Archive for the tag 'oceana drive west'

Source: ah zut/Flickr

The founder of digital currency service Liberty Reserve, who once lived in Brighton Beach and whose alleged accomplice lives in the Oceana condominum complex, said that the United States government kicked off a witch hunt against the company’s owners after they refused to turn over the source code for their proprietary system.

Source: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network via Financial Times

The Liberty Reserve bust is being painted by prosecutors as the largest international money laundering case ever prosecuted. Authorities  allege that it was created, structured and operated to help users conduct illegal transactions anonymously, aiding them to launder the proceeds of their crimes. Liberty had more than one million users worldwide and conducted approximately 55 million transactions before it was shut down in May 2013. It served to launder more than $6 billion in suspected proceeds of crimes, including credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography and drug trafficking.

The founders of the service included two Brighton Beach residents, Vladimir Kats and Arthur Budovsky.

Kats, 41, was arrested in May 2013 and pleaded guilty in October to his role in laundering the estimated $6 billion.

Following previous charges against the two for a similar but unrelated operation, Budovsky fled the country to Costa Rica and renounced his American citizenship. There, he incorporated Liberty Reserve. According to US and Costa Rican investigators, Budovsky used shell companies in Costa Rica, Cyprus, Russia, Hong Kong and other countries to hide the business’ operations.

In an internationally coordinated bust, Budovsky was arrested in Spain last year, while others in the case were arrested in Costa Rica and New York and several properties on different continents were raided.

Now, Budovksky is fighting extradition from Spain to the U.S., telling a Madrid court that the investigation is a witch hunt resulting from his refusal to turn over the source code that made their system function.

“I refused. It’s like asking Coca-Cola for their secret formula,” he told the court, according to the Associated Press. “The truth is that the U.S. wants to protect its monopoly on financial transfer platforms.”

He also claims that he sold his share of Liberty Reserve in 2007, and only served as a consultant. According to American authorities, Budovsky was the principal operator of the service, with Kats as his second in command until a falling out in 2009.

File photo

A man is in serious condition after being struck by a snow plow in Brighton Beach.

The incident happened around noon. The man, believed to be in his 60s according to the Daily News, was walking on Oceana Drive West near Brighton Beach Avenue outside of the Oceana Condominium complex when the plow hit him.

Scanner reports indicated the man was pinned under the plow. He has been taken to Coney Island Hospital in serious condition. The NYPD’s Highway units are on the scene investigating the circumstances.

We are awaiting more information from authorities.

UPDATE (1:58 p.m.): Facebook reader Sabina S. tells us that the man has died. We are still awaiting confirmation from official sources

UPDATE (2:04 p.m.): Councilman Chaim Deutsch has followed up, informing Sheepshead Bites that the man did pass away. The councilman is expected to issue a statement shortly, but confirmed that it was a privately operated caterpillar contracted by the Oceana complex for snow removal operations that struck the man.

Our thoughts here at Sheepshead Bites are with the victim’s family

Correction: A previous version of this post indicated that it was confirmed to be a Department of Sanitation vehicle that struck the man. That information, which was live on this site for less than 5 minutes, has been amended.

Photo from the scene, submitted by Sabina S.

Photo from the scene, submitted by Sabina S.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to tips (at) sheepsheadbites (dot) com.

File:Liberty Reserve seizure.png

The screen displayed when attempting to visit Liberty Reserve after the government shut it down in May (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Vladimir Kats, a resident of Brighton Beach’s Oceana condominium complex, admitted to his role as a co-founder of a digital currency service that prosecutors say was favored by crooks, and the black-market banker pleaded guilty for his role in laundering an estimated $6 billion. Prosecutors say it is the largest international money laundering case ever prosecuted.

Kats, 41, pleaded guilty on October 31, according to United States Attorney Preet Bharara, having served as co-founder of Liberty Reserve, a digital currency service that billed itself as the Internet’s “largest payment processor and money transfer system.”

But prosecutors say Liberty was no Paypal. They allege that it was created, structured and operated to help users conduct illegal transactions anonymously, aiding them to launder the proceeds of their crimes. Liberty had more than one million users worldwide and conducted approximately 55 million transactions before it was shut down in May 2013. It served to launder more than $6 billion in suspected proceeds of crimes, including credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography and drug trafficking.

“As a co-founder and operator of Liberty Reserve, Vladimir Kats served as a global banker for criminals, giving them an anonymous, online forum to hide the proceeds of their illegal and dangerous activities,” said Bharara in a press release. “With his guilty plea today, we take a significant step toward punishing those responsible for creating and running this international den of cybercrime.”

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Kristina Zelinsky (Source: Facebook.com)

Kristina Zelinsky (Source: Facebook.com)

Prosecutors today announced the indictment of Kristina Zelinsky, a 34-year-old resident of Brighton Beach’s Oceana condominium development, for allegedly scamming $25,000 in Medicaid benefits while living a life of luxury.

According to the indictment, Zelinsky lied on forms to skim off a measly $25,000 over 10 years while she lived in a luxurious penthouse condo, went on shopping sprees for top fashion items, drove expensive foreign cars, and enjoyed pricey trips to Las Vegas.

Zelinsky's mugshot (Source: Brooklyn DA)

Zelinsky’s mugshot (Source: Brooklyn DA)

Prosecutors say Zelinsky filed for Medicaid in 2003, claiming that she had no income and that her husband only made $22,000 annually. Successful in enrolling in the program, she continued to file annually for the next 10 years, always listing income amounts that maintained Medicaid benefits for herself, her husband and their two children.

But while she was crying poverty to the government, she was living the high life, according to the indictment. Zelinsky purchased one of Oceana’s glitzy penthouse apartments in 2007 with a mortgage of $850,000. Condos in the development at the time were selling for as much as $2 million.

“When a person such as Ms. Zelinsky lives in luxury and owns vehicles that most people only see in movies, New York State taxpayers should not finance her health care,” said James C. Cox, the Medicaid Inspector General. “This indictment should serve as a warning for others who are involved in—or considering—schemes that defraud the Medicaid system, to reconsider their actions.”

Zelinsky was also far from dependent on her husband for cash, according to investigators. She owns a business, Kristy Billing and Collection, and had several personal bank accounts whose deposits far exceeded the maximum amount permitted for Medicaid recipients.

In 2008, for example, she made personal deposits averaging  $4,600 a month, and in 2009 made average monthly deposits of $10,600. Meanwhile, Medicaid limits during those years were $2,650 and $2757, respectively.

Additionally, investigators say credit card records for Zelinsky show that while she was enrolled in Medicaid, she shopped at Jimmy Choo, Juicy Couture, and Las Vegas-area hotels and restaurants. Investigators also uncovered luxury cars including an Aston Martin, Porsche and a BMW in Zelinksy’s name.

The Brooklyn District Attorney has charged Zelinksy with welfare fraud in the third degree, grand larceny in the third degree, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. She faces up to seven years in prison.

Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

The New York City Parks Department began installing temporary bathrooms on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Brighton Beach this week after construction snafus and community opposition plagued a plan for a permanent comfort station by the Oceana condominium complex. But the city says it’s still going through with its long-term plan to place the elevated bathrooms in “New Brighton,” meaning the installation is hardly a victory despite the claims of local leaders.

The $2 million pod-like bathrooms, elevated to heights recommended by FEMA to withstand future flood conditions, first began appearing on the boardwalk in May. A planned potty in front of the Oceana luxury condominium complex (50 Oceana Drive West) brought outrage from residents who said the bathrooms would block their million-dollar views and attract homeless people and rowdy teenagers. The Parks Department shrugged off the complaints, despite opposition from pols including Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and District Leader Ari Kagan, the latter a candidate for City Council.

As the project moved forward, construction crews struck upon bedrock while driving support pilings into the ground, forcing them to alter plans. Opponents also filed a lawsuit that heads to court later this month.

Parks then announced they would install temporary bathrooms on the boardwalk at Coney Island Avenue in order to provide service to the community. The stations were delivered Monday night.

News of the temporary stations was met with cries of victory from the elected officials who sided with Oceana residents.

“I’m pleased that the Parks Department listened to residents who wanted the comfort stations moved elsewhere. This is a victory for the community, but more important, beachgoers will finally have comfort stations in a busy and accessible location,” Cymbrowitz said in a press release touting the achievement.

Likewise, in a release about improving lighting and safety conditions on the Brighton Beach end of the boardwalk, Kagan claimed victory over the “new” location.

“We are happy the city has listened to the community with regards to the bathroom,” Kagan said.

Cymbrowitz added that the temporary location was a “win-win” for all involved, saying that Parks was responsive to a letter he wrote the mayor asking that the temporary location be moved away from Oceana.

Parks, though, told Sheepshead Bites that the long-term plan is still the same: to place permanent structures at “New Brighton” – the location of the Oceana complex. Moreover, a spokesperson added, the decision to place temporary structures near Coney Island Avenue had little to do with local opposition: it was simply the most logical place to put them while construction was underway on the permanent location.

“Due to the ongoing construction to prepare for the permanent bathroom facility at the New Brighton site, Parks selected Coney Island Avenue as a logical alternative site for the temporary facilities until the New Brighton site is complete,” said Parks spokesperson Meghan Lalor.

The modular pod unit is currently at a staging site on Brighton 15th Street, where it will remain until it’s ready to be installed at the permanent site at New Brighton.

Source: Igor Khodzinskiy via Daily News

As the city rushes to repair the beach and boardwalk after Superstorm Sandy in time for Memorial Day, Brighton Beach and Coney Island residents are getting fired up over late night construction, and now they’re planning a protest.

The city is making repairs to the boardwalk and beach, as well as improvements like three new public restrooms and lifeguard stations. But residents say that work, including thunderous pile driving, is being done as late as 3:00 a.m.

Daily News reports:

“It’s this constant banging deep into the ground. It’s like a boom sound,” said Marian Rosenfarb, 79, who lives a block away from the beach. “With this noise I don’t know if I’ll reach 80.”

Rosenfarb says the vibrations from the construction causes her building to shake. the noise is impossible to drown out, she added.

… Three new buildings are being constructed along the boardwalk, at West 2nd St, Brighton 2nd St. and New Brighton St.

The modern modular structures – which are also being added in Queens and Staten Island – will replace old lifeguard stations and public bathrooms that were destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.

All three stations will be wheel chair accessible, designed with green features like solar power and skylights, and constructed above flood levels.

Pile driving into the sand is expected to last until next week and the new structures should be completed by the start of beach season.

“Work is going on 24 hours a day in order to finish the project as quickly as possible,” said spokeswoman Meghan Lalor.

“While we acknowledge that this may present an inconvenience, we ask for the community’s patience while this important restoration work is being done.”

Residents, though, are not happy with mere acknowledgement. They want the city to cut out the late night work, and the noise it generates.

Neighbors in the Oceana condominium complex (50 Oceana Drive West) are organizing a rally this Sunday, April 7, at noon on the boardwalk at Coney Island Avenue. The rally isn’t just against the construction; the residents of the posh complex are hoping to kill plans to install a new public bathroom in what they claim is their yard.

“No one ever gave a thought that there is no need to build yet another filthy anti-sanitary condition in our front yards. In the past this bathroom attracted many strangers and caused much destruction to the neighborhood,” resident Ella Rabinovich wrote to Sheepshead Bites.

Residents have also organized a petition, which they’ve sent to the Parks Department. Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz also sent a letter to the Parks Department in opposition to placing the bathrooms by Oceana.

Red Arrow Indicates Versace Obession At Swanky Brighton Beach Penthouse via ny.curbed.com

NY Curbed keeps us up to date on the most extremely luxurious and outrageous Brighton pads up for sale and today they have a brand new one to ogle at. In fact, it may just be the most ridiculous one yet.

Located at Oceana Drive West for a hefty sum of $1.57 million, this condo is littered with Versace design points. Versace covers everything in this place; the flooring, the textiles and the showers. I thought Versace was a fashion designer or something, not a decorator, but whatever.

The main vibe I get from skimming through all the pics of this place is that it may be the real life home of the “Opulence, I has it” guy. Now, where’s the Versace Petite Lap Giraffe?