Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Week's Forum West and South:

Melinda's Katz funding request in the comptroller's race is denied

Glendale residents are unhappy with late night construction at PS 113

Police report several street robberies in Maspeth and Glendale

Howard Beach Councilman Joseph Addabbo kicks off his State Senate bid against Serf Maltese

CB 5 discusses Woodhaven House, a VFW hall and car services

The FAA has announced safety changes after two near misses over JFK Airport

Wounded Warriors injured in combat are taught water sports in Rockaway

A teacher at an upstate school is charged with raping a student in Queens

A Ridgewood man is charged with posing as an attorney

Former Queens woman sentenced to nearly 11 years for adoption scam

Katz Fundraising Request is Denied by CFB

Real Estate Contributions Will be Restricted in December

By Conor Greene

During her time as chair of City Council’s influential Land Use Committee, Melinda Katz has raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from members of the real estate industry. Since deciding to run for comptroller two years ago, she has raised more than two million dollars, outpacing her three opponents.

However, starting in December, the amount that members of the real estate industry can contribute to politicians will be severely curtailed due to a change in the city’s campaign finance laws. That means Katz’s ability to pull in money for a runoff election during the Democratic primary – which would take place if none of the candidates received at least 40% of the vote – would be reduced significantly.

To avoid the possibility of having to amass a war chest for a runoff without being able to fully leverage the real estate industry, Katz recently asked the city Campaign Finance Board to allow her to establish an account now that would be set aside in case of a runoff. That means that industry members who have already contributed $4,950, the maximum allowed by law, could give another $2,475 for a runoff effort. Under the new law taking effect in December, those contributions will be limited to just $200.

In a letter to CFB Chairman Joseph Parks, the Katz campaign predicted the battle for the comptroller’s position “will be a highly competitive race.” Currently, three other elected officials – Councilman David Weprin, Councilman David Yassky and Assemblyman Jim Brennan – have formally declared their candidacy, and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion has publicly stated his intention to seek that position.

In the June 30 letter to CFB, Katz’s treasurer Ronald Kaye, argues that a runoff “can be reasonably anticipated” due to the number of candidates currently running, the amount of money collectively raised so far, the lack of public polling in comptroller’s races until late in the primary process and the fact that incumbent William Thompson, Jr. can’t run again due to term limits.

“Councilwoman Katz believes that one of the most important aspects of the campaign finance program is that it encourages candidates to continue to focus on raising matchable contributions from New Yorkers early in the process, so that they can get that responsibility out of the way and concentrate on meeting with voters and debating the issues as the election draws near,” wrote Kaye.

“If there is a runoff election for Comptroller, which would surprise few political observers, the compressed time period after the primary would best be spent on debating and discussing the issues, not scrambling for last minute dollars."

Last Thursday, the CFB decided that “based on the information now available… a runoff election in the Democratic Party primary is not ‘reasonably anticipated’ at this time.” It notes that candidates “may submit another request” in the future if the race has “sufficiently evolved to enable them to demonstrate with concrete evidence that a runoff is ‘reasonably anticipated.’”

The decision, available on the CFB’s website, calls the prospect of a runoff “highly speculative” and argues that allowing a candidate to collect funds ahead of time would “actually undermine some core purposes of the Campaign Finance Program.”

It notes that the board has never decided that a runoff is reasonably anticipated more than a year before the election. The earliest it has done so was in February 2001 during the mayoral Democratic primary between Mark Green and Fernando Ferrer. The decision also points out that “no documentation of the history of runoff primaries for the Democratic comptroller primary, polling information or press reporting was presented to the board to support the request.”

According to the latest filings with the CFB, it’s clear that the comptroller’s race is attracting a lot of attention from donors. Katz leads the field with $2.1 million raised, followed by Weprin, with $1.8 million, Yassky, who has raised $1.3 million and Brennan, at $492,203. Carrion has raised $1.7 million, according to the CFB.

Katz’s comptroller campaign did not respond to a message seeking comment on the request or the CFB’s decision. However, at least one of her opponents is convinced that the new law limiting real estate contributions was the reason behind the request.

“Obviously, the request was premature, and we applaud the board for recognizing that,” said Yassky’s spokesman Doug Forand. “The context of this request is troubling and appears to be an effort to expand the ability for individuals to give money now who are going to be precluded from making those donations in the near future. There is plenty of time after these rules are put in place for someone to raise money should there be a runoff, so that argument doesn’t hold water as far as we’re concerned.”

Complaints Over PS 113 Expansion

By Conor Greene
The Forum West

GLENDALE – Complaints have been filed with the city Department of Building and School Construction Authority due to alleged after-hours work at site, sometimes as late as 11:30 p.m.

The issue was raised at last Wednesday’s Community Board 5 meeting by Brian Dooley, president of the Glendale Property Owners Association. Dooley submitted to the board a letter from resident Bob Rabold, who says he’s been subjected to “continual after hours work occurring without the proper permits posted.”

In response, the community board submitted a complaint to the city Department of Buildings “just to be careful” and discussed the issue with a project support manager at the School Construction Authority, according to the board’s district manager, Gary Giordano. He was told that the contractor removing asbestos from the property “was recently working nights at times later than the SCA normally allows because he is trying to get the work done and get a pickup from the carting company.”

“That’s not work I think they want to do when school is in session, even at night, so it looks to me like they are trying to get that done over the summer,” said Giordano. “Whether it’s the school year or [summer], once you start getting past 10 p.m. with any kind of construction that people can hear, it infringes on their sleep. To minimize anything after 9 p.m. is important.”

Rabold, who lives across the street from the property, questions whether the contractors,Iannelli Construction, ever received the property after-hours permits from the DOB. “If they did, I’m sure they would be posted,” he wrote. Rabold notes that work continued until after 11:30 p.m. on July 7, at which time he lodged a complaint with 311.

“Regrettably, I understand that contractors hired by individuals try to circumvent the law by taking short cuts, but I cannot understand when a department under jurisdiction of the governing body who passes the law allows their contractors to ignore and disobey the law,” wrote Rebold.

News of the late-night work didn’t sit well with some board members who accuse the SCA of not considering the impact their projects have on the neighborhood. “They came in and sold use a bill of goods that it’s not going to impact the neighbors,” said Kathy Masi. “They’re terrible. They’ve never been good to their word.”

Dooley stressed that he is “absolutely for the project, for alleviating overcrowding in schools, especially that school,” but noted that “there are people living literally twenty-five feet from that site.”

On Tuesday, Marge Feinberg, a Department of Education spokeswoman, said that the SCA “has reached out to the neighbors [and] understands their concerns.” She said that work has, and will continue, to only take place within the hours set by DOB. “They said they have not been working outside what is allowable,” she said.

The project includes an addition to the existing building and asbestos abatement, according to Feinberg. Giordano said that he hasn’t received any recent complaints regarding the other two local school construction projects, PS 49 and PS 128, both in Middle Village.

Street Robberies in Maspeth, Glendale

Residents are urged to be alert while walking the streets of Glendale and Maspeth after a rash of street robberies police believe are connected.

The pattern began in the early morning hours of last Tuesday, when a 20-year-old man was robbed at gunpoint while parking his car on 72nd Street and Central Avenue, according to the 104th Precinct.
Two Hispanic men pointed a gun in his face and demanded money, but fled from the scene before taking the cash, said police. The victim told police the men drove away in a white car.

A few hours later, at 4:30 a.m., four Hispanic men approached a man at the ATM in the Washington Mutual Bank on Grand Avenue and flashed a handgun before taking his wallet and cash, said police. They fled the scene in a white car, possibly a Toyota Corolla, the victim reported.

At 11:25 p.m. that night, a 16-year-old boy was approached by four Hispanic men at 80th Street and 78th Road. One suspect pulled out the handgun while another grabbed the teen by the neck and removed his gold chain and iPod. Two of the men were wearing hoods and the other two bandanas. The suspects in that robbery also fled the scene in a white car, according to police.

Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the precinct or 800-777-TIPS.

Addabbo Launches State Senate Campaign

Howard Beach Democratic Councilman Seeks Serf Maltese's Seat in Albany

By Patricia Adams

Not since 1974 have Democrats held the majority lead in the New York State Senate. But now, 34-years later, the Dems are poised to take back the reigns, and one local candidate is in the thick of the hunt.

City Councilmember Joe Addabbo Jr. has officially made the much anticipated announcement that he will challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Serf Maltese this November in the race for the seat in the 15th district.

The district includes the communities of Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and others. As the seated councilmember already representing Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and parts of Woodhaven and the Rockaways, Addabbo is facing a primary challenge from attorney Albert Baldeo, who came dangerously close to ousting Maltese from his seat during the last race.

Addabbo’s campaign message seems to be focused on reformed change in Albany, where he says there is tumultuous change going on not normally seen there. “It’s a time for new vision, new energy,” Addabbo said. He also discussed his feelings about shortening his City Council term because of the feeling that he can do his best work in the State Senate right now.

“Republican senators are not poised to handle the progressive change that is occurring now and also very much part of the political horizon,” Addabbo explained. The son of the late Congressman Joseph Addabbo recanted words and lessons learned from his father. “My father taught me to never back down from a fight just because it was going to be difficult. I stand with the people of Queens and I will be their voice demanding that Albany finally eases our crushing tax burden, gives our schools their fair share and makes sure we can afford healthcare.”

In commenting on the incumbent, Addabbo says that in his campaigning thus far he has clearly established a link with constituents that are unsettled about the “disconnect” they feel with their present representation. “Everywhere I have been, knocking on doors and speaking to people, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, they are all giving me the same message. They feel as though there is no connection with the people and the present elected official.”

Addabbo went on to say that voters are sick and tired of elected officials whose presence is apparent only during election years. But part of his strategy is to bring with him to the Senate the foundation on which his political career has been based—a civic presence and a connection to the people every day of every year.

“I plan to be more vocal, more responsive at civic meetings, community boards and whatever it takes to keep more in tune with the community maintaining the established connection I am used to.”

Of primary concern to Addabbo, he says, is the need to make sure that vital legislation and bills no longer lay around the floor of the Senate because of the sluggish attitude of the Republican majority, or because the prime sponsors of bills are Democrats. Another focus Addabbo says is to integrate city and state resources so that key measures can be implemented for the benefit of New Yorkers.

“Legislation like that to supply pension increases for the FDNY and other city workers—is that something that should be passed over time and time again? What about Taylor law reform and mandatory requirements for out-of-state mail order prescriptions,” Addabbo asks. “Surely it is clear to see that these are things that must be addressed immediately and have not been done under the current rule in the Senate. We have much work to do and although it will be done under much scrutiny and many watchful eyes, now is the time to do it.”

In a campaign rally that took place on Saturday and traveled throughout key areas of the district he seeks to represent, Joe Addabbo was met at each stop by crowds of enthusiastic supporters. Addabbo was also joined by many elected officials in support of his candidacy. State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer accompanied Addabbo to several of his campaign kick off stops where she spoke highly of her fellow Democrat.

“This is a difficult race for me,” Pheffer said, “I’ve enjoyed a good working relationship with Senator Maltese for over 20 years. However, I have also had the opportunity to work very closely with Joe Addabbo in his position as City Councilmember.”

Despite her good track record of working with Maltese, the bottom line is Pheffer is excited about the possibility of finally seeing control of the Senate returned to the Democrats. “Senator Maltese and I have worked on many projects together, but his support is for the Republican platform which I believe has outlived its right to control he Senate.”

Pheffer says that a change in the Senate majority is essential for the good of New York. “There are so many important bills that have been blocked by the Republicans in the State Senate. Now that we [Democrats] have an opportunity to gain control of the Senate we couldn’t have a better candidate to make a tremendous difference for all of us than Joe Addabbo.”

New York State Democratic Chairperson June O’Neill joined Addabbo at his announcement as did Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith who spoke of his relationship with Addabbo. “I have known Joe and his family for years and am very excited that he has decided to take on this critical fight. He grew up in a tradition of family service and there’s no elected official who works harder or more effectively for their community.”

Make no mistake, this will be a tough race,” said Addabbo, “But for too long, the families here have watched their taxes go up and funding for schools go down. Our local economy is suffering while politicians in Albany simply brush our needs aside. I am running for State Senate to change the way business is done in Albany. It’s time to improve the way our government works for the people of this Senate district.”

Sidewalk Cafe, VFW Hall and Car Services at CB 5

By Conor Greene

At its July meeting last Wednesday in the Greater Ridgewood Youth Center, Community Board 5 members discussed an application by Woodhaven House for an unenclosed sidewalk café, complaints regarding a VFW hall’s liquor license and licensing of local car service companies.

Woodhaven House Café Request

The owners of the Woodhaven House bar and restaurant will have to wait to find out whether they can place 28 tables with 56 seats on the sidewalks along Woodhaven Boulevard and Fleet Court in Middle Village. The board’s Land Use Committee will consider the idea at its next meeting, meaning the full board will not vote on it until September, according to Giordano, since the August meeting has been canceled.

The restaurant wants to use nearly half of the 15-foot sidewalks to place 12 tables along Woodhaven Boulevard and 14 along Fleet Court, according to Robert Callahan, who represented the establishment. The tables would be used until as late as 1 a.m. on weekends and midnight on weeknights, he said.

Board member Lorraine Sciulli pointed out that the area is “very close to houses” told Callahan that the Juniper Park Civic Association “has already experienced complaints from people there.” She called the proposed late hours “a problem.” Callahan responded that the wait staff is told to remind customers to be respectful to neighbors. “I don’t see the need for the midnight closing on the weeknight,” said board member Robert Holden. “There is still going to be people out there yelling. There is enough noise coming from inside the Woodhaven House – we don’t need to put it in [resident’s] faces.”

At least one resident who lives near the establishment is completely against the proposal. “Over the last three years, we have been very dissatisfied with the valet parking, noise coming out of the establishment and people blocking side streets,” said Arthur Laske, who lives at 84th Street and Penelope Avenue. “I’m not too happy with what’s going on with your establishment.”

Callahan said the restaurant has had issues with the company currently running the valet parking, which he admitted is “not up to standards.” He added that they “ask patrons to be as quiet as possible when leaving the establishment,” but pointed out that “alcohol is involved.” Laske later said that the restaurant has a “total disregard” for the neighborhood. “It’s a nightmare, this establishment,” he said. “It’s an outrage, and the community is not happy.” On Tuesday, Giordano said that the board might be forced to ask the Department of Consumer Affairs for additional time to weigh in on the matter, since the next meeting is not until September.

VFW Post Liquor License

The board has held off taking action regarding the liquor license for the VFW Post at 84-02 60th Avenue in Middle Village while awaiting clarification from the state Liquor Authority, according to Giordano.

At the start of last week’s meeting, resident Ralph DeSanto complained about “loud parties” that have been taking place in an alleyway that has recently paved over. “No one is trying to close the post, but they have to do this indoors,” he said. “We can’t live in our homes. They’re a good organization, but they’re not licensed to serve [alcohol] outside.”

Michael Brown, post commander, later responded, stressing that the establishment “is not a bar to have drinks at” for the general public. “We’re here to help the vets, especially in this day and age.” He said the post has begun to use the yard, which is their property and is “very rarely used” for parties. “I have tried my best to appease my neighbors and treat the place as if I live next doors.” He said the issue with DeSanto is due to a “constant vendetta” that has carried on since “his brother was banned from the post.”

Giordano said he is “in communication with the Liquor Authority to find out what they would be permitted to do outside” under their license. “We’ve gotten it from both sides as far as this goes,” he said. “We have petitions from each side, one saying they’re fine, the other saying that… they’re noisy and increasingly out there.”

The community board is “really in fact-finding mode right now,” added Giordano.

Car Service Licenses

Several local car companies need to have their licenses renewed, but the board decided against issuing “letters of no objection” for three of them, said Giordano. The board has received complaints about several car services in the area, with gripes including car repairs performed on the street, double-parked cars and garbage thrown on the ground.

“Services do not endear themselves to the community when they have drivers littering the streets, urinating in public and all sorts of crazy crap,” said Giordano. “They can be a difficult lot, and we’re not quick to write letters of no objection when we think there are objections. I’m not looking to be petty or overly harsh, and I don’t think the board is, but when they want us to be reasonable, they have to be reasonable. These car services should not be operating their for-profit business at the detriment of the neighborhood.”

The board has decided against issuing a letter of no objection for Fenix Car Service of Seneca Avenue in Ridgewood. “From what I know, they don’t have an off-street parking location, and are seeking a waiver for that,” said Giordano. There are also questions regarding the amount of off-street parking that Priscella Car Service has near its Wyckoff Avenue base in Ridgewood, said Giordano. He said that the companies are supposed to have at least one space for every two vehicles in its fleet within a mile-and-a-half of its headquarters.

Four One’s Car Service, which has recently moved part of its operations to 73rd Place near Metropolitan Avenue is also among the car services having parking difficulties and Giordano says the board will continue to check on the questions that have arisen before issuing a letter of no objection. Of the four companies currently up for license renewal, the only one the board will immediately issue a no objection letter for is Lindy’s Car Service on Metropolitan Avenue near Fresh Pond Road, according to Giordano. “A great benefit to them is having more parking spaces for their drivers than they have vehicles,” he said.

With no meeting scheduled for August, the next CB 5 meeting is tentatively slated for Wednesday, September 10.

FAA Announces Safety Changes After Second Near Miss at JFK

by Conor Greene

In the wake of a second close call between two planes at JFK Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration this week announced steps it’s taking to improve runway safety, including additional lighting and changes to the use of perpendicular runways.

The announcements come after planes nearly collided at the busy airport twice within a week. On July 5, a Cayman Airways plane nearly collided with a departing LAN Chile plane after the pilot aborted the initial landing attempt. According to air traffic controllers, the two planes came within 100 feet of each other. Then, on Friday, an inbound Delta flight from Ireland almost collided with departing Comair Flight 1520, coming within 600-feet vertically and a half-mile horizontally.

The FAA and the airlines have downplayed both incidents, which are based on accounts of air traffic controllers and are still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. Both involved the use of perpendicular runaways, prompting the FAA last week to change its policy for planes taking off and landing at JFK.

“Severe runway incursions are down,” Acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell told reporters at a press conference announcing the new lighting system. “And, we’re putting technology and procedures in place to keep it that way. We’re making changes on the runway and in the cockpit that are going to make a significant difference.”

The FAA will install lighting systems at 21 major airports around the nation within the next three years that will change colors to signal pilots that it is safe to enter or cross a runway. Much of the attention in recent weeks has focused on perpendicular runways used at JFK, which increase the chances for departing and arriving planes to cross paths.

Sturgell said that officials are still evaluating takeoff and landing procedures and that changes could be made in the future. He said that a preliminary investigation determined that both incident were due to communication issues.

On Tuesday, the Port Authority accused the FAA for failing to provide the authority with details about the recent near misses, according to reports. “It is simply unacceptable for the FAA to keep the local airport operator in the dark when the safety of our passengers and the efficiency of our airports is at stake,” PA Chairman Anthony Coscia and Executive Director Chris Ward wrote in a letter. The authority only learned of the incidents from media reports, according to the New York Post. The PA was also not informed that the FAA had ordered the changes at JFK regarding the use of perpendicular runways, the paper reported.

The incidents have also prompted questions about the airport’s air traffic controllers, whose union says it is understaffed. The FAA is now offering $100,000 bonuses to air traffic controllers working elsewhere around the nation to work in the New York area’s major airports. It is also targeting high school students with campus visits and advertisements on Websites including and By 2011, it is expected that 59 percent of controllers will have less than five years working experience.

Water Sports for Wounded Warriors

By Patricia Adams
The Forum South

For the fourth successive year, residents of Breezy Point opened their hearts and their homes to host the Adaptive Water Sports Festival for four days last week. The residents took part in a program begun by Rockaway’s GrayBeards organization formed after 9/11, in which servicemen and women who have been severely injured during the war on terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world.

The Rockaway community was one of the hardest hit on Sept. 11, 2001 and ravaged again by the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 just two months later. Yet, the community proved resilient and responded with a surge of empathy, and charitable endeavors. Most notably, the GrayBeards were formed, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those in need. It is through the GrayBeards, Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled Sports USA, that this event is again possible.

This year, the GrayBeards again coordinated all housing, travel and entertainment for 42 U.S. soldiers & Marines plus eight English (BLESMA) soldiers visiting from Great Britain. As part of the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, a partnership between Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled Sports USA, soldiers had the opportunity to learn adaptive water skiing, scuba diving and other water sports.

Specially trained volunteers from the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) were on hand to teach these sporting skills to those with amputations and other severe injuries. In addition to the generosity of all the participating Rockaway residents, one Howard Beach businessman also played a big part in making the weekend a success.

Angelo Gurino, owner of Ragtime Gourmet Deli, heard about the event and asked friend and GrayBeard member Joseph Mure what he could do to help. “Do what you do best,” was Mure’s answer, “feed the people.” And so on Saturday afternoon, Gurino and some staffers arrived at the Breezy Point Yacht Club with one of his catering trucks and enough heroes, pasta, assorted hot dishes and salads to feed hundreds of hungry mouths. “For all the sacrifices these men and women have made for us, this is a small way to contribute and show them some thanks,” Gurino said.

“I look at them, with such severe disabilities and see them really having a good time -- it’s just a great thing to be part of how inspirational they are.” On a final note the father of three said, “I wish everyone could be here to see the courage and strength of these people—you look at what’s happened in their lives and you realize there’s not too much you can complain about.”

Retired Fire Captain, father of seven and GrayBeard member Flip Mullen is considered a driving force behind the project and was on hand for Saturday’s festivities at the Yacht Club. Mullen’s commitment and enthusiasm was evident in his animated and touching description of all the events involved in the program. “The people here really look forward to this. I get phone calls from residents who are screaming at me saying, why didn’t I get a soldier this year.”

It’s people like Mullen and the GrayBeards who really embody what it is to show the spirit of giving. If you would like to learn more about the many programs offered to benefit the Wounded Warriors and find out how you can help out, please visit their website at, you may also visit the website of the Graybeards to learn more about them at, or write to GrayBeards, Ltd 436 Beach 129th Street Rockaway, New York 11694.

Teacher Charged with Raping Disabled Student

Taught Queens Boy at Upstate Residential School

by Conor Greene

A Dutchess County special education teacher has been charged with having sex with a 15-year-old disabled student from south Queens.

Mandi Weeks, 27, of Hannacroix has been accused of third-degree rape and other charges for abusing the child in his home and a nearby parking lot. She was arrested last week by detectives from the 102nd Precinct. The boy is a student at Devereux New York, a residential special needs school, and was at home on break at the time of the alleged attacks.

“The charges are very disturbing,” said District Attorney Richard Brown. “The victim is believed to have a 50 IQ, making him particularly vulnerable to a teacher who is supposed to have his best interest in mind.”

The investigation began after the victim boarded a subway in an effort to meet up with Weeks but got lost, according to Brown. His mother reported him missing to police, and discovered inappropriate e-mails from the teacher on her son’s computer, said Brown. She is accused of raping and sexually abusing the boy on June 25th inside his home, and then sexually abusing him while sitting inside a car in a parking lot on June 6. She then allegedly raped and sexually abusing him later that day inside his home.

She was arraigned last Tuesday in Queens Criminal Court on an eight-count indictment charging her with rape, criminal sexual act, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse. She was ordered held on $15,000 bond and is due back in court on August 11. If convicted, she faces up to four years in prison.

Weeks worked at the school, based in upstate Red Hook, since February 2007 and “was subjected to a rigorous screening process and criminal background check” before being hired, according to John O’Keefe, executive director of Devereux Foundation New York. “There was nothing in either to cause concern,” he said in a statement, adding that Weeks has been fired and is not permitted back on campus.

The defendant says on her page that she got married last October and lives in a log cabin with her husband and six cats. “I work in a residenial [sic] school for students with multiple disabilities which is extremely stressful,” she wrote. ‘My students verbally and physically assault me almost on a daily basis. And people wonder why I started smoking. Hey, at least they are ultra lights... as if Klonopin 3 times a day wasn’t enough.”

She lists Law and Order among her favorite television shows and her mom as her hero. She also likes to “just connect with my friends from work” in her free time and describes herself as Christian. She puts her income at $30,000 to $45,000 and says she would like to have children “someday.”

“The Devereux staff is shocked and saddened by such a charge,” said O’Keefe’s statement. “The welfare of our students is our top priority. We will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials and we will review our internal policies and procedures in order to insure the safety and security of those we serve. We have reached out to the family of the student to express our concern and regret and to do what we can to help them address the issues that arise from such a matter.”

Phony Attorney Charged in Scam

Claimed to Represent Man Facing Deportation

By Conor Greene

RIDGEWOOD – A Seneca Avenue man not licensed to practice law has been charged with providing legal representation to a man who was eventually deported.

Robert DelCarpio, 63, of 783 Seneca Avenue was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court last week on charges of third-degree grand larceny, a felony, and practicing as an attorney without being admitted to the bar.

According to the criminal charges against DelCarpio, a Brooklyn woman, Angela Forde, retained him to represent her son, who was facing deportation to England due to a felony drug conviction. Forde had received DelCarpio’s name and phone number from her son, who was in federal immigration detention in Texas. DelCarpio allegedly agreed to appear in court as her son’s counsel in connection with the appeal of the narcotics conviction and the pending federal deportation proceedings.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the defendant, operating under a purported business called Criminal Legal Research, Inc. and identifying himself as an “Appellate Attorney,” told Forde that he would prepare and file legal motions and appear in Brooklyn Supreme Court to have her son’s conviction overturned.

Between December 2006 and May 2008, Forde paid DelCarpio more than $7,000, according to Brown. According to court records, the defendant is not admitted to practice law in New York State and no appeals were filed by DelCarpio or anyone else in connection with the criminal case involving Forde’s son.

“By allegedly portraying himself as a duly licensed attorney when he was not actually licensedor admitted to practice law, the only hope the defendant could offer his client was false hope,” said Brown in a statement. “In the end, the client lost her son and thousands of dollars in unwarranted legal fees.”

If convicted, DelCarpio faces up to four years in prison. He was ordered held on $100,000 bond after his first court appearance. Brown said the case “will be prosecuted vigorously and swiftly to ensure the defendant never again has the opportunity to prey upon trusting individuals in need of proper and qualified legal representation.

The District Attorney’s office is asking anyone who believes he or she may have been the victim of the defendant’s alleged scheme to contact his office at (718) 286-6560. The investigation began after a clerk with the state Appellate Court referred the matter to Brown’s office.

Former Queens Woman Sentenced to 130 Months for Adoption Fraud

By Conor Greene

A former Queens woman has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for defrauding the state and city out of more than one million dollars through an adoption scheme. She is now facing criminal charges in Florida for allegedly abusing nearly a dozen adopted children.

Judith Leekin, 63, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., pleaded guilty in May to stealing about$1.68 million in adoption subsidies meant to pay for the care of her 11 adopted children, many of who were physically or mentally disabled. On Tuesday, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced she has been sentenced to 130 months in prison by District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan federal court.

“For almost 20 years, Judith Leekin manipulated a system intended to protect the welfare of New York City’s neediest children,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia. “Today, she will begin paying for the years that she spent caring more about the $1.68 million she stole than she did for the children she was entrusted to protect.”

Leekin is now to return to Florida, where she is scheduled to appear in court in August on abuse charges stemming from her treatment of the children under her care. She is accused of beating, starving and restraining the children and faces life in prison if convicted on those charges.

Judge Berman also ordered Leekin to surrender two homes she owns in Florida and pay back the stolen money. While the plea agreement finalized in May called for a prison sentence of six-and-a-half to eight years, the judge was allowed to sentence her for up to 20 years for each of the two counts.

In the weeks leading up to the sentencing, officials including Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city Department of Investigations and attorneys representing the abused children wrote to the judge urging him to issue a harsh sentence.

“Leekin perverted New York City’s adoption subsidy program and in so doing crush the childhoods of children she adopted by causing them irreparable pain and suffering, including by keeping the children locked away,” she said following the sentencing.

Leekin adopted the children in New York between 1988 and 1996 before moving for Florida. When applying to the state Office of Children and Family Services and the city Administration of Children’s Services, she used four different fake names and lied about how many other children were in her care. She “used the money to support a lavish lifestyle for herself” while neglecting the children, said authorities.

While living in Queens with 12 children (authorities are unsure as to the whereabouts of the twelfth child) in 1997, Leekin forced the 11 adopted children to live in the basement and forbid them from going outside or to school. Several were restrained while in bed to prevent them from getting up.

After moving to Florida, the 11 children “lived in a similar manner,” with 10 of the children forced to live in a storage room next to the garage, only allowed to enter the house to use the bathroom or kitchen. Several “were restrained using plastic ties,” said authorities.

(AP Photo/St. Lucie County Sheriff's Dept., File)