Inaugural Address of DA Eric Gonzalez

DA Eric Gonzalez – Inauguration Speech 1/21

I am so thrilled and honored to be standing here today. Growing up, my dream was to serve as an assistant district attorney in the Brooklyn DA’s office. That’s it.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would be sworn in as the District Attorney. I am humbled and honored beyond my ability to express.

I want to thank you all for being here today to share this special moment. I believe, and I know that all of you in this room believe, that we can keep our communities safe while treating people who come into contact with the system – victims, witnesses and people accused of crimes — with fairness and respect. During my campaign for DA, I saw that the clear majority of Brooklynites share this belief.

I want to thank the consultants, staff and volunteers of my campaign for district attorney. They gave their all to a hard-fought campaign that I was so proud of; it was an inclusive campaign focused on safety and justice for all the communities of Brooklyn.

I also want to thank the staff of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. I am so proud of the commitment of every person in the office, to keeping Brooklyn safe and to promoting a fairer system of justice. It is an honor to be your leader, and I look forward to the great things we are going to accomplish together.

To my incredible wife Dagmar, our boys Evan, Dean and Cole, my mother and my mother-in law, both named Carmen! and all of my family — thanks for your endless patience, for keeping me grounded and real. I know that without you and your love and support, I would not be standing here today. Mom–thanks for always believing in me and loving me.  Dagmar–thanks for being my true love and best friend.

I also want to acknowledge, and to remember, one towering figure who isn’t with us today. And that is my friend and mentor, the late Great Ken Thompson. We all imagined that today would be Ken’s day, his second inauguration, and that we would be looking back on his accomplishments, and looking forward to the future. So this is a bittersweet moment for me, and for many of us.

I know that Ken would be so proud of where the Office stands today, of how the staff held together to carry on his legacy of reform. We stand tall today on Ken’s shoulders, and we look forward to a bright future because of the groundwork he laid in the far too short time he held the office of Brooklyn District Attorney.

I was proud to work with Ken on the reforms for which the Brooklyn DA’s office continues to be known around the country:

Our Conviction Review Unit, with 24 wrongful convictions vacated thus far, is the national model.

Our Begin Again program, in which we vacated in a single day nearly 150,000 warrants in Brooklyn, has contributed significantly to reducing the enormous backlog of warrants that have prevented thousands of our fellow New Yorkers from moving forward with their lives.

Our Young Adult Court is one of the most innovative in the country, helping young people get the services they need to avoid further criminal justice involvement.

We have pursued all these reforms while keeping Brooklyn safe.  We closed out 2017 as the safest year in my lifetime, and very possibly in yours:  shootings and homicides hit record lows.  Assaults, robberies, larcenies were all down.

As we consider this tremendous increase in public safety, we must acknowledge the extraordinary work of our partners in law enforcement, the New York City Police Department. The NYPD has shown a willingness and ability to adjust to changing times—all while developing and employing new strategies to reduce crime in our city. Stop and frisks are down, arrests are down, police use of weapons is down, and yet in 2018 we are safer than ever.

I want to thank the great men and women of the NYPD for their dedication and their hard work.

Even with all these tremendous accomplishments, there is more work to be done. I know we can move beyond what we have already achieved and make the Brooklyn DA’s Office the national model of what a progressive prosecutor’s office can be.

That’s why, today, I’m announcing the Brooklyn DA’s Justice 2020 Initiative, which is aimed at keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening communities’ trust in our criminal justice system by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all.

I intend to make significant progress toward this vision by the end of the year 2020, and this is how I’ll do it:

  • My office will promote a justice system predicated on fairness, equity, compassion and fiscal responsibility;
  • We will double down on our obligation, as prosecutors, to do justice, not just seek convictions;
  • We will work toward outcomes that restore and heal victims and communities, and we will work to reduce racial disparities in our system;
  • We will continue to identify and focus on those who do the most harm; the drivers of violent crime, those dangerous individuals will face the full force of the law. We will get them off the streets, and our streets will continue to be safer for it.

In Brooklyn, what we won’t do, however, is be passive in the face of cruel and misguided policies handed down from Washington DC, especially on immigration. Our recently-formed Immigration Unit is being adopted by prosecutors across the country and rightly so — it helps our friends and neighbors in immigrant communities avoid unjust deportation and sends a message to the rest of the country that when it comes to our immigrant communities, doing what’s right and fair doesn’t conflict with our commitment to public safety. Rather, it enhances it! it makes us safer!

We also won’t criminalize poverty by keeping people in jail just because they can’t afford to pay bail. In keeping with my support for, and commitment to, closing Rikers, we are leading the city in reducing reliance on cash bail.

We will continue to find new alternatives to incarceration for people whose issues can be addressed in better ways. We will reduce our reliance on jails and put an end to mass incarceration!

Next week, I will be launching our Brooklyn CLEAR program. Under CLEAR, we will divert people with drug possession cases into treatment and other services before they are charged, so they can avoid getting a criminal record. We will treat drug addiction as a health issue and not a crime.

We want to be able to measure the results of what we do, so we can hold ourselves accountable and continue to improve and to achieve our goals. So we will make better use of data to support and guide innovation in our approach to community safety and alternatives to prosecution. We will do this in collaboration with stakeholders and community partners.

This week I will be announcing the members of the Justice 2020 Launch Committee, whom I will task with making recommendations in keeping with my vision. The committee will be made up of community leaders, criminal justice experts and reformers, service providers, prosecutors and defense attorneys, representatives from the police department, and formerly incarcerated people.

The committee will work over the next few months to produce recommendations that I will share with the public.

I am so excited to begin this part of my journey, and the journey of the office I am honored to now lead.

While it feels like a time of incredible peril for our country, it is also a time of enormous promise. Even as we all share deep concerns about what is happening in Washington and the impact it is having on the most vulnerable among us, we also have, here in Brooklyn, a chance to be a national model of a criminal justice system that keeps us safe, is fair, and earns the respect and the trust of the community we serve. It is my great privilege to be leading this effort, but I cannot do it without all of you.

I want to take a minute to thank all those who helped make this ceremony special…

Brooklyn, thank you so much for putting your trust in me. Thank you for your support, now and in the future. Thank you for having my back and for lifting me up.

Thank you for joining me on this journey toward Justice 2020. I will not let you down!

Drunk Driver Who Caused Woman to Fall to her Death from Elevated Highway Sentenced to up to 15 Years in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

 

Drunk Driver Who Caused Woman to Fall to her Death from
Elevated Highway Sentenced to up to 15 Years in Prison

Struck Disabled Car, which hit Staten Island Woman, who then
Plunged from Elevated Roadway in Greenpoint

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 44-year-old man from New Jersey was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison for causing the death of a 49-year-old woman. The victim was outside a disabled vehicle that was stopped on an elevated highway when the defendant, driving drunk, struck the car, which then hit the woman and caused her to be thrown over a guardrail and down to the roadway below.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The reckless and criminal behavior of this defendant caused a tragic and completely avoidable death, devastating a family that was returning from a joyous celebration. I will remain vigilant in keeping Brooklyn’s roads safe for everyone and will continue to vigorously prosecute unlawful and dangerous drivers.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Vladimir Menin, 44, of Fort Lee, NJ. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to an indeterminate sentence of five to 15 years in prison following his guilty plea last year to aggravated vehicular homicide.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on August 29, 2016 at about 2:45 a.m., a vehicle driven on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway by the victim’s sister became disabled from a flat tire and subsequent wheel damage. The victim, Aissatou Diallo, 49, of Staten Island, was in another car with relatives – they were returning from a wedding celebration – and her vehicle stopped in front of the disabled car to offer assistance.

Diallo was standing in front of her sister’s car, on the shoulder of the road, when the defendant, driving a black 2011 BMW while speeding in a work zone, crashed into the disabled vehicle. The car then hit the victim and the impact propelled her over the guard rail, the evidence showed. She fell approximately 50 feet to the roadway below, on the corner of Apollo Street and Meeker Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later. Her sister suffered injuries as a result of the collision and her 17-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were also present during the ordeal.

The defendant, who was driving with a suspended license, fled on foot, and was chased down and restrained by relatives of the victim. He was belligerent and showed signs of intoxication, the investigation found. More than four hours after the incident, the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was measured at .19, more than twice the legal limit of .08. An extrapolation showed that his blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was about four times the legal limit.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jacob Uriel and Assistant District Attorney Zoila del Castillo of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Danielle Eaddy, Bureau Chief.

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Gang Member Sentenced to 23 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Man in Bedford-Stuyvesant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

 

Gang Member Sentenced to 23 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Man in Bedford-Stuyvesant

Defendant Shot Victim in the Back and Shattered His Spine

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 23-year-old man has been sentenced to 23 years to life in prison for beating and fatally shooting a man in 2014 inside an abandoned brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant senselessly took the life of another man and now he has been held accountable. This type of cold-hearted violence will not be tolerated on the streets of Brooklyn.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joseph Hutcherson, 23, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to 23 years to life in prison. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in September following a jury trial.

According to trial testimony, on August 20, 2014, at approximately 12:44 a.m., the victim, Seneca McCullough, 35, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, went to speak with the defendant about a fight they had the day before. Once inside of 456 Quincy Street ¬¬¬– a known stash house for the Gates Avenue Mafia street gang¬¬¬¬ ¬¬– the defendant led the victim to the basement where he beat and shot him.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, the defendant shot the victim twice, once in his lower back shattering his spine, and then to the back of his head. The defendant fled to an apartment in Coney Island after the shooting and was heard discussing it with an individual whose phone was being wiretapped by the New York City Police Department. Testimony also revealed that he confessed to the murder to his mother.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Ernest Chin, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney William Neri, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 41 Years in Prison for Fatally Shooting Teenage Girl

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 41 Years in Prison for
Fatally Shooting Teenage Girl

Defendant Stormed into Apartment Where 16-year-old was Babysitting;
Shot her Once with Submachine Rifle

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 26-year-old man was sentenced to 41 years in prison for firing a single shot with a submachine rifle, killing 16-year-old Shemel Mercurius. The victim was inside an apartment in East Flatbush babysitting her 3-year-old cousin at the time of the 2016 shooting.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant will now spend many years behind bars for the callous killing of an innocent teenage girl who was taken from her loved ones far too early, and for undoubtedly traumatizing the toddler she was babysitting. Nothing can bring Shemel back to her devastated family, but I hope that today’s sentence will afford them a small measure of solace.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Taariq Stephens, 26, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling to 41 years in state prison following his conviction last month of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child after a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on May 31, 2016, at approximately 5:50 p.m., the defendant pushed his way into a sixth-floor apartment inside 1406 Brooklyn Avenue in East Flatbush, while carrying a .40 caliber submachine rifle. The defendant shot 16-year-old Shemel Mercurius once in the arm.

The victim told police the first name of the man who shot her when they arrived at the apartment, according to trial testimony. She was taken to Kings County Hospital, where she died 90 minutes after the shooting. Surveillance footage showed the defendant with the rifle outside her door, and then forcing his way into the apartment after she rebuffed him. He turned himself into police two days later.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Carvajal, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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2017 was the Safest Year in Brooklyn’s History

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 28, 2017

 

2017 was the Safest Year in Brooklyn’s History

Lowest Number of Homicides and Shootings since Record-Keeping Began, Continuing
Historic Declines; New Criminal Justice Reform Agenda to Launch in Early 2018

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that 2017 will end as the safest year in Brooklyn’s recorded history, with the fewest number of homicides, shootings and shooting victims since record-keeping began, continuing a historic decline in crime over the past several years and particularly in 2016, according to statistics compiled by the New York City Police Department. Building on this trend, the DA’s Office is set to announce a reform-driven agenda after the new year that will maintain a focus on driving down violent crime while finding new opportunities for diversion, transparency and efficiency.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The historic declines in crime that we are experiencing in Brooklyn can be described as nothing short of a miracle. But they were not achieved by chance – they are a testament to the dedicated work and smart-on-crime strategies of the NYPD, my prosecutors and our other partners in law enforcement and in the community. Next year, I pledge to continue the focus on enhancing safety while putting forth an ambitious reform agenda that will identify new opportunities for diversion, reduce reliance on incarceration and promote a fair system of justice that strengthens communities’ trust and engagement.”

The Acting District Attorney said that 110 murders were recorded in Brooklyn in 2017 (nine of which were reclassified homicides from previous years, meaning the actual count of homicide deaths that took place this year was 101; there were three reclassified homicides in 2016). That figure is down 18 murders (14.1%) compared to last year, which had the third-fewest homicides ever recorded and it eclipses the previous record low of 2014, when 122 murders were recorded.

The reductions in shootings and shooting victims, coming on the heels of approximately 13% drops in 2016, are even more astounding. There were 118 fewer shooting incidents compared to the same period in 2016 (a total of 287, down 29%) and 149 fewer shooting victims (a total of 341, down 30.4%). The percent decreases in these three categories outpaced impressive citywide declines during 2017. [All statistics are as of December 24, 2017, according to CompStat analysis.]
While decreases in murders and shootings took place in most Brooklyn neighborhoods, certain precincts experienced particularly noteworthy declines. The number of homicides in East New York dropped from 23 to 11 (down 52.2%) with a 35.7% decrease in shootings, and in Crown Heights, murders were cut by 40%, from 10 to 6, with a 57% nosedive in shootings. In Brownsville, homicides were down 35.7% and shootings were down 32.6%.

In addition, the Total Index Crime in Brooklyn (representing the seven major felony crimes) was down 5% in 2017 compared to last year, with decreases in all categories except for reported rapes (19 additional incidents or a 4.3% increase). The number of arrests in the borough is down by over 7,200 (an 8.4% drop) for a total of less than 80,000.

Besides these statistics, the Brooklyn DA’s Office has accomplished numerous important milestones and successes in 2017. Those include: the biggest gun trafficking case in Brooklyn history, with 217 firearms recovered and 24 defendants, mostly from Virginia, indicted; a takedown of the largest healthcare fraud scheme in the history of the DA’s Office, with at least $146 million in illegal proceeds; the dismantling of major drug distribution rings that peddled synthetic fentanyl and heroin; the creation of a Cold Case Unit that led to indictments for two murders from over a decade ago; and successful investigations and prosecutions of public corruption, from allegedly corrupt public utility employees to a construction company owner who was awarded public work projects and shortchanged laborers.

In addition, Acting DA Gonzalez spearheaded transformational reforms and initiatives to enhance fairness throughout the criminal justice system. In the spring, he instituted a groundbreaking immigration policy to protect non-citizen defendants charged with low-level offenses from unintended immigration consequences, and has also called on the federal authorities to stop conducting immigration raids in courthouses. Around the same time, Acting DA Gonzalez put a new bail policy into place, requiring prosecutors to consent to release in most misdemeanor cases and leading to a 90% release rate at arraignment. In August, he led an effort, together with District Attorneys in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, to dismiss about 650,000 summons warrants 10 years or older, which stemmed from unpaid fines and that could have led to mandatory arrests; over 143,500 outstanding warrants were dismissed in Brooklyn alone. Furthermore, the nationally-recognized work of Brooklyn’s Conviction Review Unit continued, with three exonerations of unjust convictions.

Acting DA Gonzalez has been vocal in his support for the plan to close Rikers Island, has championed Brooklyn’s Young Adult Court, which provides alternatives to incarceration to misdemeanor defendants ages 16 to 24, helped form an anti-bullying partnership to combat teen violence and launched an initiative to address sexual violence on college campuses.

Acting DA Gonzalez, who was elected District Attorney last month and begins his first term on January 1, 2018, remains committed to promoting a fairer justice system by focusing on individuals who cause the most harm, finding new ways to hold accountable those who can be safely diverted and using data in creative and transparent ways to enhance public safety while reducing reliance on incarceration.

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Bookkeeper Indicted For Stealing Approximately $316,000 From Sheepshead Bay Produce Market

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 22, 2017

 

Bookkeeper Indicted For Stealing Approximately $316,000
From Sheepshead Bay Produce Market

Allegedly Used Funds to Pay off His Credit Cards,
Purchase Electronics, Furniture, Airline Tickets and Clothing

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced a 14-count indictment charging a former bookkeeper with stealing approximately $316,000 from a popular family-owned fruit and vegetable market in Sheepshead Bay by misdirecting funds from the company’s bank account to pay his credit card bills. He is also charged with stealing $17,000 in rental property income from one of the market owners.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant was a trusted employee who was the only person aside from the owners to have access to these bank accounts. He allegedly breached that trust to indulge in hundreds of thousands of dollars of fancy electronics, airline tickets and other items and we will now seek to hold him accountable.”

The Acting District Attorney said that the defendant, Ibrahim Elgreatly, 36, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, 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, two counts of third-degree grand larceny and 11 counts of first-degree falsifying business records. He was ordered held on bail of $250,000 bond or $100,000 cash and to return to court on February 28, 2018.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, Produce Market 2000, a fruit and vegetable market located at 2518 Avenue U, hired the defendant as a customer service representative in August 2014. In July 2015, he was promoted to bookkeeper. He was given the password to the QuickBooks accounting software used by the market and to the company’s bank accounts and credit card accounts at New York Community Bank.

The defendant’s duties, as bookkeeper, included verifying and entering the bills, making payments to vendors, paying Produce Market’s rent and utilities, verifying and posting transactions on the bank accounts, and depositing cash on a daily basis, among other things.

It is alleged that between November 21, 2015 and December 31, 2016, the defendant stole more than $304,600 from Produce Market in two ways. First, he allegedly made it appear that he was paying Best Buy, one of Produce Market’s vendors, but he allegedly misdirected funds by making checks payable to his personal Citibank Visa-Best Buy credit card to pay off personal credit card debt. He allegedly did this by making false entries into Produce Market’s QuickBooks software to make it appear as though he was paying vendor Best Buy’s invoices, then minutes later, he deleted them from QuickBooks and made new checks payable to his Citibank Visa-Best Buy account.

Additionally, according to the indictment, the defendant allegedly used Produce Market’s business credit cards to buy products that were solely for his benefit, such as laser printers, an ID Maker, Bose headphones, Apple TVs, Michael Kors clothing, airplane tickets, Ikea furniture and other items, which were shipped to his home.

The indictment also charges that the defendant was responsible for collecting cash rental payments from two properties owned by one of the principals and depositing them into the owner’s bank account. From July 2015 to January 2017, he allegedly stole approximately $17,000 of the rental monies by collecting it and failing to deposit it into the principal’s bank account.

The case was investigated by Chief Financial Analyst Arthur Criscione of the District Attorney’s Health Care Bureau and Frauds Bureau, and Detective Investigator Liz Montesclaros of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Michael Seminara.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Samantha Magnani, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to up to Three Years for Posing as U.S. Immigration Employee and Stealing $5,000 from Three People Seeking Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to up to Three Years for Posing as U.S. Immigration Employee and
Stealing $5,000 from Three People Seeking Services

Promised He Could Help Get Green Cards, Citizenship and Other Services He Never Delivered

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to up to three years in prison for a scheme in which he posed as an employee of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and stole $5,000 from three individuals for immigration-related services, which he promised but never delivered.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant targeted the immigrant community because he knows they are especially vulnerable. As such scams become more prevalent, I remain committed to protecting all Brooklyn residents, regardless of their immigration status. I intend to vigorously prosecute con artists such as this defendant who prey on the desperation of others.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Israel Torres, 57, of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to one-and-a-half to three years in prison following his guilty plea last month to fourth-degree grand larceny.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, in April 2015, the defendant met one victim whom he told that he was an employee of USCIS. The victim told the defendant that her husband was undocumented and needed help getting a Green Card. The defendant said that he could assist her in exchange for $3,200, which she paid him in cash. The defendant did not supply a receipt for the payment and the victim’s husband never got his legal permanent residency.

Also in April 2015, according to the investigation, the defendant met another individual whom he told that he was an employee of USCIS and worked at 26 Federal Plaza. The defendant told the victim that if she ever needed assistance, he could help her. The victim told the defendant that she had her Green Card, but wanted help getting a U.S. citizenship. The defendant said he could expedite the process and assist her with the paperwork, for which he charged her $1,000. She paid in cash, was provided no receipt and never received her citizenship.

The Acting District Attorney said that the investigation revealed a third victim whom the defendant approached in March 2015. According to the investigation, the defendant met the victim and told her he worked for USCIS at Federal Plaza. He asked her if she would be interested in bringing a family member to the U.S, saying he could help get the relative permanent residency. The victim mentioned she would like to bring over a relative from the Dominican Republic. The defendant agreed to assist her and charged her $800, which she paid in cash. The defendant did supply a receipt in this case. When the victim’s relative didn’t receive permanent residency or citizenship, the victim repeatedly asked for her money back, which the defendant eventually returned, only, in part, in the amount of $300.

The investigation revealed that no Green Card application, citizenship application or related paperwork was filed with USCIS by the defendant on behalf of any of the victims or their family members, nor was the defendant employed by USCIS.

The Acting District Attorney thanks the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, New York City Field Office for its assistance in the investigation.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Jennifer Burgos of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio and under the overall supervision of Edwin Murphy, Deputy Chief.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Fayola Charlet of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney José Interiano, Deputy Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

The District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Unit can be reached at 718-250-3333 for the reporting of immigration-related fraudulent schemes or other crimes.

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Queens Man Sentenced to 75 Years in Prison for One-Night Crime Spree Of Shootings, Carjackings and Assaults in Crown Heights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 18, 2017

 

Queens Man Sentenced to 75 Years in Prison for One-Night Crime Spree
Of Shootings, Carjackings and Assaults in Crown Heights

Defendant Shot a Man, Carjacked Vehicles and Shot at a Group

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 32-year-old Queens man has been sentenced to 75 years in prison for a 2014 crime spree in Crown Heights in which the defendant shot a man, carjacked two vehicles at gunpoint, pistol-whipped a driver, shot at a group of people and broke into a home.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant turned a summer evening into a frightening reign of terror, hurting and threatening innocent people, carjacking vehicles and committing a startling array of brazen acts. Today’s sentence holds him accountable, and we hope it helps to ease some of the painful memories of that day for those whose lives were so violently and suddenly disrupted.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Clinton Lawson, 32, of Jamaica, Queens. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson to 75 years in prison. The defendant was convicted of second-degree attempted murder and multiple counts of assault, robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief following a jury trial earlier this year.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on July 19, 2014, at approximately 5:10 p.m., the defendant shot a man inside of 1381 Sterling Place in Crown Heights. After fleeing the location, the defendant approached a 2010 Toyota Corolla that was stopped while the driver was dropping off a passenger near Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue. The defendant threatened to shoot the driver, a 65-year-old man, and ordered him out of the car. When the driver didn‘t move fast enough, the defendant struck him in the face with the gun. The driver left the vehicle, which the defendant then drove off in.

Shortly thereafter, according to the investigation, the defendant crashed the vehicle into multiple parked cars near St. Johns Place and Kingston Avenue. Following the crash, a group of people began to chase the defendant, who turned and fired two shots at the group, but luckily no one was struck.

According to the investigation, the defendant then approached another vehicle, a Nissan Xterra stopped at a red light on Brooklyn Avenue, and, at gunpoint, ordered that driver out of the vehicle. The driver complied and the defendant drove off in the Nissan. A few minutes later, the defendant crashed this vehicle, ran through a parking lot and broke into a house at 810 Sterling Place. The defendant fled after being confronted by the tenants and was arrested outside the building.

A loaded .25 caliber pistol and a shell casing were recovered from the basement of 810 Sterling Place. The firearm matched ballistics from the shooting following the crash of the Toyota Corolla and from the shooting at 1381 Sterling Place.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Michael Bennett of the 77th Precinct Detective Squad and Police Officer Arnold Murphy, under the supervision of Lieutenant Patrick Hamilton, of the 77th Precinct.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kori Medow, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Bureau Orange Zone, and Assistant District Attorney Niki Bargueiras, also of the Orange Zone, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Janet Gleeson, Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn Man Convicted of Fatally Shooting Teenage Girl

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 15, 2017

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted of Fatally Shooting Teenage Girl

Defendant Stormed into Apartment Where 16-year-old was Babysitting;
Shot her Once with a Submachine Rifle

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 26-year-old man was been found guilty of first-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting a 16-year-old girl with a submachine rifle. The victim was inside an apartment in East Flatbush babysitting her 3-year-old cousin at the time of the 2016 shooting.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s sinister act cut short the life of a promising young girl and undoubtedly traumatized her toddler cousin. His deadly actions destroyed lives, left her family heartbroken and deeply hurt our community. He has now been convicted and will pay for his evil actions.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Taariq Stephens, 26, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was today convicted of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling. The defendant will be sentenced on January 16, 2018, at which time he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on May 31, 2016, at approximately 5:50 p.m., the defendant pushed his way into a sixth-floor apartment inside 1406 Brooklyn Avenue in East Flatbush, while carrying a .40 caliber submachine rifle. The defendant shot 16-year-old Shemel Mercurius once in the chest.

The victim told police the first name of the man who shot her when they arrived at the apartment, according to trial testimony. She was taken to Kings County Hospital, where she died 90 minutes after the shooting. Surveillance footage showed the defendant loading the submachine rifle outside her door, and then forcing his way into the apartment after she rebuffed him. He turned himself into police two days later.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Carvajal, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Man Indicted for Fatal Shooting near Barclays Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

 

Man Indicted for Fatal Shooting near Barclays Center

Shot victim Multiple Times following Dispute

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 45-year-old man has been indicted for murder in connection with the fatal September shooting of a Staten Island man.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly executed a completely innocent stranger in the middle of a busy street for no reason at all. I now intend to hold him accountable for this wanton and senseless killing.”

The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Matthew Passaro, 45. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on February 23, 2018. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on September 20, 2017, the defendant was walking on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. He came upon the victim, 47-year-old Stephen Vargas, whom he didn’t know, and started yelling at him.

After exchanging words with the victim, the defendant went around the corner, changed his clothes, went back to where the victim was standing and, at about 8:20 p.m., shot him multiple times outside 578 Atlantic Avenue, killing him, according to the investigation. The defendant fled and was arrested on November 1, 2017 inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. A loaded .45-caliber pistol was recovered from the defendant. A microscopic analysis of the recovered gun and ballistic evidence from the scene of the shooting determined that this was the same gun used to kill Vargas.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Dean, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Bureau Chief.

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