Ex-N.Y. state senate leader’s corruption conviction vacated, faces retrial

On Tuesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court threw out the conviction of former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on federal corruption charges. This ruling comes two months after the court vacated the conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on similar grounds. Skelos was found guilty of using his position as Senate majority leader to pressure three companies seeking his political support into paying his son.

In exchange, Skelos allegedly pushed through bills to benefit the companies. The back-to-back convictions of Silver and Skelos in 2015 represented two of the most high-profile victories for former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who made public corruption a major focus during his tenure before he was fired by President Trump in March. Federal prosecutors can retry Skelos and his son for bribery and fraud as the evidence presented at trial was “sufficient” to prove their case.

Farid Johnson Becomes New Principle of Stony Point Elementary School

Farid Johnson, 35, became the new school principle of Stony Point Elementary School. The resident of White Plains previously worked as a special education teacher and an assistant principle in the Bronx. Following that, Johnson served as the assistant principle at Hillside Elementary School in Hastings-on-Hudson. Johnson takes the position following the retirement of Diane Bane, who worked for nearly 20 years in the North Rockland school district. Johnson was appointed by the school board in April to a four-year probationary period at an annual salary of $146,278. Johnson is a graduate of Hastings High School (1999) and has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Manhattanville College and Bank Street College of Education.


Brandon McLauchlin Named New Pastor of St. Charles AME Zion Church

After a decade serving as minister in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, the Rev. Brandon McLauchlin was named pastor at St. Charles AME Zion Church of Sparkill, New York. McLauchlin succeeds Rev. Louis Sanders, who retired at age 73 after more than three decades at St. Charles. During that time the church grew to 170 members, and broadened its outreach and activism in the community. McLauchlin, 28, has many of his own ideas to contribute, especially regarding bringing younger members into the fold. He’s been using Facebook to livestream his sermons and Tuesday night Bible studies. Shorter Sunday services are also under consideration. McLauchlin knew as early as the seventh grade that he wanted to preach, and by the time he was 16, he told his mother of his decision.

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