Queens Man Charged with Reckless Manslaughter for Causing Cyclist’s Death by Speeding and Running a Red Light

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

 

Queens Man Charged with Reckless Manslaughter for Causing
Cyclist’s Death by Speeding and Running a Red Light

Defendant Allegedly Drove at Over 60 mph and Struck Vehicle at Intersection,
Sending it Crashing into Victim, Killing Him

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an 18-year-old Queens man has been indicted for reckless manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault and other charges for killing a cyclist at a Midwood intersection when he allegedly sped through a steady red light and collided with an SUV, causing it to strike the victim who was waiting for the light to change.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This tragic case illustrates the dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians when drivers choose to recklessly ignore the rules of the road. I urge all motorists to obey the speed limit, follow all traffic laws and yield the right of way to those who share our streets. If they don’t, they might take a life in an instant – and face serious criminal charges. I am committed to doing my part to promote safety and will continue to investigate cases of vehicular violence and bring criminal charges whenever they are supported by the facts and the law.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Umar Mirza Baig, 18, of Rego Park, Queens. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 17-count indictment in which he is charged with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, criminally negligent homicide and other charges. Bail was set at $50,000 bond or $10,000 cash and the defendant was ordered to return to court on October 23, 2019. He faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which he is charged.

The District Attorney said that on August 11, 2019 the defendant was driving a 2019 Dodge Charger, going southbound on Coney Island Avenue in Midwood, Brooklyn. The investigation found that when he crossed Avenue L at 12:27 p.m., the defendant was speeding through a steady red light which turned red at least five seconds earlier, and collided with a 2018 Honda Pilot that had the light and was heading east on Avenue L. The Dodge was allegedly going at approximately 61 mph in a 25 mph zone at the time of the impact, the evidence shows.

As a result of the collision, the Honda was forced diagonally across the intersection and struck a cyclist who was situated in the southeast corner, waiting for the light to change on the northbound lanes of Coney Island Avenue.

The cyclist, 52-year-old Jose Alzorriz, was thrown off his bike and became pinned between a brick wall and the Honda. He was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital. The driver of the Honda sustained internal bleeding and spine trauma.

The case was investigated by Detective Jared Vazquez of the New York City Police Department’s Collision Investigation Squad.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Nocella, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jacob Uriel, also of the Vehicular Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Craig Esswein, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney David Klestzick, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Division.

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

 

Brooklyn Man Arraigned on Indictment Charging Him With Attempted Murder as a Hate Crime in Anti-Black Attack

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 20, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Arraigned on Indictment Charging Him With
Attempted Murder as a Hate Crime in Anti-Black Attack

Defendant Allegedly Stabbed Woman During Racist Attack in Subway Station

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man was arraigned on a 23-count indictment in which he is charged with attempted murder as a hate crime and other charges in connection with a stabbing incident during which he allegedly yelled anti-Black sentiments at a 57-year-old Black woman.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This was a frightening, unprovoked attack on a woman who was allegedly targeted because of her race. We will now seek to bring this defendant to justice to keep the public safe. As intolerance is increasingly accepted and individuals brazenly act on racial animosity, we will be vigilant in prosecuting bias-motivated crimes.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Aleksejs Saveljevs, 33, of Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today on a 23-count indictment in which he is charged with second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime and related charges before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant was ordered held on $250,000 bail and to return to court on September 20, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on November 9, 2018, at approximately 7:30 p.m., inside of the Church Avenue subway station, a Black woman who had just gotten off the Q train was walking on the platform towards the station exit when the defendant allegedly approached her from behind, grabbed her and repeatedly struck her about the shoulders and upper back. An eyewitness approached and attempted to help, asking: “What is going on here?” The defendant allegedly replied: “You (expletive) Black (expletive).” The eyewitness then helped the victim up the stairs and shielded her from the defendant, who continued to approach them. The eyewitness told the defendant to back off and he fled the scene.

The victim went up the stairs and began to spit up blood. She was examined at the scene by emergency medical personnel, filed a report with police and went home. Later that night, the victim began to vomit as she was trying to sleep, noticed blood on her sheets and realized she had been stabbed in her back. She called 911 and was taken to Kings County Hospital and treated for a collapsed lung. She was released from the hospital on November 15, 2018.

Two days later, while going through items she was carrying during the assault she found a screwdriver inside of her lunch bag that didn’t belong to her and called police. The defendant’s DNA, which was stored in the City’s database following an unrelated arrest, was allegedly recovered from the screwdriver.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Detective Michael Rodriguez, with the assistance of Detectives Alfred Genao and Damon Ford, of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, under the supervision of Sergeant Matthew Fromkin.

Assistant District Attorney Adriana Rodriguez and Paralegal Michael Chung, of the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau, assisted in the case.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kelli Muse, Chief of the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Joseph P. Alexis, Chief of the Trial Division.

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An indictment is merely an accusation and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

 

Brooklyn Man Arraigned on Indictment Charging Him with Murder For Fatal Shooting in Sunset Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 2, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Arraigned on Indictment Charging Him with Murder
For Fatal Shooting in Sunset Park

Defendant Allegedly 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 41-year-old Brooklyn man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly fatally shooting a man inside the victim’s Sunset Park residence, a single room occupancy hotel.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly planned his attack and callously executed the victim as he was asleep in his bed. We intend to prosecute this case vigorously to hold the defendant fully accountable for taking a life.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Sam Chen, 41, of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The defendant was ordered held without bail and to return to court on October 4, 2019. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

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 allegedly got out of the vehicle and entered the victim’s residence; the defendant was captured leaving the residence shortly thereafter.

At approximately 12:45 p.m., the defendant was allegedly captured on surveillance video returning to the residence, putting on a surgical mask and entering the victim’s building. Soon after, he was allegedly 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 residence.

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

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

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

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Joined by Over 40 Elected Prosecutors, Calls Upon Department of Justice to Respect Prosecutorial Discretion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 2, 2019

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Joined by Over 40 Elected Prosecutors,
Calls Upon Department of Justice to Respect Prosecutorial Discretion

Amicus Curiae Brief Urges Department of Justice to Continue to Defer to State and
Local Decisions Impacting Immigration Determinations

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, along with 42 other local elected prosecutors and state Attorneys General from across the country, today filed an amicus curiae brief urging the Department of Justice to maintain well-established immigration court authority that gives deference to state and local decisions that affect immigration determinations. The brief is in response to Attorney General Barr’s call for feedback on a potential rule change that would give federal authorities unlimited ability to consider past convictions and sentences as grounds for deportation from the United States, even when those convictions are minor or deemed unjust and have been vacated or modified by local prosecutors or judges. Amici argue that the proposed rule change would break with decades of precedent thereby infringing on state sovereignty and impairing the ability of elected prosecutors to enforce their own criminal laws and exercise prosecutorial discretion in the interest of their own community’s safety. It would also put countless immigrants at new risk of deportation, including in cases where past convictions and sentences were revisited based on defects in the underlying cases.

“Prosecutors are ministers of justice charged with protecting their community and the integrity of the justice system by pursuing a fair result that promotes trust in the system,” said Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution. “Sometimes that duty includes revisiting old cases where incorrect, unjust or excessive sentences were imposed, and for immigrants, sometimes that means assessing whether penalties would inflict disproportionate harm on that individual, their family, and the community simply because of their immigration status. Any change to decades of immigration procedures and precedent would unduly limit the discretion of elected prosecutors and infringe on state and local rights.”

The brief brings together the voices of 43 elected prosecutors from around the nation – including Attorneys General from 7 states and 36 elected local prosecutors in urban and rural jurisdictions. It was authored by Matthew Biben, David Sarratt, Gabriel Panek, and H. Jacqueline Brehmer of the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, and Tali Farhadian Weinstein, General Counsel to the Brooklyn District Attorney, with the assistance and coordination of Fair and Just Prosecution, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a justice system grounded in fairness, equity, compassion, and fiscal responsibility.

“Justice requires a careful consideration of the facts of each case,” said DA Gonzalez. “This type of evaluation is best done at the local level with a consideration of community needs, which is why Congress and the Board of Immigration Appeals has long deferred to the state’s discretion to make criminal justice decisions regarding criminal convictions and sentences—including decisions to modify those convictions and sentences. This discretion is critical, and if ignored would create countless injustices that would erode public trust that the justice system is fair, and ultimately harm the ability of law enforcement to keep communities safe.”

To explain the importance of the current scheme, Gonzalez offered the example of a burglary conviction vacated following an investigation by his Conviction Review Unit, in which they found that the defendant, a green card holder who would have faced deportation for the offense, was falsely accused of a crime which never occurred. Underscoring the importance of recognizing these decisions, DA Gonzalez said, “It would have been absurd for the federal government to ignore this post-conviction finding and deport the man anyway and would be equally unjust to ignore countless other discretionary decisions regarding old convictions and sentences made in state courts.”

Amici also emphasized the potential public safety ramifications of changing settled immigration rules.

“If immigrants face deportation for convictions which have been vacated because they were innocent or because of violations of due process, that throws into question the legitimacy of the entire justice system,” said John Chisholm, District Attorney for Milwaukee County (Wisconsin). “When people don’t trust the justice system, witnesses are less likely to cooperate with the police and victims of crimes are less likely to come forward. An adverse ruling in this matter necessarily has the potential to harm the safety of our communities.”

Amici represent a diverse set of elected leaders from across the country, including Attorneys General TJ Donovan (Vermont), Keith Ellison (Minnesota), Robert Ferguson (Washington), Aaron Ford (Nevada), Kathy Jennings (Delaware), Karl Racine (District of Columbia), and Kwame Raoul (Illinois); District Attorneys Sherry Boston (Decatur, GA), John Chisholm (Milwaukee, WI), Satana Deberry (Durham, NC), Michael Dougherty (Boulder, CO), George Gascón (San Francisco, CA), Sim Gill (Salt Lake City, UT), Eric Gonzalez (Brooklyn, NY), Lawrence Krasner (Philadelphia, PA), Beth McCann (Denver, CO), Spencer Merriweather (Charlotte, NC), David Soares (Albany, NY) Raúl Torrez (Albuquerque, NM), and Cyrus Vance (New York, NY); Prosecuting Attorneys Dan Satterberg (Seattle, WA) and Carol Siemon (Lansing, MI); and State Attorney Andrew Warren (Tampa, FL).

List of Signatories

Aramis Ayala
State Attorney, Ninth Judicial Circuit, Florida

Diana Becton
District Attorney, Contra Costa County, California

Sherry Boston
District Attorney, DeKalb County, Georgia

Aisha Braveboy
State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, Maryland

John T. Chisholm
District Attorney, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

John Choi
County Attorney, Ramsey County, Minnesota

Darcel Clark
District Attorney, Bronx County, New York

John Creuzot
District Attorney, Dallas County, Texas

Satana Deberry
District Attorney, Durham County, North Carolina

Thomas J. Donovan, Jr.
Attorney General, Vermont

Michael Dougherty
District Attorney, Twentieth Judicial District, Colorado

Mark Dupree
District Attorney, Wyandotte County, Kansas

Keith Ellison
Attorney General, Minnesota

Robert W. Ferguson
Attorney General, Washington

Aaron Ford
Attorney General, Nevada

Kimberly Gardner
Circuit Attorney, City of St. Louis, Missouri

George Gascón
District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, California

Sarah F. George
State’s Attorney, Chittenden County, Vermont

Sim Gill
District Attorney, Salt Lake County, Utah

Eric Gonzalez
District Attorney, Kings County, New York

Mark Gonzalez
District Attorney, Nueces County, Texas

Andrea Harrington
District Attorney, Berkshire County, Massachusetts

Peter S. Holmes
City Attorney, Seattle, Washington

John Hummel
District Attorney, Deschutes County, Oregon

Kathleen Jennings
Attorney General, Delaware

Lawrence S. Krasner
District Attorney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Beth McCann
District Attorney, Second Judicial District, Colorado

Spencer Merriweather
District Attorney, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

Margaret Moore
District Attorney, Travis County, Texas

Marilyn J. Mosby
State’s Attorney, Baltimore City, Maryland

Joseph Platania
Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Charlottesville, Virginia

Karl A. Racine
Attorney General, District of Columbia

Kwame Raoul
Attorney General, Illinois

Jeff Reisig
District Attorney, Yolo County, California

Rachael Rollins
District Attorney, Suffolk County, Massachusetts

Jeff Rosen
District Attorney, Santa Clara County, California

Dan Satterberg
Prosecuting Attorney, King County, Washington

Carol A. Siemon
Prosecuting Attorney, Ingham County, Michigan

David Soares
District Attorney, Albany County, New York

David Sullivan
District Attorney, Northwestern District, Massachusetts

Raúl Torrez
District Attorney, Bernalillo County, New Mexico

Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.
District Attorney, New York County, New York

Andrew H. Warren
State Attorney, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Florida

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Pennsylvania Man Indicted on Attempted Murder and Arson Charges for Allegedly Setting Fire to Rabbi’s Brooklyn Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 15, 2019

 

Pennsylvania Man Indicted on Attempted Murder and Arson Charges for Allegedly Setting Fire to Rabbi’s Brooklyn Home

Fire Destroyed Victim’s Midwood Home and Severely Damaged Two Adjacent Properties;
Video Surveillance Allegedly Captured Defendant Setting the Fire

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 41-year-old Pennsylvania man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree attempted murder, second-degree arson and related charges for intentionally setting fire to the home of a Brooklyn rabbi. The fire quickly spread to two adjacent houses, injuring 11 people, including a six-week-old infant, four first responders and two police officers.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly traveled to Brooklyn with the sole intent to kill and had no concern for the dozens of people he deliberately put in harm’s way. Thanks to our firefighters and first responders, no one was seriously injured in this fire. I intend to prosecute this case vigorously and hold this defendant accountable for his alleged crimes.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Matthew Karelefsky, 41, of McKeesport, Pennsylvania. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy on a 17-count indictment in which he is charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree arson, second-degree attempted murder, and related charges. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on September 10, 2019. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on June 13, 2019 at approximately 3:50 a.m., a rabbi at a local yeshiva and his wife awoke to a fire in their three-story multi-family home at 1492 East 17th Street in Midwood. The fire spread to homes on either side of the property, causing 13 residents, including a six-week-old infant, to evacuate. Numerous individuals were treated for smoke inhalation.

Fire marshals determined the fire at 1492 East 17th Street was intentionally set and that it spread to the adjacent properties. Investigators also determined the fire began underneath the rabbi’s front porch, where K9 dogs identified the smell of an accelerant and fire marshals discovered remnants of a Kingsford charcoal bag, charcoal, a plastic milk carton, empty lighter fluid containers, lighter boxes and several rags believed to have been drenched in accelerant.

Video surveillance taken from across the street from the victims’ homes allegedly shows the defendant setting the fire. Additionally, video surveillance from a Midwood grocery store captured the day before the incident allegedly shows the defendant purchasing Kingsford charcoal and matches.

Police arrested the defendant in Manhattan on June 15. At the time of his arrest he was wearing a pink shirt with a white collar—a shirt he was allegedly seen wearing walking near the victims’ homes before and after the incident. It is alleged that the defendant has a tattoo on his forearm that reads, “Never let go of the HATRED – KILL Rabbi Max”. He also allegedly wrote numerous social media posts expressing his animosity for and intention to harm the victim.

The case was investigated by New York City Fire Department Marshal Stewart Hines.

Intelligence Analyst Alexandra Aber, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit and Paralegal Supervisor Aneudy Mata, of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Sara Kurtzberg, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Aaron Fishkin, also of the Green Zone, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney James Lin, Bureau Chief.

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

 

Twenty-One Alleged Members of Violent Folk Nation Street Gang Indicted in Connection with Conspiracy to Possess Weapons, Commit Murder of Rivals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 9, 2019

 

Twenty-One Alleged Members of Violent Folk Nation Street Gang
Indicted in Connection with Conspiracy to Possess Weapons,
Commit Murder of Rivals

Defendants Allegedly Plotted to Shoot Rivals in Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie,
Two Individuals Shot and Killed, Four Others Shot and Injured

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that 21 alleged members of two subsets of the violent Folk Nation street gang have been variously charged in a 65-count indictment with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, weapons possession and other charges in connection with multiple shootings throughout Brooklyn that left two young men dead and four others injured.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly terrorized the streets of Brooklyn by opening fire on perceived rivals and recklessly firing their guns – including in broad daylight – endangering innocent bystanders.  In one instance, an innocent 15-year-old boy was killed when he was mistaken for a rival gang member.  Investigations such as this that target the drivers of crime reflect our commitment to fighting gun violence and holding accountable gang members who take part in these senseless shootings. We believe these kinds of cases are a reason why Brooklyn is the only borough where shootings are down this year.”

Commissioner O’Neill said, “This group posed a significant threat to the members of our community and were known to be involved in serious criminal activity including attempted murder, illegal guns and robberies. The outcome of this investigation is testament to the dedicated investigators of our department and its law enforcement partners.”

The District Attorney said that 19 of the defendants were arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy last week on a 65-count indictment in which they are variously charged with second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first-, second-, third- and fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree criminal use of a weapon, first-degree reckless endangerment and related charges. They face various penalties, depending on their age and the charges, ranging from probation to 25 years to life in prison. (See defendant addendum).

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the defendants, whose ages range from 17 to 41 years old, and include a father and his two sons, are members of two subsets of the violent Folk Nation street gang. The subsets are known as Super Rich Kids, a.k.a., Street Rich Kartel (SRK-Folk) and Newkirk (Newkirk-Folk) and operate primarily in and around the East Flatbush and Flatbush sections of Brooklyn.

Over the course of the conspiracy, which ran from July 21, 2016 to June 27, 2019, the defendants variously allegedly agreed to commit crimes, including murder, assault, weapons possession and various other crimes to establish and maintain their dominance, according to the indictment, and feuded with rival gangs from East Flatbush and Flatbush, as well as Canarsie, particularly subsets of the violent Bloods and Crips street gangs.

Furthermore, it is alleged, it was part of the conspiracies for SRK-Folk members to engage in armed attacks against rival gang members, running reconnaissance missions in vehicles, and shooting individuals they suspected of being rival gang members, especially in Canarsie, an act commonly referred to by the defendants as “spinning the Floss.” On at least two occasions, these armed hunting expeditions resulted in death.

During the escalating violence over the course of the conspiracy, it is alleged, SRK-Folk and Newkirk-Folk members frequently discussed their intentions and efforts to engage in additional attacks and took credit for past attacks through cell phone messaging and, less often, through social media.

Among the acts of violence charged in the indictment are the following:

  • On December 27, 2016, on Utica Avenue, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, defendant Khaysean Porter, acting in concert with others, allegedly shot and injured an alleged rival gang member.
  • On December 28, 2016, in the vicinity of President Street and Utica Avenue, in Crown Heights, defendant Travis Laroc, acting in concert with others, allegedly shot and injured a rival gang member.
  • On February 5, 2017, it is alleged, defendant Khaysean Porter, 21, acting in concert with Travis Laroc, Tahir Thomas and others, shot and killed Darren Harrison, 22, an alleged rival and injured a second alleged rival in the vicinity of East 84th Street in Canarsie.
  • On February 20, 2017, it is alleged, defendant Zidon Clarke acting in concert with others, shot and killed Rohan Levy, an innocent 15-year-old, who he mistakenly believed was a rival. A second person was shot and injured in that incident, which occurred on East 55th Street in the vicinity of East Flatbush.
  • On February 24, 2017, Walter Porter and his sons, Khaysean Porter and Keemari Porter, were in a vehicle that was stopped by police in the vicinity of Pennsylvania Avenue, in East New York. Police recovered dismantled pieces of two separate pistols inside the vehicle, a .40 caliber pistol and a .38 caliber pistol that were used in the four shootings detailed above.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detectives Sean Feliciano and Veerana Ramayya, of the Gun Violence Suppression Division’s Violence Reduction Task Force, under the supervision of Sergeant Richard Young and the overall supervision of VRTF Commanding Officer Lieutenant Richard Zacarese.

The investigation was conducted for the KCDA by the Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau led by First Deputy Bureau Chief Jonathan R. Sennett, Senior Assistant District Attorney Giannina Berrocal, Senior Assistant District Attorney Viviane Dussek, Senior Assistant District Attorney Krysten Tendy, and Assistant District Attorney James Buchanan, with assistance from Senior Assistant District Attorney Thomas Teplitsky, under the supervision of VCE Bureau Chief Al DeIngeniis, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for VCE and Crime Strategies Raymond Tierney.

An indictment is merely an accusation and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Defendant Addendum 

  1. Rean Awong, 22, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Remanded.
  2. Lorenzo Bailey, 30, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Bail set at $250,000/$100,000.
  3. Shaquille Benjamin, 19, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Bail set at $100,000/$50,000.
  4. Ameth Best, 22, of East New York, Brooklyn. Bail set at $100,000/$50,000.
  5. Devon Bratton, 26, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. To be arraigned on July 16, 2019.
  6. Jabare Brim, 22, of Laurelton, Queens. Unapprehended.
  7. Zidon Clarke, 20, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Remanded.
  8. Christopher Cooper, 18, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Bail set at $100,000/$50,000
  9. Sherrod Craig, 19, of Jamaica, Queens. Bail set at $25,000/$5,000
  10. Gishanie Gray, 18, of East New York, Brooklyn. Bail set at $150,000/$75,000
  11. Tarell Herbert, 25, of East Midwood, Brooklyn. Remanded.
  12. Khalil Irving, 18, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Bail set at $150,000/$75,000
  13. Travis Laroc, 17, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Remanded.
  14. Omar Peters, 24, of Flatlands, Brooklyn. Unapprehended.
  15. Keemari Porter, 19, of East New York, Brooklyn. Bail set at $200,000/$100,000.
  16. Khaysean Porter, 21, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. To be arraigned on July 15, 2019.
  17. Walter Porter, 41, of Elizabeth, New Jersey. To be extradited from NJ.
  18. Barrington Songue, 26, of Flatlands, Brooklyn. To be extradited from Florida.
  19. Dandre Stanford, 20, of Cambria Heights, Queens. Bail set at $100,000/$50,000.
  20. Tahir Thomas, 18, of Canarsie, Brooklyn. Remanded.
  21. Darren Wilson, 19, of Canarsie, Brooklyn. Bail set at $250,000/$100,000.

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Note: audio/visual materials that were displayed in the press conference are available here.
 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Posing as Securities Broker and Selling Nearly $17,000 in Fraudulent Stock to Four Individuals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 2, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Posing as Securities Broker and Selling Nearly $17,000 in Fraudulent Stock to Four Individuals

Allegedly Solicited Investments in Non-Existent Company,
Used Money to Pay Personal Expenses, Including Vacations

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with scheme to defraud, grand larceny, fraudulent securities practice, and related charges for allegedly posing as a securities broker and selling $16,800 in fraudulent stock in a non-existent company to four individuals.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly took advantage of his victims’ lack of investment experience to deceive them and sell thousands of dollars of so-called stock in a fictitious company. I strongly encourage anyone considering investing with a broker or brokerage firm to make sure they are registered and licensed to sell securities with the Financial Industry Regularity Authority (FINRA), as required by law. FINRA’s database of registered brokers may be accessed here.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Ronald Bibby, 44, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Ingram on a 31-count indictment in which he is charged with first-degree scheme to defraud, third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, fraudulent practices in respect to stocks bonds and other securities, first-degree offering false statements for filing, first-degree falsifying business records, and other related charges. He was ordered held on $20,000 bail and to return to court on August 28, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, from August to December 2016, the defendant allegedly acted in the capacity of securities broker or salesperson to sell fraudulent stock in a non-existent company, RDB Consulting Group LLC, to four individuals with little to no investment experience. It is alleged that RDB Consulting Group LLC is not incorporated in New York state or a licensed securities brokerage firm and that the defendant is not a licensed securities broker, investment advisor, salesperson or broker/dealer.

After potential investors were introduced to the defendant through family members or friends, the defendant allegedly met with the victims to solicit investments and encouraged them to invest with him to purchase and manage portfolios of “penny stocks” on their behalf. After the purchase agreements were signed, the defendant allegedly required immediate payment in either cash or check. It is alleged that the defendant received investments of $500, $3,000, $5,000 and $8,300, in either cash or check over the course of the scheme.

The money the defendant received was allegedly deposited into his personal Bank of America checking account. A financial review of the defendant’s bank account revealed that the proceeds were used to pay for vacations to Atlantic City, New Jersey and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina;  merchandise from Coach and Dooney & Burke; day care payments; and car loan and credit card payments.

It is alleged that the defendant provided near daily fraudulent investment updates to the victims by phone or by email based on the ticker movement of publicly traded NASDAQ stocks named as “shares” of RDB Consulting Group LLC. The defendant allegedly told victims their portfolios had appreciated thousands of dollars within weeks of investment and that their initial investments and profits could not be withdrawn for at least three months after their purchase agreement.

The defendant allegedly stopped responding to one of the victim’s investment inquiries in December of 2016 and ceased all communications with the victims at various points in 2017. In January of 2018, a victim walked into the 67th Precinct and filed a criminal complaint.

The investigation further revealed that during the same period, the defendant allegedly collected $4,720 in unemployment benefits to which he was not entitled as a full-time employee of Cobble Hill Health Center, earning a salary of approximately $80,000.

The investigation was conducted by detectives assigned to the New York City Police Department’s Grand Larceny Squad and investigators assigned to the New York State Department of Labor’s Office of Special Investigations. Additional assistance was provided by Edward Jaffe, Legal Assistant at the Registration Section of the New York State Attorney General’s Investor Protection Bureau and by members of the Financial Investigations Unit of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Deidre Moskowitz, under the supervision of Senior Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, 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 Woman Who Allegedly Pretended to be a Lawyer Indicted for Stealing $4,700 From Three Clients She Fraudulently Represented

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Weekday, Month 00, 2019

 

Brooklyn Woman Who Allegedly Pretended to be a Lawyer Indicted for Stealing $4,700 From Three Clients She Fraudulently Represented

Allegedly Held Herself Out to Be Licensed Attorney to Advise Clients in
Academic Hearing, Divorce Action and Employment Negotiation

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn woman has been arraigned on an indictment in which she is charged with grand larceny, identity theft, practicing law without a license and related charges for falsely claiming to be an attorney and defrauding three clients of $4,700.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I strongly recommend that people facing legal challenges check the credentials of their attorneys on the website of the Office of Court Administration. The database contains the names, addresses and telephone numbers of attorneys licensed to practice in New York State and may be accessed here.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Natasha Riley, 56, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. She was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Laura Johnson on a 17-count indictment in which she is charged with third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, first- and second-degree identity theft, second-degree criminal impersonation, practicing or appearing as an attorney-at-law without being admitted or registered, and other related charges. She was ordered held on bail of $10,000 bond or $2,500 cash and to return to court on August 7, 2019.

It is alleged that from January 2017 to January 2019, according to the indictment, the defendant fraudulently claimed to be a licensed attorney and worked out of an office located at 150 Kenilworth Place in Flatbush.

The defendant allegedly told her clients that her name was “Natasha Riley-Applewhite.”  There is an actual attorney named Natasha Applewhite licensed to practice in New York, but that attorney’s full name is Natasha Holly Applewhite — an attorney in good standing who has no affiliation with defendant Natasha Riley. It is alleged that the defendant adopted the name Applewhite to create the impression that she was a properly licensed attorney.

The investigation began after Natasha Applewhite learned that the defendant was using her name and filed a complaint with the District Attorney’s Action Center.

The alleged victims of the scam, according to the indictment, include a college student who allegedly paid the defendant $500 to accompany her to an academic hearing at her college. The victim also allegedly paid more than $3,000 to obtain a trademark for a not-for-profit organization she formed. She has not obtained the trademark.

The defendant also represented a litigant in a divorce action and appeared as counsel in Kings County Supreme Court, for which she was allegedly paid $700.

The defendant represented a third client in employment negotiations with the victim’s former employer, for which she was allegedly paid $500.

Anyone who believes they were a victim of this scheme should call the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2340.

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 Joseph DiBenedetto of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, 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 District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Launches the Brooklyn Community Resource Empowerment Center to Offer Educational and Vocational Opportunities to Those Sentenced to Community Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 27, 2019

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Launches the Brooklyn Community Resource Empowerment Center to Offer Educational and Vocational Opportunities to Those Sentenced to Community Service

Instead of Traditional Cleaning Assignments, Individuals May Take Educational or
Job Training Courses to Fulfill Their Court-Mandated Community Service;
New Approach Aims at Creating Positive Turning Point and Meaningful Engagement

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that his Community Service Office has been renamed the Brooklyn Community Resource Empowerment Center and now offers GED classes, job training courses and mental health services to individuals who are sentenced to court-mandated community service. The first-of-its-kind Center offers additional resources, including HIV testing, housing assistance and referrals to community-based organizations. This new approach will create a positive turning point in individuals’ lives and provide the type of resources – employment, housing, community engagement – that have been shown to prevent criminal justice involvement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I am committed to holding offenders accountable in ways that are meaningful because putting individuals on a positive track reduces recidivism and promotes public safety. I’ve now expanded this approach to court-mandated community service. Our new Community Resource Empowerment Center, which embodies the core principals of my Justice 2020 plan, provides an array of opportunities for people to better their lives and end their criminal cases with tools that would help them succeed. This will help keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust.”

The District Attorney said that the Center, located inside Brooklyn Criminal Court, evaluates every defendant who has been sentenced to community service during the intake process. Those with stable lives or those who don’t request any services continue to do the traditional service – cleaning assignments in parks, before and after parades and in jail institutions. Those who request other services or opportunities are referred to need-based programs, including GED classes; a Workforce Center that offers job and computer skills training, assistance in looking for employment, OSHA certifications and other services; mental health services; and additional opportunities that will be added in the future. Participating in these programs for the length of the court-mandated community service fulfills the individuals’ obligations.

The individual assessment process identifies additional needs and the Center provides tailored referrals to community-based resources that can help address those needs; free HIV and Hepatitis C testing; assistance in finding housing; and group offerings on education, financial literacy and local policy.

Taken together, this approach provides a positive turning point out of the criminal justice system and helps reduce recidivism. Empirical research has long documented that a supportive social network that meets individuals’ basic needs is the best crime prevention strategy. And input from local residents echoed what social science has long conveyed: that providing basic resources and a community of support is integral to public safety efforts.

The Brooklyn DA’s Office intends to expand and vary the opportunities offered by the Center and hopes to partner with social scientists to conduct focus groups with Center participants to hear their experiences, devise surveys for participants to share feedback, and design metrics that evaluate the Center’s efficacy in meetings its aims.

The Brooklyn Community Resource Empowerment Center is directed by Norma Fernandes, under the supervision of Meg Reiss, Chief of Social Justice.

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Inmate Sentenced to Prison for Assaulting Correction Officers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

 

Inmate Sentenced to Prison for Assaulting Correction Officers

Punched and Dragged an Officer, Pepper Sprayed Two of his Colleagues;
Two Co-defendants Sentenced Previously for Their Part in Attack

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that three inmates who attacked a New York City correction officer inside the Brooklyn Detention Center, punching and dragging him down a flight of stairs, have been sentenced to state prison time.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants have now been held accountable for assaulting a correction officer. We will not tolerate such brazen violence in our detention center, particularly when it is aimed at the hardworking correction officers who put their lives on the line to maintain order and safety in our jails.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Koron Bailey, 32, Johnny Williams, 24, and Gilbert Marcano, 35. Bailey was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser to an indeterminate term of two to four years in prison. He pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted assault last October. Williams pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to five years in prison last year. Marcano pleaded guilty to second-degree obstruction of governmental administration and third-degree assault and was sentenced to two years in prison last year.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the incident took place on April 19, 2017, at about 12:10 p.m. inside the Brooklyn Detention Center, located at 275 Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. Bailey repeatedly punched a correction officer in the face and body. Marcano then held the officer’s arms as Bailey continued to punch him. Bailey proceeded to drag the victim down metal stairs with Williams walking behind him, according to the investigation.

Another correction officer responded and assisted his colleague. He observed that Williams was holding pepper spray, a knife and keys that fell from the officer’s duty belt during the assault. Williams refused to hand over the pepper spray and, after a third officer came to help, the defendant sprayed both officers in the eyes with the pepper spray, according to the evidence.

At the time of the incident, the defendants were jailed pending the resolution of cases they were charged with: Bailey for a murder in Manhattan, Williams for a Brooklyn robbery and Marcano for criminal contempt in the Bronx.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Chow Xie and Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Hristova, both formerly of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Danielle Eaddy, Bureau Chief.

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