Tag Archives: District Attorney Richard Brown

Queens subway pusher indicted, found fit to stand trial

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

subway pusher

The woman accused of shoving a 46-year-old man to his death at a Sunnyside subway platform last month has been indicted by a grand jury for second-degree murder as a hate crime and ruled mentally fit to stand trial, announced Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

At the time of her arrest, Erika Menendez, 31, allegedly told investigators that she pushed Corona resident Sunando Sen into the path of a No. 7 train at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station because she hates Hindus and Muslims and has been beating them up since 2001 when “they put down the twin towers.”

Witnesses said they saw Menendez muttering to herself before shoving Sen off the platform.

On Monday, the same day that she was indicted, it was also announced that, following a court-ordered psychiatric exam, Menendez had been deemed fit to stand trial.

Despite the ruling, Menendez’s lawyers are expected to argue that even though she is mentally fit enough to understand the charges against her, she wasn’t mentally sound when she committed the December 27 crime, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Menendez, who faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted, is scheduled to return to court on January 29.


25 years for fatal shooting outside Richmond Hill bar

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

The Ozone Park man who fatally shot a 19-year-old nearly three years ago was sentenced on Tuesday, January 8 to 25 years to life in prison.

Miguel Viruet, 37, was convicted on second-degree charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon last month for the May, 5 2010 shooting of Christian O’Hara outside Scooby’s Bar on Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill.

“Today’s sentence is a measure of justice for an innocent young man whose life was tragically cut short,” said District Attorney Richard Brown in a statement. “It also underscores our need to be vigilant in keeping illegal guns off of the streets of our county and out of the hands of those intent on violently attacking others. Violence such as this will not be tolerated on the streets of Queens County.”

In his testimony, Viruet said he received a call just before 4 a.m. on May 5 from his brother who was outside the bar and said he was punched in the face. Viruet said he drove to the bar with two others and spoke to the bouncer, asking who punched his brother. The bouncer told Viruet that his brother was drunk, had been punched outside the bar and not allowed back in.

After driving away, Viruet walked back to the bar later and, from across the street, fired about nine shots at a crowd of people standing outside of the establishment. O’Hara was fatally hit in the lower torso.




Peter Rodriguez, driver in fatal hit-and-run pleads guilty

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Peter Rodriguez, the driver in a wrong-way accident that took the life of a beloved Maspeth bar owner, pleaded guilty recently to criminally negligent homicide and now faces up to seven years in jail, though that is of little solace for his family.

George Gibbons, owner of Gibbons’ Home, was killed on the morning of October 15, 2011 when the cab he was traveling home in was struck by Rodriguez’s vehicle — traveling the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway’s service road.

Rodriguez, who has been held without bail since his November arrest, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and leaving the scene of the fatal hit-and-run crash in court on Friday, April 20.

“We will never be satisfied with the amount of time that he is realistically going to serve in jail,” said Bernadette Gibbons, George’s sister. “It is very unfortunate that career criminals like himself get away with multiple slaps on the wrist.”

Rodriguez had been convicted of four felonies prior to this case.

“Our community came together to fight for justice for George and, now that Peter Rodriguez is behind bars, we can finally say that our streets are safer. In the coming months, we will continue to fight together to make sure that whoever chooses to leave the scene of a crime will face much stiffer penalties,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who helped organize a “Justice for George” rally to aid in the search for Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who will be sentenced on Monday, May 7, faces between three-and-a-half to seven years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.

“Teenagers are in high school longer than Rodriguez will probably be in state prison, and that is a shame,” Gibbons said. “I wonder how many more people will be hurt by his careless actions before the law decides to recognize the danger that he poses to society.”

Gibbons said there is nothing that can prepare a family for sitting in a courtroom staring at a man who robbed the life of a loved one.

“I think after we make our impact statement to Peter Rodriguez and to the court on May 7, we will finally feel some sort of relief,” said Gibbons, who added they will never have closure. “Through our words we can only hope that Judge [Dorothy] Chin-Brandt will understand our pain and recognize that this should be the final straw for Rodriguez. It is time that not only our family receives justice for George, but that the Queens community obtains justice for the man that was stolen from them far too early.”

Two hot-sheets motels closed for prostitution activity

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Five motel employees who offered customers more than mints on their pillows may be checking into jail.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that the employees, who worked at the Kew Motor Inn, located at 139-01 Grand Central Parkway, and the Par Central Motor Inn, located at 82-85 Parsons Boulevard – both of which are located in residential areas of Kew Gardens – were arrested for prostitution-related offenses during police raids on the night of March 27. The two motels, which served as havens for prostitutes and their pimps, were also closed under the city’s nuisance abatement law.

According to Brown, undercover police officers posing as prostitutes and customers have visited the two motels since December of 2011, witnessing various acts of illegal activity.

The five defendants, identified as Par Central desk clerks Harripersa Ramjattan, Bhaskar Chaniha and Wojuech Sady and Kew Motor Inn desk clerks Atm Raham and Masum Chowdhury, allegedly accepted bribes, allowed undercover officers to rent rooms without proper identification and knowingly allowed prostitution activity on the premises. The employees also occasionally assisted in illegal actions, including notifying undercover officers posing as prostitutes when customers had arrived and directing the clients to the rooms.

“These two motels have been deemed public nuisances that have generated numerous prostitution-related arrests – including those involving underage girls – during the past year and have been the subject of numerous complaints from local residents,” Brown said. “This office – together with our law enforcement and other governmental agency colleagues – is committed to working with local communities in eliminating crime and business practices that promote criminal activity. The actions that we have taken this week send a clear message – businesses that allow prostitution or other illegal activity to occur on their premises are at risk of being shut down.”

Ramjattan and Raham, 63 and 56 years old respectively, have been charged with promoting prostitution, first-and-second-degree falsifying business records, second-degree commercial bribe receiving and permitting prostitution, and face seven years in prison if convicted. Chaniha, 52, and Chowdhury, 46, each face four years in prison if found guilty of first-and-second degree falsifying business records, second-degree commercial bribe receiving and permitting prostitution. Wojuech Sady – the youngest of the defendants at 25 years of age – was charged with promoting prostitution, second-degree commercial bribe receiving, fourth-degree promoting prostitution and permitting prostitution. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.