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Sobering conditions at Narco Freedom’s three-quarter homes

A patient outside of Narco Freedom at 250 Grand Concourse holds a 30 mg take home dose of Methadone, October 25, 2014

A patient outside of Narco Freedom at 250 Grand Concourse holds a 30 mg take-home dose of Methadone (Rosalind Adams/ Bronx Ink)

Non-profit executive Alan Brand, 64, and his son Jason Brand, 35, were indicted on charges of fraud and embezzlement by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last week. Alan Brand is CEO of Narco Freedom, a drug treatment center based in Mott Haven that serves thousands of patients each year at ten locations across New York. It also runs a vast network of “sober homes,” many in the Bronx, that Brand allegedly used to launder kickbacks,  according to the indictment.

Records show Narco Freedom hired Jason Brand’s company, DASO Development, to do construction work at various locations. At the same time, his father, Alan, owns a private maintenance and repair company that does work on the houses. Even though 2012 tax records show that the non-profit spent $5.5 million in maintenance and repairs, the conditions in these houses for recovering addicts remains poor. Residents, many with nowhere else to live, say they are routinely threatened with being evicted if they make formal complaints.

For the full story by BronxInk reporter Rosalind Adams, head to Al Jazeera America:




Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Featured, Health, Housing0 Comments

Defendant’s Girlfriend Testifies Against Him with iPhone Footage of Alleged Assault

A 25-year-old mother of two testified against the father of her six-month-old infant in Bronx Supreme Court on Wednesday, as the first witness in his trial on 28 counts of assault, possession of a weapon and attempted murder.

The witness, Vateya Prentiss, covered her face as the prosecutor showed the jury graphic video Prentiss had taken with her iPhone, recording the alleged crime that took place on January 6, 2013. “It’s disturbing. It bothers me, the way I was reacting and everything,” she said when Bronx District Attorney Marisol Martinez Alonso, asked why she had averted her gaze. Across the courtroom, wearing a trim dark suit, the defendant, Rodrigo Neri, 28, looked away as well.

Prentiss testified that she and Neri, her boyfriend of three years, were on their way to a friend’s house when they spotted an acquaintance, Jamell Mungin, standing outside of his apartment building at 863 Melrose Avenue near 161st Street. They saw Mungin run inside and come out again and Neri told Prentiss he thought Mungin had a gun, she said in her testimony. The two men began exchanging blows in a fistfight that Prentiss captured on her pink and white iPhone 4S.

The DA also played two other video clips, both from surveillance cameras outside of the victim’s building.

Together, the footage clearly shows Mungin swinging at Neri with a knife and stabbing him through his jacket before Neri shoved him down the concrete steps in front of his building. Mungin hit the pavement and lay there motionless. Neri, wearing Timberland boots, stomped Mungin’s head half-a-dozen times. Then Neri went up the stairs, calmly walked back down, and sliced Mungin’s face from his ear to his mouth. Mungin later received treatment for a fractured orbital socket and 60 stitches, according to the criminal complaint. Mungin has not been charged in the incident.

“I’m an animal,” Neri can be heard saying in iPhone the video.

Prentiss’s voice can be heard throughout the three-minute brawl, too. “Get that nigga, babe,” she said while continuing to film the altercation. “Get that bitch. Fuck him up.”

For egging her boyfriend on, Prentiss was also charged with assault and attempted murder. She pleaded guilty to the felony of assault with intent to cause serious physical injury, agreeing to testify in his trial in exchange for a sentence of five years probation.

The couple was also arrested for giving a false report to police on the day of the incident.  Leaving Mungin lying unconscious in a pool of blood, they took a cab to St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan –rather than going to nearby Lincoln Hospital — after Prentiss noticed that Neri was “leaking blood,” from stab wounds, according to her testimony. They told police at the hospital that Neri had acquired his wounds in a fight at a train station in the area.

At issue in the assault and murder case is whether Neri attacked Mungin with the intent to cause serious injury or to kill. The prosecution will argue that once Mungin was lying unconscious on the pavement and was no longer a threat, Neri crossed the line from self-defense into violent crime.

During a break in the trial on Wednesday, Neri dandled his young son, Princeton, on his hip for a few minutes before handing him over to a babysitter. After Neri left the area, Prentiss held Princeton and then pushed him in his stroller through the airy halls of the courthouse.

Prentiss said she and Neri are still a couple, but by court order, they are not allowed to see each other.

“It was nerve wracking to get up there and show people that video and have them paint whatever image they’re going to see of me based on that,” she said. “But the truth is the truth.”

Prentiss also faces a year in prison for an unrelated charge of assault against a friend, which violated the terms of her plea deal in this case.


Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Crime0 Comments

People’s Climate March targets Fresh Direct in the Bronx


A coalition of Bronx advocates joined the People’s Climate March in Manhattan on Sunday. Raising cutout cardboard fists and asthma pumps, they used the event as a platform to protest the move of grocery delivery business Fresh Direct to the South Bronx waterfront, citing the already high asthma rates in the area.

Listen to the audio story here




Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Featured0 Comments

New York cracks down on immigration fraud

A new law passed in New York State will help protect immigrants from fraud, reports Al-Jazeera America. Approximately one-third of the Bronx is foreign born.

Posted in Newswire0 Comments

“Know your rights” mural unveiled in Mott Haven


A woman stops to gaze at the new mural on Brook Ave (Rosalind Adams/ The Bronx Ink)

A woman stops to gaze at the new mural on Brook Ave

Bronx residents and activists unveiled a new outdoor mural in Mott Haven on Saturday that aims to build community bonds in response to its growing frustration with police violence.

The ethereal painting in muted shades of browns, blues and greens shows a circle of youth holding cameras surrounding a pair of ominous eyes glaring out towards the corner of 148th Street and Brook Avenue.  Below the scene, a pair of hands embrace.

“Know Your Rights,” as the mural has come to be called, is meant to depict police watching people, and people also watching police, said the artist Raoul Ayala. He collaborated on the concept with three youth groups from the Justice Committee, Streetwise and Safe, and Caav: Organizing Asian Communities.

“One of the main ideas was not just to focus on the problem, but to focus on the community,” said Ayala, who is originally from Ecuador and goes by the name NaNtu. The concept of the mural evolved in response to growing police violence against community members. “We have the power and the means to keep each other safe,” he said.

Nearby resident Pepi Alicea was one of several community members who volunteered over a two-day period to help complete the painting.  “My arm caught a cramp when I was painting one of the cameras,” he said, laughing. Alicea pointed to his contribution on the bottom right corner, where an alligator pulls a trailer that is topped with a ring of surveillance cameras.

But things turned more serious as he discussed police presence in the neighborhood and enumerated a number of recent incidents when cops arrested or fined people on his block.

“People around here aren’t worried about thugs anymore,” said Alicea, now retired. “They’re worried about the cops.”

Spoken word and hip-hop performances punctuated the afternoon celebration. Some evoked frustration with the recent deaths of Staten Island man Eric Garner and Ferguson, Missouri teen Michael Brown, both at the hands of police.

One of the performers, Daniel Sanchez, who also works with Justice Committee, said he got involved with the organization three years ago to create solutions. “Just being the guy on the microphone isn’t enough for me,” said Sanchez, who uses the stage name “Majesty.”

Now, he is a Bronx coordinator for the Cop Watch program that documents police harassment around New York City.

“It very much feels like we’re in an occupied zone,” he said, describing police tactics he witnesses. “Essentially they just bait people in the community.”

Daniel "Majesty" Sanchez performs at the mural unveiling on Saturday.

Daniel “Majesty” Sanchez performs at the mural unveiling on Saturday. (ROSALIND ADAMS/The Bronx Ink)


Police from the nearby 40th precinct cruised by the block party, but the scene remained calm.

At one point a call and response began: “Our neighborhoods are under attack what do we do?”

“Stand up, fight back,” responded the crowd, with raised fists to the air.

Like Ayala, Sanchez emphasized the hope that the artwork would inspire community building.

“The mural brings awareness to the community and gives them a voice,” said Marilyn Scales, who works with with VOCAL-NY and leads “Know Your Rights” trainings around New York City. “It’s a way to reach out to people and let them know they have power.”


Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Culture, Featured0 Comments

Bronx hosts first fashion week

Fourteen designers will showcase their work this weekend at the Andrew Freedman House in the Bronx, at a spin-off event of New York Fashion Week. DNA Info reports.

Posted in Newswire0 Comments

7 people injured in Soundview fire

Seven people were injured in a fire that erupted in a Soundview apartment building, said the on Friday FDNY. DNA Info reports.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Newswire0 Comments

Cops bust Soundview drug ring

A drug operation called the “Soundview shuttle” was broken up by cops last month. The Daily News Reports

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Newswire0 Comments

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