Tag Archives: Briarwood

Police searching for suspects in Flushing, Briarwood robberies


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Video Courtesy NYPD

Police are looking for two men wanted in connection with two robberies on Saturday.

According to the NYPD, the first robbery occurred at approximately 12:25 a.m. in the vicinity of 58th Road and 138th Street in Flushing. The two suspects approached a 22-year-old male victim, placed him in a chokehold, displayed a firearm and then removed his Samsung Galaxy cellphone and wallet. No medical attention was requested after the incident.

The second robbery took place the same day around 12:45 a.m.near 84th Drive and 148th Street in Briarwood , said police. The suspects approached the 31-year-old male and 38-year-old female victims, displayed a firearm and removed their iPhone, purse and wallet, and then fled. No medical attention was requested after this incident.

According to police, the suspects are described as being 18 to 20-year-old males, approximately 5’7”to 5’9” with thin builds.

The NYPD has released a video of the first robbery in Flushing.

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.

 

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City Council District 24 candidate Andrea Veras kicks off campaign


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Andrea Veras

City Council candidate Andrea Veras kicked off her campaign with dozens of supporters on August 3.

The Briarwood activist and paralegal is vying to replace term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in the 24th District, which stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

“Improving the living conditions of my community has always been my passion,” Veras said, “and I want to bring a fresh perspective to city management, transparency and leadership to all the communities comprised in District 24.”

Veras, a single mother of three, immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1990.

She said she wants to get youngsters interested in their education and community events and create affordable housing and healthcare programs.

Veras will run against former Assemblymember Rory Lancman and Mujib Rahman in the Democratic primary on September 10. The winner will face off with Republican candidate Alex Blishteyn in the general election.

 

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More security cameras coming to Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Police will install new sets of eyes in parts of Briarwood, Jamaica and Pomonok, according to a Queens lawmaker.

Seventeen NYPD security cameras are coming to the area’s high-traffic locations thanks to $600,000 in funding secured by Councilmember James Gennaro.

They can be found around Rufus King Park in Jamaica, near Archbishop Molloy High School and along Hillside Avenue, Jamaica Avenue and Parsons Boulevard, officials said.

“I am proud to have been a strong supporter of the use of these cameras,” Gennaro said.

Installation is slated to be completed by the city’s police department within two years.

The legislator said the cameras “are an essential part of the NYPD’s crime-fighting and counterterrorism efforts.”

Another 57 security cameras are coming to Queens, Borough President Helen Marshall announced last month.

 

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Queens daughter raises funds for handicapped dad


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Rachel Herman

His summer days were spent at the beach with his loyal dog by his side.

But for the last three years, a crippling neurological disease has kept Gary Herman away from the shore.

Now his daughter, Rachel, is on a mission to mobilize the man who supported his family for decades.

“My dad worked hard his whole life. [He] provided a good life for his family,” said the 23-year-old. “I want to give him a chance to have the independence he once had again. I want to take him to the boardwalk this summer.”

Gary Herman, 59, of Fresh Meadows, was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2011. The rapidly progressive illness, which attacks nerve cells in voluntary muscles, has made the retired teacher incapable of walking or moving much of his body.

“He used to go to the gym and walk the dog every morning,” said Rachel, who lives in Briarwood.

“His foot was dropped,” she said, recounting the early days of his condition. “He couldn’t lift it up all the way. He thought it was a problem with his muscles in his leg because he was going to the gym too much.”

Now the costs of renting a van each day, coupled with hospital bills, are piling up, Rachel said.

The doting daughter, who has three part-time jobs, has been raising funds to buy her dad a specially-equipped van to take him to doctors’ appointments, support groups — and back to the Long Beach boardwalk, which he has cherished his whole life.

“It’s been difficult to accept, but I just have to keep a clear mind about it and try not to get sad,” she said. “If I get sad, it’s just going to be pointless.”

Rachel said her family would later donate their van to the ALS Association’s greater New York chapter.

So far she has raised $5,614 for her cause, just $2,000 short of her goal.

To donate, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/let-s-get-my-dad-a-van or email getdadavan@gmail.com.

“I think it would be nice for my dad to see the ocean again,” Rachel said.


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Elderly Queens man missing


| brennison@queenscourier.com

1790-12 107 pct Zhang

A silver alert has been issued for a missing Queens man last seen yesterday morning in Briarwood.

Hong Sheng Zhang, 78, went missing at 11:30 a.m. yesterday near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Main Street.

Zhang, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is 5-feet-3-inches tall, 120 pounds, with grey shaved hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen wearing a waist length green jacket, a white and yellow baseball hat and yellow pants.

Anyone with information on Zhang’s whereabouts is asked to call 9-1-1.

Duped Queens cell customers compensated


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Relief has been slowly trickling in for a handful of the hundreds scammed two months ago by an authorized Queens T-Mobile dealer, but deceived victims say they’ll never gain back their wasted time, stolen money and lost trust.

“It was a huge loss. I don’t have words to describe that,” said Dr. Srijan Kumar Bera, 34, of Kew Gardens. “I couldn’t sleep well because of this.”

Bera is one of at least 300 Queens customers who say they were cheated by a T-Mobile preferred retailer — a South Asian man they identified as Raj, who owned two Queens stores, at 138-40A 84th Drive in Briarwood and 134-11 Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park.

Both stores have been shuttered since the end of July and the owner and his employees, victims said, have fled, as the Courier reported in an August 2 cover story.

Bera said the devious dealer, who owns and operates a company called Jagdeep Global Products, Inc., billed him for five unauthorized lines tacked on to his account without permission, having already pocketed $200 in direct cash payments, before bolting.

He was left with $1,200 in charges from T-Mobile thanks to the five lines he said he never used, as well as disconnected service.

A spokesperson for T-Mobile had confirmed the fraudulent activity committed by the store owner and said the company apologizes and is taking “fast action” to correct the issues.

“We have worked together with the wholesaler responsible for the store and the owner has been replaced,” the spokesperson said, adding that those negatively affected should call customer service.

But duped customers said service representatives gave them the cold shoulder, saying the gripes they had were between themselves and the dealer and not the company.

“T-Mobile was not willing to take the blame on themselves,” Bera said. “They kept saying it’s between me and the dealer, but the dealer was using the company’s banner to give us the deals. That was where I felt really hopeless.”

Bera said he went to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) after calling T-Mobile’s Risk Assessment department every night, and writing several letters, to no avail. He said intervention by the BBB and the threat of hiring a lawyer helped speed up the process.

T-Mobile reps then waived $1,000 in termination fees and another $800 from the total bill.

Taliff Mohammed, 44, of Ozone Park — who was billed $1,271.92 in payments after also being signed up for five contracted lines instead of the three prepaid ones he wanted — said charges against him were dropped as well.

“It took some time, but they adjusted everything so I owe them no money,” he said. “It was unfortunate that I was taken advantage of but the big picture is that I wasn’t held responsible for that amount of money.”

 

DOT addressing construction concerns in Briarwood


| mchan@queenscourier.com

SAMSUNG

Commuters in Briarwood say poor planning by the state has left them hanging two years after ongoing construction at a major subway station first started marring the community.

Civic leaders in the area called for better communication from the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT), during an August 25 rally at the Briarwood-Van Wyck subway station on Queens Boulevard — an area they say is plagued by poor lighting and dangerous, confusing traffic rerouting.

“The whole traffic flow changed and people ended up driving on the wrong side of the road. It was just genuinely a mess,” said Beth Brooks, spokesperson for the Briarwood Action Network (BAN). “People are frustrated because it’s not like any of this is new. The state DOT really dropped the ball.”

The Briarwood component of the state’s Kew Gardens Interchange project, as the Courier reported last September, involves replacing the Queens Boulevard bridge over the Van Wyck Expressway, adding an auxiliary lane to the expressway and an elevator and new entrance to the subway station, which will not be open to the public for at least another year, said Adam Levine, spokesperson for the state’s DOT.

Construction along the south side of Queens Boulevard caused the station’s main entrance to close two weeks ago, Levine said, and vehicular traffic was then shifted to the north side of the boulevard, where the agency built a new pathway along the edge of the construction zone leading to a ramp into a newly built, but temporary, subway entrance.

Levine said the DOT installed a new, temporary traffic signal on Queens Boulevard, additional street lights and workers to guide pedestrians past the work zone during works hours.

But BAN leaders — who have observed several cars and a bus traveling on the wrong side of the road — say the changes put both pedestrians and motorists in dangers. The project, Brooks said, has also caused a noticeable buildup of litter after construction knocked out several city garbage cans along the route from the subway station to Main Street.

“The community was blindsided. We felt like we had been left out of the process that we thought we were included in,” Brooks said.

Levine said the DOT is “taking action” to address all the concerns and implement changes. Agency officials, he said, met with Briarwood leaders three days after the rally. Brooks said the DOT plans on scheduling a public meeting to discuss practical solutions and appointing a community liaison to the project.

“We got what we wanted,” Brooks said, “immediate attention.”

Airplane noise torments northeast Queens residents


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

A nonstop rush of aircraft flights and a barrage of low flying planes have residents in northeast Queens alarmed at the deafening “war zone” they say their neighborhoods have become in the last two months.

“The sound — it’s like you’re living in an airport,” said Angela Polito of Bayside. “It’s nonstop, every 20 seconds, one after another. It’s been terrible.”

Residents from Bayside and downtown Flushing say they have been tormented since mid-June by the ear-splitting roar of airplanes they say soar past their homes by the minute each day from 6 a.m. to noon and then again from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Oiman Chan of Flushing, who suffers from anxiety, said the constant blaring booms that rattle the windows of his Franklin Avenue co-op have become “numbing.”

“It sounds like you’re under a war zone,” said the 63-year-old retired Department of Education employee. “I am suffering from panic attacks already and this is killing me.”

Eddy Liu, 68, who lives in the same Flushing co-op, said the nonstop noise distresses thousands of shareholders, including masses of elderly people.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not comment before press time. But in a June 22 letter sent to State Senator Tony Avella, the agency said they were conducting a six-month trial to test a procedure at LaGuardia Airport, in which departing traffic turns left to the north off Runway 13.

Amy Yeung of Flushing said flight routes used to run north over College Point Boulevard, only shifting downtown during the annual U.S. Open tournaments. But recent lavish neighborhood developments like the Sky View Center mall, Sky View Parc luxury condos and upcoming future plans for Willets Point, she said, could be the motive behind the rerouting.

“That’s my wild guess,” said Yeung, 45. “[But] you can’t make one group of people happy and disturb the others, if that’s the case. Everybody has to go to work and everybody has to have quality of sleep.”

The FAA said it would take in public comment before making the new route permanent.

“The agency does not have the authority to prohibit aircraft from flying over a particular geographic area unless the operation is unsafe or the aircraft is operated in a manner inconsistent with federal aviation regulations,” the FAA said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Polito said the frequent flights over Bayside are almost as unnerving as how low the planes are flying.

“We can practically wave to the people in the planes,” she said.

Queens residents in Woodside and Briarwood have also said they’ve been living in turbulence from thundering aircraft.

T-Mobile store scams Queens customers out of thousands


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A major mobile phone service provider is under fire from hundreds of Queens residents who say an authorized retailer scammed them for thousands — before closing up shop and ducking their calls.

A T-Mobile retailer, who sources identify as a South Asian man named “Raj” who suffers from schizophrenia, allegedly billed customers for several unauthorized lines that he tacked on to their accounts, and then pocketed the additional money when they directly gave him payments in cash.

“He’s from my country. He speaks my language and is even from my city. I trusted him. Now he ran away,” said Tarsem Singh, 47. “I can’t afford this. I paid these bills already. I feel like I’m going to die.”

Singh, a car service driver from Brooklyn, is one of hundreds of consumers who said they made direct payments to a T-Mobile preferred retailer who owns two Queens stores, at 138-40A 84th Drive in Briarwood and 134-11 Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park.

Singh said he kept receiving notifications from T-Mobile of unpaid bills totaling $1,400, even though he said the dealer at the stores assured him the invoices had been paid and the mistake would be fixed.

Instead, Singh said, the devious dealer, who owns and operates a company called Jagdeep Global Products, Inc., re-sent the payments twice to two wrong routing numbers.

Dozens of customers who united outside the shuttered Briarwood store last Thursday said the owner, and all his employees, have fled. The two Queens stores have been closed for at least two weeks, they said.

“The last three days, I haven’t been working because I’m looking for him,” Singh said. “I have no money in my pocket.”

A spokesperson for T-Mobile confirmed the fraudulent activity committed by the store owner and said the company apologizes to those affected and is taking “fast action” to correct the issues.

“We have worked together with the wholesaler responsible for the store and the owner has been replaced. Customers who feel they have been negatively impacted by their experience with either of these stores should contact T-Mobile customer service. T-Mobile will address each concern and will work to correct all related issues directly with our customers,” the spokesperson said.

The company would not disclose or confirm the name of the stores’ owner.

The 107th Precinct said there were no reports filed from the location, but said the issue could be a civil, not criminal, matter.

A swarm of customers said at least 300 people have been affected and are left struggling to pay off bills for services they never wanted.

Taliff Mohammed, 44, said he set up an account in January for three prepaid lines. Instead, the Briarwood T-Mobile vender signed him up for five contracted lines, he claims.

“When I brought it to their attention, they said it was a mistake on T-Mobile’s behalf and they said they would take care of it,” said the Ozone Park resident who also directly paid the vendor each month in cash. “I thought they were making the payments, but every other couple of weeks, my line used to get cut off. I would go back to them and it would be restored. They never paid the bills. They were sending checks that bounced.”

Mohammed said he heavily suspected fraud, but when he called T-Mobile, he said the company blew him off and said he was responsible for $1,271.92 in payments, including cancellation of lines the vendor added to his account without permission.

Harjeed Kaur, 45, of Briarwood said she was billed $2,000 for an account she already closed after vendors signed her up for five lines instead of the original three she asked for.

Calls to numbers listed for employees were either disconnected or went straight to voicemail. A number listed for Raj was “temporarily not in service.”

“We all trusted him,” Kaur said.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

EVENT of the DAY: Summerstage WR/Felix Hernandez’s Rhythm Revue 

With over forty years in the music industry, their music and history transcends generations of pop culture and has a universal appeal to parents, grandparents, and children across the world. Also featuring DJ Felix Hernandez mixing in soul, Motown, funk, salsa and disco dance classics.

[Click here for more info or submit your events]

New $500,000 New York Hospital Queens Center for  Wound Healing at Silvercrest opens in Briarwood  

New York Hospital Queens and Silvercrest Center For Nursing and Rehabilitation celebrated the opening of the NYHQ Center for Wound Healing at Silvercrest with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, July 10. The new $500,000 center, at 144-45 87th Ave., in Briarwood, addresses the increasing need for more aggressive wound treatment for people with hard-to-treat chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers, diabetic ulcers and radionecrosis, officials said. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Queens high school principal Caril Hudson Jr. arrested for possession of methamphetamine 

A Queens high school principal was nabbed just a block away from his school when cops found a baggie of methamphetamine in his car during a traffic stop, police said. Carl Hudson Jr., 33, was around the corner from Flushing High School on Northern Blvd. about 8:35 p.m on Tuesday when police discovered the meth in the bag in the car’s center console, police said. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Far Rockaway man pleads guilty to JFK luggage thefts 

A Queens man is facing three to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of thefts from passengers in the terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday that 46-year-old Frederick McDonald of Far Rockaway, N.Y., had pleaded guilty to grand larceny in connection to six thefts. Read more: [1010wins] 

Bicyclist killed in hit-&-run 

A cyclist was fatally struck in Queens last night by a speeding car whose driver fled the scene, cops and witnesses said. The victim, who was carrying a bouquet of flowers, was struck at around 10:50 p.m. at Greenpoint Avenue and 39th Place in Sunnyside. Read more: [New York Post] 

 

NYHQ wound center helps patients heal


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

CFWH Ribbon Cutting

BY LORRI BROWNSTONE

Clarence McKay loves planting tomatoes, beets and carrots, doing yard work and other odd jobs around his home.

Unfortunately, a diabetic ulcer on his left foot means the 75-year-old retired hospital worker is unable to do the things he loves.

But that could change.

McKay has a better chance than ever at recovery thanks to New York Hospital Queens Center for Wound Healing at Silvercrest in Briarwood, which opened on June 26.

The facility features two hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers, the second facility in Queens to offer this type of therapy.

The project, located at Silvercrest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, costs about $500,000, and helps patients with chronic wounds achieve high healing rates in shorter times. It is open to everyone in the community.

There are about 5 million people in the U.S. suffering from chronic wounds, and the number is rising, officials said.

“People are living longer and unfortunately there is a higher rate of diabetes and obese people in the country. I’m hearing about the cancer rate increasing and with that comes an increase in radiation injuries,” said Cari Dabak, the center’s program director.

Dr. Victor Chen, a specialist in wound care at the center, believes there is a current trend to open more wound care centers.

“Wound centers have a lot to offer,” Chen said. “Many will be at risk for amputation. And centers can offer an advanced level of care.”

While the facility treats all types of wounds, only 11 percent of patients qualify for hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment.

Examples of patients who benefit from the chamber therapy include those with diabetic wounds, and those suffering from soft tissue damage due to radiation treatment.

McKay is one of those patients.

During treatment, McKay lies down in the transparent bed-like chamber for about two hours a day, Monday through Friday. His treatment will last up to six weeks. In the chamber, patients breathing in 100 percent oxygen under pressure, about two times the regular atmospheric pressure.

Humans normally breathe air consisting of 21 percent oxygen and 79 percent nitrogen.

“When patents come out (of the chamber), they say the feel ‘okay,’ ” Dabak said. “We check their sugar, lungs, blood pressure. . . and there can be some ear pain when you come right out. It’s like getting off of a plane.”

McKay doesn’t mind.

“I get to watch T.V. and they say I sometimes doze off,” he said.

After one week of outpatient treatment, McKay said he’s already noticing a difference. His pain has lessened and he sees more circulation in his foot.

“If I could get back to gardening and doing things around the house, well, I’d be jumping up and down,” he said.

The center is part of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System. Silvercrest Center is a 320-bed skilled nursing facility at 144-45 87th Avenue, Briarwood.

For more information about the center, call 855-480-HEAL.

 

Briarwood deli hit with violation for selling “loosie” cigarettes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A city investigation pinned a previously problematic deli grocery store in Briarwood with only one violation after multiple residents complained the store was selling “loosie” cigarettes and packs of smokes to minors.

Community Board 8 filed a complaint against the 84th Deli Grocery to the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) this April, according to District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide. The store, located at 84th Drive and Manton Street, was formerly Stop & Go before new owners took over in late 2008.

According to a spokesperson for the DCA, the city agency issued one violation for selling loosie cigarettes to an adult during inspections this May, but the store was not found to be selling tobacco to minors.

However, numerous violations for selling alcohol to minors — accumulated since 2006 under previous owners — did cause the New York State Liquor Authority to revoke the deli’s liquor license in November 2009, records showed.

The store — which no longer sells alcohol — has stayed out of trouble for the most part since then, said manager Mohammed Ahmed.

Ahmed, who worked for a couple of months under the former owners, said he makes sure his employees always ask for proper identification to avoid repeating problems of the past.

“You have to do that,” he said. “How much profit could you make on one pack of cigarettes if you get a ticket?”

Deli employee Sharif Sagar, 36, said he IDs unfamiliar faces who are seeking smokes, but leaves the store’s regulars alone.

“We always ask for ID,” he said. “But if I’ve known you for a long time, I’m not going to ask you again because I checked already.”

The store’s new owners were barred from applying for a new liquor license for two years after it was terminated, but they are now eligible for one, Ahmed said.

The NYPD did not return calls for comment, but Adam-Ovide said police have not seen any illegal sales so far.

Briarwood Organization: 100 years of solid foundation


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

COURIER PHOTO/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

An antique picture of Luigi Riso sits in his grandson Raymond’s office in Bayside. The mustached Riso is well-dressed in the fading photo. Riso, an Italian immigrant who came to New York by way of Argentina, was working as a carpenter when he started L. Riso & Sons Co. Inc. in 1912.

His sons, Vincent and Dominic, took over the company in the late 1920s and built a housing development in Jackson Heights which still stands today.

A 1927 photo of the building, with Vincent and Dominic standing in front, hangs in the conference room at the Briarwood Organization’s office – the company that grew from L. Riso & Sons – among pictures and drawings of the buildings that have come since.

The Briarwood Organization is celebrating 100 years in business that includes a storied past and still has the family dynamic it did when Luigi Riso started the company in the early 1900s.

Today the company is run by four partners: Luigi’s grandsons and Vincent’s sons, Vincent L. and Raymond Riso; Raymond’s son James; and Howard Goodman, who is regarded as a brother by the Riso brothers. The company not only does general contracting, but consults, manages, develops and does joint ventures.

 

The walls of the office, located in Bayside at 36-35 Bell Boulevard, can tell a story of the company alone. There are plaques for various awards and photos of buildings that the partners have tried to make affordable to residents of communities throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and most of all, Queens.

Like many other companies, the organization bloomed in the 1920s, including the housing development in Jackson Heights. “They did quite well,” said Vincent L. Riso.

And like countless others, the company took a hit during the Great Depression, but bounced back after World War II.

When the current generation took over in the late 1960s, buildings began to spring up like the company had never seen before – many of which are now fixtures on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, where Vincent L. and Raymond Riso grew up.

These buildings include The Atrium at 38-46, which was constructed in the late 1960s – a second floor added a few years later – and is now home to Tiger Schulman karate and several other businesses.

In total, according to the company’s web site, the Briarwood Organization has received 16 awards from the Queens Chamber of Commerce — the most recent in 2001.

The mortar that keeps the bricks of the company together is more than just cement and a good work ethic — it’s family.

The Riso brothers said they’ve known and worked with Goodman for close to 45 years and he currently works as a designer and planner for the company. His buildings, they said, are not only aesthetically appealing, but are managed well for space.

“We’ve worked together so long, he’s like family,” Vincent L. Riso said.

The legacy of the company is not, however, just laid out in the foundation of its buildings across most of New York City. The partners are actively involved in many community organizations, including St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, where Vincent L. Riso sits on the Board of Directors.

Raymond Riso said his son started out volunteering in the kitchen at St. Mary’s while he was a student at Holy Cross High School. He said his son became so popular with the children there that, “Everytime he came in they would crowd around him,” said the father of four and grandfather of nine.

Jeff Frerichs, president and CEO of St. Mary’s, complimented the company’s service to the community and particularly the hospital.

“With a business philosophy that fosters community-minded development and involvement, The Briarwood Organization and its principals, Vincent, Raymond and James Riso, [and Howard Goodman] are long-time supporters of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children and are strong advocates for children with special needs,” he said. “St. Mary’s is privileged to have the Riso family as part of our family.”

Other times, Briarwood members have mixed their dedication to the public with its construction of more than 3,500 housing units. Many housing units they have constructed, the Riso brothers said, were designed to be affordable housing for people to continue to live in New York City.

These efforts, they said, have tried to raise more depressed areas back up and recreate once-thriving communities.

Vincent L. Riso said giving back to the community was one of the most rewarding things about being in business. “If feels good to give something back,” he said. “You get back 10 times what you give. Just the satisfaction alone is most of it.”

Today Briarwood is still building up areas, and has a keen eye on the future.

They are currently working on Briarwood Plaza II at 36-29 Bell Boulevard. The project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2013, Vincent L. Riso said, and will house businesses and medical offices.

James Riso is working on two projects in Brooklyn — one will be for the Brooklyn Diocese.

Overall, they said they would like to continue to grow and develop homes that people can afford, and are great places to live.

“I hope to see us expand our operations and go into the future with more and more rental properties, especially for lower-income people,” Vincent L. Riso said.

The key to staying strong, the partners believe, is staying positive no matter how hard or trying the economic times.

“In order to be a developer, you have to be an optimist,” said Vincent L. Riso. “We are optimists.”

Molloy mobilizes to help paralyzed teen


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Joe Sommo

Justin Thompson had just gotten his learner’s permit.

His parents’ only cause for concern at the time was the thought of their newly-minted 16 year old one day hitting the roads solo.
But all slated plans to drive, to land a starting spot in varsity soccer, to lead a normal teenage life, came screeching to a halt in October 2011 when the Springfield Gardens teen was shot in the back.

“In my mind, as a parent, I thought driving would be the next worry, the next hurdle,” Donald Thompson said. “This shows you life throws you some unexpected things.”

Justin and his friends were leaving a party in Cambria Heights when they suddenly saw a herd of people running “in all kinds of directions.”
“All hell broke loose,” the family said.

There was a shot fired, and Justin felt a burning in his back before losing his legs and hitting the ground.

The bullet — traveling from the right to left side of Justin’s back — was embedded in his armpit. It bruised, but did not sever, his spinal cord, doctors said.

Now, Justin is paralyzed below the waist.

“We hope it’s temporary,” Donald said. “But no doctor will say he’ll never walk again and no doctor will say he’ll be up and running by tomorrow.”

Still, his family said “since day one, his spirits have been high,” and that eternal positive attitude is something they are grateful for.

“We’re trying to keep our heads up, but sometimes you just want to break down,” Donald told The Courier. “But when you see Justin and his positive attitude, you can’t help but smile.”

Justin is currently undergoing a rigorous rehabilitation routine and is being home schooled, the family said. He will begin physical therapy soon.
But though most services are covered by insurance, the family has suffered pricey expenses, including a wheelchair ramp installed outside their home that cost $4,200.

The family is also seeking standard at-home machinery to keep Justin’s muscles ready “for when the nerves in his legs decide to wake up.” But if insurance doesn’t cover the equipment, the family can expect to shell out up to $20,000.

“It’s so important in his rehabilitation, and it’s still being tossed around. It’s kind of up in the air,” Donald said about the equipment coverage. “It’s just a life-changing experience. You had a healthy 16 year old playing soccer and basketball, and now — due to an unprovoked act — we’re dealing with this.”

To help with costs, Justin’s school — Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood — hosted a fundraiser on February 3, which has raised more than $30,000 so far for the family.

“It was so moving and emotional. The school’s efforts were unreal,” Donald said. “It’s just a great school and a great family-oriented place. When one of their students is in need, everyone comes forward. They’re really great people.”

While Justin continues to be courageous, his family will continue to keep their heads up.

“He’s been a real trooper. He’s really displayed such courage. It brings tears to my eyes,” Donald said. “No matter what the doctor says, he’ll be up and running and back in the hallways.”

And when that time comes, school officials will welcome him back with open arms.

“He’s a wonderful kid and a good player,” said Mike McCleary, the school’s athletic director, who said Justin remarkably managed to balance playing both varsity soccer and junior varsity basketball before the injury. “It was really a terrible thing that he was a victim of a senseless crime. Whether or not he gets on the field in time for his high school career, I just want him to be able to walk again.”

Meanwhile, the NYPD is offering a $12,000 reward to find Justin’s shooter. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

Donations to “Guidance Fund – Justin Thompson” can also be mailed to Archbishop Molloy High School, located at 83-53 Manton Street in Briarwood. Call 718-441-9210 for more information.

 

NYPD officer Peter Figoski shot & killed by robber in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

NYPD officer Peter Figoski shot & killed by robber in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn

A city police officer was shot in the face and killed while responding to a call of a robbery in Brooklyn early Monday, authorities said. Officer Peter Figoski was hit once as he stood at the bottom of a staircase that led from the street to a basement apartment at 25 Pine Street in Cypress Hills. “The officer interrupted a burglary-robbery in progress,” said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD’s top spokesman. “It looks like the gunman may have surprised the officer. As the officer entered the location, he was shot by the gunman.” The tragic incident occurred about 2:15 a.m. Figoski was rushed to Jamaica Hospital but could not be saved. Read More: Daily News

Long Island City bank robber panicked after he fired his gun at the ceiling 

The FBI is hunting for a gun-toting bank robber, who was caught on camera after he fired a shot into the ceiling of a Queens bank to prove he meant business but left without a cent. The bandit, dressed in a dark colored cap, dark framed glasses and a dark jacket and black leather gloves, walked into the HSBC bank on 43rd Avenue near 22nd Street in Long Island City, shortly before 9 a.m. on Wednesday, said authorities.  Read More: Daily News

Ex-Officer Kills His Wife, a State Tax Agent, in Queens, the Police Say

A state tax agent who specialized in investigating the trafficking of illegal cigarettes was shot to death by her husband, a former New York police officer, the authorities said on Sunday. The body of the investigator, Tracey Young, 42, was discovered by the police and paramedics shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday in her apartment on the eighth floor of 143-41 84th Drive, in Briarwood. She had been shot several times in the head and torso, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Read More: New York Times

TSA Passenger Advocates Sought By New York Lawmakers

Two New York lawmakers have called for a passenger advocate at airports to immediately act on complaints by passengers over security screenings. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens want the Transportation Security Administration to create the position at all airports. The proposal, released Sunday, was prompted by an elderly woman’s recent claims that she was strip searched by security officials at Kennedy Airport, which the TSA denies, saying it doesn’t conduct strip searches. Others have since made similar claims. Read More: Huffington Post

Meeks’ money man eyes plea deal

A Queens businessman who once gave Congressmember Gregory Meeks $40,000 is negotiating a plea deal with federal authorities in Brooklyn, according to court records obtained by The Post. The “extensive plea negotiations” are scheduled to stretch into the end of February, leaving some to wonder if Meeks pal and Guyanese-born developer Edul Ahmad is helping the feds with other targets. “That’s a lot of time to negotiate a plea,” said a New York criminal lawyer not connected with the case. “The feds must think there are bigger fish they can catch.” Read More: New York Post

Lying lawyer slapped

A Queens lawyer has been suspended for six months for falsely accusing a New Jersey state trooper of using anti-Semitic slurs against him, according to a ruling released yesterday. Attorney Elliott Dear said he made up the outrageous allegations in hopes of getting out of a speeding ticket. Court papers say the unidentified trooper pulled over Dear, an orthodox Jew, for going 84 in a 55-mph zone while driving with his wife in 2007. Read More: New York Post

Hero FDNY captain rescues badly-burned grandpa from burning Queens building

A badly-burned Queens grandfather was pulled from his smoke-choked bedroom early Saturday after his desperate son screamed at firefighters to rescue the trapped man. “My father! My father!” howled Patrick Bryan, 32, as the FDNY reached his burning Flushing apartment at 2:12 a.m. Bryan, his wife and their 5-year-old daughter escaped from the two-story apartment building — but 64-year-old Patrick James Rohan was lying unconscious in a rear bedroom. Read More: Daily News

Kew Gardens Fire Injures Four, Cause Unknown

Fire officials are looking into what sparked a fire Saturday that left four people injured in Queens. The New York City Fire Department says it broke out around 2 a.m. in the kitchen on the top floor of a two-story apartment building located at 147-19 75th Road in Kew Gardens. Family members say residents were forced to escape from a second story window. Read More: NY1

Queens Man Charged With Murdering Former Roommate

A Queens man was arraigned Saturday on charges of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the shooting death of a man on Staten Island. Armand Skrine, 34, is being held without bail. On Thursday, police responded to a call of shots fired on Steuben Street in Park Hill. There they found David Williams, 30, on the seventh floor of his building with multiple gunshot wounds. Read More: NY1