Tag Archives: fraud

Woman scammed Queens residents out of thousands of dollars: AG


| editorial@queenscourier.com

JANAE HUNTER

A woman has been arrested and indicted after running a long-time scheme to steal from Queens residents, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday.

Sonia Vertucci, 42, of New Rochelle has been charged with scheme to defraud, grand larceny and petit larceny after failing to deliver on promises she gave predominantly to immigrant clients, according to officials.

The attorney’s general’s investigation revealed that Vertucci, who recently moved from Queens, collected $38,000 in upfront cash payments for services she did not deliver on between 2012 and 2013.  Some of Vertucci’s services included providing Social Security cards and obtaining legal residency status for immigrants, and clearing tickets and license suspensions for truck drivers to help them return to work.

“Scam artists who prey on immigrants, or other hardworking New Yorkers, with false promises will not be tolerated in our state,” Schneiderman said. “No matter how elaborate their schemes, those who defraud New Yorkers will face justice.”

If convicted, Vertucci faces up to seven years or more in prison.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of Vertucci should call the attorney general’s immigration fraud hotline at 1-866-390-2992.

 

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Hiram Monserrate sentenced to two years in prison


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former Councilmember and state Senator Hiram Monserrate was sentenced to 24 months behind bars on Tuesday for fraudulently using City Council money to fund a run for state office.

Monserrate, who pleaded guilty to the charges in May, was convicted of fraud after misappropriating more than $100,000 in City Council discretionary funding to finance his failed 2006 run for state Senate.

“Hiram Monserrate helped to underwrite his political ambitions with money that was intended to benefit those in need, and he corrupted his office in the process,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The money was directed to the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment (LIBRE), a non-profit in his then council district. The discretionary funds, which are drawn from city taxpayer dollars, were used to pay employees of the non-profit to collect signatures, work on his Senate campaign and conduct a voter registration drive.

“Hiram Monserrate was undone by his greed and now will pay the price. He used a nonprofit’s money to serve his own political career rather than his constituency and with today’s prison sentence will forfeit his freedom,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.

In addition to the 24 months in jail, Monserrate must pay a $80,000 fine and serve three additional years of supervised release.

Monserrate, who was elected to the state Senate in 2008 after eight years in the City Council, was expelled from the seat in 2010 after being convicted of domestic assault of his girlfriend. He lost the subsequent special election to state Senator Jose Peralta.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Today’s Forecast

Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 52. Northeast wind 7 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. North wind 5 to 7 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: LIC Bar: Comedy and Trivia Show

Every Thursday night Stephanie Holmes brings you hilarious and creative trivia. With categories like “name that burger” and audio rounds like “more cowbell” and “name that sha-la-la” you’re sure to have an interesting time. Every show features 3 stand up comedians to entertain you while we add up the points. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Jimmy Meng pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charges

Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to federal wire fraud charges, according to the FBI. Meng, the father to newly elected Congressmember and current Assemblymember Grace Meng, reportedly entered the plea on November 14 at around 2 p.m. Read more: Queens Courier

Mitt Romney’s sour grapes to top donors

Mitt Romney can’t lay off the “47%.” The losing GOP presidential candidate unloaded a cartful of sour grapes on his top donors Wednesday, saying President Obama won because he handed out “big gifts” to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. Read more: Daily News

FBI found classified information on mistress’s computer, gov’t documents in home: sources

The FBI found a substantial amount of classified information improperly secured on the personal computer of disgraced CIA director Gen. David Petraeus’ mistress, sources said yesterday. The files were discovered on a machine removed from Paula Broadwell’s Charlotte, NC, home as the feds investigated her sordid affair with the military commander whose biography she co-wrote. Read more: NY Post

R.A. Dickey wins NL Cy Young Award

In a lost season, R.A. Dickey was one of the Mets’ few bright spots. Responsible for 20 of the team’s 74 wins, Dickey took home the National League’s Cy Young award, beating a tough field that included last year’s winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals. Read more: Queens Courier

Caribbean diplomats return the favor

Caribbean nations are all too familiar with the wrath of hurricanes and the subsequent relief that flows from the U.S. But in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, high-ranking diplomats from a dozen Caribbean countries have pitched in to return the favor to their adopted city. Read more: Daily News

School’s out for jeans and jeggings

Teen fashion staples like jeans and jeggings aren’t simply banned from one Queens high school — wearing them can get students suspended, The Post has learned. The “business casual” code at Maspeth HS, which serves nearly 500 ninth- and 10th-graders, requires polo or collared shirts and sweaters, and slacks, khakis or corduroys — but strictly forbids the kids from donning jeans, tights, jeggings or even bright-colored pants. Read more: NY Post

Non-profit investigates fraud against Latin American immigrants


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Desperate for work, Gerardo Llanque, a Peruvian immigrant, visited an employment agency in search of a job five years ago. He paid $120 in exchange for a temporary construction position. When Llanque arrived at the address where his job was supposed to be, he found an abandoned house.

“It can be exasperating not to find work, and you get desperate,” said Llanque to a translator.

When Llanque returned to confront the employment agency, workers told him the person who promised him the job was no longer with the company and that he should return at 9 p.m. that night. When Llanque demanded to speak to someone, employment agency workers threatened to call the police.

An upturn in fraud against Latin American immigrants searching for jobs or seeking immigration has sparked an investigation into 51 Queens businesses. Conducted by the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center and the New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) – a non-profit organization based in Jackson Heights – the study surveyed locals and conducted “mystery shopper” investigations, where trained community members examined employment agencies and Immigration Service Providers (ISP). Mystery shoppers surveyed agencies along Roosevelt Avenue, focusing on the contracts, signage and disclosure agreements that are germane to immigration. According to NICE executive director Valeria Treves, the study illustrated that laws protecting immigrants from fraud are either ineffective or unenforced.

“The report grew out of necessity to further investigate what was going on in the community,” said Treves. “Those rules and regulations are being routinely violated.”

According to Treves, the start of the recession brought a flood of complaints against employment agencies, grifting desperate and jobless people out of their money. Eighty percent of people surveyed during the study had gone to an employment agency, paid $122, and did not receive a job. The advance fee was not refunded.

One mystery shopper was promised a green card if she forked over $7,000.

A common violation surrounds ISP officials offering unlawful legal advice. More than a quarter of the study’s mystery shoppers received legal guidance beyond the scope of what the individual was trained to provide. In most cases, Treves said, the advice was erroneous.

Treves said the language barrier provides other opportunities for scammers to take advantage of those new to the country. According to Treves, in Spanish, the word “notario” means a high-powered lawyer. However in English, a notary is simply someone who acts as a witness but does not have any legal training.

While Treves was unable to provide exact data on how many Latin American immigrants are victims of fraud annually, she said the number is sorely underrepresented.

“Victims of fraud are nervous about coming out,” said Treves. “They are worried that they’ll get in trouble with immigration.”

To combat fraud in the Latin American community, Treves says her group hopes to close the loophole for scammers by ending employment agency’s advance fees. She said they also want to push for a tighter definition of the unauthorized practice of law to prohibit those without proper training from giving legal advice to those in need.

Llanque said his experience made him wary of turning to agencies for help. He fears the company that scammed him controls other local employment offices and he could become a victim of fraud again.

Auto sales, mortgage-related fraud top list of 2011 consumer complaints


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Internet sales, auto, utilities and real estate were some of 2011’s top consumer complaints in the U.S., according to a new survey released by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI). The list is based on information gathered from 38 state, county, and city agencies in 22 states, including the New York State Department of State Division of Consumer Protection, and consisted of 289,732 complaints.

Again, auto and credit/debt were the top two complaints, but real estate complaints, such as problems with timeshare sales and resales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities and real estate fraud were new to the list. Mortgage-related problems, home improvement, bed bugs, mold and other landlord/tenant problems were on both the top five worst and five top fastest-growing complaints of 2011.

 

Top 10 U.S. consumer complaints

1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes

2. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics

3. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job

4. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver

5. Utilities: Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service

6. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform

7. (Tie) Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practice, failure to deliver online purchases; Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics

8. Fraud: Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, the grandparent scam and other common frauds

9. Real Estate: Timeshare sales and resales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities, real estate fraud

10. (Tie) Household Goods: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances; Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

EVENT of the DAY: Free Shakespeare in the Park: “Hamlet” 

Come enjoy a summer night with the Bard. Queens-based Hip to Hip Theatre Company presents a free performance of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Hamlet” at the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows.

[Click here for more info or submit your events]

Former Assemblyman Jimmy Meng charged with fraud 

Former State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng, the father of Congressional candidate Grace Meng, was charged with fraud Tuesday in an elaborate shakedown scheme. The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jimmy Meng promised a person who was indicted on tax charges that he could help by bribing prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Read more: [NY1] 

Elderly Queens woman: Doc’s bad op cost me vision in left eye

An elderly Queens woman is suing her doctor, claiming a botched cataract operation cost her the sight in her left eye. Evalyne Chedda, 70, went to Dr. Alina K. Stanciu’s office in Forest Hills on Jan 18, 2010 for the operation. Read more: [New York Post]

UPDATE: Local leaders charge city snubbing them on possible Triumph of Civic Virtue move  

Snubbed community leaders said they have yet to hear from city officials who are mulling a plan to move the long-neglected Triumph of Civic Virtue statue from its perch outside Queens Borough Hall. The controversial statue, which has raised the ire of some people for its imagery, also has strong supporters who have been lobbying the city unsuccessfully for years to get it cleaned and restored. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

 UPDATE: Results still out in contentious Bayside BID election, but so is Gregg Sullivan: source 

More than a week after the only contested BID election in the city, Bayside business owners aren’t quite sure who won the contentious race — but the writing appears to be on the wall for Gregg Sullivan. A vocal critic of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District’s board, Sullivan will likely not win the seat he was seeking, according to a source familiar with the organization’s bylaws. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Korean grocer H Mart to replace closing Waldbaum’s in Bayside

Korean grocery chain H Mart has secured a deal to replace a Bayside Waldbaum’s that is set to close in July, the Daily News has learned. It is the second property in Queens owned by the A&P supermarket chain that has hit the market in recent weeks, causing uncertainty and unease among neighbors. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Ailing elderly couple in Rockaway without phone service for three weeks

An 85-year-old woman with dementia and her ailing 90-year-old husband in Rockaway were without phone service for three weeks because Verizon did not repair their line. The couple’s frustrated daughter, Rita Burgess, 53, managed to restore service, but only by switching to Time Warner Cable. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Fraud take one for wife

Who says chivalry is dead? One of the masterminds behind an enormous identity- and credit-card-theft scheme took a hit for his wife yesterday when he ’fessed up in exchange for her walking free. Read more: [New York Post]

8 hurt as kids’ bus flips

Five special-needs students were lucky to walk away with just cuts and bruises yesterday morning in Queens after a taxi blew a red light and hit their school bus, causing it to flip over, authorities said.The southbound cab met the westbound bus at 150th Street and 87th Street at 6:25 a.m. The kids, ages 4 to 11, were en route to Yeshiva HS and PS 80. They were treated at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. So was their driver, also for minor injuries. Read more: [New York Post]

Nearly 3,700 City Educators Alerted They No Longer Have Jobs

Nearly 3,700 city teachers, administrators and aides in four boroughs were told Monday they no longer have a job at their schools. The educators put on notice are from the 24 schools in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens the city is closing this summer to clear out staff members. Read more: [NY1]

Queens School Employee will not Face Sex Abuse Charges 

Sex abuse charges were dropped against a Queens paraprofessional Monday. The Queens District Attorney says a grand jury decided not to indict Brett Picou, 30. He was accused of fondling six female students at P.S. 52 in Springfield Gardens. Read more: [NY1]

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Liu’s former campaign treasurer pleads not guilty to fraud

The lawyer for New York City Comptroller John Liu says his client may seek to be tried separately from her codefendant. Attorney Gerald Lefcourt notified a judge of the possibility Tuesday as his client, Jia ‘Jenny’ Hou , pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. Her name was added last week to an indictment returned against a New Jersey man. The man was arrested several months ago on charges he conspired to funnel illegal contributions donated by an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman. He too pleaded not guilty Tuesday. Read More: New York Post

 

Knicks shattered over Amar’e injury

Steve Novak was crushed about Knicks teammate Amar’e Stoudemire’s lacerated left hand, explaining he thinks Stoudemire never realized the danger when he punched the glass case of a fire extinguisher after last night’s Game 2 loss to the Heat. “I feel awful for [Stoudemire] because he plays with emotion,” Novak told The Post. “And you’re walking in a hallway, and I don’t think he ever thought for a second that it was going to be glass, that it was going to shatter.” Novak said he “was right behind [Stoudemire],” though he cautioned, “but I didn’t actually see his hand. Read More: New York Post
Department of Education Outlines Social Media Policy For Teachers

The city has introduced its first guidelines for the use of social media by teachers. The Department of Education says teachers should refuse friend requests from students on their personal accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter. They’re also being warned that their activity may be monitored and should have no expectation of privacy. Teachers will be given training sessions on the new guidelines. Education officials may also ask parents to sign consent forms before their children participate in social media activities or post their work online. Read More: NY1

 

 

Rent Guidelines Board Holds Preliminary Vote Tonight

Tenants and building owners will once again be squabbling over annual rent hikes for the city’s rent-regulated apartments as the Rent Guidelines Board holds a preliminary vote this evening at Cooper Union. Last year, the board hiked rents 3.75 percent on one-year leases and 7.25 percent on two-year leases. Tonight’s meeting is open to the public, but officials say any noisemakers that can be used to disrupt the proceedings are prohibited. Tenants rights groups and Occupy Wall Street demonstrators plan to hold a protest outside the meeting. The board’s final vote is on June 21. Read More: NY1

 

Cops probe death of baby girl on Staten Island

Police are investigating the death of baby girl on Staten Island, NYPD sources said Tuesday. Six-month-old Genesis Monge wasn’t breathing and had a 105-degree fever when her foster mother called 911 just past 10:15 p.m. Monday, sources said. Genesis was rushed from her home on Steuben St. to Staten Island University Hospital North, where doctors told police she had marks consistent with past trauma, sources said. Genesis died at 11:15 p.m. Read More: Daily News

 

Google knew Street View collected emails, passwords, personal information from millions worldwide

Google Street View had an eye on more than just city streets — it also once collected emails, passwords, Internet search histories, medical records and more from millions of people around the world, new documents show. An FCC report released Friday reveals Google spent over two years between 2008 and 2010 quietly capturing a mountain of personal information by tapping into unsecured wireless networks through its Street View cars, which drive around capturing snapshots to populate the search giant’s massive map database. Read More: Daily News

Second Liu campaign worker busted


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Another worker on City Comptroller John Liu’s mayoral campaign has been arrested on fraud charges.

Jia “Jenny” Hou — a 25-year-old campaign treasurer for the comptroller — was busted for illegally funneling campaign funds for the comptroller’s unofficial 2013 try for mayoral candidacy, feds said.

According to restrictions laid out by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB), campaign donors are only allowed to contribute up to $4,950 to citywide candidates. Prosecutors said Hou conspired to evade the limit by engaging in a fraudulent scheme that involved the use of “straw donors” — or individuals who unlawfully make political contributions in their own names with money they have received from others.

Hou, a Queens resident, is also charged with obstructing the government’s investigation. According to court records, she failed to produce “facially inculpatory documents” in response to subpoenas, while allegedly lying about producing complete documents and failing to disclose the identities of several campaign contributors.

“New York’s campaign finance laws are not optional. They ensure that all candidates operate on a level playing field and that everyone plays by the rules,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Today, we allege that Jia Hou, a campaign treasurer, was a central figure in a coordinated scheme to break the city’s campaign finance laws. Unlawful campaign conduct will not be tolerated.”

Hou was allegedly caught offering to reimburse an individual for donations well-above the allotted NYCCFB amount during a series of instant messages on July 14, and she also allegedly instructed campaign volunteers on how to imitate the handwriting of campaign donors on contribution forms in order to make it appear official.

Last November, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan — Liu’s campaign fund-raiser — was arrested on similar conspiracy and wire fraud charges. According to court records, he allegedly funneled $16,000 in campaign contributions and was caught red handed by an undercover FBI agent, who posed as a businessperson interested in supporting the comptroller.

Meanwhile, Liu — a Flushing Democrat — has not been accused of any wrongdoing and has since returned nearly $50,000 collected in contributions, said a campaign spokesperson.

“I am stunned by this news about Jenny Hou,” Liu said. “These accusations against her are uncharacteristic and unexpected. Jenny is a smart, hardworking person who I hope will be treated fairly.”

Hou is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of attempting to commit wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice. If convicted, she could face up to 60 years in prison.

According to Martin Adelman, her attorney, Hou plans on pleading not guilty to the charges.

“She’s an idealistic young person, and working for John Liu’s campaign was a way to realize that idealism,” Adelman said. “She has tremendous respect for him.”

Liu “Stunned” By Fraud Charges Against His Campaign Treasurer


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Arrest Made In Connection With Queens Synagogue Burglary

Police say tips from the public led them to an arrest in the burglary of a Queens synagogue. Efram Sanders, 28, was arrested Tuesday and was facing burglary, grand larceny and stolen-property charges in connection with the break-in at Congregation Degel Israel in Kew Gardens Hills. More than a dozen items were taken, including silver torah crowns and breastplates, worth thousands of dollars in all. Police say they were able to recover all stolen items except for two silver pointers. Read More: NY1

 

NYPD cop impersonators may have used high-quality masks to pull off check-cashing heist

Three cop impersonators wanted for stealing $200,000 from a Queens check-cashing business may have worn masks that were Hollywood quality, the Daily News has learned. Investigators began to suspect the trio that pulled off the Valentine’s Day caper had worn masks that were far from the average costume-shop props after they got a tip, the sources said. One of the false faces even looked like pro wrestler Bill Goldberg. Read More: Daily News

Liu “Stunned” By Fraud Charges Against His Campaign Treasurer

In a serious blow to City Comptroller John Liu’s 2013 campaign effort, authorities on Tuesday announced the arrest of one of his top campaign aides on fraud charges, and the comptroller said he was shocked by the allegations. The U.S. Attorney’s office says Jenny Hou, 25, seen above right, was taken into custody in connection to what authorities call a scheme to use straw donors to get over the limit campaign contributions to Liu. Read More: NY1

 

Mayor Stands By Released Teacher Rankings As Charter School Data Is Published

Mayor Michael Bloomberg again defended the release of teacher data reports Tuesday as the Department of Education released the same information for charter schools and District 75. Charter school teachers make up a majority of the 334 reports. Their participation was optional but District 75, which serves children with special needs, had to take part for two of the three school years represented. A DOE spokesperson says the reports for the charter and District 75 schools are not comparable to those for city schools. Read More: NY1

 

Hero cop: ‘I don’t know how he didn’t hit me from that range’

The partner of the NYPD cop saved by his gun belt said the stunning sequence was like the scene in “Pulp Fiction” where a gunman opens fire on the main characters at point-blank range and misses with every shot. “We were only a couple feet away. I don’t know how he didn’t hit me from that range,” Thomas Dunne told The Post of alleged shooter Luis Martinez. Dunne’s partner, Thomas Richards, 36, was saved when a round hit the extra clip in his pocket. Read More: New York Post

Elevator guy still on job

The lift mechanic whose botched job resulted in a young ad executive getting crushed to death was still allowed to tinker with the city’s elevators yesterday. Michael Hill arrived at his home in Glen Gardner, NJ, after a long day on the job — wearing a navy blue New York Elevator Operators uniform and covered in grease. Hill was working on the city’s elevators just one day after investigators on Monday released a scathing report, accusing him of overriding the critical elevator safety system that led to Y&R ad exec Suzanne Hart’s gruesome death on Dec. 14. Read More: New York Post

Liu in FBI cross hairs


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Liu in FBI cross hairs

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

New York bars ready for Jets-Giants game

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

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

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

2011 Crime Statistics Show Slight Decrease In Murders

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

Police Seek Suspect Who Allegedly Robbed Queens Livery Driver

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

Shirley Huntley’s Niece, Senior Aide Among Those Indicted In Nonprofit Scheme


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Southeast Queens serial rapist eyed in three attacks 

A stocky rape suspect brutally pounced on a Queens woman from behind, put her in a choke hold on a residential street and tried to rape her, a chilling police video shows. The Wednesday attack happened in southeast Queens around 2 a.m. when the suspect — described by police as a black male, 25-30 years old, 5-feet-5 and 220 pounds — placed a sharp object to the victim’s back Read More: Daily News

NYC Teacher Accused of Loansharking, Steroid Possession

Authorities on Long Island have charged a New York City schoolteacher with loansharking. Sean Harris, 36, of East Meadow, who moonlights as a professional bodybuilder, is a gym teacher at I.S. 141 in Astoria. However, he is not in the school gym these days. He was reassigned to administrative duties elsewhere at the beginning of the school year after being charged with possession of steroids. Read More: Fox News

Check out Darryl Strawberry’s new blog @ the Queens Courier where he discusses the Jose Reyes trade

Police on the lookout for South Richmond Hill rape suspect

Police are requesting the public’s assistance in locating for a South Richmond Hill rape suspect. On Thursday, November 24 at approximately 5:15 a.m. the suspect sexually assaulted a victim in the vicinity of 117thStreet and Liberty Avenue, according to police. The suspect is described as a 23-year-old Hispanic male, standing 5-feet-8-inches tall weighing 165-pounds. Read More: Queens Courier

Queens State Senator’s Niece, Senior Aide Among Those Indicted In Nonprofit Scheme

Four people with ties to Queens State Senator Shirley Huntley have been accused of trying to steal funds intended for a nonprofit she founded. Huntley’s niece and a senior aide are among those indicted. They allegedly conspired to pocket nearly $30,000 in member items earmarked for Parent Workshop Incorporated, a group that Huntley founded prior to joining the legislature. Huntley has not been charged. In a statement, the lawmaker said she’s confident a full investigation will prove she did nothing wrong. Read More: NY1

Three Suspects Sought For Two Armed Robberies In Astoria

Police in Queens were searching Thursday for three people involved in two gunpoint robberies last week. The first incident happened on 27th Street and Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria last Thursday night. Investigators said the suspects pulled a gun on a 33-year-old woman, demanded cash and her cellphone and then ran off. Read More: NY1 Watch the Video: Queens Courier

Long Island City bank robber panicked after he fired his gun at the ceiling

The FBI is hunting for a gun-toting bank robber, who was caught on camera after he fired a shot into the ceiling of a Queens bank to prove he meant business but left without a cent. The bandit, dressed in a dark colored cap, dark framed glasses and a dark jacket and black leather gloves, walked into the HSBC bank on 43rd Avenue near 22nd Street in Long Island City, shortly before 9 a.m. on Wednesday, said authorities. Read More: Daily News

Controller John Liu blasts Parks Dept. for losing big bucks in concessions deals

Mishandling of contracts with eateries, mobile vendors and other concessions run in Queens parks cost the city nearly $730,000 in three years, according to a new audit. Controller John Liu alleges the Parks Department took so long to solicit and award such contracts that it lost $8.8 million across the city during fiscal years 2008 to 2010. The agency missed out on more potential revenue in Queens than in any borough besides Manhattan, according to the damning report. Read More: Daily News

Fiancee of Sean Bell urges NYPD Chief Ray Kelly to fire officers in beau’s shooting death


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Fiancee of Sean Bell urges NYPD Chief Ray Kelly to fire officers in beau’s shooting death

Sean Bell’s fiancée Thursday urged the city’s top cop to sack all five officers who fired in the shooting frenzy that killed her beau on their wedding day in 2006. Nicole Paultre-Bell made the demand of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly after an NYPD trials commissioner recommended Tuesday that one of the cops, Detective Gescard Isnora, be booted from the force for violating department protocol while undercover and firing the first shot in the 50-shot barrage. Read More: Daily News

Mayor Michael Bloomberg breaks ground on Willets Point redevelopment 

Mayor Bloomberg broke ground Thursday on a controversial redevelopment that he vowed will transform gritty Willets Point into “a major engine for economic growth.” Bloomberg unearthed dirt with a slew of elected officials just steps from the mix of auto body shops and junkyards that abuts Citi Field. Read More: Daily News

Enter The Courier’s Giveaway of the Day Contest

The holidays are in full swing and in keeping with the spirit of the season of giving The Queens Courier is handing out free prizes daily. Today, four tickets to the North Shore Towers Cinema will be raffled off.  All you need to enter is an email address and your zip code. Click here to enter the contest. Check back daily as new prizes will be offered each day.  Yesterday, Robert Vasquez took home two tickets to the St. John’s Red Storm. Via Queens Courier

21 charged in scheme to defraud NY car dealerships

Members of a New York City auto crime ring busted this week bribed people into applying for expensive automobile loans for Cadillacs, Porsches and other luxury cars, then defaulted on millions of dollars and sold the cars on the black market. One of the 50 cars wrongly procured, a Porsche, was used to dump the body of one of two victims shot in 2009 inside the Long Island condo belonging to pro football player Jonathan Vilma, authorities said. Read More: Wall Street Journal

Disgraced former New York Controller Alan Hevesi will keep rotting in prison as parole board turns him down

 

Disgraced former state Controller Alan Hevesi was denied his first attempt at parole Thursday and will spend at least another year behind bars, the Daily News has learned. The once powerful Queens Democrat is serving a one-to-four year sentence at medium-security Mid-Hudson Correctional Facility in Oneida County for his role in a massive pay-to-play pension fund scandal during his tenure as state controller. Read More: Daily News

Alexander’s Secures $275M Refinancing of Rego Park II in Queens

 

Alexander’s, Inc. has completed a $275 million refinancing of its 610,000 square foot Rego Park II shopping center located in Queens. The seven-year loan bears interest at LIBOR plus 1.85 percent and amortizes based on a 30-year schedule. The proceeds of the new loan were used to repay the existing loan on the property. Alexander’s, Inc. is a real estate investment trust that has seven properties in the greater New York City metropolitan area. Read More: CityBizList

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eighteen people busted in alleged $1.9M auto loan scheme in Queens


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Eighteen people busted in alleged $1.9M auto loan scheme in Queens

Eighteen people were indicted today for their alleged roles in two auto loan fraud schemes that resulted in nearly $2 million in losses, authorities said. Sixteen people have been arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on charges that include grand larceny and possession of stolen property, while two others remain at-large. Twelve of the accused scammers allegedly purchased luxury cars, such as Cadillac Escalades, BMWs and Porsches, between July 2008 and March 2010, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Help for Home Owners

The city is aiming to restore the homeownership hopes of Queens residents hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew Wambua joined Queens elected officials, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the New York Mortgage Coalition on November 15 to announce the commencement of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2) Buyer Assistance Program. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Stabbings Take Place Near Manhattan School

Sources say two teenagers were wounded during an attempted robbery of a jacket near P.S. 153 in Hamilton Heights in Manhattan this afternoon. NY1 has learned one was wounded in the stomach and the other was wounded in the hand. Both were taken to the hospital. Police are looking for two suspects, one male and one female. Read More: NY1

Man Who Funded Terror Plotter To Be Sentenced Today

The man who admitted to illegally transferring money to fund the attempted Times Square bombing is being sentenced in federal court today. Mohammad Younis plead guilty in August to giving Faisal Shahzad $7,000 from Pakistan through an illegal money transfer business. Weeks after Younis gave him the money, Shahzad tried to explode a car bomb in the middle of Times Square last year. Shahzad was caught fleeing the country, later pleaded guilty and is now serving life in prison. Younis faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Read More: NY1

Bronx Man Charged With Murder Of East Harlem College Student

Police have made an arrest in connection with the death of a Manhattan woman. Bakary Camara, a 41-year-old Bronx resident was charged with the murder of 36-year-old Rita Morelli. The Italian college student’s body was found last Wednesday in an apartment on East 120th Street in East Harlem with cuts to her neck. Morelli left her hometown in Italy five years ago to pursue a career in design. Read More: NY1

Baby in trash in upper Manhattan was killed; young mom charged with “self-abortion” 

The young mother of a dead female fetus found in the trash in upper Manhattan has been charged with self-abortion, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday. Yaribely Almonte, 20, wrapped the fetus in plastic and dumped the girl in a bin outside her building on W. 191st. St., near Wadsworth Ave. A man sorting recyclables discovered the child’s lifeless body Tuesday, and Almonte was charged Wednesday night. Under state law, a woman can be charged with self-abortion if the fetus is older than 24 weeks. Read More: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/17/2011: Top fund-raiser for Comptroller Liu charged with funneling sham donations


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Activist Patricia Dolan killed crossing Hillside Avenue

Patricia Dolan, longtime Community Board 8 member, president of the Queens Civic Congress, Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association and the founder of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy, was struck and killed as she crossed Hillside Avenue on Tuesday, November 15. Police say Dolan, 72, was crossing the thoroughfare near 198th Street — on her way to a CB 8 Transportation Committee meeting — when she was struck by a 1998 Nissan sedan driven by an unidentified 57-year-old woman.  EMS responded to the scene and took Dolan to Jamaica Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Read More: Queens Courier

David Wright expects to stick around with NY Mets for 2012 MLB season

David Wright joined Ike Davis and Lucas Duda for a press conference to announce some of the Mets’ plans for their landmark season, which includes the return of Banner Day and, in April, a Tom Seaver bobblehead day. Davis and Duda both pronounced themselves fit from the injuries that affected them last season — Davis’ ankle is “full-go right now” and Duda is over his concussion. Read More: Daily News

Fairway supermarket opens in Douglaston

Foul weather did not dampen the excitement on the lines of eager customers awaiting the grand opening of the long-anticipated Fairway Market. “It’s been so long since we had a nice, big [food] store like this,” said Doris Mayne of Douglaston.  “It’s about time.” Customers lined up over an hour before the doors first opened, anxiously awaiting the store that has been over two years in the making. Read More: Queens Courier

Politicians Push For Expansion Of Good Samaritan Law At Queens Anti-Crime Rally

Elected officials in Queens are calling on residents to come together to stop crime. In the wake of an attack on a young girl and several robberies, local politicians attended an anti-crime rally Wednesday in Astoria. They spoke about legislation, including expanding a Good Samaritan law to businesses. Read More: NY1

Romanian duo sent to prison for thefts using doctored Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards

Two Romanians in the U.S. on journalism visas were tossed in prison for up to three years Wednesday for starring in a true-crime story of theft by way of doctored Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards. Daniel Gheorghe and Ionel Cristian Popa, both 33, were convicted of re-encoding the gift cards with stolen bank account information and then using them to withdraw almost $18,000 from a JPMorgan Chase bank in Queens. Read More: Daily News

Noise abatement equipment muffles ear-splitting MTA fan in Hunters Point 

Silence is golden for noise-addled residents of Hunters Point. Noise abatement equipment recently placed on a large fan that exhausts fumes from a nearby subway tunnel has muffled its ear-splitting racket, according to state Sen. Michael Gianaris. Read More: Queens Courier

Top fund-raiser for Comptroller Liu charged with funneling sham donations

A top fund-raiser for Comptroller John Liu was busted by the feds yesterday for allegedly providing the city’s chief fiscal officer with thousands of dollars in sham donations in order to evade campaign-finance laws. The charges against Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan yesterday delivered a devastating blow to Liu’s ambitions of running for mayor in 2013, and have raised questions about his role as the city’s top fiscal officer. Read More: New York Post

Drugs hidden in innocent flier’s luggage

A former Yankee Stadium security guard lost his job, went through a humiliating full-body strip search and faced the threat of spending the rest of his life in jail — all because someone planted two bricks of cocaine in his luggage. Roger Levans, 56, of South Ozone Park, Queens, said the cascade of horrors began Dec. 29, 2010, after he got off his Delta Air Lines flight from Guyana, where he’d been visiting family for Christmas — and didn’t end until March, when the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn finally dropped its bombshell drug charges. Read More: New York Post