Tag Archives: NYPD

Rookie NYPD cop accused of cashing $7K in stolen checks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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A rookie cop risked his future in the NYPD and promise of a pension to pocket nearly $7,000 in stolen checks. The 24-year-old has now lost his job and is facing up to seven years in prison, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

“As a police officer, the defendant was hired to uphold the law. In this case, it is alleged that he threw away a promising career in law enforcement by knowingly cashing two checks that had been stolen and retaining the proceeds,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendant will now be held accountable for his alleged actions.”

Gerardo Laera, of Queens, is accused of stealing the money while he was working part time for a Flushing paint store while he was also employed as an NYPD officer.

The business, Clearview Paint Supply, located in the basement of a commercial building on Francis Lewis Boulevard, shared space in the basement and a common hallway with a real estate agency, Douglaston Development Corporation, at the time of the theft, according to the district attorney.

In the fall of this year, on two separate occasions, Laera stole checks from the agency that were made out to “cash,” Brown said. One was in the amount of $2,000 and the second was for $5,000.

He was allegedly caught on video surveillance using an ATM to deposit the first check into his account. He also presented his NYPD shield and New York State driver’s license at a check cashing business before leaving with $4,900 from the second check. The check cashing manager, who made a copy of the documents during the transaction, tried to deposit the check, but it was returned to his bank unpaid.

Laera was arraigned on Friday in Queens Criminal Court on charges of third- and fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, according to the district attorney’s office.

A member of the NYPD since January 2013, Laera was assigned to the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn. He submitted his resignation on Friday.

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103rd Precinct gets first police body cameras in Queens


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYC Mayor's Flickr

There will be a new set of eyes added to the streets of Jamaica.

The 103rd Precinct will be part of the new NYPD pilot program to test the use of body cameras on police officers. Six precincts throughout the five boroughs are part of this system. Their selection was determined by which precincts had the highest number of stop and frisks.

Nine officers in the 103rd Precinct will be part of the program. There will be one camera per officer per squad to start out. There are three squads per shift in the precinct and, depending on the time, there will always be at least one cop with a body camera on patrol and as many as three depending on patrol schedules.

“I think cameras are a good thing,” said one officer from the precinct. “It’s a great idea and gives a different perspective of what is actually happening out there.”

The cameras are hands free, one on the torso and one over the ear. The officer will have to pull down the shutter covering the lens to turn the camera on whenever he or she is making a stop or arrest.

The pilot program was introduced by Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on Dec. 3, just before the grand jury decided to not indict the officer in the Eric Garner case.

“Body cameras are going to be an important additional step in the reforms that we’re undertaking,” de Blasio said. “And I think that step is going to greatly increase the confidence of the people in their relationship with the NYPD.”

Phil Craig, a reverend at the Greater Springfield Community Church in Jamaica, said he believes that the body cameras will only be a good thing if they are used for the protection of the people.

“I hope they will be used for the protection of the people and not for the persecution of them,” said Craig. “We need to take a real good look on how [the police] are handling community relations.”

Officers at the 103rd Precinct are still unsure of when they will receive the body cameras. If the three-month pilot program works well, the department will expand the number of body cameras on the streets, possibly until all 35,000 police officers have one.

“I have always been in favor of cameras,” said the police officer at the 103rd Precinct. “I think things are going to change.”

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Elmhurst man stabs wife with kitchen knife, fakes her suicide note: DA


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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The estranged husband of an Elmhurst woman was charged Thursday night with stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife and trying to make the murder look like a suicide, authorities said.

Luis Paguay, 43, was arrested after police found his wife, 39-year-old Maria Paguay, unconscious and unresponsive with stab wounds on her body inside her 50th Avenue basement apartment at about 6 p.m., cops said. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Paguay allegedly stabbed his wife multiple times in the neck and chest with a large kitchen knife sometime between Wednesday night and before 6 p.m. Thursday, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. The victim’s 19-year-old son found her as he returned home from school.

After stabbing his wife, Paguay allegedly wrote a suicide note in his wife’s name and then left for his job as a dishwasher at Ducale Restaurant in Whitestone, Brown said. When he arrived at the restaurant he allegedly saw he had blood on his shoes and according to surveillance footage, he attempted to wash his shoes in a sink.

According to the New York Daily News, the couple had recently separated and the victim’s husband had gotten angry that she was in a new relationship.

Paguay, who is awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court, was charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

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Man sets fire to cop car during arson spree near Elmhurst Hospital: DA


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

police car

Updated 5:07 p.m.

A man was busted for trying to set an NYPD cruiser and five other cars on fire near Elmhurst Hospital by stuffing burning rags into the gas tanks, police said.

“The defendant is charged with damaging six vehicles by stuffing a rag in each of the vehicles’ gas tanks and setting it ablaze,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “These incidents should not be viewed as a prank.”

According to Brown’s office, Miguel Ramos, 23, stuffed a dark rag into the gas tank of a Honda on Layton Street near the hospital before setting the cloth ablaze about 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Ramos then went a few doors down to place another lit rag into a Nissan.

After police arrived, four more vehicles were found in the vicinity of the hospital with burning rags stuffed in their tanks, including a Chevrolet,  an Audi and a marked police vehicle, officials said. The fire charred and damaged the rear area and gas tanks of the cars.

Ramos, an Astoria resident, was arraigned on Dec. 4 on three counts of third-degree criminal mischief and six counts of fourth-degree arson,  the district attorney’s office said. If convicted, Ramos could face up to four years in prison.

Police did not immediately have a motive.

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Dog heartlessly thrown from car is put down


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Butler

The sad tale of Dasher, a dog who was tossed from a moving car last month, came to an end late last week when the poor pooch was humanely euthanized by the ASPCA once it was determined she could not recover from her injuries and illnesses.

The female Rottweiler captivated the public’s attention after a firefighter discovered her wrapped in a sleeping bag at the intersection of Vermont and Cypress Avenue next to the Jackie Robinson Parkway on the night of Nov. 20. She received extensive medical treatment but was not responding to it, according to the ASPCA.

“Dasher, a senior Rottweiler, received extensive medical care for nearly a week at BluePearl Queens and the ASPCA Animal Hospital. After thorough examinations by multiple veterinary specialists and round-the-clock efforts to improve her delicate condition, Dasher was not responding to treatment,” APSCA officials said. “Due to several serious medical complications that were causing significant discomfort and leading to a poor quality of life, Dasher was humanely euthanized late last week to end her suffering.”

A fundraiser took place in her name on Nov. 26 to pay for the medical expenses for Dasher. Charlotte Butler, president of the Canine Korral Dog Run Friends of Forest Park, the organization that sponsored the fundraiser along with Neir’s Tavern, was heartbroken by news that the pooch had passed away.

“I was unbelievably saddened to find out she passed on,” Butler said.

At the event, they raised over $1,100 for the pup’s medical expenses. Butler is now in the process of figuring out the best place to donate the money.

This case is still under investigation by the NYPD and anyone with more information of this case is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

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Off-duty NYPD officer charged with DWI, leaving accident scene in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Updated Monday, Dec. 1, 4:47 p.m.

An off-duty NYPD officer was charged with driving while intoxicated after leaving the scene of an accident in Woodside on Friday night, authorities said.

The officer, identified by police as Aaron Sanchez, 28, got into a fender bender at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 50th Street about 10:45 p.m. before driving off in his Ford, the complaint said.

The other driver reported the accident, according to media reports, after Sanchez struck the rear passenger side of the vehicle.

A cop then spotted Sanchez’s car and proceeded to pull him over, court records said. He refused to take a Breathalyzer test after the officer noticed he had alcohol on his breath, slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet.

Sanchez was arraigned on Saturday on charges of DWI and leaving the scene of an accident, according to court records, and released on his own recognizance.

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Man struck in hit-and-run at McDonald’s drive-thru


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Google Maps

Updated Monday, Nov. 24, 11:00 a.m.

A man, who was apparently intoxicated, was struck at a McDonald’s in Rosedale early Saturday morning, police said.

At about 4 a.m., a white Nissan Maxima hit the man, who was drunk and fell on the roadway of the drive-thru of the fast food restaurant on Merrick Boulevard near 244th Street, cops said. The vehicle then fled the scene.

The 48-year-old victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he is currently in stable condition.

Police are still looking for the Nissan’s driver.

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108th Precinct names new commanding officer


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD110Pct

The 108th Precinct has a new top dog.

Captain John F. Travaglia has been named the new commanding officer of the police precinct that covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

He is replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer to the 115th Precinct.

Travaglia began his career in the NYPD in 1993 at the 105th Precinct. Throughout the years, he has also served in the 113th and 104th precincts, and Patrol Borough Queens South, Patrol Borough Queens North, Highway District, Highway 3 and Queens South Narcotics Division.

On Wednesday, Travaglia tweeted from the 108th Precinct’s Twitter account saying, “As the new Commanding Officer of the #108pct, I look forward to working with the wonderful communities of #LIC #Sunnyside #Woodside #Maspeth.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 7 a.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th St. in Sunnyside.

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Three men in serious condition after car gets wedged under truck in East Elmhurst


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@TrafficAdvisory

Three men were seriously injured early Friday morning when their car crashed and became wedged underneath the rear of a tractor trailer in East Elmhurst, according to police.

The black Volkswagen, holding a 19-year-old driver and his two passengers, was heading eastbound on Astoria Boulevard about 4:30 a.m. when it rear-ended a truck near 111th Street and got stuck under the back end of the trailer, cops said.

The driver and passengers were removed from the vehicle by emergency personnel. The driver and a 19-year-old passenger were taken to Elmhurst Hospital, and a 31-year-old passenger was taken to New York Hospital Queens, police said. All three men are still listed in serious condition.

The truck driver was not injured and the cause of the crash is still under investigation, according to police.

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NYPD cop accused of choking child’s mother


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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An NYPD officer was arrested on Sunday for choking the mother of his 10-month-old girl in front of the child in Queens Village, according to police and court records.

Jerry Sukhnandan, 33, was arraigned on Nov. 2 and charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, harassment and endangering the welfare of the child, the criminal complaint said.

He is accused of placing his hands around the woman’s neck and preventing her from breathing while the two were in front of 220-14 97th Ave. sometime between the night of Oct. 25 and the following morning.

Sukhnandan, who was off duty at the time, tried to hurt the woman in front of their baby, according to the complaint.

It was not immediately clear what led to the incident or what the status of Sukhnandan’s relationship with the woman was at the time, although the two do share the same last name.

Following his arraignment, Sukhnandan was released on his own recognizance.

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Fake home health service rep steals from elderly woman in LIC: cops


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a suspect they say posed as a home health service representative and stole from a 75-year-old woman’s home in Long Island City.

On Oct. 13 the suspect, described as a 50-year-old woman, was allowed into the victim’s apartment, located inside the Queensbridge Houses at 40-09 12th St., at about 8:20 a.m. after posing as a representative from the victim’s home health service company, authorities said.

Once inside the apartment the suspect took the victim’s pocketbook and fled, according to police.

The NYPD has released a surveillance photo of the suspect.

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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Mother charged with murder of 4-year-old girl at Jamaica homeless shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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Updated  Monday, Oct. 27, 1:47p.m.

The mother of the child found dead at a Jamaica homeless shelter has been arrested and charged with murder, according to police.

The 4-year-old girl, Linayjah Meraldo, was found unresponsive and unconscious by police on Thursday at 12:50 p.m. at 80-20 134th St., authorities said. EMS pronounced her dead at the scene.

The location has been identified by published reports as the Briarwood Family Residence, a women’s and children’s temporary shelter.

On Friday, 35-year-old Latoya Curry, Linayjah’s mother, was charged with second-degree murder in connection to her daughter’s death, police said. She was also arraigned on charges of assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to District Attorney Richard Brown, Curry, who was living at the shelter with her five children, became angry Wednesday night when the toddler squirted hand cream on the kitchen floor. Curry then allegedly hit her daughter in the stomach and face “so hard that a tooth was dislodged.”

The 35-year-old then allegedly dragged the girl into the bedroom and threw her against a wall and onto the bed, striking her again in her face and stomach, Brown said.

The district attorney said the 4-year-old child then cried and complained about pain in her abdomen, but fell asleep. The following morning, Linayjah woke up with a slight fever and continued to complain about pain in her stomach.

Then between 10 and 11:45 a.m. on the same day, Linayjah took a nap, and when Curry checked on her, she was unresponsive.

According to the office of the Medical Examiner, who ruled the toddler’s death a homicide, Linayjah died from blunt force injuries to her torso.

An autopsy performed on Friday showed that the toddler had internal injuries including multiple recent and healed rib fractures, a torn small intestine, internal bleeding and extensive bruising, and the child also appeared malnourished.

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Four-year-old girl found dead at Jamaica homeless shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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Updated 9:05 p.m.

A four-year-old girl was discovered dead Thursday afternoon at a Jamaica homeless shelter, police said.

The toddler, Linayjah Meraldo, was found at 12:50 p.m. inside 80-20 134th St., according to authorities.

The location has been identified by published reports as the Briarwood Family Residence, a women’s and children’s temporary shelter.

The girl was found with possible head trauma, reports said.

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Anti-police graffiti found on Astoria phone booths: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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Cops are looking into anti-police graffiti that was found Thursday on two Astoria phone booths, according to published reports.

The messages, which read “Become a hero? Shoot a cop!” and “Good Cop = Dead Cop,” appeared on public phone booths on 31st Street and 36th Avenue, reports said.

Nearby surveillance video is being looked at as part of the investigation.

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Whitestone community to honor late resident with street renaming


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Lohnes family; THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A street in Whitestone will soon bear the name Robert C. Lohnes in honor of the late resident who dedicated himself to serving his neighborhood.

Community Board 7 unanimously voted to make 145th Street between 15th and 17th avenues Robert C. Lohnes Way. Family members and Boy Scout troop 235 attended the meeting Monday night to talk about Lohnes, who served as the troop’s scout master for over three decades.

“He served because he was needed by his community,” Lohnes’ wife Maggaly said.

She said that her husband helped the community in any way he could, and others who came to speak about Lohnes echoed that sentiment. He worked for the Whitestone Community Volunteer Ambulance Service and was also involved in the Girl Scouts.

A representative from Assemblyman Edward Braunstein’s office said, “He was an individual who fully dedicated himself to his country and community.”

Lohnes’ son, whose name is also Robert, traced his father’s desire to help people all the way back to the beginning of his career when he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve. Lohnes held a master’s degree in criminal justice and social relations from John Jay. He went on to join the NYPD, where he worked from 1962 to 1996.

The street renaming, Lohnes’ wife said, is appropriate for someone who dedicated so much time to the Whitestone community.

“He was loved by everybody,” she said. “He deserves that and more.”

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