Happy New Year! This past year has been a productive one for my office. We successfully implemented a number of initiatives aimed at making Brooklyn safer, and we celebrated the continued success of our many other programs and activities.
- We recently conducted a gun buyback program at two local churches that allowed participants to surrender their guns in return for $200. Together with two earlier initiatives, we collected 327 guns that no longer endanger our streets. We also indicted 11 individuals for the illegal sale of 154 firearms. Overall, Brooklyn led the city in the reduction of shooting incidents and gunshot victims in 2012. Shooting incidents dropped by 16% compared to 2011, and there was a 19% decline in shooting victims.
- We had continued success with our Project Safe Surrender initiative, which allows residents with summonses and warrants to clear them up. If left unresolved, the residents could be incarcerated or have difficulty getting jobs or driver licenses. The Safe Surrender event was held in April at Reverend Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood’s Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Recently, 482 people attended a similar event at Mt. Sion Baptist Church in Brownsville. Close to 2000 people have been helped by Project Safe Surrender since 2010.
- A documentary entitled “Charge it to the Game,” created by participants in my Youth and Congregations in Partnership program, was screened this year at the NYC Independent Film Festival. The documentary addresses the impact of gun violence in Brooklyn.
- In January, we indicted eight people with substantial incomes and businesses for fraudulently collecting over $500,000 in welfare and other benefits. In March, 12 people were charged in seven cases involving mortgage fraud and real estate crimes.
- In early 2012, we arrested 43 members from two warring gangs that were terrorizing Brownsville. We also took down two other gangs that operated mainly in East New York. In December, we indicted another 41 gang members operating in Bushwick.
- In 2012, we prosecuted 23 people for distributing hundreds of cases of untaxed cigarettes worth over $2 million in city and state taxes. During the investigation, we targeted distributors of untaxed cigarettes with a retail value of $4,290,000.
- In May, my office successfully prosecuted George Villanueva, who received a life sentence for the murder of Police Officer Alain Schaberger.
- Defendant Levi Aron recently pleaded guilty to the murder of young Leiby Kletzky and was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.
- In November, Salvatore Perrone was indicted for killing three local clothing store owners.
- Recently, we secured a conviction against Nechemya Weberman, an unlicensed therapist, who sexually abused a girl for several years. We also indicted four men who attempted to intimidate and bribe the victim in the case to drop charges. During the course of the Weberman trial, we charged three men with criminal contempt for taking pictures of the victim in court. Additionally, the principal of a private Jewish high school, Emanuel Yegutkin, was recently convicted for sexually abusing three boys over the course of ten years.
We will continue our efforts to make our borough a safer place in 2013. You can read more about my office programs and activities at www.brooklynda.org.