United States Attorney Preet Bharara feels emboldened, sources say, following the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — on all of seven corruption charges. Despite lacking a “smoking gun” to constitute an explicit quid pro quo, the jury handed Bharara a sweeping win. Such is the public’s appetite for corrupt politicians, observers say.
Three sources are confirming that Bharara intends to indict Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 2nd — along with a half dozen associates and former staffers — on public corruption, racketeering, conspiracy, and honest services fraud.
The Chronicle is unable to confirm widespread rumors that the former staffers are Howard Glaser, Joe Percoco and Larry Schwartz.
Glaser resigned in June of last year as Director of State Operations and was thought to be Cuomo’s top aide. Percoco left a $175,000 job with the Governor on October 25th of this year, and was known as Cuomo’s “political enforcer.”
Schwartz was caught up in the Moreland Commission scandal. He is thought to be guilty of obstruction of justice for actions he took in the hours immediately following Bharara’s confiscation of Moreland Commission documents.
One of the three sources — a longtime Albany insider — says that there are at least three additional targets of the investigation, including Alain Kaloyeros, the head of SUNY Polytech who, at $800,000, is the highest paid state employee.
The other two men are said to be from Buffalo and have been “involved in the Administration’s economic development deals in particularly unseemly ways,” but the source would not elaborate.
SOURCE :: Buffalo Chronicle
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted Monday in a $5 million public-corruption case, cementing a stunning fall from power that exposed Albany’s sleazy culture of influence-peddling — and showed that it reached to the top.
On its third day of rocky deliberations, a Manhattan federal jury handed down guilty verdicts on all seven counts against Silver, despite two jurors threatening to throw the trial into turmoil by demanding to be excused.
Silver, a 71-year-old veteran lawmaker who was once one of the most powerful politicians in the state, was found guilty of honest-services fraud, extortion and money-laundering for trading political favors to enrich himself and then lying about it.
He now faces a maximum of 130 years behind bars, although under federal sentencing guidelines, he will likely get no more than 20 years. Silver, who remains free on bail until his sentencing, plans to appeal.
Even in a state capital where more than 30 lawmakers have left office facing criminal charges or allegations of ethical misconduct since 2000, the case against Silver was an extraordinary turn.
And his prosecution was a marquee case in Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s quest to clean up a state government he has called a “cauldron of corruption.”
“Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York,’’ Bharara said in a brief statement.
A fidgety Silver looked deflated as the jurors delivered their verdict. He glanced at Bharara, who was in the courtroom with his top deputies. At one point, Bharara shook hands with and slapped the backs of his prosecution team.
“I am disappointed, and I will be working on [an appeal] with my attorney,’’ a grim Silver said as left court, climbing into a black Chevy Suburban SUV.
It wasn’t an easily won battle for government prosecutors.
“There was a lot of holdouts. It was hard . . . on the last day and the day before,’’ said “Juror No. 11,” cabby Kenneth Graham, who earlier Monday tried to get excused from the case, citing a relationship between the man who leases him his cab and Silver that he became aware of over the weekend.
During the first day of deliberations last week, juror Arlene Phillips asked the judge to take her off the case because she said she was being bullied by other jurors. The judge refused.
Phillips, a 53-year-old Verizon technician from Mount Vernon in Westchester, admitted outside court that she was the lone holdout up until about 3 p.m. Monday.
She said she initially was convinced that the state grant money Silver steered to a cancer doctor in exchange for lucrative patient referrals to his law firm was just “good will” on Silver’s part.
“But today, after going through more evidence, I saw it differently,” Phillips said, referring to “disclosure forms that hid certain money.”
“I was wondering why wouldn’t it be out in the open like other things, why was this hidden.”
Phillips said she would have liked to have heard from Silver himself. He never took the stand.
“At first, I thought he was a non-assuming, humble person, and I wanted to hear his voice to determine if there was an arrogance or anything that showed me that he is capable of being deceitful, and I didn’t see that for the longest,” the juror said.
“I gave him the benefit of the doubt. And it was disappointing. I still think he is humble and unassuming, but he may have this other side that he feels that as speaker . . . he was entitled to do the things he did.”
Juror Bianca Maynard, 37, of The Bronx, said that despite Phillips’ claim, “no one was bullied” during deliberations.
“There was no yelling or screaming or pushing around. We went in last week and reviewed the material over and over,” Maynard said. “She just wasn’t convinced last week.”
“Between 3:30 and 4 today, the one juror who initially disagreed felt comfortable saying that we were all set to go with the guilty verdict.”
The arrest, which sent political shock waves throughout the state, forced Silver to resign his leadership post, but he held on to his Assembly seat, which he had been in for nearly 40 years. He served as Assembly speaker for half that time.
Under state law, Silver’s conviction automatically booted him from office and barred him from ever again holding any state position.
The verdict came midway through the corruption trial of Silver’s one-time counterpart in the state Senate, former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who is charged in an unrelated influence-peddling scheme along with his son, Adam.
Silver and Skelos were part of Albany’s “three men in a room,” which refers to the Legislature’s two leaders and governor, who together decide the state’s budget and legislative direction.
Dean Skelos refused to comment on Silver’s conviction, saying only, “My case is what I’m focused on.”
During Silver’s five-week trial, prosecutors presented an array of evidence that included testimony from co-conspirators who were cooperating with prosecutors to avoid getting charged in the case.
Columbia University cancer doctor Robert Taub — who got $500,000 in taxpayer-funded research grants from Silver — testified that he steered dozens of asbestos patients to Silver for legal representation by his law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg.
Silver, who was “of counsel” at the firm, pocketed more than $3 million for delivering those clients, testimony revealed.
Albany lobbyist Brian Meara testified that he set up a meeting between Silver and an exec at the developer Glenwood Management, which hired another law firm with ties to Silver to handle its property-tax litigation.
Silver got more than $700,000 from the firm of Goldberg & Iryami, with Meara testifying that he was “surprised and concerned” when Silver revealed the fee-splitting arrangement to him.
SOURCE :: NYPOST
ALBANY – We’re No. 1 – in corruption. No other state has more legislators forced out of office by ethical or criminal issues than New York, according to a study released on Monday.
In fact, the state set a national record for the number of lawmakers kicked out, or chased out of office since, 2012, the Center for Public Integrity, a good government group, found in a new study.
We’re talking about a gold medal-winning corruption performance by New York.
– John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany
The tally of 14 lawmakers does not include former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is on trial for corruption, or his counterpart in the state Senate, former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, whose trial is scheduled for later this month.
The reported noted that Skelos is the fifth straight Senate leader to be charged with using his office illegally for personal gain.
Overall, the state received a grade of D Minus and ranked 30th in the nation — tied with Florida — for measures it has put in place for transparency and accountability.
“We’re talking about a gold medal-winning corruption performance by New York,” said John Kaehny, executive director Reinvent Albany, an advocacy group. “It’s a pretty bleak moment for public governance.”
Albany’s secretive budgeting process, commonly referred to as “three men in a room,” landed it dead last in the budgeting category, with a grade of F.
Nevertheless, the Empire State fared better than other states. Eleven received the lowest grade of F.
Alaska walked off with the highest overall grade, but that was just a C.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s independent audits earned a B+, highest in the nation in that category, helping lift the state from its dismal rating of 37th in 2012, which was the last time the survey was conducted.
The report said that DiNapoli’s office is effective “because of its robustly-funded” office, “which is headed by an elected official who is largely protected from interference by the governor or Legislature.”
“The office issues an annual report, which is publicly available and has shown little hesitation to go after state agencies, such as in a recent audit that identified $500 million in waste in the state’s Medicaid program,” the study said.
The study measured 245 “indicators” divided into 13 categories: public access to information, political financing, electoral oversight, executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, state budget processes, state civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, state pension fund management and ethics enforcement agencies.
SOURCE :: NYPost.com
Rochester’s Allstar Tactical LLC announced that it has been chosen to update the rifles used by the city police department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
ALLSTAR TACTICAL LLC. (Rochester, NY) has been chosen by the Rochester, NY Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team for their rifle refresh. Several officers from the team have supplied information to Allstar Tactical to determine the exact requirements and specifications for their duty rifles. Once the details were worked out, the team at Allstar Tactical designed an upper receiver to fit their exact specifications.
Several premium parts were chosen from the Allstar Tactical catalog such as their Enhanced Bolt Carrier System, MFKR handguard system and Upper receiver, among other things.
In addition to building the new upper receivers for their weapon systems, Allstar Tactical will be performing a complete refresh on the lower halves of their rifles. Due to the length of time in service of these rifles, many parts in the lower halves of these rifles need to be replaced. Allstar Tactical will replace worn parts in order to provide a completely refreshed weapon system. They will also be adding a few upgrades to the lower receivers as well, including their new MFHB heavy buffer system. These new rifle systems are in production right now and will be put into service before the year’s end.
“We are extremely honored to be working with the Rochester SWAT team. I was born and raised in this area and it feels great to be able to help out our local law enforcement whenever possible” – Mike Centola, CEO, Allstar Tactical
Allstar Tactical builds many different custom rifle configurations for both civilian and LE use. Departments are able to customize their rifles to suit their individual needs. At the same time, the team at Allstar Tactical can make sure the officers are getting the best equipment for the job and the best bang for their buck.
“Being a police officer is becoming ever more dangerous by the day especially for Swat team members. Our team needs the most effective reliable tools to meet danger head on. That is why we chose Allstar Tactical to refurbish, rebuild and enhance our service rifles. We also wanted to partner with a member of the local Rochester community in order to focus on accomplishing the mission of the RPD SWAT team; to save lives.” – Lt. Aaron Springer, Rochester Police Department
Allstar Tactical has just posted up on their blog that they are giving a 15% off discount on their SAFEMOD AR15 Compliance product.
I’m sure by now you have all read about the 2nd Circuit Decision in NYSRPA v. CUOMO. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not over. Furthermore, after reading Gov. Cuomo’s smug response to the decision, we have decided to offer a special 15% off sale on our SAFEMOD product through this weekend. Use coupon code THXCUOMO to get 15% off SAFEMODs and also get a FREE NYFirearms.com sticker as well as a FREE Allstar Tactical “Do You Even Pew Pew Pew Bro” sticker. Grab your SAFEMOD here.
The Allstar Tactical SAFEMOD is a mag button will modify your AR15 to no longer accept a detachable magazine and permanently affix an AR15 magazine in place. It works by preventing the button from being depressed once the magazine is inserted into the rifle. The SAFEMOD™ is made from aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum alloy and Type II anodized in matte black.
According to the NY SAFE ACT from the NYS Governor’s website on the SAFE ACT, “Rifles requiring registration are: Semiautomatic rifles capable of receiving a detachable magazines.” According to this definition of the law, but removing the capability of the rifle to receive “a detachable magazines” you no longer have to register the rifle and the banned features do not apply.
Remember, this is our interpretation of the law and we cannot be held responsible for a law enforcement official’s misinterpretation of the law or the legality of this product. We are working diligently to get word from the NYS Troopers that will assure us that this modification does in fact make your rifle legal.
TL;DR… What a smug asshole.
“Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld what we have long known to be true – that the core provisions of the NY SAFE Act do not violate the Second Amendment. Today, common sense prevailed.
“When we passed the SAFE Act, just days after the tragedies in Newtown and Webster, New York proved to the nation that it is possible to enact sensible gun control that coexists with the Second Amendment. We showed that it can be done with bi-partisan support from both urban and rural communities. And we took a fundamental step forward to help end the stream of senseless killings by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.
“This case validates a simple, fundamental truth about gun control: that it is possible to have strong laws that keep our communities safe, while at the same time respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. New York has set the example – and it’s far past time for Washington to follow suit and pass a sensible national gun control policy.”
SOURCE :: NYS Governor Website
We hold that the core provisions of the New York and Connecticut laws prohibiting possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment, and that the challenged individual provisions are not void for vagueness. The particular provision of New York’s law regulating load limits, however, does not survive the requisite scrutiny. One further specific provision—Connecticut’s prohibition on the non‐semiautomatic Remington 7615—unconstitutionally infringes upon the Second Amendment right. Accordingly, we AFFIRM in part the judgment of the District Court for the District of Connecticut insofar as it upheld the prohibition of semiautomatic assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines, and REVERSE in part its holding with respect to the Remington 7615. With respect to Case 14-36, Document 330-1, 10/19/2015, 1621732, Page5 of 57 the judgment of the District Court for the Western District of New York, we REVERSE in part certain vagueness holdings, and we otherwise AFFIRM that judgment insofar as it upheld the prohibition of semiautomatic assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines and invalidated the load limit.
Read the full NYSRAP vs Cuomo OPINION 10192015.
SOURCE :: Paloma A. Capanna, Law and Policy
In an opinion piece published by a major news outlet Monday, Moms Demand Acton founder Shannon Watts used recent events in Tennessee and South Carolina to push new gun control measures.
The 950 word piece for CNN entitled, “Did gun law loopholes enable Charleston and Chattanooga?” attributed to Watts, devotes most of its text to chronicling the Bloomberg-backed Moms group’s campaign against Cabela’s to close the so-called “Charleston Loophole” before turning to the recent terrorist attack that left five U.S. service members dead at a military installation in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“We’re still learning the facts about what happened in Chattanooga, however, recent media reports indicate the gunman took advantage of the online gun sale loophole and purchased at least one of his firearms where he knew he could buy a gun with no background check, no questions asked,” Watts wrote.
The purchase cited by Watts stems from a July 18 Reuters story, which reported that friends of the suspected Chattanooga gunman, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, purchased an AK-74, Saiga 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15 via the online gun classifieds site Armslist.com.
Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt followed this up with a statement to Guns.com from his New York office Tuesday, saying, “In the last month we have seen two tragedies in Charleston and Chattanooga that highlight the loopholes that make it easy for dangerous people to get guns – loopholes that the NRA put in place and has fought to preserve.”
Fineblatt elaborated by decrying how easy it is for dangerous people to take advantage of the “online sales loophole” to buy guns.
For its part, Armslist informs sellers that he or she is responsible for obeying federal and state laws before finalizing a transaction, and directs sellers to contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for any questions.
Further, a panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit recently held that Armslist was not liable for a gun sold through its platform which was later used in a murder.
However, to cite that Tennessee – or any other state – guidelines for mandated background checks for private gun transfers would have prevented Abdulazeez from obtaining his guns may be a stretch as nothing disclosed by authorities thus far would seem to have prevented the 24-year-old from passing a background check for a firearm purchased over the counter from a licensed dealer.
Watts herself closes her piece with language that dismisses hyperbole in the debate of blame, but still seemingly defends citing the recent mass killings as reason to seek change in the nation’s gun laws and policies, even if the changes sought would not have prevented the very killings used to justify them.
“After tragedies such as Charleston and Chattanooga, as the details unfold about how something so horrible happened, it’s easy to fall into the trap of hypotheticals – the what if we had done something differently,” wrote Watts. “The truth is we cannot change the past, but we can demand a safer tomorrow.”
SOURCE :: GUNS.COM
We need more of these types of Sheriff’s in NY….
Oregon – -(Ammoland.com)- The latest numbers are in from the State Police, and they once again prove what a massive fraud the background check system is and how much worse things will get when SB 941’s firearms transfer provisions kick in in early August.
While 129 transactions were denied in June (including 95 “felons”, 13 people actively “wanted”and 5 adjudicated mentally ill) the number of arrests was a bit smaller.
Of those 13 people actually “wanted” at the time of their denial exactly 1 was arrested. Of the 5 mentally ill people and 95 felons, the number of arrests was a whopping … zero.
So once again, we see the sham that the anti-gunners numbers are. Virtually no one is prevented from getting a firearm because of background checks. They are just diverted from that gun at that time and place. But soon this ridiculous system is going to be used against you for transfers that now don’t require the failed intervention of the Oregon State Police. Keep in mind, the OSP still has a policy of taking a trooper off patrol for every firearm’s transfer denial. What a tragic waste of scarce resources.
Maybe because this system is proving itself each day to be a joke (the shooter in the Charleston murders passed a background check) more and more sheriffs are making it clear they will not enforce the new registration, universal background check bill.
Last Saturday at a firearms event sponsored by the Josephine County Republicans with Rich Wyatt, the new sheriff of the county stated unequivocally that neither he nor his deputies would enforce SB 941. Sheriff Dave Daniel called SB 941 a “waste of time” and a “travesty.”
We will keep working to expose the fraud that SB 941 is. The fight is not over.
About Oregon Firearms Federation:
The Oregon Firearms Federation has proven itself to be Oregon’s only no compromise lobbying group, OFF takes the same tough stands and serves as a vehicle for educating gun owners, promoting their rights and when necessary, fighting the freedom haters in court. Visit: www.oregonfirearms.org
SOURCE :: AMMOLAND
Senators from Illinois and New York are making a bid to bring back legislation that would make selling guns to a prohibited possessor worth 20 years in federal prison.
The proposal, to be filed this week in Washington, is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, and co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. It is a repeat of a failed bid last session to make gun trafficking a crime.
The earlier attempt by the same two lawmakers, the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013, never made it out of committee but Gillibrand is more hopeful this time around.
“I am not willing to throw my hands in the air and say nothing can be done while lives are being senselessly lost due to weapons being in the hands of criminals,” Gillibrand told the New York Daily News. “We all have a moral obligation to make our voices heard and say enough is enough.”
The new bill, termed the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act of 2015, is named after two teens killed in New York with guns traced to out-of-state origins.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has agreed to change a part of the SAFE Act that pertains to the Ammunition background check database. According to Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I, Oneonta), the senate republican majority has secured a legally binding memorandum of understanding (MUC) with the governor’s office amending provisions of the NYS SAFE Act.
“This is a clear victory for Second Amendment rights in New York,” said Senator Seward. “While I will continue to work for full repeal of the poorly crafted, over-reaching NY-SAFE Act, this is a significant accomplishment – and constitutes the only modifications that have been made to this law since it was enacted two years ago over my objection.”
The MOU signed by New York State Director of Operations James Malatras and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan suspends a portion of the NY-SAFE Act establishing a statewide database requiring purchasers of ammunition to undergo a background check.
“The plan to establish a statewide ammunition database has been fraught with problems since it was first conceived, not to mention it infringes on the rights of lawful firearm owners. I successfully helped shut off funding that was being wasted on trying to establish this database and am extremely pleased that the entire idea will now be abandoned,” Seward added.
Along with leading the effort to repeal the NY-SAFE Act, Senator Seward has also blocked other gun control measures advanced by the state assembly and senate Democrats such as microstamping, mandatory liability insurance for firearm owners, and a ban on .50 caliber firearms, which would include many hunting calibers.
Earlier this year legislation (S.5837) sponsored by Senator Seward, amending several of the most onerous sections of the NY-SAFE Act, received senate approval. This was the first time any bill amending the NY-SAFE Act was acted upon by the legislature. The state assembly failed to even bring the bill forward for a vote.
“The state senate took the lead and passed legislation that would erase some of the most burdensome provisions of the NY-SAFE Act while also keeping other gun control laws at bay. While the state assembly failed to join us, the senate Republican majority continued to work to restore Second Amendment rights to lawful firearm owners,” Seward concluded.
In her standard stump speech, Hillary Rodham Clinton talks about fighting income inequality, celebrating court rulings on gay marriage and health care, and, since the Emanuel AME Church massacre, toughening the nation’s gun laws.
That last component marks an important evolution in presidential politics. For at least the past several decades, Democrats seeking national office have often been timid on the issue of guns for fear of alienating firearms owners. In 2008, after Barack Obama took heat for his gaffe about people who “cling to guns or religion,” he rarely mentioned guns again — neither that year nor in his 2012 reelection campaign.
But in a sign that the political environment on guns has shifted in the wake of recent mass shootings — and of Clinton’s determination to stake out liberal ground in her primary race against insurgent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — Clinton is not only initiating a debate about gun control but also vowing to fight the National Rifle Association.
“I’m going to speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country because I believe we can do better,” Clinton said Tuesday in Iowa City.
“It is illegal to bring a gun across state lines, and yet it happens all the time, and I don’t understand why the federal government is not doing far more to prevent that.”
From the NRA Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms: (found here)
“A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.
Under FOPA, notwithstanding any state or local law, a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it, if the firearm is unloaded and locked out of reach. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Ammunition that is either locked out of reach in the trunk or in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console is also covered.
Travelers should be aware that some state and local governments treat this federal provision as an “affirmative defense” that may only be raised after an arrest. All travelers in areas with restrictive laws would be well advised to have copies of any applicable firearm licenses or permits, as well as copies or printouts from the relevant jurisdictions’ official publications or websites documenting pertinent provisions of law (including FOPA itself) or reciprocity information. In the event of an unexpected or extended delay, travelers should make every effort not to handle any luggage containing firearms unnecessarily and to secure it in a location where they do not have ready access to it.”
It seems New York state’s Mr Pataki needs to sit down with his handlers and bone up on the basic laws surrounding lawful gun ownership before he ‘shoots from the hip’ to the rest of middle America in his quest to be the next Republican president.
SOURCE :: AMMOLAND