Tag Archives: Far Rockaway

Sandy rebuilding summit sees huge turnout


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

An energized crowd of about 1,000 people gathered for a Faith in New York summit at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica on Tuesday to learn about the progress and priorities of Hurricane Sandy rebuilding.

“This is a time for us to remember what was promised,” said the Rev.  Floyd Flake, pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. and a former Queens congressman. “Our people should not still be suffering the way they are, 21 months after the storm.”

Much of the meeting focused on families in Far Rockaway where suffering from Sandy is still the most prevalent issue, according to residents.  Many people are still suffering from leaking roofs, mold, no heat and no jobs as a result of the storm.

Amy Peterson, director of the Housing Recovery Office under Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other city officials listened to these concerned residents and assured them that things are changing.

“We are committed to working with all of you,” she said. “We are going to eliminate the red tape from Build it Back and everyone who has applied for it will get the support they need.”

Peterson said that since the de Blasio administration came to office, rebuilding is on the rise. But she said the fight is nowhere near over. Her office promised 500 checks to Sandy-affected homeowners by Labor Day. As of this week, 457 checks have gone out. She said that once Labor Day comes and they hit their goal, a new one will be made.

This was welcome news to Sandy survivors like Aracelis and Erik Cabrera who are still displaced from the storm.

“We applied for Build it Back but are still waiting to find out if we will receive the funds we desperately need,” Aracelis said as she wiped  tears from her eyes. “We are glad that Mayor de Blasio is focused on fixing Build it Back so that families like ours can rebuild our lives and our home.”

Peterson said that within the next 60 days she would host a large job fair that will prioritize those people who were affected by the storm. When advocates for rebuilding asked Peterson whether they can have a meeting with de Blasio himself about the recovery effort she chuckled but gave a reassuring answer.

“Well, I don’t know his [de Blasio's] schedule,” she said. “But yes, we will try to work it out.”

Source: Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget

 

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26-year-old killed in Far Rockaway motorcycle collision


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A motorcyclist lost his life on July 4 after striking a utility pole in Far Rockaway, police said.

Marcus Joel, 26, of South Ozone Park, was riding his motorcycle on Seagirt Boulevard near Beach 13th Street just after 6 p.m. when the accident occurred, according to authorities.

As he was traveling down the roadway, he hit a curb before crashing into a wooden utility pole, cops said. Joel was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

 

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Suspects steal $4K from Far Rockaway woman after following from Long Island bank: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD


A Queens woman lost $4,000 after a group of thieves followed her from a Long Island bank and stole the money from inside her home while she was distracted, police said.

The 38-year-old victim had just left a Bank of America in Lawrence, N.Y. during the afternoon of May 1 when the suspects, two women and two men, started trailing the woman to her Far Rockaway home located around Cedar Hill Road, cops said.

One of the female suspects, then knocked on the woman’s door and told her she dropped some money near her car While the victim and the two female suspects gathered the money from around the vehicle, one of the male suspects went into the her home and took an envelope containing $4,000 from her purse, according to officials.

All four of the suspects then fled in a white Chrysler Pacifica.

Police have released a surveillance photo of one of the female suspects taken at the bank located at 400 Central Ave., and describe her as Hispanic, in her mid-20s and 5 feet 4 inches tall. She was wearing a black North Face jacket and blue jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Free lunches for kids to be distributed at Queens libraries this summer


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY PAULINA TAM

Twenty-two Queens Library locations, in partnership with the city’s Department of Education (DOE), will be distributing free summer meals to children and teens 18 years and under starting June 27 to August 29.

Bagged lunches will be served every Monday through Friday between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. and each will generally include a fresh sandwich, fruit, milk and sometimes a salad, according to library spokeswoman Joanne King.

“The library is an open public space and we want to attract people to come to the library,” King said. “While they’re here they can have free access to other programs. The Queens Library also has a very robust summer reading program and we want to encourage people to get involved with that so they can be better prepared for the academic program in the fall.”

There is no application, qualification or ID necessary to receive a free meal. Children and teens are recommended to arrive early to get lunches, while supplies last. The Queens Library is just one of many agencies collaborating with the DOE, and interested parties could call 311 to get a full list of participating locations.

Listed below are the participating Queens Library locations:

312 Beach 54 St., Arverne

14-01 Astoria Blvd., Astoria

117-11 Sutphin Blvd., Baisley Park

218-13 Linden Blvd., Cambria Heights

1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway

41-17 Main St., Flushing

202-05 Hillside Ave., Hollis

89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica

134-26 225th St., Laurelton

98-30 57th Ave., Lefrak City

37-44 21st St., Long Island City

40-20 Broadway (at Steinway Street), Long Island City

92-24 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park

158-21 Jewel Ave., Pomonok (Flushing)

103-34 Lefferts Blvd., Richmond Hill

169-09 137th Ave., Rochdale Village

116-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Park

204-01 Hollis Ave., South Hollis

108-41 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., South Jamaica

43-06 Greenpoint Ave., Sunnyside

85-41 Forest Pkwy., Woodhaven

54-22 Skillman Ave., Woodside

 

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Four charged with stealing $12.4M meant for special needs preschoolers


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Queens District Attorney’s Office

Four men are accused of not providing the services they promised to preschoolers with special needs after they allegedly stole more than $12 million in government funds meant to help the students.

Those charged are all affiliated with the Island Child Development Center (ICDC), a private nonprofit located in Far Rockaway, which mainly offers services to preschool children in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Far Rockaway, and Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn, according to officials.

The assistant director of ICDC, Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 56, of Far Rockaway; former ICDC executive director Ira Kurman, 52, of Hewlett, N.Y.; Roy Hoffmann, 50, of Woodmere, N.Y., who was hired by ICDC to serve as its independent auditor as required by the state; and Daniel Laniado, 41, of Brooklyn, who was a self-described “investor” in ICDC, are accused of stealing $12.472 million of approximately $27 million in state funds between 2005 and 2012, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The thefts were uncovered after the state comptroller’s office notified ICDC of a routine audit to be performed in July 2012. When auditors arrived, Kurman had left his position and allegedly took off with his books and records.

The men diverted the money for their own personal use, their relatives, their own business endeavors and to local members of their religious communities, according to officials.

Hiller allegedly diverted around $8 million to several religious schools and camps not affiliated with ICDC.

In addition to criminal charges, the district attorney’s office is seeking the forfeiture of more than $11.472 million in illegally obtained proceeds from those charged. Approximately $1 million has been repaid by two of the schools and camps to which Hiller diverted money and is reflected in that figure, Brown said.

The four were arraigned Tuesday afternoon on a 42-count indictment in which they are variously charged with grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing, identity theft and falsifying business records. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.

 

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Man waiting for food in Far Rockaway restaurant beaten by brutes: police


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy NYPD

Follow me @liamlaguerre


Cops are searching for four men suspected of ganging up to viciously attack a man in Far Rockaway, hitting him with a cane and a chair in a restaurant.

The victim was waiting for his food at Classic Quizine on 713 Beach 20th Street around 6:20 p.m. on April 19, when the men came in and began the attack, cops said.

The men punched the victim in the head, one hit him with a cane and another threw a chair, authorities said. The beaten man suffered deep cuts to the head.

The following are descriptions of the suspects:

  • Suspect #1 is described as a black male, 20-25 years of age, last seen wearing blue jeans, a grey long sleeve sweatshirt and a grey baseball cap.
  • Suspect #2 is described as a black male, 20-25 years of age, last seen wearing blue jeans, beige boots and a red, white and black long sleeve shirt with “Nike Air” written on the front of it.
  • Suspect #3 is described as a black male, 20-25 years of age, last seen wearing blue jeans, white T-shirt and carrying a cane.
  • Suspect #4 is described as a black male, 20-25 years of age, last seen wearing khaki cargo pants, long sleeved grey shirt with the word “Killer” written on the front.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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NYPD detective arrested in Queens for drunk driving after accidentally shooting partner


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 8:30 p.m.

A Brooklyn NYPD detective was arrested in Queens for drunk driving early Thursday morning after he accidentally shot his partner in the wrist, officials said.

Jay Poggi, 57, who, according to police is a member of the 75th Precinct, was showing the hammer of his Smith and Wesson revolver to fellow detective, Matthew Sullivan, when the gun went off, striking his partner in the right wrist, court records said.

The detectives were supposedly on their way to conduct a robbery investigation in Far Rockaway when Poggi accidentally fired the weapon, the New York Daily News reported.

Poggi then drove their unmarked police car to Jamaica Hospital where Sullivan underwent surgery, according to the criminal complaint.

At the hospital, a responding officer noticed that the front passenger seat area of their vehicle was covered in “a significant amount of blood,” court papers stated. He also said he noticed Poggi had alcohol on his breath and bloodshot eyes.

The officer then gave the detective a field sobriety test, which registered above the legal limit, at .113 percent, prosecutors said. Poggi later allegedly refused to take a Breathalyzer test at the 112th Precinct.

Poggi was arraigned Thursday in Queens Criminal Court and charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, according to prosecutors. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court on June 16. His driver’s license has also been suspended.

The Queens District Attorney’s Office said the investigation is still ongoing and is being conducted by the chief of its Integrity Bureau.

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Two toddlers die in Far Rockaway home fire


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Updated Monday, April 21, 3:35 p.m.

Two 4-year-old siblings died early Easter morning in an accidental fire at a Far Rockaway home, according to the FDNY.

Firefighters responded to a one-alarm fire in the basement of a Bay 30th Street home at about 11:56 p.m. Saturday and the fire was under control by 1:17 a.m., officials said.

The cause of the blaze has been determined to be an accidental fire due to a child playing with fire, according to the FDNY.

Five people were removed from the two-story home, including 4-year-olds Jai’Luni Tinglin and Aniya Tinglin, who were taken to St. John’s Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

The two toddlers were half-siblings, according to the NYPD.

Another 4-year old girl, Jai’Luni’s twin sister, was taken to St. John’s Hospital and is in stable condition. A 55-year-old woman was transported to Jamaica Hospital and a 63-year-old man, identified by police as the kid’s grandfather, was taken to Nassau University Medical Center. Both are listed in stable condition, cops said.

An FDNY officer was also transported to a nearby hospital with minor and none life threatening injuries, fire officials said.

According to a report published on the New York Post’s website Monday, the FDNY said that ambulances were delayed in responding to the deadly blaze.

“We are looking at the timeline and why it happened,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said, according to the Post.

 

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‘Hero’ cop mourned at Far Rockaway funeral


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Eric Jankiewicz/Guerra photo courtesy of NYPD

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ERIC JANKIEWICZ

A police officer who died after responding to a Brooklyn fire was remembered in Far Rockaway as a heroic member of the force, dedicated to his job and family.

Loved ones, city officials and thousands of NYPD officers were among those who came out to say goodbye to 38-year-old Bayswater resident Dennis Guerra at his funeral, held at St. Rose of Lima Church Monday.

“Thank you to all those who are here to remember the heroic and courageous acts of Officer Guerra,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, before announcing the posthumous promotion of Guerra to first-grade detective. “God bless Dennis who was once, and forever will be, an officer in blue.”

Bratton then recounted Guerra’s ascent up the law enforcement ladder, from a school safety officer, to a corrections officer, and finally to a police officer over eight years ago.

“We’ll always remember with sadness that day he left us but we’ll also remember the courage he displayed,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the service. “Dennis is an example for us all.”

Among the many politicians who attended the funeral were Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

Curtis Mitchell, Guerra’s brother-in-law, also spoke during the funeral, and described how the officer would cook for the whole family on weekends and became known as the “grill master.”

“He was recently called a hero,” Mitchell said. “But to his family, he was always a hero and forever will be.”

“I wish I had another chance to say, I love you,” he continued.

The fallen cop, who left behind a wife and four children, aged 7 to 20, died Wednesday after being overcome with smoke from an April 6 arson fire in Coney Island.

Guerra and fellow housing officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were critically injured in a blaze at a Surf Avenue housing development when the elevator doors opened on the 13floor and the officers were engulfed in smoke.

Both officers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

Rodriguez reportedly remains hospitalized.

Marcell Dockery, who lives in the housing development where the deadly fire started, was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder Friday, according to published reports. He was already charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment.

The teen allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” reports said.

 

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Teen charged with murder in Coney Island fire that killed Queens cop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A 16-year-old who allegedly set a Coney Island fire that killed a police officer from Far Rockaway has been charged with murder, according to published reports.

Marcell Dockery, who lives in the housing development where the deadly blaze started, was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder Friday, reports said. He was already charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment.

The teen allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” according to reports.

Two NYPD housing officers, Dennis Guerra, 38, and Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were responding to the fire on Sunday when they were critically injured, police said.

After taking the elevator to the Surf Avenue building’s 13th floor, they were overcome by smoke in the hallway, when the doors opened, officials said.

Both officers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

Guerra, a Bayswater resident, passed away Wednesday, leaving behind a wife and four children, according to officials. Rodriguez  reportedly remains hospitalized.

A visitation will be held Sunday for Guerra from 2 to 9 p.m. at the James Romanelli-Stephen Funeral Home in Ozone Park, according to published reports. His funeral service will take place the following day at 11 a.m. at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Rockaway Beach.

 

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Queens cop hurt in Coney Island fire dies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An NYPD housing officer from Far Rockaway who was injured in a Coney Island fire allegedly set by a teen has died.

Dennis Guerra, 38, passed away at 6:50 a.m. Wednesday, police said. The Bayswater resident leaves behind a wife and four children, according to officials.

“This brave officer gave his life in service of others,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “The entire Rockaway community mourns a neighbor, friend and hero. We will keep his wife and children in our thoughts and prayers.”

Guerra and Officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were responding to a fire at the Coney Island Housing Development on Surf Avenue when they were both critically hurt, police said.

The blaze broke out about 12:30 p.m. Sunday on the 13th floor. The two officers took the elevator up to the fire, but as the elevator doors opened, the officers were overcome by smoke in the hallway, according to officials.

Firefighters found the officers unconscious and unresponsive, and pulled them out of the building. Both suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

“[Guerra] went selflessly towards the flame, selflessly towards those who are in danger, no matter what the risk to him,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

“It’s something that our police officers do every day. It’s something our first responders do every day. It is something we need to appreciate every day.”

Photo via Twitter/@NYPDnews

In a ceremony at NYPD headquarters Wednesday, flags were lowered to half staff in honor of Guerra.

Rodriguez, who is also a Queens resident, remains hospitalized in critical condition, according to reports.

A 16-year-old resident of the Coney Island building, Marcell Dockery, was arrested the following day for setting the blaze, police said.

He allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” reports said.

Dockery has been charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment, but those charges are reportedly expected to be upgraded this week, according to Newsday.

Following the fire, the NYPD said it is reviewing procedures to see if any changes in training need to be made, the publication also reported.

 

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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.

 

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Sunnyside, Elmhurst buildings sell for $50M


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A Manhattan management group has sold four of its Queens buildings for $50 million, according to The Real Deal.

Urban American sold the multi-family properties in Sunnyside and Elmhurst at 43-31 45th Street, 41-96 Gleane Street, 87-40 Elmhurst Avenue and 87-42 Elmhurst Avenue to Great Neck-based firm Benedict Realty Group (BRG), The Real Deal reported.

BRG already owns about 1,800 units nearby, according to the website.

The publication previously reported Urban American had signed an agreement to sell five multi-family buildings in Far Rockaway for $52 million to E&M Associates.

 

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Leaders vow to save and expand St. John’s Hospital at community forum


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

If only one thing could be taken away from the St. John’s Episcopal Hospital forum on March 13, it’s that “St. John’s is not closing.”

The phrase was repeated numerous times by leaders of the hospital during the meet-and-greet event, which featured hospital chair Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, CEO Richard Brown, a representative from the State Department of Health, and Steve Kramer, executive vice president of the hospital’s employees’ union, 1199 SEIU.

State Senator James Sanders put the forum together to allow residents a face-to-face conference with the leaders to answer the community’s concerns about the future of the hospital.

Instead of closing, everyone in the room was focused on how the hospital and health care in the Rockaways would expand.

“My job is to make sure that nobody deviates from the path,” Sanders said. “The bottom line is we are going to save this hospital and we are heading north.”

Brown announced updates on the expansion of the hospital’s emergency department.

The project will cost an estimated $9 – $10 million, and double the size of the emergency department. The construction will be carried out in three phases over nearly two years. The expansion is lengthy because the emergency department will continue to stay open during construction.

Residents, who have complained the department is too small, hope the expansion could happen sooner.

“Yes, it’s terrible,” said Rockaway resident Anita Hunter, who was born in the hospital and whose sister currently works there. “You can barely walk in there. There are so many people lined up outside the examination room.”

Residents also used the forum to hasten the possible merger between the hospital and Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which would allow St. John’s to expand its services and resources.

Brown said the merger was still in the discussion phase. He said metaphorically that St. John’s is “dating” the Long Island organization, but not yet “married” to them.

“What we in this room are looking for is to see St. John’s be a first class hospital,” Kramer said. “We ask you, Bishop and CEO Brown, to make moves as quickly as possible to expedite the merger.”

Perhaps the most exciting statement made at the meeting, though, was Sanders declaring he would like to see the shuttered Peninsula Hospital used as an additional emergency department. The room was immediately filled with cheers.

“I didn’t take this job to lose,” Sanders said. “I didn’t come on to be in charge of the dismantling of health care in the Rockaways. I believe in this place and I believe we can do better.”

 

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Fire breaks out at former Peninsula Hospital


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A blaze broke out at the former Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway Tuesday afternoon, the FDNY said.

The fire started in an outside boiler at the 51-15 Beach Channel Dr. site about 4:45 p.m. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze in about an hour, the FDNY said.

No one was injured in the fire.

Fire officials said the cause is still under investigation.

The hospital closed in 2012.

 

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