Tag Archives: Richard Brown

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

handcuffs-with-color-web-size1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bohn’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.

 

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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

Black ice, power outages linger after winter storm slams tri-state

Black ice and power issues are lingering after Wednesday’s winter storm dumped freezing rain and snow on the region, coating roads and sidewalks with a slush that made travel treacherous amid a shortage of salt. Read more: NBC New York

City’s workers paid nearly twice salary of private sector: report

Municipal workers made nearly twice as much as their counterparts in the private sector in former Mayor Michael Bloom­berg’s last years in office — earning a median salary of $65,300 in fiscal year 2012, a new analysis found. Read more: New York Post

Prosecutors: Men sold knockoff handbags online, defrauded customers

Five men were indicted Wednesday, on charges offering real luxury handbags at discounted prices on several websites – but actually presenting consumers with knockoffs, or even with nothing at all. Read more: CBS New York

Warning about explosives smuggled in toothpaste tubes

The Homeland Security Department is warning airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may try to smuggle explosives on board hidden in toothpaste tubes. Read more: AP

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


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size

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.

Ashley Diaz, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

On Monday, at about 5:30 p.m., Diaz asked a neighbor to watch her daughter, Kevasia Edward, while she left her Beach 56th Place apartment for approximately 20 minutes to buy food, according to Brown.

While the neighbor was babysitting the toddler, the girl, who had been sleeping, allegedly woke up and appeared slightly pale and lethargic. The child said she was fine, but didn’t show any obvious signs of trauma to her face, the district attorney said.

Later that night, at about 11:15 p.m., Diaz called the neighbor, saying that her daughter was not breathing.  When the neighbor showed up to the apartment she allegedly found the child lying on the floor unresponsive and began to administer CPR. She then allegedly noticed Kevasia’s face was red and bruised, her lip was bleeding and her teeth pushed in and jutting out in different directions and missing, Brown said.

The neighbor’s sister then called 9-1-1, after learning the mother never did. Kevasia was taken to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, arriving in cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead just after midnight.

According to medical personnel at the hospital, Brown said, Kevasia had old and fresh bruising on her face, legs and torso, two rib fractures and scarring on her right foot consistent with a prior burn. Those injuries, however, were inconsistent with a story Diaz gave about her child having a seizure and falling to the ground.

Diaz allegedly said that her daughter was in good health and acting normal while she was her sole caregiver, from approximately Friday through Monday, with the exception of the time when the neighbor was watching her child.

She also allegedly said that at 9:30 p.m. Monday her daughter had a seizure and fell to the ground, Brown said. During that time, she allegedly admitted she sat with Kevasia for at least 30 minutes while she was unresponsive and not breathing, and did not call anyone for help until after 11 p.m. that night.

According to the autopsy report, Brown said, Kevasia allegedly suffered multiple fresh and old bruising to her face, neck, torso and legs, multiple scalp abrasions and lacerations, multiple scars of varying ages about her body and other markings consistent with trauma. The report’s preliminary medical findings were also consistent with abusive head trauma with multiple, violent impacts to her head and body, he said.

 

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East Elmhurst man arrested for allegedly murdering girlfriend and her daughter with hammer


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

A man was arrested for allegedly beating his live-in girlfriend and her daughter to death with a hammer in their East Elmhurst home Monday after claiming they were witches, officials said.

Officers found Estrella Castaneda, 56, and Lina Castaneda, 25, inside of their 87th Street residence just after midnight with severe head trauma, police said. Both women were pronounced dead at the scene.

The victims were allegedly killed in their bedrooms, and a hammer was discovered near each woman, District Attorney Richard Brown said. Officers found Lina’s 7-year-old daughter unharmed on her mother’s bed.

Carlos Amarillo, 44, is currently being held pending arraignment on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and criminal possession of weapon, the district attorney said. If convicted, he faces life without parole.

Following the murders, Brown said, Amarillo allegedly called 9-1-1 and said “two females are dead, they were assassinated, hurry they are dead. I killed them because they are witches, I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer.”

When cops arrived they allegedly saw him walking from the doorway to the street, carrying a Bible, saying, “I killed them, I killed them.”

In statements to police, Brown added, Amarillo said that he believed both of the victims were “witches and were performing voodoo and casting spells on him.”

 

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Two charged in counterfeit Super Bowl ticket operation


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens DA/Ticket photos courtesy of NYPD

Two men have been charged with running a counterfeit operation in Queens and elsewhere, allegedly manufacturing and selling tickets to the Super Bowl and NFL playoff games, District Attorney Richard Brown and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Tuesday.

The pair is accused of peddling the forged tickets to individuals on the streets of New York as well as across the country through the Internet.

They were also allegedly selling fake Super Bowl tickets to the NFL Commissioner’s Party at the Waldolf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, the NFL Honors Party at Radio City Music Hall, and parking passes close to New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium where the Super Bowl is being played Sunday.

“The defendants are charged with not only running a lucrative illegal operation that allegedly ripped off the National Football League and sports fans alike by manufacturing well-crafted counterfeit tickets using state-of-the art equipment but creating a security nightmare for the NFL and the vast army of local, state and federal enforcement law agencies handling security operations at this Sunday’s Super Bowl by allegedly selling fraudulent parking passes to the MetLife parking facilities. Beyond that, individuals who bought tickets or passes through the Internet may be in for a rude awakening on game day,” Brown said.

Damon Daniels, 43, of the Bronx and Jamaica, Queens, and Eugene Fladger, 32, of Philadelphia are presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument, criminal possession of a forgery devices, criminal possession of computer-related material, trademark counterfeiting and conspiracy, according to Brown. If convicted, they each face up to seven years in prison.

Their arrests come following an investigation that began in December 2013 when the NFL’s Security Division notified the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division of an alleged counterfeit football ticket production operation, the district attorney said.

During the investigation, Daniels and Fladger were allegedly observed getting together right before an undercover officer, posing as a ticket buyer, met with Fladger in Queens, and bought tickets from him, Brown said.

The investigation also led to a search of Daniels’ girlfriend’s Jamaica apartment, where, according to prosecutors, police recovered a computer, a printer, a package of photo-grade paper, two tickets to the Super Bowl printed on the same photo-grade paper and a bag of half ripped, incomplete, first draft tickets which appeared to be printed on normal stock paper.

The fake tickets allegedly bore the official NFL logo and a bar code designed to be a replication of computer data that had been duplicated in order to fool stadium scanners, Brown said. The tickets, however, allegedly had defects— the printing on the tickets was washed out, there was a misprint on the back, the cutting of the tickets was not properly aligned, and various security features were missing. The parking passes and party tickets also allegedly featured washed-out printing and were not properly aligned.

 

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DNA links man to two 1997 Richmond Hill rapes


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 55-year-old man already serving a prison sentence for a burglary charge was tied through DNA evidence to two separate Richmond Hill rapes dating back to 1997, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Johnny Dupree was indicted Monday and charged with two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sodomy, according to the district attorney. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Dupree is currently serving a sentence of 16 years to life for pleading guilty to second-degree burglary in 2000.

A DNA sample collected after Dupree’s conviction was positively matched to DNA evidence gathered from the rape victims and crime scenes, Brown said. Though the evidence had been previously tested, more sophisticated techniques, that were not available at the time of the crimes, conclusively matched the DNA to Dupree.

“My office’s DNA Prosecutions Unit has been systematically reviewing every unsolved sexual assault in Queens County dating back to 1996 – which is as far as the statute of limitations permits,” Brown said.

Dupree is accused of entering both of the women’s apartments, ages 23 and 24, in the middle of the night while they were asleep and raping them at knifepoint, according to the district attorney.

 

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Man arraigned in murder of wife, kids; killed daughters because he didn’t have car seats, DA says


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

A Jamaica father accused of fatally stabbing his wife and small children in a jealous rage was arraigned and held without bail Friday.

Miguel Mejia-Ramos, 29, appeared in Queens County Court on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder, and criminal possession of a weapon after being extradited from Texas where he was captured by authorities Monday night, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

He allegedly killed his wife, 21-year-old Deisy Garcia, and their children, Daniela Mejia, 2, and Yaslin Mejia, 1 inside of their Sutphin Boulevard apartment sometime between late Saturday night and Sunday, Brown said. Each victim had multiple stab wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

Photos via Facebook

He allegedly came home Saturday night after drinking beer at a friend’s house, and went through his wife’s phone and Facebook account , where he found a photo of her and another man, Brown said. Mejia-Ramos then allegedly snapped and killed his wife, then fatally stabbed his daughters after first hugging and kissing them and asking for their “forgiveness.”

The District Attorney also said he killed his girls because he didn’t have car seats to take them with after committing the crime, according to the New York Daily News. He was reportedly heading to Mexico when was caught in Texas.

“I met this morning with the family and close friends of Deisy Mejia who – together with her two infant daughters – were stabbed to death last weekend.  We were joined by the Guatemalan Consul General.  Everyone is, of course, devastated by that which occurred.  I assured them that this case will be vigorously prosecuted and there will be no plea bargaining,” Brown said in a statement Friday.

If convicted, Mejia-Ramos faces life in prison without possibility of parole. He is due back in court on Feb. 14.

A wake was held Thursday evening at Garcia’s local parish, Iglesia Naciones Unidas en Cristo for the young mother and her daughters.

Garcia, a native of Guatemala, was reportedly a frequent churchgoer and a student at York College, according to her Facebook page.

 

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