Hasidic man gets four years for role in group beating of gay black man in Brooklyn
It’s four years for an eye.
A Brooklyn judge sentenced a Hasidic Jewish man to four years in prison for participating in a vicious beatdown that left a gay black man blind in one eye.
Mayer Herskovic was not the only person who assaulted Taj Patterson on Flushing Ave. in December 2013. But he’s the only attacker getting prison time.
“Those who stomped and chased (Patterson) did try to injure him. The defendant was involved, he participated and was found guilty for that,” said Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
Patterson, 25, did not attend the court proceedings in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday — he previously said he wants to move on with his life.
Nonetheless, the lasting effects of the senseless attack will remain with him.
“Mr. Patterson asked himself why all this happened to him and he concluded it’s because he was a young black male in a predominately Orthodox neighborhood,” Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough said on behalf of the victim.
According to trial testimony, Patterson was walking to his Fort Greene home when men — some belonging to the Williamsburg Shomrim, a Jewish patrol group — began chasing after him. The attackers mistook him for the suspect in a car vandalism streak, prosecutors previously said.
“This defendant, that group and the community couldn’t see him as an individual, but as a criminal,” said Gough, who recommended Herskovic receive five years in prison.
Video surveillance showed men chasing Patterson for blocks. One person with a walkie-talkie was identified at trial as Yoelli (Joel) Itzkowitz, but he was not questioned for his role in the attack.
One of Patterson’s lawyers has urged the Brooklyn DA’s office to indict Itzkowitz, alleging prosecutors have overlooked Itzkowitz because his brother is the politically connected coordinator of the Williamsburg Shomrim.
Four men in addition to Herskovic were charged in the beating. Two of the cases were dismissed and two of the attackers took plea deals sentencing them to 150 hours of community service each.
“Amongst all participants who stomped and beat Mr. Patterson, this defendant wasn’t the most culpable,” Chun said of Herskovic. “Mr. Patterson was chased for blocks, but not by the defendant before me.”
Prosecutors placed Herskovic at the scene thanks to DNA found on one of Patterson’s sneakers that was thrown to the roof of a nearby building.
The “deeply scarred” Patterson asked the judge to sentence Herskovic to the maximum of 15 years in prison for the second-degree gang assault and unlawful imprisonment charges.
“When Patterson woke up in the hospital, he didn’t know where he was. He was upset, frightened and alone,” said Gough.
The victim has had surgery three times, but he’ll never regain eyesight in his right eye.
“I wish I can take back what happened to Mr. Patterson all those years ago … I hope he finds peace for all he has suffered and endured,” Herskovic told the judge as he pleaded for a lenient sentence.
“I’m 24, my life is about family, helping people,” he added. “I work as a construction worker. I work with all kinds of people, black, white, Hispanic, gay and not gay.”
Nevertheless, his lawyer Stuart Slotnick asserted outside of court that “the DNA evidence was completely and totally flawed.”
Eliezer Vigdarovich, a well-connected and well-known figure in the Gur Hasidic community, is facing an array of serious criminal charges in an affair that some in the district attorney’s office describe as “straight out of a Hollywood script.”
The amended indictment filed on Monday in Jerusalem District Court alleges that for the last few years, Vigdarovich has blackmailed by means of threats, engaged in aggravated assault, fabricated evidence, supplied drugs, kidnapped for the purpose of imprisonment and other serious crimes.
The schemes were orchestrated with the aim of incriminating an innocent couple in order to keep the woman away from her nine children (a goal that has so far been accomplished).
In December 2015, an Israeli couple was arrested at the airport in Boryspil, Ukraine, as they prepared to board a flight home, after a commercial quantity of marijuana, nearly 700 grams, was discovered in their luggage. The man, P., and the woman, H., were arrested and charged with drug possession and attempted drug smuggling.
Their trial is still ongoing in Ukraine.
Immediately after their arrest, suspicions were raised in the Gur community that they had been set up. An indictment was brought against Vigdarovich on Tuesday.
He is alleged to have planted the drugs on the couple in order to trap them outside of Israel and prevent the woman from having contact with her children.
Erez Padan, an assistant Jerusalem district attorney, tweeted: “One of the most difficult and convoluted cases we have dealt with this year culminated in an indictment today. Like a Hollywood script.”
H., a mother of nine, divorced her husband in September 2015. Even after the divorce proceedings were concluded, she and her husband continued to fight in the rabbinical court over custody for some of their nine children. Various people from the Gur community who also wished to sever her connection to the children also became involved.
Following the divorce, H., expressed her desire to marry P., a divorcé who had provided marriage counseling to her and her ex-husband while they were still married.
For a long time, members of the Gur community meddled in the family conflict. According to the indictment, they first pressured H. Then Vigdarovich himself pressured P. to leave H., even paying people to beat him up (one of the two attackers was also named in the charge sheet).
Vigdarovich was allegedly involved in later attempts to get P. and H. to marry, with the thought that it would then be easier to separate her from her children.
In one instance, Vigdarovich flew P. to Switzerland. Two thugs hired by Vigdarovich took him to an apartment, beat him, handcuffed him and threatened to kill him using a fake gun. Vigdarovich came to the apartment and issued P. a series of demands, including ordering him to make sure that H. surrenders custody of her children.
At P.’s request, H. flew to Italy meet him and Vigdarovich in order to discuss the conditions.
After the couple refused his proposal that they remain abroad for a year, Vigdarovich was still able to convince P. to look into a job offer in Uman, Ukraine.
The couple flew there, but when Vigdarovich learned that the job wasn’t going to pan out and they were planning to return, he came up with the plan to plant drugs in their luggage.
“The plot was to plant the drugs so that they would easily discovered during the expected security check at the Boryspil Airport near Kiev, before their return flight to Israel… in order to incriminate them and get them arrested for a long period of time, so they would be unable to return to Israel for many years,” says the indictment.
The plot was carried out with the aid of locals whose identities are unknown to the prosecutors, Chen Bar Shalom and Aviad Dwek.
Vigdarovich was arrested last September.
The indictment states that he gave various false statements under questioning. At one point he signed a state’s witness agreement, promising to obtain recordings and evidence against the people who placed the drugs in H. and P.’s luggage and lead the police to them.
In wake of that agreement, he was released to house arrest, which he took advantage of to “mislead the police detectives and to obstruct the investigation with the intent of… disrupting the investigation, obscuring evidence and avoid having to go to trial for his role in the plot to plant drugs on the couple and get them imprisoned.”
Brooklyn Businessman Sentenced to 32 Months in NYPD Bribery Scheme
MANHATTAN — A Brooklyn businessman who bribed NYPD officers in exchange for expediting gun licenses for clients was sentenced to nearly three years in prison Thursday.
Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein, 45, had pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges after paying tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes since 2013 to Sergeant David Villanueva in the licensing division, who then shared some of the money with Officer Richard Ochetal.
“By engaging in an egregious scheme to trade cash for gun licenses, Alex Lichtenstein and his co-defendants in the New York City Police Department corrupted the sensitive process of evaluating gun license applications in New York City,” acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said.
“Today’s sentence shows that individuals who so brazenly abuse the public’s trust in law enforcement — whether they are the officers receiving bribes or the citizens paying them — will be held to account for their crimes.”
Lichtenstein — who served as the leader of the Borough Park neighborhood patrol, Shomrim — made off with between $150,000 to $250,000 from his clients, some of whom had criminal convictions and a history of domestic violence.
He was finally banned from the licensing division in 2016 after rumors spread about his client fees and he then tried to bribe another officer who recorded the Brooklyn businessman offering a $6,000 bribe.
Lichtenstein was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to forfeit $230,000.
De Blasio won’t face federal, state charges in fundraising probe
Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t be facing federal or state criminal charges for fundraising activities tied to his now defunct Campaign for One New York, officials announced on Thursday.
“After careful deliberation, given the totality of the circumstances here and absent additional evidence, we do not intend to bring federal criminal charges against the Mayor or those acting on his behalf relating to the fundraising efforts in question,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim announced on Thursday.
The investigations hinged on whether de Blasio solicited donations from developers and others who had business before the city in exchange for political favors. In October, the New York Time’s reported that Jona Rechnitz, the real estate developer at the center of the NYPD corruption scandal, was cooperating with authorities. The mayor was accused of giving a retired police official a high-level position in his administration after Rechnitz called him and requested the appointment as a “personal favor.” The federal investigation was conducted by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office led the state probe.
In his announcement, District Attorney Cyrus Vance stated that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the mayor violated state election laws in his efforts to help Democrats take over the Republican-controlled state Senate. The investigation focused on whether he wrongfully sidestepped contribution limits to individual candidates by directing donations to upstate county committees. Vance said, however, that the actions “appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits.”
Kim noted the unusual nature of announcing that his office wouldn’t pursue criminal charges, saying that, in this case, it was appropriate to not “unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election.” The announcement comes just a few days after President Donald Trump fired Preet Bharara from his post as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The decision not to prosecute clears what was a black cloud over the mayor’s re-election campaign. It remains to be seen if potential Democratic challengers who were waiting on the sidelines as the investigation dragged on will now step aside. Meanwhile, Republican mayoral candidate and Cushman & Wakefield executive Paul Massey announced Wednesday that he raised twice as much as de Blasio since Jan. 12.
Continue Reading here.
WHEN IS ENOUGH- ENOUGH?
SENTOSACARE’S ALLEGED ABUSES CONTINUE AS ALLEGED!
In a March 14, 2017 McKnight’s story on the class action complaint filed against SentosaCare for allegedly keeping 350 Filipino nurses in ‘indentured servitude,’ the author adds another example of the abuse of a system intended to protect our frail and vulnerable elderly.
Notwithstanding the detailed ProPublica Oct 2015 revelations about PHHPC and SentosaCare’s malfeasance, the Cuomo appointed agency has nonetheless facilitated the licensure of one of the stakeholders of SentosaCare-Benjamin Landa to purchase Briarcliff Manor. Operators of the largest skilled nursing facility consortia in New York State, with repeated articles regarding their treatment of both staff and patients are being permitted to expand.
Benjamin Landa and his gang of merry elder “caregivers” (using the terms loosely and with sarcasm) are suing propublica for reporting:
In spite of mounting evidence that this group should not be permitted to expand, we have the Public Health and Health Planning Council’s buy with no character/competency issues identified…Page 96
No negative information has been received concerning the character and competence of the above applicants. The proposed operators intend to enter into a contract for accounting services with Sapphire HC Management Care, LLC, which is a related party.
What does it take to be deemed “negative information”? If ending the continuation of the licensure of alleged criminal owner/operators is not a moral imperative question, what is?
Are we not obliged to ask whether it is no mere coincidence that Landa’s partner in SentosaCare, Howard Fensterman, (formerly of the PHHPC), contributed heavily to de Blasio’s first mayoral campaign?
Is it such a small world that he headed up the recruitment of Schumer’s Long Island campaign donations? Is it happenstance that $10,000 was given to Cuomo for his 2018 Campaign?
How many more vulnerable and disabled elderly will our Department of Health allow to be victimized by these same people?
How much money is enough to buy the silence of the very people we elect and hire to protect the most frail and fragile in our rapidly aging community?
How many aides must be subjected to abuse in the workplace, as these Filipino nurses were; or laid off by the thousands, as facilities are churned for real estate profiteering?
WHEN IS ENOUGH-ENOUGH?
- Landlord’s plans to turn SNF into condos led to residents’ deaths, lawsuit claims
- SNF operator, exec, to pay $2.5 million in false therapy claims case
- New York’s nurse vetting process ‘deeply flawed,’ watchdog asserts
- Report slams NY’s biggest for-profit nursing home group
- Feds join lawsuit against nursing home operator
Anbang Says ‘There Is No Investment’ in Kushner Office Tower
One day after Bloomberg News reported on a potential deal between Anbang Insurance Group and Kushner Cos. for a Manhattan office tower, the Chinese insurer said it hadn’t invested in the building.
Bloomberg News reported Monday on a financing proposal circulated to investors that would make Kushner Cos. and Anbang partners in the tower, with the Kushners’ firm standing to receive more than $400 million from the insurer. The planned $4 billion transaction, details of which were shared with Bloomberg, includes terms that some real estate experts consider unusually favorable for Kushner Cos., and its current partners in the building, Vornado Realty Trust.
The three companies involved didn’t dispute the details of the financing proposal, which was shared with them prior to publication.
“There is no investment from Anbang for this deal,” a spokesman for the firm wrote in a Tuesday email, without elaborating.
It’s unclear who the other potential investors might be, whether the terms might change or when the deal might close.
Kushner Cos. is the family firm of Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump. A lawyer for Kushner said in January that 666 Fifth Avenue would be among assets from which he’d divest his interest to family members.
Anbang rose to prominence with acquisitions including that of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. The deal could prompt federal review, as occurred when Anbang bought other properties. Anbang could also face review by the Chinese government, which has been clamping down on overseas investments and which has a range of pending issues with the Trump administration.
A spokesman for Kushner Cos. declined to comment on Anbang’s statement.