Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes And The Animal Legal Defense Fund Announce $1,000 Reward For Information Leading To An Arrest In Burning Of Stray Cat
Brooklyn, June 27, 2013 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) announce a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who set a cat on fire on May 24, 2013, in the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The severely burned orange tabby cat was found in the 12th floor stairwell of 200 Throop Avenue by a resident of the building, who called 911. NYPD and FDNY responded to the scene and recovered the stray cat. It was determined an accelerant was used to set the fire.
District Attorney Hynes said, “I find it incomprehensible why people would hurt any animal. But unfortunately, it does happen and those people need to be held accountable for their actions. My office aggressively investigates and prosecutes animal abuse and fighting cases. I want to commend the Animal Legal Defense Fund for their cooperation with my office in this and other cases, and for offering this reward for information.”
Scott Heiser, Senior Attorney and Director of the Criminal Justice Program for the ALDF said, “We are so grateful to District Attorney Hynes and his team for their tireless efforts to bring the perpetrators of this outrageously cruel act to justice. The Animal Legal Defense Fund posts this $1,000 reward to encourage people to come forward with information. I hope that whoever saw this crime will do the right thing and call the hotline number.”
Police officers brought the cat to Animal Care and Control of New York City to be examined by veterinary staff who determined that the cat had suffered burns to his body. The fire tore through the cat’s fur and skin and melted his claws, exposing tissue. The cat was medically stabilized and sent to North Shore Animal League for further treatment. Unfortunately, he passed away from his injuries.
As part of the investigation, KCDA detectives questioned building residents who reported having seen the cat living in the staircase before the attack. They believed the cat was being fed by residents. It is unknown if the attack occurred at 200 Throop Avenue or if he was burned elsewhere and retreated back to 200 Throop Avenue.
The attached reward flyer is being distributed in the community with the hopes of finding and arresting the suspect(s) who committed this crime. Anyone with any information concerning this crime should call the hotline at 718-250-4400.
THE BACK ON TRACK RESTART SCHOOL, LOCATED IN BROWNSVILLE, PROVIDES AN ALTERNATIVE TO TRADITIONAL MIDDLE SCHOOL FOR TRUANT AND AT-RISK STUDENTS
June 19, 2013 –
Kings County District Attorney Charles
J. Hynes today presided over the graduation and moving
up ceremony of 15 Brownsville students from his
Track/ReStart school program and said a Brownsville
Community Justice Center will open there within two
Back on Track/ReStart Academy opened about two years ago, after D.A. Hynes initiated talks with the Department of Education. It is located at 2318 Atlantic Avenue, takes formerly truant and at-risk middle-school students and provides intensive academic assistance to help them successfully pass the Middle School exam and qualify for high school. In addition to the academic component, students have access to social services providers, who have partnered with the D.A.’s office. These partnerships offer mental health services, including one-on-one therapy, GED preparation, parenting classes and job training.
“These kids are a success
story,” said D.A. Hynes. “They prove that when a
community works together—children, parents, teachers,
and social services—great things can happen, great
changes can occur for these graduates and for
Brownsville itself.” Mr. Hynes plans to open a
Community Justice Center in Brownsville within two
years. He cited the success of the Red Hook
Community Justice Center, which opened in 2000, as an
“The Red Hook Community
Justice Center served as a catalyst for change in that
neighborhood,” he said. “Red Hook today is one of the
safest places in Brooklyn. These kids may not
remember, but 15 years ago, you didn’t feel safe there
at night. Now, it’s a bustling community, with
clean, safe public spaces. Red Hook is a desirable
destination, not a place to avoid or fear. These
kids will be able to say that they helped spark these
same changes in Brownsville. They are a vital part
of their community and its future.”
The students are between the
ages of 13 and 16 and have been held back one or more
times, and as a result are in the 8th grade. The
Back on Track staff includes teachers provided by the
Department of Education. The Brooklyn District
Attorney’s office provides a full-time social worker who
works directly with the students and their families to
ensure they get the delivery of services they need.
This year, a new partner joined the program. PSCH
(Promoting Specialized Care and Health) provides
additional mental health services to the students, which
includes one-on-one time with a therapist once a week.
Joan Indart, Principal of ReStart said, “Once again, Back on Track has exceeded Middle School promotional standards. This year, 15 Middle School students were promoted. All of these 15 students worked extremely hard to achieve passing grades and complete Middle School requirements. We are extremely proud of this collaboration, quality of services, and the overall results of our hard work.”
The program has been a success. The students who were formerly truant and have come from difficult backgrounds have been able to achieve a high level of excellence in the 2nd year of this groundbreaking program. The average reported test score for the students was previously 59.3%. It is now 76.6%. The average attendance rate of the program participants is 90%. Of the 15 students who are in the school, all have completed it and are moving on to high school. Back on Track staff will continue to monitor their progress periodically for the next two years, which will include coordination with their high school guidance counselors and their parents.
Among the honorees is Shantaniqua Williams who had attended Young Women Leadership Junior High School. She was held back once, was chronically truant, and getting into a lot of fights. She was suspended a couple of times. She also lived in temporary housing. After entering Back on Track, Shantaniqua is no longer truant, she improved her grade point average by almost 23 points, and she has learned to resolve her conflict and anger issues. Shantaniqua, who has never been out of New York State, was selected to go to Nicaragua for two weeks with a non-profit organization called buildOn to help build a school there. She stayed with the host family. She will be attending the High School of Excellence and Innovation in the Fall.
Another honoree is Kioni Bennett. When she was in junior high school, she was skipping school. She was held back twice. Kioni also had gang involvement and had a pending gang assault case in Manhattan Criminal Court. She had anger issues and was very aggressive toward adults. Kioni is being raised by her grandmother. Through Back on Track’s program, Kioni has made significant progress. She raised her grade point average by 21 points. She has been getting daily counseling, and has made great strides toward resolving her anger issues. She passed her NY State exam, and is moving on to Roads Charter High School.
The scholastic curriculum is under the professional guidance of NYC Department of Education, District 79.
To view video of the students talking about their experience at the Back on Track ReStart school, you can click on the following link: http://youtu.be/HMeEIETshYI.
For more information on Back on Track/ReStart got to: http://www.brooklynda.org/back-on-track/backontrack.html.
For information on the Red Hook Community Justice Center, go to: http://www.brooklynda.org/red%20hook/red_hook.htm.
Brooklyn, June 20, 2013 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the sentences of Kevin Santos, 32, and Nelson Morales, 29, to a total of 25 years-to-life in prison for their involvement in a burglary that lead to the shooting death of Police Officer Peter J. Figoski in December 2011. Last month, both defendants were convicted after a jury trial of Murder in the Second Degree and Burglary in the First Degree. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus sentenced the defendants to 25 years for the Burglary and 20 years-to-life for Murder in the Second degree. By law, the sentences must run concurrently. They must serve 21.4 years-in-prison before they are eligible for parole.
At approximately 2:15 am on
December 12, 2011, Officers Peter J. Figoski and his
partner, Detective Glenn Estrada, were responding to a
robbery in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn.
Co-defendant Lamont Pride shot Officer Figoski in
the face. Officer Figoski died five
hours later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
Earlier this year, co-defendant
Lamont Pride was convicted of Murder in the Second
Degree and sentenced to 45years-to-life in prison.
Ariel Tejada, pleaded guilty to murder and
burglary charges, and testified against Pride, Morales
The case was prosecuted by Deputy
District Attorney Kenneth Taub, Chief of the Homicide
Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Howard Jackson,
Counsel to the Homicide Bureau.
June 18, 2013 – Kings County
District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the
indictment of Leslie Alexander, 39, for possessing seven
pit bulls with the intent to use them in dog fighting.
He is charged with 22 counts of Prohibition of Animal
Fighting, seven counts of Overdriving, Torturing and
Injuring Animals and, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in
the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in
the Fourth Degree, and Unlawful Possession of
Ammunition. Alexander will be arraigned on July 2.
If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison
and a $25,000 fine.
On May 24, 2013, NYPD
anti-crime officers executed a search warrant at
Alexander’s Boyland Street home in search of guns and
drugs. While in the house, officers found seven pit
bulls and various equipment used to train and condition
dogs for fighting. Among the training equipment
found in the home were approximately 25 dog kennels,
scales with rope attachments used to strengthen the
dogs’ jaws, hypodermic syringes, two dog treadmills to
build stamina, and a breaking stick, which is used to
break a dog’s grip on another animal or object. In
the rear of the location, the officers discovered that
the garage had been converted into an arena for dog
fighting and training. The officers also recovered
a .40 caliber handgun and boxes of ammunition.
Animal Care and Control
officers on the scene impounded the dogs, some of which
appeared to be underweight and which bore scars and
signs of recent trauma consistent with dog fighting.
District Attorney Hynes
said, “Animal fighting is not a ‘sport.’ It is a
barbaric and inhumane practice and a serious crime.
Training or breeding animals for fighting or
intentionally causing animals to fight is a Class-E
Felony in New York State, punishable by up to four years
in prison and a $25,000 fine. Many activities
connected to animal fighting are also felonies under
federal law. If you see or hear anything that
sounds like animal fighting, if you see animals with
wounds from fighting, or if you hear about a fight being
planned, please call my office, Animal Care and Control
or the ASPCA, and report it.”
The case is being
prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Farin
Chasin-Fodeman under the supervision of Dianne Malone,
Chief of the Animal Cruelty Unit.
Brooklyn, June 13, 2013 –Kings
County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today
announced Jack Abel and Avi Abel, the father and son
owners of Sepco Industries, Inc. , a subsidiary of
Watermark Designs, LLC., pleaded guilty on the
corporation’s behalf to a New York Environmental
Conservation Law prohibiting the unlawful discharge
of industrial waste and for repeated failure to file
corporate tax returns.
Kings County Supreme Court
Justice Alex Jeong took the plea and sentenced the
corporation to a conditional discharge and a $2.8
million settlement, including $1.5 million of unpaid
corporate taxes, and four years of an extensive
compliance, monitoring and remediation plan with the New
York State Department of Environmental Protection and
the New York State Department of Environmental
“The illegal discharge of
this hazardous industrial waste by this company was
abhorrent,” said District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.
“This office has a zero tolerance policy towards
environmental offenders and will continue working
together with the DEP and the DEC and other agencies to
investigate, prosecute and punish corporations or
individuals who put profits ahead of the health and
safety of employees and the public at large.”
“The investigation into Watermark Designs, LLC uncovered the illegal discharge of industrial wastewater into the New York City sewer system, in violation of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and New York State law. New Yorkers enjoy a wide range of recreational activities in the state's waters and such egregious behavior will not be tolerated,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said.
In May, 2012, the DEP and DEC contacted the D.A.’s office about information they were given by a former employee at Watermark that the company was illegally dumping industrial waste into the New York City sewer system, from their Brooklyn manufacturing facility at 350 Dewitt Avenue . The company specializes in the design and custom metal plating of bathroom and kitchen fixtures and accessories. During the metal-plating process, waste water containing metals such as Copper, Zinc, Chromium, and Silver is generated. Proper disposal of the waste water requires a costly, multi-step process, that ensures any solid toxic materials be removed by a regulated waste-hauler. Watermark instead disposed of the industrial waste water, which included the hazardous metals, through a hose inserted in a floor drain.
Based on the information
provided by the whistleblower, a multi-agency
investigation began and continued throughout the summer
of 2012. DEP obtained water samples from sewer
manholes at and around the facility. The water
samples were laboratory tested and results showed highly
elevated levels of metals including but not limited to
Copper, Zinc, Chromium, and Silver. Those levels
exceeded the Federal limits. The investigation
also uncovered the company’s tax fraud.
The Environmental Crimes Unit
was started in 2008. Since its inception, over 30
corporate and individual defendants have been
successfully prosecuted on a diverse range of
environmental crimes, such as illegal dumping of
hazardous wastes, illegal commercialization of fish and
wildlife, and fraudulent pesticide applicators.
The sentences have garnered record-setting fines
totaling over $3 million, under NYS environmental laws.
Cases are brought to the unit by the DEP, DEC, other
agencies and private civilians.
The case was handled by Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Linares, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit, and Gregory Mitchel, Executive Assistant District Attorney for the Money Laundering and Revenue Crimes Bureau. Michael Vecchione is Chief of the Rackets Division.
Brooklyn, June 7, 2013 Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the
sentencing of Andrew Barnette, 32, to 40 years in prison
for the kidnapping and robbery of 16-year-old runaway,
Alicia Arter. Barnette was convicted on May 10 on
charges of Kidnapping in the Second Degree, Robbery in
the Second Degree, Endangering the Welfare of a Child,
Assault in the Third Degree, Unlawful Imprisonment in
the Second Degree, and Criminal Possession of Stolen
Property in the Fifth Degree. He was sentenced
today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bruce Balter
to 25 years on the kidnapping charge and 15 years on the
robbery charge, to run consecutively.
Barnette met the runaway,
who is from Pennsylvania, in the summer of 2011 and
forced her into his human trafficking operation.
He had Arter work as a prostitute mostly in New Jersey
and Staten Island, but the operation extended into
Brooklyn and Manhattan as well. Barnette had other
girls working for him as well, trafficking them across
New York City and New Jersey, and collecting all of
their money. One of Barnette’s co-defendants, his
friend Calvin Cole, would assist Barnette in his
operation and stay at the hotels with the girls.
On November 20, Arter left
her hotel in New Jersey with the money from one of her
jobs and fled to Brooklyn. Barnette, along with
Cole, 33, and Andrew Barnette's brother, Bertram
Barnette, 29, got in Bertram’s car and went looking for
Arter. On November 21, 2011, as Arter was standing
in the parking lot of an East New York hotel, waiting
for a friend, the three defendants spotted her.
Andrew Barnette and Cole got out of the car, grabbed the
victim, dragged her on the ground and into the back seat
of the car, and drove away with her. An off-duty
detective observed the incident, ran over to the scene,
and recorded the car’s license plate number as the
vehicle sped away.
During the car ride, the defendants punched and choked Arter, and stole her leather jacket, two cell phones and her boot (the other boot fell off during the kidnapping in the parking lot.) After driving around for approximately 40 minutes, they finally let her out of the car in an alley in Canarsie, before Andrew Barnette warned her that he would be watching her.
After the incident, Arter called her social worker and
told her what happened. The social worker then
notified police. On November 22, while police were
searching the neighborhood where they believed Arter
was, they located Andrew Barnette. Barnette tried
to throw police off course by giving a false name, and
leading police in another direction. Arter was
located and brought into the 75th Precinct.
She identified Andrew Barnette, who was later arrested.
His brother, Bertram, was apprehended the same day after
his car was tracked down on Pennsylvania Avenue and
Livonia Avenue. Arter showed police where Cole’s
lived, and after an investigation by the District
Attorney’s Office, he was apprehended in December 2012
All three defendants were convicted on May 10.
Cole was convicted of Kidnapping in the Second Degree,
Robbery in the Third Degree, Endangering the Welfare of
a Child, Assault in the Third Degree, Unlawful
Imprisonment in the Second Degree, and Criminal
Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree.
He was sentenced on May 23 to 25 years. Bertram
Barnette was convicted of Kidnapping in the Second
Degree, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Unlawful
Imprisonment in the Second Degree. He will be
sentenced on June 10.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Brandon Smith and Cary Fischer, Counsel to the Trial Bureau Red Zone. Paul Gliatta is Executive Assistant District Attorney of the Trial Bureau Red Zone.