Tag Archives: Department of Investigation

FDNY firefighter made fake 911 calls to steal money


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

FDNY firefighter Joseph Keene pulled the false alarm, making phony calls to various firehouses. Once firefighters responded to the call, Keene crept into the fire stations and made off with others’ cash, according to a report released by the Department of Investigation (DOI).

The investigation shows that Keene, through a series of thefts, made several false 9-1-1 calls which initiated an FDNY response so that he could enter various firehouses and steal money from firefighters’ personal belongings.

Keene was reportedly interviewed last week and admitted to his crimes to the DOI.

In one incident in early June, a 9-1-1 call was made reporting a gas odor at Jamaica Avenue and Little Neck Parkway. Local Engine 251 responded to the area, but the call was determined unfounded. While the firetruck was out, Keene entered the firehouse and stole roughly $1,200.

During the investigation, video surveillance found an individual who appeared to be Keene exiting a car and entering the firehouse after the Engine Company had left. The car the individual traveled in was one similar to Keene’s.

Keene later admitted it was him in the video.

The investigation reports Keene having stolen over $2,000 from different firehouses throughout Queens County and Richmond County, in Staten Island.

Keene was charged Friday by the District Attorney with falsely reporting an incident, grand larceny and burglary, all felonies, as well as petit larceny. The Richmond County District Attorney will separately charge Keene as appropriate.

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Queens GOP big wig involved in ‘shakedown’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

A Board of Elections (BOE) employee trying to make a quick buck has instead found himself in hot water.

The BOE has suspended Stephen Graves – who is also a top official in the Queens Republican Party – after he was allegedly caught on tape soliciting a $25,000 “finder’s fee” from a company competing for a multi-million dollar contract in 2009.

According to published reports, Graves, who is the first vice chairman of the Queens GOP, requested money from Dominion Voting Systems – a Denver-based company – while it was contending against Nebraska’s Elections Systems & Software (ES&S) for a $65 million contract to sell the city its first electronic voting machines. The Department of Investigation (DOI) reportedly provided information to the BOE regarding Graves’ actions.

Both the BOE and DOI declined to comment, as the investigation is ongoing.

Graves allegedly wanted the fee in return for recommending a particular lobbyist to Dominion.

Dominion denied Graves’ request, however, and the contract went to ES&S.

Attempts to reach Graves were unsuccessful, but reports claimed he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights while being questioned by DOI.

Dominion officials reportedly filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and submitted their recorded conversations with Graves. The matter has now been brought to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, according to the accounts.

Attempts to reach Dominion went unreturned as of press time.

Graves, who also was the GOP candidate for Congress against Gary Ackerman in 2004, has reportedly been a systems analyst at the BOE since 2007.

Phil Ragusa, chair of the Queens Republican GOP, would not comment on the charges, but called Graves “absolutely honest” in his work.

“His work was always exemplary for the Queens County Republican Party,” Ragusa said.

Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich admitted he was not surprised by the news, and expressed disapproval of both Graves’ actions and Ragusa’s stance.

“I was appalled, but not shocked, by the revelations about Queens GOP Vice-Chair Stephen Graves and his shameful attempt to ‘shakedown’ a vendor trying to sell the city new voting machines,” Ulrich said. “For Phil Ragusa, as head of the county organization, to defend Graves as ‘honest’ even after Graves refused to cooperate fully with the DOI is a slap in the face to the rank and file members of the Republican Party.”