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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
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.

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
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Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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NYC school leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

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The leaders of the city’s public schools and largest charter network both weighed in on the Derek Chauvin verdict with passionate statements about how there is still a long way to go to reach systemic equality.

Department of Education Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter issued a personal commentary Tuesday night after the murder conviction of former Minnesota cop Chauvin.

“I felt pain and rage, deep in my bones,” she said of her initial reaction to George Floyd’s death. “It wasn’t a new feeling. I have felt that many times in my life, as a Black woman, sister, daughter, and mother to Black children—and as an educator who has served children of color in this city for more than 20 years.”

Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would be issuing guidance for teachers and families to help them process the verdict.

Eva Moskowitz with two students, the CEO and Founder of the Success Academy
Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz issued a statement on the Derek Chauvin verdict.
Brigitte Stelzer

“For our Black and brown children to know that they matter, the accountability this verdict represents is so important,” she stated. “In a world that too often tells them otherwise, accountability in this moment tells the Black and brown children in our schools that their lives matter, and lifts up the importance of their futures.”

Several teachers told The Post on Wednesday morning that they planned to broach the topic with their students to allow them to discuss Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s conviction.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Mark Lennihan/AP

“Because while the individual who took George Floyd’s life will be held accountable, we recognize that systemic racism, and the violence it fuels, is still creating tragedy and inequality across our country every single day,” Ross-Porter said. “We are all part of the work to undo this harm and reach true justice.”

Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, who oversees the city’s largest charter school network, also issued a statement.

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“We are grateful that justice has been served and that the judicial process has worked as intended,” she wrote. “We recognize, however, that this verdict does not resolve the systemic inequities that led to Floyd’s death; nor does it heal the anguish we feel witnessing our fellow citizens die at the hands of the public servants tasked with protecting us.”

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