PEOPLE TO BE HEARD
BY JOHN BAILEY. PETER KATZ AND JIM BENEROFE.
Recorded at an earlier date.
How to get help
Who is at risk?
WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. March 4, 2015
Gilbert Fiorentino, 54, and Carl Fiorentino, 57, both of Coral Gables, Florida, were sentenced yesterday in Federal Court in the Southern District of Florida, in connection with their participation in an illegal scheme to obtain more than $11 million dollars in kickbacks and other benefits, and to conceal this illicit income from the IRS, while employed as senior executives at Systemax, Inc. (“Systemax”) and its subsidiary, TigerDirect, Inc. (“TigerDirect”).
Carl Fiorentino was sentenced to 80 months’ imprisonment. Gilbert Fiorentino was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment. A hearing to determine the remaining amount of restitution owed to Systemax by the defendants, who are brothers, has been scheduled for April 3, 2015.
Systemax had its principal place of business in Port Washington, New York, and sold personal computers and other consumer electronics through its websites, retail stores, and direct mail catalogs including TigerDirect, CompUSA, and Circuit City. In fiscal year 2010, Systemax had annual sales revenue of approximately $3.6 billion according to its public filings. Gilbert Fiorentino was a director of Systemax and was the Chief Executive Officer of its Technology Product Group, including its subsidiary TigerDirect. Carl Fiorentino was the former president of TigerDirect. Both defendants worked at TigerDirect’s Miami offices before they were terminated on April 18, 2011.
On December 2, 2014, Carl Fiorentino pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and one count of tax evasion, and Gilbert Fiorentino pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and to impair and impede the lawful functions of the Internal Revenue Service.
The sentences were announced by Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Diego G. Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Gilbert and Carl Fiorentino hid their ill-gotten financial gains from the IRS and the shareholders of Systemax. They violated their positions of trust by accepting illegal kickbacks, driving up the price of the consumer electronics and passing the price increase to the consumer. Yesterday’s sentences demonstrate our commitment to root out corporate fraud and enforce the laws that protect investors in financial markets.”
“For years, the brothers Fiorentino financed their luxury lifestyles with illicit kickbacks, all the while concealing their fraudulent gains from the shareholders of Systemax and the IRS. Such illegal self-enrichment, at the expense of a publicly-traded corporation and the IRS, cannot be tolerated,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Yesterday’s sentences should serve as a stern reminder that those who commit corporate fraud will be held accountable.”
Diego G. Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, stated, “The Fiorentinos financed their extravagant lifestyle with $11 million in kickbacks. These kickbacks paid for, among other things, a waterfront Florida mansion. But the excess ends today. This sentence should put anyone who plans to shakedown shareholders on notice.”
IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Kelly R. Jackson stated, “These high-ranking corporate officials undermined the process of fair and open competition and broke the law when they obtained unlawful kickbacks. They then took steps to hide these kickbacks from Systemax and the IRS. Yesterday’s sentencing sends a clear message to other corporate officials that this type of criminal behavior will be punished. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to investigate corporate officers who misuse their positions of trust and violate the tax laws.”
As senior executives of Systemax and TigerDirect, Gilbert Fiorentino and Carl Fiorentino had responsibility for, among other things, purchasing and sourcing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of computer and electronics items for Systemax and its various operations. Gilbert Fiorentino and Carl Fiorentino conspired with each other and third parties to obtain unlawful kickbacks in exchange for steering business to companies that paid the kickbacks.
For example, Carl Fiorentino received millions of dollars in payments from one TigerDirect supplier, including more than $3 million to pay for his waterfront residence in Gables Estates and millions of dollars’ worth of luxury furniture, art, and high-end electronics. Gilbert Fiorentino received hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments. These included deliveries of gold coins, cash handed over in the parking lot of the Miami offices of TigerDirect, and furniture and other goods and services delivered to his Gables Estates waterfront home.
In connection with this scheme, Carl and Gilbert Fiorentino filed false United States Individual Income Tax Returns and also regularly signed conflict of interest questionnaires in which they falsely and fraudulently concealed from Systemax their receipt of cash and other remuneration from vendors who did business with the company. In doing so, they mislead Systemax’s auditors and prevented them from performing accurate reviews and audits of the company’s books, records, and accounts. Additionally, when Carl Fiorentino learned that he was under investigation by the government, he obstructed justice by instructing witnesses to lie to federal authorities to conceal his criminal conduct.
This case was originally investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York with the assistance of the FBI New York Field Office and the IRS-CI Miami Field Office. Carl Fiorentino was previously charged in the Eastern District of New York on June 18, 2013, with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, and money laundering. The case involving Carl Fiorentino was transferred to the Southern District of Florida by court order on January 6, 2014.
The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez.
The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerrob Duffy of the Southern District of Florida and Whitman G.S. Knapp of the Eastern District of New York.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement and investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
WPCNR News and Comment. By John F. Bailey. March 4, 2015:
Mayor Thomas Roach will deliver his “annual” State of the City Address to the Rotary Club of White Plains next Tuesday, March 10.
It will be the second State of the City the Mayor has delivered to the Rotary Membership.
Among the topics the Mayor might be expected to address to the membership would be:
1. The state of future developments already approved in the city.
2. Property vacancies in the downtown and efforts to fill them.
3. State of the city economy; the plans to attract more investment in the city.
4. Status of the Winbrook “Revitalization,” and availability of financing for the continued development of a new Windbrook (the first building is now going up).
5. The revision of cabaret conditions of operation.
6. The timetable and status of a Common Council decision on the French American School of New York proposal for the former Ridgeway Country Club.
7. City approach to negotiations with all city union contracts which expire in June.
8. Analysis of city vulnerability to new tax refunds sought by business owners in the town due to the soft economy the last four years.
9. The city real estate market uptrend in prices while the assessment role grew by less than 1%;
10, Details on the new Westchester Avenue mall, hotel, and apartment complex introduced last week.
11. Status of the survey the city was funded $1 Million by the state to review possibilities for development of the White Plains Metro North Railroad Station. Perhaps his thoughts of what should go there besides the station.
12. Efforts of the areas Mass Transit Task Force to determine where a new Bus Rapid Transit hub would be in the White Plains area.
13. Status of zoning: Is White Plains entered into an era of “Flex-zoning?”
14. Efforts to preserve and promote development on Westmoreland Avenue.
15. The White Plains City approach to the Governor’s Tax Cap–What must the city do to allow White Plains Citizens to receive Governor Cuomo’s tax rebates if cities hold budgets under the property tax cap allowed increase? Is this possible? Can the City budget be cut?
16. Revision of the City Comprehensive Plan Timetable.
17. The Secret Ingredients of Commissioner of Public Works Joseph Nicoletti’s “Nicoletti-tini” the magic cocktail that has kept White Plains moving during snow and ice storms all winter?
18. Parking Policy: Is it Working or Driving Consumers Away?
19. What does the BID Survey of the Down Business District Say about the Downtown?
Anyway, if I were the Mayor I would attempt to address these issues with the Club and repeat his State of the City at the next Common Council meeting because solving them all will definitely lead to an improved State of the City and renewed confidence in the citizens.
Perhaps the Mayor will visit every Neighborhood Association and deliver his State of the City, too, that would help get the message out how well the city is doing.
Or better yet, perhaps the Mayor’s public relations team can video the speech and post it on the city website for all to see.
WPCNR WEATHERRRRRRR 3 Day Forecast. March 4, 2015:
As of 3 A.M., the White Plains temperature at WPCNR Studios in the Southend of town is 35 degrees. Snow is off the roads, but patches of slush-ice can be seen on the roads in my immediate vicinity..
A snow frosting of about 2 to 3 inches is on sidewalks and driveways, however when you shovel it you are left with slippery sheen underneath, not quite black ice but more slippery than the actual snow surface.
City DPW Road Treatment, the renowned “Nicolettitini” has eased the potential for extensive icing predicted earlier, however tail-gating by motorists is definitely discouraged. Allow for the “unexpected skid.”
The National Weather Service predicts rain today, followed by snow late this evening into Thursday, and Friday it clears by temperature falls off a cliff again.
The Forecast from the National Weather Service as of 3 A.M.
WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE Special to WPCNR From the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance with Reporting by John F. Bailey March 3, 2015:
January Sales Tax collections to the City of White Plains declined 1.2% from the January of 2014..leaving the city with $25.5 Million collected through the first seven months of the 1014-15 fiscal year.
If consumer buying picks up in White Plains matching the 2014 February through June figures through June 2015, the city will collect $46.9 Million in total sales taxes, leaving the city with a $1.8 Million shortfall in revenues from sales tax. $48,700,903 was collected in fiscal 2013-14 by the city. That projects as a 4% decline in sales tax receipts, pending of course a robust 4 months ahead.
A $2 Million decline in sales tax receipts would need a 6% tax increase to close the budget gap, since approximately $5 Million in sales tax receipts is needed to fund city payrolls as they now stand (pending any negotiated increases.
Westchester County January sales tax figures also declined but only by 1/2 % as the county started their fiscal year.
WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. By John F. Bailey. March 2, 2015:
The White Plains City Assessment Roll for 2015, upon which property taxes are levied, was released today on the city website. The roll stayed virtually the same, gaining $75,915 to $277,055,010 compared to the 2014 Roll of $276,979095. A miniscule gain of .0002 %.
This is dissappointing in one respect since it shows continued softness in the real estate tax base. It means, too that the school district the city’s largest taxer will not have to automatically raise the tax rate to make up for a lowered roll. However the district is already talking about a 4% tax rate increase in preliminary numbers if they keep the present budget going and figure a 2% labor settlement in wages across the board (all city union contracts are up).
Last year with the city raising the tax rate to $196.14 with no wage increases across the unions, and the school district raising their tax rate to $600.22 (per $1,000 of evaluation, the $650,000 middle market home paid $3,200 to the city and about $10,000 to to the school district and $2,000 to Westchester County which did not raise taxes.
If the city and school district keep pace (a rollover in spending by the city and the district, a rollover of present spending levels you are looking at a $400 increase in property taxes which would mean an overall tax bill from the City, School and County of $16,000, up from $15,200. Deduct the STAR EXEMPTION of $1,585 if eligible, and the tax could be $14,415.
The White Plains middle market home ($650,000) is looking at another
WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Press Office. (EDITED) March 2, 2015:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today detailed projected savings for New York taxpayers as a result of the Property Tax Relief program, which provides 1.3 million homeowners significant financial relief. The $1.66 billion program, which also includes a renters’ credit, is part of the Governor’s 2015 Opportunity Agenda.
“We must ensure economic opportunity in New York – and that means putting money back in the pockets of hardworking homeowners who have been struggling under the crushing burden of property taxes for far too long,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“During the last four years, we capped property taxes, and then we froze them. Now we are going to cut them. This program addresses the one of the most important challenges we face as a state – making New York affordable – by providing real, meaningful, significant tax relief that will make a difference in people’s lives.”
In Westchester County under the Governor’s proposal, 94,174 persons would qualify and receive an average $1,210 in refund on their property taxes.
In Rockland County, 37,551 would receive a $1,136 average refund, and in Dutchess, 36,088 would receive average refunds of $1,005.
The property tax relief is available to homeowners with incomes below $250,000 whose property taxes exceed 6 percent of their income.
The credit is valued at up to 50 percent of the amount by which property taxes exceed the 6 percent burden threshold, depending on household income. The specific amount of the credit within that 50 percent is determined on a progressive income scale, so that New Yorkers with the highest tax burdens and lowest income levels will receive the greatest amount of relief.
How Does Property Tax Relief Work for New Yorkers?
The 2011 statewide property tax cap has been extraordinarily effective at lowering the tax burden for homeowners across the state.
Through the first three years of the cap, the average property tax payer will have saved more than $800 compared to if taxes had continued to grow at the previous average rate of growth.
Those savings will increase to $2,100 in local property taxes by 2017 if this trend continues.
The property tax freeze, which was enacted last year, provides direct relief to New York homeowners.
Over three years, the program will result in more than $1.5 billion in direct property tax relief, and the average New Yorker will receive approximately $656. The freeze also addresses one of the primary drivers of the State’s high property taxes by incentivizing local governments and school districts to seek efficiencies and share services.
The new Property Tax Credit strengthens the property tax cap because outside of New York City, only the taxes levied by a tax cap-compliant jurisdiction are included in the credit calculation.
All facets of the program will be phased in over four years, and only school taxes will apply in the first year. More than half of the full benefit will be phased-in by Tax Year 2016, and 81 percent will be phased-in by Tax Year 2017.
The Governor is calling on New Yorkers to get involved and help make his Opportunity Agenda, which includes the Property Tax Relief proposal, a reality by visiting www.NYGetInvolved.com.
WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. From the Office of the District Attorney. March 2, 2015:
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore announced that Lacey Spears (DOB 10/16/87) of 247 Travis Road, Scottsville, Kentucky was convicted after a jury trial to the count in the indictment charging her with:
relating to the death of her 5 year old son, Garnett-Paul Spears, who was declared dead at Westchester Medical Center on January 23, 2014.
“Throughout his five years, Garnett Spears was forced to suffer through repeated hospitalizations, unneeded surgical procedures and ultimately poisoning with salt, all at the hands of the one person who should have been his ultimate protector: his mother. Using the child’s “illnesses” to self aggrandize herself, her actions directly lead to her son’s tortured death. We will continue to ensure that his mother is held accountable and that justice for Garnett Spears will be served in his memory,” said District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
On January 19th 2014, Garnett Spears was transferred to WMC from NyackHospital in RocklandCounty by Medivac helicopter when without any medical explanation his sodium level rose from 144 to 182 meq/L, – milliequivalents per liter – an extremely dangerous level of sodium.
The normal range of serum sodium in the blood is 135-145 meq/L.
The child’s diagnosis was acute hypernatremia.
The defendant provided the medical staff with a medical history for her son, including extensive medical visits, hospitalizations and invasive surgical procedures. This history coupled with an unexplained rise in his sodium levels at NyackHospital prompted the doctors at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of the WMC to suspect Lacey Spears of harming her son prompting their call to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
Based on the CPS call and referral to law enforcement, an investigation immediately commenced.
Investigators focused on the child’s recent history and actions of the defendant:
At 11:57 a.m. the head of the Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit calls in a Child Protective Services report to the State Central Register.
At 12:00 p.m. an EEG showed electro cerebral silence.
Search warrants were executed on the Spears’ residence. During the case evidence relating to the child’s condition was recovered including feeding bags containing extraordinary amounts of sodium.
On June 17th, 2014 the defendant has an indictment against her unsealed charging her with the murder.
Sentencing will be on April 8th, 2015.
The defendant faces a maximum sentence of twenty five years to life in prison.
Second Deputy District Attorney Patricia Murphy, Chief of the Superior Court Trial Division, Assistant District Attorney Doreen Lloyd, Chief of the Child Abuse Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Christine Hatfield, Deputy Chief of the Child Abuse Bureau are prosecuting the case.
WPCNR THE FEINER SNOW REPORT. By Town of Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner. March 1, 10 P.M. E.S.T.:
I spent a few hours with our highway crew tonight observing the snow removal operation. Larry MacDonald, a hard working and dedicated foreman with our highway department took me on a tour of snow removal operations around town.
Later in the evening I rode the larger highway truck that is used to keep our roads passable. Larry rose up the ranks to become foreman –has been working for the town for 25 years. And, will be retiring in August. He’s a terrific employee who really cares about the town.
I learned a lot from Larry and have a greater appreciation for the work that our public works team does, thanks to our dialogue tonight.
The roads were slippery when I started out -around 6 PM. Mr. MacDonald indicated that he thought this was the 7th weekend of snow storms.
“Roads get slippery when the weather keeps changing–melting and freezing conditions.” He mentioned that it’s important to salt the roads immediately after plowing the roads.
“We salted the roads beginning in the early afternoon today. And, the plowing started in the early evening. If we salt the roads and immediately plow after the salting we waste money since the plowing gets rid of the salt. About 30 trucks/vehicles were assigned to the snow clearing operation —32 square miles or 130 miles of roads. We clear the major roads first and than clear the secondary roads–takes about 5-6 hours to clear the entire town of snow. The major roads will be cleared more frequently.”
The big problem we experienced: obstructions. We drove down Ridge Road in Hartsdale. ‘There was a Con Ed obstruction that our vehicle had to go around. A plate on the road. If we did not go around the plate the plate would have moved and there would be a hole in the ground from the gas leak.
Another problem: We saw people push snow back on the road immediately after we cleared the road of snow. Not only does this create slippery road conditions quickly but drivers have to be on the lookout for residents who are in the middle of the road -throwing the snow back in the road. Slows down the operation. We stopped the vehicle on Rockledge to allow an elderly woman, with a cane, to cross the street. Our drivers have to be careful- obstructions and people.
During the evening we observed a car stuck on Secor Road. The foreman I drove with blocked the road with his car and encouraged the motorist to back up. By blocking the road the driver did not have to worry about hitting someone. We don’t push cars that are stuck.
We were in a neighborhood in town with lots of cars parked on both sides of the road–a big highway plow truck was not able to get through the bend in the road.
The highway truck driver was very angry –the road obstructions not only make it difficult to clear streets but it slows down the entire snow clearing operation. We need to do a better job of enforcing our no parking on roads ordinance -especially during snow storms. Sections of the town where cars are parked on both sides of the street: Fieldstone, Rockledge, Fairview.
If cars are parked on the road while our plows are passing by – there is a risk that if the truck goes over some ice and skids – the cars on the road could be damaged. After most snow storms we receive complaints from residents of broken mailboxes. The mailboxes are usually on town right of ways –we repair the broken mailboxes.
A highlight of the evening was my visit to the Theodore Young Community Center –which was being used as a warming center. The gym was in use –with lots of people enjoying the recreational activities. It’s nice to see that the community center is used by so many people –even during snow storm.
Towards the end of the evening I experienced riding in a 1979 Mack truck (a much bigger vehicle). The plow truck ride was very bumpy and uncomfortable. We have 4 trucks still in operation from 1979. Tonight some of our newer trucks experienced some problems. 2 flat tires…one of our trucks had to be towed back to the highway garage. Our repair shop will repair each of the vehicles. It costs $262,000 to replace a truck. And, we try keeping our vehicles in use as long as possible to save you money.
A special thank you to Public Works Commissioner Victor Carosi and his deputy, Richard Fon, for arranging for tonights tour. And, a special thanks to Pat Richards for also meeting up us. Pat is one of the most dedicated employees of the town–she will be retiring later this month.
We anticipate that garbage collection WILL be ON for tomorrow Monday. We’re basing this on weather forecasts. If circumstances change we will issue an advisory.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
914 438 1343
WPCNR VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECK. By Bull Allen March 2, 2015:
Minnie Minoso, the great Chicago White Sox outfielder who was the spirit of the great White Sox teams of the 1950s died Sunday. Essentially a forgotten man. No one on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee has saw fit to put this great ballplayer into the Hall of Fame. However, he now has this poem which I wrote tonight. I remember you Minnie, you and Enos Slaughter the great old St. Louis Cardinal showed me how baseball should be played and a profession should be practiced. Minnie was a ballplayer’s ballplayer.
Senor Go Go
He first caught eyes of fans in the caverns of grand Cleveland Muncipal Stadium,
Racing madly across great expanses of the largest outfield in the Senior Circuit
Cutting off drives in the forever gaps of The Tribe’s Prairie condominium.
He was coal black, broad-shouldered, catching GAPPERS because he had no quit.
Big sweeping swing natural as an Eagle’s deadly dive
His promise to The Tribe was dealt by mad trader Lane to the South Side
Where he made confines of sweltering Old Comiskey Park come alive.
The kid from Cuba had so many names they called him Minnie, graceful as his stride.
He turned staid Pale Hose into the Go Go Sox
Seasoning with flash, dash, grit and hope.
After he came, they would steal games with a swipe of a bag, bunt shocks
Most feared in the new Hitless Wonders Lineup he’d deliver with timely “Rope.”
Spray hitter to all fields with big black bat, he’d make a single an automatic double
Fearing no arm he’d light out with blinding speed, melting down fiercest competitors
He had menace at the plate, even I at 11 years of age could tell here comes trouble.
Minnie Minoso was special. He led.Making mediocre great; great better, winners.
He was the Senior Circuit’s Wille Mays fans came to see.
You did not want him on third base in a tie game in the lates in the shadows of the day
A threat to steal anytime, fans awaited dash, launch to the plate, ballet fadeaway
The cloud of dust the suspension of muscular body airborne– cobra backstop sweep!
SAFE! The arbiter would signal. Cloud of dust rose, white in blazing Southside sun.
Catcher and skipper would argue. Minnie would always beat pitcher’s gun.
Hitting .300 for nine years, valiantly chasing the General Motors of baseball in thrilling races of the day
He saved a franchise, the Black DiMaggio showing there was no color in ball just great play.
The Commander, Bob Elson painted excitement in the Midwest night on WCFL.
WGN’s Jack Brickhouse’s “Hey, Hey” on Minnie’s homers on WGN, spun turnstile,
Filling both decks to see coal-faced Go-Go express roar down baselines pell-mell
He Gathered steam like the Broadway Limited rolling past Comiskey Park’s rightfield pavilion with style.
Last refuge from the New York Cubans in the old Negro Leagues, Minnie came to the Bigs sound.
A star from the start. Fans sweltering in the hot wind blowing through the Romanesque arches
Talked Number 9 – the Number I always associated with “The Big Hitter” to pitch around.
The guy who could take Whitey Ford and Early Wynn out. Get you off to a start or end it in the bleachers.
The palace at 15th and Shields is no more. The dash and determination of the Great Minoso–
Ghosts of greatness of the Romanesque Palace haunting the fans with his statue in the rotunda.
Those who saw him play, remember his abandon, his hustle, his espiritu.
Minnie Minoso made all he played with better, something every worker anywhere can engender.
Nelson Fox. Luis Aparicio. Jim Riviera, Jim Landis, Bubba Philips, Sherm Lollar, Torgy Torgeson
You and Minnie live on in the beautiful box of Old Comiskey Park where the grandstand shadows
Steamed in the 90 degree nightcaps, when Minnie sliding in tied or won it in fashion,
Saved one for Billy Pierce, Dick Donovan with a dazzler down in the corner shadow