, struck down the ammunition limit, he upheld the rest of the law and found it to respect the people’s constitutional rights.

Golden also agreed with this part of the ruling.

“This decision upholds the most important parts of the SAFE Act, which overall keeps New York State safe from the use of assault weapons,” he said in the statement.

hockejos

There are at least a dozen cameras between these houses.

John Hockenjos successfully won his freedom after fighting a false arrest in 2011, but he remains mired in a legal battle that threatens to see his property turned over to what he says is an unscrupulous developer. This month, a Queens-based state senator joined the battle, saying Hockenjos is another in a long line of victims of malfeasance and incompetence at the Department of Buildings.

Hockenjos and his wife, Irina, have been fighting with their East 23rd Street neighbors Elen and Argo Paumere since June 2009, when the Paumeres purchased the home next to them with plans for an ambitious overhaul. According to the Hockenjoses, red flags flew fast when they were approached to sign documents turning over a two-foot easement to their new neighbor.

They didn’t sign, and that triggered an all-out war between property owners, according to the Hockenjoses, which includes allegations of physical violence, corruption and even involvement in the false arrest. It has also cost them their jobs, their health, and more than $150,000 in legal fees, they say.

“We’re jobless. We’re money-less. Our health was destroyed tremendously. We lost our reputation,” Irina Hockenjos told Sheepshead Bites. “[The neighbors say] we’re criminals in all kind of ways. We’ve sued them in civil court because they’ve said we’re insane, and that John is a Russian mobster and he walks naked in the street.”

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The aftermath of the 2011 shooting, which happened in front of Tatiana’s Restaurant on the Brighton Beach boardwalk.

Iloune Driver, one of two suspected gunmen behind the 2011 Brighton Beach boardwalk shooting that left 16-year-old Tysha Jones dead, has been found guilty and faces 125 years to life behind bars.

Tysha Jones was a junior at Norman Thomas High School and lived in a Harlem apartment with her mother, Cynthia, her brother and sister, according to friends.

Tysha Jones (via Twitter)

Driver, 21, was convicted yesterday for his role in the June 9, 2011, melee, which broke out after two rival gangbangers from the Bloods and Crips exchanged heated words, then opened fire on a boardwalk crowded with teens and beachgoers on the hottest day of the year.

Driver is a former Crips member, and the New York Post reports that he has nine prior busts for gun, drug and robbery charges. He has been convicted on four counts of assault in addition to the second-degree murder charge. Sentencing will take place next month, and he will face 25 years to life for the count of murder, and 25 years for each assault.

None of the five people struck by bullets were believed to be involved in the incident.

“My baby can rest in peace now,” Tysha Jones’ 51-year-old mother, Cynthia, told the Post.

During the trial, Driver’s attorney argued that video  filmed in the immediate aftermath of the shooting provides evidence that flies in the face of the witnesses’ statements that Driver fired from the beach. The video, he said, shows him on the boardwalk, scrambling for cover.

The jury disagreed.

via Daily News

Irina Shelikhova

The 50-year-old leader of a massive $77 million Medicare fraud ring in Southern Brooklyn was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $36,241,545 to the government on Tuesday, announced United States Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Irina Shelikhova was busted at John F. Kennedy airport in June 2012, where she arrived after living on the lam in the Ukraine for two years. After serving her 15-year sentence, followed by three years of supervised release while excluded from Medicare, Medicaid and all federal health programs, she faces deportation.

The bust was a part of a nationwide sweep that was the biggest Medicare fraud bust in American history. Ninety-four people in total were arrested. One of the top prizes for authorities was the break-up of the Shelikhova ring, in which 13 people have been convicted so far.

“Irina Shelikova used fake doctors and forged documents to defraud Medicare out of millions of dollars of very real money. As the owner and operator of three medical clinics, Shelikova engaged in a brazen scheme of fraudulent billing and kickbacks, going so far as to pay kickbacks to elderly patients in exchange for their Medicare numbers and their silence. She relied upon her web of payoffs, kickbacks, and Russian propaganda to support her criminal scheme, but the truth caught up with her and justice has now been served,” said Lynch in a press release.

Shelikhova owned and operated Bay Medical Care, at 8686 Bay Parkway in Bath Beach, which billed Medicare under three different corporate names – Bay Medical Care, Wellcare Medical, and SZS Medical Care.

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Honoring real survivors at a Holocaust Memorial Park ceremony. Photo by Erica Sherman

The ringleader of a $57.3 million fraud scheme that siphoned money from of a Holocaust reparations fund was sentenced to eight years behind bars yesterday, announced United States Attorney Preet Bharara.

Semen Domnitser played a pivotal role in the scheme, prosecutors say, having worked as a caseworker and program director that processed the fraudulent applications in return for kickbacks. Domnitser gave his seal of approval to ineligible recipients, many of whom were born after World War II and at least one that was not even Jewish.

In addition to eight years in prison, Domnitser was sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $59,230 and pay restitution in the amount of $57.3 million.

“As the highest ranking insider to participate in this despicable fraud against the Holocaust Claims Conference, Mr. Domnitser played an integral role in the scheme by processing fraudulent applications to the Conference and turning a profit of thousands of dollars for himself,” said Bharara in a press release. “With today’s sentence, he will be held to account for victimizing Holocaust survivors by diverting funds meant to help them to his own pocket and contributing to this $57 million scheme.”

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The aftermath of the 2011 shooting, which happened in front of Tatiana’s Restaurant on the Brighton Beach boardwalk.

The attorney for 21-year-old Iloune Driver, charged with opening fire on the Brighton Beach boardwalk in 2011, leading to the death of a 16-year-old girl and leaving four others wounded, says that video taken moments after the shooting proves his client’s innocence.

The June 9, 2011, shooting happened as a gunman opened fire on the boardwalk crowded with teens and beachgoers, leaving 16-year-old Tysha Jones, and innocent bystander, dead. Four others were also injured, including a patron of Tatiana Restaurant.

Tysha Jones was a junior at Norman Thomas High School and lived in a Harlem apartment with her mother, Cynthia, her brother and sister, according to friends.

Tysha Jones (Source: Twitter)

The incident is believed to have been sparked when two groups of rival gang members from the Bloods and the Crips exchanged heated words, leading one to draw on the others and open fire.

“That’s what it was all about — gang stupidity,” prosecutor Janet Gleeson told the Daily News.

None of the five struck by wayward bullets were believed to be involved in the incident.

Police apprehended Driver at the nearby subway station. He wasn’t initially charged, according to the News, and named other suspects. A witness later later identified Driver as the shooter in a phone tip to police, leading to charges including second-degree murder.

But according to Driver’s defense attorney, Mario Romano, video filmed in the immediate aftermath of the shooting provides evidence that flies in the face of the witnesses’ statements that Driver fired from the beach. The video, he said, shows him on the boardwalk, scrambling for cover.

Just hours after the shooting, cell phone video from numerous sources began appearing online that captured that aftermath.

You can see more video here and here.

According to the Daily News, there is no ballistic evidence or weapon connecting Driver to the shooting. They note that he is an admitted Crip with the words “True Blue” tattooed on his chest.

Source: Gregory Maizous

Coney Island Hospital (Source: Gregory Maizous)

Workers who were contracted to clean up three New York hospitals, including Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway) received thousands of dollars in back wages, after their employer initially stiffed them. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Signal Restoration Services, a Michigan-based company, underpaid workers toiling in New York City hospitals post-Sandy.

Signal Restoration Services is said to have paid their 500 employees $12-$15 an hour, compared to the prevailing wage of $16.99 an hour and $25.49 an hour for overtime. The Journal described the terms of the settlement:

The Troy, Mich.-based company that contracted to clean up Bellevue Hospital, Coney Island Hospital and Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital in New York City has agreed to pay $466,000 in back wages, $25,000 to the attorney general’s office and $46,000 into an escrow account. The agreement was signed this week.

Good news. Those workers, as well as the staff of Coney Island Hospital in general, had a heck of a job to do after Superstorm Sandy flooded the facility and left Southern Brooklyn’s only major medical center out-of-order. Their work helped get the hospital back online as quick as it did, and they deserve the money they earned.

Source: ragesoss/Flickr

Following the news of Wednesday’s $3.4 million prescription drug bust, the Drug Enforcement Agency and NYPD announced another area bust yesterday afternoon involving 11 members of a drug ring that trafficked in prescription painkillers and cocaine in Sheepshead Bay and Staten Island.

After picking up three suspects earlier this year, and aided by a nine-month wiretap investigation, authorities unraveled a multi-tier prescription drug and cocaine ring that tied together three separate conspiracies across the two boroughs. Among the 11 arrested, five were residents of the Sheepshead Bay area, and one was supplied by the same allegedly crooked doctor picked up in this week’s other big bust.

“This poly drug trafficking confederation operated like a variety store, selling any type of illicit drug they could get their hands on. The joint task force infiltrated their ranks in order to put them out of business,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Crowell.

Keep reading to find out how the ring operated, and who was busted.

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