Tag Archives: Police

Queens-based counterfeiting ring busted, loaded weapon and marijuana discovered


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy NYPD

Authorities charged 17 people connected to a major credit and debit card fraud ring based in Queens following a year-long investigation, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the suspects used the stolen credit and debit card account information to make purchases at department stores and other establishments in New York City, Long Island and Rockland County between December 2014 and May 2015. Police allege that several of the suspects were active gang members.

During its investigation and ensuring court-authorized searches, police reportedly recovered card readers, embossers and other equipment used for credit and debit card forgery along with more than $11,000 in cash, three vehicles, a loaded .40-caliber Glock firearm, 41 marijuana plants, two 5-gallon containers full of marijuana and high-intensity lights known to be used for growing pot indoors.

The joint operation was conducted by the NYPD Financial Crimes Task Force, Intelligence Bureau, 105th Precinct, Organized Crime Control Bureau-Asset Forfeiture, Detective Bureau-Warrant Squad and Queens District Attorney’s Office.

Photo courtesy NYPD

The counterfeiting crew has been variously charged in six indictments with the crimes of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, fourth-degree grand larceny, petit larceny, attempted petit larceny and third-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information, Brown said. The defendants each face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

“The indictments are the result of a year-long investigation by my Economic Crimes Bureau and the New York City Police Department’s Financial Crimes Task Force and included seven months of court-authorized wiretaps, physical and video surveillance and thousands of intercepted telephone calls,” Brown said. “It is alleged that this fraud ring was basically made up of a loose affiliation of friends — all between 20 and 28 in age — who helped each other out with manufacturing and using forged cards to make purchases at Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Target and even Pathmark and Waldbaums supermarkets. Their alleged crimes victimized not just the businesses — costing them thousands of dollars in losses — but the consumers whose personal identification information was used to carry out the scheme.”

Fourteen of the 17 defendants were arraigned on Wednesday in Queens County Supreme Court, while 15 remain in police custody. Two of the individuals are currently being sought.

The defendants are: Alexis Arrellano, 23, of Baldwin, Long Island; Deemy Balbuena, 20, of Freeport, Long Island; Jasmine Blair, 27, of Jamaica, Queens, who is presently being sought; Dashawn Coggins (a.k.a. Dayday), 27, of Jamaica, Queens, who is presently being sought; Rashem Davis (a.k.a. Sheimy), 25, of Jamaica, Queens; Brian Gwenden, 23, of Jamaica, Queens; Peter John (a.k.a. Peter Jean Gilles John), 21, of St. Albans, Queens; Omar Majeed, 27, of Jamaica, Queens; Emendjer Mathurni (a.k.a. Manny), 24, of Jamaica, Queens; Antoine J. Miller (a.k.a. Fatboy), 21, of Flushing, Queens; Amir Mohamed (a.k.a. Chop), 24, of Jamaica, Queens; Isijola Olesegun (a.k.a. Shea Black), 24, of Jamaica, Queens; Nicholas Pollard, 22, of St. Albans, Queens; Andrew Pottinger (a.k.a. Drip), 24, of Queens Village, Queens; Avion Smith (a.k.a. Abby), 26, of Hempstead, Long Island; Fendi Vance, 24, of Flushing, Queens; and Vegelia Waters (a.k.a. Vegillia O’Conner), 28, of Jamaica, Queens.

An 18th individual, Geovaunni Faucher, 21, of Elmont, Long Island was arrested and charged with 32 counts of possession of a forged instrument, 32 counts of unlawful possession of personal ID and criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree.

According to the indictments, members of the fraud ring purchased the stolen credit and debit card account information from online black market websites. They proceeded to encode the stolen information onto blank cards and physically press the raised numbers and names on the cards. Then they allegedly hired “shoppers” to purchase items from several retailers using the fraudulent cards and proceeded to sell off the stolen goods.

Some of the establishments targeted by the ring include Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s stores in Flushing, Douglaston and the Queens Center mall, W&H Liquors in Hollis, Target stores in Nanuet and Long Island, a Pathmark supermarket in New Hyde Park, and Waldbaums supermarket in College Point.

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Cops save choking toddler in Jamaica


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A family was saved from tragedy in Jamaica Sunday when two police officers from the 103rd Precinct rushed to the aid of a choking toddler.

Police Officers Scott Nieri and Gobin Raghunath were reportedly flagged down near 148th Street and Liberty Avenue by a panicked father holding his 18-month-old son, who was not breathing because he had a piece of an apple lodged down his throat.

The two officers then turned the baby face down and began performing the Heimlich maneuver, while requesting EMS to come to their location, police said.

After various efforts to clear the baby’s airway, the officers began performing CPR and after a few minutes of chest compressions the apple was cleared from the child’s throat and he started to cry, according to the NYPD.

The boy was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was treated and later released with no signs of any injuries.

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Forest Park homicide suspect knew his victim: DA


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated June 22, 2:57 p.m.

Sought for questioning in the recent murder of a Flushing man in Forest Park, a person of interest in the case was picked up by police for drinking inside the park on Friday night and was later charged with the homicide, authorities said.

Zoltan Forai, also known as Stephen Forai, was apprehended by police on Friday in connection to the June 10 murder of Diego Piedrahita, 23, of Booth Memorial Avenue, law enforcement officials stated.

The motive for the murder is still unknown, but according to authorities, Forai and the victim were known to each other.

Sometime between June 8 and June 9, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, Forai allegedly kicked Piedrahita about the head and body, then used a rock to strike him multiple times in his face and head, causing his death. Parkgoers discovered Piedrahita’s body on the afternoon of June 10.

According to police, Forai was spotted by police last Friday at Woodhaven Boulevard and Myrtle Avenue near Forest Park. Forai, who was known to frequent the Forest Park Bandshell and Victory Field, was allegedly observed drinking a can of beer, and he was arrested for drinking in public.

Forai allegedly shaved his beard so as to not look like the bearded suspect wanted for questioning in Piedrahita’s death, authorities said.

Forai was arraigned on Saturday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Bruna DiBiase on second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon charges. He was ordered held without bail and must to return to court on July 2; if convicted, Forai faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

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Five teens caught in Middle Village robbery


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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Five teenagers were taken into custody following a Tuesday night robbery in Middle Village, police reported.

Authorities stated that the two victims were traveling through Juniper Valley Park at approximately 10:25 p.m. when they were approached by the five suspects. One of the perpetrators reportedly displayed a knife and demanded the victims’ cellphones.

During the course of the robbery, the group attacked the teens and removed their iPhones before fleeing from the scene, authorities said.

Officers from the 104th Precinct responded to the incident; the victims suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.

Police apprehended the five perpetrators in the area of 69th Street and Metropolitan Avenue shortly after the incident. They were identified as Jonathan Perez 18, from the Bronx; Kenneth Cabrera 18, of Glendale; Justin Santos 19, of Middle Village; a 17-year-old male, of Maspeth; and a 15-year-old male from New Britain, Connecticut.

Each suspect was charged with robbery.

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Suspect wanted for cellphone store robberies in Jamaica, Maspeth


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo/Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a 30-year-old man wanted in connection to two robberies of Queens cellphone shops in the last two months.

On May 26 at about 6:25 p.m., the suspect — armed with a black firearm — entered the Metro PCS store located at 126-14 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica and demanded property, police said. He then took $600 and a victim’s cellphone before fleeing the site. There were no reported injuries.

On June 2 at about 6:16 p.m., the same suspect entered a Metro PCS at 66-10 Grand Ave. in Maspeth armed with a black firearm and demanded money, according to authorities. A female victim handed the man $186 and a wristlet. The suspect then fled the location and there were no reported injuries.

The suspect is described as a black man, between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 1 inch tall, and 160 to 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black mask, gray Arizona Diamondbacks jacket with a logo on the breast area and an image of a snack on the sleeves.

Police have released a surveillance video from the first incident and photos from the second.


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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Cops searching for Jamaica robbery suspects


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for three young men responsible for an assault and robbery that took place in Jamaica earlier this month.

The three males reportedly approached a 27-year-old male at the corner of Southgate Street and 140th Avenue at 3:20 a.m. on May 19. Police said the suspects punched and kicked the man before stealing his cellphone and fleeing the location. The victim was treated at a local hospital.

The NYPD described the perpetrators as black males between 17 and 25 years of age. One suspect had dark curly hair and was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, while another was wearing a stocking cap, grey sweatshirt, camouflaged pants and carrying a backpack. The third suspect had facial hair on his chin and was wearing a white and grey shirt, grey pants and a baseball hat.

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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Police looking for Long Island City attempted robbery suspects


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy NYPD

Cops are looking for a male and female duo that attempted to steal money from a register at a local bodega in Long Island City, but were successfully fought off by the store employee.

The suspects entered U.S. Brazil bodega at 41-02 34th Ave. on May 18 around 5 a.m., and the man threatened the store employee by saying he had a gun and would shoot him, police said.

The male crook didn’t pull out a weapon but tried to take the cash from the register and fought with the employee, authorities said. After a brief fight with the employee, the suspects ran from the store and headed eastbound on 34th Avenue in a white Fiat, officers said.

The male suspect is described by the NYPD as being Hispanic, 5 foot 9 inches tall, about 160 pounds with a light complexion and short hair. He was last seen wearing a black and red baseball hat, a long-sleeved blue shirt, tan cargo shorts and white sneakers.

The female is also described as Hispanic, about 5 foot 3 inches tall, 130 pounds with a light complexion as well, long, brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue baseball hat, a blue short-sleeved shirt, blue checkered pants and white sneakers.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.

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Husband scares away Ozone Park home invader after hearing wife’s screams


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy NYPD

Authorities continue to search for a man who invaded an Ozone Park home and assaulted a 46-year-old woman.

Police said the incident occurred at 8:15 a.m. on March 13 at an undisclosed location in the neighborhood within the confines of the 106th Precinct.

According to police, the woman was sitting on the ground floor of her residence when the perpetrator entered her home, grabbed her by the neck and arm, and demanded cash.

The victim reportedly screamed, prompting her husband — who had been upstairs — to run down and help her. Police said the suspect then fled out of the home empty-handed in an unknown direction.

No injuries were reported.


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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Brooklyn man shot to death in Jamaica


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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A Brooklyn man was found dead from a gunshot wound to the torso in Jamaica over the weekend, police said.

Officers from the 113th Precinct discovered the 54-year-old victim, identified as James Burnett, at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday near 110th Road and Sutphin Boulevard, authorities said.

EMS rushed Burnett to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

There are currently no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

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NYPD officer shot in Queens Village, suspect charged with attempted murder


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagrams/@schweetlife

BY ROBERT POZARYCKI, CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ALINA SURIEL

Updated Monday, May 4, 9:30 a.m.

A police officer remains in critical but stable condition after being shot while on duty in Queens Village Saturday — and the man who allegedly shot him remains locked up, according to officials.

The shooting took place at about 6:15 p.m. in the vicinity of 212th Street and 104th Road.

According to police, the injured officer — P.O. Brian Moore, 25, a five-year NYPD veteran from Long Island — and his partner, P.O. Erik Jansen, were in plain clothes and patrolling the area in an unmarked vehicle when they observed the suspected shooter — Demetrius Blackwell, 35 — acting suspiciously.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Blackwell motioned toward his waist as if concealing a firearm.

Officer Brian Moore (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

Officer Brian Moore (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

Moore, who was driving the unmarked police cruiser, rolled up behind Blackwell and inquired as to his actions. Bratton said Blackwell immediately turned toward the vehicle, pulled out a firearm and fired at least two shots, striking Moore in the face and head.

Jansen, who was not injured, radioed for help, and officers in a responding patrol car rushed Moore to Jamaica Hospital. The injured officer was immediately brought into surgery and will be admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit. Reportedly, a prognosis for his recovery won’t be known for up to 48 hours.

The NY Daily News reported Monday that Moore is in a medically induced coma.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Commissioner Bratton and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown visited Moore’s family at Jamaica Hospital Saturday night and later addressed members of the media about the shooting.

“Our hearts are with his family, his loved ones,” de Blasio said. “Our hearts are with [Moore’s] extended family: the men and women of the NYPD.”

Blackwell ran from the location, but police, aided by several witnesses, stopped him several blocks away on 212th Place, officials said. The weapon, however, has not yet been recovered.

Police noted that Blackwell has a previous criminal record that included arrests for robbery and weapons possession. According to NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision records, he was released from prison in June 2008 after serving time for a second-degree attempted murder conviction.

Blackwell was ordered held without bail during his arraignment hearing Sunday on charges of first-degree attempted murder on a police officer, aggravated assault on a police officer, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree assault. If convicted, Brown said, Blackwell faces 25 years to life behind bars.

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DNA helps cops nab Ridgewood car thief


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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An alleged Ridgewood car thief was brought in by cops last week after DNA testing from items left behind at the scene connected him to the crime, police stated.

The suspect, identified by police as Alfredo Santiago, 41, of Bushwick, reportedly dropped a backpack containing three screwdrivers and personal items taken from the car during the September 2014 robbery.

According to authorities, during the incident, the owner of the vehicle approached his car, which was parked outside of 1856 Troutman St., at approximately 3:40 a.m. on Sept. 28 when he saw Santiago step out of his car and display what appeared to be a firearm.

Police said that Santiago then threatened to shoot the victim before he fled the scene, dropping the backpack containing the screwdrivers that led to his arrest.

Genetic evidence recovered from one of the screwdrivers was tested and found to match Santiago’s DNA profile.

Santiago was arraigned on April 22 before Queens Supreme Court Justice Stephanie Zaro on first-degree robbery, possession of burglar’s tools and fourth-degree criminal mischief. His bail was set at $30,000, and he is scheduled to return to court on May 6.

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Two 109th Precinct cops show NYPD’s friendly side in Whitestone


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of We Love Whitestone

While 12-year-old Joseph Prisco was playing basketball alone in a local Whitestone park one day, a squad car pulled up at the curb and one officer approached him.

Joseph thought maybe he was in trouble, but what the officer said shocked him. The policeman asked to “shoot some hoops,” according to the boy, while his partner waited by the car.

As the officer played with the preteen, he asked questions about where Joseph lived, sports he liked and school. When they finished playing, Joseph called his mother, Angela Delli Gatti-Prisco, and told her about what happened. She was stunned, and thought, “Since when does a police officer stop a car to play ball with some kid at a park?” she recalled.

But the men, Police Officers Justin Hubbard and Nicholas Hon, were just making certain the boy was okay when they saw him alone on March 26 at Clintonville Playground. Their actions inspired Delli Gatti-Prisco to write a letter of appreciation to the We Love Whitestone community group, which honored the two officers on Wednesday.

“In today’s day and age, many of us take for granted the protection and service we are provided by our ‘men in blue,’ the policemen of New York City, who day in and day out put their lives on the line for the lives of others,” the mother wrote in a letter to the group.

About the incident, the cops said they were just doing their job and checking on the boy. That humble response resonated with community members.

“With all the bad publicity that cops have been getting, we felt that the majority of them are good and trying to do good things,” We Love Whitestone founder Alfredo Centola said. “And we wanted to acknowledge their going above and beyond their everyday duties.”

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Man found dead in vehicle parked on Middle Village street


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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A 25-year-old Middle Village man was found dead inside a parked vehicle in his neighborhood Friday morning, according to police.

Officers responding to a call of an unconscious male inside a parked car at 8:50 a.m. discovered the man, identified as James Hanrahan, in the vehicle, which was located on 77th Street near Penelope Avenue in Middle Village, authorities said.

EMS units pronounced Hanrahan dead at the scene.

No signs of trauma to the body were found. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is currently ongoing, officials said.

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More Maspeth massage parlor employees busted for prostitution


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Three Maspeth massage parlor workers wound up in handcuffs last week for rubbing patrons the wrong way, according to police.

Law enforcement sources said the suspects were cuffed on April 1 at a massage parlor located at 66-47 Grand Ave., which cops raided in a prior bust back in March.

According to the criminal complaint, Hiu Yi Tsang, 29, of Flushing, allegedly offered and agreed to engage in a sexual act for $40 and perform a massage for $60 on an undercover detective.

It was also noted in the report that Tsang is allegedly not licensed, registered, nor holds a limited permit to practice massage therapy in New York State.

Sunyu Ping, 46, of Maspeth, is alleged in the report to have offered and performed a full body massage, which she was not licensed for, on the undercover detective for $40. It is further reported that Ping then offered and agreed to engage in oral sex with the detective for the sum of $60.

Finally, police said that Lina Li, 33, of Maspeth allegedly offered and agreed to engage in sexual intercourse with the undercover detective, and then agreed to perform a full body massage on the detective, for a total of $300.

All three suspects were charged with prostitution and unauthorized use of a professional title.

Tsang and Ping were arraigned in front of Judge Bruna Dibiase, while Li was arraigned in front of Judge David Hawkins; they were each released without bail. Both Ping and Tsang are due back in court on April 24, while Li’s next court date is May 1.

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Suspect arrested for firing shots outside Resorts World Casino


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy NYPD

A Brooklyn man suspected of firing shots at Resorts World Casino amid a brawl at the South Ozone Park establishment on Friday night has been arrested, police reported.

Jaquan Roberts, 22, was charged in connection with firing a gun in the casino’s parking lot moments after the fracas erupted inside the casino’s Fat Tuesday daiquiri bar.

The fight took place on the night of April 3, when patrons, waiting to get into the bar during its grand opening, began throwing punches and chairs, allegedly causing thousands of dollars in damage. Video of the brawl went viral after being posted on YouTube.

Three others were arrested following the brawl, and several individuals were hospitalized with minor injuries.

Roberts is being charged with two counts of assault, criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degree and first-degree reckless endangerment.

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