Tag Archives: Long Island

Queens teen found shot to death in Long Island


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Suffolk County Police Department

A Queens teenager was discovered fatally shot in a Long Island park Friday afternoon, police said.

The body of Jonathan A. Graff, 17, was found by a man who was walking his dog in Spur Drive Park in Bay Shore at about 4:15 p.m., according to authorities.

He had been shot in the head, reports said.

Graff, who lived in Kew Gardens, was last seen Thursday in Jamaica near the Long Island Rail Road station, according to Newsday.

Police are investigating his death as a homicide.

Graff’s body was taken to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, and authorities are reportedly awaiting the results to determine how many times he was shot.

Anyone with information on the incident or who may have seen Graff before the shooting is asked to call Suffolk County Police detectives at 631-852-6392 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS.

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First Miss Queens Pageant to be held in Long Island City


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Next year Miss America might be from Queens.

For the first time, the borough will have an official Miss America preliminary competition, called the Miss Queens Pageant, held on Oct. 12 at RESOBOX located at 41-26 27th St. in Long Island City.

The inaugural event, presented by the Miss Queens Scholarship Organization, is open to women, between 17 and 24 years old, who live, work or go to college in Queens and Long Island. The winner of the pageant will go on to compete for the title of Miss New York in spring 2015.

The pageant is divided into talent, interview, onstage and swimsuit/fitness portions. Potential contestants still have until Sept. 30 to sign up for the pageant.

“It’s something that the community really wanted,” said Shekinah Monee, executive director of the Miss Queens Scholarship Organization. “To have a borough that never had their own pageant, it was important to bring that to them, to let them have that sense of pride as well.”

Through the pageant, the newly formed Miss Queens Scholarship Organization will award scholarships to the women for undergraduate and graduate school, a tradition first started by the Miss America Organization, according to Monee.

As part of qualifying as a contestant, each young woman must raise at least $100 for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which are dedicated to raising funds and awareness to help enhance medical facilities and health care for sick and injured children.

Tickets for the Miss Queens Pageant are $15 prior to the show and $18 at the door.

For more information visit www.missqueensorg.wix.com/missqueensorg.

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Queens man rented out homes he didn’t own on Craigslist: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Nassau County Police Department

A Queens man pocketed more than $5,000 after he rented out two Long Island residences on Craigslist without the owners’ permission, police said.

Terrell Hill, 31, of Jamaica, posted an ad on Craigslist, pretending to be the homeowner of a Valley Stream residence, and rented the place to two women, authorities said. He charged the pair $1,500 as a down payment, but when the rightful homeowner came to check on the residence on Wednesday and found the women, the cops were called.

The same day, Hill went to the home to collect more money from the renters and was arrested.

Police said they later discovered Hill also rented another unoccupied residence, a home in Elmont, to a woman on Aug. 1. Again, he pretended to be the homeowner, and collected $3,800 from the renter.

Hill has been charged with grand larceny and burglary.

Anyone who believes they may have also been victimized by Hill should call 516-573-6453.

 

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Howard Beach man sold 12 stolen vehicles for scrap metal: DA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A Howard Beach man was busted for allegedly selling a dozen stolen vehicles to Long Island scrap yards and pocketing thousands of dollars in return.

“As the price of scrap metal increases, thieves are growing more aggressive and taking advantage of a quirk in the law which allows them to dispose of vehicles eight years or older without proof of title, District Attorney Richard Brown said. “They simply show their driver’s license at the scrap yard, fill out a DMV form stating that they are the delivery agent or the vehicle’s owner and leave with cash in their pocket – and their victims without a ride.”

John M. Brew, 35, is accused of pawning off 12 vehicles to Universal Scrap Processes and Gershow Recycling facilities on Long Island between February 4 and April 7 of this year.

He was allegedly paid $600 to $750 per vehicle, which would each then be crushed.

Brew was able to sell the vehicles by showing a DMV form signed by him that listed himself as the vehicle owner, along with a New York State driver’s license, Brown said. He sometimes would also trick the scrap yards into thinking he had the vehicle’s key by allegedly saying the ignition was broken and placing a fake key in the ignition.

The stolen vehicles Brew sold included two Dodge Caravans, model years 1993 and 1995, and 10 Ford Econoline Vans with the model years, ranging from 1998 through 2006, according to the district attorney.

Brew was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Friday on charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, falsifying business records and unauthorized use of a vehicle, prosecutors said. He faces faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

 

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Ex-bookkeeper busted for embezzling $485K from Queens special needs school


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size11

A woman has been charged for embezzling from the Springfield Gardens special needs school where she worked as a bookkeeper for more than a decade, District Attorney Richard Brown said Thursday.

Donna Joyce, a 58-year-old Long Island resident, is accused of stealing more than $485,000 from the Martin De Porres School, which moved to Elmont, Long Island in 2012.

Joyce worked as a bookkeeper at Martin De Porres from 2001 to 2012, and, as part of her job, issued and signed checks, and made entries in the school’s business records, according to Brown.

After discovering financial irregularities in the school’s finance office, Martin De Porres Executive Director Edward Dana said he fired Joyce and notified authorities.

“We also acted quickly to replace the entire financial staff and implement strict new financial controls. Moving forward, we have full confidence in the integrity of our new system,” he said.

From January 2007 to August 2012, Joyce used funds meant for school expenses to pay personal expenses, such as her credit card accounts, the district attorney said. She allegedly embezzled the money by making false entries in the school’s business records to make it seem like the checks were being issued for school expenses.

“As a nonprofit organization, the Martin De Porres School relies heavily on government aid and private donations to provide tuition-free education to scores of children from grade two through grade eleven,” Brown said. “In an atmosphere of such giving, it is disheartening to see someone, such as the defendant, allegedly use her position of fiscal responsibility to siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars in school funds for her own personal use.”

Joyce is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of grand larceny and falsifying business records, according to prosecutors. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Becoming partly cloudy after some morning light rain. Fog early. High 66. Winds SW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 41. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: New York Meets Istanbul – An Exhibition of Charcoal Drawings

Meliksah Soyturk’s “New York Meets Istanbul” is an exhibition which brings the above words to life…. transporting us, through the Artist’s eye, through time and space, to another Continent. Through his work, he is bringing together two of the most wonderful cities in the world and two vastly different, yet undeniably similar cultures. At Flushing Town Hall through Sunday, April 13. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens cab driver arrested in West Hempstead hit and run

A cab driver from Queens is under arrest and facing charges in connection with a hit and run on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

Sen. Smith’s fraud and bribery trial set for June

A federal judge on Monday ordered state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s fraud and bribery trial to begin June 2, quietly rejecting the powerful Queens Democrat’s bid to push the date back a few months so he could smoothly seek re-election. Read more: New York Post

EXCLUSIVE: Average woman in the city earns 82 cents for man’s dollar, controller study shows

It’s still a man’s world — even in progressive New York City. Read more: New York Daily News

City Council plans 10 percent raise in its budget

Belt-tightening is out and free spending is in at the City Council, which plans to increase its own budget by more than 10 percent in a single year — six times the rate of inflation. Read more: New York Post

NTSB: Engineer in fatal Metro-North derailment has ‘severe obstructive sleep apnea’

Federal investigators have found that the engineer at the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed and left four people dead and dozens more injured has a serious sleep disorder. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Cops seek information in 2010 Jamaica murder of customs officer


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police are renewing calls for help in solving the 2010 murder of an off-duty U.S. customs officer who was fatally shot in Jamaica.

Maurice Gordon, 33, had just returned home from a Long Island nightclub in the early morning of June 21, 2010 when he was killed, officials said.

The Elmont, Long Island resident was standing with another person near 118th Avenue, reportedly in front of his mother’s home, when a black SUV pulled up, cops said.

Three men inside the car then allegedly began to shoot at the pair. Gordon, who had his service weapon on him, exchanged gunfire with the shooters, and the suspects fled in an unknown direction, police said.

Gordon was shot once on the right side of his chest and was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later, according to authorities.

Following the murder, cops released a sketch of one of the alleged shooters. He is described as black, 28 to 32 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, with a thin build and black hair.

There is a $22,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction.

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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Queens-born Oheka Castle owner shot by masked gunman: reports


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Gary Melius was shot in the head by a masked gunman in the parking lot of his lavish Long Island castle Monday afternoon, according to published reports.

The 69-year-old, who was born in Jackson Heights, was undergoing surgery at a local hospital as of the late afternoon, the New York Times reported.

Police said the gunman is still at large and the shooting does not appear to be random, according to reports.

Melius, who made his money in real estate, lives on the Huntington property, called Oheka Castle, but utilizes it as a high-end hotel and events facility, the Times said.

A generous donor to both the Democratic and Republican parties, Melius also likes to use the castle as a “hangout” for political brokers, according to reports.

 

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Missing Queens woman’s body washes up on Gilgo Beach


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The body of a Queens woman who went missing in March washed ashore a Long Island beach Monday night, police said.

Natasha Jugo, 31, of Queens Village, vanished March 16. Cops found her personal belongings and 2009 Toyota Prius abandoned one day later on Gilgo Beach.

Her body washed up on the beach on June 24, a Suffolk County police spokesperson said.

The case is said to have no ties to the 2010-2011 suspected Gilgo Beach serial killings.

 

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NYC area prepares for major snow storm


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

For the first time this winter, the city is getting ready for a potentially powerful snow storm.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the flakes should start falling early Friday morning and the bad weather will continue through Saturday.

Earlier in the day, the NWS  issued a winter storm watch for all of New York City and other parts of the tri-state area, but by the afternoon had changed it to a blizzard warning with 10 to 14 inches of snow expected.

In addition to snow, the storm will bring powerful winds at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph, and a mixture of rain and sleet, particularly on Friday, making for slippery conditions and possible power outages.

There is also a coastal flooding watch for western Long Island Sound and the Twin Forks of Long Island, said the NWS.

At a briefing on the city’s storm preparations this morning Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the forecasts may be exaggerating the amount of snow, but you never know.

Bracing for the worst case scenario, the city is ready with more than 250,000 tons of salt, 350 salt spreaders and plows for 1,800 sanitation trucks, said the mayor.

City residents can track the progress of the Department of Sanitation‘s clearing operations for their specific street online.

Con Ed also said it is preparing for the storm and any outages it may cause.

To report any outages and downed power lines, or to check service restoration status, customers can visit  www.coned.com/ReportOutage or call -800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

 

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Bayside elementary school raises money to help Sandy victims


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Sandy Students

P.S. 41 raised $1,600 to donate to two Long Island families devastated by Sandy.

The school’s “Fifth Grade Apprentice” group held a small assembly on December 20, 2012 to present the Fitch and Denardo families from Long Beach with gift cards and toys. There are seven children, including two sets of twins, in the Fitch family and three children, whose father is a Marine, in the Denardo family.

 

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Sandy Relief Beer benefits storm victims


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos and video courtesy of  Niko Krommydas/sandyreliefbeer.tumblr.com

There has never been a better excuse to drink.

This week, a specially created India Pale Ale, Surge Protector IPA, went on sale to raise proceeds for Sandy victims.

Dubbed Sandy Relief Beer, the alcoholic beverage was a collaborative project between eight Long Island breweries, with each one contributing an ingredient to the ale.

One of those participants, Barrier Brewing Company in Oceanside, was destroyed in the storm, and some of the money made from Surge Protector IPA will go towards helping the business recover.

Half of the proceeds will also go to Long Island Cares, Inc.

Currently, the ale is available in six locations in the city, including Alewife in Long Island City and The Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola.

Visit sandyreliefbeer.tumblr.com/locations for updates on availability.

 

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LI girl joins president for gun reform announcement


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson

When President Obama announced his plan to reduce gun violence Wednesday, he was joined by children from around the country who wrote him letters after the Sandy Hook tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety.

One of those children was Hinna Zeejah, a third-grader from Oceanside, Long Island.

According to Newsday, when Zeejah asked her parents “why we have guns” they told her to ask the president.

“I just wanted to tell you that I feel really sad. Also I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children,” the eight-year-old wrote in her letter. “Mr. President, can we do something which will STOP all these terrible problems?”

In this video posted by the White House, third grader Hinna Zeejah reads the letter she wrote to President Obama.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Couple’s wedding plans botched by Queens banquet hall Patrizia’s


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan & Courtesy of Kathryn Martino-Miranda

A bride-to-be almost had her big day botched when an embattled Bayside banquet hall began shirking her calls two months before her nuptials, The Courier has learned.

Kathryn Martino-Miranda and her fiancé Erik Lopez had booked their March 3 wedding ceremony and reception at Patrizia’s of Bayside in November 2012, signing a $5,000 contract for a party of 55 people.

But when the Merrick, Long Island couple called back one month later, they said management would not return calls, emails bounced and voicemails could not be left.

“There was no way to get in touch with them. I felt like the rug was pulled out under me,” said Martino-Miranda, 36. “It’s cowardly not to call people back. It’s such a special day for the whole family, not just the bride and groom. It took us by so much surprise.”

Patrizia’s halted lunch and dinner service at its 201-10 Cross Island Parkway site in December 2012, The Courier reported, after being open less than a year. Officials at the family-style Italian eatery said they were only offering catering events.

The restaurant honored three full parties on January 7, according to a source close to Patrizia’s operators, but could not confirm they would uphold their March commitment to the lovebirds.

“That’s a business decision my partners and I are going to have to make,” said Paul Kolaj, business advisor and brother to Giorgio Kolaj, who is one of Patrizia’s operators. “We are doing our best to honor every party. We really are.”

Kolaj said Patrizia’s business owners would refund deposits if they could not fulfill their promises, but Martino-Miranda said she still has not heard back from a single manager or owner.

“It’s sort of heartless. You have two families who are really excited to celebrate a day like this. It creates an incredible amount of stress,” Martino-Miranda said. “You have a financial budget. You have things planned. It really threw everything for a loop. How do you do this to people?”

The pair, who have since found a new site for their reception, said they had to shell out another $500 for new and expedited invitations.

They do not expect to be reimbursed their $200 deposit.

“I didn’t feel comfortable trusting them with such a big day like that,” the future bride said. “I hope no one does this to their daughter.”

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Moreland Commission recommends LIPA changes based on Sandy response


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

It might be lights out for LIPA in its current form.

The Moreland Commission, established to examine response from utility companies after Sandy, has offered Governor Andrew Cuomo three options to reshape the power company after it was lambasted for poor response times and mismanagement after the storm.

The first is to let the power company go private under a single operator — effectively letting the state regulate the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), as opposed to regulating itself as it does now.

Other options include streamlining LIPA by allowing the company to manage its day-to-day operations — currently handled by National Grid. The last suggestion is to replace LIPA with the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

The tandem of LIPA and National Grid did not work during the storm, according to the commission’s interim report, and had fallen victim to mismanagement and poor investment in infrastructure and had let customers down.

Cuomo, who has promised to keep utility companies accountable, said whatever plan the commission ultimately suggests, it should be adopted statewide. He reiterated that utility companies were not locked into servicing the area forever and would be responsible for any wrongdoings.

“Nobody said that any of these utility companies had a franchise for life; they don’t,” Cuomo said after meeting the commission. “I mean what business do you have today in this state and this country where you have the business for life, regardless of your performance?”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who represents the bulk of Rockaway, said LIPA was mismanaged after the storm. Relaying information to residents was not the only problem, he said, but communication within the agency was poor.

“It seemed like there was just a general lack of communication not only within the community but within their own agency,” he said.
Goldfeder said he was open to any proposals to changing how utility companies are managed to ensure they are held accountable to customers.

“There’s no question that LIPA failed the residents of Rockaway during the recent storm,” he said. “I’m open to discussing any and all changes to make sure that the utility companies are well managed and reliable to the customers who need it.”

 

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