In recent months, we’ve secured multiple notable indictments and convictions, launched a Housing and Tenant Protection Unit, and created the Office’s first-ever Worker Protection Unit. No matter the crime, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office has the resources and expertise to help.
- January 2024: We indicted a man who allegedly posed as an immigration attorney for numerous people and collected thousands of dollars in fake legal fees. “As alleged, New Yorkers looking to become permanent residents trusted Pablo Israel Ortega Cuenca to provide them with legal services, and he broke that trust by taking advantage of them and putting them at risk of deportation,” said D.A. Bragg.
- September 2023: With the Department of Investigation, we indicted former New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich and his five associates for a wide-ranging bribery scheme that allegedly netted Ulrich more than $150,000 worth of cash and gifts in less than two years. “At every possible turn, Ulrich allegedly used his taxpayer-funded positions as City Councilmember, then Senior Mayoral Advisor, and finally Department of Buildings Commissioner to line his pockets,” said D.A. Bragg.
- September 2023: Arthur Cohen, a licensed attorney, was sentenced to state prison for stealing approximately $1.2 million from his former law firm, falsifying business records, and committing perjury in an attempt to cover up his crimes
- July 2023: With the Department of Investigation and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, we indicted a pedicab driver for allegedly offering a $60,000 bribe to a DCWP inspector in exchange for authentic registration plates.
- In June 2023: Our Office seized the domain of the fraudulent cryptocurrency recovery site Coin Dispute Network, which is currently under investigation for scamming multiple victims in Manhattan and dozens more across the country. “Thanks to the expertise of our prosecutors, investigators and specialized cryptocurrency analysts, we were able to take this fraudulent website off-line as we continue to actively investigate. Our Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau is committed to protecting victims from cryptocurrency scams in Manhattan, a global financial center,” said D.A. Bragg
- In April 2023,we announced a 34-count felony indictment against Donald J. Trump alleging that he repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records as part of a corrupt scheme to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters in advance of the 2016 presidential election. “These are felony crimes in New York. No matter who you are. We cannot normalize serious criminal conduct. As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law. No amount of money and no amount of power changes that enduring principle,” said D.A. Bragg.
- In January 2023, The Trump Corporation and The Trump Payroll Corp. were sentenced to the maximum fine of $1.6 million. The former president’s companies were sentenced following a historic trial conviction for 17 felony crimes. “While corporations can’t serve jail time and these are the maximum fines allowed under the law, this consequential conviction and sentencing serves as a reminder corporations and executives that you cannot defraud tax authorities and get away with it,” said D.A. Bragg.
- In January 2023, Allen Weisselberg former Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization was sentenced to 5 months in jail for a 15-year scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities, evading paying taxes on $1.76 million in unreported income. After testifying at trial, he directly implicated the Trump Organization in criminal conduct. “In Manhattan you have to play by the rules, no matter who you are or who you work for. These consequential felony convictions put on full display the inner workings of former president Trump’s companies and its CFO’s actions,” said D.A. Bragg.
- In September 2022, we announced the indictment of Stephen Bannon and WeBuildTheWall for a year-long fundraising scheme that netted more than $15 million from thousands of donors across the country based on false promises, and for laundering the proceeds of that scheme. “It is a crime to turn a profit by lying to donors, and in New York, you will be held accountable,” said D.A. Bragg
Housing and Tenant Protection Unit
We launched the Office’s first Housing and Tenant Protection Unit because we know that housing is a public safety issue. The Unit targets systemic criminal harassment of tenants and abuse of government programs by landlords and developers. Areas of focus include harassment of rent-regulated tenants, deed fraud, and defrauding of government subsidy programs by landlords and developers.
“New York City is in the midst of a housing crisis, and that means tenants are particularly vulnerable to unscrupulous landlords,” said District Attorney Bragg. “By taking a targeted approach to complex and pervasive criminal activity, we can root out the bad actors who are seeking to game the system for profit at the expense of ordinary New Yorkers. The creation of this unit represents our firm commitment to fully utilizing the resources of our office to ensure Manhattan residents can exercise the right to live safely and securely.”
In Manhattan, we’re holding accountable companies that line their pockets at the expense of their employees. Whether it’s combatting wage theft or demanding safe worksite conditions, we’re standing up for hard-working New Yorkers.
In January 2023, we indicted 24 individuals and 26 companies for engaging in a multi-million-dollar construction industry kickback scheme that undermined fair play in NYC’s construction industry for more than eight years. The defendants allegedly conspired to corrupt the competitive bidding process and stole more than $5 million from developers during this scheme. “When the bidding process is rigged, we all lose. I hope this indictment sends a message that the Manhattan D.A.’s Office and our partners at the NYPD and Department of Investigation will not tolerate bribery, corruption, or fraud,” said D.A. Bragg.
In February 2023, we launched the Office’s first Worker Protection Unit to investigate and prosecute wage theft and other forms of worker exploitation across Manhattan. The Unit will pursue criminal charges against individuals and corporations that jeopardize their workers’ safety and steal their wages. We also announced the creation of a $100,000 Stolen Wage Fund operated in partnership with the New York State Department of Labor. “Again and again, we see companies taking advantage of our most vulnerable populations, including low-income and undocumented New Yorkers, and abusing power imbalances to line their pockets. Together with our partners in law enforcement, the legislature, the community, and beyond, we will make sure workers are treated fairly, and bad faith employers who violate the laws are held accountable for their crimes,” said D.A. Bragg.
In May 2023, we announced a series of indictments charging eight individuals and six companies with pervasive fraud and corruption within the construction industry. We allege the defendants used cash payrolls, ripping off the New York State Insurance Fund and leaving workers uninsured. They also conspired to use Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise firms solely and explicitly as pass-throughs to land contracts. “When the field is rigged, law-abiding companies and legitimate MWBEs are cheated out of much-needed contracts. And when executives care more about their bottom line than their employees and the law, hard-working New Yorkers suffer. These indictments send the message that the Manhattan D.A.’s Office does not tolerate fraud in any form,” said D.A. Bragg.
In May 2023, we also announced the expansion of our Construction Fraud Task Force, which previously solely city agencies. The Task Force now includes statewide and federal agencies including the New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Insurance Fund, the New York State Office of the Inspector General, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. “Construction fraud can fleece the public, hurt law-abiding business owners, and endanger the lives of workers. The expansion of the Construction Fraud Task Force demonstrates the seriousness of our commitment to rooting out illegal activity and creating a safe and fair industry,” said D.A. Bragg.
In August 2023, we announced the first-ever repayment of wages from our Office’s Stolen Wage Fund, created in partnership with the New York State Department of Labor, returning $50,000 to seven workers of the now-defunct Ampak Electrical Services. “All workers deserve to be fairly compensated for the labor they provide. When workers are taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers, we are fiercely committed to making them whole,” said D.A. Bragg.
- January 2024: We will not tolerate fraud in the construction industry, particularly at the expense of New York’s workers. We announced the guilty pleas of two executives and their companies for engaging in a wide-ranging construction fraud scheme. “By corrupting the market, Lawrence Wecker and Joseph Guinta robbed legitimate MWBEs and smaller contractors of the chance to do business in New York,” said D.A. Bragg.
- October 2023: A licensed master rigger allegedly stole $170k in wages from his workers over nearly 18 months as they performed dangerous work – all while uninsured. “These workers performed extremely dangerous rigging work from the top of landmark skyscrapers, a job that requires both extreme skill and nerves of steel,” said D.A. Bragg.
- April 2023: We announced the guilty pleas of SAMCO Electrical Corporation and three employees for stealing more than $1 million in wages from workers on School Construction Authority and NYCHA projects. “It is unacceptable to steal from employees. New Yorkers work hard to provide for their families, and they should get paid what they are owed,” said D.A. Bragg.
- January 2023: We announced the indictment of Oneteam Restoration Inc, its owner, and a Certified Public Accountant for defrauding the New York State Insurance Fund of more than $7 million in workers’ compensation insurance premium payments. “NYSIF provides critical insurance coverage to injured workers, including those in some of our most dangerous industries like construction and manufacturing. By intentionally underreporting payrolls, scammers save millions in premiums at the expense of hardworking New Yorkers who put their physical safety on the line,” said D.A Bragg.
- August 2022: We indicted an electrical company, its principals, and project foreman for stealing more than $1.7 million in wages from workers on School Construction Authority and New York City Housing Authority projects. We allege company supplied non-union, unqualified labor through two shell companies – pocketing the difference in wages – and bribed an investigator in an attempt to cover up the scheme.
- October 2022: We secured the guilty plea of Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping, a longtime city contractor, for evading more than $1 million in insurance premiums by misclassifying workers for financial gain. “New Yorkers who do dangerous work deserve every protection possible to ensure that they go home safely to their families,” said D.A. Bragg.