Tag Archives: 000

Queens chocolate company gets $250K grant for Sandy recovery


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence Cullen

Normally, the staff of Madelaine Chocolate makes Valentine’s Day sweet for countless couples.

But this year, because of Sandy, their holiday was sweetened thanks to National Grid.

The gas company presented owners at Madelaine with a check for $250,000 on Tuesday, February 12 to help the confectioners continue their recovery. The money will go toward getting at least one leg of the Madelaine factory producing chocolate again, said co-owner Jorge Farber, and the staff back to work for Halloween candy.

“It’s a beginning for a long, long road that is ahead of us,” Farber said. “This grant from National Grid is the first substantial outside grant and resources we have received. It’s a very concrete first step because it helps us rebuild one of our 14 molding lines that produce chocolate.”

This is the first of several grants National Grid will give to companies in its floodzone that suffered severe damage from the storm. National Grid president Ken Daly said the power company has a $30 million fund, with roughly 100 companies applied. The amount of grant money will vary based on the company, he added.

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said the grant would be a boost to Madelaine and the workers who live nearby.

“It’s going to help re-employ some of the workers who have been out of work since October, and probably will be out of work through the summer,” Friedman said. “And it’s going to help the community of Rockaway because most of their workers come from the local area.”

Madelaine, the largest Queens small business with about 450 employees, was the first on National Grid’s list, Daly said, because of the long working relationship between the two. The executives at National Grid are committed to getting Madelaine back and making candy as soon as possible.

“[For] many, many years, they’ve been supporting us as a company,” Daly said. “Today, it’s really our opportunity to return that support and help them get back up and running.”

Farber said the factory had already lost two seasons — Valentine’s Day and Easter — of candy production because of the damage from the storm. The combined cost of the damage and cost of doing business is still unestimated, he said.

The first of the eight kitchens, however, has been almost restored. That kitchen had a staff of 42 and produced about 46,000 of 100,000 pounds of chocolate per day.

The grant from National Grid was the first step in getting the staff back to work, as the company awaits potential loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. As more loans and donations come in, the staff can begin making chocolate goodies for distribution.

“We cannot lose another season,” Farber said. “We need to be back by Halloween.”

 

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Wills investigated for missing $33,000 grant


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Ruben Wills

A Queens councilmember is taking heat for failing to account for thousands of taxpayers’ dollars given to his non-profit organization.

Councilmember Ruben Wills is under investigation from State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he failed to account for a $33,000 grant for his nonprofit, New York 4 Life. He is also being reviewed by the city council.

“In light of troubling reports and court records evidencing Councilmember Wills’ lack of cooperation with a state investigation, including his assertion of his Fifth Amendment rights, we have referred this matter to the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee for a formal review,” said Council representative Jamie McShane.

McShane added that Wills was removed from the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team and that all decisions about funding allocations for his district will be determined by Speaker Christine Quinn’s office.

Although New York 4 Life does not have a web page, the councilmember’s web site explains that the nonprofit is an organization “which has helped single mothers champion critical issues such as civic literacy and financial empowerment.”

The grant in question was reportedly approved from State Senator Shirley Huntley to New York 4 Life in 2008 for a single mothers’ breakfast, single fathers’ luncheon, a “children and youth obesity campaign,” and an “adopt a commercial strip” program, according to court filings.

However, after the money was paid by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) in September of 2010, neither Wills nor the organization responded with documents showing how the money was spent.

It is also unclear as to whether the events actually occurred.

The court papers also said the OCFS sent a letter to request the accounting of the grant or a refund in April, 2011, but the nonprofit didn’t respond, at which time OCFS contacted the Attorney General’s office.

Schneiderman’s office issued a subpoena in February of this year, but received no report of the money.

While meeting with lawyers from the AG’s office, Wills walked out during questioning, pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Published reports claim that Schneiderman has filed a motion to force New York 4 Life to open its books. Reports also claim that no tax returns were ever filed for New York 4 Life, which was initially registered to Wills’ residence, but was later changed to his 2009 campaign office.

Calls to Wills’ office for comment were not returned as of press time.

Wills was elected to office in November of 2010 by winning a Special Election, after the passing of Councilmember Thomas White Jr.

 

Connecticut dad busted in Queens with $70K worth of cocaine in his car — along with his 13-year-old son: police


| jlane@queenscourier.com


Two police officers collared a Connecticut man who was driving in Queens Sunday with his 13-year-old son — and about $70,000 worth of cocaine inside his car, cops said.

Police officers Vincent Siraco and Michael Sardone were on foot patrol on Jamaica Avenue near 165th Street in Jamaica at about 1:55 p.m. when they noticed a 2007 Honda Accord with heavily tinted windows, cops said.

The two cops smelled marijuana after they motioned for the driver — Silvestre Mahon — to pull over, cops said.

[New York Post]

Ex-Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels pleads guilty to theft, ordered to pay $50K


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Ex-Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels pleads guilty to theft, ordered to pay $50K

Sticky-fingered ex-Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels dodged prison today by admitting he lined his pockets after swiping and selling millions of dollars worth of signed team hats, jerseys and other souvenirs. Samuels, 52, who was banned for life from CitiField and the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to repay about $50,000 in back taxes and restitution to the team and Queens DA’s office. Read More: New York Post

 

Cops arrest man in horrific New Jersey hit-and-run murder

A 26-year-old New Jersey man was arrested today for allegedly murdering his girlfriend by repeatedly running over her with his car in Fort Lee, NJ, yesterday after she attempted to break up with him, authorities said. Charles J. Ann, of Fort Lee, was busted in Queens, where he fled, authorities said. He’s being held in Queens Criminal Court on $3 million cash bail for allegedly killing Aena Hong, 25, also of Fort Lee. He was charged with first-degree murder. Read More: New York Post

 

Assemblywoman Grace Meng roasts Boston Market over racial remarks 

Assemblywoman Grace Meng said employees of a Boston Market in Flushing repeatedly referred to her as “la china” during a January visit to the chain restaurant. “Whether they were trying to be racist or not — it’s not appopriate,” said Meng (D-Flushing). “I was the only customer in there.” Meng, who has a basic knowledge of Spanish, confronted the workers after paying for her dinner, but they only shrugged. Read More: Daily News

Strauss-Kahn detained by French police over prostitution ring

French police detained former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for questioning Tuesday over allegations he took part in orgies in Paris and Washington with prostitutes paid for by businessmen. The 62-year-old former Socialist senior lawmaker, who until last year was seen as the front-runner to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France, had been summoned as a witness but prosecutors said he is now a suspect. Read More: New York Post

 

Eagle Academy to move into Allen Christian School

The city is giving a successful all-boys school with strong political ties its own building in southeast Queens, while moving a less-connected high school out of its own space and into a building occupied by a middle school. The Department of Education plans to sign a lease to put the Eagle Academy for Young Men into the Allen Christian School, in Jamaica, within the next few weeks, an agency official said. Read More: Daily News

Rihanna and Chris Brown record two suggestive songs together

Ill-fated exes Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together — a least in the studio. Three years after a lovers’ quarrel turned physical, leaving Rihanna in the hospital and Brown pleading guilty to assault charges, the former couple has teamed up for two new remixes. While Rihanna lends her voice to Brown’s “Turn Up the Music,” the Barbadian pop star invited Brown to sing on her explicit track, “Birthday Cake.” The lyrics of both songs appear to imply that the two might have rekindled their romance. Read More: New York Post

 

Anonymous hackers could disrupt US power grid, official warns

The director of the National Security Agency warned that the hacking group Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage in the US through a cyber attack. Gen. Keith Alexander, the agency’s director, provided his assessment in meetings at the White House and in other private sessions, according to people familiar with the gatherings. While he has not publicly expressed his concerns about the potential for Anonymous to disrupt power supplies, he has warned publicly about an emerging ability by cyber attackers to disable or even damage computer networks. Read More: New York Post

 

Famous masterpiece ‘The Scream’ to fetch $80M at New York auction

A version of Edvard Munch’s famous masterpiece “The Scream” is expected to fetch more than $80 million at a New York auction, Sotheby’s announced Tuesday. The work, which is one of four versions of the composition and the only one still in private hands, dates from 1895 and is owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen whose father Thomas was a friend, neighbor and customer of the artist. “The haunting composition stands as the visual embodiment of modern anxiety and existential dread, referenced by everyone from Andy Warhol to The Simpsons,” the auctioneer said in a statement. Read More: New York Post

 

Trial starts for owner of E. Side’s killer crane

Long decades of ethnic violence, genocide and religious repression in their native Kosovo could not crush the family of Ramadan Kurtaj. Instead, it took the freakish horror of one moment — a massive tower crane plummeting out of the Manhattan sky. “How? How can this happen in the United States?” Kurtaj’s heartbroken father, Uka, said yesterday, red-faced and sobbing on the eve of trial for the millionaire crane magnate charged with manslaughter in the East 91st Street crane collapse of 2008. Read More: New York Post