Tag Archives: Richard A. Brown

Ridgewood couple charged for downloading, watching child porn videos: DA

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

The couple that watches child porn together goes to jail together.

Detectives charged a husband and wife from Ridgewood on Thursday with downloading videos of children involved in sexual activity which they allegedly watched together on their television, prosecutors said.

George Slavescu, 49, and Ioana Pricope-Slavescu, 35, were booked on multiple counts of promoting and possessing a sexual performance by a child. They face between four and seven years behind bars if convicted.

Through an investigation that the NYPD Vice Major Case Team conducted, police linked an IP (Internet protocol) address belonging to George Slavescu to a peer-to-peer network in which images and videos of child pornography were known to be shared, according to authorities. Detectives determined that, on Aug. 8, Slavescu downloaded a video depicting a girl between 8 and 11 years of age performing an oral sexual act on a male.

In monitoring the network the following day, prosecutors noted, they found a list of files that Slavescu shared and downloaded showing young girls, some believed to be less than 12 years old, involved in sexual acts with adults. Police downloaded from Slavescu’s online account two additional child porn videos between Aug. 7 and Aug. 20, one of which involved a boy between 3 and 4 years old.

Police executed a court-authorized search of the Slavescus’ 67th Street home on Thursday and seized a computer tower found to contain hundreds of videos and photos of children involved in sexual acts.

During questioning, according to the criminal complaint, George Slavescu allegedly admitted to downloading more than a thousand files of child pornography and admitted to pleasuring himself while viewing them. Ioana Pricope-Slavescu also allegedly told detectives that she joined her husband in watching child porn on their television, which was hooked up to the computer.

“The Internet has replaced the proverbial back alley as the place where purveyors of child pornography gather to share their vile and disturbing videos and photographs of young children being sexually abused,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement. “Perhaps what is most shocking, as alleged in this case, is that the husband and wife defendants could consider viewing such disturbing imagery as family entertainment.”


Reputed Rockaway street gang members cuffed for murder, assault plots

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Thirteen alleged members of a Far Rockaway-based street gang found themselves in handcuffs Wednesday for an indictment charging them with various violent crimes including conspiring to murder and assault rival groups, prosecutors announced.

Authorities said the suspects, reputed members of the “70Gs/G-Boyz” gang, operated in an 11 block area of Arverne between Beach 62nd and Beach 73rd streets. According to police, the gang members — some of whom were as young as 16 — obtained weapons and ordered beatings and shootings of rival gang members in an effort to expand their territory and control.

The arrests and indictments were the culmination of a lengthy investigation by the NYPD’s Queens South Violence Reduction Task Force and the Queens District Attorney’s Narcotics Investigations Bureau. Detectives monitored phone conversations and social media accounts of the suspects — in which the reputed gang members openly planned and bragged about their criminal activities — to build their case.

In one instance, alleged gang member Joshua Simon, 21, took to social media to apologize to an individual whom he accidentally hit with gunfire while shooting at rival gang members on April 13, 2014.

Detectives also learned from Simon, through phone conversations he made from Rikers Island, that he was involved in other shootings with fellow gang members Michael Motta, 23, and Matthew Robinson, 19. Motta was charged in a separate indictment for firing shots at rival gang members outside P.S. 42, then pointing a gun at an officer before eventually dropping it, on March 13 of this year.

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

“The defendants are variously accused of turning the streets of Rockaway into the Wild West by acting in concert with one or more of their co-defendants to shoot and wound five individuals and firing weapons at no less than four others,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton added. “Their alleged criminal and violent acts have no place in a civilized society.”

According to the 86-count indictment, the gang members allegedly obtained firearms and carried out violent acts against rival gang members at neighboring housing developments. In many instances, prosecutors said, the adult gang members recruited juveniles as young as 14 years of age to carry out deeds ranging from weapons smuggling to shootings and beatings.

Police also determined that the gang members used coded language in communicating with one another to avoid detection from investigators.

The other suspects named in the 86-count indictment were identified as Taedwon Lyons, 17; Dwayne Lyons, 16; Kane Motta, 16; Ashanti Brown, 18; Isaiah Boyd, 21; Brandon Fuentes, 22; Diequan Underwood, 20; Jordane Maurice Gayle, 16; and Tamar Horton, 16.

Each of the 13 reputed gang members could face up to 25 years behind bars if convicted.


Jamaica man convicted of shooting cop

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photos

A Jamaica man could face a lifetime behind bars after being found guilty Thursday of shooting a police officer nearly three years ago, prosecutors announced.

Jurors convicted John F. Thomas, 27, of 109th Avenue, of first-degree attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated assault on a police officer, assault on a police officer, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree assault. Justice Gregory Lasak, who presided over the trial, ordered Thomas to return to court on July 29 for sentencing.

The defendant faces up to 40 years to life in prison, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

According to authorities, Thomas shot Sgt. Craig Bier in the vicinity of 107th Avenue and Union Hall Street in Jamaica at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2012. Bier, who was patrolling as part of an anti-gang unit, had approached Thomas seconds earlier.

After Bier displayed his shield and identified himself as an officer, Thomas began to run, and the officer pursued him. Upon being blocked by a fence, authorities said, Thomas pulled out a firearm and shot the officer once in each leg.

Bier was treated for his injuries at Jamaica Hospital and released two days later. Thomas turned himself in nearly a month later.

“This was a senseless, violent act and once again illustrates how dangerous police work is,” Brown said in a statement. “The defendant has shown he has no regard for authority and is a menace to society. He will be locked behind bars for a very long time.”


Brooklyn man convicted of causing wild car chase through Long Island City

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Jurors convicted a Brooklyn man Wednesday on assault and other charges for leading officers on a wild pursuit through Long Island City and Manhattan last June, prosecutors announced.

Maurice McArthur, 27, was found guilty of second-degree assault, third-degree unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest after a two-week jury trial before Judge Robert C. Kohm.

McArthur faces up to seven years behind bars when he is sentenced on April 28, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Authorities said the trouble began at about 7:30 p.m. on June 4, 2014, when McArthur — while speeding in a 1996 Ford Taurus southbound on 11th Street — nearly struck an unmarked police van as he was turning eastbound onto 40th Avenue.

When the officers attempted to pull him over, McArthur ignored them and turned onto 21st Street, according to prosecutors. Police pursued McArthur as he eventually made his way onto the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan.

After leaving the bridge he continued driving erratically, weaving in and out of traffic, briefly driving onto a sidewalk and striking a vehicle in the process, sources said. He then returned to the Queensboro Bridge and traveled back into Queens.

McArthur reportedly stopped at Thomson Avenue, then jumped out of the car and ran eastbound toward Queens Boulevard, where police apprehended him.

Two officers suffered minor injuries while attempting to take McArthur into custody, prosecutors said.




Man pleads guilty to sexually abusing two seven-year-old girls in South Ozone Park

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A man arrested last May for sexually abusing two young South Ozone Park girls pleaded guilty to the crimes Monday, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

“The defendant has admitted to being a sexual predator and, as such, he has proven himself to be a threat to children and a clear and present danger to society in general,” Brown said. “Today’s plea ensures that he is punished for his crimes and spares his young victims of having to relive their nightmarish experience at trial.”

Lee Samuel, 26, whose last known address was in the Jamaica section of Queens, pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual act and first-degree sexual abuse, according to prosecutors. Sentencing is scheduled for May 5, at which time he will receive 14 years in prison and 20 years post-release supervision.

The hunt for a suspect had the South Ozone Park area on edge last spring after it was reported that a man had sexual contact with two seven-year-old girls.

The separate incidents happened within just hours of and approximately two miles away from each other on May 1, 2013, officials said.

In pleading guilty, said Brown, Samuel admitted that he approached the first victim as she was tying her shoe on the sidewalk and touched her on her buttocks.

Several hours later Samuel came up to his second victim and pretended that he wanted to play a game with her, Brown said. Samuel then exposed himself to the girl and engaged in a sexual act with her.



Former Queens teacher pleads guilty to rape of student

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News

A Queens middle school teacher charged with statutory rape has pleaded guilty and is expected to be sentenced to six months in jail as part of a plea deal, officials said.

Daniel Reilly, 36, admitted to having sex multiple times at his Forest Hills home with a 14-year-old girl he used to teach, said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

“As a teacher and an adult, the defendant was in a position of power to know better,” Brown said. “Children should be able to remain children.”

Reilly, a former sixth grade English teacher at I.S. 237, pleaded guilty to second-degree rape. He was also charged in April with committing a second-degree criminal sexual act, endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree sexual abuse.

Those charges were dropped as part of a plea deal, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office said.

The bargain was also meant to spare the victim from testifying.

Reilly, a married father, will be sentenced on July 22 to six months in jail and 10 years’ probation, according to Brown. He faced up to seven years in prison at the time of his arraignment.

He will also have to give up his teaching license, register on the state’s sex offender registry and take a sex offender reform program.

“This case should serve as a clear and unmistakable warning that law enforcement is prepared under any circumstances to apprehend and prosecute sexual predators who betray and defile youngsters,” Brown said.

The relationship between Reilly and the teen, which began last August, surfaced when her sister found sexually explicit text messages on her phone, the district attorney said.

Reilly, who made close to $62,000 a year, resigned last week from the Flushing school where he worked for six years, a Department of Education spokesperson said.



Homeless man arrested in South Ozone Park child sex assaults

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A homeless man has been charged with sexually abusing two South Ozone Park girls in separate incidents, District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced Tuesday.

Lee Samuel, 25, is currently awaiting arraignment on charges of a first-degree criminal sexual act, endangering the welfare of a child and forcible touching.

The hunt for the suspect had the Queens neighborhood on edge since last week when the man allegedly had sexual contact with the seven-year-old girls.

The incidents happened within just hours of and approximately two miles away from each other on Wednesday, May 1.

According to the criminal complaints, said Brown, the suspect approached the first victim as she was tying her shoe on the sidewalk and tapped her on her buttocks.

Several hours later Samuel allegedly came up to his second victim and pretended that he wanted to play a game with her. He then exposed himself to the girl and engaged in a sexual act with her.

“The defendant is accused of being a sexual predator. Such an allegation makes him a threat to children and a clear and present danger to society in general. Such conduct, if proven true, cannot go unpunished,” said Brown

Samuel faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.






Pols say buybacks not enough to keep streets safe

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


The quest to curb gun violence continues. Politicians within the borough are searching for what they can do at a local level.

Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr., Chair of the Public Safety Committee, says gun buybacks can be effective in getting some old guns off the street, but will not likely bring in anything illegal.

Embattled State Senator Malcolm Smith said that during a buyback, the only way to determine a weapon’s legality is through tests run after the gun is returned. Illegal guns have been recovered, but because of a no-questions-asked policy, there is no way to trace a weapon back to any particular person.

Borough President Helen Marshall has held a number of buybacks over her almost 12 years in office, including one last summer.During her 2013 State of the Borough address, she promised another gun buyback event later this year. It is slated for early this summer, with a specific date still to be determined.

District Attorney Richard Brown hosted a gun buyback last August in Jamaica alongside the NYPD and Smith. A wave of violence in southeast Queens prompted the buyback, one part of Brown’s nine-point plan to combat shootings.

The daylong event recovered a slew of handguns, an AK-47 assault rifle and a TEC-9 semi-automatic weapon.

“As long as one gun can be turned in and save a life, there is no way to measure that,” Smith said. “There’s no predictable measure to say what the gun would have done nine months down the road.”

Although buyback programs have taken hundreds of guns off the streets and occasionally recovered illegal weapons, Vallone said they have not been the main way to fight gun violence in the city and are no substitute for police work.

The three-term legislator, who is also a candidate for borough president, said the highly debated stop-and-frisk policy has proven to be the best way of fighting shootings. Smith agreed, with the proviso that stop-and-frisk be done “without infringing on an individual’s constitutional rights.”

Stop-and-frisk has been criticized for alleged racial profiling and poor conduct by members of the NYPD. Vallone said oversight agencies are in place to weed out cops who “aren’t obeying the rules.”

Along with buybacks, stop-and-frisk and other policies, Smith suggested installing gun-free zones with a higher police presence.

“There are areas with a great deal of tension, what we call ‘hot spots,’ in these urban neighborhoods,” he said. “If you start putting those zones in these areas, you will drive people from having guns in their possession because they are subject to being questioned.”

He also suggested bringing in new NYPD technology that can detect a concealed weapon on a person. Gun scanners still in development read natural energy from people and objects and can detect when something like a weapon is blocking the radiation.

Vallone said there need to be background checks and waiting periods at all levels. Waiting periods were left out of the state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act passed earlier this year.

Vallone called for a nationwide waiting period between gun purchases. He said that would prevent out-of-state purchasers from providing guns to drug dealers and gangs.

During his weekly radio address on Sunday, April 28, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said gun violence was at record low. He attributed the stat to tighter gun legislation and the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk work.

“Here in New York City, we’ve done everything possible to take illegal guns off the streets,” Bloomberg said. “That includes helping to pass the toughest law in the nation against illegal possession of a loaded gun. It also includes smart, pro-active policing that makes it much more likely that if you break our city’s gun laws, you’ll be caught.”

As a result, Bloomberg said, murders in the city are down 34 percent and shootings are down 25 percent so far this year.

Cuomo cracks down on public corruption

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr


In light of several recent political scandals, including the arrests of Queens legislators Malcolm Smith and Dan Halloran, Governor Andrew Cuomo is cracking down on corruption.

He announced the Public Trust act on Tuesday, April 9, which would make it easier to convict wrongdoers of public corruption under broader legal definitions.

“Preventing public corruption is essential to ensuring that government works and can effectively keep the public’s trust,” said Cuomo. “The Public Trust Act recognizes that crimes of public corruption should be treated more seriously than other white-collar crimes because when they break the law, they also break the public trust that the people have placed in government.”

Crimes expanded under the new legislation include bribery of a public servant, defrauding the government and failure to report public corruption.

The Public Trust Act would also limit immunity for witnesses testifying before a grand jury investigating official misconduct or government fraud.

“We welcome these important new tools that Governor Cuomo is proposing today. They will strengthen our laws and make it possible for prosecutors to more effectively investigate and prosecute public corruption,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

If they’re found guilty of corruption-related offenses, legislators or associates will face tougher jail sentences.
Anyone convicted would also be prohibited them from “holding any elected or civil office, lobbying, contracting, receiving state funding, or doing business with the state, directly or through an organization.”

Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, who chairs the chamber’s Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee, told Community Board 9 on April 9 that the Smith debacle was “one of the stupidest scandals” he ever saw.

Hevesi, whose father, Alan, is on parole after being convicted on a “pay-to-play” scandal, said Cuomo’s reforms would do away with government loopholes.

“Part of the reform that Governor Cuomo has brought today is called ending the Wilson Pakula system,” Hevesi said.

“When you’re talking about checks and balances for a bad system, the governor announced today that that’s one of the things he’s looking at.”

The Wilson Pakula Certificate requires three of the five borough party chiefs to approve a candidate from another party to run for office as a member of their own party. In Smith’s case, the Democrat needed the green light from three Republican party chairs.

Hevesi’s committee will soon push for its own legislation that will help investigate the misuse of state funds or poor behavior by elected officials. Because the last few chairs had short tenures on the committee, Hevesi said it’s been hard to get long-term legislation put through.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, in a statement, said the legislation put forth by Cuomo was long-awaited but the first step.

Addabbo testified before the Attorney General earlier this year on the need for campaign finance reform – another effort to help clean up Albany and party politics.

“It shouldn’t take a number of recently-arrested elected officials to wake up the Legislature to enact tougher ethics and anti-corruption laws. In Albany, it’s long overdue,” Addabbo said. “I am hopeful that the State Legislature expands on these proposals and explores other means of addressing the issue, such as passing campaign finance reform, along with other pending legislative measures.”



Car dealer tax scam stopped in its tracks

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

A year-long investigation brought the wheeling and dealing of a criminal couple’s auto shop scheme to a screeching halt.

Hooshmand “Danny” Kohanano, 54, and his wife, Fereshteh “Jenny” Kohanano, 41, were charged with $730,000 worth of sales tax fraud in connection with their operation of the Auto Palace, Inc., a used car dealership at 53-21 Northern Boulevard in Woodside.

A Queens County grand jury also returned an indictment charging the dealership’s former finance manager, Julio Estrada, 37 — aka Jay Torres — with defrauding 23 car buyers out of a total of more than $115,000 in cash through a sham refinancing scheme.

“The defendants are accused of serious tax fraud allegations and other charges that, if proven true, could result in considerable time behind bars,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “Tax fraud is the type of crime that makes every New Yorker a victim by cheating the government and the public out of money that is especially needed during this continuing economic downturn.”

According to the criminal complaint, between September 1, 2006, and November 30, 2009, the Hooshmands and Auto Palace, Inc. allegedly swiped more than $728,844 in state and local sales taxes collected from buyers but not handed over to the State Department of Taxation and Finance as authorized.

The defendants are presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint charging each of them with three counts of second degree grand larceny, one count of second-degree criminal tax fraud, one count of third-degree grand larceny, 26 counts of first-degree falsifying business records, 26 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument, one count of first-degree scheme to defraud and one count of second-degree scheme to defraud.

If convicted, the defendants could face a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and possibly a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal gain.

As Auto Palace Inc.’s financial manager, Estrada was responsible for finalizing purchases. The Queens DA alleged that Estrada enticed buyers by promising them they could refinance their loans at a better rate after six months of on-time payments. When buyers returned after six months, Estrada instructed them to pay a cash fee ranging from $1,000 to $13,000 in order to refinance their loan.

The Queens DA also alleged that Estrada falsely used several corporate identities, including RoadMasters Auto Sales and P+G Enterprises, and occasionally misrepresented himself as a bank employee to give the appearance that he was able to refinance a car loan.

It is further alleged that Estrada took a total of more than $115,000 in cash from 23 car buyers whose loans he failed to refinance. In some cases, victim’s loans went into default because Estrada had allegedly instructed them to stop paying their loans because the refinanced loans would be going into effect.

Estrada is presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Supreme Court on a 95-count indictment charging him with multiple counts of grand larceny, forgery, criminal possession of stolen property and identity theft, among other misdeeds.

Bayside man charged with murdering parents 15 months apart

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A Bayside man faces murder charges for allegedly suffocating his father a little more than a year after drowning his mother, according to the district attorney.

Gregory Cucchiara, 36, has been named in an indictment charging him with two counts of second-degree murder for beating his mother over the head before submerging her in water and smothering his father to death, District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.

Giusepina “Josephine” Cucchiara’s homicide took place May 24, 2011, the district attorney said, and father Carmelo Cucchiara was killed 15 months in August 2012.

“This is a horrifying case of a young man throwing his life away and betraying the trust of his family,” Brown said. “The defendant’s actions, if true, are incomprehensible in a civilized society and must be severely punished.”

Neighbors described the Cucchiaras as “the nicest people” but said they had their own troubles with the deceased couple’s “problematic” son.

“The parents were sweethearts, but the son was a little weird. Unfortunately, he had problems,” said neighbor Rossana F., who did not want to give her last name.

Rossana said her family has a two-year restraining order filed against Gregory Cucchiara after they provided video proof to police that the neighbor was vandalizing her family’s cars and home.

She said the community was not shocked when news broke of Cucchiara’s alleged connection to his parents’ murders.

“We knew immediately when it happened to Josephine. We all said we thought it was the son,” Rossana said. “We knew someday something would happen to the father. We knew it, and he knew it.”

Neighbor Craig Guzzone said Cucchiara was “definitely a significant danger to everybody here,” but Guzzone said he did not think his longtime neighbor had murder in his heart.

“I really didn’t know he was capable of that,” he said.

Cucchiara is charged in a separate indictment, with various degrees of assault and obstructing governmental administration, for allegedly attacking two police officers last month, when they questioned him about the murders.

He is expected to be arraigned on both indictments on December 12 in Queens Supreme Court and faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted, the district attorney said.

Queens gun buyback brings in more than 500 weapons

| tpetropoulosedit@queenscourier.com

File photo

With no questions asked, hundreds of people walked into New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica and turned in 509 guns over the weekend.

The gun buyback program, the first since 2009, netted an AK 47, tec-9, 245 revolvers, 168 semi-automatic pistols and a Calico 9mm with a 50 round capacity magazine.

Participants received $200 for handguns and $20 for rifles and shotguns in exchange for their weapons.

“I’m excited about [the gun buyback program], not in a good way, because I wish all these guns were not on the street, but I am excited that they are coming in,” said State Senator Malcolm Smith, who co-sponsored the program with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “With the feedback we had today, I am encouraged that the people are starting to say ‘You know what, enough is enough, I am going to be part of the solution.’”

As of August 5, shootings have seen a nine percent increase in New York City this year compared to last year, with 882 shooting incidents so far, according to NYPD data.

“I am all for this gun buyback program,” said Donna Hood, a member of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church who lost a son, Kevin Lamont Miller Jr., to a stray bullet in Jamaica in 2009. “I still have a son to raise, so if this program will make it a little safer for kids that we still have on the streets, that’s alright with me.”

Officials unveil plan to curb gun violence

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Community outreach and communication highlighted a pledge from officials and an announcement of a nine-point plan to put a ceasefire to gun violence in southeast Queens.

The plan, revealed by District Attorney Richard A. Brown and a number of elected officials on Friday, August 17, came on the eve of a buy back program in Jamaica to curb violence in the region.

“The combination of easy access to guns, violence fueled by disputes between rival gangs and competing criminal enterprises vying for turf, decreases in police resources in high crime neighborhoods and community reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes has contributed to a sudden, deadly increase in gun violence in recent weeks – especially in southeast Queens,” Brown said.

The points look to: send the message that possession of and carrying guns and insinuating violence is unacceptable in the area; inform residents that guns can be turned in at any precinct for $100 cash at any time; a campaign to encourage people to report illegal weapons, and strengthen “If You See Something, Say Something”; back legislation to limit criminals and the mentally ill access to assault weapons and handguns; enforce existing gun laws; better dialogue between police and residents; up police resources in areas where violence has increased; make efforts to shutter illegal businesses and limit night hours of establishments where crime is prominent; and give more information to residents about existing programs.

“We’re not going to be idling and sitting back while people are dying,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks.

Homicides were up this year nearly 29 percent in Queens South from 2011, according to data provided by the DA’s office; shooting incidents in the area were up more than 22 percent, with 121 this year.

After school and violence prevention programs for young people are also crucial to this plan, several officials said.

Assemblymember Vivian Cook said funding for programs needed to be restored to schools to help deter students from being out on the street or getting involved in gangs.

“Let’s also talk about programs and things for these young people to help them stay off the street,” Cook said. “The programs have been cut in the schools. I think it’s important that these programs come back into the schools so that these children can be involved in some of those things.”

The push for “If You See Something, Say Something,” is to encourage residents to report any violence or suspicious activity — anonymously.

Meeks, formerly an assistant DA, said the reluctance, or fear, by residents to report incidents or provide witnesses hindered cleaning up crime in the area.

“I know firsthand as a former DA that without a witness you don’t have a case,” Meeks said. “The police can do all the work that they want but if you don’t have someone to step up, then you don’t have a case.”


Pols, police push for less violence; Say gun buybacks are pivotal

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

The shells are gone, but the discussion over whose responsibility it is to keep the streets safe has broken out into a different sort of fire fight.

After a wave of citywide violence that included several deaths in Queens, elected officials and the NYPD have each said the other side has to do more to keep the city safe.

For example, according to Councilmember James Sanders, there were no gun buyback programs in Queens over the course of the last three years.

Sanders, who represents the area where three men were killed and another critically injured in an AK-47 shooting, noted that all the other boroughs have had successful gun buybacks.

Adding to the fervor were comments by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly last week, when he said there had been a relatively silent response by elected officials in regards to the shooting.

State Senator Shirley Huntley said she wasn’t sure what the commissioner wanted from elected officials, adding she had a clear line of communication with the 113th Precinct and officers were keeping her well informed.

Sanders said that District Attorney Richard A. Brown needs to sponsor more gun buyback programs, as the most recent was in 2009, which Sanders helped organize.

In the six hours the drive lasted, Sanders said, more than 900 guns were taken off the streets.

“That [the shooting] took place on a residential street, directly in front of a public school, only serves to drive home the dangers that have crept into our community,” he said. “We will not tolerate it here, and we will move heaven and earth to ensure our safety and the safety of our children.”

Brown, in a statement, said getting weapons off the street was a key priority for the DA’s office — gun buybacks were just some of the ways to achieve this.

“We have used gun buy backs in the past and we will use them again when we deem them appropriate,” Brown said. “We are in constant dialogue with the NYPD about where and when to have one. I would remind individuals that they can currently turn in guns at their local police precinct and receive $100 – no questions asked.”

The NYPD does host buyback programs, which, according to police, have brought in more than 7,700 weapons since the venture’s inception. In a recent event at St. Benedict’s Church in Jamaica, police said more than 50 guns were taken off the street, including 19 semi-automatic handguns.

But officials say their next target needs to be reducing the use of automatic weapons. One suggestion, Sanders said, was that the federal government re-enact the Brady Bill, which banned the sale of automatic weapons nationwide.

Councilmember Leroy Comrie said that, to curb the violence, a more holistic approach to decreasing crime, including community engagement and getting more people jobs, must be taken.

“[We] need to get more jobs so there are fewer people walking around frustrated,” he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the issue of violence on Sunday, July 15 at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica, where he defended stop-and-frisk and called for a community effort to decrease crime citywide.

“And that’s why – in addition to everything else we are doing – police officers stop and question those who are suspected of criminal activity – and frisk those who are suspected of carrying a weapon,” he said. “Those stops have recovered thousands of guns over the past decade, and tens of thousands of knives.”

Drug bust nets cash, guns, lands 45 in jail

| tcimino@queenscourier.com

A large-scale bust landed 45 people – alleged members of two drug organizations operating in southeast Queens – in jail on drug, weapons and other charges.

The two organizations were allegedly being run by a set of the Bloods street gang known as the “South Side Bloods” and by James “Wall” Corley, an original member of the Queens Supreme Team, a violent narcotics gang that flourished during the height of New York City’s crack epidemic in the 1980s.

It is alleged that the two gangs grossed more than $15,000 per week by distributing narcotics to numerous street dealers who, in turn, sold the drugs to customers. In total, 45 people have been arrested, including 19 customers.

“This investigation resulted in dozens of arrests, including that of James ‘Wall’ Corley, one of the principal suppliers of cocaine throughout Queens South,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “Corley began his drug career as an associate of ‘the supreme team’ during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, and associated with the felons who sanctioned the execution of New York City Police Officer Edward Byrne in 1988. While Corley was not charged in the murder of Eddie Byrne, generations of police officers will take no small satisfaction in the fact that an associate of his killers has been brought to justice.”

District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that, since February 2011, the NYPD’s Queens Gang Squad and his Narcotics Investigations Bureau have been watching two separate organizations allegedly supplying narcotics in southeast Queens.

As a result of traditional investigative means such as physical surveillance and search warrants, coupled with court-authorized electronic surveillance, authorities allegedly developed information that the first group, the Corley Crew, allegedly led by James Corley, supplied customers in the South Jamaica Houses, the Baisley Houses, Rochdale Village and other areas in Jamaica, while the second group, the South Side Bloods, supplied customers in Baisley Gardens and other parts.

In addition to the arrests, officers executed 14 court-authorized search warrants and allegedly seized approximately one-and-one-half kilograms of cocaine, over 50 decks of heroin, a quantity of marijuana, approximately $70,000 in alleged narcotic proceeds, numerous cell phones, four handguns and a 9mm Intratec submachine gun.

The defendants are variously charged criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal sale of marijuana.

Among those arrested was Corley, who was charged on May 10 with three narcotics sales and other related charges. In executing a search warrant at Corley’s residence in Rochdale Village, police allegedly recovered a quantity of cocaine, 10 vials of Lidocaine (commonly added to cocaine), 45 forged $5 bills and various narcotics paraphernalia.