Tag Archives: Queens District Attorney Richard Brown

Elmhurst man sentenced for fatal stabbing of wife


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


The Elmhurst man who stabbed his wife to death in 2014 and went on with his day, after faking her suicide note, has been sentenced to serve 18 years in prison, prosecutors announced.

Luis Paguay, 43, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter this past June. After his 18-year sentence, the judge also ordered five years of post-release supervision.

According to court documents, Paguay admitted to stabbing his 39-year-old wife, Maria Paguay, in their basement Elmhurst apartment between the night of Dec. 3, 2014, and just before 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2014. A large kitchen knife was found near the victim’s body.

After killing his wife, Paguay wrote a note in his wife’s name claiming that her death was a suicide, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He then went to his job as a dishwasher at Ducale Restaurant in Whitestone.

Once arriving at the restaurant, Paguay noticed blood on his shoes and video surveillance from the site shows what looked like him washing his shoes in a sink, authorities said.

Maria Paguay’s body was found around 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2014, by her 19-year-old son who had just come home from school.

“Although the defendant ultimately took responsibility for his violent crime by pleading guilty to manslaughter, he first tried to make it appear that his wife took her own life by writing a suicide note in her name and letting her 19-year-old son discover his mother’s bloody remains upon returning home from school,” Brown said. “The lengthy sentence imposed by the court is a just resolution to this case.”

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Richmond Hill mom charged with killing infant claimed baby was possessed


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Screenshot courtesy of Robert Stridiron

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 11, 11:10 a.m. 

The mother of a 3-week-old boy whose body was found in a Richmond Hill apartment building’s courtyard last week has been charged with murder after allegedly throwing the child out a four-story window because she believed an evil spirit had taken over the boy’s body.

Rashida Chowdhury, 21, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and intentional murder of a victim less than 11 years old, the NYPD announced Saturday.

A witness told authorities that just before 4 a.m. she had heard an unusual noise like a “thump” coming from the courtyard at 85-55 115th St., according to court documents. The witness then went to the lobby area of the building, looked through a window to the courtyard and saw a baby lying on the cement floor unresponsive and with an apparent injury to the head. She then called 911.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct responded to the 911 call at 85-55 115th St. at about 4:06 a.m. on Aug. 7, according to police. Upon arriving, they found the baby, Rizwan Ahmad, unconscious and unresponsive. Emergency medical personnel also responded and pronounced the infant dead at the scene.

During their investigation, authorities observed an open window on the fourth floor of the building and determined it to be the baby’s apartment, court documents said. The height from the window to the courtyard floor was determined to be about 42 feet high.

While being questioned, the child’s mother— who lived in the apartment with her 40-year-old husband and other family members — said she woke up between 3:30 and 4 a.m. and took Rizwan from the bed and went into the bathroom, according to the criminal complaint. While she was alone in the bathroom with the baby she said she tossed him out of the bathroom window.

According to court records, Chowdhury said that an evil spirit had taken over her infant son, who had recently been sick, and she was “stopping the pain.”

The mother of a 3-week-old boy, whose body was found in the courtyard of 85-55 115th St. (pictured), has been charged for murder. (Photo courtesy of PropertyShark/Nicholas Strini)

The 3-week-old boy’s body was found in the courtyard of 85-55 115th St. (Photo courtesy of PropertyShark/Nicholas Strini)

“This is a truly horrific and disturbing case of a mother accused of killing her helpless 3-week-old infant son by tossing him out of a window, where he fell more than 40 feet to the pavement and died,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The alleged actions of the defendant are totally incomprehensible. She now faces serious charges that could lead to her spending the rest of her life behind bars if convicted.”

After performing an autopsy on the boy, the medical examiner classified the death as a homicide and said the baby died of a blunt impact of the head and torso with skull fractures and lacerations of brain, liver and spleen, according to court records.

Chowdhury was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court and is being held without bail. She has also been placed on suicide watch and is scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 10.

If convicted on her charges, Chowdhury faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

The body of a one-month-old boy who died in Richmond Hill on the morning of Aug. 7 is placed into the medical examiner's van. (Photo by Robert Stridiron)

The body of an infant who died in Richmond Hill on the morning of Aug. 7 is placed into the medical examiner’s van. (Photo by Robert Stridiron)

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Brooklyn men charged in Queens theft ring of luxury cars, motorcycles, narcotics


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Eight Brooklyn men who allegedly specialized in selling everything from stolen vehicles to narcotics have been charged for their participation in a Queens theft ring, according to the Queens district attorney.

The men, ranging from 21 to 27 years of age, were indicted after a 16-month investigation that began last April and concluded this June.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, in April 2014 police officers assigned to the NYPD’s Auto Crime Division Theft Squad started a joint investigation with the District Attorney’s Rackets Bureau into a theft ring that was offering temporary paper license plates for sale on Craigslist.

An unnamed individual allegedly contacted the number listed on the Craigslist post and later met with one of the eight men, 22-year-old Ariel Santiago, in Queens. During this encounter, the individual purchased fraudulent temporary license plates packaged with accompanying documents including blank bills of sale templates, blank 30-day temporary insurance coverage conformation forms and four blank Florida temporary registration receipts each stamped with the name of an actual auto sale business.

During their meeting, the unnamed person mentioned he shipped stolen vehicles to Africa and used paper plates to transport the cars to the port. At this point Santiago allegedly said he knew people who sold high-end stolen vehicles with keys, according to authorities.

Later that month at a second meeting, the person met with Santiago again to purchase five more forged temporary plates and spoke with 21-year-old Brian Hernandez and 22-year-old Luvere Gantt about buying stolen vehicles.

Over the next month, the person bought several stolen motorcycles during a series of buys, including two Kawaski Ninjas, from Santiago, Hernandez and Gantt, and in one instance from 21-year-old Gerardo Torres.

According to the district attorney, Torres, Gantt, 27-year-old Joseph Santiago and 21-year-old Matthew Moses later variously sold narcotics, cocaine and heroin to other individuals.

It is also alleged that in addition to the other defendants, 25-year-old Sean Vargas and 21-year-old Kevin Primo were also a part of selling stolen vehicles, firearms and/or counterfeit cash.

The majority of the stolen vehicles were obtained through fraudulent means from rental car companies such as Zipcar, Hertz, Enterprise, Dollar and Budget, according to the district attorney.

“This small, loosely organized theft ring is accused of offering a cornucopia of stolen and illegal items for sale on the black market — including stolen motorcycles and such luxury vehicles as Cadillacs, Mercedes Benzes, Audis and BMWs, as well as forged license plates, narcotics, counterfeit cash and various firearms — including an assault rifle, shotgun and a defaced pistol,” Brown said.

Currently Gantt, Hernandez and Torres are being sought, while the other five suspects have been arrested.

The charges the men variously face include criminal possession of stolen property, criminal sale of a controlled substance, conspiracy, unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a firearm, and criminal possession of a forged instrument.

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Councilman starts petition for traffic safety improvements surrounding Astoria Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Katrina Medoff

After the life of a 21-year-old woman was cut short last month on her way home, one local politician is putting his foot down and asking Astoria residents to join the fight to bring safety improvements in and around Astoria Park.

Councilman Costa Constantinides started a petition Monday calling for improvements to be made on streets such as Shore Boulevard, Ditmars Boulevard, 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue South.

“The streets surrounding Astoria Park are a dangerous stretch for pedestrians. The corridor is used by many families and children on the way to the park. All the while, many motorists race to and from the park at high rates of speed. A recent hit-and-run death that occurred in the area shows that we need better traffic safety,” Constantinides said. “We have made great strides recently in calming traffic in Astoria through safety improvements on 21st Street south of Hoyt Avenue and through the upcoming slow zone south of Astoria Boulevard. That’s why I have started a petition to support traffic improvements on the streets in and around Astoria Park. I look forward to working with DOT to make Astoria a safer place to live.”

The petition comes after Betty DiBiasio was struck on June 28 by a car as she was crossing a marked crosswalk at the intersection of Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, just blocks from her home.

The car, which was being driven by 24-year-old Astoria resident Nicholas Colleran, drove through a stop sign and then struck DiBiasio, according to officials.

Colleran allegedly called 911 about an hour after the accident to report that his car had been stolen and in his vehicle theft investigation report claimed it had been taken from a parking lot in the back of his residence. The vehicle was discovered in another location in Astoria with a broken windshield and driver’s side-view mirror, and a damaged driver’s side front fender.

There also appeared to be blood and hair in the driver’s side windshield, where it was broken, and, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, was consistent with a vehicle striking a pedestrian and the pedestrian hitting the windshield.

Colleran then turned himself into the police where he admitted that he had two beers before driving and striking DiBiasio and then leaving the scene.

He was charged with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting a death, third-degree falsely reporting an incident, failure to stop for a stop sign, driving by an unlicensed operator, failure to exercise due care and a violation of the city’s administrative code.

To sign Constantinides’ petition, click here.

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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 yearlong 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 yearlong 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 (aka Dayday), 27, of Jamaica, Queens, who is presently being sought; Rashem Davis (aka Sheimy), 25, of Jamaica, Queens; Brian Gwenden, 23, of Jamaica, Queens; Peter John (aka Peter Jean Gilles John), 21, of St. Albans, Queens; Omar Majeed, 27, of Jamaica, Queens; Emendjer Mathurni (aka Manny), 24, of Jamaica, Queens; Antoine J. Miller (aka Fatboy), 21, of Flushing, Queens; Amir Mohamed (aka Chop), 24, of Jamaica, Queens; Isijola Olesegun (aka Shea Black), 24, of Jamaica, Queens; Nicholas Pollard, 22, of St. Albans, Queens; Andrew Pottinger (aka Drip), 24, of Queens Village, Queens; Avion Smith (aka Abby), 26, of Hempstead, Long Island; Fendi Vance, 24, of Flushing, Queens; and Vegelia Waters (aka 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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Ozone Park man faces serious jail time for sexually abusing two young girls


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

jail

An Ozone Park man was convicted this week of sexually preying on young children in their home over a four-year period, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

Melchor Evangelista, 42, was found guilty of having sexual contact with two preadolescent sisters on five separate occasions in their Ozone Park home in 2009 and 2013.

“A jury has convicted the defendant of being a sexual predator who victimized two young girls and betrayed the trust of their parents who had placed their daughters into his care,” Brown said. “As such, he has proven himself to be a threat to children and a clear and present danger to society in general. His conviction ensures that he is punished for his crimes.”

According to the trial testimony, Evangelista engaged in a sexual act on three different occasions between June and August of 2009 with a 6-year-old girl whom he knew. He also attempted to engage in sexual intercourse with the victim during the same time frame.

The victim, too afraid to tell anyone of the incidents, waited until December 2013 to confide in her mother. The mother then asked the victim’s younger sister, who was then 10, if anyone had touched her. She admitted that she woke one night in August 2013 to find Evangelista in her bed and that he had touched her private parts.

Jurors convicted Evangelista Monday of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual act and one count each of first-degree attempted rape, first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree attempted sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, after a one-week jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Butcher.

Evangelista, who had been free on $50,000 bail since after his January 2014 arrest, had his bail revoked and was ordered held in custody. Sentencing is set for April 28, and Evangelista faces up to 25 years in prison on each of the criminal sexual act charges, 15 years on the attempted rape charge, seven years on the sexual abuse charge, four years on the attempted sexual abuse charge and one year on the endangerment charge.

The investigation was conducted by the NYPD’s Queens Special Victims Squad at the Queens Child Advocacy Center.

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Forest Hills men charged with illegally evicting Richmond Hill homeowner


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Two Forest Hills men have been charged with burglary for illegally evicting a Richmond Hill homeowner from his home after the two had won the house in a foreclosure auction, according to authorities.

Semyon (aka Sam) Muratov, 34, and Yuriy (aka Erick) Munarov, 31, were each arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Monday night on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree criminal trespass and unlawful eviction, according to the Queens district attorney,

“More and more we are seeing individuals who are dealing with distressed properties unscrupulously taking advantage of the situation to benefit themselves,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendants in this case are accused of taking the law into their own hands and bullying a homeowner into vacating his residence so that they would not have to deal with a housing court eviction proceeding.”

According to the charges, Muratov placed a $25,000 down payment on a home located on 111th Street in Richmond Hill during a foreclosure sale on Jan. 9 but the sale had not yet gone to closing.

On the same day, Muratov and Munarov reportedly went to the property and told the 59-year-old homeowner that he had to vacate the home because they had bought the house at an auction.

When the homeowner asked for a proof of sale, according to Brown, the men refused to supply evidence and instead told the homeowner he had to hand over the keys and that they would be back in a couple of days to make sure he had left.

Muratov and Munarov then allegedly returned to the property on Jan. 12 and when they couldn’t get into the home, they broke the doorframe and deadbolt lock, and pushed in the front door. They then told the homeowner he could take a few things and when the homeowner said he had nowhere to go, the men gave him $200 in cash to find a place to stay.

The homeowner left the property with some important documents and when he later returned he found all the first-floor doors and windows had been boarded up and chains were on the door lock areas of the front door.

“We are not going to stand for anyone circumventing the law. Our office is working diligently to protect homeowners and tenants who may fall victim to the various unscrupulous and predatory behavior in real estate transactions,” said New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito. “People have the right to live undisturbed in their homes and these two individuals are accused of violating the due process rights of the tenant at the address.”

An investigation by the district attorney and sheriff’s offices revealed that on May 6, 2014, there was a judgment of foreclosure and sale on the 111th Street property, even though the homeowner said he was not aware of the foreclosure proceeding. Documents later allegedly showed that the homeowner’s estranged son was served the notice in 2012.

Although the mortgage lender had auctioned off the property on Jan. 9, Muratov would not assume ownership until there was a closing with full payment for the property and transfer of the deed, according to the district attorney. Even after the closing, there would have had to been a lawful eviction proceeding of the homeowner.

Both Muratov and Munarov face up to 15 years in prison if convicted and were ordered held on $5,000 bond or $2,500 bail. They are scheduled to return to court on May 5.

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Seven alleged southeast Queens gang members busted for murder plots


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com


Counting themselves among “killas,” seven street gang members based in southeast Queens were indicted for allegedly plotting two murders, prosecutors said.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, the suspects are part of the EBK (Everybody Killas) gang, which allegedly carried out plots in January 2013 to shoot two individuals whom they believed were members of a rival gang. One of the murder attempts took place in a busy shopping district during the evening rush hour, while the other occurred a few hours later at a grocery store, according to Brown.

“In both instances, the defendants’ alleged actions threatened the lives and safety of innocent bystanders as the victims were fired upon,” said Brown on Friday. “Today’s indictment is another example of police and prosecutors working together to reduce gang-based violence that too often plagues our neighborhoods.”

Brown identified the seven suspects as Jeffrey Bien-Aime, 19, of St. Albans; Anthony Biggs, 18, of St. Albans; Jonathan Jean-Pierre, 20, of Rosedale; Dayjah Knowles, 18, of Jamaica; Jerald Lowe, 22, of St. Albans; Kenneth Stokes, 20, of St. Albans; and Rasheed Watson, 22, of Jamaica.

All were variously charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and conspiracy.

If convicted, each suspect faces up to 25 years behind bars.

Law enforcement sources said the first shooting occurred at 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2013, when Lowe, Bien-Aime, Watson, Jean-Pierre, Knowles and Stokes, along with unidentified EBK members, allegedly confronted rival gang members near Jamaica Avenue and Parsons Boulevard.

Following a verbal exchange, one of the EBK members pulled out a pistol and shot a rival in the right foot. The group then fled the scene, police said.

More than four hours later, Biggs, Stokes and two unidentified EBK members allegedly confronted another suspected rival at a deli located at 116-02 Merrick Blvd., according to prosecutors. Moments after arriving, an EBK member reportedly walked into the store, drew a .380-caliber pistol and shot the suspected rival in the left abdomen.

After the wounded rival fell to the ground, the EBK member attempted to fire again, but the gun jammed, authorities said.

Both of the gang’s targets were treated for their injuries at a local hospital. Detectives determined from shell casings recovered from both crime scenes that the same gun was used in each incident.

“I want to thank the members of the 113th Precinct who worked closely together with the Queens District Attorney’s office to build this case against these alleged EBK gang members,” Bratton said. “The NYPD remains committed to eliminating gang activity and improving the quality of life for the residents of the southern Queens communities.”

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Homeless Queens woman sentenced for 2010 Astoria Park beating, strangulation


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


A 33-year-old homeless woman has been sentenced to 17 years to life in prison for her role in the 2010 fatal beating and strangulation of a 32-year-old man in Astoria Park, according to the Queens district attorney.

Kelly Harnett, whose last known address was in Astoria, was convicted of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and sentenced on Thursday at the Queens Supreme Court.

“The defendant, along with a male co-defendant, brutally attacked a 32-year-old man in the park. The victim was robbed of his wallet and viciously beaten and choked to death,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “This willful act of violence warranted a lengthy prison term.”

According to Brown, on July 7, 2010, at about 4 a.m. Harnett, together with Thomas Donovan, attacked the victim, Ruben Angel Vargas, by choking him manually and also with a shoelace from Harnett’s sneaker. Vargas was then kicked repeatedly in the head and torso and his wallet was taken while he lay motionless on the ground.

Donovan pleaded guilty in 2010 to first-degree manslaughter and is currently serving 15 years in prison.

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Woodside babysitter guilty in 2010 death of 9-month-old boy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


A Woodside woman has been found guilty of manslaughter in the death of a 9-month-old baby boy, who in 2010 was violently shaken by his babysitter.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, 42-year-old Yohani Moran was found guilty on Monday for second-degree manslaughter after a four-week-long trial in Queens Supreme Court.

On March 10, 2010, at about 2 p.m. the baby boy, Dilan Criollo, was dropped off by his mother at Moran’s Woodside apartment, Brown said. At the time of the drop-off, Dilan was “vibrant and in good health.”

Moran then fed the baby and he took a nap. Later in the afternoon Dilan “became fussy” and Moran shook him violently and he immediately went limp and became unresponsive, according to Brown.

The child was then taken to the hospital where doctors determined he had suffered extensive subdural hematomas, severe brain swelling and bleeding in his eyes, as well as a bilateral retinal detachment, according to trial records. Dilan was placed on a ventilator and later died.

“Shaken Baby Syndrome is the leading cause of child abuse deaths each year. The victims are innocent, helpless children and are too often harmed by those entrusted to care for and protect them. In this case, the toddler suffered extensive bleeding on the brain, swelling and damage to his eyes,” Brown said. “Despite life-saving efforts by medical personnel, the child died. The defendant – who is herself a mother – has now been found guilty and faces a lengthy term behind bars.”

Moran is expected back in court on April 14 and faces up to 15 years in prison.

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Career criminal busted for stealing airbags, hybrid battery pack in Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Shoreline

A 48-year-old man, with more than 20 arrests in about two decades on his record, is now being charged with breaking into several cars and stealing airbags, and in one case a hybrid vehicle battery pack, according to authorities.

Peter C. Ali, an Astoria resident, was arraigned on March 5 and charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, possession of burglar’s tools, petit larceny and resisting arrest.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, on Dec. 28, 2014, Ali broke into a late model Toyota Camry yellow taxi parked on Queens Boulevard and 52nd Street in Woodside and removed the car’s hybrid battery pack, valued at about $4,000.

Later, on Feb. 25, Ali was allegedly seen using a flashlight to look into the interior of a silver Toyota Camry on the corner of 21st Street and 29th Avenue in Astoria before stealing the car’s airbag. The next day, Ali allegedly took another airbag from a 2010 Toyota minivan parked near Austin Street and Union Turnpike in Forest Hills.

Ali was caught on March 5 as officers of the Grand Larceny Unit witnessed him stealing an airbag from a car in Astoria , according to a police source.

The incident with the hybrid battery was one of 11 that have occurred in the confines of the 108th Precinct since November. During those incidents, car thieves walked away with the expensive batteries from the trunks of the vehicles. The investigation for the remaining 10 cases is ongoing.

Ali is currently being held on $100,000 bail and his next court date is scheduled for March 18. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

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Flushing man charged in bomb scare at DA office building in Kew Gardens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A 49-year-old Flushing man has been arraigned and charged following a bomb scare on Tuesday at a Kew Gardens building that houses law enforcement offices for the Queens District Attorney, New York State Police and FBI.

While holding a package, Scott Sasonkin entered the lobby of the building located at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday and told a security guard that he had a bomb and wanted to kill everyone in the building, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Sasonkin then allegedly placed the package on the floor.

A sergeant from the district attorney’s office who responded to the incident allegedly saw Sasonkin standing next to the package. The suspect then allegedly told the sergeant, in some words, “I’m a suicide bomber, my bomb is in this package, it’s a pipe bomb. I went to the hardware store and bought the fertilizer and a pipe. I learned how to make the bomb from the Internet, it has a detonator and a timer.”

Sasonkin followed by stating that he picked the building because “it’s famous and has a lot of law enforcement in it.”

The NYPD’s Bomb Squad inspected the package and determined it did not contain an explosive device and was not a bomb, according to the district attorney. Sasonkin was then arrested and taken to a local hospital.

“When a threat is posed by an organized enterprise or by a so-called lone wolf, law enforcement must respond promptly and effectively – as they did in this case – in order to protect our communities from those who would do us harm,” Brown said. “Fortunately, the bomb threat in this case proved to be a hoax. However, those responding personnel had no way of knowing that fact at the time. I thank them for their professionalism and restraint in the face of adversity.”

Sasonkin was arraigned on Wednesday night in the Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint charging him with first-degree reckless endangerment, first-, second- and third-degree falsely reporting an incident, first-degree placing a false bomb and making a terroristic threat. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

Sasonkin was held without bail pending the results of a mental health evaluation and has been ordered to return to court on March 23.

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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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Astoria man charged as serial tagger for graffiti acts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens district attorney's office

An Astoria man was indicted Wednesday for allegedly tagging trees, traffic control boxes and more in the past year, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Michael Mestric was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on 19 counts of criminal mischief and 19 counts of making graffiti.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the 30-year-old “found a canvas for his tag at nearly every turn.”

Between May 2013 and April of this year, Mestric’s tag “AOE” was found spray painted on highway walls along the Grand Central Parkway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Long Island Expressway, Brown said. Mestric is also being charged for tagging control boxes, a fence, tree, and a historic observation deck at Astoria Park.

“Graffiti is not art – nor is it a victimless crime. Tagging encourages lawlessness. It leads to decreased property values and is expensive to remove,” Brown said.

The damage and cost of removing the graffiti allegedly exceeded $12,500, with the observation deck at Astoria Park alone costing more than $2,500 to repair.

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

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Alleged Queens gang members indicted on charges of conspiring to commit murder, robbery


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens district attorney's office

Thirty-one reputed southeast Queens gang members have been indicted on charges of conspiring to murder two people and conspiring to commit robberies in order to bail out an alleged teenage gang leader, officials said.

The men, who range in age from 15 to 22, are alleged to be members of three street gangs knows as SNOW, Loyalty Over Everything and Young Bosses, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Under the first indictment, 17 of the alleged members are being charged for conspiring to kill two supposed members of a rival gang in retaliation for the fatal shooting of a SNOW gang member, Brown said.

In the second indictment, 16 people were charged with conspiring to commit robberies, after alleged leader of the SNOW gang leader, 17-year-old Daquan Monroe, allegedly ordered them to do so in order to raise money to bail him out of Rikers Island, officials said.

“These indictments are another example of police and prosecutors working together to eliminate gang violence that too often plagues our neighborhood and strikes at the heart of a unified and criminally active group of young people who threaten the lives and safety of innocent bystanders,” Brown said.

On Tuesday, 20 of the men in custody were arraigned in the Queens Supreme Court and 11 of the other alleged members are currently being sought.

Out of the 17 charged on the first indictment, 16 are being charged with conspiracy and face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. The remaining defendant is a juvenile and faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.

In the conspiracy to commit robberies, if convicted, two men face up to 25 years in prison, four men face up to seven years and the remaining 10 face up to four years.

“The arrest and indictments of these SNOW gang members and their affiliates send a clear message that the New York City Police Department, along with our partners from the Queens District Attorney’s Office, will continue to rid our communities of gang activity and gun violence,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

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