U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced yesterday that five people have been charged in a $33 million mortgage fraud conspiracy. Bharara said that Terra Foundation claimed to investigate and eliminate debt for a fee. Instead Terra filed approximately 60 fraudulent mortgage discharges in Westchester, Putnam and Connecticut making it appear that mortgages had been paid when in fact they had not. Terra profited through fee collection for services, encouraging clients to take out second mortgages or reverse mortgages and then retaining portions of those funds. Three of the five appeared in White Plains federal court Thursday. Two are still at large. If convicted they face a 30-year prison sentence and a $1 million fine.
The State has announced $3.85 million in funding to support the ongoing effort to combat heroin and prescription opioid misuse across New York. This funding will expand current addiction support initiatives to ensure two Family Support Navigators and two Peer Engagement Specialists are available in each of the state’s ten economic development regions. Funding is also available to support community coalitions to help stem the addiction epidemic in local communities across the state. The funding will be made available through a Request for Applications administered by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. For more information visit: oasas.ny.gov
There is a statewide holiday drive to benefit families in need beginning today. For the next two weeks The Office of General Services in Albany, has set up drop-off locations across the state for businesses and individuals to bring new unwrapped toys, coats and school supplies, for distribution to families in underserved communities throughout New York. The drop-off locations will start collecting today through Friday December 16. The closest location for those of us in Rockland and Westchester is in New York City at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State office Building, 163 West 125th Street. If you are interested in opening one locally contact the Office of General Services call: 518-474-3899.
Governor Cuomo has announced a series of initiatives in the fight against AIDS – building on the state’s blueprint to end the epidemic by 2020. Cuomo signed comprehensive legislation to eliminate barriers to HIV testing and other sexually transmitted infections, increase access to prevention and treatment, and expanded research capabilities. He has called on the federal government to authorize $45 million in Medicaid matching funds for critical programs supporting the battle against AIDS.
If you have been getting endless hits by the telemarketers this season Albany has just given some push back with new legislation to protect New Yorkers from deceptive telemarketing practices at a time when Do Not Call complaints are on the rise. Telemarketers are now required to use correct caller ID information and deploys Division of Consumer Protection staff throughout the State to warn consumers about telemarketing scams, support same-day consumer complaint filing, and increase transparency in Do Not Call Law by posting settlements with violators. New York Secretary of the State Rossana Rosado said, “if a phone number is on the Do Not Call Registry at the time of the telemarketer’s initial unwanted sales call, its residents have a place to go when they are victims.” To file a complaint donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.
When I first starting working here I did a story on the disappearance of a man from Pomona. The Journal News is reporting this morning that he is still missing. It has been over 7 months since Adrian Gokaj disappeared from his apartment on Country Club Lane. He is a white male, 6’1” and weighs approximately 190 lbs. When he was last seen he was wearing a blue long-sleeved shirt, gray sweatpants and slippers. He goes by the nickname “Genti”. According to his family he did not take his wallet or his cellphone with him. Genti also has an 8-year-old child and according to the Journal News was “under medical care for his bipolar and schizophrenic condition.” If you have information or think you may have seen a man matching the description you can call Haverstraw Police 845-354-1500 and there is a picture posted on the Journal News website.
If you are looking for some holiday fun this weekend join Rockland’s Gospel Fest Talent Show “Make a Joyful Noise!” This Saturday 3:00 -8:00 p.m. at the Ramapo Culture Arts Center, 64 North Main Street Spring Valley. This fundraising event is to benefit Upper Room House of Workshop Building Fund and American Breast Cancer Society. Tickets are $25. If you would like to purchase tickets or perform in the talent show call: 845-612-9727 / 646-573-2368 / 845-517-8423 / 845-598-5468
The Mental Health Association of Rockland County invites you to their join Compeer Program which provides one on one volunteer supportive friendships and mentoring relationship to adults’ with behavioral health challenges. Change your life and someone else’s by volunteering 4 hours a month or just a friendly call each week. For more information call Vivian Chek at 845-267-2172 x277 or go to mharockland.org or compeer.org
New York State has secured international certification of nearly $100 million in new “Green Bonds” to drive the development of housing that has a positive impact on the environment and climate. New York is now the first state in the nation to have its affordable housing bonds certified by The Climate Bond Standards Board, on behalf of the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international not-for-profit organization supporting financing for projects around the world that help reduce the impact of the climate change. The Green bond program will fund four developments that will inject $200 million in economic activity into local economies and create more than 640 green, affordable and supportive apartments for Kings, Westchester, Monroe, and Orange County.
The Associate Press is reporting this morning that Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol will hear arguments today in a citizen’s complaint against Republican Governor Chris Christie in the George Washington lane-closure scandal. Wayne, N.J. resident William Brennan requested a special prosecutor. Brennan, a former Teaneck firefighter and attorney by training, alleged in a criminal complaint that Christie violated the state’s official misconduct statue by failing to reopen the lanes to the country’s busiest bridge in 2013. Christie attorney Craig Carpenito said in court documents Brennan doesn’t have standing to seek a special prosecutor. Christie has denied wrongdoing in the scandal and was not charge in the incident.
(photo source: Salon.com)