Tag Archives: 104th Precinct

Maspeth residents continue to fight truck traffic


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Maspeth residents have road rage for big rig drivers.

Community leaders and residents held a rally at the intersection of 64th Street and Flushing Avenue on June 20 to bring attention to a perceived excess of tractor trailer traffic in the area.

Residents have long contended drivers ignore laws and use residential streets as shortcuts to avoid traffic on the Long Island Expressway. They say the trucks increase noise and pollution in the community and are calling for more enforcement by police.

“Maspeth deserves a community with fewer trucks,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “It’s one thing to have local deliveries, but it’s another thing to have huge trucks.”

In 2011, the city passed the Maspeth Bypass plan to prevent trucks from using local streets to make deliveries.

However, Crowley and others say drivers continue to exit the expressway and use Flushing and Grand Avenues when going to Brooklyn due to a lack of signs that direct trucks to streets they may use, and the fact the official truck map does not reflect changes in the plan. The Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains a map showing approved paths for trucks.

The 104th Precinct said while officers do ticket trucks for infractions, judges throw the cases out on grounds the signs and maps have not been changed.

“We’ve been trying to get the map adjusted, but as it stands, it still is a lawful route,” said Lieutenant George Hellmer of the 104th Precinct. Locals say the trucks — most of them 16- and 18-wheelers, but sometimes longer — rattle houses and awaken people when they go by as early as 2 a.m.

Residents also say the traffic light at 64th Street and Flushing Avenue has been knocked over and fixed multiple times as trucks have struggled to turn off Grand Avenue onto Flushing Avenue.

Residents are also concerned about children, citing an August 2010 incident in which a truck struck and killed 12-year-old Frederick Endres while the boy was riding his bicycle on Fresh Pond Road.

“This is a residential area and people just want to have peaceful lives,” said Anna Zacalunov, who lives on Grand Avenue.

As the rally progressed, residents counted the number of trucks that drove by. In an hour-and-a-half, more than 250 tractor trailers of varying sizes were seen up and down the intersection.

“They don’t care. They are giving us the finger, some of them,” said Roe Daraio, president of Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together (COMET), the civic association that organized the rally. “Laws with no enforcement mean nothing.”

The next step for the community is to meet with DOT to get the maps changed and signs put up.

But not all residents think drivers are the only ones to blame.

“Also, I think they should ticket the dispatcher,” said Maspeth resident Bob Nastasi. “He’s the one telling these out-of-state guys where to go.”

 

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Glendale neighbors allege car shop operates illegally


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER

Neighbors on one Glendale block say the nearby garage is a chronic nuisance.

“These people are lawless all day, every day,” said one woman who wished to remain anonymous.

The garage, nestled on a quiet block in Glendale, sees dozens of cars every day. Neighbors complain the owners’ cars stay parked on the sidewalks and down the street for days, inconveniencing residents.

“Everybody has to accommodate them,” said the woman. “If you’re a mom pushing a baby stroller, you have to go around them. They take over. They’re like bullies.”

However, owners Elsie Serrano and Oscar Ortega claimed they are running a completely legal operation.

“I have receipts for everything I have done here,” Serrano said.

The shop’s license to sell cars is up to date, and both Serrano and Ortega are licensed to run their business.

However, neighbors allege they do not sell vehicles, but illegally repair them.

Ortega said his store brings cars to a nearby Getty station for service and if the station is too busy, he will do an oil change or fix brakes himself. He added that the store also legally washes cars. However, neighbors said they have seen workers do larger-scale repairs.

“They’re fixing collision and mechanical problems,” said Danny, a resident who withheld his last name. “You can smell chemicals along our block. These are people that have no morals, no respect.”

Ortega said Danny is a “bully” with a temper, and the two have gotten into several arguments.

“I’m running a business. I don’t want to get into trouble,” he said.

Ortega said he does not need a license for his 79th Avenue garage because it is part of his business, adding there are no advertising signs on the site.

The owners frequently have their large family visit the site, and several neighbors said they blast music and intimidate residents at all hours of the day.

“People are just afraid of them,” said the woman. “Neighbors say, ‘I just lock my door and hide in my backyard. I don’t want them to bother me.’”

Other residents have taken video footage of the workers allegedly pushing cars up the street and rushing them into the garage.

The 104th Precinct has paid many visits to the site, handing out numerous tickets and summonses. Neighbors said police officers have told workers to shut down the operation, though the 104th did not return calls for comment.

The Fire Department has allegedly shut the site down four times, but the shop continues to reopen. The woman said she has not seen any police or fire presence at the site since April.

“It is things like this that help determine which way a neighborhood goes,” said Craig Caruana, community activist and City Council candidate.

Caruana has been working with Danny’s family to put an end to what they call a chaotic situation. However, the owners maintain their innocence. The site’s landlord could not be reached for comment as of press time.

 

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Cops ID Ridgewood body; suspect charged with murder


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK

Twenty-seven year old Derek Tudor confessed to killing his mother’s boyfriend, Frank Soucie, whose body investigators recovered from his Ridgewood backyard, a police source said.

Criminal charges indicate that Tudor intentionally suffocated Soucie, 60, sometime between Sunday, April 21 and Sunday, April 28 in or around the Putnam Avenue home, said District Attorney Richard Brown.

Soucie was thought to be missing until a neighbor reported Tudor acting suspiciously to the local precinct on Tuesday, April 30.

Police responded to the call and searched the area. They searched the building’s rooftop, where investigators allegedly found a knotted electrical cord and a bottle of ammonia. On the roof of a connected building, they found a large plastic bin and what appeared to be blood. Police also found visible drag marks leading to the back of the building, according to the district attorney.

In Soucie’s backyard, police found a fresh pile of dirt, the source said. Underneath, they found a male’s body wrapped in sheets, later determined to be Soucie. According to the medical examiner’s office, Soucie died as a result of homicidal asphyxiation.

Neighbors said Soucie lived with his girlfriend, Stephanie Verni, 54, and her son in the Ridgewood apartment. The couple often argued about her son, they said, and Soucie wanted him to move out.

On Tuesday morning, eight days after Soucie went missing, Tudor was seen wandering inside Soucie’s building. He walked into a third-floor apartment, where a tenant found him. Tudor seemed “panicked” and asked to use the fire escape to get into to Soucie’s second-floor apartment just below, said the tenant’s boyfriend, Raymond Velez.

“It was weird how this kid was acting,” Velez said.

Moments later, neighbors saw Tudor come out of the building with a large white laundry bag. He threw it into a garbage can, and Velez, who was outside, went to investigate. Velez said he opened the bag and found what appeared to be burnt clothes inside layers of black garbage bags. He said the clothes gave off a burning, chemical smell.

At 6:15 p.m. that same day, Tudor went with his biological father to the 102nd Precinct and turned himself in. According to the police source, he made statements incriminating himself, and was later charged with murder.

Tudor was arrested for forcible touching in 2010. He was also arrested for jumping a turnstile.

Neighbors in the tight-knit Ridgewood community are distraught somebody could do this to their longtime friend.

“He would never hurt a fly,” said Debbie Webster, who knew Soucie for more than 20 years. “When we found out he was missing, we knew something had happened. He didn’t deserve something like this.”

Tudor was arraigned on Thursday, May 2 on second-degree murder charges. He was ordered held without bail and will return to court on Wednesday, May 15. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison, according to the district attorney.

City green spaces to get more staff


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Juniper Valley Park is just one green space in the borough that will soon get more supervision. The City’s Parks Department is significantly increasing its staff to include 81 new Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers who will protect park rules and assets in Queens and the rest of the city. The new hires will also include 207 city park workers, 96 maintenance and trade workers and 30 climbers and pruners to preserve trees, according to a Parks spokesperson.

The plans received a warm welcome in the southwest community, where many say that their parks, especially Juniper Valley, need extra eyes.

“It’s long overdue,” said Frank Kotnik, president of the 104th Precinct’s Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP).

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said that Juniper Valley Park had “a tenth of the officers that they’ve needed” in the past.

“Any investment in PEP officers is a good investment,” he said. “There’s vandalism in the park, people who don’t respect park regulations. The cops are spread so thinly at this point that they really can’t handle all of the park’s complaints.”

The Parks spokesperson attributed the shortage of PEP officers to the fiscal crisis, As a result, the workforce has not kept pace with its growing infrastructure, the representative added.

The Parks Department said 12 PEP officers and six Urban Park Rangers currently patrol Queens parks, adding that its 2014 budget allows for the additional staffing that will be spread throughout the city.

The specific number of officers coming to Queens this summer is not yet known.
Holden said that however many officers are coming, the community “needs them working,” especially on off-hours such as nights and weekends.

“In Juniper, there are 10 times as many people there on the weekends. If there are no officers, it’s almost a free-for-all,” he said. “We have picnics going on, and people driving through on [illegal] four wheelers.”

“It has been difficult to get an officer there during the evening or on the weekends when the parks really need to be protected,” he added.

When Holden heard complaints in the past, he used his own police connections to attempt to get an officer to the park.

He hopes Juniper Valley Park will see an increase in patrol staff to help alleviate the problems.

“PEP officers are certainly welcome,” he said. “But we need to know where they are going to be deployed. It’s great news, but I’m not going to jump up and down with joy.”

 

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Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol looking for a few good men


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP) has served as the “extended eyes and ears” of the NYPD for over 30 years — and they want you to help keep their mission alive.

“We don’t complain about crime, we do something about it,” said Frank Kotnik, G-COP president.
In the late 1990s, the volunteer group was asked to expand and help patrol within the confines of the 104th Precinct, and have since performed regular checks throughout Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village and Glendale. They use their own vehicles, and two to three times a week send out three to four cars, with two people in each car.

“[G-COP is] essential to us,” said Officer Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct. “They deeply care about the community that they serve.”

Currently, the group has 50 active members, but Kotnik has dreams of growing to 150 reliable, dedicated patrollers.

“People want to join something that is proactive, not stagnant,” said the longtime president. “That’s what we are — we’re leading with example, we’re getting out there.”

Founded in 1976, G-COP’s structure and loyal members have made the group strong enough to withstand the test of time.

“You get out of something what you put into it,” said Kotnik. “And I think there are a lot more able-bodied men and women that could step up to the plate.”

Mainly, G-COP takes direction from the 104th Precinct and does everything from checking out suspicious scenes to directing traffic during a parade. Kotnik recalled various incidents in which they helped aid lost children and women in distress, and locked up graffiti vandals.

Although patrols are typically only a few times a week, if “necessary, they’ll be out every day,” according to Kotnik. Most recently, during Sandy, members of G-COP had a constant presence both within the community and in the disaster-stricken areas of south Queens. They worked around the clock, cleaning up their local area, and busing truckloads of essential items down to the storm victims.
Since the storm has passed, Kotnik and his group have returned to regular patrols, and creating a sense of safety within the community.

“The more volunteers, the merrier,” said Bell. “They’re definitely eyes out there. They’re always quick to respond, to lend a hand.”

The NYPD is waiting for end-of-year reports to come out that will detail crime statistics within each precinct, but Bell said that G-COP is an important addition in controlling various situations.

Ideally, Kotnik hopes to grow to more frequent patrols and expand their presence even further. To join, applicants must live within the 104th Precinct and be at least 18 years of age. Applications can be obtained on the group’s website, g-cop.org, or by going to the monthly meeting, held the second Thursday of each month at the St. Pancras School in Glendale at 8 p.m. G-COP hopefuls will then be subjected to background checks.

“These people come from all walks of life, we welcome everybody,” said Kotnik.

 

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Cop impersonators wanted for Queens attempted robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Cop impersanators

Authorities are looking for two men who allegedly posed as police officers while attempting to rob a Queens home.

On Wednesday, September 26, around 1 p.m., a 49-year-old man, thinking that the suspects, who displayed shields and carried guns, were cops, let them into his home in the vicinity of Cypress Avenue, said the NYPD.

The police impersonators tried to rob the victim, but fled the location before taking any property.

No injuries were reported at the scene.

Suspect one was last seen wearing a gray zipper sweater, gray sweatshirt, dark jeans, black and gray baseball cap, black boots and black gloves. Suspect two was last seen wearing a light gray jacket, white shirt, blue jeans, black boots, black gloves, and a gray and black baseball cap. Both are described as as Hispanic males.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.
The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Graffiti cleaned up in Glendale


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of State Senator Joe Addabbo's office

The 104th Precinct has a new ally in its war on graffiti — a new power washer.

“There were certain buildings — like brick — that we wouldn’t paint over, but now we can clean up the graffiti,” said Police Officer Justin Dambinskas.

The power washer was used to remove graffiti from the road barriers along 80th Street adjacent to Atlas Park on Saturday, September 15. Alex Maureau, constituent liaison in State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office, joined the clean-up to rid the area of trash and overgrown weeds.

The paint, gloves, brushes and trash bags were provided by the senator’s office.

Dambinskas said that while there is still some graffiti in the area, the problem has waned.

He said the 400 graffiti arrests in the precinct last year have been cut in half.

“Because of the arrests and because it gets cleaned within a week, people won’t spray paint here anymore; they’re leaving the precinct to spray paint,” said Dambinskas, who is on the precinct’s graffiti unit.

Last year, the 104th Precinct removed graffiti from more than 1,600 spots; this year the number is 800, he said.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S  FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and rain showers, then thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 75. Windy. Winds from the South at 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Chance of rain 90% with rainfall amounts near 0.6 in. possible. Tuesday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers, then thunderstorms after midnight. Low of 64. Windy. Winds from the SSW at 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Chance of rain 90% with rainfall amounts near 1.3 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: Free Electronic Etching 

Please join Senator Joe Addabbo and  officers from Transit District 33 and the 104th Precinct, and register your cell/smartphones, iPads, iPods, laptops, portable video games and more to help protect against theft. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Heavy winds, rain threaten tri-state

The mild weather tri-state residents enjoyed over the last three days is expected to deteriorate Tuesday as heavy winds, rain and possible thunderstorms move over the region, meteorologists say. Read more: NBC New York

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Close to 200 Arrested as OWS marks 1-year anniversary with marches, rallies

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Munch’s ‘The Scream’ going on view at MoMA in NYC

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” which sold for nearly $120 million at auction, will go on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The museum announced Tuesday that the iconic image will be on display from Oct. 24 to April 29. Read more: Fox 5 New York 

Romney looks to steady shaky campaign

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is trying to steady a shaky campaign as President Barack Obama, enjoying a burst of momentum, heads to New York for a celebrity fundraiser with Beyoncé and Jay-Z and a star turn on David Letterman’s couch. Read more: AP

Police searching for missing man


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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The police are searching for a 17-year-old Hispanic male who went missing in the confines of the 104th Precinct.

Pasquale “Lino” Canfora was last seen on Monday, March 19 at a location on 56th Drive. Canfora is described as a 6’ tall and 165 pounds with black hair, dark eyes, a thin build and a medium skin complexion.

Anyone with information in regards to his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

Pols: Point the way to the precinct


| brennison@queenscourier.com

ridgewoodpressconference1w

Local councilmembers are proponents of a plan requiring a public posting pointing to local police precincts.

Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley and Diana Reyna announced legislation that would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install signage directing residents to the local police station.

The 104th Precinct, which polices Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth, is located on Catalpa Avenue, tucked away from any major thoroughfares and may be difficult to find for those unfamiliar with the area.

“Every resident should be able to easily find their local police precinct, and being unable to do so poses a serious public safety risk,” said Crowley. “The DOT already installs many directional signs. Adding signage for police precincts should be a no-brainer.”

Residents often need to visit police precincts to file complaints and receive police reports. Locals and leaders have requested the DOT to install the sign, but were denied, Crowley said.

“Just as we indicate to the public where local hospitals are located, so should we inform the public where their local police precincts are located,” said Reyna. “This legislation addresses an essential public safety issue by providing greater access to information about law enforcement.”

Assemblymember Mike Miller called the signage an important, logical step in helping increase the safety of the community.

The 104th Precinct did not return calls for comment.

According to a release from Crowley, signs are installed at the request of the community, but the DOT said the signage does not meet their criteria.

The DOT said that it does not comment on legislation prior to a city council hearing.

 

Police Blotter


| jlane@queenscourier.com

104th Precinct

Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood

Two stabbed

On December 20, police responded to an assault at 60-79 56th Street.  Upon arrival, officers observed a 43-year-old woman unconscious with a stab wound to the neck and a 22-year-old man with multiple stab wounds to the back. The woman was discovered inside, while the male victim was found outside, according to police.

EMS also responded and took the female victim to Wyckoff Hospital where she is listed in critical condition and the male victim to Elmhurst Hospital.  There have been no arrests made and the investigation is ongoing.

19-year-old arrested for L train assault


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

ltrainfight 104w

104th Precinct

Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood

Police have arrested one of the men they say was wanted for an assault on the “L” train.

On November 8, on the Queens bound “L” train at the Myrtle/Wyckoff station, the male victim, 25, was assaulted by three unidentified male blacks.

On November 22, Tayari McClellan, 19, of Brooklyn, was arrested in connection with the incident and charged with assault and harassment.

G-COP/104COP Donates Food to Local Pantries


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy G-COP/104COP

Members of the Glendale/104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP/104COP) delivered non-perishable food to the Sacred Heart Food Pantry during their Thanksgiving Food Drive.

The Sacred Heart Food pantry serves over 100 needy families in the parishes of Sacred Heart and Saint Pancras.

For more information on how you can make a donation, contact Sister Margaret or Loretta at the Sacred Heart Parish Ministry at 718-821-3285.

To join G-COP/104COP, call 718-497-1500, or to fill out an online application, go to www104COP.org

Maspeth Bypass Plan goes into effect


| ecamhi@queenscourier.com

The old adage “keep on trucking” doesn’t apply to Maspeth anymore.

The much-anticipated Maspeth Truck Bypass plan, passed in July, went into effect on Saturday, October 1, meaning trucks will now travel to and from the Long Island Expressway without using central avenues in the residential community.

Community activist and local business owner Tony Nunziato, who conceived the original plan with the late Frank Principe,is pleased the job is “getting done.” Although it’s been revised by the Department of Transportation (DOT) since becoming a capital project, Nunziato still feels good that the decade-long project is now a reality.

“It’s being enacted, it’s finally coming through to fruition,” he said.

Among the changes in place with the Maspeth Truck Bypass plan is the designation of Grand and Flushing Avenues from “through” to “local” truck routes. Existing laws to keep oversized trucks off local roads are also being enforced aggressively by the 104th Precinct, according to Nunziato, who noted that the bypass route is still very much in progress and the benefits won’t be immediate.

“It’s not done, etching, yellow lines, signage — I mean I know the plans, but if I was driving down there, I wouldn’t know what was going on [yet],” said Nunziato. “They’re working on it so I’ll give them the time.”

The DOT did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

Nunziato is confident that once the bypass route is completed and signage is posted, the community will see a reduction in truck traffic.

“They’re just implementing the bypass yet, so once they have all the lines and all the signs, then they’ll do the big signs on the highway. Eventually, when they have all the signs and give the truckers a chance to use the bypass route, then you come and start ticketing.You want to give them a fair chance to adjust to it,” he said.

He also noted that the DOT sends trucking companies a route map, which, once updated, should also help the plan along.

Work to convert streets surrounding a complex five-leg intersection into part of the bypass is in process as well.The one-way street conversions, affecting 58th Street and Maurice Avenue, faced strong opposition from many Maspeth business owners who claimed that restricting access on those streets would be detrimental to their businesses.The DOT has stated, however, that the change should ensure better traffic flow in the area.

Nunziato also disagrees with the one-way conversions, stating it was not part of the original bypass plan.

“We never wanted to change the flow of the traffic. They [the DOT] assured us that if they see that it’s hurting businesses they’ll reverse it or they’ll change it, and I’m hoping they stay to their word.

The long-term goal of the bypass plan is to divert trucks, except those making local deliveries, away from the residential and local business spans of Grand or Flushing avenues to a bypass route through Maspeth’s industrial areas.

“We’re not looking to hurt the truckers. We’re looking just to make sure that they work together with the community, so that they don’t damage local business. A lot of children cross the street, a lot of seniors, we’ve got a lot of schools – there’s no reason to have all these massive trucks on the main strip,” Nunziato said.