Tag Archives: harassment

Fresh Meadows teen busted for threatening Councilman Lancman

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A Fresh Meadows teenager found himself in handcuffs for allegedly phoning in a death threat to Councilman Rory Lancman and his family.

Ariel Gershkovich, 17, made “a series of specific, threatening calls to [Lancman’s] home phone” on Tuesday, according to the councilman’s office.

In a voice mail left for Lancman, Gershkovich demanded that Lancman call him back or he would “do a drive-by, old school on you and your family,” according to law enforcement sources.

The legislator was reportedly at home with his wife and three children when he received this voice mail. The 107th Precinct Detective Squad and the Queens District Attorney’s office launched an investigation.

During questioning, Gershkovich — who is known to Lancman’s son — allegedly claimed he made the threats over the councilman’s politics,  according to published reports.

Gershkovich was arraigned Thursday in Queens Criminal Court on charges of second-degree harassment and second-degree aggravated harassment and was released without bail. He is scheduled to return to court on April 24 and faces up to a year behind bars if convicted, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

“The police and district attorney’s office investigated with their usual professionalism and care, and an individual has been arrested and charged,” Lancman said in a statement to The Courier.


Man arrested in alleged interracial attack on Long Island City couple

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

An interracial couple was attacked after leaving a Long Island City restaurant by a group of men who began yelling racial and homophobic insults at them, according to reports.

On Saturday, August 17 at 1:45 a.m. Jacob James-Vogel, 37, and his wife Billie, 40, were assaulted in front of 47-20 Center Boulevard, said police.

According to published reports, the couple was leaving Shi restaurant with a gay friend after celebrating Billie’s birthday when they were approached by a group of men who began yelling homophobic and racial slurs. Both Jacob and his wife received injuries from an altercation during the attack.

“Reports of a possible hate crime on Center Boulevard in Long Island City are deeply disturbing,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “There is no place for hatred in our City and I condemn this attack and all others in the strongest possible terms.”

Van Bramer also said he has made sure the hate crimes unit is  investigating to figure out if the attack was motivated by hate. He is working with the the Anti-Violence Project to monitor the case and lead the community’s response against all bias related attacks.

“These attacks are hateful, ugly and un-New York,” said mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “We won’t let racism take hold where we’ve fought so hard to stamp it out. Whatever has spurred on these acts of violence, we’ll protect our people. New Yorkers have a right to live free from violence and fear. We must do more to affirm that right, by bringing more security cameras into the NYPD network so we can find perpetrators more quickly, and by joining police and communities in closer cooperation.”

Shih Lee, owner of Shi restaurant, said he saw a “fight” occurring around the corner of the restaurant and called the police. He is now working together with the police to put together information on what happened Saturday night.

“As a business serving Long Island City and beyond, we have a very diverse clientele and are very involved in the community,” said Lee. “We strongly condemn discrimination in all forms…”

The NYPD has arrested Nikolaos Katsos, 28, and charged him with assault and harassment. The investigation is still ongoing as police look for other suspects.



Crossing guard accused of choking teen, says it never happened

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy The New York Daily News

Varied reports came out this week about what exactly happened at the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and 99th Street.

It was originally reported that at about 7:30 a.m. on Friday, June 8 near M.S. 137, a school crossing guard, Jillian Selby, 60, choked a 14-year-old student. The boy and his mother went to the 106th Precinct and filed a complaint against Selby, reports said.

The report from the district attorney’s office said Selby walked over to the boy, yelled at him, knocked his hat off and choked him.

Police said she was charged with assault in the third-degree, harassment in the second-degree, obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and criminal endangerment of a child. Selby was released without bail and is due in court on August 24, the DA’s office said.

Selby, however, said the boy had a knife and was yelling curses at her. “It didn’t happen,” she said. “I didn’t do anything to him.”

The marks on the boy’s neck were actually from a group of girls trying to restrain him from charging the crossing guard, Selby said.

“They were the ones who are responsible for restraining him,” she said. “So that’s exactly where he got those marks from.”

The case is being investigated by Internal Affairs, police said, as Selby is technically an employee of the NYPD. She is currently suspended while the case is ongoing.

Repeated calls to Selby’s lawyer for comment were not answered.

South Richmond Hill woman alleges harassment, business owner counters

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


A South Richmond Hill mother of three – allegedly berated for months with threats and insults from workers at a neighborhood auto shop – fears for her life. The store owner, denying all claims, feels her relentless, unfounded complaints are bringing down business.

It is a “he said, she said” argument, potentially tearing a neighborhood apart.

According to Sara*, men at Ken Shaw Auto Repair & Tire Shop, located at 114-17 101st Avenue in South Richmond Hill, verbally harass her as she walks to her nearby home. The group, allegedly consisting of about eight men, shouts racist remarks while drinking and smoking in front of the store.

On one occasion, a harasser allegedly accosted Sara while holding a dog as he tried to provoke the animal by barking.

According to business owner Ken Shaw, he passed a woman while walking his two dogs with a friend. The friend said “woof woof” to one of the dogs, prompting the woman to ask if they were barking at her. Shaw and his friend gave each other a look and kept walking down the block. The woman allegedly then told the men she was calling the police on them and supposedly dialed 9-1-1 in front of them. According to Shaw, he instructed his friend to ignore her because she had called the police and the landlord to complain in the past.

“I follow all the rules. I don’t do anything I’m not supposed to do,” said Shaw. “I don’t argue with anyone. Since I’ve been here, all the tenants in the building, not just her, have complained about different things, and that makes the business bad. I am getting tired of being harassed.”

Shaw claimed he spoke with police the last time they came to his house to pat him down – an occurrence he claims happens frequently – regarding filing a counter complaint about the woman’s harassment. According to Shaw, the responding officer scoffed at his request, reminding him that while he had only been in the neighborhood for several months, the complainants lived there for decades.

He added that each time the police have investigated, they have found nothing.

According to Sara, the business is open 24/7, with people coming and going at all hours of the night. She claimed people bring Rottweilers and other scary-looking dogs in the middle of the night, which she alleges are used for dog fighting.

Sara also accused the men of running an alleged prostitution ring. According to her, she overheard a man say “I’ll bring some pieces to you tonight at 7:30 and you can pick the ones you want.” At 7:30, Sara went downstairs and said she saw the same man with five girls.

Shaw denied completely.

“I am not a trafficker,” he said. “I’m just here to work.”

According to a police source, a report has never been filed against this business. Officers investigated the premises and are aware that the owner has two dogs on site.

“From what he says, he’ll take care of it,” said the source.

Since the business moved into the building nine months ago, Sara complained to 3-1-1 six times. According to her, the first two times she called, her concerns were dismissed as being unimportant. The third time, 3-1-1 officials responded to the complaint. Sara claimed this alerted the men to the fact that she had been the person lodging complaints against them.

That caused the harassment to escalate, she asserts.

Sara alleged the men threatened her, telling her she was asking for trouble. A man threw rocks at her window while cursing and screaming at her, she claims. Sara said her teenage daughter became terrified while leaving the train station one day after spotting a man who had harassed her mother.

“She got really scared,” said Sara. “She thought they were after us.”

Shaw believes the neighborhood’s predominantly Punjabi population dislikes having a business owned by someone of a different ethnic background in the area, assuming they hope to drive him out with their complaints.

“She wants me to get arrested, and if I do get arrested, I am going to pay the bail and get back out,” said Shaw. “Even if I stand outside with a few of my friends, she will come outside and tell us that we can’t stand there. We are on the sidewalk.”

A man close to the situation stated kids go to the tire shop, have parties and blast music.

“It’s a lot of ‘he said, she said’ and you don’t know who’s telling the truth and who’s making stuff up,” said the man.

*name has been changed to protect identity

With additional reporting by Timothy Petropoulos

Funeral held at St. Helen’s for victim in deadly L train fight; suspect avoids murder charge

| brennison@queenscourier.com

hb sthelensw

The alleged suspect charged in a fight that led to a college student’s death has avoided a murder charge.

Joshua Basin, 20, was hit and killed during an alleged fight with Ryan Beauchamp, 34, on Friday, March 23 in the Bedford Avenue L train station.

According to reports, both men fell onto the tracks, but Basin was not able to escape before being struck by the train.

Beauchamp was arrested on Tuesday, March 27.

The 34-year-old faces two counts of third-degree attempted assault, harassment and disorderly conduct — all misdemeanors — but dodged a murder indictment.

The funeral for Basin was held today at St. Helen’s Church in Howard Beach.

Beauchamp is due in court on April 2.


More tenants come out against Jamaica landlord

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Fifteen more families in apartment complexes throughout Jamaica have joined the fight against their landlord, who they said constantly harasses them for money.

In December 2011, tenants of 90-36 149th Street filed suit against Zara Realty, which manages the building complex. Among the host of complaints, the tenants alleged unfair and repeated rent increases and a laundry list of basic repairs left disregarded.

Now, Robert McCreanor, director of legal services at the Catholic Migration Office — which represents the tenants — said the agency has asked the court to allow 15 more families from four other buildings managed by Zara Realty to be added to the lawsuit.

According to McCreanor, more tenants reached out to Catholic Migration, saying they are constantly being charged and harassed for bills they don’t owe. McCreanor said the tenants have been taken to court by their landlord, are regularly sent automated calls many times a day and have even been threatened to be reported to the credit bureau.

“This is a big problem,” said Eduardo Barahona, executive director of Centro Hispano Cuzcatlan — an advocacy group working directly with the tenants. “It’s frustrating that we still can’t stop this harassment after so many years.”

Barahona said he has been helping these tenants for close to 10 years, battling the same landlord and the same issues. He said he helps connect the tenants to Catholic Migration due to the fact that the majority of them predominantly speak Spanish.

“I hope there will be some kind of resolution. I hope things will be better,” Barahona said.

Meanwhile, George Subraj, president of Zara Realty, said the accusations are false.

“That’s not true. To harass someone for money, it’s a big, big thing,” he said. “You have to have just and proper cause. They have to actually owe the money. We have to prove that. I can justify that the moneys are indeed owed.”

According to Subraj, rent is due for each tenant at the first of every month. While residents have a five day grace period, he said any late payments after five days warrant “an oral demand” in the form of a telephone call once a month and then a legal, written demand if the first goes unanswered.

However, he said he has never called tenants more than once a month if they owe money, and he denied sending any automated calls.

Subraj did admit to taking several tenants to court due to “chronic non-payments.”

“One tenant was 40 times late with payment, and another was three months late,” he said, adding that some tenants are now under lenient court-ordered repayment plans. “We are really meticulous, and a lot of people don’t like that.”

McCreanor said the motion to add the extra families is pending and a decision would be reached by March 8.


Man Hit, Killed At Queens Road Junction

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Cops save freezing kayaker

Cops yesterday rescued a fisherman whose kayak was sinking in the Atlantic off Jacob Riis Park. The 46-year-old called 9-1-1 at 1:19 p.m. when his boat started taking on water. NYPD Harbor boats began a search, but it was an Aviation Unit Air-Sea Rescue helicopter that located the fisherman as he was clinging to the submerged vessel in the frigid water. The victim was suffering from hypothermia when scuba-diving Officers Jason Gregory and Darren Blum were deployed from the chopper. He was lifted into the aircraft from a basket and rushed to New York Community Hospital. Read More: New York Post

NY lawmaker urges grading system for street food

New York City restaurants get letter grades and now the city food carts may get the same. State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) is introducing legislation to require posted letter health grades for street vendors. Peralta says he wants to make sure whether the public eats in a quality restaurant or eats in a street mobile vending cart, that quality of the food meets certain health and safety standards. Read More: Fox News

Man Sues Boss Over Fat Jokes

A former New York furniture store employee says his manager was so fixated on his weight that she ordered him to establish a “fat club,” recruit members and act as its president. Thomas Hunt, 48, claims his manager at a Raymour & Flanigan furniture store in Queens, Marlene Albarano, relentlessly ribbed Hunt about his extra poundage — even denying him a promotion solely because of his appearance and once ordering him to walk around the building for 30 minutes on his lunch break. Read More: Fox News

Man Hit, Killed At Queens Road Junction

City fire officials say a man was walking near the Clearview-Long Island Expressway interchange in Fresh Meadows just before noon Sunday when he was hit and killed. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the car stayed on the scene and no criminality was suspected. Read More: NY1

Police Investigate Fatal Shooting Of Queens Teen

Police continue to investigate the shooting death of a teenage boy in front of a home in Queens. Officers were called to Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway just after 10:30 p.m. Thursday. When they arrived, they found Eric Norman, 18, dead after being shot in the head. So far, there are no arrests. Read More: NY1

Boozing JetBlue passenger busted by off-duty NYPD cop
A vacationing Bronx cop on a flight home from the Dominican Republic is being hailed a mile-high hero for taking down a berserk passenger who attacked a flight attendant. About an hour into JetBlue Flight 832 to Kennedy Airport, an unruly passenger a few rows behind the officer got loud. Antonio Ynoa, 22, was pestering a flight attendant for soda to mix with his duty-free rum. The flight attendant told Ynoa opening duty-free alcohol onboard was prohibited and repeatedly told him to put it away. The unemployed Ynoa, who was returning to New York from visiting his wife in the Dominican Republic, carried on drinking and yelling profanities. Read More: Daily News