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A Sign of Our Times

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Grand Jury Report critical of Smithtown town
gover
nments supervision
of commercial
property demolition…

The Grand Jury Report is public record and available at the link below. It is 40 pages, but double spaced, and well worth the few minutes it takes to read it.

Please feel free to share your comments with us.

Click on link for Full Report

 

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Sign of our Times

By Eric Sailor

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Thursday
Feb282019

Smithtown Man Pleads Guilty To Threatening Two United States Senators

Thursday, February 28th at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, Ronald DeRisi pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco to threatening to assault and murder United States senators in retaliation for their support of the nomination and confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.  When sentenced, DeRisi faces up to 10 years in prison.  As part of his plea agreement with the government, DeRisi will forfeit two rifles to the United States.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Matthew R. Verderosa, Chief of Police, United States Capitol Police, announced the guilty plea.

“This defendant threatened to assault and murder two sitting United States senators in an effort to intimidate them and interfere with their performance of official duties,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Ours is a system of laws – not threats – and the Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who seek to undermine the integrity of our constitutional system through violence.”  Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the United States Capitol Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Suffolk County Police Department for their investigative work and assistance in the case. 

 “The mission of the United States Capitol Police is to protect the Congress, the U.S. Capitol, and all who work and visit here. I want to thank our investigators for their excellent work as well as our law enforcement partners and Mr. Donoghue and his staff for bringing this investigation and trial to this satisfactory conclusion,” stated U.S. Capitol Police Chief Verderosa.

In September and October of 2018, DeRisi telephoned and left more than 10 threatening voice-messages at the offices of two United States senators in connection with the nomination and confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.  When DeRisi was arrested on October 19, 2018, members of law enforcement recovered the prepaid cellular telephone that had been used to make the threatening calls, as well as live ammunition during the execution of a search warrant. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Justina L. Geraci is in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

Ronald DeRisi
Age: 74
Smithtown, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-090 (JFB)

Wednesday
Feb272019

East Northport Man Sentenced To 19 Years Imprisonment For Transporting Child Pornography

Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Brian Newton was sentenced to 19 years’ of imprisonment by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco following the defendant’s guilty plea on May 3, 2018 to transportation of child pornography in interstate and foreign commerce.  As part of his sentence, Newton must serve five years’ supervised release following his imprisonment, during which time he must remain registered as a sex offender and not have unsupervised contact with minors. 

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the sentence.

“Newton, despite being a registered sex offender, again chose to victimize children by sharing images of their abuse with others online, conduct that is deserving of a substantial prison sentence and underscores a message of deterrence to others,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The protection of innocent children is a priority of utmost importance for this Office and our law enforcement partners.  We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that those who victimize children will be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”  Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the FBI New York Crimes Against Children Task Force for its investigative work and assistance. 

“Child pornography is not an abstract crime. It is a direct byproduct of the sexual abuse of innocent children – in this instance, including infants and toddlers,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “And though he was already on probation for a prior child pornography conviction, Newton continued and even escalated his depraved actions, sharing child pornography while sexually soliciting minor children online. Today’s sentence provides a measure of justice for Newton’s victims, and protects those he sought to victimize. The FBI’s Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Task Force and our partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting anyone who seeks to harm children.”

Newton, who at the time of the charged offense was on probation from a conviction in Suffolk County in 2014 for possession of child pornography, was caught trading child pornography including sadistic depictions of the sexual abuse of infants and toddlers.  During the execution of a search warrant at his residence, law enforcement seized Newton’s large collection of child pornography, including hundreds of videos and thousands of images.  After his arrest, Newton admitted engaging in conversations with minors over internet chat platforms, as well as sending nude images of himself to minors and soliciting nude images from minors.    

This prosecution is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative led by the Department of Justice to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Lara T. Gatz and Michael R. Maffei are in charge of the prosecution. 

The Defendant:

BRIAN JOSEPH NEWTON
Age:  38
East Northport, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-341 (JFB)

Wednesday
Feb272019

East Hampton Man Charged With Cryptocurrency Scheme

The founder and principal operator of My Big Coin Pay Inc. (My Big Coin), a purported cryptocurrency and virtual payment services company headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, was charged in an indictment unsealed today for his alleged participation in a scheme to defraud investors by marketing and selling fraudulent virtual currency. 

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling of the District of Massachusetts, Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta of the FBI’s Boston Field Office and Inspector in Charge Peter R. Redina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Field Division made the announcement.

Randall Crater, 48, of East Hampton, New York, was charged in an indictment filed in the District of Massachusetts with four counts of wire fraud and three counts of unlawful monetary transactions.  Crater was arrested this morning and will appear today in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida.

The indictment alleges that between 2014 and 2017, Crater and others created the fraudulent virtual currency “My Big Coins” or “Coins” and marketed this fraudulent currency to investors using misrepresentations about its nature and value.  Crater and his associates allegedly falsely claimed that Coins were a fully functioning cryptocurrency backed by valuable assets such as gold.  Crater and his associates also allegedly told investors that Coins could be readily exchanged for goods, cash or other virtual currencies.  As alleged in the indictment, Crater and his associates solicited investors and distributed these misrepresentations through websites and social media affiliated with My Big Coin, as well as by direct communications with investors and prospective investors.  In reality, Coins were not backed by gold or any other valuable assets and were not readily transferable, the indictment alleges.  Instead, Crater allegedly misappropriated over $6 million in investor funds for personal use, including to purchase artwork, antiques, jewelry and other luxury items. 

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Caitlin Cottingham of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi De Llano Campos of the District of Massachusetts.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission provided assistance with the matter.  

The Fraud Section plays a pivotal role in the Department of Justice’s fight against white collar crime around the country.

Wednesday
Feb272019

Train Collision And Derailment Tuesday May Impact LIRR Train Schedule Wednesday

Special Service Notices Ronkonkoma, Huntington/Port Jefferson Update

LIRR

Service remains suspended west of Hicksville on the Ronkonkoma and Huntington/Port Jefferson Branches following a collision between a train and a motor vehicle at the School Street crossing in Westbury. The LIRR is providing some limited shuttle train service between Babylon and Hicksville, where customers can catch eastbound shuttles to Huntington and Ronkonkoma. However, we advise customers to take alternate branches including the Babylon, Hempstead, Montauk and Oyster Bay branches. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

Tuesday
Feb262019

FYI - House Votes To Overturn Emergency Declaration 

 

Resolution to overturn President Trump’s emergency declaration was passed in the US House of Representatives with a vote of 245 - 182.  Thirteen Republicans voted with Democrats. Congressman Zeldin and Congressman King both voted in opposition to the resolution.

The resolution will be voted on in the Senate within eighteen days as mandated by law.

President Trump has promised to veto the legislation if it passes the Senate.

Tuesday
Feb262019

DEC Forest Rangers At Work Even In Winter

Forest Ranger Actions for 2/18 - 2/24/19

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations, and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured, or distressed people from the backcountry.

In 2018, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres, participated in 24 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 610 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,354 tickets or arrests.

“Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers, and throughout our vast forested areas statewide.”

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:

Town of Brookhaven Suffolk County Wildland Search: On Feb. 22, a 14-year-old youth was reported missing after not returning on schedule from a family member’s residence. One Forest Ranger assisted Suffolk County Police in the search and within two hours, the youth was located in good health by a police department K-9.

Monday
Feb252019

Legislation Proposed For Permanent Reauthorization Of 9/11 Compensation Act

 

9/11 RESPONDERS AND SURVIVORS, JON STEWART JOINS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO UNVEIL THE BIPARTISAN NEVER FORGET THE HEROES: PERMANENT REAUTHORIZATION OF THE SEPTEMBER 11TH VICTIM COMPENSATION ACT  

“Congress has a chance to take our worst day, weeks, months and 18 years and come together make this their finest hour by supporting this bipartisan piece of legislation to ensure yesterday’s heroes and those effected by the aftermath of that horrific Tuesday morning are taken care of,” said John Feal, 9/11 Health Advocate.

Sens. Gillibrand, Gardner, Schumer and Reps. Maloney, Nadler, King Announce Bipartisan Legislation to Fully Fund and Permanently Reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and Prevent Announced Cuts to Compensation Awards

Washington, DC – 9/11 first responders, survivors, and their families joined with Jon Stewart, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY) today to introduce the bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act and call for its swift passage.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today would ensure that all 9/11 first responders and survivors who have been injured by the toxins at Ground Zero and have certified 9/11 illnesses would receive their full compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) now and into the future as more become ill with 9/11 cancers. The bill would also close the funding gap recently announced by the VCF Special Master. 

On February 15, 2019, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund announced that due to a funding shortfall, injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors will receive cuts to the awards that they were expecting of 50%  for pending claims and 70% for future claims.  

In the years since 9/11/2001, thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors have become ill and many have lost their lives from exposure to a toxic cocktail of burning chemicals, pulverized drywall and powdered cement that was present at Ground Zero.  After years of urging Congress to act, in 2010 and again in 2015, legislation was passed to provide medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program and compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for thousands made sick by the toxins at Ground Zero as well at the Pentagon and the Shanksville, PA crash site. Now, after waiting years for compensation that they need and deserve, thousands are facing dramatically reduced awards and unless Congress acts, the VCF will actually be closing next year just as thousands more 9/11 responders and survivors are expected to be diagnosed with 9/11 cancers.

This legislation is designed to ensure that the VCF is fully funded and will remain open for those that will become ill in the future.

“Just over a week ago, 9/11 heroes all over the country learned the horrible news that the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund will need to make severe cuts. Cancer rates in the 9/11 first responder community are rising faster than ever before, and that means our 9/11 heroes are going to need the VCF more urgently than ever before. Congress must not sit idly by ignoring this suffering and passing it off as someone else’s problem while drastic cuts are made to the VCF program,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “We must pass this bipartisan bill to make the VCF permanent with full funding so that when our 9/11 heroes get that terrifying call from the doctor, they’ll at least have the peace of mind that the VCF will be there for them and their families. We must honor our 9/11 heroes, and that means giving them the support they earned and deserve and urgently need.” 

“Nationwide, brave 9/11 responders and survivors put their lives on the line at Ground Zero. Because of their exposure to toxins they continue to fight serious illnesses. We have come too far to fail now,” said Congressman King. “In order to ensure the continuation of the Victims Compensation Fund we must enlist political support from all regions and parties.”

 

Monday
Feb112019

Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy Announces Candidacy For County Executive

Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy announced his candidacy for Suffolk County ExecutiveSuffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy announcing his intention to challenge Steve Bellone in November. earlier today. Kennedy is the second Republican, (Legislator Rob Trotta announced his decision to challenge Bellone last week) to announce plans to challenge Steve Bellone for the office.

Calling his wife, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy, to stand along side of him he stated his reason for running, “We want this place, Suffolk County, to be a place for our children and for our eight grand children. It’s about saying enough is enough we will stop the hemorrhaging, we will stop the bleeding, we will cut up the credit cards we will start to pay our debts and restore pride to Suffolk County that’s what this is about.”

He warned his supporters, “It won’t be easy and it won’t happen over night. But, by rolling up our sleeves and going in to each county department, just as we did with our merger here we will emerge better, leaner and faster in delivering service to those in county government with what they expect and need.”

Pointing to a poster which he called the Steve Bellone report card, Kennedy said,  “The only thing missing from this is on the bottom is a big fat red F. That’s what seven downgrades lead you to, an executive who deserves an F. We’ll turn it around, we’ll raise it step by step with the hard work and we’ll get it back to black ladies and gentleman.”

 

Monday
Feb042019

FYI - NJ Congressman Pallone Introduces "Stopping Bad Robocalls Act"

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) reintroduced the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (HR 946) in the House of Representatives to stop abusive robocall practices.

Pallone’s bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact strong consumer protections for authorized calls and empower the FCC with strong enforcement tools to reign in robocallers.  The legislation would also ensure that consumers have the ability to stop calls they’d previously authorized and require incoming calls to have authentic caller identification information before they are delivered to customers.

“Americans are fed up with robocalls.  It is incredibly annoying to repeatedly get unwanted calls from people you don’t know and don’t want to talk to,” Pallone said.  “Despite previous efforts like the Do Not Call Registry, robocalls are still on the rise. The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will equip consumer protection agencies with innovative, new tools designed to stop the abusive practices by robocallers and better restrict unauthorized robocalls.”

Last year, an estimated 26.3 billion unwanted calls were placed in the U.S., which represents a 46 percent increase in unwanted calls over the previous year.  The staggering number of unwanted calls are returning huge profit margins for robocallers, with every dollar spent by robocallers returning as much as $20 profit—a 2,000 percent profit margin.  Though some robocalls are initiated by legitimate companies, robocalls are also used by scammers to steal from consumers, with more than 22 million Americans losing a total of $9.5 billion in robocall scams in 2016 alone.

Pallone’s bill was also applauded by various consumer groups.

“The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will apply essential and meaningful consumer protections from unwanted robocalls if the FCC should fail to rein in robocalls from telemarketers and debt collectors, student loan servicers and others,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center.

“The robocalls problem is out of control and, without action from Congress, will only get worse.  This legislation would tackle the growing problem of “spoofed” calls that trick consumers into answering, by ensuring phone companies implement technology to stop these unwanted calls before they reach the consumer, at no additional cost.  Consumer Reports applauds Congressman Pallone for his leadership in addressing this growing problem,” said Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst at Consumer Reports.

The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would curb the rise of robocalls by:

  • Amending the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to ensure that the FCC has the authority and the tools to take strong, quick action when they track down robocallers;
  • Allowing consumers to revoke consent they had previously given to receive calls at any time and in any reasonable manner;
  • Codifying a reassigned number database to put robocallers on notice when a telephone number they may have previously been authorized to call has been given to a new customer who has not authorized their call;
  • Limiting the number of robocalls exempted from the TCPA under the FCC’s rules;
  • Requiring calls to have verified caller identification information associated with a call before the call can be put through; and
  • Extending the statute of limitations from one year to four years for callers violating robocall prohibitions. 

Pallone’s bill is originally cosponsored by: Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Darren Soto (D-FL), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Charlie Crist (D-FL).

Section-by-Section available HERE.

Bill text available HERE.

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