WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. September 26, 2020:
Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that RUVIM KRUPKIN, a New York state-licensed doctor, pled guilty today to conspiring to illegally distribute large quantities of oxycodone from a medical office in Brooklyn, New York.
As part of his guilty plea, KRUPKIN also agreed to forfeit $124,000 in proceeds obtained through his illicit distribution of oxycodone. KRUPKIN pled guilty before United States District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan federal court.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As he admitted in court today, Ruvim Krupkin, for more than a decade, wrote thousands of medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone, enriching himself at the expense of others, while the country suffered from a devastating opioid epidemic. He now awaits sentencing for his crime.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and statements made during court proceedings:
KRUPKIN, a licensed internal medicine doctor with specialties in oncology and hematology, practiced at a medical office in Brooklyn. From 2006 to July 2017, KRUPKIN prescribed over four million oxycodone pills to individuals he knew had no legitimate medical need for the pills. KRUPKIN charged each patient $200 in cash for each visit, payable directly to him.
As a hematologist, KRUPKIN treated patients who had, or claimed to have, sickle cell anemia – a medical condition that can cause pain for which oxycodone, in conjunction with other treatments, may be legitimately prescribed.
However, KRUPKIN wrote thousands of prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone to patients, knowing that they in fact had no legitimate medical need for the prescriptions. KRUPKIN generally performed little to no physical examination on these patients; indeed, the medical notes for each patient were largely the same from one visit to the next.
In addition, KRUPKIN typically issued patients prescriptions for a large dose of oxycodone – typically 180 80-milligram pills, until approximately 2010, when the formula for oxycodone changed, reducing the street value of the 80-milligram pills.
At that time, KRUPKIN began prescribing 180 or 240 30-milligram pills. KRUPKIN’s patients filled their prescriptions at pharmacies throughout New York, and in certain cases, sold the oxycodone pills they received to drug dealers, who in turn re-sold the pills at high value on the street. KRUPKIN knew that certain of his patients were diverting the oxycodone pills he was prescribing, but he nonetheless continued writing prescriptions of oxycodone for such individuals.
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KRUPKIN, 69, of Summit, New Jersey, pled guilty to one count of participating in a conspiracy to distribute narcotics, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence for the defendant will be determined by the judge.
KRUPKIN is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Torres on January 26, 2021, at 11:00 a.m.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI-NYPD Health Care Fraud Task Force. Ms. Strauss also thanked the New York City Human Resources Administration for its work on the investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Tara M. La Morte and Alexandra N. Rothman are in charge of the prosecution.
WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation September 24, 2020:
Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that BARBARA MEYZEN, a/k/a “Bobbie Meyzen,” the former owner and operator of La Cremaillere Restaurant in Banksville, New York, was sentenced in White Plains federal court to two years in prison for fraud in connection with her multi-year scheme to defraud the restaurant’s lenders, mortgagee, bankruptcy creditors and customers and to obstruct the bankruptcy process.
MEYZEN had previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti.
According to the allegations in the Superseding Information to which MEYZEN pleaded guilty and other court documents:
MEYZEN owned and operated the La Cremaillere Restaurant in Banksville, New York from 1993 to August 2020. From August 2015 to July 2016, MEYZEN submitted applications for credit on behalf of La Cremaillere to at least nine lenders, factors and financiers.
In support of those applications, MEYZEN gave the potential lenders La Cremaillere’s bank statements that she had modified to change negative balances to positive balances; to remove references to checks returned for insufficient funds; and to reduce service fees.
For example, MEYZEN modified one month’s statement to change a negative beginning balance of $32,865.57 to a positive beginning balance of $27,766.29; to change from negative to positive the negative ending balance for that month of $5,268.13; and to change service charges of $2,385.60 to $8.00.
When one lender discovered that MEYZEN had altered the bank statements, MEYZEN created an email account in the name of one of the bank’s officers and sent the lender an email in which she, in the guise of the bank officer, told the lender that the statements were genuine.
MEYZEN also falsely represented to the same lender that the second mortgage on the restaurant’s property in Banksville had been discharged. She created a false satisfaction of mortgage on which she forged the signature of a representative of the restaurant’s second mortgagee, who is MEYZEN’S relative by marriage.
MEYZEN filed the false satisfaction of mortgage with the Westchester County Clerk, paid the Clerk’s filing fee, and sent a copy of the filed satisfaction of mortgage to the lender.
MEYZEN later denied filing the false satisfaction of mortgage or paying the filing fee when she was interviewed by Special Agents of the FBI. She told the FBI that she believed a loan broker with whom she had worked in the past, and whom she identified by name, had filed the false satisfaction of mortgage.
Throughout the summer of 2017, MEYZEN charged more than $148,979 in restaurant and personal expenses to credit card accounts of two of the restaurant’s customers.
When one of the customers discovered the charges, MEYZEN claimed the charges were a mistake and repeatedly promised to resolve the problem. MEYZEN gave the customer two checks in a total amount of $32,000 but the checks bounced.
When she was interviewed by the FBI, MEYZEN denied knowing anything about unauthorized charges to the customer’s credit card or ever speaking with the customer about the unauthorized charges. MEYZEN also denied giving the customer checks.
Meyzen filed bankruptcy petitions for Meyzen Family Realty Associates, LLC, which owned the real property from which the restaurant operated, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains in September 2018. She filed a bankruptcy petition for La Cremaillere Restaurant Corp., which operated the restaurant, in April 2019.
In May 2019, MEYZEN misled the office of the United States Trustee, which oversees bankruptcy cases, about insurance coverage on the restaurant property. MEYZEN caused her bankruptcy counsel to give the United States Trustee and an attorney for Meyzen Family Realty’s largest creditor documents indicating that the property was insured when, in fact, she knew that the insurance coverage had been canceled months earlier for nonpayment.
In June 2019, MEYZEN falsely testified under oath in a deposition conducted by the United States Trustee that she was not aware that the insurance had been canceled when she caused her attorney to turn the documents over to the United States Trustee.
Two days after La Cremaillere filed for bankruptcy in April 2019, MEYZEN opened a bank account in her name and diverted more than $40,000 of the restaurant’s credit card receipts to that account.
MEYZEN used a portion of that money to make payments to a food distributor and to an in-home nursing service. This account was closed on May 1, 2019.
On May 7, 2019, MEYZEN opened an account in the name of Honey Bee Farm, LLC at another bank and diverted La Cremaillere’s credit card receipts, as well as $20,000 in advances on La Cremaillere’s future credit card revenue, to that account. MEYZEN used a portion of that money to pay restaurant and personal expenses.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Briccetti ordered MEYZEN, 57, of Redding, Connecticut, to serve two years of supervised release, and to pay forfeiture and restitution each in the amount of $320,289.35.
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Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of Special Agents of the FBI and the Criminal Investigators of the Office of Internal Affairs, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorney James McMahon is in charge of the prosecution.
WPCNR CORONA VIRUS REPORT. From the Governor’s Press Office. September 24, 2020:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will form an independent Clinical Advisory Task Force comprised of leading scientists, doctors, and health experts who will review every COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the federal government, and will advise New York State on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness in fighting the virus.
In addition, the Governor established a Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force that is charged with designing the best COVID-19 vaccination administration program in the nation.
The Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force is comprised of experts in public health, immunizations, government operations, data and other fields relevant to vaccine distribution and administration.
“The federal government’s response to COVID and the White House’s dispute with the FDA raises serious questions about whether or not the vaccine has become politicized,” Governor Cuomo said. “Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion and I wouldn’t recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government’s opinion. We’re going to put together our own review committee headed by the Department of Health to review the vaccine, and I’m appointing a committee that is going to come up with a vaccine distribution and implementation plan on how we will do it. New York’s response to COVID has been a model for this country, and we should also be the model vaccination program for the country.”
The Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force will develop a plan for vaccine administration that will include:
- Prioritization of vaccine recipients based solely on clinical guidance
- Distribution network capable of providing two doses of vaccine to all New Yorkers
- Qualified professionals and organizations to administer the vaccine
- Data and IT infrastructure for scheduling appointments and tracking program metrics
- Public education regarding vaccination program
- Procurement of necessary supplies and equipment
WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. September 24, 2020:
Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joleen Simpson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced that MICHAEL R. WEIGAND, pled guilty to making false statements to federal agents about his involvement in, and his work for, the “Silk Road” online illicit black market, which was responsible for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars of narcotics and other contraband.
WEIGAND’s false statements concealed his role in the operation of the Silk Road website. WEIGAND surrendered today and pled guilty before United States District Judge William H. Pauley III.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Silk Road was a secret online marketplace for illegal drugs, hacking services, and a number of other criminal activities.
Michael Weigand helped Silk Road by, among other things, identifying technological vulnerabilities in the site, supplying technological advice directly to Silk Road’s leadership, and travelling overseas to remove Silk Road evidence from a co-conspirator’s residence. When Weigand was questioned by law enforcement in 2019, he falsely claimed not to have done anything at all for Silk Road. For his various false statements, Weigand now faces potential prison time.”
IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge Joleen Simpson said: “During its years of operation the Silk Road website allowed thousands of individuals to anonymously conduct narcotics transactions, launder money, and facilitate other illegal transactions. This investigation took law enforcement above and beyond its traditional role in financial crimes. In effect, it put us squarely in the middle of the high-tech world of cyber-crime and the dark web. When given the opportunity to provide truthful statements to the agents, Weigand knowingly and willfully attempted to deceive the agents of the role he played in providing technical expertise to the Silk Road operators. I hope that this guilty plea will discourage others from providing false information to law enforcement officers in the future.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:
“Weigand and others used their skills and savvy to create a secret online enclave for criminals to trade in illegal drugs and illicit goods and services. They thought they were smart enough to evade law enforcement, but they were wrong. When Weigand was confronted, he lied about his involvement – once again thinking we weren’t smart enough to catch him. With today’s plea, he’ll have time to contemplate the truth as he awaits his sentence.”
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said:
“Criminal activity on the dark web continues to be more prevalent, allowing easy accessibility to narcotics and illicit goods with the click of a button. With online criminal enterprises growing, law enforcement technologies are advancing, and HSI with its partners are infiltrating the dark web, intercepting online dealings and locating the perpetrators. Today’s guilty plea should stand as reminder to those criminals who have a false sense of security behind their computer screen, that they too will one day face the consequences of their actions.”
According to the allegations in the Information, court filings, statements made in court, and evidence presented during the 2015 trial of Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road’s founder and chief administrator:
Ulbricht created Silk Road in approximately January 2011, and owned and operated the underground website until it was shut down by law enforcement in October 2013.
Silk Road emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet at the time. During its more than two-and-a-half years in operation, Silk Road was used by several thousand drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to well over one hundred thousand buyers, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars deriving from these unlawful transactions.
Silk Road was specifically designed to allow its users to buy and sell drugs and other illegal goods and services anonymously and outside the reach of law enforcement through the use of the Tor network and a Bitcoin-based payment system.
WEIGAND – who is a computer programmer and electrical engineer – worked with Roger Thomas Clark, the senior adviser to Ulbricht, on certain aspects of Silk Road.
For instance, WEIGAND and Clark worked to identify technological vulnerabilities in the Silk Road website. WEIGAND also supplied technological advice directly to Clark and Ulbricht.
In January 2019, WEIGAND was questioned by an IRS Special Agent and an FBI Special Agent. After being specifically warned that it is a federal crime to make a false statement to a federal law enforcement officer, WEIGAND attempted to cover up his involvement in Silk Road by falsely stating, among other things, that (1) he never opened an account on Silk Road; (2) he never used the online pseudonyms “Shabang” or “~Shabang~”; (3) he never transferred Bitcoin to Silk Road; (4) he never exposed computer security vulnerabilities in the Silk Road website; (5) he never communicated with anyone who used the online pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” “DPR,” or “Silk Road”; (6) he never performed any services for the Silk Road website; and (7) he did not know the true identity of “Variety Jones” (one of Clark’s pseudonyms) on Silk Road. WEIGAND also falsely stated that the purpose of his trip to London in late 2013, following the takedown of the Silk Road website and arrest of Ulbricht, was to meet with Clark’s associate regarding a marijuana seed business. In fact, WEIGAND traveled to Clark’s London residence and removed Silk Road evidence.
WEIGAND, 56, of Kirtland, Ohio, pled guilty to one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. WEIGAND is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Pauley on December 18, 2020, at 2:00 p.m.
The founder and operator of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, was previously convicted of seven offenses after a jury trial: distributing narcotics, distributing narcotics by means of the Internet, conspiring to distribute narcotics, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiring to commit computer hacking, conspiring to traffic in false identity documents, and conspiring to commit money laundering. Ulbricht was sentenced principally to life imprisonment and $183 million in forfeiture.
The senior adviser to Ulbricht, Roger Thomas Clark, pled guilty to conspiring to distribute narcotics and his sentencing is currently pending; Clark faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.
* * *
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding joint efforts of the IRS-CI, the FBI, and HSI. Ms. Strauss also thanked the FBI’s Cleveland Office for its assistance.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Michael D. Neff is in charge of the prosecution.
WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. From Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor. September 24, 2020:
Thousands of Westchester voters will be casting their ballots for President of the United States for Congress and State Legislative positions by absentee ballots (mail ballots). With the postal service being very unreliable voters have no way of knowing whether their ballot was received or accepted by the Board of Elections. The Westchester County Board of Elections should implement a tracking system to enable voters to track their ballots just like we’re able to track packages. It’s not rocket science.
A Colorado sofware company i3logix developed such a system that tracks by-mail ballots like packages. North Carolina has signed on to the system that enables voters to track their ballot to make sure it arrived safely and is being counted. According to the Washington Post (September 18) in California there is a new election website : “Where’s my ballot.” Voters type in their name, birthday and zip code and a minute later they are signed up for updates. They get a text when ballots are in the mail, as its on its way back to election officials and eventually, counted. This “builds confidence in democracy.”
I believe that NYC is trying to implement a tracking by mail ballot program but believe that Westchester has not. Most counties in NYS also do not have a tracking by mail ballot program. Why not? This is the most important election in a lifetime.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
I have called the Board of Elections in White Plains –those answering were not aware of an absentee ballot tracking system.
Received this from the Co-chair, NYS Board of Elections
WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From the White Plains Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Joseph Ricca. September 22, 2020:
On his Facebook Page late Monday evening, Dr. Joseph Ricca, White Plains Superintendent of Schools posted this message on the first day of in school learning. Eastview Middle School has had a teacher test positive for COVID:
“We had a good first day of hybrid learning in the WPCSD today. It was wonderful to welcome our tigers back to our facilities. Thank you to all who worked so hard to get us here.
Unfortunately, we also learned of a positive case of COVID-19 at Eastview this evening. The district is presently engaged in the contract tracing process with the Department of Health.
Accordingly, Eastview will observe a remote learning day today. Any additional scheduling modifications will be communicated as needed.
At present, there is no indication that any of our children were exposed in this instance.Please see the message from (Principal) Dr. Rodriguez below.
Any community member who may have potentially been exposed in this instance will be contacted with additional information and instructions. We know that, as we move forward, additional instances of COVID-19 in our district are possible.
We will continue to communicate with you as needed. Please continue to take all of the necessary precautions to stay safe and well.————————————————————————
Dear Eastview Community,
So that you are aware, a faculty/staff member at Eastview tested positive for COVID-19 this evening. The individual was in the building on Friday and was potentially in contact with other staff members.
The contact tracing process is taking place now and will continue with the Department of Health tomorrow. Any staff member who may need to quarantine will be contacted directly by our district nursing coordinator and/or the Department of Health as soon as possible.
Out of an abundance of caution, and to allow appropriate time to contact trace, Eastview will move into full remote learning for tomorrow, September 22, 2020.
All certified staff, clerical staff and teaching assistants will be working remotely on Tuesday, September 22nd.
Students will engage in a full day of remote learning and participate in their scheduled 9-period day. We anticipate that all un-impacted faculty and staff will return to the building on Wednesday, September 23rd and children will return to their hybrid schedule on Thursday, September 24th.
If that plan needs alteration, we will notify everyone directly tomorrow(today). Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly should you have any questions or concerns.
Sincerely,Dr. Daisy Rodriguez Principal
WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. September 21, 2020:
Dr. Joseph Ricca, White Plains Superintendent of Schools gave this statement at noon today on how the opening of hybrid learning in White Plains was launching, with the first group of returning-to-inclass learning returned while a second group was learning from home:
“It was a beautiful day to welcome our Tigers back to our school facilities in the WPCSD. Because of the careful planning and amazing commitment of our colleagues, our first day of Hybrid Learning ran smoothly.
We are grateful to all of our community members for their flexibility and their patience as we worked to build a new system to support our learners in novel ways.
While the opening of school this year was certainly different, and one for the history books, the tradition of White Plains pride remains unshakable, pandemic or not.”
WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2020. From the Mondaire Jones for Congress Campaign. September 21, 2020:
Today, Mondaire Jones, announced he had won his suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alongside 15 other plaintiffs, against President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to stop interfering in the November General Election through sabotaging the United States Postal Service.
“The stakes of this November’s election are too high to watch from the sidelines. Now more than ever, our democracy is on the line, our rights are on the line, and the fate of this nation is on the line,” said Jones. “In the midst of a global pandemic requiring more Americans to vote by mail than ever before, we are simply asking for a free and fair election. I’m grateful to the District Court for affirming our right to one.”
In response to Jones’ suit, the District Court ordered the USPS to take the following national action: (1) to treat all election mail as Priority and First-Class; (2) to pre-approve all overtime pay between October 26 and November 6, 2020; (3) to submit a list of steps necessary to restore First-Class Mail and Marketing Mail on-time delivery scores to their highest levels; and (4) to allow late and extra trips to facilitate the prompt delivery of election mail. The Court also ordered the USPS to file weekly reports to keep the public apprised of its progress in meeting these goals.
The suit was filed on August 17th, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by the law firm Cohen & Green and the Law Office of Ali Najmi, on behalf of Jones, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, and 14 other plaintiffs:
Democratic nominee for State Assembly in the 93rd District Chris Burdick, Democratic nominee for State Assembly in the 94th District Stephanie Keegan, Candidate for New York City Council Seth Rosen, Collegeville Borough Councillor Shannon Spencer, and voters Kathy Rothschild, Diana M. Woody, Perry Sainati, Robert Golub, Mary Winton Green, Marsie Wallach, Matthew Wallach, Mac Wallach, Carol Sussman, Rebecca Rieckhoff.
“The Court’s directive to ensure election mail is treated with the highest priority, and to ensure adequate and timely approval of overtime, is critical to protect our right to vote,” said Ali Najmi, attorney for Plaintiffs. “This national injunction will ensure the integrity of the election.”