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DA Vance, together with CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken and CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance Executive Director Michael Jacobson, today announced the engagement of ISLG to advise and provide technical assistance for the investment of approximately $250 million of asset forfeiture funds in projects that will enhance public safety, aid in crime prevention, and promote a fair and more efficient criminal justice system. These asset forfeiture funds are derived from settlements with international banks that violated U.S. sanctions, and form the foundation of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII). 

A grand jury impaneled by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has found widespread fraud and abuse among contractors purporting to work with minority- and women-owned business enterprises — amounting to $10 million of money diverted in just two cases.

“Broadly speaking, the evidence before the grand jury revealed that there was systemic criminal conduct by several individuals and corporations in the construction industry, spanning at least a decade,” Mr. Vance told reporters today in his Manhattan office.

DA Vance announced that a New York State Supreme Court Grand Jury has issued a report examining the vulnerability of programs providing opportunities for Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) to fraud and misuse. During its investigation, the Grand Jury reviewed the activities of contractors in order to identify abuse surrounding the MWBE requirements specified in their contracts. The evidence gathered revealed criminal conduct in the construction industry spanning at least a decade and, within the relatively small sample of cases reviewed, found that the amount of money intended for MWBEs that instead went to non-MWBEs exceeded $10 million. As a result of these findings, the Grand Jury recommended significant reforms to the MWBE procurement process, including stronger accountability for contractors and MWBEs, increased resources for certifying and contracting agencies, changes to the Scheme to Defraud statute, and increased fines. 

London and New York City law-enforcement agencies signed an agreement Wednesday to share staff and resources to combat the growing threat of cybercrime and data breaches, particularly in the financial sector, officials said. The agreement, announced at a symposium on cybersecurity at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, will “embed” lawyers and investigators from the New York District Attorney’s Office and the City of London Police Department in each other’s offices, New York District Attorney Cy Vance said. It is the first such partnership between the District Attorney’s office and a foreign metropolitan police department, Mr. Vance said.

Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., made a public commitment last week to use $35 million in civil forfeiture assets he controls to help other jurisdictions reduce their large backlogs of untested rape kits. Properly tested, the saliva, semen, blood and other DNA evidence that medical personnel collect in a kit can identify an assailant, corroborate a victim’s account or exonerate the innocent. When New York City made a four-year push to clear its backlog of 17,000 untested rape kits beginning in 2000, it led to 49 indictments in unsolved cases in Manhattan alone.