Three Alleged Gang Members Indicted for Attempted Murder of Five Victims, Including Pregnant Woman, Who Were Shot in Red Hook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 18, 2015

 

Three Alleged Gang Members Indicted for Attempted Murder of Five
Victims, Including Pregnant Woman, Who Were Shot in Red Hook

Allegedly Wounded Three Women and Two Men as Retribution for Earlier Shooting

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that three Brooklyn men were indicted for a shooting that wounded five people in Red Hook, Brooklyn earlier this month. The gunfire, which caused a pregnant 19-year-old victim to miscarry, was allegedly part of an ongoing dispute between rival gangs and came as retribution for a shooting earlier that day.

District Attorney Thompson said, “In light of the horrific shooting in Red Hook that caused a young woman to lose her baby, we’re determined to put these defendants away for as long as possible.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Marquise Frederick, Quamari McAllister and Elijah Wells, all 19, from Brooklyn. They are named in a 20-count indictment that includes five counts of second-degree attempted murder, three counts of first-degree assault, five counts of first-degree attempted assault and related charges.

Wells was arrested today and arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog. He was ordered held without bail and is due back in court on October 27, 2015. Frederick and McAllister were arrested on August 5, 2015 and have been ordered held without bail. They will be arraigned on the indictment at a later date. Each defendant faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top counts.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, on August 3, 2015, at about 10:48 p.m., the defendants pulled up in a green Ford Explorer outside 9A Dwight Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn. They allegedly stepped out of the car and repeatedly shot in the direction of the victims, striking all five. They then jumped back into the vehicle and fled. Surveillance video captured the Explorer, which is registered to McAllister’s father, leaving the area at a high rate of speed. Numerous .40-caliber shell casings were recovered from the scene.

The victims, who suffered gunshot wounds to the body, included two 20-year-old men and three women ages 19, 19 and 22. One of the women was pregnant and had a miscarriage as a result of her injuries.

The investigation revealed that the defendants are allegedly members of the “Gownaus Crew” or “Oww-Oww,” a subset of the Bloods gang. The group has been involved in a simmering dispute with a rival crew based in Red Hook, which was rooted in a homicide from March 2015. Earlier on August 3, another “Oww-Oww” member was shot and it is alleged that the later shooting that night was meant as retaliation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Iris Das of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, and Nicole Chavis, Bureau Chief, under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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

 

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City Correction Officer Charged With Promoting Prison Contraband For Allegedly Smuggling Tobacco to Rikers Island Inmates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

 

City Correction Officer Charged With Promoting Prison Contraband
For Allegedly Smuggling Tobacco to Rikers Island Inmates

Also Indicted On Charges of Bribe Receiving and Corrupting the Government;
Payments Wired to Brooklyn Western Union Agent

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced that a New York City correction officer has been indicted in connection with accepting more than $8,000 in bribes for allegedly smuggling loose tobacco to inmates on Rikers Island.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This indictment, which is the very first time that charges have been brought under this new law anywhere in the state, shows our determination to thoroughly investigate and prosecute alleged acts of bribery committed by any public servant. The fact that a New York City Correction Officer on Rikers Island now stands accused of committing these serious crimes is even more troubling.”

Commissioner Peters said, “Contraband smuggling enables an underground economy that when left unchecked fuels violence and other illegal conduct. It undercuts integrity and safety. And it speaks to a fundamental breakdown in order that makes all other crimes more likely. DOI will continue its vigilance in this area and work with the Brooklyn District Attorney and fellow law enforcement partners to attack this serious crime, one that also undermines the effective and safe operation of our City’s jails.”

The defendant, Jorge Garcia, 51, was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of third-degree corrupting the government, 14 counts of third-degree bribe receiving, one count of second-degree promoting prison contraband, one count of fifth-degree conspiracy and two counts of fraud; neglect of duty; willful violation of law relative to office. He was held without bail and will return to court tomorrow, August 20, 2015, for a bail determination. Garcia faces up to seven years in prison on the top count if convicted.

The District Attorney noted that the Corrupting the Government statute went into effect on April 30, 2014, and that it is being charged for the first time statewide with this indictment.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, officials received a tip that Garcia was trafficking in tobacco and discovered that the defendant, who was assigned to the Anna M. Kross Center (AMKC is one of 10 jails on Rikers Island) solicited and accepted payments from inmates, via their friends, relatives and associates, in exchange for smuggling tobacco into the jail.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, from January 4, 2014 to November 21, 2014, the defendant allegedly obtained $8,600 in payments from 14 AMKC inmates whose relatives and associates paid Garcia using Western Union money transfers. Garcia allegedly collected a total of 64 money transfers at Davids Check Cashing on Myrtle Avenue, in Brooklyn, which is a Western Union agent.

The District Attorney further said that, according to the indictment, after smuggling the contraband tobacco into AMKC, Garcia provided it to the inmates for their own use or to resell to other inmates, engaging in a scheme to intentionally undermine and frustrate the New York City Department of Correction’s ban on tobacco and fueling an underground economy on Rikers Island.

The investigation was conducted by DOI’s Office of Inspector General for DOC, specifically Assistant Inspector General Carmelo Galarza, under the supervision of First Deputy Inspector General Chin Ho Cheng, Senior Inspector General Jennifer Sculco, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Michael Carroll and First Deputy Lesley Brovner.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Meredith Weill of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Emily Bradford, Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Michael Spanakos, 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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          An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Two Gang Members Sentenced to 21 Years to Life and 20 Years in Prison For Killing and Slashing of Two Rivals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

 

Two Gang Members Sentenced to 21 Years to Life and 20 Years in Prison
For Killing and Slashing of Two Rivals

One Victim Stabbed 28 Times and Another Knifed in Throat During Attack in Coney Island

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that two Coney Island men were sentenced to 21 years to life in prison and 20 years in prison, respectively, for a violent attack on a group of rival gang members in 2012 that left one man dead and another with slash wounds to his throat.

District Attorney Thompson said, “These two defendants engaged in senseless gang violence on the streets of Brooklyn and deserve every day that they will now spend behind bars.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Alex (“Shorty”) Escamilla, 23, and Heiberto (“Big Boy”) Guerrero, 24, both of 1608 Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Escamilla was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to 21 years to life in prison following his conviction on May 26, 2015 on charges of second-degree murder, attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree gang assault and criminal possession of a weapon after a jury trial. Guerrero was sentenced to 20 years in prison following his conviction on June 9, 2015, by a separate jury at the same trial, on charges of first-degree assault, first-degree gang assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on June 4, 2012 at approximately 1:55 a.m., the defendants were driving on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, when they saw the victims on the corner of West 15th Street and Neptune Avenue. They made a U-turn, exited the vehicle, Escamilla armed with a knife and Guerrero holding a pipe, and chased the victims down West 15th Street.

Guerrero caught up with Jose Herrera, 28, and assaulted him, before Escamilla joined the attack. The victim died, suffering 28 stab wounds to the face and body as well as 13 blunt force impact injuries to his head and face, according to evidence presented at trial. Angel Reyes, 22, was slashed during the attack and suffered a laceration to the throat. Both victims were unarmed.

District Attorney Thompson said that the motive for the assault was ongoing violence between two rival gangs. The defendants belonged to the Coney Island Warriors and the victims to El Esquadron (also known as SDN). Surveillance footage captured part of the chase and the defendants were identified by several eyewitnesses.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Seth Goldman of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, 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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Demo – Eleven Defendants Indicted for Scam in Which They Allegedly Used Stolen Credit Card Numbers to Purchase Target Gift Cards



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, March 5, 2015

 

Eleven Defendants Indicted for Scam in Which They Allegedly Used Stolen Credit Card Numbers to Purchase Target Gift Cards

Defendants Arrested After Pattern of Purchases Was Detected by Store, Bank Security

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that 11 men have been indicted for using forged credit cards to purchase Target gift cards – in increments of $45 in an effort to evade detection – at the Gateway Mall in Spring Creek. The men were arrested after security for Target and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank discovered the pattern and set up a joint surveillance operation.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This case is disturbing in that the defendants were allegedly able to systematically – and swiftly – swipe their way into the bank accounts of innocent Chase customers by using forged credit cards. Our Cybercrimes Unit will continue to work closely with the New York City Police Department to remain vigilant in the face of changing technology.”

 

 

Bay Ridge Insurance Agent Indicted On Hate Crime Charges For Allegedly Targeting Elderly Victims in Financial Fraud



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

 

Bay Ridge Insurance Agent Indicted On Hate Crime Charges
For Allegedly Targeting Elderly Victims in Financial Fraud

Defendant Allegedly Stole $2.5 Million in Retirement Plans and Life Savings From 12 Victims Ages 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, today announced that a Staten Island man with a business in Bay Ridge has been arraigned on a 64-count indictment in which he is charged with grand larceny as a hate crime and other charges for allegedly targeting vulnerable, elderly victims and scamming them out of more than $2.5 million in hard-earned savings.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant allegedly took advantage of some of society’s most vulnerable victims, whom he targeted because of their age. He held himself out as a savvy investor and trusted advisor, when in fact he was allegedly nothing more than a crook. These victims lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of their life savings at a time when they need it most. We will now prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.”

Commissioner Bratton said, “As alleged, this individual violated the trust of his clients, pocketed millions of dollars, and denied his victims their savings. I would like to thank Detective Mark Lombardo of the 68 Precinct squad and the investigators of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for exposing this individual and holding him responsible for his actions.”

The District Attorney said that the defendant, Paul Simoneschi, 69, of 57 Benedict Avenue, Staten Island, was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 64-count indictment in which he is charged with two counts of first-degree scheme to defraud, one count of first-degree money laundering, 13 counts of second-degree grand larceny as a hate crime, 13 counts of second-degree grand larceny, 28 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, four counts of third-degree grand larceny and three counts of third-degree grand larceny as a hate crime. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between June 30, 2009 and June 14, 2014, the defendant, who is a licensed insurance agent and financial planner, owned and operated Simmons Planning Group & Agency Inc., located at 8403 7th Avenue, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and sold insurance policies and annuities to his clients.

The defendant allegedly developed long-term relationships with some of these clients, including senior citizens who were not financially savvy, according to the indictment, and over time gained the trust of his clients. Some of the clients were Italian immigrants whom he spoke to in Italian. The investigation revealed that Simoneschi allegedly stole from his clients by various means, including:

    • Recommending that they surrender their insurance policies and invest the money with him. Instead of investing the money, he allegedly stole it by depositing it into his accounts that he controlled and using the money for himself.
    • In other instances, he allegedly surrendered his victims’ insurance policies without their permission or knowledge, forging their names and subsequently depositing the checks into accounts that he controlled.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, Simoneschi tried to conceal his crimes by providing false documents to many of his victims, including copies of “new” policies opened on their behalf. At times, he allegedly gave them checks purported to be distributions from their policies or accounts, but which were actually checks from other accounts he controlled. In total, he allegedly stole $2.5 million from 13 victims, 12 of whom were in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. The victims lost amounts ranging from $12,000 to $575,000.

The District Attorney said that the alleged scheme was discovered after the defendant contacted one of his victims to tell the victim that he should reinvest his money in a new policy. The victim allegedly declined the offer, but later discovered that his account had been raided and that only $2,000 remained when the balance should have been more than $300,000. He reported the matter to police. An investigation discovered the additional victims, who had not been aware that they had been victimized. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this defendant is urged to call the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2340.

The case was investigated by Detective Mark Lombardo of the New York City Police Department’s 68th precinct detective squad, under the supervision of Captain Aaron Klein and Sergeant Regina Debellis.

It was additionally investigated by Detective Investigator Hubert Dixon and Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the overall supervision Chief Investigator Richard Bellucci. Financial Investigators Ludwig Sanchez and Shaakira Calnick, also of the DA’s Office, assisted in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Marie Leonardi and 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.

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

 

Gun Trafficker Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Smuggling Firearms from Georgia to Brooklyn


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 27, 2015

 

Gun Trafficker Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for
Smuggling Firearms from Georgia to Brooklyn

Total of 151 Weapons, Including Rifle and Semi-Automatic Pistols, Purchased During Undercover Operation

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that an 18-year prison sentence was given to an out-of-state firearms trafficker who transported guns from Georgia to Brooklyn up Interstate 95, commonly referred to as the “iron pipeline,” and sold over 150 firearms, including assault weapons, to an undercover officer on multiple occasions. One shipment included 25 guns that were then sold to the officer, which represents the largest single weapons buy in the history of the New York City Police Department.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This harsh prison sentence reflects our determination to bring to justice out-of-state firearms traffickers who use lax gun laws down south to flood our city with guns. We will continue to go after these merchants of death no matter where they live.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Michael Quick, of 703 Daniel Street in LaGrange, Georgia, who also had a residence at 37 Comstock Avenue in Staten Island. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to 18 years in prison and five years of post-release supervision, following his guilty plea on August 6, 2015 to one count of first-degree criminal sale of a firearm and one count of first-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The defendant waived his right to appeal as part of the plea.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between September 2013 and April 2014, Quick made 13 car trips from Georgia to Canarsie, Brooklyn, up the I-95 corridor, transporting as many as 25 firearms at a time, and sold them to an undercover NYPD officer at the corner of Foster Avenue and East 96th Street.

The 151 weapons he smuggled included an AR-15 assault rifle, MAC-11 subcompact machine pistol, two TEC-9 semiautomatic pistols and a variety of pistols and revolvers, many of which were loaded. Some of the firearms were purchased in stores and others were stolen, the investigation found. Wiretaps revealed that the defendant communicated about purchasing guns that are easily concealed; the logistics of transporting them; price negotiations with Georgia suppliers; and wiring money from New York to Georgia to facilitate the initial gun purchases.

District Attorney Thompson said the conspiracy was highly lucrative: a 9-mm gun bought in Georgia for $200 can be resold in Brooklyn for $1,000. Quick was paid a total of $126,000 over the course of the investigation.

The District Attorney thanked Detective John Edgar of the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau, Firearms Investigations Unit; his supervisors, Captain Robert Van Houten, Lieutenant Michael Jennings and Sergeant Donald Morgan; and the undercover officer for their partnership in this successful investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bennett of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Tara Lenich, Deputy Bureau Chief, under the supervision of Nicole Chavis, 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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Four Alleged Drug Dealers Indicted For Running Cocaine Delivery Service In Downtown Brooklyn


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, April 27, 2015

 

Four Alleged Drug Dealers Indicted For Running Cocaine Delivery Service In Downtown Brooklyn

Allegedly Sold Drugs to Hundreds of Repeat Customers Over Course of Investigation;
More than 1 ½ Kilos With Street Value Up To $200,000 Recovered

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, today announced that three men and one woman have been indicted in connection with operating a cocaine delivery service in Downtown Brooklyn. It is alleged that customers called a shared cell phone to place an order for cocaine or crack cocaine, which was then delivered to the buyer at an agreed upon location in exchange for cash.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This alleged cocaine delivery ring had the audacity to sell crack cocaine right in the middle of the day and within the shadows of our courts. Thanks to the efforts of the NYPD and my prosecutors they are closed for business and will now be prosecuted in those same courts.”

Commissioner Bratton said, “Illegal narcotics, whether sold on the street or delivered to someone’s home, erode the quality of life in our neighborhoods. I want to thank the members of the Narcotics Borough Brooklyn North for working closely with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to remove these alleged drug dealers from our Brooklyn communities.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Francisco Frias, 32, of 549 39th Street, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; his cousin, Mario Frias, 35, of 512 68th Street, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; Rafael Velasquez, 34, of 957 Willowbrook Road, Staten Island; and Victoria Rivera, 33, of 512 68th Street, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The defendants are variously charged  in a 114-count indictment with second- and fourth-degree conspiracy, operating as a major trafficker, first-, second- third- fourth- and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds, second-degree criminally using drug paraphernalia, second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm.

Victoria Rivera was arraigned this morning before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Shawndya Simpson and her bail was continued at $300,000. Rafael Velasquez was expected to be arraigned this afternoon. Francisco Frias and Mario Frias are scheduled to be arraigned on April 29, 2015. All four of the defendants are scheduled to return to court on May 28, 2015. The three top defendants face 15 years to life in prison on the top count if convicted. Rivera faces up to 20 years in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between April 1, 2014 and April 1, 2015, in Downtown Brooklyn, as well as Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, the defendants conspired to sell cocaine and crack cocaine, usually in $20, $40 and $140 bags. It is alleged that Francisco Frias was the leader of the crew and that his cousin, Mario Frias, and another man, Rafael Velasquez, worked as cocaine deliverymen. Victoria Rivera, who is Mario Frias’ wife, is charged with possession of a controlled substance.

It is alleged that the three male defendants shared a Toyota Prius and a cell phone to operate the drug delivery service. Specifically, Mario Frias worked three days a week and was paid $600 and Rafael Velasquez worked four days a week and was paid $1,000. Francisco Frias allegedly worked as a deliveryman as needed.

It is alleged that customers placed orders for cocaine and crack cocaine over the shared cell phone and whoever was on call answered the phone and drove the Toyota Prius to deliver the order. The ring allegedly filled about 25 orders a day, 365 days a year, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., to more than 100 repeat customers.

The District Attorney said that the investigation was conducted using undercover officers, as well as video and wiretap surveillance and a GPS tracking device which was placed on the Prius. The defendants were arrested on April 1, 2015, and search warrants executed subsequently led to the recovery of more than 1 ½ kilos of cocaine hidden under a bathroom vanity in the apartment of Mario Frias and Victoria Rivera. Also recovered were drug paraphernalia including a heat sealing device, a measuring cup with cocaine residue and scales. A search of the Toyota Prius, located in Staten Island, yielded 41 additional bags of cocaine and crack cocaine packaged for sale. A .25 caliber pistol was recovered from Velasquez’s residence on Staten Island.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective John Gamble, Narcotics Borough Brooklyn North, Major Case Unit under the supervision of Lieutenant William Buchanan, and the overall supervision of Inspector Joseph Kenny.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Scott, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Tara Lenich, Deputy Chief for Investigations and Nicole Chavis, Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorny’s Investigations Division.

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

Defendant Who Allegedly Targeted Asian Women Indicted For Robbery as a Hate Crime and Other Charges in Six Separate Incidents



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

 

Defendant Who Allegedly Targeted Asian Women Indicted For Robbery as a Hate Crime and Other Charges in Six Separate Incidents

Faces Up To 25 Years in Prison on Top Count

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today said that a 20-year-old man has been named in a 36-count indictment in which he is charged with second-degree robbery as a hate crime and other charges for allegedly robbing five Chinese women and attempting to rob a sixth woman in separate incidents in Borough Park. The women were allegedly targeted because of their race.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant allegedly targeted Asian women walking alone because he believed he could overpower them. Such cowardly attacks – whether based on a person’s race, gender, sexuality or ethnicity, destroy the fabric of who we are as a community and won’t be tolerated.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Manuel Israel, 20, of Manhattan. He has been named in a 36-count indictment in which he is variously charged with second-degree robbery as a hate crime, second-degree robbery, third-degree robbery as a hate crime, third-degree robbery, fourth-degree grand larceny as a hate crime, fourth-degree grand larceny, second-degree assault as a hate crime, second-degree assault, second-degree attempted robbery as a hate crime, second-degree attempted robbery, third-degree attempted robbery as a hate crime, third-degree attempted robbery, fourth-degree attempted grand larceny as a hate crime and fourth-degree attempted grand larceny. He will be arraigned on the indictment in Brooklyn Supreme Court at a later date. Israel was initially arrested on April 6, 2015, and ordered held on $50,000 bail following his Criminal Court arraignment.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on April 6, 2015, at approximately 12:20 a.m., in the vicinity of 55th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, a 23-year-old woman of Chinese descent was walking alone when the defendant allegedly approached her from behind and repeatedly pulled on her purse, causing her to fall to the ground. He then allegedly stood over her and stated: “Give me all of your money.”

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, a bystander happened upon the alleged attempted robbery and saw the defendant with his arm around the victim’s neck in an apparent struggle and called 911. Police immediately responded to the scene and apprehended Israel about 20 minutes later approximately six blocks from the scene.

Upon further investigation, the defendant was charged with five additional robberies of women of Chinese descent, ages 21 to 43, between March 21st and April 4, 2015, all in the vicinity of Fort Hamilton Parkway between 55th and 71st Streets. In each of the incidents, the defendant allegedly approached the victims from behind and pulled on their handbags, causing them to fall to the ground. It is alleged that he then grabbed the victims’ handbags and fled. Three of the victims suffered injuries, including lacerations, bruising and pain. The investigation revealed that Israel selected women of Chinese descent because he perceived them to be vulnerable to attack.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Sergeant Joe Chen of the 66th Precinct and Detective Davida Welch of the 66th Precinct Detective Squad; Detectives Marc Leonard and Robert Agron of the 68th Precinct Detective Squad and Detectives Sebastian Chichotky and Michael Diaz of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Grace Brainard, of the District Attorney’s Civil Rights Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Damani Sims, Deputy Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Marc Fliedner, 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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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

 

Alleged Unscrupulous Landlords Indicted For Unlawful Eviction Of Rent Stabilized Tenants and Filing False Documents In Connection With Residential Buildings in Bushwick, Greenpoint and Williamsburg



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, April 16, 2015

 

Alleged Unscrupulous Landlords Indicted For Unlawful Eviction Of Rent Stabilized Tenants and Filing False Documents In Connection With Residential Buildings in Bushwick, Greenpoint and Williamsburg

Defendants Face Up To 15 Years in Prison for Unlawfully Trying To Force Out
Tenants In Rapidly Gentrifying North Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that two Brooklyn landlords have been indicted on unlawful eviction and other charges for allegedly forcing or attempting to force rent-stabilized tenants out of their homes by allegedly destroying their apartments and making them uninhabitable in an effort to destabilize the apartments in order to collect significantly higher market-rate rents.

District Attorney Thompson said, “We simply will not allow the hardworking people of Brooklyn to be intimidated and harassed or have their apartments destroyed by those who seek to force them out just to make money from the lucrative real estate market. Rent-stabilized apartments are designed to protect tenants and cannot be turned into market value apartments through intimidation and fraud. It’s against the law and we will investigate and vigorously prosecute those who harass and prey on innocent tenants in Brooklyn.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer Darryl C. Towns said, “Bravo to our Tenant Protection Unit and the Brooklyn DA’s Office for taking strong action to protect the tenants in these buildings. Landlords who destroy apartments making them unlivable, without consideration for structural integrity or the safety and security of the tenants, will be brought to justice. Through the TPU, the Governor has charged HCR with the mission to protect vulnerable tenants from abuses by landlords who want to aggressively and illegally move apartments out of rent regulation. While we know that most landlords are committed to following the law, we must act decisively against those who brazenly break the law.”

The District Attorney said that the defendants, Joel Israel, 34, and his brother, Amrom (aka Aaron) Israel, 37, both of Borough Park, Brooklyn, have been indicted on one count of scheme to defraud, one count of second-degree burglary, three counts of third-degree grand larceny, one count of second-degree criminal mischief, three counts of unlawful eviction, three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and three counts of first-degree falsifying business records. The defendants face up to 15 years on the top count of burglary, which is a “C” felony.

The defendants owned or otherwise directed JBI Management Inc., Linden Ventures LLC, 324 Central Avenue LLC, Salmor Realty 2, LLC and Salmor Realty LLC, which are variously charged as co-defendants in the indictment.

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, as landlords and managers, Joel Israel and his brother Aaron Israel, and their companies owned or controlled at least four rent-stabilized buildings in northern Brooklyn. At several of these buildings the defendants allegedly schemed to harass tenants, evict tenants and deny tenants their property rights. The purpose of the scheme was allegedly to remove the rent-stabilized tenants from their apartments in order to make a greater profit by renting the apartments at market rate, which in some instances could be as much as four times what the rent-stabilized tenants were paying.

98 LINDEN STREET 

The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, the defendants gained control of 98 Linden Street, in Bushwick, in December 2012 by purchasing the building in the name of Linden Ventures LLC. The property was a three-story building with two two-bedroom apartments on each floor. Apartment 1R was occupied by four adults and apartment 1L was occupied four adults and two children. The monthly rent was approximately $650 to $700.

In May 2013, according to the indictment, JBI Management informed the tenants of apartments 1R and 1L that some structural work would be required and that their kitchens and bathrooms would be unavailable to them for several weeks, but that the work would include a renovation of these rooms. On June 4, 2013, the defendants and a worker allegedly visited the apartments and in one day the worker cut out portions of the kitchen floor and pulled down two bathroom walls, rendering the rooms unusable. The kitchen and bathroom were then sealed off from the rest of the apartment with a plywood partition. No further work was done and in August 2013, Aaron Israel visited the building and allegedly told the tenants they had to leave because of the building’s condition. Instead, the tenants hired a lawyer and sued the landlords. They won their case and the landlord was forced to make repairs, which began in August 2014 and continued to December 2014. During that 17-month period the families were forced to rely on a hot plate for cooking and the use of a relative’s bathroom, and in some instances, bathrooms located in local stores and restaurants.

324 CENTRAL AVENUE 

It is alleged that the defendants owned and controlled 324 Central Avenue, a three-story building in Bushwick, with two two-bedroom apartments on each floor. In 2005, a tenant began residing in apartment 3A, and in July 2013, the tenant signed a new lease with 324 Central Realty LLC, which was owned and controlled by Joel Israel. The tenant’s rent was $1050 per month. For December 2013 and January 2014 the tenant paid an agreed upon reduced rent because of problems with the heating and lighting.

It is alleged that on the morning of February 27, 2014, the tenant left the apartment for a medical appointment in the morning and returned home at approximately 11 a.m., to find a New York City Marshal blocking the entrance. The tenant called the police, and upon gaining entry to the apartment found that it was destroyed, with the kitchen and bathroom demolished and rendered unusable. The tenant filed a civil action against the defendants and won orders of repossession and repair, but the defendants never made repairs and the tenant never returned to the apartment.

It is alleged that on June 12, 2013, the defendants submitted documents to the New York City Department of Buildings for a work permit in which they falsely claimed that the building would not be occupied at the time of construction and that the building was not subject to the rent stabilization law.

300 NASSAU AVENUE 

It is alleged that the defendants controlled 300 Nassau Avenue, a three-story building in Greenpoint with two two-bedroom apartments on each floor. In September 2013, Joel Israel allegedly approached a tenant of one of the apartments and offered her $50,000 to vacate the apartment, which was a rent-stabilized unit. She declined his offer. Prior to his offer, it is alleged, in March 2013, demolition began on the second floor even though tenants still occupied apartments on the first and third floors. As a result of the continuing construction, in October 2013, the tenants lost heat. In December 2013, it is alleged, the service of utilities to 300 Nassau Avenue ceased due to the connections to the building being damaged and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development issued a vacate order for the building, forcing the remaining tenants from their homes.

It is further alleged, according to the indictment, that prior to the 2013 construction, on July 6, 2012, Joel Israel filed a work application with the New York City Department of Buildings, which stated that the building would not be occupied during the “gut renovation,” even though multiple tenants did live at that location.

15 HUMBOLDT STREET 

It is alleged that the defendants controlled 15 Humboldt Street, a four-story building in Williamsburg with two two-bedroom apartments on each floor, since at least 2010. On August 31, 2010, the defendants allegedly filed a work application with the New York City Department of Buildings seeking permission for renovation of the four floors and the cellar. The application allegedly falsely stated that none of the units would be occupied during construction and that the building was not subject to the rent stabilization law. In fact, rent-stabilized tenants were living in the building while construction was underway. Furthermore, it is alleged, the construction resulted in the use of the cellar as an illegal dwelling.

The District Attorney further stated that none of the tenants of 324 Central Avenue, 300 Nassau Avenue or 15 Humboldt Street was protected from ongoing construction by a Tenant Protection Plan, which was required by the New York City Building Code, because the defendants falsely represented to the New York City Department of Buildings that the building would be unoccupied during construction.

The NYS HCR Tenant Protection Unit, a proactive enforcement unit created by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2012 to root out fraud and corruption in the rent regulation system offered significant assistance in this investigation. The TPU’s involvement with the JBI case began after the Unit received several calls from Brooklyn-based legal services groups concerning allegations of extreme harassment and intimidation in trying to force Brooklyn tenants out of their rent-regulated apartments by creating hazardous living conditions  in many of the ten buildings owned by the landlord in Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) said, “We simply cannot allow dishonest landlords to intimidate and harass working families in a brazen attempt to ring more profit from New York’s tight real estate market.  I applaud DA Thompson for vigorously pursuing this case, Councilman Antonio Reynoso who was instrumental in drawing attention to this matter and all of the local community and housing advocacy organizations who banded together to seek justice.”

Public Advocate Letitia James said, “Safe and affordable housing is a basic right of every single New Yorker. The charges brought against the perpetrators by District Attorney Thompson shock the conscious and cannot go unpunished.  Let this be a message to all that harassment of tenants will not be tolerated, and that government will use every tool possible to defend working families and take on unscrupulous landlords – whether through the Worst Landlord’s Watchlist or criminal prosecution.”

New York City Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been said, “We will not let landlords like the Israels use unscrupulous and dangerous tactics to force their tenants out of their homes and remove existing rent-stabilized housing from the community. HPD’s aggressive legal action successfully forced Mr. Israel to repair the apartments and allow the tenants to return to their homes. Today’s indictment by District Attorney Thompson sends another clear message that owners who skirt the law and put their tenants’ lives and well-being at risk will be held accountable for their actions.”

New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said, “I would like to congratulate and thank District Attorney Thompson and his team for all their hard work on this case which has led to this indictment. I would also like to recognize the efforts of our Buildings Marshal’s Office, in particular Deputy Marshal Ryan Gobin. This sort of abuse will not be tolerated, and the Department will continue to work with our city agency partners and law enforcement to proactively investigate and identify problematic landlords that seek to undermine residents safety.”

The District Attorney thanked the following for their assistance in this matter:

The New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and in particular its Tenant Protection Unit; the New York City Department of Buildings; the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development; South Brooklyn Legal Services; Bushwick Housing & Legal Assistance Program; Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez; Office of Council Member Antonio Reynoso and Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators Loretta Rolon, Jacqueline Klapak and Louis Capolupo, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Detective Investigator Michael Seminara, and the overall supervision of Chief Richard Bellucci.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Gavin W. Miles, Real Estate Fraud Unit Chief Richard Farrell, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of 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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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

Bushwick Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life In Prison for Stabbing Death of Girlfriend



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

 

Bushwick Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life In Prison for Stabbing Death of Girlfriend

Victim Found In Her Bed, Beaten About the Face and With Stab Wounds to the Neck

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 43-year-old Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the stabbing death of his girlfriend. The victim was found dead in their Bushwick apartment days after the murder when her family became concerned because they could not reach her and alerted authorities.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant not only repeatedly stabbed and brutally beat his girlfriend, but he also then left her in a locked apartment to die alone. We hope that his long prison sentence will provide some comfort to Ms. Figueroa’s heartbroken family.”

District Attorney Thompson identified the defendant as Nathan Rosa, 43, of 849 Flushing Avenue in Bushwick. The defendant was today sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Ruth Shillingford to the maximum term of 25 years to life in prison. He was convicted of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon on March 23, 2015, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, in the early morning hours of April 30, 2011, the defendant and his girlfriend, Angie Figueroa, 40, returned to the apartment they shared at 101 Humboldt Street in Bushwick, and sometime after that the defendant stabbed the victim twice in the neck, lacerating her jugular vein. She had also been badly beaten about the face and head.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, the victim’s family tried to reach her without success as she did not return their telephone calls or text messages. When asked where she was, the defendant, who had with him the victim’s two Pomeranian dogs, claimed he did not know. This alarmed her family because she was never without her beloved dogs, so they called police. Ultimately, the New York City Fire Department broke down the apartment door. The victim’s body was found in bed covered by a comforter.

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

 

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