Tag Archives: FBI

Reward offered for help in finding serial Queens bank robber


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the FBI New York office

Federal agents and the NYPD are offering “a significant reward” for the public’s help in finding the man responsible for at least a dozen bank robberies in Queens dating back to last year — including several armed heists.

Authorities said the suspect last struck in Middle Village on Dec. 9, 2014, robbing cash from the Chase bank at 74-04 Eliot Ave. Many of the other robberies occurred in Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Sunnyside and Ridgewood.

During each incident, the suspect reportedly passed demand notes to a teller and walked away with various sums of money. In five capers, the perpetrator displayed a handgun in his waistband to bank employees, the FBI said.

Law enforcement agents describe the crook as a black or Hispanic male with a medium to light complexion standing 6 feet tall, and weighing between 200 and 250 pounds. He is usually seen on camera wearing glasses and a baseball cap with the logo of a sports team such as the New York Yankees or New England Patriots. The public should consider the suspect armed and dangerous.

Among the heists in the robbery pattern are the following incidents:

  • June 7, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 77-01 31st Ave. in East Elmhurst;
  • July 22, 2014, attempted robbery of a Santander bank located at 89-01 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights;
  • July 25, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 47-11 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside;
  • Aug. 30, 2014, incident at a Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh located at 75-23 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights;
  • Oct. 4, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 69-55 Grand Ave. in Maspeth; and
  •  Dec. 6, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 60-67 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood.

The FBI-NYPD Violent Crime Task Force is investigating the pattern.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is urged to call the Task Force at 212-384-1000; all calls will be kept confidential.

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Maspeth man with alleged mob ties charged in World Trade Center fraud scheme


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Durst Organization

Updated April 15, 10:10 a.m.

A reputed Maspeth mobster and silent partner at a construction company involved in the World Trade Center’s reconstruction was indicted Tuesday on federal money laundering charges and tax crimes, prosecutors announced.

Vincent Vertuccio, 60, reportedly controlled the Crimson Construction Corporation, which received an $11.4 million contract from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for its involvement in building the new One World Trade Center.

According to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch, Vertuccio allegedly directed an employee not to disclose his involvement with the company in applying for the contract due to his “longstanding affiliation with” the Bonanno crime family.

Once the Port Authority awarded the contract to Crimson, Vertuccio received “significant sums” of a $1.5 million payment made to Crimson, authorities said. These funds were allegedly diverted to a bank account belonging to Vertuccio’s mother and were subsequently used to finance renovations to Vertuccio’s daughter’s home.

But the diversion of funds compromised Crimson’s involvement in the World Trade Center project and, as a result, the Port Authority terminated its contract.

Vertuccio’s accountant — Praful Pandya, 68, of Forest Hills — was additionally charged for allegedly submitting fraudulent tax returns in Vertuccio’s name to the IRS between 2008 and 2011.

Also charged in the indictment was Vertuccio’s lawyer, identified as John Servider, 53, of Patterson, N.Y. Servider is accused of presenting to a grand jury investigating Vertuccio falsified and doctored receipts and invoices from a Manhattan jewelry store.

“As alleged, Vertuccio and his team of criminal consultants —  including his accountant and his lawyer — cheated the taxpayers and the criminal justice system for their own corrupt purposes,” Lynch said. “We will not tolerate self-serving exploitations of Port Authority projects.”

All three defendants were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

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Two Jamaica women accused of plotting terrorist attack


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Stu Rapley

Updated Friday, April 3, 10:14 a.m.

Federal agents arrested two Jamaica women Thursday for plotting to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil, officials said.

Noelle Velentzas, 28, of Inwood Avenue and Asia Siddiqui (the latter also known as Najma Samaa and Murdiyyah), 31, of 84th Road, who were former roommates, were taken into custody Thursday morning as a result of an investigation dating back to May 2013. They are U.S. citizens and, up until recently, shared an apartment at an unspecified Queens location.

According to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Velentzas and Siddiqui allegedly shared “violent jihadist beliefs,” openly sympathized with known terrorists, made contact with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and expressed a desire to launch an attack of their own in the U.S.

They reportedly educated themselves on bomb-making and visited local stores to purchase or research materials typically used to construct explosive devices.

Upon her arrest, Siddiqui had in her possession numerous propane tanks and instructions for converting them into explosive devices, federal sources said. Those instructions were reportedly downloaded from an online jihadist publication.

Their plot was foiled, however, through the efforts of an undercover federal agent, who obtained information from them through numerous meetings and conversations over the last two years.

“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement. “As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home.”

Law enforcement sources said Siddiqui’s alleged terrorism ties date back to 2006, when she became close with Samir Khan, who later became a prominent figure in AQAP. Khan left the U.S. for Yemen following his relationship with Siddiqui and wrote propaganda magazines and bomb-making manuals for terrorists.

In September 2011, Siddiqui allegedly sent a sympathetic letter to Mohammad Mohamud, who was in federal prison for plotting to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, in 2010, authorities said.

Federal authorities intercepted the letter, which had the return address listed as “Najma Samaa” from 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica — the actual address of York College, from where Siddiqui graduated.

Velentzas, in meeting with the undercover operative in 2013, praised the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and praised its mastermind, Osama bin Laden, as her hero. To illustrate that point, she showed the agent her cellphone, which had as its background image a picture of bin Laden carrying an AK-47 machine gun.

Following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 — in which two terrorists converted pressure cookers into deadly explosive devices — Velentzas reportedly became obsessed with using pressure cookers as weapons.

FBI agents interviewed Siddiqui at LaGuardia Airport in July 2014, during which she denied having any connection to terrorists. After being allowed to leave, she reportedly told the undercover agent that she believed the agency was onto her and that she must delete incriminating “stuff” from her email accounts.

Between August 2014 and this February, Velentzas and Siddiqui allegedly continued talking about previous terrorist attacks —such as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, in which a fertilizer bomb in a truck was used to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building — and researching bomb-making skills. They visited a local Home Depot and other stores and browsed through or purchased items known to be bomb-making components.

According to federal agents, in discussing specific, high-profile targets Velentzas mentioned in December 2014 potentially striking a police funeral, considering that the funeral that month for Detective Rafael Ramos in Glendale drew 25,000 mourners.

Velentzas and Siddiqui, who were ordered held without bail during their arraignment Thursday afternoon, were charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property in the U.S. and face life in prison if convicted.

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Rego Park man pleads guilty to sending death threats to employee of American Islamic organization: FBI


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Title

A 58-year-old Rego Park man has pleaded guilty to sending threatening emails to an employee of the Council on American Islamic Relations, the FBI announced on Tuesday.

According to court documents and the guilty plea he entered in New York’s Eastern District federal court on Monday, Bernhard Laufer admitted to threatening the employee with significant bodily harm and death. The communications were sent in June 2014 from New York to the employee who worked for the civil rights and advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

“Those who make violent threats to others because of race, religion or national origin must be held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting those who engage in such conduct.”

Laufer faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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Flushing man charged in bomb scare at DA office building in Kew Gardens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A 49-year-old Flushing man has been arraigned and charged following a bomb scare on Tuesday at a Kew Gardens building that houses law enforcement offices for the Queens District Attorney, New York State Police and FBI.

While holding a package, Scott Sasonkin entered the lobby of the building located at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday and told a security guard that he had a bomb and wanted to kill everyone in the building, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Sasonkin then allegedly placed the package on the floor.

A sergeant from the district attorney’s office who responded to the incident allegedly saw Sasonkin standing next to the package. The suspect then allegedly told the sergeant, in some words, “I’m a suicide bomber, my bomb is in this package, it’s a pipe bomb. I went to the hardware store and bought the fertilizer and a pipe. I learned how to make the bomb from the Internet, it has a detonator and a timer.”

Sasonkin followed by stating that he picked the building because “it’s famous and has a lot of law enforcement in it.”

The NYPD’s Bomb Squad inspected the package and determined it did not contain an explosive device and was not a bomb, according to the district attorney. Sasonkin was then arrested and taken to a local hospital.

“When a threat is posed by an organized enterprise or by a so-called lone wolf, law enforcement must respond promptly and effectively – as they did in this case – in order to protect our communities from those who would do us harm,” Brown said. “Fortunately, the bomb threat in this case proved to be a hoax. However, those responding personnel had no way of knowing that fact at the time. I thank them for their professionalism and restraint in the face of adversity.”

Sasonkin was arraigned on Wednesday night in the Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint charging him with first-degree reckless endangerment, first-, second- and third-degree falsely reporting an incident, first-degree placing a false bomb and making a terroristic threat. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

Sasonkin was held without bail pending the results of a mental health evaluation and has been ordered to return to court on March 23.

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FBI releases video of Little Neck bank heist


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos and video courtesy of FBI

The FBI has released a video showing two robbers holding up a Little Neck bank last week and rifling through its safe before taking off with a large amount of cash.

Two men, wearing dark clothing with cloth masks across their face, entered the bank, a Chase branch at 56-21 Marathon Parkway, at about 9:40 a.m. on Dec. 4, according to authorities.


One of the suspects was carrying a handgun and a black bag. The second suspect ordered the banker and customer who were in the banking area to move to the lobby, the FBI said. They complied, and the armed robber lowered himself to the ground nearby.

The second suspect then told the manager to remove money from a teller drawer, followed by the vault.

Once inside the vault, the robber took an undisclosed, but significant amount of cash and placed the money in the black bag, the FBI said. Both suspects then fled the bank, heading southbound on Marathon Parkway.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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Man wanted in armed, police-impersonation robberies in Queens and Brooklyn


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of FBI

Authorities are looking for a suspected member of a street gang who they say is responsible for several armed, police-impersonation robberies in Queens and Brooklyn.

Ringo Delcid, of Brooklyn, is being sought after the arrest of one of his suspected associates on Oct. 21, according to the FBI.

Delcid is described as 26 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 220 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes, and was born in Panama. He was last seen with a goatee beard and is often referred to as “Castro,” “Ringo Castro,” or “Ringo Halister Del Cid Carrillo.” Delcid should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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Gambino crime family associate arrested in 2002 Queens murder


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A longtime associate of the Gambino crime family has been indicted for his role in a racketeering conspiracy, including allegedly shooting a man to death in Queens more than 10 years ago.

After starting out at a young age as a member of a street gang and serving several years in prison, Gennaro “Jerry” Bruno, now 41, became a Gambino associate, according to officials. For 14 years, up until his arrest Tuesday, he allegedly took part in an array of crimes for the organized crime family, including drug trafficking and extortion.

When Bruno’s criminal associate Martin Bosshart began efforts to exclude one of Bruno’s co-conspirators from a marijuana import operation, Bruno plotted with other Gambino members and associates to murder Bosshart, authorities said.

On the night of Jan. 2, 2002, Bruno and others lured Bosshart to an isolated location in Queens, specifically Howard Beach, according to the Daily News. He then allegedly shot 30-year-old Bosshart in the back of the head. His body was recovered at the scene.

Officials from the FBI and United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said as Bruno evaded arrest for years, he “conspired with other Gambino associates to “obstruct an official grand jury proceeding into the Bosshart murder.” He also allegedly continued his racketeering activity and extracted payments from the owner of a waste carting company in Queens.

Bruno has been indicted on charges of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of murder, narcotics trafficking, extortion and obstruction of justice, according to officials. As of Wednesday, removal proceedings to New York were still underway for Bruno, who was arrested in Las Vegas, where he is currently living.

In April 2012, a fellow Gambino associate Todd LaBarca pleaded guilty to racketeering, with predicate acts of conspiracy to murder Martin Bosshart, narcotics trafficking, extortion and bookmaking, as well as conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering.

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Ridgewood woman recounts childhood abduction to Egypt, escape in YouTube video


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos © Moral Courage Project 2014

She found the courage to escape. She then found the courage to share her story.

Nashwa El-Sayed was abducted to Egypt from Queens at the age of 2 by her father. After suffering from abuse, years of separation from her mother and an impending arranged marriage at the age of 17, she was finally able to leave the country and return to America.

El-Sayed, now 24, and living in Ridgewood, has since graduated from Queens College with a degree in international relations and recounted her tale, hoping others in her situation will do the same.

“Hopefully they see it as something that can change lives,” she said.

Though El-Sayed has shared her story before, she is telling it in a new medium: video.

The Moral Courage Project, an educational nonprofit started in 2008, posted a video of El-Sayed’s story, “Forced marriage in Egypt: How I escaped,” on its YouTube channel last month.

The nonprofit mentors, teaches and provides role models for people who want to build up moral courage, or do “the right thing in the face of your fears,” according to Adam Grannick, multimedia producer with the Moral Courage Project.

It showcases its role models through videos it creates for its YouTube channel, Moral Courage TV. They are “everyday people” from a middle-schooler facing a bully to corporate whistleblowers and everyone in between.

Launched in April 2012, the videos are accompanied by related social media posts to bring awareness to whatever issue they highlight and can each have their own look, depending on the story.

Since filmmakers didn’t have footage from El-Sayed’s childhood, her video featured animation.
“Animation usually takes away from the seriousness of a story, but this one was not the case,” El-Sayed said.

NashwaElSayedMC7

El-Sayed’s story begins on Father’s Day 1993 — the day she was taken. She was living in Richmond Hill at the time, and her Egyptian father and American mother were in the process of filing for divorce.

“[My mother] knew deep down that she wasn’t going to see me again,” El-Sayed said in the video.

A couple of years after landing in Egypt, El-Sayed was living in Alexandria with her father and a stepmother who physically and emotionally abused her. She also had to be “a pious Muslim girl who should not be seen in public, who should not speak in public.”

At around age 9, she found some relief when her father divorced the woman. He soon married another woman who also tried to abuse El-Sayed, but she retaliated and the woman never tried it again.

Also at 9 years old, she saw her mother for the first time since she was abducted. That moment was when she knew there was another place she belonged to and that she could study what she wanted.

Her mother from then on would send her items from the U.S. — media, such as music from the Backstreet Boys; toys, such as Barbies; new gadgets, such as CD players; and school supplies, such as glitter.

NashwaElSayedMC5

El-Sayed’s father promised she could go to college in America as long as she got good grades. But during her final year of high school, her father told her that he found her a husband and that she was going to meet him on her wedding day in four months.

“All of a sudden there is a major change in plans and that is when I decided it was time to go,” El-Sayed said.

She called her mother in April 2008, who contacted the appropriate authorities, and within a few months El-Sayed was touch with the FBI and American embassy to plan a way out of the country.

But after her father found out about a visit she made to the embassy, she was put on lockdown and became suicidal.

As she recounts in the video, El-Sayed, through luck and bravery, managed to escape while she was at a friend’s house in Cairo.

But El-Sayed’s story and her ups and downs didn’t end with her escape.

NashwaElSayedMC2

Most of the Moral Courage Project videos are two to three minutes long, but El-Sayed’s is 10 minutes.

“I tried cutting it down but it just felt wrong to leave out a lot of it,” said Grannick, who wanted the video to discuss El-Sayed’s life after she returned to America.

Back living in Richmond Hill with her mother, El-Sayed went through a major depression the first year as she tried to figure out her purpose and why she went through what she did.

Her relationship with her mother, good for the first two years, became fractured when differences began to show between them, and they disagreed over El-Sayed’s publicly sharing her story, including a June 2013 Daily News article.

But she considers herself one of the lucky ones. Children around the world are abducted by parents every year, she said, and she is not only one of the few who has survived and is functional, but is one of the few who has also come out with her story and become an activist.

NashwaElSayedMC3

After graduating from Queens College in the summer of 2013, El-Sayed now works with the school’s Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program as the assistant manager. The program gives college students from a variety of religious backgrounds the opportunity to travel to the Middle East to interact with government officials, entrepreneurs, students, educators and philanthropists, create a dialogue and experience what the region is really like.

El-Sayed also works, through the Epic Theatre Ensemble, with a women’s group regarding issues in the Arab American community, and continues to work with the FBI to bring awareness to the issue of childhood abduction by parents.

“It is possible for you to survive,” she says to end the video. “It is possible for you to leave behind the stigmas and actually carry on and make something of yourself.”

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Assemblyman William Scarborough arrested


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Updated 3:32 p.m.

Assemblyman William Scarborough was arrested on Wednesday on state and federal corruption charges, officials said.

Scarborough, who has represented the 29th District in southeast Queens for two decades, was arrested for allegedly stealing campaign funds and collecting travel reimbursement checks through the voucher system, which each legislator gets when he or she is in the state capital, even when he was not there, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“The crimes Mr. Scarborough is accused of committing would represent a shameful breach of the trust his constituents placed in him,” Schneiderman said. “New Yorkers are repeatedly asked to have faith in our leaders, and every allegation of political corruption shatters that trust. Each time my office arrests a corrupt public official, it sends the message that there must be one set of rules for everyone and no one is above the law, no matter how powerful or well-connected.”

Scarborough pleaded not guilty to a 23-count state indictment accusing him of withdrawing and diverting over $40,000 from his campaign account to use for personal expenses and an 11-count federal indictment of him improperly claiming “per diem” expenses in excess of $40,000 for travel that didn’t take place, according to Schneiderman.

If convicted on all charges he faces up to 37 years in prison.

He was released on his own recognizance in both courts, but was forced to give up his passport, according to published reports. Reports also said he has no intention of withdrawing from his re-election bid this year.

In March, the FBI raided Scarborough’s office and home as part of this investigation. The agency seized “just about everything,” according to what Scarborough told reporters then.

The arrest on Wednesday came as part of a joint effort by the offices of Schneiderman, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian.

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FBI, NYPD seek ‘violent’ Queens bank robber  


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of FBI

Authorities are looking for a suspect they are calling armed and dangerous after he threatened to shoot a bank teller during a robbery.

The man is wanted for holding up a Capital One Bank at 216-19 Jamaica Ave. on Friday, according to the FBI.

After entering the Queens Village branch, the suspect passed a demand note, threatened to shoot the teller and displayed a black handgun in his waistband, officials said. He then received an undisclosed amount of money and fled on foot westbound on Jamaica Avenue.

The FBI describes the suspect as a black man in his late 40s to early 50s, with an average height and medium build. He was last seen wearing a black Kangol hat, dark glasses, a blue and white striped short-sleeved button-down shirt and black pants.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

 

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FBI offers reward for fugitive in Ozone Park home invasion, murder


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of FBI


The FBI is offering a reward for a man who has been charged with murdering the son of a Queens pizza shop owner after he tried to defend his father during a 2009 home invasion.

Antoine Burroughs, also known as “Butter” or “Youngblood,” along with an accomplice, Leon Whitfield, is accused of attempting to rob Bartolomeo Antoniello at his Ozone Park residence in September 2009, according to officials.

The pair was allegedly targeting any cash he had on hand from his pizza shop, Antoniello’s. His son, 29-year-old Gerardo Antoniello tried to protect his father, and was fatally shot in the head during the struggle, officials said.

Burroughs, who was indicted in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, on March 13, is charged with murder, robbery conspiracy, attempted robbery and discharging a firearm, according to the FBI. An arrest warrant for Burroughs was issued the same day. Whitfield was arrested on March 18.

The FBI is now offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of Burroughs.

He is described as 25 years old, 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighs about 180 to 190 pounds and has a prominent mole on his right cheek. Burroughs was last known to be in Harlem, and is believed to have family and friends in Harlem and the Bronx. He should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Burroughs can contact the FBI at 212-384-1000.

 

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FBI releases video in Elmhurst unsolved armored car robbery, links suspects to second heist


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo/video courtesy of the FBI

The FBI has released video footage of the unsolved robbery of an armored truck guard in Elmhurst earlier this year.

Authorities now believe the same suspects may be linked to a second heist at a PLS Check Cashing location at 105-22 Northern Blvd. Corona in on January 25, 2013.

During the Elmhurst robbery, a GardaWorld armored truck arrived at the HSBC Bank at 82-57 Broadway just after 12 p.m., on January 31 to make a regularly scheduled deposit pick-up.  As one of the armed guards was leaving the bank, the three suspects attacked him at gunpoint inside the ATM lobby, according to the FBI.

The suspects may have used a .45 semi-automatic handgun during the robbery and as they fled they sprayed the guard with mace. The three men then fled on foot with cash from the guard, the FBI said.

Authorities describe the men as either Asian or Hispanic and they were dressed in heavy winter clothes. The getaway vehicle is believed to be a green Ford Explorer XLT, possibly from 2002 or 2003, with a dealer or out-of-state rear license plate.

GardaWorld is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the capture, arrest, and conviction of those responsible and the recovery of the stolen money.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (212) 384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

 

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FBI seeks ‘Gatsby Bandit’ in Queens bank robberies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of FBI

A man the FBI is calling the “Gatsby Bandit” is wanted in three bank robberies around western Queens.

The suspect, who was given his nickname because of the hat he was wearing, last robbed the Astoria Federal Savings Bank on Broadway near 73rd Street in Jackson Heights on May 16, according to authorities.

He is also accused of robbing an Investors Bank on Broadway at 31st Street in Astoria on May 13 at 4:40 p.m., and a Santander Bank, on Roosevelt Avenue near 84th Street in Jackson Heights on May 7 at 3:30 p.m., where he may have pulled out a black handgun, the FBI said.

Authorities describe the “Gatsby Bandit” as a white man, around 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 45 to 50 years old. He has gray hair, blue eyes and a skinny build, and was last seen wearing black-framed glasses, a tan Gatsby hat, a black coat and blue pants.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI  at 212-384-1000. Tipsters will remain anonymous.

 

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FBI seeking Delta Air Lines laser attack suspect from Elmhurst


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre


The FBI is seeking help to identify the perpetrator behind a laser attack, which caused flash blindness and disrupted the vision of a Delta Air Lines pilot on Tuesday.

As the plane was approaching LaGuardia Airport to land just before 8 p.m., a green beam that came from Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst entered the cockpit twice, the FBI said.

The injured pilot continued to experience pain in his right eye for a while after the attacks.

“Laser incidents are often viewed as harmless. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers, and we are asking anyone who knows anything to contact us.”

There have been various laser attacks that caused injury in pilots recently.

On January 25, a beam that originated from Staten Island blinded a United Airlines pilot as the flight was approaching LaGuardia Airport.

In another incident on December 26, 2013, a JetBlue pilot experience blurry vision for more than a week after being blinded by a laser while approaching JFK Airport.

Laser beam strikes targeting in-bound planes have increased 39 percent in the city, the FBI said recently. The number of incidents jumped to 99 in 2013 from 71 in 2012.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000. A $10,000 reward is available for information that leads to the arrest of anyone involved in these incidents. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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