East New York Teenager Indicted for Fatally Shooting Man in Prospect Lefferts-Gardens Bodega Following Dispute

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 6, 2019

 

East New York Teenager Indicted for Fatally Shooting Man
in Prospect Lefferts-Gardens Bodega Following Dispute

Defendant Allegedly Shot into the Bodega from Sidewalk, Striking Victim Multiple Times

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an 18-year-old teenager has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting a man inside a Prospect Lefferts-Gardens bodega following an earlier dispute between the victim and the defendant’s friend.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “When this defendant allegedly opened fire, he claimed the life of a father of six and well-known member of the Flatbush community. He also endangered the lives of every other innocent person inside the store. There is no place in Brooklyn for gun violence. We will now seek to get justice for the victim and his loved ones.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joshua Louis, 18, of East New York, Brooklyn. The defendant was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The defendant was held without bail and ordered to return to court on February 28, 2020. 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 October 10, 2019 at approximately 9:55 p.m., the defendant began looking for Dwayne Smith, 41, following an earlier dispute between the victim and a friend of the defendant. The defendant allegedly found the victim inside of KHF Supermarket on Flatbush Avenue, near Parkside Avenue, and fired into the store from the sidewalk multiple times.

Smith, an amateur filmmaker and clothing designer, was struck several times in the torso and was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died.

Surveillance video from outside the bodega shows the defendant allegedly pull out a gun and repeatedly shoot into the store. An eyewitness also identified the defendant as the shooter.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Gregg Licari of the 71st Precinct and Detective Gilbert Alonso of Brooklyn South Homicide. Paralegal Meghan Brancato, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Olatokunbo Olaniyan, 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’s Office Accepting Applications For Mid-Winter and Spring High School Internship Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 2, 2019

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Accepting Applications
For Mid-Winter and Spring High School Internship Programs

Internships Will Offer Insight into Criminal Justice System, Public Service and the Law

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the launch of the application process for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in participating in the mid-winter or spring internship programs.  The one-week internship is open to students who live and/or attend high school in Brooklyn and are interested in learning about the different careers and responsibilities within the criminal justice system. The mid-winter internship runs from February 18 to February 21, 2020 and the spring internship runs from April 13 to April 17, 2020.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We are delighted to welcome a new class of interns to learn about the various career opportunities available within the criminal justice system. These internships offer students hands-on experience into how criminal cases develop, from the steps taken to investigate and build a case, to how cases are presented in court. These internships are also an opportunity to learn valuable leadership and workplace skills participants can use in school and in their professional careers.”

Selected students will be assigned to one of the many specialized units within the DA’s Office, while also getting an overview of the criminal justice system. They can expect to assist with legal research and analysis; help prosecutors to prepare for trial; work on discovery; carry out file maintenance and organization of court documents; participate in Trial Zone workshops; participate in judicial, legal and law enforcement-related field trips; and observe criminal proceedings, including trials, guilty pleas and sentencings.

During the one-week internship, participants will receive a weekly MetroCard. Internship hours will be: Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the mid-winter session, and Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the spring session.  Interested applicants must submit their most recent school transcript, a one-page resume, one letter of recommendation, and a 300-word typed essay (12 pt. font and double-spaced) on why they are interested in interning with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and how the internship will impact their future career goals.

To apply, please visit: http://apply.brooklynda.org  beginning November 27, 2019, to upload transcript, essay and resume. Only the recommendation letter should be emailed as an attachment to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office at hsinternships@brooklynda.org, with the subject line: Recommendation Letter (Applicant’s First and Last Name). All application materials must be received no later than December 22, 2019. For questions or assistance please contact (718) 250-3191.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Ambush Shooting of Innocent College Student

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for
Fatal Ambush Shooting of Innocent College Student

Defendant Shot Victim from Behind, Continued to Fire After Victim Collapsed

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for the 2017 shooting death of an innocent 27-year-old man outside of the Farragut Houses in Downtown Brooklyn.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant has now been held accountable for the senseless and tragic murder of Melquian Anderson, who was a college student and was expecting a baby daughter – a young man in the prime of his life, who had everything to live for and who was cherished by his loved ones. I hope today’s sentencing brings them a small sense of solace.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Tavon Diaz, 24, of Downtown Brooklyn. He was sentenced today to 20 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder on November 7, 2019 following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on the evening of October 25, 2017, at approximately 8:45 p.m., outside of the Farragut Houses at 190 York Street, in Brooklyn, the defendant spotted Melquian Anderson walking up the block. The defendant then went inside of 190 York Street and returned outside with a loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun.

As the victim passed the front of the building, the defendant ambushed him, shooting him from behind. After the victim fell to the ground, the defendant ran towards him and shot at him six times, hitting him four times.

The defendant was arrested the following month, on November 22, 2019, and admitted being in the vicinity. He was identified by three witnesses as someone captured on video surveillance carrying a handgun immediately prior to the shooting.

The District Attorney thanked Detective Investigators assigned to his Investigations Bureau and Supervising Paralegal Janette Ayala, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, for their assistance in this investigation and trial.

The victim was pursuing a bachelor’s degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the time of his death and was expecting a baby girl with his girlfriend.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Chow Yun Xie, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Steven Bravo, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Construction Company Operator, Foreperson and Engineer Indicted for Manslaughter in Death of Laborer Buried in Debris Following Wall Collapse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 21, 2019

 

Construction Company Operator, Foreperson and Engineer Indicted for Manslaughter in Death of Laborer Buried in Debris Following Wall Collapse

Defendants Allegedly Ignored Workers’ Safety Concerns, Industry Protocols
And Concerns Expressed by Adjacent Property Owners

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson, today announced that the operator of a Sunset Park construction company, two other men and two businesses, have been indicted on manslaughter and other charges after a wall collapsed at an excavation site, killing a construction worker, Luis Almonte Sanchez, who was buried under thousands of pounds of debris. Three additional defendants have been indicted on lesser related charges.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Despite a construction-related conviction for attempted bribery a few years earlier, the construction company operator allegedly continued to play fast and loose with safety protocols, taking shortcuts to increase profit margins – this time with deadly consequences. We allege that the dangerous conditions at the site – which had been reported by laborers and neighbors – were ignored by these defendants and directly led to the death of Luis Almonte Sanchez, a 47-year-old family man. As new construction continues to proliferate in Brooklyn, it is incumbent upon builders to put safety first. As District Attorney, I am committed to protecting the safety of all workers.”

Commissioner Garnett said, “This indictment demonstrates the tragic results that we have seen far too often when individuals who purport to be construction professionals ignore safety problems and warnings. These defendants discounted the City’s construction code, making up the rules as they went along, creating the perfect conditions for a disaster that ultimately cost a worker his life, according to the charges. DOI thanks the Brooklyn District Attorney, the City Department of Buildings, and our other partners for their collaboration and commitment on this investigation.”

Commissioner La Rocca said, “Cutting corners on the work site costs lives. Luis Almonte Sanchez is no longer with us due to the defendants’ callous disregard for even the most basic excavation safety regulations, in service of padding their own bank accounts. I want to thank my colleagues District Attorney Gonzalez and Commissioner Garnett for their ongoing partnership during this investigation. This indictment sends a resolute message to bad actors in the construction industry: The City will not tolerate those who put profit ahead of the lives of their workers.”

Regional Administrator Mendelson said, “OSHA will continue to work with our law enforcement colleagues to achieve our mutual goal of safe and healthful workplaces by ensuring that employers comply with our agencies’ applicable laws and regulations, and by holding employers accountable if they disregard their safety and health responsibilities.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Jiaxi “Jimmy” Liu, 46, of Staten Island; Wilson Garcia Jr., 45, of Staten Island; Paul Bailey, 56, of Pelham, New York; Jia Rong “Tommy” Liu, 49, of Brooklyn; Siu Wah Maria Cheung-Mui, 31, of Brooklyn; Cindy Chai, 42, of Staten Island; Bailey’s Engineering, of Manhattan; WSC Group LLC, of Brooklyn; and WS Construction Inc., of Brooklyn.

Jiaxi Liu, Garcia, Bailey, WSC Group LLC, and Bailey’s Engineering PC are charged with second-degree manslaughter; Jiaxi Liu, WSC Group LLC, Garcia, Bailey, Bailey’s Engineering PC and Cheung-Miu are charged with criminally negligent homicide. Jiaxi and Jia Rong Liu, WSC Group, Garcia, Bailey, Bailey’s Engineering and Cheung-Mui are charged with second-degree reckless endangerment. Jiaxi Liu, Garcia and WSC Group are charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief. Jiaxi and Jia Rong Liu and Cheung-Mui are charged with first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. The defendants are also variously charged with third-degree insurance fraud; fraudulent practices, workers’ compensation law, Section 114 (3) and Section 96; third-degree grand larceny; criminal tax fraud in the third-, fourth- and fifth-degree; and second- and third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

The defendants were arrested and are expected to be arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun this afternoon.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between April and September 2018, construction workers employed by WSC Group Inc., performed demolition, excavation and foundation work at a construction site at 714 39th Street in Sunset Park. The construction involved removing a one-story industrial building and replacing it with a four-story manufacturing and community facility, including a new cellar level that would serve as an underground garage approximately nine feet below the first-floor level.

It is alleged that, despite repeated warnings of dangerous conditions at the site from workers and adjacent property owners, Jiaxi “Jimmy” Liu refused to stop work at the site. On September 12, 2018, at approximately 2 p.m., a portion of a support of excavation system (SOE) and an existing masonry wall – adjacent to residential apartment buildings – collapsed, trapping one of the construction workers who was performing foundation work in the immediate vicinity. That worker, Luis Almonte Sanchez, 47, an employee of WSC Group, was struck by one of the underpinning pin sections, which weighed between 15,000 and 45,000 pounds and was buried under the collapsing debris. First responders couldn’t recover Sanchez’s body until the following day due to unstable conditions at the site, which were worsened by significant rain.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, Jimmy Liu ran WSC Group, the company hired to perform the excavation work and it was his responsibility to give instructions to his foreperson and workers; His brother, Tommy Liu owned WSC Group; Wilson Garcia was the foreperson at the site; Paul Bailey was an engineer, acting as the Special Inspector at the site, and whose responsibility was to oversee the work and ensure that all building and administrative codes were complied with and that the construction site was safe for workers; Wilson Garcia served as the foreperson and “competent person,” designated to identify hazards and take immediate action to correct the hazards on site; Cheung-Mui was licensed as a construction superintendent by the DOB and was required to be on site to maintain a safe job site, maintain compliance with approved construction documents and perform daily site visits; Cindy Chai was the bookkeeper at WSC Group LLC and is only charged in connection with financial crimes alleged in the indictment.

It is alleged, according to the indictment, that the defendants were obligated by law to ensure that the construction site was in compliance with regulations promulgated by the DOB and Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure the safety of the work site, but, in fact, the site was not in compliance and, furthermore, the defendants failed to follow the design plans submitted and approved by the DOB. They allegedly solicited new plans, which were not submitted to DOB, but ultimately didn’t follow any plans, leading to hazardous conditions at the site. Among the issues: the excavation was too deep, the underpinning system wasn’t installed properly and safe bracing procedures were not followed.

Furthermore, it is alleged that in the days prior to September 12, 2018, Jimmy Liu and Garcia were informed by several of their workers of a number of potentially dangerous conditions, including that the rear wall was moving forward and that it had to be further braced with another beam across the lower portion of the wall in order to stop the wall’s movement.

Also, it is alleged, Jimmy Liu and Garcia were notified by a resident who lived immediately adjacent to the rear wall that her patio and garage had caved in. It is alleged that, despite those warnings, Jimmy Liu and Garcia refused to direct the workers to install additional bracing and never halted work at the site in order to assess or remedy the conditions. Nor did they notify DOB about the conditions.

Instead, it is alleged, they ordered workers to continue working on the underpinning at the rear of the site and in the days immediately preceding the collapse allowed a trucking company to continue to remove truckloads of dirt during a heavy rain storm, further destabilizing the site and causing the fatal collapse.

Additionally, it is alleged, some of the same individuals and companies were involved in another construction project located at 1759 Bay Ridge Parkway in 2017-2018, that was subject to numerous safety complaints that led to a DOB inspection, which uncovered numerous violations, and resulted in a stop work order. It is alleged that work continued at the site despite the order.

Finally, it is alleged, that WSC defrauded the New York State Insurance Fund of nearly $47,000 by making false statements about their employees, and that it also committed tax fraud by failing to file taxes between 2015 and 2018 and owes more than $28,000 for 2015 and 2016.

Following the 2018 fatal construction incident at 714 39th Street, DOB inspection teams conducted enforcement sweeps citywide of every construction site associated with the defendants and issued additional enforcement actions for site safety conditions where appropriate. In addition, DOB is taking additional administrative actions against any of the defendants that have licenses, registrations, or privileges with the Department.

The case was investigated by DOI, specifically Investigative Inspector Ross Hoffman, Chief Investigator James McElligott and Special Investigators Janaina Siguencia and Alejandra Gomero, under the supervision of Inspector General Gregory Cho, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort, with assistance from DOI’s squad of NYPD Detectives.

DOB Executive Engineer Construction Safety Enforcement Geoff Eisele and Supervising Inspector Greg Gonzalez assisted in the investigation. New York State Insurance Fund Investigator Maliaka Williams, Division of Confidential Investigations and OSHA Assistant Area Director Mitchel Konca and Safety Engineer James Ng, also assisted in the investigation.

The New York City Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Tax Auditor Giselle Decamps-Guthrie and Bureau Chief Gary Wong assisted in the investigation.

The District Attorney thanked Senior Assistant District Attorney Joel Greenwald of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Gregory P. Mitchel, Bureau Chief, Frauds Bureau Paralegal Stephanie Ducatel and Supervising Financial Investigator Debbie Wey of the Investigations Division for their assistance in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Samantha Magnani, Chief of the District Attorney’s Construction Crimes and Labor Fraud Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Elliot Wertheim, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief.

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

Materials that were displayed at the press conference can be viewed via this link: https://brooklynda-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/yanivo_brooklynda_org/EpkKAbLf80tLsS0l0lL8kcwBcFex_V4C3ThQ8zL6zNX4BQ?e=yxTahL

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Mass Shooting During Old Timers Day Celebration in Brownsville Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 18, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Mass Shooting During
Old Timers Day Celebration in Brownsville Park

Defendant Allegedly Triggered a Gun Battle, Which Left One Dead, 11 Others
Shot and Wounded

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with murder, assault and reckless endangerment for fatally shooting a man during the Old Timers Day celebration in Brownsville. The shooting ignited an exchange of gun fire between rival groups which left 11 innocent bystanders shot and wounded.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A beloved community celebration held peacefully and joyously became chaotic and tragic when this defendant allegedly opened fire in the middle of a crowd. Senseless gun violence that puts innocent people in harm’s way has destroyed too many lives and will not be tolerated in Brooklyn. We will now seek to bring justice to all of the people who were impacted by this defendant’s brazen conduct.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Kyle Williams, 20, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, two-counts of second-degree assault, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and first-degree reckless endangerment. The defendant was ordered held without bail and to return to court on January 15, 2020. The defendant faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on July 27, 2019, at approximately 11 p.m., in the Brownsville Playground, on Hegeman Avenue and Sackman Street, the defendant allegedly confronted Jason Pagan, 38, during Old Timers Day, an annual neighborhood celebration where more than 500 community members were gathered.

Following a verbal dispute, the defendant allegedly pulled out a gun and fatally shot Pagan in the head and torso. A shootout between rival groups then erupted during which 11 innocent people, caught in the crossfire, were shot and wounded.

The defendant was arrested on October 16, 2019, after investigators received tips from members of the community. Multiple eyewitnesses identified the defendant as the initial shooter. In addition, police recovered the gun the defendant allegedly used during the fatal shooting and obtained an admission from the defendant while he was in custody.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard L. Jackson, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Daphney Gachette, also of the Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Bureau Chief.

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

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 45 Years to Life in Prison For Murder of Manhattan Chef

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 7, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 45 Years to Life in Prison
For Murder of Manhattan Chef

Victim was Stabbed Multiple Times; Defendant Set Fire to Cover Up Crime

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 45 years to life in prison following his conviction last month on charges of murder, burglary and arson stemming from the January 2016 stabbing death of a popular Manhattan chef inside his home in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. The defendant, who fled following the stabbing, was apprehended in Virginia after four months on the run.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Romulo Heras was a beloved husband, father and grandfather and a popular chef whose life was tragically taken during a burglary that this defendant needlessly escalated to an arson and murder. He’s now been convicted and sentenced for his actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Jahkeem Scott, 21, of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today to 45 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder, second-degree arson and first-degree burglary last month following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on January 22, 2016 at approximately 9 a.m., the defendant entered the victim’s home through a window on the first floor. The victim, Romulo Heras, 61, was a nighttime chef at Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village in Manhattan and was home asleep at the time.

The defendant, intent on committing a burglary, stabbed the victim 31 times about the body, neck and head. Prior to leaving the apartment, the defendant stole numerous items from the victim’s home, according to the evidence.

Surveillance video footage from inside the apartment building depicts the defendant carrying a laundry bag of items as he leaves the victim’s building, the evidence showed.

To cover up the murder and burglary, the defendant set six separate fires to Heras’s apartment. The victim’s body was discovered by members of the New York City Fire Department who responded to the fire.

The defendant fled to Virginia after the crime and was apprehended in May 2016.

The District Attorney thanked New York City Police Department Detective Joseph Tillotson of the Brooklyn North Homicide Squad, Detective Rudy Lahens of the 75th Precinct Detective Squad, and Fire Marshal Vincent Lorenzo of the New York Fire Department for their work on the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Andy Palacio, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Daniel Murphy, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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NYPD Officer Pleads Guilty to Perjury for Falsely Claiming Burglary Suspect Tried to Strike Him and His Partner with Vehicle

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 7, 2019

 

NYPD Officer Pleads Guilty to Perjury for Falsely
Claiming Burglary Suspect Tried to Strike Him and His Partner with Vehicle

Swore He Saw Suspect Back Up and Almost Hit Partner,
Then Drive Forward and Narrowly Miss Hitting Officer

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a New York City Police Department officer has pleaded guilty to perjury, making a false statement, and official misconduct for making a false written statement and lying in a criminal court complaint and in the grand jury.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This officer’s false claims led to an individual being charged with a crime he did not commit. The criminal justice system must be able to rely on the integrity and credibility of our police officers to keep our communities safe and to ensure equal justice. This defendant has now been held accountable for his inexplicable actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Police Officer Michael Bergmann, 34, who was an NYPD officer for approximately six years and who was last assigned to the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division. He pleaded guilty today to one count of first-degree perjury, one count of second-degree perjury, one count of making a false statement and one count of official misconduct before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who indicated he may sentence the defendant to up to six months in jail and five years’ probation when he is sentenced on January 8, 2020. The DA’s office asked for a sentence of one year in jail.

On February 1, 2019, Officer Bergmann and his partner, who were assigned to the Grand Larceny Division, were on patrol on 65th Street between Second and Third Avenues in the confines of the 72nd Precinct, according to the investigation. They pulled up in their unmarked police car alongside a vehicle that had just been parallel parked by a burglary suspect whom Officer Bergmann recognized, with the intention of arresting him for driving without a valid license.

After stopping their unmarked police car alongside the suspect’s car, both officers exited their vehicle. Officer Bergmann claimed in a criminal complaint and in grand jury testimony that the suspect then backed up his car, nearly striking his partner who was located near the rear of the vehicle, and then drove the car forward causing Officer Bergmann – who was directly in front of the car between its headlights — to dive to the ground to avoid being hit as the suspect drove away. Officer Bergmann claimed he suffered slight abrasions to his elbow as a result of his fall to the ground.

The suspect was arrested two days later and charged with various counts of attempted assault and reckless endangerment relating to this February 1, 2019 incident and separately charged with two unrelated burglaries. He was subsequently indicted for what occurred during the February 1, 2019 incident on one count of first-degree attempted assault, one count of attempted assault on a police officer, one count of first-degree reckless endangerment, two counts of second-degree attempted assault, one count of second-degree reckless endangerment, one count of third-degree assault, one count of third-degree attempted assault, one count of third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and one count of unlicensed operator.

On May 28, 2019, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office obtained video surveillance footage that depicts the February 1, 2019 incident and contradicts Officer Bergmann’s account of what occurred. The footage showed his unmarked police car pull alongside the suspect’s car after the suspect’s car completed parallel parking against the curb. It then showed the suspect’s car drive off when Officer Bergmann and his partner exit their vehicle without ever backing up and without coming close to striking Officer Bergmann, who was never in front of the suspect’s car and who did not move out of the way of the car or fall to the ground when the suspect drove away.

The case was prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau by Assistant District Attorney Salvador Reynozo and Deputy Bureau Chief Christopher Eribo, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Patrick L. O’Connor, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Chief of Trials, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Tali Farhadian Weinstein, General Counsel.

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Flatbush Man Indicted for Sex Trafficking of Two Teenage Girls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

 

Flatbush Man Indicted for Sex Trafficking of Two Teenage Girls

Victims Rescued by Undercover Police Officer Following Tip from the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Flatbush man has been arraigned on a 10-count indictment in which he is charged with sex trafficking of a child, promoting prostitution and related charges for the alleged sex trafficking of two teens, ages 15 and 17.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We allege that this defendant took advantage of two vulnerable young girls, trafficking them for money in exchange for sex. I am committed to rescuing and protecting our at-risk children and teens from predators who seek to abuse and exploit them.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Hakeem Bennett, 24, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with two counts of sex trafficking of a child, two counts of attempted sex trafficking of a child, two counts of second- and fourth-degree promoting prostitution, one count of third-degree promoting prostitution and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. He faces up to 50 years in prison and would be required to register as a sex offender if convicted of the top count. He was ordered held on $250,000 bail and to return to court on January 8, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on September 30, 2019, the New York City Police Department received information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (which received a tip from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) regarding the possible sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl. On October 3, 2019, an undercover officer responded to an escort advertisement provided by the FBI, which included photographs of three girls, including the missing 17-year-old and the 15-year-old.

The undercover officer, it is alleged, called the phone number provided in the advertisement and engaged in a conversation with a woman regarding sex for money. He later was directed by that same woman to meet her at an address on East 29th Street in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

When the officer arrived at the location, it is alleged, he was met by a different female, a 15-year-old, who brought him to a house where he met with the defendant and the 17-year-old and another, unidentified woman. The undercover and the defendant allegedly agreed that the defendant would pay $250 to have sex with the 15-year-old and the 17-year-old. As the undercover, the defendant and the two girls began to walk down the street to a location the defendant agreed to make available for the encounter, he was apprehended by the undercover’s field team.

Upon further investigation, it is alleged that the defendant had been selling both teenagers for sex for several weeks by posting his phone number in escort advertisements and would pretend to be the girl when customers called the number. The defendant would then dispatch the victims to an agreed upon location, after telling them what to do and how much to charge, to meet the customer. In some instances, it is alleged, the defendant had the customers send the money directly to him via payments apps.

The case was investigated by Detective Joseph Spataro of the New York City Police Department, Brooklyn North Vice Module, under the supervision of Lieutenant Amy Campogna, and in coordination with Detective Elizabeth Gonzalez of the NYPD’s Human Trafficking Team, under the supervision of Lieutenant Christopher Sharpe, Sergeant Faoud Zahirudin and Captain Thomas Milano and under the overall supervision of Inspector James Klein, Commanding Officer of the Vice Enforcement Division.

Senior Intelligence Analyst Brooke Middleton, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, KCDA Forensic Analyst Sourov Talukder and Assistant District Attorney Sherman Jones, of the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Anna Federico, of the Human Trafficking Unit, and Assistant District Attorney David Weiss, Deputy Unit Chief, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau.

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

 

Former Homeless Services Employee Convicted of Forcible Touching, Sexual Abuse for Inappropriately Touching Women in Homeless Shelter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 31, 2019

 

Former Homeless Services Employee Convicted of Forcible Touching,
Sexual Abuse for Inappropriately Touching Women in Homeless Shelter

Defendant Abused Three Women at Fort Greene Shelter in Separate Incidents

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, today announced that a former employee of the New York City Department of Homeless Services has been convicted of forcible touching and sexual abuse in connection with incidents involving three residents of the Auburn Family Shelter in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The victims in this case are among society’s most vulnerable people and it is incumbent upon us that when we welcome them into a New York City shelter they are offered a safe haven and treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, that did not happen in this case. Today’s verdict is a measure of justice for these women and holds the defendant accountable for his egregious and abusive conduct.”

Commissioner Garnett said, “This defendant preyed upon already vulnerable shelter residents, depriving them of the security and confidence they should expect in a City-operated shelter and when coming to a public servant for assistance. Today, this defendant was held accountable, is now facing jail time, and no longer works for the City of New York. This investigation underscores how sexual abuse and harassment infringe on a person’s most basic rights and feeling of safety. DOI thanks the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for their partnership in the prosecution of this important investigation.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Clyde Johnson, 56, of Queens. He was convicted today of three counts of forcible touching and one count of third-degree sexual abuse following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Laura Johnson, who set sentencing for December 16, 2019, at which time the defendant faces up to two years in jail.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on four separate occasions in 2017, the defendant, a housing specialist, forcibly touched or sexually abused three women who were residents of the Auburn Family Shelter, either at the shelter or in the vicinity.

  • In April 2017, the defendant groped a shelter resident while meeting with her to discuss housing.
  • In July 2017, the defendant rubbed up against a shelter resident’s buttocks while she was making a purchase at a deli near the shelter, telling her: “This is a stickup.” On a separate occasion, the defendant rubbed up against the same woman while they were riding on the B54 bus.
  • In August 2017, the defendant groped a shelter resident who had come to his office seeking help with her housing situation.

The investigation was conducted by DOI’s Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeless Services, specifically Special Investigator Jeremy Reyes, under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General Audrey Feldman and First Deputy Inspector General John Bellanie, and the overall supervision of Inspector General Milton Yu, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Brittany Heaney and Senior Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cohen, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Miss Gregory, Chief.

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Two Men Sentenced to 50 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Shooting of Man and Woman Ambushed After Leaving Brooklyn Nightclub

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 28, 2019

 

Two Men Sentenced to 50 Years to Life in Prison for Fatal Shooting of
Man and Woman Ambushed After Leaving Brooklyn Nightclub

One Fired a Total of 13 Shots as Victims Sat in Front Seat of Parked SUV,
Another Tracked Victims’ Movements and Acted as a Lookout

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that two men have been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for a June 2017 shooting of a young couple who were ambushed after leaving an East New York nightclub. The defendants, acting in concert, followed the victims from the club and fired 13 shots as the victims sat in the front seat of a parked SUV.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants coldly orchestrated the execution of two young people enjoying a night on the town. Their ruthless violence shattered two families. This sentencing should send a clear message that there are serious consequences for those who devastate and terrorize our communities with gun violence.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Gary Martin, 35, and Kenrick Bayliss, 37, of East New York, Brooklyn. They were each sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice to 50 years to life in prison. The defendants were each convicted of two counts of second-degree murder on September 27, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on June 23, 2017 at approximately 4:35 a.m., the defendants followed Devon Hannibal, 27, and Christina Stubbs, 23, as the couple left the Linden Hall night club and walked to a car parked on Cleveland Street near Linden Boulevard.

Moments after the victims entered Hannibal’s Dodge Durango SUV, Martin approached and fired 13 shots into the vehicle, striking Hannibal nine times and Stubbs once. The victims both died at the scene. The defendants fled on foot.

The defendants, according to the evidence, coordinated their ambush throughout the night of the shooting. Surveillance video and cell phone records show that Bayliss tracked the victims’ movements inside the club while Martin left the club to return to his home and retrieve a gun. Bayliss also sent Martin a text message asking him to bring back a second firearm so that Bayliss could participate in the shooting. In addition, Bayliss texted Martin to inform him when the victims were leaving the club, followed the victims as they headed back to their car and acted as a lookout while Martin committed the shooting.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Bureau Chief Howard Jackson, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Joseph Bianco, of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau.

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