KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARLES J. HYNES ANNOUNCES
CHARGES IN MULTIPLE REAL ESTATE SCAMS
ONE DEFENDANT CHARGED WITH A HATE CRIME FOR TARGETING AN
Brooklyn, March 7, 2012 –
Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced charges
against 12 defendants for participation in seven different
cases of mortgage fraud and real estate crimes, including
one case in which the defendant is charged with hate crimes,
for targeting the elderly victim because of his age.
“Defendants who commit real estate crimes do far more
than steal property and money: they rob their victims of the
American Dream of homeownership,” said District Attorney
Hynes. “Particularly troubling is the use of so-called
‘reverse mortgages’, available only to senior citizens, to
steal the equity from homes belonging to elderly victims.”
The Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Crimes Unit started in
March of 2009, from a federal appropriation sponsored by
Senator, Charles Schumer.
Since its inception the Unit has achieved many
successes, undertaking well over 300 investigations,
resulting in over 50 prosecutions.
Sentences have ranged from one to 36 years.
Also, courts in these cases have ordered restitution
in excess of $400,000 dollars and seven homes, valued in the
millions of dollars have been returned to their owners.
Sal Lauria, 36, and an unidentified accomplice are charged
with obtaining a reverse mortgage in the name of their
81-year-old victim, who met Lauria after the victim
responded to a television commercial for debt assistance.
Lauria worked for a
company that was associated with the owner of the ad. Lauria
is charged with offering the victim a “stream-lined”
mortgage and collecting all of his personal identification
information to apply for it. Lauria is charged with setting
up a false bank account in both his name and the victim’s
name, into which he deposited $350,000, which represents
proceeds from a reverse mortgage. Lauria kept all the money
for himself, according to the indictment.
The investigation into this
case was conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector
Lauria is charged with Grand Larceny in the Second
Degree as a Hate Crime, which carries a maximum sentence of
up to 25 years in prison.
Five defendants, John Rondell, 32, Van Mobely, 52,
Josef Perlstein, 29, Rene Tenpow, 32, and Eleanora Temis,
24, are charged with using 293 Franklin Ave. to steal
hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perlstein owned the
property, but the mortgage exceeded the property’s value.
Perlstein transferred the property to himself, Rondell and
Mobley, and Mobley recruited two loan processors, Tenpow and
Temis, to find a straw buyer. They found a 59-year-old
Russian immigrant from Sheepshead Bay with minimal assets,
and made it appear on paper as though he possessed enough
assets to qualify for a $1.6 million mortgage, according to
the indictment. Next, according to the indictment, they
arranged for the straw buyer to use the mortgage to purchase
the property from Perlstein, Rondell and Mobley. The scam
came to light when the straw buyer reported to the Brooklyn
District Attorney’s Office that her identity had been stolen
and used to obtain a mortgage for a property in Nassau
Nicholas Baucom, 26, is charged with forging a deed
and moving into a vacant, foreclosed property, at 434 Macon
Street. The victim in this case had purchased the building a
few weeks prior to discovering Baucom and several “tenants”
living there. Baucum is suspected of forging deeds to as
many as five other abandoned properties in the neighborhood,
and the investigation into his activities is ongoing. Baucom
is currently charged with Criminal Trespass and Criminal
Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree.
Jonathan Smith, 41,
is charged with stealing two vacant properties from the
estates of their deceased owners. The indictment charges
that he forged a deed to, 201 Cornelia Street, valued at
$480,000, and made a deal to sell the property, accepting
$10,000 for a down payment. He is also charged with using a
stolen identity to transfer 865 Greene Ave. from the estate
of its rightful owner, a Manhattan resident who died in
2009, to himself. He later contracted to sell the property
for $410,000, accepting a $25,000 from an unsuspecting
purchaser, according to the indictment. Charges against
Smith include Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Identity
Theft in the First Degree, and Forgery in the Second Degree.
He faces up to 10
years in prison if convicted.
Wilhemina Smith, 61, is charged with running an
illegal rooming house in a building she did not own, which
had no heat or hot water. She is also charged with
threatening to evict a tenant who was late with the rent.
Smith is charged with Unlawful Eviction and Harassment in
the Second Degree.
Margarita Alava, 60, and Glenn Currence, 59, are charged
with forging Alava’s brother’s name on a deed to sell his
house, which they sold the same day, earning more than
$88,000. They are charged with Grand Larceny in the Second
Degree and Forgery in the Second Degree. They face up to 15
years in prison, if convicted.
In 2008 Alvin Ashby, 36, along with his child’s
mother and grandmother, purchased 1091 E.91st
Street, and all three shared in the mortgage payments.
However, Ashby is charged with forging a deed giving sole
ownership to himself and then attempting to take out a
larger mortgage on the property. He is charged with Criminal
Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree and
Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not
proof of a defendant’s guilt.
The cases were investigated by Joseph Ponzi, Chief
Investigator, Special Investigations Unit; Michael Seminara,
Supervising Detective Investigator, Special Investigations
Unit and Jeannnette Sbordone, Detective Investigator.
Detective Shirley Chambers and Detective Gerald Amato from
the DA’s and NYPD squad:
Captain Walter Ward is commanding officer of the DA’s
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District
Attorney Elizabeth Kurtz; Assistant District Attorney Andrea
Clarke; Deputy Bureau Chief of the Rackets Division, Frank
Dudis; Lawrence Oh, Rackets Division Bureau Chief; and,
Richard Farrell, Chief of the Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate
Crimes Unit in the Rackets Division.
Michael F. Vecchione is Chief of the Rackets
KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARLES J. HYNES HONORS
BROOKLYN’S EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN AT SIXTH ANNUAL EVENT
33 BROOKLYN WOMEN RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND
SERVICE TO THEIR COMMUNITIES
Brooklyn, March 6, 2012 –
Some of Brooklyn’s Extraordinary Women include a
woman who mentors families of children with Down Syndrome.
Another woman is a victim of breast cancer who
spreads awareness and encourages others with the same
illness and even formed a non-profit organization for young
women with cancer.
Another woman helps struggling homeowners avoid
One of these Extraordinary Women founded an organization
that has helped over 1,000 survivors of strokes and brain
is also a mother/daughter team that formed the 17th
Street Cancer Crusade, which gathers people together to
raise money to help find a cure for cancer.
These are some of the 33
Extraordinary Women honored
today by Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes as
he announced the recipients of his sixth annual
Extraordinary Women’s event.
District Attorney Hynes said, “These exceptional women serve
as role models because of their selflessness, dedication and
They give back to the community, trying to make life better
for others. It
is an honor for me to recognize these women for their
outstanding work, which benefits the people of Brooklyn.”
Marlena Ortiz, who lives in Marine Park, is a second
generation Puerto Rican.
At 25, she was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer
after being misdiagnosed over the course of a few years.
Through her battle with cancer, Marlene devoted her
time to spreading awareness of cancer, alerting others that
breast cancer does exist even in young women, and proving to
other young women that life should still be lived.
She formed a non-profit organization called Beating
Cancer in Heels, dedicated to empowering young women with
organization provides life coaching, beauty and style
workshops, and recreational activities.
In recognition of March being Women’s History Month, the 33
honorees were lauded for their accomplishments in their
careers and their service to the communities in which they
live and serve.
District Attorney Hynes unveiled a huge calendar, in the
lobby of 350 Jay Street, for the month of March with each of
the 31 days dedicated to one of the extraordinary women (one
day is dedicated to the mother/daughter team) nominated by
Brooklyn residents. The
33rd honoree, Michele Kirschbaum, is honored with
a special DA’s Choice
The women will be further acknowledged at a ceremony
on March 27 at 6:00 PM at Brooklyn Supreme Court located at
320 Jay Street.
One of the honorees is Shannon Hummel from Red Hook
who has been a choreographer and arts educator for over 20
years. She is
the founding artistic director of Cora Dance, a professional
dance company and education organization.
She is passionate about bringing the performing arts
to those who have limited resources.
Shannon has brought dance performances and education
initiatives to isolated and under-served communities in New
York and other states.
She opened the Cora Studio in Red Hook which provides
live performances, daily professional dance classes, and
gathering space to the entire community, all on a pay-what
Through this initiative, Shannon has worked with over 1,500
people since 2009.
In addition, Shannon has served on the faculty of
numerous schools and studios.
She is also a curator and has been a guest speaker at
several dance festivals, workshops and universities.
The theme of her presentations is providing arts to
communities that lack access to it.
Another of this exceptional group of women is Matilde
in Mexico and raised in Brooklyn, Matilde is a community
advocate and a role model for the younger residents of
Sunset Park where she lives.
She is committed to working to enhance her
neighborhood and to help the Latino immigrant population.
She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling
and Spanish proficiency and has used it to help immigrants
and patients at several organizations where she volunteered
including the Tepeyac Association of New York where she
volunteered as a GED program coordinator and counseled
Latino immigrants on higher education initiatives.
At the Sunset Terrace Mental Health Center, she
worked with patients with severe mental illnesses.
She was also a psychiatry extern in Bellevue
Hospital’s Bilingual Treatment Program, providing mental
health services to Latino patients.
In addition, Matilde has worked with young people in
her neighborhood’s block association on educational events
and she is involved with the DA’s Office’s Safe Stop
program, working with stores in her neighborhood to become
safe locations for people to go if they are in trouble, if
there is an emergency, or they need to access information on
crime prevention programs.
There is also Sarah Sander, from Williamsburg, who is
a community advocate, mentoring
hundreds of families with children with Down
chromosomal condition, often associated with some impairment
of cognitive ability and physical growth, and a particular
set of facial characteristics.
She provides advice, support and education to these
Having a son who is a “special child”, she is able to relate
to what other families deal with.
She founded a school,
for her son and former classmates.
She also works to help adults with Down Syndrome.
Another honoree, Pastor Debbe Santiago, who lives in Coney
Island, is a perfect example of someone who led a
destructive lifestyle when she was younger, but managed to
turn her life around and then focused on helping others, so
they wouldn’t go down the same path.
For 20 years, Debbe led a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol
and crime. She
was homeless, living under the Coney Island Boardwalk, and
constantly getting into fights.
But then Debbe discovered God and she started the
Salt and Sea Mission,
which helps to provide residential programs, aids abused
women, provides classes for leadership training and job
readiness, provides counseling, food, housing and medical
assistance, and other services.
The Mission is a godsend for the homeless.
They serve 33,000 meals from the emergency food
The Salt and
Sea Mission also incorporates a youth development
program, an HIV program, furniture and clothing distribution
programs, social service advocacy and case management.
Debbe has been an ordained Pastor since 1998 and she
serves on the 60th Precinct Community Council,
and has been a member of Community Board 13 for 21 years.
The DA’s Choice Award goes to a woman who, in her
profession, has affected the lives of many people in
Brooklyn that she deserves special recognition.
This year’s DA’s Choice Award goes to Michele
Kirschbaum, who lives in Brooklyn Heights.
Michele is the Director of Programs of the New York
Peace Institute, a non-profit organization that provides
free mediation services in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
They help families and neighbors work through
conflicts, which had escalated to criminal activity.
Prior to this role, Michele was the Coordinator of
Special Education Mediation for over 10 years, where she
mediated hundreds of cases that assisted parents of children
with disabilities, and she helped the NYC school system
resolve disagreements about students’ special needs.
Michele also works with Safe Horizon, where she
counsels families traumatized by violence and abuse in their
mental health clinic.
Hynes bestowed the title of Special Ambassador to each of
the 33 women in their communities.
“The women come from neighborhoods throughout
honorees all have one thing in common,” said District
Brooklyn a better place to live.”
This year’s group includes educators, doctors,
lawyers, community activists, pastors, mediators,
fundraisers, founders of non-profit organizations, social
workers, administrators and parent coordinators.
The 33 Extraordinary Women are: Lillie Marshall (Red Hook),
Rebecca Seigel (Ditmas Park), Trisha Ocono Francis (East
Flatbush), Pastor Roberta Moore (Brownsville), Johanna E.
Willins (East New York), Shannon Hummel (Red Hook), Wai-Yee
Chan (Midwood), Matilde Pedrero (Sunset Park), Sonia
Valentin (Bensonhurst), Iris N. Sanchez (Sunset Park),
Frances Brown (Red Hook), Shereice Hunter (Bedford
Stuyvesant), Rukhsana Liaqat (Seagate/Coney Island), Marlena
Ortiz (Marine Park), Sarah Sander (Williamsburg), Cynthia
Greenberg (Flatbush), Kim Henry (Dyker Heights), Pastor
Debbe Santiago (Coney Island), Denise Cosom (Brownsville),
Chavie Glustein (Midwood), Maritza Fred (Sunset Park), Lisa
Davie (Mill Basin), Mary Salogub (Canarsie), Ilene Sacco
(Bay Ridge), Helen Wilson (Bedford Stuyvesant), Donna Maxil
and Melissa Anceravige (Park Slope), Tammy Aguilera Moore
(Windsor Terrace/Kensington), Esther Friedman (Boro Park),
Sara Reyes (Cypress Hills), Joyce Vederosa (Marine Park),
Janet Munroe Rousseau (Crown Heights), and Michele
Kirschbaum (Brooklyn Heights).
KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARLES J. HYNES CHARGES
METHODIST HOSPITAL IN REGULATED MEDICAL WASTE SPILL
METHODIST TO OVERHAUL WASTE DISPOSAL PROGRAM
Brooklyn, March 2, 2012 –
Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced that
New York Methodist Hospital was charged with one count of
violating New York State Environmental Conservation Law
regulating the Storage and Containment of Regulated Medical
Waste. The hospital agreed to pay restitution and clean-up
expenses, in addition to overhauling its waste management
procedures to insure future compliance with all
environmental regulations. The charge stems from an
investigation into several incidents involving improper
disposal and containment of regulated medical waste in 2011.
“I am thankful that Methodist Hospital has agreed to
take responsibility for these serious incidents and to take
the necessary steps to protect the community and the
environment from such irresponsible mishaps in the future,”
said District Attorney Hynes. “I would also like to thank
the numerous city and state agencies that helped my office
in this investigation.”
“The decisive actions of the Port Authority Police
Department uniformed and investigative personnel proved to
be critical in the spill containment and quick
identification of the waste source,” said PAPD
Superintendent Michael Fedorko. “These acts of wrongful
medical waste disposal presented a serious threat to public
health and safety. The Kings County District Attorney’s
office is to be commended in spearheading such a strong
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Commissioner Joe Martens said, “The conduct exhibited by New
York Methodist Hospital impacted both public health and the
environment. These violations were brought to light through
the diligent and cooperative efforts of the Brooklyn DA's
office, Port Authority Police, NYC Business Integrity
Commission, NYC Department of Sanitation and DEC's Division
of Law Enforcement. This agreement helps to ensure future
compliance with the state medical waste laws.”
“This investigation confirms the importance of vigilance
over waste removal practices and why regulation of the
commercial industry is vital to public health and safety,”
said Business Integrity Commission General Counsel Abigail
Goldenberg. “It also demonstrates the importance of
individuals reporting unsafe conditions. Thanks to the
cooperative efforts of BIC investigators, the Port Authority
Police Department, and the Kings County District Attorney’s
office, the appropriate result was achieved.”
The New York City Department of Sanitation and its
Environmental Police Unit also participated in the
facility-wide hazardous and medical waste program adopted by
New York Methodist Hospital ensures that medical waste will
be properly disposed of, and demonstrates the hospital’s
commitment to the safety of its patients, the community, and
In March 2011, a truck carrying regulated medical
waste overturned near the exit ramp of the Lincoln Tunnel in
New Jersey, spilling waste onto the road. An investigation
conducted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
traced the materials to New York Methodist Hospital, in
Brooklyn, and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office
launched a criminal investigation. Between March and May
2011, investigators from the District Attorney’s Office the
DEC and BIC surveilled the Methodist Hospital loading dock
and witnessed additional violations of state environmental
laws relating to the disposal and containment of regulated
medical waste. Subsequently, in May 2011, workers at a solid
waste transfer station in Brooklyn, not licensed to handle
regulated medical waste, discovered a bag of it in their
facility, so they contacted the Kings County District
The case was prosecuted by Jacqueline Linares, Chief
of the Environmental Crimes Unit within the Rackets
Division, and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Wilson.
Michael Vecchione is Chief of the Rackets Division.