Tag Archives: Crime

Video released of suspect in failed Woodhaven stickup


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps/Inset courtesy of NYPD

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the man caught on video attempting to rob a grocery store in Woodhaven last month.

According to authorities, the crook visited the shop located at 90-11 Jamaica Ave. at 9:30 p.m. on May 24, approached the cashier, displayed a handgun and demanded money.

Upon hearing the demand, the cashier fled into the basement, police said. Seconds later, the gunman exited the store empty-handed.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct responded to the incident; there were no injuries.

The NYPD described the perpetrator as a black male believed to be 40 years old, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 180 pounds, who was last observed wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a black baseball cap.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts 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.


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Five teens caught in Middle Village robbery


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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Five teenagers were taken into custody following a Tuesday night robbery in Middle Village, police reported.

Authorities stated that the two victims were traveling through Juniper Valley Park at approximately 10:25 p.m. when they were approached by the five suspects. One of the perpetrators reportedly displayed a knife and demanded the victims’ cellphones.

During the course of the robbery, the group attacked the teens and removed their iPhones before fleeing from the scene, authorities said.

Officers from the 104th Precinct responded to the incident; the victims suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.

Police apprehended the five perpetrators in the area of 69th Street and Metropolitan Avenue shortly after the incident. They were identified as Jonathan Perez 18, from the Bronx; Kenneth Cabrera 18, of Glendale; Justin Santos 19, of Middle Village; a 17-year-old male, of Maspeth; and a 15-year-old male from New Britain, Connecticut.

Each suspect was charged with robbery.

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Crime rates down for the year in the 110th Precinct


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Crime continues to drop across the 110th Precinct, the force’s commanding officer announced at the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) meeting on Monday night.

“We are down 6.2 percent in crime for the year so far,” Deputy Inspector Christopher Manson said. “We have major reductions in robbery, burglary and grand larceny.”

The precinct is currently down eight robberies for the year, from 111 last year to 103 thus far in 2015. Police officers have made 63 robbery arrests this year, Manson noted, leading to the lower crime rates that the precinct is seeing.

Although crime is down overall for the 110th Precinct, vehicle thefts are on the rise. Manson told those in attendance that they have been six more stolen cars this year than at this point last year.

“The other area we are up in is felony assaults. We’ve been fighting that since the beginning of the year; there’s a lot domestic felony assaults,” Manson said. “One of the reasons we think we’re up in domestic assaults, it’s not a bad thing, it’s because we’re doing a lot of outreach. We’re going out on the streets and out into the community and we’re giving out pamphlets and letting people know about domestic violence and how they can report it. So we think more people are reporting it.”

Manson also alerted those in attendance of three recent crimes that turned out to all be connected within the 110th Precinct.

The first two crimes were robberies in which a male, Hispanic suspect drove up to people on the street and robbed them of their cellphones at knife point.

Later that night, police witnessed two men fighting in the street on Queens Boulevard near 74th Street, where one of the men stabbed the other six times with a small knife. That suspect was taken into custody and brought to the stationhouse. The other man was brought to the hospital and will survive his wounds.

“While we were in the stationhouse with this male, our officers in the room began tracking one of the cellphones from the earlier robberies,” Manson added. “We ping it, we get to find out the location, we look down and the location came to the same room we were in. We looked at the property that we were taking from the guy who just stabbed the guy six times and he has both cellphones. So we got him for all three crimes.”

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In Glendale, 104th Precinct looks to improve on crime drop


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Crime numbers continue to plummet in the 104th Precinct, but the command is looking to do even better.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, came to the precinct’s Community Council meeting on Tuesday at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale and reported a 26 percent reduction in overall crime in the past month. This included a significant downturn in domestic violence and felony assaults.

The precinct also experienced a 40 percent decrease in grand larcenies and stolen cars. Wachter credits crime prevention tactics, such as personalized home visits and spreading awareness about scams, with the large reduction.

In an effort to confront quality-of-life concerns, the 104th Precinct also held a successful undercover sting operation last Saturday to combat prostitution along Cypress Avenue and Starr Street on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border. According to Wachter, officers made six arrests and seized one vehicle for illicit activity.

“We put pressure on and basically make it go away,” he said. “We don’t want it to go somewhere else; we want it to go away.”

Despite these victories, burglaries remain an area of particular concern for the command. The Community Council’s Public Safety Committee and P.O. Eddie Collado of the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit delivered a video presentation and discussion on home burglary prevention.

“The burglar is an opportunist,” Collado said. According to police, perpetrators often gain access to homes through unlocked rear windows, doors and fire escapes.

Collado urged residents to secure windows and doors with the proper locks and volunteered to conduct personalized home safety surveys upon appointment. He also asked that residents register their valuable items such as electronics and bicycles with the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit. The items are marked with serial numbers that can potentially help identify and recover them if lost or stolen.

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

P.O. Sean Paul Hynes was honored as Cop of the Month for apprehending a suspect wanted for robbing a Boar’s Head delivery truck driver at gunpoint on April 21 on Woodward Avenue at Woodbine Street in Ridgewood.

According to Wachter, Hynes and his fellow officers from the 104th Precinct’s Anti-Crime Unit were able to track the suspect and his getaway vehicle through the use of undisclosed computer resources. Within minutes of the robbery, Hynes was able to track the vehicle to a specific location in Brooklyn.

A brief foot pursuit ensued, after which the male suspect and his weapon were taken into custody.

“It’s one less gun on the street, but we can never measure how many victims the gun could have taken out,” Wachter said.

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Precincts give crime updates at COMET meeting


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The 108th Precinct’s commander raised concern over a rash of stolen vehicles and commercial burglaries in the Maspeth/Woodside area during the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) meeting held Monday in Elmhurst.

Captain John Travaglia said the number of cars being stolen in the neighborhoods has escalated, especially the older-model Dodge Caravans. According to Travaglia, at least four of these vehicles have been stolen within the confines of the 108th Precinct in the last 28 days.

“What we see a lot with that is, they’re easy to steal,” Travaglia said. “And then they’re easy to steal other things with because the seats will come out quick and maybe they’ll steal a motorcycle then, and throw the motorcycle in the back of that Dodge Caravan. So we’ve seen that type of activity going on in the precinct.”

The precinct has noticed an increase in commercial burglaries throughout the neighborhoods as well. The one burglary that was reported in the 28-day time frame from the 108th Precinct occurred at 70-32 Queens Blvd., where tools were stolen from off of a construction site.

“Construction sites, houses that are under construction are being burglarized for copper pipes [and] for tools,” Travaglia told those in attendance. “This has become a prevalent problem all over Queens.”

One major highlight for the 108th Precinct is the number of traffic fatalities that have occurred since November, which is zero.

“I can report the 108 Precinct [has] not had a traffic fatality since I’ve been there in November,” Travaglia announced. “It’s been fantastic. Year-to-date, we haven’t had a traffic fatality.”

Detective Thomas Bell from the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit also announced that the precinct is down in overall crime.

“Year-to-date, the 104 is down about 8.6 percent in crime,” Bell said. “We are down pretty much across the board.”

The 104th Precinct has seen two murders this year, compared to three at this time last year. There have been seven rapes compared to eight last year, 57 robberies compared to 62 last year. Felony assaults dropped to 63 this year from 69 last year, burglaries fell by just one, 110 versus 111 from 2014. Grand larcenies dropped from 198 last year to only 181 this year and grand larceny for automobiles dropped from 71 in 2014 to 57 this year.

P.O. David Saponieri from the 110th Precinct Community Affairs Unit also informed COMET about its crime numbers. There have only been six arrests during the 28-day period within COMET’s area of Elmhurst. There were two stolen cars, two grand larcenies and two burglaries.

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DNA helps cops nab Ridgewood car thief


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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An alleged Ridgewood car thief was brought in by cops last week after DNA testing from items left behind at the scene connected him to the crime, police stated.

The suspect, identified by police as Alfredo Santiago, 41, of Bushwick, reportedly dropped a backpack containing three screwdrivers and personal items taken from the car during the September 2014 robbery.

According to authorities, during the incident, the owner of the vehicle approached his car, which was parked outside of 1856 Troutman St., at approximately 3:40 a.m. on Sept. 28 when he saw Santiago step out of his car and display what appeared to be a firearm.

Police said that Santiago then threatened to shoot the victim before he fled the scene, dropping the backpack containing the screwdrivers that led to his arrest.

Genetic evidence recovered from one of the screwdrivers was tested and found to match Santiago’s DNA profile.

Santiago was arraigned on April 22 before Queens Supreme Court Justice Stephanie Zaro on first-degree robbery, possession of burglar’s tools and fourth-degree criminal mischief. His bail was set at $30,000, and he is scheduled to return to court on May 6.

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Manhattan woman stole $350K from her Fresh Meadows mom: DA


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

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An Upper East Side woman was arraigned Tuesday on charges of stealing more than $340,000 from her elderly mother, a Fresh Meadows resident, prosecutors announced.

Barbara Schwartz, 62, of East 71 Street in Manhattan allegedly withdrew funds from her mother’s bank account to pay for spa treatments, clothing, alcohol and cab rides from 2010 to 2013.

She was arraigned Tuesday on a four-count indictment charging her with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Schwartz was ordered held on $50,000 bond.

Law enforcement sources said Schwartz came into control of her 91-year-old mother’s finances after the elderly woman suffered a stroke in 2008. Authorities were alerted to the theft by another child of the victim, and an analysis of the suspect’s bank records allegedly indicated that none of the money was used to benefit the ailing woman.

“The defendant’s mother spent a lifetime acquiring the assets needed to make her final years comfortable and free of the stress of financial worry, only to suffer a stroke and have her daughter allegedly steal the money for her own personal use,” Brown said.

Schwartz is scheduled to return to court on June 23.

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Ozone Park man faces serious jail time for sexually abusing two young girls


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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An Ozone Park man was convicted this week of sexually preying on young children in their home over a four-year period, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

Melchor Evangelista, 42, was found guilty of having sexual contact with two preadolescent sisters on five separate occasions in their Ozone Park home in 2009 and 2013.

“A jury has convicted the defendant of being a sexual predator who victimized two young girls and betrayed the trust of their parents who had placed their daughters into his care,” Brown said. “As such, he has proven himself to be a threat to children and a clear and present danger to society in general. His conviction ensures that he is punished for his crimes.”

According to the trial testimony, Evangelista engaged in a sexual act on three different occasions between June and August of 2009 with a 6-year-old girl whom he knew. He also attempted to engage in sexual intercourse with the victim during the same time frame.

The victim, too afraid to tell anyone of the incidents, waited until December 2013 to confide in her mother. The mother then asked the victim’s younger sister, who was then 10, if anyone had touched her. She admitted that she woke one night in August 2013 to find Evangelista in her bed and that he had touched her private parts.

Jurors convicted Evangelista Monday of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual act and one count each of first-degree attempted rape, first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree attempted sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, after a one-week jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Butcher.

Evangelista, who had been free on $50,000 bail since after his January 2014 arrest, had his bail revoked and was ordered held in custody. Sentencing is set for April 28, and Evangelista faces up to 25 years in prison on each of the criminal sexual act charges, 15 years on the attempted rape charge, seven years on the sexual abuse charge, four years on the attempted sexual abuse charge and one year on the endangerment charge.

The investigation was conducted by the NYPD’s Queens Special Victims Squad at the Queens Child Advocacy Center.

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Pol touts Ridgewood’s successes and the challenges ahead


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan discussed the many assets and issues facing Ridgewood at Thursday night’s swearing-in ceremony of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) officials and board of directors held at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

“We have something very special here,” Nolan said. “It’s kind of ironic—lately it seems like the whole world is just finding that out. That’s going to present a whole new set of challenges for Ridgewood.”

In her address to the group, Nolan focused on the many positive aspects and improvements made in Ridgewood over the years, including bus and transit hub upgrades, the efforts and achievements of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), and advances in local healthcare.

Nolan also cited improvements in sanitation, such as Ridgewood’s successful composting program and high recycling rates, as a major asset within the community.

“Ridgewood is the cleanest neighborhood in the city because we made that a priority,” she said. “We thought of it as just keeping our homes clean, but now we see the environmental benefit as well.”

Ridgewood’s growth and development as an environmentally friendly, sustainable community was also celebrated. According to Nolan, the availability of mass transit, as well as the ability to walk to stores and venues within the community, lessened dependence on cars, reducing pollution and improving the local environment.

In addition to improvements, Nolan also addressed the many challenges facing Ridgewood, including mass transit, the loss of manufacturing and an increase in domestic violence, which she referred to as a “hidden problem” in the community. Nolan’s office and the 104th Precinct are trying to combat domestic violence through expanded outreach and communication in the wake of last week’s deadly attack on Grove Street.

An issue of particular concern was the challenges facing senior citizen tenants struggling to hold on to their apartments amid rent hikes in the area. Nolan and RPOCA President Charles Ober discussed introducing legislation that would expand the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) to three- and four-family homes. SCRIE is a property tax rebate offered to landlords with the incentive of reducing the rent of a senior tenant residing in their properties.

In 2014, funding to the SCRIE Program was increased from $29,000 to $50,000. Currently, the exemption is only available to dwellings with six or more units. Nolan vowed to form a council in Albany that would draft legislation expanding eligibility to three- and four-family homes.

“It’s long overdue and I think we could try,” Nolan said.

Nolan swore in the 2015 RPOCA officers, including President Charles Ober, First Vice President Joseph Segreti, Second Vice President John Maier, Third Vice President Domingo Santos, Recording Secretary Maryellen Borello, Financial Secretary Helen Kutch and Sergeant-At-Arms Carlos Ortiz.

The RPOCA board of directors sworn in included Henry Cross, Geoffrey Elkind, Gregory Haufe, John Hertling, Voytek Oktawiec, Jamie Taratoot, Simon Orr, Richard Wessley, Louis Rodriguez and Chairperson Patricia Grayson.

Pastor Thomas Goodhart from Trinity Reformed Church in Ridgewood offered a Benediction at the swearing-in ceremony.

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Tumbling crime numbers top 108th Precinct Council meeting in Sunnyside


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Crime plunged in the 108th Precinct over the last four weeks, the force’s commanding officer reported during Tuesday’s 108th Precinct Community Council meeting at Sunnyside Community Services.

Capt. John Travaglia said that the precinct, which covers all or parts of Long Island City, Maspeth, Sunnyside and Woodside, recorded a 28 percent drop in major crimes in the last 28 days. The plunge included a 50 percent fall in robberies, an 11 percent decrease in burglaries and a 46 percent drop in grand larcenies.

Continuing the positive news, Travaglia said the precinct recorded no incidents of rape, homicide or auto accident fatalities so far this year.

“Our numbers reflect how safe of a community we live in,” Travaglia said. “This is a wonderful place and the statistics don’t lie.”

Travaglia did, however, caution residents about preventing burglaries during the coming spring and summer months.

“As the weather gets warmer, we tend to leave our windows open to let the nice breeze into our homes,” he said, “but when you leave your home, remember to shut those windows and lock them.  These are crimes of opportunity, and we want to make sure we take that opportunity away.”

Travaglia and the council honored one officer in particular for his efforts to fight crime. P.O. John Miszuk of the precinct’s Anti-Crime Team received the Cop of the Month Award for apprehending a violent robbery suspect earlier in the month.

At 10:30 p.m. on March 21, 108th Precinct officers responded to a 911 call regarding a robbery in progress in the vicinity of 47th Avenue and 46th Street. According to Travaglia, the suspect approached his male victim from behind with a knife, demanding cash and belongings. After a brief struggle, the victim’s face and hand were slashed and the perp fled on foot.

The victim surrendered some personal property, but managed to hold on to his cellphone and call the police. Travaglia spoke with the victim over the phone and tried to get a description of the perp, as well as the victim’s location. Miszuk and his team combed the area searching for the suspect based on the description given to 911.

Miszuk apprehended the suspect a few blocks away from the crime scene, while Travaglia was still on the phone with the victim. The suspect was allegedly found in possession of a knife, as well as crack cocaine and a crack pipe.

Travaglia and Precinct Council President Diane Ballek presented Miszuk with a plaque donated by the Ridgewood Times and Times Newsweekly.

The Precinct Council also welcomed Marissa Beckett from the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV). Beckett announced the creation and expansion of several programs aimed at helping victims of domestic assault at Family Justice Centers in each borough.

“Domestic Violence is a pattern of power and control,” she explained. “It can begin as threats and can escalate to physical abuse.”

Some of the programs offered at the Queens Family Justice Center, located at 126-02 82nd Ave. in Kew Gardens, include Safe Horizon, ESL classes, parenting programs and the Healthy Relationship Training Academy aimed at preventing cyber bullying and dating violence among teens. Help is available to all regardless of their language or immigration status.

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Queens doctors charged in multimillion-dollar Brooklyn Medicaid fraud ring


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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Several Queens medical practitioners were among 23 people indicted in Brooklyn for allegedly scamming the Medicaid system out of nearly $7 million and offering free sneakers to low-income and homeless people in exchange for undergoing unnecessary medical tests and treatments, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced Tuesday.

The 199-count indictment alleges the defendants carried out a scheme in which Medicaid recipients from low-income neighborhoods, homeless shelters and welfare offices were recruited to undergo unnecessary medical tests, and the patients received free footwear such as sneakers, shoes and boots.

Participating patients were taken to a clinic and examined by a podiatrist. The physicians then supplied the patients, even though they did not have foot problems, with footwear and medical equipment such ankle braces, knee braces or orthotic insoles.

According to the indictment, the defendants then allegedly submitted more than $6.9 million in fraudulent claims to Medicaid, Medicaid-managed health care organizations and Medicare for the medical devices.

“These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so,” Thompson said. “The many poor people who were allegedly targeted at homeless shelters, welfare offices and soup kitchens and referred to as ‘guinea pigs’ by the defendants were exploited for hours, if not days, just because they needed a pair of shoes. That so many doctors allegedly participated in this elaborate scheme to defraud a health care system designed to help the poor is truly disgraceful.”

Thompson identified Eric Vainer, 43, of Riverside Boulevard, as the alleged mastermind and leader of the scheme, and his mother, Polina Vainer, 66, of Keating Place, in Staten Island, as his second in command.

The Queens defendants are Susan Nutakor-Doh, 48, of Forest Hills; Taesoo Kim, 28, of Long Island City; Dr. Bennu Ogorek, DPM, 64, of Forest Hills; Dr. Avia Jackson, DPM, 43, of Jamaica; and Isaacs, DPM, 63, of Flushing.

Some of the defendants were arraigned on March 31 before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on various charges including enterprise corruption, first-degree money laundering, first-degree scheme to defraud, first-degree health care fraud, first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, among several other charges.

The defendants were ordered to return to court on May 19; each faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the enterprise corruption count.

More charges may be forthcoming, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York reportedly obtained warrants to seize 13 bank accounts into which payments from the defrauded, federally funded programs could be traced.

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Cops catch suspected Ridgewood car thief


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

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He should have found somewhere else to park.

The day after allegedly taking a man’s ride at gunpoint, a Ridgewood man was locked up by police after officers spotted the stolen vehicle parked on a neighborhood street.

Law enforcement sources said Gergory A. Spok, 26, allegedly attempted to steal a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu on Summerfield Street at about 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25.

According to authorities, Spok allegedly got into the driver’s seat after the rightful owner briefly exited the car to open a driveway gate.

When the owner returned to his vehicle, police noted, Spok pointed a black firearm at him, then sped away from the scene in the car. The theft was later reported to the 104th Precinct.

According to the criminal complaint provided by the Queens District Attorney’s office, Det. Oleg Matat of the 104th Precinct Detective Squad spotted the stolen vehicle at around 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon parked in front of a location on Forest Avenue. After a check of the car’s license plate confirmed that it was stolen, officers were dispatched to stake out the car until someone attempted to enter it.

P.O. Louis Marinacci responded to the scene and, from his own police vehicle, reportedly observed Spok enter the stolen Malibu and turn on the engine. Police said the officer stopped Spok without incident and took him into custody.

Spok was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Friday on charges including first-degree armed robbery, second-degree robbery and criminal possession of stolen property. He remains held on $5,000 bail and is due back in court on April 10.

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110 Precinct CO talks new post, future plans


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The 110th Precinct, which encompasses Corona and Elmhurst, has a new top cop and he is ready to get to know his new community and continue the work his predecessor achieved.

Captain Christopher Manson was named the new commanding officer of the western Queens precinct and started at his new post on March 17. He is taking over from Deputy Inspector Ronald Leyson, who after spending the last three years at the 110th Precinct was reassigned to the NYPD’s Queens North Detective Bureau.

For the past two years, Manson was the commanding officer at the 104th Precinct, which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth.

“I had a great time there, great community. Crime went down about 11 percent over two years. We did a lot of good work,” Manson said. “We hope to continue that here. I inherited a very good, smooth running operation from my predecessor Deputy Inspector Leyson.”

Before taking command of the 104th Precinct, the 27-year NYPD veteran was assigned for a few months at the 114th Precinct, and before that was the executive officer for two years at the 109th Precinct in Flushing.

Since starting at his new post in Corona, Manson said he has been getting know the community and its leaders, and plans to continue the outreach.

“It’s a good place. I’m happy to be here,” Manson said. “I think right now the precinct is set up right because they have a lot of manpower that works late at night.”

He added that in the year to date, crime had been down 8 percent; however, domestic violence had increased in the confines of the precinct. Based on this data, Manson said he hopes to “take a heavy look” at the issue of domestic violence.

Among other initiatives from his past post, Manson has brought over weekly deployment meetings in which he gets together with specific units of the precinct and goes over certain patterns and trends going on.

The units are then committed to addressing certain crimes in specific areas within the precinct.

“Whatever it is these different units from the precinct are committed to these crime zones. It’s worked in the past and continues to work,” Manson said.

Manson added that there other things he might want to bring over from his previous post but he still needs to get to know the 110th Precinct a bit more and then decide what should be done.

He plans to continue the precinct’s social media presence with taking over the Twitter account @NYPD110Pct.

“I’m the 110 rookie,” he said. “I’ve got a lot to learn.”

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New 108th Precinct commanding officer wants to ‘harden’ community against crimes


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The new top cop at the 108th Precinct wants to enlist the public in the battle against crime as he steps into a new job he said he feels lucky to have landed.

Captain John Travaglia was named commanding officer of the precinct, covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth, on Nov. 17, replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who was assigned commanding officer of the 115th Precinct.

“We don’t choose where we work in the NYPD, they tell us where we work and my lottery numbers came out. I hit the lottery to be in Long Island City,” Travaglia said. “[Hennessy] left me running with a well-oiled machine.”

Just a few weeks into his new assignment, Travaglia was able to present good news during the Dec. 4 Community Board 2 monthly meeting, when he reported that crime in the precinct had dropped significantly over the previous 28 days.

Robberies were down 8 percent, felony assaults down 9 percent, burglaries down 6 percent, grand larceny down 15 percent, and reports of stolen cars were down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

In his new position, the 22-year NYPD veteran plans to continue what Hennessy accomplished at the precinct, such as Community Friday, which involves taking time to focus especially hard on quality-of-life issues in the precinct.

Using his experience from a previous assignment at NYPD Highway Patrol, Travaglia also said he wants to do more traffic enforcement, since an important issue in the precinct includes high-volume thoroughfares that carry thousands of commuters to and from work. He plans to emphasize enforcement of Vison Zero — a program championed by Mayor de Blasio to reduce traffic deaths — and also create a enhanced effort to crack down on drunken driving.

“There is nothing more important than getting a drunk driver off the road. I can equate it to taking a loaded illegal firearm off the street,” Travaglia said. “If we can somehow prevent a person from being injured, if not killed, that’s just as good as saving someone from a violent demise due to a crime.”

In regards to crime in the neighborhoods, Travaglia said he sees the same types of crimes that he did in his previous posts at the 114th and 104th precincts, such as property-based burglaries, car theft, and grand larceny.

In order to keep the number of such crimes down, Travaglia said he would like to educate residents on how they can help “harden the target” and lessen their chances of becoming crime victims. For example, residents making sure their windows and doors are tightly locked, making sure valuables aren’t left in cars and being more vigilant of their personal property and information.

“It’s not at all to make people feel like the police aren’t here to prevent this. We are here, [but] we cannot be everywhere. I wish we could stop all the bad people from doing this, but we cannot be everywhere,” Travaglia said. “It really is the community being the eyes and ears for the police department. We need people to call. If something looks out of place, we need to know about it.”

Travaglia said he wants to hear from the community, and that includes concerns about problems.

“I welcome complaints, I welcome compliments. I want people to attend community meetings,” he said. “We need to know what the problems are. If someone sees a problem, we need it to be reported. We cannot work a solution if we don’t know what the problem is.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015, at Sunnyside Community Services.

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Crime down in the 108th Precinct


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

With just three weeks under his belt as the new commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, Captain John Travaglia had some good news to share with the community.

At Community Board 2’s monthly meeting on Thursday night, along with introducing himself to board members and the audience, Travaglia said they have seen a decrease in crime in the precinct covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

In the last 28 days, robberies have been down 8 percent, felony assaults 9 percent, burglaries 6 percent, grand larceny 15 percent, and stolen cars have been down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

“We’re heading in the right direction. I can’t make promises that it will always stay that way but I hope it does. I hope I can keep up the good work,” Travaglia said at the meeting. “I credit a lot of this reduction to Brian Hennessy and the policies he had in place, and I look forward to continuing those efforts.”

Travaglia replaced Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Before becoming the new top dog at the 108th Precinct, Travaglia was at the 114th Precinct, and before that at the 104th Precinct.

“One of the best holiday Christmas presents I ever got was being assigned to the 108th Precinct,” Travaglia said. “I took over the 108th Precinct from Captain Hennessy. He did a wonderful job. He left me with a well-oiled machine. Our men and women are working very hard and very efficiently, and I just hope I can continue it. It’s pretty big footsteps to follow in.”

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