Tag Archives: Richard Brown

Queens residents accused of stealing money orders from mail at JFK Airport


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Five Queens residents, including two baggage handlers at John F. Kennedy International Airport, are accused of participating in a scheme that involved stealing money orders from internationally-bound mail.

One of the baggage handlers, Kenroy C. Mitchell of St. Albans allegedly deposited 33 stolen money orders into his bank account between November 2013 and January 2014, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. The money orders had been sent via U.S. mail to Japan, Korea and Greece.

Amanda Mackie, 20, of Rosedale, is accused of acting in concert with one of the other suspects, but was employed by Ground Services International as a baggage handler, Brown said. She allegedly deposited a money order meant for Japan into her own bank account this January.

Mitchell was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday, on charges of grand larceny criminal possession of stolen property. He is also charged with acting in concert with one of the other suspects and is accused of stealing more than $25,000, prosecutors said.

Mackie was arraigned Wednesday night and also charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. She is also charged with participating in a scheme to steal and criminally possessing $2,800 in U.S. Postal money orders.

Mitchell and Mackie were released on their own recognizance.

The three other individuals are still being sought, according to the district attorney’s office.

The suspects were identified and caught as the result of a joint investigation that the United States Postal Office and Port Authority Police Department carried out after receiving numerous complaints of money orders not reaching their intended destinations, Brown said. Specifically, the mail was allegedly being handled by Ground Services International and Swissport USA baggage handlers at JFK Airport.

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Man charged with using fake deed to steal elderly woman’s Laurelton home


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo by  Christopher Bride/ PropertyShark

A man accused of stealing an elderly woman’s Laurelton family home with a fake deed transfer has been arrested and charged, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Darrell Beatty, 49, allegedly swiped the house earlier this year and then promptly moved into the three-bedroom Tudor residence with his two sons, Brown said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Beatty was awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a forged instrument, falsifying business records and scheme to defraud. If convicted, he faces 15 years in prison.

“This is a particularly disturbing case,” Brown said. “This woman’s home — her sanctuary filled with the memories of three generations — was allegedly taken from her with the filing of a phony deed. The defendant is alleged to have stolen the victim’s home with the stroke of a pen.”

Jennifer Merin, who is the home’s true owner, was fighting in court to remove Beatty and his sons from the home.

Merin lives in Manhattan, but grew up in the house with her mother and her mother’s siblings, according to a published report. She inherited the property after her mother died decades ago.

She didn’t rent it out, but maintained it and paid the utilities. A spike in the water bill signaled to Merin that something fishy was going on with the house.

She called cops, who visited the house and were told by Beatty that his family legally resided there. When she went to the residence herself, she realized her possessions and car were missing and the locks were changed.

Beatty said in court papers that he rented the house from someone named Khalid Moore and paid $10,000 in rent, the New York Post reported. A deed transfer filed in city records last year showed that he obtained the house from an “Edith Moore.”

No one by that name has ever owned the house, according to Brown.

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Seven indicted in Bayside, Flushing fraud ring operations


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Seven members of two organized fraud rings based in Flushing and Bayside were indicted by a grand jury Thursday following a two-year investigation leading to the dismantlement of the operations, officials said.

In one scheme, personal information, including social security cards, passports and drivers licenses, were stolen from legitimate car buyers and used to purchase seven luxury automobiles, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. The information was taken from customers, while one of the alleged ring members, Joung Duck Woo, worked as an automobile broker. Woo, who knew four of the victims through his church, is accused of using the information to also open credit cards and other accounts.

The indicted members in the second ring are accused of participating in a credit card “bust out” scam, Brown said. They allegedly used social security numbers  beginning with the prefix “586” issued by the government in U.S. territories, such as America Samoa and Guam, to set up fake credit card accounts. False identities were used to open bank and department store credit accounts online and in person to make purchases and cash withdrawals. They are also accused of busting out, or draining the available line of credit on each card.

Joung Duck Woo, 45, of Fresh Meadows, Ki Hun Kim, 45, of Flushing, Sang Hun Moon 59, of Flushing, and Ki Bin Lim, 52, of Fresh Meadows, are variously charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, identity theft, criminal possession of stolen property, forgery and scheme to defraud in connection to the first scheme, according to one indictment.  If convicted, each face up to 15 years in prison.

Of those indicted, Ki Bin Lim is still being sought, while the other three are in custody, officials said.

In a second indictment, Jinuk Chong, 24, of Fresh Meadows, Kyeong Joon Kim, 53, of Flushing, and Dong Soo Kim, 60, of Flushing, are variously charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, forgery and scheme to defraud in connection to the “bust out.” If convicted, they each face up to seven years in prison.

Anyone who may have been a victim of these schemes should contact the district attorney’s Economics Crimes Bureau at 718-286-6673.

 

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Four charged with stealing $12.4M meant for special needs preschoolers


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Queens District Attorney’s Office

Four men are accused of not providing the services they promised to preschoolers with special needs after they allegedly stole more than $12 million in government funds meant to help the students.

Those charged are all affiliated with the Island Child Development Center (ICDC), a private nonprofit located in Far Rockaway, which mainly offers services to preschool children in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Far Rockaway, and Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn, according to officials.

The assistant director of ICDC, Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 56, of Far Rockaway; former ICDC executive director Ira Kurman, 52, of Hewlett, N.Y.; Roy Hoffmann, 50, of Woodmere, N.Y., who was hired by ICDC to serve as its independent auditor as required by the state; and Daniel Laniado, 41, of Brooklyn, who was a self-described “investor” in ICDC, are accused of stealing $12.472 million of approximately $27 million in state funds between 2005 and 2012, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The thefts were uncovered after the state comptroller’s office notified ICDC of a routine audit to be performed in July 2012. When auditors arrived, Kurman had left his position and allegedly took off with his books and records.

The men diverted the money for their own personal use, their relatives, their own business endeavors and to local members of their religious communities, according to officials.

Hiller allegedly diverted around $8 million to several religious schools and camps not affiliated with ICDC.

In addition to criminal charges, the district attorney’s office is seeking the forfeiture of more than $11.472 million in illegally obtained proceeds from those charged. Approximately $1 million has been repaid by two of the schools and camps to which Hiller diverted money and is reflected in that figure, Brown said.

The four were arraigned Tuesday afternoon on a 42-count indictment in which they are variously charged with grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing, identity theft and falsifying business records. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.

 

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Howard Beach man sold 12 stolen vehicles for scrap metal: DA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A Howard Beach man was busted for allegedly selling a dozen stolen vehicles to Long Island scrap yards and pocketing thousands of dollars in return.

“As the price of scrap metal increases, thieves are growing more aggressive and taking advantage of a quirk in the law which allows them to dispose of vehicles eight years or older without proof of title, District Attorney Richard Brown said. “They simply show their driver’s license at the scrap yard, fill out a DMV form stating that they are the delivery agent or the vehicle’s owner and leave with cash in their pocket – and their victims without a ride.”

John M. Brew, 35, is accused of pawning off 12 vehicles to Universal Scrap Processes and Gershow Recycling facilities on Long Island between February 4 and April 7 of this year.

He was allegedly paid $600 to $750 per vehicle, which would each then be crushed.

Brew was able to sell the vehicles by showing a DMV form signed by him that listed himself as the vehicle owner, along with a New York State driver’s license, Brown said. He sometimes would also trick the scrap yards into thinking he had the vehicle’s key by allegedly saying the ignition was broken and placing a fake key in the ignition.

The stolen vehicles Brew sold included two Dodge Caravans, model years 1993 and 1995, and 10 Ford Econoline Vans with the model years, ranging from 1998 through 2006, according to the district attorney.

Brew was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Friday on charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, falsifying business records and unauthorized use of a vehicle, prosecutors said. He faces faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

 

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Man gets 25 years for fatal stabbing of fellow parks worker in Flushing Meadows


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A former city Parks Department worker was sentenced to 25 years in prison for stabbing another employee to death during a fight at a Flushing recreation center.

Robert Swann, 53, of Ozone Park, was found guilty earlier this month of first-degree manslaughter, District Attorney Richard Brown said. He received the maximum prison term with his sentence.

According to trial testimony, Swann stabbed the victim, Ezra Black, 31, in the front torso on the afternoon of September 4, 2012 during a fight at the Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  Swann allegedly told police that after he stabbed Black, he left the scene, and got rid of the knife and the clothing he was wearing in a field near the park.

Both men were seasonal Parks Department workers, according to Brown.

 

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Queens cabbie charged for stealing more than $28K in tolls


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Brian Mendonca

A Long Island City taxi driver has been busted for evading more than $28,000 in tolls by “piggybacking” on cars through Robert F. Kennedy Bridge E-Z Pass lanes.

The cabbie, 69-year-old Rodolfo Sanchez, is accused of crossing the bridge without paying the toll more than 3,000 times over a two-year period, between 2012 and 2010, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Sanchez was able to avoid the tolls by tailgating the vehicle in front of his yellow cab and letting both cars go through the bridge’s E-Z Pass lanes before the barrier came down, the district attorney said.

He was eventually caught, according to Brown, when it was discovered that an E-Z Pass tag that was previously reported lost, was regularly crossing the bridge’s toll plazas without making a payment. The pass had become invalid in 2011 but it was still emitting a signal to the E-Z Pass readers on the bridge, he said.

Sanchez allegedly told investigators that he knew that the E-Z Pass was no good but he used it because he needed money for his family.

Sanchez was arraigned Thursday and charged with grand larceny, theft of services and criminal possession of stolen property, prosecutors said. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

 

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Pennsylvania man busted at JFK with loaded gun, metal knuckles


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of TSA

A Pennsylvania man is facing some serious prison time after he was caught at John F. Kennedy International Airport trying to board a plane with a loaded handgun and a martial arts weapon.

Richard Forti, 55 of Annville, in Central Pennsylvania, was passing through security on his way to Los Angeles Wednesday morning when he was busted with the weapons, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and District Attorney Richard Brown.

As he passed through airport security, Forti removed his vest and placed it in a bin to go on the conveyor belt to be x-rayed. It was at that point that a TSA officer saw the .32 caliber gun, which was loaded with five rounds, in the pocket of the vest, the TSA said. Forti also allegedly had a cat eye-knuckles martial arts weapon with him that showed up on the TSA x-ray machine.

Port Authority police then confiscated the weapons and arrested Forti, the TSA said.

At the time of his arrest, Forti allegedly told police “The vest is mine and I put the gun in there for protection.  Those are my knuckles.  I put them in my vest,” according to Brown.

“It is beyond comprehension why intelligent people would think that it is okay to board an airplane with a loaded gun on their person,” Brown said.

Forti is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on numerous charges of criminal possession of a weapon, prosecutors said.  If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

 

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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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Corona man arraigned in child porn bust


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Corona man has been arraigned on charges involving promoting and possessing child pornography after he allegedly lured young girls through the Internet by convincing them they were playing a game, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Monday.

“This defendant is alleged to have coached seven young girls who he met online to perform various types of sexual acts which he then videotaped—convincing the girls that they were playing a game,” Brown said. “Once again, we urge parents to monitor their children’s Internet activities because there are sexual predators waiting to take advantage of their children’s innocence and trusting nature.”

Jorel Fowler, 23, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Friday on charges of use of a child in a sexual performance, promoting a sexual performance by a child and possessing a sexual performance by a child, according to the district attorney. If convicted, Fowler faces up to 15 years in prison.

After receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children regarding a child luring and child pornography complaint involving a 12-year-old Oklahoma girl, with whom Fowler had allegedly been in communication earlier this year, NYPD detectives went to Fowler’s home on Feb. 20 and, with his permission, removed a laptop computer and iPhone, Brown said.

Seven videos, titled “Sarah,” “Tiffany &  Britney,”  “Katelyn,” “Julia,” “Gabrielle,” “Ashley” and “Alex” were allegedly recovered from that laptop. They supposedly included text and video conversations between Fowler and various girls, who were under 16 years old, and showed them taking part in what Fowler allegedly called “The Game.”

According to the allegations, Brown said, there are different levels to “The Game,” which awards points for performing different activities including sexual acts.

The recovered videos allegedly showed the girls going to each level of “The Game,” where they took off their clothing and displayed their body parts.

Fowler allegedly told police that he had been in touch with more than 10 minor girls, according to the district attorney.

Anyone who believes they may have been victimized by Fowler or has any information about the case should call 718-286-6590.

 

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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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Man busted for fires at Queens malls ordered to undergo psych evaluation


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A Jamaica man, who has been charged for setting a series of fires at multiple Queens shopping centers, has been held without bail and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday.

“The defendant is charged with setting fires that were responsible for causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to many businesses, as well as endangering the lives of shoppers, store employees and responding firefighters,” Brown said. “These incidents should not be viewed as a prank. Arson is a serious crime that will be dealt with accordingly.”

Dereck Sumair, 23, was arraigned Wednesday on various charges of arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief in connection to the mall fires, according to the district attorney. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

According to police, Sumair was apprehended after allegedly setting a fire at a Burlington Coat Factory at the Rego Center mall, just before 4 p.m. Monday.

Earlier that afternoon, merchandise was set on fire at an Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond and Sears at the same 96-05 Queens Blvd. shopping center, the NYPD said.

On Monday, another blaze occurred at Macy’s at the nearby Queens Center mall at about 2:45 p.m., within about an hour of the other fires. Two more blazes were also set that afternoon at a Best Buy and Target at Queens Place, a block away, officials said.

Fires were also lit at a Toys”R”Us, Staples and T.J.Maxx at the Rego Center mall as well as a J.C. Penney at Queens Center Sunday evening, officials said.

On Thursday, Sumair allegedly set a blaze at the same Rego Center Sears from Monday.

No one was injured in any of the fires, but Sumair is accused of destroying clothing, towels, and other merchandise in the blazes, according to officials.

Surveillance photos from the Staples fire helped authorities identify the suspect as he was exiting the Burlington Coat Factory, police said.

When Sumair, was caught at the store, an officer allegedly found a lighter in his pocket, according to prosecutors. Afterwards, he allegedly admitted setting the mall fires.

Sumair was also charged with criminal mischief for breaking numerous windows with rocks at the Long Island Consultation Center in Rego Park on Dec. 19, 20 and 26. He allegedly told cops he “broke the windows for fun and to watch the police respond,” Brown said.

 

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Two Queens men charged in rash of burglaries


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Two Queens men have been arrested for a series of burglaries across the borough over the last six months.

Randolph Ardila of Maspeth and Raheim West of Long Island City are both charged with separate, various accounts of burglary, attempted burglary and criminal possession of stolen property, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Ardila, 29, allegedly acted as the lookout for several Glendale and Ozone Park attempted apartment burglaries on Feb. 21. Later, at the time of his arrest, he was allegedly carrying a blue plastic contained filled with change, which had been reported missing from the Ozone Park apartment, Brown said.

In his car, police allegedly found a box containing the cremated ashes of a tenant’s mother, reported missing from a second Ozone Park location, according to the district attorney.

West, 37, was allegedly busted on tape breaking into the Promise Christian Academy Church in Flushing and making off with over $2,000 in cash last September and is additionally accused of stealing $160 from an employee at Flushing’s Asian Community Care Management earlier this month.

The LIC resident is also a suspect in two residential burglaries in Corona and another in College Point throughout February. Pry marks on the College Point residence allegedly match those made by West’s pry bar, Brown said.

When West was arrested, police recovered the pry bar, a screw driver and work gloves from his vehicle.

Ardila faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted and was ordered held on $150,000 bail. West, who faces 28 years, is being held on $200,000 bail. The pair will return to court March 10.

 

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Kew Gardens man arrested after allegedly blaming girlfriend’s shooting on home invasion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The boyfriend of a Kew Gardens woman who was shot in their apartment Sunday morning has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly claiming she was injured during a home invasion.

Steven Diaz, 30, is accused of shooting his girlfriend, Amanda Rivera, 22, once in the head, sometime between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., inside their 127th Street home, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. Diaz then allegedly ditched the weapon by throwing it in a sewer.

Afterwards, Diaz drove his wounded girlfriend to Jamaica Hospital where he initially told officials that they were the victims of a home invasion by three masked robbers, one of whom allegedly shot her in the head, Brown said.

Rivera is in critical condition and suffered severe damage to her brain, according to the district attorney.

Diaz is currently awaiting arraignment on charges of second-degree attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of marijuana, prosecutors said.

Police allegedly found more than 10 pounds of pot inside of Diaz’s apartment at the time of his arrest, according to Brown.

If convicted, Diaz faces up to 25 years in prison.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 29. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Some clouds. Low 18. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Powerful Arts of Cameroon

The Powerful Arts of Cameroon: the Collection of Amadou Njoya is a display of artifacts of the African Tribal Arts Kingdom at the QCC Art Gallery. The potent beauty of celebratory festivals, initiations and other traditional rituals will be conveyed through masterful objects made of wood, metal and terra cotta in the exhibit. Amadou Njoya is a fourth generation Cameroonian born into a family of distinguished artisans and advisors for the royal family of the Kingdom of Bamum. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Far Rockaway mom charged in fatal beating of 2-year-old daughter  

A Far Rockaway mother has been arrested for murder after allegedly beating her 2-year-old daughter to death, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday. Read more: The Queens Courier

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