Tag Archives: Oakland Gardens

Queens man killed in drunk driving accident on LIE


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Flushing man was arrested today for killing his passenger during a drunk driving accident on the Long Island Expressway (LIE), said police.

The driver, 39-year-old Ricardo Rivas, was travelling eastbound on the LIE around 4:00 a.m. Wednesday when he hit the median right after the 108th Street exit, injuring all four of his passengers.

Carlos Rivas, 27, of Oakland Gardens, who was sitting in the front seat, was transported to Booth Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The three other passengers were transported to Elmhurst General Hospital in stable condition.

Authorities arrested Rivas at the scene, charging him with vehicular manslaughter criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated.

Queens residents among those busted in prostitution, money laundering ring


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Eleven Queens residents were indicted — and two human trafficking victims in Manhattan were saved — after authorities busted a $7 million prostitution-based money laundering ring that spanned the tri-state area, the attorney general said.

A 16-month joint agency investigation led to the 180-count indictment of advertising corporation Somad Enterprises, Inc. and 19 individuals, who allegedly engaged in enterprise corruption and a variety of crimes, including money laundering, falsifying business records, narcotics sales and prostitution, the attorney general said.

“This investigation led to the arrests of multiple individuals who were part of a criminal enterprise that made millions of dollars by profiting off the exploitation of women,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “The message we are sending is clear. These crimes will not be tolerated in the state of New York.”

Manhattan-based Somad Enterprises is accused of being a front for the large prostitution and narcotics distribution ring, according to the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the NYPD.

The company, which authorities say allegedly posed as a legitimate business, “profited handsomely” in excess of $3 million by working with prostitution businesses to promote sex services through online, print and cable television sources.

Three “johns,” including a former guidance counselor and dean at Scarsdale High School, have already been arrested, the attorney general said.

Five of the 11 arrested Queens individuals — who each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted — hail from Flushing, authorities said. The others are from Forest Hills, Bayside, Whitestone, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows and Jamaica.

The two trafficking victims have been brought to a safe haven, said the attorney general.

Calls to Somad Enterprises went unreturned as of press time.

 

Driver kills man in Flushing


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A sleep-deprived driver has been arrested for fleeing the scene of an accident after he allegedly mowed down and killed a pedestrian in Flushing, police said.

Shiwoo Lee, 22, of Oakland Gardens, told authorities he fell asleep behind the wheel on Saturday, October 20 around 6 a.m. when his 2007 Toyota Rav 4 veered off the road and struck a tree at the intersection of 164th Street and Booth Memorial Avenue, according to a criminal complaint. The vehicle also struck Vito Florio, 76, when it jumped the curb, cops said.

Florio, whose body was found lying in a wooded area with severe body trauma, was declared dead on arrival, according to police.

Lee told cops he had been awake for two days straight and was on his way back from Manhattan, driving four other passengers, when he began nodding off, according to a criminal complaint.

The group exited the vehicle and fled on foot after the collision, said authorities, who found blood on the hood and a broken headlight off Lee’s car.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 73. Southeast wind 10 to 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible. Friday night: Scattered showers, mainly before 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 60. South wind 5 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

EVENT of the DAY: Job Fair

There will be a Halloween themed family sleepover this weekend at the Long Island Aquarium. At the Creatures of the Night Spooktacular, kids will get rare glimpse into the nighttime habits of three new animals in the Creatures of the Night exhibit. You can also dress up in Halloween customes, and enjoy craft time and a screening of “Monster House.” Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Neighbor of Federal Reserve bomb suspect speaks

The day after a Queens man was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate what he believed to be a real bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, a neighbor spoke out, saying he had no idea what was being plotted, just downstairs. Read more: Queens Courier

Tigers sweep Yankees in ALCS to reach World Series

Prince Fielder waved his arms frantically, gleefully calling off his teammates while the crowd at Comerica Park roared. From the moment the big first baseman signed his massive contract in January, an entire city had been waiting for a chance to celebrate like this. After another dazzling effort by Detroit’s starting pitchers and another soaring home run by Miguel Cabrera, Fielder caught the final out to send the Tigers to the World Series — with a sweep of the New York Yankees, no less. Read more: ESPN

Nassau officer killed on LIE while responding to collision

A Nassau County cop who responded to an accident on the Long Island Expressway was killed early today when he was struck by another vehicle passing the scene of the crash, sources said. Officer Joseph P. Olivieri, 43, was struck at 4:43 a.m. on the eastbound roadway near exit 35 in North Hills. Read more: NY Post

Comedic relief: Obama, Romney bring on the jokes at annual dinner

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were within arm’s length for the second time this week, as they shared the stage at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner Thursday and delivered feisty quips at each other’s expense. Read more: CNN

Queens man put on “No-Fly List” stranded in Austria

A 26-year-old Queens man was returning home from a trip to Austria when he was stopped at the airport and told by airline agents that the Department of Homeland Security had prohibited his travel. For over two weeks Samir Suljovic, of Oakland Gardens, has remained stranded in Austria, where he was on vacation visiting friends and family. Read more: NBC New York

Queens judge denies perv’s request to lower jail sentence to spend Christmas with family

A Queens judge slammed a pervert’s request to lower his jail sentence to be with his four children for Christmas. Oross, 45 of East Islip, LI, plead guilty in September to having repeated sexual encounters with a 14-year-old student in a Susan B. Anthony IS 238 classroom and in his car, more than a dozen times in 2009. Read more: NY Post

 

More West Nile spraying in Queens Thursday


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

On Thursday, September 13 there will be another round of West Nile spraying in Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the 1,993 cases of the disease that have been reported so far this year is the highest number reported to CDC through the first week in September since 1999, when it was first detected in the U.S.

The spraying will take place from 7:30 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday morning in the following parts of Queens:

Middle Village, Maspeth, Rego Park and Ridgewood, bordered by Grand Avenue, Long Island Expressway and Queens Boulevard to the north; Fresh Pond Road to the west; Metropolitan Avenue to the south; and 80th Street, Farmville Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard and 63rd Road to the East.

Parts of Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills and Oakland Gardens, bordered by Long Island Expressway to the north; 188th Street, 80th Drive, Utopia Parkway, Homelawn Street and 169th Street
to the west; 90th Avenue, 191st Street and Hillside Ave to the South; and Hollis Hills Terrace, Richland Ave and 210th Street to the east.

Parts of Pomonok, Auburndale, Flushing and Bayside, bordered by 33rd to the north; 162nd Street, Laburnum Avenue, Kissena Boulevard to the west; Booth Memorial Boulevard, Utopia Parkway and 48th Avenue to the south; and Clearview
Expressway to the east.

The pesticide being used, Anvil 10 + 10, poses no health risks when used properly, but the Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

• Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.

• Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.

• Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.

• Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

Residents are also advised to take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes around a home or property, including eliminating standing water in yards. In addition, New Yorkers are urged to:

• Dispose of used tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers in which water collects;

• Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors. Make sure roof gutters drain properly and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall;

• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use and change the water in bird baths twice a week;

• Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds; and

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and drain water from pool covers.

John Messer kicks off campaign against state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Lev Radin

An Oakland Gardens attorney officially launched his second try at defeating a nearly 13-year State Senate incumbent, hoping a newly-redrawn majority Asian district and a one-on-one primary will give him a leg up this time around.

John Messer, 42, pointed out that since the new 16th District, which is now 53 percent Asian, no longer includes Bay Terrace — an area that voted largely for State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky in a primary race two years ago — he foresees a more level playing field. He also expects this year’s two-way battle to bode well in his favor.

“Everybody knows that when you bring more people into a race and you divide the vote, it gives an opportunity for an incumbent to win even though they don’t have a majority of the votes,” Messer said.

Stavisky won a three-way 2010 primary challenge against Messer and Isaac Sasson, a retired professor and cancer researcher, with 45 percent of the vote. Sasson is now supporting Messer, who rallied supporters at his July 22 campaign kickoff at the Flushing Mall.

“We hear the same thing over and over again,” said Messer, who has thrown in $351,000 of his own money to the campaign. “Voters of this district want change. Nothing I believed in two years ago has changed.”

Messer accused Stavisky of never hiring an Asian staffer in her dozen years as Flushing’s senator while pointing to his own two Asian campaign co-chairs, as well as his Chinese wife and three kids.

But Stavisky’s spokesperson, Josh Goodman, said the claims were false. The incumbent senator, he said, has had Asian-American staffers over the years, as well as Chinese and Korean language services available at her Flushing district office.

“Anybody in the community can always get help from Senator Stavisky regardless of her ethnic background and linguistic issues,” Goodman said. “I think it’s a little insulting of Mr. Messer to suggest she doesn’t understand a community that she serves so well.”

Stavisky — the first woman from Queens elected to the State Senate — has the backing of every Asian elected official in the city, Goodman said, as well as the Queens County Democratic Party and both U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.

The winner of the September 13 Democratic primary will take on Republican candidate J.D. Kim.

Oakland Lake Park path to receive much-needed work


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Oakland Park

It took nearly two decades, but the makeover is almost complete.

The Parks Department announced plans for a $1.6 million remodeling of the pathway around Oakland Lake Park at a recent Community Board 11 meeting, ending a 16-year initiative to revitalize the park and allowing locals to finally enjoy the wetland.

“I’m very relieved,” said Jerry Iannece, chair of Community Board 11. “We are getting completion on a project we’ve been working on for almost two decades.”

The Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] spent years rebuilding and cleaning the ecosystem of the lake and created a park booming with wildlife for locals to enjoy, except there was no dry path to walk on.

The trail is flooded and overrun with mud and grime, making for an unstable surface that is difficult to walk through and spoils footwear, say park-goers.

“Oakland Park is a natural wonder,” said Vince Tabone, general counsel of the Friends of Oakland Lake and Ravine. “It’s a unique experience to take friends and family. It takes away from the full experience that you have mud on the pathway.”

The Oakland Lake Path Improvement plan involves building a new raised boardwalk around the lake and imputing drainage pipes under the path to prevent flooding from excess water running down the park’s slope, according to a Parks spokesperson.

The agency expects to start the project by spring 2013 after a review by the Department of Environmental Conservation and awarding a private contractor the bid.

It should be ready for residents within a year of this process, according to representatives from the department.

No one is more proud about the new path than Iannece, who is running for the 25th Assembly District seat. He has been leading the charge to protect the park since 1996 when he was president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association.

With the completion of the walkway set for the near future, Baysiders can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I could bring my kids here and we could do the nature walk,” said Bayside resident Jorge Chong. “It’s the only park around here with a lake.”

 

Police shoot and kill Queens man who stabbed himself, wife


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Police shot and killed a man wielding a knife, after he had stabbed his wife and himself, according to officials.

The incident occurred at 8:30 p.m. on 223rd Place in Oakland Gardens on Thursday, when police received a call of a 50-year-old man stabbing himself.

When police arrived, his wife, identified by neighbors as Sharon, was bleeding from stab wounds from her neck and chest.

Police ordered the man to drop the knife, and when he refused, officers shot him in the chest, police said.

“I heard one shot, then two rapid fire,” said local Michael Yonkolowitz.

The suspect was taken to North Shore Hospital in Manhasset where he was pronounced dead.

Sharon was also transported to the hospital and is listed in critical condition, according to officials.

Residents say Sharon lived in the rental home, at 61st Avenue and 224th Street, for two decades, along with a teenage daughter, and that they are “lovely, wonderful people.”

“It’s not a family you would ever think [this would happen to],” neighbors said.

 

Pedestrian struck and killed on Union Turnpike


| brennison@queenscourier.com

A pedestrian crossing Union Turnpike was struck and killed just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 29, according to authorities.

The victim was struck as he attempted to cross Union Turnpike in Oakland Gardens by a Volkswagen driven by a 24-year-old woman, police said.

EMS responded to the scene and took the 40-year-old victim to North Shore Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

According to crashstat.org, there have been 15 pedestrian injuries at the intersection of Union Turnpike and Springfield Boulevard since 1995, but no fatalities.

There is no criminality suspected at this time and the investigation is ongoing.

 

Egypt and Israel close to a deal for Queens resident


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s Office    Egyptian officials arrested Queens native Ilan Grapel in June and accused him of spying for the Israeli government.

An Oakland Gardens law student is close to a ticket home after being arrested on spy charges in Egypt during their uprisings this past summer.
As reported in The New York Times, Ilan Grapel, 27 – who has dual citizenship with the United States and Israel – would be exchanged for 80 Egyptians who had been arrested over the Israeli border on drug and other charges. The deal would be the second mass exchange after Israeli soldier, Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, was swapped for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
According to Congressmember Gary Ackerman, the timing of the proposed trade for Grapel is not contingent on the success of the Israeli-Palestinian exchange but “makes it conducive to try to move these things within the same general time frame.”
“I can tell you that he is not a spy,” said Ackerman, the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. “I’m doing everything I can on a daily basis to be sure he is being well treated and to convince the powers that be he is not a spy and to secure his release.”
Grapel had been a member of the Israeli military serving as a paratrooper and was injured in southern Lebanon in August 2006, according to reports. After returning home, he began attending Emory Law School in Georgia and travelled to Egypt as part of a project involving Sudanese refugees. He was arrested in June and accused of being an officer of the Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Service, despite records of entering the country with a legitimate passport and posting pictures of himself on Facebook during the Egyptian uprisings that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak.
“We are grateful to the people that are holding him that he has not been mistreated,” said Ackerman, who once employed Grapel as an intern.
After being questioned whether or not Grapel’s family has had any contact with him, Ackerman took a long pause.
“I didn’t want to go this far. I was able to arrange for his parents to meet with him for what we thought was going to be an hour or so. It turned out to be three hours. We got them in and out of Cairo without notice [just before Rosh Hashana].”
While he would not say he was optimistic, Ackerman said he is “hopeful” that a deal will be made soon.

Playground torched


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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Sometime between the evening of Tuesday, September 27 and the morning of Wednesday, September 28, an individual or group apparently set fire to a playground, located in Alley Pond Park, at the intersection of Springfield Boulevard and 76th Avenue in Oakland Gardens.

According to officials, the fire damaged both the ground surface and several pieces of playground equipment.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has initiated an investigation.
“Anyone who witnessed the action or has relevant information should come forward,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “The children of our community have lost access to a beautiful and safe place to play.”

Anyone with information on this crime should call the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-577-TIPS or Weprin’s office at 718-468-0137.