U.S. Attorney’s Office
Bridgeport CT June18 2013
Deirdre M. Daly, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Patrick Pinto, 44, of Bohemia, New York, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to one count of conspiring to commit bank bribery while he was an executive of Oxford Collection Agency.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Oxford Collection Agency (Oxford) was a private financial services company that engaged in accounts receivables management, primarily debt collecting, with offices in New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Between 2007 and 2011, Oxford executives engaged in a multi-year scheme to defraud its lender, Connecticut-based Webster Bank, as well as its investors, clients, and the commercial debtors that Oxford collected from. Oxford’s victims lost more than $12 million as a result of this scheme.
The investigation also revealed that Oxford sometimes obtained and retained business with its banking clients by paying bribes and kickbacks to bank officials. As part of the scheme, Pinto, a vice president of Oxford, and other Oxford executives made monthly payments of between $2,500 and $3,500, which were hidden in cigar boxes, to an assistant vice president of U.S. Bank in Ohio.
U.S. Bank and Webster Bank received funds through the U.S. Department of the Treasury Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Judge Underhill has scheduled sentencing for September 9, 2013, at which time Pinto faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Pinto has been released on a $50,000 bond since his arrest on December 7, 2012.
In May 2012, Richard Pinto, Oxford Collection Agency’s chairman of the Board, and his son, Peter Pinto, Oxford’s president and chief executive officer, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering and one count of wire fraud stemming from this scheme. In December 2012, Oxford Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Randall Silver, Executive Vice President Charles Harris, and Chief Operations Officer Carlos Novelli also pleaded guilty to various charges.
On January 30, 2013, Richard Pinto, who is now deceased, was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment. The other defendants await sentencing.
Patrick Pinto is the son of the late Richard Pinto.
This matter is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), and the Connecticut Securities, Commodities, and Investor Fraud Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Liam Brennan and Special U.S. Attorney John McReynolds.
In December 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and several law enforcement and regulatory partners announced the formation of the Connecticut Securities, Commodities, and Investor Fraud Task Force, which is investigating matters relating to insider trading, market manipulation, Ponzi schemes, investor fraud, financial statement fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and embezzlement. The task force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section and Antitrust Division; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); Office of the Chief State’s Attorney; State of Connecticut Department of Banking; Greenwich Police Department and Stamford Police Department.
Citizens are encouraged to report any financial fraud schemes by calling, toll-free, 855-236-9740 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.
To report financial fraud crimes and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.
NEWARK, NJ May 15 2013—Federal law enforcement officers with the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation arrested three men at their homes this morning on charges they stole approximately $6.7 million from an investor, in part by claiming special access to shares in the social media company Facebook Inc. prior to the company’s initial public offering, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
One of the men, Eliyahu Weinstein, 37, of Lakewood, New Jersey, faces additional charges for allegedly committing the fraud while under federal indictment in New Jersey for a separate real estate investment scheme.
Weinstein; Alex Schleider, 47, of Lakewood; and Aaron Muschel, 63, of Brooklyn, New York, are expected to appear on the charges this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.
“According to the charges, the defendants took advantage of the buzz around the Facebook IPO to fleece unsuspecting investors,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “Shamelessly, Eliyahu Weinstein allegedly committed these crimes while under federal indictment for another investment scheme, even using stolen money to pay his legal fees. Today’s arrest should put an end to his brazen conduct.”
“Today’s charged conduct is another example of the cautionary tale that if an opportunity seems to be too good to be true, it probably isn’t,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford. “More than ever, the investing public must exercise the appropriate amount of due diligence before investing with new or unknown entities. This is highlighted by the fact that one of today’s charged individuals is currently awaiting sentencing on a previous fraud conviction.”
According to the complaint in this case and other documents filed in court:
In February 2012, Weinstein and his fellow conspirators offered investors the opportunity to purchase large blocks of Facebook shares prior to the company’s IPO in May 2012. The offer was particularly attractive because large blocks of the shares were extremely difficult to get, and they were expected to increase in value at the time of the IPO. Weinstein, Schleider, and Muschel did not actually have access to the shares.
Based on misrepresentations by Weinstein, Schleider, Muschel, and another conspirator, an investor victim—described in the complaint as “G.C.”—wired millions of dollars between February and March 2012 to an account Weinstein and a conspirator controlled. Weinstein and Schleider convinced G.C. to send the money by, among other things, providing the victim with false documents showing companies owned by various conspirators held assets which would secure G.C.’s investment.
The conspirators did not use any of G.C.’s money to purchase Facebook shares, instead misappropriating it for their own use and benefit by moving it through various accounts. Weinstein used some of the money to pay lawyers and experts representing him in his pending criminal case and in pending civil matters. Weinstein, Schleider, and Muschel also used G.C.’s money to make investments in a number of different businesses unrelated to Facebook and to make loans for their own benefit.
Throughout the scheme, Weinstein was under indictment and on pretrial release and was prohibited from engaging in any monetary transaction for more than $1,000 without the approval of court-appointed special counsel. Weinstein pleaded guilty in January 2013 before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton, New Jersey, to two counts of that indictment, admitting he ran a real estate investment fraud scheme that caused $200 million in losses and then laundered the proceeds of the scheme.
Weinstein, Schleider, and Muschel are variously charged in the 13-count complaint unsealed today. The charges against each and the maximum potential penalty per count are as follows:
Count(s) Charge Charged Defendant(s) Maximum Potential Penalty/Count
One wire fraud conspiracy Weinstein, Schleider, Muschel 20 years in prison; $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense
Two through six wire fraud while on pretrial release Weinstein 30 years in prison (10 years consecutive to 20 years for wire fraud); $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense
Seven through 13 transacting in criminal proceeds Weinstein, Muschel 10 years in prison; $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense
Additionally, the government is seeking the seizure and forfeiture of all funds fraudulently obtained by the defendants, including three pieces of real property allegedly maintained with the proceeds of the scheme.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ford in Newark, for their work leading the investigation of this case. He also credited special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for their important contributions.
The government is represented by Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig; Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gurbir S. Grewal and Zach Intrater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit; and Evan S. Weitz of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
The charges and allegations against the defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.stopfraud.gov
U.S. Attorney’s Office
BUFFALO, NY May 2013—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Willie G. Reid, 46, of Olean, New York, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with distribution and possession of child pornography. The charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum of 20 years, and a fine of $250,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward H. White, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant is a registered nurse at Olean General Hospital. As a nurse, Reid’s duties included working in the Pediatric Unit. According to the complaint, between February 9, 2012 and February 8, 2013, the defendant downloaded videos and images of child pornography using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. Some of the videos and images included pre-pubescent children and depictions of violence.
The defendant made an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. Reid is being detained pending a detention hearing on May 8, 2013, at 2:00 p.m.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state ,and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc.
The arrest is the culmination of an investigation on the part of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Richard M. Frankel, Acting Special Agent in Charge and the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Broome County NY April 27 2013 United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announced that William P. Stiles, 43, of Deposit, Broome County, New York, was sentenced today in United States District Court to twenty four weekends of incarceration and five years’ supervised release for the felony crimes of wire fraud and tax evasion.
Stiles was chief operating officer and part owner of Aeden Waterford Inc. (AWI), a payroll and human services company located in the city of Binghamton. Stiles stole more than $500,000 from approximately 100 business clients of AWI between November 2005 and November 2010.
The money stolen by Stiles was supposed to be used by Stiles to pay client employment with holding taxes but instead was deposited by Stiles into Stiles’ personal bank accounts. Stiles used the funds stolen from AWI clients for his own personal benefit. Stiles further admitted he evaded income taxes due on the stolen money.
In addition to home confinement and supervised release, District Court Judge Thomas J. McAvoy ordered Stiles to pay $64,466 in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and $529,607.29 in restitution to the victims of his crime.
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Binghamton Resident Agency, and it was prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office.
ROCHESTER, NY March 16 2013—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Raymond Testa, 60, of Rochester, New York, and Gerald Testa, 55, of Ontario, New York, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with major fraud against the United States. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendants own and operate Testa Construction Inc. Starting in approximately 2008, the brothers started a second business and represented it to be a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, when in fact it was not. In order to qualify as a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, one must be a veteran with a service connected disability. The complaint further alleges that the defendants applied for and received government contracts from the Department of Veteran Affairs, which were set aside for the Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business program, totaling approximately $13,000,000, funding that they would not otherwise be entitled to.
“These defendants stand accused of pretending to be disabled service veterans,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “In doing so, the defendants deprived other small business owners of financial opportunities which the Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business program is specifically designed to assist.”
The complaint is the culmination of an investigation by special agents from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey G. Hughes, and special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher M. Piehota.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
New York City Man Sentenced for Entering an Aircraft in Violation of Security Requirements www.privateofficer.com
U.S. Attorney’s Office
BUFFALO, NY Feb 21 2013—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Elvir Ardolic, 35, of New York, New York, who was convicted of entering an aircraft in violation of security requirements, was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. to one year probation with the condition that the defendant does not use drugs or alcohol.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who handled the case, stated that on June 23, 2012, the defendant was a passenger on a JetBlue flight that originated at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, New York, and was destined for Chicago. Ardolic had consumed an excessive amount of alcohol prior to boarding the flight and was intoxicated when he entered the aircraft. During the flight, the defendant demanded to be served alcoholic beverages, and when the flight crew refused, Ardolic became disruptive. Because of the defendant’s behavior, the flight was diverted to the Buffalo International Airport so that Ardolic could be removed. As part of the plea, the defendant made restitution to JetBlue for the cost of making an emergency landing in Buffalo.
The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Christopher M. Piehota, Special Agent in Charge; officers with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, under the direction of George W. Gast, Chief of Police; and officers with the Transportation Security Administration, under the direction of Derek (Rick) DiPietro, Federal Security Director.
Two employees charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the City of Buffalo www.privateofficer.com
BUFFALO, N.Y. Dec 14 2011– U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced Monday that James Bagarozzo, 56, and Lawrence Charles, 39, both of Buffalo, New York, were arrested and charged in two Criminal Complaints (one for each defendant) with stealing thousands of dollars from the City of Buffalo, a Governmental agency which receives federal funding. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell, who is handling the case, stated that the defendants are employed as parking meter mechanics for the City of Buffalo. In this capacity, both defendants had the responsibility of repairing defective parking meter machines, but were not authorized to collect any money deposited into the machines.
According to the Complaints, in the time periods alleged, defendants Bagarozzo and Charles – instead of repairing the meter machines for which they were responsible – systematically utilized their positions as City of Buffalo Parking Enforcement repairmen to steal the money which was inserted into the parking meter machines. On some occasions, the Complaints allege that the defendants rigged parking meter machines in order to make the money collect in an area of the machine easier to access and steal.
In the time period of 2003 to 2011, the Bagarozzo Complaint alleges that the defendant systematically stole an estimated $210,000 from the parking meters he was charged with repairing. The Complaint indicates that agents also recovered approximately $40,000 hidden in the ceiling of the defendant’s bathroom as well as $3,000 in quarters and another $4,100 in cash.
Regarding defendant Charles, the Complaint alleges that Charles stole between $3,363 and $4,712 in one 32 day period, and additional funds over various months in the time period from 2009 to 2011.
“Public corruption by an employee at any level of government is a breach of the public’s trust,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “This Office stands committed to pursuing any allegations regarding public corruption wherever it occurs. This case should serve as a warning to any individual who would consider committing similar behavior.”
“Today’s developments demonstrate the FBI’s continued commitment to identify and defeat public corruption on all organizational levels,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Piehota.”With the initial and continual support of the City of Buffalo’s Parking Commissioner, Kevin Helfer, the FBI and the Buffalo Police Department worked collaboratively to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion.”
The arrests are the culmination of an investigation on the part Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher M. Piehota and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 272
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1110 AM EDT SUN JUN 6 2010
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF
SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE
MUCH OF NEW JERSEY
EASTERN NEW YORK
EFFECTIVE THIS SUNDAY MORNING AND EVENING FROM 1110 AM UNTIL 800
TORNADOES…HAIL TO 1.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER…THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 80 MPH…AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 105 STATUTE
MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 10 MILES NORTH OF CONCORD NEW
HAMPSHIRE TO 40 MILES SOUTHEAST OF HARRISBURG PENNSYLVANIA. FOR
A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED WATCH
OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU2).
REMEMBER…A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.
OTHER WATCH INFORMATION…CONTINUE…WW 271…
DISCUSSION…POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR…TORNADOES…ONE OR TWO WHICH
COULD BE STRONG…TO OCCUR DURING THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS…
ESPECIALLY FROM ERN NY NEWD INTO MA AND SRN NH/VT AS AN UPPER
IMPULSE…SURFACE LOW AND WARM FRONT SPREAD QUICKLY NEWD ACROSS THE
REGION. OTHER THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ALONG EWD MOVING
COLD FRONT AND MOVE EWD ACROSS THE SRN HALF OF THE WATCH THROUGH THE
AFTERNOON HOURS. STRONG SHEAR AND INSTABILITY WILL SUPPORT
SUPERCELLS WITH WIND DAMAGE AND A FEW TORNADOES.
AVIATION…TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 1.5 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 70 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
500. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 26045.
By: Rick McCann
Private Officer News Network
The New York City police department recently recognized a security officer employed at the Peninsula Hospital Center for her involvement with the NYPD Auxiliary Unit.
Evy Rivera, received the Auxiliary Officer of the Year award for the 70 Precinct from New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, on March 25, 2009, as part of Auxiliary Police Officer Appreciation Day.
Officer Rivera puts in more than 100 hours a month and is an exceptional officer Commissioner Kelly stated. She has been dedicated and professional in her duties as an auxiliary police officer and an asset to the NYPD Kelly said.
Rivera is employed full time on the security staff at the hospital but enjoys her work in the auxiliary and volunteers as many hours per month as she can.
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Security officer rescues man from oncoming train http://www.privateofficer.com
With only seconds to spare, police say that 54-year-old security officer Terrence Kelsor saved a disoriented drunk who stumbled onto the tracks and into the path of an oncoming train at the Christopher St. station late Friday night, according to the New York Daily News.
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Waldorf Astoria security officer shot http://www.privateofficer.com
New York Post
A gunman dressed in black burst into a jewelry store in the ornate lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Saturday, announced that he was robbing the store and began smashing display cases with the butt of his gun, the police said.
Another employee of the store, Cellini Jewelers, grabbed the robber as he tried to flee and another gunshot went off, but no one else was hit, the police said. Several Secret Service agents who were on a security detail for the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, at the nearby InterContinental Barclay New York hotel ran to the Waldorf after hearing gunfire, a security official said.
A five-man special police team reached the hotel within minutes. They split into two groups as they headed for the jewelry store and ordered people to take cover. Halfway through the lobby, they smelled gunpowder.
“It was pretty chaotic,” said Detective Dennis Canales, 32, a member of the team. “People running through the lobby, people screaming.”
The store security guard, Gregory J. Boyle, 54, who had been working in plain clothes guard, was shot once under the left armpit and was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center. His injury, described as a “sucking chest wound,” was not life-threatening, the police said. Mr. Boyle served with the force for 21 years and was with the Brooklyn Detective Squad before retiring in 2002.
The ordeal transformed the lobby of the landmark hotel from a picture of refined hospitality into one of panic and confusion just before 2:30 p.m. Guests were checking in at the reception desk, relaxing in embroidered armchairs and milling in the luxury shops on the main floor of the hotel, on Park Avenue at 49th Street. But then came the bursts of gunfire.
“We heard shots, and people came running out from the jewelry store shouting, ‘Run! Run!’ ” said Kevin Rands, a visitor from Britain who was checking in with his wife, Frances.
Jeff Johnston, 51, was in a chair listening to music on his iPod when he saw people running. “I pulled my headphones off. I heard a pop,” said Mr. Johnston, an information technology professional from Raleigh, N.C. “I took cover. I stood behind a column.”
He said people dodged into private alcoves holding telephones and chairs. “Everybody was scattering, running into rooms, behind columns,” he said.
A police spokesman, Assistant Chief Michael Collins, said the gunman was restrained first by the store employee and then other uniformed security officials until the police took him into custody. His name and information about charges filed against him were not available Saturday night.
The police said they recovered two handguns, but later determined that all of the shots, fewer than six total, were fired by the gunman.
The jewelry store is just past the long check-in counter, about 50 feet past the distinctive gold clock tower in the center of the lobby. Witnesses said the lobby was crowded at the time of the attempted robbery.
Andrew Herald, who was in town from England for a wedding, was in the hotel bar, just steps from the jewelry store, when he heard the shots.
“Everybody sort of ducked and got behind the marble pillars,” he said.
After the lobby emptied and uniformed officers ran in, witnesses said they saw a man being carried out on a stretcher.
Moments later, a 20-year-old man, thin and dark-haired with his hands cuffed behind his back, was escorted out by the police.
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Man dies from fall after being Tasered http://www.privateofficer.com
A naked, distraught man fell to his death after a police officer shocked him with a Taser stun gun as he stood on a building ledge, authorities said.
The man, Iman Morales, 35, was pronounced dead at a hospital after his nearly 10-foot fall Wednesday. Police said he suffered serious head trauma when he sit the sidewalk.
The death of the man, who witnesses and neighbors said had become distraught and had threatened to kill himself earlier in the day, brought renewed focus to the use of Tasers by the police.
It also raised questions over why Morales was shocked with the stun gun when there was no inflatable bag placed on the sidewalk to catch him if he fell.
“They didn’t try to brace his fall. They did nothing. I’ve seen a lot of things in my time. But what they did was wrong,” said neighbor Kirk Giddens, 39, in Thursday editions of the Daily News.
In a video posted on the Web site of the New York Post, Morales can be seen clambering along a building’s fire escape until he reaches a ledge and begins swinging a large fluorescent light bulb at officers below. One of the officers raises a Taser at Morales, who freezes and topples over headfirst.
Police spokesman Paul J. Browne told The New York Times that Morales’ death was under investigation. He said that it was unclear whether an inflatable bag had been requested or whether it had not yet arrived at the scene.
Officers are allowed to use Tasers if they believe psychologically distressed people are a danger to themselves or to others.
Thousands of city police sergeants began carrying Tasers on their belts this year. The pistol-shaped weapons fire barbs up to 35 feet and deliver 50,000-volt shocks to immobilize people
US Customs agents arrested in drug investigation http://www.privateofficer.com
Two U.S. customs agents were arrested on charges they helped smuggle drugs and other contraband through New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Customs supervisor Walter Golembiowski and officer John Ajello face narcotics, bribery and conspiracy charges in the case, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Golembiowski and Ajello regularly solicited and accepted bribes to allow contraband to pass through undetected, the DEA said.
Two airport workers and two others were also charged with importing counterfeit goods. Some of those items included Rolex, Cartier and Chanel watches and designer sunglasses, the DEA said. On several occasions, Golembiowski was captured on audio and video taking bribes to aid his co-conspirators in bringing in illegal drugs and counterfeit goods.
“Smuggling any kind of illegal commodity raises troubling issues at a time of deep concern over national security,” said Michael J. Garcia, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. “The threat is heightened when a government official accepts bribes to help smugglers breach our borders.”
The arrests came as a result of a lengthy sting operation by a state, local and federal task force. Prosecutors said numerous recorded meetings and phone calls captured the suspects talking about plans to smuggle hashish, ecstasy and other illegal items.
The investigation has led to the indictment and prosecution of more than 20 people — “from distributors to overseas sources of supply” — and the seizure of more than 600 pounds of imported hashish and other drugs from the United States and France, according to the statement.
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NEW YORK N.Y. Nov. 24, 2007 – From her baptism in Liberia to Christmas years later in her adopted New York City, Mamie Manneh never lost the longing to celebrate religious rituals by eating monkey meat.
Now, the tribal customs of Manneh and other West African immigrants have become the focus of an unusual criminal case charging her with meat smuggling, and touching on issues of religious freedom, infectious diseases and wildlife preservation.
The case “appears to be the first of its kind relating to that uniquely African product,” defense attorney Jan Rostal wrote in a pending motion to dismiss. “Unfortunately, it represents the sort of clash of cultural and religious values inherent in the melting pot that is America.”
At the center of the case in federal court is a modest woman with nine children and a history of domestic discord.
The case dates to early 2006, when federal inspectors at JFK Airport examined a shipment of 12 cardboard boxes from Guinea.
They were addressed to Manneh and, according to a flight manifest, contained African dresses and smoked fish with a value of $780.
Instead, stashed underneath the smoked fish, the inspectors found what West Africans refer to as bushmeat: “skulls, limbs and torsos of non-human primate species” plus the hoof and leg of a small antelope, according to court papers.
Three days later, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents were at Manneh’s door, where she told them she ran a smoked fish importing business.
According to the agents, she initially denied ordering any bushmeat from Africa or ever eating it while in the United States.
But after she consented to a search, the agents came across a tiny, hairy arm hidden in her garage.
“Monkey,” she explained, claiming the arm was sent to her out of the blue “as a gift from God in heaven.”
Federal prosecutors hit Manneh with smuggling charges that accused her of violating import procedures and suggested she was a menace to man and beast alike.
A criminal complaint cited evidence that the illegal importation of bushmeat encourages the slaughter of protected wild animals.
More ominously, the complaint warned of “the potential health risks to humans linking bushmeat to diseases like Lassa fever, Ebola, HIV, SARS and monkeypox.”
Defense attorney Rostal has countered by accusing the government of picking on a poorly educated immigrant.
Her client’s only offense, she said, was her inability to grasp Western attitudes and highly technical regulations regarding bushmeat.
Defense papers also argue that the U.S. demand for the meat involved in the Manneh case — from Africa’s green monkey population — is “too small to have any significance for conservation.”
Manneh, 39, testified last year that before arriving in the United States more than 25 years ago, monkey meat was critical to her religious upbringing.
At age 7, “I was baptized and they used that for the baptizing ceremony,” she told a judge.
Manneh is already serving a two-year sentence in state prison for trying to run over a woman she suspected of sleeping with her husband, Zanger Jefferson. If convicted of the federal charges she faces up to five more years in prison and deportation.
“The government’s taking a woman away from her children,” complained Jefferson, who’s struggling to raise the children alone. “It’s very depressing, especially with the holidays right around the corner.”
The prosecution also has dampened spirits at the church in Staten Island where Manneh and other African immigrants once packed the pews to practice a religion blending Christianity and tribal customs.
One of the few worshippers left, Leona Artis, says the congregation’s appetite for monkey meat is deeply misunderstood.
“Where some people have turkey, we’ll have monkey meat,” Artis said. “I’ve been eating it all my life. It’s delicious.”
Baptisms, Easter, Christmas, weddings — all are occasions for eating monkey, Manneh’s supporters said in a sworn statement filed with the court.
The statement was vague about how the meat is obtained, but explains that it always arrives dried and smoked. Once blessed by a pastor, “we usually prepare it by cooking it for several hours into a stew,” they said.
For them, the exotic import is more than just food.
“We eat bushmeat,” they said, “for our souls.”
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