<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/crime-and-courts http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usSat, 23 Jul 2016 05:45:32 -0400Sat, 23 Jul 2016 05:45:32 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![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[Heavily Armed Cops Being Posted Outside NYPD Precincts: Memo]]> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 09:24:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/216*120/GettyImages-576502502.jpg

The NYPD is posting heavily armed police units outside precincts and station houses in the wake of police killings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Dallas over the last several weeks, a department memo obtained by NBC 4 New York reveals.

The memo says that officers from two of the department's elite units, the Critical Response Command and Strategic Response Group, began patrolling with helmets and long guns outside police stations and transit districts on Monday.

The memo said that while no credible threats against the department or its officers have been made, NYPD officials are urging officers to "remain vigilant and utilize safe tactics both on and off-duty."

The measures come days after gunmen killed eight police officers in separate shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. 

The NYPD had told officers to take extra precautions and patrol in pairs after each shooting

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3 Charged With Murdering Gov. Cuomo Aide ]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 17:31:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/luncheon+crawford.jpg

Three men face murder charges and another man is charged with a weapons offense in the 2015 shooting death of an aide to Gov. Cuomo, prosecutors said Wednesday. 

The suspects charged with murder, all alleged gang members, are being held equally responsible for the death of Carey Gabay, who was caught in the crossfire between two gangs along the West Indian Day Parade route Sept. 7. 

Gabay had been at a predawn festival leading up to the parade when he was shot in the head. The 43-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer and Bronx native died after being hospitalized for more than a week while in a coma. 

Micah Alleyne, 24, Tyshawn Crawford, 21, and Keith Luncheon, 24, are named in a 16-count indictment charging them with various counts of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment. Each faces up to 25 years in prison on the top count. 

Stanley Elianor, 25, had previously been charged with multiple counts of criminal possession of a weapon for allegedly possessing a machine gun at the scene. He was arraigned in October and faces up to 15 years in prison. 

Alleyne, Crawford and Luncheon didn't speak at their arraignment Wednesday. Information on their attorneys wasn't immediately available. 

The J’ouvert festival Gabay had been attending and the parade that follows attract hundreds of thousands of revelers to Brooklyn every Labor Day but have been marred by several shootings in recent years. 

Prosecutors say two to three dozen shots were fired from at least eight firearms when Gabay was hit. They say multiple gang members were in the area amid heightened tensions and intended to shoot at rivals on sight; Gabay was an unintended target and had tried to hide behind a parked car. 

In a statement, Cuomo said Gabay helped New York pass the nation's toughest gun safety law, but that his death shows the inadequacy of federal gun laws. 

"Carey Gabay was a dedicated public servant whose life was cut short due to reckless gun violence – tragedy that plagues too many of our communities," Cuomo said. "While we took a great step forward with our historic legislation, without action from Congress, known criminals will continue to buy guns in other states today and sell them on the black market in New York tomorrow."


Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Court Ruling in Ex-Gov Case Could Impact NY, NJ Corruption Cases]]> Mon, 27 Jun 2016 22:11:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/McDonnell4.jpg

The Supreme Court Monday vacated the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, raising new questions about how three major political corruption cases in New York and New Jersey could be prosecuted.

In the McDonnell case, the justices voted 8-0 to narrow the definition of the kind of acts needed to prove corruption and to require that prosecutors must show the public official made a conscious decision to act.

The ruling called the governor’s actions distasteful or worse, but still sent the case back to the 4th Circuit to determine if there is enough evidence to warrant a new trial under the narrower definition of corruption. 

“Our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “A more limited interpretation of the term ‘official act’ leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption, while comporting with the text of the statute and the precedent of this court.”  

The ruling said in part that it is a crime if prosecutors can show the official entered into an agreement to act in exchange for the gifts.  

The ruling could be good news for embattled Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who was charged with corruption for allegedly accepting gifts like free vacations from a Florida eye doctor. Prosecutors said he used his office to try to help that doctor with business deals and to pressure officials who were reviewing allegations of Medicare funding abuses by the doctor.

Former independent counsel Robert Ray said the Supreme Court decision Monday could be seen as good news for the senator.

"I don’t think it will gut the government’s case but it will just make it more difficult to prove Menendez guilty," Ray said. 

Menendez was already appealing to have the case thrown out under a different standard – the Constitution’s Speech or Debate clause.  His lawyer Abbe Lowell said the new ruling could also benefit the senator.

“The Supreme Court made clear again today that the everyday actions of public officials like setting up meetings, making phones calls and advocating for people, issues or causes is not a crime.  We are looking at the language of the Court as against the issues in our case because it appears that the Supreme Court has now significantly narrowed the law.”

A Justice Department spokesman, Mark Abueg, declined to comment on the Menendez case.

Legal expert Ray said he also expects the convictions of former New York state Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver (D-NY) and former New York state Senate leader Dean Skelos (Rspe-Nassau) to be vacated by an appeals court under the new corruption standards set by the Supreme Court. 

Ray said to expect both convicted politicians to get new trials because the jury were now likely “defective”  – that corruption may have been defined to the jury too broadly in those cases.   

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, "While we are reviewing the McDonnell decision, the official actions that led to the convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos fall squarely within the definition set forth by the Supreme Court today." 

An attorney for Skelos declined to comment. 

Silver’s attorney said, ”The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision today in the McDonnell case makes clear that federal government has gone too far in prosecuting state officials for conduct that is part of the everyday functioning of those in elected office. The McDonnell decision will be central to Mr. Silver’s appeal.”

McDonnell, a Republican, was accused of taking $175,000 in cash and gifts which were legal under Virginia state law at the time.  McDonnell arranged meetings and attended events with the businessman who gave him the gifts.

McDonnell’s lawyers had argued there was no quid pro quo and thus there was no corruption.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Alleged Killer Who Pushed Body on Cart Through Nabe Indicted]]> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 15:22:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dead-body-dolly-0520.jpg

A man seen wheeling his wife’s dead body on a dolly through a Staten Island neighborhood has been indicted on murder and strangulation charges, among other crimes, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Anthony Lopez was arrested in May after he was seen carting the body of his 26-year-old wife, Obiamaka Aduba, along Post Lane in Mariner's Harbor, according to court documents. He ran away when police pulled up, dumping his wife's body in the grass, and was captured by authorities the next day.

Lopez, 31, allegedly strangled his common-law wife at some point between midnight and 7 a.m. on May 20 near their Richmond Terrace home, the five-count indictment charges. He then allegedly put her body on the cart and wheeled it along the street in an effort to hide it. 

Lopez pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday and was remanded. Information on his attorney wasn't immediately available. 

"The circumstances surrounding the victim’s death are disturbing in nature and my office will vigorously pursue justice for this tragic loss of life," District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said in a statement.

Lopez had been arrested more than 50 times between 2000 and 2016 on charges including robbery, larceny, assault and drug crimes, police sources said.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[3 Nabbed With Loaded Guns, Knives, Armor on Way to NYC]]> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 23:45:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/guns-splitsscreen-0621.jpg

Three people were arrested with multiple loaded guns, knives and ballistic vests at the Holland Tunnel Tuesday when police stopped them for driving with a cracked windshield, authorities tell NBC 4 New York.

John Cramsey, 50, and Dean Smith, 53, both of Zionsville, Pennsylvania, and Kimberly Arendt, 29, of Lehighton, were stopped on the New Jersey side of the tunnel around 8 a.m., authorities said.

A search of their vehicle -- a brightly colored Dodge utility vehicle with logo decals for Tonka, Monster energy drinks and another one that read "Higher Ground Tactical", apparently a gun range and shop in Emmaus, Pennsylvania -- revealed the weapons cache. 

The guns seized included long-range weapons as well as handguns. A camouflage helmet with what appeared to be night goggles was also recovered.

Two senior law enforcement officials say the three suspects are so-called "gun enthusiasts" and have no nexus to terror. There is no known threat.

Drugs were in the vehicle along with the guns, according to one law enforcement official. 

Cramsey wrote on Smith's Facebook page early Tuesday morning that he was driving to New York to "do an extraction" of a 16-year-old girl from a hotel room in Brooklyn after an issue involving drugs, The Associated Press reported. Smith replied, "I'm there." It was unclear what, if anything, the weapons had to do with their plans.

Cramsey's 20-year-old daughter died from a heroin overdose four months ago Tuesday and he has since attended town hall meetings around the Allentown area to voice his concerns over the drug epidemic, The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania, reported.

"This is a plague and we are losing our brightest and most brilliant minds," Cramsey told the newspaper shortly after his daughter was found dead of an overdose with another man inside an Allentown home.

The truck, which had a picture of the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment on the side and sported an arrow as an antenna, was impounded after the stop. It's not clear if the truck was owned by Higher Ground Tactical. NBC 4 New York has reached out to the company for comment. 

The investigation is ongoing.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Man Convicted of Murdering Young NY Mom Who Vanished in 2014]]> Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:52:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dante+taylor+suspect+sarah+goode+murder+perp+walk.jpg

A 21-year-old man has been convicted of murder and attempted rape in the death of Sarah Goode, the young Medford mother who vanished after attending a party in June 2014 and was found in the woods five days later. 

Dante Taylor, of Mastic, faces life imprisonment without parole when he is sentenced next month. The jury deliberated three days before convicting him. 

Goode, a 21-year-old medical technician with a then-4-year-old daughter, went to a party June 7, 2014, and never came home. Her body was found June 12 less than a mile from her home; she had been stabbed 42 times. 

Taylor was initially arrested on an unrelated rape charge from 2011 that was developed during the investigation into Goode's murder, officials said, and then charged with the murder of Goode. 

Goode's sister Elizabeth DeMuria says the young mother didn't know her accused attacker. Police have not said whether there is any connection between the two.

<![CDATA[Teen Sentenced in Mattress Fire That Killed NYPD Cop]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 19:01:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fatal+fire+trial+marcell+dockery+confession.jpg

The Brooklyn teenager convicted last month of setting a mattress fire that killed a New York City police officer has been sentenced to 19 years to life in the arson murder. 

Marcell Dockery, 18, had been facing 25 years to life after being convicted in May of murder, arson and assault in connection with the April 2014 fire that killed Officer Dennis Guerra and injured his partner, Rosa Rodriguez.

Dockery did not speak during sentencing.

"We're satisfied," Guerra's mother told reporters afterward. "At least we know that justice was served." 

"We don't want him to suffer. But he has to pay the consequences," said Guerra's father. 

"While there was talk of forgiveness in this courtroom, forgiveness does not mean we forget. We won't forget what Dennis meant to this family," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said as Guerra's family stood behind him. 

Dockery's lawyer said they're continuing to work on an appeal.

"He still maintains his innocence," said the attorney. 

Prosecutors alleged Dockery set fire to a mattress in the hallway of a public housing apartment building in Coney Island on April 6, 2014. Guerra and Rodriguez were responding to the scene when they were overcome by smoke and carbon monoxide. Firefighters found the two officers unconscious. Guerra died three days later and Rodriguez spent six weeks in a hospital.

After the fire, Dockery, who lived in the building, told detectives he used a lighter to set the mattress on fire. A videotape of Dockery's interrogation was admitted as evidence during the trial.

"I decided to take a lighter and light the top of the mattress because I was bored," he told police.

But Dockery, who testified in his own defense, said he lied to the detectives and claimed he discovered the fire and tried to save other residents. He said police threatened to evict his family if he didn't tell the truth and that detectives told him he wouldn't be charged if he confessed.

<![CDATA[Email Scams Cost U.S. Businesses Billions Each Year]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 16:42:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Hacker506944962.jpg

As part of an effort to raise public awareness of the increasing threat cyber criminals pose to America's business community, the FBI issued a public service announcement Tuesday highlighting email scams that have cost businesses worldwide more than $3 billion over the last two and a half years. 

The scammers target businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments by compromising their business email accounts through social engineering or by hacking into their computers, the FBI says. 

In some cases, cyber criminals will hack into the emails of company executives and use those email accounts to request employees' personal information from the company's human resources department. 

In other cases, cyber thieves pose as an attorney or vendor used by the company to request a transfer of funds. They send a spoof email using an email address that appears similar to the legitimate accounts. 

According to the FBI, more than 22,000 companies around the world have reported their email accounts compromised since January 2013, resulting in unauthorized transfers of billions of dollars, mostly going to banks in China and Hong Kong. 

At Tuesday's announcement, the FBI also discussed recent increases in the use of ransomware, in which cyber thieves install malware that encrypts all files on a computer network until a ransom is paid by the victim company, and the increased vulnerability of U.S. critical infrastructure, which was hacked 295 times in 2015, up from 39 times two years earlier. 

The head of the FBI's Cyber Task Force in New York, Aristedes Mahairas, identified China, Russia, North Korea and Iran as the leading sponsors of the state-sponsored cyber crime. 

Mahairas said that in addition to investigating cyber crimes, the FBI Cyber Task Force is educating and partnering with the private sector to address the burgeoning cyber crime problem. 

Mahairas said victims of cyber criminals can report suspicious activity to the FBI Cyber Task Force at (212) 384-1000 or at www.IC3.gov.

Photo Credit: Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NYPD Cop Wounded in Hatchet Attack to Accept Medal]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 09:44:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hatchet+attack+cop+inset.jpg

The rookie NYPD officer who was critically hurt when a stranger attacked him with a hatchet will accept the police department’s most esteemed award Tuesday, the Medal of Honor.

Kenneth Healey and three other officers were on patrol on Jamaica Avenue in October 2014 when a man charged them with an 18-inch hatchet, gashing Healey in the head and hitting officer Joseph Meeker in the arm.

All four officers will be honored at the morning ceremony at NYPD headquarters. Meeker will receive the Medal of Valor, while officers Taylor Kraft, and Peter Rivera will receive the police Combat Cross.

"A lot of people who receive this award are no longer with us, so it's definitely an honor to receive such a high award from the department," Healey told the I-Team in his first interview about the award.

"If I could go back in time, I wish nothing like this would ever happened. But I’m still here and it’s definitely an honor," he said. 

Healey and three other NYPD officers were on patrol on Jamaica Avenue in October 2014 when they stopped to let a freelance photographer take their photo. As the officers posed for the photo, Zale Thompson charged at them with the hatchet, wounding Healey and Meeker. Two other officers shot and killed Thompson on the street, and authorities said he was still holding the hatchet when he was pronounced dead.

The ax shattered Healey's skull, and he needed numerous surgeries during his recovery. He told the I-Team in an exclusive interview in May 2015 he didn't think it was possible to get hit that hard and survive.

"You know, one second you’re taking a picture and the next, you know, I’m staring at my skull on the floor in a puddle of blood," Healey said. "I had no idea why it happened.”

Healey, who has returned to work on desk duty since the incident, said he still suffers from the injury. But he sees improvements every day.

“It’s definitely been slow progress but I do notice changes," Healey told the I-Team this week. "Every few months that go by I’ll notice things get a little bit better."

Healey’s fellow officers said they are touched to receive such an honor, and especially impressed by Healey’s remarkable recovery.

"It’s unbelievable, it’s a miracle to see where he’s at now," Kraft said.

Healey said he is especially affected by what he called the lone wolf attack in Orlando this weekend, knowing firsthand how much damage one person can do.

"Going through it myself and, and making it out it’s horrible to hear about what’s happened," he said.

He said he had this message to the survivors: "You can get through it. I did. Just keep fighting, never give up."

<![CDATA[More Proof of NJ City Workers Doing Personal Jobs on Clock]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 19:06:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/paterson+workers+folo+time+cards1.jpg

Outrage is growing in Paterson, as new records obtained by the I-Team seem to show even more overtime billed by city employees while they were doing private jobs for the mayor.

Over the last two months, the I-Team has released exclusive video showing Paterson workers doing private jobs for Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres, both at his home and at his nephew’s beer business on East 15th Street, while charging overtime to taxpayers. In some cases, the workers were in uniform. And in some cases, they arrived in city vehicles.

Now, new time sheets seem to show at least three more instances of employees doing private work for the mayor at his nephew’s business while on the clock for the city.

On March 24, 2015, Department of Public Works employee Tim Hanlon is seen on video working at the warehouse after 6 p.m., drinking from a bottle and carrying a ladder. But Hanlon’s time sheets for that day show that he billed six hours of overtime that day, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

On that same day, DPW Supervisor Joseph Mania is seen on video talking to the mayor at the warehouse around 6:15 p.m., even though his time sheets appear to show he billed taxpayers for five hours of work that day, from about 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Two days later, city carpenter Jorge Makdissi is seen on video loading equipment onto a truck at about 4:30 p.m. Records show he billed taxpayers for about six hours of work at that same time, from about 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The videos also show Torres at the site repeatedly arriving in his city-issued suburban. At times he is seen walking around the site with various workers. Once, he is seen delivering what appears to be beer to workers at the site.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Mayor Torres referred the I-Team to the city’s lawyer. Domenick Stampone, Paterson’s corporation counsel, said city officials are “aware of” the state attorney general’s investigation into the matter and they have complied with all requests for information. He said he could not comment further because of the ongoing investigation.

The workers shown in the videos have not responded to repeated requests for comment about the newest videos by the I-Team.

Meanwhile, Paterson City Council members expressed concern about the widening probe.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Maritza Davila, a Paterson councilwoman who chairs the Department of Public Works Committee. Referring to the I-Team report, she said, "A lot of people were looking at something that doesn’t look right."

When the I-Team met with Hanlon in March, he told the I-Team he never billed taxpayers overtime for side projects. Asked about his work at the warehouse, he said he did the work for free as a chance to spend time with the city’s mayor and share some beers with colleagues. He has not returned calls from the I-Team in recent days.

After the I-Team’s initial report in March, the New Jersey attorney general’s office announced it would investigate. At the time, Torres denied that he had ever asked city workers to do personal jobs for him while they were on the clock.

In a Paterson Press newspaper report about the I-Team’s story, Torres told the newspaper that in one case, one or two city employees worked at his property to build four bookshelves in his daughter’s bedroom in the past year. He said the job was done on the employees’ own time, and that he paid for the supplies and gave the employees $50 for the work.

Former FBI official J.J. Klaver said the behavior documented on tape and in city records appears to be improper.

“If you’re the mayor of a city and you’re using public employees for your personal benefit, or to benefit your friends, your neighbors, your business associates, that could potentially be charged as a federal crime,” Klaver said.

On Friday, Viomedes Miaaya, who volunteered on Torres’s campaign some years ago, said he is troubled by the allegations.

"In Paterson, the taxes are raising like crazy, and people are tired of the situation happening in Paterson," Miaaya said.

Questions about the employees seen at the mayor’s home come amid a budget crisis in Paterson. At recent City Council meetings, angry residents have complained about rising taxes and failing city services. The City Council finally passed a budget this spring after an earlier budget rejection forced employees to stay home for a day without pay, and closed Paterson’s libraries, senior services and after-school recreation programs.

<![CDATA[NY Man Out on Bail to Await 3rd Trial in '94 Rape, Slaying]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 18:32:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/anthony+dipippo.jpg

A judge has ordered the release of a 40-year-old man twice convicted in the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl in Putnam County. 

Anthony DiPippo was released from Putnam County Jail on $1 million bail Wednesday as he awaits his third trial in the 1994 killing of Josette Wright. The bail was secured by his family and posted by high-profile bondsman Ira Judelson. 

DiPippo was found guilty of murdering and raping the girl in two separate trials, and higher courts have overturned the convictions each time. He has maintained his innocence in the child's murder. 

He will now remain under his house arrest at his family's home with a monitoring bracelet until the next trial. 

Wright's family was in court Wednesday and clearly upset. They believe DiPippo is guilty and hope he is convicted a third time. 

DiPippo said he understood the family's feelings.

"It was a tragic thing," he said. "I couldn't imagine how bad it was for them all these years. I pray for them and hope they find some semblance of peace."

Wright disappeared in early October 1994, and her remains were discovered in woods in Patterson more than 13 months later, The Journal News reports. DiPippo and his friend Andrew Krivak were charged in the case in July 1996.

Krivak was tried separately in 1997 and convicted, and is currently serving a 25-years to life sentence. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[NJ City Workers Do Personal Jobs for Mayor on the Clock]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 21:08:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/paterson+workers+folo+time+cards1.jpg

New evidence has surfaced showing Paterson, New Jersey, city workers are doing jobs at a site tied to the mayor’s family, in some cases apparently on taxpayers' dime. 

Two months ago, the I-Team released exclusive video showing Paterson workers doing private jobs at Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres' home while, in several cases, their time sheets showed they were on the clock for the city. 

The I-Team has obtained additional records that show workers were also on the clock while doing a pet project for the mayor at a different site – a warehouse where his nephew planned to open a beer business. 

On numerous days last year, videos show Torres visiting the construction site while city Department of Public Works employees labored there. In some cases, the workers were in uniform. In some cases, they arrived in city vehicles. 

The videos were shot by a private eye hired by a developer who had a permit dispute with the city. 

Neither Torres nor the workers returned repeated calls for comment. 

On surveillance video reviewed by the I-Team, DPW carpenter Jorge Makdissi is seen several times at the warehouse, carrying tools, loading in boards and doing other work. Records obtained by the I-Team show Makdissi billed overtime to the city during some of the hours he is captured on video working at this private project. 

On Monday, March 16, 2015, tapes show Makdissi started work at the East 15th Street warehouse around 4 p.m. Makdissi’s time sheets for that day show he billed taxpayers six hours of overtime starting at 4 p.m. 

While Makdissi did not return the I-Team's calls for this story, he has denied wrongdoing in the past. He said he worked for the mayor for cash and never billed the city for work. 

Paterson DPW supervisor Joseph Mania is also seen on the video working on a door after 4 p.m. March 16, while city records show he billed taxpayers overtime from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. that same day. He did not return calls for comment. 

A third worker, Tim Hanlon, was also there that day. 

He’s seen on the tape at 5:46 p.m. Records show he billed taxpayers six hours of overtime from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. that day. 

On Saturday, Dec. 6, Hanlon is seen at the site just before noon holding a bottle. That same Saturday, records show Hanlon billed taxpayers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The I-Team met with Hanlon in March. At that time, he told the I-Team he never billed taxpayers overtime for side projects. Asked about his work at the warehouse, he said he did the work for free as a chance to spend time with the city’s mayor and share some beers with colleagues. He has not returned calls from the I-Team in recent days. 

The tapes show Torres at the site repeatedly arriving in his city-issued suburban. At times he is seen walking around the site with various workers. Once, he is seen delivering what appears to be beer to workers at the site. 

After the I-Team’s initial report in March, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office announced it would investigate. At the time, Torres denied that he had ever asked city workers to do personal jobs for him while they were on the clock. 

In a Paterson Press newspaper report about the I-Team’s story, Torres told the newspaper that in one case, one or two city employees worked at his property to build four bookshelves in his daughter’s bedroom in the past year. He said the job was done on the employees’ own time, and that he paid for the supplies and gave the employees $50 for the work. 

Former FBI official J.J. Klaver said the behavior documented on tape and in city records appears to be improper. 

“If you’re the mayor of a city and you’re using public employees for your personal benefit, or to benefit your friends, your neighbors, your business associates, that could potentially be charged as a federal crime,” Klaver said. 

Questions about the employees seen at the mayor’s home come amid a budget crisis in Paterson. At recent City Council meetings, angry residents have complained about rising taxes and failing city services. The City Council finally passed a budget this spring after an earlier budget rejection forced employees to stay home for a day without pay, and closed Paterson’s libraries, senior services and after-school recreation programs.

<![CDATA[Correction Boss Busted in Alleged Pension Scam]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 22:52:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/norman+seabrook+arrest.jpg

The leader of a powerful city union who allegedly accepted lavish gifts, exotic trips and cold hard cash in exchange for the investment of pension funds was arrested by the FBI on corruption charges in an ongoing investigation focusing on the NYPD and City Hall.

Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association for the past 21 years, was arrested at his Bronx home early Wednesday morning and charged with honest services fraud and conspiracy.

Investigators allege Seabrook took kickbacks in connection with his union’s pension fund investments.

Seabrook allegedly received $60,000 in payoffs and in exchange directed a total of $20 million in the union's retirement funds to the Platinum Investment fund, according to court documents.

The former head of the fund, Murray Huberfeld, was also arrested and charged with honest services fraud and conspiracy Wednesday morning. His bond was set at $1 million to be secured by $500,000 in property and co-signed by two financially responsible individuals. 

Seabrook and Huberfeld have both denied wrongdoing. 

Seabrook was introduced to Huberfeld on Dec. 13, 2013 by a man sources familiar with the case identify as Jonah Rechnitz, a borough park fundraiser for Mayor de Blasio. Sources say Rechnitz secretly pleaded guilty and is now cooperating with federal investigators. Rechnitz allegedly introduced the two after Seabrook complained he was not getting bribe money for investing the correction officers’ union funds, the complaint states.

A bribe-for-investment deal between Seabrook and Huberfeld was brokered by Rechnitz in late December 2013, the sources say. Seabrook allegedly agreed to receive two percent of the profit Platinum stood to gain off the union's investment. Seabrook was told he would be paid between $100,000 and $150,000 annually. 

After multi-million dollar investments into Platinum, Seabrook complained to the Rechnitz witness that he had not received the kickback money he was promised for the investment.

Rechnitz then agreed to pay Seabrook $60,000 on behalf of Platinum. 

On Dec. 11, 2014, Seabrook met Rechnitz near Ferragamo, his favorite luxury goods store in Manhattan. Rechnitz handed Seabrook a Ferragamo bag stuffed with $60,000, the complaint states.  

It wasn't the first time Rechnitz offered Seabrook lavish gifts, according to the complaint. 

In late 2013, Rechnitz, Seabrook, and an unnamed NYPD officer traveled to the Dominican Republic twice. Rechnitz paid for the airfare on both trips, the complaint states.

Ironically, it was on one of the trips to the Dominican Republic that Rechnitz first learned Seabrook wanted to receive bribes for investing his union's funds, according to the complaint.

After a night of drinking, Seabrook complained about his work investing the union's funds and told Rechnitz that it was time "Norman Seabrook got paid," the complaint states.  

Rechnitz set up the meeting between Seabrook and Huberfeld soon after they returned from the Dominican Republic, according to court documents. 

"[Seabrook] made decisions about how to invest correction officers’ retirement money…based not on what was good for his union members, but based on what was good for Norman Seabrook," U.S. Attorny Preet Bharara said at a press conference Wednesday. "For a Ferragamo bag filled with $60,000 in cash, Seabrook allegedly sold himself and his duty to safeguard the retirement funds of his fellow correction officers."

Seabrook’s attorney, Paul Shechtman, said, “Norman Seabrook has spent his life fighting for correction officers. One should not expect him to stop fighting now.”

Alan Levine, attorney for Jonah Rechnitz, had no comment.

The arrests come as federal authorities investigate allegations that NYPD officers engaged in a cash-for-favors scheme, and as Mayor de Blasio’s campaign fundraising is under scrutiny. The mayor insists his fundraising followed all laws.

"If proven true, these allegations are disgusting because it means he stole money from his own members," Mayor de Blasio said about Seabrook's arrest Wednesday.

De Blasio also said he was not worried that it may signal further troubles in the corruption probe focused on City Hall.

"What he did involves his own union and his own pension fund...if proven this is incredibly troubling," de Blasio said.  

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Congressman's Wife Reports $15K in Valuables Stolen: Sources]]> Wed, 01 Jun 2016 15:54:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_27692745197.jpg

Police were called to a family apartment of veteran Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) Wednesday after his wife reported a diamond ring, other jewelry and cash were stolen.

Sources familiar with the case tell NBC 4 New York that Rangel’s wife, Alma, 85, last saw the jewelry a few days ago and told police she first discovered them missing Wednesday morning.

Among the items reported stolen: a $9,000 diamond ring, a $5,000 pearl necklace, a $500 gold ring and a large jar with about $300 to $400 worth of coins, officials familiar with the case said.

An NYPD spokesman confirms that a police report for a burglary has been filed. But Hannah Kim, a spokeswoman for Rangel, issued a short one-line statement: “There is no evidence of a burglary at the Rangel residence.”

She did not explain why police have a complaint on file given her denial.

Investigators tell NBC 4 New York they are looking to see whether workmen in the the West 135th Street apartment might have keys to the apartment. Sources said there was no sign of forcible entry.

Rangel, also 85, is serving his 23rd term in Congress. He and Alma have been married since 1964.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[3rd NYPD Officer Puts in for Retirement Amid FBI Probe: Source]]> Fri, 27 May 2016 12:24:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NYPD-generic.jpg

Another high-ranking NYPD officer has filed for retirement amid the ongoing FBI investigation into whether officers accepted gifts in return for working as police escorts to influential businessmen.

Deputy Chief Michael Harrington put in his papers for retirement on Friday, a senior law enforcement source told NBC 4 New York.

The move comes days after Deputy Chief of Housing David Colon and Deputy Inspector James Grant also filed for retirement. The three officers, along with Deputy Chief Eric Rodriguez were among the first NYPD officers disciplined by the department amid the widening federal inquiry.

Harrington and Grant had been on modified duty since early April. Colon and Rodriguez were transferred amid the investigation. 

The investigation was launched by the NYPD at the end of 2013. The FBI and Justice Department joined the ongoing inquiry in early 2014, Bratton said.

"The police commissioner does not have the authority to prevent any officer from filing for retirement, that’s their right," Bratton said Wednesday.

Earlier this month, NYPD Inspector Michael Ameri was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound a short distance from his home in West Babylon. He had been questioned at his home by federal investigators and NYPD Internal Affairs officers about police escorts.

There has been no evidence that he was involved in any wrongdoing.

<![CDATA[Suspect in Brutal Chair Attack in NYC Eatery Convicted]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 16:34:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Bayna-Lehkiem+El-Amin+copy.jpg

A New York City man captured on video smashing a wooden chair over the heads of two men inside a Dallas BBQ restaurant last year has been convicted in the attack, prosecutors say.

A state Supreme Court jury found Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin of the Bronx guilty of first-degree attempted assault and second-degree assault, the Manhattan district attorney's office said Wednesday. 

Video of the May 2015 attack inside Dallas BBQ in Chelsea shows El-Amin flinging a chair over his head, then smashing it on the skulls of two men he had gotten into an argument with. Horrified bystanders scream as he walks calmly out the door. 

The attack was so brutal that bystanders said they were afraid to confront the assailant. 

"He had just stomped on someone's head and hit someone on the head with a hard chair," the man who put the video on YouTube told NBC 4 New York at the time. "The last thing anyone wanted to do was get involved." 

Prosecutors said the 25-year-old victim was knocked unconscious and the 32-year-old victim collapsed onto a nearby chair. Both men suffered head, back and neck pain. 

El-Amin turned himself in to police about a month after the attack.

The victims, who are gay, told media outlets at the time that El-Amin, who has also identified himself as gay, hurled racist and homophobic slurs at them. El-Amin's lawyer previously said his client was attacked first. 

But District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a press release announcing the verdict, "There was no justification for this brutal attack." 

El-Amin is expected to be sentenced June 14. 

<![CDATA[2 Charged in 2015 Overdose Death of NY Dermatologist]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 19:21:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/kiersten+cerveny.jpg

The producer of an HBO series and another man are facing federal narcotics charges in the drug overdose death of a Long Island dermatologist who was found unconscious in the vestibule of a Manhattan apartment complex last fall, according to a criminal complaint.

Marc Henry Johnson, who was a producer on an HBO series called "The Deuce," and James Holder were arrested at their homes in Manhattan Wednesday by a team of Drug Enforcement Administration, NYPD and New York State Police investigators, sources said.

Their arrests come eight months after the death of Dr. Kiersten Cerveny, a Manhasset dermatologist who was found in the vestibule of Holder's apartment building on West 16th Street in Chelsea on Oct. 4.

Sources have previously said Cerveny and Johnson were in a relationship at the time of her death.

According to the complaint, Johnson, 51, met Cerveny and another individual at a bar on the Lower East Side after texting about meeting Holder, 60, for "a pickup." While at the bar, he allegedly told Cerveny, who had been using cocaine before he arrived, he had more of the drug and offered to share it with her and the other person. 

Later that night, Cerveny and Johnson left the bar together in a taxi and went to Holder's apartment, according to the complaint. They went upstairs and weren't seen again for hours. 

The complaint alleges that Holder and Johnson emerged four hours later and dragged the unconscious Cerveny along the hallway to the first-floor vestibule. Holder left afterward and Johnson called 911.

Johnson allegedly refused to give the dispatcher his identity and didn't say what had happened to the 38-year-old. He left after paramedics got to the scene, according to the complaint. 

Emergency medical technicians attempted to resuscitate Cerveny as they loaded her into the ambulance and took her to the Lenox Health emergency room in Greenwich Village. She died at the hospital.

Medical examiners ruled her death resulted from acute cocaine and alcohol intoxication. 

According to the complaint, Holder -- who went by the nickname "Pepsi" -- had allegedly sold drugs out of his apartment since about 2013. He generally sold "hundreds," bags of cocaine costing $100, the complaint says.

"We believe Mr. Holder has been selling drugs in this city for a long time," said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. 

According to multiple media reports, Johnson stepped away from "The Deuce" after Cerveny's death. The show's executive producer, "The Wire" creator David Simon, called the death a "greivous tragedy."

"As evidence has yet to be presented it would be irresponsible to say more at this point," he said. 

Cerveny, originally from Washington Township in Gloucester County, New Jersey, had been an assistant professor of clinical dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, according to a Dec. 12, 2009 announcement of her marriage to Andrew Cerveny Jr., also a dermatologist, in The New York Times. She graduated magna cum laude from Duke University and earned her medical degree at Tulane University.

She met her husband in 2004 while both were residents at the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans. They had three children together. 

Information about whether the men had obtained attorneys who could comment on the charges wasn't immediately available. 

Photo Credit: NBCNewYork.com/Facebook
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<![CDATA[NYC Man Accused of Trying to Join ISIS]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 22:45:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/EXCLUSIVE+ISIS+ARREST+PHOTOS+WITH+WATERMARK+052416+-+01000819_W.jpg

A Bronx man was arrested early Tuesday after he allegedly tried to join ISIS and later helped an undercover informant who he thought was trying to join the terrorist organization, according to a criminal complaint.

Sajmir Alimehmeti, 22, was arrested in the Bronx by the Joint Terrorism Task Force and is charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Alimehmeti is charged today with actions that show a clear intention to support a terrorist organization that is hell-bent on murder and mayhem," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

According to the complaint, he tried to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS on two occassions in 2014 but was blocked each time by British authorities. Then, this year, he allegedly tried to help an undercover informant who claimed to be attempting to join the organization. 

The complaint alleges that Alimehmeti first traveled to the United Kingdom in October of 2014 in an attempt to continue on to the Middle East but was denied entry to the country when British authorities at Manchester Airport found nunchucks and camouflage clothing in his luggage.

He tried again that December, according to the complaint, and was again stopped in the United Kingdom after British authorities at Heathrow Airport in London found images of ISIS and improvised explosive devices on his cellphone.

"As alleged, Alimehmeti continued his quest to support ISIL’s deadly terrorist agenda, after being denied entry into Europe with a bag full of military gear," said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. "When he returned home, to the Bronx, he allegedly turned to helping others join the terrorist organization as he built his own arsenal of weapons."

Alerted by UK authorities, the FBI went to work, introducing Alimehmeti to undercover law enforcement informants who posed as ISIS recruits interested in traveling to Syria, according to court papers.

A year after the second attempt, Alimehmeti tried to get a new passport and claimed he had lost his old one, according to the complaint. But he allegedly told undercover agents that he already had $2,500 to travel to Syria but needed to get a new passport in a different name because his had rejection stamps from the United Kingdom and was "already in the system."

Late last year and earlier this year, Alimehmeti began communicating with undercover agents, according to the complaint. When meeting with the agents, the man allegedly expressed interest in joining ISIS, telling one who he thought was set to head overseas, "I'm ready f---ing go with you, man...You know I would... I'm done with this place."

He then bought that informant a phone to be used overseas and allegedly talked about "apps" that would encrypt his communications. He also bought two informants boots to use while fighting with ISIS at a sporting-goods store in Manhattan. The complaint also alleges that Alimehmeti also took one of the agents to John F. Kennedy Airport so the agent could fly to join ISIS.

According to the complaint, Alimehmeti played two ISIS-produced music videos that depicted prisoners being beheaded for the undercover agents. He allegedly told the agents that the videos helped him stay motivated while exercising.

Photos from the complaint show him posing in his Bronx apartment with what appears to be an ISIS flag. He also allegedly bought knives, steel-knuckled gloves, a pocket chainsaw, handcuffs and masks, and had MP3 files containing lectures by former al-Qaida official Anwar al-Awlaki.

The court papers said Alimehmeti told the undercover contacts he and his brother "had our own plan" to travel from Albania to Syria but that his brother had been arrested in Albania.

In a footnote, the FBI said in court papers that Alimehmeti's brother was arrested on weapons and assault charges in Albania last August.

At his initial court appearance Tuesday, Alimehmeti, who's also facing fraud-related charges, remained silent and stared at his feet as his team of public defense lawyers asked the judge to set bail at $200,000.

Defense lawyers Sylvie Levine and Sabrina Shroff insisted that Alimehmeti wasn't being charged for criminal action, but instead "conversation that was consistently prompted by undercover law enforcement."

But prosecutor Brendan Quigley said Alimehmeti's "repeated support for ISIS shows that he's both a flight risk and a risk to the safety of the public." 

He also pointed to Alimehmeti's past arrests dating back to 2010, including robbery, assault, forcible touching and public lewdness. Alimehmeti has served probation and a year in jail for the crimes. 

The judge, Gabriel Gorenstein, acknowledged the defense attorneys' claims that Alimehmeti was being charged without ever acting on his intentions, but said that “those aren’t the charges,” and that his willingness to join and support a known terror organization was enough to keep him locked away.

Alimehmeti is scheduled to appear again in court on June 7. 

More than a half dozen individuals have been arrested since mid-2015 by the task force in New York and New Jersey on similar charges.

The investigation was conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprised largely of FBI agents and NYPD detectives, and the NYPD's Intelligence Division.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY
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<![CDATA[FBI's Newest K-9 Sniffs Out Digital Evidence]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 17:18:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fbi+puppy.jpg

One of the newest members of the FBI has a decidedly low-tech method of sniffing out digital evidence: she uses her nose.

Iris, an 18-month-old Labrador retriever, is the FBI's first electronic-detection K-9 and can sniff out just about any electronic device that stores memory —regardless of how well a criminal has hidden it.

Iris graduated from a program pioneered by the Connecticut State Police last month and is one of just a handful of dogs trained to detect a chemical used to cool memory chips on electronics.

"She went into four weeks of imprinting class with them, where they basically just had her every day and imprinted her on the scent," said her handler, FBI Agent Jeffrey Calandra. "That chemical is unique to thumb drives, hard drives, really anything that’s electronic that can store memory."

Now, just about anytime she's brought to a scene to sniff out the chemical, she alerts her handler in a way similar to bomb and drug dogs. 

"She’s a passive alert dog so when she finds the device she’ll sit and then she’s fed," said Calanda.

After there is enough probable cause for the FBI to obtain a search warrant, Iris is used to search specific locations for electronic devices. Iris’ unique cyber-sniffing ability can be used in a wide range of investigations, including counter intelligence, counter terrorism and child pornography.

"We encounter subjects of our investigations who are very clever and they will do their best to hide electronic devices in the most unique places," said Michael Brodack, assistant special agent in charge of the Newark FBI office.

Some subjects will store incriminating evidence and thumb drives in places that may not even be thought of as electronic devices.

"You can find thumb drives in earrings, cuff links, pens, you name it," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Philip Frigm. "They are very small and are getting smaller so it’s very difficult for a human who is in the process of conducting a search warrant to find some of those devices."

Other agencies have used dogs trained to detect the chemical successfully. Most notably, a black Lab named Bear sniffed out a hidden thumb drive containing child porn belonging to former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle.

Broadack said "the sky is the limit" with Iris. 

"It will make our jobs a little bit easier and it’ll ensure that we find all of the pieces of evidence that we need to find," he said.

When the work day is over, Iris is just a regular dog living with her FBI handler and his family.              

"She loves to play, she has a great personality but when it’s time to work, she loves to work — she gets fed when she works," said Calandra.

The Newark FBI will make Iris available to other FBI offices and law enforcement agencies to assist in cases where electronic devices are used and may go unseen without her skills.

"Electronics are a part of everyone’s daily lives and they are everywhere,” said Frigm. "Expectations are that she is going to be very busy in the near future."

<![CDATA[Woman's Body Found After Kin Is Charged With Murder: Sources]]> Tue, 17 May 2016 14:30:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/missing-woman-dead-double-inset-0517.jpg

The body of a missing 69-year-old Bronx woman was found in Manhattan, several days after her nephew was charged with murder in the case, law enforcement sources say. 

It's not clear where in Manhattan the body of Patricia Myers was found. She had been last seen May 4 at her apartment on Grand Concourse near East 169th Street.

Her nephew, Andros Topping, was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in her death on May 6. 

Topping allegedly told police he had been living with the woman when she disappeared. Authorities also said at the time that he fought with officers who asked him to come to a precinct for questioning. 

Multiple blood spatters were found in the apartment, sources said in early May.

On Tuesday, sources added that detectives found video of the suspect leaving their apartment with a duffel bag. A second video captured him toting the bag over the Macombs Dam Bridge. 

He had recently contacted another family member and said he had done something wrong, sources said earlier this month. But it's not entirely clear if the comment was in reference to his aunt's disappearance.

Myers had heart disease and COPD, a lung disease, and uses an oxygen tank, according to police. There was a sign on her apartment door warning that an oxygen tank was in use there.

Attorney information for Topping wasn't available.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York / Provided to NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Dean Skelos' Nephew Accused of Grabbing Reporter, Tossing Phone]]> Thu, 12 May 2016 18:48:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dean-skelos-nephew-0512.jpg

Dean Skelos' nephew is facing assault charges after he was accused of grabbing a reporter's wrist and tossing her cellphone after the former New York senate leader was sentenced on federal corruption charges.

Basil Skelos, 27, was arrested on third-degree assault charges Thursday after the hearing for Dean Skelos and Adam Skelos in Manhattan, according to the NYPD. 

The arrest comes after he was caught on camera approaching Daily News reporter Victoria Bekiempis as she and other members of the media interviewed someone on a street corner outside a federal courtroom Thursday morning.

He can be seen grabbing Bekiempis' phone and tossing it as she yells "Hey, give me my phone back!" His other hand can be seen on the woman's wrist. 

Cameramen and reporters then follow after the man as he silently down the sidewalk.

Bekiempis follows after and can be heard shouting, "This guy assaulted me. He grabbed my wrist and threw my phone."

"I think that guy should be stopped," says another person, as a third says, "We all have it on camera!"

Basil Skelos walks silently for several more feet and is heckled by photographers and cameramen before NYPD officers approach. 

A man with the former senator's nephew then tells the officer "they were pushing and harassing us" and alleges that members of the media punched them in the face. 

Bekiempis again accuses Basil Skelos of assaulting her.

He then replies, "I didn't assault anybody. I didn't grab your wrist. I grabbed the phone after my family was pushed and punched in the face."

He adds, "that is not right," and the man with him says "you have the right to remain silent."

The exchange continues for a moment before officers takes him inside a building.

Later, Bekiempis tweeted that the former senator's nephew yelled at her inside the courthouse while police took her information.

Attorneys for Dean Skelos and representatives for the family declined to comment on the incident Thursday. Attorney information for Basil Skelos wasn't immediately available.

The Daily News declined to comment on the attack Thursday afternoon, but the newspaper reported on the attack online

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA['Lazy Eye,' 'Fat Sal' Charged in NY Crime Family Takedown: Docs]]> Thu, 12 May 2016 15:20:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/police-tape-shutterstock_5628043315.jpg

More than a dozen members and associates of the Genovese crime family were arrested early Thursday on federal criminal charges, sources told NBC 4 New York.

Seventeen defendants, with nicknames like "Grandpa," "Lazy Eye," "Fat Sal" and "Birdie," were named in an eight-count indictment accusing them of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, operating an illegal gambling business and illegal use of firearms.

The suspects charged Thursday allegedly ran an illegal gambling operation, made murder threats and conspired to commit murder to futher the illegal operation, the indictment alleges.

The alleged mobsters known as Grandpa, Baldy and Fat Sal conspired together to kill someone in 2014, the indictment states. They did so, according to the charges, to be welcomed into the Genovese family and to increase their positions in the ranks of the operation. 

Defendants known as Fat Sal, Lazy Eye, Grandpa, Zeus and others also allegedly ran a large-scale illegal bookmaking and sports betting operation, the indictment states. The gambling operation raked in more than $2,000 a day, the suit says. 

Sources said 14 of the suspects were arrested Thursday as FBI agents, NYPD detectives and Nassau County police conducted raids in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Nassau County. 

Those arrested were expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later Thursday.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Man Who Tried to Help Organize ISIS 'Army' Gets 15 Years]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 19:41:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sadeeh+terror+plot.jpg

A New Jersey man who tried to help organize a "small army" of ISIS fighters in the Garden State and New York was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years behind bars. 

Alaa Saadeh was part of a group of men who were trying to support the ISIS terror group, prosecutors said. Saadeh admitted he gave money and credit cards to other members of the group to try to help them travel to Syria. He and others in the group watched ISIS propaganda including beheadings and other killings by the terror group. His brother, Nader Saadeh, was among the group charged in the scheme. 

Saadeh pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS in Newark federal court before Judge Sarah Wigenton. In addition to the 15 year sentence Tuesday, Judge Susan Wife imposed lifetime supervised release for when Saadeh completes his sentence.

"I apologize to everybody… I feel like I let my family down, my brother down, myself down," he said. "These people (ISIS) are not who they claim they are. They are making it worse for Muslim people."

The 24-year-old Saadeh added, "I have no one to blame but myself. The government says I could have done something to prevent this and they are right. I could have done more.  I don't want anything to do with this group I want to apologize again."

Wife said she didn't know if Saadeh's apology was sincere.

"If you are sincere and truly disavowing ISIS you will choose a different path," she said. 

Saadeh has no criminal history. At the hearing Tuesday he admitted he smoked a lot of marijuana before becoming radicalized and took his friends at their word when they talked about Islam. 

Prosecutors said that Saadeh lied to the FBI when he was questioned and destroyed evidence that connected his brother to his scheme. They also said he let the other members of the New Jersey cell meet at his apartment. 

"He could have stopped it," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson Welle. "Instead, he planned it, facilitated it and agreed to help cover it up."

Saadeh was the second man to plead guilty in connection with this New Jersey cell. In September, Samuel Topaz admitted he wanted to join ISIS. His lawyer said if members of the group had failed to get to Syria or Iraq on their own, they had discussed an alternate plan of buying guns inside the US and targeting the White House and other landmarks for an attack.

Officials have said the parents of Alaa and Nader Saadeh were deported more than a decade ago in connection with an alleged credit card fraud case. The Saadeh children were allowed to stay with custodians in New Jersey because they were US citizens, officials said.

<![CDATA[Partner of Cop Killed in 2014 Fire Testifies in Teen's Trial]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 23:17:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/marcell+dockery+coney+island+fire.jpg

An NYPD officer who was injured in a blaze sparked by a teen who set a mattress on fire in 2014 testified in the 16-year-old's murder trial Monday, describing her final moments with her partner who succumbed to smoke while trying to get people out of the burning building.

Rosa Rodriguez testified in the murder trial for Marcell Dockery, who allegedly confessed to setting a mattress on fire at a Coney Island apartment building on April 6, 2014.

A resulting blaze killed Rodriguez's partner, Dennis Guerra, and left her barely able to talk. During the trial Monday, she spoke in whispers as she described grabbing Guerra's shoulders as they looked for an exit.

Rodriguez and Guerra were both overcome by the smoke after they took an elevator to the 13th floor of the building on Surf Avenue to help residents get out.

"Can't breathe! Can't breathe!" Guerra's voice was heard in his call to dispatch. 

His family sobbed as they listened to the recordings during the trial. 

Guerra was pronounced dead shortly after the blaze; Rodriguez was in a coma for 44 days and had permanent voice and lung damage.


Dockery allegedly admitted to police that he lit the mattress on fire because he was bored and was charged with murder.

"He killed a heroic police officer, he disabled another heroic police officer," said PBA President Pat Lynch, who was at the trial. "And it broke the hearts of those family members and those police officers sitting in that courtroom."

His attorney, Jesse Young, has said that Dockery was coerced into giving oral and written confessions.

Young said it will be up to Dockery to decide if he wants to take the stand during the trial. 

Listen to the audio and video played in Dockery's trial above

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>