Tag Archives: Fire

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

Jamaica fire kills one


| brennison@queenscourier.com

A deadly fire broke out late Wednesday night leaving one dead in Jamaica.

The blaze at a residence on 120th Avenue left a 69-year-old woman dead. The woman was found after fire fighters responding to the fire extinguished the flames. EMS pronounced the woman dead on the scene.

The investigation of the fire’s cause is ongoing.

Queens fire kills grandmother as helpless kin look on


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens fire kills grandmother as helpless kin look on

A fast-moving house fire killed a Queens grandmother early today as her family managed to escape the blaze in South Jamaica. “The family was screaming for their grandmother,” said neighbor Lola Reid. “She never came out of the house.” Elaine Spencer, 69, died at the scene, officials said. “She was a sweet woman. Everyone on this block loved her,” said Jessica Banks, 25, a relative of the victim. Rickey Anderson was walking home on 120th Avenue near Sutphin Boulevard at around midnight when he saw flames shooting from the two-family home. Read More: New York Post

 

Catwoman is caged

The catwoman has been declawed. A Queens woman who robbed an Astor Place boutique while wearing a cat mask was ordered caged for 10 years — and she went out hissing all the way. “I am not the catwoman!” Shana Spalding shouted after being sentenced yesterday in Manhattan Supreme Court. “No! No! No!” The 29-year-old Queens crook cried out for her mom and raged at court officers and photographers as she was led out in handcuffs. The death-metal singer known as “Purgatory” was convicted in December of armed stick-ups at Arche Shoes on Astor Place and Cotélac, a SoHo sportswear shop . Read More: New York Post

Brooklyn Man Charged With Murdering Brother In Queens Home

A Brooklyn man is accused of attacking two members of his own family, killing one of them. Sources say Gideon Forde, 33, is charged with murdering his 29-year-old brother, Clinton, inside a home on 148th Street in Queens. Police responded to the scene at around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Sources say the victim’s wife was yelling from an upstairs window while downstairs, Forde was holding his younger brother at knifepoint. Forde also allegedly slashed his 1-year-old niece in the neck. Clinton Forde died at the hospital. The young girl was rushed to the hospital in stable condition. Read More: NY1

 

Con Ed crew foils robbery

A routine gas inspection turned into a harrowing chase as four Con Edison employees rushed to the aid of the victim of a violent purse snatching in Bayside on the night of January 25. The Con Edison crew — John Kane, John McDonnell, Michael Santeramo and Anthony Farmighetti — were working on a gas line just off Northern Boulevard when they heard the screams of a young woman on 201st Street and 42nd Avenue. When they rushed to the scene, they saw the victim on the ground, bleeding from the mouth. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Queens Mormon holy war

They’re throwing the book at Mormons. Queens civic leaders are mounting a campaign to block the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from building a new house of worship in Flushing to serve a growing Mormon congregation. The planned two-story structure, proposed for 145-15 33rd Ave., would include an underground parking garage and a steeple. It would replace a cramped church about a dozen blocks away. The church acquired the three lots in 2008, with eyes on building a new facility. But since then, the city has approved stricter zoning that bars larger structures in the residential area. Read More: New York Post

 

Giants hoping for repeat performance vs. Patriots

Eli Manning wakes up Sunday morning and it’s the Super Bowl, against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Tom Coughlin wakes up Sunday morning and it’s the Super Bowl, against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Brady wakes up Sunday morning and starts worrying about Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Today is Groundhog Day. For the Giants, Sunday is Super Groundhog Day. “I wasn’t a part of that ’07 team,” Steve Weatherford said, “but just watching those guys and seeing them just crush people through the playoffs and get in, and nobody gave ’em a chance to win once you get into the Super Bowl, which is the only game that really matters, and they pulled it out when it mattered most so I mean. . . Read More: New York Post

 

Long Island college student Kerry Fitzsimons, 21, among three killed in fire near Marist College


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Long Island college student Kerry Fitzsimons, 21, among three killed in fire near Marist College

A Long Island college student was one of three people killed in a fire that ripped through an off-campus home near Marist College in upstate Poughkeepsie. The family of Kerry Fitzsimons, 21, of Commack, L.I., is struggling to comprehend the tragedy that took her life. Fitzsimons died early Saturday, trapped in an off-campus house she shared with other Marist students. “It’s unimaginable, the devastation,” a grieving aunt, who declined to give her name, said on Sunday. “She was an awesome, gorgeous , beautiful person.” Also killed were honor-roll fashion student Eva Block, 21, of Woodbridge, Conn., and aspiring blogger Kevin Johnson, 21, of New Canaan, Conn., a communications major at Dutchess Community College. Read More:  Daily News

 

Men killed in Manhattan subway tunnel and at station staircase in Queens

Four people were killed — two on the L train in Manhattan — in four separate accidents in the city transit system on Saturday. At about 10 p.m., straphangers were greeted by the gruesome scene of a man’s head wedged between the train car and the platform when they stepped off the L train at the Sixth Ave. subway station. Cops could not say how the man became pinned by the train. Read More: Daily News

Man admits killing Brooklyn dancer after meeting her at Manhattan club

A convicted sex offender who picked up an aspiring dancer from Texas at a Manhattan nightclub three years ago admitted Monday that he killed her in his upstate apartment because she became upset that he had a girlfriend. Michael Mele, wearing a dark suit, unexpectedly pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and evidence tampering in the killing of 25-year-old Laura Garza. The plea came just before the start of his murder trial in Orange County court. Read More: New York Post

 

 

Firecracker blast kills Queens man

A firecracker blast killed a Queens man inside his home this morning, cops said. The 50-year-old man was holding a firecracker in his hand when it went off at 9:28 a.m. inside his hallway in Ozone Park, police said. Other relatives were home at the time of the explosion, but no major damage was caused to the single family house on 111th Avenue. Read More: New York Post

 

Man convicted of $100M mortgage scam pleads guilty to plotting hit on ‘rat’

The convicted mastermind of a $100 million mortgage scam pleaded guilty today to plotting to take out a contract on the life of the “rat” who helped put him behind bars. Aaron Hand, who is already serving 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison for mortgage fraud, will have an 8- to 16-year sentence slapped on top of his existing prison term when he is sentenced Feb. 6 before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laura Ward. He could have faced up to 25 years in prison if he’d gone to trial and been convicted of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Read More: New York Post

 

Godmother bilked daughter of 9/11 victim out of $1M: judge

Shanhellen Jimenez was in seventh grade when her mother was killed in the World Trade Center attacks. That year, the 12-year-old was awarded nearly $1 million by the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The money — the lion’s share to become available to her when she turned 18 — was more than the middle-schooler could comprehend. Her divorced mom, Elena Ledesma, had worked as a maintenance supervisor for Marsh & McLennan on the 93rd floor of the north tower, taking home $400 a week. On that paltry paycheck, she supported Shanhellen and Angelina, her 17-year-old daughter, as well as her ailing mother, Candida Hernandez. Read More: New York Post

Super Bowl Bound: Giants Nip 49ers In OT To Set Up Title Rematch Vs. Patriots


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Super Bowl Bound: Giants Nip 49ers In OT To Set Up Title Rematch Vs. Patriots

For the second time in five seasons, Big Blue is going to the big game. The New York Giants recovered two mishandled San Francisco kick returns, the last one setting up the game-winning field goal in sudden-death overtime, as Big Blue defeated the 49ers 20-17 in Sunday’s NFC Championship to advance to the Super Bowl for the second time since 2008. Sunday’s win sets up a Super Bowl rematch with the New England Patriots, whom the Giants defeated in Super Bowl XLII to claim the franchise’s third Super Bowl title and ruin the Patriots’ pursuit of a perfect season. Read More: NY1

 

 

‘Headless Body in Topless Bar’ killer seeks release from prison

The maniacal murderer who spawned the famous New York Post headline “Headless Body in Topless Bar” is trying to get sprung from prison, The Post has learned. Charles Dingle, 53, will ask a three-person parole panel this week to free him from the upstate Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo. But if his 1983 psychotic rampage and ensuing pathetic prison record are any indication, his chances are questionable. The convict’s infamous blood-drenched spree is considered one of New York’s most notorious crimes. Read More: New York Post

 

‘I tried to stop cop suicide’

The devastated fiancée of the suicidal cop who blew his brains out on the job last week revealed to The Post yesterday how she had desperately tried to talk him out of it in a phone call only seconds before he pulled the trigger. “We weren’t fighting,” insisted Maria Stuart, 28, who was planning to marry NYPD Officer Terrence Dean, 28, on Aug. 18. “All I was trying to do was tell Terrence he needs help.” Stuart said she had admitted to Dean during the frantic Thursday-night call that she had just phoned his Queens precinct house and made vague warnings about a suicidal officer. Read More: New York Post

 

MTA scuttles free-shuttle plan

MTA officials have proven again that they excel — at taking service away from desperate riders. Brass at the cash-strapped agency have incredibly rejected an offer of a free shuttle bus — financed in full by a local lawmaker — for 7-train riders slammed by 11 straight weekends of service outages. City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer offered to pay for the $250,000 direct, no-transfer bus from Long Island City to Grand Central while the MTA worked on the signal system under the East River. The money would have come out of his own discretionary funds. Read More: New York Post

 

Two People Injured In Queens House Fire

An investigation is underway into a house fire in Jackson Heights, Queens that injured two people early Sunday. More than 100 firefighters responded to 37-39 90th Street around 1 a.m. and fire officials said two people were pulled from the home. One of the victims is said to be okay, and the other one was taken to Elmhurst Hospital with serious injuries. Read More: NY1

 

Former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Dies

Family members announced that former Penn State coach Joe Paterno died Sunday at age 85, after suffering from complications from lung cancer. A native of Flatbush, Brooklyn, Paterno attended Saint Edmund Elementary School and Brooklyn Preparatory High School and gave up a career in law to coach football. He coached the Nittany Lions for 46 years and won 409 games, more than any other coach in major college football history. Among the former Penn State athletes coached by Paterno is New York Giants offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie, whose team played in Sunday’s National Football Conference Championship game in San Francisco. Read More: NY1

Queens hotel fire rescue


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens hotel fire rescue

Firefighters fought their way through heavy smoke and shooting flames yesterday to rescue a man with no pulse from a burning Queens motel and bring him back to life. The victim was in a third-floor room at the Conduit Motor Inn in South Ozone Park at around 4 p.m. when members of Engine 302 and Ladder 155 arrived on scene. Firefighter John Summerville crawled into the room to stay beneath the smoke. “I found him face down by the window. The situation was like an inferno,” Summerville said. After reaching the victim, described as being in his 40s, Summerville pulled him out and put him in an ambulance, where another member of Engine 302 began performing CPR and got a pulse back. Read More: New York Post

Cuomo Turns His Budget Focus To Public Pensions, Education System

Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting ready to reveal his budget proposal for the new fiscal year on Tuesday. Although the governor would not share many details of the expected $130 billion plan in advance, he touted on Monday a brighter picture looking forward. “The good work that we did last year is actually going to pay dividends this year,” said Cuomo. “So, from just a budget point of view, where we had a true crisis last year, we had a $10 billion deficit, we had chaos. We have a much better budget situation on the numbers.” “We got a good start last year, moving in a better and a new direction. Took about a 90-degree turn,” said Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco of Schenectady. Read More: NY1

Astoria Houses kids now have ‘Promise’

More than 1,600 underprivileged children have been “granted” the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Local elected officials and community leaders gathered on January 13 to announce that a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) had been procured for the children of the Astoria Houses. Read More: Queens Courier

Druggists’ cure for anxiety: a pistol

Your friendly neighborhood pharmacist will soon be locked and loaded. Rattled druggists from Long Island to the city are increasingly applying for gun permits following a spate of fatal robberies by armed thugs desperate to score highly addictive painkillers. “I’m applying for a pistol permit because of this,’’ said Todd Svec, 48, a pharmacist and owner of the Arlo Drug store in Massapequa Park, LI. “I will feel safer if I have one.’’  Svec’s wife is also a pharmacist at the store — and his four daughters work there. He pointed out that Charlie’s Family Pharmacy in Seaford, LI, where on New Year’s Eve a pill-popping ex-con attempted a stickup that left the thug and an off-duty federal agent dead “is just two miles from here.”  Read More: New York Post

Baby born on PATH train between NJ & NYC

Next stop, maternity ward! A woman went into labor on a New York-bound PATH train yesterday, and her baby took the express track — he was born before the train even pulled in to its Manhattan terminal. When Rabita Sarkar and her husband, Aditya Saurabh, left their Harrison, NJ, home they were still planning their unborn child’s exciting future. But by the time their train rumbled into Manhattan’s 33rd Street station, they were a new family, complete with a baby boy and a train car full of honorary uncles and aunts. “He came in a very dramatic fashion,” the smiling new mom told The Post from her bed at Roosevelt Hospital. Read More: New York Post

One more time, vengeance shall be Giants’

The Giants wanted another shot at the 49ers, wanted the stakes higher than they were in November. Now they have it, and it doesn’t bother them in the least that the game is in San Francisco, because they would play this one, the one that is the Golden Gateway to Glory, on the moon. Jim Harbaugh has restored the pride to a storied franchise, and 60 minutes from the Super Bowl means the Giants will be expecting a hostile environment Sunday night — and possibly a rainy one as well — at Candlestick Park. “I can care less about how hostile it is, it’s a game,” Antrel Rolle said. “When you’re home, you want to bring ’em to their feet. When you’re away, you want to bring ’em to their knees, and that’s the way I look at it.” Read More: New York Post

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announces blackout to protest anti-piracy bills in Congress

Wikipedia will black out the English language version of its website Wednesday to protest anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress, the foundation behind the popular community-based online encyclopedia said in a statement Monday night. The website will go dark for 24 hours in an unprecedented move that brings added muscle to a growing base of critics of the legislation. Wikipedia is considered one of the Internet’s most popular websites, with millions of visitors daily. “If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States,” the Wikimedia foundation said. Read More: Daily News

Scam fam sent off to prison


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Scam fam sent off to prison

A seething Queens judge walloped three members of a crooked Richmond Hill family yesterday, sending them upstate to serve a combined 418 years for a brazen immigration and real-estate scam. The mom, dad and daughter — dubbed “The Ramsundar Gang” by Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder — paid a shocking price for defrauding 19 families of $1.8 million over six years. Holder said his harsh sentences are nothing compared to the street justice the Ramsundar family would have faced back in their native Trinidad. Read More: New York Post

Body of man found in garbage pile fire outside Furniture Zone store

A man’s charred body was discovered in a burning pile of garbage in Brooklyn Thursday morning, police said. Firefighters who were called to a blaze on Hendrickson Street in Marine Park shortly before 4 a.m. made the grisly discovery. The body, believed to be that of a white male, was lying on top of several boxes and had been burned beyond recognition, sources said. The fire erupted at the side of a Furniture Zone store in an area frequented by vagrants, according to a taxi stand manager who works in the area. Read More: Daily News

Queens Residents Brace For 7 Train Disruptions

It’s going to be a long winter for the several thousand western Queens residents who rely on the 7 train to get around town on the weekends come January 23. That’s when an 11-week service shutdown begins, which means no trains on Saturdays and Sundays until the spring. “This is not a neighborhood that has five different places where you can use instead. We’re very isolated there,” said Queens resident Moitri Savard. The MTA says the work is essential to make critical infrastructure improvements and upgrade tracks and switches. It also needs to clean the tracks of muck it says have accumulated over the years. Read More: NY1

Elevators in building where Manhattan ad exec died had numerous problems

Elevator problems were an epidemic at the building where a Manhattan ad executive died in a horrific accident last month, newly revealed Buildings Department records show. City inspectors wrote 11 violations against 13 elevators at 285 Madison Avenue in the immediate aftermath of the December 14 tragedy that killed Suzanne Hart, 41, the public records show. Investigators are still trying to determine the exact cause of the malfunction that killed the Brooklyn resident. The elevator that killed Hart so far has only been cited for a paperwork problem — it was among several elevators in the building that lacked a “certificate of compliance” with Buildings rules, the records show. Read More: New York Post

Pedestrian hit on FDR

A taxi passenger was struck by a minivan on the FDR last night after he impatiently hopped out of the cab in heavy traffic and darted across the roadway, police sources said. The unidentified victim was headed northbound near East 105th Street at around 11:30 p.m. when his cab hit congestion, the sources said. He left the vehicle and was struck in a southbound lane by a Toyota minivan. The victim was rushed to Metropolitan Hospital in unknown condition. Read More: New York Post

New arrests at Zuccotti

A gang of Occupy Wall Street protesters skulked back to the park yesterday, racking up three arrests. The 2:20 a.m. arrests came about seven hours after cops took down barricades that were erected when the group was evicted from the park on November 15. All three were charged with trespassing, and two were also hit with resisting arrest. Read More: New York Post

St. John’s loses to Marquette

For all the freshman mistakes and youthful inconsistency, St. John’s has played hard this season, rarely had its effort called into question. But last night it wasn’t so much questioned as flat-out criticized, the Red Storm folding in the second half of an 83-64 beating at the hands of No. 24 Marquette. The bowed heads and slumped shoulders and palpable frustration told the tale. The Red Storm (8-8, 2-3 Big East) have lost all six of their games against ranked teams, and with a chance at a breakthrough, what it got was a breakdown. It let Marquette shoot 67.7 percent to turn a second-half lead into a blowout loss. Read More: New York Post

Luxe penthouse up in smoke


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Luxe penthouse up in smoke

A raging fire destroyed a luxurious, multimillion-dollar penthouse on the Upper East Side last night, authorities said. The blaze started at 7:50 p.m. at 2 East End Ave., quickly engulfing the three-floor penthouse in flames. It took firefighters more than an hour to get the inferno under control, the FDNY said. The triplex penthouse was taken off the market about six months ago after being listed for $14.95 million. The 6,700 square-foot condo has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a grand staircase. Read More: New York Post

 

Manning capable of Giant step

Eli Manning delivered a Super Bowl championship four years ago when no one thought he could, and today it is time for him to put his stamp on a special delivery postmarked New York, N.Y. Manning and the Giants were Road Warriors who rode that Big, Blue magic carpet from Tampa to Dallas to Green Bay to Glendale, Ariz., and Super Bowl XLII, and all the while old Giants Stadium sat dark and silent. It is time for Manning to show New York, show Giants fans inside MetLife Stadium, how an elite quarterback gets things done in the playoffs. Read More: New York Post

 

Beyonce gave birth last night: reports

Beyoncé has reportedly become Bey-MOM-cé. The superstar singer gave birth to a baby girl last night, according to her hometown paper the Houston Chronicle. The tot was delivered by c-section and hubby Jay-Z is telling pals her name is Ivy Blue Carter, E! Online reported. Both mom and daughter were doing fine. The Upper East Side medical center had been prepping a luxurious suite for her — and had just finished a major renovation of a dozen rooms and a nursing station for the pop queen and Jay-Z’s arrival, sources said. Read More: New York Post

 

Pizza race-slur outrage

When Harlem resident Minhee Cho, 24, ordered a small pizza from a Papa John’s restaurant, she was shocked to find that a staffer ID’d her as “lady chinky eyes” on her receipt. “I don’t think a giant corporation should write those things on a receipt,” Cho told The Post last night. “That’s poor management. It was surprising to see that on paper; if they had said it in person, it would have been worse.” Cho posted the receipt with the racial slur on her Twitter account yesterday, where it was viewed more than 100,000 times in less than four hours. Read More: New York Post

 

New York City school employee faked her child’s death to get extra vacation

A city school employee scammed a week off for a Costa Rica vacation by staging the mother of all hoaxes — convincing her bosses she couldn’t work because her daughter had died. Joan Barnett, a parent coordinator at the Manhattan High School of Hospitality Management, was so determined to make the spring break jaunt that she: Had one of her daughters call the school to say that her sister had suffered a heart attack in Costa Rica. Had another daughter call the school later that day to say that the sister had died and that about a dozen relatives, including Barnett, were traveling to the country for a funeral. Faxed a forged death certificate of her daughter “Xinia Daley Herman” to school as proof of the death. The document is required if a city school employee asks for bereavement days. Thanks to the scam, Barnett, 58, was able to spend 21/2 weeks in March 2010 — including her school-sanctioned spring break — in the tropical paradise, city investigators said. But the fun in the sun didn’t last long. Read More: Daily News

 

Mom remembers daughters killed in Conn. Christmas Day blaze, calls tragedy ‘incomprehensible’


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mom remembers daughters killed in Conn. Christmas Day blaze, calls tragedy ‘incomprehensible’

 

Calling the Christmas Day fire that killed her three daughters and parents “incomprehensible,” fashion ad exec Madonna Badger told hundreds of people packed in a Fifth Avenue church this morning that she’ll never forget her family. “Why did this happen to my parents and my children and why now? Nothing will bring my babies back,” Badger told mourners during an emotional eulogy at St. Thomas Church. Read More: New York Post

City’s New 911 Call Center Improves Capacity, Maps

 Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday what he called a major milestone when it comes to upgrading the city’s 911 system. Earlier in the day, members of the media were given a tour of the new emergency services call center at the MetroTech Center in Brooklyn. The $2 billion upgrade expands the center’s capacity six-fold, and includes technology that maps a caller’s location instantly. Previously, operators had to go through multiple steps to create a visual location. City officials say the upgrade is crucial as more than half of the calls received come from mobile phones. Read More: NY1

 

Feds announce MS-13 gang takedown in Queens

Federal officials say 10 members of a violent international street gang known as “MS-13” have been charged with racketeering and attempted murder after a lengthy investigation. Members of the group have been accused of at least two attempted murders. Authorities believe they plotted to kill rival gang members. Federal officials say the group marauded in Queens. Officials say they also worked with fellow members throughout the U.S. and the group’s El Salvador headquarters to smuggle gang members over the border. The indictment filed by U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch was unsealed Thursday. Read More: New York Post

 

Nurses protest at Flushing Hospital

Registered nurses at Flushing Hospital Medical Center hit the picket line — demanding contracts for health and pension benefits. Hundreds of nurses gathered outside of the hospital on Parsons Boulevard during their designated break time — from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — today on January 5 to protest after the union and hospital administration reached negotiation stalemates. Read More: Queens Courier

 

WATCH: Casey Anthony speaks out in video diary, doesn’t mention daughter

For the first time, it seems Casey Anthony might be speaking out. The mother acquitted of charges of killing her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, allegedly appears on a video diary that surfaced on the web Thursday morning. The woman, who looks and sounds like Anthony, talks only in general about her well-being and references being kept in an undisclosed location. NBC News reported that they confirmed the video was of Anthony. Read More & Watch: New York Post

 

 

7 arrested, including councilman at NYC protest on worship in schools

 

Several pastors and a New York City councilman have been arrested at a protest against the city’s plans to evict worship services from school buildings. Seven demonstrators, including Councilman Fernando Cabrera, were charged with trespass Thursday. Police say they refused to move from the entrance to the city’s Law Department in Manhattan. The city has told about 60 churches they must stop holding worship services in public schools after Feb. 12. It argues separation of church and state and cites a court decision. In addition, the city Housing Authority says it’s reviewing its policy on renting space to outside groups, including five churches. Read More: New York Post
Hatred fueled Queens man to toss Molotov cocktail at mosque

 

A deranged Queens man told detectives he attacked a mosque with a Molotov cocktail because “I hate all Muslims and Arabs. They’ve been trying to take over my life for 40 years.” Ray Lazier Lengend’s bizarre confession was revealed today while he was being arraigned under pyschiatric examination at Bellevue Hospital Center. Lengend, 40, dressed in burgundy t-shirt and blue jeans, appeared attentive but disgusted during the brief hearing. In his confession, Lengend described how his New Year’s Day attack began when he drove his Silver Buick to an Amoco Mobil gas station on Hillside Avenue to buy five frappacino glasses to turn into Molotov cocktals. “The store gave me three free,” he said. Read More: New York Post

 

 

Retrial set for March 8 in East Village case of coma-inducing argument over parking spot

A March retrial date has been set for the muscle-bound Brooklyn electrician who punched a woman into a coma when they argued over an East Village parking spot. Oscar Fuller will be retried on felony assault on March 8 in Manhattan Supreme Court for the single punch he landed on the face of 25-year-old Lana Rosas as they argued nose-to-nose on East 14th Street last February. The blow struck the 4-foot-11 Rosas so hard, that according to numerous eyewitness accounts she was briefly airborne before striking the pavement with the back of her head. She was in a coma for nine days and hospitalized for months. Read More: New York Post

 

Suicide girl’s mom rages at her bullies

Tragic Amanda Cummings’ mother and sister used her Facebook page yesterday to lash out at the “evil son of a bitches’’ whose unrelenting bullying drove the Staten Island teen to suicide. Amanda jumped in front of a city bus two days after Christmas when she was dealt the final blow — her 19-year-old boyfriend dumped her. Her tormenters zeroed in on areas where their victim was most vulnerable. They joked that the slim 15-year-old was anorexic, and taunted her about the love triangle she was involved in. “This is to all you evil son of a bitches that picked on, talked about and threatened my baby,” heartbroken mother Cece Weber wrote on her daughter’s Facebook page. Read More: New York Post