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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New Jersey Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Assaulting Woman on Subway After She Woke to Find Him Masturbating and Exposing Himself

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 24, 2019

 

New Jersey Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Assaulting
Woman on Subway After She Woke to Find Him
Masturbating and Exposing Himself

Defendant Pepper Sprayed, Punched and Stabbed Victim After She Saw Him Staring at Her, With His Genitals Exposed, While Seated Across from Her

Defendant Pepper Sprayed, Punched and Stabbed Victim After She Saw Him Staring at Her, With His Genitals Exposed, While Seated Across from Her

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced today that a New Jersey man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for attacking a woman who was on her way home from work on a Brooklyn-bound R train after she woke to find him masturbating and exposing himself across from where she was seated.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s deviant and violent behavior endangers all New Yorkers, especially those who depend on the subway. The fact that the defendant has 20 prior convictions related to public lewdness is ample evidence that he is willing to disregard the law, the risk of incarceration and the harm to society.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Reggie Frank, 48, of Newark, New Jersey. The defendant, who is a predicate felon, was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Evelyn LaPorte to 10 years in prison and 10 years’ post-release supervision. The defendant was convicted of second-degree assault, two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree public lewdness on September 25, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on February 23, 2018, at approximately 1:50 a.m., a 42-year-old woman who fell asleep on her way home from work on a Brooklyn-bound R train near the 36th Street/4th Avenue station in Sunset Park, woke up to find the defendant seated across from her masturbating with his genitals exposed. When the victim asked what he was doing, the defendant emptied a canister of pepper spray into her eyes.

The defendant then pulled out a folding knife and attacked the victim, holding a knife to her temple while immobilizing her head with his other hand, and cutting her hand as she fought to disarm him. The defendant also punched the victim multiple times in the face, dug his finger into her eye and bit her hand, drawing blood.

When the train arrived at the 36th St/4th Avenue station, a good Samaritan boarded the train and pulled the defendant off the victim. The train conductor radioed police who arrested the defendant at the station and recovered a knife and can of pepper spray on the subway platform.

The victim was treated at Lutheran Hospital for lacerations to her fingers, including a gash that required 15 stitches and caused permanent nerve damage. The victim also suffered a corneal erosion in her eye that continues to affect her vision.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Michelle Haddad and Senior Assistant District Attorney Lana Schlesinger, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 22 Years to Life in Prison for Execution of Car Mechanic Inside Canarsie Auto Body Shop

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 24, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 22 Years to Life in Prison for Execution of
Car Mechanic Inside Canarsie Auto Body Shop

Defendant Caught on Surveillance Video Standing Over Victim and Firing Weapon
Three Times at Point Blank Range

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Flatbush man has been sentenced to 22 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a car mechanic at a Canarsie auto body shop after confronting him about a dispute over money.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant executed a hardworking and defenseless father of three in a chilling attack that was captured on videotape. The defendant’s senseless actions left a family and community without a husband, father, grandfather and friend. He will now have plenty of time to think about his conduct.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Richard Essor, 35, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. The defendant was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo to 22 years to life in prison. He was convicted of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon on October 3, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on September 29, 2017, at approximately 7 p.m., the defendant confronted Dexton Simpson, 51, at Total Auto Care on East 98th Street in Canarsie to demand money from the victim, who had agreed to pay for damage he caused while repairing the defendant’s car. When the defendant learned the victim did not have the full amount he was owed, the defendant left the shop to retrieve a loaded semi-automatic pistol.

A short time later, the defendant returned to the auto body shop and confronted the victim, who was crouched down doing work on a car. Video surveillance shows that the defendant stood over the victim, pulled a pistol out of his waistband and held it above him for more than 20 seconds before he fired two shots into the victim’s chest. The defendant fired a third shot into the victim’s back as he tried to get away.

After the shooting, the defendant walked out of the shop and drove away. Investigators quickly identified the defendant and issued a travel alert. Police received an alert that the defendant purchased a flight to Jamaica scheduled to depart on September 30, 2017 at 7:15 a.m. The defendant was arrested with over $1,600 in cash as he boarded the plane.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jamie Begley, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Sarah Lyon, 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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Former Boyfriend Convicted of Murder in Execution Death of Correction Officer Who He Tracked and Ambushed; Shot Dead as She Sat in Her Car

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 21, 2019

 

Former Boyfriend Convicted of Murder in Execution Death of Correction Officer Who He Tracked and Ambushed; Shot Dead as She Sat in Her Car

Defendant Faces up to 40 Years to Life in Prison When He is Sentenced

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been convicted of murder for the shooting death of a New York City Correction Officer who was ambushed and shot five times as she sat in her car in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, about to leave for work.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant meticulously planned this cowardly and cold-blooded killing, tracking Officer Alastasia Bryan’s movements and executing her during an evening ambush. Her life was taken far too soon and hopefully, her heartbroken family, friends and fellow correction officers find some measure of justice in the jury’s verdict.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Keon Richmond, 37, of Kensington, Brooklyn. He was convicted of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. He faces up to 40 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on December 4, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on December 4, 2016, at approximately 9:15 p.m., the victim, Alastasia Bryan, 25, was sitting in her car at the corner of Avenue L and East 73rd Street, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. She was preparing to drive to Rikers Island, where she worked as a Correction Officer, when the defendant shot her five times in the chest, hand and both arms.

The defendant, according to the evidence, was able to track the victim’s movements using a GPS tracking device registered with his name and cell phone number that he placed on her car three days before the shooting.

After shooting Officer Bryan, according to the evidence, the defendant fled the scene in a Hyundai Elantra, which had license plates registered to his girlfriend, Shirley Mejia, 26. Two days after the murder, Mejia allegedly paid to have the car stored at a mechanic’s shop in New Jersey and Richmond removed the plates. Cell site records, surveillance video and other electronic data placed the defendant at the scene of the homicide at the time of the murder and captured his flight to New Jersey after the shooting.

Mejia was charged with first- and third-degree hindering prosecution and her case is pending trial. She faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Valery Paulblanc of the 63rd Precinct Detective Squad and retired Detective Patrick Henn of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad.

Paralegal Meghan Brancato, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Analysts Daniel Figlin and Alexandra Aber, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, assisted in the investigation.

The District Attorney thanked Senior Assistant District Attorneys Robert Kaftal, Grace Hogan and Melody Huang, of the Law Enforcement Assistance Unit; Jamie Cohen of the Victims Services Unit and Mark Feldman, Executive Assistant District Attorney for Special Investigations for their assistance on the case.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Olatokunbo Olaniyan, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Amanda Hersh, of the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Employee Inside East New York Bodega

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 17, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting
Employee Inside East New York Bodega

Defendant Returned to Store Two Hours After Argument and Fired More than a Dozen Times, Narrowly Missing Two Employees and a Customer

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for fatally shooting an innocent 80-year-old bodega employee at point-blank range and firing at three other people, following an argument with the East New York store’s employees over the price of a beer.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “An innocent 80-year-old man lost his life in this senseless and violent attack. The defendant showed an inexplicable and utter disregard for human life and has now been held accountable. I hope that today’s sentence brings a measure of solace to the victim’s family and others who narrowly escaped harm that day.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Mark Thomas, 43, of East New York, Brooklyn. The defendant, who was deemed a mandatory persistent violent felon, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Ruth Shillingford. He was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree attempted murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment on August 1, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on December 12, 2017, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the defendant tried to purchase a beer from an employee of a bodega located at 797 Stanley Avenue, offering $1.50 for a beer that cost $2.00. The defendant began to argue with the store’s employees and proceeded to curse at them, using racial epithets. After the employees got the defendant to leave the store, he threatened to come back and kill them.

About two hours later, at approximately 6:25 p.m., the defendant walked into the store and fatally shot Abdullah Yafaee, 80, in the chest from less than five feet away. While the victim lay wounded on the floor of the store, the defendant turned to two other employees behind the counter, firing at them as they ducked for cover. The defendant fired two additional shots at a customer who fled to the rear of the store. After leaving the bodega, the defendant fired at least nine additional shots into the store.

Following the shooting, the defendant walked south on Ashford Street and fled the scene in a white 2008 GMC Suburban. The defendant was arrested December 13, 2017 after detectives found his vehicle while canvassing the neighborhood. Detectives recovered the hat, boots and gloves the defendant was seen wearing in the bodega’s surveillance video. Four employees who witnessed the shooting identified the defendant during line-up procedures.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jamie Begley of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Sean Hughes of the District Attorney’s Red Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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Three Luna Park Housing Corporation Tenants Arrested for Submitting Forged Documents for Illegal Purchase of Highly Desirable and Affordable Mitchell-Lama Apartments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 17, 2019

 

Three Luna Park Housing Corporation Tenants Arrested for
Submitting Forged Documents for Illegal Purchase of
Highly Desirable and Affordable Mitchell-Lama Apartments

Part of Continuing Investigation that Led to Charges Against
Co-op Board of Directors President and Treasurer, and Co-op Office Manager

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, today announced that three Luna Park Housing tenants have been arrested on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument, offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records to illegally obtain, or help another person obtain, apartments in the Mitchell-Lama complex in Coney Island.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A system that was put into place to ensure fair and equitable access to affordable housing was corrupted and we allege that these defendants took advantage of a scheme to illegally purchase or help others purchase apartments to which they were not entitled. Their alleged actions deprived honest, law-abiding home seekers a chance to obtain affordable housing, so we will now seek to bring these defendants to justice for their respective roles in this alleged corrupt scheme.”

Commissioner Garnett said, “These defendants sought an unfair advantage for themselves by making false statements and submitting fabricated documents to government officials at the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, according to the charges. This corrupt scheme undermined fair access to affordable housing in Brooklyn. But working with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, and our federal and City partners, we are holding accountable those individuals whose alleged actions manipulated the process and we are actively working to remedy the vulnerabilities we uncovered. I thank the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for its partnership and vigilance on this matter.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Leonid Dakhe, 64, Tatyana Langman, 71, and Sabina Berkovich, 40, all of Coney Island, Brooklyn. They were arraigned yesterday by Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Michael Yavinsky on complaints in which they are charged with multiple counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records and one count of second-degree making an apparently sworn false statement. All of the defendants were released without bail. Langman and Berkovich were ordered to return to court on December 18, 2019. Dakhe was ordered to return to court on December 11, 2019.

The District Attorney said that Mitchell-Lama apartments are sold through waiting lists kept by each development. In order to apply for a Mitchell-Lama apartment with an open waiting list, one must contact the managing company of that development and request an application, which, upon approval, is forwarded to the Housing Preservation and Development Corporation for final approval.

Furthermore, Mitchell-Lama rules allow family members of tenants who meet all the requirements and have lived at the home for at least two years to remain as lawful tenants after the tenant of record has vacated the apartment. Those occupancy rights of family members are referred to as succession rights.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between July 16, 2015 and August 26, 2015, defendants Tatyana Langman and Sabina Berkovich submitted false documents, falsely claiming to be mother and daughter, so that Berkovich could allegedly gain succession rights to Langman’s apartment located at 2900 West 8th Street, in Luna Park.

It is alleged that the defendants, acting in concert with each other and others, submitted the following falsified and forged documents: a letter purportedly from Langman falsely stating Berkovich was her daughter and resided with her; a forged birth certificate that falsely indicated that defendant Langman was defendant Berkovich’s mother; a forged marriage certificate related to Berkovich’s marriage that falsely identified Berkovich’s maiden name as Langman and omitted the names of Berkovich’s parents; and additional false documents such as bank records.

Furthermore, it is alleged, that between January 23, 2018 and January 26, 2018, defendant Leonid Dakhe, acting in concert with others, fraudulently obtained succession rights to a Mitchell-Lama apartment in the Luna Park complex located at 2820 West 8th Street, by submitting a succession application that falsely stated he was the brother of the prior tenant, and that he resided in the apartment with the tenant for more than a year. Among the falsified documents allegedly submitted were: a forged birth certificate falsely indicating that the defendant and the prior tenant had the same mother; a TD Bank statement and a Chase Bank statement from 2016 in which the name of the account holder and the account holder’s address were forged or falsified to indicate that the defendant was the account holder and resided at 2820 West 8th Street, and a New York State tax document for tax year 2016 in which the taxpayer’s address was forged or falsified to indicate that at the time of the statement the defendant resided at 2820 West 8th Street.

Today’s arrests stemmed from a long-term investigation that led to the indictment in May 2019 of the President and Treasurer of the co-op’s Board of Directors and the co-op’s Office Manager, for allegedly conspiring to steal and sell the right to purchase apartments at Luna Park between January 1, 2013 and May 6, 2019.

The case was investigated by DOI, specifically Assistant Inspector General Maria Horvat, under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General Michael Antolini, Senior Inspector General Jessica Heegan, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort, with assistance from DOI’s NYPD Squad of Detectives.

The District Attorney thanked KCDA Detective Investigators assigned to the Investigations Bureau for their assistance in this case, as well as KCDA Financial Investigator Ludwig Sanchez, of the Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau; and Investigative Analyst Megan Carroll of the Investigations Division

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Theresa Robitaille, of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, Bureau Chief, 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 merely an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

 

Two Former New York City Police Detectives Sentenced to Five Years’ Probation for Having Sex with Woman in Their Custody in Exchange for Her Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 10, 2019

 

Two Former New York City Police Detectives Sentenced to
Five Years’ Probation for Having Sex with Woman in
Their Custody in Exchange for Her Release

Sentenced Under Plea Offer Made by the Court; Prosecutors Requested Prison Time

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that two former New York City Police detectives were sentenced to five years’ probation following their guilty plea to bribe receiving and official misconduct for having sex inside a police van with a young woman they had arrested, before releasing her without authorization and without reporting the arrest. Prosecutors requested a term of incarceration.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants lost their jobs and are now convicted felons because of the appalling abuse of power to which they admitted. This incident led to a change in New York law, closing a loophole that allowed officers to claim that sex with a detainee was consensual. Unfortunately, we could not apply that new law retroactively. While my Office recommended prison time, we accept the Court’s sentence.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Eddie Martins, 39, and Richard Hall, 34, who were formerly assigned to the NYPD’s Brooklyn South Narcotics. They were sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to five years’ probation following their guilty plea in August to the entire indictment against them – two counts of third-degree bribe receiving and nine counts of official misconduct. The District Attorney’s Office requested a term of incarceration of one to three years. However, since the defendants pleaded guilty to the entire indictment the Court offered this non-custodial disposition.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on September 15, 2017, at approximately 7:30 p.m., the defendants, who were on-duty and riding in a Dodge Caravan, working as part of a team of plainclothes detectives assigned to Brooklyn South Narcotics and conducting a buy and bust operation in the confines of the 60th Precinct, left their post without authorization and drove to Calvert Vaux Park in Gravesend, Brooklyn.

Just after 8 p.m., the officers conducted a car stop of an Infinity Coupe driven by an 18-year-old woman with two male passengers. There was a quantity of marijuana in the front seat cup holder. The officers instructed the three occupants to step out of the car and asked if they had any drugs on them, according to the investigation. The young woman responded she had marijuana and two Klonopin pills. The detectives handcuffed the woman, told her she was under arrest and would be getting a desk appearance ticket. They let her companions go, the evidence showed.

After leaving the park, while inside the police van, the woman had sexual intercourse with Martins and performed a sex act on Hall, according to the evidence. The defendants then drove back to the vicinity of the 60th Precinct in Coney Island and released the woman, giving her back the Klonopin pills. They did not report the incident to their supervisor or to anyone else and had no authority to rescind the arrest or to release the detainee, according to the indictment.

DNA recovered from the woman was a match to both of the defendants. Video surveillance shows the woman exiting the police van at approximately 8:42 p.m., the investigation found.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Frank DeGaetano, First Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, Senior Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Nasar, of the Special Victims Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Anthea Bruffee, First Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Appeals Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Joseph P. Alexis, Chief of the Trial Division.

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