Thursday, December 15, 2016

CROOKS IN THE NYC GOVERNMENT: 10 FDNY EMS workers and 3 NYPD traffic agents arraigned for $500G insurance scam against AFLAC Insurance

10 FDNY EMS workers and 3 NYPD traffic agents arraigned for $500G insurance scam

FDNY EMS Workers Busted In Health Insurance Scam
NY Daily News

BY Anthony Izaguirre Christina Carrega Ginger Adams Otis
Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 1:28 AM

Thirteen FDNY and NYPD workers were charged Tuesday with bilking $500,000 from a private insurance company in what authorities say was a double-dipping insurance scam.

State and city law enforcement agencies collaborated on the early morning bust of 10 city EMS workers and three NYPD traffic agents — all of whom were arraigned on larceny and fraud charges in Brooklyn and Queens.

Eight of the accused Fire Department EMS workers — among them EMTs, paramedics and officers — surrendered at the 112th Precinct stationhouse in Forest Hills at 7 a.m.

One of the men was accompanied by his self-described “best friend,” who waited for his buddy at the stationhouse.

FDNY EMS workers, NYPD traffic agents surrender in insurance scam

“This is a shame,” the friend said, as the FDNY EMS worker got slapped into a pair of cuffs by a cop. “It’s unbelievable.”

City employees (top r.-l.) Yoland Powell, Valeriy Yedvabskiy, Susan James and Morad Touati; (middle r.-l.) Randolph Lowe, Melissa Ovalle, Marc Mastros and Juan Mastros; (bottom l.-r.) Kenneth Lambert, Jose Solis, Devon Graham, Caleb Laves and Anthony Miranda are accused of an insurance scam. (Courtesy NYS Attorney General)

The EMS workers were handcuffed and linked by one long chain in the courtroom before they were brought one by one before the judge. Two other Fire Department workers were arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court, along with the three NYPD traffic agents.

All 13 pleaded not guilty.

The double-dipping scam included thefts ranging from more than $3,000 to more than $100,000 per defendant, according to the city’s Department of Investigation, which worked the case for more than two years with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office.

The alleged fraud was committed against Aflac, the AG said.
13 city employees were busted in connection to a $500,000 insurance scam. (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

The city employees signed up for disability insurance through Aflac and manipulated the system by forging physicians’ or supervisors’ signatures to file false claims, he said.

“Cracking down on public corruption is a top priority for my office, and we will continue our relentless work with our partners in law enforcement to root out fraud and waste wherever we find it,” Schneiderman said.

Investigation Department Commissioner Mark Peters warned more arrests would come, adding, “These workers failed us.”

 All the EMS workers took out short-term disability policies with Aflac that contained “forged signatures,” said Assistant Attorney General Kevin Frankel.
Defendants suspected of disability insurance fraud leave Queens Criminal Court after being arraigned on Tuesday. (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

Oliver Storch, an attorney for the majority of the EMS workers, said they were “saddened” by the turn of events.

“My clients are dedicated public servants,” he said. “They would like to ask the public to withhold judgment until the charges can be defended in an appropriate forum.”

EMS union head Israel Miranda said the members were innocent until proven guilty.

“At the end of the day, this is for the courts to decide,” he said.
Defendants try hiding their faces after leaving an arraignment in Queens. (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

Three EMTs are accused of taking nearly $300,000 of the total. They, and the amounts they’re accused of taking, are:

Marc Mastros, 37, of Queens, $118,630.
Devon Graham, 46, of Queens, $71,310.
Kenneth Lambert, 35, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., $91,056.

  The defendants were given the opportunity to voluntarily surrender on Tuesday morning. (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

Mastros, Graham and Lambert were arraigned on the most serious felony charges — thefts of more than $50,000. They could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The 10 other FDNY and NYPD employees were arraigned on lesser charges that could net them seven years in prison if convicted. They are:

Paramedic Juan Mastros, 28, of Queens, $34,176.
EMS Lt. Susan James, 58, of Queens, $9,950.
Paramedic Caleb Laues, 41, of Queens, $41,590.
Paramedic Jose Solis, 34, of Valley Stream, L.I., $27,229.
EMT Mourad Touati, 48, of Queens$31,146.
Traffic Agent Randolph Lowe, 57, of Brooklyn, $4,753.
EMS Lt. Melissa Ovalle, 35, of Brooklyn, $20,670.
EMS Lt. Anthony Miranda, 58, of Brooklyn, $22,550.
Traffic Agent Yolanda Powell, 47, of Brooklyn, $9,505.Traffic Agent Valeriy Yedvabskiy, 58, of Brooklyn, $27,010.

Sparks From Metal Cutting Ignite Roofing Materials at NYU Hospital, Causing Massive Fire

Sparks Ignite Roofing Materials at NYU Hospital, Officials Say

By Ben Fractenberg and Aidan Gardiner | December 14, 2016
The fire spewed a cloud of black smoke over lower Manhattan, witnesses said.
Composite with Twitter/@juggiefresh845 and R. P. Tanaka

MANHATTAN — One person was injured in a fire at an NYU Langone Medical Center building after construction material caught fire Wednesday morning, officials and witnesses said.

@ABC @Channel7NewsDP NYU new hospital on fire — juggiefresh~ (@juggiefresh845) December 14, 2016

Workers were cutting metal when a spark flew onto a roofing insulation material called "rigid board" and caught fire on the seventh floor of 560 First Ave. near East 30th Street, a vacant property that's currently under construction, about 12:13 p.m., FDNY officials said.

"There's roofing materials up there, which cause considerable amount of black smoke and construction equipment," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

Mike Sanfilippo, 33, was working on the sixth floor when he got a frantic phone call of someone telling him, "Fire, you need to get out of there!" he said.

"Some guys were blowing air horns telling everyone to get out," Sanfilippo said.

He and the other workers evacuated, but the adjacent hospitals were unaffected, except for a few patients who were moved away from windows facing the flames, he and officials said.

"There was no concern we had to move [patients]. This fire was not in the hospital building. It was in the building adjacent to where Tisch Hospital is, which is part of NYU Langone Medical Center," said hospital spokesman Joe Lhota.

"We moved some patients on the floor away from the windows, so they weren't looking at the smoke," Lhota added.

Some smoke entered the ventilation system of the nearby hospital building, but staff stopped it from spreading by shutting off the system, officials said.

"Very little smoke went into the system," Lhota said.

One person was treated for minor injuries at the scene, officials said.

About 106 firefighters brought the blaze under control minutes before 1 p.m., FDNY officials said.

NYU Langone has been carrying out a massive renovation to its campus, building out patient care facilities in the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Pavilion and the Tisch Hospital.

Witnesses took to social media to warn people to stay safe.

Asphalt emulsifier called Indulin AA86 contaminated Corpus Christi, Texas tap water; mandated drinking water ban in place

The city of Corpus Christi, Texas has warned residents not to use tap water after the municipal water supply may have been contaminated by an unknown chemical.

"Late today an unknown chemical substance may have contaminated the City of Corpus Christi drinking water due to a recent back-flow incident in the industrial district," the city said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In an abundance of caution and until results can confirm water safety, the city is issuing an avoid tap water usage until further notice."

Residents were advised to only use bottled water for beverage and food preparation, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes or clothes, washing hands, and bathing, "until further notice."

City officials added that water purification treatments, boiling, freezing, filtering, adding chlorine or other disinfectants, or letting the water stand would not make the water safe.


Officials: Chemical in Texas city water identified; warning still in place

Published December 15, 2016

Residents told not to use tap water in Corpus Christi, Texas

City officials in Corpus Christi, Texas said they have identified the chemical that prompted a mandated drinking water ban late Wednesday night.

During a news conference Thursday morning, city spokeswoman Kim Womack revealed that about three to 24 gallons of an asphalt emulsifier called Indulin AA86 had made its way into the city’s water supply after back-flow incident that occurred late Wednesday, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported.

The announcement came about 12 hours after the city issued a mandated ban on drinking or using tap water.

Water samples were sent to a testing facility in Austin and city officials have been working closely with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to ensure the public’s safety. The results are expected back Thursday afternoon.

“Everyone has been extremely helpful. They are on top of it,” State Rep. Todd Hunter told the Caller-Times on Thursday. “I’m encouraging them to be judicial and prudent in getting us as much information as possible.”

Late Wednesday night, city officials issued a warning mandating residents to use only bottled water for cooking and drinking after an unknown chemical made its way into the water system.

Another spokeswoman for the city, Deanna McQueen, said the leak first came to light Wednesday when workers at the refinery discovered the water coming from its faucets had a sheen.

The city warned that “boiling, freezing, filtering, adding chlorine or other disinfectants, or letting the water stand will not make the water safe.”

“Only bottled water should be used for all drinking, beverage and food preparation (including baby formula and juice), making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes or clothes, washing hands, and bathing until further notice," the release said.

The warning, which went out at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night, prompted a rush on water at grocery stores, where long lines formed with people pushing carts filled with packages of bottled water.

At least two large retailers, H-E-B and Walmart, have contacted their shipping centers to have more water sent to the city.

City Councilman Michael Hunter told the Caller-Times that it's unlikely the chemicals are concentrated enough to do harm, but officials are "taking every precaution that we can."

Hunter said a local company reported that the water coming from faucets at its plant had a sheen, but he did not identify that company or the nature of its business. Hunter described the possible contaminants as two petroleum-based chemicals.

The warning is the latest for a city beset by problems with its drinking water.

In May, officials issued their third boil-water advisory in a year. That notice lasted two weeks and officials at the time said it was largely a precautionary measure taken after nitrogen-rich runoff from rain flowed into the water system, resulting in low chlorine disinfectant levels in the water supply.

Boil-water notices were issued last year because of elevated levels of E. coli and another for low chlorine levels, the Caller-Times previously reported. The notices mirrored two others that were issued in 2007.

There have been no reports of illness or sickness from residents due to the water.

Drunk and texting 25-year-old Amy Ellen Franklin arrested after she hit and killed a man who was riding a bicycle


The drunk driver, Amy Ellen Franklin, who killed a bicyclist (Credit: Raleigh/Wake CCBI)

Updated 1 hr 13 mins ago
RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Raleigh police have arrested a 25-year-old woman who police say hit and killed a man who was riding a bicycle Wednesday night.

Raleigh police said a person riding a bicycle was killed after being hit by a car Wednesday night. (WTVD)
Officers said a vehicle struck the victim, 56-year-old Bryan Scott Goforth, around 11:30 p.m. on Western Boulevard at Hillsborough Street. The driver fled after the collision.

Goforth was pronounced dead at the scene.

Within an hour of the collision, Raleigh police stopped 25-year-old Amy Ellen Franklin near the intersection of Cross Link and Hadley roads. Franklin was charged in connection with the deadly hit-and-run.

Franklin is charged with felony hit and run, felony death by motor vehicle, and DWI.

She was also given a citation for texting and driving and having an open container of alcohol in her car.

THE CRIMINAL COPS OF NEW JERSEY: Trooper Marquice Prather, 37, of Linden, was arrested on charges of third-degree tampering with public records or information and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records

A New Jersey state trooper has been criminally charged and suspended without pay after investigators learned he was pulling over women to ask them out on dates.

Updated 59 mins ago
LINDEN, New Jersey -- A New Jersey state trooper is accused of trying to cover up that he pulled over women during traffic stops just to ask them out on dates.

Marquice Prather, 37, of Linden, was arrested Friday on charges of third-degree tampering with public records or information and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records. He was suspended without pay and released without bail.

Prather's attorney said he will plead not guilty.

State police began looking into the three-year veteran after several women complained about his conduct.

Investigators found that Prather showed a pattern of stopping women between the ages of 20 and 35 to ask them to go on dates or for their phone numbers.

Investigators said Prather would turn off his wireless microphone during the stops and falsely report it had malfunctioned. They also said he manipulated data to conceal that he was targeting a high number of women drivers.

The trooper joined the police force in 2013 and makes an annual salary of $60,749, state payroll records showed. He was assigned to the division's Holmdel barracks, which patrols the Garden State Parkway.

A conviction on the third-degree charge carries a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000 and fourth-degree carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

1 man killed and 2 injured after they were hit by a passing vehicle while changing a flat tire on the New England Thruway.

DECEMBER 15, 2016

BAYCHESTER, Bronx (WABC) -- One man is dead and two were injured after they were hit by a passing vehicle while changing a flat tire on the New England Thruway.

A 29-year-old was killed while the three worked on their 2010 Mazda sedan on Thursday at around 2 a.m. He was identified as Artimis Jones, of the Bronx.

The victims were in the Baychester section of the Bronx, in the southbound lanes, near Bartow Avenue.

The two other men, both 30, are stable at Jacobi Medical Center.

The driver of the 2014 Toyota Sienna that struck them remained at the scene. He is being interviewed, but no charges are expected.

Multiple lanes of the southbound New England Thruway were closed for hours, but had reopened by 6 a.m.

The deadly US roads take at least 36,000 lives each year and injure millions more.  Always be on the lookout for your life, as other drivers are not paying attention.

A truck hauling a crane overturned on icy road in Queens Thursday morning; leaky hydrant to blame

A truck hauling a crane overturned on an icy road in Queens Thursday morning.

Thursday, December 15, 2016 08:39AM
WHITESTONE, Queens (WABC) -- A truck hauling a crane overturned on an icy road in Queens Thursday morning.

The boom truck apparently slid on ice caused by a leaking hydrant and flipped at the intersection of Sixth Avenue at Powells Cove Boulevard in Whitestone just after 7 a.m.

The operator of the boom truck was not injured, but crews will have to use trucks to right the crane.

Sixth Avenue is closed from 150th Place to Powells Cove for the cleanup.

Paterson’s Star Laundry of New Jersey (aka Brite Services Inc.) fined $91K for 12 federal OSHA violations

OSHA cites New Jersey commercial laundry for workplace safety hazards
Paterson’s Star Laundry of New Jersey (aka
Brite Services Inc.) fined $91K for 12 federal OSHA violations

Employer name: Star Laundry Inc.
421 and 436 East 16th St.
Paterson, New Jersey

Citations issued: On Dec. 7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations against Brite Services Inc., doing business as Star Laundry Inc., for seven repeat, two serious and three other-than-serious violations.

Inspection findings: OSHA opened an inspection July 6, 2016, after receiving a complaint alleging that employees were exposed to heat stress and being struck by motor vehicles when crossing the street in between two buildings in which the company operates.

Inspectors cited repeat violations for vehicular struck-by hazards, blocked fire extinguishers, unguarded machinery and electrical hazards. The company was previously cited for similar violations in 2014. The serious violations reflected additional electrical hazards. Other-than-serious violations were issued for the lack of a hearing conservation program, an insufficient number of toilet rooms and no tepid water in the existing rest rooms.

Quote: “Star Laundry continues to needlessly leave its employees vulnerable to hazards that can cause serious injury or death,” said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights Area Office. “Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthful work environment for workers.”

Proposed penalties: $91,911

The citations can be viewed at:

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Hasbrouck Heights office at 201-288-1700.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit
OSHA News Brief: