Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bronx News ( Apartment Scammer Pleads Guilty

Bronx News ( Apartment Scammer Pleads Guilty: BRONX, NEW YORK, July 19- Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson announced the conviction of Cecilia Casabuena, 53, on multiple c...

Apartment Scammer Pleads Guilty

BRONX, NEW YORK, July 19- Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson announced the conviction of Cecilia Casabuena, 53, on multiple counts of grand larceny for stealing more than $20,000 from families seeking apartments to rent. Some of the victims were recipients of assistance through the New York City Housing Authority’s Section 8 Rental Voucher Program.
Casabuena, of Broadway, Manhattan, pled guilty to seven counts of grand larceny in the third degree, four counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree, and one count of petit larceny covering the 12 victims named in the indictment.
The plea was entered before State Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus who set sentencing for Thursday, August 16, 2012 in Part 78. Under the plea agreement Casabuena is to be sentenced to a term of three to nine years in state prison. The agreement also provides for the filing of a civil judgment requiring Casabuena to pay approximately $183,000 in restitution to the twelve victims named in the indictment and 40 other victims who were not included.
Casabuena misrepresented herself as a licensed real estate broker or agent for several Bronx based realty companies and would attract clients either as a result of ads placed in the Spanish language newspaper El Diario or through personal referrals. She promised to obtain apartments for them and collected security deposits and fees upfront, which averaged a little over $2000 per client.
The investigation which led to the guilty plea began when people who had paid Casabuena the upfront deposits and fees began coming forward to complain that they never received leases or keys to the apartments. Victims of the scam told investigators that they had made numerous requests to Casabuena to return the money but that she refused to do so.

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'Kiss' Rocks Feast

(Photos by Gary Quintal)
Arthur Avenue was rocked by the sounds of Kiss Alive last week. The
Kiss tribute band played the annual Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Youngster rocked out and then enjoyed games and rides.

Bronx News ( RIP- Bronx Business Alliance

Bronx News ( RIP- Bronx Business Alliance: Wakefield By Mary V. Lauro BRONX, NEW YORK, July 16- The Bronx Business Alliance (BBA) began with the best of intentions. It...

RIP- Bronx Business Alliance

By Mary V. Lauro

BRONX, NEW YORK, July 16- The Bronx Business Alliance (BBA) began with the best of intentions. It ended up as all smoke and mirrors. In the process, it wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars. That, my friends, is your money and my money. Never forget that the government, whether city, state or federal, has no money of its own. Any money it supplies, whether for schools, bridges, removing graffiti or food stamps, etc., is our money collected through taxation or fines. It is with pride that a citizen views his two cents used for good purposes and grouses when he sees his money wasted.
In any case, BBA was incorporated in 1997 under the directorship of Kathy Zamachanski, Richard Gidron and Greg Gonzales. Their objective was to revitalize the business district; in Boards 10, 11 and 12. We did not know that in the year 2000 when this writer was asked to be on the Board of Directors. Everything we had seen, read and heard indicated that the focus of the group was on White Plains Road from the City line to Gun Hill Road. That suited us perfectly since we had seen the White Plains Merchant Association die when shop after shop shut down due to rising rents and customer abandonment of local merchants for close-by shopping malls. In their place we saw arise a plethora of nail and hair salons as well as dozens of store-front churches. BBA seemed to be full of ideas on how to restore White Plains Road. Furthermore, we were already working with Kathy Zamachanski, a realtor currently a vice-president of Friedlander Realty, on moving the OTB. Not only did we join, but we put Kathy in touch with Margaret Arrighi who became the CEO of BBA. Kathy took up the title of Consultant. At this time and for the next 16 years, Shirley Tripico was President of the Board of Directors. None of the Directors were ever paid a single cent.
Kathy Z, as a consultant received a yearly fee, Margaret Arrighi and other office personnel were paid. The money (our money) to pay them and all other expenses including rent for the office, telephone, business breakfasts, etc., etc., came from grants supplied by all or at least one of the following throughout the years: Assemblyman Carl Heastie, Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Larry Seabrook, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Councilwoman Annabelle Palmer, Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson and others.
Margaret Arrighi and Kathy Z worked hard. They tried many things, but the merchants on White Plains Road did not respond. Suddenly, and without consulting with the Board of Directors, Margaret moved the whole operation to Westchester Square area.
While we were stunned by her abandonment of White Plains Road, nothing can be compared to the blow we received when Margaret and Kathy Z informed us that Praxis was going to build a 70-unit supportive housing for HIV/aids homeless individuals and families in the lot opposite the Food Town supermarket! They said it was a “done deal.” It was sold to them by Friedlander Realty for whom Kathy Z works. Although she denied that she was party to it, one can take that with a grain of salt.
Margaret seemed to be in thick with Praxis people. She tried very hard to inveigle me to consent to the project. When I refused to be a party, she had the nerve to write a letter of support on BBA stationary claiming this was the best thing that could happen to reinvigorate White Plains Road!
Talk of deception and betrayal! We will continue next week.

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Bronx News ( Slow Repaving in Riverdale

Bronx News ( Slow Repaving in Riverdale: Riverdale Report By Robert Press BRONX, NEW YORK, July 16- A newly created Department of Transportation initiative called a “Sl...

Slow Repaving in Riverdale

Riverdale Report
By Robert Press
BRONX, NEW YORK, July 16- A newly created Department of Transportation initiative called a “Slow Zone” has been approved for the school corridor by Riverdale's PS 24 and MS/HS 141 (aka Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy). The slow zone will start on Independence Avenue at West 232nd Street, run along Seton Park past the two schools, the public library branch, and down past the Riverdale Temple (where a per-school program is in effect) to West 246th Street. The slow zone also covers streets that run parallel to Independence Ave. such as the Southbound Henry Hudson Parkway Service Road from West 246th to West 232nd Streets. There are also a few other small streets to the west of Independence Ave. that also may be part of the slow zone.
First there will be a speed limit of 20 miles per hour in the slow zone as the current speed limit is 30 M.P.H. Giant concrete markings will be at the start and end of the Slow Zone, and speed bumps or other speed calming devices can be placed on the roads to slow cars down. Independence Avenue however is an emergency route which in the past has meant that speed bumps could not be placed in the street. This slow zone was pushed by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (a constant critic of the DOT), other local elected officials, the local police precinct, Community Board # 8, and the schools parents associations.
There had not been a problem on Independence Avenue, until this past school year when for the first time both PS 24 and MS/HS 141 had school children arriving and departing at the same time. That combined with the fact that more parents drove their children to the two schools at rush hour, when they themselves are in a rush led to the problem that only really lasted for no more that 15 minutes in the morning and even less time in the afternoon. I tell you that as a resident of Independence Ave. one block from the schools, and the fact that the road was full of potholes and patches.
While we are on the subject of Independence Ave, the DOT milled down the road from West 232nd to West 239th Streets last week, and is expected to repave the road in another week or two. Other streets in the Community Board #8 area also have been milled down for repaving including many blocks in the Amalgamated Houses area. So please be patient when you see those signs “No Parking” street repair.
Saturday night July 21st is the “Movie in the Park “ presentation of “Back to the Future” in Seton Park starting at 8 p.m. Seton Park is located on Independence Avenue at West 232nd Street, and maybe the street will be repaved before movie night. We will try to report to you on how the event went next week.
Don't forget to check my blog at for any items that may come in after our deadline, more on what you may read here, and any photo of the events.
If you have any comments about this column or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can e-mail us at , or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press.
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