Attorney General

AG Releases Report On Police-Involved Shootings

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Thursday released its first report on his office’s role in reviewing, investigating and prosecuting cases in which police kill unarmed civilians.

The report summarizes the 11 incidents the attorney general’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit have investigated.

So far, one police officer has been charged by state prosecutors while the unit is investigate five separate matters. Five additional cases have been closed by the investigations unit.

“As the state’s Special Prosecutor in these difficult cases, it is my role to make sure each case is investigated thoroughly and fairly,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“Over the past two years, our Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit has worked day and night to build a highly responsive, durable, and respected team that is always prepared to follow the facts wherever they lead. By working alongside community stakeholders and local law enforcement agencies, we’ve built the trust and network we need to get the facts and evidence required to act judiciously and effectively.”

The unit was formed through an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015, spurred in part by incidents such as the choke-hold death of Eric Garner in New York City.

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Ex-City Councilman Sentenced To 2 To 6 Years For Theft

Ruben Wills, the former New York City councilman convicted of siphoning $30,000 to a non-profit he controlled, was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison.

The Queens Democrat will also be required to pay back $33,000 in restitution as well as a $5,000 fine.

The investigation of Wills was conducted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

“New Yorkers deserve elected officials whose priority is the needs of their constituents, not lining their own pockets. Instead of spending taxpayer money on projects to help his community, Ruben Wills betrayed the public trust by stealing tens of thousands for himself – and he’ll now pay the price,” Schneiderman said. “We will continue to ensure that public officials who act as though they’re above the law are brought to justice.”

Wills was found guilty in July of directing thousands of dollars in public matching funds and grant money to a shell company that was meant to distribute campaign literature. Instead, Wills was found to have redirected the money to an entity called NY 4 Life, which Wills controlled.

He would withdraw the money for purchases, including a shopping spree at Macy’s that included a $7,500 Louis Vuitton handbag.

“Ruben Wills stole money meant to benefit the community he was sworn to serve. Thanks to my investigators and auditors working with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Mr. Wills has been brought to justice,” DiNapoli said. “We must have a zero tolerance for public corruption and we will continue to partner with law enforcement to root out fraud and protect the taxpayers.”

Schneiderman Pushes ICE To End Arrests At State Courthouses

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday urged the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to end arrests at state courthouses and de-emphasize the detainment of crime victims and witnesses.

The concern for local law enforcement is immigrants would be less likely to report a crime if they fear detainment or deportation.

“Targeting immigrants at our courthouses undermines our criminal justice system and threatens public safety,” Schneiderman said. “If the Trump Administration continues to arrest people in the heart of our justice system, immigrants will be less likely to serve as witnesses or report crimes – and that leaves us all at risk. I join District Attorney Gonzalez in calling for ICE to stop immigration raids in our courthouses. Everyone, regardless of their immigration status or the status of their loved ones, should have access to equal justice under the law.”

The push to change ICE policies was made alongside Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who is seeking election to a full term in a primary next month.

“We encounter more and more victims and eyewitnesses to crime who are fearful of moving forward because of immigration status, and we see arrests by ICE spiking in our courthouses, including Family Court and courts dedicated to helping human trafficking victims and those with mental health issues,” he said in a statement.

“We must not allow a large number of our residents to live in the shadows and stop cooperating with law enforcement – but the Trump Administration is now creating this dangerous reality. ICE should treat courthouses as sensitive locations, like it does schools and houses of worship, to allow everyone free access to our justice system and stop the chilling effect felt by victims and witnesses.”

A survey released by the Immigrant Defense Project found about 60 arrests or attempted arrests were made in New York courts this year, with eight in Brooklyn. Only 11 had been reported across the state in 2016 and 14 in the previous year.

In one instance, a green card resident was detained as well as a victim of domestic violence and two people who appeared for low-level misdemeanor charges.

Schneiderman Signs Onto Letter Opposing Transgender Ban

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman signed onto a letter sent by 19 attorneys general from around the country to oppose President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.

“Transgender Americans who fight for our country deserve a government that will fight for them in return,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will fight to ensure all New Yorkers – and all Americans – are treated with dignity and fairness.”

Schneiderman backed the letter, which was also signed by attorneys general in Hawaii, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday he plans to ban transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces, a move that will not immediately result in those currently serving from being removed from the military. Still, the decision caught defense officials by surprise and drew rebukes from Democrats.

“The members of our Armed Forces put their lives on the line to protect freedom for all Americans,” the letter states. “Thousands of transgender Americans serve in uniform today. This policy tells them, ‘you are not welcome here.’ The decision to oust honorable, well-trained, and patriotic service members based on nothing more than their gender identity is undiluted discrimination and therefore discrimination and therefore indefensible. We urge that this newly announced policy be immediately reversed.”

In Fundraising Appeal, Teachout Touts Schneiderman’s Trump Tactics

Former congressional candidate and Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout in a fundraising appeal praised Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s efforts to combating President Donald Trump in the courts.

Teachout, in an email sent Thursday, lists a series of efforts Schneiderman has undertaken as attorney general, which started before Trump was elected, including the lawsuit filed against Trump University, court challenges to the administration’s energy policies.

“Eric is up for re-election next year, and right-wing corporate interests have already pledged to spend millions of dollars to unseat progressive attorneys general like him who are fighting back against Trump’s dangerous and radical agenda,” she wrote in the email. “That means Eric Schneiderman needs a grassroots movement with him so he can win re-election and continue his fights against Trump and right-wing corporate interests.”

Teachout ran unsuccessfully last year for the 19th congressional district, losing to Republican Rep. John Faso. She also sought the 2014 Democratic nomination for governor against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Schneiderman later would hire Teachout’s running mate, Columbia University professor Tim Wu as a senior enforcement counsel and special advisor.

Teachout remains popular on the left and has been adept at fundraising through small-dollar amounts. In the email, Teachout asks for a $3 contribution for Schneiderman’s re-election bid.

“He understands how abuse of power undermines our democracy and has made it a top priority to uphold the integrity of our government by removing bad actors, bringing corruption cases against 40 New York public officials,” she wrote of Schneiderman. “It’s no surprise right-wing corporate interests want to unseat progressive attorneys general like Eric Schneiderman — but it is why Eric needs your help today.”

Schneiderman Wants Trump Administration To Curtail Oil Trains

Attorney General Eric Schniderman has filed comments with federal regulators seeking to place new restrictions on oil trains that pass through New York.

Schneiderman is part of a six-state coalition of attorneys general that back the effort to curtail crude oil transportation by rail, cracking down on what activists have called “bomb trains” that can travel up to 700 miles in the stte.

The main concern has been the trains passing through populated areas and became more heightened after a tank explosion killed 47 people in 2013 in Quebec.

“Because of a regulatory loophole, these trains can carry crude oil through some of our most densely populated areas without any limit on explosiveness or flammability – creating ticking time bombs that jeopardize the safety of countless New Yorkers and Americans,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“It’s time for the federal government to put New Yorkers’ safety first and take immediate action to close this dangerous and nonsensical loophole.”

The AGs filing the comments include California, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, and Washington in addition to New York.

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AG: Allegedly Phony Architect Arrested In ‘Operation Vandelay Industries’

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Thursday announced the indictment of a Troy-based businessman who allegedly claimed he was an architect.

The case wouldn’t be so noteworthy if it weren’t for the Seinfeld-laden references.

The businessman’s name is Newman, the nemesis of Jerry Seinfeld’s character on the show. His best friend, George Constanza, had claimed to people he wanted to be an architect. The name of the probe to bring down Paul Newman? “Operation Vandelay Industries” — a reference to the fake business George concocts.

No word on whether he’s being represented by Jackie Chiles.

But the case isn’t about nothing, Schneiderman said in a statement, pointing to Newman’s alleged use of drafted architectural renderings for more than 100 properties in the Capital Region area that had been submitted along with engineer letters, foundation inspections, field reports and energy compliance letters.

“As we allege, for over seven years the defendant has pretended to be a Registered Architect, deceiving hundreds of New Yorkers – including families and senior citizens — with the sole goal of enriching himself,” Schneiderman said.

“By allegedly falsifying building plans, code compliance inspections, and field reports, the defendant jeopardized the safety of those who resided in and frequented the buildings he was contracted to work on. Deceptive actions like these erode public trust — and my office will not tolerate them.”

Professional licenses are managed by the state Education Department, including those of architects.

“The State Education Department’s Office of the Professions investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct in more than 50 licensed professions to help protect New Yorkers,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “We are grateful for our continuing partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman and his team of professionals as we work together to ensure the safety of the public is protected against the dangers of unlicensed practice.”

Schneiderman Donates ‘Blue Bloods’ Residuals

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s brief appearance on the CBS cop drama “Blue Bloods” netted him $2,368 in residuals — money he’s donating to benefit real-life law enforcement.

Schneiderman on Monday released his tax returns for viewing by reporters, showing he earned $249,137 in 2016, counting both his investments and his $153,596 salary as the state’s attorney general.

Schneiderman so far has received $650 from his appearance on the show, donating the money to the Police and Fire Widows and Children’s Fund. Once he receives all the residuals, the money will be donated to that charity.

Other charitable donations last year included is synagogue, Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and the Samuel L. Fields Y.

The returns show Schneiderman paid $48,080 in federal taxes and $23,434 in state taxes. He received a federal tax refund of $1,364 and a state refund of $1,259 which are being applied to next year’s taxes.

During the conclusion of the state budget’s passage this month, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan confessed the show starring Tom Selleck is one of his favorites.

“The AG is proud to donate all income from his appearance on Blue Bloods to the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, an organization that provides vital support to the families of those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice to protect New Yorkers,” said Schneiderman spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.

Schneiderman Introduces Tenant Protection Measures

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday released a package of measures that would be aimed at strengthening tenant rights in New York City.

The measures, broadly, are aimed at addressing what Schneiderman says is a high bar for prosecutors in criminally charging landlords with harassment of tenants living in rent-regulated units. The bill backed by Schneiderman would set the bar for prosecution of landlords lower, such as removing the need that physical injury of a tenant must be proven. At the same time, the bill allows for prosecutions that arise from actions such as turning off utilities like heat and hot water or exposing children to lead and dust.

“Our current laws are outdated, ineffective, and totally inadequate to keep tenants safe from unscrupulous landlords seeking to unlawfully evict New York families. With affordable housing as scarce as ever, it’s time for lawmakers to give prosecutors new tools to stop the menacing – and often dangerous – measures these landlords use to force tenants out of their homes,” Schneiderman said. “Protecting vulnerable tenants has been, and will remain, a top priority of my office.”

The legislation introduced dovetails with the launch a new team that is designed to strengthen resources that combat tenant harassment as well as a tenant protection task force.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the proposal.

“Toughening up criminal penalties helps us level the playing field and protect tenants victimized by greedy, negligent landlords who put their own profit ahead of the rights of those paying the rent,” de Blasio said. “I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s move to make it harder for bad actors to harass tenants, and will join him in advocating for this important penal law change.”

Schneiderman Blasts Trump Administration, Once Again

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday once again signaled his opposition to actions taken by President Donald Trump’s administration on labor and immigration issues.

Schneiderman in a statement on Monday afternoon blasted the claim by the U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that states and local governments do not have the authority to refused participation in immigration enforcement actions with the federal government.

“As my office’s legal guidance makes clear, President Trump lacks the constitutional authority to broadly cut off funding to states and cities just because they have lawfully acted to protect immigrant families,” Schneiderman said.

“Public safety depends on trust between law enforcement and those they bravely serve; yet, again and again, President Trump’s draconian policies only serve to undercut that trust. My office will continue to ensure local governments have the tools they need to legally protect their immigrant communities – and we won’t stop fighting to beat back President Trump’s un-American immigration policies.”

Later in the day, Schneiderman knocked the Trump administration for scaling back a key labor regulation for wages.

“President Trump says he is fighting for American workers, and then signs a law that lets companies that repeatedly steal from their employees get federal contracts,” he said.

“Once again, Trump’s actions speak far louder than his words.
“As I’ve said, if the federal government falls down on the job, we won’t hesitate to act to protect workers. Over the past five years, my office has used state law to recover over $27 million in stolen wages for over 20,000 workers – and put those who steal their workers’ wages behind bars. That work will continue at full speed, no matter what President Trump does. New York’s workers deserve nothing less.”

Schneiderman has repeatedly blasted Trump and his policies, even since before he was sworn in, suing the businessman over the claims made by his Trump University for-profit school.