Desi Talk

8 January 19, 2018 CITY VIEWS – that’s all you need to know CITY VIEWS By Ela Dutt -NEWYORK he only Indian-American lawmak- er in the New Jersey General Assembly, has been appointed the House MajorityWhip for the 218th legislative session. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin made the formal announcement Jan. 12 morning making Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, a third-term legislator, the MajorityWhip, confirming confirming earlier news reports. He becomes the first Asian-American and first Indian-American in state history to serve in this role. Mukherji, 33, who represents the 33rd District in N.J. , may also be the youngest but that is yet to be confirmed. The New Jersey State Legislature also has an Indian- American in the Senate, Vin Gopal, a Monmouth County small businessman and Democratic Party leader, elected this November. Mukherji told News India Times he was humbled by the Speaker's trust and confi- dence in him, adding, "With the swearing- in this week of Vin Gopal as our state's first South Asian senator, New Jersey joins Maryland as one of the only two states with multiple South Asian American law- makers and one of only two states with South Asian Americans in legislative lead- ership." The former sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve (2001-2009), was elected to the state assembly in 2014, becoming the second Indian-American after Upendra Chivukula of Franklin, N.J., who served several terms before taking on and losing the challenge of running for the U.S. Congress. Mukherji also has the distinction of being the only Marine in the assembly. “I am confident, based on his zealous advocacy for progressive priorities on the Budget Committee and his personality, that Raj is the right guy to count the votes and help achieve consensus within our caucus,” Coughlin is quoted saying in the press release. “Even with his professional success, Raj never forgot his humble roots, and he is well-liked and widely respected by his peers in the legislature. His support in the caucus will be invaluable as we tack- le challenging issues and a comprehensive agenda.” Mukherji is a partner in the Jersey City- based law firmMukherji Wolf LLC and co- owns several healthcare businesses. At 24, Mukherji was appointed Commissioner and Chairman of the Jersey City Housing Authority, the youngest in city history, where he is credited for bringing about var- ious reforms at the state’s second largest housing authority, the press release said. At 27, he was appointed Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey. In September last year, Mukherji mar- ried NewYorker Natasha Alagarasan, 32, a contracted Google project manager and former news producer of “The Call” on NY1, the NewYork Times reported. Assemblyman Mukherji's immigrant story is impressive. When his father Asim Mukherji, took ill and could not work, his parents returned to India, and he support- ed himself through high school, college, and grad school as an emancipated minor. Witnessing his late father's situation after suffering a pituitary tumor, stroke, and other ailments, unable to get health cover- age without a job, shaped Assemblyman Mukherji’s perspective and interest in healthcare policy, according to his election website. While still at middle school, Mukherji founded an Internet consulting and soft- ware development company, grew it, and later sold it to a larger technology company to enlist in the Marines two weeks after 9/11 at age 17. He withdrew from high school after completing ninth grade to focus on his business endeavors and sup- port himself after his parents were forced to move to India. At 15, he enrolled in an early college program at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree fromThomas Edison State University, an individualized Master of Liberal Arts focused on national security from the University of Pennsylvania, and a law degree (Juris Doctor), cum laude, from Seton Hall Law School, which he attended on a Chancellor's Scholarship. In the state legislature, Mukherji repre- sents probably the most diverse Legislative District (33) in the state comprised of Jersey City, Union City, Hoboken, and Weehawken. New Jersey State Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, representing District 33, is slated to become the House Majority Leader, only the second Indian-American ever in the nation’s history to be holding that post. In Historic First, Raj Mukherji Appointed Majority Whip In New Jersey Assembly NJ Legislature T By StaffWriter -NEWYORK H uma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s top aide, has withdrawn her pending divorce proceedings to her hus- band AnthonyWeiner, who is serving a 21- month sentence for sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. According to a Page Six report, the rea- son seems to be mutual as both of their lawyers have stated that Abedin and Weiner desire to protect their 6-year-old son and have a settlement outside of court. “In order to reduce any impact of these proceedings on their child, the parties have decided to reach a settlement swiftly and privately,” Abedin’s lawyer, Charles Miller, andWeiner’s attorney, Margaret Donohoe, said in separate statements. Though a judge announced in Manhattan Supreme Court that the case was “discontinued,” Michael Stutman, a family law expert, wondered ifWeiner and Abedin might be wanting to stay married to invoke spousal immunity and told Page Six that they would still have to file a divorce settlement in court for it to be legally binding. The withdrawal of the divorce comes just a week after President Donald Trump urged the Justice Department to investi- gate Abedin for keeping any classified emails onWeiner’s laptop after he tweeted “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid [sic], Huma Abedin, has been accused of disre- garding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of for- eign agents. Remember sailors [sic] pic- tures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act?” According to the Page six report, New York law states that a husband or wife can’t be “required to disclose a confidential communication made by one or the other during the marriage.” “He easily could be called in by a grand jury to testify against her, so by dropping the lawsuit, he can exercise the marital privilege. When you’re married to some- one, you cannot be compelled to testify against them,” matrimonial lawyer Suzanne Bracker told The Post. Huma Abedin Decides To Withdraw Divorce From Weiner REUTERS/Carlos Barria– RTS4RQS Huma Abedin, aide to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, arrives to meet with the House Select Committee on Benghazi in the U.S. Capitol in Washington October 16, 2015. By StaffWriter T wo Indian-Americans were charged Jan. 10, in a 13-count indictment for allegedly engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the State of Connecticut of mil- lions of dollars in taxes due on tobacco products imported into the state. PavanVaswani, 39, ofWest Haven, Connecticut and Rishi Malik, 45, formerly of Fairfield, Connecticut, are accused of allegedly defrauding the State of Connecticut of approximately $5.8 million by operating a wholesale tobacco business based in Bridgeport, according to a Jan. 12, press release from the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. Vaswani and Malik were both arrested; Malik was detained with a pending deten- tion hearing that is scheduled for January 16 while Vaswani was released on a $250,000 bond. The U.S. Attorney John H. Durham noted that the Indictment is not evidence of guilt and thus the charges are only alle- gations as of now. The indictment states that Vaswani operated KDV Discounts LLC, a wholesale tobacco business based in Bridgeport. Malik previously operated the business as Connecticut Discounts LLC before selling it to Vaswani in 2012. Between 2013 and 2017, Vaswani allegedly filed false tax forms with the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services that underreported his taxes due. He then paid over those lower amounts instead of taxes actually owed, the indictment alleges, adding that Malik conspired with Vaswani through means including forming a Pennsylvania compa- ny, Discount Deals, to acquire smokeless tobacco that was imported into Connecticut without payment of taxes. Both Vaswani and Malik will be charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. The indictment also charges Vaswani with 12 counts and Malik with four counts of wire fraud, an offense that carries a max- imum term of imprisonment of 20 years, on each count. Two Charged With Allegedly Defrauding State Of Connecticut