Tag Archives: District Attorney Richard Brown

Former JFK Airport worker charged with $7K watch theft

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener at JFK Airport has been charged with the theft of a passenger’s $7,000 diamond watch, according to prosecutors.

Margo Grant-Louree, 41, of Montauk Avenue in Brooklyn, allegedly picked up the watch of Bindoo Ahluwalia after he forgot to retrieve it from a plastic bin at the Terminal 7 security checkpoint on Aug. 26, authorities said.

Video surveillance shows that Grant-Louree—who was assigned to that checkpoint at the time—picked up the watch and walked away.

According to the criminal complaint, Grant-Louree allegedly admitted to taking the timepiece into the bathroom and became nervous when she saw coworkers searching for the watch upon her return. She then left the area again and is alleged to have destroyed the watch, which had a round face and was covered in white diamonds.

Grant-Louree resigned from her TSA position soon after the incident. She was arraigned on Sept. 3 on charges of third-degree larceny and official misconduct. She was released on her own recognizance, and if convicted faces up to seven years in prison.

“The defendant was supposed to be screening passengers to ensure the safety of the flying public, but on this particular day this employee allegedly removed a very expensive watch from a plastic bin and kept it for herself,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. “This kind of thievery will not be tolerated at our airports.”

Port Authority Chief Security Officer Thomas Belfiore commended the agency’s law enforcement partners at the TSA and Queens District Attorney’s Office for closing the case.

“The successful conclusion of this investigation would not have been possible without their cooperation,” Belfiore said. “Collectively we will not tolerate a violation of trust by those expected to protect us.”


Career criminal busted for stealing airbags, hybrid battery pack in Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Shoreline

A 48-year-old man, with more than 20 arrests in about two decades on his record, is now being charged with breaking into several cars and stealing airbags, and in one case a hybrid vehicle battery pack, according to authorities.

Peter C. Ali, an Astoria resident, was arraigned on March 5 and charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, possession of burglar’s tools, petit larceny and resisting arrest.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, on Dec. 28, 2014, Ali broke into a late model Toyota Camry yellow taxi parked on Queens Boulevard and 52nd Street in Woodside and removed the car’s hybrid battery pack, valued at about $4,000.

Later, on Feb. 25, Ali was allegedly seen using a flashlight to look into the interior of a silver Toyota Camry on the corner of 21st Street and 29th Avenue in Astoria before stealing the car’s airbag. The next day, Ali allegedly took another airbag from a 2010 Toyota minivan parked near Austin Street and Union Turnpike in Forest Hills.

Ali was caught on March 5 as officers of the Grand Larceny Unit witnessed him stealing an airbag from a car in Astoria , according to a police source.

The incident with the hybrid battery was one of 11 that have occurred in the confines of the 108th Precinct since November. During those incidents, car thieves walked away with the expensive batteries from the trunks of the vehicles. The investigation for the remaining 10 cases is ongoing.

Ali is currently being held on $100,000 bail and his next court date is scheduled for March 18. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.


Man charged with using fake deed to steal elderly woman’s Laurelton home

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo by  Christopher Bride/ PropertyShark

A man accused of stealing an elderly woman’s Laurelton family home with a fake deed transfer has been arrested and charged, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Darrell Beatty, 49, allegedly swiped the house earlier this year and then promptly moved into the three-bedroom Tudor residence with his two sons, Brown said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Beatty was awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a forged instrument, falsifying business records and scheme to defraud. If convicted, he faces 15 years in prison.

“This is a particularly disturbing case,” Brown said. “This woman’s home — her sanctuary filled with the memories of three generations — was allegedly taken from her with the filing of a phony deed. The defendant is alleged to have stolen the victim’s home with the stroke of a pen.”

Jennifer Merin, who is the home’s true owner, was fighting in court to remove Beatty and his sons from the home.

Merin lives in Manhattan, but grew up in the house with her mother and her mother’s siblings, according to a published report. She inherited the property after her mother died decades ago.

She didn’t rent it out, but maintained it and paid the utilities. A spike in the water bill signaled to Merin that something fishy was going on with the house.

She called cops, who visited the house and were told by Beatty that his family legally resided there. When she went to the residence herself, she realized her possessions and car were missing and the locks were changed.

Beatty said in court papers that he rented the house from someone named Khalid Moore and paid $10,000 in rent, the New York Post reported. A deed transfer filed in city records last year showed that he obtained the house from an “Edith Moore.”

No one by that name has ever owned the house, according to Brown.


DNA ties man to 1996 Far Rockaway rape: DA

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 47-year-old man has been busted for raping a woman in her Far Rockaway home more than 17 years ago after a DNA hit linked him to the crime, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Richard Thomas, whose last known address is in the Far Rockaway area, was arraigned Friday on an indictment, charging him with rape and sodomy, according to prosecutors. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The charges came after the District Attorney Cold Case team located evidence from the crime scene that had not been previously tested for DNA, Brown said.

Thomas is accused of entering the victim’s bedroom on the night of July 28, 1996, while her husband slept next to her. Wearing a mask and armed with a gun, he threatened the husband before raping the woman on the floor, according to prosecutors. He then allegedly wiped his genitals on the floor rug and a t-shirt before fleeing.

Semen found on the rug was used to link Thomas to the rape, Brown said.

His office’s DNA Prosecutions Unit has been reviewing every unsolved sexual assault in the borough dating back to 1996, which is as far as the statute of limitations permits.



Taxi dispatchers busted for allegedly taking cash bribes at JFK

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Sixteen men, including seven Queens residents, have been charged with illegally taking cash bribes in a taxi-dispatching scheme at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), officials announced Wednesday.

The taxi dispatchers, who were employed by the Port Authority of New York  & New Jersey subcontractor Gateway Group One Frontline Services, were busted in an undercover operation following an anonymous tip, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

They are accused of accepting cash bribes to rig the dispatching system at JFK so taxi drivers could “basically ‘cut the line’ and get ahead,” Brown said.

At the airport, dispatchers regulate the taxis between a central holding location and the terminal pick-up area, according to the district attorney. The average wait time in the holding area is about two to three hours. When a dispatcher gives taxis a fare to nearby locations, such as Queens or Brooklyn, drivers receive a Short Haul, or “shorty,” ticket, which allows them to skip the central holding area and go directly to the terminal to pick-up passengers, Brown said.

The accused men allegedly accepted ten dollar cash payments to allow undercover cab operators to bypass long lines without waiting in the central holding area even though they did not have shorty tickets.

The sixteen accused dispatchers are currently waiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities, each of which is punishable by up to one year in jail, according to the district attorney.




JFK baggage handlers accused of taking checks, money orders from mail

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Five John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) baggage handlers, including two Queens men, allegedly stole thousands of dollars worth of checks and money orders that were being sent through overseas mail, officials announced Friday.

The men are accused of taking the money orders and checks, which were bound for Japan, China, Korea, and other places, and depositing them into their own bank accounts. They also allegedly swiped credit cards and used them to buy iPad minis and other electronics from “Best Buy” kiosks at the airport, according to officials.

“Included among the items allegedly stolen from the mail were money orders mailed by a member of the armed services and in another instance, checks intended for child support,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Following multiple reports of thefts of credit cards, money orders and checks from U.S. mail, specifically mail being handled by Ground Services International baggage handlers at JFK, a joint investigation was launched by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Port Authority Police Department, according to the district attorney.

The investigation found that between July and February, the five accused baggage handlers allegedly took the checks and money orders, which ranged from $100 to $1,000, and stole the credit cards and used them to make the kiosk purchases. The thefts allegedly totaled more than $27,000, Brown said.

Anthony Austin, 26, of Hollis, Ariel Weaver, 20, of South Ozone Park, and Brooklyn residents Michael Williams, 29, Alexander Fluellen, 29, and Samuel Wright, 31, were arraigned Thursday in Queens Criminal Court on separate criminal complaints in which they are variously charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny and forgery, according to prosecutors.

Fluellen, Wright and Weaver were released without bail and Austin was held on $5,000 bail. Williams is being held pending arraignment.



Multi-million dollar trademark counterfeiting rings operating from Queens busted

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens District Attorney’s Office

Multi-million dollar trademark counterfeiting rings, operating from facilities in Queens and Brooklyn, have been charged for importing, manufacturing and distributing items nationwide.

According to District Attorney Richard A. Brown, four organized trademark counterfeiting rings have been dismantled after the indictment of 26 individuals and two corporations for allegedly importing and selling counterfeit brand name apparel and other items from China to wholesale buyers throughout the United States and the Virgin Islands.

“Operations such as those allegedly run by the defendants fuel an underground economy,” said Brown. “They are cash businesses that pay no taxes and damage the reputations of reputable brand owners and lower consumer confidence in the name brands by foisting inferior products into the marketplace.”

The four rings allegedly generated close to $10 million in combined gross annual revenue operating out of self-storage facilities in the two boroughs. The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, a multi-agency task force operating under the City’s Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office, will be filing nuisance abatement lawsuits against the facilities that allegedly were being used, as well as their owners and operators and those defendants who actually ran the illegal businesses from within the sites.

Nineteen of the defendants, including one of the corporations, are currently in custody and were arraigned on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Twelve of the defendants have been indicted for enterprise corruption under New York State’s Organized Crime Control Act. The remaining defendants face felony trademark counterfeiting and conspiracy charges.

The investigation, called “Operation Finish Line,” began in November 2010, and included the apprehension of counterfeit merchandise with an estimated street value of $750,000.

One of the counterfeiting enterprises, The Izak and Joseph Trademark Counterfeiting Enterprise, has been charged with enterprise corruption. It is alleged that since May 2012 the enterprise has imported more than 100,000 pairs of jeans and more than 100,000 articles of clothing, including blank shirts, fleece jackets, and steep-tech style jackets. It is also alleged that the enterprise created several factories that attached counterfeit trademarks of True Religion, Polo Ralph Lauren, and The North Face to the formerly generic product, and the finished product is then sold and distributed throughout Queens and the country.

This enterprise included four Queens individuals who were indicted after the bust. One of the individuals in the enterprise that was charged is Bobak Ahouraie, 23, of Bellerose. He was charged with enterprise corruption, first- and second-degree trademark counterfeiting and fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy. Suk B. Yi, 18, of Oakland Gardens, was charged with enterprise corruption, first- and second-degree trademark counterfeiting and fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy. Samantha Defreitas, 26, of Woodhaven, was charged with third-degree trademark counterfeiting. Jan Sanandaji, 37, of Great Neck, is charged with second-degree trademark counterfeiting.

The second ring, known as The Xiu Wei Ye and Jian Zhong Jian Operation, conducted a large scale trademark-counterfeiting operation where they purchased footwear and other items featuring counterfeit trademarks of various brands and maintained the items at their Brooklyn store and sold the items wholesale to customers throughout the country, including undercover police officers.

Individuals charged in this group included Jian Zhong Jian, 43, of Flushing who was charged with second- and third-degree trademark counterfeit, and Xiu Wei Ye, 43, from Flushing, who was charged with second- and third-degree trademark counterfeit.

The third ring, known as The Peter Operation, allegedly conducted a large scale trademark-counterfeiting operation in which they maintained the merchandise at its store in College Point.

The final ring, known as The James, Leon and Omar Untaxed and Trademark Counterfeiting Cigarette Operation, allegedly bought and sold untaxed and trademark counterfeit cigarettes and supplied those cigarettes to Bobak Ahouraie, of Bellerose. Ahouraie was charged with second-degree trademark counterfeit in his involvement in this operation.



Man convicted of murdering transgender woman in Glendale apartment

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Manhattan man has been convicted of second-degree murder for strangling a transgender woman in her Glendale apartment in March 2010, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Rasheen Everett, 32, was also convicted Friday of second-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence in connection to the homicide, said Brown.

He faces up to 40 years to life in prison and is set to be sentenced in December 5.

According to trial testimony, said Brown, Everett strangled Amanda Gonzalez Andujar, 29, inside her 62nd Street apartment sometime after entering the home on the morning of March 27, 2010. About 18 hours later, Everett left the apartment alone with the victim’s camera, keys, laptop, suitcase, coat and cell phone.

Three days later, according to Brown, family members entered Andujar’s apartment and found her body lying on a bed with bleach poured over it.

Authorities arrested Everett in Las Vegas in April 2010.



Queens elementary school teacher sentenced to 35 years for sexually abusing students

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Queens elementary school teacher who was convicted of sexually abusing five of his students has been sentenced to 35 years in prison, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

In June, Simon Watts, 42, of St. Albans, was found guilty of sexual abuse, sexual conduct against a child, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child, said prosecutors.

According to trial testimony, said Brown, the crimes took place while Watts was working as a third- and fourth-grade teacher at P.S. 15 Jackie Robinson in Springfield Gardens between September 2007 and March 2010.

During that time, he abused four females and one male, ranging between eight and 10 years old.



Illegal cigarette investigation leads to arrest of Flushing family for illegal hotel operation

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens District Attorney's office

The investigation of an illegal cigarette trafficking operation led to the arrest of a Flushing family that was allegedly running an illegal hotel out of the home next door.

During the investigation of allegations of illegal cigarettes being sold out of a Saull Street residence, detectives noticed unusual activity going on at the two-family house next door, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.  Multiple people were observed leaving the home with suitcases, and after further investigation, officials discovered that the residence was being advertised as a hotel on Chinese language websites.

Following a year-long investigation, a search warrant was executed on the home Thursday and Qiumin He, 55, his wife, Chun Y Tu, 56, and their son, Xiaoshan He, 34, who all live at the home, were arrested.  They are currently awaiting arraignment and have been charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, according to Brown. Xiaoshan has also been charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration for allegedly interfering with the arrests. They face up to one year in jail if convicted.

During yesterday’s search of the alleged illegal hotel, Department of Buildings inspectors were present as well as inspectors assigned to the New York City Fire Department, who found “numerous egregious violations, including insufficient egress and lack of required sprinkler systems and fire alarms and no exit signs,” said Brown. DOB inspectors had tried to enter the home several times over the last year, but weren’t allowed inside.

The family’s neighbor, Qinghai Wei, 50, is also awaiting arraignment on charges alleging that he possessed approximately 1,151 cartons of untaxed American and illegal Asian cigarettes, which were found during a court-authorized search of his home. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.



Op-Ed: The impact of DNA cold hits on solving crimes

| oped@queenscourier.com


Last week my office announced that a Queens grand jury had indicted Jose Martinez for raping and murdering a 23-year-old Astoria woman in 2009. Martinez was indicted as a result of a DNA cold hit following a 2012 reckless endangerment conviction for which he was required to provide a DNA sample.  That sample is alleged to have matched blood and semen found on the murder victim. Once again, DNA collected for a relatively low-level, nonviolent offense proved to be one of the most powerful tools ever developed to solve cold cases and prevent other crimes.

Since New York’s DNA data bank was created 17 years ago, it has significantly enhanced criminal justice in the state. Yet, as effective as the data bank proved during the early years in solving cold cases, I was convinced that we could do more.  For instance, until 2012, DNA samples were being collected from only 48 percent of all those convicted of crimes in New York – meaning that more than half of all people proven guilty and convicted of crimes were still leaving our courts without being required to provide a DNA sample.  This made no sense since experience taught that the few times the DNA data bank had been expanded by legislation, thousands more cold cases were solved and countless crimes surely had been prevented. Even when, in 2006, just 35 misdemeanors were added to the list of crimes for which DNA could be collected, DNA leads were generated in more than 3,000 serious cold felony cases.

With this is mind, representatives of my office, along with crime victims and their families and others, met with elected officials in Albany last year to explain the need for more expansive DNA collection.  Experience showed that many criminals went on to commit more violent crimes and that between these violent crimes, there were often brief moments these criminals could be stopped when they came in contact with the criminal justice system for low-level offenses.  By obtaining DNA samples for those low-level convictions, DNA could be used to identify the perpetrators of cold cases before they went on to commit more violent acts.  And more importantly, by bringing these violent criminals to justice more quickly, we could bring an end to the fear and some of the pain in which their victims live.

Our elected officials listened and enacted historic legislation last year that expanded DNA collection to essentially all criminal convictions, and as last week’s indictment of Jose Martinez for rape and murder shows, nothing offers a surer way to identify a perpetrator in a cold case than DNA.



Illegal gambling operation arrests lead to weapon, drug bust

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens district attorney's office

Individuals busted in an illegal gambling operation were also stashing weapons, drugs and over $120,000 in cash.

In the wake of charging six people with unlawfully running a gambling operation, detectives recovered six guns, including two assault rifles, hundreds of narcotics pills, gambling records and the cash, said District Attorney Richard Brown.

“An investigation that started with gambling has now led to the recovery of a deadly and dangerous combination of guns and drugs,” Brown said.

In February, the NYPD’s Queens Narcotic Division began an investigation of an illegal gambling operation being run out of a central wire room in Brooklyn.

The wire room allegedly maintained a number of fax machines that received betting slips from over 30 betting parlors throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County.

Saul Montalvo, 44, of Ozone Park and his partner Juan Arias, 41, of the Bronx are accused with opening and running the operation. Montalvo’s sister, Veronica, also allegedly head the gambling joint. A second wire room was discovered in Woodhaven.

Montalvo and his wife Beatriz Velez, 33, were charged with various counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a firearm, stolen property, promoting gambling and possession of gambling records. Montalvo and his son, Daniel, were charged additionally in a gambling case, and Daniel was arrested and charged with various counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

The three each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the weapons charges, according to officials.

During a search of Montalvo’s Lafayette Street home, police recovered over 200 prescription pills, loaded pistols and thousands of dollars in cash from a safe inside the master bedroom’s closet. Police also found two loaded assault rifles as well as three other magazines all loaded with over 10 rounds of ammunition, all found in the home’s laundry area.

“The nexus between illegal drugs and violence is never far,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.



JFK baggage handlers charged with stealing from passenger luggage

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Seven men who worked as contract baggage handlers at JFK Airport have been charged with stealing cash, jewelry and electronics from passenger luggage.

Following multiple customer complaints of theft to El Al Airlines, the Israeli carrier the men were working for at the time, a camera was installed in the baggage hold, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

The men, who were responsible for unloading and loading bags, were allegedly caught on video going through luggage, removing items, and placing them in their pockets and down their pants. The surveillance took place between early April and late August of this year.

In interviews with Port Authority Police officials, according to Brown, the men variously admitted to taking goods from passenger luggage and thousands of dollars of stolen items were recovered from some of their homes and cars.

Those goods allegedly included iPhones, iPads, Sony Playstations, digital cameras, Valentino sunglasses, bottles of cologne, several expensive watches and other pricey jewelry items.

“When air travelers check their luggage with an airline, there is an implicit trust that their bags and their contents will meet them at their destination. It is always disheartening as a traveler to find that trust to be broken,” said Brown. “I applaud El Al Airlines for taking its customer complaints seriously and helping to bring the defendants to justice.”

The busted baggage handlers, identified as Tristan Bredwood, 22, of Saint Albans, Udhoo Doodnauth, 27, of Richmond Hill, Julio Salas, 44, of Corona, Dashawn Schooler, 25, of Wyandanch, New York, Romaine Smith, 25, of Brooklyn, Oshaine Christie, 22, of Rosedale, and Nkosi Cunningham, 24, of Brooklyn, were arraigned on Thursday, August 29 in Queens Criminal Court and charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal mischief, petit larceny and attempted petit larceny.



Queens man faces seven years for child pornography charges

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Hollis man has been arrested on multiple charges of child pornography after authorities allegedly found incriminating videos on his laptop.

“This defendant is alleged to have had more than a dozen disturbing videos of children being sexually abused on his computer. These cruel acts cannot and will not be tolerated in a civilized society,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

Eduardo Medina, 35, has been charged with possessing a sexual performance by a child and promoting a sexual performance by a child, according to the district attorney’s office.

During a search of his 196th Street apartment Wednesday night, police recovered his laptop computer, various external storage media and a cell phone.  According to the charges, 14 videos of children, approximately six to twelve years old, depicted in a sexual manner or performing sexual acts, were allegedly recovered on his laptop. Those videos were supposedly downloaded onto the laptop on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 28.

Medina faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.




Man caught in North Carolina for 2011 South Jamaica shooting

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

A man on the run after he allegedly shot 11 people in Queens was found and arrested in North Carolina almost two years after the incident.

Tyrone “Big Rumbles” Miller, 22, is charged with 11 counts of attempted murder and other crimes in the shooting at a backyard barbeque in South Jamaica in August 2011, according to officials.

“[Miller] is accused of taking mindless gun violence to new heights by deliberately firing into a backyard filled with young partygoers and wounding nearly a dozen innocent people – including a young girl now confined to a wheelchair because of his alleged actions,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

On August 27, 2011, Miller was at a backyard barbeque on Inwood Road when close to 1 a.m. he got into an argument with another attendee. According to the charges, he said, “I’ll be back.”

About 10 minutes later, Miller returned with back-up – two other people, and the three opened fire on the party, Brown said.

The 11 victims were transported to area hospitals and treated for gunshot wounds. Lenaesha Cheatham, who was 14 at the time, suffered two bullets to her spine. She is now paralyzed from the waist down.

As of Monday night, Miller was being held in North Carolina and awaiting extradition to New York. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison on each individual murder charge.