Brooklyn Boro

Chuck Otey’s Pro Bono Barrister for Nov. 2

November 2, 2015 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Grace Borrino. Eagle file photo by Mario Belluomo
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BBA CLE Program Goes on the Road to Offer Tax Tips at St. Joseph’s Gym

With the fall Continuing Legal Education (CLE) season winding down, Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA) CLE Director Amber Evans advises that the next big academic soiree will have a change of venue; instead of gathering at BBA Headquarters, 123 Remsen St., panel leaders and participants will journey over to the commodious St. Joseph’s College Gymnasium at 212 Vanderbilt Ave. on Nov. 2.

The timely topic “Tax Tips: Updates and Audits” will provide two MCLE credits and — what may lure some extra attendees — there will be parking! (The emphasis is ours.)

Since tax ramifications permeate just about every area of the law these days, the short hop to St. Joseph’s  will certainly prove worthwhile to hear from a faculty composed of attorney Dewey Golkin, CPA;  forensic accountant Mark Gottlieb;  and Pat Horan and John Johnson, both of whom are CPAs.

To get all the details — especially those regarding parking — members and guests can register online by emailing [email protected], or contact Evans at 718-624-0675 ext. 206. The BBA president is Arthur Aidala, who is ably aided by Executive Director Avery Okin.

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Bay Ridge Lawyers Getting Ready for Annual Atlantic City Seminar

The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association (BRLA), which has a tradition of traveling far beyond Vanderbilt Avenue to hold its CLE sessions, will once again venture forth into the fabled precincts of Atlantic City on Jan. 28 and 29, according to President Grace Borrino.

The Atlantic City programs were initiated through the efforts of Larry DiGiovanna — a past president of the BRLA and the BBA who, appropriately, heads the association’s Long Term Planning Committee. It’s agreed that the BRLA’s Atlantic City seminars, started many years ago, now qualify as “long-term.”

Featured speakers at the Winter Seminar, to be held at the Tropicana Atlantic City, will include Hon. Catherine M. DiDomenico, Justice Vincent Del Giudice, Mark Caruso, John A. Bonina Jr. and Mario Romano. Further information can be obtained by contacting Borrino or going online at

Worth noting is that the Bay Ridge legal group has been the longest-functioning “local” bar association in the city, now in its 61st year. During that time — even before CLE became a requirement for practicing attorneys — the BRLA has traveled to numerous seminar sites, ranging from Poconos resorts to Lake George and including Freeport, Bahamas.

Just this past week, the BRLA held a very well-received CLE session that featured Kings County Surrogate Court Judge Margarita Lopez Torres. Her topic was “An Overview of Article 17-A of the Surrogate Court’s Procedure Act.’

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Aren’t Better Laws Needed to Protect Public and U.S. Government Sites from Misuse of Drones?

Before the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration was warned that Osama bin Laden was planning an attack somewhere within the U.S. The administration — specifically NSA Director Condoleezza Rice — didn’t believe then that some lunatic might hijack a passenger-laden plane and fly it into a skyscraper.

Rice said later that the very concept of driving a plane loaded with 300 people on board into a place like the World Trade Center wasn’t really on her radar.

But terrible things happened because security people failed to heed the messages delivered in earlier movies, such as “Executive Decision” or “Air Force One,” in which some terrorist attempts to use a huge jet as a bomb.

Apparently, no one from the NSA saw these popular films — or several others — wherein miscreants tried to turn planes into bombs to commit mass murders. (Actually, had the FBI and CIA been talking with each other instead of zealously hoarding their available information, they might have detected the 9/11 plot and very possibly have saved 3,000 people, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more killed and injured since, thanks to the unnecessary invasion of Iraq, which generated widespread  chaos in the Middle East.)

Now, the imminent threat may very well be “toy drones,” which can be bought in many places for a few hundred dollars. Tens of thousands are out there; one even invaded the outer perimeter of the Brooklyn Eagle’s Court Street offices recently. Yet it seems that no one in NSA, DOD or CIA has considered the possibility that some evildoer might pack a pound of high explosives onto an easy-to-pilot drone and send it into a high-rise building.

Just this past week, however, the threat may finally have been perceived by those who rule our airways. The FAA said it was planning to require that all new (and old) drones be centrally registered. They are in a bit of a panic because it’s anticipated that 700,000 erstwhile aerialists will find one of these easily weaponized, self-propelled delivery systems under their trees come Christmas.

Several models of the free-flying aircraft are available to buyers — no questions asked — most notably in the upscale Hammacher Schlemmer catalogues.

Why has it taken so long for the FAA to act? There have been injuries and even a few deaths linked to drone use. One suspects that a lot of money has been spent on stealthy lobbyists in the employ of drone manufacturers.

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Even Eagle Aerie Wasn’t Safe from ‘Invasion’ of Unregistered Drones

There have been many instances of drones harming people, serving as “peeping toms” and just being a nuisance. As mentioned above, a dramatic case in point involved a drone seen hovering outside the Eagle’s 30th floor headquarters at 16 Court St.

It made big news — you can actually see just about the entire event with interviews of Eagle staffers Mary Frost and Rick Buttacavoli.

“It was hovering; just hovering and pointing its camera into our offices,” writer Frost told a reporter, noting also that it was “zooming past some open windows of peoples’ residences, which was very freaky.”

Ultimately, the drone’s flight was connected to research being carried out  by a large Manhattan real estate firm that had been fined substantially a number of times for violating existing — and very ineffective — drone regulations.

What do other lawyers think about drones? Next week, “Pro Bono Barrister” will feature a guest column by noted trial lawyer Marc Dittenhoefer, who will share his thoughts on this timely and, for some, troubling topic.


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