Thursday, March 25, 2010

Westchester Guardian Article/The Court Report/Richard Blassberg.

Banker Busted - Ripping Of TARP.

Former New York Bank President First Charged With Attempting To Defraud TARP
Bank Seized To Protect $500 Million In Deposits.

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, NEIL M. BAROFSKY, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“SIGTARP”), JAMES T. HAYES, JR., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), RICHARD H. NEIMAN, the Superintendent of the Banks of New York (“NYSBD”), GEORGE VENIZELOS, the Acting Assistant Director in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”),and JON T. RYMER, Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC-OIG”), announced the arrest of CHARLES J. ANTONUCCI, SR., the former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Park Avenue Bank, on allegations of self-dealing, bank bribery, embezzlement of bank funds, and fraud, among others. ANTONUCCI also was alleged to have attempted to fraudulently obtain more than $11 million worth of taxpayer rescue funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. ANTONUCCI is the first defendant ever charged with attempting to defraud TARP. Additionally, ANTONUCCI was alleged to have used the Park Avenue Bank in a scheme to defraud two pastors of a Florida congregation out of more than $100,000 set aside to build a new church.

ANTONUCCI was arrested in Fishkill, New York. He is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court.

On the evening of Friday, March 12, 2010, the NYSBD seized The Park Avenue Bank and appointed the FDIC as receiver; FDIC has arranged for the sale of The Park Avenue Bank.

According to the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court:

The Park Avenue Bank

The Park Avenue Bank was a federally insured bank headquartered at 460 Park Avenue, New York, New York, with retail branches in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The bank’s clients consisted primarily of small businesses, for whom the bank made loans, extended lines of credit, and maintained depository accounts. As of the end of 2009, the bank had approximately $500 million on deposit, and over $520 million in assets. ANTONUCCI served as President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of The Park Avenue Bank from June 2004 to October 2009, and also served on its Board of Directors.

The Park Avenue Bank was federally-insured and regulated by the FDIC. Also, as a bank chartered under the laws of New York State, The Park Avenue Bank was regulated by the NYSBD. The bank was required to make certain regular disclosures to these regulators demonstrating that it was financially sound and that it had adequate capital.

FDIC and NYSBD regulations require banks such as The Park Avenue Bank to maintain certain levels of capital, as a percentage of the bank’s total assets. Banks that do not maintain appropriate levels of capital are subject to various restrictions on their activities, and may be required by regulators to raise additional capital. Banks which do not meet minimum capital requirements can be closed by the NYSBD or the FDIC.

The Park Avenue Bank was also an applicant to the Capital Purchase Program of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”). The purpose of TARP was to provide funds to stabilize and strengthen the nation’s financial system by increasing the capital base of viable institutions, enabling them to increase the flow of financing to U.S. businesses and consumers. TARP funds were made available to qualifying banks; one of the critical elements of the TARP qualification process was the capital position of the applicant bank.

Self-Dealing, Bank Bribery, And Embezzlement
The Complaint alleges that ANTONUCCI engaged innumerous instances of self-dealing while President and CEO of The Park Avenue Bank, including authorizing extensions of credit and overdrafts to customers with whom he had financial relationships; authorizing extensions of overdraft credit to a customer in exchange for the use of the customer’s private plane; and causing the bank to make improvements on, lease, and pay expenses for properties owned by ANTONUCCI.

The Easy Wealth Line Of Credit

ANTONUCCI used a company he owned, Easy Wealth Group, Ltd. (“Easy Wealth”), to fraudulently obtain funds from _ e Park Avenue Bank. ANTONUCCI could not authorize the extension of credit by The Park Avenue Bank to his own company without violating the bank’s rules against self-dealing.
Accordingly, to mask his interest in Easy Wealth, in early 2006, ANTONUCCI approached an associate and offered to make him president of Easy Wealth (the “Easy Wealth president”), with the understanding that his first order of business would be to apply for a line of credit from _ e Park Avenue Bank.

The Easy Wealth president applied for a line of credit from The Park Avenue Bank in the amount of $300,000. ANTONUCCI personally approved the line of credit and later increased it to$400,000. ANTONUCCI even assisted the Easy Wealth president in preparing the line of credit application documents. The application as submitted contained numerous misrepresentations, including false statements concerning the Easy Wealth president’s personal assets and a fabricated business plan that contained false information about Easy Wealth’s financial condition and earnings. After the Easy Wealth president had drawn down the line of credit, ANTONUCCI approached him and demanded that he pay$70,000 to ANTONUCCI in the form of interest-free loans. ANTONUCCI only repaid $50,000 of the money. Easy Wealth ultimately defaulted on the fraudulently obtained line of credit, causing a loss to The Park Avenue Bank of $400,000.

The Oxygen Overdrafts

ANTONUCCI also approved approximately $8.5 million worth of over- drafts at The Park Avenue Bank to companies (the “Oxygen-related entities”) controlled by a co-conspirator(“CC-1”), who was a close associate of ANTONUCCI’s. Through the Oxygen-related entities, CC-1 brought numerous deposit accounts to The Park Avenue Bank, and submitted, or caused to be submitted applications for numerous loans from the bank.

On more than ten occasions in 2008 and 2009, ANTONUCCI used CC-1’s private plane to fly for free to, among other places, Florida, Panama, Arizona (so that ANTONUCCI could attend the Super Bowl), and Augusta, Georgia (so that ANTONUCCI could attend the Masters golf tournament). All the while, ANTONUCCI approved over $8 million in overdrafts for the Oxygen-related entities’ various accounts at The Park Avenue Bank. On one occasion in 2009, when a check issued by an Oxygen-related entity bounced,CC-1 communicated to ANTONUCCI that he would not be allowed to use CC-1’s private plane.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Westchester Guardian Article/Domestic Violence.

Domestic Violence Hurts!

Domestic Violence From Your Child’s Perspective “Mommy And Daddy Are
Fighting Again”

Domestic violence and family violence are interchangeable terms and they
describe a situation that affects every member of the family, especially
children. Family violence creates a home environment in which children live
in overt and covert discomfort and fear. Children who witness family
violence, domestic abuse are affected in ways similar to children who are
themselves physically or psychologically abused. They are often unable to
establish secure and nurturing bonds with either parent.

Children are at greater risk for abuse and neglect if they live in a violent
home. Statistics show that over 3 million children witness significant
violence in their homes each year. Those who see and hear violence at home
suffer psychologically, physically and emotionally and may ultimately
imitate the same behavior towards their peers, teachers and family.

Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to develop social,
emotional, psychological and behavioral problems than those who are not
exposed to such behavior. Recent research indicates that children who
witness domestic violence tend to show more anger, anxiety, and low
self-esteem than children who do not. The trauma they experience can
manifest itself in identification with the aggressor, and the emotional,
behavioral, social and physical disturbances that interfere with their
development often continue into adulthood.

How Children Are Affected

We know that it is very upsetting for children to see one of their parents
(or partners) abusing or attacking the other. Children, depending on their
age and gender, react differently to domestic violence.

Younger children may become anxious, complain of stomachaches, and/or start
to wet their beds. They may find it difficult to sleep, have temper
tantrums, and become developmentally arrested psychologically, emotionally
and behaviorally. Amongst older children, boys may become aggressive and
disobedient, identifying with the aggressor. They may even begin to use
violence as a mechanism to solve problems. Some may turn to substance abuse,
while others may simply drop out of school.

Girls are more likely to internalize their feelings and distress. They may
withdraw from other people and become anxious or depressed and may exhibit
low self-esteem, often developing somatic complaints. They are more likely
to have eating disorders, or do harm to themselves by taking sedatives,
drugs and alcohol, while still others may mutilate themselves.

Children who witness violence at home often struggle with schoolwork. They
frequently suffer from symptoms of anxiety, depression and/or posttraumatic
stress disorder, experiencing nightmares and flashbacks.

Long-Term Effects

Children who have witnessed family domestic violence are more likely to
become either abusers or victims themselves. Children tend to copy the
learned behaviors of their parents. Boys learn from their fathers to be
violent to women. Girls learn from their mothers that violence is a way of
life.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Westchester Guardian Article.

In Search Of...
A Genuine Public Servant

Breathes There A Genuine Public Servant?

It has been a tough, depressing winter here in Westchester, made more so by the constant revelation of corruption and misconduct in office by individuals who have been entrusted with our hard-earned tax dollars, not to mention our faith and good wishes. Even those of us with a healthy distrust, born of decades of involvement with, and observation of, government at every level, are experiencing a sense of disappointment that seems to know no floor.

It would appear, particularly in County government, that the upper level, the administrators, commissioners, deputy commissioners, of so many departments, in so many instances, are not only unqualified and incompetent, but also far too willing to go along with the program. For 12 years under the incubator environment installed by Larry Schwartz and protected by both Jeanine Pirro and Janet DiFiore, the culture of corruption, the germ of infestation, has multiplied and thrived to the point of complete dominance.

Megalomaniac that he is, Schwartz would go about intimidating Seniors who might get in his way, telling them he was “the most powerful man in Westchester;” and, indeed, he was. No County employee would dare upset him. No candidate for public office, including State Supreme Court Judge’s, Could run without his blessings. Not one penny contributed to the Democratic County Committee existed that wasn’t under Larry’s control.

He controlled not only all of the funds contributed to the County Committee by raising them at event after Spano event. But, more importantly, he controlled the nearly $2 billion County budget. Under Larry Schwartz, a $70 million, 5-year contract renewable for five more years, was flipped and turned into an $87 million deal with a carting company New York City refused to do business with. After all, he had his super-majority in his pocket, having financed their election to the County Legislature. When he told them to jump, they only asked, “How high?”

If the extra $17 million to haul trash wasn’t enough of an insult to wary County Taxpayers, he had a mold-infested, leaky old building in Ardsley that one of Andy’s big contributors couldn’t unload on anybody else, having tried for more than five years. At public hearings, not one citizen spoke in favor of the sweetheart deal, but we own it anyway, and the cost may very well reach $20 million!

A year ago, Larry brought his talents to Governor Paterson; and, look at all the good he’s done up there.

Meanwhile, back here in Westchester, we’ve had our share of political antics and crime what with the election fraud of Ken Jenkins, Jose Alvarado, Wilson Soto, and Wilson Terero and Company, supported by Commissioner/ Chairman Reggie LaFayette and his staff of tax payer paid collaborators.

Adding a new dimension to the Board of Legislators, we now have a coke-snorting legislator from the 15th District, Gordon Burrows, a 52-year-old so snowblind that he couldn’t wait to getto his hotel room and decided he would snort with his buddy at a gas station. Interestingly, in each of his public statements of supposed regret, the last group he acknowledged, just before his dog, were his constituents.

Mind you, though, he’s not giving up that $1,000-a-week parttime job for anyone. Hey, where’s he going to get the money for blow if he does the right thing?

Then, there’s Mayor Bradley of White Plains.

Keep in mind this three-ring circus of crime and corruption here in Westchester is going on with the full knowledge and culpable protection of one DA Janet DiFiore, whose husband tried to bribe the Right-to-Life candidate of the ballot when she ran in 2005. Janet DiFiore ran as a Republican for County positions three times, but, was really a Democrat at heart. Not.

It’s so comforting to know we have someone of her character and principle to protect us from all of the crime and corruption of her buddies and cohorts; isn’t it?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Westchester Guardian Article/Gordon Burrows/Ken Jenkins/In Our Opinion.

Jenkins & Burrows
Both Belong In Jail

In Our Opinion...

Jenkins And Burrows Both Belong In Jail

We believe it’s ludicrous that media, The Journal News, and Cablevision News12, approach the likes of Ken Jenkins, unlawfully occupying a seat on the Westchester County Legislature, for an opinion with respect to the arrest of Gordon Burrows for the use and possession of cocaine. Jenkins was quoted as saying, “As a legislative body, we work according to the law.” If that were so, Jenkins and Burrows would both be locked up. Mr. Jenkins is a liar, straight and simple. Consider the irony in the present situation. Jenkins, his wife and children, live at 108 Bushie Avenue, Yonkers, in the 15th Legislative District, which just happens to be Gordon Burrows’ district. Burrows knows that, and so does every other legislator. Yet, Jenkins, without any opposition, took over the seat once occupied by Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in the 16th District, by committing a felony, Election Fraud, re-registering, fraudulently, in December 2006, claiming a multi-family dwelling on Moultrie Avenue, more than half a mile from where he actually lives, as his domicile.

If prosecuted on just one count of Election Fraud, and convicted, he will be subject to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. As it stands, he’s guilty of several counts over the last three years or more.

Ironically, of all of his 16 co-conspirators, the one who had the greatest obligation to expose Jenkins’ arrogant fraud, was Gordon Burrows, in whose district Jenkins actually lives. But it is so conspicuous that the County Legislature is one big joke on the taxpaying public, an unnecessary extra layer of political fat.

To prove their corrupt commitment to each other’s ripoff of their constituents, they made Jenkins their Chairman, in effect saying, “We know he’s committing a fraud, and doesn’t belong here. But we’ll show you how much we care about you people who pay our salaries and benefits. We’re going to put this fraud in your face by making him Chairman of the Board.”

Imagine, Jenkins had the gall to tell a reporter for The Journal News, referring to Burrows, “He is not the first person in Countyemployment who has been arrested, but we are held to a muchhigher standard.”

Mr. Jenkins, we couldn’t agree more. You and your co-conspirator buddies should be held to “a much higher standard,” and both you and Mr. Burrows should be locked up. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

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