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Feb 15, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: NYPD sergeant acquitted in Deborah Danner’s death

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Feb 15, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: City DAs press ICE to stop arresting immigrants at courthouses


Three of the city’s districts attorneys are pleading with ICE to stop arresting immigrants at city courthouses.


The Manhattan, Brooklyn and Bronx DAs joined Public Advocate Letitia James Wednesday to push the feds to stop the arrests, which they say are interfering with the justice system.


“We’re appealing to them as law enforcement officers not to make these arrests,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “It does not keep us safe. It jeopardizes public safety.”


Immigration and Customs Enforcement put out rules this month formalizing its policy of going to courthouses to make arrests — rejecting requests to designate them sensitive locations like churches or hospitals where they rarely arrest people.

ICE lawyer accused of stealing immigrants’ IDs in Seattle


They said they would only go after specific targets and would not round up other undocumented immigrants they happen to encounter at court, though exceptions could be made for special circumstances. They require a supervisor’s approval to make arrests in non-criminal areas like family court.


DAs and public defenders alike say the arrests are making defendants, witnesses and victims afraid to come to court.


“This enforcement is having a chilling effect on witnesses,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.


There were 150 arrests in and around courthouses in New York State last year — up from just 11 in 2016 before President Trump took office.

N.Y. Teamsters form ‘sanctuary union’ to fight ICE agents


In January, there were another seven arrests at Brooklyn courts and one in the Bronx. The Manhattan DA did not have an exact number but said there had been several.


“They can’t go there without fear of getting arrested,” said Manhattan DA Cy Vance. “That means critical witnesses and victims in cases don’t proceed with important prosecutions, and New Yorkers are less safe because of it.”


“Unfortunately, right now it is safer to be at Rikers Island because we have a detainer law than out in the community,” said Legal Aid Society attorney in charge Tina Luongo, referring to the city’s policy of rejecting the feds’ detainer requests to turn over immigrants.


ICE has blamed those so-called sanctuary city policies for forcing it to make arrests out in the open at spots like courthouses rather than having detainees transferred inside jails. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

ICE grabs undocumented Ivory Coast man outside Bronx court


“Not only is this new policy an attack on our immigrants, but it is an attack on our justice system,” James said. “We cannot pursue justice when injustice prevails.” 

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immigration
letitia james
eric gonzalez
darcel clark
cy vance

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Feb 15, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: NYC man sentenced to 4 years for running cross-country drug ring


A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a Bronx drug trafficker to more than four years in prison for running heroin cross-country, officials said.


Judge Peter Sheridan slapped Dany Francisco-Valerio, 44, with the sentence in federal court in New Jersey.


Francisco-Valerio was caught on Christmas Eve 2014 in Warren County, N.J. with 15 kilos of heroin in a secret compartment in his car.


Another trafficker linked to the ring, Vionel Rondon Cortorreal, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

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Feb 14, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: NYPD captain accused of delaying DWI test of off-duty cop


An NYPD captain has been indicted for official misconduct after allegedly delaying a blood-alcohol test for a cop arrested on drunken driving charges, sources said.


Capt. Naoki Yaguchi, 36, the 40th Precinct executive officer, is accused of allowing more than two hours to elapse between the arrest of the unnamed off-duty cop and the test in April 2017, sources said. He was the second duty captain to respond to the scene that night.


Rules require the testing of drunken driving suspects within two hours of the stop. It’s unclear why there was a delay, but it’s possible it was a ploy to lower the cop’s blood-alcohol reading, a police official said.


Yaguchi is the NYPD’s first Japanese-American captain. The 13- year veteran was promoted on Jan. 11, 2017.

Cop on trial for Deborah Danner death to learn verdict Thursday


A police source said the captain, previously a lieutenant in Patrol Borough Manhattan North, is well-liked.


“He is easy-going, maybe too easy-going as the charges reflect,” the source said.


In 2017, the Asian Jade Society, an NYPD fraternal group, honored Yaguchi with an achievement award.


Yaguchi made 4,698.30 last year, including ,082.22 in overtime, records show.

NYPD cop found guilty after forging deed, stealing man’s NYC home

With John Annese, Thomas Tracy

Tags:
daily news exclusives
nypd
dui
new york corruption

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Feb 14, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Slashing vic no longer states attacker said ‘f–k your country’


The slashing of a Bronx man while he walked with his year-old son is not a hate crime because the dad recanted his statement about the attacker screaming “F— your country,” police sources said Wednesday.


Joseph Key, 24, was arrested Saturday for the Feb. 1 assault on Ociel Herrera on E. 139th St. near Willis Ave. in Mott Haven, but police said the slashing wasn’t fueled by racial hatred.


According to police sources, Key is emotionally disturbed and attacked Herrera, 41, because he thought Herrera was following him.


Key was charged with assault, acting in a manner injurious to a child, and hate crime harassment. He was ordered held on ,000 bail during an arraignment at Bronx Criminal Court Sunday, according to court records.


Police sources said the harassment charges will be dropped at his next court date. The charges of assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child will remain.


Last Thursday, Herrera, who moved to New York from Guerrero, Mexico, in 2009, told The Daily News about his frightening encounter, and maintained he was the victim of a hate crime.


“What he told me is stuck in my brain: ‘F— your country,’” Herrera said. “I saw hate in his eyes.”


After the assault, Herrera said he briefly chased after his attacker, but quickly returned to his son.


Police said they recovered surveillance video that led to Key’s identification.


Herrera claimed he never experienced any violence since moving to New York, but now fears his 1-year-old son may need therapy.


“At night my son wakes up screaming after having nightmares. He dreams that someone is trying to kill me,” Herrera said. “I, myself, am afraid to go out on the street with my son.”


Herrera is not facing any charges for recanting his statements, sources said.


A phone call to Herrera for comment was not returned Wednesday.

Tags:
new york assaults
mott haven

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Feb 14, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Wheelchair-bound woman slashed in the face by stranger in Bronx

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Feb 14, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: NYPD gun-intel sergeant sidelined as Bronx DA probes methods


A Bronx sergeant assigned to developing gun investigations has been pulled from that role while prosecutors investigate tactics used in his precinct to recover weapons, police sources said.


The Daily News reported in June that the Public Integrity Bureau Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark was investigating the 52nd Precinct.


Gun arrests in the north Bronx command soared last year, but there have been allegations that a number of guns were recovered from homes without police getting a search warrant or a signed consent form, sources said.


A number of criminal cases were affected, according to defense lawyers who noticed that plea deals were offered quicker than usual – an attempt, they suspect, to prevent public disclosure of wrongdoing,


The DA’s investigation, which started at least several months ago, is a work in progress, said Patrice O’Shaughnessy, a spokeswoman for DA’s office.


In the meantime, however, the field intelligence officer for the precinct, Sgt. Bryan Pocalyko has been pulled off that assignment.


FIOs, as they are known, play a critical role in any number of investigations, including those involving guns and drugs, by cultivating information from street sources and using it to build cases.


Pocalyko, who joined the NYPD in 2004, has not been transferred and remains on full duty.


It’s not clear what role he may have played in the cases under review by the DA’s office.


But sources said the move was done so prosecutors and police can figure out if, and where, questionable tactics were being used.


Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said while “putting (Pocalyko) on ice” makes sense because it minimizes the number of arrests that defense lawyers might call into question, it also harms his reputation.


“The presumption of innocent until proven guilty is voided,” Mullins said.


There were 139 gun arrests in the 52nd Precinct last year, up 56% from 89 in 2016.

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Feb 14, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Deborah Danner’s baseball bat made me fear for life: shooter cop


The NYPD sergeant on trial for fatally shooting an emotionally disturbed woman in her Bronx bedroom testified Tuesday that he thought he was going to die when she swung a wooden baseball bat at his head.


Sgt. Hugh Barry explained during his bench trial for murder and manslaughter that he was forced to make an impossible choice between his own life or 66-year-old Deborah Danner’s at the end of a tense standoff inside her Castle Hill apartment.


The sergeant had already persuaded the woman to drop a pair of scissors after he and three other officers responded to a call for an emotionally disturbed person on Oct. 18, 2016, he said.


Danner was ranting and cursing at police after dropping the shears and then ran back into her bedroom where the bat was.


“I’m seeing this bat (about to) crack me in the head and kill me,” Barry said on the witness stand. “She was in the middle of a swing, that’s when I shot her… I only see Ms. Danner, I only see the bat.”


Barry told Judge Robert Neary that he had no choice.


“I had to use my firearm, I had to use my weapon,” the sergeant said.


Assistant District Attorney Wanda Perez-Maldonado, argued, however, that Barry had other options before gunning down the schizophrenic woman.


“From the time he entered the apartment to the time he fired the shots was less than five minutes,” she said, arguing that Barry did not allow enough time to properly manage the situation.


The Bronx prosecutor pointed out that another cop, Officer Camilo Rosario, who was closer to Danner at the time she was killed did not use lethal force.


“He (was) the reasonable person in the situation. He did not (shoot) because he did not believe Ms. Danner (would swing).”


Barry told the court that he was stunned after the shooting.


“(I’m thinking) what the hell just happened?” he said on direct examination. “I screamed (for) EMS.”


“Did you ever intend to kill Ms. Danner?” Quinn asked.


“Absolutely not,” Barry responded. “I just wanted her to stop swinging that bat.”

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Feb 13, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Rowdy supporters of 2 charged in pregnant teen’s beating arrested

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Feb 13, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Soldier who died in Bronx fire to be honored at State of the City


The hero soldier who perished saving others from a deadly Bronx blaze in December will be honored at Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City speech Tuesday.


Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah died after saving four people from the burning Bronx building before succumbing to the fast-moving fire, which killed 12 others.


“I think he deserves to be honored by the mayor and it’s an honor to see my son being honored in such a way after all of this tragedy,” Mensah’s dad, Kwabena Mensah, told the Daily News in a phone interview.


Mensah was a legal permanent resident who had immigrated to the United States from the African nation of Ghana. He enlisted in the National Guard in 2016, and was home in the Bronx for the holidays when the horrific fire tore through the apartment building where he was staying.

NYC street to be renamed after soldier who died in Bronx fire


His story took on particular poignancy when, just a few weeks after his death, reports emerged that President Trump had called African nations “shitholes” and said the country should not accept so many immigrants from there. The comments were blasted by New York politicians, many of whom cited Mensah’s story.


Kwabena Mensah said he wanted people to remember his son as somebody who came from Africa.


“Africans are not from shitholes as the President said. They have to remember him as a good person, as a kind person,” he said. “He should be remembered as a very kind and generous person.”


Mensah has been showered with posthumous honors, including the Soldier’s Medal, which is the Army’s highest honor for peacetime bravery. He will also have a street named in his memory.

N.Y. officials rip Trump as racist and maniac on MLK Day


“That tells me how New York City and the Americans have appreciated my son’s effort and the heroic acts that he did,” the elder Mensah said. “When I cry, sometimes I stop crying and think about that, too.”


The last several weeks have been difficult for the elder Mensah, who has not been able to return to work driving a cab. The city has helped him with rental vouchers and helped him obtain visas for family members from Ghana to come to the United States for his son’s funeral. But promised financial assistance from other donors has yet to arrive, he said.


His mother also passed away in Ghana about a week after his son’s death, he said. Sometimes, as he walks down the street alone, he is surprised to find himself crying.


“It has been very tough for me, but I know God is in control,” he said. “Sometimes when you cry, you have to stop and do the right thing.”

Army honoring soldier who died saving lives in Bronx fire


In addition to Mensah, the event will honor about 50 city workers who were nominated by their agencies as heroes and will attend the speech as guests of the mayor.


They include Joseph J. Caggiano, a Sanitation worker from Staten Island who, at 75, is the oldest active uniformed employee in the city — and has worked for the agency for 52 years.


Another Sanitation worker, Ralph R. Alonso of the Bronx who served in the Marines, will be honored for tackling and holding the man suspected of running down FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo last year.


Two EMTs, Anthony Fracchiolla and Jin Huan Yang, will be honored for their quick response to the terrorist attack on a bike path along the West Side Highway, where they assisted wounded school children. Luz Carrion-Diaz, a Parks Enforcement Patrol captain and commanding officer of the Hudson River Park unit, will also be honored for his role in responding to the attack.

Schumer wants Army to honor heroic soldier killed in Bronx fire


Two Dreamers — people who came to the country undocumented as children — who work for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will also be honored.

Tags:
daily news exclusives
bill de blasio
bronx fire

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Feb 12, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Protesters demand removal of principal over black history scandal


A pair of passionate protests Monday took aim at a Bronx middle school principal who’s accused of barring a teacher from giving black history lessons.


Parents, activists and educators gathered at Intermediate School 224 at opening bell and again at dismissal to call for the removal of Principal Patricia Catania.


The Daily News reported Sunday that IS 224 staffers and students said Catania prohibited a teacher from giving lessons on topics such as the Harlem Renaissance.


The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, which organized the morning rally at IS 224, drew about 20 protesters as students arrived for class around 8 a.m.

Principal ignites protests for barring black history lessons


NYC Coalition for Educational Justice coordinator Natasha Capers, a Brooklyn mother of two, spelled out the reason why city parents woke up early to protest at IS 224.


“A black teacher was told she could not continue her Black History Month lesson,” Capers said. “She was told that was not her subject area. She was told that is a social studies subject. We all know that black history is a part of every subject.”


The morning rally, organized by Capers, also included Bronx Public School 118 parents. That school made international news after The News reported Feb. 1 that a teacher there was removed for stepping on black kids’ backs during a lesson on slavery. Teacher Patricia Cummings was reassigned away from children after News reporters asked city Education Department officials about her actions. She continues to draw her ,934-a-year paycheck.


Former city teacher Cheryl Demmitt, 59, of the Bronx, whose goddaughter attends PS 118, said the incidents at PS 118 and MS 224 show the city needs to step in with training to prevent bias.


“As an African-American, I want to see things done right for everyone,” Demmitt said. “We need to get more sensitivity training for all teachers so they can teach these subjects in way that doesn’t offend anybody.”


The afternoon protest at PS 224, organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, drew about 50 concerned parents and activists who chanted and called for Catania’s ouster.“We are sending a message to the Department of Education that you cannot disrespect our culture,” said the Rev. Kevin McCall, NAN’s crisis director. “If she is not removed, we are taking it to the street.


“We will respond by any means necessary,” he said, invoking civil rights activist Malcolm X, who in a 1964 speech called for freedom, justice and equality “by any means necessary.”


Among those at the NAN rally was Mychelle Combs, the mother of 17-year-old Malcolm Xavier Combs, a senior at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, Queens. The teen grabbed headlines last week after school officials refused to allow him to display “Malcolm X” on his senior sweater. His mom said she’s had enough of racism in the city’s public and private schools.


“My son was named after an icon. Yet he’s being mistreated and laughed at,” said Combs. “I’m here to stand with these students because this is all our fight.”


Catania was at work Monday but didn’t respond to a request for comment. Education Department spokesman Douglas Cohen said the allegations against her are being investigated.


“The superintendent and his staff are working closely with the school community to address these concerns,” he said.

With Christina Carrega

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Feb 12, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Health Department to study impact of NYCHA lead paint failures


The state Health Department will open an investigation into what impact NYCHA’s lead paint failures have had on public housing tenants in southern Queens.


State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced the inquiry during a budget hearing Monday in Albany.


State Sen. James Sanders (D-Jamaica) mentioned problems with lead paint, as well as mold and heating outages, in NYCHA developments in his district, which includes South Jamaica, Ozone Park and parts of Far Rockaway.


“I’m very concerned about what’s going on,” Sanders said. “What can you do about this problem that’s in NYCHA? We need to have some type of resolution to this problem of mold, lead and heating problems.”

NYCHA misled tenants whose ceiling collapsed due to flawed boiler


In response, Zucker stated, “Yes, the state will come in and investigate this.”


“Like you, I have been following this very closely and I’m very concerned,” Zucker noted. “As a physician, as a parent, as a New Yorker the situation there is very worrisome particularly for the health and well-being of children there.”


Zucker said the state Health Department will sit down with Sanders’ staff to determine the scope and nature of the investigation, which could include random sampling for lead poisoning in children who live in tainted apartments.


NYCHA has come under fire in the last few weeks for failing to perform required lead paint inspections and relying on untrained workers to inspect and remediate apartments for the toxic substance.

Embattled NYCHA chairwoman testifies on heating systems failure


Some elected officials and tenant leaders have called for the resignation of NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye who certified NYCHA was in compliance on lead paint inspections when she knew it wasn’t.


The authority is currently working on an agreement with the U.S. Attorney for Manhattan following a yearlong probe of whether management has filed false documents with the federal government.


The agency has also been highly criticized for widespread heating outages that have affected 320,000 tenants since October.


And a federal judge has appointed a monitor to oversee NYCHA’s effort to remediate toxic mold from apartments where tenants suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments.

Commit the funds to fix NYCHA


In response a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio, Olivia Lapeyrolerie, said, “This Mayor has made an unprecedented commitment to NYCHA, including .1 billion in capital infrastructure and .6 billion in operating funds. We’re coming to the table with real resources to address the problems residents face, and urge our federal and state partners to do the same.”

Tags:
nycha
howard zucker
jamaica
ozone park
far rockaway

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