Tag Archives: Cambria Heights

Ex-Assemblyman William Scarborough gets 13 months in prison for corruption

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Another former state lawmaker from Queens convicted of corruption is off to jail.

Former Assemblyman William Scarborough was sentenced on Monday to serve 13 months behind bars and two years’ probation for pleading guilty earlier this year to federal wire fraud and theft charges, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced.

Scarborough, who previously represented the 29th Assembly District covering all or parts of Cambria Heights, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates, Laurelton, Rosedale and St. Albans, was also ordered to pay a combined $108,710 in restitution to both the federal and state governments.

“Today’s sentencing of Assemblymember Scarborough on public corruption charges sends a clear message that those who abuse the public trust will be held accountable,” Schneiderman said. “[His] jail sentence resolves one unfortunate chapter in New York State government, but crystallizes the need for comprehensive reform to clean up corruption in our state.”

In May, Scarborough admitted in federal court that he used false information to apply for and receive per diem payments for purported business travel expenses related to his service in the state capital. The payments varied from daily allowances for overnight stays in Albany to reimbursements for traveling between Albany and his Queens home.

Between January 2009 and December 2012, authorities said, Scarborough submitted 174 falsified travel vouchers to the state government and received $54,355.

In a related case, Scarborough also admitted in state court to allegedly misusing $40,000 in campaign contributions for personal expenses. He is expected to serve up to one year in state prison for that guilty plea.


Career-themed high school in Cambria Heights to offer industry-specific opportunities through new partnership

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

The Benjamin Franklin High School for Finance & Information Technology (BFIT) in Cambria Heights will give underserved high school students opportunities to get a head start in their careers with a new partnership.

The school, which opened in September 2014 and is located at 207-01 116th Ave., is partnering with NAF, an organization that specializes in developing career-themed public high schools across the country. Each school associated with NAF has strong business relationships with companies like Verizon, Marriott and Citi that work with students to educate them about career opportunities.

Currently, the high school serves 113 students in the ninth and 10th grades and plans to expand in the next three years to accommodate ninth- through 12th-graders, according to principal Carla Theodorou. Students will be exposed to job shadowing events, internships, career development workshops and mentoring through NAF.

BFIT will be using NAF approved Internet technology curriculum and is planning to become an approved NAF Academy of Finance, Theodorou said.

More than 5,000 business professionals are part of the NAF network and donate their time volunteering in classrooms, acting as mentors, giving NAF students internships and serving on local advisory boards. In 2014, NAF academies reported a 97 percent graduation rate.

BFIT students will graduate with industry-recognized certifications like Microsoft Office Specialist certification (MOS), Network +, web design and graphic design. The school also has an existing partnership with Queens College, which will allow students to take college credit courses and give teachers access to professional development through the QC School of Education.


Man shot to death at St. Albans intersection

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Detectives are looking for the gunman who shot a Cambria Heights resident at a St. Albans street corner early Sunday morning.

Russell McKee, 30, was shot multiple times while standing at Camden and Liberty avenues about 4:53 a.m. Sunday, authorities said.

Officers from the 103rd Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Paramedics brought McKee to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to the New York Post, the unidentified gunman got out of a car, approached McKee and fired numerous shots at him, striking the victim in the arm, leg, abdomen and back. Reportedly, the shooter then returned to the vehicle and drove away.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Cambria Heights teen charged in crash involving school bus, NYPD van, elderly couple

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A 19-year-old Cambria Heights resident has been charged for causing a crash involving three vehicles Tuesday, and for briefly fleeing the scene because he was “scared,” authorities said.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, just after 3 p.m. on Aug. 11 two NYPD officers, who were traveling in an unmarked minivan on the Cross Island Parkway near the Jamaica Avenue exit, saw Matthew Robinson driving a 2009 BMW at high speeds and weaving in and out of lanes.

It is then alleged that Robinson, who was speeding in the right lane, tried to swerve into the middle lane between two vehicles when there was clearly not enough room to do so safely. The 19-year-old then struck an unoccupied mini school bus on the right lane, and a Honda in the middle lane, causing the Honda to veer into the left lane and strike the cement median, Brown said.

According to prosecutors, the unmarked NYPD minivan then struck the Honda, which rolled up onto the hood of the vehicle and flipped multiple times before landing upside down.

The Honda’s 77-year-old driver was left hanging upside down in his seat, bleeding from his nose and mouth and with bumps and bruises to his body. The driver’s 73-year-old wife was also bleeding from a large cut to her head.

Robinson allegedly then exited the BMW and fled the site with a backpack without exchanging any information, authorities said. He then allegedly returned about 5 minutes later, without a backpack, and said, “I’m sorry. I got scared.”

The driver of the Honda and his wife, and the two police officers — who suffered back, neck and wrist injuries — were taken to a local hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Robinson is has been charged with reckless endangerment, leaving the scene without reporting personal injury and several other infractions and violations of New York State’s vehicle and traffic laws — driving on roadway lanes for traffic and speed restriction.

“The defendant is accused of driving at an excessive speed and changing lanes without regard to his safety or that of the motorists around him,” Brown said. “As a result of his alleged actions, four people —including two police officers — were injured and the defendant now faces serious criminal charges.”

The 19-year-old is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.


PHOTOS: Queens residents enjoy a fun ‘Night Out’ with New York’s Finest

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Promoting greater harmony between police and the people they serve, Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime brought thousands of Queens residents out to venues across the “World’s Borough” for family-friendly activities.

From Astoria to the Rockaway Peninsula, each Night Out event included free games and activities for children of all ages as well as refreshments, live music and other entertainment. Residents also had the opportunity to meet with the officers who serve their community and learn more about the NYPD’s various crime prevention programs.

Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, attended each gathering and presented proclamations to the precinct commanders. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who made the rounds at Night Out events across the city, stopped by the 113th Precinct’s Night Out in Springfield Gardens.

The National Night Out Against Crime, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities. Millions of people across the U.S. and Canada were estimated to have participated in Night Out events Tuesday evening.


Son ignores stop sign, dad dies in Cambria Heights collision: NYPD

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

A 50-year-old father was killed Sunday evening after his son ran through a stop sign and their car was struck by another vehicle at a Cambria Heights intersection, according to police.

The accident occurred at 6:11 p.m. at the corner of 119th Avenue and 231st Street.

Authorities said Garth Jackson, 50, of Elmont, N.Y., was riding in the front passenger seat of a Honda sedan operated by his 19-year-old son; Jackson’s 47-year-old wife was in the backseat.

Reportedly, Jackson’s son ignored a stop sign while traveling southbound on 231st Street, and the sedan was broadsided by a vehicle traveling eastbound on 119th Avenue operated by a 17-year-old male, whom police said had a learner’s permit.

Officers from the 105th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Jackson was rushed to Franklin General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. His son was taken to Jamaica Hospital and his wife was removed to North Shore Manhasset Hospital; both were listed in stable condition.

The 17-year-old driver was rushed by paramedics to Long Island Jewish Medical Center and was listed in stable condition.

No arrests have been made, and the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad is continuing to investigate.


Cambria Heights women arrested for operating pot farm in home

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/MendezEnrique

Two women are accused of turning their Cambria Heights home into a pot farm and stealing more than $64,000 worth of electricity from Con Edison to help run their operation, prosecutors said.

Larraysha Conklin, 28, and Julene Mercano, 50, are charged with second-degree grand larceny, first-degree criminal possession of marijuana and theft of service, according to the district attorney’s office.

“The defendants are accused of having transformed the second floor of their residence into a virtual pot farm, which required high wattage lights and constant air-conditioning in order for the plants to grow. It is alleged that in an effort to cut their overhead costs, the defendant stole tens of thousands of dollars in unmetered electricity from Con Edison,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement Thursday.

Police from the 105th Precinct uncovered the marijuana after executing a search warrant on the women’s 219th Street home Wednesday morning.

Before finding the pot, authorities recovered multiple designer handbags, $397 in cash, credit cards bearing Conklin’s name from her bedroom, multiple laptops and cellular phones, and from the living room an Apple watch and an Apple laptop.

On the second floor, police allegedly found 41 marijuana plants in two separate rooms and growing equipment that included multiple 1,000-watt lights, power fans, air-conditioning units, dehumidifiers and carbon dioxide generators.

Police additionally allegedly recovered on the second floor a small tub containing marijuana from a freezer and another small container of marijuana from a closet, as well as chemicals used for plant growth.

Finally, according to prosecutors, it was uncovered that multiple Con Edison lines were being used to manipulate the service boxes to the home. The estimated bill for unmetered service at the residence between May 31, 2013, through July 1, 2015, was approximately $64,792, but Mercado’s electric bills were only a fraction of the amount of electricity being used at the location, prosecutors said.

If convicted, each woman faces up to 15 years in prison.


Arrest in Cambria Heights stabbing death

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of a 40-year-old homeless man who was found fatally stabbed in Cambria Heights, authorities announced late Friday.

Andre Perrin, 48, has been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the death of Dshawn Rogers, cops said.

Officers discovered Rogers on 230th Street outside a home near 116th Avenue at about 4:20 p.m. on Thursday, authorities said. He was unconscious and had been stabbed in the torso.

Rogers was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Cops believe a dispute between Rogers and Perrin, who lives a couple of blocks from the crime scene, led to the stabbing. The relationship between the two was not immediately clear.


Homeless man found stabbed to death in Cambria Heights: NYPD

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 40-year-old homeless man was found fatally stabbed on a Cambria Heights street Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

Responding to a 911 call, officers discovered Dshawn Rogers on 230th Street, outside a home in a residential area near 116th Avenue, at about 4:20 p.m. He was unconscious and had been stabbed in the torso.

EMS transported Rogers to Jamaica Hospital, where he died.

There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.


More Queens Library locations loaning mobile hot spots, tablets

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card, and now more cardholders will be able to stay connected while on the go.

The Queens Library announced Tuesday that it will be expanding its mobile technology lending program in the upcoming weeks to more libraries throughout the borough.

While using their Queens Library cards, customers will be able to borrow free mobile hot spots, providing Internet access anywhere to any Wi-Fi-enabled devices with cellphone reception. Customers will also have the chance to borrow free Google Nexus tablets.

The hot spots are available for one month, and there are three renewals available afterwards. First-time hot spot borrowers will have to sign an agreement and bring a photo ID.

Locations that have been offering the free mobile hot spots and tablets since last year include branches at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica; 1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway; 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills; 41-17 Main St., Flushing; and 35-51 81st St., Jackson Heights.

The new locations offering the hot spots include 214-20 Northern Blvd. in Bayside and 37-44 21st St. in Long Island City. They will also be available at the branch at 218-13 Linden Blvd. in Cambria Heights starting April 8; 193-20 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows on April 15; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village on April 22.

The Google Nexus tablets are now available at Queens Library branches at 2012 Madison St. in Ridgewood; 128-16 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village. Starting later this month, the tablets will be available at the following locations: 187-05 Union Turnpike in Hillcrest; 103-34 Lefferts Blvd. in Richmond Hill; and the Langston Hughes Community Library at 100-01 Northern Blvd.

A full list of borrowing sites is available at www.queenslibrary.org.


Unlicensed Queens driver charged after hitting 6-year-old boy coming off school bus: DA

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A Rosedale man has been charged with assault, driving without a license and other charges after he struck a 6-year-old boy as the child was exiting his school bus last year and then fled the scene in his vehicle, the district attorney’s office said.

“There is no place in the world that a person needs to rush to when one is confronted with a stopped school bus filled with young children,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “In this case a precious few minutes could have prevented a young child from being seriously injured. The defendant now faces felony assault and other charges.”

The boy was walking off a stopped school bus at 227th Street and 119th Avenue in Cambria Heights on the afternoon of Dec. 3, 2014, when he was struck, according to Brown. The boy’s mother said she saw a Toyota Avalon go around the stopped school bus and hit her son on the right side of his body. The bus’ stop sign was out and its lights were flashing at the time.

Garfield A. Myrie, 47, the Toyota’s driver, then got out of his car, picked up the boy, scooped him up in his arms and said, “He looks OK but I can bring him to my doctor,” according to the district attorney. After the boy’s mother told him to put her son down, Myrie returned to his car and fled the scene without reporting the incident.

The child was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for a broken femur. The injury required surgical plates and screws.

According to the district attorney’s office, a review of New York State Department of Motor Vehicles records showed that “Myrie’s license to operate a motor vehicle was suspended on three or more occasions, the last date being Jan. 27, 2014.”

Myrie was arraigned on Friday in Queens Criminal Court on charges of assault, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting/serious injury, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and obedience to and required traffic-control devices, prosecutors said. Myrie, who faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, was ordered held on $25,000 bail.



Cambria Heights author releases second book for kids

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Asha Mahadevan


Roslyn C. Thorpe, the Cambria Heights-based author of “RayRay’s Amazing Dream” (2012), is ready with her second book, called “Danny the New Kid in School.” As the title reveals, it tells the story of Danny as he faces setbacks and stares from other students in fifth grade. He then befriends Timmy and, together, they overcome the challenges of school.

Thorpe, 65, said she drew inspiration for the book from what she has seen around her. In her 34-year teaching career, she has often noticed new children in school being bullied by other children. She hopes this book will help such children adjust to their new schools.

Thorpe was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and after teaching there for five years, she moved to the U.S. in 1987. She enrolled as an undergraduate in The College of New Rochelle. While she was studying there, one of her professors told her that she would make a great writer.

“All these years I didn’t do anything about it,” she said. “Now that I am going to retire, I want to do something using my mental faculties, like writing. It is time-consuming, but it is something I love to do.”

She loves reading books that have a message and are a little suspenseful, she said, and that is why “Danny” has both those elements. It talks about the problems children new to a school face and ends with a hint about how Danny and Timmy’s story is not going to end with this book.
“I am going to write a series of books about Danny — how he goes to junior high, then high school and college,” said Thorpe.

While “RayRay” is a fully illustrated children’s book, “Danny” has only one illustration per chapter. It took Thorpe just an hour and a half to write “RayRay’s Amazing Dream” and “a couple of weeks,” she said, to complete “Danny.” However, that doesn’t mean that we’ll be reading about Danny’s next adventure any time soon.

Now that “Danny” is out, Thorpe is moving on to a new set of characters for her next book. “I have an idea for a spooky story,” she said, “but this one will take more time and more concentration. It is about an invisible stalker and will be for young adults.”

She also plans to write Christian books for readers in their late 20s and early 30s sometime in the future.

If Thorpe is sure of one thing, it’s that: “I’ll never stop writing.”


Queens man arrested for stealing two Jetway motors at JFK

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Port Authority Police Department

Cambria Heights man working at John F. Kennedy International Airport allegedly stole two Jetway motors with the intention of selling them for scrap metal.

On Thursday at the airport’s Terminal 7, witnesses saw 30-year-old James Hicks-Johnson, who works for a de-icing company, place two Jetway motors into his company’s vehicle and then drive off, according to authorities.

Hicks-Johnson did not have any authorization to remove the engines, which were valued at $7,000 each and belonged to British Airways, according to Port Authority Police. When he returned to the terminal he was placed under arrest by Port Authority police officers.

When questioned Hicks-Johnson made statements suggesting that he intended to sell the property for scrap metal, authorities said.

He was charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.


More West Nile spraying to target Queens this week

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYC Health Department

Another round of West Nile spraying is set for parts of Queens this week.

The spraying will take place on Thursday, Sept. 18, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Monday, Sept. 22 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Arverne, Bays Water, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Hammels and Somerville (Bordered by Jamaica Bay to the north; Cross Bay Parkway to the west; Atlantic Ocean to the south; and Nassau County Boundary to the east).

Parts of Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Saint Albans and Springfield Gardens (Bordered by 119th Avenue to the north; Farmers Boulevard to the west; Merrick Boulevard to the south; and Belt Parkway and Nassau County Line to the east).

map 2

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.


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.