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     Click here for Inner City Press' weekday news reports, from the United Nations and elsewhere.  Click here for a recent BBC piece on Inner City Press' reporting from the United Nations  Search This Site    Click for March 1, 2011 BloggingHeads.tv re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption by Inner City Press.     Click here for Inner City Press front page

  ICP has published a (double) book about a variety of Bronx-relevant topics -- a review in Commonweal magazine of Dec. 5, 2003, opines  that "Predatory Bender... is as vivid an account of life in the Bronx as you are likely to read" -- click here for sample chapters, here for an interactive maphere for fast ordering and delivery, and here for other ordering information.  See also, "City Lit: Roman a Klepto [Review of ‘Predatory Bender’]," by Matt Pacenza, City Limits, Sept.-Oct. 2004. CBS MarketWatch of April 23, 2004, says the the novel has "some very funny moments," and that the non-fiction mixes "global statistics and first-person accounts." The Washington Post of March 15, 2004, calls Predatory Bender: America in the Aughts "the first novel about predatory lending;" the London Times of April 15, 2004, "A Novel Approach," said it "has a cast of colorful characters."   The Pittsburgh City Paper of Dec. 11, 2003, wrote that it "may, in fact, be the first great American lending malfeasance novel" including "low-level loan sharks, class-action lawyers, corporate bigwigs, hired muscle, corrupt politicians, Iraq War veterans, Wall Street analysts, reporters and one watchdog with a Web site."  And all in The Bronx!   Click here for that review; for more information, contact us.
2014: MRL on Beacon Reader

April 19, 2021

Bronx Tax Preparer Is Sued by US For 90% Refund Rate So Depositions By August 6

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, April 14 – ATAX, a tax preparer at 5536 Broadway in Marble Hill, The Bronx, and Rafael Alvarez have been sued by the government. 

 On April 14, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it. 

  The US says 90% of ATAX' customers claim refunds, using head of household fraud and other tricks it ascribes to Alvarez.

Judge Rakoff ordered depositions to end by August 6, with a final pre-trial conference set for August 27.

The case is United States of America v. Alvarez et al., 21-cv-1930 (Rakoff)

April 12, 2021


Bronx Auto Spa and Lube Is Sued For Overtime So Depositions Due June 30 in SDNY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, April 6 – Five Brothers Auto Spa and Lube Corporation of 3327 Connor Street in The Bronx has been sued for not paying overtime and minimum wage. 

 On April 6,   U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it. 

 Judge Vykocil ruled that deposition are due June 30, and motions by July 5. After that, there may be summary judgment motions.

The case is Sanchez et al v. Five Brothers Auto Spa and Lube Corp. et al., 20-cv-1238 (Vyskocil) 
April 5, 2021

AOC Shouts Out City Island But Bronx PPP and Schumer's US Attorney Picks Not Yet Answered

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

NEW YORK, SDNY & EDNY, March 31 – The difference between retail and wholesale politics was again on display Wednesday night, in a town hall to The Bronx and Queens, with SDNY and EDNY questions not yet answered. 

   Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held a Zoom town hall from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, at which she took constituent questions including from an seven year old who asked, What do you do if people don't like you? To thine own self be true was the answer, along with references to a desired ramp at the Jackson Heights Post Office, possible earmarks for City Island, and a shout-out to the Amazon workers in Alabama.

 There was not much on international affairs (for example Tuesday's life sentence for Honduras' president's brother for narco-trafficking, on which Inner City Press was interviewed on UNeTV, here and here from 3:10), much less the United Nations, which continues to ban Bronx-based Inner City Press. Time for a Constitutional constituent inquiry, despite impunity?

  Then there was a press gaggle, also on Zoom. Inner City Press was told to ask its questions there, and submitted: "On the PPP program, in the first round(s) only 12% of NYC small businesses got PPP loans, versus 24% in Nebraska. And in The Bronx, the rate of PPP lending was every lower. What is being done to make the program and banks more accountable?   And, if you have any thoughts on Sen Schumer's recent nominations to head the US Attorney's Offices in SDNY and EDNY."

  Perhaps it was the tech glitches, or the lateness of the hour (7:50 pm). But the questions have yet to be answered. Watch this site.

March 29, 2021

In SDNY Bronx Drug Case Cooperating Witness Violated Deal So Some Charges Dropped

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 26 – A multi-defendant narcotics conspiracy prosecution centered on the James Monroe Houses in The Bronx now features charges dropped due to a cooperating witness not complying with his cooperation agreement.  

 The overall case is known as US v. Spencer, et al. and Inner City Press has reported on it at every stage, here and here

 Now on March 25 the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York has written to SDNY Judge Analisa Torres:

"In light of evidence indicating that a cooperating witness (“CW-1”) breached CW-1’s cooperation agreement, the Government has determined that it will not call CW-1 at trial in this case. The Government will provide this evidence, including notes of CW-1’s meetings with the Government, to defense counsel by April 2, 2021.

"Given the foregoing, the Government no longer intends to proceed with respect to Counts Two and Three of the 20 Cr. 78 (AT) Indictment. The Government also no longer plans to proceed on Count Nine of the Indictment with respect to Defendants Nyshiem Spencer, Shalik Jenkins, Nasir Vincent, Allan Gonzalez, and Jonell Danforth. With respect to Defendants Malik Tunstall and Price Tunstall, the Government intends to proceed on Count Nine, but without seeking findings by the jury with respect to drug weight. The Government is evaluating whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed at all with respect to Defendant Shalik Jenkins."   

We aim to have more on this.  

Earlier in the case, nearly a year ago on March 30, 2020, Inner City Press reported that Assistant US Attorney Justin Rodriguez repeatedly cited a video of which he wrote he would "arrange with the Court's Chambers for the transmission of an electronic version of the video montage, rather than a physical copy." The video was and is as of this writing not in the case's docket on PACER.    Judge Torres relied on this video is denying bond, finding a danger to the community. Minutes later, she approved a switch to CJA lawyer James Branden for co-defendant Lafone Eley."

The case is US v. Spencer, et al., 20-cr-78 (Torres)

March 22, 2021

After Arrest in Bronx Plaintiff Might Have Mother As Guardian Ad Litem In SDNY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 16 – Damon Bailey was charged with robbery and assault on July 27, 2016, but then the charges were dropped. He sued.    

     On March 16, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it.

   Bailey is having a hard time finding a (new) lawyer. His mother was on the line. But, not a lawyer, she cannot represent her son. Could she be appointed guardian ad litem? 

She would still have to find a lawyer. She said she works in the court system. It was suggested that perhaps the claim is against the initial lawyer.

 The next conference is on April 20.

The case is Bailey v. City of New York, et al., 19-cv-1488 (Vyskocil)

March 15, 2021

As Freddie Mac Sued To Foreclose on Bronx Findlay Avenue Case Referred to Magistrate

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 11 – Freddie Mac is trying to foreclose on 1056, 1060 and 1064 Findlay Avenue in The Bronx.

 On March 11, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York  Judge Paul A. Engelmayer held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it. 

The defendant has fired back saying the complaint is barred by the doctrines of waiver, unclean hands and estoppel.

Judge Engelmayer referred it for settlement to Magistrate Sarah Netburn.

The case is PFSS 2020 Holding Company, LLC v. Findlay Estates LLC et al., 20-cv-8884 (Engelmayer) 

March 8, 2021

Bronx Man Dealing Crack Got COVID in Jail Now 5 More Years As Lawyer Cites His Writing

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 3 – Davonte Garcia faced a guideline sentence of 70 to 87 months on narcotics conspiracy charges. 

 On March 3, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge J. Paul Oetken held a sentencing proceeding. Inner City Press covered it. 

 Garcia's lawyer said he had gotten COVID, and that he is a good writer. Family ties were emphasized.

Judge Oetken, showing mercy, said the five year mandatory minimum would be enough.

The case is US v. Garcia, 19-cr-761 (Oetken)

March 1, 2021

After Eugene Castelle Died at Riker's Island Inner City Press FOILed Now Bronx DA Probe

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 19 – A 27 year old man, Eugene Castelle, reportedly related to the Luchese family on Staten Island died while imprisoned on Riker's Island on November 8, 2016. There are photos which his lawyer calls bad, and there is as Inner City Press first and exclusively reported on February 2 a missing video.

There was a demand for $2 million, by the plaintiff, it emerged on February 2, but the demand may go higher if and when the missing video is found or produced. Discovery document on Patreon here.

   Inner City Press' reporting has gleaned stories of Eugene Castelle seeking detox but being provided with dubious methadone and convulsing. It is said that other prisoners dragged him down to the guards' Bubble for help, but were rebuffed. He died, and now the video is missing.

   On February 2, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn held a discovery conference. Inner City Press alone covered it.    

Judge Netburn expressed skepticism that the City does not have deposition transcripts computerized, and urged an inquiry into the video.

  Inner City Press now asks, Inquiry by whom? This is more than a private lawsuit. So Inner City Press filed a Freedom of Information Law request and now, on February 9, publishes the following the moment it hit the docket: "We represent Lucille Tirado, as the administratrix of the estate of Eugene Castelle, in this civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, regarding Castelle’s death at Riker’s Island. We write to clarify the record. Following one of the numerous meet and confers with defense counsel, I realized that I may have given the wrong impression as to what security footage was and was not produced in the prior litigation. Defense counsel was concerned about a blog post by an independent journalist regarding the missing footage, which made me realize that I may have misspoken. I called to explain it to him, and in that call he requested a clarification for the record.

"I agreed: People housed in the dorm discovered Mr. Castelle was non-responsive at 8:20 a.m. For three of the available camera angles, the footage stops at or about 8:20 a.m. One camera angle has the footage removed starting at around 8:20 a.m., but then it skips to about an hour later. Two angles, which are nearly identical, do show the medical staff coming to attempt to resuscitate Mr. Castelle, but several people obscuring Mr. Castelle, and we cannot see his face in several places or account for the reason that later photographs show a substantial amount of blood, which is not visible on this footage. We also cannot see what the officers are doing near the “bubble” area where Defendant Dacruz is stationed. This footage is still missing, and defense counsel is working to produce it."

The clarification is appreciated, and was immediately published in full, in this "blog post by an independent journalist."

 On February 19 the City's law firm, with its concerned, filed another letter, acknowledging that "while most of the interview files are viable and play fine, two of them, unfortunately, cannot be played... Video #3, we have been told, starts and stops at times, but plays appropriately by the end." By the end.

Now on February 22, more delay is requested: "Plaintiff discovered that there was an investigation by the Bronx District Attorney's Office." We aim to have more on this.

On February 10, this order from Judge Netburn (while SDNY Pacer was down) - "ORDER: The parties shall file a joint letter by Friday, February 19, 2021, detailing the status of discovery. A discovery conference will be held on Monday, March 1, 2021 (Signed by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on 2/10/2021) (ras)." We'll have more on this.

The defense lawyer blurted out that there had been a $2 million demand.

 The plaintiff's lawyer replied that was the demand BEFORE he learned how bad things were. He said he could not advise settlement until seeing the video. 

  Judge Netburn offered a settlement conference in March, or if not taken soon, in May.

  Now on February 5 Judge Netburn has issued an order that "The Court finds that the interest of justice significantly outweighs the need for confidentiality and ORDERS the Commission to produce the relevant records to the parties in this case. N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 33.13(c)(1) (McKinney 2020). (Signed by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on 2/5/2021)."

 As Inner City Press also first reported, Judge Netburn issued a separate February 5 order directing the City to file a status letter by February 9 "describing the progress made on numerous discovery issues, which include locating the missing video footage of Mr. Castelle's death and identifying custodians for electronically stored information."

  Now Inner City Press has filed a Freedom of Information Law request: "Department of Correction Legal Division Laura Mello Records Access Officer New York City 75-20 Astoria Blvd East Elmhurst, New York 11370   Re: FOIL Request regarding death in DOC custody of Eugene Castelle and for related records, please confirm receipt and provide records on an expedited basis  Dear Ms. Mello / DOC FOIL Officer:    On behalf of Inner City Press and in my personal capacity, as a journalist and New Yorker, this is a FOIL request for records concerning the death in DOC custody of Eugene Castelle while imprisoned on Riker's Island on or about November 8, 2016.       For Inner City Press I have been reporting on a Federal lawsuit in which the City has been required to collect and produce information concerning and related to this death; the judge has explicitly said that the public interest outweigh the various claims for withholding (see below).        While not required, but in order to be specific about what information is hereby requested (on an expedited basis), Inner City Press' reporting has gleaned stories of Eugene Castelle seeking detox but being provided with dubious methadone and convulsing. It is said that other prisoners dragged him down to the guards' Bubble for help, but were rebuffed. He died, and now the video is missing.     On February 2, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn held a discovery conference. Inner City Press alone covered it. Judge Netburn expressed skepticism that the City does not have deposition transcripts computerized, and urged that an inquiry into how the video of the time of death was altered.     This is a request for the video(s) of that night and incident, and all record concerning the video and any alleged alteration(s) of it.    This is also a request for the information already compiled regarding other deaths in custody, produced in the case Tirado v. City of New York et al., 19-cv-10377 (SDNY).     On February 5 Judge Netburn has issued an order that "The Court finds that the interest of justice significantly outweighs the need for confidentiality and ORDERS the Commission to produce the relevant records to the parties in this case. N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 33.13(c)(1) (McKinney 2020). (Signed by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on 2/5/2021)."     That applies to your FOIL response to this request, which should be on an expedited basis."

The case, which Inner City Press will be covering going forward and pursuing its FOIL requests about, is Tirado v. City of New York et al., 19-cv-10377 (Netburn)

February 22, 2021

After Eugene Castelle Died at Riker's Island Inner City Press FOILed Now Video Won't Play

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 19 – A 27 year old man, Eugene Castelle, reportedly related to the Luchese family on Staten Island died while imprisoned on Riker's Island on November 8, 2016. There are photos which his lawyer calls bad, and there is as Inner City Press first and exclusively reported on February 2 a missing video.

There was a demand for $2 million, by the plaintiff, it emerged on February 2, but the demand may go higher if and when the missing video is found or produced. Discovery document on Patreon here.

   Inner City Press' reporting has gleaned stories of Eugene Castelle seeking detox but being provided with dubious methadone and convulsing. It is said that other prisoners dragged him down to the guards' Bubble for help, but were rebuffed. He died, and now the video is missing.

   On February 2, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn held a discovery conference. Inner City Press alone covered it.    

Judge Netburn expressed skepticism that the City does not have deposition transcripts computerized, and urged an inquiry into the video.

  Inner City Press now asks, Inquiry by whom? This is more than a private lawsuit. So Inner City Press filed a Freedom of Information Law request and now, on February 9, publishes the following the moment it hit the docket: "We represent Lucille Tirado, as the administratrix of the estate of Eugene Castelle, in this civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, regarding Castelle’s death at Riker’s Island. We write to clarify the record. Following one of the numerous meet and confers with defense counsel, I realized that I may have given the wrong impression as to what security footage was and was not produced in the prior litigation. Defense counsel was concerned about a blog post by an independent journalist regarding the missing footage, which made me realize that I may have misspoken. I called to explain it to him, and in that call he requested a clarification for the record.

"I agreed: People housed in the dorm discovered Mr. Castelle was non-responsive at 8:20 a.m. For three of the available camera angles, the footage stops at or about 8:20 a.m. One camera angle has the footage removed starting at around 8:20 a.m., but then it skips to about an hour later. Two angles, which are nearly identical, do show the medical staff coming to attempt to resuscitate Mr. Castelle, but several people obscuring Mr. Castelle, and we cannot see his face in several places or account for the reason that later photographs show a substantial amount of blood, which is not visible on this footage. We also cannot see what the officers are doing near the “bubble” area where Defendant Dacruz is stationed. This footage is still missing, and defense counsel is working to produce it."

The clarification is appreciated, and was immediately published in full, in this "blog post by an independent journalist."

 Now this, on February 19 the City's law firm, with its concerned, filed another letter, acknowledging that "while most of the interview files are viable and play fine, two of them, unfortunately, cannot be played... Video #3, we have been told, starts and stops at times, but plays appropriately by the end." By the end. We aim to have more on this.

On February 10, this order from Judge Netburn (while SDNY Pacer was down) - "ORDER: The parties shall file a joint letter by Friday, February 19, 2021, detailing the status of discovery. A discovery conference will be held on Monday, March 1, 2021 (Signed by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on 2/10/2021) (ras)." We'll have more on this.

The defense lawyer blurted out that there had been a $2 million demand.

 The plaintiff's lawyer replied that was the demand BEFORE he learned how bad things were. He said he could not advise settlement until seeing the video. 

  Judge Netburn offered a settlement conference in March, or if not taken soon, in May.

  Now on February 5 Judge Netburn has issued an order that "The Court finds that the interest of justice significantly outweighs the need for confidentiality and ORDERS the Commission to produce the relevant records to the parties in this case. N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 33.13(c)(1) (McKinney 2020). (Signed by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on 2/5/2021)."

 As Inner City Press also first reported, Judge Netburn issued a separate February 5 order directing the City to file a status letter by February 9 "describing the progress made on numerous discovery issues, which include locating the missing video footage of Mr. Castelle's death and identifying custodians for electronically stored information."

  Now Inner City Press has filed a Freedom of Information Law request: "Department of Correction Legal Division Laura Mello Records Access Officer New York City 75-20 Astoria Blvd East Elmhurst, New York 11370   Re: FOIL Request regarding death in DOC custody of Eugene Castelle and for related records, please confirm receipt and provide records on an expedited basis  Dear Ms. Mello / DOC FOIL Officer:    On behalf of Inner City Press and in my personal capacity, as a journalist and New Yorker, this is a FOIL request for records concerning the death in DOC custody of Eugene Castelle while imprisoned on Riker's Island on or about November 8, 2016.       For Inner City Press I have been reporting on a Federal lawsuit in which the City has been required to collect and produce information concerning and related to this death; the judge has explicitly said that the public interest outweigh the various claims for withholding (see below).        While not required, but in order to be specific about what information is hereby requested (on an expedited basis), Inner City Press' reporting has gleaned stories of Eugene Castelle seeking detox but being provided with dubious methadone and convulsing. It is said that other prisoners dragged him down to the guards' Bubble for help, but were rebuffed. He died, and now the video is missing.     On February 2, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn held a discovery conference. Inner City Press alone covered it. Judge Netburn expressed skepticism that the City does not have deposition transcripts computerized, and urged that an inquiry into how the video of the time of death was altered.     This is a request for the video(s) of that night and incident, and all record concerning the video and any alleged alteration(s) of it.    This is also a request for the information already compiled regarding other deaths in custody, produced in the case Tirado v. City of New York et al., 19-cv-10377 (SDNY).     On February 5 Judge Netburn has issued an order that "The Court finds that the interest of justice significantly outweighs the need for confidentiality and ORDERS the Commission to produce the relevant records to the parties in this case. N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 33.13(c)(1) (McKinney 2020). (Signed by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on 2/5/2021)."     That applies to your FOIL response to this request, which should be on an expedited basis."

The case, which Inner City Press will be covering going forward and pursuing its FOIL requests about, is Tirado v. City of New York et al., 19-cv-10377 (Netburn)

February 15, 2021

As Bronx Concourse Village Resists Collective Action Discovery Extension With Admonition

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 8 – Lawrence Peebles sued Concourse Village in the Bronx, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated.

But Concourse Village has resisted responding to class discovery requests.   

On February 8, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it. 

  Judge Wood, in a proceeding shorter than most he holds, informed defense counsel that extension of time was to provide discovery on the class or collective issues, not just the one initial plaintiff.

The case is Peebles v. Concourse Village, Inc. et al., 20-cv-6940 (Woods)

February 8, 2021

After Eugene Castelle Died in Riker's Island Jail Inner City Press Files Freedom of Info Request

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Patreon