Tag Archives: lefrak city

21-year-old man found stabbed to death behind LeFrak City building


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man was discovered fatally stabbed behind his apartment building in LeFrak City Tuesday night, police said.

Officers found 21-year-old Andrew Ramirez at about 9:50 p.m. with stab wounds to his torso near his 97-20 57 Ave. residence in Corona, cops said.

Ramirez was taken to Forest Hills Hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to officials.

There are no arrests at this time and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

 

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Free lunches for kids to be distributed at Queens libraries this summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY PAULINA TAM

Twenty-two Queens Library locations, in partnership with the city’s Department of Education (DOE), will be distributing free summer meals to children and teens 18 years and under starting June 27 to August 29.

Bagged lunches will be served every Monday through Friday between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. and each will generally include a fresh sandwich, fruit, milk and sometimes a salad, according to library spokeswoman Joanne King.

“The library is an open public space and we want to attract people to come to the library,” King said. “While they’re here they can have free access to other programs. The Queens Library also has a very robust summer reading program and we want to encourage people to get involved with that so they can be better prepared for the academic program in the fall.”

There is no application, qualification or ID necessary to receive a free meal. Children and teens are recommended to arrive early to get lunches, while supplies last. The Queens Library is just one of many agencies collaborating with the DOE, and interested parties could call 311 to get a full list of participating locations.

Listed below are the participating Queens Library locations:

312 Beach 54 St., Arverne

14-01 Astoria Blvd., Astoria

117-11 Sutphin Blvd., Baisley Park

218-13 Linden Blvd., Cambria Heights

1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway

41-17 Main St., Flushing

202-05 Hillside Ave., Hollis

89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica

134-26 225th St., Laurelton

98-30 57th Ave., Lefrak City

37-44 21st St., Long Island City

40-20 Broadway (at Steinway Street), Long Island City

92-24 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park

158-21 Jewel Ave., Pomonok (Flushing)

103-34 Lefferts Blvd., Richmond Hill

169-09 137th Ave., Rochdale Village

116-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Park

204-01 Hollis Ave., South Hollis

108-41 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., South Jamaica

43-06 Greenpoint Ave., Sunnyside

85-41 Forest Pkwy., Woodhaven

54-22 Skillman Ave., Woodside

 

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LeFrak City tenant allegedly stole money, identities from residents


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A tenant at an Elmhurst apartment complex has been charged with money laundering and identity theft involving other former and current residents.

According to District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Olawale Akinnawonu, 45, a tenant of the LeFrak City apartment complex, has been charged with stealing more than $100,000 between November 2011 and May 2013 after using the identities of dozens of residents to illegally open bank and credit card accounts in their names. He is being charged for allegedly stealing monthly rent checks from one of the apartment’s U.S. mailboxes. “Identity theft is especially exploitative when it violates the postal system and is committed against honest citizens by someone living in their midst,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Various complaints were filed to the 110th Precinct concerning rent checks being stolen, said Brown. The victims each said they had placed their rent checks in the secured mailbox but the checks never made it to the leasing companies managing the payments.

According to Brown, during the investigation, video surveillance allegedly shows the defendant using a key to open the mailbox for incoming mail and would use a stick to slip out departing mail through the mail slot of the U.S. mail outbox.

The defendant allegedly deposited the checks into different bank accounts, some of which included accounts he had opened in the name of LeFrak City tenants without their permission. He also allegedly opened credit card accounts in the name of other residents without their permission. The stolen checks were then used to pay the credit cards, which would create credit/overpayment in the name of whomever the card was in.

While impersonating the person whose name was on the card, Akinnawonu would get the credit card company to issue a check for overpayment which would be deposited into an account he controlled in the name of Samuel Mensah. He would then allegedly use the debit card for that account to take out money from ATMs and write out checks to himself and put them into his personal account.

Akinnawonu is awaiting arraignment on a 134-count indictment charge. He is being charged with one count of second-degree money laundering, 44 counts of first-degree identity theft, 10 counts of third-degree grand larceny, 60 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, six counts of second-degree identity theft, nine counts of fourth-degree grand larceny and four counts of petit larceny. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

The DA said he is “concerned that there may be more victims of the defendant’s alleged scheme” and asks tenants of the apartment complex to get a copy of their credit report to see if any accounts have been illegally opened in their name.

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim, or knows someone who may have been a victim, is asked to contact the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau at 718-286-6673.

 

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Lawsuit claims discrimination at LeFrak City apartment complex


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and a woman living with AIDS have filed a lawsuit against the Lefrak Organization, one of the nation’s largest real estate firms, alleging it discriminates based on disabilities and source of income.

The housing advocacy group filed the lawsuit after receiving a complaint from Housing Works, Inc., an advocacy group for people with HIV/AIDS. Housing Works said one of its clients, an unnamed 37-year-old “indigent” woman living with HIV or AIDS, was denied a studio or one-bedroom apartment at the 5,000-unit LeFrak City apartment complex in Elmhurst.

The lawsuit alleges LeFrak City denied the plaintiff’s application because she planned on paying her rent with a monthly shelter allowance from the city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA).

“The action we take today is intended to dismantle a discriminatory system, repair the harm caused by these practices, and ensure that house opportunities are available on an equal basis to all renters with public subsidies and to New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS,” said Fred Freiberg, executive director of FHJC.

After receiving the complaint, the FHJC conducted an undercover investigation in which testers posed both as employed applicants and as applicants in the same situation as the plaintiff or with other types of rental assistance.

The investigation’s results led FHJC to conclude the Lefrak Organization and its subsidiary rental management company, Estate NY Real Estate Services, LLC, treat applicants with any kind of rental assistance differently than applicants who have their own source of income.

The lawsuit states that employed housing applicants are sent to an on-site leasing office at LeFrak City to meet with a leasing agent and receive floor plans, and that they get to see available apartments prior to filling out any applications.

On the other hand, FHJC claims applicants receiving rental assistance are sent to an off-site leasing office where they speak with employees behind a glass window, fill out rental applications, submit to credit and criminal background checks and provide documentation in order to get on a waiting list.

“Discrimination in housing is not merely odious and offensive, but it is life-threatening for thousands of indigent New Yorkers living with AIDS,” said Armen H. Merjian, senior staff attorney at Housing Works.

According to Freiberg, for thousands of people in New York City who are living with symptomatic HIV or AIDS and using an HASA rental subsidy, having a decent, stable and sanitary place to call home is critical to their health and well-being.

“We refute the allegations and are defending ourselves vigorously,” a spokesperson for the LeFrak Organization said.

The LeFrak Organization and its affiliates are one of the largest real estate holders in the U.S., with buildings in New York, California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. In New York and New Jersey, Lefrak and its associates control over 200 apartments.

 

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Call for gun control as Corona murder remains unsolved


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Debra Greene received a call at work last April that changed her life forever. Her oldest son, Theodore Malcolm Greene, had been shot on his way home by an unknown perpetrator and by the time she reached the hospital, Theodore was gone.

One year later, there are still no answers for this grieving mother who said all she wants is closure and justice.

“It’s not easy, there’s no closure,” said Greene. “I fight with anger all the time. Someone had to have seen something.”

The 26-year-old victim had been coming back from celebrating a friend’s birthday in Manhattan when he was approached at approximately 5 a.m. and shot 21 times in front of 98-25 Horace Harding Expressway in LeFrak City on Friday, April 20.

Greene said all she knows is that there had been a fight at the club that night, but that through surveillance videos, police noted her son was not a part of the quarrel.

“None of this makes sense to me,” said Greene. “I would like to know, I would like justice.”

Now, Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Senator Jose Peralta have come together to urge local residents to speak up and help solve this murder. An additional $2,000 has been pledged to the initial $22,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.

“A killer is free in New York City and we don’t know who that is,” said Dromm. “By increasing the reward amount, we are sending a strong message that we are not giving up on our search.”

Peralta said the community needs to denounce gun violence loudly and help save another similar incident from happening.

“Guns are a plague in some Queens communities,” said Peralta. “I will continue my fight to get them off of our streets and to put violent criminals in jail.”

Dromm also addressed the recent vote in Congress surrounding gun control.

“It’s a total disgrace,” he said. “We have to, as Americans, realize that gun violence affects our communities, affects families, affects mothers. When a mother loses a child, their life is never the same again.”

Along with lending his support in helping solve the LeFrak City murder, Peralta emphasized the need to pass firearm microstamping, which would allow guns and ammunition to become easier to track with markings on shell casings left behind at crime scenes. This method, Peralta believes, could have already helped solve Theodore’s murder.

“It will take all of us working together as neighbors and friends to bring peace to the lives of the family of Theodore Greene and at least some comfort,” said Peralta. “These bullet cases could be the difference between finding the killer and not.”

In the meantime, Greene passes the site where her son was cut down every day.

Some days, she said, are better than others. But some days, reality hits and she remembers her “smart boy” who had plans for a future.

Officials are asking anyone with information on this incident to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

 

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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.