Tag Archives: Guns

Drug bust at LeFrak City

| tcimino@queenscourier.com

A seven-month undercover investigation at LeFrak City netted the arrest of 46 people on drug and other charges.

The defendants – who range in age from 17 to 63 – are charged with selling crack and powdered cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and other controlled substances, including prescription medications, to undercover police officers on hundreds of occasions over a seven-month period in and around LeFrak City.

In one instance, it is alleged that 14 undercover drug purchases were made from two men who were operating out of a licensed day care center at the complex. In another instance, it is alleged that in executing a search warrant at another complex apartment, the tenants – one of whom is an inspector at the City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission – tried to evade arrest by releasing a pit bull whose vocal cords had allegedly been cut. The dog was captured, but not before attacking one of the officers who required medical treatment.

“This initiative is yet another step in our continuing campaign to stop drug-dealing and drug-based violence in Queens,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “These arrests underscore our commitment to improve the quality of life for the residents of LeFrak City.”

The investigation began in March 2011 when detectives assigned to the NYPD’s Queens Narcotics Division received information regarding drug dealing around LeFrak City. In response, the NYPD’s Queens Narcotics Division and District Attorney Brown’s Narcotics Investigation Bureau dispatched numerous undercover officers to purchase crack and powdered cocaine, heroin and marijuana. During the course of the investigation, undercover officers additionally purchased methadone, Ecstasy, oxycodone, codeine and Xanax, among other drugs.

Fourteen drug sales were allegedly made out of 98-38 57th Avenue, apartment 2K, which is the location of the state-licensed Burke-Arthur Day Care Center whose listed owner is Diane Burke. Two of the defendants – Hector Rodriguez and Donnell Burnhill who are, respectively, Burke’s son and the father of Burke’s daughter’s baby – are accused of selling undercover officers marijuana, crack cocaine and Ecstasy pills from the daycare center, which has the capacity to care for 12 children.

In addition to the arrests, officers executed thirteen court-authorized search warrants and allegedly recovered nearly seven pounds of marijuana, more than two pounds of cocaine, various amounts of crack cocaine, over 3,600 pills, $3,400 in cash, and a 25-caliber semi-automatic handgun.

In executing a search warrant at 96-08 57th Avenue, apartment 4C, it is alleged that police observed Eugene Griffin, a New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission lieutenant inspector, exiting the location smoking a marijuana cigarette. When told not to move by police, it is alleged that Griffin re-entered the two-bedroom apartment. As police entered the apartment, a pit bull, whose vocal cords apparently had been altered to prevent the animal from barking, was released in an effort by those inside to evade arrest.

Arrested at the location was Eugene Griffin, 62, his wife, Joanne Griffin, 62, their son, Omar R. Griffin, 30, and Ricketta Smith, 23, on multiple charges – including third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree assault. Allegedly recovered at the apartment were 263 zip lock bags of marijuana, a black bag containing a pound of marijuana, a plastic tube containing cocaine, three electronic scales, a grinder with marijuana, a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol and other items.

Police additionally served a nuisance abatement order on the day care center, the Griffins’ apartment, as well as three other apartments in the complex.

The defendants are variously charged with multiple counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal sale of marijuana, criminal possession of marijuana and criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions.

In addition to drug charges, some of the defendants are variously charged with criminal possession of a weapon, assault and resisting arrest.

Barbara Sheehan lawyers plan appeal

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


The chapter of the Barbara Sheehan murder trial is complete, but the story’s conclusion has yet to be written.

Although the 50-year-old mother of two was acquitted of second degree murder, a jury of nine women and three men chose to convict her of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree for the shooting death of her husband, retired NYPD sergeant Raymond Sheehan, on the morning of February 18, 2008 in their Howard Beach home.

“It’s sad what happened, but I had no choice,” said Barbara, who claims she was trying to escape from her house when her husband confronted her. “He aimed a gun at me. He tried to kill me, and I had to defend myself. I tried to get away, but he wouldn’t allow me to. At the time I thought that if I had a gun maybe he wouldn’t come at me, but that didn’t work.”

Barbara, who faced 25 years to life in prison before being found not guilty of murder, could serve between two and a quarter to 15 years behind bars depending on sentencing. The Howard Beach resident was very disappointed with the jury’s verdict, and her lawyers believe the decision to be inherently contradictory.

“Our opinion is that the jury’s verdict is inconsistent as a matter of law,” said Niall MacGiollabhui, one of Barbara’s attorneys. “If you act in self defense, then that is not unlawful. It is lawful to act in self defense, and it is lawful to use a weapon in self defense even if it is not licensed to you because your intention is not to use it unlawfully, but in self defense.”

Barbara was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, October 12 to surrender. MacGiollabhui says an appeal of the conviction is imminent, and he also intends to submit an application to the appellate division to allow Barbara to remain on bail pending her sentencing and the results of the appeal.

As of press time, it remained uncertain whether Barbara would be allowed to remain out on bail.

According to MacGiollabhui, the District Attorney’s office has a record of text messages retrieved from the cell phones of Barbara and her children and sent by Raymond on the days leading up to his death. MacGiollabhui says that the messages confirm that Raymond was threatening both Barbara and their children, and that they could prove to be vital evidence during the appeal.

Although the DA’s office advised the defense to contact Verizon regarding the records, MacGiollabhui says the telephone company is unable to locate them. The attorney also says the defense is constitutionally entitled to the records, and he will make a formal request to the judge that the evidence be shared if the DA’s office proves uncooperative.

“The DA put on a case that Barbara and her children fabricated the domestic violence,” said MacGiollabhui. “If they put on that kind of a case, while they had evidence in their possession proving that Barbara’s husband made threats to her, to me that’s utterly dishonest.”

MacGiollabhui says the appeal may last at least another year, meaning Barbara’s fight to preserve her life is far from over.

“It’s been very difficult,” Barbara said – moments after her trial went to jury. “It continues to be very difficult until it is over.”

102nd Precinct commander wants to address problems

| mchan@queenscourier.com


The most recent 102nd Precinct Community Council meeting drew a larger crowd than usual, according to Community Council President Maria Thomson and Deputy Inspector Armando DeLeon.

More than 50 local residents attended the monthly meeting in Richmond Hill on Tuesday, September 20 to voice their current concerns, as well as issues they encountered over the summer.

DeLeon commenced the meeting with the Precinct’s Cop of the Month award, given to Officer Anthony Scapicchio.

Scapicchio was honored for arrests he made on September 11. During his routine walk throughout Richmond Hill, Scapicchio saw three evasive and suspicious men kneeling down by a nearby vehicle, DeLeon said. After calling for back-up and upon further investigation, Scapicchio found two loaded firearms near the wheel well of the vehicle and one man pretending to be asleep inside.

The three men were arrested. The precinct later found that one of the men had a prior murder conviction and was on parole; another had a “laundry list” of charges and close to 20 prior arrests, and the third was a known drug dealer.

One of the firearms had the serial number scratched off and the other was discovered stolen, Community Affairs Officer Joseph Martins said.

“It was clear they were going to do something bad, whether or not it was related to 9/11,” DeLeon said. “Officer Scapicchio was able to stop it before it happened.”

DeLeon then addressed residents’ concerns about nearby break-ins on 107th Street and the slow response time of 9-1-1 calls.

Martins said there were no robberies on 107th Street after a 10-day observation period, which was held after a resident expressed concern that his neighbor had a door kicked in.

DeLeon then explained how the precinct has limited resources and that all calls are answered according to high priority.
“If you’re waiting five minutes and it’s an emergency, I understand it’s going to feel like an hour,” he said. “We will answer your calls, but it may not be as fast as three or four minutes.”

The majority of complaints residents made were about increased noise pollution in the area, especially over the summer. At least three different residents said they ran into altercations with neighbors who were playing loud music outside. In two cases, the neighbors became confrontational and threatening.

DeLeon asked the residents to never confront their neighbors and to call the precinct instead.

“It can become more dangerous for you if you’re no longer anonymous and they know you’re the one who called the police,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, DeLeon asked the residents to call him directly so that he may address issues as soon as possible.

“If you run into a problem tomorrow, don’t wait until next month’s meeting to tell me,” he said. “I have never turned away a single person who walked into the precinct to talk to me about any issues they may have. Not once.”