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Mold’s Still a Growing Problem

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Ten-year-old James Ford, who suffers from asthma, has been in and out of the hospital this school year — missing nearly 30 days at Public School 138 in the Bronx.

And instead of doing the things boys generally do on the weekends, the public housing resident is taking classes on Saturdays just to finish fifth grade on time.

His parents say his asthma has grown worse with the spread of dark mold across the bathroom ceiling caused by a leaky pipe in the family’s three-bedroom apartment at the Castle Hill Houses.

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This story was reported by the NYCity News Service in conjunction with the Daily News as part of the Stop the Mold project, funded in part by the first Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. Contributors include Allegra Abramo, Natalie Abruzzo, Julia Alsop, Frank Green, Gwynne Hogan, Ross Keith, Roxanne Scott, Melisa Stumpf and Maria Villasenor.

Courthouse Meets Clubhouse

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Despite years of reforms, in some Bronx courtrooms, it is still just as helpful to know the judge as the law. Sometimes, it’s even more so.

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Drugs Eyed at Nursing Homes

Monday, February 25th, 2013

George LaRocca Jr. and his dad ran a Brooklyn auto shop together. Even when Alzheimer’s robbed the elder LaRocca of his memories and ability to work, his son brought him to work. But one day his dad wandered off and the younger LaRocca found him near some scrap yards. When LaRocca rolled up in his car, George Sr. said with a laugh, “I don’t know your name but I know you belong to me.”

LaRocca knew his dad needed more care than he or his mother could provide. So they made the difficult decision to admit him to Regeis Care Center, a nursing home in the Bronx with manicured lawns. Their motto: “The Road Back Home Begins with Regeis.”

Within a week at Regeis, his son says, his dad could no longer walk. Less than a year after being admitted on May 15, 2007, LaRocca was dead from a bloodstream infection brought on by severe bedsores. In testimony for a lawsuit brought by his family against the nursing home and later settled, Regeis’ own medical expert testified that antipsychotics given to LaRocca had “predisposed” the 78-year-old man’s skin to break down, which led to the bedsores.

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New Light on Watergate Figure

Monday, November 19th, 2012

When the FBI evaluated Charles “Chuck” Colson for his job as a top Nixon Administration official in 1969, one person who declined to speak federal agents was White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman – who later worked with him on the Watergate cover-up, newly disclosed documents reveal.

Haldeman was not interviewed “because of his personal request not to be contacted on White House investigations,” according to the FBI’s dossier on Colson, who would go on to help compile President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.”

Haldeman’s stance is replete with historical irony:  He was captured three years later on the famous “smoking gun” tape talking with Nixon about how to use the CIA to subvert the FBI’s probe into the Watergate controversy.  The tape ultimately helped destroy Nixon’s presidency, leading to his unprecedented resignation in 1974.  Haldeman was later tried on counts of perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, and spent 18 months in prison for his role in the scandal.

Colson’s FBI file was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, which obligates the feds to disclose certain previously unreleased documents to the public once the subject has died. Colson died at age 80 on April 21, 2012 due to complications stemming from a brain hemorrhage.

The FBI turned over 63 pages from Colson’s file, while another eight pages were withheld for unspecified reasons. It’s unclear whether any of those eight pages date from the Watergate era.

Colson’s FBI files does reveal that Clyde Tolson, a top aide to longtime agency head J. Edgar Hoover, was among those who signed off on his background check. But Mark Felt – the top FBI official who leaked key information to The Washington Post about Watergate, earning him the moniker “Deep Throat” – apparently was not involved in vetting Colson.

The worst things the FBI uncovered about Colson, pre-Watergate, was an $88.47 unpaid debt to the government and his quick Mexican divorce from his first wife and the mother of his three children several years earlier.

Colson, a Washington lawyer, became a special counsel to Nixon in November 1969 at age 38.  A self-described “hatchet man,” he helped gather a list of the President’s political enemies.

On June 21, 1974, Colson was sentenced to seven months in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with Watergate.  He later became one of the nation’s most prominent evangelical Christians after a self-professed jailhouse conversion while incarcerated for his role in the Watergate scandal.

Search for The Phantom Landlord

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

FBI Probed Geraldine Ferraro

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Linkletter Faced Darndest Threats

Monday, October 4th, 2010

FBI Tracked Lena Horne’s Activist Life

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Solzhenitsyn Lived in Fear After Exile

Monday, September 27th, 2010