Good Morning, Brooklyn: Monday, May 2, 2022
SUNY AND NETS TEAM UP FOR NEW ESPORTS PROGRAM: The State Universities of New York (SUNY) system has become the Official Education Partner of Nets Gaming Crew (NetsGC), the NBA 2K League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets. NetsGC is the first professional esports franchise to team up with SUNY; as part of the partnership, the organizations will work together to create an educational esports program aimed at increasing the recruitment pool of high school students.
Additionally, as part of the partnership, NetsGC and SUNY will host multiple esports tournaments for high school and college students in the New York metro area. The first of these tournaments will take place today, May 2, with the series culminating in a championship played at NetsGC’s training facility inside Barclays Center.
PHARMACIST PLEADS GUILTY TO HEALTH CARE FRAUD: The owner of Brooklyn Chemists in Gravesend, Brooklyn, and Lucky Care Pharmacy in Flushing, Queens, on Friday pleaded guilty, in federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and unlawfully spending the proceeds of his $6.8 million fraud. According to court documents, the defendant, Robert John Sabet, conspired to bill Medicare and Medicaid for expensive prescription drugs that were not eligible for reimbursement. Sabet and others paid kickbacks and bribes to customers to convince them to fill prescriptions at his pharmacies, and paid customers cash in exchange for the ability to bill Medicare and Medicaid for over-the-counter health care-related products on their behalf. (See page 19.)
Sabet, who when sentenced, will face up to 10 years in prison, used proceeds of the scheme to purchase luxury goods and a 2020 Porsche Taycan worth over $250,000.
NYU TANDON TEAM SECURES $1.94 MILLION TO PROTECT POWER GRID: NYU Tandon researchers Farshad Khorrami (ECE), Ramesh Karri (ECE, CCS) and Prashanth Krishnamurthy (ECE), leading a project to develop methods of securing the U.S. power grid from hackers, comprise one of six university teams receiving a portion of $12 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The strategic project aims to advance anomaly detection, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and physics-based analytics to strengthen the security of next-generation energy systems, which include components placed in substations to detect cyber intrusions more quickly and automatically block access to control functions.
The team received $1.94 million for the project from the DOE fund, with matching support from NYU bringing the total to around $2.8 million.
CAR-FREE OASIS IN DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN: Willoughby and Pearl Streets will be closed to traffic on Wednesday, May 4, as the block is transformed into a car-free oasis with live music, giant games, fun-filled activities, and a pop-up park, thanks to a joint project of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and DOT. For the second Willoughby Walks, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership teams up with its neighbors at 370 Jay Street, NYU’s new Downtown Brooklyn campus for engineers, research scientists, game designers, interactive media artists, and musicians.
This uniquely Downtown Brooklyn event, open to both the NYU community and the public, promotes the use of city streets as car-free public spaces. NYU provides the programming with NYU Game Center, Interactive Telecommunications Program and Interactive Media Arts (ITP/IMA), and Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.
CRISIS CALL CENTER NUMBER SIMPLIFIED TO 3 DIGITS: New York State has been awarded $7.2 million by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help strengthen crisis call center services in preparation for the transition on July 16, 2022, of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to the number 988. The current number is a full 10-digit toll-free line: 1-800-273-8255. Gov. Kathy Hochul pointed out during Friday’s announcement: “Introducing this easy-to-remember, three-digit number will be a critical tool in helping more people access services and support as we continue to tackle behavioral health crises.”
New York State’s award is part of nearly $105 million in grant funding provided nationally by the American Rescue Plan to 54 states and territories; the funds will be used to improve response rates, ensuring calls that originate in the state are first routed to regional crisis contact centers.
BROOKLYNITE WINS TRAILBLAZER AWARD: Black Public Media, a national nonprofit supporting the production and distribution of media about the global Black experience, has awarded $225,000 to creatives for film and immersive technology projects, including Brooklynite Orlando Bagwell, its Trailblazer Award recipient. Orlando Bagwell is acknowledged for his moving, award-winning documentaries about Black people in America from slavery to present-day, navigating racism and violence and organizing for change, which competed in last week’s PitchBLACK Forum, the largest pitching competition for Black independent filmmakers and creative technologists in the United States. It is designed to advance Black content and draws a “who’s who” of public television and commercial distributors and funders.
Sponsors for this year’s event were the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Netflix, Gimlet Media, GBH WORLD, PBS, ITVS and New York Women in Film and TV.
‘LOVE YOUR BLOCK’ APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED: The deadline for resident groups to submit proposals for NYC Service’s Love Your Block initiative has been extended to May 4, according to an announcement from Community Board 16. Love Your Block is an initiative with The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City that connects city agencies and leaders to resident volunteers to help revitalize and enliven their communities block by block. All resident-led groups are invited to submit a project proposal (link: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/fund/rfp/rfp.page?mc_cid=0095fc7b82&mc_eid=a472e8d928 to transform and beautify their neighborhood while leveraging city services.
Resident-led groups (grantees) receive a $500 grant to purchase beautification materials and supplies (e.g., plants, soil, paint, shovels), PPE, and more, with ten grantees to be announced on May 19; the projects will be done between June 11- September 4.
NAVY YARD TOUR FOR ASPIRING YOUNG DESIGNERS: Youths ages 15-19 interested in careers in design and fabrication are invited to tour the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the Brooklyn Navy Yard Emerging Designer Tours on May 14. Participants will meet working designers, visit their studios, and gain insights into how they started their small businesses. Two sessions are offered, at 9:30 a.m. or 10:45 a.m. (registration link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/envision-your-career-emerging-designer-tours-tickets-311839519397)
The tour will culminate in a stop at the Brooklyn STEAM Center High School, an innovative high school focused on careers in design and manufacturing located on-site. Ideal for students interested in design who also enjoy working with their hands.
RIBBON-CUTTING FOR POPE FRANCIS APARTMENTS AT LORETO
The Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan, Bishop of Brooklyn, and Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, president and chief executive officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, on Thursday led a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Catholic Charities Pope Francis Apartments at Loreto in Brownsville. The $48 million development, providing 135 units of affordable apartments for low-income seniors with supportive services, includes $3.4 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $19 million in equity and an additional $24.6 million subsidy from HCR.
This new facility is the second phase of redevelopment of the former Our Lady of Loreto Church and will integrate 40 percent of the units to affordable independent residences for seniors (AIRS) with 60 percent of the units designated as senior supportive housing. The 54 AIRS units will target seniors 62 years of age and older and be affordable to individuals earning up to 50 percent Area Median Income
IPS NEWS: HEALTHCARE WORKERS UNION ENDORSES CUNNINGHAM: Democratic Assemblymember Brian Cunningham for Brooklyn’s 43rd Assembly District, who won a special election in March and is now running for re-election in the upcoming primary, has received the endorsement of 1199SEIU, the largest union in New York and the largest health care union in the nation, Representing over 250,000 health care workers in New York and 450,000 across the East Coast, this union is known for its highly politically-engaged membership and its commitment to building broad-based movements for social change, justice, and equality.
Assemblymember Cunningham has also received union endorsements from DC37, the United Federation of Teachers, and the New York State United Teachers,
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