Monday, February 27, 2017

Medical Doctor Charged In Manhattan Federal Court For Fentanyl-Related Overdose Death

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the unsealing of a complaint charging AVINOAM LUZON with selling fentanyl that resulted in the death of an Upper West Side man.

The complaint alleges that, on or about October 22, 2016, LUZON distributed fentanyl that resulted in the death of Gabriel Tramiel, age 32, of Manhattan. LUZON was arrested this morning and will be presented today before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As a medical doctor and graduate student in public health, Avinoam Luzon was supposed to help the sick get healthy, but instead he allegedly helped fuel the nation’s most serious health crisis, the opioid abuse epidemic. As an alleged drug dealer with a medical degree, Luzon sold fentanyl to Gabriel Tramiel, a 32-year-old New Yorker, and it allegedly killed him.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “We will continue to investigate every single overdose across this city and to make arrests like this. Our goal: to protect life and deter those who peddle these deadly opioids.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint[1] filed in federal court:

Gabriel Tramiel was found dead by his wife in the early morning hours of October 23, 2016. Tramiel was transported to the hospital and was examined by a medical examiner from the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner who determined that a fentanyl overdose was the cause of Tramiel’s death. Text messages recovered from Tramiel’s phone show a conversation with LUZON the evening of October 22, 2016, in which LUZON requested payment from Tramiel for narcotics and the two arranged a meeting to exchange narcotics for payment. Surveillance video recovered from the apartment building where Tramiel died shows Tramiel inhaling the contents of a nasal spray bottle in the building elevator several hours before he was found dead.

LUZON, 32, of New York, New York, has been charged with one count of narcotics distribution resulting in the death of another, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence for the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding work of the NYPD for its investigative efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case. He also thanked the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement for their assistance with this investigation.

The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin Portlock is in charge of the case.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the descriptions of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Clinic Owner Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To Five Years In Prison In $70 Million Scheme To Defraud Medicare And Medicaid

Fraud Ring, with Three Clinics in Brooklyn and Queens, Paid Kickbacks to Individuals to Undergo Medically Unnecessary Tests

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that VICTOR LIPKIN, a former owner of a health care clinic in Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a massive health care fraud scheme through which three medical clinics in Brooklyn and Queens submitted over $70 million in fraudulent claims to Medicaid and Medicare. On August 3, 2016, LIPKIN pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud. LIPKIN was sentenced last Friday, February 24, in Manhattan federal court by the Honorable Ronnie Abrams.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Victor Lipkin spearheaded a scheme that involved recruiting disadvantaged and homeless people to undergo expensive and unnecessary medical tests. Lipkin and his co-defendants submitted over $70 million in bogus claims to Medicare and Medicaid, burdening those programs while enriching themselves.”

According to the Superseding Indictment to which LIPKIN pled guilty, and other publicly filed information in this case:

The Heath Care Fraud Scheme

From 2005 to November 2014, LIPKIN, Vadim Zubkov, Eduard Zavalunov, Nikoloz Chochiev, Anatoliy Fatkhov, Mariana Swaffar, Jacqueline Pinez, Jonathan Oliver, Jason Brissett, Gilbert Trotman, and Giorgi Buleishvili engaged in a scheme to operate three medical clinics in Brooklyn and Queens, through which they recruited financially disadvantaged and homeless people insured by Medicare and/or Medicaid (the “Phony Patients”) to undergo unnecessary medical tests, typically performed by unlicensed personnel, at the clinics in exchange for cash, and then billed the insurers for administering those unnecessary tests. Beginning in or about 2005, LIPKIN and Zubkov recruited and paid a particular licensed physician (the “Doctor”) to act as the nominal owner and/or physician under whose name three purported medical clinics would bill Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance providers (the “Insurance Providers”) for unnecessary services and tests – including sleep tests and stress tests – performed at the clinics. The clinics were located on Avenue V in Brooklyn, New York – the clinic owned and operated by LIPKIN – and on Hillside Avenue and Elmhurst Avenue, respectively, in Queens, New York. LIPKIN and Zubkov were, in fact, the beneficial owners of the clinics, but they concealed their ownership through the Doctor’s nominal affiliation with the clinics, and by laundering the proceeds of the clinics’ operation through shell companies that they owned and controlled. LIPKIN, Zubkov, Zavalunov, and Buleishvili operated and controlled the clinics, and ran the clinics’ day-to-day operations, despite the fact that they were not licensed physicians, as required by New York law.

At the direction of LIPKIN, Zubkov, Zavalunov, and Buleishvili, other members of the scheme, including Oliver, Brissett, and Trotman (the “Runners”), as well as Chochiev, recruited financially disadvantaged individuals with Medicaid and/or Medicare insurance to act as Phony Patients and undergo unnecessary medical tests at the clinics in exchange for cash payments. The Runners often recruited such individuals from soup kitchens and local welfare offices, and coached them on what to say on various medical forms in order to make it falsely appear that the medical tests to which the defendants intended to subject them were medically necessary. In furtherance of the scheme, Chochiev also made threats of physical violence to individuals who Chochiev believed owed money to the scheme members.

Also in furtherance of the scheme, before the medically unnecessary tests were performed on the Phony Patients, Swaffar and Pinez obtained the Phony Patients’ Medicaid and/or Medicare insurance information, and then contacted the Insurance Providers to confirm that the Insurance Providers would reimburse for the tests. Swaffar and Pinez engaged in such conduct knowing that the Phony Patients were being recruited and paid by the Runners to undergo the tests. Once they determined that a particular Phony Patient’s insurance would pay out claims made by the clinic for the planned medical tests, Swaffar and Pinez notified the Runners that the individuals were eligible and could be brought to the clinic to undergo such tests.

After the Phony Patients had been recruited, confirmed to be Medicare and/or Medicaid eligible, and transported to one of the clinics by the Runners or Chochiev, in many instances certain individuals who were not physicians administered a host of unnecessary medical tests to them. In particular, for example, Fatakhov administered unnecessary medical tests, including stress tests, to the Phony Patients of the Elmhurst Avenue Clinic. Fatakhov administered these tests outside the presence and supervision of the Doctor or other licensed physician, despite knowing that the presence or supervision of a licensed physician was required. After the unnecessary medical tests were administered, the Phony Patients were paid cash kickbacks. The defendants, through the clinics, then submitted fraudulent claims to Medicaid and Medicare seeking reimbursement for the unnecessary medical tests. In total, in the course of the scheme, the defendants fraudulently billed over $70 million to Medicaid and Medicare, for which they received over $25 million in reimbursements.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Abrams ordered LIPKIN, 51, of Brooklyn, New York, to serve three years of supervised release and to pay over $8 million in restitution and forfeiture

As set forth below, all of the other defendants charged in this matter have pled guilty. On January 13, 2017, Pinez was sentenced to six months in prison. The remaining defendants are pending sentencing.

Vadim Zubkov, 49, pled guilty on January 13, 2017, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud.

Nikoloz Chochiev, 42, pled guilty on August 11, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud.

Anatoliy Fatakhov, 59, pled guilty on July 28, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud.

Mariana Swaffar, 51, pled guilty on August 15, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud.

Jacqueline Pinez, 33, pled guilty on July 11, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud.

Jonathan Oliver, 53, pled guilty on September 6, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud.

Giorgi Buleishvili, 42, pled guilty on January 31, 2017, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud.

Eduard Zavalunov, 35, pled guilty on February 7, 2017, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Police Department, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He also thanked the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General for its assistance.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz

  Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio and Eric Schneiderman, the Great Defenders of the Immigrants: Please, Give Me A Break!

You should now that the top leaders of this State and City have come out, according to their own pronouncements, to defend the immigrants from the abuses that are being committed by Donald Trump.  Among these leaders are Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

These three great leaders are now competing among themselves to show the world which of them loves the immigrants the most.

The problem with all of this, my dear reader, is that the abuses, the oppressions, the discrimination, and the bad treatment against the immigrants have been happening for many, many years before Donald Trump.

These three leaders: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, are the ones who, right under their noses have either been persecuting the immigrants, or have been allowing the same abuses they blame Donald Trump for causing to the immigrants.

You should know that for many years before Donald Trump, New York State Assemblyman Francisco Moya and New York State Senator JoséPeralta have been fighting with the Governor to establish a $20 million dollar fund to create what is known as the DREAM Act, in order to help immigrant students obtain a college education.

But surprise, surprise!

It is important for you to know that it has been Governor Andrew Cuomo who for many year has been playing with the feelings and sentiments of the DREAM’ers, and behind doors has done everything possible to kill the DREAM Act.

Now our beloved Governor, in a loud voice, is busy bragging about how he has come out against Donald Trump, making believe he is the great defender of the immigrant …. Please, give me a break!
On the other hand, here in the City of New York, we have more than 100,000 immigrant men and women who work in the livery taxi industry.

For years and years, the abuses and persecutions committed against these immigrant men and women who drive livery taxis are longstanding and pervasive.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission, under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Administration, has oppressed, persecuted and abused these immigrant livery and taxi drivers like no one else in history.
These taxi and livery drivers are being subject to abuse, entrapment, fines that range from $1,000 to $10,000, and license suspensions without even giving them the opportunity to come before a Taxi and Limousine arbitrator to listen to their story.

These immigrant drivers are punished with points on their licenses for traffic infractions bigger that what the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles applies for the same infraction to you and me.

It is important for you to note that the City of New York and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, under Mayor Bill de Blasio and years before Donald Trump, has persecuted, abused and mistreated immigrants without compassion, preventing these immigrants from bringing food to their families’ tables.

Now our Mayor is busy organizing big demonstrations against Donald Trump to defend the immigrants because he is a great defender of the immigrant.  Please, give me a break!
Mr. Mayor, you should first solve the problems of those thousands and thousands of immigrant men and women here in the City of New York who under your Administration, are trying to make a decent living driving in the streets of our city.

Bring down those fines and have more compassion for the livery and taxi drivers, if in fact, you love the immigrant as you say you do.

The third leader, the Honorable and Distinguished New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, another great defender of the immigrant, has also come out against Donald Trump.

It is important for you to know, my dear readers, that many years ago, the State of New York created a Workers compensation fund exclusively to help the livery taxi drivers.

For years and years, drivers have been complaining that this fund has not been properly managed, and that they are not receiving the help they need when they get hurt on the job.

To that effect, on November 15, 2016, I wrote a letter to New York State Eric Schneiderman (please see the attached) asking if the Attorney General would look into these complaints to see if, in fact, the livery and taxi drivers’ workers compensation fund has been improperly run or not.

As of today, the Attorney General has completely ignored my letter, and I have not even received a response to it.

Now, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has brandished his sword as Don Quixote de la Mancha against Donald Trump to defend the immigrant.

But right here, in the State of New York, right under his nose, thousands and thousands of immigrant livery taxi drivers are still waiting for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to tell them if there is anything wrong with their workers compensation fund.

Mr. Attorney General Schneiderman, please solve the problems of the immigrant livery and taxi drivers’ workers compensation fund right here if you really love the immigrant and want to defend the immigrant, because otherwise, I am going to say: Please give me a break.

I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.


Eight major conservancies are on track to meet or exceed their $15 million commitments to Community Parks Initiative-related sites

   In November 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, announced a $15-million package of conservancy engagements to improve parks in Community Parks Initiative neighborhoods.  Just over a year later, the Mayor and Commissioner announced eight major conservancies involved are on track to meet or exceed their commitments. 

See the original announcement – with Genius annotations detailing each updated commitment (click on the yellow highlights) – here.

“Public spaces that serve all New Yorkers are elemental to a strong, just city. Through the Community Parks Initiative, and the support and continued commitment of our conservancy partners, thousands of New Yorkers are seeing substantive improvements in parks that have been neglected for decades,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Parks are shared spaces – and supporting them is a shared responsibility. Over the past year, our conservancy partners generously stepped up and extended their expertise beyond their bases. By collaborating with NYC Parks and neighborhood volunteer groups, these eight conservancies are helping to bring world-class parks to all New Yorkers,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver.

“Our system of parks is strengthened by its conservancies – especially when our conservancies are an active part of our parks system. That’s why I proposed the Neighborhood Parks Alliance, and why I am so excited by the partnerships that have grown out of that proposal,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “Participating conservancies deserve big credit for voluntarily stepping up to help neighborhood parks, and Commissioner Silver and Commissioner de Commissioner deserve big credit for making the Community Parks Initiative and these partnerships a reality. Thank you to Commissioner de Commissioner, Commissioner Silver, and all the participating conservancies.”


Please click on the links to see just where this $15 million dollars is going. Not to parks that need city money but to the Bryant Park Corporation (BPC):, Central Park Conservancy (CPC):, Friends of the High Line (FHL):, Madison Square Park Conservancy (MSPC):, New York Restoration Project (NYRP):, Prospect Park Alliance (PPA):, Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA):, and The Battery Conservancy (TBC):. 

Now a quote from the New York City Council Speaker - “Every neighborhood in New York City deserves to have a spectacular park, no matter where you live or what your zip code may be,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The New York City Council has invested millions to make our parks more vibrant and sustainable across the five boroughs. Public spaces are a foundation of communities across New York City and by improving access to and quality of our City parks, we’re strengthening neighborhoods across the five boroughs. This City Council will continue to work with the de Blasio Administration and our conservancy partners to fulfill the goals of the Community Parks Initiative to enhance and expand parks throughout New York.”

I wonder if the Community Boards these eight parks lie in even made a single budget request of the Parks Department.
I know of many community board budget requests for local New York City parks came back "NO FUNDS AVAILABLE". 
Commissioner Silver - Why don't you visit parks in outer boroughs where the bathrooms have not been working for many years, buildings are crumbling, play areas are uneven, and I could go on. 
How about it Parks Commissioner Silver get off your butt and visit some of the parks you are in charge of, then tell us that all NYC parks are 100 percent functionable like these pet parks.


   Bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers in our state will never be tolerated. This spate of anti-Semitism is troubling, and unfortunately occurring across our nation.

New York will not allow hate to spread and we will hold those individuals responsible for these reprehensible actions accountable.

Engel Statement on the Rise of Anti-Semitism

  Congressman Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a leading member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and co-chair of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, issued the following statement in response to the alarming rise of anti-Semitism over the weekend:

“An alarming uptick of anti-Semitic attacks has cast a shadow across the United States. Jewish Community Centers have received five mass wave bomb threats in recent weeks. The latest wave hit just this morning, including in my district. Neo-Nazis rallied in Montana, DC, and Minnesota. Chicago’s West Loop Synagogue was attacked. Swastikas defaced the New York City subway and college campuses across this country. And in recent days, vandals desecrated Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, toppling over 250 Jewish tombs. 

“The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force reported 28 anti-Semitic hate crimes between January 1-February 12, 2017—more than double the number reported in the same period last year. These ugly acts are a direct assault on the Jewish people and our ancestry. They are an attack on the bedrock values that make our country great. And they demand immediate attention. 

“Whether it is the JCC-Mid Westchester in Scarsdale or JCC on the Hudson in Tarrytown, or the Jewish cemetery in Pennsylvania or Missouri or anywhere across this country, we must be vigilant. We must be unified. We must take an uncompromising stand against this horrific hatred. Such attacks cannot—and will not—be swept under the rug. I offer my full support to local and federal authorities to bring all those responsible for these horrific attacks to justice. I stand in solidarity with the Jewish community during these trying times and reaffirm my commitment to ensure hatred and bigotry have no place in my community and our country.”


 NYC schools see historically low crime rate for the first half of the 2016-17 school year; arrests and summonses in schools continue to decline

  The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, New York City Police Department, and Department of Education today announced the expansion of school justice initiatives designed to minimize unnecessary court involvement for students and increase effective school-based interventions. The City also released the fourth quarter Student Safety Act data, showing that school-based arrests and summonses are continuing to decline as crime for the first half of this school year decreased by 7 percent compared to the previous year, reaching an all-time low.

“Our students belong in the classroom, learning with their peers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Through our investments in school-based interventions, we are improving student behavior while keeping our teens out of trouble, and the effects are undeniable – crime is at an all-time low and graduation is at an all-time high.”

“The NYPD is actively committed to the safety of our students – whether it is through the actions of our crossing guards, school safety agents or police officers who, each day, dedicate themselves to the protection of the city’s children and schools,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “We are proud to see this reduction in enforcement activity and are working to ensure that this trend continues through the expansion of initiatives such as the Warning Card Program. The NYPD will continue to partner with the Department of Education to ensure the success of our students and provide a safe environment for them to excel and reach their full potential.”

“Schools are safe havens for communities, and we are encouraged by the continued decrease in school-related arrests and summonses,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “We are providing students with extra guidance counselors, trainings on preventative techniques, and tools to take ownership and address misbehavior. By holding our school communities accountable for safe and inclusive learning environments we’ll continue to keep kids in the classroom where they can learn and achieve.”

“Last year the City received recommendations from members of the Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline to make investments into programs that would enhance school climate while minimizing unnecessary contact with the justice system,” said Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Elizabeth Glazer. “The expansion of the Warning Cards program and Youth Represents’ partnership with schools reflects our commitment to seek ongoing ways in which we can deliver on those recommendations – to safely reduce unnecessary arrests and justice involvement while enhancing public safety for all.” 

As part of the City’s comprehensive strategy to continue improving school climate and ensure the safety of all school buildings through effective interventions that address behavioral concerns, the DOE and NYPD are expanding two initiatives citywide. Specific programs announced include: 

Expansion of the Warning Card Program to a total of 71 schools Citywide:

·      The program gives NYPD officers and School Safety Agents the discretion to issue a “Warning Card” to students who are 16 years of age or older instead of issuing a criminal summons for two low-level infractions – possession of small amounts of marijuana and disorderly conduct – that occur on school grounds.

·      The pilot was launched in the fall of 2015 in 37 schools across 5 Bronx school campuses –  Evander Childs, Adlai E. Stevenson, Walton, John F. Kennedy, and Herbert H. Lehman campus – and after just one year, there was a 14 percent decline (down from 133 in SY 2014-15 to 115 during SY 2015-16) in the number of summonses issued for small amounts of marijuana and disorderly conduct at these campuses.

·      This spring, the program is expanding to reach an additional 34 schools across 11 campuses: Richmond Hill High School, James Madison High School, South Shore Campus, Martin Luther King Jr Campus, Thomas Jefferson Campus, Washington Irving Campus, High School for Environmental Studies, Port Richmond High School, New Dorp Campus, Benjamin Cardozo High School, John Bowne High school.

·      This program provides an alternative to court involvement, while still holding students accountable for their actions through school-based interventions, including disciplinary measures and guidance interventions, and provides training and ongoing support for NYPD and DOE staff to ensure a successful implementation.

Citywide expansion of School Justice Project:

·      The program provides free legal assistance to students in clearing summonses, and provides “Know Your Rights” trainings to schools located in areas with historically high rates of summonses and arrests.

·      The number of summonses issued for quality of life offenses has declined and the City has streamlined the process to make responding easier -- nearly four in ten summonses issued have historically resulted in a warrant for failure to appear in court, which can impact the likelihood of future detention.  

·      As part of the City’s commitment to reducing unnecessary arrests, the program focuses on clearing summonses as an intervention to not only reduce arrests of school-aged youth, but also provide an opportunity for students to increase their understanding of the legal system and to address contact with the justice system immediately so it does not create collateral consequences in a young person’s life. 

·      In partnership with the non-profit legal organization Youth Represent, the program launched in Evander Childs Campus in November 2016 and will be available to students Citywide this year.

The NYPD also released the fourth quarter data pursuant to the Student Safety Act, marking the first full year of quarterly reporting by the NYPD and providing New Yorkers with data on school-based NYPD response, including arrests and summonses. This data increases transparency and accountability, and informs the public on areas for further attention to continuously improve safety within schools.

Overview of fourth quarter data from NYPD report:

·      373 arrests for school based incidents, a decrease from arrest levels in Q1 (436) and Q2 (430)

·      254 summonses issued in the schools, a decrease from Q1 (339) and Q2 (259)

·      Injuries to School Security Division Officers (down to 17) and complaints made against School Safety Agents (down to 30) both decreased compared to previous quarters

·      Restraints were used in the schools 554 times, down from 673 in Q1 and 617 in Q2
(Please note this data represents arrests, summonses and restraints for all individuals in school buildings, including non-students.)

Criminal incidents recorded by the school safety division for the first half of the 2015-16 school year are down 7 percent compared to the previous year. This reduction continues the downward trend in total index crime in schools, which has decreased by 35 percent over the last five years.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with MOCJ and the DOE to provide critical legal services and Know Your Rights Trainings to students citywide,” said Executive Director of Youth Represent Laurie Parise.

“Keeping our schools safe is a top priority for the New York City Police Department,” said Assistant Chief Brian Conroy, Commanding Officer of the School Safety Division. “We are encouraged that crimes in schools continue to decline to record lows, while enforcement activity has also decreased significantly over the past 5 years. Police Officers and School Safety Agents work closely with school officials to ensure a safe learning environment. The Warning Card Program is an example of the efforts by both the New York City Police Department and Department of Education to utilize alternatives to enforcement activity to address low level offenses committed in schools.”

Celebrate Greek Heritage with Borough President Diaz

Celebrate Greek Heritage with BP Diaz!
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
NYS Senator Michael Gianaris
NYS Assemblymember Aravella Simotas
NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides &
The Hellenic Orthodox Community of The Bronx 
Cordially invite you to the

2017 Greek Heritage Celebration

      Honoring Greek-American Community Leaders  

Thursday, March 9, 2017
6:30 to 8:30 PM
St. Peter The Apostle Greek Orthodox Church
3245 Kingsbridge Avenue, The Bronx
The event is free, but seating is limited.
Light food and entertainment.
RSVP  718-590-3989 or

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Brooklyn Medical Supply Company Owner For Allegedly Defrauding Medicaid

Kester Atumonyogo, The Owner Of Monack Medical Supply, Inc., Allegedly Used A Fraudulent Social Security Number To Enroll Company In Medicaid
Defendant Also Allegedly Used Fraudulent Identifying Information to Commit Welfare Fraud
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Kester Atumonyogo, 43, of Valley Stream, N.Y., and his company Monack Medical Supply, Inc. (“Monack”) for allegedly stealing over $1.5 million from Medicaid and Healthfirst, a Medicaid managed care organization. The defendants are accused of using a false Social Security number to enroll Monack as a participating medical supply provider in Medicaid.  Thereafter, the company allegedly filed false claims that misrepresented to Medicaid and Healthfirst that Monack dispensed a highly specialized, expensive enteral, nutritional formula to needy pediatric patients.
"It's shameful to steal from Medicaid by exploiting children who rely on the program for their basic health needs,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.  “My office will protect the integrity of the Medicaid program -- and continue to crack down on those who try to line their own pockets on the backs of taxpayers and those in need.”
Enteral nutritional formulas are prescribed by physicians for patients who must obtain nutrients via a feeding tube and cannot metabolize dietary nutrients from substantive food.  The Medicaid reimbursement rate for specialized enteral, nutritional formula is substantially higher than off-the-shelf or over-the-counter nutritional supplements.  The Attorney General’s investigation conducted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) revealed that Medicaid and Healthfirst, relying on Monack’s false claims, paid Monack for specialized enteral, nutritional formula, but that Monack only dispensed “Pediasure” or similar over-the-counter nutritional supplements to Medicaid patients, when it dispensed anything at all.
The investigation also uncovered that Atumonyogo allegedly used two different dates of birth and claimed to have been born in two different countries. Using that false identifying information, Atumonyogo is alleged to have obtained multiple driver’s licenses and two different Social Security numbers that he has used interchangeably since the 1990’s.  Defendant is charged with using the second Social Security number he obtained in the United States to enroll Monack in the Medicaid program. 
It is also alleged that Atumonyogo used a different Social Security number in 2006 to obtain welfare and that in October 2012 and September 2013, Atumonyogo filed false income verifications with the New York City Human Resources Administration, claiming that he only made $200 a week or less.  From January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013, Defendant personally received at least $366,906.00 from Monack
In papers filed in New York City Criminal Court, Kings County, Defendant Atumonyogo and Monack were charged with Health Care Fraud in the First Degree, a class B felony, and three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony.  Defendant Atumonyogo was also charged with Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony.  If convicted on all charges, Atumonyogo faces up to twenty-five years in state prison.
Defendant was arraigned yesterday in New York City Criminal Court, Kings County before the Honorable Jane Tully and bail was set at $50,000 bond over $25,000 cash. Defendant also surrendered his passport. The case was adjourned to March 10, 2017.
The Attorney General would like to thank the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, the United States Social Security Administration, the United States Department of Health and Human Services -Office of the Inspector General, and the New York City Human Resources Administration for their valuable assistance in the investigation.  The Attorney General, in particular, would like to acknowledge the cooperation and assistance provided by Healthfirst throughout the investigation.
The charges filed in this case are merely accusations.  The defendant whose case is still pending is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Conviction Of Former Village Justice Who Traded Lenient Treatment In Exchange For Sexual Favors

Delmar House Admitted To Reducing Fine For Defendant In Exchange For Sexual Favors While Serving As Justice For Village Of West Carthage
Schneiderman: We Will Continue Prosecuting Public Corruption; No One Is Above The Law
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty pleas of Delmar House, the former Village Justice for the Village of West Carthage Court in Jefferson County, for abusing his position as a Judge by reducing a fine for a defendant who appeared before him in exchange for sexual favors, and by paying a portion of that defendant’s fines in exchange for additional sexual favors. House today entered guilty pleas before The Honorable Kim H. Martusewicz in Jefferson County Court, to the charges of Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree in violation of Penal Law § 200.10, a class “D” felony and Receiving a Reward for Official Misconduct in the Second Degree in violation of Penal Law § 200.25, a class “E” felony.
“This was an abhorrent abuse of office,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will keep working to root out and prosecute public corruption in all of its forms. Any conduct that compromises the integrity of public office will not be tolerated.”
House was the Village Justice for the Village of West Carthage Court from January 1, 2008 through March 2016, when he resigned. According to filed documents and statements made in court today, in or about April 2015, House, 49, of Carthage, agreed to and did reduce the fine for a defendant appearing before him in the Village of West Carthage Court for Vehicle and Traffic Law offenses, in exchange for sexual favors from that defendant.  In addition, according to documents filed in court and statements made in court today, House paid a portion of that defendant’s fines in exchange for more sexual favors. 
House is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2, 2017. According to statements made in court today, in exchange for his guilty pleas to the entire indictment, Judge Martusewicz is expected to sentence House to up to six months’ incarceration and five years of probation. Judge Martusewicz is also expected to order the defendant to pay a $5,000 fine at the time of sentencing.
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, New York State Police Investigator Joseph Maurer, and the New York State Police for their work on this matter.

Engel Condemns Shooting Death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla

   Congressman Eliot L. Engel issued the following statement on the shooting earlier this week in Kansas that resulted in the death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian immigrant:

“I am deeply saddened and troubled by the shooting of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, Alok Madasani, and Ian Grillot in Olathe, Kansas earlier this week. The assailant targeted two of the victims because they were immigrants, and this act of hate resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Kuchibhotla.  I want to convey my condolences to the Kuchibhotla family. 

“These acts of violence are deeply disturbing, and they are an obvious assault on America’s diversity and foundational values.  I fear this shooting was a direct result of the climate of fear and xenophobia that has grown over the past few months.

“Sadly, our new administration has not spoken out against the rising tide of bigotry against Muslims, or against immigrants, and the manner in which the Administration rolled out it’s unconstitutional Muslim Ban has only furthered this trend.

“Such violence cannot be excused or swept under the rug.  Whether it’s anti-Semitic, anti-Immigrant, or anti-Muslim violence—or threats made against JCC’s or any other organization—we must, all of us, condemn such forms of hate.  I will continue to condemn these hateful acts in the strongest possible terms and use my platform to reassure all that immigrants are welcome here.”

Wave Hill Events Mar 10–Mar 17

  The energy of springtime is infectious, percolating through all that is planned for this weekend, from birding and a family walk through the burgeoning gardens to an intimate terrarium workshop with Wave Hill Gardener Alberto Cabrera and the chance to work with Winter Workspace artist Cecile Chong on creating a personal narrative to embed in beeswax and resin. Oh, and stop in The Shop for a deal on seed-packs—time to plant!

And this is the week when our closing time moves from 4:30PM to 5:30PM, as springtime—and longer days—approaches. On the blog, Horticultural Interpreter Charlie Day profiles Adonis amurensis, one of the very first perennials to bloom at the start of the growing season.

P.S. Don’t miss the last of our three annual horticultural lectures, this one with garden-book writer Jack Staub, on Wednesday evening at the New York School of Interior Design, itself a treasure!

Inspired by Wave Hill’s illustrious former resident Bashford Dean and his passion for armor, we’ll make our own protective gear that shimmers. Using up-cycled materials and colored aluminum foil, emboss and bedazzle a pair of shiny cuffs, a modern helmet or a fancy shield. Free, and admission to the grounds is free untilnoon. 

This weekend, buy one seed pack in The Shop and save 50% on a second.


Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Don’t have a garden or greenhouse? Tiny ferns and other tropical plants thrive in the humid conditions of an enclosed glass jar as if in their own miniature greenhouse. Design and plant your own fanciful landscape with a selection of diminutive plants, perfect for home or office. Wave Hill Gardener Albert Cabreraprovides plants, materials and technical assistance. Ages eight and older welcome with an adult. $50/$35 Wave Hill Member per project. Registration required, online at or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center.

Welcome migratory birds back to Wave Hill this spring! Explore the gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel Willow on a quest to spot some of our favorite feathered friends as they return to the Hudson Highlands. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. Severe weather cancels. NYC Audubon Members enjoy two-for-one admission. Free with admission to the grounds. 

Inspired by Wave Hill’s illustrious former resident Bashford Dean and his passion for armor, we’ll make our own protective gear that shimmers. Using up-cycled materials and colored aluminum foil, emboss and bedazzle a pair of shiny cuffs, a modern helmet or a fancy shield. Free with admission to the grounds. 

This weekend, buy one seed pack in The Shop and save 50% on a second.


Join naturalist and educator Gabriel Willow on a family-friendly walk through the gardens or woodlands. No registration required. Ages six and older welcome with an adult. Severe weather cancels. 

Artists in the Winter Workspace program share their studio practice with visitors on this Drop-in Sunday. In the Winter Workspace today are Cecile Chong andMichael Kelly Williams. Stop by Glyndor Gallery to speak to the artists and get a closer look at the creative process. Free with admission to the grounds. 

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.

MON, MARCH 13    
Closed to the public.

This is the story of two city boys who chanced upon a 100-acre, run-down, 18th-century farmstead in rural Bucks County, PA, and began to garden there. Thirty-seven years later, Hortulus Farm, part of an original William Penn land grant of 1693 and now a not-for-profit, will remain a public garden in perpetuity. It welcomes upwards of 3,000 visitors annually, and in 2015 became the second garden to be named an affiliate of The Garden Conservancy. It is also the subject of this lecture by Jack Staub, and has inspired him to write seven garden-book titles. Wave Hill’s annual horticultural lecture series is held at the New York School of Interior Design. Three-lecture series: $60/$50 Wave Hill Member or student. Individual tickets: $25/$20 Wave Hill Member or student. Seating is limited, and advanced reservations are recommended, online at beginning November 16. 

Work with Winter Workspace artist Elisabeth Condon to immerse yourself in the art of brushwork and experience the magic of practicing idioms in ink on rice paper. With each stroke, strengthen your painting, drawing and observation skills. $55/$45 Wave Hill Member. Registration required, online at or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center.

A 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River  and Palisades, Wave Hill’s mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscape, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.

HOURS  Open all year, Tuesday through Sunday and many major holidays: 9AM–5:30PM, starting March 15.  Closes 4:30PM, November 1–March 14.
ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6–18. Free Saturday and Tuesday mornings until noon. Free to Wave Hill Members and children under 6.

PROGRAM FEES  Programs are free with admission to the grounds unless otherwise noted.

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one-day getaway offer. Purchase a discount round-trip rail far and discount admission to the gardens. More at

DIRECTIONS – Getting here is easy! Located only 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan, Wave Hill’s free shuttle van transports you to and from our front gate and Metro-North’s Riverdale station, as well as the W. 242nd Street stop on the #1 subway line. Limited onsite parking is available for $8 per vehicle. Free offsite parking is available nearby with continuous, complimentary shuttle service to and from the offsite lot and our front gate. Complete directions and shuttle bus schedule at

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at