New Children’s Pool for JCC
The board of directors announced last week that by summer 2013, the JCC Rockland will have a new heated outdoor pool.
One thing parents wanted to see their kids learn during summer camp was how to swim, which was not possible without the pool. It will measure 20’ x 50’, reaching from 3.5’ – 4.5’ deep. It is being built on what is now the Lewis Family Playground.
The pool will not only serve a purpose during summer camps, but will also be available for swim classes, lessons, and free swimming for kindergarten through elementary school students who are in JCC Rockland’s sports camp. It will also be open to family fitness members and there will be recreational swimming on the weekends.
Monsey Accountant Accused of Running Ponzi Scheme is Sentenced
An accountant from Monsey admitted to running an 11-year, $6 million Ponzi scheme and received his sentence of three years in prison on Wednesday.
Allan Ritter, 70, started the scheme in 2001 and it operated until late last year. He was charged in September and pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud. It is unclear how much Ritter will have to pay, but he must also forfeit some of his assets and pay restitution. After his release from prison, he will be placed on probation for three years.
10 Locals Arrested in Mob Carting Probe, Retired Trooper Among Them
A four-year investigation into the influence of organized crime on the carting industry in the New York metro area has led to the indictment of 32 people on federal charges Wedensday morning.
Among those 32 people is a retired state trooper from Peekskill, Mario Velez. He is a 20-year veteran and spent time as a school resource officer for Hendrick Hudson High School. He is facing two extortion charges. Pasquale P. Cartalemi, 50, and his son Pasquale L. Cartalemi, 27, of Cortland, are also facing two extortion charges for reportedly making a trash hauler of Capital Waste Services give them the business in fall 2011.
Others who were charged in the indictment include: Dominick “Pepe” Pietranico, 82, of Mahopac; Joseph Sarcinella, 78, of Greenburgh; Pasquale Carbone Sr., 70, of White Plains; Robert Franco, 50, of Hartsdale; Andrew McGuire, 29, of Hawthorne; Dominick Rao, 76, of Suffern; and Stephen Moscatello, 52, of Piermont. Pietranico and Pasquale P. Cartalemi were not yet arrested, but authorities expect them to surrender this week. The defendants face prison time of five to 30 years.
A number of defendants are also charged with defrauding customers, stealing property from competitors, dictating where the companies could pick up garbage, and demanding money for organized crime protection. Other charges include extortion, mail and wire fraud conspiracy, and interstate transportation of stolen property.
The FBI and Westchester County Police detectives worked together in the investigation.
82-year-old Woman Killed in Head-on Collision on I-87 in Sloatsburg
A man driving the wrong way on Interstate 87 crashed head-on into another car, killing his passenger and injuring himself and the other driver.
The woman, 82, of Monsey was killed in the crash that occurred around 8:20 p.m. She was a passenger in a Toyota Camry driven by an 82-year-old man, who was driving north in the southbound lane. The car struck a Volvo driven by an 18-year-old from West Point. Both drivers were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.
Though police are still investigating the accident, it does not appear that either the woman killed or the man driving the Camry were wearing seat belts.
Catholic Sports Initiative
With even more confessions coming forth from athletes who used immoral means to win sporting events, the Vatican is asking Christian athletes Tim Tebow of the NFL and Jeremy Lin of the NBA to aid in bringing a code of ethics back to the world of sports.
Tebow, quarterback for the New York Jets, and Lin, of the Houston Rockets, are just two athletes being asked to join the Pontifical Council for Culture’s international conference on the subject of morals in sports. The conference is set to be held this spring and will also include representatives from such organizations as FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football), the International Cycling Union, and the Italian National Olympic Committee.
Recently, U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in order to win his many medals, which have since been stripped from him. According to Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, head of the council’s “Culture and Sports” section, these cyclists are pressured into doping by commercial interests.
The purpose of this conference is two-fold: to help bring ethical proceedings back to the world of sports and to allow the Vatican to see how important sports can be for future priests, Catholic schools, parishes, and catechists.
Gun Control Pits New York vs. Texas
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott boasted last Thursday of Texas’s superiority over New York and invited legal gun owners upset over the new bans put in place by Governor Cuomo to pack up and move down South.
Cuomo’s ban on assault weapons and limit on ammunition capacity has caused many gun owners to speak out against the legislation. Abbott, who may be in the running for Texas governor next year, placed ads on newspaper organizations’ websites in New York City and Albany. These ads linked to a Facebook page that urged New Yorkers to move to Texas, citing no income tax and looser gun regulations as the main reasons.
Abbott claims he will file a federal lawsuit should Congress implement nationwide gun restrictions.
Wal-Mart to Hire Veterans
Wal-Mart will reportedly announce a new plan on Tuesday, which will allow them to hire any veteran who wants a job as long as they were not dishonorably discharged and left the military within the last year.
Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the nation and will begin this program on May 27, Memorial Day. The program will continue for the next five years and will allow over 100,000 veterans to receive jobs.
The president and chief executive of Wal-Mart U.S. William S. Simon will deliver a speech in New York containing the announcement of this program.
TSA Removing Naked Body Scanners
Officials with the Transportation Security Administration announced on Friday that by June 2013, there will be no more naked body scanners in American airports.
TSA Administrator told Bloomberg that the agency is cancelling its $5 million contract with the company that makes these scanners. OSI Systems Inc. was unable to alter the software on their Rapiscan unit to make the image less invasive for passengers. The TSA already removed 74 of these scanners from airports in 2012. There are 174 left to be removed.
In place of the naked body scanners, the TSA will employ 60 machines made by L-3 Communications, which use radio frequencies as opposed to X-ray radiation. This technology detects metallic and non-metallic items.
Las Vegas Assemblyman Arrested for Threats to Democratic Speaker-elect
A Democratic assemblyman was arrested on Saturday for threats made against Democratic Speaker-elect Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
In a news release issued by North Las Vegas police on Sunday, it is stated that Assemblyman Steven Brooks, 40, of North Las Vegas, stated his threats against Kirkpatrick on Saturday afternoon. He threatened to shoot Kirkpatrick and was in possession of a loaded gun at the time of his arrest. Brooks was stopped in his car at around 5:30 p.m.
A potential motive for Brooks’ threats is his displeasure with the committee assignments given to him by Kirkpatrick. He had thought he would be assigned as Chairman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, but Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton was chosen instead.
Brooks was arrested and placed in Las Vegas City Jail on one count of intimidating a public officer by threat of physical violence. Further details were not released as the investigation is still ongoing.
Representing Assembly District 17, Brooks’ behavior had begun to be monitored by leadership due to his “erratic” behavior at caucus meetings. He was first elected to his position in 2010.
The matter is being treated as a personnel issue and the facts surrounding it will be reviewed thoroughly. Brooks has four children.
One Year and No Meeting For Obama’s Jobs Council
January 17 was the one-year anniversary of the last time President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness held an official meeting.
That meeting was a White House session, where the 26-member panel presented recommendations to Obama. The president must decide by the end of the month whether to renew the group’s tenure or allow it to expire. The pane laws created in early 2011 and have only had four official meetings.
A report from July stated tensions among members of the group, some business executives and others labor leaders. Also, Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign for outsourcing reportedly contributed to the lack of meetings between the president and the panel.
However, according to a spokesperson for one of the panel’s members, the group has not been inactive for the last year, despite the lack of public meetings. “Listening and action” events took place across the nation, where a couple of members from the Jobs Council would discuss their work and listen to ideas from the public. They have also worked on recommendations made in their previous reports and have had conference calls with senior officials, such as National Economic Council chair Gene Sperling and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
It is not likely the panel will meet again before January 31.
Congressman Speaks Against Federal Funding of Islamic Cultural Program
A National Endowment for the Humanities grant has hundreds of thousands of federal dollars going toward the promotion of Islamic culture, and one U.S. lawmaker is speaking out against that.
Representative Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina, says the “Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys” program is a waste of taxpayer dollars. This program uses$1.8 million in grant money to place dozens of books promoting Islamic culture in 800 libraries in every state. The grant comes from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and it is not known how much of it comes from the taxpayers.
Jones’ argument against the program is one of economics, given the current economic state of the nation. However, his comments were not taken well by Representative Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota and the first Muslim elected to Congress. Ellison plans to speak to Jones about their concerns on the issue.
Jones wishes to see an equal amount of promotion for other faiths as well, and a local Christian group offered 25 books on America’s Judeo-Christian heritage to Craven Community College, an institution that received books from the “Bridging Cultures Bookshelf” program.
Firefighters Calling for Ban on Novelty Lighters
A number of firefighter’s associations are calling on New York lawmakers to create legislation banning the sale of novelty lighters.
These lighters are made to look like children’s toys, animals, cars, animated characters, and other objects familiar to young children. This creates the potential for danger, as a child will be tempted to play with it and may potentially spark a fire. Two toddlers died in Arkansas in 2007 by setting fire to their apartment while playing with a lighter shaped like a motorcycle.
Fifteen states have bans on novelty lighters, including Maine, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. If they cannot get a ban for the entire state, the groups of firefighters would like to see legislation that allows county and local jurisdictions to enforce a ban in their area.
Former New Orleans Mayor Charged with Accepting Bribes and Travel Perks
The former mayor of New Orleans, who served the city from 2006-2010 after promising to get rid of the corruption facing the city, was indicted on Friday, charged with accepting bribe money, payoffs, and gratuities even while the city worked to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Ray Nagin is just one of a number of people who have been charged with crimes following a City Hall corruption investigation. Two former city officials have pleaded guilty to the charges against them, as have two businessmen. A former city vendor has received a prison sentence.
Nagin, 56, is accused of accepting over $160,000 in bribes and large amounts of granite to serve his family business. In return, he promoted businessman Frank Fradella, who earned millions of dollars in city contract work following Katrina. Fradella pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit bribery.
The former mayor also accepted $60,000 in payoffs from businessman Rodney Williams for help securing city contracts. Williams pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge on December 5. Another businessman, who has remained unidentified, provided Nagin with a free private jet and limousine service to New York in exchange for waiving his tax penalties from 2006. A number of city contractors gave Nagin free travel and covered vacation expenses to a variety of places, including Las Vegas and Hawaii. Fradella continued to provide Nagin with monthly payoffs even after his two terms as mayor had ended.
Anthony Jones, the city’s chief technology officer during Nagin’s term, and Greg Meffert, deputy mayor under Nagin, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes, payoffs, and kickbacks for getting Mark St. Pierre city contracts.