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VOL. 21 • NUMBER 17 • MAY 6, 2021

CHRIS CROSS

Pols Blast de Blasio Administration after Columbus Day Appears on Schools Calendar as ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’

See Story on Page 2 On Tuesday, State Sens. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Diane Savino (D-Staten Island and Brooklyn), past presidents of the Conference of Italian American Legislators, called the move a “block-headed decision.” Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 17 • MAY 6, 2021 | 1


Elected Officials Rip City for Changing Columbus Day to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ on School Calendar

Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Pols blasted the de Blasio administration this week for unceremoniously changing the Christopher Columbus Day school holiday to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on the official 2021-2022 academic calendar.

By Michael V. Cusenza Several Italian-American lawmakers on Tuesday blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Department of Education for unceremoniously changing the Christopher Columbus Day school holiday to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on the official 20212022 academic calendar. “As two past presidents of the Conference of Italian American Legislators, we are incredibly disappointed to see how the NYC Department of Education has

failed an important teachable moment,” State Sens. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Diane Savino (D-Staten Island and Brooklyn) wrote in a joint statement. “Their insensitive decision to eliminate  Columbus  Day, which is a legal, federal holiday from their calendar and substitute  it with ‘Indigenous Peoples’  Day’  does a terrible  disservice to a difficult and complex conversation. In one block-headed decision, they have harmed both communities and fanned the flames of division. They should immediately re-

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“In one block-headed decision, they have harmed both communities and fanned the flames of division,” Sen. Addabbo (second from l.) said of the City DOE.

scind this idea, restore the calendar and initiate educational discussions on the history of Italian  Americans and Indigenous People.” City Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) called the move “a disgraceful insult to people of Italian American heritage,” while Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) told the New York Post that the covert decision “only adds to the cowardice now regularly on display by the woke Left.” “There is nothing wrong with celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but doing so

at the expense of a day that celebrates Italian American culture and history is downright insulting,” Borelli added. By Tuesday evening, DOE officials edited the Oct. 11 entry on the 2021-2022 academic calendar to read, “Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day, schools closed.” In additional DOE calendar news, public schools will be closed on June 20, 2022, in observance of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Recycle Small Electronics at Addabbo District Offices

Photo Courtesy of Sen. Addabbo’s Office

Addabbo’s Howard Beach office is located at 159-53 102nd St.

By Forum Staff State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) is partnering with the City Department of Sanitation to help recycle electronics. From May 3 through May 31, Addabbo’s Howard Beach and Middle Village offices will be able to collect small electronics to be properly recycled through DSNY. Addabbo’s Howard Beach office is located at 159-53 102nd  St., and the Middle Village office is at 66-85 73rd Pl. Both offices

On Sunday, May 2, Addabbo, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Woodhaven), and Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) invited their constituents to the Forest Park Bandshell Parking Lot for the bi-annual E-waste Photo Courtesy of Google recycling event where they were able to safely recycle their electronic waste.

• Small servers hard drives satellite boxes; are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. • Tablets & e-readers; and to 5 p.m. and can accept the small electronics • Mobile phones, MP3 players, & video during those times. Addabbo requests that any electronics game consoles. dropped off at his offices are small so they Items that WILL NOT be accepted are: can fit into the DSNY-provided bin until • No appliances. Any household applithere is enough collected for a pickup. ances, which are mostly metal or mostly plastic, can be recycled with your regular Accepted items are: • Small TVs monitors computers laptops; recycling. • No loose batteries.  Regular alkaline • Printers & scanners; batteries can be discarded as regular trash. • Fax machines, keyboards & mice; Consumer take-back programs exist for re• VCRs, DVRs & DVD players;

2 MAY 6, 2021 • Number 17 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP

chargeable batteries. • No light bulbs or ballasts. These can be carefully discarded in the trash. Consumer take-back programs exist for fluorescent bulbs and CFLs. “I am hopeful that we can replicate the success we had with this partnership and collect even more electronics,”  Addabbo  said. “Keeping our landfills clear of harmful toxins and damage-causing components starts with us and making sure that we get our old or broken electronics into the right hands to be properly recycled.”


City Subway to Resume 24-Hour Service

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The city subway will resume 24/7 service beginning Monday, May 17.

By Michael V. Cusenza Back on track. The city subway will resume 24 houra-day service beginning May 17, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week. The resumption of 24-hour service will coincide with Cuomo’s announcement lifting the 12 a.m. food and beverage service curfew for outdoor dining areas. Beginning May 6, 2020, New York City Transit closed for disinfection from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority provided free alternative transportation options to essential workers during the overnight hours that included a significant expansion of bus service across the city and for-hire vehicles as necessary. On Feb. 15, Cuomo announced that the MTA would partially restore overnight service on the New York City subway, pending continued positive trends in New York’s COVID indicators. Effective Monday, Feb. 22, the MTA extended late-night subway service by two hours, moving to a 2 a.m. - 4 a.m. closure daily. “COVID-19 is on the decline in New York City and across New York State, and as we shift our focus to rebuilding our economy, helping businesses and putting people back to work, it’s time to bring the subway back to full capacity,” Cuomo said. “We reduced subway service more than a year ago to disinfect our trains and combat the rising tide of COVID cases, and we’re going to restore 24-hour service as New York gets back on the right track. This expansion will help working people, businesses and families get back to normal as the city reopens and reimagines itself for a new future.” On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the return of

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24/7 subway service as soon as possible. “The city that never sleeps is slowly— but surely—living up to its name again and waking up from the COVID-19 pandemic, but so should the subway system—and ASAP,” Schumer said. “Workers and riders need a fully functioning, 24/7 subway system badly, especially with restaurant and bar curfews slated to end. We already hear the stories of people left largely stranded during the current late-night shutdown, and the thing is, it will only get worse as the city fully reopens. To keep this recovery and good trend going, we need the subways working around-the-clock. The MTA has the money. I made sure of that.” According to the MTA, more than 2.1 million subway trips occurred in the New York City Transit system on Friday, April 23. This marked a new record high amid the pandemic. Moreover, the MTA said that weekday ridership has consistently hovered at or above the 2 million mark since April 9 of this year. “Overnight workers like waitresses, bartenders and more depend on transit to get around in the late-night hours. We’ve been moving them for the last year by bus and I’m thrilled that we can once again provide them with safe and efficient overnight subway service as well, as more COVID restrictions on businesses are lifted,” said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of New York City Transit. “We take our duty to keep riders safe seriously—which is why our mask mandate and disinfecting regimen will continue, and we will keep pressing the City to provide the police and mental health resources needed to accommodate returning customers. New Yorkers—including our heroic workforce—deserve nothing less.”

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Ridgewood Man Convicted of Threatening to Murder Members of Congress By Forum Staff Ridgewood resident Brendan Hunt, also known as “X-Ray Ultra,” was recently convicted of threatening to assault and murder members of the United States Congress to impede, interfere and intimidate with those members and to retaliate against them on account of their performance of their official duties. On Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Hunt, 37, posted a video called “KILL YOUR SENATORS” that included the summary “Slaughter them all,” to BitChute, an Internet-based video sharing site. In the video, Hunt made additional threats, exhorting his viewers to violence and telling them that “[w]e need to go back to the U.S. Capitol when all of the Senators and a lot of the Representatives are back there, and this time we have to show up with our guns. And we need to slaughter these m-----f-----s.” Hunt also advocated for the violent overthrow of the federal government, claiming that “our government at this point is basically a handful of traitors . . . so what you need to do is take up arms, get to D.C., probably the inauguration . . . so called inauguration of this m-----f-----g communist Joe Biden . . . [T]hat’s probably

Hunt was arrested in January during a pre-dawn raid of his Ridgewood residence.

the best time to do this, get your guns, show up to D.C., and literally just spray these m----f-----s . . . put some bullets in their f------g heads.” Hunt said, “If anybody has a gun, give me it, I’ll go there myself and shoot them and kill them . . . [W]e have to take out these Senators and then replace them with actual patriots. This is a [Zionist Oc-

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cupied Government].” The evidence at trial also showed that, between Dec. 6, 2020, and Jan. 8, 2021, Hunt made a series of posts on various social media websites in which he targeted members of Congress, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer,

and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DQueens and Bronx). On Dec. 6, 2020, Hunt posted two messages on his Facebook account, the first calling Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Schumer, and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez “highvalue target[s].” Hunt stated: “They really need to be put down. These commies will see death before they see us surrender.” A second message called on former President Donald Trump to hold a public execution of Pelosi, Schumer, and Ocasio-Cortez. “If you dont do it, the citizenry will. We’re not voting in another rigged election. Start up the firing squads, mow down these commies, and lets take America back,” Hunt stated. The evidence included Hunt’s social media and video accounts, as well as videos, text messages, emails, and documents downloaded from Hunt’s electronic devices espousing white supremacist and anti-Semitic views, including Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf ” and accused mass murderer Dylann Roof ’s manifesto. “This Office will not tolerate threats of violence against public officials who are entrusted with upholding the Constitution,” said Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko. When sentenced on June 22, Hunt faces up to 10 years in prison.

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ACS Urges Families to Practice ‘Safe Sleep’ Tips

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia/Carin Araujo

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report finding unsafe bedding as the leading cause of sudden unexpected infant death.

By Forum Staff

Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s release of a new report finding unsafe bedding as the leading cause of sudden unexpected infant death, the NYC Administration for Children’s Services recently urged families to avoid bringing babies into bed with them and to make sure cribs are free of soft bedding. The report, titled “Explaining Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths 2011 to 2017,” found that 72 percent of SUID were associated with soft bedding, like pillows, blankets and stuffed animals, which can lead to accidental suffocation among babies.  ACS  reminds parents and caregivers to always practice the ABCs of safe sleep. Infants should sleep Alone (in a crib free of loose bedding), on their Backs, and in a safety-approved Crib (not in an adult bed). “The CDC’s new report should be a wakeup call for parents and caregivers across the country, including right here in New York City. Soft and loose bedding like pillows, blankets and even stuffed animals can be dangerous items to place in an in-

fant’s sleep environment because they can lead to accidental suffocation, as the CDC’s report suggests. As always, ACS  reminds families to practice the ABC’s of sleep: infants should sleep Alone in a crib free of blankets and other items, on their Backs and in a safety-approved Crib,”  said ACS Commissioner David Hansell. Tragically, in New York City, 40 or more babies die each year (almost one baby each week) from suffocation and other preventable sleep-related injuries. A sleep-related injury death is the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year old that occurs because of where and/or how they were placed to sleep.  ACS is reminding parents to do the following five things when putting their baby to sleep: 1. Avoid bringing the baby into bed with you, even if you think it will keep the baby warmer. A baby must never sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or on a chair with anyone. Babies may suffocate if another person accidently rolls on top of them or covers their nose and mouth.  2. Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any other items that could increase the risk

The Pharmacist’s Corner

Presented by Frank Pantina, R.Ph

HELP WITH MIGRAINES: PART 1: A HEADACHE PROOF HOUSE... Many of our patients are among the more than 30 million Americans who suffer from migraine headaches. We’ve done some research and would like to offer some advice we feel will be very helpful, beyond what medication and therapy can do. One of the most important steps you can take to curing migraines is to educate yourself on their causes and triggers and try to control them. Believe it or not, there are things you can do around your home to help ease the suffering. We’ve taken the time to consult with a neurologist who says that migraine sufferers can cut down considerably on the number of headaches they get by controlling some very simple factors like lighting and smells around their homes. Overly bright lights at home can be a huge problem. People with migraines are often extra sensitive to sensory input. Fluorescent lights have a flickering quality that can induce pain, and while there is no “perfect” light bulb option, getting rid of halogens and fluorescent bulbs and replacing them with dim incandescent can definitely help because of the steady, muted light they emit. Install dimmers so you can turn down the lights when you feel a headache coming on you can lower the lights. And make sure you have shades and blinds to protect you from any streaming light. Next up is getting rid of those hidden allergens, of which there are at least six in every home. Dander, dust mites and mold are all irritants which can trigger pain-triggering chemi-

cals. There are easy fixes for these situations. Invest in a quality vacuum and an air purifier with HEPA filters. HEPA filters can remove up to 99% of airborne allergens like cat dander. Regularly run a dehumidifier to keep the humidity levels between 30% and 50%. That’s the dry zone where dust mites and mold are less likely to thrive. Launder your bedding every week in hot water, and slip microfiber allergen-blocking encasements over your pillows, mattress, and box spring. You may not believe this but air quality in our homes is oft times worse than outside and the culprit here is poor ventilation. Intense aromas of any kind irritate the trigeminal nerve, which runs from your nose to your brain and is responsible for most headaches. Do not use scented candles or air fresheners to mask the odors because they contain many of the agents we are looking to get rid of, they just have a pleasant odor. Crack your windows and get the fresh air moving through the house and stick to unscented, non-toxic cleansers. Finally, the myriad of gadgetry that crowds our everyday lives, i.e computers, iPads, cell phones have damaging glare. Turn down the brightness and remember that while using them your posture tends to slack . Sit straight so that you do not cause undue tension to your neck and back which can dramatically reduce the likelihood of getting a migraine attack. We will be back next week with more ways to stay migraine free!

For your family’s prescription needs, please call

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of suffocation out of the baby’s sleep area. 3. When worried about a baby getting cold, dress them in a wearable blanket, such as a sleep sack, or in another layer of infant clothing.  4. Place babies on their backs to sleep. Babies breathe better on their backs than on their stomachs or sides.  5. Put babies to sleep on a flat, firm sleep

surface with a fitted sheet made for a crib or playpen. Though it might seem more comfortable to put a pillow on top of the mattress, babies may suffocate on the soft surface. For more information on infant safe sleep best practices or resources in your community, visit: nyc.gov/safesleep or call 311 and ask for Safe Sleep.

Muffins with Moms on the Blvd. Moms, grandmas, and their grateful offspring gathered on Sunday at Prima Pasta & Café on Cross Bay Boulevard for the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic’s “Muffins with Mom” event. HB Moms, Mia Bella Salon, and Perfect Match Nails provided the raffle prizes. “It was so heartwarming to watch all the children make special gifts for the number one lady in their lives while learning how to give back to their community by participating in the civic’s suggestion to donate baby items, such as clothing, diapers, wipes, etc. for the local family shelters,” said civic President Joann Ariola. Photo Courtesy of Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic

THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 17 • MAY 6, 2021 | 5


Long Island Man Indicted for Allegedly Ramming SUV into Police Car that Nearly Struck Detective By Forum Staff A Long Island man has been indicted by a borough grand jury for allegedly intentionally slamming into a police car and shoving it with so much force that it nearly struck a detective standing outside the vehicle. The incident occurred in late January 2021, when police were attempting to pull over the defendant—a target of a long-term drug investigation—during a traffic stop, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Friday. Antoine Sheppard, 52, was arraigned Friday morning on a 36-count indictment charging him with attempted murder in the first degree, conspiracy in the second and fourth degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, attempted aggravated assault upon a police officer, attempted assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree, criminal mischief in the second and third and reckless driving. Sheppard was ordered to return to court on May 11. Sheppard faces up to 40 years to life in prison if convicted. Additionally charged in the indictment are brothers Brian Grant, 56, and Darion Grant, both of Jamaica. The defendants were arraigned last month on conspiracy in the second and fourth degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, and criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree. Darion

Cops attempted to pull Sheppard over at 131st Avenue and 235th Street in Laurelton.

Grant is additionally charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. Both men were ordered to return to court on May 11. If convicted, Brian and Darion Grant face up to 25 years in prison. According to the charges, from May 2020 through January 2021, law enforcement obtained court-authorized warrants to eavesdrop on the mobile phones of defendants Brian Grant, Darion Grant and Sheppard. Listening in on calls, surveillance and other investigative tools, law enforcement uncovered a drug-dealing network with all three defendants buying and selling heroin and cocaine in and around

Photo Courtesy of Google

Jamaica, Laurelton, and South Jamaica. DA Katz said law enforcement observed people buying drugs allegedly from the three defendants. Those buyers were then stopped by police, who confiscated the drugs that were purchased. In early January 2021, said the DA, police became aware of a major drug delivery that Sheppard was scheduled to make. Investigators followed Sheppard—who was behind the wheel of a Range Rover—and attempted to pull him over at 131st Avenue and 235th Street in Laurelton. The police, in multiple vehicles, boxed in the Range Rover. That’s when Sheppard allegedly reversed the vehicle and slammed it into the police car be-

hind him. Then, he threw the car back into drive and accelerated to push the car in front of him forward enough to squeeze between the vehicles. The unmarked police car that was pushed lurched forward, nearly hitting a detective who was standing by the vehicle. Katz said that Sheppard abandoned the SUV several blocks away. He was apprehended several weeks later in Nassau County. “Every single day our police officers risk their lives protecting the public,” Katz said. “The detective—doing his job investigating drug trafficking in Queens—could have been killed if the nearly two-ton car slammed into him.”

Two Alleged Pimps Indicted for Forcing Teen Girls into Sex Industry By Forum Staff Two men have been indicted twice by a borough grand jury for allegedly coercing a 15-year-old girl to trade sex for cash for three days in February in two Queens hotels; and for allegedly trafficking two other teens—13 and 14—posting nude images of the victims online and stating that they were “for sale,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz recently announced. Lawrence Winslow and Alan Velvett, both 27, were arraigned earlier this year on a 28-count indictment charging them with kidnapping in the first and second degree, sex trafficking of a child, sex trafficking, compelling prostitution, rape in the first and third degree and other crimes. The defendants were ordered to return to court on June 9. If convicted, Winslow and Velvett each face up to life in prison. Both Winslow and Velvett were also arraigned last week on a 13-count indictment charging them with sex trafficking of a child, sex trafficking, promoting prostitution in the first, second and third degree, endangering the welfare of a child, attempted sex trafficking of a child and at-

Photo Courtesy of Google

One of the hotels the defendants’ used for their alleged prostitution business was the La Quinta Inn on Queens Boulevard in LIC.

tempted promoting prostitution in the first and second degree. If convicted on these charges, the defendants face up to 25 years in prison. According to first indictment, in February, the 15-year-old victim met Winslow and Velvett at the La Quinta Inn on Queens Boulevard in Long Island City where she was told she would engage in sex for cash. Winslow paid for two rooms at the hotel and took semi-nude photos of the

6 MAY 6, 2021 • Number 17 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP

child and posted online advertisements of the child. Both Velvett’s and Winslow’s cell phone numbers were used with the ads. DA Katz said, before the victim had sex with strangers, she was first allegedly forced to have sex with Winslow twice. That was followed by a string of strangers who had intercourse with the girl and every dollar was pocketed by the defendants. After February 17, as outlined in the charges, Velvett relocated the victim to the

JFK Inn in South Ozone Park. At this new spot, Lawrence joined his co-defendant and the victim was again forced to have sex with strangers for cash. Velvett also coerced the girl to have sexual intercourse with him. The teenager was rescued when an undercover police officer responded to the online ad and met with the girl in person at one of the hotel rooms. Velvett was arrested after arriving in the room. Winslow was arrested after being found in the second hotel room across the hall. At the time, Winslow had $872 in cash in his wallet. In the second case, the two teens met Winslow at the La Quinta Inn where Winslow allegedly took nude photos of the youngsters. When Winslow posted the images online, he stated aloud that the girls were “for sale.” One of the teenagers had sex with a stranger and the defendants again kept every dollar from the exchange. “This case is the latest example of why I established the Human Trafficking Bureau when I became DA,” Katz said. “These three teenage victims were allegedly forced to trade sex for cash with strangers and the 14-year-old was coerced into having intercourse with both defendants.”


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NYCPBA Endorses JOANN ARIOLA Pastor Stephen Roser Howard Beach Assembly of God

For New York City Council

“Stephen, have your good clothes on tomorrow morning, and I’ll drive by at 9 o’clock to pick you up for Sunday School.” It was more of an order than an invitation that Dennis Smith, caretaker of the prestigious Strawbridge family farm in Horsham Township, Pennsylvania, gave me on the Saturday before Easter 1961. Dennis, along with his wife and four children, not only drove by at 9 a.m. Sunday, as he had promised, but continued to do so for seven straight years, taking me each week to the church where I experienced the new birth, Maranatha Assembly of God in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. That simple invitation altered the course of my life. Apart from it, there is little chance that I, coming from a non-religious family, would

be a minister of the gospel today. Recently, I returned to the Strawbridge farm. The sight of collapsing barns, weed-covered fields, and the vacant Smith farm house filled me with an eerie sadness. I grieved to think that probably no one driving by ever heard of the people who lived there, but then I rejoiced to remember that their influence lives on in me. I conducted the funeral of Dennis Smith in 2006 at the request of his children. Shortly before he went to heaven, he confessed to me that he regretted the bad temper that he battled back in those days. I was actually encouraged. It underscored the truth that God works through imperfect people. Maybe He will use my own flawed life to change the course of a few others.

THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 17 • MAY 6, 2021 | 7


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Two Borough Men Plead Guilty to Bank Fraud, Identity Theft Conspiracy By Forum Staff Two Queens brothers—Abed Ahmad and Alaa Ahmad—on Thursday pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to commit aggravated identity theft relating to a scheme to defraud JPMorgan Chase & Co. and its customers. Abed Ahmad also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft. “The defendants abused their positions of trust at JP Morgan Chase in furtherance of a sordid scheme to steal the identities of elderly and deceased customers in order to misappropriate millions in funds from their accounts,” said Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko. “This Office and its law enforcement partners will spare no effort in holding the defendants to account for their brazen fraud.” As set forth in court filings and Thursday’s proceedings, between approximately 2012 and 2017, Abed and Alaa Ahmad, 37 and 34, respectively, both of whom worked at branches of JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Queens, used their positions at the bank to target high-dollar value customer accounts of elderly or deceased individuals that had been dormant for a period of time. After identifying these accounts, Abed and Alaa Ahmad passed the account information, as well as the personal identifying information of the account holders, to another co-conspirator, Moustafa Ayoub. Ayoub used the account informa-

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York

“This Office and its law enforcement partners will spare no effort in holding the defendants to account for their brazen fraud,” said Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Lesko.

tion to transfer nearly $7 million of victim funds from the JPMorgan Chase accounts to other financial accounts controlled by Ayoub. Ayoub, 50, previously pleaded guilty in January 2021 to conspiracy to commit

bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit aggravated identity theft and aggravated identity theft. He is awaiting sentencing. “These guilty pleas put high-tech cyber thieves on notice: the Manhattan D.A.’s

Office has built the expertise, resources, and seamlessly collaborative partnerships to find you, hold you accountable, and secure justice for your victims,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. “I thank Acting U.S. Attorney Lesko and my Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau for their exceptional collaboration as we continue working together to protect our residents and markets from increasingly sophisticated, large-scale frauds. I also commend my Office’s Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations Bureau; the NYPD’s Financial Crimes Task Force, Cybercrime and Identity Theft Task Force, and Intelligence Bureau; and our federal partners at IRS and HSI for this expert, joint investigation, as well as the Veterans Affairs OIG and Social Security Administration OIG for their important work.” John Grasso, Special Agent-in-Charge, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, New York Field Office, added, “These guilty pleas are the result of a true collaborative effort between federal and local agencies to identify this massive fraud and hold accountable those who abused their authority for personal gain. These individuals stole these funds not only from private citizens and financial institutions, but also from the Social Security Administration. I want to recognize our law enforcement partners, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office, for their efforts leading to today’s announcement.”

Former Accountant for Maspeth Demo Company Charged with Embezzling Nearly $2 Million

File Photo Photo Courtesy of Google

Badal worked as the in-house accountant for Titan Industrial Services Inc. in Maspeth for 22 years.

By Forum Staff A Brooklyn woman has been charged with stealing millions of dollars from her employer for a third of the 22 years she worked at a demolition company in Maspeth, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Thursday. Vedeyah Badal, 56, has been arraigned 10 aMAY 6, 2021criminal • Number 17 • VOL. on three-count complaint charg-21 ing her with grand larceny in the first de-

years. She was the company’s in-house accountant and had access and virtually unlimited control over the business’s finances throughout her tenure at the interior/exterior demolition company. In 2019, Badal left the company. It was at that point, someone discovered three employees who existed in name only and that these three fictitious workers were getting paid weekly. • THE FORUMtoNEWSGROUP According the complaint, the company owners conducted a forensic audit

“Allegedly skimming money by the millions, this trusted employee found an unusual way to pad her bank account,” DA Katz said.

leged instances of hundreds of checks written and deposited to benefit Badal. Between June 2015 and March 2019, there were 289 checks written against the business’s M & T Bank account. Those checks were allegedly deposited into Badal’s Chase Bank account. The 289 checks totaled $630,132. Between May 2014 and March 2019, 269 checks were drawn from the business’s bank account with $596,326 cashed and allegedly deposited into Badal’s Citibank ac-

employer. The company lost another $1 million paying taxes, Social Security contributions and disability and Medicare from the fake employees’ checks. “Allegedly skimming money by the millions, this trusted employee found an unusual way to pad her bank account. Working as an accountant, the defendant is accused of creating fake employees and adding them to the payroll. When the checks were cut, she was the alleged recipient depositing


Mayor Announces New Programs to Support New Yorkers Experiencing Serious Mental Illness By Forum Staff Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a new, comprehensive effort to support New Yorkers experiencing serious mental illness. According to Hizzoner, through a range of new investments, the City will build on its existing resources to create a new, flexible model for mental health care to reach more New Yorkers and help them stay connected to care. To help New Yorkers with the most serious  mental  health needs stay connected to care, the City is significantly expanding community-based treatment options, including:   25 new Intensive Mobile Treatment teams: Created in 2016 by the Department of Health and  Mental  Hygiene with support from ThriveNYC, Intensive Mobile Treatment (IMT) has reached directly into communities to bring mental health care to New Yorkers who have been poorly served by traditional care systems — such as New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, substance use disorders and those involved with the criminal justice system. IMT’s peers, nurses, social workers, and psychiatrists work to ensure that clients stay connected to care over time. From launch, 90% of clients have stayed in services for a year or more  and 39% of clients who were unhoused, many experiencing street home-

Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

“For those who are dealing with the profound challenge of serious mental illness—you’re not alone. Your city sees you, and we are here to help,” Mayor de Blasio said.

lessness, have moved into housing. The 25 new IMT teams will serve 675 more people, eliminating IMT’s current waiting list. New teams will begin accepting referrals in August 2021.    Adding more Clubhouse Capacity:  Clubhouses are spaces where people experiencing serious  mental  illness can build social connections, get resources and

find a supportive community. The City will expand clubhouse membership by 25 percent, from the current 3,000 to 3,750 by Dec. 31, 2021. The City will also invest in engagement strategies to help spread the word about Clubhouses and reach those experiencing homelessness and other populations needing a higher level of support. Clubhouse members and staff will conduct

outreach and enrollment activities citywide at sites which serve these populations such as soup kitchens, pantries, shelters, justice related settings and hospitals and geographic areas and settings where they may reside such as Times Square, parks, train and subway stations.   Launching CONNECT:  The Continuous Engagement between Community and Clinic Treatment (CONNECT) will be a new, innovative program that will serve  up to 850 clients with serious mental illness with integrated mobile and brick-and-mortar treatment. Through this innovative and flexible model of care, clients will be able to engage in intense mental  health and substance use treatment and services that aim to address social determinants of health, such as housing insecurity or employment. The program model is expected to begin serving clients by January 2022. These three strategies will be managed by the Department of Health and  Mental  Hygiene, with programmatic oversight from the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC. “As we rebuild from the pandemic and drive a recovery for all of us, our mission to bring  mental  health care to every New Yorker has never been more urgent,” de Blasio added. “For those who are dealing with the  profound challenge of serious mental illness—you’re not alone. Your city sees you, and we are here to help.”  

Industry, Union Call on Congress to Pass ‘Save Hotel Jobs Act’ By Forum Staff The American Hotel & Lodging Association and UNITE HERE, the largest hospitality workers union in North America, recently joined forces to call on Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act. The bill, according to AHLA, provides the assistance hotel workers need to survive until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels. Key provisions of the Save Hotel Jobs Act include: Supporting Hotel Workers:  Direct payroll grants will be utilized for payroll and benefits expenses for workers. The legislation would also require grantees to give laid-off workers recall rights to ensure those who lost their hotel jobs due to the pandemic are able to get back to work. Allowing Worker-Friendly Tax Credits: Provides a Personal Protective Equipment Tax Credit to promote worker safety measures, which would allow for a payroll tax credit for 50 percent of costs associated with the purchase of personal protective equipment, technology designed to reduce the impact of the pandemic, increased testing for employees, and enhanced cleaning protocols that do not negatively impact the level of work for

Photo Courtesy of Google

Urban hotels ended January down 66 percent in room revenue compared to last year.

housekeeping staff. According to AHLA, the pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce. Leisure and hospitality has lost 3.1 million jobs during the pandemic that have yet to return, representing more than a third of all unemployed persons in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even more stark, the unemployment rate in the accommodation

sector specifically remains 330-percent higher than the rest of the economy. The crisis has been especially devastating in urban areas. Urban hotels, which are more reliant on business and group travel and more likely to host larger events, ended January down 66 percent in room revenue compared to last year. That does not include the lost revenue from groups, meetings and food and beverage, which

contribute significantly to business in these markets. According to recent reports, New York City  has seen one-third of its hotel rooms—more than 42,000—wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 200 hotels closing permanently in the city. “Every day, hotels are closing for good, and hardworking, loyal employees are sadly being let go,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “No industry has been more affected by the pandemic than hospitality.  Government-issued travel bans and restrictions, which are meant to slow the spread of the virus, have wiped out 10 years of job growth in our industry. Now, millions of jobs and thousands of businesses are at risk—not just hotels, but the many businesses and workers hotels also support in the community. Congress must step up now to support the hotel industry workforce with targeted relief.” D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE, added, “Hospitality workers have been devastated by the pandemic, with 98 percent of our members laid off at the peak of the shutdowns and more than 70 percent still out of work today. The Save Hotel Jobs Act will provide important assistance in bringing back good hospitality jobs and making sure that workers who were laid off during the pandemic are recalled back to work.”

THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 17 • MAY 6, 2021 | 11


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Legal Notices MIKE & TERRY LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 03/11/21. 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, 41-07 162nd Street, Flushing, NY 11358. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. Notice of Formation of TMCNY REAL ESTATE, LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 01/08/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to:REGISTERED AGENTS INC., 90 STATE STREET, SUITE 700, OFFICE 40, ALBANY, NY 12207. Purpose: any lawful activities. BUTCHER SHOP REALTY LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 03/10/21. 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, 41-07 162nd Street, Flushing, NY 11358. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. CROSSTOWN LOGISTICS LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 03/10/21. 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 KUDESIE CHUNIELAL, 11710 140TH STREET, JAMAICA, NY 11436. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. WITTS SERVICES, LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 02/16/21. 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 REGISTERED AGENTS INC, 90 STATE STREET, SUITE 700, OFFICE 40, ALBANY, NY 12207. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. Notice of Formation of MCDUFFIE PROPERTY STOCK HOLDINGS LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 03/30/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: BAKAR MCDUFFIE, 10519 170TH STREET, JAMAICA, NY 11433. Purpose: any lawful activities. Notice of Formation of LADY KONFIDENTIAL LLCArts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 03/03/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: KIM IBRICEVIC, 78-24 19TH ROAD, #2B, EAST ELMHURST, NY 11370 Purpose: any lawful activities. Notice of Formation of RUTH TEITELBAUM PLLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 03/22/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: RUTH TEITELBUM PLLC, P.O. BOX 604008, BAYSIDE, NEW YORK, 11360. Purpose: any lawful activities.

Notice of Formation of KOTA ESSENTIAL LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 03/01/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: HAROLD TIPPETT, 114-30 175 TH STREET, JAMAICA, NY 11434 Purpose: any lawful activities. Notice of Formation of 821 Sourcing Solutions LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 03/18/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: Niccolo Duranti, 4610 Center Blvd Apt 1611, Long Island City, NY 11109. Purpose: any lawful activities. Notice of Formation of STRAIGHT AHEAD FILMS, LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 04/08/19. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: NEAL HEMPHILL, 5136 30th Ave, Apt 1 G, Woodside, NY 11377. Purpose: any lawful activities. Notice of Formation of BAAZFIT LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 04/05/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: SIMRATPAL SINGH, 84-51 266THSTREET, FLORAL PARK, NY 11001. Purpose: any lawful activities. Notice of Formation of JSG BROADWAY EATS LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 03/25/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: JSG BROADWAY EATS LLC, 447 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NY 10013. Purpose: any lawful activities.

Notice of Formation of SGVN SERVICES LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 03/17/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: SANDOR G. PETIET, 7113 60TH LANE, APT 107, RIDGEWOOD, NY 11385. Purpose: any lawful activities. ITOP LLC (the “LLC”) filed Articles of Organization with the New York Department of State on 4/09/21. Office location: Queens County. The New York Secretary of State is designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served and is directed to forward service of process to 25-15 34 Ave, Astoria, NY 11106. Purpose: Business Consulting.

14 MAY 6, 2021 • Number 17 • VOL. 21 • THE FORUM NEWSGROUP

IDEAL CONNECT LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 03/3/21. 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: DENSTAN SEECHARAN, 1023 DELIA COURT, FAR ROCKAWAY, NY 11691. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. Notice of Formation of 162-07 Laburnum LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 2/4/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: The LLC, 162-07 Laburnum Ave, Flushing, NY 11358. Purpose: any lawful activity. ORASIS PLAZA LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 04/13/21. 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, 85 Dover Road, Manhasset, NY 11030. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. SAKAI NY LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 12/08/20. 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, 16004 CROSS BAY BLVD., unit #135 HOWARD BEACH, NY 11414. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. BZMAX LLC, Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 04/08/2021. Office loc: Queens County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: The LLC, 66-45 79th Place, Middle Village, NY 11379. Reg Agent: Barbara Zangrilli, 66-45 79th Place, Middle Village, NY 11379. Purpose: Any Lawful Purpose. Notice of Formation of Queens 1089 LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 4/12/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: 3916 Prince St PHA, Flushing, NY 11354. Purpose: any lawful activity.

REAWAKEN STUDIO, LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 02/24/21. 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: PATRICK ABRAMS, 2560 42ND STREET, APT. 3F, ASTORIA, NY 11103. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.

M J W FINE PHOTOGRAPHY, LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 04/07/21. 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 6131 MADISON ST. APT 2R, RIDGEWOOD, NY 11385. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.

NATIBODY, LLC Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 03/16/21. 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: JANELLE BENNETT, 6234 BURCHELL RD, AVERNE, NY 11692. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.

“Notice is hereby given that a license, number 1335155 for on premise beer, wine and cider has been applied for by the undersigned to sell beer, wine and cider at retail in a restaurant under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law at 71-63 Austin Street, Forest Hills, NY 11375 for on premise consumption.” AUSTIN STREET PIZZA LLC 71-63 Austin Street, Forest Hills, NY 11375

VIXEN SCOPING LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 5/4/21. Office location: Queens County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: REGISTERED AGENTS INC., 90 STATE STREET, SUITE 700, OFFICE 40, ALBANY, NY 12207 Purpose: any lawful activity.. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.

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THE FORUM NEWSGROUP • VOL. 21 • Number 17 • MAY 6, 2021 | 15


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Profile for Mike Kurov

THE FORUM NEWSGROUP | MAY 6, 2021  

THE FORUM NEWSGROUP | MAY 6, 2021  

Profile for makf
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