June 1,2011 , U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security allocation of 2011 homeland security grant funding:
“As Chairman, I am grateful that, despite a 20 percent cut by Congress in homeland security grant funding, Secretary Janet Napolitano has allocated the New York City-Long Island region the exact amount of funding that we received last year in the most important categories. Today’s allocations in this difficult fiscal climate reflect my strong belief and Secretary Napolitano’s recognition that New York and Long Island remain the top target of al Qaeda and its affiliates and need continued federal funding."
“While some lower risk cities saw complete elimination of their funding through UASI, the most critical of the grant programs for New York, the NYC area’s allocation remains unchanged. In the programs where New York did see a reduction, that reduction was the smallest of any of the highest risk areas.”
Note: Under the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), funding for New York City and Long Island remains steady. In 2011, DHS is slated to provide the region with $151.5 million, the same amount as in 2010. The overall amount available for UASI allocation is 20.4% less than last year. In today’s allocation announcement, DHS reduced the number of UASI jurisdictions from 64 to 31, a reflection of the need to target limited homeland security funding to the most high-risk areas.
Under the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), DHS will provide the NYC area with $30.1 million, which represents a 10.8% ($3.6 million) reduction from last year. The overall amount available for PSGP allocation is 18.4% less than last year.
Under the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP), DHS plans to provide New York State with $91.1 million, which represents a 19.7% ($22.3 million) reduction from last year’s funding of $113.5 million. The overall amount available for SHSGP allocation is 37.4% less than last year.
School Budget Vote and Board Election - May 19, 2009 VOTING RESULTS
Proposition 1 - School Budget: 3,301 – yes 2,104 – no The school budget has passed
Board Trustees C. Hoops - 1,932; M. Fisher - 2,689 G. Bennett - 2,353 T. Caltabiano - 2,581 Mrs. Fisher and Mr. Caltabiano win the two Board Seats Proposition 2 - Library Budget 3,415 – yes; 1,877 – no The library budget has passed Library Trustee A. Demasco - 3,107 Mr. Demasco ran unopposed
Anthony Demasco, Library Board Trustee
Maryanne Fisher, School Board Trustee
Tea Party Protest in Massapequa
All across the nation, in over 800 locales, Americans concerned with the nation's burgeoning budget staged "Taxed Enough Already" (T.E.A.) Parties to protest frivolous expenditures. On Friday, April 17, 2009 Massapequans did their part, holding a Tea Party on Sunrise Highway.
ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ISSUES REPORT SHOWING FOR-PROFIT TELEMARKETERS POCKET LION'S SHARE OF NEW YORKERS' CHARITABLE DONATIONS
Professional Fundraising Companies Hired by NYS Charities Take Over 60 Percent of Money Raised
Armed with Cuomo’s Report, New Yorkers Can Make More Informed, Effective Decisions when Giving to Charity
NEW YORK, NY (December 30, 2008) - Attorney Andrew M. Cuomo today released a report documenting how for-profit "telemarketers" take huge percentages of contributions New Yorkers give to charities.
According to the report, on average, just 39 cents of every charitable dollar raised by these professional telemarketing companies actually goes to charity. The balance is used to pay fees and expenses associated with the fundraising. The report, issued by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, will help New Yorkers to make more informed decisions when giving to charities across the state
According to the report, telemarketers raised a total of $178.7 million on behalf of 442 charities. In total, $108.2 million, or approximately
61 percent, was paid to the telemarketers as fees and other costs of the campaigns, leaving charities with less than 40 percent of the money actually raised for their causes.
"Especially in today's economy, when New Yorkers give their hard-earned money to charity, they expect the donation to make a difference and to help those in need," said Attorney General Cuomo. "This report arms New Yorkers with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions about contributing, and also encourages charities across the state to find more effective ways to raise money."
The report, "Pennies for Charity, Where Your Money Goes: Telemarketing by Professional Fund Raisers," summarizes information filed with the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau by professional fund raisers who conducted telemarketing campaigns in 2007. Some of the significant findings of the Attorney General’s report are:
In nearly 80 percent, or 436 of the 553 campaigns, the charities kept less than 50 percent of the funds raised.
In nearly half, or 271 of the 553 campaigns, charities received less than 30 percent of the funds raised.
In 51 of the 553 campaigns reflected in the report, charities actually lost money.
In only 45 of the 553 campaigns did the charity retain at least 65 percent of the money raised, the amount deemed acceptable under the Better Business Bureau's standards for charitable organizations.
The Attorney General’s website,
http://www.oag.state.ny.us/bureaus/charities/about.html , contains an electronic copy of the report. The information contained in the Attorney General’s report pertains solely to telemarketing campaigns conducted by charitable organizations registered to solicit contributions in New York.
ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ENDS PENSION FUND ABUSE BY FOUR WNY PHYSICIANS AND TARGETS MORE THAN 100 OTHERS AS INVESTIGATION EXPANDS
Cuomo seeks justification for the enrollment of 102 doctors in taxpayer-funded retirement plan
, (December 18, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that he has ended the abuse of the public pension system by four Western New York physicians and that he has sent letters to employers of more than 100 other physicians seeking information to determine whether they improperly received taxpayer-funded benefits ordinarily reserved for public employees.
Four physicians from Lancaster Depew Pediatrics have agreed to pay the state a total of $50,000 and forfeit state pension credits and benefits for being improperly listed as employees of the . All four provided services to the district as outside contractors and thus were ineligible for pension credits reserved for public employees.
Cuomo’s office also sent letters to school districts and other public employers across the state seeking information on and justification for the listing of 102 other physicians as payroll employees earning credits in the taxpayer-funded public pension system.
The settlement and letters announced today represent a new phase of Cuomo’s ongoing investigation into waste and abuse of the public pension systems. The four physicians are the first non-attorneys to settle pension abuse cases against them.
“New Yorkers are fed up with the systemic corruption constantly hitting them in their wallets,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This is yet another example of taxpayer dollars too easily slipping through the cracks and into the hands of those not entitled to them.”
At various times between 1985 and 2006, Michael D. Terranova, M.D., Mark D. Bezbatchenko, M.D., Elizabeth Davis, M.D., and Michael Rabice, M.D. – all physicians at Lancaster Depew Pediatrics – were listed as “employees” of the and received employee benefits, such as health insurance and pension credits, that are ordinarily reserved for legitimate public employees. Under the settlement announced today, the four physicians will collectively pay the State of $50,000 and forfeit any pension system credits accrued as well as any employee contributions made into the pension system.
Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation into the physicians determined that Terranova began providing services to the in 1985. Through 2006, Terranova was listed as an employee of the district, receiving an annual salary, health insurance benefits and pension credits. At Terranova’s request, the added Bezbatchenko to the payroll as an employee in 1991, Davis in 1995 and Rabice in 1998. During that entire time the “salary” from the district, which grew from $14,000 to $30,000, was split evenly between the physicians but all received health insurance and credits in the state pension system. In 2006, the school district increased compensation for the doctors to $42,000 and removed all of them from the payroll, ceased providing health insurance and ended the reporting to the retirement system of the doctors as “employees.”
At all times, the four physicians were working as independent contractors and not employees and therefore should not have received credits in the taxpayer-funded public pension system. The school district did not supervise, control or direct the manner in which any of the physicians performed their duties, and did not provide any sort of office or staffing for the doctors.
Cuomo, meanwhile, is also expanding the investigation into specific physician-employee arrangements in other school districts and public employers in Western New York, Long Island, Central New York, the Southern Tier, Capital Region, the , Catskills and . The Attorney General’s office sent document request letters to public employers in those regions seeking information regarding the placement of 102 physicians on their employee payrolls, which allowed the physicians to accumulate credits in the public pension system. Among other things, the letters seek documents including personnel files on each physician, time and attendance records, records regarding their “employment” or financial arrangements with the district and any materials forwarded to the state Comptroller regarding pension system eligibility.
Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing statewide investigation of pension abuse includes more than 4,000 local governments and special districts across , all school districts and the 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (“BOCES”). The investigation has already revealed that many lawyers had improperly remained on public payrolls for such extended periods of time, or were included on the payrolls of so many public sector employers simultaneously, that they accumulated substantial credits in the New York State pension system. To date, Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation into fraud and abuse in the public pension systems has resulted in settlements of more than $1.5 million being returned to taxpayers based on actions involving the conduct of more than 70 attorneys and other professionals.
The Attorney General’s Office urges individuals with knowledge of any questionable arrangements between any BOCES, local governments, or school districts and their outside professionals to contact the Public Integrity Bureau by telephone at 212-416-8090 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The settlement announced today was handled by Assistant Attorney General Darcy M. Goddard and Assistant Attorney General Lauren Popper Ellis.
King Kullen and Wild by Nature Join the EPA's GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership
(Bethpage, NY, November 4, 2008) – King Kullen Grocery Co., Inc. and its subsidiary, Wild by Nature, have joined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help protect the environment.The earth-friendly initiative is EPA’s GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership — a voluntary program to promote green technologies, strategies, and practices that protect the stratospheric ozone layer, reduce greenhouse gases, and save money.
“King Kullen and Wild by Nature have pledged to go above and beyond existing regulatory requirements to help protect the environment,” explained Cindy Newberg, Branch Chief in the EPA’s Stratospheric Protection Division.“Both companies are in the process of establishing an inventory of current refrigerant emissions that affect climate change and the stratospheric ozone layer, and setting reduction targets for these emissions.King Kullen and Wild by Nature should be commended for taking this major step towards reducing ozone-depleting refrigerant charges and minimizing refrigerant leaks.”
Under the agreement with the EPA, King Kullen and Wild by Nature have committed to:
Require all new and remodeled stores to be ozone friendly in advance of Clean Air Act phase-out requirements. Establish an emissions inventory, which will be used to set emissions reduction targets.
Participate in an industry/government research initiative to assess the performance of advanced technologies.
“At King Kullen and Wild by Nature, we have long recognized our responsibility to protecting the environment, primarily through our highly successful in-store recycling programs,” explained King Kullen Vice President Thomas K. Cullen.“Working with the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership is the next step to reducing our carbon footprint.We look forward to introducing ozone-friendly refrigeration alternatives and advanced refrigeration technologies throughout our stores.”
According to the EPA, GreenChill partners in the food retail business have refrigerant emissions rates nearly 50 percent lower than the EPA-estimated industry average. These partners are responsible for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from refrigerants totaling 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — equivalent to the annual emissions of 500,000 cars.
Headquartered in Bethpage, New York, King Kullen Grocery Company, Inc. is recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as America's first supermarket.Founded in 1930 by Michael J. Cullen, King Kullen today employs more than 5,000 people and operates 49 stores throughout Long Island and Staten Island.More information is available at www.kingkullen.com.With four locations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Wild By Nature has operated for more than a decade on Long Island, meeting the needs of health-conscious consumers and those seeking quality goods and services.More information is available at www.wildbynature.com.More information is available about EPA’s GreenChill Partnership at www.epa.gov/greenchill
CERT Volunteer, Kathy Cowden, Legislator Dave Mejias (D-Farmingdale), and CERT volunteers Liz Fox, Robert Yenis, and Program Director Bob Beckmann.
Legislator Dave Mejias Attends Graduation of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training Legislator Mejias brought a new, community-based initiative to Farmingdale, North Massapequa, Levittown and Plainview/Old Bethpage aimed at making Nassau a safer place to live - the Nassau County Community Based Emergency Response Team (CERT). When an emergency or disaster occurs, Nassau County CERT members are trained to give critical support to responders and provide immediate assistance in a coordinated manner. In addition, CERT members may assist with emergency preparedness projects. CERT is intended to improve the overall safety of participating communities.
CERT is a team of individuals who received special training that enhance their ability to recognize, prepare for, respond to and recover from a major emergency or disaster. Previous emergency experience was not required. Now that training is complete, designated local community CERT coordinators keep members informed and organized.
CERT free training included basic first aid, emergency preparedness, community and family safety, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism issues, and CERT procedures. Upon completion of CERT training, students received a certificate and became members of their community CERT. They are now able to assist emergency response teams during emergencies and disasters, as well as know exactly what to do while help is one the way.
Continued supplemental training will be offered in the future to maintain their skills and awareness of CERT procedures. Through coordinated efforts, collaboration and education, Nassau will be a stronger, more resilient County ready to better handle emergency situations. Be educated, prepared, and safe. Support CERT. To sign-up for future CERT training, please visit: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/OEM/CC/CERT/signup.htmlFor Questions, please contact Nassau County Office of Emergency Management at: (516) 573-0648
Rep. Peter King, U.S. House of Representatives
King & Cuomo Reveal Unnecessary Lack of Safeguards on Potentially Deadly Highly Enriched Uranium - Push Ban to Keep Dangerous Materials out of Terrorists' Hands
Andrew Cuomo, State of NY Attorney General
Currently 7 Civilian Facilities across the Nation Continue to use Highly Enriched Uranium even though Safer Alternatives Exist
King and Cuomo Push Federal Agency to Adopt Tougher Restrictions on Highly Enriched Uranium, Including Ban for Civilian Use
On August 12, 2008, Representative Peter King (R-NY), Ranking Member on the House Homeland Security Committee, and New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, warned that current restrictions on access to highly enriched uranium (HEU) are too lax and could potentially lead to terrorists acquiring the potentially lethal material. There are seven civilian facilities across the country that continue to use HEU even though safer alternative materials exist.
King and Cuomo called on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to ban the civilian use of HEU. These restrictions would decrease access to HEU in order to keep it out of terrorists' hands and reduce the risk of a nuclear terrorist attack. King and Cuomo issued a statement to the NRC urging the federal agency to promptly ban civilian use of HEU.
"A nuclear attack on New York would be catastrophic," said Rep. King. "This ban will add another layer of protection to prevent terrorists from obtaining the dangerous materials needed to bring harm to Americans. A ban on HEU is a strong step forward in increasing our national security and preventing a nuclear terrorist attack."
“It’s absurd that the NRC has continued to drag its feet when it comes to banning this highly radioactive material,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “Plain and simple, banning highly enriched uranium for civilian use will remove another potential lethal weapon from the terrorists’ hands.”
Currently, there are seven civilian facilities across the nation that still utilizes HEU, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). While four of the facilities are already in the process of phasing out the usage of HEU, three facilities have made no commitment to eliminating the use of the potentially dangerous material. These include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Nuclear Research Reactor, the Heavy Water Test Reactor at the National Institute of Standards in Maryland, and the Missouri University Research Reactor. The ban does not apply to military facilities.
King and Cuomo warned that terrorists could potentially gain access to the material and transport it to New York City, one of the nation’s top terrorist targets. They also noted that all three facilities have the ability to use safer alternatives to HEU.
The petition sent to the NRC by the Natural Resources Defense Council seeks to ban HEU by establishing a date after which HEU can no longer be licensed for civil use, except on a very limited case-by-case basis.
This ban would be a proactive step towards increasing domestic security, as well as send a clear message to international community. The U.S. Department of Energy has international programs to take back HEU that the U.S. sent to countries in past years.A U.S. ban on HEU would set a precedent for other countries to follow and facilitate the returns.
New York State currently has six nuclear power plants and one research reactor, none of which use HEU to produce energy or conduct scientific research. Instead, these reactors use lower enriched uranium which is a much safer alternative. A ban on HEU for civil use will have no effect on the amount of electricity produced through nuclear energy.
Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, from Illinois also signed on to the letter.
CUOMO SETTLEMENT WITH "BODIES. . . .THE EXHIBITION" ENDS THE PRACTICE OF USING HUMAN REMAINS OF SUSPECT ORIGINS
Premier Exhibitions Cannot Disprove Allegations that Bodies on Display Came from Chinese Prisoners
Settlement Makes All Visitors to the New York City Bodies Exhibition Eligible for Ticket Refunds
NEW YORK, NY (May 29, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has reached a settlement with Premier Exhibitions ("Premier") (NYSE: PRXI), the developer of the "Bodies" exhibitions, that brings an end to Premier’s practice of using bodies of undocumented origins in their exhibitions. As a result of the settlement, Premier must now obtain documentation demonstrating the cause of death and origins of the cadavers and body parts it displays as well as proof that the decedent consented to the use of his or her remains in such a manner. In addition, all prior visitors to the New York City Bodies exhibit are eligible for a refund of the price of their ticket.
Premier operates the popular "Bodies" exhibitions which display human bodies and body parts. Bodies exhibitions are open at locations around the world, including New York City’s South Street Seaport. Currently, all of the bodies on display were citizens or residents of China. Advocacy groups and media reports have alleged that some of the bodies on exhibit were Chinese prisoners who were executed. Although Premier previously maintained that the allegations were without basis, an investigation by Attorney General Cuomo showed that the company was unable to demonstrate the cause of death or the origin of the decedents.
"The grim reality is that Premier Exhibitions has profited from displaying the remains of individuals who may have been tortured and executed in China," said Attorney General Cuomo. "Despite repeated denials, we now know that Premier itself cannot demonstrate the circumstances that led to the death of the individuals. Nor is Premier able to establish that these people consented to their remains being used in this manner. Respect for the dead and respect for the public requires that Premier do more than simply assure us that there is no reason for concern. This settlement is a start."
Under the Attorney General’s settlement:
Going forward, before displaying a body as part of any New York exhibit, Premier must obtain written documentation demonstrating the source of each body and body part, the cause of death, and the decedent’s consent to the use of his or her body.
Premier will provide full ticket refunds to all customers who can establish that they attended the New York exhibition and who represent that they would not have done so if they had known of the questionable origins of the bodies and parts on display. Premier will place $50,000 in escrow for this purpose.
Premier will retain an independent monitor, at its own expense and for a term of 2 years, who will ensure that the terms of the settlement are followed. The monitor will also oversee the refund process.
In the event that Premier continues to display human remains in New York that were obtained before the Attorney General’s settlement, Premier will clearly disclose on its website, in the entrances of any New York exhibitions, and in its advertising that it is not able to confirm that the bodies and parts being displayed were not, or did not belong to, Chinese prisoners who may have been victims of torture and execution.
Kirk Donahoe, Assistant Director of the Laogai Research Foundation, said, "We applaud Attorney General Cuomo’s resolution of this matter. This investigation has shed light on how certain U.S. exhibitions profited from the execution of Chinese prisoners. Because of this settlement, it is now less likely that Premier and its competitors will obtain specimens from China for display not just in New York, but anywhere in the United States. We call upon other law enforcement authorities to take similar action in other states and to help to bring these abuses to an end." The Laogai Research Foundation is a non-profit organization that gathers information on China’s extensive system of forced labor camps and documents systemic human rights violations in China.
The bodies and parts currently on display in New York are licensed to Premier by the Dalien Hoffen Bio Technique Company Limited ("DHBTC"). DHBTC acquired the bodies indirectly from the Chinese Bureau of Police, which deemed them unclaimed at death. The bodies were put through a process called "plastination," in which a cadaver is stripped of its skin, dissected to show a part of the internal anatomy and infused with plastic that is then hardened.
Premier has already acknowledged that the bodies on display in the New York exhibit were unclaimed at death and that there was no documentation of the decedents’ consent to the display of their remains in this manner. The Bodies exhibit is currently at New York City’s South Street Seaport. That exhibition contains 20 full body cadavers and over 200 human parts, organs, fetuses, and embryos in various stages of development. Premier cooperated with the Office of the Attorney General throughout this inquiry. This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Karen Geduldig, under the supervision of Special Deputy Chief of Staff Mitra Hormozi.
ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO AND NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON STATEWIDE PENSION FRAUD INVESTIGATION
FARMINGDALE, NY (May 22, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo and members of the New York State Legislature today held a public hearing relating to the Attorney General’s statewide investigation of fraud and waste in the New York State public pension systems. The Attorney General was joined at the hearing by Senator Dean Skelos, Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, Senator Kenneth Lavalle, and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg.
The hearing was held at SUNY Farmingdale and included testimony from education, legal, and law enforcement officials, among others. Members of the public were also invited to submit written testimony.
"Given the depth of fraud that our investigation has already uncovered, the public deserves to know exactly what is happening and how we in government are going to stop it," said Attorney General Cuomo. "Today’s hearing was a chance to give a full accounting to New Yorkers of the problems we are facing. Using the testimony we received from witnesses and the feedback given by the public, we will work with the Legislature to effectively address these issues."
Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing statewide investigation of pension fraud has expanded to include more than 4,000 local governments and special districts across New York State and all 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services ("BOCES"). The investigation has already revealed that many lawyers had remained on school districts’ or BOCES’ payrolls for such extended periods of time, or were included on the payrolls of so many school districts or BOCES simultaneously, that they accumulated substantial credits in the New York pension system. Cuomo has also announced settlement agreements with a western New York law firm and a Capital Region attorney that ended their improper employment arrangements with school districts and various BOCES and rescinded all public benefits they had wrongfully received.
Last week, Cuomo announced his investigation was expanding to include the practice of school districts permitting employees to "double dip," allowing them to earn both salaries and pensions simultaneously.
The Attorney General’s office is examining whether this is a proper use of public funds, whether these practices and their implementation violate existing laws and regulations, and whether existing law needs to be clarified as to these practices.
A significant purpose of today’s hearing was to listen to all sides of the issue and collect information in order to create a solution, potentially legislative, to put an end to fraud and abuse in the public pension system.
Attorney General Cuomo continued, "For years state benefits and pensions have been given out like blank checks to independent contractors, outside consultants, and countless others who do not deserve them. My office is determined to uncover the full extent of these practices and work with the Legislature to cut off the gross misuse of state resources permanently."
New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said, "Taxpayers have a right to know where their tax dollars are going and how they are being spent. Today’s public hearing was an important step toward determining the scope of this problem and the steps that must be taken to address it. I look forward to working with Attorney General Cuomo and developing the legislation necessary to prevent this type of situation from occurring again."
Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) said, "Some highly paid appointed government employees are retiring and then returning to work the next day at full salary and with a pension. This is an abuse of the public trust -- it’s galling the way these appointed officials are gaming the system. It’s wrong and must stop. I am hopeful that these hearings will provide the information needed to craft legislation to address these issues."
Senator Kenneth Lavalle (R-C-I-Port Jefferson) said, "As the saying goes ‘the buck stops here,’ but as a result of those who know how to beat the system, hundreds of thousands of dollars are taking a drastic detour out of the classroom and into their pockets. From the local to state levels, too many lines of defense that are supposed to be protecting New York’s education and pension systems have failed.
Therefore, it is the abuse of the pension system, our school districts, and taxpayers’ hard-earned money that must be stopped here and now. I applaud Attorney General Cuomo for holding today’s hearing and I will use the information gathered here to help restore accountability to the state's pension system and further protect the taxpayers."
Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Nassau) said, "We can no longer continue to ignore the costs that this wasteful fraud has on New York State taxpayers. Today at a public hearing on Long Island we heard from witnesses and the public about the problems we face and the solutions being implemented to address them. I want to thank Attorney General Cuomo for organizing this hearing which was an important step in the ongoing battle against pension fraud."
In addition to oral testimony from witnesses at the hearing, the Attorney General’s office will be accepting comments from the public at email@example.com.
ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT WITH ONLINE DIRECTORY FOR DECEPTIVE YELLOW PAGES SOLICITATIONS
Bright Pages to refund up to $3 million to defrauded customers, reform business practices and pay $150,000 penalty
NEW YORK, N.Y. (May 12, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement agreement with a national online directory service for defrauding thousands of small businesses and not-for-profits across New York state and the nation.
Under the terms of the court-ordered settlement, the company will pay a $150,000 penalty and up to $3 million in restitution to defrauded customers.
The agreement settles a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office in February charging Bright Pages L.L.C. and its principals with mailing false and misleading solicitations to small businesses, individual practitioners and charitable groups. The mailings, which included the familiar "walking fingers" logo, appeared to be from the local Yellow Pages phone directory seeking to verify existing advertising accounts. Instead, they were order forms to buy a listing on Bright Pages’ online directory.
"Today’s agreement sends a strong message about the consequences of deceptive sales practices in New York State," said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. "This company disregarded good business ethics and truthful marketing to line its pockets at the expense of unsuspecting small businesses and charities. These practices will not be tolerated."
Tens of thousands of companies and customers around the country and New York State were deceived into ordering services they did not want or intend to purchase at rates of $77 per month or $231 every quarter.
Many were unaware of the deception and others who discovered the fraud encountered problems when they attempted to cancel and get refunds.
Under the terms of the settlement, Bright Pages will refund all customers it deceived during the entire period of time the company has conducted business, from November 1, 2006 - April 30, 2008. The company has also agreed that all future solicitations will clearly disclose the services it is selling and will honor all future requests for refunds and/or cancellations.
"Bright Pages has finally seen the light," said Ronald J. Verrochio, Postal Inspector in Charge, New York Division. "We will not tolerate the use of the US Mail to facilitate schemes such as this one that bilked honest, hard working Americans out of thousands of dollars.
With this settlement, orchestrated so swiftly by the New York State Attorney General's Office, we will soon be able to tell the victims their claim forms for refunds are in the mail."
The Attorney General’s investigation, triggered by numerous complaints from the United States Postal Inspector’s Office and the Better Business Bureau, found that solicitations from Bright Pages clearly displayed the words "YELLOW PAGES" in bold capital letters next to the familiar "walking fingers" logo and falsely implied that the local Yellow Pages phone directory was merely requesting verification of the recipient’s existing account. In reality, the solicitations were order forms for listings with Bright Pages, which is not affiliated with any telephone company and does not publish print directories. The Bright Pages’ name and references to its online directory appeared only in the footnotes and buried in the terms on the reverse page.
Under the terms of the settlement, Bright Pages will retain an independent third party as settlement administrator for the Attorney General to process claim forms and refunds. The settlement administrator will be mailing claim forms to all customers within an enclosed return envelope. In order to obtain refunds, all completed claim forms must be filed within 35 days of date of mailing.
Bright Pages, L.L.C, is located at 20 Warren Street, 2nd Floor, New York. The company’s principals, Michael L. Smith and Shannon Courtney Mabry are residents of Florida.
The case was handled by Deputy Bureau Chief Melissa Saren and Bureau Chief Joy Feigenbaum of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection.
Mejias Issues Challenge:
Eliminate Healthcare Disparities
NassauCounty has some of the highest healthcare costs in the country while insurance companies continue to report record profits in New YorkState.That is why Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias (D-Farmingdale), Chairman of the County Legislature’s Health & Social Services Committee challenged local healthcare providers and advocacy groups in a hearing last Tuesday to come up with attainable short-term goals to eliminate the growing inequality among the healthcare services delivered in Nassau County.
“Let’s not just talk, let’s deliver. Let’s have the courage to figure out how to bring healthcare to the thousands of hard working families and their children,” Mejias said. “In six months we’ll do a check up on the system and see if the ‘patient’ in this case, NassauCounty, has gotten better.”
The hearing entitled “Unfair Healthcare,” addressed a recent AdelphiUniversity study showing racial and ethnic minorities experience a lower quality of health services than non-minorities. They are also less likely to receive routine medical procedures and have higher rates of morbidity and mortality.
Mejias challenged each speaker before leaving to offer each committee member one specific program, initiative or educational outreach effort that could be implemented to help reduce or eliminate healthcare disparities in NassauCounty.
Speakers representing a wide array of county and private sector advocacy groups addressed the bi-partisan committee tackling issues of racial and socio-economic discrimination, poor accessibility to transportation, cultural and language barriers in current programs being offered, and the high cost of healthcare and prescription drugs in general.
April 1, 2008
STATEMENT FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL ANDREW M. CUOMO
"I am in receipt of a letter from Governor Paterson requesting that I conduct an investigation of the State Police. I accept the Governor’s direction. I applaud Governor Paterson for his leadership and commitment to integrity in government and in the State Police specifically.
Combining politics and police work is a toxic brew. Any questions about political interference within the State Police are a serious concern. Our investigation will determine whether or not this has occurred within the State Police, and if so to what extent.
We will be purposeful and thorough in undertaking this inquiry. I will assemble a team dedicated to this effort and will update the Governor on our progress periodically. We will follow the facts wherever they lead and we will get to the truth of the matter.
Public integrity has been a priority of my office and we will continue our efforts to restore New Yorkers’ trust in their government."
Long Islanders Rally Against Governor Spitzer's Education Budget Cuts By Alyssa-Rae, Staff Writer
“Fair Share!Fair Share!” cried the crowd, antagonized by Governor Spitzer’s proposed budget, at the Saturday, March 1, 2008 Education and Taxpayer Rally.Signs waving, fists pumping the air and outburts of support permeated the bitter cold as Long Island’s Senate Majority Delegation and other community leaders incited Long Islanders to protect their schools.
Governor Spitzer’s proposed education budget drastically cuts Long Island schools’ funding.Seventeen percent of New York State’s children are enrolled in Long Island schools, but only 8.2% of the proposed increase is targeted for Long Island schools.Of the 77 schools in New York State that would suffer budget cuts in the Governor’s plan, 44 are located on Long Island, and ten lower-wealth schools on Long Island, 73,000 students, would be cut down to only minimum funding.All this, while 39% of state school aid is targeted for New York City schools.“We are not a borough of New York City, as they think!” announced speakers at the rally. These devastations to the Long Island standard come only a few months after Spitzer’s promise of dependability and a $1.25 billion increase.However, decreases by $18.4 million in BOCES and $8.7 million in Supplemental Excess Cost Aid will instead dump onto the taxpayers the burden of maintaining Long Island public schools.
Long Islanders refuse to be subjected to this unfair and irresponsible management of their schools.Numbering in the hundreds, the people of Long Island came out in busloads to cry out to Governor Spitzer “We will not stand for this!”Just as last year, Long Islanders stood up to defend their schools and win back what the Governor is taking from them.The animated crowd clutched signs addressed to Spitzer, “Don’t Cut Long Island School Aid!” “Fair Share For Long Island Schools!”“All Long Islanders will stand united behind our
legislative delegation to demand fairness for Long Island, for its children, and for its taxpayers.The rally today is only the beginning of our fight,” said Matt Crosson, President of the Long Island Association. Beyond battling Governor Spitzer’s budget cuts, the Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC) and the Alliance for Quality Education were present at the Rally to promote equal distribution of the Long Island budget, whether cut or not, among schools.Claiming, “The Senators have their priorities backwards,” Michael Mitchell, Lead Organizer with LIPC, stressed the need to provide greater funding to schools where resources are inadequate.School districts such as Brentwood, Hempstead and Central Islip, under the current budget, do not receive the needed money to educate their students to the level of richer districts.“Under the guise of fighting for all of Long Island, they are fighting to lock in a system where [these districts] will never catch up,” said Mitchell.High-need districts are hurt most by the budget cuts being fought by the Senators, and parents in these schools feel the Rally is not focused enough on education, but on politics.“Most people here today do not understand that these Senators are doing next to nothing for the kids with the greatest needs,” said Silvia Ayala, a Brentwood parent.Only 6% of the recommended increases will go toward the schools with the highest necessitaty for funding, while 49% will go to average-need schools, and 44% to those with low need. While the ralliers’ first concern is fairness in aid distribution through New York State, LIPC urges politicians and citizens alike to focus on fairness within Long Island as well.
“This rally [was] an opportunity for the entire community…to join together and fight the Governor’s cuts to our schools,” said Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr.Together, political leaders, community leaders, students and taxpayers, the gathering sounded their battle-cry toward Albany, “Give Long Island Its Fair Share!”
Southern Tier District Attorneys, State Legislators, and Government Leaders Endorse Attorney General Cuomo's New "e-Stop" Legislation and its Protection Against Sexual Predators Online
Legislation Creates First-in-Nation Ban on Dangerous Sex Predators from Social networking Sites and Expands Sex Offender Registry to Include Screen Names and Other Internet Identifiers BINGHAMTON, NY (February 21, 2008) - Southern Tier district attorneys, state lawmakers and government leaders today announced their support for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s new e-STOP legislation and its protections against sexual predators online. The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), with bipartisan support in the Senate and Assembly, is the nation’s most comprehensive legislation to deal with the threat of sexual predators on the Internet. It also creates the country’s first mandatory ban on sexual predators from social networking Web sites. Attorney General Cuomo said, “Existing laws protecting children from sexual predators have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology. My e-STOP legislation is critical to help protect children in the Southern Tier and across the state from being victimized by sexual predators using the Internet. It has the potential to save lives. With e-STOP signed into law, New York’s children will have the nation’s most comprehensive protections against sexual predators on the Internet.” Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala said, “I want to commend our Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for his pioneering work to protect the residents of New York and especially Broome County from Internet crime. Andrew Cuomo is modernizing our legislation by integrating today’s technology to better guard us and our children from Internet predators.” Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen said, “While laws have been created to protect the innocent from predators, unfortunately, they have not kept up with the challenges posed by advancing technology. However, that is now changing thanks to Attorney General Cuomo’s leadership in protecting children from online predators.I fully endorse the proposed e-STOP legislation.Once enacted, it will be a powerful tool in the fight against sexual predators on the Internet.” Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan said, “In recent years, we have been unfortunate witnesses to reports of unspeakable crimes against children by those who prey on the Internet.Attorney General Cuomo’s office has been fighting for New Yorkers on this front, including working with sites like MySpace and Facebook to reform practices to protect children. The Attorney General has now proposed comprehensive legislation that will update the existing statutes regarding the monitoring of sex offenders, as well as a variety of new protections.I strongly support this legislation, and thank Attorney General Cuomo as well as the members of the Legislature for moving forward with this important legislation.” Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, a co-sponsor of the e-STOP legislation, said, “I applaud Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to restrict the online activity of convicted sex offenders. Given the anonymity of the Internet, we must do all we can to protect our society’s most vulnerable from online predators.” Assemblymember Clifford W. Crouch said, “I applaud Attorney General Cuomo’s leadership on this issue. In an age where the safety of our children is too easily compromised by the Internet, we must take aggressive action to provide protection from sexual predators seeking to lure their victims through Internet social networking sites. I am proud to support this legislation which makes New York State the first in the United States to provide this level of protection for our children.” Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson said, “Our children are increasingly turning to the Internet to communicate and interact with each other and this legislation will help protect them from sexual predators when they are online. Attorney General Cuomo should be commended for his leadership role in protecting children from online threats and I fully endorse the e-STOP package and will work in any way I can to help with its swift passage.” Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said, “I want to thank Attorney General Cuomo for leading this vital effort to keep children in our community safe. It is so important that we keep pace with the rapid advances in technology and e-STOP will give us the latest crime-fighting tools we need to help ensure that children are safe from online predators. The Attorney General’s legislation has my endorsement.” Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride said, “I join with District Attorneys throughout New York State in endorsing the e-STOP legislation proposed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.This legislation is an important step forward in making the internet safe for our community, and especially for our children.” Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene said, “We need to do all that we can to protect our children from sexual predators who use the Internet as a tool to lure them into dangerous situations.I applaud Attorney General Cuomo for this legislation which, once enacted, will help to enhance safety in our community, especially the safety of our children.” Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore said, “At the outset, it goes without saying that our children should be protected from sexual predators.We know that sexual predators have been using the Internet to exploit our children's innocence.The Attorney General’s proposed legislation would afford law enforcement another tool in keeping our children safe, as it will no longer allow convicted sex offenders to surf the web anonymously and communicate with children via the Internet without criminal consequences.As a prosecutor I whole-heartedly support this bill.” Delaware County District Attorney Richard Northrup said, “I fully support this legislation and both appreciate and join in the efforts of Attorney General Cuomo and all concerned to encourage passage of this important legislation.” Passage of e-STOP would prohibit sexual predators from accessing social networking sites and restrict their Internet usage in a variety of other ways. It would require sex offenders to register all of their instant message screen names and any other online identifiers, and would give access to that information to companies with social networking Web sites. Those companies would then be able to prescreen and block access by convicted sex offenders. The e-STOP legislation passed the State Senate unanimously on February 12. It has bipartisan support in the Assembly, is sponsored by the leadership of that house and is expected to be voted on in the next few weeks. Sex offenders have been shown to have recidivism rates far higher than those who commit other types of crimes.
According to the state Division for Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), there are 424 registered sex offenders in Broome County, 124 in Chenango County, 113 in Cortland County, 92 in Tioga County, 107 in Tompkins County, 167 in Chemung County and 63 in Otsego County.
According to DCJS, New York State has more than 25,000 registered sex offenders.
● 9,604 are level 2 registered sex offenders (moderate risk to commit another sex crime). ● 6,537 are level 3 registered sex offenders (high risk to commit another sex crime and a threat to public safety exists). The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators (e-STOP) Act: ● Requires, as a condition of probation or parole, mandatory restrictions on a sex offender’s access to the Internet where the offender’s victim was a minor, the Internet was used to commit the offense or the offender was designated a level 3 (highest level) offender. Such offenders would be banned from accessing social networking web sites, accessing pornographic materials, communicating with anyone for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with a minor, and communicating, in most circumstances, with anyone under the age of 18. ● Requires that sex offenders register all of their Internet accounts and Internet identifiers (email addresses and designations used for chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communication) with the State Division of Criminal Justice Services. ● Authorizes the Division of Criminal Justice Services to release state sex offender Internet identifiers (email addresses and designations used for chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communication) to social networking sites and certain other online services, that may be used to prescreen or remove sex offenders from using the site’s services, and notify law enforcement authorities and other government officials of potential violations of law and threats to public safety. Attorney General Cuomo has led recent groundbreaking efforts to protect users of the Internet from sexual predators. Last spring, he worked with other state attorneys general and MySpace, a popular social networking site, to share with law enforcement authorities the identities of registered sex offenders who they had found and removed from the site. In October, Attorney General Cuomo and the popular online community Facebook announced a new model to enforce safeguards aimed at protecting its network members, especially children and adolescents, from sexual predators, obscene content and harassment. The agreement was reached after serious deficiencies were found in the site’s safety controls and investigators posing as young teenagers were sent online sexual advances from adults within days of setting up their accounts. Both MySpace and Facebook, with tens of millions of users each, have taken significant steps to protect their users and supported efforts to create new laws protecting all Internet users from sexual predators. Attorney General Cuomo applauds their initiative in taking industry leadership roles with respect to protecting the online community. Both companies agreed the new registry information e-STOP creates would help them be better able to block sex offenders from their sites. Attorney General Cuomo has also advised parents to take preventive steps to keep their children safe and issued tips on How to Occupy Space on Social Networking Websites Safely: Be cautious about sharing your personal information online that can be used to locate you offline. This includes your screen name, personal photos, hobbies, social security numbers, address, phone number, bank or credit card number, and for children, the schools they attend. Remember, websites for underage users are not permitted to request personal information without a parent's permission. Do not share information online that you would not share offline - There are no “Takebacks.” Once information is posted online, it cannot be removed.If deleted or modified, older versions continue to exist online. Share information that is appropriate for the public. Remember, colleges and potential employers may rely on a social networking website to check you out. Use Privacy Settings to restrict access. Social networking websites provide a variety of privacy settings that can restrict access to personal information. These settings block unknown individuals from breaking into your account and misusing your profile and information. Install safeguarding programs with monitoring or filtering capabilities. Your online service provider may offer these services. Setting up a monitoring product is like a having a camera in the corner of your local bank - it can help collect evidence for law enforcement and trace a predator, if necessary. Watch out for unsolicited messages and emails. Do not respond to emails or download attachments you are not expecting. Some viruses can “spoof” the name and email address of friends and fool users into an unwanted online relationship. Beware of inappropriate or threatening online behavior.Risky online behavior can lead to cyber crimes. It may start with an online stranger following you into chat rooms, breaking into your account, abusing your personal information, sending you sexual solicitations or signing you up for porn sites and IM.Pay attention to these predators. Websites do not have the capability to verify ages or information of their users. If in doubt, report it! If you believe that a predator is communicating with you or your child, you must report it. In every case where a child is molested or killed by an Internet sexual predator, law enforcement find messages sent to the predator by parents threatening to report them. Do not hesitate to report it.
Mejias Brings Law Squad to Farmingdale Pre-Prom Meetings
Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias (D-Farmingdale) and the Law Squad joined Farmingdale High School Principal Glen Zakian, school officials, parents and eager prom-goers for the school’s annual Pre-Prom Meetings on Tuesday, February 7, 2007 in the School's auditorium. The meeting was aimed at educating parents and students on how to have a safe and fun prom experience, including discussion on the nationally-recognized social host legislation recently sponsored and passed by Legislator Mejias.
Founded in 2002 by prominent Mineola attorney Oscar Michelen, the Law Squad is a not-for-profit organization that presents free seminars to teens and their parents on issues involving risky behavior and the legal system.
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced that a multi-agency investigation led by his Organized Crime Task Force culminated on February 7, 2008 in the indictment of 62 members and associates of the Gambino, Genovese and Bonanno crime families - including the Gambino family’s boss, underboss, and consigliere.
The eighty-count federal indictment unsealed today in Brooklyn includes charges of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, encompassing acts of murder, attempted murder, robbery, extortion, loan-sharking, illegal gambling, distribution of cocaine and marijuana, money laundering, mail fraud, bribery of labor officials, embezzlement of union funds, and theft of union benefits.
"This case is noteworthy not only because of its breadth but also because it includes charges against the entire administration of the Gambino family of La Cosa Nostra," said Attorney General Cuomo. "These charges are the result of the extraordinary work of the law-enforcement agencies that partnered together to take down a legacy of crime and violence that spanned decades."
The Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and its law enforcement partners developed an informant and successfully ran that informant deep inside the Gambino family. Equipped with sophisticated recording devices supplied by OCTF, the informant recorded hundreds of conversations with members and associates of the Gambino family and others, which demonstrated the families’ methods for gaining control over and extorting businesses in New York, as well as their control of illegal gambling and loan-sharking in New York City. These recordings, along with the informant’s testimony and other conversations recorded on wiretaps conducted by OCTF and its partners, are central to the charges in today’s indictment.
Attorney General Cuomo continued, "Having successfully partnered with other agencies to investigate the illegal activities of the Gambino family, we have now joined forces with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to bring the most efficient and effective prosecution based on the evidence available to both offices. In this way, we are sending a clear message that State, federal, and local authorities are united in our efforts to protect New Yorkers from organized crime."
The charged crimes span more than three decades and reflect the Gambino family’s corrosive influence on the construction industry in New York City and beyond and its willingness to resort to violence, even murder, to resolve disputes in dozens of crimes of violence dating from the 1970s to the present, including eight acts of murder, murder conspiracy, and attempted murder. Twenty-five of the defendants are members or associates of the Gambino family. Notably, the evidence relating to many of the charged crimes consists of hundreds of hours of recorded conversations secured by the informant working with the Attorney General’s OCTF who penetrated the Gambino family.
The defendants arrested in New York today are scheduled to be arraigned on February 7, 2008 before United States Magistrate Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto at the U.S. Courthouse, 271 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, NY.
As noted, the indictment charges each currently active member of the Gambino family "administration," or executive leadership - acting boss John D’Amico, acting underboss Domenico Cefalu, and consigliere Joseph Corozzo - as well as three Gambino family captains, three acting captains, sixteen soldiers, and numerous associates. Each member of the administration is charged with racketeering conspiracy and multiple crimes of violence, namely extortions and extortion conspiracies relating to the construction industry, which carry sentences of up to twenty years’ imprisonment on each count.
According to the indictment and the detention memorandum filed today, the Gambino family profited from extortion related rackets at construction sites in the New York City metropolitan area, including the proposed NASCAR construction site located in Staten Island and the Liberty View Harbor construction site located in Jersey City, among others. The NASCAR extortion involved the planned construction of a racetrack in Staten Island that required large quantities of dirt fill, thus requiring trucking contracts which were controlled by the Gambino family. These crimes were part of a longstanding effort by the Gambino family to control and coordinate the extortion of dozens of private construction companies.
The charged criminal activity resulted not only in the extortion of business owners, but also the theft of union benefits from, among others, Local 282 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The indictment also documents the Gambino family’s routine use of brazen violence. In particular, four members of the Gambino family are charged with eight crimes involving murder, murder conspiracy, and/or attempted murder. Each of these crimes - charged as racketeering acts - are detailed below:
The Murder of Albert Gelb: Gambino family soldier Charles Carneglia is charged with the 1976 murder of Albert Gelb as a racketeering act. On March 11, 1976, Gelb’s body was discovered in the front seat of a car in Queens, New York, with multiple gunshot wounds to his face and body.
Gelb was a Brooklyn Criminal Court Officer who, several years earlier, had approached Carneglia in a Queens diner after Gelb determined that Carneglia was carrying a firearm. Carneglia resisted, and after a struggle with Gelb, he was arrested. Gelb was killed on March 11, 1976, four days before he was expected to testify at Carneglia’s trial.
The Murder of Michael Cotillo: Carneglia is charged with the murder of Gambino family associate Michael Cotillo as a racketeering act. Cotillo died from a stabbing inflicted by Carneglia on November 6, 1977, in Queens, New York, following a fight between the two men.
The Murder of Salvatore Puma: Carneglia is charged with the murder of Gambino family associate Salvatore Puma as a racketeering act. Puma died as a result of a stabbing allegedly inflicted by Carneglia on July 29, 1983. At the time of the stabbing, the two men were arguing over a money dispute.
The Murder of Louis DiBono: Carneglia is charged with the murder of Gambino family soldier Louis DiBono. Carneglia allegedly shot and killed DiBono on October 4, 1990, in the parking garage of the former World Trade Center in Manhattan, on the orders of then-Gambino family boss John J. Gotti. According to the indictment and the government’s detention memorandum, Gotti ordered DiBono’s execution because DiBono had repeatedly failed to meet with Gotti.
The Felony Murder of Jose Delgado Rivera: Carneglia is charged with the December 1990 armed robbery and felony murder of Jose Delgado Rivera as a racketeering act. Rivera, an armored truck guard, was shot and killed during a robbery while he and a co-worker were delivering money to the American Airlines building at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York.
The Murders of Robert Arena and Thomas Maranga: Gambino family captain Nicholas Corozzo is charged with the January 1996 double murder of Luchese family associate Robert Arena and Arena’s friend, Thomas Maranga. Corozzo ordered the murder of Arena in retaliation for Arena’s failure to return marijuana he had robbed from a narcotics dealer and for Arena’s suspected participation in the murder of a Corozzo crew member. Maranga was not a target of the murder but was killed because he was with Arena at the time of the attack.
Attempted Murder of John Doe: Gambino family soldiers Vincent Gotti, Richard G. Gotti, and Angelo Ruggiero, Jr. are charged with the May 2003 conspiracy to murder, and attempted murder, of John Doe as a racketeering act. John Doe was shot several times as he was leaving for work on May 4, 2003.
"The charges announced today are the result of a coordinated law enforcement initiative by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials," stated United States Attorney Benton J. Campbell. "I want to thank our partners for their extraordinary efforts and commitment to this historic investigation and prosecution. Today, we serve notice that anyone who aspires to a position in organized crime will meet the same fate. We will not rest until we rid our communities and businesses of the scourge of organized crime."
Inspector General Heddell, United States Department of Labor, stated, "Today’s RICO indictment represents a significant milestone toward eradicating a far-reaching and insidious conspiracy involving some of the largest construction companies in New York City that are owned, controlled, and/or influenced by the Gambino organized crime family. Many of these construction companies allegedly paid a ‘mob tax’ in return for ‘protection’ and permission to operate. Through their alleged control of these companies, the Gambino organized crime family caused the theft of Teamsters union dues, and of health and pension funds, directly impacting the welfare and future of many workers. My office stands firmly committed to working with our law enforcement partners to combat this type of labor racketeering and organized crime."
New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gil-Hearn said, "DOI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners and focus on this ongoing effort to drive out construction fraud in the City."
Richmond County District Attorney Donovan stated, "This indictment is a prime example of the strong collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies in this region, today striking a major blow against organized crime in our community."
Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor Executive Director De Maria stated, "For 55 years the Commission has spearheaded and actively participated with various state, federal, and local law enforcement authorities in a multitude of successful investigations which have led to countless criminal prosecutions and administrative action against
waterfront- related figures. The Gambino crime family has been a predator of the longshore and construction industries and unions as well as many other industries and their related unions for decades in New York City."
New York City Business Integrity Commissioner Mansfield stated, "In addition to this indictment, and as a direct result of this long-term collaboration between the Commission and its law enforcement partners, effective immediately the Commission has terminated the authority of the carting companies controlled by these defendants to operate in New York City. The Commission remains committed to its mission of eliminating the influence of organized crime from the industries it regulates."
The Attorney General thanked the United States Department of Labor Regional Inspector General Marge Franzman and her predecessor, John McGlynn, as well as Executive Director Thomas DeMaria of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and his Chief of Police, Kevin McGowan, for providing substantial manpower to the investigation throughout, including to monitor wiretaps and conduct surveillance. The Attorney General also thanked Mark J. Mershon, the FBI’s Assistant Director in Charge of its New York Field Office, and Supervisory Special Agent Philip Scala; Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan; New York City Business Integrity Commissioner Michael Mansfield and Director of Enforcement Ronald Cohen; and New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill-Hearn, all for their assistance in the investigation. The Attorney General also thanked Benton J. Campbell, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The charges in the case are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The investigation was conducted under the direction and with the participation of OCTF Deputy Attorney General in Charge Christopher Prather. Amy Legow Cohn, an Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Counsel to OCTF, was the lead attorney on the investigation and is participating in the prosecution of the case as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Former Assistant Deputy Attorney General Thomas Melanson assisted in the investigation. OCTF Supervising Investigator George Pagnotta was the lead investigator, under the supervision of Chief Investigator Tom Mullen and Assistant Chief Dominick Zarrella
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Announces MicroSoft to Remain under New York's Supervision
Antitrust Oversight Extended
On January 30, 2008, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced a federal judge has granted New York State’s request to continue overseeing Microsoft’s conduct to ensure fair competition. The Court ordered the oversight extension until November 12, 2009 despite the opposition of Microsoft Corp. and the United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, both of whom opposed further oversight.
The antitrust consent decree went into effect in November 2001, and significant terms of the five-year decree were set to expire in November 2007. New York and California led the request to extend court oversight, which arises from the 2001 findings that Microsoft committed antitrust violations.
"We are very pleased that the Court recognized how important it is to keep the antitrust decree against Microsoft in place to protect consumers and promote fair competition," said Attorney General Cuomo. "The oversight extension will help ensure that Microsoft fully complies with the requirements of the consent decree and helps stimulate competition in the personal computers marketplace."
The decision was rendered by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. In granting the request by New York, California and nine other states for continued oversight, the Court emphasized that Microsoft’s inability to meet its obligations and provide industry players with technology that Microsoft promised in 2001 prevented the Court’s decree from accomplishing its intended result – stimulating competition in the market for personal computer operating systems.
Since the settlement agreement in November 2001, the New York Attorney General’s Office has led the group of settling states in monitoring Microsoft’s compliance with its obligations under the Court’s decree.
Cuomo’s Office has been instrumental in managing the activities of the Technical Committee charged with ensuring that Microsoft lives up to its court-imposed obligations. The Court’s ruling commends the activities of the Technical Committee, which currently has a staff of some 40 engineers and support personnel, as "one of the most successful aspects of the Final Judgments." The Committee, the Court noted, "has gone far beyond the simple ‘monitoring’" envisioned in the Court’s Order "to providing testing, feedback, and critiques that have proved critical to . . . maximiz[ing] the full potential of the Final Judgments’ remedies."
"We look forward to continuing to work with the Technical Committee and with our fellow State enforcers to help bring about the benefits of competition to all computer users," said Cuomo. The Microsoft case is being handled by Jay L. Himes, chief of the Attorney General’s Antitrust Bureau. Mr. Himes was the States’ principal representative in the 2001 negotiations that led to the settlement with Microsoft.
Lights, Camera, Nassau County! Register with the NassauCounty Film Commission and See Your Home on the Big Screen
Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias (D-Farmingdale) and the Nassau County Film Commission are encouraging residents who want to see their living rooms on the big screen to register their homes with the Film Commission.
"Movies, television programs and commercials need real-life locations to film at for their productions, and NassauCounty can offer everything from beachside bungalows to bucolic suburbs to classic estates,” Mejias said. “Every kind of home is needed. By registering your home, NassauCounty becomes even more attractive to producers and you could have the pride – and money – that comes with having your house turned into a movie set.”
The Godfather, Sabrina, American Gangster, Harold, 30 Rock, The Sopranos and Margot at the Wedding have all filmed scenes here in NassauCounty. The film, television and commercial industries contributed more than $78 million in indirect economic impact to NassauCounty last year alone. If you don’t think your home will make the cut, consider that according to the Film Office, producers look for locations with everything from above-ground pools to barns to cobblestone driveways to children’s bedrooms. Every home has something to offer, so don’t hesitate
“Every production seeks a unique location,” said Debra Markowitz of the Nassau County Film Office. Find out more about listing your home with the Nassau County Film Commission on its website at NassauCountyNY.gov/agencies/filmcom or call (516) 572-0012.
Legislator Dave Mejias
County Executive Tom Suozzi
Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias Proposes ‘Cyber-Tracking’ law to monitor computer activity of sex offenders
Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias (D-North Massapequa) proposed on October 18, 2007 a law that allows law enforcement to utilize computer tracking software to protect vulnerable populations from sex offenders who may use the internet to lure or harm their victims. The specially-installed software will track the computer activity of the users. The "Cyber-Tracking" law would work in conjunction with the County’s Probation Department and District Attorney’s Office to allow law enforcement to monitor the sex offenders who are on probation.
"It is unfortunate that computer technology can leave children vulnerable to exploitation and harm by sex offenders using the internet," said Mejias. "With this law we can give children and their parents an additional layer of safety by monitoring the computer activity of sexual predators."
"This important law will help us track what sex offenders are doing online," Suozzi said. "Nassau County is the safest municipality of its size in the nation, and we want to do all we can to ensure that the most vulnerable in our County remain as safe as possible."
"Sex offenders use the Internet to anonymously develop relationships with multiple children across the nation for the sole purpose of accessing potential victims," said Laura Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law and Crime Victims Center. "Probation is not a right, it is a privilege and requiring sex offenders on probation to have their computers monitored will significantly reduce their potential for re-offending by eliminating their opportunity to access vulnerable populations."
The law will join the efforts of two county departments to monitor sex offenders, Mejias said. As a condition of probation, levels 2 and 3 sex offenders will be required to register each computer that he or she uses and consent to the installation of monitoring software to track their online activity. The Director of Probation will work with the District Attorney to establish the monitoring program and will also be required to report to this Legislature within one year of the law’s effective date.
The law will go into effect 120 days following the approval by the full legislature.
"Nassau County now has some of the toughest laws on the books relating to sex offenders," stated Legislator Mejias, "and it will serve as an excellent companion law to "Megan’s Law." Legislator Mejias has also supported laws restricting registered sex offenders from living near schools and parks or playgrounds and a more expansive notification process to alert vulnerable populations when Levels 2 and 3 sex offenders are residing nearby.
"The Probation Department will use any available technology to supervise to the maximum degree allowable by law those Sex Offenders who have preyed upon and exploited children," said Director of Probation Gerard Cook. "We welcome this effort by Legislator Mejias to ensure that the computer usage, around the clock seven days a week, of those offenders on Probation will be known to us and will result in a return to court and possible incarceration for those who attempt to return to the use of the Internet to victimize children."
CLICK on Photo to View on-Camera Interview with Legislator Mejias
STARCOM Task Force "Fly In"
The Nassau County Police Department in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police Department, New York City Police Department, New York State Police, Connecticut State Police, New Jersey State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Coast Guard, Air Station Atlantic City, United States Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Customs and Border Protection and the Air National Guard Rescue Wing, hosted a STARCOM Task force "Fly In" at its monthly meeting on Thursday February 8, 2007 at the Nassau County Police Aviation Bureau, 101 Grumman Way, Bethpage. Matters concerning interagency cooperation, notifications and deployment of resources were discussed.
The basis of this meeting was to maintain the collaborative effort of a tri-state law enforcement effort to address Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism issues.
Commissioner James H. Lawrence, Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen M. Rice, and other representatives from our law enforcement and military agencies were present.
Click on Photo to View On-Camera Interview with D.A. Rice
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