The National Weather Service said Wednesday afternoon that an EF2 tornado with estimated peak winds of 110 mph moved through a path of 100 yards in Kent, according to a preliminary survey. An EF1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 100 mph also moved through a discontinuous path of 75 yards in Patterson.
Two people were killed in Newburgh, including an 11-year-old girl who died when a tree fell on her family’s car as it sat in the driveway. Authorities say the girl and her mother had arrived at their Robinson Avenue home around 4:15 p.m. and were unloading the car when police say the wind caused a large tree to topple. The girl was extricated by the fire department and transported to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The mother suffered minor injuries.
The victim’s identity has not yet been released. The second death happened on Albany Post Road, where a woman was killed when a tree toppled onto her car.
Two fatalities were also reported in Connecticut. Authorities say a person died when a tree fell on a car on Brush Hill Road in New Fairfield, and a man doing yard work at a residence at Candlewood Lake in Danbury took shelter in his pickup truck before a tree fell on top of it. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said a teenager suffered serious injuries when he was hit by the roof of a dugout on a baseball field.
Finally, Ramapo police said an 80-year-old Chestnut Ridge woman died when her car was struck by a falling tree while traveling south on Red Schoolhouse Road just before 5 p.m.
Trees toppled onto homes and cars across New Jersey, and a $100,000 show car was destroyed when a tree crushed the owner’s garage in Mahwah.
“I looked out my window and I saw my garage crushed,” Al Vallese said.
Fortunately, the man and his family were not injured.
On Jefferson Street in Passaic, a roof peeled off a nursery school with children and adults inside. No one was hurt, but the roof remained in the street in front of the business.
“It makes me so sad to see part of my building on the ground, although I am relieved that nobody was hurt,” said Susan Dannemiller, executive cirector of Children’s Day Nursery.
Dannemiller said that when the storm hit, it was 5 p.m. and most of the children had been picked up for the day.
“We had about 10 or so children here at the time and about eight staff members,” she said.
Still, there were 18 people inside the building when the roof started to peel off.
“We notified our parents, so they were aware of what happened,” she said. “And all the children got home safely at the end of the day.”
She hopes to reopen the school as soon as possible.
Downed trees led to incredible property damage as homes and cars were crushed, and hundreds of thousands of residents remained without power due Wednesday. Crews were working around the clock to clean up the mess and restore service.
Plattsburgh man admits guilt to Medicaid, Workers Comp fraud
Two taxi and transport company owners pleaded guilty Tuesday for their parts in multi-million dollar Medicaid and Workers Compensation frauds involving nearly a dozen companies in the Adirondack and Capital regions.
Arshad Nazir, 54, of Plattsburgh and Muhammad N. Jahangir, 24, of Queensbury were among 13 taxi and transport company owners and operators arrested last May on state and federal charges alleging millions of dollars in thefts and frauds against Medicaid and the Workers Compensation system.
The pleas were announced in a joint press release from New York State Workers Compensation Fraud Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York Grant C. Jaquith and Acting New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett
Nazir, the owner of Capital Medallion Inc. (DBA Avalanche Taxi), admitted in United States Court of the Northern District of New York in Albany to the federal felony crimes of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay health care kickbacks.
The plea agreement is contingent upon Nazir also pleading guilty at a later date in Essex County Court to the state charges of second-degree grand larceny and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure Workers Compensation, both felonies.
He also must pay $550,000 in restitution to the New York State Department of Health.
Nazir is expected back in federal court on June 18 for sentencing when he will face up to 10 years in prison and a find of up to $250,000.
ACTED IN CONCERT
Jahangir, an owner of Capital Cab Corporation, pleaded guilty last week in Ticonderoga Town Court to petty larceny and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure compensation, both misdemeanors.
He said in court that his criminal activities were performed while acting in concert with co-defendant Khurram Gondal, the release said.
Charges against Gondal, of Ticonderoga, remain pending, and Jahangir is due back in Ticonderoga Town Court for sentencing on April 3.
He is expected to pay $17,600 in restitution.
The pleas and remaining charges are the result of a two-year joint state and federal investigation led by State Police that included the execution of multiple search warrants and 13 arrests in May 2018.
The allegations included:
• Billing Medicaid for trips that never occurred.
• Bribing Medicaid recipient patients with kickbacks for using their specific transport companies,
• Failing to provide employees of the transport companies with required Workers Compensation insurance.
• Filing documents falsely certifying required Workers Compensation coverage in order to provide Medicaid transport services.
Altogether, the charges allege multiple millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicaid billings, and the investigation is ongoing, the release said.
A CLEAR MESSAGE
Medicaid is a county, state and federally funded benefit program proving health care coverage for individuals with limited income.
“These first pleas and restitution orders send a clear message that corrupt medical transport companies will be held accountable,” said Leahy Scott in the release.
“These taxi companies plagued the Northway corridor for years, and I thank my local, state and federal law enforcement partners for their extraordinary work throughout this two-year investigation in putting an end to these criminal practices and protecting the integrity of critical public benefits meant only for those who truly need them.”
The companies involved provideD medical transport services throughout the eastern Adirondack and Capital regions.
“Today’s guilty plea is proof that we will not tolerate the actions of those willing to victimize their customers in order to steal millions of taxpayer dollars,” Corlett said in the release.
“This was a complex, two-year long investigation that would have been impossible without the cooperation of our state, federal and local partners. I want to thank our members and partners for their hard work on this case.”
Khurram Gondal, 38, of Ticonderoga, an owner of Four-Way Taxi Inc., Green Mountain Medical Transportation Inc. (DBA Green Mountain Taxi), Capital Cab Corporation, and All NY Taxi & Limo Inc.
Gondal is charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud in violation of United States Code; first-degree grand larceny, three counts of second-degree grand larceny, third-degree grand larceny, four counts of first-degree falsifying business records, all felonies; and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure compensation, two counts charged as a felony and two counts charged as a misdemeanor.
Waqas Nauman, 36, of Queensbury, an owner of Green Mountain Medical Transportation Inc. (DBA Green Mountain Taxi).
Nauman is charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud in violation of United States Code and second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure compensation, all felonies.
Samone Marshall, 28, of Ticonderoga, an owner of All NY Taxi & Limo Inc.
Marshall is charged with second-degree grand larceny, a felony; and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure compensation as a misdemeanor.
Sana Ullah Chaddher (also known as Sana Ullah), 55, of Ticonderoga, an owner of Chaddher Imports Inc. (DBA Adirondack Taxi & Limo).
Chaddher is charged with first-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure compensation, charged as a felony.
Quaiser Gondal, 46, of Ticonderoga, an owner of Ti Taxi Inc.
Gondal is charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and knowingly and willfully offering to pay bribes and kickbacks to Medicaid beneficiaries in violation of United States Code and also second-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records, felonies.
Saleem Hayat, 35, of Port Henry, an owner of Moriah Cab Service Inc.
Hayat is charged with second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure compensation, charged as a felony.
Maryam Qaiser, 41, of Ticonderoga, an owner of Advantage Medical Transport, Inc.
Qaiser is charged with second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure compensation, charged as a felony.
Chaudary Kahn, 55, of Keeseville, an owner of I-87 Transporters (DBA A-1 Taxi).
Kahn is charged with second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and the Workers Compensation crime of failure to secure compensation, charged as a felony.
Khalid Chaddher, 48, of Ticonderoga, an owner of Chaddher Imports, Inc. (DBA Adirondack Taxi & Limo).
Chaddher is charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and knowingly and willfully offering to pay bribes and kickbacks to Medicaid beneficiaries in violation of United States Code, and also third-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, felonies.
Anthony Armstrong, 29, of Port Henry, manager of Ti Taxi Inc.
He is charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and knowingly and willfully offering to pay bribes and kickbacks to Medicaid beneficiaries in violation of United States Code, and also third-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, felonies.
Ice falling off cars creating dangerous driving in Central New York
As many Central New York drivers struggled to get a thick layer of snow and ice off their cars Wednesday morning, some who took shortcuts created scary situations on the road Wednesday.
Scott Johnston said he was driving on 690 during the morning commute and a piece of ice that broke off a truck smashed his front windshield.
“The only way I could describe it is when I saw it, it looked like a giant kite, and it kind of just hung there in the air,” Johnston said.
The ice shattered the passenger side of his windshield so Johnson was able to pull over safely, still being about to see out of the driver’s side. The body shop fixing Johnston’s car told CNYCentral they received 60 calls for broken windshields Wednesday.
“I feel very lucky because it was an enormous sheet of ice, that when it hit the car sounded like I was getting into an accident.”
Johnston got the truck’s license plate number and is working with the company’s insurance to get it fixed. Insurance experts said getting license plate information is extremely important in these situations, or else you’ll have to foot the bill to fix your car.
There’s currently no law in New York that allows police to ticket drivers with snow or ice on top of their car.
“What happens quite often is that you’re not aware of who the other person is, whether they’re passing you, you’re passing them, and again, that person may not know that ice came from their vehicle,” said Trooper Jack Keller with the New York State Police.
Insurance experts recommend checking your policy to make sure it covers repairs for a shattered windshield.
2 people enter abandoned Houston home to smoke weed — find huge tiger instead
Police are investigating after a tiger was found in a home in Houston Monday, reports the CBS affiliate there, KHOU-TV. Officials said two people who went into the abandoned home to smoke marijuana called 311 when they found the large cat.
311 officials transferred the call the BARC animal shelter, which got a warrant to search the home.
Crews nicknamed him “Tyson” after a character in the movie “The Hangover.” Officers said Tyson was well fed and in good shape but in accommodations poorly suited for him.
“He’s in a rinky-dink cage that could easily bust open. It was secured with a nylon strap and a screwdriver for the top of the cage. He could have gone on a rampage in the city … anything could have happened!” said Sgt. Jason Alderete of the Houston Police Major Offender Animal Cruelty Unit.
That unit and BARC tranquilized Tyson so they could move him to BARC for the night.
On Tuesday, an undisclosed animal sanctuary in Texas will transport Tyson to his new home. The location isn’t being made public while an investigation into who owns the tiger continues.
It’s legal to own a tiger in Texas if the owner has a wild game permit but it’s illegal to have one in Houston and Tyson’s owner, if found, could face a hefty fine.
“It’s big and it’s scary,” said neighbor Pablo Briagas. “A lot of kids around the street too. My kids … the neighbor has kids, so it’s scary.”
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