P.S. 26 submitted a request for the money to Avella’s office earlier this year for the necessary upgrades since the school stays open year-round and shares the space with P.S. 224 during the summer months.
Seven members of two organized fraud rings based in Flushing and Bayside were indicted by a grand jury Thursday following a two-year investigation leading to the dismantlement of the operations, officials said.
In one scheme, personal information, including social security cards, passports and drivers licenses, were stolen from legitimate car buyers and used to purchase seven luxury automobiles, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. The information was taken from customers, while one of the alleged ring members, Joung Duck Woo, worked as an automobile broker. Woo, who knew four of the victims through his church, is accused of using the information to also open credit cards and other accounts.
The indicted members in the second ring are accused of participating in a credit card “bust out” scam, Brown said. They allegedly used social security numbers beginning with the prefix “586” issued by the government in U.S. territories, such as America Samoa and Guam, to set up fake credit card accounts. False identities were used to open bank and department store credit accounts online and in person to make purchases and cash withdrawals. They are also accused of busting out, or draining the available line of credit on each card.
Joung Duck Woo, 45, of Fresh Meadows, Ki Hun Kim, 45, of Flushing, Sang Hun Moon 59, of Flushing, and Ki Bin Lim, 52, of Fresh Meadows, are variously charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, identity theft, criminal possession of stolen property, forgery and scheme to defraud in connection to the first scheme, according to one indictment. If convicted, each face up to 15 years in prison.
Of those indicted, Ki Bin Lim is still being sought, while the other three are in custody, officials said.
In a second indictment, Jinuk Chong, 24, of Fresh Meadows, Kyeong Joon Kim, 53, of Flushing, and Dong Soo Kim, 60, of Flushing, are variously charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, forgery and scheme to defraud in connection to the “bust out.” If convicted, they each face up to seven years in prison.
Anyone who may have been a victim of these schemes should contact the district attorney’s Economics Crimes Bureau at 718-286-6673.
Monday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High 72. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Monday night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 53. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.
EVENT OF THE DAY: Let’s “CUT” Cancer Out
Style Glam Salon in Fresh Meadows is hosting its first annual Benefit, Let’s “CUT” Cancer Out! We are raising money for St. Jude’s Cancer Research Hospital for Children and donating hair to “Locks of Love”, and organization that provides hair for disadvantaged children. There will be a special appearance by Tracy DiMarco Epstein from “Jerseylicious.” Face painting will be available, raffles, complimentary champagne, refreshments will be served. Proceeds will go to St, Jude’s Hospital. All are welcomed. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own
Police ask for help in finding diabetic teen
The NYPD is asking for the public’s help in finding a Queens teenager with Type 1 diabetes who has been missing since Thursday. Read more: CBS New York
De Blasio touts housing initiative for NYC residents with HIV, AIDS
The fight against AIDS and HIV is now in its fourth decade, but many continue to work to ensure the cause doesn’t lose its urgency “because we know so many people still need our help,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday, speaking to about 300 people gathered in Central Park for the GHMC AIDS Walk. Read more: am New York
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urges Congress to create insurance for paid maternity leave
Congress should pass legislation to create a paid maternity leave insurance program for new parents, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Sunday. Read more: New York Daily News
De Blasio expected to speak about improving web access
Mayor Bill de Blasio will have a tough act to follow when he talks tech on Monday. Read more: New York Post
“Selfie” among 149 words, phrases added to Merriam-Webster dictionary as food, digital life reign supreme
Prosecutor Steve Parks of Delta County, Michigan, says he’s pushed for more than a decade to have Merriam-Webster recognize the word Yooper, a longtime resident of the Lake Superior region. Read more: CBS News
The middle of 179th Street between Union Turnpike and 75th Avenue has sunk a few inches after underground support for the roadway collapsed, which residents have been complaining about since last May.
Local politicians and civic leaders said the issue is getting worse and it creates a problem for pedestrians and drivers. Councilman Rory Lancman and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic will hold a press conference Monday to rally the DEP to fix it.
“DEP needs to figure out what’s going on in a timely matter, and homeowners shouldn’t be penalized,” Rozic said. “The DEP needs to take responsibility.”
Cars driving on the street avoid the noticeable dip in the road and vehicles are parked at a slanted angle, the Courier observed during a recent trip to the site.
The city agency has examined the collapse and found that its sewer line underneath the road is not the problem, but it may be a leak from a resident’s private sewer line that caused the issue, Community Board 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide said at a recent meeting. The DEP is currently trying to find the source of the problem.
“DEP has not identified any issues with the city’s water or sewer infrastructure and we have also investigated a number of private water and sewer service lines,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “There are also a number of private lines we have not been able to gain access to. Once we identify the source of the cave-in we will ensure repairs are made and the street is repaired.”
The DEP has made quick fixes to the sinking street in the past, but residents are upset that they have had to deal with the problem for so long. During the press conference elected officials are expected to urge the DEP to find a long-term solution.
“We want things to happen sooner [rather] than later, and it took a long time for it to [get] to this point,” Adam-Ovide said.
One Queens middle school is taking a stand against bullying with a walk-a-thon.
J.H.S. 216 George J. Ryan in Fresh Meadows is hosting its “Respect For All” walk-a-thon on Tuesday, May 13, on the school’s track, to celebrate diversity and discourage bullying.
“We are trying to get kids to stop name-calling, and do whatever we can to get this building the way it should be,” said Hal Fuchs, an academic coordinator in the school. “And something like this we feel could do that. It’s about respect. We want kids to have respect for each other.”
Three students from each homeroom, approximately 150 kids, will represent the school’s 1,400 students in the event. From 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. the participating students will lap the track four times, which is the equivalent of one mile, Fuchs said.
The New York Mets have donated tickets to the upcoming game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 21 for kids who take part in the walk-a-thon.
The school is also selling 800 “Respect For All” bracelets for $1 each. The proceeds from the event will be donated to an anti-bullying charity to be named.
Studying for the year’s biggest standardized tests can wait, District 26 Superintendent Anita Saunders said.
Scholars at P.S. 173 have a more important task at hand — memorizing the 120-word oath they took Friday to put safety first as passengers and pedestrians.
“This pledge you’re taking is very, very important,” Saunders said to a packed auditorium of wide-eyed youths. “It’s even more important than your ELA and math test.”
Almost all 940 students at the Fresh Meadows school raised their right hand and promised, in unison, to buckle up, be alert and “value the preservation of life above all else” when riding in cars or crossing the street.
The pledge was taken in honor of 3-year-old Allison Liao, who was tragically killed by an SUV in Flushing last October, while crossing Main Street at Cherry Avenue.
“We’re here today because something bad happened to our family,” Allison’s father, Hsi-Pei, said to the students. “She did nothing wrong, and she was holding an adult’s hand.”
The Liaos’ tragedy has aided a local push to stop short-tempered parents from double parking, blocking the school bus stop and letting students run across the street outside of P.S. 173, where Allison’s 5-year-old brother Preston attends.
Nearly 700 parents have signed a driver’s version of the pledge so far, PTA President Italia Augienello said.
Educators hope to hold each to their word.
“Just signing [the pledge] once is not enough,” Saunders said. “We don’t want to have another terrible tragedy.”
Police even stepped in last month to stop short-tempered drivers from double parking, blocking the school bus stop and letting students run across the street, The Queens Courier reported.
“Our traffic conditions outside of our school are so severe,” said PTA President Italia Augienello. “We don’t need another tragedy. I’m afraid because, next time, it could be my kid.”
The driver who hit Allison remained at the scene and was not charged with a crime, police said. He was issued two summonses for failing to exercise due care and failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
The irreversible tragedy has led Hsi-Pei and his wife, Amy, who works as a social worker, to turn their pain into progress.
“We can’t save her,” said Hsi-Pei, a 36-year-old software technician. “There’s a feeling of helplessness and we can’t do that anymore. We can’t do that to ourselves anymore.”
The couple, in February, helped create Families for Safe Streets, a New York City-based group fighting for an end to traffic deaths.
They also meet monthly with local precincts and the PTA, drive to Albany to plead with elected officials and rally with a local advocacy group, Make Queens Safer.
“Something needs to be changed,” Hsi-Pei said. “Even if it constantly brings up the topic of why I lost my daughter, I feel like we’re proactively doing something.”
The family’s resilience has inspired hundreds on a local and citywide level. All 940 students in the school are expected to take the pledge to be careful on the streets and at least 1,000 parents, staff and residents plan to do the same.
“It’s amazing — the strength they have after what they’ve been through,” Augienello said. “They’re humble and quiet, yet they’re strong and their voices are heard.”
All are welcome to join the assembly March 21 at 1:10 p.m., inside the school’s auditorium at 174-10 67th Ave.
“They’re healing by helping other people understand what their actions can cause,” said Parent Coordinator Jean Mendler, “and that’s wonderful.”
A noise complaint at a Fresh Meadows home led police officers to make a major heroin bust Friday night.
Uniformed officers of the 107th Precinct responded to a 3-1-1 noise complaint at 11:05 p.m. on the third floor at 67-11 161st St., according to the NYPD. Upon arriving, the officer heard a loud radio from one apartment and after they knocked the suspect, Frank Giardina, answered the door holding a marijuana pipe.
In order to write Giardina a summons, the officers asked him for his identification after which Giardina invited the police inside his apartment in order to get his ID, according to police. Once inside the apartment the officers saw about five pounds of alleged heroin on the kitchen table. Giardina was then placed under arrest.
A search warrant was granted and after further search, 1,948 glassines of heroin were found together with packing materials and equipment.
Giardina faces charges including criminal possession of a controlled substance of an amount greater than eight ounces, criminal possession of a controlled substance of methamphetamine, intent to sell a criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of marijuana.
Lead-footed drivers in the 111th Precinct will have to ease up on the gas soon or get a ticket.
The precinct plans to ramp up speeding enforcement and make sure motorists yield to pedestrians, Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta said.
The push is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years. De Blasio’s plan also calls for a reduction in the citywide speed limit from 30 to 25 mph and stiffer penalties on reckless taxi and livery drivers.
Speeding and failing to yield make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
Officers will be closely eyeing major area intersections like Northern and Bell Blvds. and Springfield Blvd. and Horace Harding Expwy., Huerta said.
The 111th Precinct covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows. It is one of many citywide precincts to beef up traffic enforcement in order to reach the mayor’s goals.
There have been no pedestrian deaths within the precinct this year, Huerta said.
However, a 2-year-old boy was hit by a car Monday afternoon in Auburndale after he darted onto 196th St. near Northern Blvd., police said, though he is expected to recover.
“They think the child is going to pull through,” Huerta said. “Obviously, it’s a tragedy.”
The heated race was waged principally on negative campaign attacks. Stavisky won 58 percent of the vote.
But Messer said he has not lost momentum since then.
“I believe now, more than ever, that this is a community I want to represent,” said the 43-year-old small business owner. “If anything, it’s a stronger feeling.”
“There are things you to look at before you decide to run — finances, family,” Messer said. “We’ll make a decision soon.”
Mike Murphy, a Senate Democratic spokesperson, said Stavisky has been a “vocal ally” for middle class families and recalled Messer’s previous losses.
“She enjoys wide support from all corners of her diverse district and has now defeated Mr. Messer twice despite the fact that he has spent over $1 million,” Murphy said. “The voters of the district see Mr. Messer for what he is — a Republican surrogate.”
The district encompasses parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights.
A budding plan to grow a farmers’ market in Fresh Meadows is getting the green thumbs up from neighborhood residents.
Community support is sprouting for a green market to open at Cunningham Park this summer, local leaders said.
“It’s up for a lot more discussion, and we’re really in the tentative, beginning stages,” said Martha Taylor, who chairs Community Board 8’s Parks Committee. “But we’re excited about it at this point.”
Local vendors would sell fresh produce — and possibly baked goods, jams and juices — near the tennis courts, in the corner of the main parking lot on Union Tpke. and 196th Pl.
Officials hope to open the market in late June, after the Big Apple Circus leaves town, and run it for at least one afternoon a week until October.
“People from this community go to other green markets in other parts of Queens,” Assemblymember Nily Rozic said. “I think this is really something the community has been craving.”
The Parks Committee held a meeting Jan. 30 to gauge public interest, since a proposed plan was met with some opposition about eight years ago.
Some residents had feared the market would decrease parking spots, increase traffic, and take away business from a newly opened supermarket nearby, Taylor said.
He succeeds term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in a district almost identical to the one he served in the Assembly from 2007 to 2013.
“Jim and I have known each other for a long time. He and I supported each other politically and legislatively for many years,” Lancman said. “I don’t think there could have been a more natural or productive handoff of responsibilities.”
The Fresh Meadows attorney said even during his tenure in the Assembly, nearly all constituent services were related to city issues.
Drinking Diet Pepsi, with a splash of lemon — his choice of beverage every morning — Lancman is quick with a quip.
On snow, he says he is “against it.”
“I have a longstanding policy of being against snowstorms, and I’ve been pretty consistent,” he joked, later adding the city’s first storm was well-handled by the new administration.
And in between multiple phone calls that he answers with his Bluetooth headset, Lancman is still trying to perfect his office space.
“We need a space heater in the conference room,” he tells his chief-of-staff. “Everybody is cold.”