Tag Archives: Fresh Meadows

Precinct helps ease parking problem outside Fresh Meadows school


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Police have stepped in to ease a daily parking problem outside a Fresh Meadows school that has frustrated parents and put students at risk for at least a year.

Parents dropping off their kids at P.S. 173 have been double parking and blocking the school bus stop during the morning rush about 8 a.m., residents said.

“Sometimes they’ll let the kids out in the middle of the street and have the kids run across to get into school,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

At times, students are also left stranded in the middle of the road until traffic clears, said former PTA President Alan Ong.

The “No Standing” street on 67th Avenue gets backed up with at least 15 cars at a time, according to Gallagher.

Short-tempered parents have cursed and threatened volunteer parents who try to move traffic along, residents said.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” said John Callari, a nearby resident. “I almost got run over one morning when my wife and I were taking our grandchildren to school.”

Two traffic safety cops at the 107th Precinct have been easing congestion at the school for about half an hour every day, for the last two weeks.

They will continue “as long as resources are there,” a community affairs officer at the precinct said.

Summonses have been issued to illegally parked drivers in the past, but the precinct wants their main goal to be making sure parents understand the danger.

“We’re trying to work with everybody to educate motorists,” the officer said. “Keeping the kids safe is always the priority.”

The school has more than 900 students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, said Ong, who is now a member of Community District Education Council 26.

The Department of Education did not comment.

“Many other schools in the city are experiencing the same problem,” Ong said. “We need to somehow, someway bring awareness to parents. The last thing we want is an accident.”

 

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John Messer ‘seriously considering’ another State Senate run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

John Messer is mulling over another State Senate run, he told The Courier.

“I am dedicated to this community, which is why I have been driven towards public service and am seriously considering a run for New York State Senate,” he said.

It would be the Oakland Gardens attorney’s third try at defeating incumbent State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who has held the seat for nearly 15 years.

Most recently, Messer lost a contentious two-way Democratic primary to Stavisky in 2012. 

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.

 

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Support grows for farmers’ market to sprout in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

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.

But reception for the plan has increased over the years, said Taylor and Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association President Jim Gallagher Jr.

“We were pleasantly surprised at all the people who were there in favor of it, including some who had been opposed to it the first time,” Taylor said.

The Parks Committee plans to interview market vendors next month, while the full board is slated to vote on the proposal in late spring.

Residents looking to weigh in can call Rozic’s office at 718-820-0241.

“I think we’re going to have a process that is very neighborhood-driven, and one that has everyone’s input,” Rozic said. “Fresh Meadows foodies are in for a treat.”

 

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Rory Lancman details seamless move from Assembly to City Council


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

It may have been the smoothest transition in the city.

Councilmember Rory Lancman, sipping a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp, detailed his seamless move from the State Assembly to the City Council Tuesday in a sit-down interview with The Courier.

“It’s a different ball game, when everything you deal with is the five boroughs,” he said. “But in terms of the district office and serving the community, there’s no difference at all.”

New to City Hall, but not to New York politics, Lancman, 44, won the open District 24 seat in a landslide victory Nov. 5.

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.”

As he slips into his next meeting, Super Big Gulp in hand, he apologizes to his guests from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“I promise next time there will be coffee and warmth,” he said.

 

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Op-ed: Support programs that boost our economy


| oped@queenscourier.com

ASSEMBLYMEMBER NILY ROZIC

One by one, each student marched his way up to the front of the room to receive certificates of completion, each with a sense of accomplishment and hopefulness. One by one, each member of the cohort recounting stories of the past couple of weeks that gave them a second chance.

It was the workforce development initiative of the Queens Botanical Garden and LaGuardia Community College that made these second chances possible.

Unlike some traditional programs that lack strong ties to industry, workforce development programs often accelerate job creation because workers acquire precisely the kind of skills businesses need to expand. Today, examples like those of the Green Jobs Training Program include sustainable landscape design and maintenance, waste management, and other similar green practices.

More recently, the Robin Hood Foundation provided funding to create a workforce development program run by AAFE and One Flushing to recruit and assist those ready to enter the workforce. It is a welcome partnership that will enhance the growth and success of our local Flushing community.

Beyond that New York needs to implement creative ways to retain the talent we have. This year, I sponsored legislation that was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo making New York a national leader in workforce development and job training. I have also introduced legislation supported by Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer that would continue our economic growth and create quality jobs by investing in our engineering workforce. The financial aid program for engineering students who commit to staying in the city for five years after graduation is a smart investment to bolster an innovation economy and prepare our workforce for the 21st century.

This year’s budget also focused on workforce development and new industries in every community. Cuomo pushed for programs including innovative “Hot Spot” incubators, the Venture Capital Fund, and job linkage initiatives that push our state’s ideas, create new businesses, and train our workforce for jobs of tomorrow.

Queens is one of the most diverse counties in the entire country and it needs a government that can embrace and harness that to power its economic engine. We need to keep creating ways to support programs that boost our economy. The task for our next administration will be to help more of the city’s workforce develop the skills to obtain jobs—and more importantly careers—in sectors that are growing and expanding.

That is what I am determined to champion to do in next year’s legislative session—to be a champion of minority-owned and women-owned small businesses, provide resources to assist local businesses flourish, and forge better partnerships between private and public entities. There has never been a better time to support these pathways and programs that ultimately help our most critical economic resource–our workforce.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic represents New York’s 25th District, which spans the northeast portion of Queens, including the communities of Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside, and Douglaston.

 

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Police: Suspect injures Fresh Meadows woman during attempted robbery in her driveway


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

A Fresh Meadows woman was injured when a man who was trying to rob her while she was in her driveway, hit the victim on the head with his gun, police said.

The suspect approached the 66-year-old around 11:15 a.m. on December 5 while she was emptying items from her car and demanded her valuables, police said. When the victim began to scream, the suspect hit her in the head with his gun. He then fled without stealing anything, according to police.

The victim was taken to New York Hospital Queens with lacerations to her head, cops said.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic man, 20 to 25 years old, and 5 feet 11 inches tall. He was wearing a black skullcap and black jacket.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: City eyes two more northeast Queens school sites


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) is looking for more than an acre of Queens land to build a new high school, The Courier has learned.

The SCA has allocated funds for the future institution, poised to alleviate Queens high school congestion, but is still scouring the borough for a site slightly larger than an acre to build it on, according to SCA Director of External Affairs Mary Leas.

“We’d love to find a nice, big site for a high school,” Leas said. “Over an acre would be best. It’s not easy to find a site that size. Then when we do, we really want to investigate it and see if we could make it work. An acre is a lot of property in the city.”

The SCA briefed Community District Education Council 26 (CDEC) Thursday on its proposed $12 billion capital budget for 2015 to 2019, which includes the new high school.

A Department of Education spokesperson told The Courier the city is eyeing a site in Whitestone that “has not been identified.”

Residents in the area, in September, said they saw SCA scouts surveying the vacant Whitestone Jewels Property at 150-33 6th Avenue. The six-acre site is in the midst of a foreclosure action by OneWest Bank.

State Senator Tony Avella said the location is not “viable” for a school, due to lack of infrastructure and public transportation options.

“The city would have to put in sewers and water mains. It would be a transportation nightmare for parents and students,” he said.

The authority ruled out a Little Neck school site — long suggested by the CDEC — due to its “remote” location near 58-20 Little Neck Parkway, on the border of Long Island.

“It’s very hard to site a high school in a community,” Leas said. “Just even looking at a site could cause quite a flurry of activity amongst communities that don’t want the high schools.”

The SCA’s preliminary five-year plan also includes building a 465-seat elementary school in either Oakland Gardens or Fresh Meadows.

Partial funds have been set aside for the potential elementary school, but the SCA has not found a site yet, according to Monica Gutierrez, an SCA community relations manager.

The City Council last week passed a controversial plan to build a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school at 210-11 48th Avenue in Bayside. According to the SCA, it will likely take about three years to open. Its design process, which has not yet begun, is expected to be finalized in about a year.

The SCA gave the presentation to seek feedback from the school district that encompasses Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck.

To suggest site locations to the city, email sites@nycsca.org.

 

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Fresh Meadows home to appear on ‘The Good Wife’ Sunday


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting Inc./Below photos THE COURIER/By Melissa Chan

This Sunday’s episode of CBS’s “The Good Wife” will feature a Fresh Meadows home and a stretch of Union Turnpike.

Show fanatics Peter and Kathy Hart lent their 183rd Street home to film crews and actors for a full day of shooting in October, The Courier first reported.

“We’re excited. This weekend, we’re throwing a ‘Good Wife’ red carpet premiere. I just don’t have a red carpet,” Kathy said. “I just invited some friends over.”

Five actors, including two playing FBI agents, shot scenes in the couple’s living room, dining room, kitchen and on the street near their home, as well.

The episode will air November 24 at 9 p.m.

The critically acclaimed drama began its fifth season this September. It stars Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies, who plays a wife and mother who restarts her life as a defense attorney after her politician husband is jailed over a public sex and corruption scandal.

 

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Fresh Meadows restaurant owners featured on Cooking Channel show say eatery did not need ‘redemption’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens restaurant owners recently featured on the Cooking Channel’s new series, “Restaurant Redemption,” say their iconic 60-year-old eatery did not need the rescue.

King Yum in Fresh Meadows kicked off the show’s first episode on October 29. The series stars Ching-He Huang, a British food writer and TV chef, who helps revitalize struggling Asian restaurants around the country.

Business has dropped “drastically” for the “failing” tiki-themed Chinese restaurant, according to the network’s description of the episode.

But husband and wife duo Robin and Roberta Ng, who own the family-operated business, say the plot was largely exaggerated for show business.

The restaurant needed a change in décor, not food, and did not need redemption, they said.

“It was such a bunch of baloney, the whole thing,” said Robin, 61. “A lot of it was made up. They tried to make it look like the restaurant was failing and that the show was going to come in and save the day.”

In the episode, Huang describes King Yum’s best-selling dishes as “over-fried, greasy, bland” and “dreadful” as a straight-faced Robin blankly looks on.

“I wasn’t going to give her a reaction or feed into her,” said the Culinary Institute of America graduate, who took over the restaurant seven years ago from his late father.

One of the leading chefs in the business, Emeril Lagasse, praised King Yum’s test-of-time standards just two years ago on the Cooking Channel’s “The Originals with Emeril.”

Robin also had a brief cameo as a waiter in the 2010 action comedy film, “The Other Guys,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, which filmed in the 181-08 Union Turnpike eatery.

The couple said they originally thought the Cooking Channel reached out to them to shoot another tribute-esque show.

Instead, they were blindsided — a claim echoed by other show participants, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“We had no idea what they were coming in to film,” Robin said. “They kept us in the dark about everything. They never told us it was for a restaurant do-over.”

Roberta said her regular customers were “mortified” to see the restaurant on the show.

“People love the food here,” she said. “Our customers are really angry.”

It has been King Yum’s “good food, consistency and good value” that has kept the business alive in the ever-changing food industry, Robin said.

“I grew up working here with my brother. We managed the place as teenagers. I did everything from washing dishes to peeling shrimp,” he said. “We’ve been here for 60 years. We must be doing something right.”

The Cooking Channel did not comment.

Somewhat grateful for the “wake up” call, the Ng family said they plan to soon incorporate Huang’s crispy chicken wings with citrus five-spice salt into the menu.

“It had a nice ending,” Roberta said. “Things needed to be freshened up. She did that.”

 

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57-year-old fatally struck in Fresh Meadows


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man was killed Wednesday night when a car hit him on the Horace Harding Expressway.

Sangho Kim, 57, of Fresh Meadows, was crossing the roadway at 188th Street around 8:30 p.m. when the accident occurred, said police.

He was taken to Booth Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The vehicle remained on the scene and the investigation is ongoing, said police.

 

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‘The Good Wife’ films at Fresh Meadows home


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting Inc./Below photos THE COURIER/By Melissa Chan

An upcoming episode of a popular CBS drama will feature a Queens couple — or at least the house they live in.

“The Good Wife” fanatics, Peter and Kathy Hart, played host to the show this Tuesday, lending their Fresh Meadows home to film crews and actors for a full day of shooting.

“This is our 15 minutes of fame,” said Kathy, a Manhattan hair stylist. “We’re big fans of the show. I tell Peter not to talk to me until commercials.”

Five actors, including two playing FBI agents, shot scenes in the couple’s living room, dining room, parts of their kitchen and on their tree-lined 183rd Street near Union Turnpike.

“For Fresh Meadows, this is the most exciting thing,” said Peter, a realtor, who has raised three kids in the home in the past 25 years.

The couple said a location scout knocked on their door about three years ago, came in and took pictures.

“We don’t know why we let him in, but we let him in,” Peter said. “We got a call days later saying more people wanted to see the house. But they said they would keep us on file for future episodes.”

Soon after, the pair picked up the remote, flipped to the show for the first time and got hooked while waiting for that “future episode.”

And then that time came.

About 21 more scouts working for the show showed up at their front door last week, they said.

“They all had clipboards. All these neighbors thought we were selling the house,” Peter said.

The couple was told to “empty the first floor” before film crews arrived at 6 a.m. on October 15.

Workers were seen unloading furniture from moving trucks early Tuesday morning in the family’s front yard.

“The experience is exciting,” Kathy said, “and we don’t have to do much but be quiet and not get in the way.”

“The Good Wife” began its fifth season September 29. It airs on Sundays at 9 p.m.

The critically acclaimed drama stars Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies, who plays a wife and mother, who restarts her life as a defense attorney after her politician husband is jailed over a public sex and corruption scandal.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared as himself in the show’s last season finale.

“Now we have to put a plaque outside our house saying, ‘As Seen on ‘The Good Wife,’” Peter said.

 

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Pols call for traffic calming measures in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A group of leaders in Fresh Meadows are trying to put the brakes on lead-footed drivers who they say whiz down a stretch of homes daily.

The speeding motorists use 75th Avenue, a residential road, to bypass traffic on Union Turnpike, according to Councilmember James Gennaro.

For about one mile, between Utopia Parkway and 164th Street, drivers need only slow down twice for a speed bump and a stop sign, local leaders said.

“It’s a straight run” otherwise, Gennaro said. “It creates a very dangerous situation for people living in and around 75th Avenue on this particular stretch.”

At least four people were injured near 75th Avenue and 172nd Street between 2007 and 2011, according to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), though none were severely hurt.

That number jumped to 14 in 2012, according to a spokesperson for Gennaro, who said crashes and near collisions are increasing as more drivers discover the detour.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic said she recently saw a speeding driver jump the curb in an attempt to avoid hitting another car.

“It missed and parked on top of a lawn,” she said. “It’s actually not the first time that I’ve seen that on 75th Avenue. Enough is enough. We really need to figure out a strategic and innovative way to calm the neighborhood to speeding traffic.”

Gennaro said his office has made three requests for traffic studies since 2011. The calls for an all-way stop sign at 172nd Street and 75th Avenue were all denied by the DOT, the councilmember said.

“It’s frustrating,” Gennaro said. “The Department of Transportation has to figure something out. This situation may not lend itself to some kind of cookie cutter solution, but there has to be some sort of solution.”

DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said the location did not meet federal guidelines for more traffic controls. However, he said the department is looking into other measures.

The legislators proposed putting speed bumps instead of stop signs in problematic parts of 75th Avenue. A DOT feasibility study for the measure is not slated to be finished until October.

“A speed bump is a true traffic calming device,” Gennaro said. “That’s what it’s made for, to slow traffic down and make it a less desirable alternative to Union Turnpike.”

Principal Mary Scheer of nearby Holy Family School said traffic along 75th Avenue will only increase in the meantime.

“They want to keep speeding. I’ve seen cars pass each other on this road. It’s very dangerous,” she said. “There’s total neglect of any of the rules of the road on this street.”

 

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Fresh Meadows man recounts stop-and-frisk experience


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Naji Grampus

Fresh Meadows resident Naji Grampus claims he was stopped by cops one night while walking home from playing basketball in a playground near P.S. 26 in the fall of 2010.

It was chilly, so Grampus, then 21, was wearing a hoodie and his gloves were bundled in the pouch of the sweater. Grampus, who is black, was walking with two white friends, but the officers directed their questions only to him, he said.

“Where are you going?” Grampus recalled one of three officers asking. “What’s in your pocket?”

Grampus and his friends said they were headed home, but the officers got out their vehicle and allegedly proceeded to frisk him alone.

“He frisked me, not them,” Grampus said. “I believe I was racially profiled, because I had a bulge in my pocket. But a bulge doesn’t look like a gun.”

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin agreed with Grampus and minority groups’ view when she ruled last week that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy is being used unconstitutionally by overly targeting blacks and Hispanics.

In 2012 police stopped nearly 533,000 people, but approximately 473,644 or 89 percent, were innocent, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Of those stopped 284,229 were black (55 percent), 165,140 were Latino (32 percent) and 50,366 were white (10 percent).

“It feels like they are playing the law of averages,” Grampus said. “If I stop 100 [minorities] maybe one will have something.”

Grampus was a junior in Baruch College then and is now a community liaison for Councilmember Mark Weprin, who has voiced concern over stop-and-frisk.

Grampus thinks the policy should be reformed, not discontinued, as does Scheindlin.

As part of her decision, Scheindlin appointed a monitor over the NYPD and body cameras for police officers in some precincts in her decision.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was displeased with the ruling and the city filed to appeal the decision. Bloomberg instead referred to stats that show last year the city had the fewest shootings and murders since records began being kept in 1962.

Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly then touted stop-and-frisk as a reason that selling illegal weapons in the city was more difficult after the pair announced “the largest seizure of illegal guns in city history” on Monday, August 19.

Cops recovered 254 firearms and indicted 19 people. One of the men arrested was heard saying said he couldn’t bring the weapons to Brooklyn because of stop-and-frisk, according to police.

This was rebuffed by various supporters of stop-and-frisk reformers.

“We applaud the city’s record gun bust, but we are nonetheless outraged that the mayor is using it as a scare tactic to justify the unconstitutional stop-and-frisk police tactic,” said

Comptroller John Liu, a mayoral candidate. “Stopping and frisking innocent New Yorkers never has been, never is, and never will be the answer.”

 

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Fresh Meadows woman arrested for Sandy scam


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office

A Fresh Meadows woman claiming to be a Sandy victim was arrested for allegedly scamming more than $87,000 in city and federal relief, the state attorney general said.

Caterina Curatolo stayed at hotels on the city’s dime for close to nine months after she claimed she was evacuated and rendered homeless by the October superstorm, according to authorities and a criminal complaint.

She racked up a hotel bill of more than $83,000, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, and received nearly $3,600 on top of that from the city and American Red Cross to spend on food.

The attorney general’s office said she spent some of the money at electronic, shoe and dress stores.

“I am in desperate need for you all to pray for me and for all the victims of hurricane super sandy [sic], and please pray pray pray for me and us all,” Curatolo wrote on her Facebook page in June.

Schneiderman said Curatolo filed fraudulent claims, blaming Sandy for pre-dated or nonexistent damages to her house and car.

An investigation by his office found roof damages to her home were there since 2011, when she filed a similar claim to FEMA after Hurricane Irene.

Neighbors told The Courier they believed structural damage to her home took place long before the superstorm.

Curatolo’s car also showed no signs of water damage, Schneiderman said, though she allegedly told a car insurance representative her Jeep Grand Cherokee “was full of water,” according to a criminal complaint.

“The whole ceiling and everything was all wet and coming down well,” she allegedly said, “and the car is moldy and mildew-y [sic] now and the car won’t start.”

Neighbors said 159th Street, where Curatolo lives, saw little to no flooding during Sandy.

“There were some branches down. There was rain, but cars were not flooded,” said Abderraham Kamal.

Curatolo’s home is more than a mile from the nearest flood zone and was not located in an evacuation area, officials said.

Neighbor and friend Claudia, who did not want to give her last name, said Curatolo was battling health and family problems.

The 48 year old — who described herself on a social media sites as a reverend, actor, director and producer — also spent years taking care of her ailing mother, the neighbor said.

“I feel very bad for her,” Claudia said. “She needed help, but I guess she took it from the wrong place.”

Curatolo faces multiple charges including grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records and could serve up to seven years in prison if convicted.

“My office will do everything in our power to crack down on anyone who uses a national emergency like Sandy for personal gain,” Schneiderman said. “Today’s arrest shows that scammers who trade on tragedy will be exposed and punished.”

 

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Star of Queens: Alan Ong, board of directors, Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

star of queens

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Alan Ong has been active in the Queens community for years, serving as the PTA president for P.S. 173 before being appointed by Borough President Helen Marshall to the District 26 Community Education Council.

“Even though I stepped down as PTA president, now I can try to effect things on a district level,” said Ong, who also serves on the board of directors for the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

Ong said that he was very active in the PTA, doing a lot of outreach and safety awareness work for parents and students alike.

At the head of the Homeowners Civic Association, Ong said he has worked hard to “maintain the quality of life within the neighborhood, like [fixing] potholes in the street. We also work with the local precinct to make sure everything is safe for the residents.”

BACKGROUND: Ong was born in Manhattan and spent his early years in Chinatown.

“I moved to Queens when I was a teen and have been living here ever since,” he said.

He attended the City College of New York and now lives in Fresh Meadows.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Ong recalls his time with the P.S. 173 PTA as one of his best memories.

“The reaction of the parents was very rewarding,” he said. “A lot of us work, and sometimes we don’t spend as much time with our children as we should. My aim was to get parents involved.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The greatest obstacle I face is getting people to speak up,” Ong explained. “It’s difficult to tackle issues when you don’t know what they are. I have to inspire people to step up and tell us what’s going on.”

INSPIRATION: “One of the main reasons why I do this is because I’m Americanborn Chinese, and in the community of Chinese culture, people don’t step up and help others as much. I do this community work because I feel there’s a need for that. Hopefully what I’m doing will help others to do the same.”

LUKE TABET

 

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