Tag Archives: Fire

Apparent murder-suicide attempt in Bayside arson


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Law enforcement officials stand in front of the Bayside home that was the location of a murder suicide on Wednesday, May 23.

A Bayside woman died after an argument with a man in their shared home on Wednesday, May 23 during what appears to be a murder suicide.

Firefighters responded to a call around 7:30 p.m. at 39-20 214th Place after neighbors saw smoke and smelled gasoline. Both victims were found in the basement by responding law enforcement officials. According to sources, the woman was found unconscious with trauma to her chest. The man was found nearby and had reportedly hung himself.

Sources alleged the man doused the home with gasoline and started a fire before attempting to take his own life.

Both victims were taken to different hospitals. Published reports state the woman died at Flushing Hospital while the man is in critical condition at New York Hospital Queens.

The couple, said to be in their 50s, argued frequently, according to neighbor George Gomez. He also said the woman frequently gambled – a catalyst for many of their fights.

It is not certain if the two were married. The couple has reportedly lived in the home for a time of between several months to a year.

Carol M., the couple’s next-door neighbor said the couple always seemed kind and never showed any signs of discord.

Headlines from around the web


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Fallen NYPD officers added to the ‘Wall of Heroes’

Fifteen heroic cops who died last year — including two killed year in the line of duty — were honored at Police Headquarters on Friday by having their names added to the “Wall of Heroes.” NYDailyNews

 

Pack of 15 or more teens chases, stabs 15-year-old Brooklyn boy on playground

A gang of teens stabbed a 15-year-old boy in the chest with a kitchen knife on a Brooklyn basketball court after cornering him and pummeling whim with bottles and sticks Friday, police and a witness said. NYDailyNews

 

Good Samaritan saves grandma and her infant grandson from blaze that killed transgender performer

A gutsy passerby rescued a terrified Brooklyn woman and her 8-month-old grandson from a suspicious apartment fire that killed their transgendered neighbor early Saturday. Katrina Evans, 46, was trapped with the little boy by a balky fire escape ladder in the 4 a.m. smoke and darkness outside her third-floor apartment. NYDailyNews

 

Gal charged with stabbing boyfriend in chest during fight held on $75G bail

The Manhattan woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend in the chest was still sobbing today as she appeared in court and was ordered held on $75,000 bail. Yekatrina Pusepa, 22, said nothing, but tears streamed down her face during her criminal court appearance on charges of attempted murder and assault for the attack on her boyfriend Alec Katnelson, 22. NYPost 

Two people killed in Brooklyn, Queens fires

Two people were killed in fires early this morning in Brooklyn and Queens, police said. A 25-year-old woman was found dead after firefighters extinguished the flames in a Bushwick third-floor apartment on Furman Avenue, near Bushwick Avenue, shortly before 4:40 a.m., authorities said. Fire marshals say the blaze is suspicious, but do not know what sparked it. NYPost 

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens jurors lead city in no-shows

Looks like Queens needs a boroughwide civics class. More than one-third, or 35 percent, of Queens residents ignore their jury-duty notices — the highest in the five boroughs. “We’re dealing with thousands of people, and we just don’t have the staff,” said Queens County Clerk Audrey Pheffer, who acts as the commissioner of jurors. In fact, Pheffer, a former assemblywoman, said the office stopped bothering to impose fines as it upgrades its jury-selection system. Read More: New York Post

Queens deli destroyed by early morning fire, explosion

A Queens deli was destroyed by an overnight fire — and an explosion at the store could be felt two blocks away. The fire was reported at 3:30 a.m. at the corner of Hempstead Avenue and 220th Street. Firefighters used ladder trucks to spray the building, as the fire was too strong to fight from the inside. The business, Deli Grocery & Grill, is relatively new — only about two months old. No injuries were reported, and there’s no word on the cause of the fire. Read More: New York Post

 

Deliberations To Begin This Week In Queens Terror Trial

A jury could start deliberations as early as Monday in the case of a Queens man accused of plotting to blow up the city’s subways. Adis Medunjanin is accused of conspiring with admitted terrorist Najibullah Zazi to detonate suicide bombs on Manhattan subway lines in 2009. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and receiving terrorist training from al-Qaida. Medunjanin faces life in prison if convicted on conspiracy and terror charges. Read More: NY1

 

Hundreds Of Union Job Applicants Camp Out In Woodside

Hundreds of applicants vying for a job with the ironworkers’ union waited outside the union’s office in Woodside, Queens for nearly a week, leaving some neighbors upset about the camp-out. Read More: NY1

Historic Forest Park Greenhouse gets $3.8 million upgrade, replacing century-old structures with high-tech ones

The historic Forest Park Greenhouse, which grows plants and flowers that liven up concrete stretches in Queens and Brooklyn, is moving beyond its early 20th century roots. A section of the greenhouse has just undergone a $3.8 million reconstruction that will increase its capacity and make it more environmentally-friendly. The first stage of the renovation focused on two of the houses that were built in 1905 and designed by greenhouse experts of the time, Lord and Burnham. Read More: Daily News

 

1 WTC to vault past Empire State Building today and become tallest tower in city

ONE WORLD Trade Center is set to eclipse the Empire State Building as New York’s tallest building Monday afternoon, officials said. As long as the weather cooperates, the tower will surpass the 1,250-foot Empire State Building at 2 p.m. on its way to a final height of 1,776 feet. “It’s wonderful,” Mayor Bloomberg said Sunday. “It’s taken a long time. This is probably the most complex construction site in any place ever. I think what we’ve shown is that democracy works.” Read More: Daily News

Woman killed in Auburndale Fire


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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A 63-year-old woman perished in the blaze that consumed her Auburndale home.

The victim, Joanne Brown, was found dead at the scene on Sunday, April 15. Her cousin, who Brown lived with, 59-year-old John Rebecchi, escaped.
Neighbor Sandra Villafane was one of the first people to see the fire. Up late on the computer, Villafane said she heard loud crackling noises and screams.

“Joanne! Joanne! [Rebecchi] was screaming her name,” said Villafane.

Villafane, who lives two houses over with her boyfriend, said that Rebecchi refused to leave his property. He stood by the wrought iron fence that surrounds his home and watched the fire in shock. After some coaxing, she said, she was able to get him to sit down and drink a glass of water.

At 4:39 a.m., firefighters responded to the call at the two-story private dwelling located at 45-08 189th Street. According to the FDNY, when units arrived they saw there was heavy fire on the first floor of the home.

Yu Jin Lee, who lives directly across the street, woke up on Sunday morning when she thought she heard her car alarm. Her three-year-old had also entered the room to wake her, Lee guessed because she was startled by the noise.
As soon as she looked outside, she said, she saw a column of flames.

“It was shocking,” she said. “All I kept thinking was ‘What do I have to do?’”
The fire was under control by 5:20 a.m. No firefighters were injured during the incident.

Neither Villafane nor Lee said they had any contact with Brown. Lee said she would occasionally see her smoking outside and Villafane said she and Rebecchi would exchange pleasantries every so often.
The cause of the fire is accidental electrical issues, possibly involving an extension cord, according to the FDNY.

 

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens woman killed in overnight fire

A Queens blaze killed a woman this morning, and seriously injured her cousin, authorities said. Firefighters discovered the unconscious body of Joanne Brown, 63, as they extinguished the flames in her Auburndale home on 189th Street, near 45th Avenue. EMS pronounced her dead at the scene. The fire began about 4:40 a.m., and was under control less than an hour later, according to an FDNY spokesperson. Read More: New York Post

Prober uses Facebook to nail perv, goldbrick NY teachers

Facebook is giving more Big Apple teachers a black eye. As the city Department of Education prepares to release it’s first-ever social-media policy, Schools Investigator Richard Condon has tallied a rapid growth in complaints about improper Facebook usage by city school employees — 120 in the past 18 months. Some teachers got in trouble for posting dumb jokes tinged with sex or violence. Others were busted after their own or students’ Facebook comments tipped officials to wrongdoing. Read More: New York Post

Sleepy driver kills 2: cops

A Long Island man on prescription drugs fell asleep behind the wheel and drove his 2011 Honda Ridgeline into a tree early yesterday, killing his 19-year-old girlfriend and a 17-year-old passenger, cops said. Thomas Smith, 20, of Ridge, and Jacqueline Salvador had just moved in together last week and were returning from Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. Also in the car were her brother, Johnny Salvador, 17, Ryan Baumgartner, 17, and an unidentified girl, 16. Read More: New York Post

Queens Child’s Fundraiser Raises Awareness Of Rare GI Disorders

A Queens fourth grader with a rare gastrointestinal problem held a Saturday fundraiser in Woodside to raise money and awareness. KeVaughn Plunkett, who is allergic to almost all foods and has to use a food pump to survive, held his fourth Annual Art Show event at Saint Mary’s Church in Woodside. Proceeds went to the American Partnership For Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED). For more information, visit apfed.org. Read More: NY1

 

 

Schumer Demands Harsher Penalties For Pharmacy Robberies

In the wake of several robberies of pharmacies in the area, Senator Charles Schumer is urging Congress to pass a bill calling for tougher penalties. The Safe Doses Act, which is already waiting for a Senate vote, would increase punishments for robbing drug stores and give police more tools to crack down on illegal prescription drug rings. Just last week, two man held up an East Harlem pharmacy looking for pain medication. Read More: NY1

 

 

 

New York Marks Centennial Of Titanic Sinking

Exactly 100 years since an iceberg sank the RMS Titanic, New York City is holding events today to mark the centennial of the famed shipwreck that killed more than 1,500 people. The Titanic sank early in the morning of April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg late the previous night. A tour in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is letting visitors pay respects at the gravesites of several Titanic passengers. Also, the Noble Maritime Collection at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island is opening a Titanic-related art exhibit. Read More: NY1

Firefighters feted following Lindenwood blaze, rescue


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Firefighter James Goelz made his first on-the-job rescue when an elderly woman’s Lindenwood apartment became a blazing inferno.

“When we got [to the building] there were people standing outside the apartment,” said Goelz. “When we got to the lobby we could smell something. People said there was something going on. We knew we were going to work that day.”

On Friday, April 6, fire safety officials responded to a call at the Ardsley apartment building, located at 153-25 88th Street.

Alex Alarcon, the Ardsley’s super and a tenant himself, recalled awaking that morning to the frightening sound of banging on his door. Alarcon, who has overseen the apartment complex for the past 22 years, said the male tenant who was knocking exclaimed that there was a fire on the fourth floor of the building.

When he went upstairs, Alarcon said the entire place was black and filled with smoke.

The tenant who alerted him called the fire department. Firefighters from Brooklyn’s Ladder 107 arrived shortly thereafter.

Responding firefighters surveyed the building’s layout, deducing that the fire originated from a unit on the fourth floor. Using a thermal imaging camera, Goelz, along with Lieutenant Gerry Cox and John Bunning, found the source of the blaze. Upon entering the smoke-filled residence, Goelz discovered the elderly, unidentified victim unconscious.

Cox carried the woman downstairs and outside, where he performed CPR on her. Goelz stayed behind to search for more victims. Thankfully, there was no one else in the apartment.

According to Alarcon, there has never been a fire in the Ardsley building before.

Alarcon alleged that the woman, would smoke and fall asleep with her cigarette still lit. He claimed that on several visits to her apartment, he noticed marks on the ground from where she would drop her cigarettes. Alarcon said he urged the tenant not to smoke in bed.

According to the FDNY, fire marshals determined the cause of the blaze to be careless smoking.

Goelz, who has been fighting fires for the past six years, said that regardless of the known danger, people continue to light up in bed.

“It is pretty common,” said Goelz. “It’s surprising that people do it, but they do. It’s not off the wall.”

The local hero is extremely proud of the rescue, especially the commendable job done by his fellow firefighters.

“It felt good,” said Goelz. “We did what we were supposed to do. Everyone did a good job and we really worked together. Everything went really clean. She’s still fighting for her life and that’s what it’s all about. You don’t get that opportunity all the time.”

One person critically injured after early-morning fire rips through Queens apartment


| jlane@queenscourier.com

An early morning fire ripped through a Queens apartment, leaving one person clinging to life, fire officials said.

The blaze broke out on the fourth floor of a six-story building at 153-25 88th Street in Lindenwood at 7:32 a.m., officials said.

One victim went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/queens_person_critically_injured_MLDboGY1QPj6HqqgZOyBLM#ixzz1rH8UL3gi

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Crews Battle Lower East Side High-Rise Fire

Members of the New York City Fire Department at this hour are battling a high-rise fire on the Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Heavy smoke is pouring out of the top floors of 89 Columbia Street. So far, no injuries have been reported. A cause is not yet known. Read More: NY1

 

Queens couple busted after allegedly locking up and abusing disabled woman, taking her money for over a year

A Queens couple was arrested for locking a partially paralyzed woman in a room from hell for more than a year, denied her food and a took advantage of her financially, said prosecutors. Patrick Donovan, 42 and Mae Washington, 63, were charged for convincing Maureen Murray, 58, to move out of her assisted living facility to save her some money, but instead of giving her a safe place to live they abused her and out of fear, she gave them power of attorney over her finances. Read More: New York Post

Jury announces it is deadlocked on rape chargers against ex-cop Michael Pena

On its fifth day of deliberations, a Manhattan jury has deadlocked on the question of whether drunken, now-ex-cop Michael Pena actually raped a terrified schoolteacher during a random gunpoint attack in Inwood last summer. “It’s a deadlock note,” defense lawyer Ephraim Savitt told reporters shortly after noon. The trial judge, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers, has already repeatedly admonished the jury to keep trying, and is expected to release them due to their note. Read More: New York Post

Zimmerman ‘distraught’ over Trayvon shooting: report

The Florida man who blew away an unarmed black teen is “distraught” over the incident and has been praying non-stop for the victim, according to a close family friend. Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has been in hiding ever since he gunned down defenseless Trayvon Martin, 17, on the streets of a gated community in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. The killing has touched off a heated national dialogue on guns, Florida’s self-defense laws, race and hooded sweatshirts. Read More: New York Post

Knicks say Stoudemire won’t need surgery; out 2-4 weeks

The Knicks have given a timetable for Amar’e Stoudemire, and they expect their star forward to return in 2-4 weeks from the bulging disk in his back. After a second opinion agreed with the Knicks original diagnosis, Stoudemire will undergo non-surgical treatment that will include an epidural steroid injection for the injury he suffered in the win over the Pistons on Saturday. The Knicks also announced that Jeremy Lin would not play on Wednesday against the Magic because of soreness in his left knee. It is the second straight game the point guard will miss. Read More: New York Post

 

Knicks’ Lin meets ex-ESPN worker who wrote offensive headline

Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin sat down to lunch with the ESPN employee who was fired last month for posting the infamous “Chink in the Armor” headline on the network’s website. According to Newsday, Lin ate with 28-year-old Anthony Federico Tuesday on the team’s off day. Though the Knicks said Wednesday Lin does not want to publicly discuss the meeting, Federico effusively praised the Asian-American star, calling him “a wonderful, humble person.” Read More: New York Post

Mega Millions soars to record $476M jackpot

The Mega Millions jackpot soared to a record $476 million ahead of Friday’s drawing after no one claimed the grand prize Tuesday night. No one has managed to match all six numbers in the multi-state lottery game since January 24, when a Georgia woman collected the $72 million prize. The near half-billion figure dwarfs the previous $390 million record, which was split in 2007 by two winners who bought tickets in Georgia and New Jersey. Read More: New York Post

Nike sues Reebok over ‘unauthorized’ Tebow gear

A trademark suit made public today charges Reebok with illegally cashing in on Tebowmania by peddling unauthorized Jets gear bearing the name of the team’s new celebrity quarterback. Nike, which signed Tim Tebow to an exclusive licensing deal in 2010, says Reebok did an end run around around that agreement to capitalize on the “vociferous demand for Tebow Jets products.” Reebok is allegedly “in the process of shipping large volumes of Tebow-identified apparel products” that are expected to hit stores this week. Read More: New York Post

This Morning’s Headlines


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The Round Up

Whitney Houston’s death was ‘complicated by chronic cocaine use and heart disease,’ coroner’s office says

Whitney Houston was a chronic cocaine user who had the drug in her system when she drowned in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub, confirming that her long battle with drug addiction caused her demise, officials said Thursday. An autopsy report on the superstar singer released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said she had mixed illegal and prescription drugs before she was found lifeless in the tub. The official cause of death was accidental drowning “and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use,” the coroner’s office said. Read More: Daily News

Cheating Manhattan corporate lawyer exposed after ‘assault’ on gal pal

A married Manhattan corporate lawyer’s double life came crashing down after he was arrested for smacking his mistress in the face and threatening to kill her, according to court papers. Steven Guynn, who has handled billion-dollar deals involving big-bucks clients around the world, allegedly punched gal pal Jeannette Schaefer after flying into a rage over breakfast last week in the tony New Canaan, Conn., home he shares with his wife. Read More: New York Post

 

Despite differences, devout Tebow and X-rated Ryan share passion for winning

There has never been a pairing of head coach and quarterback like this, not even Weeb Ewbank and Broadway Joe Namath, not even Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw, not even Walt Michaels and Doug Flutie with the USFL Generals. Read More: New York Post

 

Kim Kardashian flour-bombed at LA promo event for perfume line

Kim Kardashian was flour-bombed in Los Angeles on Thursday night as she attended a promotion for her new perfume — with alarmed staff calling in the fire department to investigate. The reality starlet was walking the red carpet at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, promoting the scent True Reflection, when she was showered in a white powder. Read More: New York Post

 

Labor-loving Quinn will pass wage bill

A pro-union bill that would boost salaries for thousands of privately hired workers to minimum rates set by the city is slated to pass the City Council next week as Speaker Christine Quinn courts organized labor for her likely 2013 mayoral bid, The Post has learned. Quinn told her Democratic members in a closed-door meeting this week she plans to move the controversial “prevailing wage” legislation at the council meeting on Wednesday, sources said. Read More: New York Post

Early-morning fire damages Manhattan home; one firefighter injured

Dozens of city firefighters spent the early morning battling a Manhattan house fire. The fire started at about 3 a.m., along West 217th Street in Inwood. Police at the scene said the house was burning blue when they arrived — and it took firefighters nearly two hours to get the fire under control. One firefighter was injured from a fall, and his condition is unknown. But officials at the scene said no one in the house was injured. Read More: New York Post

 

2 bodies found on eastern Long Island, 1 in area where corpse discovered last month

Two bodies have been discovered within 24 hours on eastern Long Island, including a woman’s corpse found dumped in a wooded area where a body turned up last month. Suffolk County cops said they have no evidence linking the victims to the 10 bodies that have been found since December 2010 in Gilgo Beach, a suspected dumping ground of a serial killer. A jogger found a female corpse about 4 p.m. Wednesday in Manorville Hills County Park. Read More: Daily News
Staten Island stabbing suspect to be arraigned today on murder charges

The man suspected of fatally stabbing a Staten Island groom-to-be at his engagement party will be arraigned today on charges of murder and weapons possession, authorities said. Redinel Dervishaj, 35, allegedly plunged a butcher’s knife into the chest of bricklayer Anthony Lacertosa, 27, during an early-morning melee last Saturday in front of the Espana Restaurant. Dervishaj was nabbed Tuesday hiding out at his aunt’s home in Illinois, police said. He waived extradition and was returned to Staten Island yesterday. Read More: New York Post

New Year’s fire bomber, Ray Lazier Lengend, charged with hate crime


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

An alleged arsonist arrested for a series of fires started on New Year’s Day is feeling the heat after being indicted on state and federal hate crime charges.

Ray Lazier Lengend, also known as Suraj Poonai, was taken into custody on January 3 – two days after police believe he threw glass bottles filled with gasoline at six occupied buildings in Queens and Long Island, two of which were places of worship.

The 40-year-old Queens Village resident was charged in a 36-count indictment, including arson as a hate crime, grand larceny, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison – with a minimum jail term of 20 years – if found guilty.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Lengend, who drove a silver Buick Regal that was stolen from a rental car facility at John F. Kennedy Airport, visited two separate gas stations in the vicinity of the Van Wyck Expressway on January 1 – purchasing glass coffee bottles at the first and filling the containers with gasoline at the second.

Lengend then proceeded to visit five sites in Queens – a deli on Hillside Avenue, a home on 107th Avenue, the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation mosque on the Van Wyck Expressway, a residence on 170th Street which is also used as a Hindu house of worship, and a dwelling on 43rd Avenue – and heave Molotov cocktails at the structures, according to the charges. Police say he also threw a fire bomb at one building in Long Island.

Lengend purportedly admitted to police that he planned to inflict as much damage and “take out” as many Muslims and Arabs as possible.

“Particularly troubling is the fact that the defendant is alleged to have been motivated by hate in at least two of the instances where he is alleged to have struck at a Muslim house of worship and attempted to strike at a second location which is a Hindu house of worship,” said Brown. “Hate crimes – whether they are motivated by religion, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender – will not be tolerated here in Queens, the country’s most diverse county. When they do regrettably occur, they will be condemned swiftly and those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Authorities say Lengend was recognized by a deli employee – who witnessed the suspect attempting to shoplift a bottle of Starbucks Frappacino and a small plastic bottle of milk on December 27 and expelled him from the store. Witnesses also spotted the stolen Buick Regal at several sites.

No injuries were reported in relation to the attacks, but one of the homes did sustain heavy fire damage in the living room. The damage on the mosque was minimal.

“We trust the court system to do the right thing, and we would like for justice to take its course,” said Syed Razvi, representative of the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation. “We don’t want to return back the hatred with which he came towards us. A person like this definitely has to be made an example of. I hope he serves his sentence, and that will serve as an example and deter people from performing similar crimes in the future, especially against houses of worship.”

“Suspicious” Four-Alarm Fire Destroys Business


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

“Suspicious” Four-Alarm Fire Destroys Brooklyn Business

Investigators are looking into what they are calling a suspicious four-alarm fire in Brooklyn that gutted one business and injured at least one person. The New York City Fire Department says flames broke out around 4:15 a.m. and quickly spread inside a one story commercial building located at 1716 West 6th Street in Gravesend. At one point, firefighters were ordered out of the building as flames filled the entire structure, causing the roof to collapse. Witnesses at the scene tell NY1 the building houses Dalmazio event planners, a family-owned business that’s been around for at least 10 years. Read More: NY1

 

Local Muslim Leaders Discuss NYPD Surveillance With Police Commissioner Kelly

Amid ongoing tensions over the New York City Police Department’s monitoring of Muslim communities in the Northeast, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly met Tuesday with local Muslim leaders who praised the surveillance programs’ effects on security. Saying to represent all five boroughs, the half-dozen Muslims who met with Kelly said the police commissioner plans to further reach out to local Muslims and will visit mosques across the city. Read More: NY1

 

 

Channel 4 booting anchorwoman Sue Simmons after 32 years

After more than three decades, WNBC/Channel 4 is tossing anchorwoman Sue Simmons overboard. Last week, the station gave her the bad news that her contract would not be renewed — and come June, she’s history. Simmons, who has won four Emmys since starting at Channel 4 in 1980 and is the top-paid anchorwoman at any local station in the country, would happily have stayed. It was entirely NBC’s decision to break up the city’s best-known local anchor pair, Simmons and Chuck Scarborough. Read More: New York Post

Call girl says Manhattan ‘madam’s’ law-enforcement sources tipped her off about busts

A call girl who once worked for Manhattan “Madam” Anna Gristina said her boss had well-placed law-enforcement sources tipping her off about upcoming brothel busts, which is how the operation remained up and running for so long. Irma Nici, who has previously claimed to have slept with David Beckham and Eliot Spitzer, worked for Gristina for six months in 2002 and told The Post that the mother of four “laughed” when other escort services went down. Read More: New York Post

Queens Teaching Aide Charged With Sexual Abuse Of Six Female Students


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens Teaching Aide Charged With Sexual Abuse Of Six Female Students

A full-time paraprofessional working in an art class at P.S. 52 in Springfield Gardens, Queens has been arrested and charged with sexual conduct with six female students. Brett Picou, 30, who worked as a teacher’s aide and a substitute at P.S. 52 since 2008, was awaiting arraignment Thursday on seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching, one count of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Read More: NY1

 

11 people, including 3 kids, escape from house fires in Queens and Manhattan

Eleven people, including three children, escaped two separate blazes in Queens and downtown Manhattan early Thursday — and one may have been the result of a firebomb. The first fire ignited in a Rockaway Blvd. apartment in South Jamaica just before 3 a.m., and the flames trapped the residents inside their homes. Witnesses later told fire investigators that a Molotov cocktail was tossed near the apartment, setting the home ablaze, sources said. Six people on the second floor suffered minor injuries along with three firefighters who were taken to Jamaica Hospital Center for evaluation, officials said. Read More: Daily News

 

Disgraced former Governor returning to national politics with fund-raiser

The Love Gov is climbing back into bed — with lawmakers. For the first time since a tawdry hooker scandal trashed his political career, Eliot Spitzer is holding a fund-raiser for a politician looking to make a national splash. The former governor is hosting the event at his Fifth Avenue home for Washington state gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee on March 5. Inslee, currently a Democrat in the House of Representatives, shares many of Spitzer’s left-leaning political stances. Insiders believe Spitzer’s soiree shows he’s trying to become a political mover and shaker once again — this time as a national kingmaker. Read More: New York Post

 

Not-so-Finest moment as cop caught napping on F train

A hero cop has been disciplined for catching Z’s on the F rain while armed and in uniform. Officer Matthew Sobota, 43, was caught snoozing on the subway by a straphanger, who snapped photos with his cell phone camera and emailed them to NYPD brass. “I thought maybe a teenager could take (Sobota’s) gun and sell it or use it. I felt like it was a potentially unsafe thing,” said Martin Bisi, 51, of Brooklyn, who took the photos of the sleepy cop on Feb. 16. Read More: Daily News

 

Knicks lose to Heat; Lin plays poorly

Jeremy Lin finally met his match last night, and it was ugly. In by far his worst performance during this 12-game surreal surge, Lin fell apart under the South Beach spotlight and the Knicks caved with him in a disappointing 102-88 loss to the mighty Heat last night at rabid AmericanAirlines Arena. “He can’t be Peter Pan every night,’’ Mike D’Antoni said. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and point guard Mario Chalmers made sure Linsanity calmed down as the Heat (27-7) won their eighth straight game by 12 or more points — one short of an NBA record. Read More: New York Post
19K taxi drivers accused of ripping off passengers won’t face charges

It was one of the biggest scandals in the taxi industry’s history, but nearly 90 percent of the 21,819 cabbies accused of ripping off passengers with inflated fares will get off scot-free, The Post has learned. In a stunning move, the Taxi & Limousine Commission is giving a free ride to 19,515 yellow-cab drivers caught setting their meters to the higher, out-of-town rate while traveling around the city. Overall, officials estimated that unwary passengers were fleeced for $1.1 million between 2008 and 2010. Of that, $238,854 in overcharges was attributed to the cabbies who will escape penalties. Read More: New York Post

Jimmy Fallon sings ode to Knicks guard Jeremy Lin on Late Night

Jeremy Lin’s game has spoken so loudly that comic Jimmy Fallon performed a Pearl Jam parody to honor the Knicks point guard. With a scraggly wig on his head, Fallon sang a tribute to the Harvard grad to the tune of the band’s 1992 hit “Jeremy.” “At home, shooting free throws and three point shots, waiting for a job/name not yet a pun/Carmelo injury,” he croons. “Came out of nowhere like an Asian Tebow.” Read More: Daily News

 

5 injured in Long Island house fire

Authorities on Long Island are investigating an early morning house fire in which five people were injured. Nassau County arson bomb squad detectives say the fire broke out at the Levittown house on Prentice Lane at 12:30 a.m. today. The four occupants — a 46-year-old woman and three 11-year-old children — managed to get out of the house quickly. They suffered smoke inhalation and were transported to a hospital for treatment. Read More: New York Post

Grandmother, four young children killed in house fire


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Grandmother, four young children killed in house fire

Four children aged between two and 12 were killed along with their grandmother Thursday morning in a fiery blaze at a New Jersey home, according to reports out today. The fire broke out at a large house on Clinton Avenue in South Plainfield just before 3.30 a.m. Relatives told 1010 WINS that seven children, their mother and their grandmother were in the house at the time of the fire. The mother, two of her sons, aged eight and 15, and her baby daughter managed to escape the blaze. The teen boy reportedly managed to grab his baby sister and save her from the fire. Read More: New York Post

‘Seinfeld’ actor Daniel von Bargen critical after shooting himself in apparent suicide attempt

“Seinfeld” actor Daniel von Bargen was in critical condition Wednesday after shooting himself in the head in an apparent failed suicide attempt. Paramedics went to the 61-year-old actor’s Cincinnati, Ohio, apartment Monday after he called 911, saying, “I’ve shot myself in the head … and I need help,” TMZ.com reports. “I was supposed to go to the hospital and I didn’t want to,” he is heard saying on the 911 tape, explaining he is diabetic. “They were supposed to amputate at least a few toes.” Read More: Daily News

 

Sacha Baron Cohen may not be barred from Oscars ceremony, but ‘The Dictator’ costume is

Sacha Baron Cohen may not be banned from the Oscars after all. The comic actor, who is in trouble with the Academy over rumors that he may show up on the red carpet as the title character from his upcoming movie “The Dictator,” may be allowed to attend the star-studded awards ceremony if he promises to show up only as himself, an Academy spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. Read More: Daily News

Two US troops killed by Afghan soldier amid Koran protests

Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s appeal for calm failed to quell nationwide protests over the burning of copies of the Koran earlier this week at a US military base, as anti-American demonstrations spread to new cities Thursday and for the first time led to American casualties. Hours after the Taliban issued a public appeal Thursday for Afghans to attack foreign-military bases in retaliation over the Koran burning, an Afghan soldier opened fire at a US base in eastern Afghanistan, killing two coalition soldiers, according to Afghan and US officials. Read More: New York Post
Knives and headless doll found in locker owned by Madonna’s LA stalker

Knives, a headless doll and videos of young kids were among the creepy possessions found in a California storage locker that once belonged to Madonna’s stalker Robert Dewey Hoskins, KCAL-TV reported. Hoskins, 54, who was convicted of stalking the pop star in 1996 and recently tried to escape the psychiatric hospital he is currently being held in, kept his possessions in a storage facility in Long Beach until he missed his rent payments and his belongings were sold. Read More: New York Post
Cops nab gang member who fired gun into crowd, wounded teen

Plainclothes cops collared a teenaged gang member who wounded a 14-year-old boy after firing shots into a crowd of people in Queens early this morning, authorities said today. Christopher Chinloy, 17, was spotted by the cops firing a gun in front of a Rockaway Beach grocery store just after midnight, police said. The veteran cops, Sergeant Craig Bier and Officer Donnell Myers, were on their way back to their command in the Queens gang unit when they heard the gun fire on Beach Channel Drive, cops said. Read More: New York Post

Mom Throws Baby Out Window to Escape Suspicious Fire in Jamaica


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mom Throws Baby Out Window to Escape Suspicious Fire in Jamaica

A desperate mother threw her baby out the second-floor window of a Queens home that was engulfed by a suspicious blaze early Thursday, fire authorities and witnesses said. The child, who couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3 years old, landed safely in the arms of civilians who gathered on the sidewalk next to the flaming building, said Dan Delargy, one of the first FDNY responders with Ladder 155. Delargy said the baby came flying out the window as he was walking in the front door of the Jamaica home. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but officials are considering it suspicious. Captain Anthony Varriale said the blaze appears to be intentionally set. Read More: NBC News

 

Feds Arrest Fugitive “Folk Nation” Gang Leader

Federal authorities on Wednesday announced the arrest of a fugitive leader of a violent Brooklyn and Queens street gang. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn says Devon Rodney is in custody and is awaiting arraignment. He and eight other accused members of the “Folk Nation” gang were indicted last month for murder and racketeering. One of the men is still on the loose and the rest have already been arraigned. Authorities believe the crew is behind four murders, three attempted murders, and a string of assaults and robberies. Read More: NY1

 

Ray Kelly ‘threat’ man makes bail

A Brooklyn man busted for allegedly making threatening comments online about Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was freed on $10,000 bail yesterday and ordered to stay away from the top cop. Richard Strauss, 49, had railed against Kelly in the comments section of Gothamist.com, where, using the handle Ladder157, he called the commissioner “an enemy of the people.” “A well-placed round of 7.62 ammo to his thick skull would work quite well to eliminate the threat he poses. All New Yorkers should aim their sights (both figuratively and literally) on this piece of excrement,” the comment read. Read More: New York Post

Racino ‘scam’

Two Aqueduct racino employees were charged yesterday with giving phony “high roller” comp cards to gamblers in exchange for a cut of their winnings. Moises Jones, 29, of The Bronx, and Rolanda Roberts, 33, of Brooklyn, allegedly earned several thousand dollars by distributing nearly 200 fake cards. Read More: New York Post

Bronx woman arrested for stabbing a 3-month-old girl during a wild argument with the baby’s mother

A Bronx woman has been arrested for stabbing a 3-month-old baby in the head amid an argument with the child’s mother, prosecutors said. “I hope that f—ing baby dies!” Candie Hailey-Means, 28, shouted as she plunged a blade into little Hazel Haliburton’s head, court papers show. The toddler suffered a fractured skull, a black eye and other injuries during the attack on Friday. She remains hospitalized at Lincoln Medical Center, but doctors expect she will survive, sources told the Daily News Wednesday. Read More: Daily News

Clues hint at pill-pop Whitney Houston’s drowning; police could release new details today


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Clues hint at pill-pop Whitney Houston’s drowning; police could release new details today

Authorities yesterday were investigating the possibility that troubled singer Whitney Houston took sedatives, fell asleep and drowned in a tub in her Beverly Hills hotel room. Police may release more details about Houston’s death today. The tragic 48-year-old star spent the final hours of her life preparing for an appearance at a pre-Grammy party Saturday evening, and might have popped the pills to take the edge off her anxiety. The prescription drugs Xanax, Lorazepam and Valium were found in her suite, Room 434, at the posh Beverly Hilton, one report said. Read More: New York Post

Livery driver thrown from car, killed in Queens crash

A livery driver died early this morning when he was ejected from his sedan after it crashed in Queens, police said. Darren Green, 41, was operating a 2006 Lincoln Town Car going eastbound on South Conduit Boulevard at around 4 a.m. when he apparently lost control and slammed into a utility pole near Linden Boulevard. Green, the sole occupant of the vehicle, was rushed to Brookdale Hospital, where he later died. Read More: New York Post

 

Rubber roomer retires

The city’s “rubber room” king has been knocked off his throne. Disgraced typing teacher Alan Rosenfeld — who collected a $100,000-a-year salary even though he was banned from the classroom for more than a decade — has finally decided to retire from his cushy gig after telling friends he couldn’t take the heat from a series of Post articles about his situation, sources said yesterday. “He was so upset and angry at the latest round of pictures and articles,” said a source familiar with the case. Read More: New York Post

 

Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown rushed to hospital in wake of mother’s death 

Whitney Houston’s heartbroken daughter was rushed to the hospital twice in the wake of her mother’s death. Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, was hospitalized Sunday after an earlier episode late Saturday. “It was just extreme stress,” said a family friend. “She’s devastated. She and her mom were best friends.” Radaronline reported that the teenager had a few drinks, then was given a sedative by members of her mother’s entourage and passed out. Her father, Bobby Brown, canceled a Sunday concert to fly to Los Angeles to be with her. Read More: Daily News

 

Deadline looms on Feb. 12 for Queens churches that worship in schools

Leaders of Queens churches who use public schools as places of worship say the city’s push to evict them from their current homes on Sunday could force them to lose followers and strain their community ties. “Sunnyside is really our neighborhood,” said the Rev. Jon Storck, a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church, which has held Sunday worship services at Public School 150 since 2006. “It’s our home.” Storck said he could lose more than half his flock if he’s force to move into a different neighborhood because most of them walk to prayer services. And both the community and the school would suffer the loss of a major donor, Storck said. The church has participated in several community programs, including graffiti removal and an initiative to keep alive PS 150’s drama program, which Storck said is one of the last of its kind in the city. Read More: Daily News