Tag Archives: FBI

Queens Library CEO claims long hours at $114K consulting job: report

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens Library President and CEO Tom Galante logged a seemingly impossible amount of hours as a consultant while performing his day job, according to a published report.

A payroll review by the New York Daily News found Galante, who is currently the subject of an FBI inquiry over construction contracts, billed the Elmont School District $114,673 for work as a business consultant. During that recent seven-month period he allegedly averaged 26 hours of work per week.

At the same time, he claimed he put in an average of 70 to 80 hours a week at his public library gig, where he earns a $392,000 salary, according to the Daily News.

Galante has said that his consultant work is done during his off-hours, the publication reported, but a review of his work logs showed he billed numerous hours for the Elmont job while having a packed schedule for the library.

The CEO and the library have faced scrutiny after news reports revealed Galante’s salary and that he spent nearly $140,000 to renovate his office, while many workers have been let go in recent years.

Galante currently makes the most money of the city’s three library systems’ leaders, according to SeeThroughNY, which list how tax dollars are spent.

Borough President Melinda Katz penned a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month, asking him to suspend the ability of the Library to spend any funds on renovations until the issues are resolved.



FBI raids Assemblyman Scarborough’s home, office: reports

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The home and office of southeast Queens Assemblyman Bill Scarborough were raided by the FBI Wednesday morning, according to published reports.

Scarborough’s Albany office and Queens home were searched as part of an investigation into his travel reimbursements, the New York Post reported.
His district office and an Albany hotel room were also searched, according to the Daily News.

Scarborough, who served in the legislature for more than 20 years, told reporters that officials from the FBI and the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman seized his cell phone, calendars and “just about everything,” another report said.

“I’m innocent, but I understand the reality,” Scarborough said to a group of reporters, according to Capital New York. “I don’t know what’s going to go on. I am going to talk to a lawyer. This is just stunning to me.”

The Post reported in 2012 that Scarborough claimed per diem payments for spending five consecutive nights in Albany in 2011, but reporters spotted him at a town hall meeting at York College in Jamaica on one of the days he claimed to be in the state capital.

“I may very well have gone to that meeting, turned around and gone back to Albany that night,” he told the paper when they broke the story.

Scarborough said agents hinted there would be other politicians in hot water – and that he might be off the hook – but then the officials appeared to have backed off, Capital New York reported.

“What I was told was there might be indictments and I would not be one of them. When I spoke with people here, they seem to have tempered that statement, so I have no idea,” Scarborough told a reporter, according to the website.

Schneiderman’s office referred callers to the FBI, who did not return a call for comment by press time.

There was no answer at Scarborough’s district office or his Albany office.



FBI: Laser beam strikes targeting planes increase in NYC airports

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A crime that can temporarily blind airplane pilots and put air passengers at risk is spiking in New York City airports, authorities said.

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

Authorities believe youngsters on top of residential roofs are aiming the powerful light beams at airplane cockpits as a prank.

“Laser incidents are often viewed as harmless acts. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. “A laser pointed at a plane’s cockpit could blind a pilot and down an aircraft.”

At least 35 pilots have been injured by laser strikes since last December, the FBI said.

In one instance, a JetBlue pilot flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport last December was temporarily blinded for more than a week, the bureau said.

The federal agency is offering up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest and is hoping its regional awareness campaign deters the felony, which is punishable by five years in jail.

“It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

The pointers can be easily and legally purchased, authorities said, and the beams can travel further than one mile.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000.



FBI looking for three suspects in robbery of armored truck guard in Elmhurst

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the FBI

The FBI is looking for three men who attacked and robbed an armored truck guard on Friday at an Elmhurst bank.

After 12 p.m. on Friday, a GardaWorld armored truck arrived at the HSBC Bank at 82-57 Broadway. One of the armed guards went into the bank to make a regularly scheduled deposit pick-up and as he was leaving 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, according to the FBI.

The three men then fled on foot with cash from the guard and may have driven in a navy blue or black Ford Explorer described by witnesses as “dirty from the winter weather and missing a front license plate,” the FBI said.

The men are described as either Asian or Hispanic and were dressed in heavy winter clothes.

The FBI has released surveillance photos of the suspects and together with the NYPD is asking for the public’s help in identifying and finding the three armed men. 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. The suspects should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.



$100K reward for information on million-dollar theft onboard JFK-bound plane

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A $100,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the recovery of $1.2 million stolen onboard a flight from Switzerland to New York City last month or to the arrest of those involved, said the FBI.

The U.S. currency shipment was taken during a Swiss International Air Lines flight between June 21 and June 24.

The company that insured the money is offering the reward, according to the FBI.

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



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Tuesday: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 93. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 73. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Farmhouse Fest

Get Real presents “Farmhouse Fest” at Alewife in Long Island City on Tuesday, June 25. Ticket includes entrance to the festival unlimited tastings of Belgian, Dutch, French and American style Farmhouse craft beers; unlimited tastings of Farmhouse style wines; and tastings of Farmhouse style foods like cheeses, breads, meats & gourmet pickles all perfectly paired with featured wines and beers. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYPD cops pinch bank robbery suspect fleeing heist of Queens Capitol One branch

An NYPD sergeant and a rookie cop on Monday nabbed a bandit suspected of robbing a string of banks in Queens and Nassau County, police sources said. Read more: New York Daily News

7-Year-Old Queens boy struck in head by pellet gun bullet

A 7-year-old Queens boy was hit in the back of the head with a bullet from a pellet gun while standing outside with his mother Monday evening, and police are searching for a suspect. Read more: NBC New York

Smoky plume At power plant draws alarm in Queens

A defective boiler was blamed for a plume of black smoke that blasted out of the “Big Allis” power plant in Queens Monday. Read more: CBS New York

$1.2M in cash goes missing from JFK-bound flight: FBI

The FBI is investigating the theft of $1.2 million in cash that was discovered missing from the cargo of a Swissair flight when it landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport late Monday, NBC 4 New York has learned. Read more: NBC New York

Kelly to Wallenda: You will not be doing an NYC skyscraper high wire act

Aerialist Nik Wallenda drew awe Sunday night as he successfully walked across the Grand Canyon without a harness, and now his sights are set on two of the most iconic buildings in New York City. Read more: CBS New York

Russia rejects US demand for Snowden’s extradition

Russia’s foreign minister bluntly rejected U.S. demands to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, saying Tuesday that Snowden hasn’t crossed the Russian border. Read more: AP

FBI finds possible human remains at Ozone Park home of late mobster ‘Jimmy the Gent’

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Federal investigators have found possible human remains at the Ozone Park home of late mobster James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, according to an FBI spokesperson.

Officials began searching the home Monday in regards to an ongoing investigation.

According to reports, the search  is likely not related to the Lufthansa heist at JFK Airport which Burke was allegedly behind.

During the 1978 theft, the perpetrators made off with almost $6 million in cash and jewels.

Burke, who was famously portrayed by Robert DeNiro in the film “Goodfellas,” is believed to have murdered several individuals connected to the airport heist.

He died from cancer in prison 17 years ago, and the home, located at 81-48 102nd Road, is now reportedly owned by one of his daughters.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Thursday: Partly cloudy. Fog early. High of 91. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 75. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Thursday Nights Out

Kick your weekends off early this summer by visiting Bell Boulevard, Bayside’s “Main Street.” Every Thursday this summer these businesses will be staying open late and offering specials on Thursdays. For the latest specials check out baysidevillage.net. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

FBI agent’s car found after theft in Queens

An FBI agent’s car was found abandoned Wednesday, the day after it was stolen in Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Ricin letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Two threatening letters containing traces of the deadly poison ricin were sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York and his gun-control group in Washington, police said. Read more: AP

Barbara Sheehan loses appeal on gun possession conviction

Barbara Sheehan, the woman acquitted of fatally shooting her husband inside their Howard Beach home, has lost her appeal of a criminal weapons conviction related to the same case, District Attorney Richard Brown announced Wednesday. Read more: The Queens Courier

Poll: Commissioner Kelly would be a game-changer in mayoral race 

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is not running for mayor, but one pollster said her survey shows voters would love for him to do so. Read more: CBS New York

NYC architects offer plans for a new Penn Station

Four teams of architects presented plans Wednesday for a reimagined Penn Station that would be a spacious, welcoming gateway to New York City instead of the crowded, confusing and dark transportation hub now used by hundreds of thousands of daily commuters. Read more: NBC New York 

Prosecutor tapped to head FBI known for role in Bush-era surveillance standoff

The man poised to be the next head of the FBI is a former prosecutor respected by both sides of the aisle who may be best known for his role in a Hollywood-esque Washington showdown that thwarted the reauthorization of a controversial surveillance program. Read more: NBC News 

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Wednesday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 68. Winds from the South at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy with a chance of rain. Low of 59. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Laughing Devil Comedy Festival

The Laughing Devil Comedy Club’s six-day festival featuring comedians from around the world competing for cash and prizes, along with some hilarious celebrity guests. Ends May 19. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rockaway official launches petition to make ferry service permanent

THE CITY must continue providing ferry service from Sandy-ravaged Rockaway to Manhattan even after the A train is restored next month, a state lawmaker said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

NTSB recommends lowering legal limit to reduce drunk driving deaths

Federal accident investigators recommended Tuesday that states cut their threshold for drunken driving by nearly half, matching a standard that has substantially reduced highway deaths in other countries. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Boxer Robert (The Ghost) Guerrero gets soft deal on Queens gun rap

The Ghost has ducked the law’s hardest punch. Boxer Robert (The Ghost) Guerrero has agreed to a plea agreement with Queens prosecutors that gives him a kid-glove sentence for bringing an illegal handgun to JFK Airport in March. Read more: New York Daily News

Report: Former Rep. Anthony Weiner hires campaign manager

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner may soon make an official announcement that he is running for New York City mayor. Read more: CBS New York

Paterson hears ‘House’ call

Congressman David Paterson? Could be! The former New York governor said he has been approached about running for the Harlem congressional seat currently occupied by Rep. Charles Rangel. And he isn’t closing the door on the idea. Read more: New York Post

FBI investigating IRS targeting of conservative groups

The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service just as another probe concludes that lax management enabled agents to improperly target tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status. Read more: AP/ABC New York



Two Queens men charged after robbing bank, leading cops on high-speed chase

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Two Queens men have been indicted in connection to the robbery of an upstate New York bank that was followed by a high-speed car chase in Westchester County, said the FBI.

According to the allegations, Joseph McCrimon, 38, entered a Wells Fargo Bank in Ardsley on March 29, demanded cash from the teller and threatened to detonate an explosive device if his demands were not met. After receiving approximately $10,000 in cash from the teller, McCrimon ran outside to a car where James Sherrod, 39, was waiting.

An Ardsley detective attempted to stop the duo, but they drove off, leading cops on a high speed chase. The two then fled on foot. Sherrod was caught by police in Yonkers while McCrimon was caught in Hastings.

The two were each charged with bank robbery, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit bank robbery, which carries a maximum of five years.




Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 59. Winds from the SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Monday night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 52. Winds from the SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Queens Slur at Alewife

It’s the Slow Food NYC monthly Happy Hour! It’s fun, social, and informal. But it’s also your opportunity to talk to the leadership of Slow Food NYC and let us know what you think. Want to learn more about Slow Food? Just looking to have a relaxing drink with other “Slow” minded people? The Slur is your opportunity – free and open to everyone. Alewife will be extending their happy hour draft and wine specials for our Slur, as well as offering a $16 Burger ‘N Beer special. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

M.E. to begin searching for human remains near WTC site where landing gear was found

The New York City medical examiner’s office is expected to begin searching for human remains this week near the World Trade Center site after a piece of landing gear believed to be from a Sept. 11 hijacked plane was found. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Queens high school students injured in Ohio bus crash

Several children and adults suffered minor injuries after a charter bus carrying students from a Queens High School overturned in central Ohio. Read more: NBC  New York

Focus of Boston Marathon bomb investigation shifts to suspects’ mother

The focus of the Boston Marathon bombings investigation has shifted to the suspects’ mother, who was apparently recorded by Russian intelligence talking on the phone with one of her sons and discussing jihad last year.  Read more: ABC New York

Schumer: FBI ‘may have messed up’ in handling 2011 Tsarnaev investigation

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Congressional leaders were demanding answers Sunday, saying the FBI should have done a better job in sharing information about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Designer working on horseless carriage for NYC

A car designer is building a prototype of an electric “horseless carriage” that animal advocates hope will replace New York City’s horse-drawn carriages. Read more: Fox New York/AP

Mississippi man to appear in federal court in ricin letters case

A Mississippi martial arts instructor is expected to appear in a federal court on Monday to face charges in connection with the mailing of letters containing the deadly poison ricin to President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials. Read more: Reuters

Queens couple recounts blasts at Boston Marathon

| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Kevin Morrissey was a half mile away from finishing the Boston Marathon when he and the runners around him were abruptly forced to stop in their tracks on Monday, April 15.

“Marathon Monday,” as it is commonly called, is also Patriots’ Day in Boston. But around 2:50 p.m., on what is typically a joyous holiday, reports show that a bomb was detonated near the finish line of the race. Five hundred feet down the road, a second explosive went off. Both devices were reportedly constructed in pressure cookers and hidden in duffel bags.

“Everything just stopped,” Morrissey said. “There was a lot of confusion. Then it kind of sunk in that the race wasn’t going to finish.”

Morrissey, who is from Flushing, traveled to Boston with the borough’s Alley Pond Striders and was running the city’s marathon for the first time.

When he and the runners stopped, he first thought someone had fallen and was injured or that there was an emergency requiring vehicles to get through.

However, a nearby runner heard on his cell phone that an explosion had gone off at the race’s finish line and shared the news.

“We started to realize that this was something serious,” he said. “It was reminiscent of 9/11. The fire trucks just kept coming through.”

Morrissey’s thoughts turned to his wife, Deborah Stephenson, who had been waiting at the finish line since 10 a.m. in what she called “prime real estate.”

“We were sitting, and the first explosion happened. It sounded like a cannon,” she said.

After the first bomb went off, she left her spot and ran down the street. Although she heard people say the explosion came from fireworks for Patriots’ Day, she kept running. Somebody told her to run down the middle of the street and pushed her in that direction. She was across the street from the second bomb when it went off.

Stephenson continued to run until she reached a residential area a few blocks away.

“Then I just sat down and started shaking,” she said. “People came by with head bandages. People were running. Kids were crying. People were throwing up.”

She then went into a nearby department store, called her husband and said she was not leaving until he came to meet her.

After the pair found each other, they waited until they heard the Alley Pond group was okay, then “drove home immediately.”

The massive explosions resulted in three fatalities and over 180 injuries. A number of victims underwent amputations at Boston hospitals.

In his address to the nation the day of the blasts, President Obama said, “We still do not know who did this or why.” But he added, “any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”

The Boston Police Department and the FBI are investigating the bombing as an act of terror. Officials urged spectators to submit pictures or videos they took during the race for inspection.

“Today, our cheers were turned to prayers,” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said after the attack. “But Boston is strong and resilient, and we come together in times of need. We will get through this.”

As of press time, officials had made no arrests in connection with the bombings.



Pilot spots drone near JFK

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Look up in the air! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…a drone?

An Alitalia pilot reported sighting a drone near his jumbo jet Monday afternoon has he neared JFK Airport, according to news sources. Now federal agents are investigating who the drone belonged to, and what it was doing just about three miles from the airport.

While the reported mini-aircraft did not come too close to the plane, or cause any damage, other pilots nearing the airport were warned, it was reported.

“We saw a drone,” the pilot told the control tower. “A drone aircraft.”

It has not been confirmed if the drone belongs to the military or a hobbyist, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not taking the siting lightly. FAA and FBI agents are investigating the source of the one-meter aircraft.

Personal drone owners are capped off at flying their aircraft at 400 feet, according to The LA Times. The Alitalia pilot, however, reported seeing the drone at about 1,500 feet.



Queens man pleads guilty to Federal Reserve bomb plot

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Twitter/@eyewitnessnyc

The Bangladeshi national said that he wanted to “destroy America.”

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank, resolving to commit mass murder last October, according to the FBI.

Nafis first came to the United States last January on a student visa, but his intentions were instead to execute a terrorist attack on the behalf of al Qaeda.

“As [the] guilty plea shows, [Nafis] came to this country not to further his studies but to advance goals of jihad,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch. “Once here, he devoted his energies to refining his plan to disrupt the U.S. economy and kill Americans and attempting to recruit others to join him.”

Nafis sought to recruit multiple individuals to assist him in his quest, including al Qaeda contacts, but unknowingly recruited an FBI source who posed as an al Qaeda facilitator. At Nafis’ request, the undercover agent supplied him with 20 50-pound bags of purported explosives.

On Wednesday, October 17, the two traveled in a van to a warehouse where Nafis attempted to assemble what he believed to be a bomb. He explained to the agent that he also had a “Plan B” that involved a suicide bombing if his original plan were to be thwarted by the police.

Nafis and the undercover agent then drove to Lower Manhattan, parked next to the Federal Reserve Bank, and went to a nearby hotel. There, the 21-year-old recorded a video statement meant for the American public.

“We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” he said, according to the FBI.

Nafis then repeatedly tried to detonate the purported bomb, and was immediately arrested after his failed attempts.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that this was just one of 16 terrorist plots against the city since 9/11.

After his guilty plea, Nafis now faces life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for the end of May.



LI man arrested for pointing laser at plane heading to JFK

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo


A Long Island man was arrested Wednesday for pointing a laser beam at two aircraft this summer, risking the lives of passengers and potentially people on the ground, said the FBI.

According to court records, on August 21, Angel Rivas, of Shirley, directed a laser pointer at a plane headed to John F. Kennedy International Airport and a Suffolk County Police Department helicopter that was sent to investigate the incident.

Rivas was released on $10,000 bond, according to media reports, after his arraignment in front of United States Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay in a U.S. State Courthouse in Central Islip on January 23.

“Pointing a laser at an aircraft is not a prank,” Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI said in a press release. “It is a federal crime with penalties befitting its seriousness.”

In February of 2012, President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which explicitly prohibited pointing lasers at aircraft.

If convicted, Rivas faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a maximum fine of $250,000.