Tag Archives: columbia

Man Behind Two-Borough Stabbing, Carjacking Spree Awaits Sentencing


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Man Behind Two-Borough Stabbing, Carjacking Spree Awaits Sentencing

A man who admitted to killing four people and wounding two others in a 28-hour rampage is scheduled to be sentenced today. Maksim Gelman faces up to 100 years in prison when he’s sentenced in Brooklyn. He pleaded guilty to murder, assault and attempted murder in the February 2011 crime spree which began in Brooklyn and ended on a Manhattan subway 28 hours later. Read More: NY1

 

Protest Over Anti-Piracy Legislation Spans Web

Some of the most popular sites on the web are taking part in a 24-hour blackout in protest of legislation currently making its way through Congress. Hundreds of technicians, Internet activists and website users are expected to show up in Midtown today to rally in front of the offices of Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The politicians support the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, which advocates say will impede free speech. Both Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down their sites at midnight to protest the acts. Google put a black banner over its logo but is still functional. Read More: NY1

 

Ex-Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. slapped with new corruption charges

Former New York state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. has been hit with yet another round of charges in the growing corruption case against him. Brooklyn federal prosecutors today unveiled two new charges of making false statements against the former legislator – including one allegation that Espada intentionally under-reported his salary when submitting government forms related to his medical business, Soundview Health Center,. The feds say Espada knowingly lied to the US Health and Human Services Administration by filing forms that listed his annual salary as $185,063 – when it was really $246,750, according to an indictment handed up by a Brooklyn federal grand jury. Read More: New York Post

 

Graffiti cop sentenced to three years probation

A former NYPD patrolman convicted of plastering his nickname on a highway overpass was given a pep talk by a Queens judge today before he was sentenced to three years probation. “Its time for you to put your family in front of those friends you talk to,” said acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Salvatore Modica about the text messages introduced in Steven Weinberg’s bench trial that he sent to his graffiti buddies about his tagging activities. Weinberg, 44 of Flushing, was convicted of fourth-degree criminal mischief and making graffiti last month for plastering his former tag, “NEO,” on a Clearview Expressway overpass. Read More: New York Post

 

NYPD, Manhattan DA, take down East Harlem PCP drug sales network; angel dust back in vogue

COPS HAVE started rounding up more than two dozen pushers charged with selling the dangerous retro drug angel dust in East Harlem, law enforcement sources revealed Wednesday. The targets of an 18-month investigation around 117th St. and Madison Ave., are two brothers who headed up the “extremely active drug sale business,” the sources told The News. The men, whose names are expected to be released later Wednesday, will be charged under the 2009 “drug kingpin” statute for moving millions of dollars worth of PCP, along with cocaine and heroin, the sources said. Read More: New York Post

 

5th Columbia drug kid guilty

A student accused of selling LSD at Columbia University pleaded guilty yesterday to attempted drug possession, resolving the last case in a takedown of an on-campus drug ring. Adam Klein was the last of five students to plead guilty in the case, which authorities called the biggest in recent memory against drug dealing at a city college. The case spurred a discussion of student drug use and questions of privilege and punishment from the New York Post’s editorial page to Time magazine’s Web site. Klein, 21, is expected to get five years’ probation at sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 28. Read More: New York Post

 

Man who ‘killed’ wife took control of life-insurance payout for kids


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Man who ‘killed’ wife took control of life-insurance payout for kids

The man being sued for allegedly murdering his Upper West Side wife surreptitiously took control of the $1.6 million life-insurance-policy payout she’d left behind for their two kids, The Post has learned. Rod Covlin, 39, filed papers in Westchester County Surrogate’s Court in April seeking to be named guardian of the cashed-in Aetna policy that Shele Danishefsky Covlin, a money manager, had left for Anna and Myles. “I am Anna’s father,” an affidavit reads. “I have her best interests at heart, and I am in the best position to determine her current and future needs.” Read More: New York Post

Man posed as a cop during sexual assault

The New York Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the individuals wanted in connection with a sexual assault and robbery. On Sunday, November 20 at approximately 10:30 p.m., one female victim was posting flyers when she was approached on the street by a burgundy-colored van or SUV with four individuals inside. One suspect — described as a Hispanic male — displayed a business card with a police logo, then told the victim it was illegal to post flyers and asked for her identification, according to police. Read More: Queens Courier

End of an era: Flushing’s Palace Diner closing

The faithful frequenters of Flushing’s Palace Diner will have to find a new haunt once the local landmark serves its last meal after more than three decades in the neighborhood. The diner, which sits along the Long Island Expressway on the corner of Main Street and Horace Harding Expressway and has been a neighborhood mainstay for 35 years, will close its doors for good on Friday, December 30. “Friday is going to be another very emotional day,” said owner George Mantzikos. Read More: Queens Courier

Office Cleaners Rally In Midtown As Strike Threat Remains

Contract negotiations will continue Thursday to try to prevent a strike of more than 20,000 office cleaners in the city, but rallying service employees in Midtown and their supporters pledged on Wednesday to strike if an agreement is not reached by the time the old contract expires. The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, which represents building management, and Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ failed to resolve their differences over wages and benefits in the Sheraton Hotel on Wednesday. Read More: NY1

New State Law To Ban Minors From Local Hookah Bars

Steinway Street between 25th and 28th Avenue in Astoria is Queens’ so-called “Hookah Strip,” where people go to smoke “shisha,” or flavored tobacco, through a water pipe known as hookah. The industry is not well-regulated and the businesses are exempt from the state’s ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, so the owners often create their own rules when it comes to minors. Many places do not allow them inside, but some do. That is about to change under a new state law banning minors from these mostly Middle Eastern establishments that have become popular with other Americans. Read More: NY1

Western Queens parents group: we’ve got two overcrowded schools that need additions built  

A western Queens parents group plans to push the city to build additions at two overcrowded elementary schools where the the lack of space is so severe that students are studying in hallways or in a leaky modular unit. Community Education Council District 30 will present its concerns about Public School 11, in Woodside, and PS 2, in Jackson Heights, to the city on January 6 in its annual recommendations to the School Construction Authority. Read More: Daily News

Astoria realtor to shave off his signature mustache to raise money for autism support group

A respected Queens community leader is attempting to turn the mustache he’s sported for the last 35 years into some cold hard cash for an autism organization. Astoria realtor Paul Halvatzis, 52, of Flushing, is to have his beloved whiskers shaved off on Friday at the Redken Saloon Salon in Astoria in an attempt to raise $35,000 for Quality Services for the Autism Community. The group provides support services to autistic individuals and their families in New York City and Long Island. Read More: Daily News

Counterfeit Cash Smuggler at JFK

A Colombian woman was busted at JFK with nearly $300,000 of counterfeit U.S. currency in her luggage, federal officials said yesterday. Karol Andrea Chilito Solarte, 29, who flew here from Medellin, was arrested on December 15 after Customs and Border Protection officers spotted an unusual thickness at the bottom of her suitcase, a spokesman for the agency said. The oddly shaped suitcase sparked the suspicions of Customs officers — and a closer examination uncovered 46 packages of phony $100 bills totaling almost $300,000, the spokesman said. Read More: New York Post

Long Island City artist blending art and photography


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Rafael Octavio Gonzalez

Far away from the static realm of everyday photography lies the work of Rafael Octavio Gonzalez. The Long Island City-bred artist puts a luminescent spin on the lens – surrounding the viewer and bringing the past and present together in one intimate, yet all-encompassing, image.

His images are currently being presented in an ongoing exhibition at Z Hotel in L.I.C. – steps away from where the artist grew up and developed his photographer’s sensibility.

“I got into photography when my brother gave me a camera back when I was in eighth grade,” said Gonzalez, who came to Queens from Columbia at seven-years-old. “Before that, I didn’t feel very artsy or have any inclination toward art at all.”

But growing up in L.I.C.’s old days – before the condos shot up – afforded Gonzalez the types of views that builds an eye for the majestic.

“I grew up on the corner of 21st Street and 44th Avenue, back when there was roof access. I used to hang out up there and there was a full view of the city because there was nothing on the waterfront. There were no tall structures,” he said. “I grew up with beautiful sunsets and sunrises and everything that happens around this piece of the city right here.”

One image he captured was a panoramic view of Manhattan from the Queens side of the East River on December 7, 2000. In the image, the sun dramatically sets just behind the World Trade Center – creating a poignant vision foreshadowing the city’s not-too-distant future.

As any art should, that panorama always elicits a response from the viewer, and for obvious reasons. The piece, called “Sunset at the Towers,” shows a striking image of the Towers outlined in a brilliant and fiery light. Gonzalez said that no matter the reaction, he wants to reach an audience so that they feel something – whether it’s love or hate.

“I’m hoping that it does bring some kind of emotion out of people,” Gonzalez said, explaining that one of his works, “Frozen,” tends to bring out an array of opinions. “Some people love it, but others are a little creeped out by it. I like it in the sense that I got to them at some level of emotion – it means the image is strong. To be able to draw some sort of emotion from someone is a very fulfilling feeling. To get someone to react to your work is the point – whether they like it or not.”

“Frozen” is part of a series of 360-degree panoramic photographs. The images play with space and time, perception and perspective. Bringing the 360-degree view within one plane suggest a single image taken at a single instant – when in reality the image came to Gonzalez over multiple frames over a period of days.

This is where Gonzalez’s technical side comes into play. He always had a technological brain – with mathematics and engineering preceding his love of photography.

“A lot of what goes into photography is highly technical when you’re putting it all together,” he said. “In many ways I think they are very linked, mathematics and life.”

Gonzalez is the first artist Z Hotel is exhibiting in their lower level Z Lounge, and they will exhibit a new artist each month in an effort to support the arts throughout the neighborhood.

And the neighborhood has changed greatly since Gonzalez moved to East Elmhurst with his wife and brother. Large buildings have popped up, blocking the view he once had as a kid. But he is not completely against such an occurrence – in fact, he wishes he was a part of it.

“I was very sad that I wasn’t in the position to buy some parts of the land there before they built on it,” he laughed. “It was kind of disappointing to see the view go away because it was such a beautiful unobstructed view, but that’s progress.”

And if he can somehow make a return to the area, he wouldn’t mind being a part of that progress.

“I dream of one day having an apartment over here,” Gonzalez said. “I grew up with this view and the ultimate way to get that part of me back would be to have a spot right up front on the waterfront.”