Brooklyn Man Convicted of Breaking into Apartment and Sexually Assaulting Bushwick Woman Who Previously Hired Him to Clean Her Apartment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 2, 2018

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted of Breaking into Apartment and Sexually Assaulting Bushwick Woman Who Previously Hired Him to Clean Her Apartment

Defendant Faces Up To Life in Prison at Sentencing

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 22-year-old Brooklyn man has been convicted of predatory sexual assault and related charges for a 2016 attack on a woman after breaking into her Bushwick apartment while she was sleeping.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This is an incredibly disturbing incident in which the defendant broke into a woman’s home and committed a horrific assault. He’s now been held accountable. I am committed to fighting for justice for all sexual assault victims.”

The District Attorney said that the defendant, Romaric Guiebre, 22, of Brooklyn, was convicted yesterday of one count of predatory sexual assault, one count of first-degree sexual abuse, one count of first-degree burglary as a sexually motivated felony, second-degree robbery as a sexually motivated felony, and other charges, following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dena Douglas. Justice Douglas set sentencing for December 13, 2018, at which time the defendant faces 25 years to life in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on July 25, 2016, at approximately 1:30 a.m., on DeKalb Avenue in Bushwick, the victim, a 29-year-old woman, was sleeping in her apartment when she heard a key in her front door. When she went to investigate, she saw the defendant in the apartment. She screamed, and the defendant grabbed her around the neck and pushed her into the apartment bedroom; he then pulled out a gun and stated: “I’m going to kill you.”

A struggle ensued, according to trial testimony, and the victim bit the defendant on the nose, causing him to bleed profusely. He then tied her up and blindfolded her with a bedsheet, sexually assaulted her and made her take a shower. During the assault he demanded money, taking her debit card and PIN number. Before leaving the apartment, he gathered the bedding and other items that had blood on them and put them in a garbage bag and left the apartment at approximately 4 a.m. Blood was recovered from the scene.

The defendant told the woman not to call police or he would kill her. He left and withdrew $400 from her bank account. The woman called her boyfriend, who called police.

The defendant, who worked as a house cleaner, cleaned the woman’s apartment on July 17, 2016 and it is believed he used a spare key to break into her apartment the night of the attack.

Investigators questioned the defendant because he had been in the apartment prior to the attack to provide a cleaning service. Following an investigation, he was arrested on August 23, 2016. The defendant admitted being in the woman’s apartment the night of the attack, tying her up and using her ATM card to withdraw money from her account, the evidence showed. Blood found in the apartment was a match to his DNA.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorneys Lauren Silver and Gwen Barnes of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Frank DeGaetano, First Deputy Chief and Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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Former Public Administrator Employee Indicted for Stealing Over $78,000 From Estates of Eight Decedents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

 

Former Public Administrator Employee Indicted for Stealing
Over $78,000 From Estates of Eight Decedents

Allegedly Used Stolen Funds on a Cruise, Bills, Shopping and More

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced that a former case manager at the Office of the Kings County Public Administrator has been indicted on grand larceny and other charges for allegedly stealing over $78,000 from the estates of eight deceased individuals whose estates his agency was administering.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant abused his position and betrayed the public trust by allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars that he then used for his personal expenses. A thorough investigation uncovered the extent of his alleged theft and we will now seek to hold him accountable. Public corruption and abuse of power will not be tolerated in Brooklyn.”

Commissioner Peters said, “This public servant misused his position in the Kings County Public Administrator’s Office to allegedly access the debit and credit card accounts of several deceased persons, stealing tens of thousands of dollars from their estates and using the money for lavish purchases, according to the charges. DOI’s report issued today details the alleged criminal conduct and makes recommendations to KCPA to address vulnerabilities in its policies and procedures to prevent future crimes. DOI thanks the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for their partnership in this investigation.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Fitzroy Thompson, 36, of Park Slope, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree grand larceny, third-degree corrupting the government, first-degree scheme to defraud and first- and third-degree identity theft. The defendant was ordered to return to court on January 9, 2019. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant was employed as a case manager at the Office of the Kings County Public Administrator, which administers estates of those who die without a last will and testament or without family members who are able to administer their estates. Between July 2017 and April 2018, the defendant allegedly stole a total of $78,325 in funds from estates being administered by the Public Administrator.

It is alleged that the defendant used credit cards and checking accounts belonging to estates of eight decedents whose cases he handled or could access to make various purchases and payments. In January 2018, he booked a cruise with Carnival Cruise Line, using one of the decedent’s credit cards to pay a $2,741 fee, the investigation found. He also allegedly used estate funds unlawfully to make ATM withdrawals exceeding $35,000, to make lease payments on a 2017 Nissan Pathfinder and a 2016 Nissan Altima, to make rent payments in connection with two properties, to pay phone and cable bills, to buy JetBlue airline tickets to Nassau, Bahamas and to make purchases at Walmart, Fingerhut and other companies.

The defendant was arrested in March 2018 after the executor of one estate noticed charges on his deceased relative’s account, including the cruise payment, and filed a police report. A subsequent investigation discovered the additional alleged larcenies. The defendant was suspended upon his arrest and resigned from the Office of the Public Administrator in July.

District Attorney Gonzalez thanked the Kings County Public Administrator’s Office, its staff and Public Administrator Richard Buckheit for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.

The case was investigated by Senior Investigative Auditor Helen Gromadsky and Deputy Inspector General and Special Counsel Spector of the New York City Department of Investigation, under the supervision of Inspector General Eleonora Rivkin, Associate Commissioner Andrew Brunsden, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Susan Lambiase, and First Deputy Commissioner Lesley Brovner. The case was also investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Mitchell Eisenberg of the 60th Precinct Detective Squad.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Adam Libove, of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit with the assistance of Investigative Paralegal Zachary Gitman, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Chief of the Public Integrity Unit, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Mark Feldman, Senior Executive Assistant District Attorney for Crime Strategies and Investigations

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

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Scheme Where He Allegedly Used Counterfeit Bills When Buying Smartphones and Laptop from Online Sellers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 29, 2018

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Scheme Where He Allegedly Used
Counterfeit Bills When Buying Smartphones and Laptop from Online Sellers

Replied to Advertisements on Craigslist; Forgery Equipment Found at his Home

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 27-year-old man from Ditmas Park, Brooklyn has been indicted on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny and related charges for allegedly using counterfeit money when buying iPhones, a MacBook, and other electronics, from sellers who advertised on Craigslist.com and other websites.

District Attorney Gonzalez said “It is alleged that this defendant schemed to effectively steal high-end electronics from unsuspecting individuals by paying them with counterfeit cash. He has been charged following a meticulous investigation by my Office because we are committed to protecting the people of Brooklyn from any and all types of fraud.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Sajaad Prince, 27, of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, criminal possession of a forgery device, fourth-degree grand larceny and related charges. He was ordered held on $250,000 cash bail or $150,000 bond and to return to court on December 12, 2018. The defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between February 12, 2018 and June 19, 2018, the defendant used counterfeit bills to buy electronics from sellers who advertised them for sale on Craigslist.com and other marketplace platforms like Letgo.com.

Specifically, he is charged with purchasing two iPhone Xs from a man in Ditmas Park for $1,850, an Android Note 8 from an East Flatbush couple for $650, a Samsung Galaxy S9 from a man in East Midwood for $850 and a MacBook Pro, purchased in DUMBO for $1,700. All sellers subsequently realized that the cash the defendant handed to them was counterfeit, according to the investigation.

It is believed that the defendant committed additional crimes in a similar manner.

The investigation revealed that the phone numbers the defendant used to contact the sellers were purchased via Pinger, developer of the Textfree app that provides internet-based phone numbers. The defendant was identified by tracing the IP addresses used to access those phone numbers, and then painstakingly cross-referencing the IP addresses and associated email addresses against cell site and utilities records. In addition, a thorough analysis of the defendant’s social media accounts revealed that the defendant was frequently selling electronics and clothing for much lower than the retail price.

In June 2018, a search warrant was executed at the defendant’s residence. Several scanners and printers, counterfeit currency, templates used to copy counterfeit currency, and sheets of blank paper as well as the MacBook Pro were recovered from his bedroom.

During the time period of the charged crimes, the defendant was on work release from Lincoln Correctional Facility, where he was required to stay two nights a week in connection with a previous conviction of possessing counterfeit bills.

The District Attorney thanked the United States Secret Service for their assistance with the investigation.

The case was investigated by Detective Thomas Jurewicz and Detective Gerard Amato, under the supervision of Sergeant Dominic Longo of the NYPD Kings County District Attorney Detective Squad, and the overall supervision of Captain Matthew Zuss, Commanding Officer of the KCDA Detective Squad.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Dovid Wolosow 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, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.

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

Brownsville Man Convicted of Murder in Death of Staten Island Mom Found Naked in East Williamsburg Hotel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 26, 2018

 

Brownsville Man Convicted of Murder in Death of Staten Island Mom
Found Naked in East Williamsburg Hotel

Victim was Discovered with Bruises to Neck and Head

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brownsville man has been convicted of second-degree murder in the 2015 death of a 34-year-old mother of four from Staten Island who was found dead in a hotel in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant befriended a vulnerable woman and then heartlessly and violently ended her life, leaving her friends and family, including her four children, heartbroken. Such violence will not be tolerated in Brooklyn. Hopefully, today’s verdict brings some comfort to those suffering from this tremendous loss.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joseph Danclair, 39, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was convicted today of second-degree murder following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on November 14, 2018.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on July 23, 2015, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the victim, Chrissy Bevelaqua, 34, was discovered naked with bruises to her neck and head in a hotel room at the Bushwick Hotel located at 171 Bushwick Avenue in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The victim was found on a bed by hotel staff, who notified the police. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

During the investigation, the police recovered the defendant’s DNA and fingerprints from the hotel room. Danclair was also captured on surveillance video entering the hotel with the victim and later leaving alone. Police later learned that Danclair was picked up at the hotel by a livery driver and was dropped off in Brownsville.

The defendant was arrested on September 17, 2015, near Second Avenue in Kips Bay in Manhattan. In a video statement recorded by the police, the defendant admitted to being in the hotel room.

The District Attorney thanked Michel Dilone, of the DA’s Victim Services Unit, for his assistance in this case.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Olatokunbo Olaniyan, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Payne, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Coney Island Dad Convicted of Murder for Beating His 16-Month Old Daughter and Fracturing Her Skull on Father’s Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 25, 2018

 

Coney Island Dad Convicted of Murder for Beating His 16-Month Old Daughter and Fracturing Her Skull on Father’s Day

Mother Found Baby Unresponsive with Bruises to Head and Body

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 20-year-old man has been convicted of murder after he severely beat his 16-month-of daughter Nylah Lewis during a visit to his Coney Island apartment on Father’s Day, causing her death.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “On a day when the importance of fathers is celebrated, this defendant committed an unforgivable crime against his own child. Instead of protecting and nurturing his daughter, the defendant caused the injuries that tragically ended her short life.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Shaquan Taylor, 20, of Coney Island, Brooklyn. He was convicted yesterday of second-degree murder following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on November 7, 2018.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on June 18, 2017, at some time shortly before 2:30 p.m., the defendant texted Tammy Lewis, 18, from his apartment on West 32nd Street, in Coney Island, Brooklyn, to inform her that their daughter was having trouble breathing. When Lewis arrived at the apartment, she found Nylah on the couch unconscious, with bruising, swelling and lacerations on her face.

According to trial testimony, Lewis left the apartment carrying her daughter to call 911 for medical assistance. The defendant followed Lewis to the lobby, where he began beating her in the neck and face while she was still holding Nylah. Taylor then grabbed Nylah, gave her to a nearby passerby and continued beating Lewis before running away. The defendant was arrested a short time later hiding in the bushes in a lot near his building.

Nylah was admitted to Coney Island Hospital with a fractured skull, loss of oxygen to the brain and bruising all over her body. She was later transferred to Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, where she remained in a coma for five days. Nylah died from her injuries on June 23, 2017.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Frank DeGaetano, First Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau and Senior Assistant District Attorney Victoria Nunez, also of SVB, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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East New York Man Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison for Three Gunpoint Robberies of Delivery Men

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

 

East New York Man Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison for
Three Gunpoint Robberies of Delivery Men

Displayed Firearm and Took Property on Different Occasions in Three-Week Span

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 22-year-old Brooklyn man was sentenced to 16 years in prison for committing three gunpoint robberies of delivery men over a three-week span. In each incident, the defendant pointed a silver gun and took the victim’s property.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant repeatedly targeted vulnerable individuals and violently robbed them of their hard-earned money. Keeping the people of Brooklyn safe is my highest priority and today’s sentence ensures that this defendant will not be able to victimize others in our community.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Edward Franklin, 22, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik to 16 years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision following his conviction this month of three counts of first-degree robbery after a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on January 24, 2017, at about 2 p.m., a restaurant delivery man was making a delivery at 807 Schenck Avenue in East New York, which is part of the Boulevard Houses. He called the number on the receipt and was informed by a man that he would come down to get the food. Moments later, the defendant put a silver firearm to the victim’s back and took his belongings, including about $250 in cash.

On February 12, 2017, at about 11:20 a.m., the same delivery man was making a delivery at 756 Stanley Avenue, which is located at the same housing development. He met the customer outside the building, gave him the food and was waiting for the customer to return with a tip. The evidence showed that the defendant then approached the victim, brandished the silver firearm, forced the victim inside the building, pushed him to the ground and fled with his wallet, which contained various forms of identification and approximately $30. The victim then reported both incidents. He recognized the defendant from making multiple deliveries to his apartment and from seeing him at the restaurant where the victim worked.

On February 9, 2017, at about 3 p.m., another delivery man, who works for a local supermarket, made a delivery at 807 Schenck Avenue. When he entered the building, he noticed the defendant in the lobby, according to testimony. When the victim returned to the lobby after delivering the groceries, the defendant held a silver firearm to his stomach and demanded his belongings. He took the victim’s wallet, with about $260 inside, and fled.

The victim called 911 and a detective connected the robbery to the other two. Both victims identified the defendant in court as the man who robbed them.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Elaine Albenda and Assistant District Attorney Elliot Wertheim of the District Attorney’s Red Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Bureau Chief.

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East New York Woman Indicted for Stealing Deceased Father’s Social Security Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

 

East New York Woman Indicted for Stealing
Deceased Father’s Social Security Benefits

Allegedly Withdrew More than $235,000 from Joint Bank Account Over Span of 13 Years

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with the Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General Special Agent in Charge John F. Grasso, today announced that a 58-year-old Brooklyn woman has been arraigned on an indictment in which she is charged with second-degree grand larceny for allegedly stealing Social Security benefits totaling more than $235,000 that were intended for her father, who had been deceased since 2002. The defendant allegedly withdrew the money every month for 13 years from a joint savings account that they shared.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We allege that the defendant knowingly withdrew Social Security benefits from this joint bank account that she was not entitled to after her father passed away. Her alleged actions were criminal and self-serving. We intend to hold her accountable for allegedly stealing taxpayer money.”

SSA-OIG Special Agent in Charge John F. Grasso said: “Today’s arrest should serve as a warning to those who choose to selfishly defraud the Social Security Trust Fund. These cases are vigorously pursued, and we will continue to work jointly with the Brooklyn DA’s Office, and other law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute fraud perpetrators in the future. I strongly encourage the public to report suspected instances of Social Security fraud to the SSA OIG’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or http://oig.ssa.gov/report.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Jacquelyn Anderson Wideman, 58, of East New York, Brooklyn. She was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which she is charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny. She was released without bail and ordered to return to court on January 9, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant’s deceased father Willie Simmons, aka “George Anderson” was receiving retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration before he died. The benefits were deposited to an HSBC joint account that was shared with the defendant. It is alleged that after the defendant’s father died on May 7, 2002, she continued to withdraw Social Security benefits intended for her father from various automated teller machines in Brooklyn until May 2015 when the Social Security Administration discovered that her father died in 2002.

The defendant admitted in a written statement that her father passed away on May 7, 2002 and that the two shared a joint HSBC bank account that she continued to withdraw his Social Security benefits.

The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG), specifically Special Agent Neisha Samaroo, under the supervision of Special Agent in Charge John F. Grasso.

The District Attorney thanked the United States Secret Service for their assistance in the case.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Vivian Young Joo, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, Chief of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit, and the overall 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.

Fourteen-Year-Old Indicted for Shooting Death of Innocent Honor Student On Basketball Court in Brownsville Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 18, 2018

 

Fourteen-Year-Old Indicted for Shooting Death of Innocent Honor Student
On Basketball Court in Brownsville Park

Defendant Allegedly Shot the Victim in the Head

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brownsville teenager has been indicted on murder and related charges stemming from the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy while he was playing basketball in Chester Park in Brownsville.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This tragic shooting claimed the life of a promising teenager with a bright future and endangered the lives of many others. Senseless gun violence like this is destroying too many lives, including, in this case, the young defendant who allegedly fired the gun. We will now seek justice for the victim and his heartbroken loved ones.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Aaron Nathaniel, 14, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. The defendant was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Craig Walker on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted of the top count he faces 15 years to life in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on September 21, 2018, at approximately 3:50 p.m., in Chester Park, on Chester Street, in Brownsville, the defendant allegedly opened fire on a crowd of people on a basketball court, striking the victim, Oluwadurotimi Oyebola, 16, of Queens, once in the head. The victim was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The defendant was arrested on October 3, 2018, following an investigation. The shooting was captured on video surveillance and following his arrest, the defendant made statements to police in which he admitted to the shooting and said the victim was not the intended target.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard L. Jackson, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Marybeth Allen, of the Orange Zone Trial 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.

 

North Carolina Man Sentenced to 18 Years to Life in Prison for Driving While Intoxicated and Fatally Striking a Motorist

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

 

North Carolina Man Sentenced to 18 Years to Life in Prison for
Driving While Intoxicated and Fatally Striking a Motorist

Victim’s Spine and Several Ribs Were Fractured from the Force of the Impact

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 43-year-old man was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison for crashing into a vehicle on the Belt Parkway and fatally injuring the driver.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant turned his vehicle into a deadly weapon by combining drugs with alcohol, then getting behind the wheel. His reckless actions endangered many and caused an innocent man to be killed. He has now been held accountable for taking a life and destroying a family.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Milan Heggs, 43, of Raleigh, North Carolina. He was sentenced yesterday by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Evelyn LaPorte to 18 years to life in prison. He was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in May 2017 following a jury trial. The defendant was adjudicated as a persistent violent felony offender and was facing a mandatory life sentence.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, shortly after midnight on April 30, 2015, the defendant crashed his speeding car into the rear of another vehicle on the Belt Parkway. The victim, Joe Cavera, 55, of Bayside, Queens, was stopped in traffic near the Pennsylvania Avenue exit on the eastbound lane. The force of the impact caused Cavera’s car to flip in the air and land on its roof. In addition to crashing into Cavera’s car, the defendant hit four other vehicles and continued driving. The defendant’s car finally came to a stop after sliding against a guardrail.

Cavera’s spine and several ribs were severely fractured, and he also suffered internal bleeding and cardiac arrest. The victim was pulled from the car by an off-duty police officer near the scene who performed CPR until medics arrived. The victim was transported to Brookdale Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

According to trial testimony, the defendant was asked to blow into a breathalyzer after officers observed that he appeared intoxicated. The defendant intentionally blew lightly into the breathalyzer which registered a low alcohol count. The defendant later complained of back and neck pain, and was transported to Brookdale Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

His blood alcohol level over three hours after the crash was measured at .10 and was estimated to be at approximately .16 at the time of the collision –twice the legal limit of .08. The defendant tested positive for methylone, also known as “bath salt,” a synthetic drug similar to Ecstasy.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Rene Plattner and Assistant District Attorney Robert Schwartz, of the Red Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Bureau Chief.

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Project Brooklyn CLEAR, Offering Treatment to Individuals Arrested with Small Amounts of Narcotics, Expanded to the Entire Borough of Brooklyn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

 

Project Brooklyn CLEAR, Offering Treatment to Individuals Arrested with
Small Amounts of Narcotics, Expanded to the Entire Borough of Brooklyn

Pre-Arraignment Diversion Provides Services from Time of Arrest and Dismissal of
Misdemeanor Charges; During Seven Months of Pilot Stage, 65% of Eligible Individuals
Opted into Program and 85% Completed it and Never Had to Appear in Court

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a pilot pre-arraignment diversion program to assist individuals who suffer from drug dependency and misuse has been expanded to the entire borough of Brooklyn. Under Project CLEAR (Collaborative Legal Engagement Assistance Response), individuals arrested for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance are offered the opportunity to receive treatment and other community-based services before their initial court appearance. If they meaningfully participate, the DA’s Office declines prosecution of their cases before they ever appear in court and their arrest record is sealed. The program, launched in February as a pilot in south Brooklyn, is now available boroughwide.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “As my Office implements a new approach to assisting those who are drug dependent, I am gratified that this opportunity is now available in all of Brooklyn. Project CLEAR has already helped scores of individuals who were arrested with small amounts of narcotics used to feed their habits; facilitated distribution of dozens of naloxone kits to prevent overdoses; and spared many from getting a criminal record. I would like to thank all of our partners who worked hard to make this initiative successful, and to Mayor de Blasio for providing additional funding that allowed us to expand it.”

Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said, “For the justice system to be truly fit-for-purpose, it must be able to help people who are experiencing different kinds of crises, including those related to drug dependencies. We applaud District Attorney Gonzalez’s innovations, which are worthy of credit and emulation.”

The District Attorney said that Project CLEAR was launched in February 2018 in six Brooklyn South precincts that experienced high overdose rates and later expanded to the entire Brooklyn South command. In mid-September, it expanded again to include all of Brooklyn.

Under CLEAR, individuals arrested on misdemeanor charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree (PL 220.03) and who are eligible for a DAT (desk appearance ticket) have the opportunity to resolve their cases by receiving services rather than appearing in court if they comply with independent assessment-based recommendations.

If the NYPD determines the individual is eligible, they call the Brooklyn DA’s Office and receive a return date for the DAT – typically within seven days of arrest instead of the traditional 30. The DA’s Office then notifies the EAC Network (Empower, Assist & Care), which dispatches a Peer Recovery Coach to meet the individual at the precinct. Peers are non-law enforcement personnel who are trained to assist those challenged by drug misuse. They encourage the individual to be assessed by the EAC Network within seven days. They also provide a naloxone kit and instructions on its proper use. If necessary, the peer can provide immediate access to detoxification services.

Arrested individuals can decline to participate and opt to make the scheduled court appearance on the return date seven days later and the cases will be prosecuted in the traditional manner. If they agree to an assessment within seven days, the cases get postponed for a 30-day period, during which the individuals are encouraged to meaningfully engage in services that were offered based on the assessment. The individual assessments are performed at the offices of EAC Network, a social services agency.

If the individual complies with their recommendations within 30 days, the DA’s Office is notified and exercises its prosecutorial discretion by formally declining to prosecute the arrest. The arrested individual does not have to appear in court and the arrest record is sealed. Throughout the process, The Legal Aid Society is available to assist both those who participate and those who opted not to participate in the program – a decision that has no effect on the disposition of their cases.

Since CLEAR launched, over 100 people opted into the program, representing about 65% of eligible individuals. Of them, 71 people, or about 85%, meaningfully engaged in the program and their cases were declined prosecution (the remainder are still enrolled). A total of 95 naloxone kits, used to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, were distributed to individuals who were also trained on using them.

While one of the main objectives of CLEAR is to provide better tools to stem the opioid epidemic, arrests for possession of any controlled substance are eligible. Of those offered the program, 38% were arrested with opioids, 40% with crack/cocaine and the rest with other types of narcotics or controlled substances. Of those offered the program, 35% were facing their first arrest, 26% had one or two previous arrests and 39% had three or more.

The District Attorney thanked the New York City Council and the Mayor’s Office for allocating resources, as well as the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the NYPD, The Legal Aid Society, EAC Network and VOCAL-NY, a provider that engages in harm reduction services, for their partnership in this program.

Brooklyn CLEAR is being directed by Senior Assistant District Attorney Karen Varriale, of the District Attorney’s Drug Treatment Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney David Heslin, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Meg Reiss, Chief of Social Justice.

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