Tag Archives: 111th Precinct

111th Precinct honors the year’s top cops in Bayside

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

The 111th Precinct and the precinct’s Community Council honored its hardest working officers during their annual award ceremony Tuesday night at the Best Western of Northern Boulevard in Bayside.

“I think we have one of the highest calibers of officers in the City of New York, with one of the lowest crime precincts,” said Jack Fried, president of the 111th Precinct Council, who added that cops in the area go far beyond the basic requirements of their job. “Every officer here puts himself out there.”

Sgt. Kenneth Ho was named as the 2015 Supervisor of the Year, Det. Erika Madden was recognized as Detective of the Year, and P.O. Mario Cappuccia was honored as Police Officer of the Year.

After receiving recognition for the high caliber of his work as a police supervisor, Sgt. Ho reflected on his personal growth during his decade-long career, saying that the emotional weight of being a police officer has taught him to be more careful with his own decisions.

“Being a police officer, I think, is a great responsibility,” said Ho. “For the people that we serve every day and also but for the people that we work with.”

Cappuccia said he still loves his work after three years on the job.

“We try to make a difference in the community, making sure nobody gets hurt, nobody gets killed, people aren’t hurting themselves as well,” said Cappuccia, a first-generation police officer who works the midnight shift.

Awards were given to civilian participants in the 111th Precinct as well. Diana Merchan was honored as Civilian of the Year, along with Explorer of the Year Peter Kim and Auxiliary Officer of the Year Leon Pallas.

As the only honoree still attending classes in high school, Explorer of the Year Peter Kim looked ahead to a future in public safety as a state trooper. The Bayside High School sophomore said that helping people makes him feel great and is why he knew law enforcement was the perfect career for him.

“One of the main reasons is to protect the entire community,” Kim said. “Even though that does sound corny, that is what I’m going forward to do.”

Pallas said that he was motivated to be a part of the 111th Precinct after seeing Hurricane Sandy have a devastating effect on some in the community in 2012. The NYPD Explorer program gives youths an opportunity to volunteer and learn more about pursuing a law enforcement career.

“I was lucky,” Pallas said. “I didn’t have any damage, I didn’t have anything [wrong], so I thought that since I have capabilities, I want to be able to help people.”


Woman raped inside Northern Boulevard spa: NYPD

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A 42-year-old woman was raped inside a Northern Boulevard spa on Saturday after a man walked into the facility armed with a gun, police said.

The rape happened about 7:30 a.m. at a spa located within the 111th Precinct, which covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows.

The suspect had an appointment scheduled for that morning and when he arrived he took out a gun and raped the victim in a rear room of the spa, authorities said. It wasn’t clear if the victim was an employee.

Police have released video footage of the suspect and describe him as in his 20s, 6 to 6 feet 2 inches tall, heavy set, light skinned and with a chin strap style beard.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.



91-year-old woman dies in Francis Lewis Boulevard collision

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

A 91-year-old Oakland Gardens woman was killed Friday when her car jumped the center median on Francis Lewis Boulevard and struck a light pole, cops said. 

Police responded to the accident around 2:45 p.m., where they discovered Ethel Zaremba unconscious in her 1990 Toyota Camry near 48th Avenue.

The woman, while driving southbound on the boulevard, veered to the left and mounted the median before hitting the pole, according to cops. No other vehicles were involved in the collision. 

Zaremba was taken to New York Hospital Queens, where she was pronounced dead.




Bayside cops honored in annual ceremony

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Crime doesn’t pay, but outstanding law enforcement yields recognition.

The 111th Precinct in Bayside hosted its award ceremony during the monthly precinct council meeting on June 3.

Detective Jeffrey Peck, who led the investigation and arrest of a pair of women who were using a 4-year-old child to rob stores, won the Detective of the Year award. Frederick O’Modie, a veteran of two decades, won Police Officer of the Year and Sgt. Kevin Zweigbaum won the Supervisor of the Year award.

In addition to those honorees, Valerie Loayza won Explorer of the Year, Ana Rivera won Civilian of the Year and Nicole Piridis won Auxiliary of the Year.

Assistant Chief Diana Pizzuti, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens North, was in attendance and congratulated the honorees on a job well done.




Cops honored for busting alleged car thief

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Two officers from the 111th Precinct were feted Tuesday night for arresting a man who police say is responsible for a surge in area car thefts. 

Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta honored officers Frederick Omodie and Alan Reid for their persistence that led to the Jan. 14 collar of a perp tied to 14 other crimes in the area, including six car thefts.

Police believe the man went car to car, pulling on door handles and searching glove compartments for keys, before driving off.

“Due to the awareness of local crime trends, intelligence, diligence and relentless follow-up, Officers Omodie and Reid were able to apprehend an elusive criminal, who would have stolen many more vehicles and property from the residents of the 111th Precinct,” Huerta said.

The two made the arrest during an overnight shift, after sifting through leads and asking for stolen car reports.

They searched around 222nd Street and found the suspect driving a reported stolen car with its headlights off. The car was later returned to its owner.

“These two officers are known for their hard work and dedication,” Huerta said. “They are an asset to the 111th Precinct and to the community.”



Queens precinct ramps up speeding enforcement to meet ‘Vision Zero’

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Lead-footed drivers in the 111th Precinct will have to ease up on the gas soon or get a ticket.

The precinct plans to ramp up speeding enforcement and make sure motorists yield to pedestrians, Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta said.

The push is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years. De Blasio’s plan also calls for a reduction in the citywide speed limit from 30 to 25 mph and stiffer penalties on reckless taxi and livery drivers.

Speeding and failing to yield make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

Officers will be closely eyeing major area intersections like Northern and Bell Blvds. and Springfield Blvd. and Horace Harding Expwy., Huerta said.

The 111th Precinct  covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows. It is one of many citywide precincts to beef up traffic enforcement in order to reach the mayor’s goals.

There have been no pedestrian deaths within the precinct this year, Huerta said.

However, a 2-year-old boy was hit by a car Monday afternoon in Auburndale after he darted onto 196th St. near Northern Blvd., police said, though he is expected to recover.

“They think the child is going to pull through,” Huerta said. “Obviously, it’s a tragedy.”




Cops arrest alleged catalytic converter thieves in Flushing

| mchan@queenscourier.com

File graphic image

Police arrested two men in Flushing for allegedly sawing catalytic converters off multiple trucks in a U-Haul storage lot.

The device — which contains precious metals inside, like platinum — has been the target of a costly new citywide crime trend.

Dwayne Longmore, 31, and Neil Stephens, 33, were arrested Jan. 4 and charged with grand larceny for allegedly removing eight catalytic converters out of the 36-30 College Point Blvd. lot, police said.

The stolen devices totaled nearly $5,000, according to Crime Prevention Officer Anthony Lo Verme of the 109th Precinct.

Executive Officer Captain Tommy Ng said the precinct has not seen other catalytic converter thefts since the arrests.

The 111th Precinct, which reported a spike in November and December, is also experiencing a lull in the crime this month, though other grand larcenies are spiking, Crime Prevention Officer Luigi Galano said.

Car thefts and vehicle break-ins in Bayside have increased, as drivers are still leaving valuables unattended and in plain view.

“It’s enough for us to realize there’s a problem,” Galano said.

The crimes are taking place near the Bayside Gables and from Northern Boulevard to 35th Avenue.

The NYPD said parking in well-lit areas near traffic, being aware of surroundings and checking on cars, even while at home, could help avoid thefts.


Toyota Sequoias targeted in costly new crime trend

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Toyota

Toyota Sequoias have become the target of a costly new crime trend in northeast Queens.

Thieves are stealing catalytic converters off the bottom of the SUVs in the 111th Precinct and selling them for the precious metals inside, like platinum, the precinct said.

The needed device that prevents engine exhaust gasses from polluting the environment is worth at least $200 to criminals, police said. But replacing the converter can set car owners back at least $1,000.

“It’s a new thing,” Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta said. “It’s very expensive, and you’d have to get your car towed.”

Four catalytic converters have been taken off Toyota Sequoias in the last two months within the precinct that covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows, Huerta said.

The crime, difficult to prevent, happens in about one minute, according to the executive officer. At least two vehicles have been tampered with on residential streets and even driveways.

It sounds like “a very loud rumble” when the car is started without a catalytic converter, Huerta said.

The deputy inspector said parking in well-lit areas, being aware of surroundings and checking on cars, even while at home, could help avoid the theft.


111th Precinct bids adieu to beloved community affairs officer

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

For 10 years, Community Affairs Officer Gary Poggiali has watched 120 officers accept their “Cops of the Month” awards from the back of the room.

Now he has plenty of plaques to call his own.

Community leaders gave a final salute to the retiring, beloved cop with an armful of plaques and an earful of praises at a farewell party on December 3.

“Gary is one of the good guys,” said Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece. “He deals with us and all the issues in the community, and he does it with humor. He does it with pride, and he does it really well.”

Poggiali has served close to 20 years with the NYPD. After one year in the police academy, he spent five years with the 73rd Precinct in Brooklyn, three working patrol for the 111th Precinct and then a decade in community affairs.

“I know this community better than the community I grew up in,” Poggiali said. “I’ve spent a lot of time here.

It’s just another page. My mother used to say, ‘When one door closes, another one opens.’”

The precinct’s Community Council and a number of elected officials thanked him for his service, while poking jabs at him for “always eating.”

“No matter what, Gary was always there for us, always friendly, always went the extra mile to help our office out,” said Assemblymember Ed Braunstein.

Community Council President Jack Fried credited the affable Poggiali for the success of the precinct’s annual National Night Out Against Crime.

“If it [weren’t] for Gary, they wouldn’t be half as big as they were,” Fried said. “Gary really put everything into it.”
Poggiali, 50, plans to move and work security jobs down south in March. The new father welcomed his son Ryan to the world about two months ago.

His last day with the NYPD is in mid-February.

“This was a big piece of my life,” Poggiali said.

“I’ll look back and tell my kids stories of how I ran the neighborhood, how I was the commanding officer,” he joked.



Cops honored for collaring car break-in thief

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Four cops in the 111th Precinct were awarded recently for arresting a repeat car break-in offender.

Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta honored police officers Michael Cillis, Christopher Vernam, Romeo Francis and Sgt. Scott Brenes as “Cops of the Month” for their collar during the precinct’s monthly meeting on November 12.

“These guys have been working hard, night and day, working very late hours,” Huerta said. “It pays off every once in a while. This is one of those instances.”

The precinct’s four anti-crime unit officers arrested a white male in his 20s on October 22 around midnight. The suspect, police said, allegedly broke into a 2013 Honda that was parked in a residential driveway and stole a wallet inside.

He was charged with grand larceny, unlawful possession of stolen property and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Huerta said he was a known vehicle break-in recidivist.

“It’s a very tough job to apprehend anyone breaking into a car. It’s a job that takes a lot of effort, a lot of expertise,” Huerta said.

The precinct’s commanding officer praised the feted cops for their “quick thinking, intelligent police work and diligence.”

“[These are] the guys that are driving out there in unmarked cars and in plain clothes,” Huerta said.

“They’re working into all hours of the morning, staking out very quiet areas.”

Coupled with an uptick in car break-ins, grand larceny numbers have been “climbing expeditiously,” according to the precinct.

Honda Accords are also being targeted in tire and rim thefts, Huerta said, with 17 incidents in just a month.

The 111th Precinct is up 6 percent in crime for the year, but four new officers joined their ranks last week.

“We could always use more, but we can do the job,” Huerta said. “We’re not struggling for manpower here.”



Cops bust business suit burglar

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A man who police say burglarized homes in a business suit after posing as a children’s nonprofit employee has been arrested, according to the 111th Precinct.

Police believe a 26-year-old man from northeast Queens was behind a spike in burglaries between July and August.

The suspect, whose name is being withheld by The Courier, was a “well-dressed” man who knocked on doors in the middle of the day to gauge if homes were empty, according to police.

He would talk about his nonprofit — and then leave — if someone answered the door, authorities said, and would burglarize the home if it was vacant.

“Your burglar isn’t always going to be who you traditionally think,” said Sgt. Nick Gravino. “They don’t always look like that.”

Gravino and Officer Evan Ostrofsky were honored as the precinct’s “Cops of the Month” for their August 8 arrest of the apparent burglar.

“Before they made the arrest, we were hit hard by burglaries from July,” said Capt. Derick Seneus, the precinct’s new executive officer. “That’s when the guy they arrested came out of jail and burglaries started going up. After they made that arrest, they started going down.”

Gravino said he had personally arrested the suspect twice for burglary-related incidents before the August collar.

He said he and Ostrofsky saw the suspect walking in Auburndale, when they noted suspicious behavior.

“We watched him, he disappeared down an alleyway, comes out a few minutes later carrying a bag,” Gravino said. “We pretty much knew what he was up to at that point.”

This was the perp’s third arrest for burglary-related incidents in 14 months, police said.

Seneus, meanwhile, was promoted about two months ago. He has spent about two weeks at the 111th Precinct after being transferred from the 114th based in Astoria. “I was told that the 111th is the best in the borough,” he said. “So far, I think it’s true.”




111th Precinct warns residents of increasing Internet scams

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Internet scams were on the rise during an otherwise quiet summer for the 111th Precinct, officials said.

Jack Fried, president of the precinct’s Community Council, said he was one of hundreds to recently receive a fake but convincing email from Chase Bank, which sought vital information like his social security and account numbers.

The electronic note, which appeared to be on official Chase letterhead, is part of a popular scam called “spoofing,” according to Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta.

Thieves forge e-mail headers so the message appears to be sent from the original source. The scam usually targets the elderly or those not as savvy with technology, officials said.

Huerta said he has seen seniors lose their life savings after falling victim to the hoax.

“There’s a big increase in identity theft,” Huerta said. “It’s an epidemic and it’s taking the form of all kinds of different scams.”

The 111th Precinct said grand larcenies, mostly identity theft related, made up for the biggest spike in crime – an increase of 14 for the year.

“The only way to stop this is to stop falling for it,” Huerta said. “Unfortunately, it’s difficult.”

The precinct’s commanding officer warned residents not to click scam links which usually have an @ symbol in the web address. Safe links from official, secure sites will almost always begin with “https,” experts say.

Car break-ins have also been “popping up all over the precinct” and are no longer in clustered areas, according to Huerta. In the last six weeks, cops have arrested at least four people caught in the act, he said.

No officers were awarded at the Community Council’s meeting this month, which started up after a summer break. But the precinct’s top cop received an accolade of his own.

Huerta was promoted to deputy inspector last week.

The “Cops of the Month” award program will pick up again in October, officials said.



111th Precinct recognizes officers, others for outstanding service

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Luke Tabet


The 111the Precinct Council recognized six officers, volunteers and civilian employees for outstanding service over the past year.

Council president Jack Fried commended the work they did “not only for the precinct council, but for the precinct and for the community as well.”

“These people demonstrate every day that they are the most committed and dedicated among the force,” said Captain Jason Huerta.

Officer Evan ­ Ostrofsky was honored as Police Officer of the Year. Huerta called his service “instrumental in the apprehension of violent criminals in countless crimes.”

In his short time so far with the precinct, Ostrofsky has made 168 arrests, including a recent bust that recovered large amounts of heroin, powdered ecstasy, OxyContin and drug-packaging materials, according to Huerta.

The award for Detective of the Year went to Vincent Gannon. In his 14-year tenure with the precinct, Gannon, who joined the detective squad in 2006, has amassed over 400 arrests.

Domestic Violence Sergeant Alicia Manzer was awarded Police Supervisor of the Year. Huerta called the job “by far one of the most challenging positions in the precinct.”

Jordan Tozitsky won Auxiliary Police Officer of the Year.

“The NYPD and 111th Precinct simply could not function without the work of our auxiliary police officers,” Huerta said.

Awards for Explorer of the Year and Civilian Employee of the Year went to Bayside High School freshman Natasha Valentin and Barbara Rothman, respectively.




EXCLUSIVE: Many Queens day care centers operating illegally

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Stock photo

A little known law may be keeping some Queens day care centers from operating legally, The Courier has learned.

Permits from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), a certificate of occupancy from the Department of Buildings and a fire inspection pass are needed for city child care providers who fall under certain categories. These include those who look after three or more kids unrelated to them either in a private home or institution for more than three hours a day, on a regular basis.

But a less familiar rule requires these centers also give written notification to local precincts and fire departments within five days of receiving certifications, the agencies said.

“The day care centers are kind of off our radar. For safety reasons, we’d like to know where they are,” said Special Operations Lieutenant Daniel Heffernan of the 111th Precinct.

According to Heffernan, about 26 centers in the Bayside-based precinct are legally licensed with the city. The precinct’s list is still being updated, but only eight were registered with police as of press time.

“We know there are others out there who have not reported to us,” Heffernan said.

Gary Poggiali, the precinct’s community affairs officer, said he suspects businesses that are providing under-the-radar services in their private homes are trying to make an extra buck in a bad economy.

“There are people who don’t realize they have to contact us,” he said. “They’ll think, ‘I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m taking care of two kids. Why don’t I take care of four and make money?’ But we have to know what’s going on in our community.”

The Courier reached out to several Craigslist ads that were offering day care services for multiple children in private Queens homes. A woman running an at-home center in East Elmhurst said she was “working on” obtaining a permit but was still watching many children without it at the time of the call.

She said the certification was “coming any day now” and added she would spike up prices when it arrived.

According to a DOHMH spokesperson, the department inspects centers it receives complaints about within 24 hours and shuts down those found to be running improperly. But home-based providers are regulated by the state, not the city.

There are 472 permitted child care centers in the borough, the spokesperson said. It was unclear how many were also registered with the NYPD and FDNY.

The process to do so is simple, police said. It involves filling out a short form and providing a copy of the city permit at a local precinct.

Heffernan said enforcement became stricter after a California daycare shooting in 1999 killed one person and injured five others, including three kids.

A two-month old baby girl was also reportedly found dead in an alleged illegal day care in Elmhurst in November 2012.

“This is a very big safety issue,” Heffernan said. “If you’re a parent, would you want to put your kids in a place that’s unlicensed? I wouldn’t.”



Neighborhood watch proposed in 111th Precinct

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A surge in burglaries has officers in the 111th Precinct placing the call out for residents interested in starting up a neighborhood watch program.

The precinct has seen burglaries spike to 20 in a one-week period, as compared to two the 111th reported last year, according to Community Affairs Officer Bill Conway.

Homes between Northern Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway have been recently targeted, Conway said, due to their prime locations close to nearby highways. The precinct also suspects a professional crew behind the pattern of law-breaking that they say takes place in under five minutes.

Now the Bayside-based precinct is in talks to start up a civilian-based patrol, similar to those that already exist in Astoria and Glendale, to thwart the crimes.

“This is something we’ve been toying around with for a while,” Conway said. “They would be extra eyes and ears out on the street, keeping burglaries and other crimes down.”

The precinct has been participating in a block watchers program for several years, Conway said, but volunteers do not patrol in groups. Those part of the neighborhood watch would be more active and visible, he said.

“The burglars don’t want to be seen, so when they see a group of people wearing a uniform, the same shirts or caps, they move on,” said Conway.

Jack Fried, president of the precinct’s Community Council, pointed to the success of other neighborhood watches in the city and said volunteers would not be asked to be vigilantes.

“They’re not there to run after a criminal or block someone from trying to get into a house,” he said. “A police officer can’t be on every block in every neighborhood 24 hours a day, so these volunteers do that for them.”

Councilmember Peter Vallone lauded the efforts of volunteer watchdogs within the 114th Precinct, where civilian patrols began in early June, but said spikes in citywide crime can only be cut down with more police presence.

“Block watchers are absolutely helpful, but they do not take the place of police in any way,” he said.

Interested volunteers are asked to call Conway at 718-279-5295.

“There’s no doubt in my mind people will step up,” said Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece. “It’s neighbors helping neighbors.”