Tag Archives: Richard Brown

Flushing contractor busted in home improvement scam


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A Flushing contractor has been charged with scamming $10,000 in down payments from Queens homeowners for work he never performed, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Alfred Lakas, 57, allegedly took money from three homeowners for air-conditioning and other work to be done at their residences which he failed to do, and did not return any of the money. Lakas, who operates Al’s Heating on 172nd Street in Flushing, is also being charged with misrepresenting himself as being licensed to do the work, although he is not.

Lakas was arraigned on Tuesday before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll on ten counts, charging him with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and scheme to defraud, among other offenses.

He was ordered to be held on $5,000 bail and will return to court on Sept. 15. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

According to Brown, Lakas is accused of misrepresenting himself as a licensed professional to perform air-conditioning, heating and other contracting work from February 2012 to June 2015. His complaining victims are three homeowners respectively from South Ozone Park, Douglaston-Little Neck and Kew Gardens.

Brown said consumers should be cautious when hiring a home improvement contractor, and that cases like this one are a pervasive problem.

“Defective or incomplete home improvement repairs are among the top consumer complaints my office receives,” the district attorney said. “To avoid being a victim of a home repair scheme, consumers should request and check a contractor’s references and check with the proper city agencies to ensure that he is licensed — and not just take his word for it.”

The District Attorney’s office is urging anyone who may have been a victim of this alleged scheme to call the Queens District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau at 718-286-6673.

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First-degree murder indictment for alleged Queens Village cop killer


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated 4:08 p.m.

A Queens Village man accused of fatally shooting a police officer last month pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to an indictment that includes first-degree murder charges, District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

Demetrius Blackwell, 35, of 212th Place allegedly shot P.O. Brian Moore as the officer and his partner, P.O. Erik Jansen, approached him in their unmarked police cruiser on the night of May 2. Moore was struck in the head and died two days later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

Blackwell was arrested hours after the shooting and remains in custody. He appeared in Queens Criminal Court Thursday afternoon before Judge Joseph Zayas for arraignment on a 12-count indictment that includes charges of first-degree murder, aggravated murder and attempted murder; second-degree criminal possession of a weapon; and drug possession charges.

If convicted, Blackwell faces life in prison without the possibility of parole — the maximum sentence under New York State law. He remains held without bail and was ordered to return to court on Sept. 17.

“The defendant’s alleged actions are a direct attack on society and the law and reminds us of the dangers that our police officers face each day — and the ultimate sacrifice they may be called upon to make — as they carry out their sworn duty to protect and serve our communities,” Brown said in a statement Thursday.

Moore and Jansen, both assigned to the 105th Precinct, were riding in the unmarked car along 104th Road near 212th Street in Queens Village at 6:15 p.m. on May 2 when they allegedly observed Blackwell adjusting his waistband, law enforcement sources said.

The officers then pulled up alongside Blackwell to question him when he allegedly pulled a black firearm out of his waistband and opened fire on the officers, according to police. Moore sustained two gunshot wounds to his head; Jansen was uninjured.

Following the shooting, Blackwell — in an attempt to alter his appearance — stole a t-shirt and a pair of sneakers, prosecutors said. Police, however, caught up to him later that night at his home. The gun he allegedly used — a silver revolver reported stolen from Georgia in 2011 — was also recovered.

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JFK workers stole about $90K worth of electronics from cargo warehouse: DA


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Joe Mabel

A holiday weekend heist at John F. Kennedy Airport sprung a leak, according to authorities.

Two employees at an airport cargo warehouse were charged this week for allegedly pilfering nearly $90,000 worth of electronic devices, prosecutors announced Friday.

Cops busted Brooklyn residents Kason Alexander, 32, and Akanni Martin, 39, on May 23 in Brooklyn after officers spotted Alexander urinating on the sidewalk in the vicinity of East 57th Street and Avenue D.

When an officer approached Alexander and Martin as they entered a nearby parked car, the officer reportedly noticed two wooden crates in the rear seat.

Upon further investigation, the crates were found to contain 127 digital memory cards, 36 camera lenses, 52 Nikon cameras and 15 camera accessories. Additionally, officers found 100 Amazon Kindle tablets from another vehicle Alexander owned that was searched as part of the investigation.

Alexander and Martin were booked on second-degree charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property and face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

“The two men were trusted employees at Kennedy Airport, but they are now accused of helping themselves to nearly $100,000 worth of electronic merchandise,” Brown said. “The defendants now face the prospect of being locked behind bars for this brazen act.”

The suspects were released without bail following arraignment on May 25 in Queens Criminal Court and ordered to return to court on July 13.

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Rego Park woman sentenced for fatally pushing man in front of 7 train


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Schwen

A Rego Park woman began a 24-year prison sentence Wednesday for pushing a man to his death at a 7 train station in Sunnyside more than two years ago.

Erika Menendez, 33, pled guilty in March of this year to a manslaughter charge for killing Sunnando Sen, 46, at the 40th Street station on the night of Dec. 27, 2012.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Menendez was seen talking to herself and pacing on the platform at about 8 p.m. that evening. Moments later, she shoved Sen from behind off the platform and into an arriving Manhattan-bound 7 train.

Sen was pronounced dead a short time later from blunt force trauma.

During questioning, Menendez reportedly claimed she attacked Sen, whom she believed was a Muslim, because she hated “Hindus and Muslims ever since” the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Her prior record includes attacking a fire department battalion chief in June 2003 in front of his home on Palmetto Street in Ridgewood.

“[Menendez] committed what is every subway commuter’s worst nightmare — being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” Brown said in a statement Wednesday. “The victim was shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself… [Her] actions clearly show that she is a threat to society and deserving of today’s sentence.”

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Ex-teacher from Forest Hills cops plea in Internet sex sting


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A former high school teacher from Forest Hills admitted in court Friday that he tried to lure someone whom he believed was a teen girl into a sexual tryst but who turned out to be an undercover officer, prosecutors announced.

Monsur Khan, 31, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted criminal sexual act before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll. Khan faces 30 days in jail and 10 years’ probation upon sentencing, which is set for June 16.

“The defendant has now admitted his guilt and will surrender his teaching license and register as a sex offender,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Parents must always monitor their children’s activities online to ensure that they are not being lured into dangerous situations.”

Formerly an earth science teacher at the Hillside Arts and Letters Academy in Jamaica, Khan first made contact online with the undercover officer — who was posing as a 14-year-old girl — on Feb. 12, 2014, authorities said. Over the next six weeks, Khan repeatedly sent illicit messages to the undercover agent and indicated his desire for an encounter.

Hillside Arts and Letters Academy is located within the campus of the former Jamaica High School.

On March 26, 2014, Khan showed up at a pre-arranged meeting place in Queens and was subsequently taken into custody.

As part of his sentence, Brown noted, Khan will also be required to complete a sex offender program and forfeit electronic devices that police seized from him.

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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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Seven alleged southeast Queens gang members busted for murder plots


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Queens basketball coach charged after lewd video chats with teen


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Title

A Queens basketball coach has been charged with child pornography possession after a 15-year-old he coached claimed they had lewd video chats, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Robert Walker, 42, who coaches three Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams and regularly conducts basketball workouts with teenage boys, communicated with the boy in April through ooVoo, a video chat and instant messaging application, according to Brown. He allegedly convinced the teen to not only pose naked via video, but also to send naked pictures of himself.

A search of Walker’s Jamaica home found a video on his computer of the 15-year-old victim posing naked, prosecutors said.

The chats came to light after the victim told his parent, who then contacted police.

Following his arrest, Walker allegedly admitted to engaging in inappropriate activity with other boys under the age of 16 during his basketball workouts. He said he would have them remove their clothing, then would take pictures and videos, including some of the boys masturbating, according to Brown.

As of Tuesday night, Walker was awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of use of a child in a sexual performance, disseminating indecent material to minors, possessing a sexual performance by a child and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Any other individuals who believe they may have also been victimized by Walker should call the 105th Precinct Detective Squad at 718-776-9252.

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


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

MailPileHC1408_X_300_C_R

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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