Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Employees Forced To Be Strippers In Parks Department Claim Sexual Harassment

Female Parks Department workers stripped for permanent jobs, more work at raunchy holiday parties: sources

'It was out of control,' said a female worker who attended several of the parties. News of the shocking get-togethers, which date to at least 2009, follows bombshell sexual harassment complaints.

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At left, a Parks Department worker dances on a stripper's pole at a city-owned Randalls Island facility. At right, another photo from one of the parties. More recent ones featured groping, sources said. Someone allegedly demanded that workers get on the strip pole if they wanted jobs. 

A stripper pole, free-flowing booze and female city employees performing sexy tricks are just a few staples at raunchy holiday parties hosted by Parks Department supervisors.
Seasonal employees — some disrobing down to their bras and panties — tantalized as many as 10 men at a time during Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations going back to at least 2009, a Daily News investigation found.
The clandestine parties were held in a so-called “boom boom” room at a city-owned facility on Randalls Island. And the seasonal workers who “got on the pole” were rewarded with additional work or permanent jobs, sources told The News.
A female worker who attended several of the parties said they got steamier each year.
  A worker who skipped one of the parties was asked to come by a female colleague. </p>
 A worker who skipped one of the parties was asked to come by a female colleague. 
“The men started demanding a lot more. They were like, ‘You want us to give you money, show us something,’ ” she recalled. “And for the New Year’s party, it got really grabby. Some women stripped to their panties and bras, and men were slapping asses. It was out of control.”
She asked not to be identified because she feared retaliation.
The city Department of Investigation launched a probe into the holiday party shenanigans. It is also investigating bombshell sexual harassment complaints, including a woman’s allegation that a supervisor accosted her when they were alone in an elevator. He lifted her shirt and ran his tongue across her stomach before shoving his face in her crotch, according to the complaint.
 Dilcy Benn, president of District Council 37 Local 1505, the union that represents the workers who filed complaints, said the department immediately moved them. “I will do anything to protect my members and fight for them," she said. </p>


Dilcy Benn, president of District Council 37 Local 1505, the union that represents the workers who filed complaints, said the department immediately moved them. “I will do anything to protect my members and fight for them," she said. 

Another complained about sexually suggestive texts and inappropriate contact from supervisors, including one who would snap her bra straps.
Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Arthur Pincus told The News that the two female workers were transferred at their request.
“On Wednesday, May 22, the Parks Department was made aware of sexual harassment allegations made by one full-time and one seasonal female parks worker against two male supervisors in the Five-Borough Technical Services division. Parks immediately referred the matter to the Department of Investigation,” he said.
The two male supervisors named by the female workers are James Cafaro, a deputy chief of operations, and his supervisor, Angelo Figueroa, sources said. The men didn’t respond to calls for comment. Both have been transferred pending the outcome of the investigation. Sources said each has called out of work for the rest of the week.
 High-ranking Parks Department official <span style=Joe Marino/New York Daily News
High-ranking Parks Department official James Cafaro, who is married with children, shoved a $20 bill in the pants of one worker at one of the sleazy parties, sources said.  
For years, as the official holiday party took place on the second floor of the low-level Parks Department building, Cafaro, Figueroa, another male supervisor and several other male workers would set up the X-rated recreation a flight below, sources said.
The crew fashioned a temporary stripper’s pole out of a huge wire spool and pieces of wood left in the telecommunications room. A short ladder was set up to allow access to the pole platform, and once the booze started flowing, women were encouraged to climb up.
According to one female worker, a man at last year’s Christmas party yelled: “If you want a job, get on the pole.”
 Many of the female workers in the Parks Department are low-income single mothers desperate for the work. </p>



Many of the female workers in the Parks Department are low-income single mothers desperate for the work. 
Cafaro, 53, married with children, started in the Parks Department in 1986 and makes $103,864 a year. He moved steadily up the ladder — but was demoted in 1997 for an impropriety involving an agency employee and a Parks vehicle. Details weren’t immediately available. In 2005 he reached his current mid-level management position.
He oversees about 80 workers, about 30 of them who toil at city parks. Of those assigned to work at parks, most are women who clean pools, rake leaves or prepare properties for a given season, officials said.
“I will do anything to protect my members, and fight for them. When these women came forward we got them out,” said Dilcy Benn, president of District Council 37 Local 1505, the union that represents the workers who filed complaints. “I brought this to (Assistant Commissioner) David Stark and to his credit within two minutes he made a phone call and moved them.”
Cafaro laughed and enjoyed himself during at least three strip parties in recent years, as two or three female staffers took turns performing on the pole to the hoots and hollers of other male supervisors and Parks Department workers. He even shoved a $20 bill in the pants of one worker, sources said.
 Parks supervisor Angelo Figueroa is one of the men named in sexual harassment complaints. One female worker alleged that a supervisor would pull her bra strap, and another said a supervisor who accosted her in an elevator lifted her shirt and ran his tongue across her stomach before shoving his face in her crotch.</p>


Parks supervisor Angelo Figueroa is one of the men named in sexual harassment complaints. One female worker alleged that a supervisor would pull her bra strap, and another said a supervisor who accosted her in an elevator lifted her shirt and ran his tongue across her stomach before shoving his face in her crotch.
One woman made “a couple hundred bucks” during one party and shared it with her female colleagues, the sources said.
For the parties last December and New Year’s Eve, the men turned off the overhead lights, set up up a disco strobe and came prepared with plenty of dollar bills, the sources said.
There was never a direct order from Cafaro or Figueroa for the women to participate, said Benn. But the seasonal workers get asked back for jobs or offered permanent positions based on the recommendations of Cafaro and Figueroa, she said.
Many of the women are low-income single mothers, some of whom came into the job through the welfare system and are desperate to keep the seasonal positions that can run anywhere from four to six months at a time.
The most junior positions start at $9, and city seasonal workers, who Benn represents, get $14 an hour. Cafaro tacitly encouraged women to go along with the suggestive atmosphere by rewarding those who stripped down to their skivvies and danced on the pole with more work, Benn said.
 The parties were said to be held in a Norman Y. Lono for New York Daily News
The parties were said to be held in a "boom boom" room at a city-owned facility on Randalls Island.
One of the women, who started out as a temporary, six-month hire in 2009, danced on the pole at that year’s Christmas party. But when she rebuffed Cafaro’s alleged sexual overture in the elevator, she wasn’t asked back for two years. When she returned in time for last Christmas, she danced again at the annual party — and got offered a permanent position.
Another worker, a single mother who refused to flirt with Cafaro, showed the Daily News text messages she said were exchanged between her and the deputy chief over the course of her six-month seasonal job that ended this month.
The texts range from creepy to overtly sexual.
In one exchange, Cafaro said he was going home.
“Want to come with me?” he texted.
The staffer declined.
“Will u make it up to me?” he wrote.
The worker didn’t go to the “boom boom” room last Christmas, which prompted another female colleague to text her to come down, adding that she was “at the strip party downstairs.”
The abuse within the Parks and Recreation Department isn’t just sexual, Benn said. A female supervisor at Randalls Island — who gave training about employee rights — was caught on tape screaming that her job wasn’t “to f---ing babysit” staffers. The supervisor, identified by sources as Kate Boland, then dared workers to call the union.
The move backfired, Benn said.
“Our members were brave and called for us and we came,” she said.
Alleged texts between Parks Department Deputy Chief of Operations James Cafaro and a seasonal worker:
Dec. 30, 2012
Cafaro: Happy Birthday beautiful.
Worker: Thank you.
Cafaro: Thank you for saying happy birthday or for reminding you that you are beautiful? Probably for both lol. R u working?
Worker: Yes I am working and thank you for both.
Cafaro: How are we celebrating?
Jan. 24, 2013
Worker: You want me in the office? Am I in trouble?
Cafaro: Do u want to be in trouble?
Feb. 9, 2013
Cafaro: I’m leaving.
Worker: To go?
Cafaro: Home. Want to come with me?
Worker: Have to go get my daughter.
Cafaro: ;-((
Worker: Sorry.
Cafaro: Will you make it up to me?
Feb. 10, 2013
Cafaro: U didn’t answer my last text yesterday but it is ok.
Worker: I’ll try
Cafaro: I guess that is the best answer for now. U don’t need to try. If u wanted to u would have by now. I won’t bother you about it anymore. u will still be my favorite.
Feb. 14, 2013
Cafaro: I don’t kno what’s up but I don’t deserve this from u.
Feb 26, 2013
Cafaro: Don’t get u but i understand.
Worker: Don’t get me but understand okkkkkk.
Cafaro: I want to get u but u won’t let me.
Worker: Sorry.
Cafaro: Sorry for what. U aren’t interested. I get it.
Text from one female seasonal worker (staffer 1) to another (staffer 2) who refused to attend the Christmas Party in the “boom boom room” at Randall’s Island
Dec. 21, 2012
*Staffer 1: Wya? (Where you at?)
Staffer 2: I’m in the training you. You?
Staffer 1: Come to the elevators. I’m at the strip party downstairs. (Sends picture of a co-worker on strip pole)
Staffer 2: Is that L****? That’s crazy.
Staffer 1: Yeah that’s her.”
Getting in the park
Pathway to Parks and Recreation jobs, many of which are four- or six-months long depending on how much money the agency has to budget for staff and maintenance projects:
1) Job training participant: A welfare-to-work program that places people in Parks for six months at a time while looking for permanent work. Pays $9.21 an hour
2) City seasonal aide: An entry-level seasonal job that pays $11.11 an hour for workers not on public assistance but looking for employment.
3) City park worker: A year-round or seasonal position that can be temporary or permanent. Pay is approximately $14 an hour or $29,971 annually for permanent hires. They are union members, but only permanent ones get health benefits and pensions.

Read more:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Color of Law Abuses

U.S. law enforcement officers and other officials like judges, prosecutors, and security guards have been given tremendous power by local, state, and federal government agencies—authority they must have to enforce the law and ensure justice in our country. These powers include the authority to detain and arrest suspects, to search and seize property, to bring criminal charges, to make rulings in court, and to use deadly force in certain situations.
Preventing abuse of this authority, however, is equally necessary to the health of our nation’s democracy. That’s why it’s a federal crime for anyone acting under “color of law” willfully to deprive or conspire to deprive a person of a right protected by the Constitution or U.S. law. “Color of law” simply means that the person is using authority given to him or her by a local, state, or federal government agency.
The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating color of law abuses, which include acts carried out by government officials operating both within and beyond the limits of their lawful authority. Off-duty conduct may be covered if the perpetrator asserted his or her official status in some way.
During 2012, 42 percent of the FBI’s total civil rights caseload involved color of law issues—there were 380 color of law cases opened during the year. Most of the cases involved crimes that fell into into five broad areas:
  • Excessive force;
  • Sexual assaults;
  • False arrest and fabrication of evidence;
  • Deprivation of property; and
  • Failure to keep from harm.
Excessive force: In making arrests, maintaining order, and defending life, law enforcement officers are allowed to use whatever force is “reasonably” necessary. The breadth and scope of the use of force is vast—from just the physical presence of the officer…to the use of deadly force. Violations of federal law occur when it can be shown that the force used was willfully “unreasonable” or “excessive.”
Sexual assaults by officials acting under color of law can happen in jails, during traffic stops, or in other settings where officials might use their position of authority to coerce an individual into sexual compliance. The compliance is generally gained because of a threat of an official action against the person if he or she doesn’t comply.
False arrest and fabrication of evidence: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right against unreasonable searches or seizures. A law enforcement official using authority provided under the color of law is allowed to stop individuals and, under certain circumstances, to search them and retain their property. It is in the abuse of that discretionary power—such as an unlawful detention or illegal confiscation of property—that a violation of a person’s civil rights may occur.
Fabricating evidence against or falsely arresting an individual also violates the color of law statute, taking away the person’s rights of due process and unreasonable seizure. In the case of deprivation of property, the color of law statute would be violated by unlawfully obtaining or maintaining a person’s property, which oversteps or misapplies the official’s authority.
The Fourteenth Amendment secures the right to due process; the Eighth Amendment prohibits the use of cruel and unusual punishment. During an arrest or detention, these rights can be violated by the use of force amounting to punishment (summary judgment). The person accused of a crime must be allowed the opportunity to have a trial and should not be subjected to punishment without having been afforded the opportunity of the legal process.
Failure to keep from harm: The public counts on its law enforcement officials to protect local communities. If it’s shown that an official willfully failed to keep an individual from harm, that official could be in violation of the color of law statute.
Filing a Complaint
To file a color of law complaint, contact your local FBI office by telephone, in writing, or in person. The following information should be provided:
  • All identifying information for the victim(s);
  • As much identifying information as possible for the subject(s), including position, rank, and agency employed;
  • Date and time of incident;
  • Location of incident;
  • Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witness(es);
  • A complete chronology of events; and
  • Any report numbers and charges with respect to the incident.
You may also contact the United States Attorney’s Office in your district or send a written complaint to:
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
Criminal Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20530
FBI investigations vary in length. Once our investigation is complete, we forward the findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office within the local jurisdiction and to the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., which decide whether or not to proceed toward prosecution and handle any prosecutions that follow.
Civil Applications
Title 42, U.S.C., Section 14141 makes it unlawful for state or local law enforcement agencies to allow officers to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or U.S. laws. This law, commonly referred to as the Police Misconduct Statute, gives the Department of Justice authority to seek civil remedies in cases where law enforcement agencies have policies or practices that foster a pattern of misconduct by employees. This action is directed against an agency, not against individual officers. The types of issues which may initiate a pattern and practice investigation include:
  • Lack of supervision/monitoring of officers’ actions;
  • Lack of justification or reporting by officers on incidents involving the use of force;
  • Lack of, or improper training of, officers; and
  • Citizen complaint processes that treat complainants as adversaries.
Under Title 42, U.S.C., Section 1997, the Department of Justice has the ability to initiate civil actions against mental hospitals, retardation facilities, jails, prisons, nursing homes, and juvenile detention facilities when there are allegations of systemic derivations of the constitutional rights of institutionalized persons.
Report Civil Rights Violations

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella Sentenced To 28 Years In Prison For Selling Children

Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. has been sentenced to almost three decades in jail after conspiring with private prisons to trade kids for cash.
In the private prison industry, longer sentences earn more money from the state.
Since 2003, Ciavarella received millions of dollars in bribes for condemning minors to maximum prison sentences. In one case, Ciavarella sentenced a 10-year-old to two years in a detention facility for accidently bottoming out his mother’s car.
According to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, over 5,000 young men and women were unjustly sentenced to prison and denied their constitutional rights. Many of them have now been released and cleared of their charges.
Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom manner, was convicted of racketeering, money laundering, mail fraud, and tax evasion. He was ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution.
"Unfortunately, two judges in Luzerne County have caused unimaginable taint to the laudable efforts of many dedicated individuals,” Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said, “conduct for which those two judges presently are paying dearly,"
Ciaveralla’s attorneys requested a reasonable sentencing, arguing that the media attention brought to the case was punishment enough: “He will forever be unjustly branded as the `Kids for Cash' judge.”
Pennsylvania judge Michael Conahan was accused as a co-conspirator, but pleaded guilty on the charge. Since 2003, he collected more than $2 million from PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers.