Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces the Creation of New Gender-Based Violence Division

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces the
Creation of New Gender-Based Violence Division

Will Include Domestic Violence, Sex Crimes, Human Trafficking, Victim Services and More;
Led by Experienced Prosecutor and National Expert on Intimate Partner Violence

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the creation of the Gender- Based Violence Division, which includes the Domestic Violence and Sex Crimes Bureaus, the Human Trafficking, Crimes Against Children and Victim Services Units, Family Justice Center operations and the U-Visa practice that allows non-citizen crime victims to remain lawfully in the United States. Cases handled by the new Division share common evidentiary issues, require a trauma-informed, victim-centered response and benefit from a unified, and not siloed, management. Assistant District Attorney Michelle Kaminsky will lead the Division in a newly created executive position.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Improving the way we approach gender-based violence has long been a goal of my administration and creating this new Division will go a long way toward achieving that. The same trauma-informed and survivor-centered approach is necessary when handling cases of sexual abuse, intimate partner violence or trafficking, and when providing support to survivors. I am confident that under this new structure and with guidance from a nationally recognized expert and veteran prosecutor, the Brooklyn DA’s Office will be able to better assist victims and more effectively bring offenders to justice.”

The District Attorney said that he is creating the Division in response to intersectionality of issues that the various Bureaus and Units share, the common evidentiary themes in their cases, and the critical need for a unified, coordinated and consistent response to the various federal and state remedies that are available to survivors of gender-based violence. In addition, victims of domestic violence or trafficking may also be victims of sex crimes.

Creating the new Division is also a response to the critical need to elevate the issue of gender-based violence, especially due to recently enacted regressive policies towards women and their bodily autonomy on the national level and the statistical link between gun violence and domestic violence. A review of data from the last five years in Brooklyn showed that 20% of gun offenders have a domestic violence history (an undercount, given that the analysis could not include sealed cases). The Division will also handle cases that fall under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, which provides for more lenient sentences and post-conviction relief to those who committed crimes while in a domestic violence relationship that was found to be a contributing factor as to why they committed the crime.

The District Attorney said that ADA Kaminsky is exceptionally well-suited to lead this important work. After joining the DA’s Office following her graduation from Brooklyn Law School, she has served the people of Brooklyn for three decades with incredible skill, compassion, and fairness. She most recently served as Chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau – the largest bureau in the Office – supervising the prosecution of approximately 10,000 cases per year. These cases are often among the most gut-wrenching and also the most legally challenging.

ADA Kaminsky is a sought-after expert, lecturing at conferences nationwide on the legal response to domestic violence. In 2012, she published a book on her experiences handling these cases which continues to be used in college and law school classes, and she is recognized as a leading voice on legislation and policy, working with the Obama and Biden Administrations. A respected trial attorney, she has tried 39 cases, including 20 domestic violence homicides. Many of these cases involved challenging defenses, including extreme emotional disturbance, battering and its effects, alcohol induced dementia, and self-defense. Among many significant cases, she tried a man who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in Brooklyn Bridge Park in a case that relied on cell site data and evidence from Facebook.

 

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Brooklyn Mother Indicted for Killing her Three Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, October 6, 2022

 

Brooklyn Mother Indicted for Killing her Three Children

Allegedly Drowned Children in the Ocean off the Coney Island Boardwalk

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn woman has been indicted on first-degree murder and related charges for allegedly drowning her three children – who were 3 months old, 4-years-old, and 7-years-old – in the ocean near their home in Coney Island.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These innocent young children had their entire lives ahead of them when their own mother allegedly drowned and left them on a Coney Island beach. This is a shocking and unspeakable crime, and with this prosecution, we will seek justice.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Erin Merdy, 30, of Coney Island, Brooklyn. She was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which she is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and nine counts of second-degree murder. The defendant is facing a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole if convicted of the top count. She is being held without bail and was ordered to return to court on November 30, 2022.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on September 12, 2022, at approximately 12:37 a.m., the defendant allegedly took her three kids – Zachary Merdy, 7, Liliana Stephens Merdy, 4, and Oliver Bondarev, 3 months – to the beach near West 35th Street in Coney Island and drowned them in the ocean.

At approximately 1:25 a.m., she began walking from the beach, alone, towards the apartment of the father of the youngest child, located in Brighton Beach, over two miles away. The defendant called family members upset, and when she would not answer questions regarding the whereabouts of her children, relatives and the father went to look for her and called 911.

The police initiated a search and, at about 4:30 a.m., located the children, who were unresponsive and wet, on the shoreline near West 35th Street. They were pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital. When the defendant’s family members found her in Brighton Beach wet and barefoot, she repeatedly said that the children were gone and that she was sorry, according to the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Ernest Chin, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jhounelle Cunningham, also of the Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini, Homicide Bureau Chief.

 

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Killing Brooklyn Father Over Stolen Baseball Cap in Flatbush

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, September 19, 2022

 

Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Killing Brooklyn Father
Over Stolen Baseball Cap in Flatbush

Defendant Fatally Shot the Victim in the Back After Confrontation

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Flatbush man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for fatally shooting a 38-year-old father after he retrieved a baseball cap that members of the defendant’s gang had robbed from his son days earlier.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This was a senseless, cold-blooded shooting of a family man walking away after retrieving his son’s stolen cap. Now he has lost his life, and his family lost their loved one. With today’s sentence, the defendant will spend many years behind bars as a consequence of his actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Adonis Barnett, 22, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. The defendant was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Raymond Rodriguez to 25 years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision. He was convicted of first-degree manslaughter last April following a jury trial. The defendant was convicted of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon at an earlier trial and is awaiting sentencing on that charge.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on August 3, 2016, at approximately 10:18 p.m., near the basketball courts outside of P.S. 6, in the vicinity of Snyder and Bedford Avenues, the defendant shot the victim, Gerald Cummings, once in the back and once in the back of the head. The victim had approached the defendant, who was 16 at the time, and another teen who had robbed his son’s ‘Don C’ Oakland Raiders leather and snakeskin baseball cap, on July 29, 2016. The cap was valued at several hundred dollars.

On the night of the shooting, witnesses saw the defendant with an individual who was wearing the distinct stolen cap prompting the victim’s 17-year-old son to call his father for assistance. When the victim arrived and got his son’s hat back, the defendant brandished a gun and fired three times at the victim as the victim was walking away, striking him twice, the evidence showed.

The victim died at Kings County Hospital as a result of gunshot wounds.

Assistance with the prosecution of the case was provided by Jannette Ayala, paralegal supervisor of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Sherleese Adams, paralegal of the Homicide Bureau. Detective Investigators also contributed assistance.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Daphney Gachette, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Chow Yun Xie, Deputy Bureau Chief, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Brownsville Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Gun Trafficking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

 

Brownsville Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Gun Trafficking

Co-Defendant, a Former MTA Subway Conductor, Sentenced to Five Years for Role in Ring That Transported Dozens of Dangerous Weapons into Brooklyn for Sale via the Iron Pipeline

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brownsville man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a gun trafficking ring that transported dozens of illegal firearms from South Carolina and Virginia for sale on the streets of Brooklyn. A second defendant has been sentenced to five years in prison in connection with the case while a third defendant has pleaded guilty to criminal sale of a firearm and is awaiting sentencing.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant trafficked dozens of dangerous weapons to sell on Brooklyn streets where they would have undoubtedly contributed to violence. Thankfully, they were intercepted due to the hard work of the NYPD and my prosecutors. This investigation highlights our commitment to ending gun violence in our communities and punishing those responsible for the proliferation of illegal firearms.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Montoun Hart, 50, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. Hart was sentenced today to 15 years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice following his guilty plea in July to first-degree criminal sale of a firearm.

A second defendant, Vernal Douglas, 51, of Flatlands, Brooklyn, was sentenced in August to five years in prison by Justice Del Giudice following his guilty plea on June 14, 2022 to second-degree criminal sale of a firearm.

A third defendant, Ira Jones, 44, of South Boston, Virginia, pleaded guilty on August 15 to third-degree criminal sale of a firearm. He is expected to be sentenced on September 16, 2022.

A fourth defendant, Christopher Hodges, 34, of Walterboro, South Carolina, is charged with first-degree criminal sale of a firearm. His case is pending, and his next court appearance is September 23, 2022

The District Attorney said the investigation spanned from October 2019 to October 2020 and began on information obtained about Hart acting as a gun merchant in Brownsville.

Over the course of the investigation, Hart allegedly conducted a total of 27 controlled gun buys with undercover officers, selling a total of 44 firearms.

Among the numerous firearms recovered were two assault weapons: a German Sport Guns .22 caliber rifle and a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol, as well as a Ruger .44 caliber revolver, a Smith & Wesson .357 caliber revolver, a Springfield Armory 9mm pistol, a Taurus 9mm, a Glock .380 caliber, a Glock 9mm, and a Ruger P89 9mm pistol.

The investigation found that all three of Hart’s suppliers operated independently from one another, but their individual practices were similar: once a supplier obtained a firearm, he would tell Hart the make, model and price via telephone, and often send a photo of it. Hart then passed the details on to his customers (i.e., the undercovers) and scheduled the sale. All of the sales occurred within a block of Hart’s residence in Brooklyn.

Douglas, who at the time was employed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a subway conductor, obtained firearms during trips to South Carolina where he has an address. Douglas also asked his sources in South Carolina to send him firearms via the mail.

According to the investigation, Ira Jones, who lived and operated out of South Boston, Virginia, also traveled up to New York with firearms for Hart to sell in Brooklyn.

Finally, it is alleged, Christopher Hodges, who lives in and operates out of Walterboro, South Carolina, accumulated firearms from a variety of sources and then traveled up to New York via a Chinatown bus company to transfer the firearms to Hart.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Danny Grandstaff of the NYPD’s Firearms Suppression section, under the supervision of Sergeant Matthew Griffin and the overall supervision of Inspector Brian Gill.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Bureau Chief Gillian DiPietro and Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicholas J. Batsidis, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Kate Spota, Deputy Bureau Chief, Jennifer Cilia, First Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Alfred DeIngeniis, Chief.

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East New York Man Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison For Attempted Sex Trafficking of 15-Year-Old Girl

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

 

East New York Man Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison
For Attempted Sex Trafficking of 15-Year-Old Girl

Defendant Forced Victim to Engage in Prostitution,
Perform Sex Acts in a Series of Underground Strip Clubs

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an East New York man has been sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to the attempted sex trafficking of a child. The defendant forced a 15-year-old girl to work as a prostitute and perform sex acts, including in a series of underground strip clubs.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant exploited and raped a vulnerable 15- year-old girl and then trafficked her for money in exchange for sex. Today’s sentence holds this violent sexual predator accountable for his despicable crime and sends a strong message to anyone who would exploit a child in this way that they will face serious consequences.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Bryant Entzminger, 42, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo to eight years in prison and seven years’ post-release supervision. He must also register as a sex offender. The defendant pleaded guilty to attempted sex trafficking of a child on July 27, 2022.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on October 13, 2020, the defendant, who was a passenger in a car, approached the victim as she was walking near Avenue J and invited her to his home. He asked her name and age and then instructed her that her name was “Chocolate Dior” and that she was 21. The victim was taken to the defendant’s home in East New York where the defendant and two other men had intercourse with the victim.

The defendant dressed the victim in a suggestive outfit and took photos of her to use in online advertisements to arrange dates during which the victim engaged in various sex acts with men in exchange for money.

Between October 13 and October 25, 2020, the defendant took the victim to underground strip clubs where she was made to dance, strip and engage in various sex acts with men in exchange for money. The defendant also brought the victim to the track in East New York as well as various hotels and apartments where she would engage in intercourse for money. In all these instances, the victim collected the money and gave it directly to the defendant, who supplied the victim with marijuana, cocaine, cigarettes, and alcohol.

In the late evening of October 24, 2020, the victim was able to contact a friend who called her sister, who contacted the New York City Police Department. In the interim, the victim managed to escape on October 25, 2020.
The case was investigated by Detective Elizabeth Gonzalez of the New York City Police Department’s Human Trafficking Squad, under the supervision of Sergeant Robert Duplessis, Lieutenant Amy Capogna and Captain Thomas Milano.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Mary E. Monahan of the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit and Assistant District Attorney Sabeeha Madni, Deputy Unit Chief, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau.

 

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Unlicensed Contractor Indicted for Stealing More Than $192,000 From Windsor Terrace Homeowners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

 

Unlicensed Contractor Indicted for Stealing More Than $192,000
From Windsor Terrace Homeowners

Allegedly Took Money for Work That Was Not Done,
Used Funds for Personal Expenses Including Debts, Travel and Restaurants

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a New Jersey man has been indicted on a charge of grand larceny for allegedly taking $192,675 from a Windsor Terrace couple who hired him to perform extensive renovations to their two-family home. No work was performed by the defendant, who is an unlicensed contractor.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This unlicensed contractor allegedly scammed a family out of a large sum of money, never performed the work he was paid to do, and we will now seek to hold him accountable. I urge anyone hiring a home improvement contractor to check that they are properly licensed by and in good standing with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Stephen Achille, 40, of Tinton Falls, New Jersey. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny. The defendant was released without bail and ordered to return to court on October 19, 2022.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, in April 2019 the victims purchased a two-family house in Windsor Terrace with plans to renovate it and create a three-story house with two apartments – one for their family and the other for their relatives. The victims later hired the defendant and his company, Red Bank Construction LLC, to perform the renovation.

It is alleged that the defendant submitted a written proposal to the victims’ architect in September 2019, including work related to excavation, concrete, scaffolding, walls, flooring, cabinetry, electrical, plumbing, bath accessories, roofing, etc. The total price proposed for the work was $963,375.00. In December 2019, it is alleged, the victims accepted the proposal and gave the defendant a deposit of $192,675.20.

After receiving the deposit, it is alleged, the defendant became less responsive to inquiries from the victims. In February 2020, the victims requested the defendant return a copy of the fully executed contract and a copy of his insurance documents which he allegedly promised to send over but never did.

Furthermore, it is alleged, the victims’ architect also found the defendant to be unresponsive to multiple inquiries, and later learned from the defendant that he was not licensed as a general contractor.

Finally, it is alleged, by March 10, 2020, the defendant’s own project manager warned the victims not to give any more money to the defendant, noting that no work had been done on the job and the defendant remained unresponsive. The victims hired an attorney on March 13, 2020, who sent written notice canceling the contract and demanding the deposit be returned, but the defendant never responded. The case was later referred to the District Attorney’s office.

It is alleged that the defendant gave approximately $61,000 of the deposit to his mother on December 31, 2019, the day after he received it. Other funds were allegedly used for child support payments, as well as personal expenses including at bars, restaurants, hotels and liquor stores in New Jersey and the Bahamas.

The investigation began following a complaint to the District Attorney’s Action Center.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Daniel R. Tibbets of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Chief of Intake for the Frauds Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Gregory Pavlides, Chief of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of Investigations.

 

 

 

 

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

 

 

Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez to Dismiss 378 Convictions That Relied on 13 Officers Who Were Later Convicted of Misconduct While on Duty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

 

Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez to Dismiss 378 Convictions That Relied on
13 Officers Who Were Later Convicted of Misconduct While on Duty

Following Examination by the Conviction Review Unit, The DA’s Office Has Lost
Confidence in Cases Where These Former Officers Were Essential Witnesses,
Leading to One of the Largest Mass Exonerations Ever in the United States

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that his Conviction Review Unit will be asking the Court to vacate and dismiss 47 felony convictions and 331 misdemeanor convictions that were directly based on the work of 13 former New York City Police Department officers who were later found guilty of crimes that were committed while on duty. A review by Brooklyn’s CRU did not uncover misconduct, but the District Attorney has lost confidence in cases where these officers served as essential witness, i.e., cases that could not have been prosecuted without them. This is the sixth largest mass dismissal of convictions in U.S. history, according to data collected by the National Registry of Exonerations.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These former police officers were found to have committed serious misconduct that directly relates to their official job duties, calling into question the integrity of every arrest they have made. A thorough review by my Conviction Review Unit identified those cases in which their testimony was essential to proving guilt, and I will now move to dismiss those convictions as I no longer have confidence in the integrity of the evidence that underpinned them. Credibility and honesty are at the heart of the justice system, and we cannot improve community trust without adhering to the highest ethical standards.”

The District Attorney’s Office today will be asking Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic to begin dismissing the felony convictions. The virtual hearing will take place at 350 Jay Street, 15th Floor, starting at 2:15 p.m.. The process of dismissing the misdemeanor convictions will begin in Brooklyn Criminal Court later this month.

The dismissals will be made pursuant to a writ of error coram nobis that states that prosecutors “have not identified any information or evidence indicative of innocence or of fabricated evidence and that probable cause existed for defendant’s arrest, but that, nonetheless, in the interests of justice, which includes enhancing community trust in the criminal justice system and the proper preservation and prioritization of limited prosecutorial and judicial resources and pursuant to prosecutorial discretion” the DA’s Office agrees to vacate the convictions and dismiss the charges. Defendants will not be entitled to refunds of fees or fines.

The review is an outgrowth of the District Attorney’s decision in April 2021 to dismiss 90 convictions that relied on the work of former Detective Joseph Franco, who’s been indicted in Manhattan for multiple perjuries. That decision not only led other city district attorneys to follow suit, but also sparked a review of past cases that were handled by other police officers who were similarly charged and convicted of misconduct that directly related to their job duties.

A total of 13 officers were identified, and 378 cases – 47 felonies and 331 misdemeanors – that resulted in a guilty plea or a trial conviction will now be dismissed. The vast majority of these cases are misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and other drug offenses with the second largest category being vehicular and traffic law violations. They originated from arrests that took place between 1999 and 2017 and no one is currently incarcerated as a result of these conviction. About half the arrests (191) were made by four officers who were implicated in the Brooklyn South Narcotics corruption scandal in the late 2010s. Another 78 were made by two narcotics officers who pleaded guilty in 2019 for receiving a bribe in the form of sexual acts from a detainee. Most of the other officers were convicted of various crimes in other boroughs or in federal courts.

The full list of the former officers whose work was scrutinized is below (with the number of dismissed convictions in parenthesis):

• Jason Arbeeny (14) – convicted of official misconduct and related charges for planting drugs in 2007 while assigned to the Brooklyn South Narcotics Division.
• Michael Arenella (3) – convicted of petit larceny for taking money from an undercover in 2007 while assigned to Brooklyn South Narcotics Division.
• Michael Bergmann (1) – pleaded guilty to perjury in connection with a 2019 incident in which he testified falsely in the grand jury that a suspect almost ran him and his partner over with a car; video obtained by the Brooklyn DA’s Office showed this didn’t happen.
• Jerry Bowens (134) – pleaded guilty to murder and falsifying business records. While assigned to Brooklyn South Narcotics Division in 2008, he supplied drugs to an informant in exchange for information. While his criminal case was pending, in 2009, he shot and killed his ex-girlfriend.
• Richard Danese (4) – pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Staten Island in connection with a Halloween 2007 incident in which he and his partner unlawfully imprisoned a 14-year-old boy suspected of misconduct and abandoned him in a marsh.
• Sasha Diaz (15) – pleaded guilty to perjury in Manhattan for falsely testifying to a grand jury about observing a firearm in 2014; also convicted in Queens of offering a false instrument for filing, in which she lied about observing a drug deal.
• Michael Foder (27) – pleaded guilty to federal perjury charges in the Eastern District of New York for testifying falsely at a 2018 hearing about when and how he conducted photo arrays of two robbery suspects in Brooklyn.
• Richard Hall (18) – pleaded guilty to bribe receiving and official misconduct for releasing a woman from custody in exchange for sexual favors from her in 2017.
• Sean Johnstone (40) – convicted of conspiracy for paying off informants with drugs in 2007, while assigned to the Brooklyn South Narcotics Division as an undercover.
• Admir Kacamakovic (14) – pleaded guilty in federal court for civil rights violations for assaulting a bar patron with pepper spray and unlawfully detaining him while in uniform in 2008.
• Eddie Martins (60) – pleaded guilty to bribe receiving and official misconduct for releasing a woman from custody in exchange for sexual favors from her in 2017.
• Oscar Sandino (43) – pleaded guilty to deprivation of civil rights for forcing a woman he arrested to perform oral sex in a Queens stationhouse bathroom in 2008; also pleaded guilty to assaulting an off-duty court officer who was in custody.
• Henry Tavarez (5) – pleaded guilty to offering a false instrument for filing for making false statements regarding a buy-and-bust operation in 2009 while assigned to Queens South Narcotics Division as an undercover.

The Conviction Review Unit reviewed all Brooklyn convictions in which these 13 ex-officers were involved. Cases where they acted as primary witnesses, and there was no other independent evidence to support a conviction, were flagged for dismissal. Defense lawyers and the Court have been notified of the pending dismissals.

The case review was conducted by Assistant District Attorney Eric Sonnenschein, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Post-Conviction Justice Bureau, and Assistant District Attorneys John Sharples and Bruce Alderman of the Conviction Review Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Charles Linehan, Chief of the Conviction Review Unit.

 

 

 

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Staten Island Man Convicted of Assault in Borough Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

 

Staten Island Man Convicted of Assault in Borough Park

Targeted Three Jewish Men During Unprovoked Spree, Caught on Video

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 41-year-old Staten Island man has been convicted of charges of felony attempted assault, misdemeanor assault and menacing for a 2018 unprovoked attack against three Jewish men wearing Hasidic clothing that took place in Borough Park.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s violent conduct has no place in Brooklyn, where we value diversity and welcome all religions. He has now been held accountable and today’s verdict should send a strong message to anyone who would commit this kind of outrageous and unprovoked attack.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Farrukh Afzal, 41, of Mariners Harbor, Staten Island. He was convicted today of second-degree attempted assault, third-degree assault and third-degree menacing following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Laporte. He was acquitted of hate crime enhancements that were attached to each of those three counts. The defendant faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced on September 15, 2022.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on October 14, 2018, at approximately 7:25 a.m., the defendant was driving a cab on 13th Avenue and 44th Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn. As he drove past a Hasidic man, the defendant allegedly swerved his car as if to hit him, causing the man to run away so he wouldn’t get struck.

Furthermore, according to evidence that included video surveillance footage, the defendant then sped up, drove for another block and a half and stopped. He got out of his cab and ran towards another Hasidic man, 62, who was standing at the corner of 13th Avenue and 46th Street. The defendant allegedly struck the victim, who ran, and chased him into the intersection, where he continued to beat and body-slam him, causing lacerations and bruising to the face and body. As the defendant ran towards the victim, he did not attack a delivery man who was not wearing Hasidic garb, but was closer to him, the evidence showed. A third Hasidic man tried to intervene and was chased by the defendant.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Hagler and Assistant District Attorney Isabel Hernandez of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Robert Walsh, Bureau Chief.

 

 

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Man Convicted Again for 1995 Murder After Retrial That Included Eyewitness Testimony

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

 

Man Convicted Again for 1995 Murder After Retrial
That Included Eyewitness Testimony

Original Conviction was Reversed Due to Involvement of Retired
Detectives Louis Scarcella and Stephen Chmil

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 45-year-old man has been convicted of murder for killing a man in 1995 during a botched robbery in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. His original conviction was reversed, based on the involvement of retired Det. Louis Scarcella and Det. Stephen Chmil.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The guilty verdict handed down by a judge today, which correctly focused on the eyewitness identifications, validates the approach my Office has taken when reexamining cases involving Det. Scarcella: we ask to vacate when we find misconduct or violations of due process rights and stand by convictions when the evidence supports findings of guilt. In this case, compelling eyewitness accounts provided proof beyond reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt at both the original trial and again today.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Eliseo Deleon, 45, of Brooklyn. The defendant was convicted today of second-degree murder, first-degree attempted robbery and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following a non-jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dena Douglas. The maximum sentence on the top count is 25 to life and sentencing was scheduled to September 14, 2022.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on June 4, 1995, near 164 Franklin Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Fausto Cordero was returning from a party to his vehicle, accompanied by his wife, his 7-year-old son and his niece. As they neared the car, the family was confronted by the defendant, who brandished a gun and demanded money. When Mr. Cordero pushed his wife out of harm’s way, the robber fatally shot him in the chest.

The victim’s wife positively identified the defendant as her husband’s killer. A woman who witnessed the incident from her stoop across the street was unable to identify him at the retrial due to the passage of time, but her prior positive in-court and photo array identifications were admitted as evidence.

Neither Det. Scarcella nor his partner, retired Det. Stephen Chmil testified at the original trial, and neither was called by the prosecution at the retrial. Both were called as witnesses by the defense during the retrial.

Justice Douglas overturned the 1996 guilty verdict against the defendant in November 2019 following a post-conviction hearing.

The case was prosecuted jointly by Senior Assistant District Attorney Viviane Dussek, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Morgan Dennehy, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Appeals Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Chow Yun Xie, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini, Homicide Bureau Chief.

 

 

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 15 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Shooting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 17, 2022

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 15 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Shooting

Defendant Dropped Victim Off at his Home,
Returned Hours Later and Shot Him Twice in the Face

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a man inside the victim’s Sunset Park residence, a single room occupancy hotel. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last month.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant executed the victim in cold blood, shooting him at close range as he slept in his bed. Thanks to the quick action of law-enforcement he was apprehended as he attempted to flee the state, and this sentence ensures that he is held accountable for this shocking and heartless murder.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Sam Chen, 44, of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice to 15 years to life in prison. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on June 9, 2022.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on June 26, 2019, at approximately 8:16 a.m., the defendant was captured on video surveillance driving a 2014 Nissan NV3 at 51st Street, near 7th Avenue, in Sunset Park. He and the victim then got out of the vehicle and entered the hotel; the defendant was captured leaving the hotel shortly thereafter.

At approximately 12:45 p.m., the defendant was captured on surveillance video returning to the hotel where the victim was staying, putting on a surgical mask and entering the victim’s building. Soon after, he was captured on surveillance video leaving the building and still wearing the surgical mask.

The victim’s body was discovered in his bed two days later, on June 28, 2019, at approximately 1 p.m., by the cleaning staff. He suffered two gunshot wounds to his forehead. Police recovered two 9mm shell casings at the scene. The victim was identified as Da Li, age 46.

Investigators executed a search warrant on the defendant’s vehicle and recovered a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol with a loaded magazine inside of a black plastic bag, which matched ballistic evidence recovered at the victim’s hotel room.

The defendant was apprehended at John F. Kennedy International Airport on July 3, 2019, as he was boarding a flight to California.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Chow Yun Xie, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Stephanie D. Quon, of the District Attorney’s Orange Zone Trial Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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