Robert Pozarycki


Steve Cohen Closes On $2.4B Purchase Of Mets

Mets owner Steve Cohen. (REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Billionaire Long Island native Steve Cohen completed his purchase of the New York Mets on Friday, closing a $2.4 billion deal with the team’s previous owners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, and ushering in a new era for the Flushing faithful.

“This is a significant milestone in the history of this storied franchise,” Cohen said Friday upon completion of the deal, his first official statement as the Mets’ majority owner. “I want to thank everyone who helped make this happen. The 2021 season is right around the corner and we’ve got a lot of work to do, so I’m excited to get started. Let’s go Mets.”

The deal ends the Wilpons’ 19-year sole ownership of the city’s National League franchise, and Fred Wilpon’s 40-year association with the ballclub. The elder Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday had purchased the Mets back in 1980 for $21.1 million; the Wilpons would purchase complete control of the franchise nearly 20 years later.

For months, Mets fans have been on pins and needles about the future of the team, after the first reports surfaced that the Wilpons were considering selling the team. Over the Wilpons’ nearly two-decade stewardship, since 2001, the Mets had only made the playoffs three times, and experienced just eight winning seasons.

The Wilpons had also been financially impacted by the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme between 2008-09, suffering severe losses and having to pay a $162 million settlement to a group of Madoff’s victims. Most recently, the Mets were said to be in hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

Last December, Cohen — who had owned 8% of the club — had agreed in principle to purchase a majority stake, but the deal fell through.

Cohen re-emerged as one of several bidders for the Mets during 2020 and would wind up outbidding several other rivals including a consortium that included former Yankee shortstop Alex Rodriguez and singer/actor Jennifer Lopez. 

Last week, Major League Baseball’s owners approved the $2.4 billion deal between Cohen and the Wilpons. Mayor Bill de Blasio also gave his blessing to the plan, after the city’s Law Department reviewed the terms of the Mets’ Citi Field lease. 

With a personal net worth of $15 billion, Cohen has become the richest owner in MLB, and Mets fans are hoping he’ll spend what it takes to build a perennial winner.

Among the anticipated changes coming to the team, as previously reported, is the return of former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, who helped build the 2015 Mets that won the National League pennant. The status of the Mets’ current GM, Brodie Van Wagenen, remains unknown.

Sources close to Cohen believe that Alderson will work to boost the Mets’ international scouting and analytical departments.

This story first appeared on amny.com

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Conditions ‘Ripe’ For NY Marijuana Sale Legalization In 2021, Cuomo Says

Cash-strapped New York state is “ripe” for the picking when it comes to legalizing marijuana for public sale and distribution, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday morning.

During an interview with WAMC radio’s Alan Chartock, Cuomo was asked about New Jersey’s successful Election Day referendum permitting the sale and recreational use of cannabis — the third state adjacent to New York to do so.

In recent years, New York approved the medicinal use of marijuana and decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis as part of criminal justice reform efforts. But with New York now facing an unprecedented budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo suggested that the time might now be right for the Empire State to give recreational marijuana the green light.

“The question becomes about the money and the distribution and the power,” Cuomo told Chartock. “I think this year (2021) it is ripe, because the state is going to be desperate for funding, even with [the possible election of Joe] Biden [as president], even with a stimulus. We’re still going to need funding, and it’s also the right policy. So I think we get there this year.”

Cuomo claimed that he has supported the full legalization of marijuana in New York “for years,” and conceded that New Jersey found “the faster way” toward legalization through a ballot referendum. He did not state whether New York would go the same route in posing a public question on whether to legalize cannabis.

Along with New Jersey voters, the electorate in Arizona, South Dakota and Montana also approved marijuana legalization referendums on Election Day — joining 11 other states in the Union that have previously legalized recreational cannabis.

The governor said that “the pressure is going to be on” lawmakers in Albany to make marijuana legal, and reap the financial benefits of it through state taxes and license fees. It’s estimated in reports that New York state government could receive at least $300 million annually in new tax revenue through legalization.

“[W]e’re going to need the money so badly,” Cuomo added. “And you have such a gap now that I think it’s going to be an easier conversation.”

Cuomo’s statement is in line with remarks made in October by Abel Bernabe, an adviser to Cuomo, who indicated that the governor would introduce a legalization bill in January as part of his executive budget. A similar bill was introduced earlier this year, but ultimately failed to be part of the final spending plan for 2020-21.

During his Nov. 5 radio interview, Cuomo was also optimistic about the prospect of a Biden presidency; the former vice president continues to lead the electoral vote count over President Trump as swing state vote counting continues. Cuomo laughed off Trump’s threats to use federal courts in an effort to impede the vote count. 

“No, [Biden’s] not losing, and he’s going to win, and that is such great news,” the governor said. “It’s not going to be today or tomorrow. They’re going to have stupid lawsuits. He’s going to win, thank God. He is going to unify this country and get it back to where it was.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo and Trump have publicly warred over the response to the outbreak, and Trump and Senate Republicans’ continued refusal to provide additional economic stimulus during the economic crisis.

This story first appeared on amny.com

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Cuomo Won’t Ban Halloween Trick-or-Treating Amid Pandemic

Little kids at a Halloween party

Halloween might be the rare holiday in New York that isn’t completely ruined by the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered some hope about All Hallows Eve during a Tuesday interview with News 12 Long Island, in which he indicated he would not ban door-to-door trick-or-treating.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” the governor said when asked if he would ban trick-or-treating out of an abundance of caution during the pandemic. “You have neighbors – if you want to go knock on your neighbor’s door, God bless you, and I’m not going to tell you not to.”

That appears to be a reprieve for the many young, costumed ghouls and goblins across New York who take to the streets every Oct. 31 in search of sweet treats. The governor, however, did not rule out offering some guidelines on safe trick-or-treating as Halloween approaches.

“If you want to go for a walk with your child through the neighborhood, I’m not gonna tell you you can’t take your child to the neighborhood,” Cuomo said. “I’m not going to do that. I’ll give you my advice and guidance and then you will make a decision what you do that night.”

Halloween already took a hit in New York earlier this month when the organizers of the Village Halloween Parade announced the march would not go on as planned in Manhattan on Oct. 31. It’s the first time the parade has been canceled since the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Large-scale, indoor Halloween parties are likely to remain off-limits as well due to ongoing capacity restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since the crisis began on March 1, COVID-19 sickened more than 450,000 New York State residents and more than 90,000 Long Islanders, killing more than 32,000 statewide and more than 4,000 on LI. The communicability of the virus, combined with capacity restrictions imposed to stop the spread, led to cancellations of major holiday gatherings — including public parades and festivals.

This story first appeared on amNY.com

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Long Island Reps Visit Migrant Facilities on Mexico Border

Congressman Tom Suozzi, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice and others outside a Customs and Border Patrol facility in Tornillo, Texas.

Solving the refugee crisis on the U.S./Mexico border will require cooperation and compassion, according to U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).

Along with a bipartisan delegation of his colleagues, including U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), Suozzi traveled this weekend to the unofficial epicenter of the crisis, Tornillo, Texas. The border town includes many government-run and nonprofit-operated facilities housing immigrants who recently crossed the border illegally into the United States.

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions enacted a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, thousands of migrant children who crossed the U.S./Mexico border were separated from their parents and detained at Tornillo and other border towns. The images of children of various ages being kept in caged facilities outraged many Americans, and the backlash caused President Trump to sign an executive order last week reversing the policy.

Suozzi, Rice and their colleagues in the delegation sought to see for themselves the conditions at detention centers in Tornillo. They toured the detention centers, spoke (through interpreters) with some of the children being detained there, met with those caring for the kids and also discussed border security with the U.S. Border Patrol.

The Texas trip turned out to be an “eye-opener” for Rice and Suozzi alike, as they described in a five-minute video posted to Suozzi’s Facebook account on Sunday. They made their remarks from an airport in Dallas, just prior to boarding a flight back home to New York.

“There’s no question, I think I can speak for Tom, and all of us on this trip agree, that we have to be serious about securing our border,” Rice said, “and also doing what makes us the greatest country, and why people want to come here, which is having a heart — and understanding why people want to come here to have a better life.”

“That means securing the borders as well dealing with the 11 million plus people here in this country, some of whom have been here for decades, that includes the DREAMers and so many others,” Suozzi added. “We need to move beyond all this finger-pointing, all this blame game, [and solve] a problem that we’ve faced in this country over the past 30 years.”

Suozzi said he toured one of the facilities where migrants are being held, which is being operated by the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Refugee Resettlement. While describing it as clean and “well run,” the facility includes “400 beds in tents in the middle of a very dry, hot desert.”

“What appeared to be sufficient staff with small groups of children between the ages of 13 and 17.95 percent are boys,” Suozzi wrote on Facebook. “Only 23 of several hundred are separated children and everyone else is an unaccompanied minor.”

Suozzi anticipates that the Trump administration will launch “an aggressive reunification effort over the next 10 days,” but even as the White House tries to “move on from this issue,” Suozzi said that “we should not let them forget.”

The Congressman also criticized Trump’s executive order, which would require that authorities detain families together instead of separating them, as having the potential to “cause even more problems.”

Suozzi spoke with members of the U.S. Border Patrol, and stressed that they have some of the toughest law enforcement jobs in the country.

“Border Patrol officials are the most assaulted federal officials,” Suozzi wrote on Facebook. “They have to worry about many infectious diseases, lice, scabbard and worse. They are trying to guard against illegal entry of many desperate people. Many fleeing violence, rape, gangs, poverty and oppression, some on their own. Many using professional smugglers, coyotes, human traffickers and other illegal operations. There were about 20,000 people detained last year from the El Paso post.”

In the end, Suozzi noted that the situation cries out for cooperation among Democrats and Republicans alike. He believes that both sides of the aisle must come together to hammer out legislation that will not only increase border security but also allow for those all immigrants — including undocumented individuals already living in the U.S. — a chance to stay in America.

“This issue can be solved. We simply need to work together on a comprehensive solution,” Suozzi wrote.

This article first appeared on qns.com

Life Sentence for Man Who Killed NYPD Cop from Long Island

From left: NYPD Officer Brian Moore, of Long Island, and his alleged killer, Demetrius Blackwell.

A Queens man who shot and killed a New York City Police officer from Long Island two years ago will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Demetrius Blackwell, 37, was convicted last month of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Police Officer Brian Moore of the 105th Precinct on the night of May 2, 2015.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak ordered Blackwell on Dec. 19 to serve the maximum sentence of life without parole.

Moore and his partner, Police Officer Erik Jansen, were in an unmarked police cruiser on 212th Street near 104th Place at 6:15 p.m. on May 2, 2015, when they noticed Blackwell walking on the street, motioning toward his waistband.

Law enforcement sources said the officers pulled up alongside to question him. Then, authorities said, Blackwell pulled out a black handgun and began firing at the cruiser. Moore was shot twice in the head; Jansen managed to avoid being hit.

Paramedics rushed Moore to Jamaica Hospital, where he died of his injuries two days later. He was posthumously promoted to detective.

Police apprehended Blackwell hours after the shooting during a massive search of the surrounding area. Along with being convicted of first-degree murder, he was also found guilty of attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Man Convicted of Killing NYPD Cop from Long Island

From left: NYPD Officer Brian Moore, of Long Island, and his alleged killer, Demetrius Blackwell.

Jurors found a Queens Village man guilty on Thursday of fatally shooting a New York City police officer from Massapequa during a traffic stop two years ago.

Demetrius Blackwell, 37, shot Police Officer Brian Moore as he and his partner, Police Officer Erik Jansen, approached him in their unmarked police cruiser on the night of May 2, 2015. Moore was struck in the head and died two days later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

“The evidence of [Blackwell’s] guilt presented at trial was truly overwhelming,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The jury fairly weighed all the evidence offered by both sides before concluding — unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt — that the defendant deliberately fired a weapon at the two police officers without provocation or warning, killing one of them.”

On Nov. 9, a jury returned a guilty verdict against Blackwell on charges including first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Jurors only spent two hours over two days deliberating before reaching their verdict.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak is scheduled to sentence Blackwell on Dec. 12. It’s very likely that Blackwell will serve life in prison without parole.

Law enforcement sources said Moore and Jansen approached Blackwell on patrol at around 6:15 p.m. on May 2, 2015. They had seen him adjusting his waistband.

When they went to question him, authorities said, Blackwell pulled out a handgun and started firing. Moore was hit twice in the head, while Jansen managed to avoid being injured.

Police located Blackwell hours later after conducting a massive search of the neighborhood.

“The murder of Detective Brian Moore reminds us of the extraordinary danger police officers face every day, protecting this city,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said. “Brian chose this profession to protect others, to do good, and to serve a cause greater than himself. He was murdered doing his job and in defense of every New Yorker.”