Three Sentenced For Targeting Immigrants in Green Card Scam

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

 

Three Sentenced For Targeting Immigrants in Green Card Scam

One Impersonated NYPD Officer, Said He Could Get Documents for a Fee

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that three defendants have been sentenced in connection with a scheme in which they stole more than $8,000 from two victims by falsely promising to help them obtain green cards and other government documents. Two of the defendants were arrested in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and extradited to Brooklyn in November 2015.

District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our community and exploited their desires to achieve the American dream. Equally troubling is that a defendant posed as a New York City police officer to further this scheme to defraud–potentially damaging an often hidden community’s trust in law enforcement. As DA, I’m committed to stopping such con artists from targeting and ripping off members of our immigrant communities.”

The defendants, Richard Gomez, 44, and Marisol Mercado, 43, were apprehended in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on October 23, 2015 and returned to Brooklyn on November 9, 2015.

Defendant Gomez was sentenced today to an indeterminate term of one to three years imprisonment following his guilty plea on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 to charges of third-degree grand larceny. Defendant Mercado was sentenced to a conditional discharge following her guilty plea on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 to charges of first-degree attempted criminal impersonation. A third defendant, Francisco Mercado, was also sentenced to conditional discharge following his guilty plea on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 to charges of second-degree criminal impersonation.  All three defendants were sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny K. Chun.

The District Attorney said that, between June 18, 2015 and September 3, 2015, Gomez falsely claimed to be an NYPD Sergeant named “Sergeant Russo” and with the assistance of Marisol and Francisco Mercado took money from the victims in exchange for Gomez’s assistance with various government documents, including green cards. The defendants also claimed “Sergeant Russo” could get a liquor license for the victims’ restaurant in Bushwick.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, Gomez first approached his victims seeking a donation for the New York City Police Department—to which the victims would give cash. Gomez continued this ruse to convince his victims to hand over money in exchange for his assistance with various applications to government agencies.

In one instance, Gomez secured a $2,100 loan from a victim but upon repayment the check was declined due to insufficient funds.

In another instance, defendant Marisol Mercado called a victim demanding an additional $6,000 to fix an alleged problem with the immigration paperwork for the victim’s husband.  Gomez threatened deportation if the victim did not pay.

If you believe you have been a victim of Immigrant Fraud, please call the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Helpline at 718-250-3333.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detectives Edward Myles and Carl Locke of the Police Impersonation Investigation Unit, under the supervision of Lieutenant Gerard Hirschfield, and overall supervision of Deputy Commissioner Joseph J. Reznick of the Internal Affairs Bureau.

The District Attorney also thanked Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Neal Navitsky and Detective Sergeant John Hess of the Lebanon Police Department for their cooperation and assistance in the apprehension of the defendants.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jose Interiano of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Kin Ng, Chief of the Immigrant Fraud Unit, and Trish McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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Man Convicted of 1991 Murder

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 25, 2016

 

Man Convicted of 1991 Murder

Arrested in Alabama in 2007 after 16 Years on the Lam

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 55-year-old man has been convicted of second-degree murder for shooting a man in the face outside a New Year’s Eve party in 1991. The defendant was arrested in 2007 in Alabama, where he lived under assumed identity. He was found guilty in 2011, but that conviction was overturned on appeal.

District Attorney Thompson said, “The evidence again showed that this defendant is guilty of a brutal murder. It has been a long road to justice in this case and I am confident that today’s verdict will ensure that this dangerous man will remain off our streets.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Derrick Lloyd, 55, of Montgomery, Alabama. He was convicted yesterday of second-degree murder following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog. The defendant will be sentenced on April 20, 2016 at which time he faces a maximum sentence of 18 years to life in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, in the early morning hours of January 1, 1991, the defendant left a house party at 5624 Farragut Road in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, looking for an intoxicated man who had caused a disturbance at the party. He approached a group of people seated on a bench and demanded to know where the person he was looking for went. No one was able to answer the defendant.

The defendant then stated, “I want answers now,” the evidence showed. William Smith, 22, replied with words to the effect of “We all want answers” and the two got into a fight. In the course of the altercation, the defendant pulled out a gun and shot the victim in the face, killing him, according to testimony.

The defendant was identified by a witness on the day of the incident, but could not be located. In August 2007, he entered a Department of Motor Vehicles location in Alabama, where he has been living under the assumed name Rashad Hamid. A clerk noticed that he was using fraudulent documents and the defendant was subsequently identified as Derrick Lloyd, who had been the subject of an extensive search and featured on “America’s Most Wanted” television program.

He stood trial in 2011, was convicted and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison. An appellate court overturned the conviction in 2014 and ordered a new trial.

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

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Brooklyn Man Indicted for Attempted Murder of Two Police Officers Following Early Morning Chase in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 24, 2016

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Attempted Murder of Two Police Officers
Following Early Morning Chase in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick

Faces up to 50 Years to Life in Prison if Convicted

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Brooklyn man was arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree attempted murder of a police officer and other charges for shooting at two police officers after menacing several officers and at least one civilian with a silver revolver in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant tried to kill multiple police officers, endangered many other innocent people and will now certainly be held accountable for all of the chaos and gun violence that he caused on the streets of Brooklyn. This case once again underscores the dangers our police officers face every day to keep us all safe.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Fredrick Funes, 34. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Miller on a 37-count indictment in which he is charged with first-degree attempted murder of a police officer, attempted aggravated murder, second-degree attempted murder, aggravated assault upon a police officer and other charges. The defendant was ordered held without bail and to return to court on June 2, 2016.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on February 20, 2016, at approximately 3:20 a.m., there was a shot spotter activation (a report of shots fired) in the vicinity of Malcolm X Boulevard and Quincy Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. At approximately the same time, the defendant was allegedly spotted driving a Nissan Maxima recklessly in the vicinity of Malcolm X Boulevard, then driving the wrong way on Quincy Street. Shortly thereafter, the defendant spotted two uniformed police officers in a marked police car and allegedly pointed a silver gun at them.

Furthermore, according to the investigation, the defendant continued driving and allegedly spotted a uniformed Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker and pointed a silver gun at him. The MTA worker then flagged down officers who were already searching for the defendant, pointing them in his direction.

As he fled, the defendant allegedly passed an unmarked police car with four officers inside and pointed a silver gun at them. As the pursuit continued, the defendant drove the wrong way down Lexington Avenue and arrived at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard at the same time that a marked police car from the 83rd precinct was turning the right way from Malcolm X Boulevard onto Lexington Avenue. As the marked car made the turn, the defendant sped up and crashed into it. Following the crash, the defendant began firing at the officers and they returned fire.

Police Officer Andrew Yurkiw was shot in the chest, but was saved by his bulletproof vest. Police Officer Reddin was shot in the lower back/hip area and required surgery.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Chief of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorneys Krystyn Tendy and Steven Michelen, also of the Grey Zone.

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

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s Statement Regarding the Upcoming Sentencing of Peter Liang

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s Statement
Regarding the Upcoming Sentencing of Peter Liang

“Peter Liang was indicted, prosecuted and subsequently convicted by a jury because his reckless actions caused an innocent man to lose his life. There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley. When Mr. Liang went into that building that night, he did so as part of his job and to keep the people of Brooklyn and our city safe.

In sentencing a defendant, the facts of the crime and the particular characteristics of that person must be considered. Mr. Liang has no prior criminal history and poses no future threat to public safety. Because his incarceration is not necessary to protect the public, and due to the unique circumstances of this case, a prison sentence is not warranted.

Justice will be best served if Mr. Liang is sentenced to five years of probation, with the condition that he serves six months of home confinement with electric monitoring and performs 500 hours of community service. I have provided this sentencing recommendation to Justice Chun.

As I have said before, there are no winners here. But the sentence that I have requested is just and fair under the circumstances of this case. From the beginning, this tragic case has always been about justice and not about revenge.” 

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Brooklyn Construction Company, Owners Plead Guilty to Failing to Pay Employees Nearly $150,000 in Owed Wages

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

 

Brooklyn Construction Company, Owners Plead Guilty to Failing to Pay Employees Nearly $150,000 in Owed Wages

Four Workers from Arch Builders & Developers to Receive Back Pay

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced that a Brooklyn construction company that benefitted from a New York City program designed to assist minority owned businesses has pleaded guilty to grand larceny. Its owners pleaded guilty to violating the prevailing wage requirements of the New York State Labor Law by failing to pay four employees more than $140,000 in earned wages.

District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants got lucrative city contracts designed to assist small and minority owned businesses and then shamelessly stole money from their own employees. In Brooklyn, we simply will not allow workers to have their hard earned wages stolen from them. So, let these guilty pleas serve clear notice that we will go after any employer who thinks that they can get away with stealing their employees’ wages. Those days are over with.”

DOI Commissioner Peters said, “DOI’s investigation led to the arrest of the defendants and the return of $146,000 to individual workers. Prevailing wage fraud steals from New Yorkers who can least afford it. We are proud to once again work with our partners at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to protect the integrity of construction sites and the men and women who work there.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Arch Builders & Developers, Inc., located at 1543 East 17th Street, in Midwood, and owners Salma Rashid and Syed Rashid Hussain Shah, also of 1543 East 17th Street.  The corporation pleaded guilty today, before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Laura Johnson, to one count of second-degree grand larceny and the owners pleaded guilty to one count each of violating New York State Labor Law Section 220.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between November 2013 and March 2014, Arch Builders entered into two public works contracts with the New York City School Construction Authority (NYC SCA) to perform construction work at Junior High School 232K located in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Public School 232Q in Queens and Public School 116M in Manhattan.  The NYC SCA paid the defendants over $900,000 for their work on the projects.

Labor Law and the NYC SCA contracts required the defendants to pay prevailing wages and overtime pay to all employees who worked on the projects.  The defendants falsely certified that the defendants had paid four employees, who worked as mason tenders on the project, the required prevailing wages of $62.79 per hour for regular time and $80.82 for overtime.  In reality, the defendants paid the four employees between $100 and $130 per day without overtime compensation or benefits, the investigation found.  In this manner, the defendants pocketed $146,340.27 in payments from the NYC SCA that rightfully belonged to the four employees.

The New York City Comptroller’s Office sets the prevailing wage rate, consisting of a base wage rate plus a supplemental benefit rate, for each classification of work, such as mason, painter, and carpenter, on New York City public works construction projects.  Labor Law 220 and the NYC SCA contracts further required the defendants to pay additional compensation of time and a half for work performed after an eight-hour work day and on weekends.

As part of the plea agreement, the defendants have paid approximately $146,340.27 in back wages and are banned from receiving city contracts for five years. Further, the defendants have agreed to pay approximately $15,000 to the New York City School Construction Authority Office of the Inspector General to pay for the cost of the investigation, as stipulated in all NYC School Construction Authority contracts.

Following an employee’s complaint and a subsequent investigation by the NYC SCA Office of the Inspector General, the case was referred to the Labor Frauds Unit of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau. If you believe you have been a victim of Labor Fraud, such as wage theft or retaliation, please call our Labor Fraud Unit at 718-250-3770.

The case was investigated by the NYC SCA Office of the Inspector General Investigators Nicholas Scicutella and Charles Shevlin, and Investigative Accountant Raymond Dowd, under the supervision of Deputy Counsel Celeste Sharpe, Assistant Inspector General John Gray, First Assistant Inspector General Gerard McEnroe and Inspector General Maria Mostajo, who reports to NYC Department of Investigation Associate Commissioner James Flaherty.

The case was further investigated by Detective Investigator Hubert M. Dixon and Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Betty Rodríguez, under the supervision of Meredith McGowan, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Labor Fraud Unit and Felice Sontupe, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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Unscrupulous Contractor Sentenced For Stealing $85,900 from Homeowners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 11, 2016

 

Unscrupulous Contractor Sentenced
For Stealing $85,900 from Homeowners

Took Money for Work That Was Not Done

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Brooklyn man was sentenced for stealing $85,900 from four Park Slope homeowners who hired him to perform work on their properties. The defendant took money for work that was not performed and at times falsely claimed to be a licensed contractor.

District Attorney Thompson said, “Dominick Valoroso ripped off hard working homeowners in Park Slope and Prospect Heights who were simply trying to improve their homes.  This case makes clear why anyone hiring a home improvement contractor should check that they are properly licensed by and in good standing with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs so that they don’t fall prey to con artists who will take their money without doing any work.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Dominick Valoroso, 42, of East 66th Street, in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. He was sentenced yesterday by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Hecht to three years’ probation following his guilty plea on January 7, 2016 to one count of first-degree scheme to defraud. At the time of the plea, the Court ordered civil judgments of restitution in the amount of $85,900 to be entered for the four victims.

The District Attorney said that, according to the guilty plea, between June 4, 2011 and July 7, 2013, the defendant entered into signed contracts with four different homeowners – three in Park Slope and one in Prospect Heights – to perform work on their property, during part of which time he was not licensed due to complaints filed against him.

The defendant took $14,700 from one homeowner, and did not do any work; he took $54,400 from a second homeowner and completed just $10,400 of the work; he took $21,200 from a third homeowner and did not do any work; and he took $6,000 from a fourth homeowner and did not do any work.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Jeannette Sbordone, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio, Deputy Chief Edwin Murphy, Deputy Chief Horace Norville, and the overall supervision of Chief Richard Bellucci.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Joel Greenwald, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Dana Roth, Deputy Chief, and Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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Brooklyn Gang Member Sentenced to 20 Years to Life for Fatally Shooting Rival in Broad Daylight

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 10, 2016

 

Brooklyn Gang Member Sentenced to 20 Years to Life for
Fatally Shooting Rival in Broad Daylight

Captured on High-Definition Video Surveillance Shooting Victim in Head

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 24-year-old Brooklyn man was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for fatally shooting a man in Flatbush, Brooklyn, killing him. The morning shooting was captured on high-definition surveillance video that clearly captured the defendant.

District Attorney Thompson said, “We will not allow gang members to settle their scores with guns, endangering innocent residents and sowing fear in our communities. We will prosecute them and send them to prison for many years, just like we did to this defendant, who killed a rival in the street in broad daylight.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Avon Simmons, 24, of 2505 Bedford Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy to 20 years to life in prison following his guilty plea to second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon on February 9, 2016.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on August 13, 2014 at 8:30 a.m., the defendant fired multiple shots at Prinso Ulysse, 26, who was standing outside of 2149 Cortelyou Road in Flatbush, Brooklyn. A bullet struck the side of the victim’s head and he suffered extensive hemorrhaging and swelling to the brain. He died in Kings County Hospital on September 3, 2014.

The shooting was captured on high definition surveillance video that clearly showed the defendant stepping into the roadway, firing a gun at the victim, who was on the sidewalk, and then walking away. The defendant is a member of the G-Stone Crips gang and likely targeted the victim in retaliation for a past incident in which the defendant’s brother was shot.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Patrick O’Connor of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Nicole Chavis, Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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Contractors Charged with Stealing Over $1 Million by Shortchanging Workers in New York City Housing Authority Construction Project

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

 

Contractors Charged with Stealing Over $1 Million by Shortchanging
Workers in New York City Housing Authority Construction Project

Allegedly Paid Less Than Half the Prevailing Wage and Pocketed the Rest,
Instructed Workers to Deceive Inspectors; Also Charged With Demanding Kickbacks

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced in a 40-count indictment that a contractor, his subcontractor and a foreman have been variously charged with stealing over $1 million in wages by underpaying 27 employees who worked on a construction project in Brooklyn that was financed by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The defendants allegedly instructed the workers to lie to integrity inspectors about how much they were actually earning and also demanded kickbacks from four workers.

District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants were expected to make much needed repairs to these housing developments, and not steal from their employees and line their own pockets.  To make matters worse, they allegedly made the victims lie to conceal the fact that their wages were being stolen.  We’ll now make sure that all of the employees get back every penny that they worked so hard to earn and prosecute everyone involved in this outrageous scheme.”

DOI Commissioner Peters said, “For over a year these defendants not only deceived and siphoned over $1 million from their employees rightful wages, but doctored payroll records and covered up their crimes, according to the charges. The investigation initiated by DOI’s integrity monitor exposed this charged conduct.  In partnership with the Brooklyn District Attorney and his staff, we are working to return those workers’ stolen wages, restoring faith in construction projects in New York City, and stopping unscrupulous companies and their principals from getting further taxpayer-funded work.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Mehdi (“Morris”) Dayan, 67, of 120 Ash Drive in Roslyn, NY; his company, EEC Group Tech Inc., located at 366 North Broadway in Jericho, NY; Mohammed (“Taju”) Miah, 58, of 674 Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie, Brooklyn; his company, T&J Contracting Inc., located at 1590 Atlantic Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn; and Sharifullah Sowpon, 41, the foreman of T&J Contracting, also of 674 Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie, Brooklyn.

They were arraigned today in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on the indictment that charges Dayan with first- and second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, “kick-back” of wages and other counts, and charges Miah and Sowpon with second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, “kick-back” of wages and other counts. Dayan faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which he is charged and the other defendants face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which they are charged.

The District Attorney said that on December 19, 2013, defendant Dayan, as president and owner of EEC Group Tech Inc., submitted an $8 million bid to NYCHA for a contract to preform exterior restoration and roofing replacement at two Brooklyn housing developments: the Brown Houses at 1776 Prospect Plaza in Crown Heights and Glenmore Plaza at 89 Christopher Avenue in Brownsville. The bid listed T&J Contracting Inc. as masonry and roofing subcontractor. EEC won the bid on March 28, 2014.

The bid and contract repeatedly stated that the defendants were obligated to pay federal Davis-Bacon prevailing wages to all workers. The hourly rates, including benefits, ranged from $61.50 to $82.31. After 40 hours a week, the contract required wages of time-and-a-half. NYCHA employed an integrity monitor, whose representatives regularly visited the worksite, checked that the correct wages were posted, reviewed payroll reports, interviewed workers and repeatedly admonished the defendants to pay the correct prevailing wages.

Between April 29, 2014 and November 19, 2015, 27 employees on the project worked as mason tenders, roofers, bricklayers, carpenters and stone masons. The defendants listed the names of nearly all of these employees on the certified payroll reports submitted to NYCHA, which stated that the defendants had paid all workers the correct wages. It is alleged that, in reality, the workers were paid between $15 and $25 per hour and some were not paid for all the weeks of work. In addition, defendants Miah, Sowpon and an individual working on behalf of EEC and Dayan allegedly demanded kick-backs of up to $2,000 from four workers.

In an attempt to evade discovery of the scheme, defendants Miah and Sowpon instructed workers to tell the integrity monitors that they were getting paid between $54 and $74 per hour and all the defendants made the workers sign an acknowledgement form, stating that each worker received full Davis-Bacon prevailing wages, when that was not true, and released the defendants from any claim for wages, according to the indictment. Defendants Dayan and EEC instructed their outside payroll service to create payroll records showing that workers received prevailing wages that matched the certified reports submitted to NYCHA. It is alleged that the company never distributed most of these checks to the workers and, despite repeated requests, never provided the integrity monitor with copies of the cashed employee paychecks.

As a result of the scheme, Dayan and EEC stole over $1 million in contract payments intended for workers. Dayan took out at least $400,000 from the business account, spent some of that money on renovations to his 5,000-square-foot, 13-room home in Nassau County and on a Mercedes Benz, according to the investigation. Miah and T&J are charged with stealing over $50,000 in the course of the scheme.

The case was investigated by the Department of Investigation’s Inspector General for the New York City Housing Authority, specifically Special Investigator Ryan Covino, Special Investigator David Haynes, Investigative Auditor Lester Dier, Chief Investigator Emily Bizzarro, Chief Investigator Nancy Roa, and Assistant Inspector General Natalie Wright under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General Edward Bradley, Inspector General Ralph Iannuzzi and Associate Commissioner James Flaherty, with the assistance of DOI’s Integrity Monitor Thatcher Associates, and by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, specifically Special Agent Michael Granatstein.

The case is being prosecuted by Meredith McGowan, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Labor Fraud Unit and Senior Assistant District Attorney Betty Rodríguez, under the supervision of Felice Sontupe, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division, and Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief. 

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Fake Lawyer Who Falsely Claimed Brooklyn Bar Association as his Office Sent to Prison in Connection with Offering Bogus Immigration Services for a Fee

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

 

Fake Lawyer Who Falsely Claimed Brooklyn Bar Association as his Office
Sent to Prison in Connection with Offering Bogus Immigration Services for a Fee

Sentenced to 2 to 4 Years in State Prison; First Conviction in NY State for Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced today that a Sunset Park man was sentenced to two to four years in prison for posing as an attorney and charging thousands of dollars for immigration services which he failed to deliver.

District Attorney Thompson said, “Howard Seidler is going to an upstate prison because he preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our society – undocumented immigrants looking for legal help. He falsely claimed to be a lawyer and collected money without doing a thing. We’re determined to protect the people of Brooklyn from all types of con artists, including fake lawyers, and encourage every victim to report scams and other crimes, regardless of immigration status.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Howard Seidler, 70, of 336 51st Street, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to an indeterminate term of two to four years in prison following his guilty plea on February 3, 2016 to charges of third-degree grand larceny and first-degree immigrant assistance services fraud. The last felony count went into effect in February 2015 and the guilty plea marked the first conviction since it was enacted.

The District Attorney said that between November 2014 and May 2015, the defendant posted advertisements in Sunset Park, identifying himself as an attorney who provides immigration services. The ads and his business card included the titles “Esq.,” PhD” and “J.D.”

A detective investigator from the District Attorney’s Office, working undercover, met with Seidler in the library of the Brooklyn Bar Association at 123 Remsen Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which he claimed to be his office. On April 8, 2015, the detective paid Seidler $3,085 to act as his attorney and help him obtain a green card and a Social Security card. The undercover was then provided with a written retainer contract.

The District Attorney said that on April 24, 2015, the undercover had another meeting with Seidler, who gave him a Social Security card and immigration paperwork purportedly filed on his behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. The investigation found that the Social Security card was forged, that the Social Security number did not belong to the name used by the detective and that no application was filed on his behalf with United States immigration authorities.

The investigation also revealed that the defendant is neither licensed nor registered to practice law in New York and that he is not licensed or accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to provide any services with immigration authorities.

The District Attorney thanked Special Agent Matthew Macchiaroli of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) New York and Neisha Samaroo, a Special Agent with the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, who assisted in the investigation.

The case was supervised by Detective Investigator Rommie Woolcock, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Thomas Farley and the overall supervision of Richard Bellucci, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jose Interiano, of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kin Ng, Chief of the Immigrant Fraud Unit, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 23 Years to Life in Prison for Killing Beloved Homeless Man, Known as Helpful Protector of Grand Avenue

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 7, 2016

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 23 Years to Life in Prison for Killing
Beloved Homeless Man, Known as Helpful Protector of Grand Avenue

Victim Shot in Early Morning Hours after Asking Defendant to Quiet Down

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 20-year-old Brooklyn man was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison for the murder of Gilbert Kelley, a 57-year-old homeless man who was shot dead in Clinton Hill last year following a brief verbal dispute.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This sentence represents justice for Gilbert Kelley, who was a fixture of the Clinton Hill community and died protecting Grand Avenue, the block he loved. He was senselessly shot dead by this defendant, who now deserves to spend many years behind bars for killing such a generous and beloved man.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Victorious Kingsberry, 20, of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today to 23 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog, following his conviction in November on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on March 15, 2014, at approximately 4 a.m., the defendant, who was 18 years old, and five of his friends were on the way home from a party when they exited the subway near Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill. The group then turned onto Grand Avenue and started to walk towards Lafayette Gardens, a few blocks away.

As they walked up Grand Avenue, according to trial testimony, they encountered Gilbert Kelley, 57, a local homeless man who often swept the sidewalks of Grand Avenue and helped the homeowners on that block by doing odd jobs such as carrying groceries, raking leaves and shoveling snow. Kelley was pushing his shopping cart at the time and told the defendant and his friends to be quiet because the neighbors were sleeping. The defendant and his friends then got into a dispute with Kelley and started to approach the victim, who pulled out a kitchen knife. The defendant and his friends then crossed to the opposite side of the street, and the defendant then pulled out a .380 caliber handgun and fired, striking the victim in the chest, and ran off.

The case was investigated by Detective Andre Parker of the New York City Police Department’s 88th Precinct Detective Squad and Detective Evan Smelley of the Brooklyn North Homicide Squad.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Robert Walsh, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Blue Trial Zone, and Assistant District Attorney Elyse Kleinberg, of the Blue Trial Zone, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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