By Will Galison and Milton Allimadi. Will Galison is an internationally known musician with many recording and performing credits. Will became a part-time journalist after being a victim of judicial corruption and discovering that no mainstream media was writing about the subject and no government agencies were challenging it. Milton Allimadi, publisher and CEO of the Black Star News, is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. Originally published at Truthout.
The cover-up of the death of an anti-corruption whistleblower by numerous agencies and the mainstream media.
Lambert here: Definitely long form, and definitely required reading.
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In the months following the February killing of Trayvon Martin, that story dominated headlines across the nation and around the world. Mainstream media venues have dedicated thousands of hours and countless pages to every conceivable angle of the story – including baseless speculation about unverified facts and even the imagined motivations of the victim and killer.
Why has this story generated such intense attention and passion?
While a racially charged debate continues among people speculating about the as-yet-unknown circumstances of the killing, the substantive story here is one of national importance: the fact that an American police department utterly failed to investigate a killing and released the killer solely on the basis of his own word.
The ramification of this case is that an American citizen can be killed and that law enforcement can simply neglect their responsibility to investigate the killing, thus failing both to serve justice and to deter future incidents.
Protection by law enforcement and a criminal justice system is the most fundamental contract between a people and their government. Without security, all other rights and liberties are moot, so we employ our government to protect us from being robbed, injured or killed by anyone with the inclination to harm us.
Sheu, the New York Police Department’s Own Trayvon Martin Case
The failure of a tiny police force to investigate an apparently unpremeditated killing in a backwater of Florida engendered national protests, riots, impassioned speeches by politicians and months of headline coverage.
What would the public’s reaction be if the police department in question was the largest and most powerful in the nation, the New York Police Department (NYPD)? What if the murder was not an impulsive act by an unstable misfit, but apparently a premeditated assassination? What if the police not only failed to investigate, but were directly implicated in the crime and proven to have covered it up in collusion with the FBI, the New York State judiciary, and others? What if the victim had made a video weeks before his death, exposing the corruption he had uncovered, predicting his death and naming the people he believed would kill him? What if the medical examiner (ME) officially ruled the cause of death “blunt force trauma to the head with skull fractures and brain injuries” and the NYPD continued to maintain that the victim died of “natural causes” with “no head trauma“?
In other words, what if the entire structure of governmental institutions, which exist to ensure our security, colluded to protect the killer through negligence and outright criminality?
That is precisely what appears to have happened in the case of Sun Ming “Sunny” Sheu, an anti-corruption whistleblower who was bludgeoned to death on July 26, 2010. The details of this case and the reasons you have never heard of it will be the subject of this article.
The Sheu story exposes criminal complicity and betrayal by all of the institutions we depend on for our security: local and federal law enforcement; the courts; politicians; health care providers; and, most chilling of all, our refuge of last resort, the media.
The Story of Sheu
Early in 2009, Sheu walked into the office of the Black Star News* (BSN) and recounted to Publisher Milton Allimadi the story of his ten-year struggle with corruption at every level of New York government. Mr. Sheu, a legal immigrant from Taiwan, was a small, wiry man with a mischievous sense of humor, who could express fierce outrage one moment and chuckle at the absurdity of it all the next. Though his English was rudimentary, he radiated intelligence and humble self-assurance. Sheu made his living as a computer hardware and software engineer and was creating a social network site for Chinese-speaking people when his troubles began. He also rented out two rooms in his Flushing Queens home for extra income. Above all, Sheu was a peaceful warrior, who felt that fighting for one’s rights was a patriotic duty, a privilege of living in America that was to some degree its own reward.
Sheu’s problem centered around his residential property, a simple two-story house at 45-14 158th street in Flushing, Queens, which he said had been wrongfully wrested from him by a mortgage company with the aide of Judge Joseph Golia from the State Supreme Court in Queens. Sheu claimed Golia was “corrupt” and had consistently ruled against him and in favor of the bank, to wrongfully ensure that he never recovered his property.
Sheu’s story of his struggle with Judge Golia was so compelling that the BSN covered it in a three-part series entitled “Junk Justice,” which ran beginning in July 2009. At that time, the BSN believed that exposing Mr. Sheu’s struggle with judicial corruption and abuse would protect Sheu from reprisals against him. Tragically, that was not the case.
The Background Story: Mortgage Fraud and Court Malfeasance
Sheu’s ordeal began over ten years ago when a bank representative knocked on his door and said he was there to inspect the house for its new owner. The problem was that Sheu had never sold the house.
Sheu’s house was owned under the name of his brother Hsu, and it was soon discovered that someone had forged his brother’s signature on a power-of-attorney document and used the forged power of attorney to illegally sell the property to a fraudulent buyer.
Sheu immediately alerted all relevant authorities and parties; including the police, the bank that held the mortgage (Centex Home Equity) and the title insurer of the property (Old Republic Title Insurance). He wrote letters to all the appropriate executives at Centex, alerting them that the sale was fraudulent. Sheu’s brother was able to prove to the police that he had been in Taiwan on the date of the fraudulent signing and could not have signed the papers before a notary in New York. Soon thereafter, the forgers were arrested by the NYPD and were eventually prosecuted and pled guilty of forgery.
Sheu expected that with all the evidence in hand, the fraudulent sale would be quickly invalidated and his home returned. In fact, it was actually only the beginning of his nightmare. Despite all the warnings and documentation submitted by Sheu regarding the fraud, including the criminal complaint, Centex continued to act as if the sale had been legitimate. Sunny continued to send his mortgage payments to Centex, but Centex sent them back, insisting that Sheu was no longer the owner.
Incredibly, in December 2001, Centex filed a lawsuit against Sheu and the fraudulent “owners” in State Supreme Court, Queens County. The bank wanted a default judgment on the property and foreclosure, claiming that the “new owners” were delinquent on mortgage payments. In reality, of course, there were never any legal “new owners.”
The Legal Fiasco
The Centex v. Sheu case went before Judge Golia, in Queens County. Sheu immediately filed an “Order to Show Cause” requesting a temporary restraining order on the lawsuit and asking Golia to allow the detectives who arrested the fraudsters to testify on the record. Sheu said he was stunned when Judge Golia denied the motion and ignored the documented fact that the “sale” had been fraudulent, which would have obviated Centex’s claim against him. Instead of immediately restoring Sheu’s rightful ownership, Golia allowed the lawsuit to proceed, eventually leading to foreclosure on Sheu’s home.
Worse yet, the judge let the case drag out for ten years, with numerous postponements, essentially draining Sheu of all his resources. At some point, Sheu could no longer afford attorney fees and had to represent himself.
For ten grueling years, Sheu was consistently denied the opportunity to present evidentiary documentation proving that the fraud had taken place and that Centex had no right to foreclose on his home. Judge Golia never even allowed Sheu to introduce records of the forger’s guilty plea and conviction into evidence. Clearly, simple discovery – examination of documents by the court – would have proven the fraud, but Golia never allowed this fundamental judicial procedure to take place, despite Sheu’s numerous appeals to the judge.
Sheu’s home was first foreclosed on January 28, 2005, and Centex “bought” the property for $1,000 from Amy Cheng, one of the pseudonymous fraudsters who had been arrested for fraud in the fictitious sale. “How can you buy property from someone who does not exist?” Sheu asked, in an interview with the BSN.
Sheu also wrote New York State Chief Administrative Judge – now Chief Judge – Jonathan Lippman, complaining about Judge Golia’s conduct and accusing the judge of “discrimination” and “bias.” In fact Lippman, while he was chief administrative judge, appointed Golia to his judgeship in the 11th District.
Sheu demanded that Golia recuse himself from the case; the judge refused. Sheu was persistent, writing to numerous elected public officials and filing an appeal against the foreclosure. Aware that Sheu had notified various elected officials about what he claimed were the “biased” rulings, Judge Golia eventually reversed his own earlier decision and the initial foreclosure was rescinded, records showed.
Still, the judge refused to restore ownership of the property to Sheu. Golia was so adamant to deprive him of justice, Sheu contended, that he came up with a remarkable decision. Golia now ruled that even though Sheu’s home had been illegally sold years earlier, since Centex had already paid off the mortgage, the bank now owned the property under a doctrine known as “Equitable Subrogation.” After all of Sheu’s struggle, the bank owned the house after all.
“How can equitable subrogation apply to stolen property?” Sheu said, in a BSN interview. “This means if I have a lot of money, like Centex, I can pay off anybody’s mortgage anywhere without their permission and then take possession of their home and kick them out?”
Finally, early in 2010, his property was foreclosed on again, this time conclusively (until after his death; see below). When it became clear to Sheu that he could not expect a fair disposition of the case by Golia, he advised the judge that he would expose the judicial charade to the media.
Sheu’s Letter to Golia
Over nearly a decade of fighting the Centex suit, Sheu was never able to officially enter in the court record that the original sale was established to be fraudulent. He was also puzzled as to how the fraudsters, who had pled guilty to forgery and fraud felonies, could have walked away with no fine and no incarceration. His various motions for hearings to rectify this situation were either ignored or summarily dismissed by Golia.
Desperate, on January 6, 2009, Sheu finally wrote a letter and hand delivered it to the mailbox outside Judge Golia’s residence. The letter, in Sheu’s imperfect English, read simply:
It’s over 8 years, we have been prohibited to have any New York CPLR most basic “due process” to discovery, to deposition, to subpoena to counter claim, to cross claim again and again and our 3rd party summon has been ignore, too.
After contacted NYPD Commissioner Mr. Raymond W. Kelly, Lut. Comofrty in 109 agreed that Det Keith Ng and Det. Kin Lee who investigation the crime should testify to you about the bank’s officer and closing lawyer violated law and the bank’s closing lawyer internationally accepted fake deposit of Residential contract of sales, fake money order, fake check, falsify bank records to endorsed the fraudulent mortgage and got some money for himself.
There are no reasons you free all the criminals $0 dollars of judgment at all. Would you mind to schedule a hearing as soon as possible?”
Sheu Is Kidnapped and Threatened by NYPD Detectives
One week later, on January 14, 2009, Sheu was summoned to the Queens Supreme courthouse. He was met in the courthouse lobby by two NYPD detectives of the Queens District Attorney’s Bureau. The detectives told Sheu that they wanted to talk to him about his mortgage case. Sunny sat down on a bench and said he was ready to discuss the case.
According to Sheu, the detectives then “showed their guns and badges,” led him into an unmarked car and drove him to the district attorney’s (DA) office, where they entered through a back door. There, said Sheu, in a locked room, the officers berated and intimidated him, accusing him of harassing Judge Golia, forcing him to empty his pockets and photocopying his documents. He claimed that one officer pounded on a desk and told him repeatedly that the house he was fighting for didn’t belong to him.
Most ominously, Sheu reported that one of the detectives warned that if he “went to the press or authorities,” “… you live in a dangerous neighborhood with gangs and anything could happen to you.” Understandably, Sheu took this as a direct threat against his life, and after two hours of detention, he emerged shaken and terrified.
(Spokesperson Kevin Ryan from the Queens DA’s office confirmed that Sheu had indeed been detained by two NYPD detectives on the date in question and promised to provide more information after investigating the matter, including the name of the person who ordered the detention and the names of the two detectives. Since that promise was made – over a year ago – the Queens DA has never contacted the BSN regarding this matter.)
But despite the warning of the detectives not to contact the authorities or the press, Sheu did both. It was shortly after this detention that Sheu contacted the BSN and began working on the articles with Milton Allimadi.
Sheu Asks the FBI for Witness Protection
Sheu also contacted the FBI: and was assigned to agent Rachel Rojas of the New York Bureau, who notified him that she was monitoring the case. Numerous emails were exchanged between the two. In November of 2009, Sheu also had a personal meeting with Rojas, accompanied by several of his associates, including Will Galison, a fellow activist (and co-reporter of this story), who had taken an interest in Sheu’s case. After the meeting, Sheu sent a follow-up email to Rojas, reminding her of the threats against his life and appealing to the FBI for witness protection.
In her responding email of April 9, 2010, Rojas simply wrote, “Thanks Sunny, be careful,” an admonition Sheu found small comfort. (When contacted by telephone, Agent Rojas declined to discuss the case with the BSN. Rojas refused to comment on the case while Sheu was still alive and has refused to return any correspondence, or to accept any physical or documentary evidence regarding his death.)
Unsatisfied with the FBI’s tepid response, Sheu reached out to dozens of other government agencies, politicians and media outlets. (See “Murder and Cover-Up: It Takes a Village” below.)
Sheu, a man of considerable education and discernment, wondered if Golia’s blatant disregard of law in his own case indicated a more general propensity for corruption. He figured that if he could find evidence of other improprieties by Golia, perhaps he could force the judge off his case.
Sheu Investigates Judge Golia’s Finances
With this in mind, Sheu set out to investigate the personal financial disclosure filings of Judge Golia, which are public records, available by request from the New York Office of Court Administration’s (OCA) Ethics Commission. These filings detail the financial assets of all public officials, as a means of curtailing potential conflicts of interest.
Sheu searched the Internet for documentation of Golia’s real estate holdings, hoping to find concealed assets that had not been declared on his financial disclosure form. If he could prove financial impropriety by Golia, Sheu reasoned, perhaps he could get Golia removed from the bench and finally receive a fair hearing for his case.
Sheu, who was a computer expert in both hardware and software, searched the Internet for evidence of properties he concluded were owned by Golia. Armed with a list of these properties, Sheu then went to the OCA Ethics Commission to obtain Golia’s financial disclosure forms.
According to Sheu, he discovered many discrepancies between Golia’s actual properties and the ones declared on his financial disclosure forms, including a million-dollar beach house in Breezy Point, Long Island, which was described in a local magazine as belonging to the judge and which is publicly listed as being owned by the Golia “family.”
On November 29, 2009, Sheu alerted Janice Howard, the director of the OCA Ethics Commission, of these apparent discrepancies. Sheu’s complaint to OCA included the following allegations:
“[Golia] Failed to disclose fully his liabilities for 2002/2003/2004/2005/2006/2008, in that he:
- failed to disclose a mortgage held by HSBC under his wife “Roslaie Grecco”
- failed to disclose a mortgage held by HSBC of “Joseph Golia and Rosalie Golia”
- failed to disclose “Rosalie Grecco” employment/ income/ property – failed to disclose “Hampton West” beach House (Breezy Point)
- potential conflict of interest, owned Flushing Bank stock (Flushing Financial Corp) and using connections” to get $750,000.000 in lower rate and mortgage more than the property market value, as NYC Dept. of Finance record, 2007 property market about $220,000.00.”
The BSN cannot determine the validity of the above complaints, but clearly Ethics Commissioner Janice Howard found them compelling enough that she ordered that Golia submit an amended form to clarify any issues with his original financial form.
By law, the amended disclosure form is the last chance for a public official to “come clean” about any errors or omissions on their original disclosure. Failure of a government official to rectify discrepancies between his actual assets and his financial disclosure form constitutes a felony under New York law. If Golia’s amended form did not explain or correct the discrepancies alleged by Sheu, there could be an investigation and Golia could be looking at felony charges and incarceration.
Sheu Makes a Video Predicting His Murder
After his kidnapping, Sheu was keenly aware of the danger he was in. On April 9, 2010, Sheu recorded a video statement, later posted on YouTube. In the two-minute video, Sheu expresses his fear for his life as a result of his investigation into Judge Golia’s personal finances:
“I have filed a complaint to the FBI and the New York State Unified Court Disciplinary Committee about Judge Golia['s] [falsification of] his financial disclosure statement and I have submit[ed] evidence to the FBI. Recently [the] FBI returned [to] me cop[ies] of evidence that I sent to the FBI and today, April 9, [the] Unified Court Disciplinary Committee director Janice Howard called and [said] that judge Joseph Golia already amend[ed] his financial disclosure statement, which means my evidence is true … I make this video for my safety…. If anything wrong goes to me it should come from Judge Golia and his people [sic].”
Sheu’s Testimony to the New York Senate Hearings on Judicial Corruption
On June 8 and September 24 of 2009, the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on judicial corruption. The hearings, held in Albany and Manhattan, respectively, were packed to capacity and dozens of victims testified regarding judicial corruption they had endured. The Judiciary Committee was chaired by Senator Sampson, but also included (now New York State Attorney General) Eric Schneiderman and (former NYPD Captain) Eric Adams.
Sheu attended the September 24 hearing and had been invited by Sampson and was scheduled to testify before the committee.
Oddly, the moment before Sheu was scheduled to testify about the threats against him, Senator Sampson abruptly closed the meeting. Sampson promised that the hearings would resume the following November, but they never did. Crestfallen, Sheu personally handed his prepared written testimony to Senator Sampson, who promised to read it.
In April of 2010, Sheu also had a personal meeting with Senator (and former NYPD Captain) Adams, requesting protection from the people who threatened him.
After Sheu was killed, the BSN wrote a letter to Senator Sampson, asking what he would do to protect the lives of others scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee. Despite numerous follow-ups calls and emails, Senator Samson has never responded. (Ironically, Adams and other Judiciary Committee members expressed their “outrage” at the police misconduct in the Trayvon Martin case by wearing “hoodies,” but did nothing to protect or seek justice for Sheu.)
Sunny Receives Golia’s Amended Financial Form
On Wednesday, June 23, 2010, Janice Howard of the OCA Ethics Commission called Sheu to tell him that the amended form was available. Accompanied by his friends Dr. Sherry Bobrowsky and Galison, Sheu visited the Commission office where he was handed Judge Golia’s amended financial disclosure form.
Golia’s amended form, which was examined by Sheu, Galison and Bobrowsky, was just one page long and was essentially an affirmation of the original disclosure form. Golia stood by his original accounting – the only asset Golia mentioned on the amended form that had not been cited on the original was a “vacant lot” in Queens that he claimed was worth less than $1,000 and therefore did not require reporting.
(Over the past two years, the BSN has repeatedly requested a copy of the amended financial form from the OCA Ethics Commission, whose sole mandate is to provide such forms to the public. The Ethics Commission has repeatedly refused.)
Sheu immediately realized that the amended form neglected to mention the beach house at Breezy Point as well as other undeclared properties enumerated in his complaint. Galison captured Sheu’s reaction on his iPhone: “Now I’ve got him!” Sheu exclaimed. “Now I’ve got enough evidence to put Golia in Jail.”
Galison and Bobrowsky realized the imprudence of threatening to prosecute a judge in front of his colleagues at the OCA. Galison took Sheu by the arm and briskly ushered him out of the office, thanking Ms. Howard and her assistant for their help. Outside the OCA offices, Galison and Bobrowsky discussed with Sheu the grave jeopardy he was now in. Golia did not want to go to jail, they reasoned and would do anything necessary to keep that from happening. Sheu promised his friends that he would stay close to home, watch his back and call them if he felt that he was being surveilled or followed.
Sheu Is Killed
Three days after the visit to OCA, on the afternoon of Saturday, June 26, 2010, Galison’s cell phone rang and Sheu’s name flashed on the caller ID. When Galison lifted the phone it was not Sheu; the caller identified himself as Officer Ramos of the 109th Precinct in Queens.
Ramos told Galison that a man, tentatively identified as Sheu, had been found in a coma with severe head trauma and was now at the New York Hospital of Queens. Galison’s number, Ramos explained, was on the speed dial list and Ramos had dialed the list sequentially, to alert Sheu’s colleagues of the injury and to summon someone to identify the patient. He asked if Galison could come to the Hospital ASAP.
Galison called Dr. Bobrowsky (who had also been called by Ramos), who drove into the city from Yonkers to pick Galison up and take him to the Hospital. As Galison waited for Bobrowsky to arrive, he hastily uploaded the video of Sheu he had filmed weeks prior on YouTube, praying that Sheu’s prediction of violent retribution had not come to pass.
Before entering the hospital, Galison activated his iPhone video and positioned the phone so its camera could capture whatever was to unfold.
Bobrowsky and Galison arrived at the emergency room at 8:15 PM. They were greeted by Dr. Zasheen Ahmed, a 29-year-old resident, and an emergency room nurse named Laura. The pair stood in front of a closed curtain. “I’m sorry” Ahmed said, “We just covered him up.” (Sheu was officially pronounced dead at 8:13 PM.)
As the initial shock subsided, Dr. Ahmed asked Galison and Bobrowsky to identify the body, which was lying face up on a gurney. At Dr. Ahmed’s direction, the pair wrote down their names and numbers on a blank piece of paper and verbally confirmed Sunny’s identity.
Head Trauma or No Head Trauma?
Dr. Bobrowsky then asked the Ahmed and Laura what they knew about the “severe head trauma” that Ramos had reported to Galison and others immediately after the incident.
Here’s how the conversation went:
Dr. Ahmed: “We’ve got a CAT scan of his head. He’s got a massive bleed throughout his brain. Its called a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage. “
Dr. Bobrowsky: “Did you relieve the pressure?”
Dr. Ahmed: “No.”
Dr. Bobrowsky: “Why not?”
Dr. Ahmed: “First of all, this wasn’t traumatic most likely, there’s no signs of trauma on his head, there’s no fractures.” [See video of the conversation.]
Nurse Laura was more adamant, insisting that “there was not a scratch on his head, not a bump, not a lump, nothing.” When asked why Officer Ramos had cited “severe head trauma” to at least four different people, Dr. Ahmed replied, “sometimes [the police] make mistakes.“
Galison told Ahmed that because of the suspicious timing of Sheu’s death and the death threats Sheu had reported in his video, foul play was suspected, and Dr. Ahmed promised he would double check for any signs of trauma. Then, as Galison and Bobrowsky were leaving, Nurse Laura unexpectedly gave them Sheu’s cell phone, wrapped in a plastic evidence bag. The phone listed everyone that Sheu had called, or been called by, over the nine months up to and including the day of his death.
According to the Notice of Death, obtained through Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) from the medical examiner (ME), it shows that within minutes after Galison and Bobrowsky left Dr. Ahmed’s emergency room – at 9:03 PM – Ahmed was visited by Detective Amy Davidson (Shield #121) from the 109th Precinct. The Notice of Death says that at 9:03, Davidson, the “Investigator on Case” “spoke to doc” (What did Davidson say to Ahmed? Why was she there in the first place?)
At that same moment, just outside the hospital, Dr. Bobrowsky had called the 109th Precinct and was speaking with the precinct Captain, Chris Austin. Bobrowsky informed Austin of the threats against Sheu’s life and asked Austin to send a detective to take a statement from her and Galison regarding Sheu’s death. Austin refused, insisting that the witnesses come to the precinct house to give their statement even though, unknown to Bobrowsky and Galison, Davidson was already at the hospital. Under the circumstances, the pair felt it wiser to decline Austin’s invitation.
Austin further assured Bobrowsky that his detectives had already determined that there was no foul play, that a witness had seen Sheu spontaneously fall down and that he had suffered no head trauma at all. Sheu died of an aneurism, he said.
As Bobrowsky drove Galison, they went over every word, gesture and nuance of the evening. In addition to their grief and disbelief, several things did not sit comfortably, particularly the contradiction between Ahmed and Ramos regarding the head trauma. How could Ramos, a trained police officer on the hospital beat, invent a critical detail like that? For the two bereaved friends of Sheu, that night was fraught with grief, fear and unanswered questions.
NYPD Secretly Removes Sheu’s Body From the Hospital
The next morning, Bobrowsky received a desperate sounding call from the ER “Head Nurse” at the Hospital, telling her to come back to the hospital to officially identify the body again, as the proper identification forms had not been signed.
Bobrowsky was also told to immediately return Sheu’s cell phone to the hospital, so that it could be given to “family members,” peculiar, as Sunny had no family in the United States. As Bobrowsky couldn’t get to the hospital on Monday and Galison couldn’t get there on Tuesday, the nurse said they could identify the body on Wednesday, June 30.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, June 30, 2010, Galison and Bobrowsky returned to the Hospital. They were directed to the admitting office, where they spoke to Ernesto Macasaet, the supervisor of the admissions for New York Hospital Queens. Again, Galison used his iPhone to record the exchange. To their shock, Macasaet told Sheu’s friends that the body was no longer at the hospital.. “What I can tell you is that [Sheu was] identified by the [109th] precinct” he told them, “and the medical examiner has taken the body … We had the police officer identify the patient, gave us the name and it was a medical examiner case.”
Bobrowsky objected: “There is no officer that knew him …” Macasaet cut her off, saying, “not that they knew him, I don’t know how [they identified him] … the police officer identified him, I don’t know what documentation he had, but we were given information from the police officer that he was identified.”
Macasaet refused to divulge the names of the officers from the 109th Precinct police or the time of day that they had requested the transfer of the body. He only said, “Sunday morning.” Information gained later through FOIL requests to the ME’s office shows that the police had arrived at 5:03 on Sunday morning to remove the body, only nine hours after his death. Records also show that the ME refused to accept the body two times that morning before ultimately receiving it at 12:08 PM.
The implications of this development were staggering:
- Why would police take Sheu’s body from the Hospital at 5:00 AM on a Sunday morning, or have any interest in Sheu’s body when there was no “no criminality,” “no head trauma,” and after it had been “officially established” by the police that he died “naturally” of an “aneurism”?
- How did these police officers know what Sheu looked like in order to “identify” him and what documentation did they provide to prove they had the standing to identify him? Even Macasaet, the supervisor of admissions, conceded on the recording: “I don’t know what documentation [the police] had.”
Under what circumstances – if any – can a body, not yet officially identified by next of kin, be legally removed from a hospital by people (albeit police) who have no relationship to the decedent and no standing to identify him?
So, where was the body now? Macasaet told Bobrowsky and Galison that it had been taken to the Manhattan morgue, but a colleague, Linda Early, interrupted and told them that it was in fact at the Queens morgue. Later, in a private conversation with Galison and Bobrowsky, Ms. Early confided that “all hell had broken loose” at the hospital when the body was removed, because it was contrary to hospital policy and to state law.
A Revelation at the Morgue
At around 4:00 PM that afternoon, the pair drove quickly to the Queen’s County Morgue. They were referred by the receptionist to Deputy ME Corrine Ambrosi, who was, from the outset, helpful, courteous and forthcoming. Ambrosi seemed genuinely sympathetic to the pair’s loss and eager to help. As Ambrosi held the file folder documenting Sheu’s case, Galison recorded the ensuing conversation on his iPhone.
Galison’s first question was: “Excuse me Doctor, but how did you know that this was Sheu’s body?” Dr. Ambrosi calmly replied that the file she held contained the name of the person who identified the body and his relationship to the deceased. She leafed through the folder and upon reaching the pertinent page her eyes widened. “That’s strange,” she exclaimed, “there’s no record of anyone having identified the body.” She added that she had never seen anything like this before.
(In fact, because there was no official identification of the body on their records, Ambrosi asked Dr. Bobrowsky to identify the body from a photo, as is reflected in the “Identification Form,”filled out by Bobrowsky at that time. Incredibly, Sheu’s body had been autopsied and cleared for cremation even before it had been officially identified.)
Then, Galison asked how the body came to be at the morgue. Ambrosi checked a page of the file and answered slowly; “There’s no record of anybody bringing in the body.”
As Dr. Ambrosi was leafing through the file, Galison was standing beside her and could see the pages as they were exposed. On one page, Galison noticed a schematic drawing of a male body from the rear. At the base of the skull, just above the neck, was a dark, vigorously drawn circle in blue ballpoint ink, with a line leading from it to the description “4cm.”
Galison cautiously broached the question: “I don’t know if you can tell me, but was there any head trauma?”
Ambrosi replied; “I’m not keeping anything from you….” Then she paused and her eyes widened again, “… Yes there certainly was.” This was the moment that Galison and Bobrowsky fully appreciated the gravity of the situation.
Apparently, Captain Austin and Dr. Ahmed had lied when they said there had been “no head trauma.” Officer Ramos – who must have clearly reported the head trauma to both Austin and Ahmed (as he had to Sheu’s contacts) – had been correct all along. The pair thanked Dr. Ambrosi and walked to their car stunned and troubled.
Galison’s Conversation With the Autopsy Doctor
After about a week of “laying low,” Galison called Dr. Michael Greenberg, the ME who performed the actual autopsy on Sheu’s body. At the time of Galison’s call, Dr. Greenberg had already officially determined the “manner of death” as “accidental,” based on information given to him by the police.
As opposed to the “cause of death,” which describes the physical means of a death – e.g., stabbing, shooting, trauma, heart attack etc. – the “manner of death” describes the legal status of the death. The five categories of “manner of death” are “natural,” “accidental,” “homicide,” “suicide” and if none of the above could be immediately established, “undetermined.”
The great significance of the “manner of death” determination is that under New York law, any death ruled “undetermined,” “suicide” or “homicide” is required to be investigated by law enforcement, whereas a “natural” or “accidental” death does not.
Here’s how Galison’s phone conversation with Greenberg went:
Galison: “What happened to [Sheu]?”
Greenberg: “From what I understand, he collapsed and struck his head on the ground, which resulted in bleeding around the brain.”
Galison: “Is it possible that he was struck on the head before he fell to the ground?”
Greenberg: “According to the police report that I got, he was witnessed and just collapsed … but from the autopsy itself it was impossible to tell how the injuries were sustained. It was consistent with him collapsing on the ground, but if I didn’t have this witness story, I probably would have left it undetermined for now.”
Galison: “So if there hadn’t been a witness, it would be an open question as to what happened?”
Greenberg: “Right, Yeah, Right.”
The Mysterious “Witness”
The so-called “police report” or “witness story” that convinced Greenberg to initially determine the manner of death as “accidental,” was later acquired by the BSN through a FOIL request to the ME. The FOIA request to the NYPD for the same document has been denied to the BSN.
The “police report” was actually a one-paragraph memo, written by the NYPD liaison to the ME’s office Detective Grant and attributing the information therein to Chris Austin, then captain of the 109th Precinct. It read:
THE UNDERSIGNED [Detective Grant] CONFERED WITH DET AUSTIN 109th PCT SQUAD. He reports that the decedent was witnessed to collapse at the above location. THE 911 CALLER WAS INTERVIEWED BY EMS AND POLICE OFFICERS. THE 911 CALLER STATED THAT THE DECEDENT WAS WALKING WITH A PEDOMETER IN HIS HAND WHEN HE COLLAPSED. THE SQUAD IS HOLDING THIS CASE AS AN ACCIDENT WITH NO CRIMINALITY.
In his conversation with Galison, Dr. Greenberg himself admits it was precisely this memo from Austin that led to his initial determination of “accidental death.” Perhaps Galison’s inquiries led Greenberg to reassess his conclusion because, two days after the conversation, Greenberg changed his determination of the manner of death; from “accidental,” which requires no investigation, to “undetermined,” which under New York law requires an investigation, as noted above.
In his revised death certificate of July 1, 2010, Greenberg deems the cause of death “blunt force trauma to the head with skull fractures and brain injuries.” There is no mention of an “aneurysm” in the death certificate. According to Greenberg, Sheu didn’t have a fatal aneurysm which caused him to fall and hit his head; he died because his head was smashed.
Questions Raised by the NYPD Memo to the ME
The memo from Austin to the ME raises a host of questions, which must be answered by Captain Austin and the NYPD:
- Who is the purported “witness” that called 911 and was “interviewed by EMS” and police officers?
- Why won’t the NYPD supply this witness’ name or even acknowledge that a 911 call was made regarding the incident per the BSN’s FOIL request ? (See below: The FOIL Embargo.) It can’t be on account of an ongoing criminal investigation, because the Grant memo, specifically states that there is “no criminality.”
- How could Austin say that “the squad is holding the case as an accident with no criminality” when no investigation had been conducted? Even if there had been a witness, a brief interview is not sufficient grounds to determine the cause and manner of death of a man found with his skull crushed.
Detective Ardisano Spills the Beans
Did the 109th Precinct homicide squad really determine that the death was an “accident with no criminality” as Captain Austin reported to the ME?
Over two weeks after Greenberg’s determination of blunt force trauma and undetermined manner of death, Galison spoke by telephone to a Detective Ardisano of the 109th Precinct homicide squad. Ardisano said he was entirely unaware of any person named Sheu, his death, or any investigation thereof. Clearly, Austin had never consulted homicide squad Detective Ardisano, so the claim that “the Squad is holding this as an accident with no criminality” is patently false. When Ardisano looked up the case for Galison, he reported what was logged in the official police record: “There was no head trauma,” he said “… it was internal … it was a seizure….” Moreover, according to Ardisano the police report contained no mention of any “witness.“
Galison asked Ardisano: “If the ME had discovered that something had happened to him, like trauma, would they have reported that back to you?”
Ardisano: “They would have to.”
Galison: “Right away?”
If Ardisano was telling the truth, clearly he was “out of the loop.” Apparently, Austin told the ME that there was head trauma (a fact he could not conceal from the ME), but recorded the opposite in the police log, the source of Ardisano’s information. And obviously, Austin never reported the head trauma directly to Adrisano, who as a homicide squad detective would have been required to investigate.
Dr. Ahmed’s Predicament
In February 2011, BSN Publisher Allimadi spoke with Dr. Ahmed at the New York hospital to resolve the discrepancy between Ahmed’s diagnosis of “not a lump, not a bump, not a scratch,” and the ME’s finding of “blunt force trauma with skull fractures and brain injuries.” When Allimadi asked the question, Ahmed fell silent.
Then Allimadi asked: “Do you believe there was there foul play involved [in the death of Sheu]?” To Allimadi, Ahmed sounded deeply relieved when he answered: “Yes.”
Dr. Ahmed then said he wasn’t at liberty to speak further about the subject and that he could only discuss the matter with Sheu’s next of kin. Officially, Galison and Bobrowsky had already been acknowledged as “next of kin” (when they were permitted to identify the body), but when Galison called the Queens Hospital to speak with Dr. Ahmed, he was told that Ahmed did not work at the hospital … and never had.
Dr. Ahmed was in a sensitive position. If he didn’t relieve the pressure in Sheu’s skull because he failed even with a CAT scan to detect the severe trauma which was evident to Officer Ramos, he is so dangerously incompetent that he should be sued for malpractice and lose his license immediately. (Emergency care doctors interviewed by the BSN have confirmed that even minute fractures of the skull would be immediately detectable with a CAT scan, so this possibility is very remote.)
On the other hand, if he failed to relieve the pressure because he was coerced by the NYPD to conceal the trauma, he could be an accessory to manslaughter, if not murder. Neither option is good for a 29-year-old doctor at the beginning of his career.
Either option should also be of immense concern to his employer, the New York Hospital of Queens. On May 24, 2011, the BSN sent certified letters to Stephen S. Mills, president, and George F. Heinrich MD, chairman of the board of the New York Hospital, describing the false information given by Dr. Ahmed and the illegal removal of the body by the NYPD. There has been no response at all from the hospital.
The Scene of the Crime
Deepening the mystery further are the circumstances of Sheu’s death. Documents obtained from the ME finally revealed that Sheu received his fatal injuries in front of 18-21 130th St. in Flushing, Queens, a desolate, dead end, industrial strip on the outskirts of Flushing, five miles from his home. Sheu, a man of strict habit, took a leisurely walk/jog every day for exactly one hour, always around the blocks surrounding his home. What was he doing five miles from home in an industrial no-man’s land on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon in July, three days after he promised to be on guard for his life? (And what are the chances of a witness walking by at that exact moment in such a place?)
Did Austin’s homicide squad examine footage from the security camera mounted on the façade of Prava Stoneworks, directly above the scene of Sheu’s injury?
Galison Gets a Call From the Queens DA’s Office
There is yet another wrinkle to the “witness” story: on August 19, 2010, Galison received a bizarre, unsolicited phone call from Assistant DA Lauren Weinstock from the office of Queens DA Richard Brown. “I hear you have some concerns about our handling of the Sheu case” she said.
Galison answered that he wanted to know if there was an investigation. “We have an investigation ongoing” Weinstock said, “but it’s at a standstill since there were no witnesses.” No witnesses? Apparently, DA Brown’s office and Captain Austin had not gotten their stories straight.
There are many problems with an “investigation” of the Sheu murder by the Queens DA:
- It was the NYPD detectives of the Queens DA squad who kidnapped him in 2009, and according to Sheu’s sworn statement to the FBI, threatened him with death. Can the Queens DA detectives be trusted to “investigate” their own crimes?
- in his YouTube video. Sheu named these same detectives as his likely assassins, along with Golia.
- Judge Golia, his brother James (New York commissioner of buildings) and his daughter Donna Marie have all worked under Richard Brown for as assistant DAs. (On June 7, 2012, Judge Golia was presented an award by the Assistant District Attorney’s Association of Queens County (ADAAQC)]. If the ADAAQC had Googled “Judge Golia[https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&;rls=en&q=%22Judge+Golia%22&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8]” before giving the award, they would have found over 30,000 references to his involvement in the Sheu case and [i]very little[/i] else.)
- - If the NYPD determined “no criminality” and insists that the death is “natural,” why would the Queens DA investigate at all?
- - More importantly, no investigation of Sheu’s death could be conducted without interviewing Sheu’s acquaintances and witnesses such as Galison, Allimadi, Bobrowsky, and others, yet no one known to Mr. Sheu was ever contacted by the Queens DA in regard to Sheu’s death and no evidence was ever collected by the DA, not even the cell phone Sheu was carrying when he died. [/bullets]
Sheu’s Body Is Cremated by a Stranger
According to the Medical Examiner’s Morgue Stays Certificate for Sheu, Sheu’s body was removed from the Queens Morgue on August 13, 2010. The body was collected by someone named “Bung L. Ha,” who is listed as the official “executor” of Sheu’s estate and “next of kin” to Sheu. Bung L. Ha was the director of the Central Chinese Funeral Home[http://www.manta.com/c/mmz8gsy/central-chinese-funeral-home] in Flushing, Queens. He is not related in any way to Sheu. He is not, and never has been, the executor of Sheu’s estate or Sheu’s “next of kin.”
The sole executor of Sheu’s estate is named in documents obtained from the Queens County Surrogate Court: His name is Chen Yu, a family friend of Sheu and person who managed Sheu’s rental apartments in the contested house.
Immediately after Sheu’s death, Yu told Galison that Sheu had told him that he expected to be killed, but would not tell Yu details for fear of endangering him and his daughters. When the BSN called Yu to follow up, he was obviously terrified. Yu yelled, “I don’t know Sheu! Don’t ever call me again!” before frantically hanging up.
The FOIL Embargo: NYPD Violates the New York FOIL
On December 2, 2011, the BSN submitted FOIL requests to the NYPD, demanding all documents regarding the death of Sheu. The NYPD FOIL officer responded[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/02/nypd-response-to-foil-request-on.html] within the requisite five days, saying that they would search for the documents and determine their confidentiality status before March 8, 2011. March 8 came and went with no word from the NYPD. On September 19, 2011, the BSN filed a FOIL appeal, reminding the NYPD that their opportunity to claim confidentiality of these documents had expired and demanding the records. In flagrant violation of FOIL, the NYPD has not responded since.
Sheu’s House Is Returned to Him, Six Months After His Death
In a macabre epilogue, Sheu’s house – the one he had fought for over ten years to save from an illegal foreclosure – was returned to him, [i]with the mortgage fully paid[/i], months after he died. According to documents obtained from the Queens County Surrogate Court[http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/11jd/surrogates/index.shtml], by November 2010 the home had mysteriously reverted to Sheu’s estate. Until that time, per Golia’s order[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/08/judge-golias-order-vacating-foreclosure.html], ownership of the home had been granted to Old Republic under the doctrine of Equitable Subrogation.
Strangely, the web site queens.blockshopper.com[http://queens.blockshopper.com/property/4054360051/14_158th] claims that the home was sold by the Qq Network Corporation [http://start.cortera.com/company/research/k3q9qyo7s/qq-network-corp/]to Sheu on May 15, 2010, but the BSN has not been able to find confirmation of this alleged transaction.
The surrogate court documents do not make it clear how the home reverted to Sheu’s estate. There is no transfer of deed recorded in the surrogate court papers. Was it simply surrendered by the bank to whom Golia gave it? Could it be that Old Republic was willing to steal a man’s home, but unwilling to be seen as the beneficiary of that man’s brutal murder?
Theft, Murder and Cover-Up: It Takes a Village
The list of people, companies and agencies that could have prevented or mitigated this slow-motion tragedy is very long. Once the fraudulent mortgage transfer was made, any party in a long chain could have put a stop to the harm being done to Sheu, but either out of malice, ineptitude or fear of reprisal, they allowed Sheu to be victimized and justice to be denied. The short list includes:
Centex Home Equities
Old Republic Title Insurer
The Honorable Joseph Golia
NYPD Internal Affairs[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2011/06/letter-from-sunny-sheu-to-police.html]
The Civilian Complaint Review Board [http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/03/letter-from-sunny-sheu-to-ccrb.html]
The New York Office of Court Administration
The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct (Robert Tembeckjian)[ [http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2011/06/urgent-letter-from-sunny-sheu-to-nys.html]
Special Commission on Judicial Compensation[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2011/07/will-galison-testifying-at-judicial.html]
The New York Senate Judiciary Committee
New York State Sen. Eric Adams [http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-to-eric-adams-regarding-his.html]
New York State Sen. John Sampson
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/08/correspondence-with-ny-attorney-general.html]
New York Gov. David Paterson
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Queens DA Richard Brown
Dr. Zasheen Ahmed[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2011/06/dr-zeeshan-ahmed-lies-about-sunny-sheus.html]
The New York Hospital of Queens [http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2011/06/letter-from-black-star-news-to-new-york.html]
The Media Blackout
According to Sheu, the detectives that kidnapped and interrogated him warned him not to go to “the media.” Of course, the moment Sheu was released, he went directly to the BSN. Galison remembers Sheu saying, “in China they would put a bullet in my head, but in America, justice will always win, you just have to fight!”
As utterly and fatally as the government failed Sheu, so has the mainstream media. The very same media outlets that have inundated us with countless stories about the Trayvon Martin shooting have aggressively blocked the Sheu story. All else aside, [i]the story of a man who predicted his murder on a YouTube video, named the people he thought would do it and whose “undetermined” death went uninvestigated [/i]would be of great interest to the general public. The BSN sent out press releases to hundreds of publications and personally briefed many reporters and editors, but only a tiny fraction picked up the story. Some of those who rejected the story:
WABC (Jim Hoffer)
The Huffington Post [http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/08/correspondence-with-huffington-post.html]
New York Magazine
The Daily News[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/08/letter-to-daily-news-court-and-crime.html]
The Village Voice
The New York Post[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-new-york-post-and-death-of-sunny.html]
The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal
Many alternative blogs media did cover or reprint the story including those listed below, but as far as the BSN knows, there has been no journalistic investigation beyond that of the BSN. Some of the venues that covered the story are:
The Power Hour Radio Show: July 18, 2011[http://www.thepowerhour.com/past_shows/schedule_07_18_2011.htm], April 2, 2012[http://www.thepowerhour.com/past_shows/schedule_04_2_2012.htm]
Danny Schecter, The News Dissector: [http://newsdissector.net
Naked Capitalism [http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/06/sunny-sheu-murdered-for-investigating-ny-foreclosure-judge-joseph-golia.html
The Daily Bail [http://dailybail.com/home/must-read-activist-sunny-sheu-killed-after-reporting-death-t.html
The Daily Kos [http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/06/23/988136/-Sunny-Sheu-Murder-Cover-Up-by-New York-Police-in-Mortgage-Fraud-Case
Business Insider [http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-06-28/news/30096480_1_bogus-mortgage-foreclosure-sale-mortgage-broker
Zero Hedge [http://www.zerohedge.com/article/fraudclosure-sunny-sheu-murdered-judicial-corruption-activist-dead-weeks-after-posting-video
Where the Case Stands Now
The BSN is not a law enforcement agency. Over the past two years, it has compiled and presented evidence of clear-cut crimes to the local and state law enforcement, including the NYPD, the Queens and Manhattan DAs and the New York attorney general. The BSN’s letter to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2011/06/letter-to-ny-police-commissioner.html] is typical of the correspondence that has been thoroughly ignored.
On the national level, the FBI, which Sheu begged to protect him months before his death, has also ignored all attempts to contact them about this case, and even refused to collect physical and documentary evidence from witnesses.
[In August 2010, two weeks after Sheu’s death, Galison called Special Agent Janice Fedarcyk, who was about to become the assistant director of the New York FBI. Galison informed Fedarcyk’s colleague and described the ineptitude/corruption of the New York FBI in regard to judicial corruption and the murder of Sheu. The FBI has never responded.
There has been no investigation of the companies complicit in the original mortgage fraud.
There has been no investigation of Judge Golia’s finances.
There has been no investigation of Golia’s involvement in the mortgage fraud.
There has been no investigation of Golia’s “mishandling” of the case for ten years.
There has been no investigation of Sheu’s kidnapping.
There has been no investigation of Sheu’s death.
There has been no investigation of Dr. Ahmed’s lying about the cause of death.
There has been no investigation of the illegal removal of Sheu’s body from New York Hospital.
There has been no investigation of Detective Austin’s false testimony to the ME.
There has been no investigation of the unauthorized cremation of Sheu’s body.
There has been no investigation of the fraudulent “executorship” of Bung Ha.
There has been no investigation of any of the crimes committed in this case.
Now, it is up to the media and the public to demand a thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the death of Sheu and the role of the NYPD, FBI, New York Hospital, OCA, New York Senate, and others into its cover-up.
Why This Case Is of Urgent Importance to All Americans
The facts of this case appear to constitute ample proof of an ongoing, coordinated and high-level cover-up. Where there is a cover-up, there is a crime, and the crime that seems to be covered up is the assassination of anti-corruption whistleblower Sheu.
But the importance of the case goes way beyond the death of one man. What happened to Sheu can happen to any one of us. This case demonstrates that when the government circles its wagons, it can take out any American citizen without consequence, simply by ignoring the facts and evidence and most critically, [i]the official determination of an official ME; the ONLY entity in this nation authorized to determine the cause and manner of death[/i].
Sheu’s story is only known because he happened to have two friends who were willing to tell it, [i]one of whom happened to run a newspaper[/i]. How many others have been killed, with their survivors unable to reach the media and terrified that complaining will mean swift retaliation? [i]How many people like Sheu – in New York and elsewhere – are cowering under the terror of a state government with license to kill with impunity[/i]?
If a resident of the United States can be threatened by a government entity, ignored by all authorities and media and killed in an undetermined manner, all without investigation or media coverage, we are all in grave and imminent jeopardy. There is simply no one standing between us and those who wish us harm. The only question is, “Who will be next?”
You can sign a petition demanding justice for Sheu. [http://signon.org/sign/assassination-of-a-whistlebl?source=c.em.mt&;r_by=1128342]
You can also read about facts[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/07/undisputed-facts-of-case.html] and questions[http://sunnysheu.blogspot.com/2012/07/unanswered-questions-in-sunny-sheu-case.html] about the Sheu story.
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Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission. Originally published at Truthout.