Photo Courtesy of Sen. Peralta’s Office
Assistant District Attorneys Kenneth Applebaum, chief of the Queens DA’s Special Victims Bureau (l. to r.), and Carmencita Gutierrez, director of the DA’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Sens. Peralta and Avella; and Assistant District Attorney Kirsten Kane, chief of the DA’s Elder Fraud Unit.
By Forum Staff
State Sens. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside) recently announced a $150,000 state allocation for the Queens District Attorney’s Office, which will be used to support initiatives to assist crime victims with special needs: child victims of sexual or physical abuse, immigrant victims of crime, and elderly victims who fall prey to financial exploitation.
According to the elected officials, the funding will support the services of one assistant district attorney assigned to the Elder Fraud Unit, which focuses on enhancing efforts to combat the growing problem of financial exploitation in the borough. According to the Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, criminal activity targeting the elderly – including telemarketing and consumer scams, identity theft, credit card and mortgage fraud, among others – has increased.
“A society is measured by how it treats the weakest and most vulnerable among its people. In Queens County, we have long strived to protect those especially vulnerable to deception, fraud and abuse – the children, the elderly and our immigrant communities,” Brown said. “I applaud and welcome Senators Peralta and Avella’s efforts in obtaining for us this $150,000 state allocation that will be used exclusively for those efforts.”
Additionally, part of the state allocation will also support staff assigned to the Queens District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which assists members of the borough’s immigrant communities in navigating and accessing services within the criminal justice system.
“Now, more than ever, our legal system needs to do all it can to protect the most vulnerable of New Yorkers. This allocation will protect children, immigrants, and seniors, some of the most targeted populations in our city,” Avella added. “I am proud that Senator Peralta and I are able to provide this money to protect our fellow Queens residents and am looking forward to all the positive work the DA Brown can do with this funding.”
In the area of child sexual and physical abuse, the funding will also support the services of one assistant district attorney based at the Queens Child Advocacy Center. The center provides comprehensive services to victims of child sexual and physical abuse and their families. The CAC fosters a supportive environment for child victims and their families. Specialized staff includes members of the City Police Department, the City Administration Children’s Services, Safe Horizon and Northwell Health.
To protect elderly victims of crimes, the Queens District Attorney’s Office has assigned assistant district attorneys specially trained in handling these matters to work in a team approach with social workers from the DA’s Office, who provide support services to the victims. Efforts also include public outreach directed toward building awareness of financial exploitation crimes in Queens and encouraging elderly victims to come forward and seek help to deal with the consequences of being victimized or financially exploited.