Tag Archives: District Attorney Richard A. Brown

Rockaway pair convicted on murder and kidnapping charges


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON

Two 29-year-old Queens men have been convicted of second-degree murder and other charges in the brutal April 2012 stabbing death of a man who had begun a relationship with the estranged wife of one of the defendants.

Michael B. Cunningham, 29, of Dickens Street in Far Rockaway, and Damian Husain, also 29, of Beach 64th Street in Arverne, were convicted on July 28 of second-degree murder, second-degree felony murder, first-degree kidnapping and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Cunningham was additionally convicted of aggravated criminal contempt for violating an order of protection.

Sentencing has been set for September 23. If convicted, both defendants face 25 years to life in prison.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, “This was a particularly brutal attack. The 27-year-old victim had gashes and puncture wounds all over his body. A jury has spoken and found the two defendants guilty of murder and other charges. A lengthy prison term is more than warranted.”

According to trial testimony, the victim, 27-year-old Albert Robinson, had for six months been in a relationship with a woman who was married but separated from Cunningham. After Cunningham rammed his car into Robinson’s on December 28, 2011, an order of protection was issued requiring Cunningham to stay away from Robinson. However, Robinson still received a death threat on his cellphone from Cunningham.

On April 4, 2012, the victim left the woman’s house some time after midnight. Video surveillance in the area showed a man exiting the woman’s home and moments later being chased by a person on foot as well as by someone driving a dark-colored car. The men became entangled in a struggle just before moving out of view of the surveillance camera.

Robinson’s body was found some time after 11 a.m. that day off the shoreline of Jamaica Bay. He had been stabbed in multiple places, including his neck and chest, and had multiple punctures in his internal organs, including his lung, diaphragm and an artery. A glove found at the scene tested positive for Robinson’s blood and Husain’s skin cells. Robinson’s blood was also found on the backseat of Cunningham’s car.

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Rego Park teacher pleads guilty to sexually abusing boys, won’t see prison time


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

A Rego Park elementary school computer teacher will be sentenced to 10 years of probation after he pleaded guilty to sexual conduct with minors in his classroom over the course of four years, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Wilbert Cortez, 52, admitted to one count of first-degree sex abuse and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child when he appeared in court on Wednesday. Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder will sentence Cortez on March 30.

On top of serving probation, Cortez, who taught at P.S. 174, will lose his New York State Teacher’s Certificate, must complete sex offender counseling and will register as a sex offender.

According to Brown, Cortez engaged in sexual conduct with four boys younger than 11 years old on multiple occasions beginning in 2007, in 2010 through the spring of 2011, and again in the fall of 2011.

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Woodhaven man arraigned after allegedly dealing narcotics below day care, within drug-free school zones


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

A Woodhaven man remained behind bars in lieu of $20,000 bail Friday afternoon for allegedly dealing drugs from his apartment below a day care center his mother owns and operates, prosecutors said.

Michael Gomez, 24, was arrested Thursday morning on drug possession charges after police raided his apartment located under the My Precious Moments day care facility at 85-09 88th Ave. A friend with him at the scene, Selestino Rodriguez of Ridgewood, was also taken into custody.

My Precious Moments opened in May 2009 and cares for 16 children — 12 of whom are between 6 weeks and 12 years old. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown noted that the day care center is located less than 1,500 feet from two parochial schools that serve pre-kindergarten through eighth grade: St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy at 94-01 85th St. and St. Thomas the Apostle Academy at 87-49 87th St. Both are in drug-free school zones.

The NYPD Queens Narcotics Squad executed a search warrant at the 88th Avenue location following an investigation in which Gomez allegedly sold quantities of MDMA (Molly) and/or marijuana to an undercover officer on Feb. 3 and Feb. 17. Both transactions reportedly occurred at Gomez’s residence while children were inside the day care center.

During Thursday’s raid, police recovered 7 ounces of Molly, 4 ounces of marijuana and more than $2,400 in cash.

Gomez and Rodriguez were charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminally using drug paraphernalia, criminal possession of marijuana  and endangering the welfare of a child. Gomez was additionally charged with criminal sale of marijuana and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Both suspects were arraigned Thursday night in Queens Criminal Court before Judge Toko Serita. Gomez was ordered held on $20,000 bail, while Rodriguez was released on his own recognizance. They are scheduled to return to court on Mar. 9.

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Jamaica man accused of selling weapons, drugs, stolen vehicles through Craigslist


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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A Jamaica man has been indicted for selling $500,000 in stolen vehicles and auto parts as well as weapons and drugs through Craigslist, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The accused, Conrad Hall, 43, “allegedly used the Craigslist website to initially sell stolen auto parts before his criminal activity brazenly escalated and he began to sell luxury automobiles and motorcycles that had been stolen, as well as weapons — including a 9mm Glock and a .357 Magnum — and approximately five pounds of marijuana,” Brown said. Authorities believe that Hall also scammed insurance companies with the help of the owners of the stolen vehicles.

Hall was allegedly working with three others — Denise Mboumi from Brooklyn, Shane Carter, of  Queens, and Eboni Davis, a Bronx resident — who reported their cars as being stolen to their insurance companies and received cash payouts  when they had actually sold their cars through Hall. All three were charged with third-degree insurance fraud and first-degree falsifying business records.

Hall was indicted along with Jermaine Edwards of Queens for selling a stolen 2010 Honda CRV, and with Roger Haye, of Long Island, and Queens resident Carlton Young for selling marijuana.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Hall was awaiting arraignment on a total of seven indictments charging him with criminal possession of stolen property, insurance fraud, criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of marijuana, criminal sale of marijuana and other charges. If convicted of all charges, he could be sentenced to more than 200 years in prison.

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Two Queens men charged in rash of burglaries


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Two Queens men have been arrested for a series of burglaries across the borough over the last six months.

Randolph Ardila of Maspeth and Raheim West of Long Island City are both charged with separate, various accounts of burglary, attempted burglary and criminal possession of stolen property, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Ardila, 29, allegedly acted as the lookout for several Glendale and Ozone Park attempted apartment burglaries on Feb. 21. Later, at the time of his arrest, he was allegedly carrying a blue plastic contained filled with change, which had been reported missing from the Ozone Park apartment, Brown said.

In his car, police allegedly found a box containing the cremated ashes of a tenant’s mother, reported missing from a second Ozone Park location, according to the district attorney.

West, 37, was allegedly busted on tape breaking into the Promise Christian Academy Church in Flushing and making off with over $2,000 in cash last September and is additionally accused of stealing $160 from an employee at Flushing’s Asian Community Care Management earlier this month.

The LIC resident is also a suspect in two residential burglaries in Corona and another in College Point throughout February. Pry marks on the College Point residence allegedly match those made by West’s pry bar, Brown said.

When West was arrested, police recovered the pry bar, a screw driver and work gloves from his vehicle.

Ardila faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted and was ordered held on $150,000 bail. West, who faces 28 years, is being held on $200,000 bail. The pair will return to court March 10.

 

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Queens woman admits to bogus ‘blessing scam’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic

A 50-year-old con artist has admitted to duping three Queens women out of nearly $5,000 through a phony “blessing” scam, officials said.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Fengluan Qin confessed Thursday to using an ancient con game to take jewelry and large sums of cash from three unsuspecting Flushing women, between 52 and 72 years old.

Qin convinced the victims to place their cash and valuables into a bag for a “blessing ritual” that would cure their families of sickness and bad luck, before swapping the bags and stealing the goods, Brown said.

Victims of the hoax have lost $1.3 million within the last year to different crews moving throughout the city, according to Inspector Brian Maguire, commanding officer of the 109th Precinct.

Out of about 50 cases citywide, more than $500,000 has been pilfered from victims in the 109th precinct alone, Maguire said.

According to Brown, the scam that targets mostly elderly immigrant women is prevalent in Asian communities nationwide.

“People should be aware that this is just one of many confidence tricks used by individuals to swindle money from vulnerable people and should not fall victim to it,” Brown said.

The district attorney’s office said Qin, a Chinese national with an expired visa, was believed to be living in Flushing, though she did not provide an address to authorities.

She pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges on December 5, Brown said. She is expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison on December 18.

As part of the plea deal, Qin must also forfeit $4,765 in restitution and sign a confession of judgment for another $10,000.

Police are urging families to spread word of the scam to older relatives and friends.

Cops said victims, if approached, should agree with the tricksters on a meeting spot and then go home and call 9-1-1.

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Flushing man gets 25 years to life for killing over $200 debt


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A 20-year-old from Flushing was sentenced to a maximum of life in prison for killing a man over a $200 debt he owed.

Victim Laseam Hogan, 27, lent the money to Malcolm Thompson of the Pomonok Houses in 2010, according to the district attorney.

Hogan approached Thompson for his $200 in a Pomonok Houses courtyard months later on October 15, officials said. Instead of repaying his debt, then-18-year-old Thompson shot Hogan to death, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

“I’ll dead you. You ain’t getting (expletive),” Thompson allegedly told Hogan before whipping out his gun, according to prosecutors.

Thompson fired bullets at Hogan’s leg and torso, then stood over him and let another three rounds hit Hogan’s torso, neck and head, according to Brown.
Thompson was sentenced last week to 25 years to life in prison, Brown said.

He was convicted in August of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon after a four-week jury trial.

“The price that the defendant must now pay to settle what originally had been a minor unpaid debt is of his own doing,” Brown said. “The defendant has shown that he had little regard for human life and is deserving of the serious punishment meted out.”

 

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Howard Beach man convicted in Woodhaven sex assault


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

A Howard Beach man has been convicted following a sexual assault earlier this year.

Richard Kassebaum, 42, was working at a Woodhaven laundromat in March when he approached a female patron at about 4:30 a.m. as she exited the store, grabbed her from behind and choked her. Kassebaum then grabbed the victim’s buttocks, and after she screamed, he fled the location, according to trial testimony.

“[Kassebaum] poses a serious threat to public safety and, under the circumstances, a significant prison sentence is more than warranted,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

The “sexual predator” was convicted on Thursday, August 1 on first and third-degree sexual abuse and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation. The charges followed a one-week jury trial before the borough Supreme Court.

Video surveillance from the laundromat revealed Kassebaum inside the establishment, then standing in the parking lot as the victim left. Kassebaum was then seen walking behind the woman and following her onto Woodhaven Boulevard. Video footage shortly afterwards shows Kassebaum running back and reentering the laundromat, said Brown.

Sentencing is scheduled for Thursday, August 15. Kassebaum, who has been held in jail in lieu of a $50,000 bail, faces up to seven years in prison.

 

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Teen who ran onto field at All-Star Game faces year in jail


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube/rurbanlegend1·

The truth is that this dare landed him in hot water.

The teenager who ran onto the field during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Citi Field as part of a Twitter dare may pay big for that error in judgment.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that Dylan McCue-Masone, 18, has been arraigned on charges of interfering with a professional sporting event and third-degree criminal trespass, and faces up to a year in jail and $5,000 in penalties.

“The defendant is accused of interfering with a nationally televised sporting event and the enjoyment of the viewing public,” Brown said. “What is particularly disturbing in this case is that the incident occurred while the game was in progress and the players were on the field.”

McCue-Masone allegedly created the dare to run on the field after receiving 1,000 twitter responses, according to the district attorney.

Brown acknowledged that McCue-Masone was an excited young sports fan but said “There is no such thing as being too careful,” citing the 1993 incident when a spectator stabbed professional tennis player Monica Seles during a match in Germany.

Brown added, “Which is why my office and the operators of the various sports arenas in Queens County have zero tolerance for spectators who fail to conduct themselves responsibly at sporting events.”

The city council passed the Interference with a Professional Sporting Event Law in 2003 after fashion designer Calvin Klein stepped out onto the basketball court at Madison Square Garden in 2003 to speak with Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell during a game.

New Jersey resident John McCarthy, 38, was the first person charged under the law when he ran onto the field during a Mets game at Shea Stadium on May 4, 2004, carrying a sign that read “Howard Stern: Here’s Johnny.”

McCarthy pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight weekends in jail, fined $2,000 and ordered to serve three years’ probation, while being banned from Shea.

YouTube/rurbanlegend1

Dad arrested for allowing kids to shoot BB guns in Astoria park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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An Astoria dad may receive more than just a slap on the wrist after allowing his children to play with loaded BB guns at a local park.

According to District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Zbigniew Pawlowski, 54, allegedly went to Ditmars Park in Astoria on Tuesday, May 7 with his two children—the elder of whom is five years old—and two BB guns.

At the park, Pawlowski allegedly loaded the guns with plastic pellets and shot one at a tree.

He then handed the guns to his children and allowed them to shoot. He also allegedly permitted his five-year-old daughter to run around the park with the BB gun, which she waved at other children, according to the DA.

“Illegal firearms, whether they be a spring-powered pistol or a more conventional deadly firearm, are a serious threat to public safety,” said Brown. “By allowing a five-year-old child to play with the loaded BB gun as if it was just a toy, the defendant is accused of recklessly endangering lives by creating a scenario that could have led to serious injury not just to his own children but innocent others who may have come in contact with the weapon.”

Pawlowski was arraigned on May 9 on charges of first- and second-degree reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, resisting arrest and violation of a New York City Administrative Code through possession of the BB gun.

Pawlowski is due to return to court in July and if convicted, the father faces up to seven years in prison.

“Times are not the same as when we grew up,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. “With events like Sandy Hook, something like this can cause a panic.”

 

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Elmhurst landlord charged with renting illegal, potentially dangerous conversions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

An Elmhurst landlord has been charged with endangering the lives of 46 residents, including 12 children, by renting them illegally converted one-and two-family houses and garages, the district attorney announced.

Landlord Segundo Chimbay, 48, has been charged in connection with renting out converted houses and garages in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, charging tenants from $850 to $1,4000 a month.

“In addition to putting a strain on city services, such as parking, transportation, waste disposal and schools, illegal conversion endanger the lives of building residents as well as firefighters and other personnel who in responding to an emergency are confronted by a maze of rooms with no way out,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

The Building Department’s Quality of Life and Queens Borough Enforcement Units had found alleged illegal conditions at a two-family house at 48-14 94th Street in Elmhurst; a two-family house at 35-39 92nd Street in Jackson Heights; a two-family house at 35-41 92nd Street in Jackson Heights; and a one-family house at 40-33 Forley Street in Elmhurst.

Chimbay is presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges including first-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree reckless endangerment and violation of the New York City Administrative Code for failing to comply with an order to vacate. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

“Illegal conversions can kill, and this arrest sends a clear message that property owners who create these dangerous living conditions will face serious consequences,” said NYC Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri.

In addition to the criminal charges, Chimbay has been named as a respondent in a $1.6 million civil asset forfeiture action for allegedly failing to comply with prior vacate orders and building code violations. The suit was filed in Queens Supreme Court by the District Attorney’s Special Proceedings Bureau, said Brown.

The Red Cross is temporarily relocating and providing shelter for the 46 tenants due to the reported dangerous situations at the homes, including fire hazards, illegal construction, unauthorized gas lines and many others.

 

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National Guardsman guilty in murder of girlfriend


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

He went from hero to felon.

A National Guardsman and Iraq war veteran has been convicted of second-degree murder for punching, drowning and ultimately killing his girlfriend on the beaches of Far Rockaway.

David Lynch, 33, served two tours in Iraq and was a reservist in the New York National Guard at the time of the November 2010 killing. He was convicted on Thursday, March 21.

“The defendant was trained to defend the weak and protect the innocent,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “In this case, he went against everything he was taught.”

According to trial testimony, Lynch brutally beat and drowned Althea Lewis, 45, of Springfield Gardens. In the early morning, Lynch and Lewis were on the beach having an argument. Lynch punched and bit Lewis on her head and face, threw her in the water and dragged her out by her feet, causing her head to be submerged.

Police discovered her clothed body on the beach with four puncture wounds on her face, later revealed to be from Lynch’s Army ring. The cuts were so deep that cops initially thought Lewis was shot. Ultimately, she died as a result of blunt force injury to her head and submersion in water.

“[Lynch’s] actions have irreparably shattered a family by robbing them of a loved one,” said Brown. “Conviction warrants imposition of a maximum prison sentence to punish him and protect society.”

The Supreme Court set sentencing for Monday, April 29. Lynch faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

 

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Man gets 50 years for killing pregnant girlfriend, son


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Jimmy Humphrey admitted to murdering his pregnant girlfriend, then setting fire to her Springfield Gardens apartment and killing her two-year-old son. He now faces life behind bars.

“[Humphrey] stands convicted of first strangling the mother of his unborn child and then, without the slightest regard for human life, attempted to cover up his crime by intentionally setting fire to her home, thereby taking the life of her innocent two-year-old son,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

In July 2010, Humphrey, 26, said he was in his girlfriend Linda Anderson’s apartment on Anderson Road. He grabbed Anderson by the throat and shoved her to the ground. He also hit Anderson with a bottle of alcohol and used her lighter to set her couch on fire, despite knowing her son, Ayden, was sleeping inside the apartment, according to statements he made to police.

Humphrey then ran from the apartment, leaving Anderson behind with her body on fire and her son in his bedroom. After lying down for a period of time, he walked to a phone and called 9-1-1 to report the fire.

Additionally, Humphrey admitted that he knew Anderson was pregnant, but he did not want to have a family with her. He has been held without bail since July 2010, and on Wednesday, March 6 was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.

 

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Giants lineman pleads guilty to DUI in Queens court


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

This was definitely not in the playbook.

New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl, who crashed his vehicle in Astoria in June 2012, has pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Diehl will be under court supervision for six months and must complete other court-imposed requirements prior to sentencing.

“Queens has a strict and very successful alternative sentencing program that emphasizes treatment and supervision of DUI offenders in order to prevent reoccurrences of unacceptable conduct,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

“However, if the defendant, who is a first-time offender, fails to comply with all the requirements imposed by the Court, then we will seek more severe sanctions.”

According to the charges, Diehl was observed at approximately 8:20 p.m. on June 10, 2012, in the vicinity of 31-31 35th Street in Astoria, by a police officer from the 114th Precinct responding to the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving a 2011 BMW and two parked vehicles. Diehl was observed by the officer to have a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech and to be unsteady on his feet.

Diehl admitted to police that he had been driving the BMW, which had damage on its front right side. An intoxilyzer test showed a blood alcohol content reading of .182 percent – which is more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent in New York.

Diehl, 32, of New Jersey, was released on his own recognizance at the time of his arrest. He pleaded guilty this week to one count of aggravated driving while under the influence and one count of driving while impaired.

The plea is conditioned on Diehl continuing in the NFL substance abuse treatment program, that he wear a SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) bracelet for 90 days, pay up to $1,200 in restitution to the owners of the two vehicles he damaged, participate in a Victim Impact Panel (an awareness program for first-time DWI offenders in which they hear from victims whose lives have been impacted by a drunk driver), and not drive or apply for a driver’s license until sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.

Diehl is scheduled for the first of three compliance conferences on April 19, with the other two occurring at two-month intervals. After six months, if he has successfully complied with the sanctions and conditions imposed, then the aggravated DWI charge will be dismissed and he will be sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge on the driving while impaired charge.

 

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Man shot in Astoria liquor store


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

A 37-year-old Astoria resident was fatally shot in a liquor store on the evening of Saturday, April 7.

Skaka Ryan was in the shop, located at 24-04 34th Avenue, at roughly 7 p.m. when he was shot in the torso and left leg by an unidentified gunman.

Police arrived on the scene following a 911 call, and the victim was transported to Astoria General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

No arrests have been made, and police are still investigating the motive and searching for the suspect. The NYPD has yet to release a description of the shooter.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown was on the scene of the incident and said he believed the shooting was prearranged.