Tag Archives: fraud

Jamaica woman pleads guilty to defrauding undocumented couple out of $25K: DA

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 49-year-old Jamaica woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to grand larceny after she falsely promised an undocumented couple state driver’s licenses and permanent residence cards, taking $25,000 in the process, prosecutors said.

Bibi Nandalall, identifying herself as “Theresa,” first met with the couple in October 2012, and lied to them about working for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, according to the district attorney’s office.

Nandalall told the couple she could provide them legitimate New York State driver’s licenses if they filled out paperwork and paid her cash. The next month, she told them they were eligible for U.S. residency and needed to pay her additional money for fingerprints to complete the paperwork.

After paying Nandalall a total of $25,000 in cash, they received two forged notices of U.S. citizenship and immigration services applications and two U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services biometric appointments, where they would be fingerprinted, photographed and provide an electronic signature, prosecutors said.

But when they showed up to the appointments, they were not scheduled and there was no record of any applications in their names.

As part of Nandalall’s third-degree grand larceny plea on Tuesday, the judge is expected to order her to make $25,000 restitution to the couple at her sentencing on June 29. She should also receive four months in jail and five months’ probation.

“The victims in this case strove to become part of the American Dream. They worked hard and saved their money and gave it to this defendant in the hopes of gaining legal status in this country,” said District Attorney Richard Brown. “Instead, they were defrauded by the defendant. The sentence to be meted out by the court is appropriate in that it will make the victims financially whole and punish the defendant for taking advantage of these vulnerable victims.”



Speeding accidents prompt increased enforcement: 107th Precinct

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

Two recent serious car accidents have prompted the 107th Precinct to crack down on speeding, according to the precinct’s commanding officer.

“It gets rough when you see bodies that were trapped inside the vehicle after it’s been burned,” Capt. Paul Valerga said at Tuesday’s 107th Precinct Community Council meeting in Fresh Meadows. “And this is all because of speed, because of people driving way too fast on the roads.”

A fatal April 3 accident was caused when the driver lost control of the vehicle, hit construction scaffolding and then a tree, and the car subsequently exploded. There were two fatalities.

The other recent speeding accident is still under investigation, with one victim alive but still in the hospital.

The 107th Precinct is also battling a spike in fraud cases. According to Captain Valerga, fraud reports have been rising in the area for the last two weeks. Common scams included bank PIN codes stolen through rigged ATM machines, and phone calls from phony charity organizations asking for donations and credit card information.

“Be careful who you give your money to,” warned Captain Valerga. “ You work too hard for it to give it to a crook and a criminal.”

Sergeant Michael Salice was named "Cop of the Month" in the 107th Precinct meeting which also saw the community warned about increased enforcement for speeding violations. Salice was instrumental in diffusing a recent home invasion. (THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel)

Sgt. Michael Salice was named “Cop of the Month” at the 107th Precinct meeting, which also saw the community warned about increased enforcement for speeding violations. Salice was instrumental in diffusing a recent home invasion. (THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel)


Jackson Heights travel agency owner faces 15 years for customer fraud

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Updated Wednesday, April 22, 9:57 a.m. 

A Jackson Heights travel agency owner is accused of stealing relaxing getaways and loads of cash from customers, some of whom she left stranded at the airport with canceled tickets, prosecutors said.

Adriana Olivar-Munoz, 46, a Woodside resident, and owner and operator of Expertravel Travel Agency on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights was arraigned Tuesday on a 20-count indictment charging her with grand larceny, identity theft, falsifying business records, scheme to defraud and petit larceny, according to the district attorney’s office.

Olivar-Munoz allegedly defrauded at least 10 victims — including two wholesale travel agencies, Costmar Travel Agency and Skylink — out of more than $80,000 between Dec. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2014.

Reportedly, she used her customers’ credit cards without their permission to purchase tickets for other customers or to buy them tickets, but cancelled them later, District Attorney Richard Brown said. Olivar-Munoz would allegedly give them an itinerary confirmation, but the customers would only later learn — sometimes as they traveled home — that their tickets had been canceled due to non-payment.

According to the district attorney, one of her fraud victims — a family who was trying to fly from LaGuardia to Miami on New Year’s Eve 2014 — did not have the money to purchase more tickets when they found out the ones in their confirmation had never been bought.

Olivar-Munoz was arrested in September 2014 after two customers, for whom she had arranged the purchase of airline tickets to Colombia a few months earlier, noticed unauthorized charges on their credit card billing statements for airline tickets totaling about $1,300.

Following the September 2014 arrest, the district attorney’s office received more complaints from customers about the agency’s fraud.

“The defendant is accused of turning people’s dream vacations into living nightmares. In some cases, victims allegedly flew to their destinations only to find that the defendant never purchased a return flight for them. The defendant’s alleged crimes are particularly egregious in that many of the victims were Spanish-speaking individuals who trusted the defendant because she was from Colombia and spoke Spanish,” Brown said.

Olivar-Munoz, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, was held on $5,000 bail. She is due back in court on Thursday.

Anyone may have been a victim or knows someone who may have been a victim of the travel agency’s fraud is asked to contact the Queens District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau at 718-286-6673.


Queens doctors charged in multimillion-dollar Brooklyn Medicaid fraud ring

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com


Several Queens medical practitioners were among 23 people indicted in Brooklyn for allegedly scamming the Medicaid system out of nearly $7 million and offering free sneakers to low-income and homeless people in exchange for undergoing unnecessary medical tests and treatments, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced Tuesday.

The 199-count indictment alleges the defendants carried out a scheme in which Medicaid recipients from low-income neighborhoods, homeless shelters and welfare offices were recruited to undergo unnecessary medical tests, and the patients received free footwear such as sneakers, shoes and boots.

Participating patients were taken to a clinic and examined by a podiatrist. The physicians then supplied the patients, even though they did not have foot problems, with footwear and medical equipment such ankle braces, knee braces or orthotic insoles.

According to the indictment, the defendants then allegedly submitted more than $6.9 million in fraudulent claims to Medicaid, Medicaid-managed health care organizations and Medicare for the medical devices.

“These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so,” Thompson said. “The many poor people who were allegedly targeted at homeless shelters, welfare offices and soup kitchens and referred to as ‘guinea pigs’ by the defendants were exploited for hours, if not days, just because they needed a pair of shoes. That so many doctors allegedly participated in this elaborate scheme to defraud a health care system designed to help the poor is truly disgraceful.”

Thompson identified Eric Vainer, 43, of Riverside Boulevard, as the alleged mastermind and leader of the scheme, and his mother, Polina Vainer, 66, of Keating Place, in Staten Island, as his second in command.

The Queens defendants are Susan Nutakor-Doh, 48, of Forest Hills; Taesoo Kim, 28, of Long Island City; Dr. Bennu Ogorek, DPM, 64, of Forest Hills; Dr. Avia Jackson, DPM, 43, of Jamaica; and Isaacs, DPM, 63, of Flushing.

Some of the defendants were arraigned on March 31 before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on various charges including enterprise corruption, first-degree money laundering, first-degree scheme to defraud, first-degree health care fraud, first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, among several other charges.

The defendants were ordered to return to court on May 19; each faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the enterprise corruption count.

More charges may be forthcoming, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York reportedly obtained warrants to seize 13 bank accounts into which payments from the defrauded, federally funded programs could be traced.


Rep. Jeffries wants investigation into FEMA flood insurance scandal

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is calling upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) inspector general to investigate potential fraud in the insurance claims process for people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.

“Superstorm Sandy devastated many communities throughout New York City,” said Jeffries, whose district includes Howard Beach and other areas hit by Sandy. “Homes were destroyed, businesses damaged and lives turned upside down.”

“In the wake of this tragedy, FEMA failed to oversee a fair and expeditious processing of flood insurance claims,” he continued. “The public deserves to know what happened, why it happened and how we can prevent it from ever happening again.”

In New York, over 300,000 housing units were damaged and more than 260,000 businesses were affected in the 2012 storm. Jeffries charges that claims made by home and business owners were tampered with.

In a letter to FEMA, Jeffries penned, “It has become increasingly apparent that a systemic fraud was perpetrated on a vulnerable group of tax-paying Americans in need of immediate financial relief.”

“In multiple instances, engineering reports regarding storm damage were apparently altered without the knowledge of the author,” the letter continued. “Equally troublesome, in other cases engineers appear to have been pressured to inappropriately reach specific conclusions that would lower insurance company payments.”

The letter goes on to say, “Given the urgency of this situation, an independent and comprehensive review of the disposition of Superstorm Sandy-related flood insurance claims is critical. In light of the serious nature of the allegations, FEMA cannot serve as judge and jury of its own potential wrongdoing.”

Joining Jeffries in signing the letter are U.S. Representatives Charlie Rangel, Steve Israel, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Yvette Clarke, Jose Serrano and Carolyn Maloney.


Woman scammed Queens residents out of thousands of dollars: AG

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


A woman has been arrested and indicted after running a long-time scheme to steal from Queens residents, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday.

Sonia Vertucci, 42, of New Rochelle has been charged with scheme to defraud, grand larceny and petit larceny after failing to deliver on promises she gave predominantly to immigrant clients, according to officials.

The attorney’s general’s investigation revealed that Vertucci, who recently moved from Queens, collected $38,000 in upfront cash payments for services she did not deliver on between 2012 and 2013.  Some of Vertucci’s services included providing Social Security cards and obtaining legal residency status for immigrants, and clearing tickets and license suspensions for truck drivers to help them return to work.

“Scam artists who prey on immigrants, or other hardworking New Yorkers, with false promises will not be tolerated in our state,” Schneiderman said. “No matter how elaborate their schemes, those who defraud New Yorkers will face justice.”

If convicted, Vertucci faces up to seven years or more in prison.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of Vertucci should call the attorney general’s immigration fraud hotline at 1-866-390-2992.




Hiram Monserrate sentenced to two years in prison

| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former Councilmember and state Senator Hiram Monserrate was sentenced to 24 months behind bars on Tuesday for fraudulently using City Council money to fund a run for state office.

Monserrate, who pleaded guilty to the charges in May, was convicted of fraud after misappropriating more than $100,000 in City Council discretionary funding to finance his failed 2006 run for state Senate.

“Hiram Monserrate helped to underwrite his political ambitions with money that was intended to benefit those in need, and he corrupted his office in the process,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The money was directed to the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment (LIBRE), a non-profit in his then council district. The discretionary funds, which are drawn from city taxpayer dollars, were used to pay employees of the non-profit to collect signatures, work on his Senate campaign and conduct a voter registration drive.

“Hiram Monserrate was undone by his greed and now will pay the price. He used a nonprofit’s money to serve his own political career rather than his constituency and with today’s prison sentence will forfeit his freedom,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.

In addition to the 24 months in jail, Monserrate must pay a $80,000 fine and serve three additional years of supervised release.

Monserrate, who was elected to the state Senate in 2008 after eight years in the City Council, was expelled from the seat in 2010 after being convicted of domestic assault of his girlfriend. He lost the subsequent special election to state Senator Jose Peralta.

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Today’s Forecast

Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 52. Northeast wind 7 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. North wind 5 to 7 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: LIC Bar: Comedy and Trivia Show

Every Thursday night Stephanie Holmes brings you hilarious and creative trivia. With categories like “name that burger” and audio rounds like “more cowbell” and “name that sha-la-la” you’re sure to have an interesting time. Every show features 3 stand up comedians to entertain you while we add up the points. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Jimmy Meng pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charges

Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to federal wire fraud charges, according to the FBI. Meng, the father to newly elected Congressmember and current Assemblymember Grace Meng, reportedly entered the plea on November 14 at around 2 p.m. Read more: Queens Courier

Mitt Romney’s sour grapes to top donors

Mitt Romney can’t lay off the “47%.” The losing GOP presidential candidate unloaded a cartful of sour grapes on his top donors Wednesday, saying President Obama won because he handed out “big gifts” to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. Read more: Daily News

FBI found classified information on mistress’s computer, gov’t documents in home: sources

The FBI found a substantial amount of classified information improperly secured on the personal computer of disgraced CIA director Gen. David Petraeus’ mistress, sources said yesterday. The files were discovered on a machine removed from Paula Broadwell’s Charlotte, NC, home as the feds investigated her sordid affair with the military commander whose biography she co-wrote. Read more: NY Post

R.A. Dickey wins NL Cy Young Award

In a lost season, R.A. Dickey was one of the Mets’ few bright spots. Responsible for 20 of the team’s 74 wins, Dickey took home the National League’s Cy Young award, beating a tough field that included last year’s winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals. Read more: Queens Courier

Caribbean diplomats return the favor

Caribbean nations are all too familiar with the wrath of hurricanes and the subsequent relief that flows from the U.S. But in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, high-ranking diplomats from a dozen Caribbean countries have pitched in to return the favor to their adopted city. Read more: Daily News

School’s out for jeans and jeggings

Teen fashion staples like jeans and jeggings aren’t simply banned from one Queens high school — wearing them can get students suspended, The Post has learned. The “business casual” code at Maspeth HS, which serves nearly 500 ninth- and 10th-graders, requires polo or collared shirts and sweaters, and slacks, khakis or corduroys — but strictly forbids the kids from donning jeans, tights, jeggings or even bright-colored pants. Read more: NY Post

Non-profit investigates fraud against Latin American immigrants

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Desperate for work, Gerardo Llanque, a Peruvian immigrant, visited an employment agency in search of a job five years ago. He paid $120 in exchange for a temporary construction position. When Llanque arrived at the address where his job was supposed to be, he found an abandoned house.

“It can be exasperating not to find work, and you get desperate,” said Llanque to a translator.

When Llanque returned to confront the employment agency, workers told him the person who promised him the job was no longer with the company and that he should return at 9 p.m. that night. When Llanque demanded to speak to someone, employment agency workers threatened to call the police.

An upturn in fraud against Latin American immigrants searching for jobs or seeking immigration has sparked an investigation into 51 Queens businesses. Conducted by the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center and the New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) – a non-profit organization based in Jackson Heights – the study surveyed locals and conducted “mystery shopper” investigations, where trained community members examined employment agencies and Immigration Service Providers (ISP). Mystery shoppers surveyed agencies along Roosevelt Avenue, focusing on the contracts, signage and disclosure agreements that are germane to immigration. According to NICE executive director Valeria Treves, the study illustrated that laws protecting immigrants from fraud are either ineffective or unenforced.

“The report grew out of necessity to further investigate what was going on in the community,” said Treves. “Those rules and regulations are being routinely violated.”

According to Treves, the start of the recession brought a flood of complaints against employment agencies, grifting desperate and jobless people out of their money. Eighty percent of people surveyed during the study had gone to an employment agency, paid $122, and did not receive a job. The advance fee was not refunded.

One mystery shopper was promised a green card if she forked over $7,000.

A common violation surrounds ISP officials offering unlawful legal advice. More than a quarter of the study’s mystery shoppers received legal guidance beyond the scope of what the individual was trained to provide. In most cases, Treves said, the advice was erroneous.

Treves said the language barrier provides other opportunities for scammers to take advantage of those new to the country. According to Treves, in Spanish, the word “notario” means a high-powered lawyer. However in English, a notary is simply someone who acts as a witness but does not have any legal training.

While Treves was unable to provide exact data on how many Latin American immigrants are victims of fraud annually, she said the number is sorely underrepresented.

“Victims of fraud are nervous about coming out,” said Treves. “They are worried that they’ll get in trouble with immigration.”

To combat fraud in the Latin American community, Treves says her group hopes to close the loophole for scammers by ending employment agency’s advance fees. She said they also want to push for a tighter definition of the unauthorized practice of law to prohibit those without proper training from giving legal advice to those in need.

Llanque said his experience made him wary of turning to agencies for help. He fears the company that scammed him controls other local employment offices and he could become a victim of fraud again.

Auto sales, mortgage-related fraud top list of 2011 consumer complaints

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Internet sales, auto, utilities and real estate were some of 2011’s top consumer complaints in the U.S., according to a new survey released by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI). The list is based on information gathered from 38 state, county, and city agencies in 22 states, including the New York State Department of State Division of Consumer Protection, and consisted of 289,732 complaints.

Again, auto and credit/debt were the top two complaints, but real estate complaints, such as problems with timeshare sales and resales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities and real estate fraud were new to the list. Mortgage-related problems, home improvement, bed bugs, mold and other landlord/tenant problems were on both the top five worst and five top fastest-growing complaints of 2011.


Top 10 U.S. consumer complaints

1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes

2. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics

3. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job

4. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver

5. Utilities: Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service

6. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform

7. (Tie) Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practice, failure to deliver online purchases; Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics

8. Fraud: Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, the grandparent scam and other common frauds

9. Real Estate: Timeshare sales and resales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities, real estate fraud

10. (Tie) Household Goods: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances; Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

EVENT of the DAY: Free Shakespeare in the Park: “Hamlet” 

Come enjoy a summer night with the Bard. Queens-based Hip to Hip Theatre Company presents a free performance of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Hamlet” at the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows.

[Click here for more info or submit your events]

Former Assemblyman Jimmy Meng charged with fraud 

Former State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng, the father of Congressional candidate Grace Meng, was charged with fraud Tuesday in an elaborate shakedown scheme. The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jimmy Meng promised a person who was indicted on tax charges that he could help by bribing prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Read more: [NY1] 

Elderly Queens woman: Doc’s bad op cost me vision in left eye

An elderly Queens woman is suing her doctor, claiming a botched cataract operation cost her the sight in her left eye. Evalyne Chedda, 70, went to Dr. Alina K. Stanciu’s office in Forest Hills on Jan 18, 2010 for the operation. Read more: [New York Post]

UPDATE: Local leaders charge city snubbing them on possible Triumph of Civic Virtue move  

Snubbed community leaders said they have yet to hear from city officials who are mulling a plan to move the long-neglected Triumph of Civic Virtue statue from its perch outside Queens Borough Hall. The controversial statue, which has raised the ire of some people for its imagery, also has strong supporters who have been lobbying the city unsuccessfully for years to get it cleaned and restored. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

 UPDATE: Results still out in contentious Bayside BID election, but so is Gregg Sullivan: source 

More than a week after the only contested BID election in the city, Bayside business owners aren’t quite sure who won the contentious race — but the writing appears to be on the wall for Gregg Sullivan. A vocal critic of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District’s board, Sullivan will likely not win the seat he was seeking, according to a source familiar with the organization’s bylaws. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Korean grocer H Mart to replace closing Waldbaum’s in Bayside

Korean grocery chain H Mart has secured a deal to replace a Bayside Waldbaum’s that is set to close in July, the Daily News has learned. It is the second property in Queens owned by the A&P supermarket chain that has hit the market in recent weeks, causing uncertainty and unease among neighbors. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Ailing elderly couple in Rockaway without phone service for three weeks

An 85-year-old woman with dementia and her ailing 90-year-old husband in Rockaway were without phone service for three weeks because Verizon did not repair their line. The couple’s frustrated daughter, Rita Burgess, 53, managed to restore service, but only by switching to Time Warner Cable. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Fraud take one for wife

Who says chivalry is dead? One of the masterminds behind an enormous identity- and credit-card-theft scheme took a hit for his wife yesterday when he ’fessed up in exchange for her walking free. Read more: [New York Post]

8 hurt as kids’ bus flips

Five special-needs students were lucky to walk away with just cuts and bruises yesterday morning in Queens after a taxi blew a red light and hit their school bus, causing it to flip over, authorities said.The southbound cab met the westbound bus at 150th Street and 87th Street at 6:25 a.m. The kids, ages 4 to 11, were en route to Yeshiva HS and PS 80. They were treated at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. So was their driver, also for minor injuries. Read more: [New York Post]

Nearly 3,700 City Educators Alerted They No Longer Have Jobs

Nearly 3,700 city teachers, administrators and aides in four boroughs were told Monday they no longer have a job at their schools. The educators put on notice are from the 24 schools in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens the city is closing this summer to clear out staff members. Read more: [NY1]

Queens School Employee will not Face Sex Abuse Charges 

Sex abuse charges were dropped against a Queens paraprofessional Monday. The Queens District Attorney says a grand jury decided not to indict Brett Picou, 30. He was accused of fondling six female students at P.S. 52 in Springfield Gardens. Read more: [NY1]

Top Headlines From Around the Web

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Liu’s former campaign treasurer pleads not guilty to fraud

The lawyer for New York City Comptroller John Liu says his client may seek to be tried separately from her codefendant. Attorney Gerald Lefcourt notified a judge of the possibility Tuesday as his client, Jia ‘Jenny’ Hou , pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. Her name was added last week to an indictment returned against a New Jersey man. The man was arrested several months ago on charges he conspired to funnel illegal contributions donated by an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman. He too pleaded not guilty Tuesday. Read More: New York Post


Knicks shattered over Amar’e injury

Steve Novak was crushed about Knicks teammate Amar’e Stoudemire’s lacerated left hand, explaining he thinks Stoudemire never realized the danger when he punched the glass case of a fire extinguisher after last night’s Game 2 loss to the Heat. “I feel awful for [Stoudemire] because he plays with emotion,” Novak told The Post. “And you’re walking in a hallway, and I don’t think he ever thought for a second that it was going to be glass, that it was going to shatter.” Novak said he “was right behind [Stoudemire],” though he cautioned, “but I didn’t actually see his hand. Read More: New York Post
Department of Education Outlines Social Media Policy For Teachers

The city has introduced its first guidelines for the use of social media by teachers. The Department of Education says teachers should refuse friend requests from students on their personal accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter. They’re also being warned that their activity may be monitored and should have no expectation of privacy. Teachers will be given training sessions on the new guidelines. Education officials may also ask parents to sign consent forms before their children participate in social media activities or post their work online. Read More: NY1



Rent Guidelines Board Holds Preliminary Vote Tonight

Tenants and building owners will once again be squabbling over annual rent hikes for the city’s rent-regulated apartments as the Rent Guidelines Board holds a preliminary vote this evening at Cooper Union. Last year, the board hiked rents 3.75 percent on one-year leases and 7.25 percent on two-year leases. Tonight’s meeting is open to the public, but officials say any noisemakers that can be used to disrupt the proceedings are prohibited. Tenants rights groups and Occupy Wall Street demonstrators plan to hold a protest outside the meeting. The board’s final vote is on June 21. Read More: NY1


Cops probe death of baby girl on Staten Island

Police are investigating the death of baby girl on Staten Island, NYPD sources said Tuesday. Six-month-old Genesis Monge wasn’t breathing and had a 105-degree fever when her foster mother called 911 just past 10:15 p.m. Monday, sources said. Genesis was rushed from her home on Steuben St. to Staten Island University Hospital North, where doctors told police she had marks consistent with past trauma, sources said. Genesis died at 11:15 p.m. Read More: Daily News


Google knew Street View collected emails, passwords, personal information from millions worldwide

Google Street View had an eye on more than just city streets — it also once collected emails, passwords, Internet search histories, medical records and more from millions of people around the world, new documents show. An FCC report released Friday reveals Google spent over two years between 2008 and 2010 quietly capturing a mountain of personal information by tapping into unsecured wireless networks through its Street View cars, which drive around capturing snapshots to populate the search giant’s massive map database. Read More: Daily News

Second Liu campaign worker busted

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Another worker on City Comptroller John Liu’s mayoral campaign has been arrested on fraud charges.

Jia “Jenny” Hou — a 25-year-old campaign treasurer for the comptroller — was busted for illegally funneling campaign funds for the comptroller’s unofficial 2013 try for mayoral candidacy, feds said.

According to restrictions laid out by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB), campaign donors are only allowed to contribute up to $4,950 to citywide candidates. Prosecutors said Hou conspired to evade the limit by engaging in a fraudulent scheme that involved the use of “straw donors” — or individuals who unlawfully make political contributions in their own names with money they have received from others.

Hou, a Queens resident, is also charged with obstructing the government’s investigation. According to court records, she failed to produce “facially inculpatory documents” in response to subpoenas, while allegedly lying about producing complete documents and failing to disclose the identities of several campaign contributors.

“New York’s campaign finance laws are not optional. They ensure that all candidates operate on a level playing field and that everyone plays by the rules,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Today, we allege that Jia Hou, a campaign treasurer, was a central figure in a coordinated scheme to break the city’s campaign finance laws. Unlawful campaign conduct will not be tolerated.”

Hou was allegedly caught offering to reimburse an individual for donations well-above the allotted NYCCFB amount during a series of instant messages on July 14, and she also allegedly instructed campaign volunteers on how to imitate the handwriting of campaign donors on contribution forms in order to make it appear official.

Last November, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan — Liu’s campaign fund-raiser — was arrested on similar conspiracy and wire fraud charges. According to court records, he allegedly funneled $16,000 in campaign contributions and was caught red handed by an undercover FBI agent, who posed as a businessperson interested in supporting the comptroller.

Meanwhile, Liu — a Flushing Democrat — has not been accused of any wrongdoing and has since returned nearly $50,000 collected in contributions, said a campaign spokesperson.

“I am stunned by this news about Jenny Hou,” Liu said. “These accusations against her are uncharacteristic and unexpected. Jenny is a smart, hardworking person who I hope will be treated fairly.”

Hou is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of attempting to commit wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice. If convicted, she could face up to 60 years in prison.

According to Martin Adelman, her attorney, Hou plans on pleading not guilty to the charges.

“She’s an idealistic young person, and working for John Liu’s campaign was a way to realize that idealism,” Adelman said. “She has tremendous respect for him.”

Liu “Stunned” By Fraud Charges Against His Campaign Treasurer

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Arrest Made In Connection With Queens Synagogue Burglary

Police say tips from the public led them to an arrest in the burglary of a Queens synagogue. Efram Sanders, 28, was arrested Tuesday and was facing burglary, grand larceny and stolen-property charges in connection with the break-in at Congregation Degel Israel in Kew Gardens Hills. More than a dozen items were taken, including silver torah crowns and breastplates, worth thousands of dollars in all. Police say they were able to recover all stolen items except for two silver pointers. Read More: NY1


NYPD cop impersonators may have used high-quality masks to pull off check-cashing heist

Three cop impersonators wanted for stealing $200,000 from a Queens check-cashing business may have worn masks that were Hollywood quality, the Daily News has learned. Investigators began to suspect the trio that pulled off the Valentine’s Day caper had worn masks that were far from the average costume-shop props after they got a tip, the sources said. One of the false faces even looked like pro wrestler Bill Goldberg. Read More: Daily News

Liu “Stunned” By Fraud Charges Against His Campaign Treasurer

In a serious blow to City Comptroller John Liu’s 2013 campaign effort, authorities on Tuesday announced the arrest of one of his top campaign aides on fraud charges, and the comptroller said he was shocked by the allegations. The U.S. Attorney’s office says Jenny Hou, 25, seen above right, was taken into custody in connection to what authorities call a scheme to use straw donors to get over the limit campaign contributions to Liu. Read More: NY1


Mayor Stands By Released Teacher Rankings As Charter School Data Is Published

Mayor Michael Bloomberg again defended the release of teacher data reports Tuesday as the Department of Education released the same information for charter schools and District 75. Charter school teachers make up a majority of the 334 reports. Their participation was optional but District 75, which serves children with special needs, had to take part for two of the three school years represented. A DOE spokesperson says the reports for the charter and District 75 schools are not comparable to those for city schools. Read More: NY1


Hero cop: ‘I don’t know how he didn’t hit me from that range’

The partner of the NYPD cop saved by his gun belt said the stunning sequence was like the scene in “Pulp Fiction” where a gunman opens fire on the main characters at point-blank range and misses with every shot. “We were only a couple feet away. I don’t know how he didn’t hit me from that range,” Thomas Dunne told The Post of alleged shooter Luis Martinez. Dunne’s partner, Thomas Richards, 36, was saved when a round hit the extra clip in his pocket. Read More: New York Post

Elevator guy still on job

The lift mechanic whose botched job resulted in a young ad executive getting crushed to death was still allowed to tinker with the city’s elevators yesterday. Michael Hill arrived at his home in Glen Gardner, NJ, after a long day on the job — wearing a navy blue New York Elevator Operators uniform and covered in grease. Hill was working on the city’s elevators just one day after investigators on Monday released a scathing report, accusing him of overriding the critical elevator safety system that led to Y&R ad exec Suzanne Hart’s gruesome death on Dec. 14. Read More: New York Post