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Corrupt Puerto Rico Police Officer Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison | USAO-SDNY



Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that WILLIAM VAZQUEZ-BAEZ, a former member of the Puerto Rico Police Department (“PRPD”), was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman to 30 years in prison. VAZQUEZ-BAEZ previously pled guilty to one count of participating in a racketeering conspiracy and one count of participating in a conspiracy to commit murder for hire, in connection with his agreement to assist a drug-trafficking organization that shipped drugs to New York and distributed them from a Bronx daycare center.  

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “William Vazquez Baez abused his position as a police officer to help a vicious drug organization distribute massive amounts of cocaine and massacre citizens he had sworn to protect. Today Vazquez-Baez was rightly sentenced to 30 years in prison for his horrific crimes.”

According to the Indictment, other filings in this case, and statements during court proceedings:

From approximately 1994 until his arrest in connection with this case in May 2017, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ was an active police officer with the PRPD. From in or about 2004 until in or about 2016, members of La ONU distributed thousands of kilograms of cocaine, including cocaine that was shipped from Puerto Rico to New York and then distributed out of a Bronx daycare center, and protected their territory and trade through numerous acts of violence. Members of La ONU paid VAZQUEZ-BAEZ a salary to corruptly use his position as a police officer to further the interests of La ONU. For example, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ provided narcotics and intelligence, including information obtained from the police narcotics unit. Members of La ONU would also contact VAZQUEZ-BAEZ, among others, when transporting large quantities of cocaine within the San Juan, Puerto Rico area to ensure the shipment avoided areas of police activity.  VAZQUEZ-BAEZ also distributed payments to other corrupt police officers who assisted La ONU.

VAZQUEZ-BAEZ also assisted La ONU in acts of violence:

In or about 2006 or 2007, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ alerted La ONU members that Freddy Mendez-Rivera, a local resident, had complained to police about drug dealing occurring in his neighborhood, which led to members of La ONU kidnapping and then killing Mendez-Rivera.  Around the same time, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ alerted a senior member of La ONU that the kidnapping was being reported over the police radio. VAZQUEZ-BAEZ advised that, because the fact that Mendez-Rivera had spoken with the police was known throughout the Carolina Narcotics division, it was important that the body never be discovered. When later updated about what had happened, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ laughed and remarked, in substance, that Mendez-Rivera would not be giving the police information any further.

On or about May 9, 2007, members of La ONU hired VAZQUEZ-BAEZ to participate in the murder of Anthony Castro-Carrillo in Carolina, Puerto Rico, in exchange for a cash bonus. VAZQUEZ-BAEZ and members of La ONU stormed Castro-Carrillo’s residence while dressed as police officers and shot and killed him.

In or about 2007, VAZQUEZ-BAEZ delivered a confidential informant, who was in VAZQUEZ-BAEZ’s custody, to members of La ONU, who pretended to be other police officers. Those members of La ONU then shot and killed the informant.

*                *                *

In addition to the prison term, Judge Furman sentenced VAZQUEZ-BAEZ, 53, of Puerto Rico, to three years of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the New York City Police Department.  Mr. Williams also thanked the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Police Department for their support in this ongoing investigation.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamie E. Bagliebter, Jacob R. Fiddelman, Lara Pomerantz, Justin V. Rodriguez, and Andrew Thomas are in charge of the prosecution.

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LI Pawn Shop Owner Accused Of Running Organized Retail Theft Ring




BRENTWOOD, NY — A Brentwood pawn shop owner and three associates were arrested after prosecutors said they ran an organized retail theft ring.

Carlos Ulloa, Henry Delgado, Sandra Cruz and Sandra Palomino each face a top count of felony enterprise corruption and used Ulloa’s Brentwood pawn shop as a front, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said Wednesday.

The conspirators used “boosters,” or thieves who stole items from major retailers such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Petco and PetSmart, prosecutors said.

Find out what’s happening in Brentwood-Central Islipwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Ulloa, 50, of Patchogue, the owner and operator of EZ Cash Pawn and Jewelry in Brentwood and renter of a warehouse in East Patchogue where numerous stolen items were recovered, was arrested and charged with enterprise corruption; second-degree money laundering; fourth-degree conspiracy; and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, prosecutors said.

Delgado, 40, of Medford, was arrested and charged with enterprise corruption; second-degree money laundering; and fourth-degree conspiracy.

Find out what’s happening in Brentwood-Central Islipwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Delgado sold the stolen goods online through internet websites, Tierney said.

Cruz, 23, of Patchogue, an associate of Ulloa who managed the warehouse and its employees and utilized the warehouse to sell stolen goods for Ulloa through online websites, was arrested and charged with enterprise corruption and fourth-degree conspiracy, Tierney said.

Palomino, 45, of Brentwood, the manager of EZ Pawn and its employees, was arrested and charged with a count of enterprise corruption; and fourth-degree conspiracy.

Between October 1, 2021, and August 6, 2022, after Palomino bought stolen merchandise from boosters at the pawn shop, Ulloa and his associates then transported them to the warehouse in East Patchogue, according to court documents and statements made at the arraignments.

The stolen items were then photographed, listed on internet websites to be resold, and packaged for delivery, Tierney said. The repeated act of reselling stolen items on different platforms generated a large sum of criminal proceeds, Tierney said.

During the 10-month period, the investigation revealed that more than $1 million was transferred just from eBay accounts to bank accounts owned by Ulloa, Tierney said. Delgado would then issue checks to Ulloa and his two corporations when requested by Ulloa to do so, Tierney said.

Search warrants executed on August 6, 2022 at the pawn shop, the warehouse and Ulloa’s
residence resulted in the seizure of thousands of new products stolen from retailers
throughout Suffolk County, Tierney said. Police also seized a stolen handgun and
illegal high capacity magazines, Tierney said.

“These defendants and their associates allegedly engaged in a massive stolen property fencing operation run out of a pawn shop that has been fueling the retail theft epidemic in Suffolk County and elsewhere,” said Tierney.

Ulloa, Cruz, Palomino and Delgado were arraigned by the Honorable Jennifer A.
Henry on August 6; each was ordered to be held on bail, Tierney said.

Ulloa is being held on $1 million cash/$3 million bond or $10 million partially secured bond; he is being represented by David Besso, Esq., Tierney said. Besso was not immediately available for comment.

Delgado is being held on $750,000 cash or $1.5 million bond or $7.5 million in partially secured bond; he is being represented by William Keahon, Esq, Tierney said. Keahon was not immediately available for comment.

Subsequently, on August 8 and 9, the Honorable James A. Saladino ordered the release of
Cruz and Palomino and placed them on supervised release and GPS monitoring, Tierney said.

Cruz is represented by Daniel Sullivan, Esq. “I believe she was overcharged by the DA’d office, with an enterprise corruption charge,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think they will be able to prove it. I look forward to defending this case in the future. She was an employee; someone was using her. She was paid an hourly wage and I don’t think they will have the elements it will take to prove the enterprise corruption charge, a very serious charge. I’m gathering evidence and look forward to vigorously defending the case.”

Palomino is being represented by George Duncan, Esq, Tierney said. Duncan was not immediately available for comment.

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Jack Martins backed by three Nassau County police unions – Featured




Jack Martins backed by three Nassau County police unions
Former state Sen. Jack Martins was endorsed by three Nassau County police unions on Tuesday. (Photo by Robert Pelaez)

Former state Sen. and Mineola Mayor Jack Martins was endorsed by three prominent Nassau County police unions on Tuesday in the midst of his campaign to return to the Senate.

The Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, Detectives Association and the Superior Officers Association all expressed their support for Martins, and several other Republicans, at the PBA headquarters.

Martins, an Old Westbury resident who previously represented the 7th District from 2011-2016, lauded the work of the Nassau County Police Department and thanked the officials for pledging their support for his campaign.

“I am honored and humbled by the endorsement we received today from law enforcement and I want to make it clear that I have always been with law enforcement and I will continue to stand with law enforcement as we move forward,” Martins said during a press conference.

Martins criticized bail reform, blaming “the Democrats in Albany who have decided to take the side of criminals.” Martins said a vote for him would be a vote for someone who will “restore law and order” throughout New York.

PBA President Thomas Shevlin said his association and the two others are endorsing candidates that are not afraid to support police officers amidst calls for defunding the police and will fight to repeal the state’s bail reform laws. 

“The time is now for change on bail reform,” Shevlin said. “The safety of our country, our county, our state and the future for our children is at stake. We are asking all of you to join us and support these officials come this November.”

Detectives Association President Jeff Gross echoed Shevlin’s comments about bail reform needing to be repealed and that the endorsements that were made were not just because the candidates were Republican.

“These candidates are the ones that have sat down with law enforcement,” Gross said. “They understand our needs, they understand our concerns and that’s why they were chosen. They are the best choice for the safety of our residents and the best choice to support law enforcement.”

Martins is running for the state’s 7th Senate District against incumbent state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills). According to the most recent Senate campaign filings, Kaplan announced she had more than $504,000 on hand, compared to Martins’ $41,000.

The 7th Senate district includes Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Williston Park, Mineola, Garden City Park, North Hills, Albertson, Old Westbury, East Hills, Roslyn, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn Estates, Albertson, Searingtown, Lake Success, Manhasset, Munsey Park, Plandome, Plandome Heights, Plandome Manor, and the Great Neck and Port Washington peninsulas.

Martins served as Mineola’s mayor from 2003-2010. In 2008, he ran an unsuccessful congressional campaign against former U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy before defeating incumbent 7th District Senator and Democrat Craig Johnson in 2010.

The race against Johnson was one that did not get resolved until early December due to Johnson demanding a recount of the votes, ultimately having his appeal denied by the state’s Court of Appeals.

After another failed attempt to get into Congress in 2016, losing to U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Martins shifted his focus to becoming Nassau County’s new county executive, following former County Executive Edward Mangano being indicted on federal corruption charges.

​​Martins ultimately lost that race to Democrat Laura Curran, who served as county executive before being defeated by Republican Bruce Blakeman this past fall.

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Revisiting housing in Newsom’s hometown- POLITICO




THE BUZZ:  The Newsom administration just hurled a lightning bolt into the epicenter of California’s housing crisis.

San Francisco is a notoriously difficult place to permit and build homes. A protracted, expensive and byzantine process has helped dig a housing chasm that has the city facing a state mandate to plan for some 82,000 new units in the next decade. That shortfall has helped push rents to prohibitive levels, squeezing a shrinking middle class and exacerbating homelessness. That confluence of forces is a microcosm of a broader affordability crisis that two-thirds of Californians see as a big problem.

So it stands to reason that Gov. Gavin Newsom wanted to make an example of his home city. California’s Department of Housing and Community Development announced yesterday that San Francisco would be the target of a first-of-its-kind review of housing policy. Specifically, HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez said the agency would examine “processes and political decision-making in San Francisco that delay and impede the creation of housing.” Velasquez also brandished a hammer, promising to sniff out and penalize violations of state housing law.

Housing has come to dominate San Francisco politics. It was the focal point of an expensive Assembly race between two Democrats who agreed on pretty much everything else. San Francisco Mayor London Breed ran on accelerating housing construction and has repeatedly clashed with the supervisors over both individual projects and broader policies to accelerate development, which has spilled into a legal clash over dueling ballot measures. Breed welcomed the state’s probe, as did San Francisco’s state legislators: Sen. Scott Wiener lauded a review of the city’s “broken, illegal housing policy” after having urged the state to sue. Assembly member Matt Haney pledged his support.

But the dramatic intervention by the Bay fits with a more muscular state role on housing law compliance. Newsom had scarcely taken office when he announced California would sue Huntington Beach over affordable housing requirements (the Orange County enclave sued the state and lost over separate housing laws). Attorney General Rob Bonta has defended a hard-fought law allowing four units on single-home lots against local lawsuits and attempts to hide behind mountain lions; he weighed in on a local housing review dispute yesterday. The state’s challenge that Anaheim violated housing law collided with a broader corruption scandal. California has backed Breed on fourplexes and warned San Francisco on project rejections.

The state has more leverage over counties and cities because the Legislature has passed a stream of housing laws. More could be coming. San Francisco’s Wiener and other Bay Area lawmakers comprise the core of the Legislature’s housing-focused cohort. The housing bill we’re watching most closely in the next few weeks: Assemblymember Buffy Wicks’ measure expediting construction on formerly commercial sites, which has split labor as Wicks seeks the sweet spot of enshrining labor standards and streamlining projects.

BUENOS DÍAS, good Wednesday morning. Lawmakers might not accomplish their legislative goals in the next few weeks, but they can notch some goals tonight as SoCal legislators play NorCal counterparts in a charity soccer match benefiting foster youth. Team NorCal won Monday’s softball game.

Got a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit us up: [email protected] and [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @JeremyBWhite and @Lara_Korte

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Despite what you will hear on Fox News, the cause of potential [grid] shortfalls is not reliance on renewable energy. Meeting our goals of 100 percent clean electricity by 2045 is still the key component in fighting climate change and preventing these weather conditions in the first place.” Sen. Josh Becker argues renewable energy should prevent, not cause, blackouts.

TWEET OF THE DAY: Top Newsom housing adviser @Jason_Elliott on the SF crackdown: “San Francisco isn’t exempt from our housing crisis, and they aren’t exempt from being part of the solution. They have to follow the law just like everyone else and stop making political decisions that kill or slow housing.”

WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.

WHO’S WHO? — “Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 of 2022,” by the Capitol Weekly’s staff: “Despite the obvious handicaps – mano-a-mano gossip sessions in coffee shops were jettisoned, for example, and it’s hard to hear people talking through masks, anyway – we think we managed to come up with a good list that meets our basic objectives: Depict the unelected political hierarchy reasonably faithfully, have some new faces, offer a few surprises and have fun.”

— “L.A. City Council meeting erupts in chaos, with one protester arrested,” by the Los Angeles Times’ David Zahniser and Julia Wick: “[Los Angeles Council President Nury] Martinez abruptly recessed the meeting, leaving dozens of activists in the room chanting “Abolish 41.18!” — a reference to the city law prohibiting homeless encampments at libraries, freeway overpasses and other locations.”

— “Elon’s Biggest Boondoggle Why did the world’s richest man spend the past five years trying to sell cities a hole in the ground?” by the New York Magazine’s Alissa Walker: “Musk has never once proposed a mere tunnel. What he has proposed are infinite tunnels, a ‘3-D network of tunnels to alleviate congestion.’”

— “Exclusive: Sacramento teacher aligned with antifa received 3 years of pay to resign,” by the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Pohl: “In exchange for leaving his post at Inderkum High School and not fighting his prospective firing, officials in January agreed to pay Gabriel Gipe $190,000, according to settlement records the district provided in response to a California Public Records Act request from The Sacramento Bee. The payout was taxed, and the final checks the district cut totaled about $100,000.”

DOUBLE DOWN: All four state legislative leaders came out on Tuesday against Proposition 27, the sports betting ballot initiative funded by platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel. As we reported, this came after the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians outspent every other interest group in this year’s second quarter, with much of that $3.4 million going towards rallying lawmakers against Prop 27.

— “DA Jenkins Pocketed Six Figures as Consultant for Nonprofit Linked to Boudin Recall Backers,” by the San Francisco Standard’s Michael Barba: “The revelation comes a day after Jenkins officially declared her candidacy in the November election to complete the term [former San Francisco District Attorney Chesa] Boudin did not finish. While other candidates are in the running, Boudin has decided not to challenge her.”

WIDENING THE GAPS — GOP polls show House battlefield stretching into double-digit Biden districts, by POLITICO’s Ally Mutnick: Four surveys conducted in late July reveal close races in open seats in Oregon, Colorado and California that President Joe Biden carried by between 11 and 15 points in 2020. Taken all together, GOP operatives view the data as a sign that Biden’s sinking approval numbers could drag Democratic candidates down enough to bring deep blue turf into reach.

NUEVA DIRECCION: The California Latino Legislative Caucus will get new leadership in December: Assembly member Sabrina Cervantes is taking over as chair and Sen. Lena Gonzalez as vice-chair.

— “San Bernardino County sheriff, DA weigh in on ‘fair share’ measure,” by the San Bernardino Sun’s Beau Yarbrough: “At the board meeting Tuesday, Sheriff Shannon Dicus and District Attorney Jason Anderson both said the state is starving the county of needed resources, leading to reduced services for residents, especially with unfunded mandates where the county is required to perform a service the state does not provide funds to do.”

— “They were unarmed when police shot at them. Then LAPD pushed for weapons charges,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Libor Jany: “The decision to push for charges against [Jermaine] Petit and [Joshua] Hatfield has drawn condemnations from neighbors, activists and academics, who see the department’s response as an attempt to deflect scrutiny from its officers’ actions.”

PAYDAY — “Welcome to the Great Salary Convergence — a seismic shift in the way you’re going to get paid,” by Business Insider’s Aki Ito: “Early in the coronavirus pandemic, remote workers who fled the expensive coasts were allowed to keep their big-city paychecks. But a host of new data suggests that what looked like a short-term exception to the rule is fast becoming a new and permanent norm.”

— “Newsom Pins Political Rise on Abortion, Guns, and Health Care,” by Caifornia Healthline’s Angela Hart: “Political strategists and national health care experts say health care is a winning issue for the Democratic Party as it readies for a midterm election battle in November — and as Democrats seek a strategy to retain the White House in 2024. And they say Newsom could be a strong contender.”

 — “L.A. residents saving more water but face bigger test as heat intensifies,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Hayley Smith: “The report from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power comes as drought continues to sap supplies across the region. But while July’s conservation surpassed the record 9% reduction achieved in L.A. in June, officials urged residents to keep going.”

MOVING DAY BLUES — “Did U-Haul run out of trucks as Californians fled the state?” by the Sacramento Bee’s David Lightman: “California has been losing population, though it remains by far the nation’s most populous state with 39.2 million people as of July 2021, down about 300,000 from April, 2020.“

— “California puts some of its most vulnerable prisoners in solitary confinement. A state bill would change that,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Camryn Park: “Prolonged solitary confinement is defined by the United Nations’ “Nelson Mandela Rules” as a form of torture. It’s still used in California and throughout the United States, though over the past year, states like New York and Connecticut have limited its use.”

SLEEPING IN — “School bells ring later for San Jose students,” by the San Jose Spotlight’s Loan-Ahm Pham: “Although school officials agree that teens need more sleep, the new bell schedules can result in other logistical issues that could impact students, parents and school employees alike.”

DATA DIVES — “This Is the Data Facebook Gave Police to Prosecute a Teenager for Abortion,” by VICE’s Jason Koebler and Anna Merlan: “Motherboard has obtained court documents that show Facebook gave police a teenager’s private chats about her abortion. Cops then used those chats to seize her phone and computer.”

— “75-year-old arrested in connection with teen’s death 40 years ago, CA officials say,” by the Sacramento Bee’s Daniella Segura.

— “Did Sacramento illegally raise city stormwater fee? Lawsuit might have merit, experts say,” by the Sacramento Bee’s Amelia Davidson.

— “Mercedes driver involved in 13 prior wrecks before Windsor Hills crash that killed 5, D.A. says,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Richard Winton, Nathan Solis and Noah Goldberg.

HORSES IN THE RACE? — “Fair cancels Thursday’s racing, citing lack of horses,” by the Press Democrat’s Phil Barber.

— Eric Sauer has taken over as CEO of the California Trucking Association. He was formerly senior vice president of government affairs.

Clarissa Rojas of Rep. Antonio Cárdenas’ (D-Calif.) officeAmazon’s Cameron Onumah … Robert N. Feldman … Steven Mitchell Glazer … Buffy Wicks

CALIFORNIA POLICY IS ALWAYS CHANGING: Know your next move. From Sacramento to Silicon Valley, POLITICO California Pro provides policy professionals with the in-depth reporting and tools they need to get ahead of policy trends and political developments shaping the Golden State. To learn more about the exclusive insight and analysis this subscriber-only service offers, click here.

Want to make an impact? POLITICO California has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Golden State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness amongst this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected]

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