Tag Archives: Ozone Park

Corona man charged with sexual assault of child inside Ozone Park mosque

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A 63-year-old man has been charged for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl inside an Ozone Park mosque Thursday night, according to authorities.

Md Uddin from Corona is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced Friday.

According to the charges, Uddin approached the child in the basement of the Fultoli Jame Masjid Mosque, located at 84-05 101st Ave., just before 1 p.m. on Thursday and placed his arm around her shoulder and took her to a corner of the basement.

He then allegedly hugged the girl from behind, and grabbed and squeezed her breasts over and under her clothing while saying “Does this feel good? Do you like this?” He then kissed her about the forehead and cheeks while saying “Don’t tell anyone about this.”

The incident surfaced when the child went home and told a family member, who then contacted the authorities.

“These are serious accusations in which an alleged sexual predator stalked his victim in a place of worship and, if true, cannot go unpunished,” Brown said.

If convicted, Uddin faces up to seven years in prison.


Sanitation workers help elderly man after Ozone Park home invasion

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos by Robert Stridiron

Updated Monday, Aug. 24, 9:20 a.m.

Sanitation workers found a 76-year-old man after he was tied up in his Ozone Park apartment in an early Saturday morning home invasion, according to police.

The elderly man, identified in media reports as Anthony Puzio, was first confronted in his home at about 6:15 a.m. that morning after an attacker used a ladder propped up against the 101st Street building to get into his second floor window, authorities said.

The robber then pistol-whipped the victim, tied him up and let in two accomplices, according to police. The accomplices — a man and a woman — were able to grab a television, cellphone and cash before all three of the crooks fled.

In an interview with CBS2, Puzio said he doesn’t “take no crap from nobody” and tried to fight back, but there was nothing he could do.


“He started punching, he hit me once over here with a gun and punched me on the side,” Puzio said. “What am I going to do? I’m a 76-year-old man, he’s about 30, maybe.”

Two city sanitation workers, Joseph Felicetti and Michael Bermudez, who were collecting trash nearby, freed the victim’s tied hands when he came running out of his home, reports said.

“His face was bleeding, his arms were bleeding, it was pretty bad,” Felicetti told the New York Post. “It was like something from a movie set.”

The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital with lacerations to the face and bruising.

There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.


Pols call for end to JFK employees parking on residential streets

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

Residents living near JFK International Airport say they’ve had enough of airport employees parking on residential streets and are asking local city and state representatives to do something about it.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder recently sent letters to the top 10 freight and passenger airlines to request that they actively pursue solutions to the problem. JFK employees are reportedly parking their cars in Howard Beach, Ozone Park and other neighborhoods near the airport and then taking the AirTrain to work.

“TSA and other airport employees should be parking their vehicles on Port
Authority property, not in front of homes in Ozone Park and Howard Beach,” Ulrich said. “Hopefully they will take action to alleviate this problem to free up much-needed parking for homeowners.”

Howard Beach resident Alison Zinkeiwicz said JFK employees who park in residential streets also contribute to the uncleanliness in the area.

“Not only is it a inconvenience for resident parking, but most do not have any regard for the cleanliness of our streets,” Zinkeiwicz said in a Facebook post. “They’ve thrown litter onto our sidewalks and streets from their vehicles without a second thought.”

Mary Filomena, a Howard Beach resident of 20 years who lives near the AirTrain station in Howard Beach, says this problem has been ongoing for several years, with people parking on her block to not only use the AirTrain but to avoid paying for parking in the LIRR parking lots.

“These residents who live around the station have put up with this parking problem long enough and deserve to enjoy their property and use the streets around it,” Filomena said. “I have health problems and can not walk to the train station from my house, however short the walk, I need to park my car close by and I can never do this. ”

Goldfeder and Ulrich are scheduled to meet with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) authorities this month to brainstorm possible solutions. According to the Port Authority website, JFK airport employs 37,000 people. In their letter, the elected officials pointed out that the Howard Beach AirTrain station has accommodated 700,000 passengers this year.

“Our middle-class families work hard and deserve to enjoy the community they invested in, without having to spend their days and nights circling the block looking for parking,” Goldfeder said.

A spokesperson from the TSA said they will have a better idea of  next steps to solve this problem after their meeting with Goldfeder and Ulrich.


City Council panels approve construction of new school in Ozone Park

| amatua@queenscourier.com

File photo

A new school will soon rise in Ozone Park.

The City Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses and the Land Use Committee approved on Wednesday a School Construction Authority (SCA) contract to erect P.S. 335, a 504-seat school at a vacant lot on Albert Road between Raleigh Street and 99th Place, in the Centerville section of Ozone Park. The school is scheduled to open in 2017.

An SCA spokesperson said the number of seats are flexible and can change depending on the needs of the community.

Several pre-K classes will also be included in the 72,500-square-foot space and the SCA is planning to add a spacious playground area, basketball and volleyball courts, bicycle racks, areas dedicated to planting and gardening and an outdoor stage for events.

Currently, students in Centreville attend P.S. 63 at 90-15 Sutter Ave. across Cross Bay Boulevard or P.S. 146 in Howard Beach at 98-01 159 Ave. The SCA, expecting overcrowding in District 27, procured the land from the New York Racing Association to alleviate potential overcrowding from the addition of 990 students in the district by 2017.

Councilman Eric Ulrich said this school is a great addition to the neighborhood.

“This new school will help alleviate overcrowded classrooms in our district and will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood,” Ulrich said in a statement. “The final design of the school is contextual with the surrounding community and is just the latest investment we are making in our children’s future.”

A capital project, set to replace and add much-needed streets, including Albert Road, sidewalks, curbs, pedestrian ramps, water mains, sanitary sewers and new storm drains in the Centreville area must be completed before the construction of the new school.

A spokesperson for SCA said work on the new school is slated to start “in the next few months.”


Ozone Park auto body shop owner charged with tax fraud

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps


An Ozone Park auto body repair shop and its owner have been charged with criminal tax fraud and grand larceny for allegedly stealing more than $125,000 in collected taxes that were owed to New York State and local municipalities.

Stephanie Davino, 31, of Howard Beach, and her business, A&W Auto Collision Center Inc., located at 104-11 101st St., have been charged with multiple degrees of criminal tax fraud, grand larceny, scheme to defraud and conspiracy, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

According to the criminal complaint, Davino failed to file a single sales tax return between Jan. 26, 2012, and March 3, 2014. However, her business performed $1.4 million in repairs during that time, collecting payments from GEICO, State Farm, Allstate, Progressive and USAA insurance companies. The total amount of sales tax owed to the city and state from this time totaled to about $125,700 ($61,965 to New York State and $63,735 to local municipalities).

“Sales taxes are meant for the public treasury – not the pockets of business owners. By purposefully defrauding the state and local government out of these funds – that could have been used in the public interest – the money instead allegedly lined the pocketbook of this businesswoman. This kind of tax fraud makes every New Yorker a victim,” Brown said.

Davino has been released on her own recognizance and has been ordered to return to court on Sept. 30.

If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison and her business will be fined $10,000, or double the amount that was illegally gained.


Reward offered to help find suspect who killed rapper Chinx

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Detectives continue to look for leads three months after a drive-by shooting in Briarwood left an up-and-coming rap star dead — and now the NYPD is offering a reward to anyone who can help them find the killer.

Through its Crime Stoppers program, police are offering $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible for the May 17 murder of Lionel Pickens, 31, of Ozone Park, who went by the stage name Chinx.

Pickens and a 27-year-old male passenger were in a 2014 Porsche stopped at a red light at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 84th Drive at about 4:04 a.m. that morning when an unknown vehicle pulled up. Reportedly, an unidentified individual inside that vehicle then fired multiple shots at the Porsche before speeding away from the scene.

Officers from the 107th Precinct and EMS units found Pickens behind the wheel with multiple gunshot wounds about the body. Pickens was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The male passenger sustained a gunshot wound to his back but survived.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477), visit their website or text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Transit riders voice calls to ‘#FixWoodhaven’ in social media campaign

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos via Twitter/@Jslyyynnn and @jam14063

Woodhaven Boulevard commuters took to social media on Wednesday afternoon to voice their frustration over crowded bus lines, deterioration and other problems along the thoroughfare.

The Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives organized the #FixWoodhaven event, which encouraged Queens subway and bus riders to use the hashtag on social media to call for bus rapid transit (BRT) and street improvements along the heavily used boulevard bisecting Elmhurst, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

“The Twitter campaign had over 250 tweets under the hashtag #FixWoodhaven,” according to a spokeswoman for the Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives.

“The people who were tweeting and part of the campaign included commuters who ride the bus daily along the Woodhaven corridor. The campaign was designed to speak to elected officials so they know the importance of BRT to their communities and constituents,” she said.

Volunteers with both transit advocacy groups also met with afternoon rush-hour commuters waiting for buses at stops along Hoffman Drive near Woodhaven Boulevard in Elmhurst. In pictures posted on Twitter and Instagram, riders were shown holding up signs noting that BRT would help reduce commute times and ease congestion.

In many instances, those who vented tagged or retweeted local elected officials seeking support for their cause, including City Council members Elizabeth Crowley and Donovan Richards and Assemblyman Mike Miller.

“The proposed layouts for Woodhaven have benefits for pedestrians also. It’ll be safer and prettier! #FixWoodhaven #VisionZero,” tweeted @SamSamuelitoo.

“I support better, faster buses! Visiting fams in the Rockaways takes too long. #fixwoodhaven @RidersNY @brtfornyc,” added Twitter user @Jslyyynnn, who attached to her tweet a photo of herself holding a sign reading, “I live in Jackson Heights and I’m tired of overcrowded buses.”

“Let’s make public transportation, more efficient and desirable to ride! @transalt #FixWoodhaven @brtfornyc,” tweeted Juan Restrepo, @juan_john_hans.

For years, drivers, pedestrians and non-drivers have experienced commuting pains while traveling along Woodhaven Boulevard, especially during rush-hour periods. Buses operating on the roadway — including two limited lines, the Q52 and Q53 — are often packed with riders and are slow because of traffic congestion. The street also has a history of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians, many of which resulted in fatalities.

The city Department of Transportation in recent years started a “Congested Corridor” study for Woodhaven Boulevard and recommended physical changes to the road’s configuration to make it safer and easier to travel. Working with the MTA, the DOT also recommends implementing Select Bus Service, a form of BRT, along both Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, with stations created at major intersections such as Metropolitan Avenue and Jamaica Avenue.

As the Select Bus Service plans are still being finalized, the DOT is presently creating bus-only lanes along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan avenues as a means of speeding up bus operation. Only buses would be permitted to travel in these lanes during the morning and afternoon rush hours on weekdays.


Con Edison reduces power in south Queens, urges customers to conserve

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr/Con Edison

Equipment problems and a power strain related to today’s hot weather forced Con Edison to cut back voltage by 8 percent in several southern Queens neighborhoods.

The reduction affects customers in the areas of Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park and Woodhaven. In all, 138,000 customers are affected in the area generally bounded by the Jackie Robinson Parkway, Queens Boulevard, Van Wyck Expressway, Jamaica Bay and the Brooklyn/Queens border.

Con Edison said the cutback aims “to protect equipment and maintain service as repairs are made.” Until further notice, residents in the reduction zone should not use heavy-duty appliances such as washers, dryers and air conditioners and should turn off any unnecessary lights or televisions.

Queens is in the midst of this summer’s first heat wave, with temperatures today forecast at 92 degrees. Combined with oppressive humidity, it’ll actually feel more like 102 degrees, according to accuweather.com. Thunderstorms are also forecast for this evening.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation also issued an air quality health advisory through 10 p.m. Monday for the New York City area, as the stifling, muggy air may also include heavy amounts of pollutants such as ozone. Children, seniors and those with respiratory disorders should limit their outdoor activity.

The city will have cooling centers around the five boroughs open on Monday, including at senior centers, NYCHA facilities and parks. Call 311 or click here to locate the nearest center.

Con Edison urges customers who experience power outages to report them immediately to 800-75-CONED and visit its website to check the status of service restoration efforts. When reporting an outage, customers should have their account number available and notify the operator if neighbors on their block also lost power.


Ozone Park man wins Nintendo World Championships

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Nintendo World Championships

John Goldberg doesn’t remember when he first started playing video games but Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo was always one of his favorites.

The years of playing the game paid off on June 14, when Goldberg beat 15 other contestants during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles to be crowned the Nintendo World Champion, a title that was last awarded 25 years ago before the competition went on hiatus.

Goldberg, a Stony Brook University graduate who lives in Ozone Park, learned that Nintendo was holding a qualifying round for the championships at a Best Buy near his house and thought it would be fun to participate, he said.

“Being an avid Mario fan and an advanced player at most puzzle games, especially Dr. Mario, I was even more determined to attend, and make it to the Nintendo World Championships,” Goldberg said in an email.

After qualifying for the championship, Goldberg said he wasn’t planning on doing any “special practicing” until the gaming company announced that contestants would play “The Legend of Zelda,” a game Goldberg was not familiar with. He played the game and used an online guide to gain experience before competing with other contestants but only had to beat level 1 to advance to the winner’s round.

“We would later find out that we only had to defeat the first boss as the challenge, and I didn’t even have to play it during the competition,” Goldberg said. “What a letdown.”

In addition to The Legend of Zelda, contestants played Splatoon, Blast Ball, Super Metroid, Mario Kart 8, Balloon Fight, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Mario Maker. Goldberg competed with around 2,500 people in the audience and even more watching online. The large audience did not distract him, he said.

I actually wasn’t nervous at all during the event,” Goldberg said. “Coming from a competitive history of playing in tournaments for Super Smash Bros. games for years now, I have become very acclimated to nerves in cases of big events or large crowds. If anything, it was really exciting.”

During the last challenge, Super Mario Maker, Goldberg thought he would experience a “fake-out,” where he would be tricked into playing more challenges after thinking he won. He was shocked and relieved when the announcer called out his name. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong and others presented Goldberg with a trophy in the shape of Mario.

“It was an amazing feeling, and it was really great to meet Shigeru Miyamoto in person, too,” Goldberg said. “It was really something to accomplish something of this caliber simply from playing and enjoying video games.”

Though no dates have been announced for the next Nintendo World Championships, Goldberg said he will “throw his hat in the ring again” if Nintendo or any other gaming company decides to host a similar event.


Ozone Park man dies in high-speed South Jamaica car crash

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Speeding on a South Jamaica street proved fatal for a 41-year-old Ozone Park man who died when he lost control of his car and struck a tree Sunday evening, police reported.

Authorities said the accident occurred at about 6:30 p.m. in front of a home on North Conduit Avenue near 159th Street.

Police said Troy Smith of Rockaway Boulevard was behind the wheel of a 2010 Hyundai sedan traveling in the center lane on North Conduit Avenue at what was described as an unsafe speed.

Reportedly, the vehicle suddenly veered to the right, struck the curb and mounted the sidewalk, then turned on its side and smashed into a tree.

Officers from the 113th Precinct responded to the scene along with EMS units, who pronounced Smith dead at the location. No other injuries were reported.

An investigation by the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad is ongoing.


Ulrich secures a record $5.6 million in funding for district

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Southwest Queens will receive $5,685,000 in funding from the City Council, the most that has ever been awarded to the 32nd City Council District.

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents neighborhoods including the Rockaways, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and South Richmond Hill, secured $685,000 in expense funding for local community groups, civic associations, senior centers, volunteer fire departments and other local groups.

New York Families for Autistic Children, Inc.Queens Chamber of CommerceHoward Beach- Lindenwood CivicRockaway Point Volunteer Emergency Services and Girl Scout Council of Greater New York were among the grant recipients.

“Above all, this year’s budget keeps New Yorkers and their families safe and protects the vital services we all rely upon,” Ulrich said. “It also provides funding for local groups that serve my constituents in every corner of the district. Since taking office, I have made sure that we receive our fair share of city services and resources in the budget. This year is no exception.”

Local schools in the district will receive funding for SAT programs and the $5 million allocated to capital projects will fund technology upgrades at 17 local schools and school library and auditorium renovations.

Forest Park will receive a number of enhancements and improved security measures. Residents who voted in the participatory budgeting process chose to refurbish the 9/11 Memorial and the Forest Park Dog Run and to install emergency call boxes throughout the park.

Libraries in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill have been awarded $200,000 for security upgrades and renovations.

The Richmond Hill library will look to install self-check-in and check-out machines, renovate the basement and purchase new computers and tablets, according to Rebecca Babirye-Alibatya, the library’s manager.


Property thefts drive 106th Precinct crime numbers higher: commander

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angela Matua

Watch your belongings when strangers visit your home, the 106th Precinct‘s commander warned residents during Wednesday’s 106th Precinct Community Council meeting in Ozone Park.

The precinct is up five crimes for the month and 19 crimes for the year, according to Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff. Unattended property theft is up 83 percent for the month and is the main factor driving up crime numbers.

Schiff said six of the 15 perpetrators arrested for theft this month were hired contractors, food delivery people or other hired help who had access to the victims’ homes and, subsequently, their property.

“If you have strangers in your house, you need to be aware of their whereabouts,” Schiff said.

But the precinct has seen reductions in other crime categories, the commander noted. Grand larceny, which had been a major problem in the precinct, is down by 17 percent for the month and 34 percent for the year. Car thefts are down 90 percent for the year, but tire and rim thefts are still up slightly, according to Schiff.

The precinct was also successful in taking more than $100,000 in illegal fireworks off the streets ahead of the July Fourth holiday, he said.

“My officers and special operations team did a very good job of conducting a search warrant,” Schiff said. “We got information about $100,000 worth of fireworks. It was a huge catch.”

Schiff also announced the addition of 12 new cops to the precinct. Southern Queens, including the 113th Precinct, received the “lion’s share” of the new rookies, he said.

The precinct also conducted a sting on June 20 on nine bars in the area and five of those bars were selling alcohol to underage patrons. There were five arrests and the precinct reported the businesses to the State Liquor Authority.

“We want to make sure everybody’s safe and we want to make sure this community isn’t getting a black eye because of some nonsense that may emanate from such locations,” Schiff said.

At the end of the meeting, P.O. Joseph Lanzetta received Cop of the Month honors for arresting a perpetrator who stole from a Rite Aid on Rockaway Boulevard on June 10. After fingerprinting the suspect, police found that the man was wanted for murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 113th Precinct.

The award was donated by the Ridgewood Times.



Alleged robber fatally shot by off-duty corrections officer in Ozone Park

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

An off-duty New York State corrections officer shot and killed a man who allegedly tried to rob him and four other individuals on an Ozone Park street Saturday night, according to police.

The incident took place at about 10:30 p.m. in front of an auto body shop on Rockaway Boulevard near 95th Avenue.

Detectives determined that the suspect, whose identity was not immediately released, walked up to the group of five men, displayed a handgun and demanded the keys to their motorcycles.

According to published reports, a struggle ensued, during which the off-duty corrections officer shot the suspect in the head.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Paramedics rushed the suspect to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An investigation is ongoing.


Crime up for the month at 106th Precinct

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angela Matua


Crime increased in the 106th Precinct over the last four weeks, with robberies and car thefts being mostly responsible for the slight uptick.

Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, the precinct’s commanding officer, said at Wednesday’s 106th Precinct Community Council meeting that the command is up 14 crimes in the last 28 days and that robberies, specifically in South Ozone Park, have been a problem.

According to Schiff, many of the victims and suspects in the robberies were minors. More than 50 percent of the victims in the “youth-on-youth” robberies knew the people who robbed them, he said. Schiff said phones are the most popular items being stolen and that robbers force their victims to disable any tracking device on the phone.

“It starts off as a bullying factor and then turns into a robbery,” Schiff said.

If this problem continues to exist, Schiff and the precinct will look to visit the schools in the 106th Precinct’s jurisdiction to discourage bullying.

The two perpetrators who police believe were most responsible for the robberies were caught on Wednesday, and officials are looking to tack on additional robbery charges.

The 106th Precinct also has the most reported stolen cars in the city, according to Schiff, and the problem has been hard to stop because the crime is not rampant in any particular neighborhood.

The 102nd and 105th precincts also saw an increase in car thefts, making this a trend in southeast Queens.

There were 121 stolen cars reported last month and 90 cars were recovered in the 106th Precinct’s command. Schiff said he thinks this problem may be tied to fraud, as individuals who cannot afford to pay the lease on high-end cars may end up dumping them and reporting them as stolen.

Capt. John Sanford, of Highway District 3, attended the meeting to update the community on a plan to combat the large amount of ATVs and dirt bikes illegally driven in the precinct’s command.

“It’s very difficult for us to combat because I can’t in good conscience ask my guys to chase these people when they’re doing this behavior because it’s putting you at risk, it’s putting them at risk and it’s putting my guys at risk,” Sanford said.

Sanford said his department analyzes 911 calls and tries to find patterns in problem areas.

Highway Patrol 3 has confiscated 2 quads and 15 dirt bikes and has also handed out 43 summonses.

Police Officers Daniel Rivera and Mark Shackel also received Cop of the Month honors at the meeting for apprehending a suspect who robbed a Metro PCS store on Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park.


According to Schiff, the officers were called to the scene after an employee hit a panic button in the store when he became suspicious of the suspect. The perpetrator fired a round into the store and duct taped the employee in a back room before police arrived.

It took three minutes for officers to restrain the perpetrator and the suspect was shown in a video trying desperately to escape.

“While this may be three minutes, it’s a lifetime when you’re fighting for your life,” Schiff said.

Schiff and Precinct Council President Frank Dardani presented the officers with plaques donated by the Ridgewood Times.


Ozone Park burglars check out with supermarket loot

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is looking for two suspects wanted in connection with a recent burglary at an Ozone Park supermarket.

Authorities said the burglary occurred at 8:45 p.m. on June 2 inside the New Century supermarket located at 88-16 Liberty Ave.

Reportedly, one of the suspects entered the store and took $8,000 in cash as well as numerous lottery scratch-off tickets. Police said the other perpetrator remained outside the location acting as a lookout.

Once the first suspect exited the market, both individuals fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction.

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.