VOL. 21 • NUMBER 8 • MARCH 4, 2021
‘WILL’ POWER State Appeals Court Overturns Former South Queens Councilman’s Felony Convictions
See Story on Page 3 Ruben Wills, who once represented Council District 28, which includes Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park, served more than two years in prison after being convicted of fraud and grand larceny. The convictions were reversed earlier this year. Photo Courtesy of William Alatriste
THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 8 • MARCH 4, 2021 | 1
Pols React to Mounting Cuomo Scandals By Michael V. Cusenza With a new Andrew Cuomo scandal seemingly emerging daily, area elected officials commented this week on the allegations and the political fate of the 56th governor of New York. “I have always believed that elected officials are to be held to a high standard of ethics and conduct. Given the circumstances surrounding the governor’s actions relating to the handling of nursing homes during the COVID pandemic and the recent allegations from his former staffers of inappropriate sexual harassment, I support a full independent investigation by the attorney general to determine the facts and give the foundation for the state legislature to take proper actions. I share the anger and frustration of many of my constituents related to such actions by the governor,” State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said on Monday. “I support a number of legislative measures, which focus on addressing the governor’s situation, including the modification of the attorney general’s authority to assist in ensuring a credible, fact-finding independent investigation.” Mayor Bill de Blasio seemed to be downright giddy as he called for investigations into his long-time political nemesis’s
Photo Courtesy of Don Pollard/Office of the Governor
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” Gov. Cuomo said.
behavior. “New Yorkers have seen detailed, documented accounts of sexual harassment, multiple instances of intimidation, and the admitted withholding of information on the deaths of over 15,000 people. Questions of this magnitude cannot hang over the heads of New Yorkers as we fight off a pandemic and economic crisis. It’s clear what must now take place,” Hizzoner said on Sunday. “The State Legislature must im-
mediately revoke the governor’s emergency powers that overrule local control. In addition, two fully independent investigations must be held immediately into the deaths at nursing homes and the disturbing personal misconduct allegations. Precedence shows that investigations of the governor must be completely independent of his office. The investigation into nursing home deaths must be free to examine campaign contributions from the nursing home in-
dustry. And the investigation into sexual misconduct must be led by someone fully independent of the governor, not the former business partner of the governor’s top advisor. 2021 must be a year of progress and recovery. These efforts for transparency must be met.” On Sunday, Cuomo issued his own statement. “I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends. At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business. “I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
State Senate Passes Legislation Aimed at Improving Utility Services By Forum Staff The State Senate Democratic Majority recently passed legislation to ensure the utility services New Yorkers depend on meet additional criteria for safety and regulation, Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) announced Tuesday. The package of bills will extend the COVID-19 moratorium for utility service disconnections, hold utilities accountable for failure to restore service, ensure utility companies do not pass on the cost of legislative lobbying to customers and clarify the medical equipment that qualifies for essential electric service. These bills, Addabbo said, will also ensure customers are compensated for service interruptions, provide a voice for consumer advocacy within the Public Service Commission and strengthen the standards for utility service provider’s emergency response plans. In addition to these measures, this package will require new gas infrastructure projects to be approved by a professional engineer and add public oversight to the pay rates of top utility executives. The legislative package included: • Utility Moratorium (S.1453A): Extends the moratorium on utility shut-offs until December 31, 2021, or the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted or expires. • Protecting Customers Lobbying Costs (S.1556): Protects utility customers from unknowingly paying for lobbying activity, including for political activity that may influ-
The State Senate Democratic Majority recently passed a package of 10 bills aimed at improving utility services.
ence policies that go against the best interest of the customers. • Electricity Plan for Essential Medical Needs (S.931A): Identifies the specific medical equipment that qualifies for essential electricity and additional utility outreach during outages. • Utility Reimbursement (S.929B): Provides consumers with a bill discount when a contracted service provider fails to provide the agreed-upon service. • Utility Consumer Advocacy in the Public Service Commission (S.1199): Requires at least one commissioner of the public service commission to have experience in advocating in the interests of utility consumers. • Emergency Response Plan Requirement (S.968): Establishes the criteria for the
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Long Island Power Authority and its service provider’s emergency response plans, and subjects them to review, approval, and enforcement by the Public Service Commission. • Professional Engineer Approval Requirement (S.544): Requires a professional engineer to review and approve a gas infrastructure project to prevent public utility accidents from occurring in New York. • Public Statements of Compensation (S.1544A): Requires large utility companies to publicly report the annual pay of their top employees. • Reimbursement for Lost Food or Medicine (S.3784A): Provides a customer reimbursement for lost food or medicine due to an extended power outage.
• Stronger Utility Storm Response (S.4960): Strengthens the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) enforcement powers in response to a pattern of neglect by utility providers in storm recovery efforts. “The repeated utility interruptions during storm conditions needs to be addressed. As increasingly more severe storms have impacted our communities, we realize the current process to hold utility providers accountable must be improved,” Addabbo added. “These legislative bills will ensure the utility needs of my constituents are being adequately and efficiently addressed, while also holding utility providers accountable for failure to provide agreed-upon services, or when exorbitant salaries and lobbying expenses are being passed onto ratepayers,” Addabbo added.
Wills’s Conviction Overturned by Appeals Court
Former City Councilman Ruben Wills (seated).
By Michael V. Cusenza Former borough Councilman Ruben Wills, who was found guilty in 2017 of pocketing thousands of dollars in public campaign funds and charitable grant money for personal benefit and served more than two years in prison as a result, has had that conviction overturned by a State court of appeals, according to published reports. Wills, 49, represented Council District 28 (Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village) until 2017 when he entered prison in Upstate New York. Adrienne Adams has succeeded him. Then-NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Wills allegedly stole thousands of dollars from the city Campaign Finance Board and the state Office of Children and Family Services. He was convicted of grand larceny, scheme to defraud, and falsifying business records. According to Schneiderman, Wills allegedly worked with a relative, Jelani Mills, who was also arrested in the scandal, to funnel $11,500 of the $139,000 he landed in matching campaign funds from the city Campaign Finance Board in 2009 to a nonprofit he founded, New York 4 Life – which was set up to aid single parents and fight childhood obesity, among other initiatives. Wills then allegedly used those thousands of dollars for various personal purchases – including a $750 Louis Vitton handbag from Macy’s, according to the former attorney general. Additionally, Wills had also been charged with misusing a portion of $33,000 in state funds provided to New York 4 Life via a grant earmarked by former State Sen. Shirley Huntley while Wills was serving as her chief of staff, Schneiderman said. To obtain that money the nonprofit signed a
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contract with OCFS, promising to conduct four public service projects. Instead, New York 4 Life allegedly conducted just one program that cost approximately $14,000, and Wills allegedly pocketed the remaining $19,000, according to court documents. According to court filings, Wills also allegedly made large cash withdrawals from the New York 4 Life account and used grant funds to issue checks to individuals who did little or no work related to the nonprofit, the court filings said. The councilman then allegedly concealed the theft, Schneiderman said four years ago. However, the appellate judges ruled that the trial’s presiding judge barred certain witnesses from testifying in Wills defense, noting that Wills had been “deprived of his ‘right to present evidence by witnesses of his own choosing which is a fundamental ingredient of due process,’” according to the Queens Daily Eagle. Gothamist/WNYC reported has reported that current NY AG Tish James has indicated that her prosecutors have not yet decided whether they should retry Wills. Wills’s lawyer, Kevin O’Donnell, said his client had served his sentence and it wouldn’t be wise to spend public funds on an expensive second trial, according to Gothamist/WNYC. What is also under consideration is Wills’s political future. “I think that my purpose, the reason I went through this is to make sure this is highlighted. I don’t represent Ruben Wills,” Wills told Gothamist/WNYC. “I represent two or three hundred thousand young men that look like me, that have gone through these doors of the halls of injustice every single day for the past I don’t know how many years.”
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Op-Ed: Award Resorts World Full Casino License By Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato As the wife of a small business owner in Queens, I’ve seen firsthand how this pandemic has affected businesses like my husband’s throughout the borough. But hardworking local business owners like him and his brother keep doing it because they love their craft (pizza!), and their loyal customers at Elegante Restaurant and Pizzeria. Frank and other locally owned and operated small businesses like Lisena Landscaping, Rockaway Beach Broadcasting Company or the Sincede Hair Salon understand that without the support of the community, they wouldn’t be where they are. They understand what it takes to be a community partner and how important it is to connect with your neighborhood. And we are fortunate to have a true community partner and economic anchor in another one of our neighbors: Resorts World New York City. In the close to 10 years that it’s been open, Resorts World has become part of the fabric of the community, supporting those in need and empowering others to make a difference through a new initiative known as the “Good Neighbor Network.” The Good Neighbor Network serves to inspire, empower, and advocate for social and economic good in Queens and throughout New York State. In Albany, I’m known as an outspoken advocate for our hardworking families,
many of whom have been hit hard over the last year. Many are out of work or struggling to get by. I’m also a member of the Women’s Issues Task Force, because I understand the need to empower women in our communities. The majority of single parents are mothers who have lost more jobs than men or were forced to quit during the pandemic because they didn’t know how else to handle child care. How can we help these people so they don’t lose their homes, their children or what little savings they may have? One of Gov. Cuomo’s budget proposals -- awarding new full casino licenses -- would help New Yorkers, especially communi-
ties of color, recover economically. Resorts World exemplifies the type of casino operator that should receive the full license. Resorts World is uniquely positioned to grow jobs in the immediate short-term, generate much-needed revenue for New York State, and further support the local small businesses in the community. New York cannot wait five years to spark this growth. We need it now. Take education for example. As a participant in the National Early Learning Fellowship with the National Conference of State Legislatures, and as the parent of students in Queens, I know firsthand the importance of improving the outcomes for
all children across the state and how this makes the future better for all New Yorkers. Over the last ten years, Resorts World has generated $3 billion for New York’s public schools and with a full gaming license that contribution would increase significantly. Again, during a time when resources for schools are scarce, Resorts World is uniquely positioned to elevate its support. Let’s empower them to do exactly that. As an assemblywoman, it is my job to advocate for a better future for the people of Queens. They’re a resilient and diverse group of hardworking people. They rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy and now, almost nine years later, they’re building back again after a different sort of disaster. But we all know, you can’t just rebuild—we need to make sure we are building back better and in a way that is inclusive. By allowing Resorts World to convert to a full casino, it’s a critical step toward a brighter future for everyone in Queens: from the first grader, to the high school graduate, to the parents, to the small business owner and beyond. Pheffer Amato represents the 23rd Assembly District, encompassing the neighborhoods of Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park and the Rockaway Peninsula. Photo Courtesy of Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato’s Office
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4 MARCH 4, 2021 • Number 8 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
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Man Charged with Stealing $11K in Text Scam
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Gilbert was allegedly present when a cash advance withdrawal using the same credit card was attempted at a Capitol One branch on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.
By Forum Staff A Middle Village man has been accused of stealing $11,000 from a woman in Ireland by using her dead brother’s cell phone to convince her he was her sibling—and then repeatedly requesting she send him money in April 2019, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Thursday. Frederick Gilbert, 53, was arraigned Monday on a complaint charging him with grand larceny in the third and fourth degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, and identity theft in the first and third degree. Gilbert was ordered to return to court on May 5. According to the charges, in March 2019, the defendant used a cell phone belonging to the recently-deceased Thomas Munnelly to send text messages to the man’s sister in Ireland. Pretending to be Mr. Munnelly, the text messages allegedly stated that the brother and defendant had an accident at the deceased man’s flooring business in Queens. For several days, Gilbert sent text messages persuading her to send money to the defendant to cover medical expenses and to settle a threatened lawsuit. Believing that her brother was in financial distress, the victim sent three wire transfers to Gilbert totaling $11,000. On April 1, 2019, she sent $5,000; she sent $3,500 on April 14; and $2,500 on April 23. On each occasion, the woman received messages con-
firming the wire transfers had been received. DA Katz said, according to the charges, the victim also received a message from her “brother” on April 22, and after sending money on April 23, 2019, she stopped getting text messages from him. Worried, the woman contacted the New York City Police Department on May 7, 2019 and requested a wellness check. Police informed the woman that her brother had actually died in a local hospital on March 4, 2019. Continuing, according to the complaint, on March 23, 2019, an online credit card was opened using the personal information of Mr. Munnelly. Between April 5 and April 29, 2019, several credit card transactions were made totaling just under $460. The defendant was allegedly present when a cash advance withdrawal using the same credit card was attempted at a Capitol One branch on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. ““The defendant in this case allegedly preyed on a woman in another country to feed his greed. The victim had no idea her brother had died, and sadly, this defendant used that to his advantage. The victim was convinced through text messages from the dead man’s cell phone that he was her brother and needed money. For about a month, she was allegedly conned into sending thousands of dollars,” District Attorney Katz said on Thursday. If convicted, Gilbert faces up to 15 years in prison.
The Pharmacist’s Corner
Presented by Frank Pantina, R.Ph
HEALTHY HEARTS START AT YOUR LOCAL PHARMACY Cardiovascular (CV) disease is a major American health concern. It is responsible for 1 out of every 3 deaths in this country. There are over 2 million strokes and heart attacks reported every year. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) are primary contributing CV health risks. These conditions affect more than 80 million Americans each year. Along with the huge loss of life comes the tremendous financial burden resulting from cardiovascular disease. Because of the crush imposed by cardiac diseases on the economy, Medicare, Medicaid and private payers, have really applied the push for health-care teams to manage disease collectively and efficiently. The role of the pharmacist here is very clear: ensuring cardiac patients are compliant with their meds thereby preventing hospital readmissions. Cardiac medications include many types of drugs including Lipid-Lowering Therapies like stations and cholesterol absorption inhibitors, Blood Pressure Meds like Beta Blockers, Diuretics and ACE inhibitors and Thyroid meds like Levothyroxine. These are just a few of the myriad of meds that a cardiac patient can face. With new drugs constantly turning up, physicians are realizing the value of pharmacists’’ expertise in
medications– it is an essential piece in saving the lives of patients. At your local pharmacy there exists a real opportunity to learn about your meds. Not only what they do for your conditions, and safeguarding that you always have the ample supply you need, but also whether you’re on the right one, at the appropriate dose. Another component monitored by your pharmacist is the possibility of any potential drug interactions between your particular medications. The role of the pharmacist as a member of your cardiac health-care team is recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) which both recommend a team-based approach, which includes pharmacists, in the treatment of hypertension. Community pharmacists are making a huge difference by provide services like blood pressure screenings, as well as offering advice to patients on many lifestyle issues, such as diet and exercise. You can turn to us with any difficulty you’re experiencing, even when trying to stop smoking. The bottom line is that your pharmacist is in an ideal position to help manage blood pressure and cholesterol medication therapy. Talk to us and take the opportunity to get heart healthy!
For your family’s prescription needs, please call
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Following Tragedy, Cops Promote Safety Last month, an allegedly intoxicated employee of an Ozone Park car wash slammed the vehicle he was driving into a customer who was walking to pick up her own car after tipping other workers. The victim, Tracy McManus, was rushed to a nearby hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Edwin Vargas has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in the second degree and driving while intoxicated. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison. This week, members of the 102nd Precinct Traffic Safety Unit visited area car wash establishments and distributed traffic safety fliers and literature to employees and customers. Photo Courtesy of NYPD
THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 8 • MARCH 4, 2021 | 5
New York AG Releases Top Consumer Complaints of 2020 By Forum Staff New York Attorney General Tish James on Monday kicked off National Consumer Protection Week by releasing a list of the top consumer scams perpetrated against New Yorkers in 2020— many of which had to do with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health crisis—in addition to a variety of tips on how New Yorkers can avoid COVID-19 scams in the future. After analyzing consumer complaints received statewide throughout 2020, the following were found to be the top 10 consumer complaints by category: 1. Internet-Related (internet services and service providers, data privacy and security, digital media, data breaches, frauds through internet manipulation) 9,832 2. COVID-19 Price Gouging (online and brick and mortar gouging of prices for items such as hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, bathroom tissue, food) 7,701 3. Landlord/Tenant Disputes (security deposit releases, tenantharassment) 2,752 4. Health Clubs (continuous charging of fees while clubs were closed, inability to cancel memberships, refunds not provided, no response from clubs) 2,621 5. Automobile (sales, service, financing, repairs) 2,561 6. Consumer Services (security systems, tech repairs, immigration services, employment training) 2,512 7. Retail Sales (any sale of goods: food, clothing, rent-to-own, online orders)1,609 8. Credit (debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies, identity theft) 1,436 9. Utilities (wireless and residential phones, energy servicers and suppliers, cable and satellite) 1,378 10. Travel (inability to cancel or lack of refunds for cancellations required by COVID-19 travel restrictions) 1,251. The AG’s Office also offered consumers the following tips they should practice to minimize the risk of themselves or their family members becoming victims of COVID-19 related scams going forward: Vaccine-Related Scams: The COVID-19 vaccine is NOT currently available to the general population in New York. A complete list of groups eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine is available on the New
Photo Courtesy of Wimikedia/Pharaoh Hound
“The havoc unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the numerous other ways consumers were defrauded in 2020, sadly resulted in my office receiving a record number of consumer fraud complaints in 2020,” NY AG Tish James said.
The pandemic has dramatically increased demand for pets, as New Yorkers seek companionship during lockdown. AG James’s report warns against COVID-19 puppy scams going forward.
York state Department of Health’s website. Consumers are warned to beware of offers promising early or expedited access to the vaccine for a fee. These offers — which may be transmitted by text, phone, or email — are NOT legitimate. Scammers may impersonate public health officials from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). Fraudsters may also offer to ship a COVID-19 vaccine directly to homes, provide special access to vaccines or clinical trials, or sell special cold storage devices to maintain vaccines. New Yorkers are urged to practice the following tips to avoid vaccine-related scams: • Be wary of anyone calling or emailing with offers of a vaccine and do not give out Social Security numbers, personal credit card numbers, or bank account information. No one from a vaccine distributor, a health care company, or a private insurance company will ask for this information. • No New Yorker should be charged any amount out of pocket — regardless of whether they have insurance or not — to get the vaccine while the pandemic remains a public health emergency. If a New Yorker is charged anything, including an administration fee, they should file a complaint on the OAG’s website. • No one can pay to put their name on a list to get the vaccine or to get into a vaccine clinical trial. Fake Vaccine Cards: Consumers are warned to beware of phony vaccine cards sold on social media platforms or other areas of the Internet. Vaccine cards typically record the date a vaccine is administered, the vaccine manufacturer, and the batch number, and are provided by the vaccination site for a
jor egg distributor for gouging the price of 4 million cartons of eggs. Health Clubs: Consumers are reminded to know their rights. New York’s Health Club Law authorizes gym members to cancel their membership under certain circumstances, including “after the services are no longer available or substantially available as provided in the contract because of the [gym’s] permanent discontinuance of operation or substantial change in operation,” and requires gym owners to provide prorated monetary refunds (NOT credits) for such cancellations within 15 days. Additionally, the law further prohibits misrepresentations about consumers’ cancellation rights. The OAG sued the parent company of two major health club chains — New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts — in New York for violations of the Health Club Law. Puppy Scams: The pandemic has dramatically increased demand for pets, as New Yorkers seek companionship during lockdown. Scammers typically pretend to be breeders and refuse in-person meetings, using COVID-19 safety protocols as an excuse. Simultaneously, these fraudsters demand additional fees, such as for shipment of pets in special “protective” crates or for pandemic insurance. New Yorkers are urged to practice the following tips to avoid puppy scams: • Use a credit card to make the purchase and avoid wiring money, sending gift cards, or sending money using apps, as such transactions cannot be refunded and are not traceable. • Conduct a thorough internet search of the breeder before purchasing a puppy to ensure the email address being used is not the same being used across multiple websites and that any testimonials are not
consumer’s own records. The target market for these phony cards may be people who want to avoid the vaccine or who mistakenly believe the card is required to travel or for some other purpose. Phony vaccine cards pose a public health risk and should NOT be purchased for any reason. The information consumers provide may also be used for identity theft. Phony COVID-19 Cures: Bad actors have marketed a range of products with false claims that they can prevent, cure, or treat COVID-19. Consumers should NOT spend their money on these products, which do not work. The phony products sold range from colloidal silver products, to toothpastes, to dietary supplements, and herbal blends. Consumers should make health decisions in consultation with their health care providers. Attorney General James has sent numerous cease and desist letters to individuals and entities peddling these fake and potentially dangerous COVID-19 products, including to Alex Jones, The Silver Edge company, and Dr. Sherill Sellman, among others. Price Gouging: Consumers and the general public are warned to pay attention to the prices charged on goods and services that are vital to their health, safety, or welfare, including hand sanitizer, toilet paper, basic medical supplies, and basic food items. New York’s price gouging statute prohibits selling these goods and services during periods of abnormal market disruption for an unconscionably excessive price. In addition to sending more than 1,900 cease and desist letters to merchants over the last year demanding price gouging to stop, the OAG stopped three third-party sellers who used Amazon to price gouge on hand sanitizers and disinfectants. The OAG also sued a ma-
6 MARCH 4, 2021 • Number 8 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
copied from other, legitimate websites. • Visit the breeder and puppy in person, using social distancing. If a consumer is unable to do so, they should request that the breeder video chat with them. Consumers are strongly advised against purchasing a puppy without visual confirmation. Consumers should also be sure to get visual confirmation before making any sort of deposit. Consumers should insist on seeing where the animals are kept and avoid breeders who offer to meet at a “convenient” public location. • Keep in mind that shipping any young animal long distances, especially as air cargo in the hot summer months, carries a great deal of risk. Picking up the puppy in-person and flying back with them under the passenger seat in a carrier is strongly recommended. Beware that scammers typically make a number of excuses related to shipping to get more money from consumers. In the event a consumer is the victim of fraud, they should be sure to retain all records of the sale, including advertising and written communications, James noted. “The havoc unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the numerous other ways consumers were defrauded in 2020, sadly resulted in my office receiving a record number of consumer fraud complaints in 2020,” she added. “Consumers who have helped identify and report issues to our office have been invaluable partners in our efforts to stop deceptive scams and will continue to be vital partners going forward. I urge all New Yorkers to follow these tips to minimize the risk of falling victim to fraud, but, when fraud does occur, my office will continue to fight to protect New York consumers.”
Mayor Appoints Borough Native Chancellor of Schools
Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
“As a lifelong New Yorker, a product of our City’s public schools, and a career educator, it is the honor of my lifetime to serve as Chancellor,” said Incoming Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.
By Michael V. Cusenza Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday appointed Meisha Porter—a borough native, City public school graduate, and 20-year veteran who has led at every level in the system— the next chancellor of New York City public schools, and the first Black woman to serve in the role. After three years at the helm, Richard Carranza will begin transitioning out of the role of chancellor. Porter will begin as chancellor on March 15. In a media availability, Carranza said that he is resigning because he needs time to grieve for the 11 family members and friends that he lost in the past 12 months to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is a man who’s been through hell this last year, and he and I talked about it many times and, you know, he chose today to make it public, but this has been going on for a long time,” de Blasio said on Friday on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC. “It has almost been impossible to imagine, as he has told me, each time another family member was lost. Each time a childhood friend was lost. It has taken a huge toll, but he kept going somehow, and I admire it, but he also, you know, to his credit, was able to bring out that he was really suffering, and he had been through a trauma, a repeated trauma, and he needed to get away from the stress and the intensity of this job, and just have time to grieve and address what he was going through.” Porter currently serves as Bronx Executive Superintendent, leading community
school districts 7-12 and New Visions Affinity schools, covering the entire borough’s 361 schools and 235,448 students. She started her career as a youth organizer in Highbridge, and joined the Department of Education as a teacher at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, a school she helped conceive and found. After 18 years at the school, where she became Principal, she spent three years as Superintendent of District 11, which served the Pelham Parkway, Eastchester, and Woodlawn neighborhoods of the Bronx. In addition to previous roles within the DOE, Porter has also taught at CUNY as an adjunct professor and been a Columbia University Cahn fellow, an Aspen Institute fellow, and a member of the Harvard University National Institute for Urban School Leaders and the Fordham University— Carnegie Foundation iLead team. Porter has also received the National Association of Negro Women Sojourner Truth Award, Mercy College honorary degree and multiple state and local recognitions. Porter was born in Queens and comes from a family of educators. She was raised by a single mother who returned to school to finish her degree and become an educator herself. Porter said her upbringing has taught her the power of public education, and the difference one teacher can make. “As a lifelong New Yorker, a product of our City’s public schools, and a career educator, it is the honor of my lifetime to serve as Chancellor,” said Incoming Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.
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Pastor Stephen Roser Howard Beach Assembly of God This brutally-cold winter has accomplished at least one good thing: all of us are more grateful. I have actually found myself thanking God for 35 weather. Such little bright spots help to make life’s journey easier, and their ordinary nature might obscure the fact that they can be traced back to the grace of God. Even the encouraging word of a friend can help to ease our burden. The traveler does not need to go far before he can truthfully sing the second verse of Amazing Grace: “Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come. ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far…” God ministers grace in one form or another to us every day because our need changes every day. Do the battles of life threaten to defeat us? God gives persevering grace. Does
a sin burden us with guilt? God extends forgiving grace. Does the workload become too heavy? God gives strengthening grace. Do repetitious duties bore? God gives refreshing grace. God is a great reservoir of grace in all its manifestations, and the endless supply assures us of a safe arrival at our heavenly home. God is not the coward’s excuse but the brave man’s hope! I do not serve God to escape going to hell, but because I know that an indescribably glorious future awaits me in heaven. One day my journey will be complete, and I can rejoice along with the Apostle Paul who declared, “I am convinced that neither the present, nor the future, nor anything else, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 8 • MARCH 4, 2021 | 7
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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 8 • MARCH 4, 2021 | 9
Meng & Co. Introduce ‘New Deal for New Americans Act’ By Forum Staff Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) today reintroduced the “New Deal for New Americans Act,” legislation that promotes immigrant and refugee inclusion, as well as coordinates the efforts of federal, state, and local governments to support the social, economic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees. Specific provisions in the legislation pledge to: • Increase refugee admissions to at least 125,000 per fiscal year • Establish a National Office of New Americans in the Executive Office of the White House to promote and support immigrant and refugee inclusion, as well as coordinate efforts of federal, state, and local governments to support social, economic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees • Establish a Federal Initiative on New Americans to coordinate a federal response to issues that affect the lives of new immigrants and refugees, and the communities in
Photo Courtesy of Rep. Meng’s Office
“America is stronger when we embrace and assist immigrants in their transition as they contribute to our communities, economy, and culture,” Rep. Meng said.
which they reside • Create a Legal Services and Immigration Assistance Grant Program to support organizations that provide direct assistance to those in need of immigration screening; know-your-rights education; assistance in applying for citizenship, lawful permanent resident status, or other legal status; or seeking relief from a removal order • Create an English as a Gateway to Integration Program for organizations that teach English or help individuals earn a GED or prepare for naturalization
• Create a Workforce Development Grant Program to ensure that immigrant and refugee adults have equitable access to workforce programs that help equip them with occupational skills needed to secure or advance in employment • Promote civic engagement through automatic voter registration of newly naturalized individuals • Bolster family reunification by reducing (from 21 years old to 18 years old) the age at which citizens can petition for eligible family members to receive an immigrant visa
• Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to no longer allow for the deportation of an individual deemed a public charge “I’m honored to lead with Senators Markey and Hirono and Representatives Jayapal and García the New Deal for New Americans Act which would ensure a more inclusive and welcoming immigration system to help new Americans achieve their American Dream. Among many provisions, this bill would help immigrants and refugees overcome common challenges such as language barriers and employment attainment, and help break down barriers to naturalization,” Meng said. “Immigrants make up the fabric of our nation. America is stronger when we embrace and assist immigrants in their transition as they contribute to our communities, economy, and culture. Our bicameral legislation is a down payment for future generations to succeed here. I look forward to our legislation becoming law.” Markey added, “This legislation views our immigration system through a lens of citizenship, not enforcement, and provides comprehensive support for legal, economic, and language needs. I am proud to introduce this legislation that reflects the values of a nation built by immigrants.”
Borough President Receives Record Number of Community Board Applications By Michael V. Cusenza The Queens Borough President’s Office has received 931 applications from individuals who seek appointment to one of the borough’s 14 community boards this year—an enormous 56.5-percent increase from the 595 applications the Queens Borough President’s Office received last year, Borough President Donovan Richards recently announced. The jump in applications is attributed to Richards’ efforts to streamline the application process and engage in outreach on college campuses and elsewhere aimed at creating a more diverse applicant pool. Richards began receiving applications in mid-January for two-year terms of community board service which will begin on April 1, 2021. The application process became simplified this year when it was digitized, with all applications submitted via an easily fillable online form. In previous years, applications File Photo Fourteen community boards represent had to be prepared on paper and be notathe interests of the men and women who rized before they were turned in. live and/or work in Queens. The simplified process led to a diverse pool of applicants that will enable Richards to select community board members who are more diverse in terms of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, economic status, and immigration status, among other Borough President’s Office received applicafactors. This year’s 931 applicants include 698 tions from only 252 such individuals. “Democracy works best when it hears the people who are not currently members of a community board. Last year the Queens voices of all the people it serves,” Richards 10 MARCH 4, 2021 • Number 8 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
said. “Having a community board membership that truly reflects the diversity in Queens will help ensure our City government hears what our borough’s residents have to say. I
look forward to reviewing the applications we received for community board membership, and I am excited by the prospect of working with those dedicated and engaged individuals who I will ultimately appoint to the boards.” Community boards are local representative bodies that have a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to dealing with land use and zoning issues. The boards have an important advisory role and must be consulted on the placement of most municipal facilities in a community. Applications for zoning changes or variances must also come before the boards for review. The boards hold hearings and issue recommendations about the City budget, municipal service delivery, and numerous other matters that impact their communities. Community Boards 9, 10, and 14 represent the interests of South Queens residents and entrepreneurs that live and work in their respective communities. All Queens community board members are appointed by the Queens Borough President, pursuant to the City Charter, with half of the appointees nominated by the City Council members representing their respective Community Districts. Each board has up to 50 unsalaried members who serve twoyear terms. All community board members who wish to continue serving on a board are required to reapply at the conclusion of their two-year terms and are subject to review and reconsideration.
Home Health Aide Charged with Swiping Nearly $100K from Blind Elderly Woman
“The worker was supposed to be helping the victim. Instead, this defendant allegedly scammed the woman into Photo Courtesy of Google signing inflated paychecks and ripped her off during regular trips to the bank,” DA Katz said.
Saunders lives on 186th Lane in Fresh Meadows.
By Forum Staff A Fresh Meadows woman has been accused of siphoning nearly $100,000 from her legally blind, 89-year-old patient’s bank accounts from March 2019 through February 2020, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz recently announced. Sita Saunders, 61, was arraigned last week on a criminal complaint charging her with grand larceny in the second degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the second degree, and identity theft in the first degree. Saunders was ordered to return to court on April 27. According to the charges, in December
2019, the son of the victim noticed the balances in his mother’s bank accounts had dropped significantly. He reviewed the history of the accounts and noticed several checks payable to Saunders—who cared for the octogenarian victim for some 10 years—that far exceeded her weekly pay of $1,350. DA Katz said her office’s investigation allegedly showed that in March 2019 the defendant began cashing checks from the victim’s checking account for $1,000 and $2,000 more than her home health attendant salary. On March 14, 2019 a check for $3,350 was cashed. On April 4, 2019, another check made out to Saunders totaling $3,350 was
cashed. In all, nine checks for a combined $9,000 in excess of her pay. Continuing, according to the charges, part of Saunders’ duties included helping the legally blind woman pay her bills. The defendant would present the victim with checks to sign. The defendant also frequently took the elderly woman to the bank and while the victim sat in the waiting area Saunders went to a teller’s window. On several occasions the defendant allegedly made excessive withdrawals from her patient’s account without her authorization. According to the charges, between February 2020 and December 2020 the defendant made 17 withdrawals for $2,200 up to
$12,000. The defendant is accused of stealing more than $81,000 through withdrawals from the victim’s bank accounts. “An elderly woman suffering from macular degeneration became the victim of her home health aide’s alleged scheme. The worker was supposed to be helping the victim. Instead, this defendant allegedly scammed the woman into signing inflated paychecks and ripped her off during regular trips to the bank,” Katz said. “The victim’s son spotted irregularities and contacted my office. My team investigated and the defendant is now charged with very serious crimes.” If convicted, Saunders faces up to 15 years in prison.
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Legal Notices Notice of Formation of ALLEGRE LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with NY Dept. of State on 1/15/21. Office location: Queens County. Sec. of State designated agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served and shall mail process to: c/o Metropolitan Property Services, Inc., 141-50 85th Rd., Briarwood, NY 11435, principal business address. Purpose: all lawful purposes. 9 DOUBLE DIMA CAPITAL, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/24/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: dmitry choklin, 27-28 THOMSON AVENUE, APT 353, LONG ISLAND CITY, NY 11101. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 9 VERNONBLVD3 LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 12/14/20. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: THE LLC, 6431 108TH STREET, FORST HILLS, NY 11375. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 10 NAMBARII LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 02/01/21. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: NAMBARII LLC, 10426 203RD ST, SAINT ALBANS, NY 11412. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 10 GAMINGTOPTENS LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 01/19/21. Office in Queens Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to: GAMINGTOPTENS LLC,25243 LEEDS ROAD, LITTLE NECK, NY 11362. Purpose: Any lawful activity. 10 Notice of Formation of 97-44 Sutphin Realty LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 12/22/20. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: United Corporate Services, Inc., 10 Bank St, Ste 560, White Plains, NY 10606, the registered agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. Purpose: any lawful activity. 11 VEVICI LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 06/09/2020. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail a copy of the process to VEVICI LLC, 1854 PALMETTO STREET, APT. 1, RIDGEWOOD, NY 11385. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 11 RJG Trades LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 02/16/2021. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail a copy of the process to the LLC, 398 Menahan St. Ridgewood, NY 11385 Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 11 FILRO LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 11/10/20. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to LEGALINC COPORATE SERVICES INC., 1967 WHERLE DRIVE, SUITE 1 #086, BUFFALO , NY 14221. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 11
2645 PARTNERS LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 11/10/20. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to the LLC, 2272 38th Avenue,Astoria, NY 11105. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 11 237 BEACH 12 LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 06/22/20. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to the LLC, c/o Joseph A. Altman, Esq., 951 Bruckner Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10459. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 12 TIF MANAGEMENT SERVICES, LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 01/19/21. Office: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to the LLC, 3823 16th Street, Bayside, NY 11361. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. 12 Notice of Formation of VITA IN MOTU (VIM) LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 2/11/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: VITA IN MOTU (VIM) LLC, 97-15 Horace harding Epressway, 11M, Corona, NY 11368 the registered agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. Purpose: any lawful activity. 12 LOKUS MANOR RECORDINGS LLC Authority filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 11/06/2020. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to LOKUS MANOR RECORDINGS LLC, 13429 166TH PLACE, APT. 1B #17c, JAMAICA, NY 11434. Purpose: General. TRESCLAVELES LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 02/17/21. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC, c/o Robinson Brog, et al., Attn: Albert V. Dumaual, Esq., 875 Third Ave, 9th Fl., New York, NY 10022. Purpose: General. SQUAREFORCE LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 02/17/21. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC, c/o Robinson Brog, et al., Attn: Albert V. Dumaual, Esq., 875 Third Ave, 9th Fl., New York, NY 10022. Purpose: General. Next Solutions Group LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 02/17/21. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC, c/o Robinson Brog, et al., Attn: Albert V. Dumaual, Esq., 875 Third Ave, 9th Fl., New York, NY 10022. Purpose: General. BELISARIUS LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 02/17/21. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC, c/o Robinson Brog, et al., Attn: Albert V. Dumaual, Esq., 875 Third Ave, 9th Fl., New York, NY 10022. Purpose: General.
14 MARCH 4, 2021 • Number 8 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP
Aleen Holdings LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 02/17/21. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC, c/o Robinson Brog, et al., Attn: Albert V. Dumaual, Esq., 875 Third Ave, 9th Fl., New York, NY 10022. Purpose: General. Metropolitan Caregivers LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 02/05/21. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to Metropolitan Cargivers LLC, 3-26A Endeavor Place, College Point, NY 11356. Purpose: General. MONILUVSTYLES LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 01/15/19. Off. loc.: Queens Co. SSNY des. as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to SIMONE A. COTTLE, 109 16 FRANCIS LEWIS BLVD., QUEENS, NY 11429. Purpose: General.
APEX IMPERIAL, LLC Authority filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 02/18/2021 Office Location: Queens Co. LLC formed in New Jersey (NJ) on 12/12/19 SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process APEX IMPERIAL, LLC, 133-47 SANFORD AVE. #13E, FLUSHING, NY 11355. Purpose: any lawful activity. Notice is hereby given that an Order entered by the Civil Court, Queens County, on the 19th day of FEBRUARY 2021, bearing Index Number NC-000444-20/QU, a copy of which may be examined at the Office of the Clerk, located at 89-17 Sutphin Blvd., Jamaica, New York, 11435, grants me the right to assume the name of SHAAN SALAHUDIN. My present name is SHAAN SEEPAL (infant). The city and state of my present address is South Richmond Hill, NY. The month and year of my birth are MARCH 2015. The place of my birth is QUEENS, NY.
)RUWKHEHVWVHUYLFHDQGSULFHVIRUFODVVL¿HGDGV and legal noticesCall The Forum718-845-3221 The Law Offices of Gerard DeSapioRichard S. Chadwick, Esq.: ID#: 037222009528 Market StreetNewark, New Jersey 07105973-732 4200Attorneys for the Plaintiff, Michael L. DoveMICHAEL L. DOVE, SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEYCHANCERY DIVISION: FAMILY PART Plaintiff,HUDSON COUNTYVs DOCKET NO: FM-09-2241-19CRISTEN SCHMITT, CIVIL ACTIONDefendant,FINAL JUDGMENT OF DIVORCETHIS MATTER, having come before this Court, the Honorable Nesle A. Rodriguez, P.J.F.P. presiding, on this 18th day of February , 2021, in the presence of Richard S. Chadwick, Esq., of The Law Office of Gerard DeSapio, attorneys for the Plaintiff, Michael L. Dove, and the Defendant, Cristen Schmitt, not appearing in this matter, upon Complaint, having been duly served according to the Rules of the Court, and Default having been entered; and the Court having read and considered those papers and proofs; and it appearing that the Plaintiff and the Defendant were married on May 28, 2010 in the State of New York; and the Plaintiff, Michael L. Dove, having pleaded and proved a cause of action for Divorce under the statute in such case made and provided, and the Plaintiff having been a bona fide resident of the State of New Jersey for more than one year preceding the commencement of this action and jurisdiction having been acquired over the parties pursuant to the Rules governing the Courts, it is, on this 18th day of February ,2021, by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division,ORDERED AND ADJUDGED by this Court by virtue of its power and authoritygranted to it by the acts of the legislature in such case made and provided that the Plaintiff, Michael L. Dove, and the Defendant, Cristen Schmitt, be divorced from the bonds of FM-09-00224119 02/15/2021 AM Pg 2 of3 Trans ID: FAM2021110368matrimony for the causes stated in the Complaint and each of the said parties be hereby freed and discharged from the obligations thereof, the marriage being hereby dissolved; and it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED, that this shall constitute the final order of the court; and it is ORDERED and ADJUDGED, that all parties be served with a copy of this Judgment within 7 days of the signing of this Judgment.Nesle A. RodriguezHON. NESLE A. RODRIGUEZ, P.J.F.P.
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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 8 • MARCH 4, 2021 | 15
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