Tag Archives: JFK

Deal approved to turn JFK’s historic TWA Flight Center into hotel complex

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Rendering courtesy BerlinRosen

The long-range lease deal to turn the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) into a hotel complex has been approved by the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday afternoon.

The project calls for a 75-year lease agreement with Flight Center Hotel LLC, a partnership of MCR Development and JetBlue Airways Corporation, to remake the TWA Flight Center and its nearly 6-acre site into JFK’s only on-airport hotel.

“This administration has committed to modernizing New York’s airports for the 21st century by creating gateways worthy of New York City and ensuring travelers have the services they need,’’ Cuomo said. “At the TWA Flight Center, we are able to meet those goals while also preserving its iconic design for passengers to enjoy for decades to come.”

Astonishingly, JFK is one of the few U.S. airports that does not have an on-airport hotel. This $265 million project, which is expected to break ground in 2016, will create 3,700 jobs — including approximately 2,500 union construction and restoration jobs — and is expected to open for use in 2018.

This new hotel will include 505 hotel rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space, restaurants, a spa and a 10,000-square-foot observation deck. The complex will also feature two six-story hotel towers and a micro-grid energy management system, allowing the building to generate its own power.

The hotel complex will pay homage to the airport’s golden jet age era by preserving the curving 1960s-era stark white concourse with plush-red lounge area, designed by legendary architect Eero Saarinen.

“We are proud to help advance Governor Cuomo’s plan to modernize our region’s aviation infrastructure by bringing the TWA Flight Center, the most storied symbol of the Jet Age, back to life,” said Tyler Morse, MCR Development CEO. “Accessible to the general public as well as all airlines from all terminals, the 505-room hotel at the rehabilitated TWA Flight Center will be a tremendous amenity for the entire JFK International Airport. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for this incredible opportunity to celebrate and preserve Eero Saarinen’s historic masterpiece while also creating 3,700 construction and permanent jobs and 40,000 square feet of desperately needed onsite meeting space.”

For more information about the project, visit the developer’s website.


Pope Francis arriving at JFK this afternoon for New York City visit

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@HouseFloor

In a few hours, Pope Francis will arrive at John F. Kennedy Airport to begin the second leg of his journey to the United States: a visit to New York City.

Francis’ arrival comes following a two-day visit to Washington, D.C., which included addressing a joint session of Congress Thursday morning on Capitol Hill. During his speech, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church called for the abolition of the death penalty and for Americans to follow the “Golden Rule” in helping those less fortunate.

The pope is slated to arrive at JFK at 5 p.m., where he will be greeted by Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio, leader of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, among other dignitaries. Francis will then be whisked via helicopter to Manhattan for an evening vigil at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

On Friday, Pope Francis will address the United Nations General Assembly, participate in a prayer service at the National September 11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan and visit schoolchildren in East Harlem. Later that day, some 80,000 New Yorkers will view his motorcade as it passes through Central Park en route to Madison Square Garden, where Francis will celebrate Mass in the evening.

The pontiff will then return to JFK on Saturday morning for a short flight to Philadelphia, where he will attend the World Meeting of Families.

Security is tight across the city in advance of the pontiff’s arrival. The NYPD reportedly has more than 6,000 officers working for the duration of the pope’s visit. Frozen zones will be established around Manhattan on Friday while the pope is in transit through the island.

Check back later on The Courier’s website for updates.


Major airlines working with pols to end parking woes near JFK

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua


Parking either within or near John F. Kennedy International Airport is no simple task, with many airport employees taking up coveted spots both in parking lots and on nearby streets.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Councilman Eric Ulrich are working with five major passenger and freight airline companies based at JFK to ensure proper parking policies that will ease traffic and increase available parking spots near the airport.

Goldfeder and Ulrich announced plans to attend an upcoming meeting with airport business and government leaders to address ongoing parking issues in surrounding communities.

“With more than 37,000 employees and countless visitors, JFK Airport is as much a neighboring community as it is a transit hub,” Goldfeder said. “That’s why it’s so important for companies operating at JFK do their part to be good neighbors to our families in southern Queens.”

Ulrich echoed the assemblyman’s comments, explaining how imperative it is for all airport employees and companies within JFK to be respectful to community neighbors.

“It is vital that all those employees and travelers at JFK Airport do their part to be good neighbors,” he said.

Just last month, Goldfeder and Ulrich wrote letters to the top 10 airlines operating out of JFK for a general parking inquiry. The latest Airport Traffic Report, made available by the Port Authority, reported that JFK employees were parking in nearby residential neighborhoods to access AirTrain stations. Officials said at the time that the practice takes up valuable parking spaces and increases traffic on otherwise quiet residential streets.

In letters sent last week to Goldfeder and Ulrich responding to their initial concerns about parking space, three major airlines at JFK airport – Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, and Lufthansa – all stated they provide transportation parking spaces, transportation reimbursements and shuttle services to employees.

Delta and American Airlines followed suit, contacting Goldfeder to confirm that they also provide parking for their employees. All airlines pledged to work with the legislators on maintaining good relations between the airport and surrounding communities.

“I’m pleased to learn that many of the airlines at JFK are already taking the necessary steps to alleviate parking problems in the community,” Goldfeder said. “I look forward to working with all businesses at JFK as we work to provide some much-needed relief for our families.”

The airlines issued letters in response to the local politicians’ claims shortly after Goldfeder and Ulrich met with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to discuss regular reported sightings of TSA officers in uniform parking in community streets. According to the TSA, the agency has taken steps to prevent the problem, including publishing notices in employee newsletters urging against the practice.

During the meeting, TSA officials confirmed that the agency is currently undergoing negotiations on new parking and public transportation subsidies for workers to help alleviate the issue.

The legislators also announced plans to address the board of the Kennedy Airport Airlines Management Council (KAAMCO) to further voice their concerns.


LaGuardia and JFK airport design contests take flight

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The plan to modernize the borough’s airports is finally taking off.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is now accepting plans for the contests to redesign LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced back in October.

Architects and designers can submit master plans for either or both airports. Final submissions are due on Jan. 30.

Cuomo hopes the plans submitted will be “bold and comprehensive.” Within the competition guidelines, emphasis is placed on certain design expectations for each airport.

Some interesting expectations mentioned include reviving ferry service to LaGuardia and creating an “Aerotropolis or Airport City” with office complexes, conference centers, and medical and warehousing facilities that have a nexus to JFK.

“Modern and accessible infrastructure is key to growing our state’s economy, and with this plan we’re bringing New York’s outdated airports into the 21st century,” Cuomo said. “By reimagining them from the ground up, we’re making an investment that will strengthen our state for years into the future.”

The Port of Authority board of commissioners will judge the contests. Following the Jan. 30 deadline, three finalists will be selected to make public presentations and each will receive up to $500,000 to further develop their plans.


Real estate roundup: Tour of TWA Flight Center before transformation, two new Korean eateries coming to Astoria

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Evan P. Cordes

Touring Saarinen’s Iconic TWA Terminal Before Redevelopment

“Crowds brave enough to make their way to JFK Airport on Saturday were transported back to the 1960s. The TWA Flight Center opened its doors as part of this year’s Open House New York weekend, and some visitors were even decked out in their vintage TWA attire.” Read more [Curbed]

New French bakery just days away from opening

“A new French bakery is about to open in Hunters Point. Cannelle Patisserie, a popular French bakery that opened in Jackson Heights more than six years ago, will be opening in the next week to 10 days.” Read more [LIC Post]

Two Korean restaurants to open in Astoria

Astoria is about to get a big taste of Korea. Two new Korean restaurants are expected to open in the next month, with one located on Broadway and the other on 30th Avenue.” Read more [Astoria Post]

Douglas Elliman announced The Pearson Court Square is fully leased in just four months

“Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, is pleased to announce The Pearson Court Square, a 14-story 197-unit rental building in the increasingly popular Court Square neighborhood of Long Island City, has been fully leased in just under four months.” Read more [The Court Square Blog]

Update: Construction on JFK animal handling center to begin in coming months

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of ARK Development, LLC

Action on the wildest project in the borough is set to begin shortly, about two years after its approval and numerous reports.

Investment firm Racebrook is looking to complete its animal handling facility at John F. Kennedy Airport, named “The Ark at JFK,” in a year, with construction commencing in a couple of months.

Although a specific date was not given, in an interview with The Courier, Aaron Perl of Racebrook, who is overseeing the $48 million development, said the company is a few months away from completing preparations to begin building the world’s first animal terminal, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

The 178,000-square-foot project, which consists of a main center and a 63,515-square-foot cargo handling facility, will be constructed at a 14.4-acre site in the airport’s vacant Building 78. The building will not be demolished, but revitalized, which will cut down on construction time.

The Ark will provide services to board, kennel, quarantine, import and export up to 70,000 domestic and wild animals annually. There will also be a veterinary clinic.


Photo courtesy of Temple Grandin Livestock Handling Systems and ARK Development, LLC

Approved by the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey since 2012, the project is being designed by Gensler and GH2 Architects.

The facility is expected to create more than 150 jobs, and generate $138 million in rent for the Port Authority over the 20-year lease.


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Monday: Sunny. High 62. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Monday night: A few passing clouds. Low 44. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Restaurant letter-grade and fine system changes forum

State Sen. Jose Peralta, in conjunction with the 82nd Street Partnership, is hosting a forum for restaurateurs and small business owners to learn about proposed changes to the restaurant letter-grade and fine system and the new paid sick leave law. Officials from the city’s Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs will detail the proposed changes and respond to questions. Representatives from the Department of Small Business Services will be on hand to talk about small business access to capital and offer help in navigating city agencies. Monday, April 21, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Langston Hughes Library, 100th Street and Northern Boulevard in Corona. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Brand names in NY standardized tests vex parents

“Just Do It” has been a familiar Nike slogan for years, but some parents are wondering what it was doing on some of New York’s Common Core standardized English tests. Read more: Fox New York

Flight from JFK makes emergency landing with cracked windshield

A cracked windshield is blamed for forcing a United Airlines flight from JFK to make an emergency landing Saturday. Read more: ABC New York

Two-thirds of city’s Airbnb rentals are illegal sublets: state

Nearly two-thirds of the city apartments recently listed on Airbnb were being offered in violation of the law, an analysis by state authorities has found. Read more: New York Post

EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Cuomo builds reelection campaign team that includes ad whiz behind Dante de Blasio video

Gov. Cuomo has hired the media firm that made a star last year of young Dante de Blasio and his Afro. Read more: New York Daily News 

Kraft recalls 96K pounds of Oscar Mayer Wieners

Kraft Foods Group, Inc., a Columbia, Mo., establishment is recalling approximately 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners because the products may contain Classic Cheese Dogs in the Classic Wieners’ packages.  Read more: NBC News

New travel plaza opens at JFK

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 


Weary drivers looking for a break can now zip over to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and rest at the city’s only travel plaza.

Airport Plazas, a company that builds rest areas, held a grand opening on Thursday of its $13 million rest spot on the outskirts of JFK on 150th Avenue.

The retail lot has a Sunoco gas station, a Wendy’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill, 7-Eleven, a pizzeria, restrooms, a car wash and a dry cleaner, and Airport Plazas is looking to add a bank. There is also a food court with Wi-Fi and a screen with current flight information.

“JFK did not have a main street,” said George Abi Zeid, president and CEO of Airport Plazas. “This plaza is a main street for JFK. A place where you could stop, meet people, have a fresh cup of coffee… fuel your car, sit and relax, and you could use the facilities and use the restroom, which is one of the cleanest restrooms you’ll ever see in a travel plaza.”

Besides being a rest area, the travel plaza also offers four different fuel selections, including Diesel, E85, natural gas and Tesla Motors’ electric car charges. There are also many many parking spaces available.

The rest area is also expected to bring an economic boost to the neighborhood. The retail area will employ about 90 people, mostly from nearby neighborhoods, and bring an estimated economic impact of $40 to $50 million to the community, Abi Zeid said.

“The Port Authority needs every applause they could get these days,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “This is what it’s all about in these tough economic times as we look to go a little forward we look for ways in which we could increase jobs, protect our environment and hopefully again protect our economy.”



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Thursday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High around 60. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Rain showers early becoming a steady light rain overnight. Low 41. Winds E at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Cirque du Soleil Armaluna

Cirque Du Soleil is back at Citi Field. Emerge yourself in Amaluna, a mysterious island governed by goddesses, guided by the moons cycles, and enchanted by an emotional story of love put to the test.  Tickets go from $45- $145. Runs until May 18 at various times. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Plane diverts to land at JFK, skids onto grass

Nobody was injured after a Delta flight from Atlanta to LaGuardia was diverted to JFK when the pilot reported a possible hydraulics problem. Read more: ABC New York

Chinatown skin infection outbreak spreads in NYC, number of cases doubles

The number of New Yorkers suspected of having a rare skin infection that comes from handling raw seafood, causing skin lesions, pain and swelling to the hands and arms and even difficulty moving fingers, has more than doubled, officials said Wednesday. Read more: NBC New York

Overdose doctor valued money over life: prosecutors

A Queens doctor on trial for manslaughter in the overdose deaths of two patients he prescribed painkillers to, valued money over human life, prosecutors charged Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court. Read more: New York Post

Privacy concerns nix New York student-data plan

New York has reversed course to use an Atlanta-based company to store student data for parents and officials to use to track student progress, after the plan triggered privacy concerns and a legal challenge. Read more: NBC New York

Supreme Court strikes down overall limits on campaign contributions

In a decision that could transform American politics, the Supreme Court overturned the decades-old limits on the total amount of money individuals can contribute in every federal election. Read more: New York Daily News

Taxi dispatchers busted for allegedly taking cash bribes at JFK

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Sixteen men, including seven Queens residents, have been charged with illegally taking cash bribes in a taxi-dispatching scheme at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), officials announced Wednesday.

The taxi dispatchers, who were employed by the Port Authority of New York  & New Jersey subcontractor Gateway Group One Frontline Services, were busted in an undercover operation following an anonymous tip, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

They are accused of accepting cash bribes to rig the dispatching system at JFK so taxi drivers could “basically ‘cut the line’ and get ahead,” Brown said.

At the airport, dispatchers regulate the taxis between a central holding location and the terminal pick-up area, according to the district attorney. The average wait time in the holding area is about two to three hours. When a dispatcher gives taxis a fare to nearby locations, such as Queens or Brooklyn, drivers receive a Short Haul, or “shorty,” ticket, which allows them to skip the central holding area and go directly to the terminal to pick-up passengers, Brown said.

The accused men allegedly accepted ten dollar cash payments to allow undercover cab operators to bypass long lines without waiting in the central holding area even though they did not have shorty tickets.

The sixteen accused dispatchers are currently waiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities, each of which is punishable by up to one year in jail, according to the district attorney.




FBI: Laser beam strikes targeting planes increase in NYC airports

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A crime that can temporarily blind airplane pilots and put air passengers at risk is spiking in New York City airports, authorities said.

Laser beam strikes targeting in-bound planes have increased 39 percent in the city, the FBI said. The number of incidents jumped to 99 in 2013 from 71 in 2012.

Authorities believe youngsters on top of residential roofs are aiming the powerful light beams at airplane cockpits as a prank.

“Laser incidents are often viewed as harmless acts. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos. “A laser pointed at a plane’s cockpit could blind a pilot and down an aircraft.”

At least 35 pilots have been injured by laser strikes since last December, the FBI said.

In one instance, a JetBlue pilot flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport last December was temporarily blinded for more than a week, the bureau said.

The federal agency is offering up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest and is hoping its regional awareness campaign deters the felony, which is punishable by five years in jail.

“It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

The pointers can be easily and legally purchased, authorities said, and the beams can travel further than one mile.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-1000.



BP Katz commemorates Beatles anniversary

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Borough President Melinda Katz appeared on the “Jim Kerr Rock ‘n Roll Morning Show” on Q104.3 Friday to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first visit to America.

It was 50 years ago today when the flight carrying the “Fab  Four”  to the U.S. arrived at John F.  Kennedy Airport, where they were greeted by thousands of screaming fans and a huge throng of reporters who came to the airport for the Beatles’ first U.S. press conference.

Since that day the borough of Queens has played host to several other major Beatles events, including their August 1964 concerts at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills and their 1965 and 1966 shows at Shea Stadium (with the sold out 1965 show being the first concert ever to be performed in a major sports stadium).

In recent years Sir Paul McCartney has made several trips to Queens for performances at Shea Stadium and Citi Field, and visited the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts in Astoria this fall, where he performed for and took questions from students.

During her radio appearance, the Borough President presented host Jim Kerr with a proclamation that notes all those important Beatles events. and pays tribute to the band for the great joy and excitement it has brought to people throughout the world.

“Beginning with their arrival in the U.S. during the dark days after the assassination John F. Kennedy, The Beatles have had a profound positive impact on our nation and have brightened the lives of countless millions of people,” Katz said. “As Borough President and as a lifelong Queens resident, I am proud that our borough has played such an important role in Beatles history. Thank you to Jim Kerr and everyone at Q104.3 for inviting me to their station to help mark today’s anniversary.”




NYC airports experience most delays during recent extreme weather

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The latest spell of extreme weather left thousands of delays and cancellations at airports across the country, but New York City area airports were hit particularly hard, according to an analysis by the Global Gateway Alliance (GGA).

From Saturday, Jan. 4 to Tuesday, Jan. 7, John F. Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia and Newark airports had the most delays at 5,320 and second most cancellations at 2,155. The most cancellations at the city’s airports occurred on Monday, with 706, and the most delays were on Sunday, with 1,692.

Chicago’s two major airport hubs suffered from the most cancellations at 4,655 and the second most delays at 3,134.

More than 50 percent of all flights were cancelled or delayed during the four-day period at both New York area and Chicago airports, according to GGA.

JetBlue suspended outgoing flights at, JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, and Boston’s Logan airports to catch up with weather-related delays and cancellations Monday. The airline started gradually operating again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, but wasn’t 100 percent operational until about 3 p.m. that day

“The rampant cancellations and delays we saw this week are a wake-up call for leadership to  start focusing on better airports, and they underscore why Governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s announcement  that he is taking responsibility for NYC airport modernization is so timely” said Joe Sitt, Chairman and founder of GGA. “Bad weather that causes serious disruptions in air traffic is going to happen, but it shouldn’t continually wreak havoc. Travelers should expect everyone involved in the industry to create a modern, safe and efficient aviation system, and should hold our leaders accountable for delivering.”

In Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address Wednesday he said LaGuardia is ranked as the worst airport in America.

“That is a disgrace my friends and it is unacceptable and it is going to change,” he said.

The state, he said, would assume management responsibility from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for construction at JFK and LaGuardia airports to modernize them.

The GGA is specifically calling for faster implementation of NextGen, particularly at NYC airports and other hubs; better customer service contingency planning; modernized airport terminals; and remaining focused on safety.



Cuomo talks economic successes, medical marijuana in State of State

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the go-ahead for legalizing medical marijuana, while promoting tax relief measures and touting New York’s economic successes, in his last State of the State address before running for re-election.

“In three years, [we] have reversed decades of decline,” the governor said, referring to the state’s transformation from a $10 billion deficit to the $2 billion surplus during that period.

By spending less, the state can now tax less, Cuomo said, and will do so through a $2 billion package of tax relief proposals.

A renter’s tax credit would offer a refundable personal income tax credit to those who make under $100,000.
Cuomo proposed a reform to the estate tax, which, like the federal government would exempt the first $5.25 million of a person’s estate, instead of estates valued below $1 million, as the state does now.

Additional measures would provide relief on property and business taxes, and help simplify the tax code.

As anticipated, Cuomo called for a program that would research the feasibility of medical marijuana in New York.

He will use existing statutory authority, enacting an old law which established the Antonio G. Olivieri controlled substances therapeutic research program, to launch a pilot medical marijuana research program that allows up to 20 hospitals to provide medical marijuana to patients being treated for serious illnesses.

Focusing specifically on the New York City region, Cuomo said the borough’s airports were in need of care, particularly LaGuardia, which he said was ranked as the worst airport in the country.

Cuomo proposed modernizing LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports, by having the state assume management responsibility from The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

The governor also stressed the importance of education investments in his address, particularly in technology in the classroom and universal, full-day pre-k.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing for universal, full-day pre-k in the city, which would be funded by taxing the rich.

“I think it was very promising that the governor laid it out as a goal for the whole state,” the mayor, who attended the address, said in a press conference afterwards.

When asked if there was a conflict between his proposed tax raises and Cuomo’s tax relief package, de Blasio said that the state and the city each has its “own vision” when it comes to taxes.

Cuomo, despite critics who disagree with him for the need for ethics reform, promised to continue fighting political corruption.

“There has been a string of bad acts on almost a daily basis,” he said, proposing new anti-bribery and corruption laws.

“I believe the more trust we have from the public, the more we can do.”



Tennessee man arrested at JFK Airport for having guns and ammunition

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File image

A 23-year-old Tennessee man was arrested Saturday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport for allegedly traveling with multiple guns and ammunition, authorities said.

Keenan A. Draughon, 23, allegedly wanted to check in two handguns, two rifles and two high-capacity magazines for his flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Both guns had their serial numbers defaced, Brown said.

Draughon was stopped at the United Airlines counter at JFK Airport’s Terminal 8 at approximately 7:45 a.m., the district attorney said.

“Firearms illegally possessed in this city pose a serious and deadly threat to public safety,” Brown said. “Before leaving home, passengers should acquaint themselves with the weapon laws of the jurisdiction that they are visiting and comply with any and all legal requirements if they choose to travel with a weapon.  Otherwise, they may find themselves being arrested and charged with serious felonies – as is what occurred in this case.”

Draughon – who is from Clarksville, Tennessee – was held pending arraignment Saturday in Queens Criminal Court. His lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, the district attorney said.