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pill millOn September 6, 2018 Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, announced that a Manhattan Supreme Court jury returned a guilty verdict against Scarsdale residents Dr. Rogelio Lucas and his wife Lydia Lucas, who managed her husband’s medical practice. The Lucases were convicted on one count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and 29 counts of Criminal Sale of a Prescription for a Controlled Substance following a four-week trial. A licensed internist since 1972, Dr. Lucas surrendered his medical license in April of 2016 while criminal charges were pending. The Lucases own a home at 15 Black Birch Lane in Scarsdale.

As proven at trial, Dr. Lucas and his wife operated a medical practice at 215 West 101st St., Suite 1A, in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where they engaged in a conspiracy to sell prescriptions for the addictive opioid painkiller oxycodone for no legitimate medical purpose. Prior to 2009, the Lucases offered legitimate medical services through a primary care practice that catered to the elderly and accepted insurance. Between Jan. 2, 2009 and May 13, 2015, the practice underwent a radical transformation into a pill mill that churned out prescriptions for oxycodone in exchange for illegal cash payments.

“As today’s verdict makes clear, doctors and medical personnel who use their special privileges to illegally distribute addictive drugs for no medical reason will be judged by same standards as street dealers,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. “Dr. Rogelio Lucas and his wife Lydia reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling prescriptions for $120 per visit. They will now face the consequences of the harm they caused by putting millions of highly addictive oxycodone pills out on the street.15BlackBirchLane

“I thank the jury for their careful attention in this case, and the law enforcement agencies which methodically pieced the evidence together,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Brennan said. Sentencing is scheduled for June 21, 2018 before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Kirke Bartley, who oversaw the trial.

Rogelio and Lydia Lucas were arrested on June 9, 2015 and released on $500,000 bail each. In conjunction with the arrests, agents and investigators conducted court authorized searches of the Lucases’ office and apartment in Manhattan, and a second home at 15 Black Birch Lane in Scarsdale, NY.

600000seizedinScarsdaleAs detailed at trial, approximately $680,000 in cash was recovered from the Scarsdale residence. Photographs in evidence showed boxes recovered from a bedroom containing cash and handwritten notations by Lydia Lucas indicating the precise amount of money in each box.

Evidence further revealed that Lydia Lucas served as the gatekeeper for the office and maintained lists of the numbers of patients and amounts paid per day. Generally, patients who received oxycodone prescriptions were charged $120 cash for each office, while those few who did not receive oxycodone prescriptions were charged $80. Over the course of one year alone, Dr. Lucas and his wife made approximately $500,000 in cash deposits into multiple bank accounts.

A sign posted in the office instructed patients that while the office would accept insurance, such as Medicaid and Medicare, those who chose to pay in this manner would be restricted from receiving oxycodone.

Multiple drug rings received prescriptions for oxycodone from Dr. Lucas that were then filled at pharmacies and the pills sold on the black market. Patients who tested negative for oxycodone, indicating that they were not taking the medication, were still provided with prescriptions, despite clear indications they were not themselves taking the pills. Medical examinations were perfunctory and MRIs found in the office’s files contained obvious indications of forgery, including spelling errors.

Crowds gathered in the waiting room, prompting complaints by members of the community. Dr. Lucas relocated his office three times before landing at 215 West 101st St., Suite 1A. A court authorized review of Dr. Lucas’s prescribing history revealed he wrote oxycodone prescriptions for approximately 45 to 50 individuals per day at the height of the conspiracy.

Cynthia ArceDefendant: Cynthia Arce (DOB 7/10/89

Mamaroneck Woman Indicted for the Murder of Baby Daughter

On September 12, 2018 Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. announced that Cynthia Arce of Mamaroneck was indicted on charges related to the death of her toddler daughter, Gabriella Boyd, in their Chestnut Avenue home April 28, 2018, and the attack on two Village of Mamaroneck Police Officers.

The Westchester Grand Jury indicted Arce on one count of Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, in the death of Gabriella Boyd.

In the attack on the two police officers she faces the following charges:
2 counts of Attempted Aggravated Murder, class A felonies
2 counts of Attempted Aggravated Assault upon a Police Officer, class C felonies
2 counts of Assault in the Second Degree, class D felonies

Incident Location: A house located at 507 Chestnut Ave. in the Village of Mamaroneck where Arce lived with her mother and daughter.

Prosecutors allege, on April 28, 2018, Village of Mamaroneck Police responded to 507 Chestnut Ave. following a 911 call from Arce's mother, reporting that someone was dying. When they arrived, they found 2-year-old Gabriella Boyd unresponsive on her bed.

Officers immediately tried to resuscitate the child. While clearing the house, other officers located Arce in an adjacent bedroom behind a closed door. Arce had both her hands hidden behind her back and refused to comply with repeated police commands to show her hands. Arce then brought both hands from behind her back and above her shoulders revealing two large knives, one in each hand. She charged at the officers, repeatedly slashing at two of them. When Tasers failed to subdue her, a third officer shot Arce, ending the confrontation. Officers continued their efforts to resuscitate the child until paramedics arrived.

Gabriella Boyd was transported to White Plains Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Following an autopsy, the Medical Examiner’s Officer ruled her death to be a homicide. Two Village of Mamaroneck Police Officers were injured as a result of the confrontation.

Arce was taken to Westchester County Medical Center where she was treated for several weeks for her gunshot injuries. Arce was arrested at the hospital, charged, and remanded by a judge to the Westchester County Jail where she has remained since.

At this time, the date of Arce’s arraignment on this indictment is pending.

The indictment was the result of a joint investigation among the Village of Mamaroneck Police Dep, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Laura Murphy, Bureau Chief of the Career Criminal Bureau, and Nicholas DiCostanzo, both of the Superior Court Trial Division.

traderjoessignFans of Trader Joe’s will be pleased to learn that the store at 215 North Central Avenue is expanding. The work has already begun and plans are to add 4,000 square feet of space which will extend into the parking lot and eliminate some parking spaces.

The good news is that the store will have more space to stock popular merchandise that often runs out. The manager said there will be more shopping space, more registers, more refrigerators and more of everything that brings throngs of customers to the store.
He did not provide an expected completion date for the project, but did indicate that the new space will open sometime in 2019.

letter to the editorThis article was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez
In the last few weeks, there has been a flurry of positive employment and GDP data that show that the US is enjoying its second longest economic expansion since WWII. The second quarter GDP rise of 4.1%, was pushed up due to positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending. However, private inventory investment and residential fixed investments decreased.

Unfortunately, a big reason for exports increasing in the second quarter was because US companies were hurrying to export ahead of retaliatory tariffs from other countries due to Trump having announced the imposition of tariffs on Canada, China, Europe, and Mexico. It is unlikely that we will see such a rise in exports in the second half of this year unless somehow the Trump administration were to walk back its tariff threats.

Personal consumption expenditures, a big contributor to US GDP, is also likely to slow down as interest rates rise making credit cards, new loans, and existing variable rate loans more expensive for consumers. What has concerned me for the last twelve months is that due to an incredibly long period of low interest rates, American households and companies of every size are incredibly leveraged; consumer spending has been growing much faster than disposable incomes. As interest rates rise, the probability of default rises; late payments in credit cards have already been rising. In addition, recent housing data are indicating that second quarter GDP performance is unlikely to be repeated at the same level in the coming quarters.

Recent housing starts and home sales data should be a serious wake up call for all US municipalities to create long-term financial plans to position themselves to weather the inevitable economic and market downturns. In June, housing starts tumbled to their lowest level in nine months; the 12% decline was much more than had been anticipated; in July, they barely rose, and in fact declined in the northeast. Also worrisome is that permits for future construction declined for a third month in a row. Fox Meadow resident and economist, Robert Selvaggio, explains that “Housing starts are a key leading indicator for the macroeconomy, because residential fixed investment represents about 20% of total US gross private domestic investment and the housing sector overall accounts for about 15% of total US GDP. Homebuilders do not start new projects when they fear an oncoming economic downturn, and potential homebuyers reduce their demands for new homes when they fear stock market and employment instabilities.”

U.S. purchases of new homes fell in June to the slowest pace in eight months, while the median selling price declined to the lowest in more than a year. Additionally, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a decline in existing home sales for the third month in a row.
Locally, according to data from Julia B Fee’s Monthly Tracker  Scarsdale has seen a 16% decline in home units sold year-to-date in comparison to the same period in 2017. Moreover, of concern is that inventory has risen 105% in comparison to 2017. Scarsdale’s home sales decline is far greater than that of Bronxville and Chappaqua, which declined 3.7% and 7.4%, respectively, in the same period. Home sales in Larchmont and Rye are up almost 11% and 9 ½%, respectively.

National and local data are reminding us that we need to prepare for an economic downturn, and there is not doubt that the best time to prepare for adversity is in good times. Having a long-term plan provides a dynamic tool to help municipalities preserve assets, identify where there may be funding gaps, and to identify potential income shortfalls. Elected officials and municipal personnel should determine the priorities of their constituents with polls and focus groups to help them determine funding needs for infrastructure development or other community priorities, and to identify potential income shortfalls from residential or retail tax payors.

Sharing my view are also international standard setters and state comptrollers. For example, the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, an important best practices standard setter for public finance officials, advocates for “long-term financial planning as a highly collaborative process that considers future scenarios and helps governments navigate challenges.” Moreover, the GFOA believes that “long-term financial planning works best as part of an overall strategic plan.” State comptrollers and treasurers also advocate that municipalities create and implement long-term financial plans. The Office of the New York State Comptroller, for example, not only recommends that municipalities create a long-term plan to cope with ‘future stresses,’ but also includes on its website a useful manual on how to create a long-term plan.

Unfortunately, Scarsdale Village has not developed a long-term financial model and plan. Since April, I have written repeatedly to Mayor Hochvert and the Board of Trustees about this pressing issue. Unfortunately, Mayor Hochvert wrote me that he sees no need for a long-term financial plan. Respectfully, I encourage the trustees and him to give serious thought to the pressing need to create and implement a long-term financial plan. All economic agents – businesses, individuals and governments - should be planning for tomorrow and positioning themselves to withstand adverse economic conditions.

In speaking to “Bloomberg Government” recently, Standard and Poor’s analyst Kurt Forsgren stated that “What bond-rating agencies are hoping to learn and are increasingly asking cities is how cities are approaching long-term planning, both from an asset and revenue-stream perspective.” This is the type of statement that Scarsdale’s Mayor and Trustees should take note of.

Rather than wait for the ratings agencies to come calling, Scarsdale should run a survey or create focus groups to determine what our residents’ priorities are and to incorporate them into a long-term financial plan. What services do we want? Which can we cut? Which ones could be shared with other nearby municipalities? Which can be provided more cost effectively by the private sector? Why are we issuing an over $9 million-dollar bond for a significant expansion of the library? Why are we not issuing a bond that would cost a lot less to repair the 50% of our roads that are classified as fair or poor? Which investment would yield a higher return on investment for all residents? These are possibly tough questions, and village officials should be answering them together with all of us, the taxpayers.

Presently, Scarsdale officials do not have any data to back up the agenda they have been pursuing. Scarsdale’s plan should incorporate how to cope with challenges posed by uncertainties caused by the loss of the property tax deduction in the new federal tax law, rising medical costs for Village employees and pervasive underfunded pension liabilities. To wait for the business cycle downturn or market crash to figure out how to respond to challenging issues, would be the proverbial shutting the doors after the horse has run out the barn.

Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez
Scarsdale Voters Choice Party

calendarThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 from Scarsdale Security:

Dear Editor: At Scarsdale Security, we value our connection with the community and our participation in Village life.

This year, we are proud to continue to be a sponsor of the Scarsdale Community Calendar, compiled and distributed by the Scarsdale Council of Parent-Teacher Associations. These calendars are mailed to all households in the village. Printed in August, they correspond with the school year (September – August) and are marked to indicate school closings, school events, community meetings and information related to village organizations. A telephone directory for the school district, local government, village services and community organizations is also included in the calendar.

As a sponsor, Scarsdale Security has a supply of calendars available for distribution at no cost to you. If you would like a calendar, please contact Mary at Scarsdale Security. You can reach Mary directly at 914-722-2323.

We look forward to serving you – not only as the northeast’s premier boutique for security, fire, camera and home automation systems – but also as your neighbor. Together, we all make our community a great place to call home.

Very truly yours,
David Raizen, President
Scarsdale Security Systems, Inc.

iceland 11If you’re looking for a new frontier to explore, a country with a beautiful city and even more breathtaking landscapes, plus a noticeably slower pace than New York, then Iceland may be the place for you! In the past ten years, tourism in Iceland has grown significantly, eclipsing fishing as their top industry. The nation, whose population is roughly 330,000, hosts approximately 2 million tourists each year. So what makes Iceland such a popular destination? Top reasons include the country’s unique landscapes, rich history and progressive society.

We chose to go in June when the weather was the warmest it probably ever gets, ranging from 50-55 degrees everyday. But some choose to go during the winter, while the temperatures are lower, however not unbearable, and there are significantly fewer hours of daylight.

Iceland 1Hallgrímskirkja ChurchReykjavík, the nation's capital city, boasts good food, shopping, museums and other landmarks showcasing Icelandic culture and heritage. One of this waterfront city’s biggest attractions is the hard-to-miss Hallgrímskirkja Church, which looks like an asparagus and stands so tall above any other building in the capital that it can be seen from almost every street. There is no entrance fee to admire the inside of the beautiful church and its massive 5275-pipe organ; however, visitors can buy tickets to go to the top of the tower for spectacular views of Reykjavík.

iceland 2Harpa Concert Hall

Another popular activity around Reykjavík is exploring the city’s many museums, which offer the chance to dive deeper into Icelandic culture and history. Something you may learn is the popular belief in trolls and elves; 50% of Icelandic people actively believe in them while the rest will not deny their existence. A few museums to visit are The Saga Museum and the Settlement Exhibition, not to mention the beautiful and uniquely built concert hall, Harpa, situated by the rapidly developing Reykjavík harbor. Harpa offers several concerts, shows, exhibitions and other events (not to mention it was also the set for an episode of Black Mirror).

iceland 3The Blue Lagoon Geothermal SpaJust outside of Reykjavík is the must-visit Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. Here, visitors can lounge in the naturally heated pool, swim up to the bar for drinks or try out a few of the spa’s natural face masks (like one made from silica). It is recommended that travelers stop at the Blue Lagoon on their way into Reykjavík from the airport. After hours of travel, the spa is a great way to relax and prepare for the trip ahead. No matter how cold the air temperature may be, the 100 degree spring will keep you warm (but will have you running back to your towel when you get out).

Another popular activity is whale and puffin watching. Step out onto a RIB boat and travel along the sea for a chance to spot whales up close.

iceland 10Traditional Minke whale served with soy sauce and fresh wasabi Reykjavík is also home to several incredible restaurants. Not surprisingly, the fish served is among the freshest in the world due to Reykjavík’s waterfront location and enormous fishing industry. Many restaurants also serve some unique Icelandic cuisine, such as horse, whale, puffin and fermented shark (not recommended). I tried whale, which turns out to be red meat that was surprisingly good. The city is also known for its delicious hot dogs that can be found at many street carts. In fact, they are so delicious that on one visit, Bill Clinton fell in love with them; one cart even has a hot dog named after him.

Getting around Reykjavík there is no need for a car, every destination is walkable and cabs are available all over the city. However, if you are leaving the city to see other parts of Iceland, it is recommended to drive yourself or use a guide and driver.

iceland 4The Mid Atlantic Ridge which can be viewed at Þingvellir National ParkLocated in Southern Iceland, only a little more than an hour outside of Reykjavík, is Iceland’s Golden Circle, a popular tourist route that contains three equally beautiful locations: Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. Þingvellir National Park is full of geological wonder and packed full of history. This park is the only place in the world where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates diverge) is visible above sea level. The breathtaking views of the national park should not be missed; in fact, many Game of Thrones episodes have been filmed using Þingvellir as the backdrop. Þingvellir is also where Althing, the parliamentary assembly representing the entirety of Iceland, was established in 930 and continued to meet until 1798, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The next stop on the Golden Circle tour is the Geysir Geothermal Area, where visitors can watch the Great Geysir go off, roughly every ten minutes. Water from this geyser can reach up to 130 feet or more. While there are many other geysers in this area, most have been inactive for several years. Located just across from the geyser is The Geysir Center, which contains a boutique with many locally crafted Icelandic goods – like knit sweaters and gloves - and several restaurants serving traditional Icelandic food.

iceland 5Gullfoss waterfallThe final location of the Golden Circle is Gullfoss waterfall, one of the most astonishing waterfalls in Iceland. During the summer, when there is no ice, a pathway is accessible right to the edge of the falls. Over the years, the falls have been preserved for visitors from all over the world to enjoy their beauty.

Travelers can explore the Golden Circle either through a guided tour, offered by many companies, or by renting a car and driving to the sites.

While the sights alone are worth the drive to southern Iceland, there are several opportunities for activities throughout the Golden Circle, including snorkeling (in a wetsuit), caving, rafting and more. We decided to ride Icelandic horses. Bred in Iceland, these horses are smaller than average and are sometimes referred to as pony-sized. Riding horseback around trails is a great way to take in some of Iceland's beauty.

iceland 7Getting up close to waterfalls at the hidden GljúfrafossTo fully explore the majestic natural beauty of the entire southern region of Iceland (beyond the Golden Circle), it’s best to stay a few nights here instead of going back to Reykjavík. There are plenty of lodges and hotels located throughout the region.

One aspect of Iceland that makes it so unique is its abundance of breathtaking waterfalls (good luck pronouncing any of their names). At Seljalandsfoss waterfall, you can walk behind the waterfall to capture its entirety. It is also worth the trip to visit Skógafoss, one of Iceland's biggest waterfalls, where one can walk right up to the falls and probably get drenched in the process. Though there are several more to be seen, one final notable waterfall is Gljúfrafoss. While Gljúfrafoss is much smaller than the other falls, it is probably the most magnificent (and my personal favorite). While visiting Gljúfrafoss, make sure to wear rain gear, or even waders, to really stay dry. Gljúfrafoss is hidden in a valley and in order to see the waterfall, visitors must first walk through a small river and will most likely be sprayed by the waterfall. Getting so close to the falls and taking in the landscape’s natural beauty makes seeing this waterfall an indescribable experience.

iceland 8Sólheimajökull glacierAnother must of southern Iceland is hiking the Sólheimajökull glacier. Strap on your crampons and helmet and grab an icepick for this adventure (a guide is necessary for the hike). This glacier walk is a great way to explore Icelandic nature and see firsthand why Iceland so unique. While in theory glaciers are thought of as white snowy mountains, this glacier, and many other Icelandic glaciers, is primarily black at first glance due to the volcanic ash (from an eruption in 1918) that covers the ice. This does not take away from its beauty but adds to its fascination. In fact, this is an up close look at why the country is known as the “Land of Fire and Ice.” The glacier is receding so make sure you visit while you still can! From here you can see Eyjafjallajökull glacier, which last erupted in 2010 and closed airports across Europe for days.

iceland 9Super jeep used to drive through ThórsmörkStill want to see more? Check out Thórsmörk. This gigantic valley can surely take your breath away, and so will the vehicle necessary for the trek. Since the valley consists of no roads and only rocky terrain, it’s essential to get the right guide and the right vehicle, such as a Super Jeep (a car with 46 inch tires made for driving on rough terrain and even through water). Here there are several beautiful hikes to do. The experience is one of a kind.

While these are only a few of the highlights of Iceland, there is so much more to explore. Visit in the summer and you will experience daylight nearly 24-hours a day (pack your sleep masks!); visit anytime September to April for a chance to experience the Northern Lights. Whenever you go you will get a sense of the Icelandic character of humility and forward thinking. Their optimism helps get them through cold and dark winter months and keeps smiles on their faces when there is only a few hours of daylight during the winter.

Next time you’re considering taking a vacation, instead of laying on the beach or going to the same city you’ve been to before, try Iceland. It’s a trip you will always remember!

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