Tag Archives: FBI

FBI busts drug ring operated out of Woodhaven den

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

FBI 004w

Twenty alleged members of a drug trafficking organization, centralized in Woodhaven, have been indicted for conspiracy to distribute heroin.

The ring, called the Perez Organization, FBI officials believe, operated out of a location on 87th Avenue and 78th Street and oversaw distribution networks existing in Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as a storage facility in Brooklyn, according to the indictment and a detention letter filed by the government.

“The charges and arrests announced today [Tuesday, March 13] have ended the activities of an alleged heroin distribution organization whose members were drawn from a variety of backgrounds but were united by common cause — profiting personally while seriously endangering the lives of so many residents in our communities,” said Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

According to the FBI, members of the Perez Organization were responsible for dispensing over 20 kilograms of heroin, possessing a street value of around $2.75 million, to drug dealers in Queens and Long Island over the past nine months.

The arrests and indictments of these individuals were the end result of a nine-month-long investigation, called “Operation County Connection,” run by the FBI and Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), along with assistance from the Suffolk County Police Department, the New York City Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service, Eastern District of New York.

Over the course of the investigation, sparked by an increase in heroin use on Long Island, law enforcement officials used wiretaps to document the dealings of the defendants. According to the FBI, more than 5,400 individual doses of heroin, set for distribution, were recovered from affiliates of the Perez Organization. Over $30,000 worth of heroin was recovered by agents throughout four storage facilities in Queens, Brooklyn and Roosevelt, New York.

Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, applauded the efforts of law enforcement officials responsible for bringing down the organization.

“Well done to the FBI and the NYPD for nabbing these guys,” said Wendell. “Heroin is one of the most destructive drugs out there. It’s pretty low to be peddling heroin. You’re a leech on society.”

While Wendell was not especially troubled by the discovery of a drug ring in his neighborhood, he was stunned to see locals involved in such a scenario.

“It’s not the kind of thing you’d expect from someone in this community,” said Wendell. “You don’t look at your neighbors and think they could be someone who’s part of a drug gang.”

The alleged defendants are Jose Perez, 26; Norberto Rodriguez, 27; Wilfred Castillo, 26; Jose Taveras, 38; Rafael Pichardo, 30; William Baez, 30; Edwin Adames, 33; Leonardo Lopez, 25; Sean Brunette, 22; Anderson Taveras, 22; Kenneth Suarez, 33; Eric Suarez, 28; Dana Sollecito, 23; Tina Catrini, 29; Matthew Catrini, 24; Josephine Javis, 50; Roland Stern, 68; Corey Stern, 37; Kathryn Pappas, 21; and Felix Vargas, 33.

If convicted, each of the defendants potentially faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

House-squatter thugs held in kidnapping, rape of Long Island teen

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

House-squatter thugs held in kidnapping, rape of Long Island teen

A gang of sick squatters kidnapped, raped and pimped out a terrified 15-year-old Long Island runaway in a Queens house where they were illegally living, law-enforcement officials said yesterday. And in a bizarre twist, after the owner complained that people were living there illegally, cops went to the Ozone Park house the day before the girl was taken there against her will. Read More: New York Post

Multiple Armed Robberies Connected To “Snub-Nose” Bandit

The New York City Police Department and FBI are stepping up their search for an armed robber who has become increasingly violent. Investigators say the suspect, dubbed the “Snub-Nose Bandit” for his weapon of choice, is connected to at least six incidents in Brooklyn and Queens dating back to September. He mostly targets banks, but in his first robbery he held up a Dunkin Donuts in Greenpoint, firing one round into a tray of donuts as he demanded cash from the register. Read More: NY1


DA putting the screws to ‘brothel boss’ Anna Gristina

They pressed her over and over, pushed a list of 10 Big Apple power players at her — and demanded she spill the beans on the roster of real-estate moguls and investment bankers. “Some I knew, some I didn’t,” accused Upper East Side brothel boss Anna Gristina told The Post yesterday about an hours-long grilling she received from Manhattan prosecutors. But they kept pressing, bringing in more and more investigators to intimidate her. Read More: New York Post

FDNY minority  retort – Hit with a $128M ‘bias’ bill

The city could get socked with a bill of up to $128 million to compensate minority applicants who were rejected because of discriminatory hiring practices, a federal judge said yesterday. Judge Nicholas Garaufis first set the compensation pool at $65 million three weeks ago but revised the figure to factor in the “total gross amount of lost wages” for applicants who took the FDNY exam in 1999 or 2002 but were not hired. Read More: New York Post

Whitney Houston funeral: mourners pay tribute to legendary singer at Newark church

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Whitney Houston funeral: mourners pay tribute to legendary singer at Newark church

The silver casket bearing Whitney Houston glistened Saturday inside her old Newark church, where a star-studded crowd bid farewell to the departed diva with the divine voice.

“What becomes of our broken hearts?” asked her “Bodyguard” co-star Kevin Costner in a moving memorial. “Whitney returns home today to the place where it all began.”

Read More: New York Daily News


Timothy Cardinal Dolan receives red hat from Pope Benedict in Vatican City

Timothy Cardinal Dolan says his new red hat from Pope Benedict XVI is a gift for New York.

The city’s newly-elevated Catholic leader was smiling from cheek to cheek Saturday after receiving a gold ring and red silk biretta from the pontiff inside St. Peter’s Basilica inVatican  City.

Read More: New York Daily News
Cocaine found on capsized cruise ship captain’s hair, lawyers for survivors say
A group representing survivors of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship say traces of cocaine were found on a sample of the captain’s hair but not within the hair strands or in his urine — which would have indicated he had used the drug.

Italian consumer protection group Codacons said Saturday it has asked prosecutors investigating Captain Francesco Schettino to order another test.

Read More: New York Post


DOE To Review 1,000 Cases Against School Staff Following Latest Sex Abuse Charges

The city Department of Education is promising to make major changes in disciplinary policy following a string of arrests of employees for inappropriate acts with children.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott outlined the changes in a letter sent home to parents Friday.

Read More: NY 1


Spit hits fan in teach spat

 A veteran Queens math teacher was yanked from the classroom yesterday after a cellphone video posted online showed an apparent confrontation with a student.

Department of Education officials said they are investigating 19-year veteran David Pecoraro, a vocal union leader at Beach Channel HS in Far Rockaway, on allegations of corporal punishment.

Read More: New York Post


Liu Fundraiser Pleads Not Guilty To Wire Fraud Charges

Xing Wu Pan, a major fundraiser for City Comptroller John Liu, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud charges during his arraignment in Downtown Manhattan on Saturday.

Prosecutors say Oliver Pan told an undercover FBI agent he would use straw donors to funnel $16,000 in over-the-limit contributions to the comptroller’s 2013 campaign.

Read More: NY 1


Al Sharpton’s SUV impounded at La Guardia Airport

Can I get a witness?

The Rev. Al Sharpton tried to move heaven and earth yesterday to keep his SUV from being towed at La Guardia Airport — but no amount of preaching could stop Port Authority cops from impounding the vehicle.

An officer rolled up on the 2008 Lincoln Navigator at around 2 p.m. outside the Delta and US Airways terminal as the MSNBC host’s driver waited to pick him up in a clearly marked “no standing” zone, said PA Police spokesman Al Della Fave.

Read More: New York Post


Racist headline after Jeremy Lin, Knicks lose prompts quick apology from ESPN

ESPN is apologizing for an offensive headline posted after Jeremy Lin and the Knicks fell to the Hornets Friday night, ending a dazzling 7-game win streak.

The headline, “Ch-k in the armor” was up for about 30 minutes before being pulled down, ESPN said in a statement, as the controversy continued to grow in volume on Saturday.

Read More: New York Daily News

FBI busts teacher’s aide for allegedly making child porn with students

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

FBI busts Brooklyn teacher’s aide for allegedly making child porn with students

A teacher’s aide at a Brooklyn school was arrested again yesterday by the FBI and charged with making child pornography videos of students he was assaulting at the grade school where he worked, authorities said today. It is the second time in the last two weeks that FBI agents have charged Taleek Brooks with offenses linked to illegally possessing films of underage children engaged in sexual acts. After his first arrest in mid-January, Brooks allegedly confessed that he had assembled more than 1,000 pornographic images of young children on his computers, according to a report filed by Brooklyn federal prosecutors. Read More: New York Post

Prosecutors have yet to convene grand jury in Cashman ‘stalker’ case

Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s alleged shake-down stalker learned some good news in Manhattan Criminal Court today: prosecutors have agreed to take more time investigating the case before convening a grand jury on possible felony grand larceny charges. Louise Meanwell, 35 — who also uses the let name Neathway — looked grim but clear-minded after making the trip from jail to court, and turned up at the defense table wearing a snug-tailored charcoal pants suit and repeatedly flipping her long blonde hair from her face. She’d last come to court Feb. 3, and had that time treated news photographers to a slide-show stack of emotions and poses, rolling her eyes, tearing up and laughing in turns. Read More: New York Post

Hotel art thief is prison-bound

A compulsive fine art fan is going to prison for at least a year after getting caught lifting hundreds of thousands of dollars in paintings from the lobby walls of the Carlyle and Chambers hotels in Manhattan. Mark Lugo, 31, was a restaurant waiter with caviar taste — as much as $700,000 in stolen art and fine wine was recovered from his Hoboken, NJ apartment when cops busted him this past summer. Lugo pleaded guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court today to one count of grand larceny in the second degree, the top charge against him. Read More: New York Post


Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is trying to buy Los Angeles  Dodgers

Donald Trump’s son-in-law is making a play to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. If successful, Jared Kushner would be the most high-profile New Yorker to own the team since Walter O’Malley, who broke Brooklyn’s heart by moving the Dodgers to L.A. before the 1958 season. Kushner, who is just 31 and married to Ivanka Trump, would also be the youngest owner in Major League Baseball. While Kushner has not said anything publicly about the bid, the editor of his newspaper — The New York Observer — gave it a thumbs up. Read More: Daily News


Teens charged with burglary and sexual assault in home-invasion robbery in Brooklyn

Disturbing details emerged Monday about a Brooklyn home invasion by four teens, the youngest only 13-years-old, who allegedly tied up a couple, ransacked their home and took turns sexually assaulting the woman. As one robber went to get cash with stolen ATM cards, the three others repeatedly forced the 22-year-old victim to perform oral sex, threatening to kill her if she refused, prosecutors said. “The defendants are known members of the Brower gang,” Assistant District Attorney Wilfredo Cotto said in Brooklyn Criminal Court. Read More: Daily News

Liu in FBI cross hairs

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Liu in FBI cross hairs

A federal probe into the campaign fund-raising operations for city Comptroller John Liu is now focused on the candidate himself, The Post has learned. “If campaign-finance rules are being circumvented or violated, there’s certainly a question whether the candidate himself knew about it or was a party to it,” one law-enforcement source said. “Did [Liu] know, and what was his role?” The FBI last month charged Liu moneyman Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan with steering $16,000 to Liu’s campaign through “straw donors” to hide massive contributions made on behalf of an out-of-state businessman who actually was an undercover federal agent. Read More: New York Post

New York bars ready for Jets-Giants game

It’s on! Football fans will pack bars around the city to watch the Jets-Giants battle at the Meadowlands tomorrow — and the watering holes are breaking out all the bells and whistles for the pre-Christmas crowds. Special drinks, free booze and lavish spreads will be at the ready for the throngs expected to take a break from their holiday shopping to root for their teams. Read More: New York Post

Santa brings early holiday joy to kids at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children 

Santa made an early visit to the kids at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside last week with the help of New York’s Bravest. Firefighters from Engine 320/Ladder 167 used their rig to help Santa descend from the roof and visit with dozens of children who are battling serious illnesses. Continuing a tradition started over 15 years ago, the firefighters also brought a van-load of gifts that ranged from toys and dolls to cameras, radios and electronic games. Read More: Daily News

2011 Crime Statistics Show Slight Decrease In Murders

The New York City Police Department’s data show major crimes like murder, rape, and robbery are up by .2 percent through December 18 this year compared to the same period last year. There have been 519 murders this year through December 18, a drop of 5.6 percent compared to almost the same time period last year. The Bronx was the only borough to see a slight increase in murders. Read More: NY1

Police Seek Suspect Who Allegedly Robbed Queens Livery Driver

Police need help finding the person who they say robbed a livery cab driver Saturday morning near 93rd Avenue and 112th Street in Richmond Hill, Queens. They say the man seen in the above photographs placed the 59-year-old cab driver in a headlock, causing the victim to crash into a fence. Investigators say he then stole money from the victim’s bag and ran off. He is described as approximately 25-years-old, 5-feet-7-inches tall, and 170 pounds. Read More: NY1

Man Suspected Of Sexually Abusing Two Pre-Teen Girls In Elmhurst

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Feds arrest NY lawmaker on new bribery charges

Less than three weeks after being acquitted in a federal corruption case, a New York state lawmaker was arrested Tuesday on new charges that he sought and accepted bribes from a carnival promoter and two undercover FBI agents posing as real estate developers. William Boyland Jr., a Brooklyn assemblymember from a long line of politicians, was to appear later Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn on charges of soliciting more than $250,000 in bribes in exchange for performing official acts. There was no immediate response to a phone message left with his attorney. Read More: NBC News

Man Suspected Of Sexually Abusing Two Pre-Teen Girls In Elmhurst

Investigators are on the hunt for a man wanted for sexually abusing two 12-year-old girls in Queens. Police released a sketch of a man they say lured a girl into his car on 54th Avenue in Elmhurst on the morning of November 12. Investigators say he began sexually abusing the girl inside the car before she ran out. Police believe on November 25 he lured another girl into his car on 55th Avenue. He is described as about 6-feet tall and about 40 years old. Police say the suspect’s white sedan has a green, white and orange or red flag sticker on the driver’s door with an eagle in the middle. Read More: NY1

New schedules to clear ‘chaos’ at Queens Metropolitan High School

The class confusion should be over at Queens Metropolitan High School following new schedules distributed prior to the Thanksgiving break. The first two-and-a-half months of the school year saw some students’ schedules changed over 10 times. Parents and students complained of the chaotic hallways, constant changes and no gym classes. Queens Metropolitan shares the building with two other schools – Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School and Maspeth High School. Read More: Queens Courier

NYPD Stats: Officers Have Stopped, Frisked Four Million Residents Since 2004

The New York City Police Department is on pace to stopping-and-frisking a record number of New Yorkers this year. According to a New York Civil Liberties Union analysis of new police data, during the first nine months of 2011, the NYPD made more than 500,000 street stops. The group says officers are on track to conduct just more than 675,000 stops, which is a nearly 13 percent increase over last year. The NYCLU claims most of these interrogations involved blacks or Latinos, and nearly 90 percent of the stops did not result in an arrest or ticket. Read More: NY1

$680,000 drug bust in Queens

A drug thug was busted in the middle of a Sports Authority parking lot in Queens on one of the busiest shopping days of the year — with 20 kilos of coke in his trunk, cops said yesterday. Kwame Deschamps, a 27-year-old licensed barber from Lynn, Mass., was acting suspiciously Saturday in the store’s lot on Woodhaven Boulevard in Forest Hills, police said. Cops investigated and reported finding in his car’s trunk more than $600,000 in cocaine and about 4,000 OxyContin pills, which can go for up to $20 a pop, or a total of $80,000. Deschamps was arraigned and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. He had been arrested in Massachusetts in 2009 for marijuana possession, according to police. Read More: New York Post

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/02/2011: $10,000 Reward Offered In Deadly Wrong-Way Queens Crash

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Ex-Texas FBI agent convicted in NY of making false statements after having sex with source

A former Texas FBI agent was convicted Tuesday of making false statements about a confidential source after he had an intimate sexual relationship with her. Adrian Busby, 37, of El Paso, Texas, was convicted of four counts of making false statements in U.S. District Court. The charges carry a potential prison term of up to 20 years. Prosecutors accused Busby of making numerous false statements regarding the steps he took to assist the woman during a criminal trial in Queens that resulted in her conviction. Read More: Washington Post



Feds decline investigation of Queens detention center

The U.S. Marshals Service has declined to investigate allegations by activists that immigrants at a private New York City detention center have been abused. Jeff Carter, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said Tuesday that the agency had conducted annual and spot inspections at the Queens Detention Facility since 2008. The center passed its most recent inspection in September, he said. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Make the Road New York, an immigrant rights group, called for an investigation of the center last month after saying they had received reports of mistreatment of detainees and lack of medical care at the privately operated center. Read More: Wall Street Journal

Body found along Jersey City waterfront identified as Queens woman

Detective work on both sides of the Hudson River has led to the identification of a drowned woman found floating near Jersey City’s Newport community on Saturday, officials said Sunday. The body of Yin Har Lau, 59, of Queens, was identified by her son just before noon Sunday at the state Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Newark, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said. Read More: NJ.com

$10,000 Reward Offered In Deadly Wrong-Way Queens Crash

A $10,000 reward has been posted for information leading to the arrest of a driver wanted in a deadly wrong-way crash that killed a beloved bar owner in Queens. The crash occurred around 6:45 a.m. of Oct. 15, when 37-year-old George Gibbons closed up his “Gibbon’s Home” bar in Maspeth before catching a cab to go home. Read More: CBS News


Closing Arguments Expected In NYPD’s Sean Bell Shooting Trial

Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday afternoon in the departmental trial of two city police officers involved in the Sean Bell shooting. Officer Michael Carey and Detective Gescard Isnora both testified that they acted in the interests of their own safety when they and three other policemen shot and killed the unarmed man outside a Queens strip club in 2006. Read More: NY1


Confessed murderer Edwin Fuentes leads cops to last of his wife’s remains hidden in Forest Park

A former butcher who copped to choking his wife and then dismembering her body led cops Tuesday to the last of her remains in Forest Park in Queens. Edwin Fuentes, 44, had agreed as part of a plea deal to show cops where to find the remains of his wife, Reina De Los Santos Reyes, a mother of two, authorities said. The remains, the last parts of her skeleton still missing, were found inside of a plastic bag within the park, which is near where the couple once lived in Woodhaven. Read More: Daily News


Grenade found inside a Queens home owned by a Vietnam vet

A grenade was found inside a Queens home on Tuesday – causing a brief panic for quiet block, police sources said. An electrician found the grenade while working inside the two-story house on 89th Ave. near 107th St. in Richmond Hill about 4 p.m., the sources said. Read More: Daily News