Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Feeling Safr in the Virgin Islands

"CEO of women’s ride-hailing service is arrested as fugitive" by Evan Allen Globe Staff  June 20, 2017

The chief executive of Safr, a Boston ride-hailing service focused on women’s safety, was arrested last week on a fugitive from justice warrant out of the Virgin Islands, where he is wanted on charges he defrauded the government of more than $2 million.

Syed Zain Gilani, 43, was arrested in his company’s headquarters at 68 Harrison Ave. in Boston around 12:15 p.m. Friday by members of the Boston Police Fugitive Unit and the US Marshals Service. He agreed to rendition to the Virgin Islands, according to court documents.

The charges stem from a scheme that Virgin Islands Department of Justice officials say Gilani ran with two other men, in which they pretended to implement federally mandated updates to identification cards, such as licenses, for three years while pocketing grant money.

Gilani is the CEO of Safr, which debuted in Boston in March. The company was formed after a spate of sexual harassment and assault complaints from female passengers who were using Uber, another popular ride-hailing service, according to media reports about Safr’s launch.

Safr trains its drivers, many of whom are women, in safety and bystander awareness, and allows riders to select the gender they prefer to ride with. The service comes with an SOS button so that riders who feel unsafe can contact 911 or a predetermined emergency contact.

“We want to make sure that women feel safe any time of the day or night as a rider and as a driver,” Gilani told WBUR-FM in March. “And in the end, they feel empowered and new women join the ride-sharing market.”

In a statement, Safr Chief Marketing Officer Dana Córdova said the company continues to operate “unabated.”

“Syed denies any wrongdoing. He is such a passionate believer in the Safr mission for which we are all very grateful,” Córdova said. “We fully support him, including any time he needs to deal with this legal matter.”

Beirne said Gilani has no criminal record. His children were born in the Virgin Islands, and he lived there for several years.

He ran a business there called BizVI, Beirne said, which sold features of the federal government’s REAL ID program to the government of the Virgin Islands.

The REAL ID program was established after Congress in 2005 passed the REAL ID Act, which set new standards for state-issued identification cards and driver’s licenses.

Such as?

Prosecutors in the Virgin Islands say that Gilani, his company, and the two other men also charged never did any real work for the program. Jerris Browne, the former director of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and Gregory Christian, the bureau’s former project coordinator, were arrested Thursday in St. Croix in connection with the scheme, she said.

All three men face one charge each of obtaining money by false pretense, conversion of government property, embezzlement by public officer, filing false instruments, falsification of public accounts, fraudulent claims upon the government, false certificate by public officers, and criminal influenced and corrupt organizations conspiracy, according to a press release.

In September 2008, said Corliss Smithen, public media officer for the Department of Justice in the Virgin Islands, Browne allegedly submitted an application to the Department of Homeland Security requesting funding for the REAL ID program, which was approved for $2 million.

The money was disbursed between 2008 and 2011, according to prosecutors, but Gilani, Browne, and Christian never implemented the program.

The motor vehicle bureau was supposed to put the contract out to bid, she said. But instead of procuring bids from independent, competitive companies, Smithen said, Browne contracted with three businesses that were all owned by Gilani.

The Virgin Islands complaint alleges that Browne and Christian then certified that the work was performed by the companies — even though, officials allege, nothing had been done.

The alleged malfeasance was not discovered until 2015, according to the press release, when the current Bureau of Motor Vehicles director discovered that the bureau did not have the functional software application to carry out the mandates of the REAL ID program.

Gilani is to be picked up for transport to the Virgin Islands on July 7. Smithen said he will be arraigned in Virgin Islands Superior Court on St. Croix.....


Well, no tip for him.

"Brazil federal police accuse president of getting bribes" by Mauricio Savarese Associated Press  June 21, 2017

SAO PAULO — Brazil’s federal police said Tuesday that investigators have found evidence President Michel Temer received bribes to help businesses, raising a new threat that the embattled leader could be suspended from office pending a corruption trial.

What goes around comes around.

The president is being investigated for three alleged crimes: corruption, obstruction of justice and being a member of a criminal organization.

Temer, whose poll ratings have slumped into single digits, is in Russia on one of his few trips abroad since assuming the presidency a year ago after President Dilma Rousseff was suspended upon being impeached, which led to her permanent removal from office.

Temer was expected to hold a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.....

No wonder he is being moved out.


Might want to book a flight to Argentina, Mike.

"Meet the 29-year-old who wants to shake up Everett politics" by Stephanie Ebbert Globe Staff  June 21, 2017

EVERETT — She represents a large swath of her community — where an astonishing 41 percent of residents are foreign-born, according to American Community Survey estimates from 2015 — she would be an outlier on the council.

In the 125 years that Everett has been a city, its residents have elected just three Latino men, one black man, and 17 women, records from the city clerk’s office show.

The number of white men? 632.

Stephanie Martins, the 29-year-old realtor who is challenging third-generation City Councilor Stephen Simonelli, was born in Brazil [and] is part of a wave of female and nontraditional candidates across the country trying to make inroads in local government after the bruising election cycle of 2016. She’s one of 60 women who participated this year in Emerge Massachusetts, a candidate training program for Democratic women. Thirty of the women have already launched campaigns.

In Everett, a working-class city of 46,000, demographics have changed dramatically over the past few decades. But politics have not. One of the most diverse cities in the state, Everett is governed by a board that is exclusively white and almost entirely male, just like it has always been.

It's called the power of incumbency. Or maybe more whites vote.

Martins’s candidacy is “very special for the immigrant community over here,” said Antonio Amaya, executive director of La Comunidad, an Everett nonprofit that helps Latino immigrants ease into the mainstream. Latinos represent 21.5 percent of Everett’s population, according to census data.

City elections here are rough-and-tumble affairs and incumbents are regularly challenged, and sometimes toppled, by newcomers. But most of the races involve feuding family dynasties and established clans, and go unnoticed by most voters.....

I no longer feel safe.


She's already got one vote.

Related: Finding a Safe Space For the Day


"A Boston police detective made more than four times his base salary last year, increasing his pay through a contract provision that allowed him to receive roughly four months of overtime for hours he didn’t work, records show. Boston Police Detective Waiman Lee, a 34-year department veteran in the domestic violence unit, took home about $403,000 in 2016, making him the highest paid city employee last year, according to payroll records. His base salary was $92,515. In what critics call an extreme example of a systemic problem, Lee bolstered his wages thanks to police union contracts that require that officers who work detail shifts or testify in court be paid a minimum of four hours, even if the assignment lasts only 30 minutes....."

Who negotiated for the city?

RelatedThank the Boston Police for a quieter city

Must be all the overtime.

"A Lowell man was arrested Monday and accused of running a heroin distribution ring from the apartment he shared with two small children. Kevin Davidson, 31, was arrested in his apartment on Smith Street, Lowell police said in a statement. Detectives found 33 grams of suspected heroin, a bag of cocaine, $3,345 in cash, and “paraphernalia indicting a significant heroin distributing operation” in the apartment, police said. Two children, ages 2 and 5, were also found in the apartment. Police contacted the Department of Children & Families and an investigation was started, police said. Davidson was arraigned at the Lowell District Court Tuesday morning and charged with trafficking in heroin, trafficking in heroin in a school zone, and unlawful possession of Class B cocaine, police said. Held on $10,000 bail, he is scheduled to next appear in court on July 14."

"A first-grader at the Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan was sliced in the hand by a razor during recess Monday afternoon and had to be taken to the hospital, officials said. The girl told police that she and her classmates found three razors under a bench, officials said, and began experimenting with them."

"The body of a local tour boat captain was found on Chatham’s North Beach Monday. The discovery of David Murdock, 78, of Chatham, was reported to police shortly before 4 p.m., said Tara Miltimore, spokeswoman for the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office. The death is being investigated by State Police, Environmental Police, and Chatham police. Officials say there is no reason to suspect foul play."

"A New Hampshire woman was convicted Monday of running a human trafficking operation out of the Day Spa for Gentlemen in Lawrence, officials said. Lori Barron, 54, of Salem, N.H., who was arrested in 2013, was found guilty of recruiting women to work as prostitutes at the massage parlor, according to the Essex district attorney’s office. “After hiring the women to work as a receptionist, she would pressure them to give massages and instructed them to perform a sex act at the conclusion of the massage. She videotaped the women performing the sex acts and threatened to show the videos to family members ... if the women refused to perform the sex acts,” the district attorney’s statement said. The judge revoked Barron’s bail, pending a sentencing hearing July 28. “The victims in this case showed great courage in testifying despite having to expose their own mistakes,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said."

Also see: Walking the Streets of Lawrence 

Just jerk off in the john next time.


56 new Boston officers graduate from police academy

A start, but not a solution, for ‘Methadone Mile’

Getting real about heroin

Who is paying for the stuff?

Captain, pilot of ferry that crashed in Hyannis are placed on leave

They were busy playing with the cats instead of helming the craft?

"A Peabody man has been charged with beating his 11-year-old daughter with a belt — and trying to strangle her— for installing Snapchat. The incident occurred late Saturday evening when Sean Nguyen, 31, discovered the app on his daughter’s cellphone, Peabody police said. Nguyen became enraged and grabbed the girl by the neck before beating her with the belt, police said. Relatives heard the commotion and contacted authorities, Peabody police spokesman Captain Dennis Bonaiuto said. Nguyen was arrested Tuesday afternoon when he entered the Salem District Court on an unrelated case, Bonaiuto said. The 11-year-old was not injured, and the Department of Children & Families was informed, Bonaiuto said. “Thankfully, things like this don’t happen too often. Cases like this don’t usually stem from a disciplinary issue,” Bonaiuto said....."

"Police in Boxford and nearby Topsfield are warning residents to be careful after a man allegedly made sexual comments to young girls and tried to get them into his car on Saturday. The man drove up to two 11-year-old girls on Bare Hill Road in Boxford shortly before 3 p.m., made graphic sexual comments, and tried to convince them to get into his car, said Boxford Police Sergeant Matthew Dupont. “We have a sense that he might have just been driving around waiting for an opportunity,” said Dupont. The girls refused and were able to get away from the man, said Dupont. “He made sexual comments to them . . . so much so that they got very, very scared,” said Dupont. The girls described the suspect to investigators as being a a white man between 30 and 40 years old with short brown hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a black button-up shirt, grey pants, and was driving a newer model silver or grey sedan, Dupont said...."

Witnesses will show them the way.