Thursday, June 30, 2011

Seven State Prisons To Close

Seven state prisons, including two in the city, are set to close in a move aimed at saving taxpayers $184 million.

Four male minimum security facilities, including Fulton Work Release in the Claremont section of the Bronx, are slated to close.

Three male medium security prisons, including Arthur Kill in Charleston, Staten Island, will also be shut down.

Communities that rely on prisons for jobs can request aid money and tax credits from the state.

The decision is based on a shrinking number of inmates.

Since 1999, the number of prisoners statewide has declined by 22 percent.

2 pedestrians were struck by an SUV

Two elderly pedestrians were struck by an SUV on the Upper West Side this evening, and at least one person is in critical condition.
The accident happened at Amsterdam Avenue and West 98th Street just after 5 p.m., according to the FDNY.
The victims were taken to St. Luke's. One is in critical condition; the condition of the other is unknown.
The scene is still active and the investigation is ongoing.

Report: NYPD Tests Out Gunshot Tracing Cameras

The New York City Police Department is reportedly getting some new technology to help identify the source of gun shots.

The Daily News reports sound sensors have been installed on some cameras on the streets and at housing projects in Brownsville.

The cameras alert police monitors if shots have been fired, and automatically rotate and zoom to the area where it believes shots originated.

Photos can be taken of suspects and transmitted to officers within seconds.

Detractors say other sounds like firecrackers can be mistaken for gunshots, and officers would end up being dispatched needlessly.

Supervisors will evaluate the sensors' effectiveness before deploying the technology further.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

hostage situation at a liquor store in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn.

Heavily armed officers from the NYPD have set up a perimeter outside a liquor in Brooklyn where a robbery turned into a hostage situation and then a standoff on Wednesday afternoon.
Officers from the Emergency Service Unit and the Hostage Negotiation Team are outside the store at 4804 Avenue N in the Flatlands section of the borough, where two gunmen briefly held several people hostage as they attempted to rob the store.
After cops arrived at the location, the hostages ran out of the store. Officers cuffed and questioned one of them, fearing he might be one of the gunmen, Fox 5's Linda Schmidt reported.
Police said that later one gunman surrendered.
As of 5:10 p.m., the second gunman was still in the store.

Young Queens Girl Struck By Alleged Drunk Driver

A 6-year-old Queens girl is in critical condition after being struck by an alleged drunk driver.

Police say the child, whose name has not been released, was hit shortly before 8 p.m. at 168th Place and 104th Avenue in Jamaica.

Neighbors say they heard the driver's brakes screech before hitting the girl.

The driver, 53-year-old Kent Lowrie, was arrested at the scene and charged with DWI.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ex NYPD officer sentenced to 20 years for attempted murder

A former New York City police officer convicted of shooting his estranged wife will spend 20 years in state prison.  A State Supreme Court sentenced Darryl Fowler, 44, of Amityville.

Fowler pleaded guilty in May to attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and other charges.

On October 20, 2009 Fowler entered Michelle Fowler's home on Dorado Court in Middle Island, shot her, and fled the scene in his SUV, sideswiping the ambulance that was responding to the call for aid at the Fowler residence.

Brooklyn Man Faces Assault, Hate Crime Charges

A Jewish man has been arraigned on hate crime charges for allegedly assaulting his Turkish neighbors in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn.

Police say on Sunday evening Simchon Schwartz, 46, pushed his neighbor Selda Turan, poured beer on her head and called her an Arab terrorist.

Her husband, Mustafa Turan, came out of their house to defend his wife and police say Schwartz punched him in the face.

Schwartz ran into a nearby house of worship, where he was later found and arrested.

Residents said such incidents are rare in their neighborhood.

"It is surprising. This is a very quiet neighborhood. I've been living here for three years now, I've never heard that. So it's very surprising," said a local.

"This a lovely neighborhood. I love it here. It's very quiet," said another.

Schwartz was charged with assault and criminal mischief, both as hate crimes, and was released on his own recognizance.

His attorney says Schwartz was the victim of anti-Semitism.

NYPD: 100 Years Since 1st Black Cop

One hundred years ago, Samuel J. Battle was sworn in as the New York Police Department's first black officer.

Today, the majority of the police officers at the nation's largest department are minorities -- and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says it is this diversity that makes the NYPD so effective.

"In recent years our members have driven crime down to levels not seen in more than four decades," Kelly said Tuesday in a speech to graduating cadets. "They are successfully defending the city against acts of terrorism, the quality of life has improved in every borough and public regard for the department has never been higher."

There are 3,856 black police officers, 1,236 Asian officers and 6,290 Hispanic ones in the department, compared with 10,091 white officers. Police officers are out on patrol and generally engage the most with city residents. A little more than half the overall department -- which includes the top brass and higher ranks -- is white, with 26 percent Hispanic, 16.5 black and 4.9 Asian.

As the NYPD has grown increasingly diverse, its relationship with city residents has changed. The last major racial flashpoint for the NYPD was arguably more than a decade ago in 1999, when four white officers killed an unarmed African immigrant in a hail of 41 bullets in the Bronx. The shooting sparked protests nearly every day for weeks around City Hall, where demonstrators accused police of trampling the civil rights of blacks and Latinos.

There were smaller-scale protests following the police killing of another unarmed black man, Sean Bell, and the wounding of two friends in 2006 after Bell's bachelor party in Queens. While Bell and his friends were black, the officers involved are Hispanic, black and white. More recently, the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics have caused friction, with the department stopping about a half a million people annually, mostly black and Hispanic men.

In the past decade under Kelly's tenure, the department made major recruiting efforts at Army bases and historically black colleges to help boost minority ranks.

"I think it's the most diverse police force in the world," Kelly said. "We have hired recruits in the last five years born in 88 countries. We've had no class in the last five years that had no fewer than 50 countries represented in the class. We're proud of that; we think diversity is our strength."

And it all began with Battle.

The son of former slaves from North Carolina, Battle left the South for New York City when he was a teenager. He was working as a red cap at Grand Central Terminal, carrying bags for the wealthy and powerful, when he decided to become an officer.

"I knew everybody -- the president, the governor, and all the society people," Battle said, according to an oral history given to Columbia University's Oral History Collection in 1960.

He was refused entry into civil service schools in order to take the exam for police officer, so he bought a book and studied at home -- and aced the test.

"As I left headquarters, the commissioner told me I was appointed and talked to me personally," Battle said, according to the oral history. "He said to me that he was proud to know that I was a New York City policeman: 'You will have some difficulties, but I know you will overcome them.'"

During his 30 years on the force, Battle often endured threats, racism, hazing and marginalization from white officers. He was forced to sleep in a separate room from the other officers at the Harlem precinct during overnight tours. But he rose above it and kept moving up within the NYPD, becoming the department's first black lieutenant in the 1930s.

The intersection at West 135th Street and Lenox Avenue, near where the Harlem precinct is stationed, was renamed in his honor in 2009. Battle lived on nearby 138th Street. He died in 1966.

Kelly spoke at the graduation for the NYPD cadets, college students who do administrative work at the department and have the option of joining the police academy after they graduate.

Report: NYPD To Issue New Stop And Frisk Forms

City police officers who stop and frisk people on the street will soon have to give a better explanation for their actions, according a published report.

The Daily News says the New York City Police Department is changing stop and frisk forms to include a new field called "Reason For Force Used."

The field gives officers six options to choose from, including whether the person stopped was reaching for a suspected weapon.

There's also a box marked "other" which allows officers to give a more detailed reason.

The NYPD says the move is an effort to give police officials a better understanding of the circumstances of street stops.

The department has been accused of stopping and harrassing many black and Hispanic men without arresting them.

The New York Civil Liberties Union says giving officers options to check only allows them to justify their actions.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tour Bus Heading for NYC Crashes

A bus carrying Asian tourists rear-ended a flatbed tractor-trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Monday, killing the bus driver and injuring two dozen passengers, officials said.

Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth Bacha identified the driver as 39-year-old Bo Hua Tan from New York City.

One of the 35 passengers aboard the bus was taken by helicopter to Conemaugh Hospital in Johnstown. Sixteen others were taken by ambulances to Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant and seven more to Somerset Hospital.

By mid-afternoon, Frick and Somerset hospitals said their passengers had been released. Conemaugh Hospital would not release information about the status of the passenger airlifted there.

The driver of the flatbed tractor-trailer sustained moderate injuries in the accident, which happened at about 7:30 a.m. near the Donegal exit, about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. The turnpike was shut down for the crash investigation until 12:30 p.m.

The tour bus was registered to Mr. Ho Charter Service of Bethlehem. A man who answered the phone for the company identified himself as Edward Ho and said the bus was carrying two drivers, who alternated during the trip from Kentucky to New York City. One driver was unhurt, Ho said.

Federal safety records show the company was over the acceptable threshold for drivers who are cited for fatigued driving, with a 68.9 percent score. Anything over 50 percent is over the threshold.

Since February, a series of major bus crashes have resulted in fatalities across the country. Fifteen people were killed in March when a bus rolled on its side and struck a pole in New York, shearing the top off much of the vehicle.

Last month, four people died when a bus crashed after the driver dozed off at the wheel in Virginia and a 6-year-old boy died in a crash in Kentucky.

Car Fleeing Authorities Crashes

One person has died after a car fleeing law enforcement struck another vehicle on Long Island on Monday afternoon, authorities said.
Riverhead Police put out a call about a car wanted in connection with a theft at the Tanger Outlets in Deer Park.
A cruiser from the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office spotted the car on the Long Island Expressway and pulled it over at Exit 64. When the deputies exited their car, the vehicle sped off and headed south on Route 112, according to the sheriff's office.
The vehicle then turned west on Sunrise Highway and collided with another car in Sayville, authorities said.
Emergency responders took everyone to the hospital, but one of the occupants inside the car that the suspect's vehicle hit has died, an official said.
Police arrested three suspects who were inside the fleeing vehicle.

Woman Hit By Subway Train

Authorities say a woman was taken to a hospital after she landed on Manhattan subway tracks and was struck by a train.

The incident Monday at Houston Street and Second Avenue disrupted F train service for nearly an hour. It was restored around 12:30 p.m.

Authorities said the woman's right arm and left hand were partly severed.

It was not immediately clear whether she fell or jumped onto the tracks.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mother Of Four Struck And Killed By Car

A mother of four from the Bronx was struck and killed by a car in Queens Saturday night.

Police say that 46-year old Evelyn Vasquez killed crossing the street at 12th Street and 40th Avenue. Witnesses said she was attempting to pickup her eyeglasses that she had dropped to the ground before she was hit by the vehicle.

Vasquez was taken by EMS to Mt. Sinai Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

The driver of the vehicle, 29-year old Apostal Cela of Queens, stayed at the scene but then was arrested by police.

Cela was driving a blue 1997 Ford Van when he was making a left turn and struck Vasquez.

Cela was arrested for driving the vehicle without a license.

Multiple People Injured in Car Crash

The unidentified person was in serious condition and was taken to Lutheran Hospital while the six injured were treated at the scene.One person was seriously hurt and six others were injured when two cars and a truck were involved in an accident in Brooklyn.

According to police the accident happened on 4th Avenue and President Street in the Park Slope section.

4 Teens Shot, 1 Fatally At Queens Party

Police tell the Daily News that the four young men were walking back from a party in the Jamaica section of Queens when the gunman opened fire with a .40-caliber gun shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday.One teenager has died and three others are recovering from gunshot wounds after a gunman jumped out from behind a parked car and ambushed them as they were leaving a party in New York City.
One 18-year-old victim was hit in the chest, back and arm. He was rushed to Jamaica Hospital but could not be saved.
His identity was not released.
The other three victims were all in stable condition at the same hospital.
No one has been arrested. Police have not released information on a possible motive or publicly identified a suspect.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cash For Guns Event In Brooklyn

The NYPD and the Kings County District Attorney's office held a "cash for guns" event Saturday in Brooklyn.

Police say citizens can exchange working handguns for $200 bank cards and working rifles and BB guns for $20 bank cards.

A maximum of $600 in bank cards will be rewarded even though any number of guns will be accepted.

Officers from the NYPD firing range and the Community Affairs bureau will be on hand to assist with the safe and anonymous surrender of firearms at the First Baptist Church of Brownsville on 357 Chester Street.

According to the NYPD, since 2008, the public has turned in 6,902 guns through the police department's church buy-back program. The program is organized in conjunction with borough district attorneys and local church leaders.

Police say guns also may be surrendered any day of the week to precinct station houses for a $100 reward.

Driver in deadly Brooklyn crash charged

The driver in a deadly car crash in Brooklyn is charged with manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, and driving without a license Saturday night.

Police say the Cadillac driven by Nyron Isaac, 32, struck a light pole and a parked vehicle early Saturday morning, on Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park.

A passenger, Keisha Nelson, 32, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Isaac and a second passenger were hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
( by Eyewitness News )

5 People Hurt in Newark Shootings

Newark police say five people were wounded in three separate shootings that occurred over a two-hour span late Friday night.

No arrests have been made, but investigators don't believe the incidents were related. And none of the wounds were considered life-threatening.

The first shooting occurred around 10 p.m. in the city's West Ward. Officers went to the scene after the city's gunshot detection scene picked up several shots, and they found two males had been shot in the buttocks.

Less than an hour later, two more people were found wounded after police responded to numerous reports of shots fired in the north ward. And around midnight, another male was wounded in the left shoulder in the West Ward.

All five victims were being treated at University Hospital in Newark.

Fire Rips Through Brooklyn Stores

Six firefighters were injured when a three alarm fire tore through a row of stores in a Brooklyn neighborhood early Saturday morning.
The FDNY said the blaze started in a laundromat on 86th Street in the Bensonhurst section and spread to at least five other stores, which included a beauty school and two restaurants.
Fire officials say the fire slowed down service on the D-train riding on the elevated tracks due to the smoke but no civilians on board were hurt.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Suicidal Woman Saved By NYPD Officer

A NYPD Officer saved a suicidal woman from leaping of a four story building in Manhattan on Friday.

Natalia Ramos had stepped off the top of the building when she was grabbed by detective Brian Glacken. Glacken reached Ramos right before she attempted to jump.

Another detective Madelyn McTague rushed over to pull back both detective Glacken and Ramos as it appeared they two of them could have fallen to the street.

According to police Ramos was upset over losing her job and her boyfriend.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Teens Rob Ice Cream Truck At Gunpoint

Authorities say a Mister Softee ice cream truck driver was held up by two teens and a 20-year-old in a southern New Jersey suburb.

The haul was just $20. And the suspects didn't get far.

Police tell The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill that two suspects approached the truck in Sicklerville around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday and said they wanted ice cream. Police say a third suspect then emerged with a gun and demanded money.

The driver alerted police who quickly found the suspects in the neighborhood.

The adult, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old are charged with robbery and other crimes.

Police say the weapon turned out to be a BB gun.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

BORO PARK: PERFECT COLLISION shop accused of fraud

BORO PARK: PERFECT COLLISION shop accused of fraudOwners of one repair shop were charged with over-billing insurers -- by adding more damage to cars.


BROOKLYN - prosecutors put the brakes on a pair of auto body bamboozlers who added extra damage to vehicles then over-billed insurers.

"The fraud was very clear here," District Attorney Charles Hynes said Thursday of the alleged scam at Perfect Collision in Borough Park. "The defendants were taking cars with minor damage and enhancing that."

Arrested were owner Elie Berger, 32, and his employee, Hershy Greenberger, 23.

They are accused of pounding vehicles with hammers and chisels to compound blemishes and increase their profit margin.

They would then cash refund checks from insurers and pocket the money, officials charged. When investigators raided Berger's home, they found more than $700,000 in cash - even though he had filed for public assistance. This and other findings will likely lead to more charges of tax and welfare fraud, prosecutors said.

Both mechanics were still slapped with a truckload of counts, including insurance fraud and grand larceny.

Prosecutors asked for a whopping $500,000 bail, but Berger was released on a $25,000 bond and Greenberger was freed without bail.

The courtroom was packed with more than 100 supporters from their Hasidic community.

Perfect Collision body shop operated for two years and was under investigation for most of that period, officials said, after sharp-eyed Geico assessors noticed vehicles with dubious dents.

Claim adjusters took before and after photos of the cars to prove the racket.

This type of scheme "saddles other New Yorkers with a fraud tax," Hynes noted.

Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes

today announced an indictment charging a Borough Park autobody shop, Perfect Collision, with intentionally damaging cars brought in for repairs, so it could submit inflated bills to insurance companies. Perfect Collision; its owner, Elie Berger; and his employee, Hershy Greenberger are charged with running a so-called “damage enhancement scheme” to over bill insurance companies by thousands of dollars.

In the indictment announced today, the defendants are charged with submitting inflated bills for repairs to a car insured by Geico, but prosecutors believe additional insurance companies and carriers may have been victimized as well. The investigation is continuing.

“These crooks thought they had found the ‘Perfect’ crime, but my Detective Investigators quickly put the brakes on, preventing another bogus collision.” said District Attorney Hynes. “Auto-insurance fraud costs Brooklyn residents hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in increased premiums, and my office will prosecute all such crimes to the fullest extent of the law. I would like to thank Geico, Esurance, and the National Insurance Crimes Bureau for their assistance in this investigation.”

To investigate Geico’s suspicion about Perfect Collision, KCDA Detective Investigators damaged a car’s front passenger-side fender, photographed the damage and brought the car to Perfect Collision. The indictment charges that Hershy Greenberger assured an undercover Detective Investigator that Geico would cover all the repair costs. When a Geico claims adjuster arrived to photograph the damage, it had been “enhanced”, according to the indictment, with another dent in the same fender and other damage. Greenberger and Berger are charged with making the additional damage to increase the bill and fraudulently charge Geico for the repairs. Perfect Collision is also charged with billing Geico more than $1,000 for a rental car, in an undercover’s name, even though the undercover told Greenberger that he did not want a rental car for the week of the repairs.

While another Geico claims adjuster was at Perfect Collision to photograph another car car, he happened to spot a minivan he had been assigned to photograph for the company the following day. Without notifying Perfect Collision, he took pictures of the minivan, which had little to no damage. The following day, when he returned to take official photographs for Geico’s records, there was new, extensive damage to the fender, driver side door and other areas, according to the indictment.

Detective Investigators executing search warrants on Perfect Collision and Berger’s home recovered more than $700,000 in cash, a 2011 application for public assistance claiming Berger earned $350 per

week as an employee of Perfect Collision, and business records. Evidence recovered in the searches will be used to investigate other crimes the defendants may have committed, including insurance fraud and welfare fraud. The investigation is continuing.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Glen Kenny, supervised by Deputy Chief Rackets Investigator Greg Deboer. Joseph Ponzi is Chief Rackets Investigator.

The case is being prosecuted by Joseph A. DiBenedetto, Rackets Division Deputy Bureau Chief. Michael Vecchione is Chief of the Rackets Division.

They were released on $25,000 bail.

Police Search For Brooklyn Teen's Killer

Investigators say Orpheus Nelson, 18, fatally stabbed Darrel Smith, 17, around 10:45 p.m. in front of Nelson's home at 1785 Pacific Street in Crown Heights.Police are looking for a suspect in the stabbing death of a Brooklyn teen last night.
Anyone with information about the case is being asked to contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-577-TIPS, by texting TIP577 to CRIMES, or by going

(By: NY1 News)

Bogus parking placard allows advocacy group to park all over New York City without a single ticket

The Daily News has discovered the greatest parking deal in the city - day-long free spots on some of the Big Apple's busiest streets.

All it takes is Photoshop, a color printer and a bit of poster board to crank out a real-looking government placard to place in your dashboard - and nary a ticket will come your way.

The News proved it yesterday while working with the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, which made a bogus placard from the fictional "New York State Numismatic Agency" - aka the agency of coin collection.

The placard was slapped with the seal of the Republic of Bulgaria and laminated to give it extra gravitas.

Then we popped it on the dashboard of a rented 2011 Dodge Caliber and took it on a tour of some of the city's most parking-starved neighborhoods, pulling in for more than seven hours in illegal spaces near City Hall, Brooklyn's Borough Hall and in the heart of Times Square.

We put no money in meters, circled no blocks in search of elusive legal spaces - and drove off without a ticket.

"There is a culture of rampant abuse and no respect for the rules and regulations that are on the books," said Transportation Alternatives' Noah Budnick.

A study the group released in April estimated that as many as 25,000 fraudulent permits are on the streets - but the total could be higher, Budnick said.

"It might as well be an infinite number given what you see put on dashboards that people try to pass off as parking permits," Budnick said.

Our Numismatic Agency permit made its debut at 8 a.m., spending 2-1/2 hours in a spot directly across Broadway from City Hall in space marked "no standing any time except authorized vehicles."

It then spent three hours in a permit-only spot near Cadman Plaza in downtown Brooklyn - a few feet in front of a fire hydrant - then landed for more than two hours in a "no standing anytime" space in traffic-clogged Times Square at 46th St. and Broadway.

During the course of seven hours, more than 25 cops or traffic agents passed by our illegally parked vehicle.

The vast majority of officers strolled by without much more than a passing glance at the car - or the placard.

So much for vigilance

Just two cops in Times Square - where a would-be terrorist last year parked a bomb-filled SUV in the center of the tourist mecca - stopped to actually read the placard.

They peered inside the car - but didn't seem to notice the placard was as fake as a $10 Gucci purse.

"It's completely frustrating that there are so many bogus placards on the street, and there is no easy and uniform way of dealing with them," said City Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan).

He has proposed a bill - set for a hearing Wednesday - that would require the city to put bar codes on placards so enforcement agents could use a scanner to quickly learn if a placard is legit.

Administration officials have not taken a position on the bill, but a spokesman for the NYPD denied his crews don't enforce the law.

"Since the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau special initiative against bogus and improper use of placards began in 2008, it has issued 29,885 summonses and towed 6,484 vehicles.

"Sorry we missed yours," said top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

"IAB would have happily made it tow No. 6,485."

City Officials raised their hands in surrender Wednesday and admitted there's not much they can do about the thousands of fake parking placards on dashboards all over the city.

Yet they still oppose a City Council solution to the problem.

"There are no limits to what someone with a good photocopy machine can fake," said Susan Petito, the NYPD's assistant commissioner for intergovernmental affairs.

Petito addressed a City Council committee on the same day the Daily News and the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives proved how easy it is to park illegally for hours with a bogus placard.

The News found great spots - for free - using a placard from the fictional "New York Numismatic State Agency."

City Councilman Daniel Garodnick wants to crack down on the rampant abuse by putting bar codes on placards that agents would scan to see if they're legit.

Petito trashed that proposal as too expensive - and too complicated.

Her opposition angered Council members. "Throwing up your hands about this problem is not constructive, and their testimony today was not that helpful," Garodnick (D-Manhattan) said.

New Yorkers who follow the law are left to fume that their neighbors are getting away with scams.

Complaints about placard scams poured into The News yesterday.

Sherri Hodes, 62, called to say her midtown street is clogged with postal workers using bogus placards that appear to have come from their union.

"It's like we're the only ones that care," said Hodes, whose complaints to the post office and the NYPD have fallen on deaf ears. "No one wants to take any action and deal with this problem."

Hodes showed The News six cars on W. 58th St. between Eighth and Ninth Aves. that all had placards that said "National Association of Letter Carriers - U.S. Post Office."

Postal Service spokeswoman Darleen Reid said the placards - on private vehicles - are not authorized and said the agency has informed workers the permits are illegal.

Larry Cirelli, the business agent for the New York region of the letter carriers association, said his office has nothing to do with the bogus placards.