Archive for the tag 'district attorney'

The official Ocean Avenue address of Merkaz, which is also Fetman's home address and an organization under his control, through which he allegedly embezzled the funds. (Source: Google Maps)

The official Ocean Avenue address of Merkaz, which is also Fetman’s home address and an organization under his control, through which he allegedly embezzled the funds. (Source: Google Maps)

The chief financial officer of Manhattan-based nonprofit Aish HaTorah, Jacob Fetman, of Midwood, was charged yesterday with embezzling more than $237,000 from the international Jewish outreach organization through another non-profit under his control.

According to District Attorney Ken Thompson’s office, Fetman routed the organization’s donations through three separate Aish bank accounts that he controlled. From November 2010 to August 2013, he allegedly transferred $922,931.74 of that money to a bank account for Merkaz, a religious organization whose official address is shared with Fetman’s Ocean Avenue home, and which he runs, according to prosecutors. Merkaz is not a part of Aish in any way.

He then bounced some of the money back to Aish – $685,454.43 – a net loss to the organization of $237,477.31, said Thompson’s office.

Aish is one of the largest international outreach organizations in the world, with 30 branches on five continents. Established in 1974, it encourages Jewish people to reconnect with their faith and culture. The organization operates seminars, produces events for Jewish singles, provides education and training to local faith groups and publishes, a leading website for Jewish-related lifestyle and religious content.

Fetman, 45, served as the organization’s CFO for 17 years. Fetman was terminated when Aish officials discovered the banking irregularities.

“This defendant abandoned his duty to safeguard Aish HaTorah’s finances and allegedly stole $237,477 in charitable donations from this venerable non-profit organization. He will now be held accountable,” said Thompson in a press release.

DA Ken Thompson

Cops charged a Sheepshead Bay man and Mill Basin man on Thursday, claiming that investigators  recovered more than 240 videos depicting children in sexual performances, including one video of a child in diapers.

The busts were made public by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson on Friday, following the arraignment of Harvey Epstein, 68, of Homecrest Avenue in Sheepshead Bay and John DeCotis, 70, of East 51st Street in Mill Basin. The two face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

“It is shocking that anyone, particularly men who are 68 and 70 years old, would watch and collect such sick images,” Thompson said in a statement. “The children in these videos are real children who are being sexually abused to satisfy deviants who troll the internet. I am committed to fighting child exploitation and honored to have dedicated detectives in my Investigations Bureau who work tirelessly to protect innocent children.”

The busts were made after a detective from the DA’s office was given the go-ahead to prusue a “peer to peer” investigation, using file-sharing software. The software allows those sharing digital media on a network to see the downloaded files of any other other computer on the network. The detective snagged two IPs that had downloaded videos of boys and girls engaging in sex acts with adult men and women, allowing them to follow up with the internet service providers and obtain the addresses of those users.

Acting on a search warrant, cops seized a white tower computer at Epstein’s Homecrest Avenue apartment, on which they found 221 video files depicting children in sex acts with adults, including one child still wearing diapers. He was charged with 221 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child, and ordered held on bail of $5,000 bond or $1,000 cash.

At DeCotis’ East 51st Street home, cops seized a Dell computer on which they found 21 videos of child sexual performances, including one of a young girl dressed provocatively and engaging in sex acts with an adult. The defendant admitted to detectives that he had downloaded 50 to 100 videos over the last five or six years, the DA’s office said. He was charged with 21 counts of possessing child pornography and ordered held on $7,500 bail.

Epstein is due back in court in December, while DeCotis’ is due back in April.

Approximately 1.8 million adolescents have been the victims of sexual assault in the United States, according to the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center. The CDC estimates that one in six boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Warning signs of possible sexual abuse of a child include sudden mood swings, unusual fear of people or places, and “clues” that seem likely to provoke discussion about sexual issues. You can find out more about identifying signs of sexual abuse in children – and warning signs that suggest someone is sexually abusing a child – at this U.S. Department of Justice fact page.


Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson will be in Coney Island tomorrow night to hear residents’ concerns about safety and the justice system.

The summit is open to any and all Brooklyn residents, and will be a town-hall style, allowing attendees to ask questions of the borough’s top prosecutor and share their concerns. It’s the second such event Thompson has done, following one in Brownsville over the summer.

The meeting will take place at Liberation Diploma Plus High School, 2865 West 19th Street. It begins at 6:30pm and lasts until 9pm.


Gnomiki Day Care at 2221 Ocean Avenue, which was closed due to its history of violations. Its sister site at 2623 Ocean Avenue has been recommended for closure as well. (Source: Google Maps)

The operators of nine child care facilities – seven in Brooklyn and two in Staten Island – were charged last Friday with submitting false documents to the city to cover up a slew of health and safety problems, according to Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation Mark Peters, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, and Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, Jr.

At the centers, which served about 400 children, investigators said they found a long list of egregious conditions, including rat droppings, poison, a mountain of trash, and a fire alarm falling off the wall, the Daily News reported. Additionally, the DOI said they discovered owners had submitted fake educational degrees, forged medical records, and falsified letters stating employees had been trained in child abuse identification.

The city recently closed four of the centers:

  • Gnomiki Day Care, Inc., 2221 Ocean Avenue, closed due to the site’s violation history, city officials said.
  • Next to Home, 1123 Flatbush Avenue, was shuttered due to a city Department of Buildings vacate order issued in response to multiple DOB and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene violations.
  • Next to Home, 1159 Flatbush Avenue was closed because investigators said the program had been operating under an expired DOB certificate of occupancy.
  • One of a Kind Child Care, 6318 Amboy Road, Staten Island, ended operations after DOHMH petitioned to revoke the permit.

At the remaining five sites:

  • Next to Home, 5566 Kings Highway, was “never leased and never provided services to children,” the DOI said
  • ABC Little Star, 2345 85th Street, is still operating and city officials said DOHMH inspected it this week, finding no new violations.
  • Gnomiki Day Care, Inc., Group Family Day Care, 2623 Ocean Avenue, has been recommended for closure.
  • Next to Home, 353 Ocean Avenue, closed after the owner stopped operations, city officials said.
  • One of a Kind Child Care, a group family daycare operating at 6306 Amboy Road in Staten Island, is operating, but the owner that was arrested will be excluded from the program, officials said.

The site owners who were arrested were:

  • Viktoriya Federovich, 38, of Brooklyn, was the owner of Gnomiki Day Care, Inc. She was charged with presenting fraudulent documents to the city, including two Certificates of Completion for Identification and Reporting of Child Abuse and Maltreatment for an assistant teacher and a volunteer, the DOI said.
  • Elena Kaplan, 53, of Brooklyn, was the owner ABC Little Star Day Care, and, according to the DOI’s investigation, she allegedly submitted a number of false documents to the city, including a a fake public school teacher certificate for herself and state Nurses Association Certificates of Completion for various members of the staff confirming they had received training in identifying child abuse, when, in fact, they allegedly had not, the city officials said.
  • Owen Larman, 41, of Brooklyn, a convicted felon who was found guilty of operating a $12 million mortgage fraud scheme in 2007 and who was also charged in this case with stealing close to $60,000 in public funds. He was the owner and operator of Next to Home Child Care, which provided services at three locations in the borough. Next to Home also obtained a registration to operate a fourth child care program at 5566 Kings Highway, but the DOI said this site did not actually provide any services.
  • Gina Schiavo, 44, of Staten Island, was the owner of One of a King Child Care. According to the DOI, she allegedly introduced an individual to a DOHMH inspector under another teacher’s name and fraudulently provided documents with the name and qualifications of the teacher. When the inspector questioned the individual about her identity, Schiavo allegedly admitted that the individual was using another person’s name.

“These defendants forged and falsified documents in order to cover up safety risks and steal money intended for actual child care, as charged,” Peters said in a prepared statement. “Our investigations underscore the importance of continuing to vigorously police the integrity of the city’s child care systems, an effort that is very much continuing.”

In his statement to the press, Thompson too issued harsh words for the defendants.

“Each day parents throughout the city count on child care providers to protect the safety of their children,” he said. “It is disgraceful that greedy operators would circumvent safety provisions for their own benefit. Our parents and children deserve better and that’s why we worked so closely with the Department of Investigation on these cases.”

The Midwood building where Hussein beat his wife to death. (Source: Google Maps)

The Midwood building where Hussein beat his wife to death. (Source: Google Maps)

Noor Hussein, 75, was sentenced yesterday to 18 years to life for beating his 66-year-old wife to death in their Midwood home in 2011 after she cooked him the wrong meal.

Hussein was convicted of second degree murder last month, when a jury found him guilty of viciously beating his wife Nazar as she lay in bed, most likely asleep. The assault caused massive head trauma that led to a fatal brain hemorrhage, according to expert testimony during the trial. The medical examiner determined she had been struck more than 20 times.

When he was arrested, Hussein told police that he “disciplined” his wife earlier in the night because she cooked a meal that wasn’t to his satisfaction, but that she went to bed unharmed. Neighbors, however, testified that they had witnessed Hussein abuse his wife for years.

“This defendant viciously attacked his wife as she lay in bed, unable to defend herself. The judge has spoken and now the defendant has been held accountable for this brutal and cowardly act,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson in a press release.

Are you a victim of domestic violence, or believe you have friends, family or neighbors who may be? The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence has a number of resources to assist victims. Get help now.

Borgella, left, and Evans, right.

Borgella, left, and Evans, right.

Convicted murderer Woody Borgella has been sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison for the 2011 shooting death of his live-in girlfriend in their Midwood apartment.

A jury convicted Borgella, 31, earlier in March for shooting Lora Ann Evans in the chest, killing her. Borgella and Evans, a former porn actress turned self-help writer, had a short and tumultuous relationship that came to a head on September 19, 2011, when Borgella ended a financial dispute with gunfire.

“This defendant killed a woman in cold blood and casually walked away without looking back. Now that he will be spending the next 15- years or more behind bars, walking away from what he did will not be an option,” said District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, in a statement.

Borgella was convicted for murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon.

According to the district attorney, Borgella and Evans were in a heated argument. Evans was on the bed, armed with a knife, struggling to keep Borgella at bay. A roommate heard the commotion and entered the room to break up the fight when Borgella drew a gun and shot Evans once in the chest, killing her.

Borgella fled on foot and ditched the gun behind a neighboring building. He remained on the run for two days before turning himself in to the 70th Precinct.

The convicted killer told the jury that he never intended to kill Evans, and that he was defending himself from his knife-wielding beau.

“I was just scared for my life,” he said while on the stand, according to a report by Brooklyn News Service.

The outlet reported that Borgella met Evans in June 2011, when Evans was unemployed and homeless. He invited her to move into the 1506 Ocean Avenue apartment he shared with two childhood friends.

Before moving to Brooklyn, Evans worked in the adult film industry under the names Lori Alexia and Penna Piererra. She quit the industry in 2009 to pursue a music career, and also launched a self-help website.

After the shooting, cops told reporters that Borgella had been named as the attacker on three separate domestic violence reports, although none related to Evans. He also had five prior arrests for drug possession, robbery, assault and theft.

Thompson (Source:

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced the launch of a Public Integrity Hotline this week, giving Brooklynites a place to call to report public corruption.

“My office is committed to rooting out public corruption in Brooklyn, and we take every complaint about corruption seriously. For that reason, I created a dedicated Public Integrity Hotline to encourage people to come forward with information about government wrongdoing,” said Thompson in a press release.

The DA’s Public Integrity Bureau will review complaints received through the hotline involving allegations of bribery, malfeasance by elected officials and public servants, election fraud, corruption of government contracting process, as well as fraud, waste and abuse of government programs and funds.

Anyone with information about government corruption is encouraged to call the Public Integrity Hotline at (718) 250-2747. People also have the option of filling out a Public Integrity Complaint Form on the Brooklyn DA’s website.

The launch of the hotline comes after a wave of scandals in recent years, including the conviction and imprisonment of Sheepshead Bay State Senator Carl Kruger, who was busted for accepting as much as $1 million in bribes. Senator John Sampson is currently under scrutiny for a number of alleged abuses of his office, including misusing funds and stealing money from the sale of foreclosed homes.

Source: wmfawmfa/Flickr

Area resident Petr Murmylyuk was sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiring to hack into retail brokerage accounts and execute sham trades, the U.S. Attorney announced on Friday.

Murmylyuk, who also went by the name Dmitry Tokar, pleaded guilty in July 2013 to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He had previously pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft and tax fraud for a separate but related scheme.

According to prosecutors, Murmylyuk admitted to his role in conspiring to steal from online trading accounts at Scottrade, E*Trade, Fidelity and others wit the aid of foreign nations visiting, studying and living in the United States.

Here’s how the scheme went down, according to prosecutors:

Members of the conspiracy first gained unauthorized access to the online accounts of brokerage firm customers. The conspirators then used stolen identities to open additional accounts – referred to in the Information as “Profit Accounts” – at other brokerage houses. They then caused the victims’ accounts to make unprofitable and illogical securities trades with the Profit Accounts, leading to losses in the victims’ accounts and gains in the Profit Accounts. One version of the fraud involved causing the victims’ accounts to sell options contracts to the Profit Accounts, then to purchase the same contracts back minutes later for many times the price.

The members of the conspiracy recruited foreign nationals visiting, studying, and living in the United States to open bank accounts into which illegal proceeds could be deposited. The conspirators then caused the proceeds of the sham trades to be transferred from the Profit Accounts into those accounts, where the stolen money could be withdrawn.

In addition to the prison term, Murmylyuk is ordered to serve three years of supervised release, and pay restitution of $505,357.79.

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.”


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.

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