Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, joined by Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, hosted a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Wednesday, Oct. 7, during a virtual event that honored notable people of Hispanic and Latin descent and included songs and musical performances.
The event included a special accolade to Assistant District Attorney Gabriel Mendoza, who has been a prosecutor in Queens for nearly a decade.
The Fordham University School of Law and Texas State University graduate’s field of expertise is investigating and prosecuting homicides, violent felonies and complex conspiracy cases. Mendoza is dedicated to righting the wrongs and providing victims of crime justice in the legal system, according to Katz.
“ADA Mendoza most recently worked on investigations involving violent street gangs, including MS-13, Latin Kings, and Trinitarios,” Katz said. “His work is making a real difference and helping to keep our community safe for all. I am delighted to acknowledge his hard work and dedicated service to this office.”
Also honored was Aridia “Ari” Espinal, the Governmental Relations Representative for the Mason Tenders District Council was born and raised in Corona, which she briefly represented in the New York State Assembly. Espinal is a devoted public servant fighting to improve the lives of those who live and work in Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst having organized soup kitchens, coat drives and more, according to Katz.
The NYPD Hispanic Society, which was first incorporated in 1957, was also honored. The society was established to promote and develop a friend and fraternal spirit among members of Hispanic descent within the New York City Police Department.
The group works to enhance opportunities for members and has been involved in challenging and promotional exams and assessing the status of Hispanic officers. The group played a significant role in aiding the island of Puerto Rico following recent hurricanes with members volunteering and traveling to the U.S. Territory to help with aid, translators and accompanying Red Cross staff to remote regions to distribute food and emergency equipment.
“Our borough of Queens is the most diverse county in the world and our Hispanic community makes up 28 percent of those who call Queens home,” Katz said. “We are a family enriched by the beautiful culture and traditions of people whose background hail from Spanish-speaking countries all over the world. It was my pleasure to partner with Borough President Lee to pay tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans that have positively impacted all of us.”