Judge Says He Can’t Promise El Chapo’s Lawyers Will Get Paid

Aug 15, 17 Judge Says He Can’t Promise El Chapo’s Lawyers Will Get Paid

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US District Judge Brian Cogan did not make accused drug lord “El Chapo’s” lawyers feel reassured about their eventual compensation at Monday’s Brooklyn hearing. When the hearing commenced Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was seen waving to his wife and twin daughters, who were viewing the proceedings from the second row of the public seating in the courtroom. The judge then informed Guzman and his lawyers that the government could not promise that the drug lord’s assets would not be seized, thus depriving the lawyers of their compensation. El Chapo, who has twice staged dramatic prison breaks in Mexico, is being tried in Brooklyn for heading up a multi-billion-dollar international drug trafficking ring which carried out multiple murders and kidnappings. He was extradited from Mexico in January, and has been held in solitary confinement in a prison in lower Manhattan. His lawyers are worried that if the government seizes Guzman’s money, there will be nothing left to pay them. Among Guzman lawyers is Jeff Lichtman, who was able to successfully defend the son of mafia scion John Gotti. The government has said it wants to collect $14 billion in drug money from El Chapo. Guzman’s lawyers argued that they want to alleviate the taxpayer’s burden of having to pay the public defenders the court would appoint, but only if they know in advance they will be compensated. After the hearing and Judge Cogan’s ruling, Lichtman said he still wanted to find a way to defend his client, who pleaded not guilty to charges of running a drug trafficking cartel that laundered billions of dollars and committed murder and kidnapping. The hearing lasted 15 minutes during which El Chapo turned to look at his family several times, with clear emotion in his face. He is scheduled to spend some time with his family for the first time in seven months this...

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Penn Station Repairs Means More Delays and Less Trains for Commuters

Jul 10, 17 Penn Station Repairs Means More Delays and Less Trains for Commuters

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Amtrak’s infrastructure at Penn Station has been in need of repairs for quite a while now, but those repairs were not supposed to be done in such a rush. Originally the obligatory work was going to be spread out over a few years, only on evenings and over weekends. Unfortunately, two recent derailments have forced Amtrak’s hand to get the work done quickly. The new repair schedule will affect a few hundred thousand commuters on the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit in addition to Amtrak travelers who commute between Boston and Washington, DC. Because of the need to close down the tracks to do the repairs, there will be fewer trains during peak times. More cars will be added to each train on the LIRR, to try and make up for the fewer trains. Passengers are also being asked to change to subways in Brooklyn and Queens. New Jersey Transit will be moving some of their rush hour trains to Hobokon, where passengers can switch to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey trains, or to take the ferry. It is hoped that all the repairs will be completed by the end of August. At that time commuters can expect improved reliability because of brand new equipment. However, there could still be some problems stemming from electrical wire failures and signal and track problems in northern New Jersey east of Newark. These additional problems will not be addressed until the completion of the Gateway project. Gateway will build an additional rail tunnel under the Hudson River, repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and make large improvements on the New Jersey side and in Penn Station. Expected completion date:...

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Brooklyn Man First Citi Bike Fatality

Jun 14, 17 Brooklyn Man First Citi Bike Fatality

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After four years and over 43 million trips, the country’s largest bike share program, Citi Bike, had its first fatality when Dan Hanegby was hit by a bus in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Hanegby was a 36-year old investment banker who was riding a Citi Bike on 26th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues when he swerved to go around a parked van. He then hit the bus that was traveling next to him, fell off his bicycle and landed under the rear tires of the bus. He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. Although clearly an accident, and the first Citi Bike fatality, fatalities of bike riders in general in New York have been increasing. Bikers have been demanding more safeguards, especially since 2016’s bicyclist death count was larger than that of 2015. In 2017 there were four fatal bicycle accidents up until April in New York. Hanegby worked as an investment banker at Credit Suisse, and lived in Brooklyn with his wife Sasha, and two children. His neighbors described him as stoic, spending his weekends devoted to his family. He was originally from near Tel Aviv in Israel, and came to the US to attend Binghamton University in 2003. He later transferred to Brown. In Israel, he was a tennis star, rising at one time to the rank of No. 1 in the country. He met his wife when he was ten years old at the Israel Tennis Centers. He quit tennis to join Israel’s Special Forces. After he was discharged from the army he took up tennis again, and headed to the USA to play at an American University. While at Brown he ranked No. 66 in singles tennis in the...

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Former Brooklyn Borough President Sebastian Leone Dead at 91

Dec 01, 16 Former Brooklyn Borough President Sebastian Leone Dead at 91

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Sebastian Leone, known for his struggle to improve Brooklyn’s reputation during the 1970s, long before the borough’s recent renaissance, passed away on November 14 at the age of 91. His wife Helene Leone said that he had succumbed to the effects of pneumonia. Leone was the borough president for six years from 1970 until 1976. During those years Brooklyn was not the up and coming hot spot among the young professional crowd and celebrities. It was more like, as journalist McCandlish Phillips wrote in the New York Times: “a neglected stepchild of Manhattan.” Most accounts credit Leone with begin the first Brooklyn official to put up the famous “Welcome to Brooklyn” sign. In 2010 Leone told The Brooklyn Paper that: “In those days, you always had to be Brooklyn-positive. I used to say, ‘One out of every 80 people that live in America live in Brooklyn!’ If you consider people that were born here, worked here and have relatives here, then one out of 10 people have some affinity for Brooklyn!” Leone left his job as Borough president in 1976. A few months later, at the beginning of 1977, he became a State Supreme Court justice. He retired in 2001, and lived the remainder of his life in Bay Ridge. His wife, their son Matthew and two grandchildren survive...

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Brooklyn Bridge Repairs Running High

Nov 14, 16 Brooklyn Bridge Repairs Running High

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Back in 2010 the original estimated cost for the much needed repairs to the 133-year-old Brooklyn Bridge was put at about $508 million. In 2015 the bill was then set to reach about $600 million. Now New Yorkers can expect to pay in the vicinity of $811 million. That is an almost 60 percent increase over the original cost estimate. The steep increase in cost is blamed on “scope changes” and “unforeseen field conditions.” And not only will it be costlier to build than originally expected, the probable completion date has been moved back to April 2017. That is four years later than the original plan called for. “Big public projects take too long to complete and routinely run over budget,” said Maria Doulis, from the Citizens Budget Commission, a watchdog group. “The city has made attempts to be more transparent about this by posting information online, but it’s unclear what actions are being taken to evaluate and address the root causes.” New Yorkers will be footing 54 percent of the cost, while the federal government will pick up the rest of the tab. The Department of Transportation said the additional work will include steel repairs, painting of more areas of the bridge, and even fixing damage that was caused to protective shielding which occurred as a result of a barge...

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Brooklyn DA Thompson Dead from Cancer at Age 50

Oct 10, 16 Brooklyn DA Thompson Dead from Cancer at Age 50

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Only five days after announcing publicly that he was ill with colorectal cancer, Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney, is dead at age 50. He died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital surrounded by family members. Although diagnosed this past spring, he carried on with his duties until last week when he appointed his chief assistant, Eric Gonzalez, to head the office until he won his battle with cancer. “As a man of intense faith, I intend to fight and win the battle against this disease,” Thompson said. Thompson’s wife Lu-Shawn wrote on Facebook: “The world lost a great man. Rest in Peace to my husband.” said: “I am profoundly saddened. Ken was a dedicated public servant who embodied the highest principles of the law.” Thompson became the Brooklyn DA in January 2014 after beating the incumbent Charles Hynes, who had served as Brooklyn DA since 1990. It was the first time anyone had defeated a sitting Brooklyn DA since 1911. Thompson was also the first African-American in history to fill the job of Brooklyn’s chief prosecutor. Thompson was known for ordering his office to refrain from prosecuting low-level marijuana arrests. This was partly so he could dedicate more resources to violent crimes such as rape, gun crimes, and domestic violence. He also wanted to spare New York youth from “the burden of a criminal...

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