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Court Disbars Queens Lawyer Linked to ‘Taxi King’

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A Queens-based immigration lawyer who has made headlines for multiple reasons over the last year—from helping to oversee a taxi-management company run by a reported business associate of attorney Michael Cohen, to being convicted six months apart of different felonies—has been disbarred.

Andreea Dumitru Parcalaboiu served as the chief financial officer for a taxi management company run by Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, the so-called Taxi King who has been widely linked to Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, because Friedman’s company managed dozens of Cohen-owned taxicab medallions.

It was in her role as company CFO that Parcalaboiu was convicted of criminal tax fraud in May, when she pleaded guilty after being charged by the state Attorney General’s Office with teaming with Freidman to allegedly help steal $5 million owed to the state, in the form of 50-cent passenger surcharges attached to every cab ride in the New York metro area. Friedman pleaded guilty to tax evasion as well. Cohen, meanwhile, has publicly denied being a business partner to Freidman despite many reports saying he was.

Parcalaboiu was convicted of third-degree criminal tax fraud. In her plea, she admitted only to intentionally not remitting to the state more than $10,000 in surcharge taxes collected from cab rides.
At one point in their business partnership, Parcalaboiu had assisted Friedman with managing a fleet of more than 800 medallion cabs out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Woodside, Queens, and Long Island City, Queens, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

An Appellate Division, Second Department panel on Wednesday said her conviction means she is automatically disbarred as of the plea date, May 31. In making the ruling, the panel rejected Parcalaboiu’s pro se counterargument.

The panel, in a terse opinion, focused only on Parcalaboiu’s May felony, but the tax fraud is not the only felony she has been convicted of. On Nov. 19, after a jury trial in Manhattan federal court, she was convicted of asylum fraud for making false statements and representations on more than 100 asylum applications.

According to a superseding indictment, other court filings and evidence presented at trial, Parcalaboiu, a native of Romania admitted to the bar in 2010, had allegedly submitted more than 100 applications in which she falsified personal narratives of applicant’s persecution, criminal histories, and travel histories; fabricated detailed personal stories of purported mistreatment of her clients; forged her clients’ signatures; and falsely notarized affidavits, among other things, the Attorney General’s Office has said.

And in the asylum case, Parcalaboiu appears likely to serve prison time. Convicted of three counts in all, she reportedly faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for asylum fraud, a maximum sentence of five years on the false statement count, and a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft.

But while facing a motion for disbarment made last year by the Attorney Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts, each of which are part of the Second Department, Parcalaboiu argued that any disbarment based on the tax-fraud conviction would be premature.

Specifically, explained the Second Department panel in its opinion, she said that her May guilty plea before Albany County Court Judge Peter Lynch was entered into with the understanding that, at her later sentencing, the judge would determine whether she’d complied with certain conditions. If so, she’d be allowed to withdraw her felony plea and enter a guilty plea to a misdemeanor tax law violation. (If she violates the conditions, Lynch has reportedly told her she could face up to seven years in prison.)

Laying out the deal with Lynch, Parcalaboiu requested that the panel stay any disbarment proceedings until she’d been sentenced, which has yet to happen.

But panel Justices Alan Scheinkman, William Mastro, Reinaldo Rivera, Mark Dillon and Ruth Balkin dispensed of Parcalaboiu’s request in just several lines.

“She requests the Court to stay these proceedings until she has been sentenced,” the unanimous panel wrote, but “pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(4)(a), the respondent was automatically disbarred and ceased to be an attorney upon her conviction of a felony.”

“Accordingly,” the justices continued, “the motion to strike the respondent’s name from the roll of attorneys and counselors-at-law, pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(4)(b), is granted to reflect the respondent’s automatic disbarment as of May 31, 2018, and her application to stay the proceedings is denied as academic.”

Judiciary Law §90(4)(a) mandates that a New York attorney found guilty of a felony is automatically disbarred.

On Wednesday and Thursday, attempts to reach Parcalaboiu, who has been referred to in most news reports as Andreea Dumitru, were unsuccessful. A phone number listed online for both a law firm called Andreea Dumitru & Associates P.C. and for her otherwise as a practitioner, says it has been disconnected, changed or is no longer in service.

According to biography information on the firm’s website, Parcalaboiu has a background in in-house legal work in the corporate sector, and has been living in New York for nearly 20 years. It also states that she earned a law degree in Romania, and a master’s in law at Cardozo Law School in New York.

It adds that she’s a member of the American Bar Association, New York Bar Association, Queens Bar Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association, board member of the Romanian-American Chamber of Commerce, New York chapter, and National Association of Professional Women.

Source: https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2019/02/07/court-disbars-queens-lawyer-linked-to-taxi-king/?slreturn=20190108043753

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New York Driver Jason Mendez Accused of Purposefully Running Over Family of Eight, Killing Mom

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An angry New York state driver intentionally ran over a family of eight—including an infant in a stroller—leaving the pregnant mom dead, officials in Rockland County said. Jason Mendez, 35, is accused of purposefully driving into the two adults and six children Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in Haverstraw.

Investigators say Mendez was infuriated following some kind of argument—possibly stemming from the husband asking Mendez not to blow cigarette smoke near the children. After he drove into the family, police say he backed up and hit them again. When cops arrived, the man was allegedly holding a knife and, after refusing to drop it, was tasered.

The family was rushed to nearby hospitals. The mother—later named on a GoFundMe page as Melissa Castillo DeLoatch—was pronounced dead while her 35-year-old husband and their six children, all under the age of 10, sustained non-life threatening injuries. Mendez was charged with second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

Source: https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-york-driver-accused-of-purposefully-running-over-family-of-eight-killing-mom

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For-hire drivers are fearful of new congestion tax

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Traveling from point to point, here to there, just got more expensive in New York City.

New York State has mandated congestion pricing surcharges of $2.50 be added to yellow and green taxis, limousines, black cars and livery rides and an added $2.75 be billed to riders looking to call an Uber or other for-hire vehicles.

Congestion pricing comes as a way for the state to help raise money by taxing taxi drivers to help fix New York city’s aging transit system, ease traffic in Manhattan and encourage the use of public transit. But many taxi and for-hire drivers in the city, many of whom are Black Caribbean and African immigrants, are frustrated and feel that their livelihoods are being attacked.

“To say I’m frustrated is an understatement—I’m mad as hell,” said Eusi Grannum, an Uber driver who is from Guyana. “I use Uber to supplement my paycheck. It’s definitely a boost to add funds in your pocket, but now I feel no one is going to want to catch a ride ‘cause it’s going to be expensive.”

Grannum said he supports his two kids in Guyana as things aren’t as easy there so they depend on the money that he sends home.

“That money I send to them is used for their upkeep, school expenses mainly, living expenses—they’re young so they want to go out—and it’s for their mom to keep her head above water.”

He remains optimistic that because of the shape the subway is in people will still turn to taxis and for-hire vehicles.

“I guess that’s what the governor and the state want for people, to turn back to the subways and buses, but they suck, often delayed and crowed to the max,” he said. “But I see it as that people need to get around. The subways don’t do that effectively; taxis and Ubers do so people will stick with us.”

In a blog post by Uber, they said that they agreed with decreasing traffic in New York City but that the policy shouldn’t fall to their employees but to all vehicles entering the city.

“We agree that street congestion is a problem in NYC, but we believe the best way to address it is through the adoption of a comprehensive congestion pricing plan that is applied to all personal vehicles, trucks and commercial vehicles, not just FHVs [for hire vehicles] and taxis.”

A group of taxi drivers sued to block the congestion policy, saying that the price increase would eventually lead to a collapse of the taxi and for-hire business.

“I also make a living off driving, and for them to put this on our backs is not right at all,” said Winston Blake, a Jamaican livery driver. “I came here to make a better life for myself and that money goes straight to living expenses. Of course, people back home are asking you to send this and send that and you want to do it for them.”
A State Supreme Court judge rejected the motion by the taxi drivers citing that taxi drivers did not demonstrate irreparable injury because the congestion policy would fall on the backs of their customers. But the order didn’t completely kill the taxi driver’s lawsuit.

Source: http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2019/feb/21/-hire-drivers-are-fearful-new-congestion-tax/

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Uber Sues NYC For Introducing A Cap On New Driver Licenses

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Last Friday, Uber sued the New York City for imposing a yearlong cap on allotting new licenses for ride-hailing vehicles. Uber took this step against the New York City Council’s vote for allotting new licenses last August. The cap was designed and enforced to control the numbers of vehicles on the road. By this cap, the council wanted to reduce the congestion and provide an up-hand to other taxi drivers who have complained that Uber and other ride-hailing vehicles are affecting their livelihood. Along with setting a minimum hourly rate for the drivers, Lyft, a competitor of Uber appealed to reverse this order earlier in 2019.

Uber’s lawsuit has sued against the cap, looking forward at removing the ban from issuing new licensees. The lawsuit said that there are other ways to keep a check on the city’s environment and congestion. By imposing such cap over new licenses the authorities have restricted the growth and services of Uber and other for-hire vehicle services. There are other ways like seeking guidance from commuting experts and economists but by applying such ban for a long time, the council has forced the residents from outer skirts of Manhattan to face big challenges as there is a shortage of Yellow taxis and other public transports in that areas. Uber’s lawsuit added. In a statement, Uber said that it supports the NW state’s vision for fair pricing, evidence-based strategy to lower the traffic and fund mass transfer.

On the other hand, New York Taxi Workers Alliances have defended the decision made by the Council. In a statement raised by this alliance to CNBC, they said that the council has taken this decision by looking at the economic crises faced by other taxi drivers. The statement stated that 8 taxi drivers have killed themselves because of the economic crisis, Uber has created. Because of this crisis Uber drivers and Yellow taxi drivers have gathered long in favor of the council’s decision. They believe that this cap will reduce the financial crises, debt, and poverty which is affecting them badly and forcing them to suicides.

Source: https://newsprimo.com/uber-sues-nyc-for-introducing-a-cap-on-new-driver-licenses/357/

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