Tag Archives: Queens District Attorney

Op-ed: Protect your kids from Internet predators


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY QUEENS DISTRICT ATTORNEY RICHARD A. BROWN 

Internet child luring is every parent’s worst nightmare and is the reason that we repeatedly urge parents to communicate with their children about their use of the Internet and to monitor their children’s Internet activities.

There are sexual predators lurking online who are just waiting to take advantage of a child’s innocence and trusting nature. These predators troll Internet chat rooms pretending to offer friendship, sympathy and love to victims who are too young to understand that they are actually being lured into sexual abuse.

My office’s Computer Crimes Unit has teamed with the NYPD to catch these criminals in the act, prosecute them and get them off the Internet. But Internet safety must begin at home. Parental vigilance plays a crucial role in protecting children from cyber criminals.

Here are some tips to keep your children safe online:
• Talk to your child about the dangers of being victimized online and why his or her online activities cannot be kept private from you;
• Keep the computer in the living room or family room rather than in the child’s bedroom;
• If your Internet service provider has parental controls available, use them and/or use parental control software;
• Even if you use parental controls, you should also personally monitor your child’s Internet usage by randomly checking website logs, chat room logs, emails, etc.; and
• Inquire about the use of controls on computers at school, the local library, friends’ homes and anywhere else your child can get on the Internet without your direct supervision.

In bygone days, parents told their children never to take candy from a stranger. Nowadays, that “candy” is in cyberspace and cyberspace can literally be in your child’s back pocket as more than ever the Internet is being accessed by portable devices such as cellphones and tablets.

If you suspect Internet child luring, don’t hesitate to call the Queens district attorney’s office at 718-286-6000 or e-mail Contact QDA@queensda.org for assistance. My office is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and is staffed with experts in online investigations.

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Ridgewood travel agent allegedly ran immigration fraud scam


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

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A Ridgewood-based travel agent allegedly stole thousands of dollars from an undocumented immigrant in return for procuring legal immigration status for the individual, who was actually working as an informant, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown identified the travel agent as Dariusz Buczynski, 44, of 65th Place in Maspeth, who owns Anka Travel and Consulting Services located at 65-14 Fresh Pond Rd. and formerly at 71-20 Fresh Pond Rd., both in Ridgewood.

“In this particular case, the defendant is accused of being a con man who unscrupulously exploited an individual looking for help in achieving his American dream but ultimately found only an American nightmare,” Brown said. “Anyone who believes that he or she may have been a victim of the defendant’s alleged scheme is asked to contact my Office of Immigration Affairs at 1-718-286-6690 or my Integrity Unit at 1-718-286-6524.”

Buczynski was arraigned on Tuesday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Bruna DiBiase on a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

According to the criminal charges, the informant working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations went to Anka Travel and Consulting Services on July 27, 2012, met with Buczynski and asked for help in securing government documents granting legal status, including work documents and legal resident status. Buczynski told the informant that he would charge $12,000 for the process.

Between Oct. 25, 2012, and Oct. 9, 2013, the informant allegedly met with Buczynski at both of his office locations and supplied him with the documentation Buczynski requested. The informant also signed numerous documents regarding his immigration application and work authorization request.

During the Oct. 9, 2013 meeting, the informant was allegedly given four purported government forms that were printed out by Buczynski. Prosecutors said the suspect then told the informant that he should receive paperwork from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in two to four weeks.

During the meetings, the informant allegedly paid Buczynski various amounts of money, including $6,000 in cash to begin the paperwork and $1,650 in cash for application fees and the informant’s working permit card.

Official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services records indicate that Buczynski never actually provided any applications or forms on the informant’s behalf. An examination of the illegitimate forms that Buczynski provided the informant allegedly revealed false barcodes.

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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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Bomb scare at DA office building in Kew Gardens


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated 5:12 p.m.

A 49-year-old man was arrested Tuesday morning following a bomb scare at a Kew Gardens office building, authorities said.

Law enforcement sources identified him as Scott Sansonkin, a former resident of Woodhaven Boulevard in Glendale, who was taken into custody without further incident and found not to have a bomb in his possession. Reportedly, he was taken to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

The scare reportedly occurred at about 11 a.m. at 80-02 Kew Gardens Rd. near Union Turnpike, a 12-story office building that includes the Queens District Attorney’s Detective Squad, an FBI satellite office and the Kew Gardens Community Center.

According to police, Sansonkin walked into the lobby carrying a bag and allegedly announced he had a bomb. During a subsequent investigation, police reportedly determined the bag contained an inert device made to resemble an explosive.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct, the NYPD Bomb Squad and other NYPD units responded to the location, and all individuals inside the building were safely evacuated. District Attorney Richard Brown was not at the location at the time of the bomb scare.

Sources familiar with the investigation said Sansonkin previously pulled a bomb scare at the same location in November 2008; he was subsequently prosecuted on federal charges and served a prison sentence.

Sansonkin was charged Tuesday with falsely reporting an incident, possessing a false bomb or hazardous substance and second-degree harassment. Other charges are pending the results of an investigation.

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Seven Queens residents charged with selling fake designer goods worth $2.2 million


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Queens District Attorney's office

Buying fake designer bags may be a cheaper option this holiday season, but selling fake Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel handbags proved costly for seven Queens residents.

The seven were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday on charges of second-degree trademark counterfeiting for selling fake designer handbags, gloves, wallets, watches and other goods worth more than $2.2 million, according to District Attorney Richard Brown,

The defendants have been identified as Naqing Zhang, 31, and his wife, Wei Wei Dong, 32, of Whitestone; Chin C. Chu, 43, and his wife, Jian Y. Xia, 38, of Flushing; Sai E. Chen, 39, also of Flushing; Wei A. Liao, 41, of  Jamaica; and Pizhong Zhou, 22, of Douglaston.

The arrests were the result of an investigation — dubbed “Operation Treasure Hunt” — that began this summer. It was a joint investigation, conducted by the New York Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigations Bureau, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau. The defendants were caught after each of them sold multiple fake designer goods — Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags; boots and jackets bearing logos of The North Face, UGG and Michael Kors; and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones — to undercover operatives between August and December 2014.

“Trademark counterfeiting is not a victimless crime,” said Brown, adding that these operations fuel an underground economy. “They are cash businesses that pay no taxes, damage the reputations of reputable brand owners and lower consumer confidence in the name brands by foisting inferior products into the marketplace.”

The defendants, who each face up to four years in prison if convicted, were released on their own recognizance and are scheduled to return to court on Jan. 27.

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Mother of Astoria creek crash victim to sue city, driver: report


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

The mother of one of the four East Elmhurst friends who died when their car plunged into an Astoria creek two weeks ago is planning on filing a negligence suit against the city and surviving driver, according to a published report.

Velma Elliot, the mother of 21-year-old Darius Fletcher, also plans to meet with the Queens district attorney’s office which is investigating if the driver, 20-year-old Andrew Gramm should receive criminal charges, the NY Daily News reports.

Elliot additionally wants changes to be made to the dead end where the car crashed, the publication said.

On April 4, after coming home from a birthday celebration, the car carrying Gramm, Fletcher, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Feurtado, 20, was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek.

Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, but Fletcher, Butts, Gravely and Feurtado were later removed by FDNY divers and pronounced dead.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris called on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a review of safety measures on the various roads, which lead to the water.

A DOT spokesman said the agency had installed an “END” sign where 19th Avenue terminates and two highly visible “Dead End” signs at the intersection last October and which were in place at the time of the accident.

The spokesman said the agency will be looking into the report of a section of the guiderail missing, even though a preliminary review does not point to any recent reports on the missing section. The DOT will also review conditions at streets ending near water.

 

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Astoria man gets life without parole in girlfriend’s death


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

An Astoria man convicted of murder for the beating death of his girlfriend has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, District Attorney Richard Brown said Tuesday.

Jason Bohn, 35, was found guilty on March 5 of first-degree murder for strangling and torturing his 27-year-old girlfriend, Danielle Thomas, to death on June 26, 2012 inside their Astoria apartment.

The couple was feuding over phone calls Thomas had made, according to trial testimony.

“The defendant has been held accountable for his actions and will spend the rest of his life in prison,” Brown said. “At trial, the jury listened to harrowing evidence – including a recording during which the victim begged for her life as the defendant tortured and ultimately killed her – and returned a verdict of first-degree murder finding that ‘the defendant acted in an especially cruel and wanton manner pursuant to a course of conduct intended to inflict and inflicting torture upon the victim prior to the victim’s death.’”

Bohn, a University of Florida law school graduate, was also convicted of tampering with physical evidence and first-degree criminal contempt.

 

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Queens man arrested for LI catalytic converter thefts has priors in NYC


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Ahanix1989

The 23-year-old Jamaica man arrested on Long Island last month for stripping three dozen cars of their costly catalytic converters has a lengthy rap sheet in the city, officials said.

Nassau County police charged Dorient G. Reid in February with grand larceny for his eight-month-long raid of body shop and U-Haul parking lots that damaged more than 35 cars and their exhaust systems.

Reid crossed the Queens border to try his luck after the NYPD arrested him last March for allegedly stealing five catalytic converters out of a used auto parts lot in Jamaica, an NYPD spokesperson said.

The apparent repeat offender had nine prior arrests in New York City, including one last year for offering an arresting officer a $500 bribe from his holding cell in Jamaica’s 113th Precinct, according to the NYPD and Queens district attorney’s office.

He faces multiple counts of grand larceny and auto stripping charges in both Nassau and New York City, the police departments said.

Reid will appear in Nassau court on March 28, a spokesperson for the county’s district attorney said. He also awaits a March 25 sentencing in Queens Criminal Court after pleading guilty in the bribery case, according to the borough’s district attorney’s office.

Catalytic converters, which contain precious metals inside, like platinum, have been the target of a costly citywide crime trend that is now on the decline.

In January, police arrested two men in Flushing for allegedly sawing nearly $5,000 worth of devices off eight trucks in a U-Haul storage lot at 36-30 College Point Boulevard, Crime Prevention Officer Anthony Lo Verme of the 109th Precinct said.

Since the collar, there have been no new converter thefts in the 109th Precinct, which covers downtown Flushing and upwards to Whitestone, according to Lo Verme.

Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta of the 111th Precinct — who reported a spike at the end of last year — believes the arrest will wipe out the crime around Bayside.

“We’re hoping that eliminates the problem here,” he said, “and I suspect it will.”

 

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Astoria man convicted of first-degree murder for killing girlfriend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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An Astoria man has been convicted in the brutal beating death of his girlfriend, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Jason Bohn, 35, was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder for strangling and torturing his 27-year-old girlfriend, Danielle Thomas, to death on June 26, 2012.

The live-in couple was feuding over phone calls Thomas had made, according to trial testimony.

“The victim was a young woman who fought for her life until she was overcome by the defendant,” Brown said. “He has justly been held accountable for his actions and it is likely he will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Bohn, a University of Florida law school graduate, was also convicted of tampering with physical evidence and first-degree criminal contempt following a seven-week jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise.

He faces up to life in prison without parole when he is sentenced April 2.

Bohn’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.

 

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Motorist dies of apparent suicide while driving on the Throgs Neck Bridge


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Motorist dies of apparent suicide while driving on the Throgs Neck Bridge

A 36-year-old man killed himself with a shot to the head while driving on the Throgs Neck Bridge on Monday night, police said. The man was heading northbound from Queens toward the Bronx in a 1999 Chevy Silverado when he took his own life just before he arrived at the tollbooth, cops said. After the driver pulled the trigger at 7:11 p.m., police said, the man’s silver pickup truck slammed into another car and then careened into a tollbooth entrance. Read More: Daily News

‘Junk-justice radar’ on high alert in Queens district attorney’s office conviction of Tejpal Singh

This is last week and two court officers lead convicted murderer Tejpal Singh into the Queens courtroom of the Honorable Michael B. Aloise, a courtroom jammed with Sikh men in turbans. They uncuff him at the defense table. Aloise oddly stands through loud arguments from high-powered defense attorney Stephen G. Murphy, who charges that in Singh’s case, the Queens district attorney’s office has convicted yet another in a parade of innocent people. Read More: Daily News

Sex suspect takes plunge

A depraved sicko nearly plunged to his death from a fourth-floor window after sexually attacking a young woman in her Queens apartment building, police sources said yesterday. Gustavo Avila, 20, was listed in critical condition at Elmhurst Hospital following Wednesday’s incident on 83rd Street in Jackson Heights, sources said. Read More: New York Post

Long Island man arrested in killing of young mom and her 2-year-old son

A Long Island man has been arrested for killing his one-time love interest and her 2-year-old son, whose little body was found in a freezer, police said. Jerry Lewis, 24, repeatedly stabbed Shakeela Planter, 21, on the morning of December 18 inside the North Bay Shore apartment they had been sharing, police said. Lewis did not spare Planter’s son, Jaiden Planter, police said. He beat the toddler, stuffed his body into a plastic bag and stashed him in his mother’s freezer, police said. Read More: Daily News

Miracle survivors

A Queens family of six driving upstate for the holidays “miraculously” survived a frightening accident that sent their SUV tumbling off the highway and launched the youngest of the clan out of the car. Although his entire family was hospitalized after the early-morning wreck yesterday near the town of Bethlehem, 42-year-old dad Eli Rowe sounded grateful that things didn’t turn out worse. He said their 2010 Mercedes veered off the rain-soaked New York Thruway and flipped over multiple times as they were headed from Flushing to Lake George for a family getaway. Read More: New York Post

Shoppers take it all back

With Christmas finally over, throngs of sale-crazy shoppers flocked to stores across New York yesterday in hopes of correcting Kris Kringle’s little mistakes and ringing in 2012 with huge savings. “It’s crazy how chaotic it is,” said Alex, a 27-year-old college student who was exchanging a $230 sweater for a $200 button-down shirt at Saks Fifth Avenue. He declined to give his last name in an apparent bid to spare the gift giver’s feelings. The Saks sale — in which many posh items at the high-end store were slashed up to 70 percent — led to “lots of pushing and shoving,” said one witness. Read More: New York Post

‘Double-dater’ teacher

Gerard Cassidy, a physical-education instructor at a Queens middle school, was caught in a love triangle and fired for having an “inappropriate relationship” with an ex-student — while dating her mom, The Post has learned. Cassidy, 44, who taught at MS 137 America’s School of Heroes in Ozone Park, lost a fight for his $83,600-a-year job even though the 16-year-old student recanted her claim that she had sex with the teacher, according to city Department of Education documents and court records. The age of consent in New York is 17. Cassidy denied any wrongdoing. Read More: New York Post

Comptroller: Last Year’s Christmas Blizzard Cost City About $2M In Settlements

The city is still paying the price for its sluggish response to the major blizzard from exactly one year ago, in the form of liability claims. The City Comptroller’s office says it has paid out nearly $2 million in liability claims so far, and there may be more to come. The biggest settlement so far was $150,000 for a man who fell in an icy parking lot that was not shoveled properly by the city. Another $100,000 thousand went to a Brooklyn cemetery where headstones were damaged by a falling fence after snow had been dumped against it. Read More: NY1

Felonies Sharply Increase This Year In The Rockaways

Even as police report that crime rates remain mostly flat around the city, statistics show felonies have spiked in parts of the Rockaways section of Queens. Burglaries in the 100th precinct, covering Broad Channel, Breezy Point and Belle Harbor, are up 144 percent this year. Felony assaults have jumped 66 percent, robberies are up 31 percent and grand larcenies 26 percent over last year. Residents in Belle Harbor who spoke with NY1 said they are aware of the increased crime in the area, but generally still feel safe. Read More: NY1

Elmhurst Fire Sends Two To The Hospital

Investigators say two people were hurt when a fire broke out inside the Martinique Plaza residential complex in Elmhurst on Sunday morning. The two victims were taken to Elmhurst Hospital, and two others with minor injuries were evaluated at the scene. The fire started on the second floor of the building, but firefighters put it out before it spread to other floors. Read More: NY1

Radio’s Lynn Samuels dies at 69

Lynn Samuels, longtime doyenne of New York’s talk-radio airwaves, died of a heart attack over the weekend. She was 69. An unabashed liberal, Samuels mixed searing political commentary with humor, sarcasm and at times profane observations about living in the Big Apple, attracting a loyal following over more than three decades on the air. Broadcast on SiriusXM satellite radio from her Woodside apartment, her distinctive voice — raspy with elongated vowels — instantly established her as a native New Yorker. Read More: New York Post