<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/crime-and-courtshttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpgNBC New Yorkhttps://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usSun, 10 Dec 2017 23:21:57 -0500Sun, 10 Dec 2017 23:21:57 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Exclusive: NYPD Hatchet Attack Survivors Talk to News 4]]>Thu, 07 May 2015 16:51:22 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000007039683_1200x675_440437827788.jpgThe four officers who were attacked in Queens last October speak exclusively to News 4's Jonathan Dienst.]]><![CDATA[NYC White-Collar Drug Ring Moved 6M Fentanyl Doses: DA]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:02:44 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Smurf+Drug+Wrapper.jpg

Members of a Bronx-based drug ring distributed millions of doses of fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine throughout New York City and delivered on demand to buyers in the advertising and real estate industries, law enforcement officials say.

Authorities unveiled charges against 16 people on Monday. Of them, 11 were arrested on November 15 and the others were already in custody, officials say.

In addition to the arrests, during the six-month probe investigators from the DEA, NYPD, New York State Police and U.S. Homeland Security seized 12 kilograms of fentanyl, 6 kilograms of heroin, 3 kilograms of cocaine and more than $175,000 in cash, the officials say.

The state charges filed by the Bronx District Attorney’s office include possession and sale of a controlled substance, money laundering and conspiracy. Four of the individuals are charged with operating as a major trafficker and face life in prison if convicted.

"This transnational drug trafficking crew made the Bronx an epicenter of fentanyl distribution," said DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt in a statement.  "Through coordinated enforcement on federal, state and local law enforcement levels, traffickers responsible for smuggling heroin, cocaine and six million fatal doses of fentanyl into our city have been arrested."

"Deadly fentanyl coupled with recreational cocaine sales shows that this group was as versatile as it was vicious," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said.  "They allegedly drove the narcotics up the eastern seaboard from Florida, bringing the attendant misery to the Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester County and New Jersey."



Photo Credit: News 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Cocaine Sold From NYC Gelato Shop in Mafia Scheme: Feds]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 17:22:32 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_080605053471.jpg

An investigator went undercover and became a full-fledged member of a mafia family as part of a coordinated takedown of alleged mobsters accused of selling cocaine out of a gelato shop and other crimes, according to a federal indictment unsealed in Brooklyn on Thursday.

Four alleged members and associates of the Gambino and Bonanno organized crime families were arrested Wednesday, authorities said. Nine others were nabbed in Canada.

Damiano Zummo, 44, Salvatore Russo, 45, Paul Semplice, 54, and Paul Ragusa, 46, were to be arraigned Thursday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. It wasn’t immediately known if they had attorneys who could comment on the case.

At one point in the two-year investigation, an undercover investigator underwent a mafia induction ceremony that was recorded by law enforcement, the indictment says.

The indictment also alleges Zummo and Russo conspired to sell a kilogram of cocaine from a Manhattan gelato shop and that Zummo laundered more than $250,000 in cash.

Semplice is accused of conducting a loansharking scheme in which he and others issued loans with interest rates as high as 54 percent a year, a conspiracy prosecutors say generated thousands of dollars each week for the Gambino crime family.

Ragusa, who authorities say is a longstanding associate of both crime families, is charged with being a felon in possession of nine firearms, including three automatic assault rifles and one silencer.

If convicted of the varying charges, the men face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NYPD Cop Acquitted in Deadly Road Rage Shooting]]>Mon, 06 Nov 2017 19:17:02 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/off-duty-cop-0704.jpg

An NYPD officer charged with killing an unarmed man in an apparent road rage shooting was acquitted of murder and manslaughter on Monday.

A Brooklyn jury returned the verdict at the trial of Wayne Isaacs, who was off duty on July 4, 2016, when he and Delrawn Small got into a traffic dispute that authorities said continued for several blocks.

Small got out of his car and confronted the officer, who responded by shooting him through the driver's side window. Isaacs said he fired in self-defense.

The Daily News reports that angry spectators stormed out of the courtroom, with Black Lives Matter President Hawk Newsome shouting, "What the f---! You're a murderer! This whole system is corrupt! You [jurors] are all murderers. How could you let him free?"

Small's widow left the courtroom in tears, according to attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who is representing the family. 

In a statement to News 4, Small's brother Victor Dempsey and sister Victoria Davis said they were "devastated" by the jury's decision. 

"What Wayne Isaacs did that night – immediately shooting and killing our brother as he approached his car and leaving him to bleed out and die, when he had so many other options – was murder, in cold blood," Dempsey and Davis said in the statement. "It is dangerous that once again a police officer is being treated as if they are above the law."

They called on Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill to fire Isaacs from the police force. 

The NYPD said after the verdict that Isaacs will remain on non-enforcement duty, without a service weapon, as the department conducts its own internal investigation.

"Any further disciplinary action to be taken with this matter will be based on the findings and recommendations made at the conclusion of the departmental inquiry," the NYPD said. 

The trial marked the first time the state attorney general prosecuted a police shooting of an unarmed victim since Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the office that role in August 2015 in response to a spate of civilian killings by police caught on video.

Isaacs was on the road in civilian clothes but still carrying a handgun following a shift that ended at midnight. A passenger in Small's car told police Small grew angry because he thought Isaacs had cut him off and got out his car at a stoplight to confront the officer.

Based on preliminary evidence, including Isaacs' statements, police initially said they believed the officer opened fire after Small reached through an open driver's side window and punched the officer while he sat behind the wheel of his car.

But a short black-and-white video, which surfaced on the internet, appeared to show Small getting struck by gunfire the moment he walks up to the car window, with no clear indication that he first assaulted the officer.

Small, 37, can be seen recoiling and stumbling around before collapsing. The officer briefly exits his car and looks in the fallen man's direction but then returns to the car.

"At that point, I thought I was going to lose my life," Isaacs told the jury. "Delrawn Small struck me; that's the only reason I had to stop the threat of losing my life."

"You could tell he was upset with me. At that time of the night, in that area of East New York, you know, I thought maybe he recognized me from a previous arrest or was a carjacking," Isaac said. "Could tell he was in a rage coming at me." 

Pat Lynch, the president of the NYPD's largest rank-and-file union, said Monday "there are no winners or losers in a trial like this whenever a life is lost under any circumstances.

"We are grateful to the jury for weighing all of the evidence in this case and for arriving at a proper and just verdict. No police officer wants to carry the burden of having killed a person under any conditions," Lynch said. "But unfortunately, there is no script for police officers who have to take action when they are presented with dangerous circumstances either on or off duty." 


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<![CDATA[NYPD Detectives Resign Following Rape Arrests]]>Mon, 06 Nov 2017 14:37:06 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cops+accused+of+rape.jpg

The two NYPD detectives accused of raping a handcuffed 18-year-old woman inside a police van in Brooklyn earlier this year have resigned.

The NYPD says Eddie Martins, 37, and Richard Hall, 32, who had been suspended without pay from their assignments at NYPD Brooklyn South Narcotics, have left the department following their arrests last week

A spokesman said the officers appeared at police headquarters Monday morning to quit their employment with the NYPD. 

Martins and Hall were arrested Monday on a 50-count indictment charging them with first-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, official misconduct and other counts. They were freed on $250,000 and $100,000 bail, respectively, after their court appearances. 

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement he would have fired the officers immediately if the charges had been upheld in a departmental trial. 

"When a member of the NYPD is indicted on serious charges like these, it tarnishes all of the admirable things accomplished by other, good officers every day in neighborhoods across New York City," he said. "It also stains the legacies of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to New Yorkers."

The officers' attorneys last week vowed to fight the charges. 

"We don't believe they have the evidence to support the majority of charges that are alleged," said Mark Bederow, attorney for Martins. 

According to the indictment, the detectives were on duty and riding in a Dodge Caravan on Sept. 15, working as part of a team of plainclothes cops assigned to the narcotics unit and conducting a buy-and-bust operation in the 60th Precinct. They left their post without authorization and drove to Calvert Vaux Park in Gravesend, according to the indictment. 

Shortly after 8 p.m., the officers stopped an Infinity Couple driven by an 18-year-old woman. Two male passengers were in the vehicle and there was marijuana in the front seat cup holder, court documents say. The officers told the trio to get out of the vehicle and asked if they had drugs. According to court documents, the woman said she had pot and two Klonopin pills, at which point the cops cuffed her, told her she was under arrest and said she would be issued a desk appearance ticket. They let the men go and told them to come get their friend from the precinct in three hours, prosecutors said. 

The cops and woman left the park, and then the detectives allegedly told the young woman to call her friends and tell them not to follow their van. Martins allegedly told her he and his partner were "freaks" and asked what she wanted to do to get out of the arrest, according to court documents. Prosecutors allege Martins then forced the handcuffed woman to perform a sex act on him as Hall drove the van and watched through the rear view mirror.

Martins then allegedly raped the young woman, prosecutors say. Later, the officers allegedly pulled over and switched places, then Hall allegedly forced the woman to perform a sex act on him. According to court documents, the officers drove back to the 60th Precinct, told the victims to call her friends to come get her, then allegedly gave her back her Klonopin pills, told her to keep her mouth shut and released her. 

Prosecutors say the woman told her friends she had been attacked and was later taken to a hospital, where a rape kit was conducted. Prosecutors say DNA recovered from the woman was a match to both detectives. 

The defense attorneys for the detectives argued the victim's story lacks credibility, that she may have a financial motive and that the charges contradict themselves.

Bederow said the officers aren't denying they had sex with the teen but are adamant it wasn't rape.

"The DNA evidence they cited does not establish a forcible compulsion angle of the case. End of story," he said.

Sarah Wallace contributed to this story. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Doctor Busted for Making Millions off Pill Mills in New York]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 18:35:08 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-5172396281.jpg

A New York doctor, his assistant, and a pediatric nurse practitioner face 20 years in prison after being arrested Thursday on federal charges of writing thousands of phony prescriptions for fentanyl and oxycodone, law enforcement officials said.

Ernesto Lopez, 74, a New York-licensed doctor who operates medical clinics in Manhattan, Flushing, and Franklin Square, is accused, along with his assistant, 49-year-old Audra Baker, of accepting cash payments in exchange for the prescriptions, court papers say.

Lopez typically charged $200 to $300 in cash for patient visits during which he allegedly performed perfunctory examinations and then prescribed large quantities of oxycodone and fentanyl patches. Since 2015, Lopez wrote more than 8,000 prescriptions and collected $2 million in fees, prosecutors said.

Baker, Lopez’s assistant at two of his clinics, allegedly steered patients to an individual who could buy the prescriptions and resell the drugs on the street, court papers say.

Also charged is Sharon Washington-Bhamre, 52, a pediatric nurse practitioner who allegedly also wrote numerous oxycodone prescriptions in the name of individuals she never examined but whose names were provided to her by the same individual who purchased the medically unnecessary prescriptions from Dr. Lopez.

“As alleged, these defendants acted like drug dealers in lab coats, directly contributing to the glut of highly-addictive opioids flooding the streets of New York City and its surrounding communities," Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement. 

The investigation and arrests were conducted by the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad comprised of investigators from the DEA, NYPD, and NYC Department of Investigation.

Lopez, Baker, and Washington-Bhamre were to appear in federal court in Manhattan Thursday.

It wasn't immediately known if they had an attorney. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pal of Corrupt Ex-NYPD Boss Admits Attacking FBI Witness]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 19:53:45 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DITOMAMASSO+ATTACK+VIDEO+-+00004802_WNBC_000000018425695.jpg

A New Jersey construction executive who attacked an FBI witness against corrupt ex-NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik has pleaded guilty to a violation of disorderly conduct for his role in the violent scuffle at the Hudson Hotel two years ago, captured on surveillance video.

Frank DiTomasso, 58, took the plea deal in Manhattan Criminal Court and will get no jail time as part of the deal. He was initially arrested for assault. 

DiTomasso has agreed to attend an anger management classes after admitting attacking his former friend, Larry Ray, a Manhattan district attorney's office spokeswoman said. 

Ray said he suffered a skull fracture and still has some neurological problems as a result of the assault. Ray said the attack was revenge for his cooperation with the feds against Kerik.

But DiTomasso's attorney, Cathy Fleming, said in a statement to News 4 Monday, "The video does not show the whole story. Mr. DiTomasso did not target Larry Ray. He has no concerns about Larry Ray's past cooperation -- it did not affect him." 

Ray was once good friends with both DiTomasso and Kerik. But Ray’s cooperation with the FBI in the corruption investigation into the former police commissioner helped expose Kerik’s improper acceptance of tens of thousands in free renovations on his then-Riverdale apartment from DiTomasso’s firm, Interstate Industrial.

Kerik, the city’s former police and correction commissioner, went to prison for four years. But DiTomasso was never charged in the federal corruption case and has long denied any past ties to organized crime. DiTommasso was charged for allegedly lying to a Bronx grand jury in 2002 in connection with Kerik’s wrongdoing, but was acquitted.

Surveillance video obtained by News 4 shows the attack in which DiTomasso is seen approaching Ray as he is seated in the bar area. DiTomasso then begins punching and kneeing Ray repeatedly.

Ray has claimed DiTomasso had a metal ball or pipe in his hand during the assault. DiTomasso was originally arrested on felony assault charge by NYPD detectives. Ray is now suing DiTomasso for damages. 



Photo Credit: News 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[7 Nabbed in ‘Pray for Death’ Fentanyl Bust in NYC]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 14:23:00 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/pray+for+death+heroin+bust.jpg

Seven people have been arrested for allegedly selling fentanyl marketed as heroin after video captured one of their customers overdosing at an open-air drug market on a Bronx street corner, according to an indictment filed Thursday.

The arrests follow a six-month investigation involving the NYPD, DEA and Bronx DA. Four men and three women face an array of drugs and weapons charges in the scheme to sell heroin and fentanyl at the drug market just a few blocks from Fordham University.

The drugs, stamped with an image of a kneeling skeleton and the brand name “Pray for Death,” were sold near a recycling collection site so customers could return empty cans and bottles to get cash for the drugs, authorities allege.

The area in and around the drug market, at Marion Avenue and 194th Street in Fordham, has some of the highest overdose rates in the city, according to officials.

Authorities say 39-year-old Billy Perez was the head of the supply chain. They allege he supplied fentanyl and heroin to an intermediary, who passed them along to 61-year-old Hector Figueroa, who then handed them off to street-level dealers who operated at the drug market.

“This predatory organization was set up for business at a recycling collection site where potential customers would return empty cans and bottles to scrape together the cash to purchase dime bags of what they thought was heroin,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.

During the investigation, 35-year-old Stanley Sacarillo allegedly made more than a dozen sales to undercover officers, including the largest sale — 300 individual glassines of purported heroin for $2,850. An analysis by the NYPD found the glassines to contain fentanyl, not heroin, authorities say.

According to the indictment, video captured Sacarillo selling glassines of narcotics to a customer at the drug market. The customer snorted one envelop and then another before overdosing. Sacarillo called 911 and carried the customer around a corner, where he was revived by first responders, authorities say.

During a search of Perez’s apartment Wednesday, Police found $200,000 in cash and 215 glassine envelopes of heroin and fentanyl, according to authorities, who say another 100 glassines of suspected heroin and fentanyl were found at Figueroa’s residence, around the corner from the drug market.

The seven defendants face charges that include conspiracy, criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, attempted criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

The charges stem from 15 alleged sales of drugs to undercover officers worth nearly $10,000. The indictment says the defendants claimed the drugs were heroin but that laboratory analysis found them to be either a mixture of heroin and fentanyl or in some cases fentanyl alone.

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin, according to the city health department.

New York City experienced a 46 percent increase in overdose deaths in 2016, which the health department attributes to fentanyl.



Photo Credit: DEA
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<![CDATA[10 Gang Members Shipped $22 Million in Pot to NYC: Feds]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:57:13 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/marijuana+seized+bronx+drug+bust.jpg

Ten members of a Bronx-based drug-trafficking gang have been arrested for allegedly shipping thousands of pounds of marijuana valued at $22 million from California to New York, law enforcement sources say.

More than 6,600 pounds of marijuana was sent from California to residences and businesses in Manhattan, the Bronx, and New Rochelle, and was then transferred to stash houses for distribution to customers and dealers, according to prosecutors. 

DEA, IRS, U.S. Homeland Security agents and NYPD officers made the arrests and executed a dozen search warrants on Wednesday and Thursday, prosecutors said.

During the searches, agents seized three handguns, a sawed-off shotgun, ammunition, cocaine, hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and thousands of dollars in cash, according to prosecutors. 

“Yesterday’s arrests were part of 'Operation Green Giant,' a Strike Force investigation targeting an organization allegedly reaping millions off the sale of marijuana in New York City,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt.

Court appearances for the 10 people arrested will occur Thursday and early next week, prosecutors said.

The accused gang members face life in prison if convicted of federal drug charges. 



Photo Credit: Justice Department]]>
<![CDATA[NYPD Investigating 2 Weinstein Sex Assault Claims: Source]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 19:32:29 -0500https://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[Monster Gang Bust Snares Dozens in NYC]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 17:56:29 -0500https://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 14:29:56 -0500https://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 16:59:09 -0500https://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[New FBI Counterterror Chief Reveals What Keeps Him Up Nights]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 22:36:03 -0500https://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/New_FBI_Counter_Terror_Chief_on_Protecting_NYC.jpg

With ongoing terror threats to New York, the FBI has appointed a new chief of its counterterrorism division for the New York field office to try to stop the next attack.

C. Bryan Paarmann, a 20-year veteran of the FBI and a West Point graduate, took over his new post last month, amid the recent announcement of charges in a New York bomb plot and the trial of the now convicted Chelsea bomber.

As the head of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), Paarmann is currently tracking numerous other threats to the New York metropolitan area.

"One misguided and evil individual –- the kind of damage he can do to humanity –- that keeps me up at night and it keeps my colleagues up at night," Paarmann told News 4 New York. "ISIS has said we don’t care what you attack. We don’t care how you attack. Just go kill somebody."

Paarmann became an agent in 1996, but the FBI has been part of his life for years. His father was an FBI agent who investigated the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi and helped protect civil rights marches throughout the south. Paarmann was raised by his father following the murder of his mother when he was 8 years old. Today, Paarmann carries the same FBI credentials his father carried for 30 years.

“I’m mindful every day of the shoes I have to fill. I went to West Point, was in the US Army and I decided I wanted to continue a lifetime of service to the nation so I decided to join the FBI,” Paarmann said.

During his FBI career, Paarmann has investigated terrorism cases in Colorado and Washington, D.C., and has worked with foreign governments on terrorism and organized crime issues while assigned to Tblilisi, Georgia and Kiev, Ukraine.

Now in New York and leading the nation’s largest JTTF -- comprised of several hundred federal, state, and local investigators -- Paarmann is also paying attention to the relatively small but growing number of hate groups across the region.

Paarmann says the JTTF will target any persons willing to use violence to further a social or religious or political agenda.

“Being in the number one JTTF,” says Paarmann, “working the number one priority of the FBI in the most significant city on the planet –- this is where I want to be –- this is what I want to be doing.”

]]>
<![CDATA[Major Drug Ring Flew Coke, Heroin on Flights to JFK: Pros.]]>Wed, 04 Oct 2017 17:50:16 -0500https://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 13:58:29 -0500https://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 09:56:59 -0500https://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]]>