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In Case You Missed It – NY News

April 24, 2010

 

1ST, THE BEST NEWS OF THE DAY

Dede Scozzafava decides not to seek seventh term in New York Assembly

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By Delen Goldberg / The Post-Standard

April 21, 2010, 7:53PM
Republican came under fire for supporting Democrat in 23rd Congressional District race. Full story »
 
 

NOW FOR THE OTHER

Hoyer, Pelosi aides questioned in former NY Rep. Eric Massa ethics case

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By The Associated Press

April 21, 2010, 8:45PM
WASHINGTON — Congressional investigators have questioned House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and aides to Speaker Nancy Pelosi as part of a probe into whether top Democrats covered up information that ex-Rep. Eric Massa sexually harassed male employees. The FBI has also been drawn into the Massa case, apparently by reports last weekend about a $40,000 check from the former… Full story »
 

NY Minute: How to spend $20,000 on sushi (like Pedro Espada Jr. did)

Dean Skelos, Pedro Espada, Thomas Libous

By Delen Goldberg / The Post-Standard

April 21, 2010, 10:41AM
Also: Gov. David Paterson says the state’s review of hydrofracking will not be compromised for the sake of expediency; Former Rep. Eric Massa is being investigated for possibly using campaign funds to pay for a car lease Full story »
 

FBI, IRS raid clinic run by NY state Senate majority leader Pedro Espada Jr.

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By The Associated Press

April 21, 2010, 9:38AM
Attorney general has accused Espada of siphoning $14 million from government-funded clinic. Full story »
“Espada has denied any connection to the Bronx consulting firm that reportedly received contracts from a Buffalo firm with ties to Espada counsel Steve Pigeon.”
we’ll see…
 

Cuomo subpoenas New York Senate staff in Sen. Espada case

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By The Associated Press

April 22, 2010, 6:16PM
ALBANY, N.Y. — Embattled state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. called Attorney General Andrew Cuomo a “bully” for subpoenaing records of his Senate staff on Thursday, a day after federal agents raided Espada’s Bronx health clinic. Cuomo filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday claiming Espada siphoned millions of dollars from the Soundview Healthcare Network, a target of a federal criminal investigation… Full story »

State senators call on embattled Senate majority leader Pedro Espada Jr. to step down

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By Delen Goldberg / The Post-Standard

April 22, 2010, 6:12PM
Democrats Dave Valesky and Darrel Aubertine want Espada to give up his leadership position. Full story »

Senate majority leader accuses Andrew Cuomo of encouraging political coup, then using lawsuit as payback

By The Associated Press

April 20, 2010, 6:32PM
ALBANY, N.Y. — Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. accused Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of using a civil lawsuit against him as political payback for the Bronx politician’s role in a Senate coup last summer. Espada accused Cuomo of encouraging the partisan political coup, which froze New York state government last summer for more than a month. His accusations came… Full story »

Probe: New York State Theatre director repeatedly employed family

By The Associated Press

April 20, 2010, 6:44PM
ALBANY, N.Y. — The longtime producing director of the New York State Theatre Institute violated state laws against nepotism by repeatedly hiring family at a cost of nearly $700,000, according to the state inspector general. With her full control over hiring and little board oversight, Patricia Snyder selected herself and close relatives for more than 300 jobs with more than… Full story »
 

Update: Owasco highway supervisor indicted; faces up to seven years imprisonment

By Scott Rapp / The Post-Standard

April 20, 2010, 5:20PM
Owasco NY — Owasco Highway Supervisor Michael L. Wilson faces up to seven years imprisonment on new felony indictment charges filed against him, a Cayuga County prosecutor said today. A grand jury handed up a nine-count indictment last week charging Wilson, 48, of 7063 Owasco Road, with filing false time sheets on behalf of his son, who was a seasonal… Full story »
 

but who’s investigating Cuomo?

Cuomo’s State Pension Inquiry Extends to the Current Comptroller’s Office

By DANNY HAKIM
Published: April 15, 2010
The sprawling investigation into the state pension fund has reached the office of the current state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, the attorney general’s office acknowledged on Thursday.


The state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, defended his office. “I inherited a mess,” he said, “but it is a mess that I have fixed.”

The acknowledgment came after the office of the attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, announced a settlement with Global Strategy Group, a political consulting firm. The firm helped arrange investments by the state’s nearly $130 billion pension fund, including one that came after Global Strategy took part in a meeting between Mr. DiNapoli and a prominent investment executive.

It was the first time Mr. DiNapoli’s actions were drawn into the three-year-old investigation of pension fund corruption, though no evidence has surfaced to suggest he benefited improperly from pension business. Still, the widening of the investigation comes during what could be a tough election campaign for Mr. DiNapoli, who is likely to face a well-financed Republican challenger, Harry Wilson.

The investigation has focused on allegations that friends and aides of the former comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi, reaped millions of dollars from investment firms seeking state business. Mr. Hevesi resigned in late 2006 after pleading guilty to a felony related to his use of state workers to chauffeur his wife.

Global Strategy, which never obtained the appropriate securities licenses, agreed to pay $2 million under the agreement Mr. Cuomo announced Thursday, which also included a settlement with the Quadrangle Group, a prominent private equity firm.

Global is a well-known Democratic consulting firm that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer heavily relied upon and that worked for Mr. Cuomo in his 2006 campaign for attorney general.

Global helped arrange deals between the city and state pension funds and Intermedia Partners, a prominent media investment fund, beginning in 2005, while Mr. Hevesi was comptroller. Global worked in partnership with Mirram Group, a lobbying and consulting firm whose role remains under scrutiny.

The state pension fund increased its investment in Intermedia in early 2007, shortly after Mr. DiNapoli, a former assemblyman, was chosen by the Legislature to replace Mr. Hevesi. The increase came after a meeting between Mr. DiNapoli and Intermedia’s chief executive, Leo Hindery Jr., that was arranged by Global and Roberto Ramirez, an executive at Mirram Group and a prominent former assemblyman.

Mr. DiNapoli defended his performance as comptroller and said that he had not been interviewed as part of Mr. Cuomo’s investigation.

“I have managed the office of the state comptroller and the New York State Common Retirement Fund with transparency and integrity from the start of my tenure,” he said. “Any suggestion or innuendo to the contrary is baseless.”

“As the attorney general’s investigation has revealed, I inherited a mess,” Mr. DiNapoli added. “But it is a mess that I have fixed.”

During a teleconference, Linda Lacewell, the lead lawyer on the case in the attorney general’s office, was asked if the inquiry extended to Mr. DiNapoli’s tenure.

“In the investigation, we investigate facts, not people,” she said. “We are pursuing the facts of the case. Those facts that we’re reviewing and trying to understand include the facts and circumstances of what is set forth in that agreement, including the events of that meeting.”

A reporter pressed her on the point, saying, “You are pursuing facts that were set forth in that meeting, which would mean you are looking into improprieties in the current comptroller’s office?”

“As a matter of logic,” she replied.

Mr. Cuomo, asked to comment, said, “I think it’s fair to say what Ms. Lacewell said.”

Mr. Wilson, the only declared Republican candidate for comptroller, issued a statement saying, “This is exactly why I believe that the office of the state comptroller should be run by a professional, and not by career politicians who care more about political favors than the taxpayers.”

Mr. Wilson is a former hedge fund manager who was a key member of President Obama’s automotive task force.

The Global Strategy Group said in a statement, “There is no finding that we violated any law, and we are pleased to resolve this matter.”

Court filings released on Thursday by Mr. Cuomo’s office raised new questions about Mr. Ramirez’s role in arranging pension investments. Last year, a spokesman for Mr. Ramirez told The New York Times that Mr. Ramirez’s company, Mirram Group, was never paid for arranging an investment between Intermedia and the pension fund.

“Intermedia Partners has never been a client of the Mirram Group,” the spokesman, Jesse Derris, said in a statement last year. “Mr. Ramirez has known Mr. Hindery for years, and he served with Comptroller DiNapoli in the Assembly for a decade. He was happy to introduce them.”

But Mr. Cuomo’s office revealed that Mirram Global, a joint venture between the Mirram Group and Global Strategy, had been paid $883,333 in 2006 by a company controlled by Mr. Hindery as compensation for arranging deals between Intermedia and the state and city pension funds. The Mirram Group received half of the fee, according to the investigation.

A spokesman for Mr. Ramirez had no comment.

New York officials arrested, convicted and investigated for acting like New Jersey politicians

Michael Daly

Sunday, April 4th 2010, 4:00 AM

New York officials who have been arrested, convicted or investigated for corruption.
New York officials who have been arrested, convicted or investigated for corruption.

In times past, we could gaze across the Hudson River and give thanks that it separated us from the cesspool of corruption known as the State of New Jersey.

Lately, the bridges and tunnels span two realms that no longer seem so different.

Every day seems to bring word of some new investigation into yet another New York official.

Bernard Kerik came from New Jersey, but we made him the NYPD commissioner and even named a jail after him before he pleaded guilty to eight felonies.

New Yorkers convicted of corruption include former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, former state Controller Alan Hevesi, former Liberal Party head Ray Harding, former Brooklyn Democratic boss Clarence Norman, four former state legislators and a former city councilman.

Another city councilman, Larry Seabrook (D-Bronx), has been charged with a crime spree involving more than $500,000. “Cash and Carry Larry” at one point allegedly doctored a receipt so he would be reimbursed $177 for a $7 bagel and soda.

“Bagels can be expensive,” his lawyer actually said.

Among those under investigation are Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), along with former Rep. Floyd Flake, state Senate President Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. (D-Bronx), Assemblyman Peter Rivera (D-Bronx), Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo (D-Bronx) and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. Hevesi is being eyed in a “pay-to-play” scandal unrelated to the crime for which he has already been convicted.

No longer can we hear of a New Jersey official such as the one in Millville who was arrested for stealing $20,000 in Little League funds and tell ourselves such a thing could happen only across the Hudson.

Our own former assemblyman and labor leader Brian McLaughlin of Queens out Jersey-ed Jersey by stealing $95,000 from the Eastchester Little League. McLaughlin also pocketed more than $2 million in taxpayer funds and he is presently serving a 10-year federal prison term.

He would have gotten 15 years, but he agreed to introduce an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman to then-Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Queens).

The result was that Seminerio got an 11- to 14-year term for shaking down various businesses and nonprofit groups for over $1 million in “consulting fees.” His victims included Jamaica Hospital.
“You tell me what you want and I’ll take care of you,” Seminerio was recorded as saying.

In further proof that we can sink as low or even lower than Jersey, former City Councilman Miguel Martinez (D-Manhattan) was convicted of pocketing money intended for a children’s arts fund.

Smith is being investigated for profiting off nonprofits, including two charter schools.

At the Peninsula Preparatory Academy, the kids were moved from a well-equipped school building into trailers on land owned by a Smith contributor.

“There was no reason to move to those cages,” a city school official said.

The other charter school, Merrick Academy, is housed in a one-time bowling alley that has neither a gym nor a playground. The heat is spotty and the roof leaks. This while having had both Smith and Meeks on its board.

An architect who did “preliminary drawings” for Merrick Academy also did work on a Smith property, as well as a home appraised at $1.23 million that Meeks acquired for $830,000.

The architect, Robert Gaskin, also did 12 retail spaces in Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport. That may explain why Gov. Paterson attended the opening of the new Palm Bar & Grille there in the midst of an ongoing scandal involving perjury and witness tampering investigations.

Paterson, Smith and Flake figure in an investigation into the Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which secured the racino contract for the Queens race track until state lottery officials termed the group “unlicensable.”

Smith, with Meeks, is also being investigated in connection with a nonprofit that pledged “every dime” it collected for victims of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. It turned out to be only $1,391 of $31,000, or 297,890 dimes short of every.

“I, like you, want a full accounting of those funds,” Meeks said, shocked, just shocked.

What we want is such a full accounting that all the bums go to jail.

The Jersey-fication of New York needs to end.

Now.

mdaly@nydailynews.com

State Senate President Malcolm Smith pushing for $500,000 deal with ex-drug pushers

BY Glenn Blain
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU

Tuesday, April 20th 2010, 4:00 AM

Malcolm Smith selected the King of Kings Foundation – run by ex-cons Lance and Todd Feurtado – to receive one of a handful of grants under his $4 million anti-gang program called Operation SNUG.

ALBANY – State Senate President Malcolm Smith is pushing to give $500,000 in taxpayer cash to a barely existent Queens nonprofit run by two convicted drug dealers.

Smith, a Queens Democrat, selected the King of Kings Foundation – run by ex-cons Lance and Todd Feurtado – to receive one of a handful of grants under his $4 million anti-gang program called Operation SNUG.

The funding is on top of a $25,000 grant Smith sought for the duo in 2008 and the $290,000 in federal funds Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks is steering to them – proposed payouts first revealed by the Daily News in February.

All of the grants are pending.

Meeks and Smith are protégés of Queens pastor the Rev. Floyd Flake, who has previously praised the King of Kings’ anti-violence and community work in a video.

Smith’s move to provide the money comes as the state is grappling with a $9.2 billion budget gap and considering drastic cuts to education and health care spending.

“It is astounding,” said state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who said such funding should be directed toward the police and prosecutors.

Smith spokesman Austin Shafran defended the planned payout, saying the two ex-cons can deliver a powerful message to youths.

“Ex-offenders who have been given a second chance and have now made good on that second chance are really the appropriate people to teach others about the horrors of gang and gun violence,” Shafran said.

Shafran stressed that King of Kings has received only preliminary approval for the money and its application must still be vetted by three other state agencies: the Division of Criminal Justice, the state controller and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo‘s office.

The foundation was incorporated in 2006 and has virtually no assets. It operates out of Lance Feurtado’s 161st St., South Jamaica, apartment.

On its application for SNUG funding, the nonprofit claimed an operating budget of $350,000.

Lance Feurtado told The News the budget figure was incorrect – and conceded that the foundation operates with just the two brothers and a handful of volunteers.

“My organization has never had that much money,” Feurtado said. “We do good work. There is nobody who can reach these kids like we are reaching them.”

Feurtado and his brother were busted in 1995 and convicted on federal drug charges.

After their release from prison, they created a for-profit entertainment company and then later formed King of Kings to preach against street violence in Queens.

Feurtado said they host lectures and workshops at schools, libraries and other community centers.

The group’s SNUG application contains letters of praise from Meeks, a city police inspector and former New York Giant Michael Strahan.

Shafran said 40 groups applied for funding under SNUG and 10 were chosen. The program is modeled after Cease Fire in Chicago, which enlists community groups in anti-gang efforts.

gblain@nydailynews.com

  • Federal grand jury probes real estate and nonprofit deals for Queens pols
  • Jersey-fication of officials makes N.Y. the scandal state
  • Mother and three kids, Brian McLaughlin’s son nabbed in Queens gay bar drug bust

    BY Thomas Zambito
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

    Thursday, April 22nd 2010, 4:00 AM

    Disgrace labor leader Brian McLaughlin‘s son and dozens of others were busted in a takedown of a sprawling network of pill-pushers working out of a Queens gay club.

    The defendants – including a mother and her two sons and 16-year-old daughter, a club owner and a bartender – dealt in prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycodone and street drugs like Ecstasy and pot.

    Robert McLaughlin, 26, faces nine years in prison for allegedly selling pharmaceuticals out of his Sunnyside apartment.

    Brian McLaughlin, 57, is serving 10 years for stealing $3.1 million from Little Leaguers, lawmakers and his own union while a Queens assemblyman.

    His son was snared in a two-year NYPD probe of two loose-knit drug rings that sold mountains of pills prized by partiers – including the animal tranquilizer Ketamine, the stimulant Adderall and heroin substitute Suboxone.

    “Drugs such as Vicodin and Oxycodone are extremely potent and have a high potential for abuse and death,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

    Those nabbed include Kathleen Olsen, 56, of Whitestone, who allowed her son Christopher, 26, to use their home as a base to sell Xanax and other prescription pills.

    Also arrested were Olsen’s younger son, Sean, 23, and a 16-year-old daughter, Elizabeth.

    The family had ties to a second drug-dealing cabal run by Hi Kim, who allegedly sold thousands of pills to undercover cops working on “Operation Bad Medicine.”

    Kim, in turn, was linked to the owner of the Mix Cafe & Lounge, a popular gay bar in Astoria that was being used as a staging ground for drug buys, officials said.

    The owner Javier Leon, 42, is accused of selling a cop $1,400 worth of cocaine and 80 Vicodin pills at his Long Island City apartment last year.

    Bartender Stefan Sweeting, 27, sold undercover officers Ecstasy and pot on four occasions over the past two years, prosecutors say.

    Search warrants at various locations turned up three loaded handguns, a large stash of marijuana, thousands of pills and $20,000 in cash.

    “The combination of drugs and guns is a clear prescription for violence,” said NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

    Robert McLaughlin is expected to appear in Queens Supreme Court for an arraignment Thursday.

    tzambito@nydailynews.com

    With Michael J. Feeney

    Queens fourth-grade teacher charged with sexually abusing five female students

    BY Thomas Zambito, Lisa L. Colangelo and Larry Mcshane
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

    Originally Published:Wednesday, April 21st 2010, 3:09 PM
    Updated: Thursday, April 22nd 2010, 3:02 AM

    A twisted fourth-grade teacher brazenly molested five little girls at his desk while fellow students sat feet away inside his Queens classroom, sources said.

    “Don’t tell anybody,” accused serial pervert Simon Watts reportedly told one of his victims after pinching her rear end and groping her thigh inside Public School 15.

    The hulking Watts, 38, forced three other girls to grab his genitals in the classroom, a criminal complaint says. It adds that he fondled a fifth victim and unzipped his pants as she stood there.

    The repeated assaults came with creepy chatter, with Watts telling one scared child, “I love you,” and another, “I can see your butt,” authorities said.

    The abuse began after he arrived at the Springfield Gardens school in 2007 and continued until March 9, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

    Two of the girls, all ages 8 to 10, were abused repeatedly as Watts was moved with them from the third grade to the fourth grade last September, a law enforcement source said.

    Police busted him after the most recent victim told her mother Watts steered her hand to his crotch at a classroom desk, the source said.

    Watts, 5-feet-10 and 230 pounds, was being held on $200,000 bail. He faces up to seven years if convicted.

    “Children should be allowed to be children,” Brown said. “Such alleged conduct cannot go unpunished.”

    Watts’ wife, answering the door at their St. Albans home, declined comment on the stunning charges of sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

    “I don’t want to speak about it,” she said. “It’s upsetting.”

    A lawyer for Watts, who began working as a city substitute in 2000, did not return a call.

    Parents at the elementary school were outraged that school officials kept them in the dark until after Watts’ arraignment.

    Students came home Wednesday with a written notice about the arrest.

    “I should have known about this before,” said Winston Walcott while picking up his 10-year-old daughter Toniza. “These are babies we’re talking about.”

    Watts was the second Queens teacher arrested this week.

    Christine Williams, 41, a special education teacher at Public School 80, was busted for bedding a 15-year-old boy – who gave authorities video of the romps at the Rochdale Village home she shared with her two kids, a source said.

    lmcshane@nydailynews.com

    With Kate Nocera and Kerry Burke

    UPDATE: Gov. Paterson said Monday he was grilled by the state Inspector General’s office probing the selection of politically-connected AEG as the winning bidder to run slots at Aqueduct race track. …
      
    NY DAILY NEWS: Gov. Paterson in town to see criminal defense lawyer Theodore Wells. As the state went another day without a new budget yesterday, Gov. Paterson was hard at work – meeting with his criminal defense lawyer. The Daily News spotted Paterson outside the midtown office of lawyer Theodore Wells, where the governor spent at least three hours.
     
     

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