Tag Archives: Queens

Queens student treated for tuberculosis as cases rise in city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

CDC/ Melissa Brower

A Hillcrest High School student recently exposed to tuberculosis is receiving treatment and recovering from the potentially deadly bacterial infection, officials said.

The Health Department tested 170 students and six staff members who might have been at risk at the Queens school Tuesday as a precaution.

“Given that the person with TB is receiving treatment, there is no health risk to students or staff currently at the school,” a department spokeswoman said.

Tuberculosis cases are on the rise in the city for the first time in a decade, health officials said. They increased 1 percent from 651 in 2012 to 656 in 2013.

Most people infected were foreign-born, living in Flushing, western Queens and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, according to the Health Department.

Officials said 19 out of 100,000 people have contracted the disease in Corona, Woodside, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Maspeth and 15 out of 100,000 in Flushing.

“Many are likely infected in their country of origin and developed TB after entering the U.S.,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said.

Smokers and people with diabetes or HIV have a higher chance of getting tuberculosis and should be tested for the disease, Bassett said.

Tuberculosis, which usually affects the lungs, spreads from person to person through the air.

 

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Mid-Queens Council meltdown prompts resignation


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

The treasurer of the Mid-Queens Community Council has resigned and others are mulling an exit, following a heated spat with the group’s leader and a failed bid to overthrow her, The Queens Courier has learned.

“What happened was a disgrace,” said Jim DeBonet, who handled the council’s finances before his Tuesday departure. “This is it. Goodbye. I want nothing to do with this.”

The fuming Flushing Heights activist said the group’s president, Florence Fisher, should have stepped down after she penned a missive, without authority, “attacking” another civic leader in December.

The letter said Hillcrest Estates Civic Association President Kevin Forrestal, who works for the Health and Hospitals Corporation, had a conflict of interest regarding controversial T Building plans at Queens Hospital Center.

“Let me be clear about this,” Fisher wrote to a dozen local leaders. “[Kevin] does not represent the views of many of our delegates.”

That backfired when some board members said Fisher did not have board approval to mail the message.

“I found it shocking,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., the council’s first vice president. “I wasn’t told about the letter. None of it was mentioned.”

Still, eight members of the Mid-Queens Community Council, which represents 34 smaller organizations, voted to keep Fisher at the helm during an hour-long discussion Monday. DeBonet was the only dissenting vote, and three people abstained.

The internal battle stemmed from a misunderstanding, Fisher said.

“I have admired Kevin for forever,” she said. “He’s done wonderful, wonderful community work. We all wear lots of hats. It was nothing personal.”

Fisher, who has led the council for slightly more than a year, said she was unaware the group’s bylaws required a sign-off before sending.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to get things done when there are big issues out there,” she said. “I took it upon myself to write it, and I learned a lesson.”

Forrestal, who is not part of the council, shook off the letter, saying he has never cast an official T Building vote and always discloses his employment before speaking.

But the damage has been done to the shrinking volunteer organization, said Gallagher Jr., who is one of a few considering a leave.

“I was very disappointed with how the whole thing turned out,” he said. “It was sad, and that’s not what we’re all about.”

 

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FBI raids Assemblyman Scarborough’s home, office: reports


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The home and office of southeast Queens Assemblyman Bill Scarborough were raided by the FBI Wednesday morning, according to published reports.

Scarborough’s Albany office and Queens home were searched as part of an investigation into his travel reimbursements, the New York Post reported.
His district office and an Albany hotel room were also searched, according to the Daily News.

Scarborough, who served in the legislature for more than 20 years, told reporters that officials from the FBI and the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman seized his cell phone, calendars and “just about everything,” another report said.

“I’m innocent, but I understand the reality,” Scarborough said to a group of reporters, according to Capital New York. “I don’t know what’s going to go on. I am going to talk to a lawyer. This is just stunning to me.”

The Post reported in 2012 that Scarborough claimed per diem payments for spending five consecutive nights in Albany in 2011, but reporters spotted him at a town hall meeting at York College in Jamaica on one of the days he claimed to be in the state capital.

“I may very well have gone to that meeting, turned around and gone back to Albany that night,” he told the paper when they broke the story.

Scarborough said agents hinted there would be other politicians in hot water – and that he might be off the hook – but then the officials appeared to have backed off, Capital New York reported.

“What I was told was there might be indictments and I would not be one of them. When I spoke with people here, they seem to have tempered that statement, so I have no idea,” Scarborough told a reporter, according to the website.

Schneiderman’s office referred callers to the FBI, who did not return a call for comment by press time.

There was no answer at Scarborough’s district office or his Albany office.

 

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City Council rejects Whitestone sidewalk cafe bid


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The City Council unanimously struck down a controversial bid for a Whitestone sidewalk café Wednesday.

Owners of Nonna’s Pizzeria & Trattoria wanted to wrap an outdoor sitting area around their 22-30 154th St. Italian restaurant.

But a handful of neighbors said the proposal would bring excessive noise and take away parking spaces.

Lawmakers said the sidewalk is also not wide enough and too close to residential homes.

“The impact of this victory should ensure all future applicants make every effort to address the concerns of the community board and neighboring residents,” Councilman Paul Vallone said.

Restaurant manager Joe Lobue recently told The Courier the outdoor area would have let customers kick back and enjoy a meal in the sunshine.

The restaurant’s lawyer, who was in court Wednesday, did not immediately reply to a call for comment.

 

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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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Macy’s initiative to boost funds for two Queens parks


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

This month, Macy’s shoppers can spend some green to keep Queens green.

Two parks in the borough — Cunningham and Queens Botanical Garden — have been selected for the major department store’s “Heart Your Park” fundraising initiative that raises money for upkeep and improvement projects.

More than 550 parks in the nation were chosen for the program.

From March 7 to March 31, customers can make donations at three Macy’s locations in Flushing, Douglaston and Queens Center Mall.

Macy’s will match the total up to $250,000 and give the proceeds to the city’s Parks Department.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Friends of Cunningham Park President Marc Haken. “We’re constantly improving the park.”

Haken said his parks support group, which is funded through City Council and state assembly grants, has spent at least $100,000 over the last few years to maintain the Fresh Meadows park.

The much-needed help from Macy’s would go toward cleaning up hiking trails and fixing many eroded parts of the park, Haken added.

“It’s like owning a house,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do, equipment to be purchased.”

 

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Firefighters battle blazing Howard Beach brush fire


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Updated Monday, March 17, 9:25 a.m.

More than 100 firefighters tamed a massive brush fire that lit up Howard Beach late Saturday afternoon, the FDNY said.

Flames broke out in a field of reeds near Spring Creek Park at 83rd Street and 163rd Avenue at about 4:20 p.m., fire officials said.

The FDNY said it took about 138 firefighters and 33 units to put out the three-alarm blaze. It was under control by about 6:20 p.m.

There were no reported injuries, according to the Fire Department.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, an FDNY spokesperson said.

 

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Woman found dead in Howard Beach motel: cops


| editorial@queenscourier.com


A 22-year-old woman was found dead in a Howard Beach motel Saturday morning, police said.

Authorities responded to a 9-1-1 call of an unconscious female at the Surfside Motel at 164-33 Cross Bay Blvd. about 11:25 a.m. Saturday.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Jamaica man arrested in connection to 2012 shooting death


| editorial@queenscourier.com


Police have arrested and charged a man with murder in connection to the 2012 shooting death of 22-year-old Sydney London.

London was found dead in the driver’s seat of his car, with a gunshot wound to the right side of his torso, near Ring Place and 118th Avenue, on April 11, 2012, police said.

Police charged 30-year-old Sekwan Carter, of Jamaica, Friday with murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

 

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Congressmember Crowley kicks of re-election campaign


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography

Congressmember Joseph Crowley has launched his re-election campaign.

Crowley, who was first elected to Congress in 1998, was voted in last year to represent sections of Queens and the Bronx in the 14th Congressional District.

He officially kicked off his campaign for re-election on Sunday, March 9, in Sunnyside, though no opponents have declared their candidacies as of yet.

“It has been my privilege to represent the people of one of the most diverse districts in the country, and I am excited to announce I’ll be seeking re-election to continue to focus on the issues that matter most,” Crowley said.

The announcement came as the Woodside native gathered with other elected officials and supporters during his fifth annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Sidetracks Restaurant.

“Too many families are still struggling to get by and we need to break the gridlock in Congress to get our country moving forward again,” he said. “Using my position in the elected leadership of the House Democratic Caucus, I am fully committed to making a real difference in people’s lives. That means putting New Yorkers back to work, raising the minimum wage, protecting social services that are vital to our most vulnerable communities, and fighting hard to make immigration reform a reality.”

Recently, Crowley introduced the On-The-Job Training Act that would guarantee American workers are able to gain new skills to both compete and succeed in the job market.

 

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Queens woman determined to walk again after losing legs in train accident


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The plan is to walk again and then ultimately soar through the city’s skies in a flying trapeze.

Teena Katz, who lost her legs after she was struck by a No. 7 train at Grand Central Station, is recovering quickly from the horrific accident last December.

“Minute by minute, day by day, it’s not easy by any means,” Katz said. “Some days are easier, and some days are harder. I just have to take each obstacle as they come and figure it out.”

The 31-year-old Auburndale financial analyst was on her way home from dinner in Manhattan the night after Christmas, when she felt light-headed on the subway station’s platform.

She dragged herself away from the edge of the platform “just in case,” but the next few moments were a blur.

“I leaned myself up by a staircase, and the next thing I know, I was waking up and I was laying on the tracks,” Katz said. “I didn’t realize that was where I was at first. I don’t have any recollection of being hit by the train or even falling.”

The “no-nonsense individual,” however, won’t be kept down. She has been chronicling her healing process on her blog, teenavsthe7train.com, which she peppers with jokes.

“There’s no happy ending to this story,” said her husband Ben, “but she never dwelled on the ‘how did I get here.’ She pushed those thoughts out of her mind. I think it’s what’s helped her recover as quickly as she has.”

Katz won’t be fitted for prosthetics for another two to four months, but she has high hopes of returning to a normal life.

That means figuring out how to get through once-easy daily activities like sitting on the couch and getting ready for bed.

“Very simple things like that, I have to plan for,” she said. “Everything takes twice as long now.”

It also means learning how to walk on new legs and, in the future, going back to the Trapeze School New York in Manhattan, where she used to fly at least twice a month.

“Hopefully one day, I’ll be able to do stuff like that again,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to. It’s going to be hard. I might just swing. We’ll see.”

The family, who owns the Maggie Moo’s on Bell Boulevard, is accepting donations to fund the costly recovery process.

Contributions can be hand-delivered to the ice cream shop at 39-33 Bell Blvd. or be sent to Teena Katz at P.O. Box 604312, Bayside, NY 11360.

 

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Rep. Meng works to bring family members of teen crash victims to US


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Vic Nicastro

Family members of the two teens killed last month in a tragic car crash are working with Congressmember Grace Meng to fly from China to Queens to grieve.

Meng is trying to secure visas for Jiahao Liang’s mother and sister and Jennifer Gao’s grandmother and aunt.

The two died Feb. 18, when their car swerved off the Long Island Expressway, near Kissena Boulevard, and wrapped around a tree.

Their relatives await a March 11 interview from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China. Meng said she intervened with the American Consulate in China after a friend of both families reached out to her for help.

“The death of these two teenagers is a terrible and horrible tragedy, and our hearts go out to their family and friends,” she said. “We will assist them with whatever needs they may have during this difficult time.”

Liang, 19, of Flushing, who drove the car and his passenger Gao, 16, of Oakland Gardens, were cremated about two weeks ago, Meng said.

 

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Rare skin infection outbreak tied to Chinatown seafood markets


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

FishHC1109_X_300_C_Y

The Health Department is warning customers of Chinatown seafood markets in Queens and other parts of the city about an outbreak of a rare skin infection.

Anyone who has handled live or raw fish or other seafood purchased at Chinatown markets in Queens, Brooklyn or Manhattan could be affected, the Health Department said Wednesday.

The infection is transferred through a break in the skin, such as a cut, and is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium marinum.

People are strongly advised to wear waterproof gloves when handling any raw seafood that may have come from these markets.

There is no risk from consuming food from the markets, according to the Health Department.

So far, 30 cases of the infection have been identified.

Symptoms include red, tender lumps or swelling under the skin of the hands or arms. People may additionally develop swelling or pain in their hands or arms and have trouble moving their fingers.

If you exhibit any symptoms or believe you may have been infected, see an infectious disease physician or dermatologist. You can also call the Health Department’s Bureau of Communicable Disease at 347-396-2600 and ask to speak with a doctor.

Treatment includes antibiotics and should begin right away.

When left untreated it can become a more serious infection that requires surgery.

 

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Astoria man convicted of first-degree murder for killing girlfriend


| editorial@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size1

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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