Feb 23, 2021
Teen could get sweetheart deal for graduating high school
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An alleged teen gangbanger dubbed “the Peyton Manning of criminal conduct” by a former prosecutor could get a sweetheart deal in court — all because he managed to graduate from high school, The Post has learned.
Courtney Yeates, 18, a reputed member of the Folk Nation street gang, has at least nine busts and four open cases in Queens and Brooklyn — including a felony robbery conviction for which he is awaiting sentencing.
The troubled teen is now back at Riker’s Island on a $150,000 bond after yet another arrest last week, for possession of a loaded handgun.
But one judge is contemplating giving him “Youthful Offender” status — which would reduce his prison time and wipe his record clean, sources with knowledge of the case told The Post.
Yeates is currently awaiting sentencing on two Queens cases after pleading guilty to both on Nov. 18 — a felony robbery case from July 19 and a grand larceny/auto case from July 9, according to court records.
He also has two open cases in which he is charged with possession of a loaded gun — one a Brooklyn bust from May 2019 and his most recent arrest in Queens on Feb. 18.
The judge in his Queens cases, Youth Court Judge Lenora Gerald, is now considering the YO status — citing the teen’s high school graduation as a sign that he can redeem himself, the sources said.
Gerald is seeking to consolidate his cases with the Brooklyn one, sources said. The judge in that case, Youth Court Judge Craig Walker, would have to agree to the move.
But the news isn’t sitting well with some in the Big Apple criminal justice system.
“At his age, and with his record, and this many open cases, he’s the Peyton Manning of criminal conduct,” former Bronx prosecutor Michael Discioarro told The Post. “He’ll be running the show in no time. He’s a top draft pick.”
“What I don’t understand is, with his record, why him?” continued Discioarro, who is now a defense attorney. “I have clients with much less that haven’t gotten this kind of break.”
The state Youthful Offender statute provides judges with the option of giving defendants 19 or younger a break, reducing their potential prison time, and sealing their criminal records.
The law is intended to allow young defendants a chance to turn their lives around — although typically in non-violent or misdemeanor cases.
“In general, courts and legislatures do tend to leave a little wiggle room for judicial interpretation, and of course prosecutors always hate that,” said Jeffrey Butts, head of the Research Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“Anytime you’re dealing with someone who is young you need to allow for the possibility that, even at 22, not everyone is a fully functional adult and sometimes they make rash decisions.”Courtney Yeates, 18, has at least nine busts and four open cases in Queens and Brooklyn.
Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, said it was “misguided” to speculate on whether Yeates will be given the status.
“While this defendant does have pending cases, each is decided on its own merits, based on the evidence, facts, and circumstances before the court,” Chalfen said.
But some contend that Yeates, who has been charged with gun possession at least four times, is already a career criminal who poses a danger to the community.
“Getting caught with more than one gun means you carry a gun every day like you carry a cellphone,” one former prosecutor said. “This comes down to who you think should be punished. Two guns, three guns. This is madness.”
“Two gun cases is not a mistake,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle.”
“The number one solution to reduce the shootings that continue to skyrocket across the city is to put offenders in jail,” said Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detectives Endowment Association. “Judges need to understand just how dangerous the streets have become.”
“After all, it’s their responsibility to keep the public safe,” he said. “Putting people in jail may not be in line with certain politics, but the bottom line is judges need to start worrying about the victim of these violent crimes.”
Queens Defenders, which represents Yeates on his pending court cases, did not respond to calls seeking comment this week.
News Source: newsbrig.com
San Francisco Schools to Reopen Starting April 12 Under Deal
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco school officials plan to reopen classrooms for some of the youngest students beginning April 12 under a tentative deal reached with the teachers union, according to a newspaper report.
The agreement was announced late Friday after months of debate over how and when kids would return to in-person instruction as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations decline statewide.
San Francisco Unified School District officials said in a statement that they reached the arrangement with the teachers union to “return as many students as possible in focal groups to nearly a full school day, 5 days a week," the Chronicle reported.
Those groups are primarily preschool through fifth grade, although the district said 24 of 64 elementary schools will definitely reopen in April, the newspaper said. It’s still unclear how many of the district’s 52,000 students will return before the term ends June 2.
The school board still needs to vote on the deal.
Officials have said it’s highly unlikely middle and high school students will go back to classrooms this year. District representatives declined to comment on the deal before a Monday news conference.
Susan Solomon, president of United Educators of San Francisco, said in a statement that the agreement "is the product of months of adapting and reimagining what a return to in-person instruction for educators, students, and families in a large urban district could look like in a pandemic.”
Across San Francisco Bay, Oakland students could also start heading back to classrooms within weeks, starting with the youngest children and most at-risk students across all grades, the Chronicle reported. The goal is to reopen the first schools by mid- to late March, according to a letter Oakland Unified School District sent to families last week.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed into law a plan that allows California’s public schools to tap into a $2 billion fund to try and incentivize districts to reopen classrooms by the end of March.
The law does not require school districts to resume in-person instruction. Instead, the state is dangling the money before cash-strapped school boards, offering them a share only if they start offering in-person instruction by month’s end. The rest of the money the state recently set aside for schools, $4.6 billion, would go toward helping students catch up.
In California, the new law has attracted bipartisan support and scorn in equal measure, with the Democratic governor and lawmakers saying it marked an important step forward but was far from perfect.
Teachers from some of the biggest districts have come out against it, saying schools can’t reopen until infection rates drop and enough educators have been vaccinated.
While California businesses have opened and closed through the ups and downs of the pandemic, many school boards have not been willing to return students to classrooms as they have struggled with the costs to implement safety standards and negotiations with teachers unions.
But as the rate of new coronavirus cases continues to fall and more people are getting vaccinated, politicians and parents have been pressuring districts to return to in-person learning before the end of the school year.
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