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What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, December 1, 2022

December 1, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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JUDGE SUSTAINS KEY PARTS OF CONCEALED CARRY GUN LAW: A federal judge in New York City on Tuesday maintained key portions of New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act on Tuesday—including the requirement that applicants provide their social media accounts, character references, and complete an enhanced 18-hour level of training in order to be licensed. Judge Lorna Schofield of the U.S. District Court-Southern District of New York ruled against Jonathan Corbett, a part-time Brooklyn resident who had sued New York State to toss the above-mentioned segments, on the grounds that his argument lacked standing because law took effect before he applied for his gun license, according to news reports.

Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James released a joint statement on Thursday (excerpted here) on Judge Schofield’s decision, saying “Challenges to New York’s gun laws undermine public safety and increase the presence of guns in our communities. We will continue to fiercely defend the constitutionality of our laws and protect New Yorkers from these baseless attacks.”

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DAILY TOP BROOKLYN NEWS
News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

FEDERAL CONVICTION IN BRIBERY AND DRUG SMUGGLING CASE: Today, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted James Albert of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances while he was incarcerated at the George R. Vierno Center at Rikers Island. James Albert was part of a scheme to bribe correction officers to smuggle illegal drugs and other contraband into the jail for sale to other inmates.

The verdict followed a four-day trial before United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly, during which the government’s evidence included testimony from Patrick Legerme, a former New York City Correction Officer who accepted bribes from Albert to smuggle marijuana into the jail.

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SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS FOR $18 MILLION HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEME: Two New York diagnostic testing facility owners were sentenced today to three years in prison for their roles in a more than $18 million health care fraud scheme. Court documents show that Tea Kaganovich (50), and Ramazi Mitaishvili, (62), a married couple who co-own several diagnostic testing facilities in Brooklyn. The couple paid over $18 million in kickbacks for the referral of beneficiaries who submitted themselves to diagnostic testing and other purported medical services, and falsely reported these payments as business expenses, claiming deductions to which they were not entitled.

The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program.

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FEDERAL APPEALS COURT NIXES ROLE OF SPECIAL MASTER IN JUSTICE DEPT. PROBE: A federal appeals court on Thursday has cleared the way for the U.S. Justice Department to continue investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of sensitive government documents, according to a New York Times story that broke Thursday night. The decision centered around the appointment of a special master, Brooklyn federal judge Raymond J. Dearie,  to conduct an independent review of the documents seized in the August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago. The U.S. Court of Appeals’ 11th District three-member panel ruled in strong terms that “the district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction, and that dismissal of the entire proceeding is required.”

The Times article pointed out that two of the three judges on the Appeals Court panel are Trump appointees.

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GEAR UP GRANT OFFERS COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS FOR LOW-INCOME STUDENTS: New York State was awarded a $28 million, seven-year Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase college and career readiness for more than 6,200 low-income students, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Thursday, December 1. Students beginning in 7th grade through their freshman year in college will have access to support services, including tutoring and homework assistance, academic counseling, mentoring, college and career counseling, financial literacy, college tours, and summer academies to help them enroll and succeed in college.

This grant marks the fourth consecutive GEAR UP award that New York State has received and one of only two GEAR UP states funded in 2022 by the U.S. Department of Education.

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MTA TO RECONFIGURE BROOKLYN BUS NETWORK: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Thursday released a draft plan for the Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign to create a modern bus network that, based on commuter feedback, will better meet the needs of Brooklynites’ travel patterns. The first overhaul of Brooklyn bus service in decades, the redesign seeks to expand all-day service, and proposes 69 local routes and 19 express routes, for a total of 88 routes, representing an increase from the 62 local and nine express routes that operate currently.

The redesign would create four new proposed routes, B40 Rush, B53, B55 Crosstown (between Brooklyn and JFK Airport)  and B66 would operate 24 hours during the weekday; and several other routes would be re-aligned.

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MAYOR ADAMS, AT GREECE SUMMIT RECEIVES AWARD FOR FIGHTING ANTISEMITISM: ATHENS, GREECE — New York Mayor Eric Adams lamented the increase in the popularity of antisemitism, during Wednesday’s opening of the 2022 Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism (MSAA) that the City of Athens is hosting.  Adams is in a delegation of more than 50 mayors and municipal leaders from across the globe who are attending the summit — concluding December 1 —that was held in partnership with the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Center for Jewish Impact, and Jewish Federations of North America.

Sacha Roytman Dratwa, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement, who presented Mayor Adams with the CAM Civic Leadership Award for his dedicated commitment to fighting antisemitism and religious bigotry of all forms, commended him: “Mayor Adams knows the Jewish community intimately because he’s been on the ground for years building ties with them. He understands security threats precisely because he served in the NYPD for over two decades, and the Jewish community is facing large security challenges.”

Sacha Roytman Dratwa (right), the CEO of The Combat Antisemitism Movement, awards New York City Mayor Eric Adams (left) with the Civic Leadership. Award. Photo credit: Georgiou Babi

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MTA UPGRADE PROJECT WILL IMPROVE ON ACCESSIBILITY AT SEVERAL BROOKLYN SUBWAY STATIONS: A sweeping package of accessibility upgrades will make nine more New York City subway stations more accessible, replace and upgrade elevators at another five subway stations, including the Brooklyn Borough Hall hub, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced Wednesday. This includes a bundle of stations to be delivered under a Public-Private Partnership (P3) delivery model that will add 21 elevators to make eight stations newly accessible, including, in Brooklyn: the Church Avenue and Sheepshead Bay station on the B and Q lines; the Kings Highway station on the F line; and the Junius Street station in Brownsville, on the 3 line. Moreover, the Euclid Avenue station, in East New York, which is the southern terminus station on the C line, will get a replacement elevator.

This contract is the first in MTA history to be awarded using the P3 project delivery model. This model requires that the developer finances a portion of the project with equity that is only repaid if the project is built and maintained to MTA standards.

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SEPARATE PROJECT WILL MAKE IRT BOROUGH HALL’S JORALEMON ST. STATION FULLY ACCESSIBLE: The Borough Hall station in Downtown Brooklyn, which serves the 2, 3, 4, 5 & IRT lines, will be made fully accessible, along with investments that address state-of-good-repair needs and will renew the station, as part of a second MTA contract, announced today. A new elevator to bring customers from street level to the 4 and 5 train mezzanine and two others between the mezzanine level and the northbound and southbound 4 and 5 train platforms will be added; the 2 and 3 lines already have the street-access and boarding area elevators.

The Borough Hall station’s floors, walls, roof and ventilator structures will all be repaired.

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BRACING FOR MTA FLIP SIDE: FARE INCREASES The MTA will conduct hearings on proposed fare increases on the subway, bus and commuter rail lines, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a not-for-profit group that advocates for sustainable transportation, equitable planning policies and practices, announced yesterday. The proposed increases, about 5.5 percent, would be included in the budget that is being prepared in December, in addition to next year’s $2.6 billion deficit. As of press time, no hearing dates or times had been  provided.

For those who prefer driving: Though Governor Kathy Hochul had, earlier this year, suspended the collection of roughly 17 cent pergallon in gas taxes until January 2023, the recent increase in gas prices has spurred a bipartisan group of legislators into urging the governor to extend the gas tax holiday.

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MULTIPLE CHARGES IN FLATBUSH ASSAULT ON POLICE: The NYPD has apprehended and arrested a 21-year-old man who assaulted a police officer in the Flatbush 70th Precinct, last Friday. Shar, Zayan, of Staten Island, has been charged with several counts, including assault, resisting arrest, obstructing traffic and disobeying multiple orders to leave the roadway. When two officers in the vicinity of Avenue H and Flatbush Avenue tried to arrest Zayan, he punched one of them in the face, before fleeing on Flatbush Ave.

That officer sustained swelling and bruising; the other officer whom the defendant had pushed was uninjured.

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CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS ELECT REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES AS LEADER: Brooklyn Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries (D-8th District) has become the first Black American elected to head a major political party in Congress, following Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s retirement from her long tenure of House leadership. House Democrats voted for Jeffries unanimously by acclamation in a closed-door vote this morning.

Jeffries, who was first elected in 2012 at age 42 and represents a large swath of Brooklyn from parts of DUMBO to the Queens border, has become the second Brooklynite to lead a chamber of Congress concurrently. Sen. Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, also from Brooklyn, retains his position after Democrats preserved their majority in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-8th District), Brooklyn and Queens
Photo credit: J. Applewhite/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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ASSEMBLYMEMBER SUPPORTS MAYOR’S NEW POLICY ON MENTAL HEALTH INTERVENTION: Amid pushback from Brooklyn’s political leaders over Mayor Adams’ policy mandating intervention for mentally-ill persons in the streets, an elected official from southern Brooklyn has come forth declaring support for the move. Assemblymember William Colton (D-47/Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights) said that NYC Administration strengthens and enforces the use of Kendra’s Law, for which he had voted. Explaining this as a state law that allows court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment for people considered dangerous to themselves or others, Colton said, “We cannot continue to allow homeless individuals with such mental issues to live on the subways or on the streets.”

“The NYS legislation requires that assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) is a form of civil commitment that authorizes the court system to require eligible individuals with severe psychiatric disorders to access mental health professionals to safeguard them and the public,” said Colton.

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BROOKLYN ORGANIZATIONS WIN GRANTS FROM EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT: The Brooklyn Alliance — a non-profit arm of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; a theatrical company in Bushwick and NYCxDESIGN have received grants from the Empire State Development, for a total of $15 million through the Market New York Program. NYCxDESIGN, which will host NYC’s Annual Design Week next May, has received a $505,000 Working Capital Grant: NYCxDESIGN for a project to expand impact through new programming that aims to drive more visitors to New York City and target inclusive growth for local businesses. The Brooklyn Alliance’s Working Capital Grant of $25,000 will use the funds to support “Explore Brooklyn,” a comprehensive tourism recovery plan that will increase tourism to and within Brooklyn and NYC as a whole.

The Bushwick Starr, an award-winning Off-Off-Broadway nonprofit professional theater company, will use the $500,000 grant it received to construct a permanent venue for its performing arts organization at 419 Eldert Street that will both increase the Starr’s audience capacity and enable the creation and maintenance of arts employment in the neighborhood.

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MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY AS LEADER OF BROOKLYN DIOCESE: The Most Reverend Robert Brennan celebrated a special Mass yesterday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, to celebrate the first anniversary of his induction as the 8th Bishop of Brooklyn. “It was a year ago today the co-cathedral was filled with people from all over the diocese as we celebrated our unity in faith. Your beautiful welcome to me lifted me up,” said Bishop Brennan during his homily.”

During the first year as Bishop of Brooklyn, Brennan visited 127 parishes throughout Brooklyn and Queens, celebrated 25 Confirmations, and visited 25 schools, ordained three priests to serve in the Diocese of Brooklyn and, earlier this month, ordained six transitional deacons on the path to the priesthood. He also launched a weekly podcast, “Big City Catholics,” to communicate with the faithful. Big City Catholics is available on popular podcast platforms and on the Diocese of Brooklyn website, podcast.dioceseofbrooklyn.org.

Bishop Robert Brennan raises the chalice during the Eucharistic Prayer, celebrating Mass on the first anniversary of his induction as leader of the Brooklyn Diocese.
Photo courtesy Diocese of Brooklyn

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WITH MORE OVERNIGHT WORKERS, SANITATION DEPT. EXPEDITES TRASH PICK-UP SCHEDULE: The New York City Department of Sanitation has transitioned its operations to a winter schedule, long-known as “Night Plow.” The SDNY schedules more employees to overnight hours during the winter to respond promptly and effectively to snow conditions around the clock, and also picks up the increased amount of trash and recycling.

The SDNY is therefore reminding residents to put their trash out before midnight to ensure pickup at earlier times than usual, as sanitation workers scheduled for the night shift are frequently assigned to cleaning or collection duties, when there is no snow to plow.

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INVASIVE-SPECIES, ASIAN CRABS AND SHELLFISH SEIZED IN BROOKLYN: Officials from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation earlier this autumn seized a total of 180 of Chinese mitten crabs and 100 prepackaged bags of Asian date mussels, considered to be an invasive species. While on patrol in Brooklyn, Environmental Conservation Officer Currey observed several businesses offering these particular crustaceans and mollusks for sale on the street, seized them, and issued multiple administrative Notices of Violation for illegal commercialization of wildlife, and two criminal tickets for the sale of shellfish from non-Food and Drug Administration-approved countries.

All the invasive species were seized and destroyed to prevent potential spread of these invasive pests in New York waterways.

Environmental Conservation Officer Currey displays the invasive mollusks that his agency confiscated in Brooklyn earlier this fall.
Photo credit: Department of Environmental Conservation

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