Brooklyn Fugitive Indicted for Murder, Burglary of Manhattan Chef

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 2, 2016

 

Brooklyn Fugitive Indicted for Murder, Burglary of Manhattan Chef

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

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Brooklyn teenager has been indicted on charges of murder, burglary and arson stemming from the January stabbing death of a popular Manhattan chef inside his home in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. The defendant was apprehended in Virginia after four months on the run.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant broke into a home to burglarize it and ended up brutally stabbing a hardworking family man who was sleeping after an evening of work. Once a fugitive of justice, he’s now back in Brooklyn, where he will face justice for killing an innocent man.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Jahkeem Scott, 18, of 222 Logan Street, Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder, second-degree arson, first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count with which he is charged. His next court date is August 12, 2016.

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

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

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

To cover up the burglary and resulting murder, the defendant allegedly set fire to Heras’ apartment. The victim’s body was discovered by members of the Fire Department of New York responding to the fire.

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

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Phyllis Chu of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Kenneth Taub, Chief.

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

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted for Fatally Stabbing Rival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 2, 2016

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted for Fatally Stabbing Rival

Victim and Defendant Both Dated the Same Woman

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 23-year-old man has been convicted of manslaughter for stabbing to death a 22-year-old man in East New York during an altercation stemming from the allegation that they were both dating the same woman. The defendant and the woman fled to Mexico after the stabbing.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This is just another tragic instance of young men caught up in senseless violence, which cost one man his life and now the other his freedom.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Christian Morales, 23, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was today convicted of first-degree manslaughter following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog. The defendant will be sentenced on June 23, 2016, at which time he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on June 18, 2014 at about 4 p.m., the victim, Carlos Santos, and two friends were on Liberty Avenue in East New York when Santos confronted the defendant, wanting to fight him; the defendant took out a knife and swung at Santos, hitting him in the right eye and continued to swing the knife while Santos tried to protect his face, hitting him in the arms and hands. Santos ran away into a nearby store and the defendant ran in after him, stabbing him once in the right chest. Santos’ friends were able to get the defendant off of him and the defendant and his girlfriend walked away. Santos was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

The defendant and his girlfriend fled to Mexico. He was arrested in Mexico and extradited following an investigation.

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

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Brooklyn District Attorney Announces Partnership With First Baptist Church of Crown Heights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Announces Partnership With
First Baptist Church of Crown Heights

Community Discussion Exploring Collateral Consequences of Incarceration

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with Reverend Daryl G. Bloodsaw, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, today announced an important community discussion to offer hope and help to families struggling while a loved one is incarcerated and to individuals having difficulty adjusting to life after prison.

District Attorney Thompson said, “If we are going to improve the quality of life for all Brooklyn residents, then we have to help families heal. The pursuit of justice and public safety should include appropriate counseling, employment and education resources to formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. I am committed to community partnerships with houses of worship and others that are focused on re-entry.”

Rev. Bloodsaw said, “It is essential for the faith-based community to open their doors as a place of refuge for both families and individuals during and after an incarcerative stay; if we, the Church, are not prepared to do this then we should be prepared to explain why not.”

As part of its new Rephidim Ministry, the church is hosting a forum entitled “Rebuilding Families and Individuals: Collateral Consequences of Incarceration,” which will launch a series of events designed to provide information and support to families and individuals. The ministry is named Rephidim after a place where Moses struck a rock to give the children of Israel water, i.e., a place of refuge.

The first forum will take place on Thursday, June 9, 2016, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., at First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, 450 Eastern Parkway, near Rogers Avenue. It will be followed by a series of workshops in July and additional activities over the course of the next year.

The inaugural session will offer information regarding family healing, improving the quality of life and educational, vocational and housing resources. There will also be a panel discussion.

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Vanda Seward, Coordinator and Program Administrator of the Kings County Re-entry Task Force, which is a joint venture between the District Attorney’s office and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Panelists include Sheila Rule, Founder, Think Outside the Cell Foundation; William Whitaker, Associate Human Rights Specialist, New York City Commission on Human Rights; Divine Pryor, Executive Director, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions; and Rev. Lesley Fitzgerald Shannon, Pastor, St. Paul Community Baptist Church.

For further information related to this initiative, please call First Baptist Church of Crown Heights at 718-778-1200 or email ReEntry@BrooklynDA.org.

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Organized Crime Member, Five Others Indicted for Alleged $13 Million Gambling Operation

KCDA-Seal-400x400----Brooklyn

Kenneth P. Thompson

District Attorney
Kings County

May 27, 2016

COMMUNITY PARTNER IN JUSTICE NOTIFICATION

Organized Crime Member, Five Others Indicted
for Alleged $13 Million Gambling Operation

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson yesterday announced that six men from Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island have been charged in a 37-count indictment for running an illegal Internet gambling operation that took over $13 million in bets on various professional and collegiate sporting events and wired payments to an off-shore location.

According to the indictment, between September 1, 2015 and March 15, 2016, the defendants—allegedly led by Eugene (“Boopsie”) Castelle, 56, of Staten Island, a reputed soldier in the Lucchese crime family—used the website www.stakestake.com to accept $13,200,000 in bets on professional and collegiate sporting events, including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer and horse racing.

The day-to-day management of the operation was allegedly handled by Anthony Grecco, 62, of Howard Beach, Queens, who managed the four remaining defendants and also made regular payments to the website’s off-shore “wireroom” in Costa Rica. In a separate indictment, Grecco has been charged with running a loansharking operation for allegedly lending money to three individuals while not being authorized to do so and charging interest rates exceeding 25%.

District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants are charged with running a lucrative gambling ring that took in millions of dollars in bets and stretched all the way to Costa Rica. We’ve now shut down this illegal enterprise that was controlled by organized crime and will fully prosecute those who have been indicted.”

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Read the full press release here.

 

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

 

Six Defendants Indicted for Running Internet-Based Sports Gambling Operation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 26, 2016

 

Six Defendants Indicted for Running
Internet-Based Sports Gambling Operation

Allegedly Controlled by Organized Crime Member;
Accepted $13.2 Million in Wagers over Six Months

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that six men from Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island have been variously charged in a 37-count indictment for running an illegal Internet gambling operation that took over $13 million in wagers on various professional and collegiate sporting events and wired payments to an off-shore location.

District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants are charged with running a lucrative gambling ring that took in millions of dollars in bets and stretched all the way to Costa Rica. We’ve now shut down this illegal enterprise that was controlled by organized crime and will fully prosecute those who have been indicted.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Eugene (“Boopsie”) Castelle, 56, of 66 Topside Lane in Charleston, Staten Island; Anthony Grecco, 62, of 157-43 97th Street in Howard Beach, Queens; Gaetano (“Tommy”) Zuccarello, 67, of 2405 82nd Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn; Theodore (“Teddy”) Vasilakis, 40, of 63-74 Austin Street in Rego Park, Queens; Ioannis (“John”) Dinos, 67, of 24-29 26th Street in Astoria, Queens; and Vincent Mormile, 54, of 990 Lamont Avenue in Rossville, Staten Island.

They were arraigned today in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 37-count indictment in which they are variously charged with enterprise corruption, first- and second-degree promoting gambling, fourth-degree money laundering and fifth-degree conspiracy. The defendants were ordered held on bonds ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. They face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which they are charged. Grecco is additionally charged in a separate indictment with three counts of first-degree criminal usury for running a loansharking operation. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison for each of those counts.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between September 1, 2015 and March 15, 2016, the defendants used the website www.stakestake.com to accept bets on professional and collegiate sporting events, including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer and horse racing. Access to the website was obtained by a user name and password that were unique to each user and wagers were placed directly on the website or by calling toll free numbers associated with it. During the time period charged in the indictment, the gambling operation accepted $13,200,000 in wagers.

It is alleged that Castelle, a reputed soldier in the Lucchese crime family, was the de facto leader of the enterprise and received payments for his authority and for protection from rival criminal enterprises. The day-to-day management was delegated to Grecco, who acted as the Master Agent. As such, he controlled his Agents’ access to the website and made regular payments to the “wireroom” of www.stakestake.com, located in Costa Rica, according to the indictment. He also supervised and monitored the activities of his Agents, or “sheetholders,” as well as his own individual customers and arranged weekly meetings in Brooklyn and elsewhere, where Agents and customers would “settle-up,” or pay and collect debts from the previous week’s betting activities.

It is further alleged that Zuccarello, Vasilakis, Dinos and Mormile each acted as an Agent or “sheetholder.” Each maintained a “sheet” of bettors with the enterprise and contacted Grecco regarding administrative matters, like opening and closing accounts, changing betting limits and extending credit to bettors. Each earned money by collecting a percentage of losing wagers placed by their bettors. On a weekly basis, each of these defendants allegedly reviewed the gambling “figures,” or the amount of money won or lost by each bettor on their respective “sheets,” and made arrangements, in consultation with Grecco, to “settle up” the gambling accounts.

The indictment additionally charges Grecco with money laundering for making payments approximately every six weeks to the www.stakestake.com “wireroom” in Costa Rica to pay the “per-head” fees that he was charged for each active betting account.

In a separate indictment, Grecco has been charged with running a loansharking operation for allegedly lending money to three individuals while not being authorized to do so and charging high interest rates that exceeded 25%.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigator John Mullen of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, who was assisted by Detective Investigators Brad Miller, Frank Garguilo, John Beale and other Detective Investigators from the Special Investigations Unit, under the supervision Supervising Detective Investigator Michael Seminara and Edwin Murphy, Deputy Chief.

Senior Assistant District Attorney John Genovese, of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, Gregory Mitchel, Bureau Chief, Supervising Financial Investigator Susan Ryan and Financial Investigator Juel Fenty, also of the Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, assisted in tracing assets and civilly suing the defendants for their liability.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Theresa Robitaille and Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Batsidis 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 Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.

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

 

Former Greenpoint Securities Broker Indicted in Connection With $3.6 Million Financial Fraud

KCDA-Seal-400x400----Brooklyn

Kenneth P. Thompson

District Attorney
Kings County

May 26, 2016

COMMUNITY PARTNER IN JUSTICE NOTIFICATION

Former Greenpoint Securities Broker Indicted in Connection
With $3.6 Million Financial Fraud

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a former Greenpoint securities broker, Roman Sledziejowski, 35, of Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with grand larceny and other charges for allegedly stealing $3.6 million that he was supposed to invest for a Polish businessman.

It is alleged that the defendant, a licensed broker and CEO of the Greenpoint broker-dealer firm TWS Financial, LLC, became the stockbroker for a 68-year-old Polish immigrant and successful businessman who had no experience with American financial markets. The victim transferred money from his personal and business accounts to the defendant, who told him he would invest the money, but instead simply transferred it to his own accounts, and to accounts in the names of others.

The alleged scheme was discovered after brokers employed by the defendant filed a complaint with the District Attorney’s office claiming they were owed commissions. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this defendant is urged to call the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2430.

District Attorney Thompson said, “The defendant is charged with stealing millions of dollars from a long time client who put his trust in him. We will now do all that we can to put him in prison, where he belongs, and recover the victim’s money.”

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Read the full press release here.

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

 

Former Greenpoint Securities Broker Indicted In Connection With $3.6 Million Financial Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 26, 2016

 

Former Greenpoint Securities Broker Indicted
In Connection With $3.6 Million Financial Fraud

Defendant Allegedly Stole Money that He was Supposed to Invest for Polish Businessman

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a former Greenpoint securities broker is charged with first-degree grand larceny and other charges for allegedly stealing $3.6 million that he was supposed to invest for a Polish businessman.

District Attorney Thompson said, “The defendant is charged with stealing millions of dollars from a long-time client who put his trust in him. We will now do all that we can to put him in prison, where he belongs, and recover the victim’s money.”

The District Attorney said that the defendant, Roman Sledziejowski, 35, of Memphis, Tennessee (formerly Ossining, New York) was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 16-count indictment in which he is charged with one count of first-degree grand larceny, one count of first-degree money laundering, seven counts of first-degree falsifying business records, and seven counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. The defendant was ordered held on bail of $250,000 bond or $100,000 cash and to return to court on August 10, 2016. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the defendant was a licensed broker registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority from 1998 through 2012. He was also the Chief Executive Officer of the broker-dealer firm TWS Financial, LLC, a.k.a., Trade Wall Street, located at 739 Manhattan Avenue, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

It is alleged that the defendant, who is Polish, met the victim, a 68-year-old Polish immigrant and successful businessman, at a social function in 2006 and that two years later, after developing a relationship, the defendant became the victim’s stockbroker. The victim and the defendant, who spoke to each other in Polish, spoke a few times a month and met once a month in the Greenpoint office or in the victim’s office. The victim did not have experience with or knowledge of the American financial markets.

It is alleged in the indictment that over time the defendant gained the victim’s trust and then abused that trust, violated his ethical obligations as a broker and victimized the individual by stealing from him. Following the defendant’s advice, the victim transferred money from his personal and business accounts to an account specified by Sledziejowski.

The defendant, according to the indictment, told the victim he would use the money to make numerous investments for him, but instead of making investments he simply transferred the money to his own accounts and then transferred it to accounts in the names of other individuals.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, Sledziejowski tried to conceal his theft by providing false documents to the victim. The documents purported to be confirmations of trades executed on the victim’s behalf and account summary statements that reflected the balances consistent with the victim’s belief about his account. It is alleged that none of the trades were ever executed. In fact, the victim’s account had a zero balance.

As a result of this scheme, the defendant allegedly stole approximately $3.6 million from the victim.

The District Attorney said that the alleged scheme was discovered after brokers employed by the defendant filed a complaint with the DA’s office claiming they were owed commissions. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this defendant is urged to call the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2430.

The case was investigated by Financial Investigator Vincent Jones, Paralegal Megan Carroll, Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio and Edwin Murphy, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

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

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

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted of Murder during Dice Game

KCDA-Seal-400x400----Brooklyn

Kenneth P. Thompson

District Attorney
Kings County

May 25, 2016

COMMUNITY PARTNER IN JUSTICE NOTIFICATION

Brooklyn Man Convicted of Murder during Dice Game

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 24-year-old man has been convicted of murder and assault for shooting up a dice game in Brownsville in 2012, killing a 20-year-old man and wounding two others.

On the night of June 28, 2012, the defendant, Lawrence Harris, opened fire at a group of men who were playing dice by the corner of Sutter Avenue and Union Street in Brownsville. Trendon Franklin, 20, was struck three times in the chest, abdomen and arm, and died of his injuries. Another victim was grazed by a bullet in the chest and struck in the index finger. A third victim was shot in the back.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This case is another reminder of the mayhem caused by senseless gun violence.  The young defendant opened fire in the middle of the street, taking the life of another young man.  He will now spend a good part of his life behind bars because of the terrible choice that he made.”

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Read the full press release here.

 

Two Gang Members Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison For Kidnapping for Hire, Murder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

 

Two Gang Members Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison
For Kidnapping for Hire, Murder

Victim’s Body Found in Queens, Throat Cut from Ear-to-Ear

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that two gang members were each sentenced to 25 years to life in prison following their conviction on first-degree kidnapping, second-degree murder and related charges for the forced abduction and murder of a Williamsburg man.

District Attorney Thompson said, “These two defendants committed a brazen and heinous crime.  They kidnapped a young man in broad daylight, in front of his family, and later slit his throat and took money, drugs, and a car in payment for these heinous acts. They now deserve to spend many years in prison for their crimes.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Tramel Cuencas, 24, and Irving Gavin, 28, both of 702 Warwick Street in East New York, Brooklyn. Each defendant was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to 25 years to life in prison. Cuencas was convicted on April 14, 2016, of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree robbery following a jury trial. Gavin was convicted on April 18, 2016 of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary by a separate jury.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on the afternoon of November 14, 2012, the defendants forced their way into the apartment of Thomas Dudley and held him and three other occupants at gun point. They then took approximately $10,000 from a safe inside the home. Three of the victim’s family members, including his 8-year-old sister, were in the apartment at the time.

The defendants then forced the victim to get dressed, tied his hands and then directed him into a U-haul truck waiting outside. The victim’s body was found the following day in Forest Park, Queens; his throat was cut from ear-to-ear and both wrists were slashed.

After the defendants, both members of the Elm Street Piru gang, were arrested on November 19, 2012, they made incriminating statements admitting to the kidnapping and indicated that the kidnapping was ordered by another gang member as retaliation for an alleged drug dispute involving the victim. In exchange for kidnapping Dudley, the defendants expected to be paid in cash, drugs and a Jaguar.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Detective Erik Malak of the 90 Precinct Detective Squad and Detectives Robert McCormick and Kahlid Ragab of the 102nd Precinct Detective Squad and Detective Peter Galasso of the Queens Homicide Squad.

The case was prosecuted by First Deputy Chief Alfred De Igeniis and Assistant District Attorney James Slattery of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Kenneth Taub, Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau.

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Brooklyn Man Convicted of Murder during Dice Game

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

 

Brooklyn Man Convicted of Murder during Dice Game

Shot Victim Dead, Wounded Two Others; Faces up to 47 Years to Life in Prison

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 24-year-old man has been convicted of murder and assault for shooting up a dice game in Brownsville in 2012, killing a 20-year-old man and wounding two others.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This case is another reminder of the mayhem caused by senseless gun violence.  The young defendant opened fire in the middle of the street, taking the life of another young man.  He will now spend a good part of his life behind bars because of the terrible choice that he made.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Lawrence Harris, 24, of 708 Kingsborough 7 Walk in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He was convicted today of second-degree murder, first-degree attempted assault, reckless endangerment and related counts following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who set sentencing for June 14, 2015. The defendant faces up to 47 years to life in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on June 28, 2012, at 11:30 p.m., the defendant opened fire at a group of men who were playing dice by the corner of Sutter Avenue and Union Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Trendon Franklin, 20, was struck three times in the chest, abdomen and arm, and died of his injuries. Another victim was grazed by a bullet in the chest and struck in the index finger. A third victim was shot in the back. The defendant was arrested in April 2013.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Patrick L. O’Connor and Assistant District Attorney Ashlyn Miranda of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, Bureau Chief.

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