Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Mayor de Blasio shovels snow at Park Slope home


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@BilldeBlasio

Even the mayor of New York City shovels his own snow.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was hard at work outside of his Park Slope, Brooklyn home Friday morning shoveling snow from the sidewalk.

The newly-inaugurated mayor, tweeted a photo of himself shoveling, along with a message promoting the city’s PlowNYC feature, which posts online real-time updates of the Department of Sanitation’s snow clearance operations throughout the five boroughs.

In an interview with NY1 Friday morning, de Blasio gave some tips on how to shovel.

“Don’t lift with your back, lift with your knees,” he told NY1.

He also said his 16-year-old son Dante, who, as a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School, has the day off from school, would be helping with the snow clearing, NY1 reported.

A short time later that morning, the teen made an appearance in front of the media and shoveled and salted his home’s walkway.

At a press briefing on the storm Friday, the mayor said his son “was not an early riser,” but had now contributed to the clearing of the city’s sidewalks.


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De Blasio sworn in as 109th mayor of New York City


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos via NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/Official Photos by New York City Mayor's Office

Updated 1:30 p.m.

The Bloomberg era has ended and the de Blasio administration has begun.

New York City’s 109th mayor, Bill de Blasio, was sworn in during a ceremony at his Park Slope, Brooklyn home just after midnight Wednesday, followed by a formal inauguration on the steps of City Hall later that day.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman officiated the New Year’s Eve oath of office, which was also attended by the mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante.

“From the beginning, this has been our family together reaching out to the people of this city to make a change that we all needed. I want to thank you for having brought us to this moment,” de Blasio said after taking the oath in front of his home.

“To everyone this is the beginning of a road we will travel together,” he added.

Former President Bill Clinton swore in de Blasio on the steps of City Hall with a bible once owned by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

De Blasio previously served as a regional director in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration and managed Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign. Both endorsed de Blasio for mayor in the general election.

Before administering the oath, Clinton said it had been a “great joy” for his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and him to see de Blasio’s progress “because he has served with such passion and because he represents with his family the future of our city and the future of our country.”

Telling New Yorkers “our work begins today,” in his inauguration speech de Blasio pledged to expand the pay sick leave law, require big developers to build affordable housing, stem the tide of hospital closures, reform a broken stop-and-frisk policy and ask the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes to provide universal, full-day pre-k and after-school programs for middle schoolers.

“We won’t wait, we’’ll do it now,” he said.

“Let me be clear: When I said I would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it.” he added.

A thousand tickets were reserved for the general public to attend the public swearing-in ceremony, with de Blasio pledging that it would be an “inauguration for all New Yorkers.”

Several dozen New Yorkers from across the city were additionally invited to join the mayor on stage. The group included a Queens engineer who emigrated from Bangladesh, according to de Blasio.

Mayor de Blasio takes the subway with his family to his City Hall inauguration.

Queens resident and the 2014 New York City Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, read an original poem at the inauguration, which she dedicated to de Blasio.

Ramana, a first generation Indian-American, grew up in the borough and recently won the New York Knicks’ Poetry scholarship to St. John’s University, where she is a first-year student, according to the mayor.

Letitia James, who is succeeding de Blasio as public advocate was also sworn in at City Hall Wednesday. The councilmember is the first woman of color to hold citywide office. Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President since 2006, was sworn in as city comptroller, replacing John Liu.

 

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Trio of local female filmmakers hope to make mark in movie industry


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of graphic designer Alison Chin and photographer Ben Jarosch

A trio of female filmmakers has come together to create a unique film, as they look to become leaders in an industry started by men.

The all-female filmmaking team, made up of director, writer and lead actress Victoria Negri, and producers Effie Fradelos and Katie Maguire, has begun working on a film called “Gold Star.”

The film, which was written by 26-year-old Negri, who lives in Manhattan, is based on the story of a girl growing up and building a relationship with a father 65 years older than her.

“Gold Star,” expected to begin filming in mid-April, will star Negri as the lead role and is based on the writer’s real life experiences with her father, who passed away in 2012.

“I always hoped people would want to work on my film while I was writing it, but I don’t think I ever really imagined I’d have people equally enthusiastic about my passion project as I am,” said Negri. “It’s especially important for me to involve other female filmmakers because I think it’s important to make movies about women that are created by women.”

This movie is the first time the filmmakers have come together to create a completely female team working on a female story bringing audiences real emotions and experiences they can feel a connection to.

“It is important for females to dispel all of the false, preconceived notions that women cannot work together,” said Maguire, 34, from Brooklyn. “As the popularity of independent film is growing so is the number of female directors and producers. It is important that women stick together and help bring to life stories from a female perspective.”

The filmmakers are aware they are working in an industry founded by men, but they remain strong and plan on working hard to turn the industry into one led by women. The film also plans to serve as a model to other women looking to enter the film industry.

“We represent the everyday woman filmmaker,” said Fradelos, 26, born in Astoria and now living in Bayside. “I think if you’re a young girl or a woman and you want to break into the industry, stop looking for others to give you their hand, and do it yourself, most people need that push and as filmmakers we should all push each other.”

Casting for the film is underway and the team hopes to film the movie in Connecticut and New York.

To raise money for the preproduction of the film, the filmmakers will hold a fundraiser on Tuesday, January 28 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Esperanto N.Y.C., located at 145 Avenue C in Manhattan. There will be a $20 entry fee to the event which will feature drinks, a raffle and live music.

The film is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014. To learn more about “Gold Star” and the female filmmakers you can visit the official website, Facebook page or follow @GoldStarFilm on Twitter.

 

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Woman dies after jumping in front of train at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues station


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A woman was killed Monday morning after she was struck by an M train at a subway station on the Ridgewood border, police said.

The woman, who police said was in her 30s, was pronounced dead about 9:30 a.m. at the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues station

Cops said the woman was hit after she jumped in front of a Queens-bound train.

 

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De Blasio to live in Gracie Mansion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jim.henderson

The de Blasios are moving out of Brooklyn and into Gracie Mansion.

After much speculation, the mayor-elect announced Wednesday through his Transition 2013 website he would live in the Manhattan digs during his time heading the city.

“It’s a tough decision. Brooklyn is our home and Park Slope is our neighborhood. And we love these places. In many ways, they’ve come to define who we are,” de Blasio said in a statement on the site.

“For a variety of reasons, like logistical and security concerns, we’ve decided to move to Gracie Mansion. It’s a practical choice but one that we make with respect and gratitude for the people of New York City.”

One reported reason the family was considering staying in Brooklyn was the commute his 16-year-old son Dante would need to take to Brooklyn Technical High School.

But the de Blasios won’t be leaving Brooklyn behind.

“Even while we move to Gracie Mansion for a spell, we’ll be keeping our home in Brooklyn and stopping by our favorite spots like The Purity Diner and Bar Toto as often as we can. And don’t bet against seeing us at the Park Slope YMCA occasionally,” de Blasio said.

 

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Multi-million dollar trademark counterfeiting rings operating from Queens busted


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens District Attorney’s Office

Multi-million dollar trademark counterfeiting rings, operating from facilities in Queens and Brooklyn, have been charged for importing, manufacturing and distributing items nationwide.

According to District Attorney Richard A. Brown, four organized trademark counterfeiting rings have been dismantled after the indictment of 26 individuals and two corporations for allegedly importing and selling counterfeit brand name apparel and other items from China to wholesale buyers throughout the United States and the Virgin Islands.

“Operations such as those allegedly run by the defendants fuel an underground economy,” said Brown. “They are cash businesses that pay no taxes and damage the reputations of reputable brand owners and lower consumer confidence in the name brands by foisting inferior products into the marketplace.”

The four rings allegedly generated close to $10 million in combined gross annual revenue operating out of self-storage facilities in the two boroughs. The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, a multi-agency task force operating under the City’s Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office, will be filing nuisance abatement lawsuits against the facilities that allegedly were being used, as well as their owners and operators and those defendants who actually ran the illegal businesses from within the sites.

Nineteen of the defendants, including one of the corporations, are currently in custody and were arraigned on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Twelve of the defendants have been indicted for enterprise corruption under New York State’s Organized Crime Control Act. The remaining defendants face felony trademark counterfeiting and conspiracy charges.

The investigation, called “Operation Finish Line,” began in November 2010, and included the apprehension of counterfeit merchandise with an estimated street value of $750,000.

One of the counterfeiting enterprises, The Izak and Joseph Trademark Counterfeiting Enterprise, has been charged with enterprise corruption. It is alleged that since May 2012 the enterprise has imported more than 100,000 pairs of jeans and more than 100,000 articles of clothing, including blank shirts, fleece jackets, and steep-tech style jackets. It is also alleged that the enterprise created several factories that attached counterfeit trademarks of True Religion, Polo Ralph Lauren, and The North Face to the formerly generic product, and the finished product is then sold and distributed throughout Queens and the country.

This enterprise included four Queens individuals who were indicted after the bust. One of the individuals in the enterprise that was charged is Bobak Ahouraie, 23, of Bellerose. He was charged with enterprise corruption, first- and second-degree trademark counterfeiting and fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy. Suk B. Yi, 18, of Oakland Gardens, was charged with enterprise corruption, first- and second-degree trademark counterfeiting and fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy. Samantha Defreitas, 26, of Woodhaven, was charged with third-degree trademark counterfeiting. Jan Sanandaji, 37, of Great Neck, is charged with second-degree trademark counterfeiting.

The second ring, known as The Xiu Wei Ye and Jian Zhong Jian Operation, conducted a large scale trademark-counterfeiting operation where they purchased footwear and other items featuring counterfeit trademarks of various brands and maintained the items at their Brooklyn store and sold the items wholesale to customers throughout the country, including undercover police officers.

Individuals charged in this group included Jian Zhong Jian, 43, of Flushing who was charged with second- and third-degree trademark counterfeit, and Xiu Wei Ye, 43, from Flushing, who was charged with second- and third-degree trademark counterfeit.

The third ring, known as The Peter Operation, allegedly conducted a large scale trademark-counterfeiting operation in which they maintained the merchandise at its store in College Point.

The final ring, known as The James, Leon and Omar Untaxed and Trademark Counterfeiting Cigarette Operation, allegedly bought and sold untaxed and trademark counterfeit cigarettes and supplied those cigarettes to Bobak Ahouraie, of Bellerose. Ahouraie was charged with second-degree trademark counterfeit in his involvement in this operation.

 

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Ridgewood musician kills himself, three others in Brooklyn shooting


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Ridgewood man fatally shot himself and three fellow musicians at a Brooklyn home Monday morning, according to police and published reports.

Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, 29, allegedly killed the three men and wounded a fourth just after midnight at a residence on Maujer Street in East Williamsburg, said cops.

Two of the homicide victims, Soroush Farazmand, 27, and his brother, Arash, 28, were both members of Yellow Dogs, an indie band that originated in Iran, according to published reports.

The third victim, Ali Eskandarian, 35, was reportedly not a part of the band, but was also a musician.

The wounded victim, a 22-year-old man, was shot in the right arm and was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he remains in stable condition, said cops.

Police said they discovered Rafie dead on the roof of the Maujer Street home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and a rifle next to his body.

Rafie was a member of another Iranian band, the Free Keys, the New York Times reported. Members of both bands were acquaintances, but Rafie was no longer a part of the Free Keys.

According to reports, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the shooting seems to have stemmed from a dispute over money “involving an indie rock band.”

 

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Cops searching for suspect in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn jewelry store robberies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking to identify a suspect wanted in connection to seven jewelry store robberies across the city, including three in Queens.

During each robbery, the suspect enters the store, armed with a handgun, and two to three additional suspects jump over the counter and take the jewelry, said cops. No injuries were reported during any of the incidents.

The robberies happened at the following locations and times:

  • 169 Canal Street in Manhattan on September 10 at 4:15 p.m.
  • 5914 8th Avenue in Brooklyn on October 15at 6:45 p.m.
  • 66 East Broadway in Manhattan October 17, at 6:35 p.m. and on October 18 at 4:30 p.m.
  • 37-58 103rd Street in the Corona section of Queens on October 28 at 7:50 p.m.
  • 74-15 37th Avenue in the Jackson Heights section of Queens on October 31 at 6:35 p.m.
  • 37-11 Main Street in the Flushing section of Queens on November 9 at 5:55 p.m.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic male and have released video footage of him.

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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Three people killed, two injured in Halloween night shootings in Queens, Brooklyn


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Three people died and two people were injured within a five-hour period during Halloween shootings across Queens and Brooklyn, according to police.

The two non-fatal incidents occurred in the Jamaica and Rockaway Park sections of Queens, said cops.

Around 7 p.m. on 148th Street near 88th Avenue an unidentified suspect exited his vehicle wearing a mask and shot a man in his 20s multiple times, said police. The suspect then fled northbound on 148th Street.

The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition.

An hour later, an 18-year-old man was shot in the right leg at Beach Channel Drive near Beach 141st Street, said police.

He was taken to Jamaica Hospital and is expected to survive.

Cops said there are no arrests at this time in both Queens shooting incidents.

In Brooklyn the violence was deadly, with three men losing their lives, according to police.

Shawn Rhodes, 46, was shot multiple times at the Linden Houses in East New York around 7: 30 p.m.

Three hours later, Anthony Seaberry, 19, was fatally shot in East Flatbush.

Around 11:30 p.m., 37 year-old Kevin Thompson died after he was shot in the neck in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

 

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Fares suspended on Sandy anniversary for A train riders in Rockaways, Howard Beach


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Amy Hausmann

Governor Cuomo announced Friday that A train riders in the Rockaways and Howard Beach will ride for free all day on the anniversary of Sandy this Tuesday.

R train riders in Brooklyn also won’t need to pay October 29.

“These free rides are a thank you to the MTA riders in the Rockaways in Queens and those who use the R train in Brooklyn for taking the hardships of the storm in stride and for their understanding in the months since,” said Cuomo.

According to the governor, there will be no charge for MTA riders entering stations on the A  line between Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula, and stations on the R  line between Bay Ridge-95th Street and Court Street from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

 

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Family gets house in Jamaica thanks to Habitat for Humanity


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Maggie Hayes

Dawnette Dixon finally has her own home and even a backyard, fixed up by none other than a former president.

Habitat for Humanity acquired five New York City Housing Authority (NCYHA) homes in the borough that were abandoned, boarded up and a “blight” in the community. One of those homes was on 112th Road in Jamaica, which was vacant for roughly two decades. It is also the home Dixon, her son and daughter will be moving into early next year.

“We said to the city, we’ll turn [the homes] around,” said Neil Hetherington, CEO of Habitat for Humanity NYC.

Hetherington and the Habitat team hosted the 30th Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project to build and repair homes citywide. President Carter, 89, and his wife have been working with the group for almost 30 years, and the Jamaica home was part of a country-wide tour fixing houses.

Carter worked the power tools and his wife moved slabs of wood, all part of constructing a new deck for the Dixons. Hundreds of volunteers and the Dixons themselves worked on the new house. Construction is estimated to be complete in six to eight weeks.

As well as cleaning up the once-vacant home, Habitat for Humanity makes upkeep for the home affordable for people like Dixon, 53, who works for the Department of Health. They receive government grants and state mortgages which can make living affordable in the long haul.

“Now they have the pride and dignity associated with not only building their home, but paying for their home,” Hetherington said. “It’s helping in a dignified way.”

Dixon, who lived in Brooklyn for most of her life, “can’t explain how excited” she is. She is moving to the home from a cramped apartment in Prospect Park.

“This is a change of environment, a change of scenery and a new life,” she said. “Even if I don’t have anything in the house, as long as I’m living there, I’m happy.”

 

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Woodhaven man killed by toy helicopter


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND DENISE ROMANO

A 19-year-old Woodhaven man was killed by his own toy helicopter in Brooklyn Thursday afternoon.

Roman Pirozek was flying his remote control helicopter in Calvert Vaux Park in Gravesend around 3:40 p.m. when one of the blades hit him in the head, killing him.

According to police, emergency crews responded to Bay 44th Street and Shore Parkway and found Pirozek unconscious and unresponsive lying on the ground with severe head trauma. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pirozek reportedly graduated from High School For Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture in Queens and was vice president of a Brooklyn-based model helicopter flying club, Seaview Rotary Wings.

His YouTube channel, where he posted several videos of his hobby, shows his passion for model helicopters.

Pirozek also attended Woodhaven’s St. Thomas the Apostle School, according to the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).

“We heard the news from one of his teachers who said he was a wonderful person from a good family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time—it’s hard to comprehend the pain they must be feeling,” said the WRBA.

Man wanted for allegedly sticking gun in girlfriend’s mouth


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man wanted for assaulting his girlfriend with a gun at her southwest Queens home.

On July 15 Alfredo Bonilla allegedly entered his girlfriend’s residence without permission and they got into an argument. Bonilla put a gun in her mouth, cutting her, said police. He stopped short of pulling the trigger and his girlfriend later called the authorities.

Bonilla, 42, is described as Hispanic, five feet four inches tall, about 140 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes.

Cops say Bonilla is armed and dangerous and usually hangs out in Ridgewood and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. His last known address is 369 Howard Avenue in Brooklyn.

 

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Joe Torre’s daughter saves falling baby


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by SB News

BY AMANDA GLODOWSKI

What a catch.

Good Samaritan and daughter of former Yankees manager Joe Torre, Cristina Torre, made the catch of a lifetime that will surely make her father, himself an ex-catcher, proud. Torre heroically snatched a one-year-old baby this morning, as it tumbled out of a second-floor window on 92nd Street and 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

“Today I join the community in commending Cristina Torre for reacting so quickly. How lucky we are today that Cristina was in the right place at the right time. Like a true heroine, Cristina was incredibly humble,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile. “She went right into action.”

According to police sources, the little boy crawled through a window with an unstable air-conditioner, onto the fire escape.

“The opening was not secure,” said Captain Richard DiBlasio, the commanding officer of the 68th Precinct.

As the baby began its descent, Torre “saw this and caught the baby as it was coming down,” DiBlasio said.

The baby was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, but “seemed fine,” DiBlasio said, adding, “It could have been a lot worse.”

The parents were arrested, and will be charged with endangering the welfare of a child, and their four children ages one through five have been removed from the home.

DiBlasio stressed the importance of making sure that windows are secured when there are children in a residence. “Check your windows,” the captain urged, adding that window guards are important and should be installed where mandated by law. In addition, he said, “air conditioners must be secure” so children cannot get out of the home in that way.

With additional reporting by Helen Klein

 

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Police seek Queens, Brooklyn bank robber


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a suspect wanted for an attempted bank robbery in Ridgewood yesterday and a Brooklyn bank robbery in March.

In both incidents, the suspect passes a note and demands money.

The Brooklyn robbery occurred on March 22 at 2:25 p.m. inside of a Popular Community Bank at 2095 Ralph Avenue.

Monday’s attempted robbery took place at a bank located at 59-01 Myrtle Avenue around 10:50 a.m.

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

 

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