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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 15, 2019

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 9, 2019

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defendant Addendum 

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

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

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 2, 2019

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Deidre Moskowitz, under the supervision of Senior Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division. 

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

 

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Weekday, Month 00, 2019

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Joseph DiBenedetto of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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

 

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 27, 2019

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Inmate Sentenced to Prison for Assaulting Correction Officers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

 

Inmate Sentenced to Prison for Assaulting Correction Officers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Former Police Officer Sentenced to Jail and Probation For Off-Duty Road Rage Assault

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

 

Former Police Officer Sentenced to Jail and Probation
For Off-Duty Road Rage Assault

Struck Motorist with Pistol and Handcuffs, Causing Him to Receive Stitches; Fled the Scene

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a former New York City Police Officer has been sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years’ probation. He was convicted of assault, weapons possession, reckless driving and other charges for attacking a motorist on New Year’s Day 2018. The defendant was fired from the police department upon his conviction in March.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “There is no place on the streets of Brooklyn for road rage. This defendant’s aggressive and violent behavior escalated to an assault – criminal conduct that was made worse by the fact that he was a police officer at the time. He has now been held accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Michael Baror, 25, formerly of Transit District 32. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to 60 days jail and five years’ probation over the objection of prosecutors, who asked that the defendant be sentenced to one year in jail. He must also pay a total of $450 in fines. The defendant was convicted of second-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, reckless driving, improper use of a siren and improper display of plates following a jury trial in March 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on January 1, 2018, at approximately 10:30 p.m., at Avenue N and Bedford Avenue, the defendant was driving his personal vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee that was illegally equipped with lights and sirens. He was flashing his high beams at a car in front of him and rear-ended it. He then got out of the car, pulled out his pistol and pistol-whipped the other driver, a 29-year-old man. He also repeatedly struck the victim in the face with handcuffs before getting back in his vehicle and driving away.

The victim followed the defendant. The victim’s girlfriend, who was also in the vehicle, called 911 and remained on the phone during the chase. While the victim’s girlfriend was reporting the plate number to the 911 operator, the defendant concealed his license plate with an electronic device. Both vehicles were speeding and running red lights and the victim eventually crashed into the defendant’s vehicle. Police were at the scene within minutes, but the defendant had fled the scene. He did not report the incident to police or his supervisors. The defendant was arrested the following day and a search of his vehicle revealed that he removed the lights and sirens. The defendant, who is seen on surveillance video with a thick beard and hair on his head during the incident, had shaved his head and beard by the time police arrived to arrest him.

The victim sustained injuries to the mouth that required stitches, swelling and bruising about the face and head, a contusion to his head, a cut to the nose, and an injured shoulder.

The case was investigated by NYPD Sergeant John Pietanza of the Internal Affairs Bureau Group 34.

KCDA Paralegal Michael Chung assisted with the prosecution.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kelli M. Muse, Chief of the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau (formerly of the Civil Rights Bureau) and Senior Assistant District Attorney Prabhalya Pulim, also of the Hate Crimes Bureau (formerly of the Civil Rights Bureau), under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Joseph P. Alexis, Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Division.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

 

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

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

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that a New York City Police Department officer has been indicted for perjury, making a false written statement and official misconduct for allegedly lying in a criminal court complaint and in the grand jury and for allegedly falsely arresting an individual.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We allege that this police officer’s actions led to an individual being falsely accused of crimes that he did not commit. All of us who work in law enforcement rely on the truthfulness and integrity of our police officers – it is integral to our commitment to safety and equal justice. We will now seek to hold this officer accountable.”

Commissioner O’Neill said, “The dedicated police officers of the NYPD make a solemn pledge to abide by the greatest standards of conduct, and uphold the law. If an officer fails to meet those standards, they must be held to account.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Police Officer Michael Bergman, 34, who has been an NYPD officer for approximately six years and who is currently assigned to the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with 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. The defendant was released without bail and ordered to return to court on August 7, 2019.

On February 1, 2019, Officer Bergman 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 the vehicle of a burglary suspect whom Officer Bergman recognized who had just parallel parked 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 Bergman allegedly 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, then drove the car forward, causing Officer Bergman – 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 Bergman allegedly 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 Bergman’s account of what occurred. The footage shows his unmarked police car pull alongside the burglary suspect’s car after the burglary suspect’s car completes parallel parking against the curb and then shows the suspect’s car drive off when Officer Bergman and his partner exit their vehicle without ever backing up and without coming close to striking Officer Bergman, 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 as he allegedly claimed when the suspect drove away.

The case was investigated and is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney James Aliaga, of the District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patrick L. O’Connor, Bureau Chief, and Assistant District Attorney Christopher Eribo, Deputy Chief, 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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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

East New York Man Sentenced to Four to 12 Years in Prison For Promoting Prostitution and Assault of Philadelphia Teen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

 

East New York Man Sentenced to Four to 12 Years in Prison
For Promoting Prostitution and Assault of Philadelphia Teen

Defendant Promoted Prostitution of Eight Others,
Most of whom Were Minors From Out of State

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an East New York man who pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution has been sentenced to four to 12 years in prison for promoting the prostitution of a Philadelphia teen. He also promoted the prostitution of eight others, ranging in age from 15 to 21 years old.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant took advantage of vulnerable young women, luring them to New York City to work as prostitutes and used violence to get them to do his bidding. I am committed to holding accountable those who violate and prey on our young women.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Jonathan Harris, a.k.a., Jayo, 27, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to four to 12 years in prison and must register as a sex offender upon his release. He pleaded guilty on March 20, 2019 to one count of second-degree promoting prostitution, one count of third-degree promoting prostitution and one count of second-degree assault. A co-defendant, Tariq Washington, previously pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking and was sentenced to four-and-a-half to nine years in prison and must register as a sex offender upon his release.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between March 2015 and December 2016, the defendants prostituted at least nine young women, the majority of whom were ages 16 and 17, in Brooklyn, after luring most of them to the city from out of state, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Cleveland. The defendants located the women on Backpage.com and then texted them and convinced them to come to New York to be prostituted, sending them bus tickets and then posting their photos on Backpage.com.

The defendants rented several rooms at various motels in Brooklyn and elsewhere and brought the women to the locations where men paid to have sex with them.

Furthermore, according to the investigation, the defendants gave the girls drugs and physically assaulted them if they refused to work as prostitutes.

The 18-year-old Philadelphia victim had come to Brooklyn with a 17-year-old friend after that girl was contacted by Washington and lured to Brooklyn. The younger girl left after a few days and returned to Philadelphia. The victim was then repeatedly assaulted by Harris and forced to prostitute, until she was able to get the strength to leave him and go to the police for help two months later.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective David Mills and Detective James Rufle of the Human Trafficking Team, Vice Enforcement Division, under the supervision of Sergeant Faoud Zahirudin, Lieutenant Christopher Sharpe and Captain Thomas Milano, and the overall supervision of Inspector James Klein.

The District Attorney thanked Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crimes Against Children Squad in the New York and Philadelphia field offices for their assistance in the investigation.

Senior Intelligence Analyst Brooke Middleton of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit assisted in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney David Weiss, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau.

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Drunk Driver Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Fatally Striking a College Student Who Was Rollerblading in Brownsville

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 17, 2019

 

Drunk Driver Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Fatally Striking a
College Student Who Was Rollerblading in Brownsville

Defendant Intentionally Crashed Vehicle During Argument with Boyfriend,
While Driving 97 MPH; Continued Driving, Crashing into Four Cars
And Injuring Several Passengers

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 39-year-old man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for fatally striking a college student while driving intoxicated and getting into an argument with his boyfriend during which he threatened to crash the car. After striking the 21-year-old victim, the defendant continued driving and hit four additional vehicles.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant intentionally turned his vehicle into a weapon and senselessly killed a promising young man. His actions placed many others in danger that night and caused additional injuries. We will never tolerate this type of criminal and deadly behavior on our roads.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Terrance Smith, 39, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Hecht to 15 years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision following his guilty plea to first-degree manslaughter on May 28, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on April 8, 2017, at approximately 8:35 p.m., the defendant was driving his 2012 Infinity near Glenmore Avenue and Powell Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn, when he started to argue with his partner who was in the front seat. The defendant threatened his boyfriend by saying, “I’m going to crash this b—h, I’m going to kill us” and, as he accelerated down Powell Street, struck 21-year-old Michael Joefield, a college student from Brownsville, who was rollerblading. The defendant’s vehicle’s black box recorded his speed as 97 miles per hour at the moment of impact with the victim.

The impact from the car threw the victim into the air and he landed head first on a van, shattering his skull and killing him instantly. The defendant continued to drive down Powell Street, hitting four cars that were stopped or parked. One was a livery cab with an eight-month-pregnant woman and her toddler. The cab driver suffered injuries to his neck and head, the mother lost her unborn baby and the toddler suffered injuries to her eyes from broken glass.

The defendant exited his vehicle near Junius Street, leaving his partner with multiple lacerations to his face and an injured knee. The defendant, who suffered no injuries, was found near scaffolding trying to hide from the police. Video surveillance captured his car accelerating on Powell Street and the moment of impact with the first victim, according to the investigation. A second video captured the defendant’s vehicle crashing into the other cars.

The defendant’s blood alcohol content was .22, nearly three times the legal limit of .08.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kori Medow, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Orange Zone Trial Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Victoria Clarkson, of the Orange Zone, with the assistance of Senior Assistant District Attorney Farin Chasin-Fodeman, also of the Orange Zone, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Janet Gleeson, Bureau Chief.

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