<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/crime-and-courts http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usTue, 17 Oct 2017 10:22:00 -0400Tue, 17 Oct 2017 10:22:00 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[NYPD Investigating 2 Weinstein Sex Assault Claims: Source]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 20:32:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-687397020.jpg

The NYPD is investigating two credible allegations of sexual assault made against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, a senior law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the matter tells NBC News. 

The official noted that the two allegations currently under investigation are different from a 2015 NYPD investigation that was ultimately not prosecuted by the Manhattan district attorney. 

The two allegations date back over 10 years, the official says. While these accusations may be credible, the official noted that it does not necessarily mean that they may be actionable regarding possible criminal charges.

One of the allegations made to the NYPD was outlined in last week's New Yorker article, the official says.

In addition, the NYPD has received three calls alleging inappropriate or unseemly behavior by Weinstein outside of the NYPD's jurisdiction. Those calls have been referred to the appropriate agencies in those jurisdictions as appropriate, the official says.

However, the official noted that the allegations were about unseemly behavior and not necessarily criminal behavior.

A message was left with Weinstein's attorney in Los Angeles. 

The NYPD said last week they were taking a fresh look into sex assault allegations against Weinstein and trying to determine whether there were any additional complaints against Weinstein.



Photo Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Exclusive: NYPD Hatchet Attack Survivors Talk to News 4]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 17:51:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000007039683_1200x675_440437827788.jpg The four officers who were attacked in Queens last October speak exclusively to News 4's Jonathan Dienst.]]> <![CDATA[Monster Gang Bust Snares Dozens in NYC]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 18:56:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd+bust.jpg

Nearly three dozen members of violent gangs based in the south Bronx face federal charges including racketeering, selling crack cocaine and marijuana and firearms offenses, according to court papers.

Court papers also describe two separate alleged attempts to murder rival gang members.

Federal agents and NYPD officers began rounding up the suspects early Wednesday. The raids and arrests were conducted by DEA and FBI agents, along with NYPD, and were centered in and around the Mill Brook Houses, a public housing project located in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, officials said.

The suspects, members of gangs with names such as Millbrook Gangstas and Killbrook, are expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later Wednesday.

Details of the investigation and charges are expected to be released by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan later in the day as well.




Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Man Threatens App Company With 'Vegas Part 2']]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 15:29:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/victor+casillas.jpg

A New York City man has been arrested on federal charges for allegedly threatening a Las Vegas-style attack on a Colorado mobile technology company that had caught on to his apparent efforts to milk its referral bonus program, according to a criminal complaint.

Victor Casillas allegedly sent photos of assault weapons to the firm, Ibotta, and threatened, "Get ready 4 Las Vegas part two," according to the criminal complaint. 

Officials stress they did not find any assault weapons when they arrested the Manhattan man. 

Casillas, a self-proclaimed rap artist, was in a dispute with the company, demanding money for referral bonuses as part of a promotion offered by the business, the complaint says. According to the complaint, Casillas opened his first account with the company on Sept. 19, 2014, and in 2016 and 2017, opened 14 additional ones using various email addresses.

The company undertook a review of several Casillas accounts in late 2016 and early 2017 and determined "they represented a potentially fraudulent effort to generate referral bonuses." In early 2017, the company tried to resolve the dispute by paying Casillas $40 and closing related user accounts. Over the course of the next few months, new accounts were created under his name. Again the company undertook a review and again determined the accounts to be potentially fraudulent efforts to earn referral bonuses, the complaint says. 

The user accounts were locked. On Sept. 26, the company advised Casillas a recently opened account would be deactivated. The threats started that day. 

According to court documents, Casillas allegedly first sent this email: 

"such a cowardly act on your behalf whats your name btw? I wanna know who your spouse and children are too and I'm not asking you I'm telling you, I want to know who your parents are as well if the pieces of trash are even still alive (for now) for that matter." 

The following day, he allegedly sent another menacing note accompanied by a photo of two submachine guns. 

And the day after that, the company received this correspondence: "THIS IS NOT A JOKE NO 48 HOURS TOOK ME 3 HOURS TO ORDER FROM fThird Party Website], YO9U GUYA ARE NOT GETTING AWAY WITH THIS, I WILL BE PURCHASING MY AIRLINE TICKETS WITHIN THE NEXT HALF ]HOUR."

More photos of weapons followed, along with threatening emails on Sept. 28, Oct. 1 and Oct. 4.

The final message read, "GET READY FOR A LAS VEGAS REPEAT." The IP address associated with the message traced back to New York -- and Casillas, according to court documents.

Casillas was taken into custody by the FBI overnight. He's facing charges of making extortionate threats and is expected to appear in federal court in Brooklyn Wednesday afternoon. 

Attempts to reach an attorney for him were not immediately successful.



Photo Credit: Provided to News 4]]>
<![CDATA[New Video Shows Man Accused of Plotting Terror Attacks in NY]]> Sat, 07 Oct 2017 17:59:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/PHILIPPINES+NYC+SUSPECT.jpg

Newly obtained video shows one of three men accused of plotting to carry out ISIS-inspired attacks on concerts and the subway in New York City last year, authorities say.

In the video provided by Filipino media group ABS-CBN, 37-year-old Russell Salic, an orthopedic surgeon from the Philippines, is seen in a Manila court on Aug. 14 of this year.

The video shows Salic in an orange shirt as he faces a prosecutor at a hearing at the Department of Justice in Manilla. It also shows him being escorted out of the venue and talking to a reporter while being led away.

"It's a big fat lie," he says when a reporter asks him about the allegations. "Fabricated." 

Salic is accused of sending money to help fund the planned attacks, authorities say. He allegedly told an undercover FBI agent posing as an Islamic extremist that his ultimate goal was to join ISIS in Syria, and that he wanted to “slaughter” people in New York.

Salic is awaiting extradition to the United States. A Philippine court is deciding whether to approve the request for extradition and whether he should face criminal complaints in the Philippines first.

The other two suspects are Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian citizen, and Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen based in Pakistan.

The three men allegedly used chat apps to talk about bringing a car bomb into Times Square, gunning down subway riders before detonating vests and opening fire on concertgoers in the vein of the Paris terror attacks of 2015.

Authorities say the men wanted to kill and injure as many people as possible. They were arrested before obtaining any weapons or constructing any devices, according to authorities.

FBI and NYPD officials told the I-Team the plot was more aspirational than operational. But according to the indictments, Al Bahnasawy, who has already pleaded guilty to multiple charges, traveled to Cranford, New Jersey, in May of 2016 and had designs on carrying out the attacks before he was cuffed by authorities waiting there for him.

According to prosecutors, El Bahnasawy began talking with one another -- and the undercover agent -- in the spring of 2016. Over the month of May, they allegedly plotted to carry out a variety of attacks in the city during the Islamic holy month of Ramadam -- that year, from June 6 to July 5 -- or on Memorial Day. They then reached out to Saric, who they called "The Doctor," in May to help finance their plans.

Prosecutors said that Al Bahnasawy and Haroon identified the 7 and 4/5/6 subway lines and Times Square as ideal targets and talked about trapping people inside the Crossroads of the World “and kill as many people as possible.”



Photo Credit: ABS-CBN via APTN]]>
<![CDATA[Major Drug Ring Flew Coke, Heroin on Flights to JFK: Pros.]]> Wed, 04 Oct 2017 18:50:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_679815984585+-+Copy.jpg

More than a dozen people have been charged with operating a drug enterprise that transported cocaine and heroin on commercial flights flying from Arizona to Kennedy Airport and “pumped huge quantities” of the drugs into New York and across the country, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

The traffickers flew the cocaine and heroin from Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix to Kennedy Airport over the past year and a half, prosecutors said. The drugs were then allegedly stored in trap houses in Queens and Nassau counties before distribution.

The drugs were supplied to major dealers in New York City, Long Island, Upstate New York, Chicago, Maine, Maryland and Virginia, prosecutors allege.

Kervin Etienne, 37, Lyonel Beaubren, 41 and another relative allegedly founded the operation and supplied large quantities of cocaine and heroin to 14 members of their crew, according to prosecutors, who said the family members lived a life of luxury on Long Island.

Beaubren is charged with operating as a major trafficker, a felony. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

Investigators allegedly seized 5 ½ kilograms of cocaine, 4 ounces of heroin and $190,000 in cash. Two defaced guns, money counters, kilogram presses, packaging equipment, a Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and a Richard Millewatch were also seized, prosecutors said.

Twelve of the 17 defendants were arrested and arraigned Tuesday. Four more are incarcerated and awaiting arraignment, authorities said. The men and women, who range in age from 27 to 42, face a variety of serious charges related to drug trafficking and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

In a press release announcing the arrests, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas called the bust a “massive takedown that has dismantled what we alleged to be a multi-state, cross country drug trafficking enterprise that pumped huge quantities of cocaine and deadly heroin into our communities and throughout the northeast.”




Photo Credit: AP/File photo]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Gets 90 Days in Eliot Spitzer Blackmail Scheme]]> Mon, 02 Oct 2017 14:58:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/travix-spitzer-1011.jpg

The 27-year-old woman who tried to extort money from former Gov. Eliot Spitzer by threatening to expose her relationship with him and relay sordid details to his wife and the media was sentenced to 90 days in jail Monday -- a guilty plea to attempted petit larceny that covers the Spitzer case and her separate effort to steal money from a man in New Jersey, authorities said.

Svetlana Travis Zakharova had flown to her native Russia in February 2016 after claiming she was attacked by Spitzer in a hotel room, an allegation his attorney at the time said was false, created by someone with "emotional difficulties."

She was arrested upon her return to New York months later, in October, on a grand larceny by extortion charge for allegedly attempting to shake down Spitzer to the tune of $400,000 over two years, prosecutors alleged. Spitzer attorney Adam Kaufmann said last year that Spitzer had known the woman for a period of time. Prosecutors say Zakharova demanded money and threatened to reveal her personal relationship with him publicly if he didn't pay up.  

Zakharova was also charged with second-degree forgery in a separate case in which she allegedly signed papers on a lease that billed $18,000 to a New Jersey man.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in announcing the plea deal Monday that the arrangement covered both the case involving the New Jersey victim and Spitzer. A two-year order of protection was issued for the New Jersey man. 

Spitzer, a Democrat, resigned two years into his term in 2008 amid revelations that he had sex with prostitutes. He was identified as a patron of a high-priced prostitution ring during a federal investigation, but he was never charged. His attempt at a political comeback failed when he lost his bid to become New York City's comptroller in 2013.



Photo Credit: Jefferson Siegal of the Daily News / AP File ]]>
<![CDATA[Juror Remark Forces Mistrial in Case of Deadly NYC Crash]]> Fri, 29 Sep 2017 10:56:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/couple+walking.jpg

A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of the driver who allegedly mowed down a couple walking on a Brooklyn sidewalk in 2015, killing the woman. 

Marlon Sewell was being tried for second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the Fort Greene crash that killed 30-year-old Victoria Nicodemus of Brooklyn. He was to face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. 

The trial started last week, and the jury began deliberating Tuesday. But Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Vincent Del Giudice declared a mistrial Thursday when a juror noted a comment another juror made about Sewell, who is black.

The concerned juror, a black woman, wrote in a note to the judge that she heard another a juror, also a black woman, say at the start of the trial, "I am not sending a black man to jail. Are you crazy?" 

When asked about it by the judge, the juror admitted making a comment along those lines but said the other juror misheard her, and that she'd said she wouldn't send a black man to jail "without evidence," and that she thought she was talking to herself. 

Sewell's attorney asked the judge to declare a mistrial, while prosecutors said it would be premature. 

The judge declared the mistrial Thursday morning, and Sewell, who has been out on bail, is due back in court in November. 

The Brooklyn district attorney's office say it intends to retry the case. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Enough Fentanyl to Kill 32 Million People Seized in NYC Bust]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:11:21 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fentanyl-0918.jpg

Authorities confiscated nearly 195 pounds of fentanyl in a pair of busts that prosecutors said included one sting that netted 32 million lethal doses of the drug, an opioid 50 times stronger than heroin.

Four people were arrested after the busts in August and September that also netted 75 pounds of heroin and cocaine. Bridget G. Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, said the busts come as overdose deaths hit an all-time high in New York's five boroughs in 2016.

"The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking," she said. "It's not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast."

In the first bust, on Aug. 1, 2017, police and federal agents seized more than 140 pounds of fentanyl — the most in the city's history — after watching Rogelio Alvardo-Robles and Blanca Flores-Solis receive what appeared to to be a package of cocaine from an unknown trafficker at a Walmart in Manhawkin, New Jersey. Authorities said that after the exchange, they went back to an apartment building in Queens' Kew Gardens neighborhood, where a DEA agent approached them and seized the alleged drugs.

Afterward, authorities said they got a search warrant for their apartment and found 97 packages of drugs in suitcases and a purse in a bedroom; 84 of the packages were either filled with pure fentanyl or heroin laced with the powerful drug. Authorities said the trove could have had enough doses to kill 32 million people from overdoses.

Then, on Sept. 5, authorities seized another 53 pounds of fentanyl-laced heroin and another 2 pounds of uncut fentanyl during a stop near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. That bust came after detectives and DEA agents watched Edwin Guzman and Manuel Rivera-Santana pick up a duffel bag from men inside a tractor trailer and drove back into New York City.

After the stop police got a search warrant to open the locked duffel, and found 25 1-kilogram bricks with the drugs.

The four people arrested in the two busts each face criminal drug possession charges; Guzman and Rivera-Santana also face conspiracy counts.

Attorney information for the men wasn't immediately available.

Prosecutors say the drugs are worth a street value of $30 million. 

Of the roughly 64,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016, more than 20,000 involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Photo Credit: Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York]]>
<![CDATA[Feds Take More Records from Paterson in Corruption Probe]]> Fri, 15 Sep 2017 22:16:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/LMX___THOMPSON+MAYOR+TORRES+ARRAIGNMENT+NJ+PKG+430_WNBC_0000000.jpg

FBI agents and federal prosecutors demanded more records from Paterson City Hall this week amid the ongoing federal corruption investigation in New Jersey’s third largest city.

The city’s corportation counsel, Domenick Stampone, said documents were turned over to the Justice Department on Sept. 12 after the city was served with another grand jury subpoena.

The FBI and US Attorney have been looking into possible corruption in Paterson’s recycling program as well as involving city’s officials use of federal housing money. City officials say the FBI and state investigators have hit city hall five times in the last year seeking records.

City officials said city hall first received the latest subpoena at the end of August.

“It complied fully with the demand for certain documents and other records and transmitted same to the federal authorities on Sept 12," Stampone said. "I am not at liberty to discuss any further details."

The I-Team first exposed the alleged kickback scheme where some tire firms were apparently dumping thousands of tires into the city’s yard without paying required fees. The Justice Department also wants to know if federal grant meant in part for a prisoner re-entry program was looted or improperly spent.

Mayor Joey Torres and three Department of Public Works workers have already been arrested on state charges in connection with a separate alleged corruption scheme. The I-Team first showed how city workers were allegedly billing the city overtime for private jobs allegedly ordered by the mayor – including construction at a would-be beer business for the mayor’s relatives.

"At this point I think its safe to assume that the federal investigation is broader than the state charges that have been brought against Mayor Torres and the three public works employees,” said former federal prosecutor David Miller. “Generally, federal authorities will not be prosecuting the identical state case.”

The mayor and the three workers have until Friday to tell a judge they plan to go to trial or whether they will accept the plea deal offered by New Jersey's Attorney General.

Torres did not respond to a request seeking comment. Spokesmen for the FBI and US Attorney’s office also declined to comment.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Weiner: 'Acting Out Crushed My Wife's Aspirations']]> Fri, 15 Sep 2017 15:48:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/weiner+sentencing+letter.jpg

In a letter to the judge ahead of his sentencing later this month, convicted former New York congressman Anthony Weiner begged for leniency, writing, "Every day I quietly do what I can to keep getting better, and to fix the damage I've done." 

Weiner, who's been convicted for sexting with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl, is eligible for a harsh term of years in prison but is likely to face less time. As part of his plea bargain, he agreed not to appeal any sentence between 21 and 27 months.

Sentencing letters written on Weiner's behalf were submitted in Manhattan federal court earlier this week. Weiner, his estranged wife Huma Abedin, and his mother, brother and father each wrote to the judge. 

Weiner wrote to judge Denise Cote, "My regret for my crime is profound. I have endangered the wellbeing of a 15 year old girl who reached out to me on the internet. My continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage. I am so deeply sorry for the harm I have done to her, and I live with the sorrow that I will never be able to fix that."  

"And the one perfect thing in my life — my son will forever have to answer questions about the public and private failings of his father. My regret keeps me awake at night and fills me with fear from the moment I awaken. There are daily, even hourly, reminders of my failings. I can’t imagine ever not feeling regret," he wrote. 

Weiner admitted in his letter that he was in denial for years about having an "untreated and even an unrecognized mental disorder that corrupted my judgement profoundly." 

"I lost a career when my secret life became public. I lost jobs when I couldn’t stop. Finally, I went to rehab, recognized clearly what this pattern really was. I finally found professionals who help me manage my sickness. I found a community of people to support me in my recovery. Now at this writing, I am 345 days off my destructive behaviors and have a daily practice to help me never return to them," Weiner wrote in the letter dated September 8. 

Weiner says he attends support meetings daily, chairs meetings weekly and mentors new participants. He's also working to develop a non-profit he started in 2014 that will train troubled youth and ex-offenders for jobs in food service. 

In a passage describing his relationship with his 5-year-old son Huma Abedin, Weiner said Jordan has been his "salvation" since his public downfall. 

"I would tell myself, if I get this right then all the rest of my mess can be forgiven. If I loved him enough and gave him an amazing childhood, then at least one person will love me throughout," he wrote.

"But I was wrong. So long as I was still doing things that so were so completely at odds with my values and the values I wanted for him, I was not being the father he needed. I was not teaching him perseverance and strength by getting up after each embarrassing expose about me and continuing to be a good dad," Weiner said.  "No. By not getting help, by continuing to dishonor his mother, by living in shame and secrets, I was not teaching him courage. Far from it. I regret it so much it makes me shake just to write this."

Weiner said he is "different" now: "I don’t fear that day that he asks me about who is daddy was. I’ll tell him I was a troubled guy who did a lot of amazing things for people I barely knew. I’ll him I was a guy to did a very bad thing to a young person I never met. I’ll tell him I put his amazing mother through years of trauma and broke her heart."

Weiner said his life now is the "right size" -- working quietly at a job that allows him to financially support his son, and supporting people who are struggling with similar issues.

"My life isn’t big and loud anymore. Every day I quietly do what I can to keep getting better, and to fix the damage I’ve done. I have much more work to do. Please show me grace so that I may continue," he wrote to the judge. 

In her one-page letter, Abedin said, "This is not a letter I ever imagined I would write, but, with Anthony, I have repeatedly found myself in circumstances I never imagined. I am devastated by Anthony’s actions, and I understand he must face their consequences."

"However, as a mother, I have always done and will do anything I think will help [Jordan] be as safe, happy, healthy, and complete as possible," she wrote. 

"Whatever else Anthony has done, he loves [Jordan]," she said.

The rest of the letter as obtained from public court records is heavily blacked out, but Abedin concluded: "As would any parent, if there has to be any negative impact on [Jordan], I would like it to be as small as possible." 

Weiner's mother Frances, in a handwritten letter to the judge, said since returning from residential treatment, her son has changed.

"Considering what I know about Anthony's emotional background, I was very concerned and watchful for any possible effects on my grandson, whom I have spent at least one day a week with since his birth," she wrote.

"What I have seen is that Anthony is an extraordinarily loving and attentive parent who has always dealth with [Jordan] with sensitivity and determination not to repeat his parents' mistakes," she wrote, adding that she was "encouraged" by her son's interaction with her grandson.

"I am proud that Anthony had the courage to first admit to himself, and then stand before the court and admit that he had done wrong," she said. "I am hopeful that the consequences of his behavior have finally put him on the path to health." 

Younger brother Jason Weiner said in his letter that Anthony Weiner took care of him growing up and was an "affirming and proud" older brother in the midst of household tumult.

Through Anthony Weiner's adulthood, Jason said, Anthony "was busy fixing everyone else's problems but neither he nor anyone else was addressing his issues. It was basically a continuation of the dynamic in our house growing up." 

Jason said through his brother's first several sexting scandals, "Anthony remained remarkably unchanged. Yes, he was chastened and humbled. Yes, he would apologize. But there didn't ever seem to be a desire to change course in any meaningful way. Each time he seemed to take a crisis management approach." 

Weiner started to changed when he went away for treatment, his brother said, and by the time he returned home, "the way he spoke about his affliction was frank, honest and painful. Gone was the window dressing and excuses."

Jason Weiner added that his brother is "an amazing dad. Maybe the best I know. Yes, he is loving and attentive. But he is also an imaginative, creative and energetic father." 

Finally, Weiner's father Mort wrote that he has been "proud" of his son as a parent and as a public servant.

"I believe if given the chance, he has many good years to give to his son and to society," wrote Mort Weiner.

"I have already lost Anthony's older brother Seth to a hit and run accident," he said. "I respectfully request the court to permit Anthony to continue treatement and remain with his son and family." 

Weiner is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 25. 

Also earlier this week, Weiner and Abedin appeared briefly before a judge in their divorce case. They sat side by side and chatted casually while their lawyers met with state Supreme Court Justice Michael L. Katz.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Vegas Travel Agent Scammed Catholic Parishes in NY: Pros.]]> Wed, 13 Sep 2017 16:35:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/money_handcuffs_generic_nbc.jpg

A Las Vegas travel agent faces federal fraud charges for allegedly scamming 2 Catholic parishes in Westchester County out of more than $200,000 they paid to cover the costs of travel to the 2016 World Youth Day in Poland, law enforcement officials say.

Vincent Maffucci, 77, owner of ITC Tours, was arrested Wednesday in Las Vegas by U.S. Postal inspectors. He is charged with one count of mail fraud, officials say.

Every two or three years, the Catholic Church organizes World Youth Day, an event for young people. The event is held in different global locations and is attended by young people from around the world. The 2016 World Youth Day was held in Krakow, Poland.

Prosecutors did not identify the parishes but say they used Maffucci’s company to make travel arrangements for the trip. From March 2014 to May 2016 one parish sent Maffucci over $141,000 to cover the cost of travel for 45 parishioners. During the same period, another parish sent Maffucci almost $72,000 for travel expenses for 24 parishioners.

In June, 2016, Maffucci informed the parishes that the trip was being cancelled due to travel advisories and terrorism, prosecutors say.

Maffucci informed the parishes the money was in Europe and that he was attempting to get it back. He also indicated that he expected a large inheritance from which he would reimburse his clients.

No refunds have been made, prosecutors say.

A review of Maffucci’s bank accounts by U.S. Postal inspectors showed that from June 2014 to July 2016 he spent $43,000 from his business account on personal expenses and transferred another $83,000 from that account to his personal accounts, according to court papers. 

In 2014 Maffucci was sued by several Catholic parishes in connection with the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, prosecutors say. In that instance, Maffucci cancelled the trip shortly before the event was to begin citing “unforeseen circumstances” such as travel advisories and riots in Rio de Janeiro. Only a few parishes received refunds for the 2013 trip, prosecutors say.

Maffucci was expected to appear in federal court in Las Vegas later on Wednesday.

Attorney information was not immediately available.



Photo Credit: File photo]]>
<![CDATA[Oakley Sues Dolan, Claims 'Mental Anguish' Over MSG Fracas]]> Tue, 12 Sep 2017 15:20:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/oakley+scuffle+msg.jpg

Former Knicks star Charles Oakley has sued the team's owner James Dolan and Madison Square Garden for libel and slander over a much-publicized dispute at the New York City arena earlier this year.

The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, accuses Dolan of defaming Oakley and also alleges assault, battery and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for "emotional distress and/or mental anguish" and punitive damages.

The Madison Square Garden Co. called the lawsuit "frivolous" and "nothing more than another attempt by Mr. Oakley to garner attention. We will deal with this accordingly."

The lawsuit details how Oakley was treated before and after he was forcefully removed from The Garden during a February game earlier this year.

Oakley's lawyers allege in the lawsuit that in the days after the incident, Dolan and MSG launched "a coordinated and defamatory public relations campaign against Mr. Oakley, baselessly accusing him of abusing fans and staff, acting inappropriately and struggling with alcoholism." 

"By propagating these blatant lies about Mr. Oakley, Defendants Dolan and MSG have caused irreparable harm to his name and career and discriminated against him based on the false perception that he is an alcoholic, all in a transparent attempt to denigrate his standing among Knicks fans," the lawsuit claims.

On Feb. 8, Oakley sat a few rows from the Knicks owner at a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Security approached, and a fracas ensued. Oakley was handcuffed and ejected.

Oakley was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of criminal trespass. He was accused of striking one security guard in the face with a closed fist, and when two other people tried to intervene, both were pushed and received cuts.

In August, Oakley reached a deal with prosecutors who agreed to drop the charges if he stays out of trouble for six months and complies with a condition barring him from MSG for one year, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said at the time.

The 53-year-old said then that a trial would waste time and money that should be used to "keep the streets better for kids."

His lawyer said Oakley didn't need a trial to prove his innocence.

The former NBA enforcer and rebounding machine played for the Knicks from 1988 to 1998, helping the team reach the NBA Finals. He has since had a splintered relationship with the organization because of his criticism of Dolan.



Photo Credit: Ian Schafer]]>
<![CDATA[Craig Carton Breaks Silence on Arrest]]> Tue, 12 Sep 2017 16:13:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/carton+one.jpg

Craig Carton, co-host of WFAN's morning sports talk show "Boomer & Carton," has broken his silence six days after his arrest in connection with an alleged multimillion-dollar fake ticket scam he's accused of running to pay casino debt.

In a statement Tuesday, Carton thanked his family, friends and "especially Boomer" for the outpouring of support he says he's received. 

"As you can imagine, it’s been incredibly hard to be silent while there is an endless stream of vitriol being hurled my way, but I’m confident that when the facts come out, you’ll see that I am not guilty of these charges," Carton said. "My fight has only just begun and I know when this strange episode is over, I’ll be back, stronger than ever. Thank you for all the kind words and good wishes as I continue on with one of the greatest battles of my life."

FBI agents arrested Carton, 48, at his home in Manhattan early Wednesday. He faces securities and wire fraud and conspiracy charges in a scam through which he, a 41-year-old New Jersey man and an unnamed associate allegedly claimed to be running a discount ticket broker business that never existed.

The trio allegedly ripped a few investors off of several million dollars.

Carton and the New Jersey man were each released on $500,000 bond after an initial court appearance last week. At the time, Carton's lawyer, Robert C. Gottlieb, told News 4 the allegations were a "gross misunderstanding."

"Craig is a victim who was deceived, manipulated and used by individuals seeking to gather assets for their own fraudulent schemes," Gottlieb said. 

CBS Radio announced last week that Carton had been suspended from WFAN pending its own investigation. Phil Simms will co-host alongside Boomer Esiason Thursday, and future co-hosts will be announced as needed. 

The securities and wire fraud counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and fines ranging from $250,000 to $5 million.

Married and a father of four, Carton has co-hosted the popular sports talk show with Boomer Esiason since September 2007. He started his career in Buffalo in 1991, with stops along the way in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Denver. 

He is also the founder of a charity for children with Tourette Syndrome called TicTocStop. Carton and two of his children have the condition. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[DOJ Says Senator From NJ Told ‘Lies’ to Cover up Corruption]]> Thu, 31 Aug 2017 13:28:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_271473091102.jpg

Federal prosecutors told a federal judge that Sen. Robert Menendez repeatedly told “lies” to the press to cover up a “corrupt pact spanning seven years” that included free private jet trips the senator received from a wealthy Florida eye doctor.

Prosecutors said Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) and his personal guests took more than a dozen free flights even though the senator repeatedly claimed he reimbursed Dr. Salomon Melgen for all “three” flights he had taken.

“What both the defendant’s false public statements sought to hide was that the $58,500 check did not cover all of the private flights that Menendez accepted from Melgen – it covered two personal trips that the defendant believed the public knew or would find out about,” prosecutors alleged in a new legal brief.

Lawyers for Menendez complained to Judge William Wells that the latest filing was unnecessary at this time. The attorneys voiced concern that the brief seems “designed solely to generate adverse pretrial publicity for the defendants.”

In outlining their upcoming case for the judge, prosecutors said the plane’s pilots will be among the witnesses to testify about the lavish trips provided to Menendez, including vacations at the Dominican resort of Casa de Campo as well as another stay at Punta Cana, also in the Dominican Republic.

Prosecutors said email evidence will show Menendez at times specifically asked Melgen for the free trips. In one email, they said he even specified a luxury hotel in Paris and the kind of room he wanted. Menendez allegedly wrote of wanting a $1,500 a night room in a hotel that had a “…king bed, work area with internet, limestone bath with soaking tub and enclosed rain shower, views of courtyard or streets.”

Prosecutors noted celebrities like George Clooney and Maria Sharapova often stayed at the same hotel. Prosecutors allege Menendez never filed the required disclosure forms with Congress for accepting such gifts and trips.

Prosecutors said Menendez sought to repay Melgen by helping get visas for Melgen’s numerous foreign girlfriends. They also allege he took “official action” when Melgen found himself in a Medicare billing dispute with the government as well as in his seeking to secure a separate port security deal potentially worth tens of millions.

Prosecutors said testimony from government officials and emails among the kinds of evidence the jury will hear and see. Melgen was convicted this year of conducting a massive Medicaid fraud scheme. Prosecutors said they will also connect the timing of big donations by Melgen with calls and letters Menendez wrote to government officials on Melgen’s behalf.

Defense lawyers counter the prosecution is “lurid and one-sided.” And defense lawyers complained about the timing of the filing as one juror recently dropped out of the upcoming case - so there is still one more seat to fill on the jury.

Menendez attorney’s said the defense stands ready to try this case in the courtroom and not the press.

Earlier this month, Menendez’s attorney Abbe Lowell sent this statement to the press: "Senator Menendez has spent 43 years in public life fighting for the issues and concerns most important to the people of New Jersey and the United States. He has constantly stood up for the most vulnerable in our society and lent his voice to the voiceless. After charges were filed, Senator Menendez said in court and to the public that he was not guilty and looked forward to showing that the allegations against him were false. Now, as the trial approaches, he will have the opportunity to do that so all can see. The senator is in good spirits, has faith in the American system of justice, and is confident that when all the facts are heard, he will be vindicated."



Photo Credit: AP/File]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Woman Steals $1M Worth of Six Flags, Dorney Park Tix: DA]]> Thu, 31 Aug 2017 12:49:42 -0400 NBC5morningshow@nbcuni.com.Check out the contest rules here. ]]> NBC5morningshow@nbcuni.com.Check out the contest rules here. ]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Six+Flags+sign+generic.jpg

A Staten Island woman has been indicted for allegedly stealing more than $1 million worth of Six Flags and Dorney Park tickets using a credit card belonging to the Brooklyn-based charter bus company where she worked. 

Rosemarie Bader, 51, was fired by Best Trails and Trail Corporation (BTTC), based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in October 2016 once the company learned of the alleged scam, prosecutors said. 

BTTC offers private and corporate charter bus packages to a variety of locations, including regional amusement parks, and often includes admission to the destinations. Bader, a 16-year employee of BTTC, was most recently employed as the sales director and as such, solely managed and coordinated the various amusement park trip packages BTTC offered to its clientele, according to the indictment unsealed by the Brooklyn district attorney's office Wednesday. 

Prosecutors say she was authorized to use the company's American Express card and ordered tickets from the amusement parks, took delivery of the tickets and secured the tickets in a safe to which she alone had access. Between January 2014 and November 2016, Bader allegedly used that credit card to pay for more than 36,000 tickets to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, and Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania, that were not part of any BTTC packages but were redeemed. 

Bader allegedly intercepted UPS and Federal Express deliveries and stored the tickets in a personal safe under her desk to which only she had access. 

"The vast majority of the tickets the defendant allegedly over-ordered and possessed were never used to fulfill BTTC’s bus-and-ticket packages, nor were the unused and unauthorized tickets returned to the amusement parks for refund, as was the company’s usual practice," the indictment alleged. "Rather, the defendant kept those tickets for her own use without authorization of BTTC." 

BTTC caught on to the alleged scheme in 2016 when a corporate accounting revealed company ticket orders to the two parks far exceeding the actual bus seats available through company run trips during those time periods. In total, Bader allegedly used the company card to fraudulently buy 23,136 tickets to Dorney Park and 13,102 tickets to Six Flags. 

Bader faces multiple counts of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. She was ordered held on bail of $500,000 bond or $250,000 cash and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count against her. Attorney information wasn't immediately available.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Designer Drug Lab Linked to Death Ran Out of Lux High-Rise]]> Tue, 29 Aug 2017 18:44:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dea+bust.jpg

A Queens man and a New Jersey woman have been arrested for allegedly conspiring to distribute dangerous designer drugs, including a synthetic opioid several times more potent than morphine that has been blamed for at least one overdose death, authorities said Tuesday.

The arrests stem from an ongoing investigation that culminated with a huge raid at a luxury waterfront high-rise in Long Island City, thought to be the site of a synthetic drug lab, earlier in the day.

Prosecutors say the apartment at 4545Center Boulevard was where Parker allegedly cooked up designer drugs and synthetic opioids several times more potent than morphine. On Tuesday afternoon, nearby residents like Libby Vilner were shocked.

"It's making me uneasy right now because I didn't know this was happening," she said. 

Another raid was simultaneously conducted in Farmingdale, New Jersey, where the female suspect lives.

According to a criminal complaint, 34-year-old Brian Parker allegedly manufactured and distributed controlled substance analogues, drugs that are "substantially similar" to controlled substances, and other illegal chemicals through two internet-based companies he controlled. The substances sold through his websites were linked to a 2016 overdose death in Wisconsin.

An autopsy revealed the 37-year-old man who overdosed died of acute intoxication due to the combined effects of a substance called U-47700, a synthetic opioid, and Etizolam, a synthetic, fast-acting depressant.

Authorities investigating the man's death found several packages addressed to him, at least one of which contained full glass vials labeled U-47700. They also found multiple invoices indicating the man had been ordering U-47700 and other substances from a website run by Parker, the complaint says.

Officials started looking into one of Parker's websites and found he used other conspirators, including Koleski, the woman charged in the complaint, to send and receive packages for his narcotics distribution business, court documents allege. The accused conspirators got raw materials from China or elsewhere by mail, then repackaged and sent them to Parker, who manufactured those materials into the chemicals he sold online, authorities allege. Parker then allegedly sent the finished products back to the alleged conspirators, who sent them to his customers, prosecutors say.  

According to the criminal complaint, Koleski allegedly shipped 218 packages from a post office in Farmingdale, New Jersey, where she lives, between June 30 and July 5. Many of those packages contained the designer drugs Parker allegedly sold, investigators say. A court-authorized search and seizure of about 75 of those packages revealed Parker and Koleski were also distributing designer drugs similar to a synthetic stimulant and PCP. 

Parker lives at the Long Island City condo tower on Center Boulevard swarmed by law enforcement Tuesday. Chopper 4 showed at least 20 law enforcement vehicles at the scene. Some officers were seen bringing Hazmat suits inside and other hauled off boxes of evidence from the family-friendly building on the waterfront of the recently gentrified area.

According to Streeteasy, the 41-story building has 820 units and amenities including a 24-hour concierge, valet parking and a gym. 

Local Lauren Marciano said the raid was shocking. "There is a lot of families here and young professionals, I would never think something like that would happen here."

"It's not your typical day in Long Island City, that's for sure."

Parker and Koleski face charges of conspiring to distribute controlled substance analogues, and distributing and possession with intent to distribute the controlled substance analogues. Each charge in the complaint carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. 

Both appeared in federal court in Newark Tuesday but bail was not determined. Both will remain in custody pending the upcoming bail proceedings. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Man Allegedly Tries to Join ISIS in Syria]]> Wed, 30 Aug 2017 00:33:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tried+to+join+isis.jpg

The family of a young Queens man arrested for allegedly trying to join with ISIS in Syria say they're in shock, and they never saw the arrest coming. 

Parveg Ahmed, 22, of Ozone Park, was arrested after flying from New York to Saudi Arabia and then attempting to cross into Syria, law enforcement officials tell NBC 4 New York. He was stopped before he could travel into Syria.

After Joint Terrorism Task Forces got a search warrant for Ahmed's personal computer in July they found he'd been listening to recordings of radical Islamic terrorists. One of the recordings was from Abdullah el-Faisal, a Jamaican born cleric found guilty in UK of solicitation to commit murder.

A cell phone search warrant turned up messages to people expressing a desire to travel to ISIS controlled areas, and a message indicating he planned to join ISIS in Syria to wage violent jihad. His browser history also turned up research of maps of ISIS controlled locations, officials said. 

Ahmed is charged with attempted material support for terror. 

"As alleged, Ahmed sought to take up arms with violent terrorists who have killed numerous innocent victims, including Americans," said Acting US Attorney Bridget Rohde in a statement.

A search of Ahmed's computer indicated he listened to recordings of two notorious clerics, Anwar al-Awlaki and Abdullah el-Faisal. Al-Awlaki was killed in 2011, and el-Faisal was indicted in New York just last week and arrested in Jamaica. 

Ahmed was flown back to New York late Monday, where he was arrested by members of the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force. At a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon, Ahmed was ordered held without bail.

Ahmed's father and brother, who declined to give their names, told NBC 4 New York they were "in shock" and had seen no signs of anything untoward.

"He got religious in the last year. Not radical, just religious," his brother said "He said ISIS was bad just a few months ago."

Ahmed, who is a naturalized United States citizen originally from Bangladesh, went to Stuyvesant High School and Hunter College for a while, his brother said. He said Ahmed was smart and had worked in a warehouse and as a math tutor.

His father said he traveled to Saudi Arabia with Ahmed in June, and then his son left to travel. "We called him and he said he was coming back." 

However, the family received a visit from the FBI in June while Ahmed was in Jordan. A law enforcement source said the 22-year-old was initially taken into custody in Jordan. His father sent him a plane ticket and he was released, however, the FBI arrested him Monday. 

"I don't know what happened," he told NBC 4 New York. 

Neighbors were also shocked at hearing the 22-year-old - who they had seen playing soccer - had been allegedly linked to ISIS. 

"I didn't see anything curious about him or anyone else in this neighborhood," one said.

It wasn't clear if Ahmed had retained an attorney who could comment on the allegations. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors say. 



Photo Credit: Parveg Ahmed/LinkedIn]]>
<![CDATA[Dad Pleads Guilty in Tot Whipping Death in Bug-Infested Home]]> Thu, 24 Aug 2017 13:05:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/toddler+beating+death.jpg

A 26-year-old Yonkers man has pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree manslaughter in the Christmas Eve beating death of his 2-year-old son, who suffered brain hemorrhages and organ damage from repeated beatings.

Blair Robinson faces up to 25 years in state prison when he is sentenced in December. Three days after little Alex died, prosecutors say Blair Robinson confessed to police that he had kicked, whipped and beaten his son in the head and torso the afternoon the child died. After the beating, Robinson took a nap, went to work for an hour and a half and then came home to pick up his son and take him to the emergency room, where he was pronounced dead, officials say.

At the time the boy died, it wasn't obvious what caused his death, but hospital personnel saw bruises on his back and called police. When investigators went to the Robinson home, they encountered a horrifying scene: the toddler's 10-month-old sister in a cold room on a mattress with no sheets, a bottle of curdled milk beside her. The child was dirty and suffering from a terrible diaper rash. 

According to investigators, the apartment was filthy and rodent droppings littered the kitchen surfaces. Bugs flew around inside the refrigerator. The baby was sent to Westchester Medical Center and put in the care of Child Protective Services. The infant's mother was also home at the time. She and Robinson were interviewed by police. In the initial interview, prosecutors say Robinson said he only hit his son, Alex, one time on his buttocks. 

He admitted the extent of the beating days later, after an autopsy revealed Alex Robinson died of blunt force trauma. The boy also had about nine marks on his back that appeared to have been pattern injuries caused by some kind of instrument that had been used to repeatedly strike him. 

Robinson remains remanded. It wasn't immediately clear if the mother was ever charged in connection with the unsanitary living conditions. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Used as Human Shield in Fiery NYC Gang Turf War]]> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:58:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/shield+gangs.jpg

Nine alleged gang members, one just 15 years old, have been charged in a 69-count indictment in connection with seven separate shootings that left a young college student dead and injured more than a dozen other people, authorities announced Tuesday. 

According to the indictment, the defendants, who range in age from 15 to 25, are alleged members of the Loot gang, which operates out of the New York City Housing Authority's Ocean Hill Houses in Brownsville. 

The indictment charges them in connection with 10 crimes, including seven shootings and one assault, between November 2015 and August 2016. Fourteen people were shot, one of them fatally. One person was beaten. 

The defendants mostly targeted rival gangs, including, on multiple occasions, shooting at members of True Bosses Only (TBO) in Bushwick, which is TBO territory, the indictment alleges. Shootings also occurred in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Canarsie, and Jamaica, Queens. 

In one instance, a 22-year-old John Jay College student with no gang affiliation was shot and killed after leaving a party to buy an iced tea, authorities said. In another case, a rival gang member being shot at in a Queens restaurant grabbed a 33-year-old customer and held her in front of him in an effort to shield himself from the hail of bullets. She was shot three times in the leg.

It is alleged that all of the shootings were committed when Loot members were “spinning the block,” driving through rival territory looking for rival gang members and using one or more of four "community guns" to try to take them out. 

The defendants allegedly conspired to commit crimes, including murder, assault and weapons possession, in order to maintain their dominance over their claimed geographic area, their social media presence and superior positioning among budding rap artists. 

Loot members allegedly used Facebook private messaging, as well as the calling feature available through Facebook messaging, along with text messages, phone calls and FaceTime to communicate about getting guns and ammunition and committing acts of violence against rival gangs. Loot used public Facebook postings and music videos posted to YouTube and SoundCloud to antagonize rival gang members, boast about previous acts of violence against rival gangs and show Loot loyalty through hand signs, clothing and lyrics, investigators say. 

It is alleged that at least one shooting, on November 27, 2015, was in retaliation for the shooting death of Armani Hankins, a.k.a., Rocky, in Fort Greene, a month earlier. The victim was allegedly a friend of some of the Loot members and they released a rap music video entitled “Rockyworld” on YouTube, a song about retaliation against a gang known as 900, for his death, according to the indictment. 

The suspects face varying charges, including conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, gang assault and other crimes. They face up to 25 years in prison on the top conspiracy count. 

"This indictment underscores our commitment to prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law the violent gang members responsible for most of the senseless shootings in certain pockets of Brooklyn," Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. "Our targeted approach to enhancing public safety focuses on the shooters and gang leaders who drive the violence. We simply will not tolerate such lawlessness and bloodshed in our communities, which put hardworking residents at risk.” 

"This indictment illustrates how law enforcement is taking a strong stance against violent gang members who commit these heinous acts of senseless violence against innocent victims," added NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill. "We stand with our local law enforcement partners ready to identify, investigate and arrest those who are at the root of crime and collateral damage in our neighborhoods."



Photo Credit: Handout]]>