Brooklyn Restaurant Owner Sentenced to One Year in Jail for Failing to Pay Employees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

 

Brooklyn Restaurant Owner Sentenced to One Year in Jail for Failing to Pay Employees

Fifteen workers from Edna’s Soul Food Restaurant to receive back pay

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a man who owned Edna’s Soul Food Restaurant in Brownsville has been sentenced to one year in jail for failing to pay 15 employees including cashiers, fry cooks, servers, cleaners, delivery drivers and an assistant manager more than $17,000 in back wages.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant brazenly stole the hard-earned money of his victims. Today’s sentence is a punishment for the defendant’s crimes and a warning for those who seek to cheat hardworking employees.”

The District Attorney said that the defendant, Earl Davis, 26, of 980 Bedford Avenue, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted scheme to defraud in the first-degree. The multiple companies he used to operate the business – Edna’s 1735 Pitkin Avenue, LLC D/B/A Edna’s Soul Food, ESF 2258 Atlantic Avenue, LLC D/B/A Edna’s Soul Food, and Edna’s Restaurant Group, Inc. D/B/A Edna’s Soul Food A/K/A Lang Rock Equity Partners – pleaded guilty to the top count of scheme to defraud in the first-degree.

The District Attorney said that, from October 2013 to July 2014, Davis employed at least 15 people to work at Edna’s Soul Food, a take-out and delivery restaurant located at 2258 Atlantic Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn, using the corporate identities Edna’s 1735 Pitkin Avenue LLC d/b/a Edna’s Soul Food, ESF 2258 Atlantic Avenue , LLC d/b/a Edna’s Soul Food, and Edna’s Restaurant Group, Inc. d/b/a Edna’s Soul Food a/k/a Lang Rock Equity Partners.

Davis served as the restaurant’s president and ran the day-to-day operations.

The District Attorney said that Davis promised to pay the workers $8 to $10 an hour to work as cashiers, fry cooks, servers, cleaners, delivery drivers, and as an assistant manager. When the defendants did pay the workers the defendants paid them in cash without pay stubs, gave the workers checks that bounced, confiscated the workers’ tips, refused to pay overtime, and ultimately failed to pay the workers all the wages owed to them for up to two months of work.

The District Attorney said that Davis told the workers he planned to open additional restaurants and that, if they continued to work for him, he would reward them with promotions and raises, as well as pay them back wages.

The District Attorney further stated that Davis was verbally abusive towards the workers and regularly argued with, yelled at, physically attacked, and fired workers who asked for their wages. Although the defendants refused to pay the workers all the wages owed to them, the workers saw defendant Davis take cash from the register on almost a daily basis.

This investigation was initiated by a call to the District Attorney’s Labor Frauds Unit Helpline. If you believe you have been a victim of Labor Fraud, such as wage theft or retaliation, please call our Labor Frauds Unit at 718-250-3770.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Kevin McAleese of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio and Richard Bellucci, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Joel Greenwald and Meredith McGowan, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Labor Frauds Unit, under the supervision of Felice Sontupe, Chief of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

 

Long Island Man Sentenced to Four to 12 Years in Prison for Striking Minivan, Killing 9-Year-Old Girl and Injuring Two Other Passengers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 7, 2015

 

Long Island Man Sentenced to Four to 12 Years in Prison for Striking Minivan, Killing 9-Year-Old Girl and Injuring Two Other Passengers 

Defendant Rear-Ended Stopped Vehicle While Fleeing From Police And Driving With Suspended License in Canarsie

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Long Island man has been sentenced to four to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault for causing the death of a 9-year-old girl after rear-ending the van she was riding in and injuring two other passengers. The defendant had been fleeing from police at the time.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant senselessly killed a 9-year-old little girl and seriously injured another young child and her mother by driving recklessly on the streets of Brooklyn. He should have never been behind the wheel in the first place. Every day that he serves in prison will be a reminder of the innocent young life that he’s destroyed.”

The District Attorney said that the defendant, Kenneth Palache, 63, of Huntington, in Suffolk County, L.I., was sentenced to an indeterminate term of four to 12 years in prison today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Foley. The defendant pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault on April 14, 2015. He received four to 12 years on the manslaughter count and two years for each of the assaults; the judge ordered the sentences to run concurrent. The defendant faced a maximum of five to 15 years if convicted at trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on May 4, 2014, at approximately 4:40 p.m., the defendant, who was driving with a suspended license, ran a red light and collided with an SUV carrying a family of five, including three children, causing minor injuries to all, near the intersection of Foster Avenue and East 87th Street. The defendant left the scene and was stopped by police about a mile away from the initial accident. He then sped away and struck another vehicle, after which he ran a red light on Remsen Avenue and Avenue M, going in excess of 50 miles per hour. He then struck a black Hyundai Elantra minivan stopped at a red light on Remsen Avenue and Avenue N.

Rebecca Ramnarine, 9, who was seated in the rear of the minivan, was pinned in the van and removed by emergency service workers. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The victim’s best friend, Faith Cummings, 11, who was seated next to her, was seriously injured, as was the driver of the van, Faith’s mother, Esther Cummings.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gayle Dampf, Chief of the District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit and Assistant District Attorney Cary Fischer, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Red Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Bureau Chief.

 

East New York Man Convicted of Kidnapping and Other Charges for Imprisonment of Girlfriend and Her Baby

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

 

East New York Man Convicted of Kidnapping and Other Charges for Imprisonment of Girlfriend and Her Baby

Victims Bound, Beaten and Starved Over Five Months; Defendant Faces 50 Years to Life

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 36-year-old East New York man has been convicted of kidnapping and beating his girlfriend and her two-year-old daughter over five months. During that time he repeatedly sexually abused the woman and threatened to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. The victims were rescued after a neighbor called 911 to report a disturbance.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This mother and child are lucky to be alive after the abuse they suffered at the hands of this defendant. This violent predator has now been held accountable. He faces 50 years to life when he is sentenced and deserves every day of it.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Yohannes Anglin, 36, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was convicted of  two counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of second-degree assault and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Ingram. The defendant will be sentenced on June 1, 2015, at which time he faces up to 50 years to life in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, between January 6, 2012 and May 29, 2012, the defendant, on a daily basis, bound the hands and feet of his 27-year-old girlfriend and her two-year-old daughter with duct tape to prevent them from leaving their apartment and threatened to kill them if they tried to escape.

Further testimony showed that the defendant repeatedly sexually abused and strangled the woman and burned her with lit cigarettes. The woman and child were also beaten and starved; the child was forced to wear dirty diapers.

The victims were rescued by police, according to trial testimony, after they were called by a neighbor who reported a disturbance. The woman was hospitalized and treated for a broken jaw and finger, as well as cuts and cigarette burns all over her body. The child was treated for malnourishment, infections to the buttocks, and old and new bruises all over her body. 

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Brooke Cohen of the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Audra Beerman, Deputy  Bureau Chief under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michelle Kaminsky, Bureau Chief.

#

 

Long Island Men Charged In Connection With Stealing Nine Homes From Owners by Illegally Transferring Titles, Filing False Documents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

 

Long Island Men Charged In Connection With Stealing Nine Homes
From Owners by Illegally Transferring Titles, Filing False Documents

Investigation Began After Canarsie Homeowner Reported His House Stolen;
Defendant Allegedly Stole Fort Greene Brownstone and Rented Out Apartments

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Nassau County man has been indicted in connection with illegally transferring the titles of seven houses in Brooklyn and two in Queens from their true owners to himself or a corporation – then renting out some of the properties and selling others. A second man and the corporation are also named in the indictment.

District Attorney Thompson said, “The houses targeted in this fraud are worth millions of dollars. It is shocking that this defendant was allegedly able to carry out such a brazen scheme, stealing properties right out from under their owners. We were able to expose the magnitude of this alleged scam thanks to the diligence of my prosecutors and investigators.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Danny Noble, 45, of 719 Jay Way, in Baldwin, New York and Romelo Grey, 37, of 352 Randall Avenue, in Freeport, New York. They were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which they are variously charged with fourth-degree conspiracy, first-degree criminal possession of stolen property, second-degree grand larceny, and first-degree falsifying business records. Noble was ordered held on $500,000 bond or $250,000 cash bail. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Grey was ordered held on $25,000 bond or $10,000 cash bail. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted. Both were ordered to return to court on August 5. The corporation, 69 Adelphi Street, LLC, is also variously charged in the indictment. It faces a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between June 29, 2010 and March 31, 2015, the defendants falsely transferred title to seven Brooklyn properties: 71 Carlton Avenue, 104 Vanderbilt Avenue, 45 North Oxford Street and 70 Clermont Avenue, in Fort Greene; 1391 East 95th Street in Canarsie; 357 Jefferson Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant; 729 Essex Street in East New York and two properties in Queens: 94-05 108th Street in Jamaica and 187-05 Liberty Avenue in Hollis.

Five of the properties were transferred from the actual homeowners to Noble, according to the indictment, three were transferred to 69 Adelphi Street, LLC, and one to a third party. The defendants allegedly targeted the properties because the owners did not live in the houses and rarely visited them.

Once the titles were transferred, according to the indictment, the defendants carried out various scams in order to cash in on them. For example, Noble maintained control of 45 North Oxford Street, a recently renovated brownstone in Fort Greene, whose owner lived outside of the United States. Noble allegedly rented out two apartments in the brownstone, collecting $1,500 a month in rent for each of them. He also allegedly maintained control of the two houses in Queens, renting them out for various amounts.

In another facet of the scheme, concerning 1247 Putnam Avenue in Brooklyn, Noble allegedly filed a fraudulent satisfaction of mortgage.

Furthermore, for example, with respect to 71 Carlton Avenue, 104 Vanderbilt Avenue, 70 Clermont Avenue, and 1391 East 95th Street, the defendants transferred the properties’ titles into the names of other, third parties.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the scheme was discovered after Grey and Noble allegedly transferred the title to the Canarsie house at 1391 East 95th Street to a third party. Grey allegedly visited the house with the buyer to inspect it, and told the tenants living there that they had to move out. The buyer then began renovating the house and those workers caught the eye of an employee of a business across the street, which was actually owned by the true owner of 1391 East 95th Street. That employee called the owner of the property, who called police. Further investigation led to the defendants’ alleged connections to the other properties.

As part of the scheme, Noble, the leader, allegedly filed false documents with the New York City Department of Finance, Office of the City Register, which maintains land records and other real property filings in New York City, including records relating to ownership and encumbrances, such as liens and mortgages.

The District Attorney thanked New York City Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha and New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito, and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the City Register staff working deed fraud investigations, for their assistance in this matter.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Jeannette Sbordone, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Chief Investigator Richard Bellucci.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Hilda Mortenson, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Chief of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.

#

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

 

 

City Contractor Sentenced for Stealing More Than $300,000 From Employees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 14, 2015

 

City Contractor Sentenced for Stealing More Than $300,000 From Employees

DA Thompson and Comptroller Stringer Work Together to Ensure Over One Hundred Workers
From Traffic Moving Systems Receive Back Pay Under State’s Prevailing Wage Law

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and City Comptroller Scott Stringer today announced that a contractor providing moving services for New York City has been sentenced for stealing over $300,000 from hundreds of employees in violation of the State’s prevailing wage law.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant lied to the City and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his workers. He now forfeits his right to obtain any contracts with the City and will pay these workers the hard-earned money they deserve.”

Comptroller Stringer said, “We have zero tolerance for City contractors that pocket taxpayer dollars instead of paying their employees the wages and benefits required by law. We will continue to work with DA Thompson and all of our partners in law enforcement to ensure that hard-working New Yorkers are protected from bad actors.”

The defendant, Robert Sardina, a.k.a., Roberto Sardina, a.k.a., Robert Sardinia, 64, of 62 Old Chester Road, Goshen, NY, and his company, Traffic Moving Systems, pleaded guilty on March 20, 2015 to one count of grand larceny in the second-degree and scheme to defraud in the first-degree. Both defendants also pleaded guilty to failure to secure the payment of compensation for more than five employees within a twelve month period, a violation of the Workers’ Compensation Law, and willful failure to pay contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, in violation of the State’s labor law.

Sardina was sentenced today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino to a conditional discharge. As part of his plea, Sardina agreed to an Order by Comptroller Stringer providing over $300,000 in restitution for back wages to the workers out of monies withheld by the Comptroller. Traffic Moving Systems and Sardina are also not allowed to bid or be awarded any public building service contracts or subcontracts with the State or City for five years.

This investigation began after employees of Traffic Moving Systems submitted a complaint about their wages to Comptroller Stringer. Under the state prevailing wage law, the Comptroller has the authority to set and enforce prevailing wage and benefit rates for contractors on New York City public works projects and public building service contracts.

The District Attorney said that, in August 2010, Sardina, as president of Traffic Moving Systems, submitted a proposal to the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services to provide moving services to all New York City agencies. The City awarded Traffic Moving Systems a contract from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2016 worth $1,989,880.

Traffic Moving Systems provided moving services to a number of city agencies including the Fire Department, the Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Finance, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Human Resources Administration, and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Traffic Moving Systems performed a number of these moves in Brooklyn.

According to the investigation, Sardina falsified certified payroll reports he submitted to the City for payment, claiming that he paid his workers the prevailing wage. At the time the investigation began, the combined prevailing wage and benefit rate for laborers (those who move the furniture) was $21.78 per hour and $32.67 per hour for overtime. The combined rate at the time for tractor-trailer drivers was $27.21 per hour and $40.82 per hour for overtime.

The investigation also showed that Sardina billed the City at the prevailing wage rates but paid the employees lower amounts – usually between $12 to $20 an hour – and pocketed the rest. He never paid for overtime, rarely paid the workers all the wages owed to them for that pay period and persuaded employees to keep working with promises of future pay.

The City paid the defendants over $1.5 million into an account controlled by Sardina who took out large amounts of cash for his own use rather than to pay the workers. Sardina lives in a twelve bedroom house. He owned multiple luxury cars, including a 1999 Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, a 2000 Mercedes Benz S Class and a 2004 Maybach Series 57.

Because Sardina underreported the number of employees at the company, Traffic Moving Systems obtained workers’ compensation insurance at a fraudulently reduced rate and did not make required payments to the New York State Unemployment Insurance Fund as required by law.

If you believe you have been underpaid prevailing wages or benefits on a New York City public works project or public building service contract, please call the Comptroller’s Bureau of Labor Law at 212-669-4443. If you believe you have been a victim of Labor Fraud, such as wage theft or retaliation, please call the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Labor Frauds Unit at 718-250-3770.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators Kevin McAleese and Roger Archer of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio and Richard Bellucci, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau. Supervising Attorney Michael Turilli, Investigator Jose Quiroz and Director of Outreach Michelle Centeno performed the civil investigation for the Comptroller’s Office under the supervision of Constantine Kokkoris, Chief of the Bureau of Labor Law.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Ugoeze Ukomadu and Meredith McGowan, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Labor Frauds Unit, under the supervision of Felice Sontupe, Chief of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

#

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 18 Years to Life in Prison for Shooting Death of 17-Year-Old

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 18 Years to Life in Prison For Shooting Death of 17-Year-Old

Victim Shot and Killed After Leaving Bedford-Stuyvesant Nightclub

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 20-year-old East New York man has been sentenced to 18 years to life in prison for the shooting death of a 17-year-old boy who was walking to the subway with friends after leaving a nightclub near Fulton Street and Bedford Avenue.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This murder is senseless and terribly sad as the young man who died was basically shot over nothing. This defendant has now been held accountable and will have at least the next 18 years to think about how he took the victim’s life and ruined his own.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Claude Ward, 20, of Loring Street, in East New York, Brooklyn. He was sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus to 18 years to life in prison on May 4, 2015, following his conviction last month on one count of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on July 27, 2013, at approximately 3:55 a.m., in the vicinity of Fulton Street and Bedford Avenue, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Kamau Chandler, 17, and a group of friends left a nightclub and were walking along Fulton Street on the way to the subway station.

Meanwhile, according to trial testimony, the defendant and a friend were walking on the opposite side of Fulton Street. They then crossed the street and Ward intentionally bumped into Kamau Chandler. A brief argument ensued. As the defendant was walking backward, still arguing with the victim and his friends, he fell into a pile of garbage bags stacked on the sidewalk. When the victim and his friends started to laugh, Ward pulled a 22-caliber handgun from his pocket and shot Chandler twice, once in the chest and once in the head.

Ward and his friend then fled the scene and he was arrested several weeks later at a relative’s apartment in the Bronx.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Robert Walsh, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy District Attorney Kenneth M. Taub, Bureau Chief.

 

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 110 Years to Life for Shooting At Five NYPD Emergency Service Officers, Striking Three

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 22, 2015

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 110 Years to Life for Shooting At Five NYPD Emergency Service Officers, Striking Three

Defendant Barricaded Himself in Apartment With Pregnant Girlfriend and Her Toddler

District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 36-year-old Sheepshead Bay man was sentenced to 110 years to life in prison following his conviction on two counts of aggravated assault upon a police officer and other charges last month. The officers were injured when they responded to a 911 call at the defendant’s apartment because he had pointed a gun at someone earlier that day.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This convicted felon could have killed those five brave police officers who literally risked their lives to save a woman and her 10-month-old child. He’s not fit to remain in our society and deserves the sentence that he got today.”

The District Attorney said that the defendant, Nakwon Foxworth, 36, of 3301 Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, was today sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog to 110 years to life in prison after being deemed a persistent violent felony offender. The defendant was convicted last month of two counts of aggravated assault upon a police officer, three counts of attempted aggravated assault upon a police officer, three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, one count of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of second-degree menacing following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on April 8, 2012, the defendant got into a verbal dispute with movers in his building over items left in a hallway. The defendant pulled a gun on the workers and the police were called. The defendant then returned to the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, Jessica Hickling, and their 10-month-old son, armed with a gun.

Approximately an hour after police arrived, the defendant allowed Hickling and the baby to leave the apartment. The defendant then opened fire on the responding officers, injuring three of them. The officers then returned fire and struck the defendant. Three guns were recovered from the defendant’s apartment.

The District Attorney said that Officer Matthew Granahan was shot in the leg, Officer Michael Keenan was shot in the knee and Officer Kenneth Ayala was shot in the pelvic area and the foot. All of the officers were hospitalized and have recovered from their injuries.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Andres Palacio of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Thomas Teplitsky under supervision of Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Taub, Chief of Homicide Bureau.

#

 

Brooklyn Landlord Sentenced to 15 Years to Life in Prison For Shooting Death of One Tenant and Assault of Others

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 1, 2015

 

Brooklyn Landlord Sentenced to 15 Years to Life in Prison For Shooting Death of One Tenant and Assault of Others

Terrorized Second Tenant and Her Children With Pipe

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 63-year-old East New York landlord was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for gunning down his 51-year-old tenant following a dispute over unpaid rent and then confronting and assaulting a second tenant and her children.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant deserves every day he will spend behind bars for his vicious attack on his tenants, killing one over unpaid rent and then terrorizing and assaulting a woman and her two young children.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Phillip Estevez, 63, of 566 Shepherd Avenue, in East New York, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today to 15 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Albert Tomei following his conviction earlier this month on one count of second-degree murder, three counts of second-degree assault and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on March 10, 2013, at 566 Shepherd Avenue, the defendant, who rented out rooms in his one family house, confronted Luis Martinez, 51, who rented a room in the basement, over unpaid rent. During the confrontation Estevez pulled out a gun and shot Martinez twice in the head and once in the chest, killing him.

The defendant then went up to the second floor of the house, where he rented rooms to tenant Ana Rodriguez and her husband and their two children. Ana Rodriguez was home alone with her two children, an 11-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. They tried to hide from the defendant, but he confronted them, striking the mother and the girl in the head with a pipe, and causing the boy to jump out of a window to seek help. Both the boy, who broke his foot after jumping, and the girl, escaped and ran to the nearby 75th precinct stationhouse to alert police.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Robert Walsh, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Taub, Bureau Chief.

 

Fake Lawyer Who Falsely Claimed Brooklyn Bar Association as his Office Indicted for Offering Bogus Immigration Services for a Fee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

 

Fake Lawyer Who Falsely Claimed Brooklyn Bar Association as his Office Indicted for Offering Bogus Immigration Services for a Fee

Defendant is the First to be Charged in New York State Under New Law
That Protects Immigrants from Fraudulent Assistance Services

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced today that a Sunset Park man was indicted for allegedly posing as an attorney and charging thousands of dollars for immigration assistance services, but delivering nothing but forged documents in return. Among the counts he was indicted for is immigrant assistance services fraud, a new law that went into effect four months ago and is being used by prosecutors in New York State for the first time.           

District Attorney Thompson said, “We will aggressively investigate and prosecute any and all con artists, especially fake lawyers, who prey on undocumented immigrants to steal their hard-earned money through fraud.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Howard Seidler, 69, of 336 51st Street, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Between November 2014 and May 2015, the defendant posted advertisements in Sunset Park, identifying himself as an attorney who provides immigration services. The ads and his business card included the titles “Esq.,” PhD” and “J.D.”

According to the indictment, a detective investigator from the District Attorney’s Office, working undercover, met with Seidler in the library of the Brooklyn Bar Association at 123 Remsen Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which he claimed to be his office. On April 8, 2015, the detective paid Seidler $3,085 to act as his attorney and help him obtain a green card and a social security card. The undercover was then provided with a written retainer contract.

The District Attorney said that on April 24, 2015, the undercover had another meeting with Seidler, who gave him a social security card and immigration paperwork purportedly filed on his behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. The investigation found that the social security card was allegedly forged, that the social security number did not belong to the name used by the detective and that no application was filed on his behalf with United States immigration authorities.

The investigation also revealed that the defendant is neither licensed nor registered to practice law in New York and that he is not licensed or accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to provide any services with immigration authorities.

Seidler was charged with one count each of practicing or appearing as an attorney-at-law without being admitted and registered, first-degree forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument, third-degree grand larceny and first-degree immigrant assistance services fraud. The last felony count went into effect in February 2015. He faces up to 15 years in prison for the top forgery count and up to four years on immigrant assistance services fraud.

The defendant was arrested May 26, 2015 and arraigned in front of Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Sharon Clarke who set bail at $20,000 bond or $10,000 cash. An indictment was subsequently voted and filed on Monday, June 1, 2015.

DA Thompson thanked the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Fraud Detection and Nationality Security, a division of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration for assisting in the investigation.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Rommie Woolcock, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Thomas Farley and the overall supervision of Richard Bellucci, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

Special Agent Matthew Macchiaroli of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York and Neisha Samaroo, a Special Agent with the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jose Interiano, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Chief of the Immigrant Fraud Unit, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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

#

Disbarred Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Stealing Client Escrow Funds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 4, 2015

 

Disbarred Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Stealing Client Escrow Funds

Defendant Will Be Sentenced To One Year in Jail and Make $280,000 Restitution

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a former attorney has pleaded guilty to stealing money from 25 clients whom he had represented in personal injury cases.

District Attorney Thompson said, “Today’s guilty plea ensures justice for the victims in this case who retained the defendant because they suffered injuries in car accidents or falls. Instead, he victimized them again when he violated their trust and stole their much needed settlement money.”

District Attorney Thompson identified the defendant as Kenneth Gellerman, 58, of 2596 Ocean Avenue in Bellmore, L.I.  He pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of third-degree grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who indicated he would sentence the defendant to one year in jail if he makes restitution of $280,000.

The defendant made restitution of $100,000 today. He is expected to pay an additional $180,000 in restitution by his next court date of August 12, 2015. If he makes the agreed upon restitution the case will be adjourned to September at which time he will receive one year in jail. If he does not make the agreed upon restitution, he could face the maximum sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to the plea, from December 3, 2008 until September 30, 2013, the defendant engaged in a scheme to embezzle money from more than 25 clients by depositing checks received from negotiated settlements into his escrow account, or into other accounts that he controlled.

The defendant withdrew money from these accounts, according to the indictment, by drafting checks and transferring money into his business account.  He failed to pay his clients some or all of the money to which they were entitled, and in at least one case, he failed to pay money to a third party having a claim secured by the settlement.

After he was suspended from practicing law in January 2013, according to the indictment, the defendant continued to collect settlements without forwarding the money to clients. To conceal these thefts, the defendant often allegedly settled cases without informing clients, and he signed endorsements on the reverse sides of the checks in order to deposit those checks into his accounts. He was disbarred following his arrest last year.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Joseph DiBenedetto and John Holmes of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, under the supervision of Felice Sontupe, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, and William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.

 

#