Gang Members Convicted of Manslaughter for Fatally Shooting Teenager Outside of Applebee’s in Downtown Brooklyn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 25, 2018

 

Gang Members Convicted of Manslaughter for Fatally Shooting Teenager Outside of Applebee’s in Downtown Brooklyn

Shots Fired as Two Rival Gangs Confronted Each Other on Busy Flatbush Avenue

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that two teenage gang members have been convicted of first-degree manslaughter and other charges for the 2015 shooting death of sixteen-year-old Armani Hankins and for shooting and injuring an 18-year-old.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants escalated a confrontation between two gangs into a deadly incident on a busy Brooklyn street. Gang and gun violence is senselessly ruining the lives of too many young people and those who participate in such lawless behavior will be held responsible for their actions.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Malik Peters, 19, of Fort Greene, Brooklyn and Tyshawn Simon-Roberson, 18, of Downtown Brooklyn. Both defendants were convicted of first-degree manslaughter, first-degree attempted assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Simon-Roberson was convicted on Monday, January 22, 2018 and Peters was convicted today. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent DelGiudice presided over the trial, which included separate juries for each of the defendants. Simon-Roberson faces up to 40 years in prison and Peters faces up to 55 years in prison when they are sentenced on February 13, 2018.

According to trial testimony, on October 26, 2015, at approximately 6 p.m., members of two rival gangs, the East New York-based “4 to 5” and the Fort Greene-based “900” met up in the vicinity of 395 Flatbush Avenue Extension, in front of an Applebee’s restaurant, and confronted each other. Simon-Roberson pulled out a firearm and fired, hitting an 18-year-old in the leg. When “4 to 5” associates, which included Armani Hankins, ran in pursuit of the fleeing “900” members after the teen was shot in the leg, Peters pulled out a gun and shot and killed “4 to 5” gang member Hankins.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Patrick O’Connor, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Viviane Dussek, also of VCE, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, VCE Chief. The case was additionally investigated by Detective Investigator Kolawole Olosunde, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator David Acres, Deputy Chief Edwin Murphy and Interim Chief Joseph Piraino, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

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Crown Heights Man Indicted for Murder of Wife

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 25, 2018

 

Crown Heights Man Indicted for Murder of Wife

Cause of Death Determined to be Asphyxiation, Including Compression of the Neck

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 29-year-old man from Crown Heights, Brooklyn has been arraigned on an indictment charging him with the murder of his 22-year-old wife, whom he allegedly asphyxiated. Her body was found in the basement of the brownstone where he lived. The defendant was later apprehended in New Rochelle, New York, where he fled after the murder.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly killed the woman he purportedly loved. It is critical that we do all we can to combat domestic violence which in this instance escalated, led to a senseless death and left this young mother’s family and friends to struggle with such a tragic loss.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Barry Wells, 29, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder, aggravated criminal contempt, first-degree criminal contempt and aggravated family offense. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on March 14, 2018. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on December 27, 2017 at about 8:30 a.m., at 1172 Sterling Place in Crown Heights, the defendant and his wife, Tonie Wells, got into an argument inside the first-floor apartment in the building. During the argument, her 21-month-old daughter was locked out of the apartment and crying in the hall. A neighbor came and got the baby. After the arguing stopped, the neighbor checked on Tonie Wells and found her unconscious in the basement. She was later pronounced dead at the scene. There was an active order of protection against the defendant in effect at the time she was killed.

The defendant was arrested in New Rochelle, N.Y., later that day and charged with aggravated family offense and criminal contempt. Following an autopsy, the cause of death was determined to be by asphyxiation, including compression of the neck.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Sabeeha Madni, of the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michelle Kaminsky, Bureau Chief.

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

 

Man Indicted for Assault as a Hate Crime For Allegedly Beating Transgender Female at Shelter on Christmas Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

 

Man Indicted for Assault as a Hate Crime
For Allegedly Beating Transgender Female at Shelter on Christmas Day

Faces Up To 15 Years in Prison

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced today that a man has been indicted on charges of assault as a hate crime and other offenses for allegedly hitting a transgendered woman with a chair inside of a Bedford-Stuyvesant homeless shelter.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This cowardly and unprovoked attack in which an innocent woman was assaulted simply because she is transgendered is despicable. In Brooklyn, we will not tolerate bias-motivated crimes of any kind. We now intend to hold the defendant accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Kane Sekou, 40, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree assault as a hate crime and other related offenses. He was ordered held on $20,000 bail and to return to court on March 14, 2018. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on December 25, 2017, at approximately 6:15 p.m., the victim, a 31-year-old transgendered female, who is a resident of a homeless shelter located at 357 Marcus Garvey Boulevard, was walking down a hallway towards the bathroom when she heard someone running toward her from behind. She turned and saw the defendant, Kane Sekou, running toward her with a chair, which he allegedly used to strike the victim across the back. The defendant allegedly then yelled homophobic slurs at the victim.

The victim reported the attack to security and 911 was called. It is alleged that when the police arrived the defendant made additional homophobic slurs.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective John Hidalgo of the Hate Crimes Task Force.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Prabhalya Pulim, of the District Attorney’s Civil Rights Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kelli M. Muse, Deputy Bureau Chief, 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

 

Off-Duty Police Officer Indicted for Gunpoint Robbery Of Brooklyn Man Outside of Bushwick Nightclub

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

 

Off-Duty Police Officer Indicted for Gunpoint Robbery
Of Brooklyn Man Outside of Bushwick Nightclub

Defendant and Unapprehended Accomplice Captured on Surveillance Video;
Victim was Allegedly pistol Whipped and Made to Undress

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an off-duty New York City Police Officer has been arraigned on a 14-count indictment in which he is charged with first-degree robbery and other charges for allegedly robbing a man of cash, jewelry and a cellphone at gunpoint and pistol-whipping him outside of a Bushwick nightclub.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s alleged brazen and criminal behavior was in direct contradiction to the oath he took to protect and serve. He then allegedly made a deplorable situation worse by falsely accusing multiple individuals of robbing him. We will now seek to hold him accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Anthony Delacruz, 34. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 14-count indictment in which he is charged with two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of second-degree robbery, one count of third-degree robbery, two counts of second-degree assault, one count of third-degree assault, one count of second-degree menacing, two counts of third-degree falsely reporting an incident, two counts of distinctive number; form of number plates; trailers, and one count of petit larceny. Bail was set at $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash and the defendant, who was suspended today by the NYPD following his arrest, was ordered to return to court on March 21, 2018. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on May 28, 2016 at approximately 3:30 a.m., in the vicinity of Wyckoff Avenue and Grove Street, near the El Mekkah Bar and Grill, officers responded to a 911 call for shots fired. Responding officers were allegedly told by Officer Delacruz – who did not initially identify himself as a police officer or state that he had fired his service weapon – that he was off-duty and in his personal vehicle when he was surrounded by several individuals who stole his gold chain, Rolex watch and a gold ring before fleeing. Officer Delacruz allegedly said that he then chased after the perpetrators and exchanged gunfire with them, firing his gun once and there were possibly two shots returned.

While on scene, Officer Delacruz allegedly pointed to a group of people who he said were involved in the robbery. All were taken into custody, and video evidence taken from El Mekkah definitively showed that none of the men identified by Officer Delacruz were involved in the alleged robbery. The men were visible on camera in a different location from where the alleged robbery occurred. The officer was taken to a hospital, where NYPD personnel determined that he was not forthcoming about details, and not in possession of his shield while armed and therefore unfit for duty.

Upon further investigation, Officer Delacruz and an unidentified accomplice are allegedly captured on video confronting another man, whose identity is known to the District Attorney, who was hiding behind a car. The video further shows Officer Delacruz allegedly pointing his service weapon at that man.

Furthermore, according to the investigation, the three men go off camera and when they return to camera view the unidentified accomplice is carrying clothing and sneakers and he and Officer Delacruz walk away. The victim can later be seen on camera dressed only in a t-shirt, boxer shorts and with no shoes. The victim was allegedly pistol-whipped by the defendant and DNA recovered from the muzzle of the officer’s gun belonged to the victim. A shell casing recovered on the scene matched the defendant’s gun, the investigation found.

During the course of the investigation, Officer Delacruz identified the pistol-whipped victim as one of the men who robbed him. Charges that were filed in connection with that alleged incident were later dismissed.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Danielle Eaddy, Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Bureau Grey Zone, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Mathew Midey, also of the Grey Zone, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Division. Senior Assistant District Attorney Krystyn Tendy, also of the Grey Zone, assisted in the investigation.

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

 

DA Eric Gonzalez Announces Justice 2020 Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

 

DA Eric Gonzalez Announces Justice 2020 Initiative

Committee of Criminal Justice Experts, Reformers and Community Leaders
Will Advise on Reforms and Innovative Approaches to Keep Brooklyn Safe and
Strengthening Community Trust in the Criminal Justice System

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced a groundbreaking initiative aimed at keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening community trust in the criminal justice system by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all. Justice 2020 will rely initially on a Launch Committee consisting of criminal justice reform experts, defense groups, service providers, law enforcement, formerly incarcerated individuals, clergy and community leaders. The committee – co-chaired by Medgar Evers College President Rudy Crew and former New York Chief Judge and currently of Counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP Jonathan Lippman – will meet in subcommittees that will present recommendations to the DA in the spring. These recommendations will be integrated into a plan that will be shared with the public as a set of goals aimed at achieving this vision of reform by the year 2020.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We have a historic opportunity in Brooklyn to create a national model of what a truly progressive prosecutor’s office can be. I plan to achieve that goal by consulting a committee of experts and creating a set of guidelines that will focus on those who do the most harm, while reducing incarceration and finding new ways to hold accountable those who can safely be diverted or deflected entirely from the criminal justice system.

“We will use data to support and guide innovation and to reduce racial disparities in our system, work in collaboration with stake holders and community partners to foster safe and healthy communities, and enhance our transparency and accountability. This vision will govern the direction of my Office and I will task my staff with making measurable progress towards achieving the committee’s recommendations by 2020.”

Dr. Crew said, “I believe the Task Force is well positioned to develop the kind of transformational ideas that emerge when we look at issues in a more holistic and integrated way.  The Launch Committee is composed of a diverse set of institutions that are all too often isolated in their own echo chambers. Until we understand the web of mutuality that exists between the courts, schools, police and our communities, we will continue to falter when it comes to justice.  Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez is defining and leading a new approach to the complexity of achieving greater equity in the criminal justice system.”

Judge Lippman said, “I am so pleased to chair DA Gonzalez’ Justice 2020 Initiative, along with Rudy Crew. DA Gonzalez is a rare leader, who understands that prosecutors can ensure fairness and trust in the criminal justice system at the same time that public safety is protected. Criminal justice reform is not for the short-winded. I have every confidence that DA Gonzalez has the vision and the determination to make the Justice 2020 Initiative a shining model for the country in progressive criminal justice reform.”

The District Attorney said that Brooklyn is uniquely positioned to take on this endeavor as a true partnership with community organizations and leaders – and serve as a blueprint for reform that can be emulated across the country. The borough is safer than it’s ever been as 2017 ended with the lowest number of homicides and shootings since record-keeping began. The late DA Ken Thompson and DA Gonzalez have put in place notable reform-minded programs, such as a bail policy that decreased reliance on cash bail, an immigration policy aimed at minimizing collateral consequences of criminal convictions, a Conviction Review Unit that’s considered a national model, and an initiative to vacate hundreds of thousands of outstanding summons warrants that were generated due to failures to pay fines for minor infractions.

Justice 2020 will build on these strong foundations, representing the first time that the people of Brooklyn are asked to actively participate in reforming their criminal justice system. Importantly, any reforms implemented as part of the initiative will not compromise public safety, which remains the DA’s highest priority.

The Launch Committee, which has over 60 members, is divided into sub-committees that focus on different facets of the justice system in Brooklyn, including: alternatives to prosecution and restorative justice; mental health; case handling reforms; violence prevention and gun strategies; civil rights and policing; data and transparency; professional responsibility and conviction integrity; among others. The Committee’s purpose is to provide fresh, outside perspectives and ideas to help the DA advance his vision and reform agenda. Each member brings significant expertise and experience to the task; many are nationally recognized experts in their fields.

Justice 2020 Launch Committee Members

  1. Rudy Crew (co-chair) – President of Medgar Evers College.
  2. Jonathan Lippman (co-chair) – former Chief Judge of New York State and of Counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP.
  3. Richard Aborn – President of the Citizens Crime Commission and Partner at Constantine Cannon.
  4. Debo Adegbile – Partner at WilmerHale.
  5. Alyssa Aguilera – Political Director of VOCAL-NY.
  6. Rev. Lawrence Aker – Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church.
  7. Debbie Almontaser – Founder and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group.
  8. Murad Awawdeh – Director of Political Engagement at the New York Immigration Coalition.
  9. Chiraag Bains – Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Law School and Open Society Foundations.
  10. Ana Bermudez – Commissioner of the NYC Department of Probation.
  11. Matthew Blaisdell – Immigration and Nationality Lawyer.
  12. Alvin Bragg – Chief Deputy Attorney General at the NY Attorney General’s Office.
  13. Brian Byrd – Program Officer at the New York State Health Foundation.
  14. Carl Charles – Transgender Rights Project Law Fellow at Lambada Legal.
  15. Chris Coffey – Leader of NYC Practice at Tusk Strategies, where he represents the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
  16. Khalil Cumberbatch – Associate VP of Policy at the Fortune Society.
  17. Reagan Daly – Research Director at the CUNY Institute for state and Local Governance.
  18. Michelle de la Uz – Executive Director of Fifth Avenue Committee.
  19. LB Eisen – Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.
  20. Mishi Faruqee – National Field Director of the Youth First Initiative.
  21. Rebecca Fischer – Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
  22. Carol Fisler – Director of Mental Health Court and Alternative-to-Detention Programs at the Center for Court Innovation.
  23. Kesi Foster – Coordinator at Urban Youth Collaborative, Make the Road NY.
  24. Jeffery Foster – Communication and Development Director at VOCAL-NY.
  25. Kassandra Frederique – New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
  26. Nancy Ginsburg – Director of the Adolescent Intervention and Diversion Project of the Legal Aid Society.
  27. Colvin Grannum – President of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
  28. Ames Grawert – Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.
  29. Judy Greene – Director of Justice Strategies.
  30. David Greenfield – CEO of the Met Council.
  31. Daliah Heller – Clinical Professor at CUNY School of Public Health.
  32. Andrew Hoan – President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
  33. Robert Holdman – Ethics and Best Practices.
  34. Michael Jacobson Executive Director of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance.
  35. Jennifer Jones Austin – CEO and Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.
  36. Hillary Kunins – Assistant Commissioner at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
  37. Harlan Levy – Partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.
  38. Ann-Marie Louison – Director of Adult Behavioral Health Programs at CASES.
  39. Tina Luongo – Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice of the Legal Aid Society.
  40. Jane Manning – Director of Advocacy at NOW-NYC.
  41. Adam Mansky – Director of Operations at the Center for Court Innovation.
  42. Brian Meagher – Executive Agency Counsel at the NYPD’s Office of Crime Control Strategies.
  43. Nina Morrison – Senior Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project.
  44. Rev. Vivian Nixon – Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship.
  45. Courtney Oliva – Executive Director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at NYU.
  46. JoAnne Page – President and CEO of the Fortune Society.
  47. Chauncey Parker – Executive Assistant District Attorney and Special Policy Advisor at the Manhattan DA’s Office.
  48. Elizabeth Perez – Brooklyn Borough Representative of the United Federation of Teachers.
  49. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik – Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis.
  50. Insha Rahman – Project Director at the Vera Institute of Justice.
  51. Reem Ramadan – Community Organizer at the Arab American Association of New York.
  52. Meg Reiss – Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
  53. Cheryl Roberts –Director of Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice.
  54. Dawn Ryan – Attorney-in-Charge, Brooklyn Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society.
  55. Vincent Schiraldi – Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University.
  56. Lisa Schreibersdorf – Founder and Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services.
  57. Danielle Sered – Executive Director of Common Justice.
  58. Sideya Sherman – Executive Vice President for Community Engagement and Partnerships at the New York City Housing Authority.
  59. Gail Smith – Director of the Women in Prison Project at the ‎Correctional Association of New York.
  60. Daniel Tietz – CEO of Bailey House.
  61. Nick Turner – President of the Vera Institute of Justice.
  62. Jim Walden – Partner at Walden, Macht & Haran.
  63. Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood – Pastor of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church.

The Director of the Launch Committee is Jill Harris, Special Advisor to the District Attorney. She recently joined the Brooklyn DA’s Office after serving as the Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice. She previously worked as the Managing Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives at the Drug Policy Alliance and as a trial attorney at the Legal Aid Society.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

 

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

Defendant Shot Victim in the Back and Shattered His Spine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2017 was the Safest Year in Brooklyn’s History

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 28, 2017

 

2017 was the Safest Year in Brooklyn’s History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 22, 2017

 

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

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

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

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

The Acting District Attorney said that the defendant, Ibrahim Elgreatly, 36, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny, two counts of third-degree grand larceny and 11 counts of first-degree falsifying business records. He was ordered held on bail of $250,000 bond or $100,000 cash and to return to court on February 28, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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