Tag Archives: Death

College Point woman allegedly died of West Nile


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Maria Coppola 2w

The family of a 71-year-old College Point woman who allegedly died of West Nile virus said they sway between incredible sadness and extreme anger at the city.

“This could have been prevented. They should have sprayed. They shouldn’t wait for a fatality to happen,” said Francis Coppola, 50.

He said his mother, Maria Coppola, was bitten by mosquitoes three times — on the eye, ear and arm — last year on August 10, while sitting outside on her porch. While he said the family was unsure where exactly she contracted the virus, he said she did not travel and was bedridden even before she was allegedly diagnosed with the disease soon after in September. She died on March 31 of this year.

Family members pointed to nearby areas of stagnant water as close as 200 yards away — and flu-like symptoms Maria suffered, indicative of the virus — as obvious signs of West Nile, but the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said they are looking into the death before deeming Coppola another West Nile victim.

“The Health Department is investigating a report that a Queens woman died from complications of West Nile virus,” the agency said in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States saw 44 total cases of West Nile virus — which resulted in two deaths — last year. Statistics on the health department’s website show 181 mosquito pools were found in New York City in 2011, including 89 in Queens, and of the nine severe cases of West Nile reported then, four were from Queens.

The disease first emerged in the country in 1999, and nearly all cases were detected within a 75-mile radius of New York City, the CDC said. Since then, the agency said more than 30,000 people have been affected and more than 1,200 have died.

City health officials said the department sprayed the College Point area three times last year. They also said all catch basins in the neighborhood were treated three times as well.

Still, the family said there were actually no sprays conducted, and efforts were not enough to deter mosquitoes from breeding near three stagnant water sources nearby. Francis said the family’s home is located near two sewer pools, high rising weeds on the nearby waterfront and a broken pothole that fills with rain water on 23rd Avenue and 119th Street.

Their complaints have fallen on deaf ears, he said.

“It’s clearly known that this area is ground zero,” Francis said. “The mayor knows we have this going on here. Do something about it. I don’t want to start pandemonium, but apparently we have already.”

Maria helped operate a family-run pizzeria in College Point with her husband of 55 years, Frank, the family said. Francis said his mother came to America with only $2 in her pocket and died a successful woman with five children.

“It’s very tough,” husband Frank, 79, said through tears. “She was my right arm. She was everything to me. She was cut short of her life.”

Gone too soon: Joshua Basin’s mother remembers her son’s tragic death


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

His friends called him “the kid with the golden heart.”

Zena Basin called him son.

A week after her son Joshua’s senseless death, Zena still expects him to walk through the door of their Howard Beach home.

The 20 year old was killed during an altercation on a Manhattan-bound “L” train. The assailant, now identified as Ryan Beauchamp, instigated a fight with Basin and two other males, which escalated at the Bedford Avenue station in Brooklyn and concluded with Basin’s death when he tumbled onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train.

Beauchamp was arrested for two counts of attempted assault in the third degree, disorderly conduct and harassment in the second degree on Wednesday, March 28.

Zena’s happy son, filled with a thirst for life, was the light of her existence, she said. Her only child, Joshua was born premature, and doctors warned Zena that his chances of survival were slim.

Against medical predictions, the baby survived.

“He was so radiant,” said Zena of her son as an infant. “He was so alive.”

His mother said Joshua possessed a breadth of interests. He wrote stories, song lyrics and poetry. A passion for travel led Joshua around the world – as a toddler, he took his first steps in Greece and later ventured to China at age five.

A student at LaGuardia Community College, Joshua aspired to become a psychologist. He enjoyed speaking with people and listening to their problems.

Above all, Zena said, Joshua was a steadfast friend.

“He was loved by all of his friends,” said Zena. “He would go out of his way for them. He was a good kid. He was my friend.”

Zena feels thankful for the support she received from the Howard Beach community. Joshua’s buddies remain in touch, filling the role of her “rock.”

“His friends don’t know how to cope,” she said. “I feel like I’ve become a mother to all of them.”

Surrounded with support, Zena says there is still a gaping hole in the middle of her heart.

“He was the love of my life,” said Zena. “We miss him so much.”

Sustaining his memory, she says, is what will help her survive.

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

DA: Mother Will Not Be Charged In Son’s Bathtub Drowning

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office on Monday announced it has declined to prosecute the mother of an eleven-month old boy who apparently drowned in the bathtub. A spokesman with the Brooklyn district attorney’s office says while the death of Elijah Pardella was tragic and accidental, it doesn’t rise to a level of criminality. Investigators say officers were called to an apartment located at 148 Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York just after 3 p.m. Sunday and found the 11-month-old unresponsive. Sources say his mother, Angelica Huertas, 24, was giving him and another child a bath. Read More: NY1

 

 Yankees GM calls AL East ‘a toss-up’

A year after naming the Red Sox as the team to beat in the AL East, Yankees GM Brian Cashman called the division a “tossup” this season and added the Rangers should be the team to beat in the American League. “Texas is clearly the favorite in the league,” Cashman said Tuesday before the Yankees played the Mets at Digital Domain Park. “They’ve won it two straight years. But Anaheim and Detroit have made significant improvements. Read More: New York Post

Manhattan Councilman Sets Sights On 2013 Comptroller’s Race

City Councilman Dan Garodnick told supporters Monday he’s running for City Comptroller and plans to take on incumbent John Liu if necessary. In an email to supporters, Garodnick said New Yorkers have to be focused on finding ways to make city government as productive as possible without distractions. In a video message posted online Garodnick said, “We have some very difficult budgetary challenges coming down the pike. New Yorkers need an independent voice that they can trust in the comptroller’s office.” Read More: NY1

 

MTA chief says Bloomberg’s dream of extending No. 7 train to NJ is ‘not going to happen’

The No. 7 train isn’t going to New Jersey anytime soon. Mayor Bloomberg’s dream project of extending the line across the Hudson River isn’t happening anytime soon — if it ever does at all, the head of the MTA said today. The subway extension to New Jersey likely is “not going to happen in our lifetime,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said at a New York Building Congress forum. He added, “It’s not going to happen in anybody’s lifetime.” Bloomberg has long supported a proposal to bring the 7 train to Seacaucus, NJ, a colossal effort that would cost billions to accomplish. Read More: New York Post

 

 

Chase Banking Glitch Causes Double Charges On Accounts

If you’re seeing double charges on your Chase bank account today, the bank says it’s aware of the problem. A Chase representative says some debit transactions in our area are posting twice. The rep says it’s unclear how many people have been affected. A customer service recording is alerting account holders to the problem and says accounts will be updated today. Read More: NY1

 

One dead, two injured in Brooklyn construction collapse

A construction worker was killed today when a home under construction collapsed in Brooklyn, authorities said. Rescuers were called at 11 a.m. to 38 Frank Court in Gerritsen Beach after the building’s second story, roof and walls fell in. A 25-year-old man, who was not identified by police, was pulled from the wreckage and rushed to Lutheran Hospital. He died a short time later from his injuries, police said. Two other workers were treated at the scene for minor injuries, police said. The cause of the collapse remains under investigation. Read More: New York Post

Four more US soldiers face court martial over alleged hazing death of New York GI


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Four more US soldiers face court martial over alleged hazing death of New York GI

Four more US soldiers are facing a possible court martial over the alleged hazing death in Afghanistan of a 19-year-old fellow serviceman of Chinese descent. The recommendation from military investigators follows a preliminary hearing at Kandahar Air Field on Monday. Seven of the eight servicemen — originally charged on multiple counts, including involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide linked to Pvt. Danny Chen’s death — could now end up in the military court. Investigators are still examining the case of the eighth soldier. Read More: New York Post

Liu-nacy! Embattled comp advises pols on money

Beleaguered city Comptroller John Liu’s campaign treasurer is facing fraud charges and his entire political fund-raising operation is ensnared in a federal probe — but, without a hint of irony, the Queens pol advised City Hall yesterday on how to manage its finances. For 45 minutes, Liu testified and answered City Council questions about Mayor Bloomberg’s 2013 budget proposal, agreeing with the proposed sale of 2,000 taxi medallions to raise $1 billion. Like Bloomberg, he also opposed holding off on pension contributions to temporarily fill budget gaps, calling it “kicking the can down the road.” Read More: New York Post

Person Of Interest Sought In Death Of Chelsea Man

Police are looking to question a person of interest in connection with the death of a man in Chelsea over the weekend. Authorities released pictures, above, of the man they’re looking for in connection with the death of 57-year-old John Laubach. At this point police are not calling the man a suspect. Laubach was found dead in his apartment Friday night. Sources say his hands, feet, and mouth were bound with duct tape, and there was a towel over his face. The apartment had also been ransacked. Read More: NY1

 

In Reversal, Albany Now Supports Women’s Choice Of Birth Control

Albany is ordering health insurers not to deny women their choice of contraceptives – or face the loss of state contracts. The state issued the warning after some women on Medicaid were told to use a cheaper, generic brand instead of their regular method. It was part of a state cost-cutting measure put in place back in October. According to the rule, if the generic version failed then patients could go back to their preferred form of birth control. Read More: NY1

 

High-end madam busted for running upper East Side brothel is a suburban mom with four children

A high-end madam who boasted she used cops as security and made millions by peddling flesh — including underage girls — to rich and powerful clients has been busted after a five-year probe, prosecutors said. The Manhattan district attorney’s office indicted petite, blond, green-eyed Anna Gristina, 44, in a corruption investigation that amassed 50 to 100 hours of audio and video recordings, some showing prostitutes doing the deed, according to court records. Read More: Daily News

Grandmother, four young children killed in house fire


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Grandmother, four young children killed in house fire

Four children aged between two and 12 were killed along with their grandmother Thursday morning in a fiery blaze at a New Jersey home, according to reports out today. The fire broke out at a large house on Clinton Avenue in South Plainfield just before 3.30 a.m. Relatives told 1010 WINS that seven children, their mother and their grandmother were in the house at the time of the fire. The mother, two of her sons, aged eight and 15, and her baby daughter managed to escape the blaze. The teen boy reportedly managed to grab his baby sister and save her from the fire. Read More: New York Post

‘Seinfeld’ actor Daniel von Bargen critical after shooting himself in apparent suicide attempt

“Seinfeld” actor Daniel von Bargen was in critical condition Wednesday after shooting himself in the head in an apparent failed suicide attempt. Paramedics went to the 61-year-old actor’s Cincinnati, Ohio, apartment Monday after he called 911, saying, “I’ve shot myself in the head … and I need help,” TMZ.com reports. “I was supposed to go to the hospital and I didn’t want to,” he is heard saying on the 911 tape, explaining he is diabetic. “They were supposed to amputate at least a few toes.” Read More: Daily News

 

Sacha Baron Cohen may not be barred from Oscars ceremony, but ‘The Dictator’ costume is

Sacha Baron Cohen may not be banned from the Oscars after all. The comic actor, who is in trouble with the Academy over rumors that he may show up on the red carpet as the title character from his upcoming movie “The Dictator,” may be allowed to attend the star-studded awards ceremony if he promises to show up only as himself, an Academy spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. Read More: Daily News

Two US troops killed by Afghan soldier amid Koran protests

Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s appeal for calm failed to quell nationwide protests over the burning of copies of the Koran earlier this week at a US military base, as anti-American demonstrations spread to new cities Thursday and for the first time led to American casualties. Hours after the Taliban issued a public appeal Thursday for Afghans to attack foreign-military bases in retaliation over the Koran burning, an Afghan soldier opened fire at a US base in eastern Afghanistan, killing two coalition soldiers, according to Afghan and US officials. Read More: New York Post
Knives and headless doll found in locker owned by Madonna’s LA stalker

Knives, a headless doll and videos of young kids were among the creepy possessions found in a California storage locker that once belonged to Madonna’s stalker Robert Dewey Hoskins, KCAL-TV reported. Hoskins, 54, who was convicted of stalking the pop star in 1996 and recently tried to escape the psychiatric hospital he is currently being held in, kept his possessions in a storage facility in Long Beach until he missed his rent payments and his belongings were sold. Read More: New York Post
Cops nab gang member who fired gun into crowd, wounded teen

Plainclothes cops collared a teenaged gang member who wounded a 14-year-old boy after firing shots into a crowd of people in Queens early this morning, authorities said today. Christopher Chinloy, 17, was spotted by the cops firing a gun in front of a Rockaway Beach grocery store just after midnight, police said. The veteran cops, Sergeant Craig Bier and Officer Donnell Myers, were on their way back to their command in the Queens gang unit when they heard the gun fire on Beach Channel Drive, cops said. Read More: New York Post

Giants ticker tape set to fly downtown


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Giants ticker tape set to fly downtown

Rabid Big Blue fans will flood the Canyon of Heroes today to watch Eli Manning and the Super Bowl champion Giants march up Broadway — and a lucky 500 will get to attend an exclusive City Hall ceremony afterward. Officials doled out 250 pairs of tickets after holding an online lottery for New York residents. More than 50,000 people had entered. The winners were notified at 2 p.m. and had six hours to rush to Midtown to claim their prize. Read More: New York Post

 

Queens Man In Custody Following Wife’s Death

A Queens man whose wife was found dead last week is now in police custody. Sources tell NY1 Jordan Hawes, 32, was picked up by police in Connecticut for driving a stolen car. Sources say he is being held in a psychiatric ward in a Connecticut hospital and has not yet been charged with any crime. His wife, Tara Hawes, 33, was found dead in the couple’s Astoria apartment Thursday night. Investigators say she died of blunt force trauma to the head. Read More: NY1

 

 Former EMS Chief Passes Away After Battling Brain Tumor

The city Fire Department is mourning a longtime Emergency Medical Services chief. John McFarland passed away Monday from complications related to a brain tumor. McFarland began as an EMT in 1983 and served in many positions, including chief of the academy and Queens Borough commander. The father of five is remembered as an advocate for patients who embraced technological advances in the field. Read More: NY1

 

Cemetery workers plunge into open grave

They wound up 6 feet under — and lived to tell about it. Four workers at a Queens cemetery plunged yesterday into a deep grave — on top of a freshly laid casket — leaving one of them injured. Raimundo Rodriguez, 49, had been working in a crew of four on the Harper family plot at the Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village when the freak accident occurred, workers said. The men had been removing the apparatus used to lower caskets into the ground at around 12:50 p.m. when suddenly, all of them “vanished.” Read More: New York Post

 

Dopey rob victim busted

Always tidy up before calling the cops — it’s a lesson that Michael Cokley learned the hard way. Late last year, he called 911 to report a gunpoint home-invasion robbery. As he described the ordeal to them at his Far Rockaway, Queens, apartment, cops smelled the distinctive aroma of marijuana and saw heroin out in the open, police say. After getting a search warrant, the cops allegedly discovered 34 grams of heroin, 91 glassine envelopes, four marijuana grinders and an electronic scale. Read More: New York Post

Bettor days for Aqueduct

Horse betting is up at Aqueduct following the opening of the new racino next door. The total handle on races is up 6.6 last month, compared with January 2011, according to figures compiled by the New York Racing Association. That includes bets made off premises. Wagering increased to $117,842,942 last month from $110,556,714 the prior period — or an increase of more than $7 million. Most of that increase was from off-track betting. The total on-track handle was up 1 percent — to $23,428,941 last month compared to $23,190,785 in the prior period. “We’re pleased with the increase in handle on and off the track,” said NYRA spokesman Dan Silver. Read More: New York Post

Scam fam sent off to prison


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Scam fam sent off to prison

A seething Queens judge walloped three members of a crooked Richmond Hill family yesterday, sending them upstate to serve a combined 418 years for a brazen immigration and real-estate scam. The mom, dad and daughter — dubbed “The Ramsundar Gang” by Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder — paid a shocking price for defrauding 19 families of $1.8 million over six years. Holder said his harsh sentences are nothing compared to the street justice the Ramsundar family would have faced back in their native Trinidad. Read More: New York Post

Body of man found in garbage pile fire outside Furniture Zone store

A man’s charred body was discovered in a burning pile of garbage in Brooklyn Thursday morning, police said. Firefighters who were called to a blaze on Hendrickson Street in Marine Park shortly before 4 a.m. made the grisly discovery. The body, believed to be that of a white male, was lying on top of several boxes and had been burned beyond recognition, sources said. The fire erupted at the side of a Furniture Zone store in an area frequented by vagrants, according to a taxi stand manager who works in the area. Read More: Daily News

Queens Residents Brace For 7 Train Disruptions

It’s going to be a long winter for the several thousand western Queens residents who rely on the 7 train to get around town on the weekends come January 23. That’s when an 11-week service shutdown begins, which means no trains on Saturdays and Sundays until the spring. “This is not a neighborhood that has five different places where you can use instead. We’re very isolated there,” said Queens resident Moitri Savard. The MTA says the work is essential to make critical infrastructure improvements and upgrade tracks and switches. It also needs to clean the tracks of muck it says have accumulated over the years. Read More: NY1

Elevators in building where Manhattan ad exec died had numerous problems

Elevator problems were an epidemic at the building where a Manhattan ad executive died in a horrific accident last month, newly revealed Buildings Department records show. City inspectors wrote 11 violations against 13 elevators at 285 Madison Avenue in the immediate aftermath of the December 14 tragedy that killed Suzanne Hart, 41, the public records show. Investigators are still trying to determine the exact cause of the malfunction that killed the Brooklyn resident. The elevator that killed Hart so far has only been cited for a paperwork problem — it was among several elevators in the building that lacked a “certificate of compliance” with Buildings rules, the records show. Read More: New York Post

Pedestrian hit on FDR

A taxi passenger was struck by a minivan on the FDR last night after he impatiently hopped out of the cab in heavy traffic and darted across the roadway, police sources said. The unidentified victim was headed northbound near East 105th Street at around 11:30 p.m. when his cab hit congestion, the sources said. He left the vehicle and was struck in a southbound lane by a Toyota minivan. The victim was rushed to Metropolitan Hospital in unknown condition. Read More: New York Post

New arrests at Zuccotti

A gang of Occupy Wall Street protesters skulked back to the park yesterday, racking up three arrests. The 2:20 a.m. arrests came about seven hours after cops took down barricades that were erected when the group was evicted from the park on November 15. All three were charged with trespassing, and two were also hit with resisting arrest. Read More: New York Post

St. John’s loses to Marquette

For all the freshman mistakes and youthful inconsistency, St. John’s has played hard this season, rarely had its effort called into question. But last night it wasn’t so much questioned as flat-out criticized, the Red Storm folding in the second half of an 83-64 beating at the hands of No. 24 Marquette. The bowed heads and slumped shoulders and palpable frustration told the tale. The Red Storm (8-8, 2-3 Big East) have lost all six of their games against ranked teams, and with a chance at a breakthrough, what it got was a breakdown. It let Marquette shoot 67.7 percent to turn a second-half lead into a blowout loss. Read More: New York Post

Four Attacks in Queens With Homemade Firebombs


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Four Attacks in Queens With Homemade Firebombs

A Fire Department official on Monday said it was fortunate that the damage was minimal from a series of arson attacks across eastern Queens on Sunday night that the police were investigating as a possible bias crime against Muslims. No one was hurt in the four attacks, in which homemade firebombs were apparently used. In three of the four attacks, the police said, Molotov cocktails were made with Starbucks bottles. The first attack occurred just before 8 p.m. at a bodega at 179-46 Hillside Avenue. Ten minutes later, another crude firebomb was thrown, this time at the home at 107th Avenue, and the house caught fire. Read More: New York Times

Authorities Release Sketch, Video Of Suspect In Queens Firebomb Attacks

Authorities say the suspect, seen above in surveillance video and a police sketch, is between 25 to 30 years old, about 5-feet-8-inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He was seen driving a light-colored, four-door sedan. Police say the first cocktail was thrown at a bodega on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica around 8 p.m. Sunday and it damaged the store’s counter. Fewer than 10 minutes later, a second call came in about a homemade firebomb being thrown at a house on 107th Avenue. Read More: NY1

MTA Conductor Charged With Assaulting Passenger

An Metropolitan Transportation Authority conductor is charged with assault after police say he punched a passenger on an R train in Queens. Police say Thomas Christopher, 35, hit the passenger, identified by sources as 18-year-old Zaid al-Doori, after arguing with him near the 36th Street station Sunday morning. Published reports say Christopher was upset because al-Doori had put his feet up on the seats. Read More: NY1

Driver In Custody Following Deadly LIE Crash

One person was killed this morning following a fiery accident on a Queens highway, which was possibly fueled by New Year’s Eve drinking. Officials say the accident happened just after 5 a.m. on the Long Island Expressway. Police sources say a car was rear-ended near the Maurice Avenue exit, causing it to flip over and catch on fire. The driver of that car was pronounced dead at the scene. Sources say the driver of the second vehicle was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in police custody. Read More: NY1

37 feet from disaster at JFK

An airline crew’s failure to follow controllers’ instructions caused the scariest runway incident last year at Kennedy Airport, authorities said yesterday. On June 30, the pilots of a Cairo-bound EgyptAir Boeing 777 mistakenly taxied just 37 feet shy of a runway where they would have been in the path of a Lufthansa jet speeding toward takeoff, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Controllers had told them to make a left turn to another taxiway, the FAA said. With seconds to spare, the Lufthansa crew brought the Airbus A340 to a screeching halt, partly by jamming on its brakes so hard that they overheated. Read More: New York Post

Teacher out on her butt

A foulmouthed teacher got her butt fired after she told a group of ninth-graders “they had their brains in their ass,” then tried to bribe a student to save her hide, officials said. The city Department of Education accused Bernadette Camacho, 39, of verbally abusing social-studies students at Hillcrest HS in Queens, according to investigation documents The Post obtained through a Freedom of Information request. But during the hearings that would decide her fate, the teacher tried to coerce a flunking female student to sing her praises in court in exchange for a passing grade, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Stun-of-a-gun gal arrested at JFK

A Chinese national was busted trying to sneak a stun gun through a security checkpoint at Kennedy Airport, the Transportation Security Administration said yesterday. Sihui Xie, 21, was trying to board a flight to Orlando Friday when a TSA screener spotted the pen-sized stun gun tucked in her carry-on bag. At first the item appeared to be a flashlight, but a closer look revealed it to be a stun gun/flashlight hybrid. Port Authority cops arrested the woman and charged her with possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Read More: New York Post

Actress-threat gal is slapped

A Queens woman was indicted yesterday for allegedly sending threatening e-mails to Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard. Teresa Yuan was charged by a Brooklyn federal grand jury with five counts of transmitting threats to the film star, who won an Academy Award for best actress in 2008 for her role as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.” Brooklyn federal prosecutors said Yuan e-mailed a video to the actress’ Internet fan site asking: “Would you be willing to play Russian Roulette? You have only one out of six chances of being shot. You have five out of six chances of living.” Yuan was arrested this past summer by the FBI and arraigned in August. She remains free on bail while awaiting trial, officials said. 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

Weiner mistress claims he wanted to have a threesome with a man


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Weiner mistress claims he wanted to have a threesome with a man

Anthony Weiner wanted to do more than share his crotch shots with women online, his former X-rated chat buddy claims. Traci Nobles, who came forward as one of the New York politician’s sexting partners earlier this year, told Radaronline.com that he wanted to have a threesome — with her and another man. She claimed that he detailed his desires in an explicit chat earlier this year. “I’m not really talking about other chicks … How about with another guy,” he allegedly said, according to the blonde bombshell. “Are you turned on by other guys?” Nobles claims she asked. “Well it depends on the guy, but generally yes,” Weiner allegedly replied. Read More: Daily News

Family still waiting to bury Brooklyn woman burned to death in brutal elevator attack

The body of the Prospect Heights woman burned to death in her apartment building elevator is still awaiting final burial. The family of Deloris Gillespie said that because she was so badly burned in the shocking December 17 attack authorities have not yet officially identified her — leaving her family unable to get a death certificate or proceed with a funeral. Read More: New York Post

Death on tracks

A man was fatally struck last night by a subway train in Washington Heights — and cops are investigating whether he went onto the tracks to relieve himself, police sources said. The victim, whose name wasn’t released, was struck at around 9:20 p.m. at the 191st Street station on the No. 1 line. Read More: New York Post

Knife-wielding thug attacks woman, ransacks Tribeca law firm: cops

A knife-wielding thief barged into a lower Manhattan law firm, shattered the jaw of a female employee, tied her up with a phone charger and ransacked the place, police sources said today. The mayhem started at 3:20 p.m. Monday, when the unidentified man was caught on video strolling into an office tower and talking to a doorman on Broadway near Walker Street. Read More: New York Post

NTSB cites ice in report on NJ crash that killed exec, family

Federal investigators have released a preliminary report on last week’s plane crash in New Jersey that killed five people. The preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report released late Monday draws no conclusions on what caused the December 20 crash. A final report could take a year or more to complete. The single-engine turboprop crashed about 15 minutes after takeoff from Teterboro Airport and was headed to Georgia. The report describes how pilot Jeffrey Buckalew radioed to air traffic controllers that he was experiencing icing and requested to climb to a higher altitude. The plane peaked at 17,900 feet before descending. Read More: New York Post

Husband faces civil suit in death of rich UBS wealth manager Shele Danishefsky Covlin

The Manhattan public administrator has gone where the cops and the DA have not: publicly accusing ex-stock trader Rod Covlin of killing his rich, beautiful wife two years ago. Shele Danishefsky Covlin, 47, a UBS wealth manager, was found dead in her upper West Side bathtub on New Year’s Eve 2009. Her scalp was cut and the death was ruled an accidental fall. Her Orthodox Jewish family refused an autopsy, and she was buried almost immediately, following religious tradition. Read More: Daily News

Court win for kin of World Trade Center cop

A hero cop injured at the Twin Towers on 9/11 died from World Trade Center-related cancer, a state appeals court ruled yesterday. The Appellate Division ruling means Frank Macri’s widow is entitled to accidental-line-of-duty death benefits — and, in fact, he will be listed as having died in the line of duty, said the family’s lawyers, Michael Murray and Christopher McGrath. “I’m at a loss for words,” his widow, Nilda Macri, told The Post. “Frank really deserves this honor. This would’ve meant a lot to him, to know he’s still remembered . . . He was a special, special guy.” Read More: New York Post

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to green Queens locomotives

Two fuel-efficient locomotives will roll through Queens in 2013 with technology designed to reduce pollution and lower costs for local businesses that use freight trains to move goods. With a $2 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, two conventional locomotives will be overhauled to use low-emissions diesel technology, the city Economic Development Corp. announced last week. Read More: Daily News

Ex-‘Saturday Night Live’ writer Joe Bodolai found dead after hotel room suicide

Former “Saturday Night Live” writer Joseph Bodolai has committed suicide in a Hollywood hotel room, the Los Angeles coroner’s office said Tuesday. Coroner’s office spokesman Craig Harvey said room service staff found the body of the 63-year-old Bodolai at 1:30 p.m. Monday in a room at Hollywood’s Re-Tan Hotel. He checked into the hotel December 19. Harvey said Bodolai drank a mixture of Gatorade and antifreeze. The death, first reported by celebrity website TMZ, has been ruled a suicide. Read More: Daily News

Winning $206M Mega Millions jackpot ticket sold at Long Island grocery store

One Long Island lottery player received a belated holiday gift Tuesday, but it was worth the wait: a $206 million jackpot. The winner nailed the five numbers picked in Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing — 23, 32, 33, 39 and 43 — along with the “Mega Ball” of 8, the lottery said on its website. The winner has not yet come forward, said Christy Calicchia, director of communications for New York Lottery. Three other New Yorkers picked the first five numbers — but not the Mega Ball — and won $250,000 each. The lone jackpot-winning ticket was sold at a King Kullen supermarket in Middle Island. Read More: Daily News

Madonna Badger spared details of fire that killed her 3 daughters & parents


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Madonna Badger spared details of fire that killed her 3 daughters & parents

The marketing executive whose three daughters and parents died in a Christmas morning fire was spared the horrific details of the tragedy, her brother said Tuesday. Madonna Badger was “as devastated as you could imagine,” Wade Johnson said. “Like any mother and child would be. She’s largely unaware of many of the details … She’s resting.” Badger, who escaped the inferno at her Connecticut mansion, wasn’t told that her father died trying to save one of his granddaughters. Their bodies were found just inches apart on either side of an open window amid the rubble. Read More: Daily News

 

Off-duty firefighter saves elderly couple from blaze on Staten Island

An elderly Staten Island couple and their beloved pet cat were rescued from the balcony of their burning apartment by an off-duty firefighter driving home on Christmas night. Steven Carl, a seven-year FDNY veteran, was heading back to his South Beach residence on Sunday after celebrating the holiday at his parents’ home when he spotted flames at 11:45 p.m. above the roofline not far from his block. With his wife and their two kids in the car, Carl followed the trail of black smoke to Atlantic Avenue and discovered a two-family home engulfed in flames. Read More: New York Post

Tidal crime wave hits Rockaways

The Rockaways are getting rocked by crime! Felonies in the 100th Precinct in Queens, which blankets Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel and other western areas of the peninsula, have gone through the roof, according to the latest police statistics. Burglaries have jumped 144 percent, from 54 last year to 132 this year. Felony assaults have soared 66 percent, from 78 to 130. Robberies have gone up 31 percent, from 63 to 83. Grand larcenies are up 26 percent over last year. The crime wave is so pervasive that a local deli is even offering pamphlets that warn customers, “Do You Feel Safe and Secure? We Hope You Do … But Maybe You Shouldn’t!” Read More: New York Post

 

Knicks claim former Harvard guard Lin

The Knicks have claimed former Harvard PG Jeremy Lin off waivers, according to a league source. Lin spent his rookie year in Oakland, but was waived by the Warriors, and new coach Mark Jackson, on Dec. 9. The Rockets picked Lin up, but waived him Sunday to clear roster space in order to sign Samuel Dalembert. Lin, 23, was undrafted out of Harvard but appeared in 29 games for the Warriors as a rookie last season, averaging 2.6 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per contest. Read More: New York Post

 

Registration open for Golden Gloves

The crown jewel for boxing aficionados, the Daily News Golden Gloves, is increasing its reach and accepting jabs from a wider population. For the first time in Golden Gloves history, the tournament will be open to all entries from the state of New York when registration opens for 2012. “After 85 years of world-class competition, it’s about time that we expand the reach of the Daily News Golden Gloves to include all of New York,” said Gloves director Brian Adams. “As the oldest and largest boxing tournaments in the world, we want to set a positive example for the youth of New York state, not just those representing the metropolitan area. It’s a chance to follow in the footsteps of the many boxing greats that got their start in the Daily News Golden Gloves.” Read More: Queens Courier

 

Conn. mayor: Fire that killed 5 not foul play

A Christmas Day fire that killed three children and their grandparents was a tragic accident related to a fireplace in the home, not the result of foul play, the mayor said Tuesday. Investigators were expected to reveal the cause of the fire later Tuesday, but Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia told The Associated Press described the cause as “fireplace-related.” He could not provide more details. “The preliminary information is it was just a tragic accident,” he said, adding that foul play had been ruled out. Neighbors said they were awakened by screams shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday and rushed outside to help but could do nothing as flames devoured the large Victorian home. Read More: New York Post

 

Bronx tot dead, dad under arrest after fight with girl’s mother

Police say a 3-month-old Bronx girl is dead and her father is under arrest following an altercation with the child’s mother and grandmother. Police said Tuesday that 20-year-old Kevin Palmer was arrested on assault charges after a physical confrontation with the 19-year-old mother of his child and her 43-year-old mother. Neither woman received major injuries. Read More: New York Post

 

Public Advocate Releases City’s Worst Landlords Watch List

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio on Tuesday released his latest list of what he says are the worst landlords and buildings in the city. Some 358 buildings are on the list, owned by 317 landlords. “1071 Home Corp” ranks at the top of the list, with 753 hazardous violations and five buildings on de Blasio’s “watch list”. Three of the top five landlords have buildings in the Bronx, and two have buildings in Brooklyn. Read More: NY1

 

Straphangers Stranded In December Blizzard File Suit

A group of passengers is suing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority one year after they were stranded on an A train in Queens during the post-Christmas blizzard. About 25 people trapped for eight hours on the A train are named as plaintiffs in the suit. They were left without heat, water or food when the train got stuck in several feet of snow between Aqueduct and Rockaway Boulevard. New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast told the City Council earlier this month MTA officials “forgot” about the train. Read More: NY1

 

New dirt on pervy UWS super

Shocking, newly released court documents describe the ordeals of alleged victims of a former Upper West Side building super accused of pressuring cash-strapped female tenants to pay their rent with sexual favors. “He told me to take my clothes off really slowly so that he could watch,” one of the women said in a deposition about William “Billy” Barnason. “He had sex with me for about probably a minute . . . He slapped me on the ass and said, ‘Now we’re even.’ ’’ The woman and her roommate were allowed to move into another apartment the next day, owned by the same elderly landlord, Stanley Katz. Read More: New York Post

 

Al Qaeda in Iraq says it was behind Baghdad blasts

An al Qaeda front group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the wave of attacks that ripped through markets, cafes and government buildings in Baghdad on a single day last week, killing 69 people and raising new worries about the country’s path. The coordinated attacks struck a dozen mostly Shiite neighborhoods on Thursday in the first major bloodshed since U.S. troops completed a full withdrawal this month after nearly nine years of war. They also coincided with a government crisis that has again strained ties between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites to the breaking point, tearing at the same fault line that nearly pushed Iraq into all-out civil war several years ago. Read More: New York Post

Mourners Gather At Fallen NYPD Officer’s Funeral


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mourners Gather At Fallen NYPD Officer’s Funeral

Family, friends, and fellow officers will gather on Long Island today to say a final goodbye to a city police officer who was gunned down last week in Brooklyn. The funeral for Officer Peter Figoski will take place at 11 a.m. at the Parish of St. Joseph Church in Babylon. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was among the hundreds who paid their respects on the second day of Figoski’s wake yesterday. Police say Figoski, 47, was shot in the face by Lamont Pride, 27, during a botched robbery last Monday morning in Cypress Hills. Pride is charged with first and second degree murder in Figoski’s death. Read More: NY1

 

Kim Jong Ils death rocks North Korea, gives region jitters

It was the scenario strategists from Beijing to Washington fretted over: Kim Jong Il’s sudden death befalls North Korea, before the isolated regime completed a power transfer to his young son and rejoined disarmament talks with the US. With news of Kim’s death Monday, the impoverished country with a nuclear program plunged further into uncertainty, raising risks for the region. Read More: New York Post

 

Roughin’ it to roofin’ it

Sheryl-Ann Peters’ occupation was never televised. But unlike Occupy Wall Street protesters — who recently seized a vacant East New York home and moved in a homeless family — her housing takeover was entirely legal. Peters became a first-time homeowner last month thanks to an affordable-housing program for neighborhoods hardest hit by the housing crisis. The city bought the vacant, foreclosed, three-bedroom in St. Albans, Queens in August 2010 for $266,833 under a federal housing program. It added $177,190 worth of renovations, bringing the total worth to $444,023. Read More: Daily News

 

FDNY: Five Firefighters Injured In Brooklyn Brownstone Fire

Five city firefighters were hospitalized Monday while fighting a two-alarm fire in brooklyn. The New York City Fire Department says crews responded to a three-story brownstone located at 1102 Prospect Place in Crown Heights just after 9 a.m. Two firefighters were taken to Cornell Burn Center, one of whom suffered burns over 40 percent of his body. Three others were also injured. No civilians were hurt. The fire was under control in about an hour. Read More: NY1

 

Sources: Cornell Wins Bid For Roosevelt Island Tech Campus

Cornell University is about to become the winner of a competition to build a new science and engineering campus in the city, sources tell NY1. An official announcement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected later today. The city has offered free land on Roosevelt Island and up to $100 million worth of infrastructure. In a major sign of strength, the Cornell bid received a $350 million anonymous donation to help build the campus. Stanford University — another top contender — announced Friday it was pulling its bid. Columbia and NYU were also in the running. Read More: NY1

 

Brooklyn Man Awaits Arraignment For Burning Woman Alive

A Brooklyn man is expected to be arraigned today on charges he killed a woman by setting her on fire in her apartment building elevator. Jerome Issac, 47, is charged with murder and arson. Police say he turned himself in yesterday reeking of gasoline and saying he set a fire. Investigators believe he waited for Deloris Gillespie, 73, on the fifth floor of her building in Prospect Heights Saturday afternoon. Police say Isaac is the man seen in surveillance photos. When the elevator doors opened, they say Isaac sprayed Gillespie with a liquid accelerant, and kept spraying after she crouched down. They say he lit a Molotov cocktail and set Gillespie on fire, then tossed the flaming bottle in the elevator and kept spraying the victim. Read More: NY1

 

Haggerty sent to prison for 1 and 1/3 years for Bloomberg campaign cash theft

Disgraced political consultant John Haggerty — described by his own lawyer as broke, divorced and dishonored — was sentenced this morning to serve at least one and one-third years — and as much as four years — in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from Mayor Bloomberg. The sentence was handed down by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel, and immediately enacted, with Haggerty being cuffed and led away to a back holding cell for processing. The sentence covers Haggerty’s October conviction for money laundering and second degree grand larceny. Read More: New York Post

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dies


| jlane@queenscourier.com

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, state-run television has announced.

Mr Kim, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital, the announcement said.

He suffered a stroke in 2008 and was absent from public view for months.

His designated successor is believed to be his third son, Kim Jong-un, who is thought to be in his late 20s.

North Korea’s state-run news agency, KCNA, urged people to unite behind the younger Kim.

“All party members, military men and the public should faithfully follow the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un and protect and further strengthen the unified front of the party, military and the public,” the news agency said.

A funeral for Kim Jong-il will be held in Pyongyang on 28 December and Kim Jong-un will head the funeral committee, KCNA said.

The BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Seoul says Mr Kim’s death will cause huge shock waves across North Korea, an impoverished, nuclear-armed nation with few allies.

The announcement came in an emotional statement read out on national television.

The announcer, wearing black, said he had died of physical and mental over-work. A later report from KCNA said Mr Kim had had a heart attack.

South Korea’s military has been put on alert following the announcement and its National Security Council is convening for an emergency meeting, Yonhap news agency reports. Read Full Story: BBC News

Woman dies after getting pinned between floors inside Madison Avenue elevator


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Woman dies after getting pinned between floors inside Madison Avenue elevator

A woman was crushed to death this morning in Midtown after getting pinned between floors while riding in an elevator, authorities said. The victim, who was not immediately identified by police, walked into the elevator at about 10 a.m. on the first floor at 285 Madison Avenue near 40th Street. Witnesses said the elevator, with two other people aboard, started to ascend to the second floor with its doors open after the woman had taken a step halfway inside the car. Read More: New York Post

 

NY opens heart: Post launches fund for hero’s four girls

The New York City Police Foundation and the New York Post have launched the Police Foundation Peter Figoski Scholarship Fund to raise money for the higher education of the slain hero cop’s four daughters. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly thanked The Post for making an initial contribution to the fund of $25,000. “Police Officer Figoski gave his life for this city, and, as a New Yorker, I am proud to see so many people reach out and express appreciation for Officer Figoski and support for his daughters, who have lost a loving father,” Kelly said. Read More: New York Post

 

Mayor Bloomberg announces results of undercover operation into illegal gun sales

Another undercover operation into gun sales — this time over the Internet — found that 62 percent of private sellers were willing to peddle firearms to people who couldn’t pass a federally-mandated backround check, Mayor Bloomberg announced today. One of the guns bought illegally by private investigators hired by the city was a Ruger P95 9 mm — the exact model of the weapon that a career criminal allegedly used to kill Police Officer Peter Figoski earlier this week. Read More: New York Post

 

Commissioner outraged that ‘cop killer’ was freed

Accused cop killer Lamont Pride “should not have been out on the streets’’ when he gunned down Officer Peter Figoski, a furious Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said yesterday. The city’s top cop laid blame on everyone from the Brooklyn judge who freed Pride without bail after a drug bust last month, to North Carolina authorities who issued a federal warrant for him after he allegedly shot a man there in August. “The request for bail was only $2,500,’’ Kelly said, referring to what Brooklyn prosecutors had asked Judge Evelyn Laporte for the ex-con on Nov. 4 and were denied. Read More: New York Post

 

Queens postal center to remain open – for now

Elected officials joined union representatives and several community leaders to deliver a clear message to the United States Postal Service (USPS) — don’t even think about closing Queens’ distribution center. And for now, it seems the USPS got the message. Just days after State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Congressmember Joseph Crowley led a rally to protest the impending closure of the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Whitestone, the Postal Service acquiesced and struck a deal to freeze all postal closures until May 2012. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Suspect nabbed in Manhattan holdup spree

Police have busted one of a pair of robbers who have ripped off 14 stores and restaurants in midtown Manhattan, authorities said Tuesday. Duwayne Bascom, 30, of Brooklyn, was nabbed in connection with robberies at the Soul Fixins restaurant on W. 28th St. and the Blimpie on W. 23rd St. on Nov. 2. Police say Bascom walked into the two eateries within 40 minutes of each other and demanded money. Read More: Daily News

4 more suspects collared in slaying of NYPD cop Peter Figoski


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

4 more suspects collared in slaying of NYPD cop Peter Figoski

The accomplice who fled from cops after his low-life pal shot and killed Officer Peter Figoski has been caught, police said Tuesday. Three other suspects were also taken into custody overnight — two neighbors who live across the street and the alleged getaway driver. The accomplice was arrested at 2 a.m. and will be charged with murder in the slaying of Figoski, a decorated 22-year NYPD veteran and father of four daughters, officials said. Read More: Daily News

Violent ex-con arrested for shooting NYPD cop dead was wanted for shooting in North Carolina in August

The violent ex-con accused of gunning down a hero cop in Brooklyn Monday should have been locked up weeks ago for shooting a man in North Carolina, the Daily News has learned. Despite being arrested twice in New York since September, a series of legal snafus allowed Lamont Pride to roam the streets of the city free to kill. Read More: Daily News

Aqueduct racino set to open exclusive, luxury gaming floor 

The final touches are being put on another floor of gaming at the Aqueduct racino — but you’ll need be a high roller to wager and enjoy the amenities. The media got a sneak peek on Monday at the second floor — set to open Friday — which racino officials hope will lure out-of-state gamblers to the South Ozone Park attraction. Read More: Daily News

Woodside Residents Reach Out To Fire Victims

NY1′s Lisa McDivitt looks into how a Woodside community is helping those affected by a fire that occurred in their neighborhood one month ago. Watch the video: NY1

New Initiative Aids Small Businesses In Flushing

NY1′s Angela Chen looks at some small businesses in Flushing that are getting a helping hand from a new initiative. Watch the video: NY1

Queens graveyard worker sues over alleged abuse  in workplace at Cypress Hills Cemetery

A Queens graveyard worker says he was driven to drink and despair by cruel bosses at the Cypress Hills Cemetery and that his union did nothing to help him. Jozef Klaper, a 63-year-old Polish immigrant, claims in a lawsuit that foreman John Nicastro got into his head by calling him “Eddie Mouser” — the name of a dead cemetery worker. Read more: Daily News