Top 21 NBC 4 New York I-Team Stories of 2014

NBC 4 New York's I-Team led the way with exclusive, critical reporting in 2014 on issues ranging from abuse of power and chemical danger zones to health care, hacking, hidden natural gas leaks and how cash-strapped publicly funded places are spending taxpayer dollars.

Revisit the Top 21 I-Team stories of the year below.

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Women Panhandling With Babies on NYC Streets Swap Kids, Refuse City Handouts in Possible Coordinated Scheme (originally aired 11/11/14)

A group of women is using infants and toddlers to panhandle on the streets and subway platforms of Manhattan in what appears to be a coordinated effort, and they consistently refuse city services that could help them, an NBC 4 New York I-Team investigation has found. After Melissa Russo's initial report, the city said it would take steps to address the situation.

New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9,000 to Bandage Cut Finger (originally aired 8/5/14)

A New Jersey hospital charged a teacher nearly $9,000 to put a bandage on his middle finger, an NBC 4 New York I-Team investigation has found. Chris Glorioso reports.

Lifeguards Distracted on the Stand (originally aired 7/31/14)

Jonathan Vigliotti went undercover to see which lifeguards were keeping an eye out on safety, and which ones were distracted by their phones or friends.

3,000 Tri-State Bridges Deemed "Structurally Deficient" (originally aired 8/14/14)

Hundreds of bridges in the tri-state area are “structurally deficient” and need repair, an I-Team review of inspection records has found. Those records show that structural conditions at numerous bridges in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are deteriorating fast. Engineering experts say none of the spans is on the verge of collapse, but warn some bridges need work to help avoid the kind of disaster that struck in Minneapolis seven years ago when the collapse of the Interstate 35 West bridge killed 13 people. Jonathan Dienst reports.

Urgent Care Centers Are Booming, But Some Say Regulatory Standards Aren't Keeping Up (originally aired 11/18/14)

Urgent care centers, where speedy service is promised and walk-ins are welcome, are becoming an increasingly popular recourse for sick or hurt people across the tri-state area looking for quick remedies to everyday health concerns. But are industry standards keeping up with the industry boom? Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

NYC District Attorneys Can't Get Meeting With Mayor (originally aired 10/7/14)

New York City's five district attorneys have tried for months to get a group meeting with Mayor de Blasio to discuss crucial budget and public safety issues, as they have with past mayors, but their requests have been ignored, NBC 4 New York has learned. After Melissa Russo's reporting, a meeting with the district attorneys and the mayor was scheduled.

Hacker Posts Private Live Streams of Hundreds in Tri-State (originally aired 11/20/14)

Wireless surveillance cameras, webcams and baby monitors allow users to stream video on the web anytime from anywhere so they can always keep tabs on their valuables. Their blinking lights signal security, but NBC 4 New York's I-Team has found thousands of seemingly secure feeds -- on everything from cribs to a pet’s litter box -- are making their way online for all to see. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.

Many Communities in Chemical-Risk Zones Are Unaware of the Dangers (originally aired 11/25/14)

When a poisonous gas leak killed four workers near Houston, Texas, earlier this month, Amy Rafano felt worried. The New Jersey PTA mom lives near several chemical plants, and sends her son to school nearby – including the Ashland plant in Parlin which houses 1.2 million pounds of the flammable chemical ethylene oxide. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Some HIV-Positive NYers Purposely Get Sicker for Housing Benefits (originally aired 12/1/14)

Advocates believe HIV patients in New York City are purposefully skipping medication and making themselves sicker to qualify for the city's housing assistance program. Chris Glorioso reports.

Many Tri-State Schools Use Football Helmets That Don't Protect Well Against Concussions (originally aired 11/3/14)

Over a period of two months, the I-Team asked about 200 schools in the tri-state area what kind of helmets they use and found many use helmets that received low marks in a Virginia Tech study that evaluates the likeliness of football helmets to reduce concussion risk. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Lax Criminal and Sex Offender Checks on Camp Staff May Put Kids at Risk (originally aired 7/15/14)

When Michelle Fusaro was choosing a camp for her 4-year-old daughter, she assumed that the staff had been screened for criminal records. So she was shocked when she learned that many camps in New Jersey, where she lives, were cited last year for failing to do background checks -- and that many camps in the tri-state area are not required to do them at all. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.

Cash-Strapped School District Spends Thousands on Takeout (originally aired 7/8/14)

Budget cuts and tight resources plague Newark public schools, but even in these tough economic times, the Newark Public Schools District has approved tens of thousands of dollars a month in spending on takeout food and catering. Chris Glorioso reports.

President Obama Rejected From Top NY Golf Courses Over Labor Day Weekend: Sources (originally aired 9/8/14)

President Obama was turned down at several top golf courses in Westchester while he was visiting the area over Labor Day weekend, sources tell NBC 4 New York. Jonathan Dienst reports.

Utilities Keep Secret the Locations of Gas Leaks (originally aired 4/28/14)

Consolidated Edison urges the public to call authorities if they smell gas, but the utility -- and many others in our area -- decline to detail the locations of known, active gas leaks. A lawmaker drafted a bill in response to Chris Glorioso's report to require utilities to reveal the locations of the gas leaks and submit information on repairs. The day this Top 21 piece was posted, Con Edison released a map detailing the locations of its active leaks.

FDNY Firefighter Sues Staten Island Homeowner for Alleged Injuries Suffered on Call (originally aired 9/23/14)

Dozens of firefighters in the tri-state area have sued property owners for injuries they got on the job. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.

NJ Lawmakers Have Staffers Cast Their Votes (originally aired 9/29/14)

When lawmakers vote on bills, you might expect that they are physically in the state house chamber listening to debate and pushing the "yea" or "nay" button. That is not always the case. Chris Glorioso reports.

Parents Demand Transparency From College Study Abroad Programs After Sons' Deaths (originally aired 9/19/14)

Two families whose sons died while studying abroad have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the universities running the programs, and they're working with a U.S. congressman on a bill to require more transparency for college study abroad programs, which they say are poorly regulated given the number of students who participate in them each year. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.

Identity Thieves Thrive on the "Dark Web" (originally aired 11/17/14)

Days after a federal crackdown shuttered hundreds of websites used by cyber criminals, the I-Team logged on to several anonymous Internet marketplaces and found hundreds of credit card and social security numbers up for sale again. Chris Glorioso reports.

Hoboken Security Cameras Have Been Inoperative for Years (originally aired 4/3/14)

Hoboken has failed to keep a network of city-owned surveillance cameras working since 2010, including at least two cameras positioned on the waterfront where a jogger went missing, the I-Team has learned. Chris Glorioso reports.

Feds Knew of Severe Repair Needs at Building Where Akai Gurley Was Shot (originally aired 12/12/14)

Lighting problems at the Pink Houses in Brooklyn made headlines after police shot an innocent, unarmed man in a dark stairwell. But long before police said Akai Gurley was accidentally killed by a rookie cop, federal regulators knew about severe repair problems at the public housing complex. Chris Glorioso reports.

Menendez, Clinton State Dept. Helped Secure Visa for Fugitive Banker's Daughter (originally aired 12/16/14)

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez interceded on behalf of an Ecuadorian woman who was banned from traveling to the U.S. because of allegations she had engaged in visa fraud. The woman, Estafania Isaias, is the daughter of a fugitive from Ecuador convicted in absentia for bank fraud and whose relatives in Florida made significant campaign donations to the New Jersey Democrat's 2012 campaign and the Democratic Party. Jonathan Dienst reports.

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