Tag Archives: Bronx

High school teacher from Whitestone busted for setting up teen tryst: DA

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Updated 4:09 p.m.

A 27-year-old Whitestone man who teaches at a Bronx high school was arrested on Thursday on attempted rape and other charges after he tried to meet up with a 14-year-old girl who actually was an undercover cop, authorities said.

Jonathan Blum, a history teacher at DreamYard Preparatory School and basketball coach in Queens, was busted after he posted an ad on Craiglist looking for a young teen, student and/or young girl who would be interested in fooling around with a licensed real teacher, according to the district attorney’s office.

An undercover NYPD vice detective answered the ad and Blum started exchanging emails and text messages with the detective, who he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.

Those messages, sent back and forth between mid-April and mid-May, were sexually explicit, prosecutors said. After several exchanges, Blum wanted to meet up with the supposed teen and, according to police, arranged a rendezvous at a location on Northern Boulevard in Flushing. But instead of finding the girl there, Blum found himself in handcuffs at about 5:15 p.m. on Thursday.

Blum has been charged with attempted rape, attempted criminal sex act, attempted endangering the welfare of a child and attempted disseminating indecent material to minors, according to authorities. He is currently being held pending arraignment in Queens Criminal Court.

According to the Department of Education (DOE), Blum has been a teacher at DreamYard Preparatory School, located at 240 E. 172nd St., since April 2011 and has no disciplinary history with the department. He has been reassigned away from the classroom pending the resolution of his case.

“While this alleged behavior is not school-related, it is incredibly disturbing,” DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye said. “This individual has been immediately reassigned away from the classroom, and he will not be in contact with any students.”

If convicted of the criminal charges, Blum faces up four years in prison and would have to register as a sex offender.

Any parent whose child has conversed with the email address jess_delia@yahoo.com, which Blum used in his exchanges with the undercover officer, and has concerns is encouraged to call the Queens district attorney’s office at 718-286-6260.


Police nab second suspect in ATM robbery of Sunnyside man

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Just days after the first suspect in the robbery of an elderly Sunnyside man was arrested, a second person has been caught, according to police.

Terrel Blanding, 27, of the Bronx, has been charged in the Oct. 26 incident at a Chase Bank at 46-10 Queens Blvd., authorities said.

Two men approached the victim, William Eichhorn, 81, after he withdrew money from the bank’s ATM about 9:23 a.m. that day. The pair then punched Eichhorn in the face and stole $100 in cash and a debit card before fleeing, police said. Surveillance footage shows the suspects following Eichhorn, who is legally blind, inside the bank that Sunday morning.

On Wednesday, police said they had arrested the other suspect, 29-year-old Thomas Fullwood, who shares the same Bronx building address as Blanding. It was not immediately clear if the two were roommates.

They have both been charged with two counts of robbery.


Robber followed 88-year-old home from Resorts World, stole casino winnings: DA

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

An 88-year-old East Elmhurst man who had just won $1,000 at Resorts World Casino was followed home, assaulted and robbed of his winnings, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Video footage and eyewitness accounts show Gregory Hillman, 57, of the Bronx, trailing the elderly man for more than an hour and a half and 10 miles before taking the cash, the district attorney said.

Hillman spotted the victim at the South Ozone Park casino on the afternoon of Oct. 31 as he was counting the $1,000 he had just won, according to Brown. He then followed the victim through the casino, onto a shuttle bus, through the subway system, into a supermarket, onto a Q47 bus and finally to his apartment building.

He allegedly came up behind the victim outside of the building to take his money. The two struggled and Hillman pushed the victim to the ground, causing him to hit his head on the pavement and eventually black out, the district attorney said. Hillman then grabbed his wallet, which contained the casino winnings, an additional $10 in cash and a credit card.

The victim was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for contusions and welts, a bump on his forehead and face, and scratches on his hands.

Hillman was arraigned on Saturday in Queens Criminal Court on robbery, assault and grand larceny charges, according to prosecutors. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.


62-year-old dies trying to cross Belt Parkway

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Bronx man was struck and killed as he was attempting to cross the Belt Parkway Tuesday night in South Ozone Park, according to police.

The victim, identified as 62-year-old Frank Korowitz, was trying to walk across the roadway near 150th Street around 11 p.m. when he was hit by a Nissan Maxima, cops said.

The Nissan was then struck from behind by an Isuzu Rodeo, according to authorities. Both drivers suffered minor injuries.

Korowitz was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Nissan, Karlmarx Waite, 44, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and motor vehicle license violation: no license, police said.






Bronx man found fatally shot in Cambria Heights

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

A man was shot and killed in Cambria Heights on Saturday, police said.

Cops responded to a 9-1-1 call at about 10:20 p.m. and discovered 33-year-old Jason Bragg of the Bronx unconscious with a wound to his head.

EMS pronounced the man dead at the scene and the medical examiner’s office later determined the man died from a gunshot injury.

The investigation is ongoing.



Queens, Bronx borough presidents make edible wager on Subway Series

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


The stakes are going to be deliciously high when the New York Mets and New York Yankees take the field during this year’s Subway Series.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. are wagering an assortment of foods, each from their respective boroughs, based on the results of the four-game series taking place from Monday, May 12 through Thursday, May 15, the two announced Sunday.

If the Mets win more games than the Yankees, then Diaz will send Katz a sample tray of empanadas from Babalu on East Tremont Road and a dozen cannolis from Egidio Pastry Shop, located in Belmont, the Bronx’s Little Italy.

But if the Yankees win, Katz will send Diaz a tray of sandwiches from Leo’s Latticini, also known as Mama’s of Corona. For dessert, Katz will also send pastries from the Omonia Café in Astoria.

“Queens offers an incredibly diverse array of cuisine and has some of the best restaurants in the city, so Borough President Diaz is in for a real treat if the Yankees manage to win the series,” Katz said. “But I fully expect the Mets will win and that I will be enjoying some delicious food from the Bronx.”

Both stakes will be paid out if the two New York baseball teams split the four game series 2-2.

“We have great culinary options in The Bronx, so a Mets victory would certainly be a treat for Borough President Katz,” Diaz said. “But the Yankees are the greatest franchise in baseball history, and I’m sure their decades of dominance will continue through this week.”



City officials announce new pay-by-phone parking program

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

City residents can soon pay for parking on-the-go, officials said Thursday.

Motorists will be able to pay for parking via cell phone and also online at all 14,000 city parking meters, taking away the need to place paper receipts on dashboards.

The Department of Transportation (DOT), NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the new program Dec. 26.

Visitors of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx are the first to trash the receipts. The rest of the city will be on board by early 2015.

“By eliminating the need for coins, credit cards or receipts, pay-by-phone parking has already been a game-changer for drivers in the Bronx,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, DOT Commissioner. “Expanding the system across the borough will now help more New Yorkers dial in for faster, more convenient parking.”

Drivers will be able to pay by downloading a smartphone app or calling a toll-free number and identifying their location by entering the number displayed on muni-meters.

Payment information will be instantly accessible to NYPD traffic enforcement agents.

“Technology is critical to making daily interactions with government simpler and easier,” said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “This innovative program will allow motorists to remotely pay from their mobile devices, and it’s another way we are bringing parking into the 21st century.”

The DOT has additionally tested sensors embedded in parking lanes to deliver information on available parking spaces along Arthur Avenue and is looking to expand that system citywide as well.


Pols call for redesign of Queensboro Bridge exit ramp after deadly accident

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris' Office

After an off-duty NYPD officer was killed when her car smashed into an exit ramp off the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, local elected officials are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to put an end to deadly accidents.

Elisa Toro, 36, a 10-year NYPD veteran who was assigned to Manhattan’s 17th Precinct, was heading off the bridge’s exit ramp around 1:50 a.m. on Tuesday when she struck a guardrail, then a cement barrier, said police. The car then flipped onto its passenger side, hitting a vacant storefront on Queens Plaza South at Crescent Street.

Toro, a Bronx resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the accident, said police. The investigation is ongoing.

Following a series of accidents at the same site in 2011, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan sent a letter to the DOT demanding the agency redesign the ramp and continue to improve temporary safety measures. These procedures would include higher barriers and other measures that could help lessen the danger for pedestrians and storefront, until the exit ramp is redesigned.

“No one else should have to die before the city realizes that this exit ramp is fundamentally unsafe,” said Gianaris. “We stood here two years ago asking for a complete redesign of the off ramp, and instead we got new signs and a couple barriers. The time for half measures is gone. We need a safer exit ramp before another tragedy occurs.”

Gianaris asked the DOT to improve traffic safety in the area and redesign the bridge’s exit ramp, after a series of accidents in 2011. But a redesign of the exit ramp was “ignored” and only “additional signage and minimal barriers” were added, according to Gianaris. The barrier, which was destroyed in a 2011 crash, was never replaced, he said, and could have protected the storefront in Tuesday’s accident.

“The east bound off ramp of the Queensboro Bridge is clearly a death trap,” said Van Bramer. “Cars are still flying off this bridge, into store fronts, and putting the lives of pedestrians and motorists in jeopardy. It is clear that the Department of Transportation has not done enough.”



Teen charged with DUI in fatal accident on Grand Central Parkway

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Authorities arrested a teen for DUI after he struck and killed a taxi driver on the Grand Central Parkway early Sunday morning, said police.

Around 3:20 a.m., 38-year-old Ansumana Dukuly, of the Bronx, was driving his cab westbound on the Grand Central Parkway near 180th Street when a Honda sedan struck him, causing the taxi to hit the median. Dukuly was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Honda driver fled the accident, but was later apprehended and taken into custody.

Roberto Depena, 19, of Queens, has been charged with manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, criminally negligent homicide, speed violation, driving under the influence and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol while under the age of 21.




Districting commission files final map for approval

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

The lines have been drawn and they’re staying.

New York City’s Districting Commission filed Monday, March 4 its final map to the City Clerk for approval. The final of three drafts had been submitted to the City Council on February 8, after which the legislature had three weeks to vote or the new districts would automatically be adopted.

And that’s just what happened.

The Commission will now file the map with the Department of Justice, who will have 60 days to ensure the plan is kosher with Section 5 the Voting Rights Act. Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan are all covered under this part of the law to ensure that minority voting rights are ensured and protected.

There are 35 minority districts in the city under the new plan, according to the Districting Commission, in which racial and language minorities are the dominate block in the district. This is a five district increase from the 30 of such created in 2003.





Koch WAS New York

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Welcome to my bridge! Welcome to my bridge!

That was Ed Koch, son of Polish immigrants, who became the mayor of the world’s greatest city.

That same opportunity exists today and continues to attract immigrants to our shores looking for a better life. After serving in the Council and Congress, Ed became mayor at a critical time for the city. We were virtually bankrupt and for the first time people considered leaving town for a better future elsewhere.

A wholesale depression settled in and the exuberance that generally described us was gone. It was 1978 and in came this whirlwind guy from Greenwich Village with his enormous energy and a strong belief in the city.

He literally lifted our spirits and every day raised his arms and loudly proclaimed that New York City is alive and well. He restored glamour and industry to the city of promise.

He hired the best people and set to crafting a budget that the city could afford and yet survive.

His confidence in the city caught on, and the grumbling over cuts was no longer an issue.

He really understood how to make government work. He will be remembered for many things, including rehabbing vacant apartments into affordable housing in the Bronx and other parts of the city.

Who can forget driving the Cross Bronx Expressway looking at flowers painted on the windows of thousands of empty apartments?

Once I took Ed to the Astoria Motion Picture Center to watch Sidney Lument direct the “WIZ.” Astoria is now of course home to Kaufman Astoria Studio, which was long ago Paramount Studios Circa1898.

Ed and I stood on the darkest part of the enormous stage and watched Diana Ross dance down the yellow brick road right into Ed’s arms. You can’t imagine his excitement. This was right up his alley and of course media was part of his life. But most of all he understood the importance of bringing the motion picture and television industry back to New York City and was forever a supporter of the project.

During the early 1980’s the New York City film industry did almost zero in economic activity and now the latest number is $7.1 billion. What a leap forward.

The scandal of former Borough President Donald R. Manes in 1986 during Ed’s watch caught him by surprise and of course he was most distressed and it took a while for him to recover, but recover he did and the old bounce returned. He always supported me during that terrible time for which I am eternally grateful.

Some people think that one scandal will close his legacy but I don’t think so. His saving the city from financial disaster and returning the city to its greatest will forever be his legacy and history will treat him well. For a short but important time New York City was Ed Koch and Ed Koch was New York City.


Claire Shulman is former Queens Borough President. 

Ed Koch, former NYC mayor, dies at 88

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo: NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/ Edward Reed

Ed Koch, the three term New York City mayor known his larger than life personality and penchant for the big and small screen, died early Friday morning after months of health complications. He was 88.

The official cause of death was congestive heart failure, his spokesperson, George Arzt told the New York Times.

Koch had been in and out of the hospital since September for different respiratory problems: one stay in September, one in December and two trips throughout January.

A spokesperson announced on Thursday, January 31 that Koch had been placed in the intensive care unit at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Edward Irving Koch was born on December 12, 1924 in the Bronx and grew up in Newark. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946, fought in World War II and rose to the rank of sergeant.

Koch was elected mayor in 1977 after serving in Congress since 1969 where he represented parts of the Bronx. He went on to win elections in 1981 and 1985, but Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins ousted Koch in a 1989 Democratic primary.

In the 20-plus years since leaving City Hall, Koch has still been active in New York City life. He has spent years as a “NY1” wise guy, where he would weigh in on issues concerning the city. He also made a slew of cameo appearances in films and wrote his own film review column that was widely circulated.

From 1997 to 1999, he presided over The People’s Court, a syndicated torts court show. In total, Koch appeared in 80 movies and TV shows, most of which were as himself. He made a cameo appearance as a newscaster in the 1996 film “City Hall,” which was inspired by the corruption charges against late Borough President Donald Manes. Koch was mayor when Manes faced corruption charges and ultimately ended his own life.

Bloomberg announced in 2010 that the 59th Street Bridge would be named after Koch. The change was met with criticism by some for naming a landmark after a living, active person.

His legacy will also live on through film. Earlier this week a documentary on the former mayor, “Koch,” debuted at the Museum of Modern Art.

On Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered that flags at all city buildings be flown at half-staff in Koch’s memory.

A funeral service will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper West Side, according to the Daily News.

The trailer for “Koch,”  a documentary on the former mayor.




3 NYPD cops shot in 2 separate incidents

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

In the span of just one hour, three police officers were injured in two different shooting incidents in Brooklyn and the Bronx Thursday night, said the NYPD. They are all expected to survive.

Around 6:30 p.m., an off-duty officer, Juan Pichardo, was working at his family’s car dealership in the Bronx when two men, one armed with a gun, attempted to rob the place.

When Pichardo tried to grab the gunman, he fired his weapon, hitting Pichardo in the right thigh, but, with the help of a dealership employee, he was able to wrestle the robber to the ground and disarm him.

The other robber escaped with two others that were waiting in a getaway car, but they were caught by police only a short distance away from the dealership at 183rd Street and Katonah Avenue.

The gunman was reportedly a wanted member of a Bronx robbery crew.

About an hour later, in Brooklyn, two plainclothes officers who were on patrol in a Manhattan-bound ‘N’ train approached a rider who had violated transit rules by moving between two cars and asked him for identification as the train neared the Fort Hamilton Parkway station at 62nd Street.

Appearing to reach for his wallet, the suspect pulled out a 9-millimeter gun and shot Officer Lukasz Kozicki, , 32, three times, once in each of his upper thighs and once in the groin.

Officer Lukasz Kozickim 27, who was shot in the back of his bulletproof vest, returned fire, hitting the gunman and killing him.

During the shooting, a bullet also grazed the leg of a passenger in the same subway car.

The two incidents occurred less than a week after the NYPD announced a record low of 1,353 shootings in the city in 2012.

According to the NYPD, 12 of those shootings last year were of police officers.

“As both of these incidents illustrate, the historic crime reductions that New Yorkers enjoy come at a price,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Weeknight subway closures expand to Queens

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Flickr/MTA

Starting next month, some late night subway riders will need to find alternate forms of transportation, the MTA announced Monday.

The MTA’s Fastrack program, which temporality suspends parts of the subway from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights for track, tunnel and station maintenance, will affect several lines in Queens and other parts of the city.

Each of the following corridors will shut down for four consecutive weeknights:

  • “N,” “Q” and “R” lines south of Queensboro Plaza to Court Street in Brooklyn
  • “E,” “F,” “M” and “R” lines between 5th Avenue/53rd Street in Manhattan and Roosevelt Avenue
  •  “A” line between 168th Street and 207th Street in Upper Manhattan
  •  “D” line between 161st Street and 205th Street in the Bronx
  •  “6” line between 45th Street and 100th Street in Manhttan
  •  “4” and “5″ lines between 45th Street and 100th Street in Manhattan

The first corridor slated for maintenance is the “D” line in the Bronx on January 14, followed by the N,” “Q” and “R” trains south of Queensboro Plaza to Court Street on January 28.

The MTA decided to continue with the Fastrack program, which began last January, because of its increase in productivity, and reduction in track fires, delays and incidents.

“Over the past year we have found this to be an extremely effective way to maintain a subway system that operates around the clock, seven days a week,” said New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast. “We have seen concrete benefits in the way the system is being maintained through Fastrack and we are now ready to roll it out to other line segments.”


Construction to close last Queens exit before Whitestone Bridge for two years

| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Motorists traveling on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge can expect long-term exit closures next month.

The 3rd Avenue exit — the last exit in Queens before entering the Bronx-bound bridge — will be closed to all traffic beginning January 7, while construction work on the $109 million capital improvement project to widen the Queens approach is done, according to the MTA.

The blockades are expected to remain in place for approximately two years, officials said.

Passenger vehicles driving from the Bronx-bound Cross Island Parkway will have to take Exit 33N at Utopia Parkway, and those driving from the northbound Whitestone Expressway will have to get off past the 20th Avenue exit and merge onto the Cross Island Parkway.

All commercial vehicles must exit the Whitestone Expressway at 20th Avenue, the MTA said.

The agency said signs will be in place and traffic agents will be on hand when the detours begin next month.