Tag Archives: Richmond Hill

Knife-wielding robbers target J line riders: cops


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated Tuesday, May 19, 10:02 a.m.

Detectives are asking the public’s help in finding four people wanted in connection with a series of knife point robberies on the J line in Richmond Hill and Brooklyn this month.

The first caper occurred in Richmond Hill at 2:40 p.m. on May 8, when a 25-year-old woman was robbed by a knife-wielding male crook while riding a Jamaica Center-bound J train as it approached the 121st Street station.

Authorities said the suspect displayed a knife and forcibly removed the victim’s cash and MetroCard; he then exited the train at the 121st Street stop and was last seen fleeing toward the station’s mezzanine.

Two days later, four suspects robbed and assaulted an 18-year-old man on a Jamaica Center-bound J train as it approached the 111th Street station in Richmond Hill at about 1:50 a.m. on May 10, police said.

The crooks — three men and one woman — reportedly displayed a knife, then punched the victim about the left side of the face, causing swelling. Law enforcement sources said the bandits took the victim’s iPhone 6 and a shopping bag containing a jacket, a Gucci belt and Air Jordan sneakers.

The third incident occurred four minutes later at 1:54 a.m. on May 10 in Cypress Hills, when a male suspect assaulted and robbed a 47-year-old man of his iPhone on a Jamaica Center-bound J train approaching the Cleveland Street station.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Editor’s note: A previous version identified five suspects wanted in connection with the pattern. The NYPD has since revised its information indicating that just four individuals are sought.

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Former monk’s ‘Ahhaa’ moment sparks inspirational app


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Diane Bacchus-Quddus

BY ANGELA MATUA

A Richmond Hill woman and a former monk have created a “help engine” to guide high school and college students in using social media to inspire each other.

Ashwin Srisailam, the creator of the Ahhaa app, became a monk at 13 in India and for the next 17 years, guided people on how to find “inner freedom and clarity.”

After his service, he moved to Los Angeles and had his “Ahhaa” moment during a leisurely walk in 2012.

“I was asking myself, ‘Is this how I see my future unfolding?’” Srisailam said. “Every person on this planet might not have access to a seminar or an expert in order to know better. That is when I used Google search to see what comes up and [Google] would do a key word search and show me about listings that are exactly based on that key word.”

Srisailam did not find the Google searches to be very helpful and dreamed up a version of a search engine that he thought could comfort people during their state of confusion.

He met Diane Bacchus-Quddus in 2013 and told her about his idea for the platform. Bacchus-Quddus was determined to make his dream a reality despite their lack of knowledge in coding and building applications.

“We both come from a background where everything is possible and that’s where we got a really great team of developers and told them the idea we had,” Bacchus-Quddus said.

The app, which was released for Android in February and for iOS in early April, resembles Pinterest in look. Users can add posts from different users to their vision boards by clicking in a light bulb on the right hand side of the post.

They can also browse through other users posts and boards, which are separated by a handful of different categories including animals, art and music, DIY, economy, education and environment.

Users have shared inspirational quotes, school projects and community service projects on the app.

Bacchus-Quddus recently showcased the app at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens, where children gathered to clean up Queens in celebration of Earth Day.

The founders also plan to partner with 19,000 schools across the country, including John Adams High School in Jamaica, to show students how to successfully use the app. During Ahhaa’s visit to the high school, scheduled for April 30, students will also participate in a campaign to share positive messages to the people of Nepal in light of the recent earthquake that has claimed more than 4,000 lives.

Ahhaa has partnered with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a school-wide discipline program “that includes proactive strategies for defining, teaching and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments,” according to pbis.org.

Bacchus-Quddus said Ahhaa can be used by students not only to lift each other up but also to showcase the community service and other good deeds they are participating in.

She hopes this app can be a platform that can lead students to jobs and college interviews when future employees see the positive work highlighted through the app.

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Participatory budget proposals announced for District 32


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

BY ANGELA MATUA

Councilman Eric Ulrich announced on Monday the results of participatory budgeting in District 32 for the areas of Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

The process, which allows community members to decide how a portion of the public budget is spent, began in November with local brainstorming sessions. Residents in these neighborhoods then met with city agency representatives to review the proposals.

The ballot included eight capital proposals submitted by local residents. A total of 692 constituents who cast ballots whittled down the proposals to five.

“Participatory budgeting empowers local communities and strengthens relationships between elected officials and the people they serve,” Ulrich said. “I am deeply grateful to everyone that contributed and I look forward to bringing PB back next year to allow my constituents a real say in how their tax dollars are being spent.”

The winning proposal with the most votes included technology upgrades at P.S. 90, P.S. 97, P.S. 66 and P.S. 306. The project received 465 votes with a total of $300,000 being allocated to the four schools.

Residents cast 326 votes to bring $200,000 worth of security upgrades to Ozone Park Library and renovations to Richmond Hill Library.

Rebecca Babirye-Alibatya, the manager at Richmond Hill Library, was excited to learn that the community voted to allow for much-needed renovations to the 100-year-old building, she said.

“We need major renovations. We are one of the only libraries without self-check-in and checkout machines,” Babirye-Alibatya said. “Our basement is in need of renovations. The electrical wiring is as old as the building [and] there are so many things we can use the money for.”

Babirye-Alibatya said the library would also look to buy new computers and tablets and try to expand the basement to add more rooms to host activities for children and the community.

Residents also voted for emergency call boxes to be installed throughout Forest Park to improve safety with 312 votes from the community. The installation will cost $140,000.

Another school to receive funding in the district is P.S. 64 in Ozone Park, which received 237 votes for a $300,000 auditorium upgrade.

The 9/11 Memorial in Forest Park was the last proposal to be funded and received 239 votes and $250,000 for a total refurbishing.

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Navy SEAL from Queens dies in training accident


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Naval Special Warfare Group TWO

Updated 2:39 p.m.

A 32-year-old man from Queens was one of two Navy SEALs who died in a training accident in a swimming pool at a Virginia base.

Special Warfare Operator First Class Seth Cody Lewis died shortly after the April 24 incident at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virginia, according to Naval Special Warfare Group TWO.

Lewis was found that day along with Brett Allen Marihugh, 34, of Livonia, Michigan, unresponsive at the bottom of a pool at the base’s Combat Swimming Training Facility, media reports said. Marihugh, who was also special warfare operator 1st class, died from his injuries on Sunday.

“This tragic loss is very unfortunate and our thoughts and our prayers are with the families, friends and teammates during this difficult time,” Capt. Pete Vasely, commander, Naval Special Warfare Group TWO, said in a statement. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.”

Lewis enlisted in the Navy in December 2006 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005. He was deployed several times to Afghanistan and Iraq, and had earned numerous medals, including the the Bronze Star with Combat Valor, Purple Heart, U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor and the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Valor.

According to the Daily News, Lewis grew up in Richmond Hill with his mother who raised him alone after his father passed away when he was 4.

“He was an excellent Marine and even more excellent Navy SEAL. A 9-to-5 job was not his thing,” his 58-year-old mother, Betty Rose Lewis, told the Daily News.

“He’s a beautiful son, just a great human being. Everyone loved being around him. People were so attracted to him. They just wanted to be his friend, know him in some capacity,” she continued.

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Richmond Hill man charged in fatal shooting of Queens grandmother


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD113Pct

Updated Monday, April 27, 5:11 p.m.

Detectives slapped the cuffs on a Richmond Hill man Friday night for fatally shooting a 71-year-old grandmother at her Jamaica home last month, authorities said.

Julian Douglas, 22, was arraigned Saturday on second-degree murder and weapons possession charges for the March 31 killing of Leta Webb at her 119th Avenue home.

According to the district attorney’s office, Webb answered a knock at her front door just before 2 a.m. that morning and, after opening it, was shot in the head and left arm.

Officers from the 113th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Webb was pronounced dead later that morning at Jamaica Hospital.

Police reportedly believe that Webb was not the intended target of the shooting and that the incident may have been gang-related.

Douglas, who was remanded into custody, faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

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Richmond Hill teen fatally stabs stepfather over dirty dishes: DA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

PoliceCarLightsHC0708_L_300_C_Y-624x414

Updated 5:44 p.m.

A 19-year-old college student has been arrested after stabbing his stepfather at their Richmond Hill apartment Sunday afternoon following an argument over washing the dishes, prosecutors said.

Nickel McLean allegedly told police that he had just returned home from playing soccer that afternoon when he got into the dispute with his stepfather, 50-year-old David Hightower. During the confrontation, he said Hightower threatened and struck him, according to the district attorney’s office.

Cops found Hightower inside his home on 114th Street near Myrtle Avenue at about 2:30 p.m., authorities said. He had been stabbed several times in the chest, abdomen and arm.

Hightower was transported to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

McLean was taken into custody at the scene and charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon, officials said. He was held on $500,000 bail following his arraignment Monday morning.

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Former Knicks help plant new trees and shrubs at Alley Pond Park


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

Their most recent campaign wasn’t too successful, but the New York Knicks scored a win for the environment this week at Alley Pond Park.

Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier and former Knick Jerome Williams joined the Parks Department, the Knicks City Dancers, students from P.S. 161 in Richmond Hill and volunteers to announce the planting of 3,500 trees and 1,050 shrubs across the 655-acre northeast Queens green space.

The planting was made possible through the Trees for Threes program launched by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which donated one tree for every three-pointer the Knicks made during their 41 home games at Madison Square Garden this season.

At season’s end, the Knicks had accumulated more than 500 three-point buckets at MSG, and PwC decided to triple its donation to city parks.

“The Knicks and PwC understand the importance of adding trees to New York City’s ecosystem and how valuable care and stewardship are to the health of young trees on the streets and in our parks,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.

The second-largest green space in Queens, Alley Pond Park features many wetlands, tidal flats, meadows and thick forests. It also has the city’s first high ropes adventure course and is part of the Urban Park Rangers’ Alley Pond Park adventure.

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Woman found on Richmond Hill sidewalk identified


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Updated Wednesday, April 8, 6:56 a.m.

Police have identified a woman who was found in Richmond Hill on Saturday after a man captured on video apparently dumping her on the sidewalk said he was helping the ailing teenager, according to authorities.

After releasing a photo of the woman, now identified as 18-year-old Safiya McLean, earlier on Tuesday, police later released video footage of a man who can be seen dragging her from a vehicle parked near where EMS found her and appears to leave McLean before driving away.


But cops later learned that the man, who knows McLean, was on the scene when EMS picked her up at about 12:50 a.m. at 131st Street and Jamaica Avenue. According to authorities, the man said he went to find help for the girl, who is believed to be homeless and was suffering from double pneumonia which led to sepsis, and directed EMS to where she was located.

The man did not identify himself or reveal the woman’s name to police until after the video of him leaving the woman at the scene was released to the public on Tuesday. No charges will be filed at this time and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

McLean was incoherent and unresponsive when she was found by EMS, and was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where she remains in critical, but stable condition.

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Forest Hills men charged with illegally evicting Richmond Hill homeowner


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Two Forest Hills men have been charged with burglary for illegally evicting a Richmond Hill homeowner from his home after the two had won the house in a foreclosure auction, according to authorities.

Semyon (aka Sam) Muratov, 34, and Yuriy (aka Erick) Munarov, 31, were each arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Monday night on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree criminal trespass and unlawful eviction, according to the Queens district attorney,

“More and more we are seeing individuals who are dealing with distressed properties unscrupulously taking advantage of the situation to benefit themselves,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendants in this case are accused of taking the law into their own hands and bullying a homeowner into vacating his residence so that they would not have to deal with a housing court eviction proceeding.”

According to the charges, Muratov placed a $25,000 down payment on a home located on 111th Street in Richmond Hill during a foreclosure sale on Jan. 9 but the sale had not yet gone to closing.

On the same day, Muratov and Munarov reportedly went to the property and told the 59-year-old homeowner that he had to vacate the home because they had bought the house at an auction.

When the homeowner asked for a proof of sale, according to Brown, the men refused to supply evidence and instead told the homeowner he had to hand over the keys and that they would be back in a couple of days to make sure he had left.

Muratov and Munarov then allegedly returned to the property on Jan. 12 and when they couldn’t get into the home, they broke the doorframe and deadbolt lock, and pushed in the front door. They then told the homeowner he could take a few things and when the homeowner said he had nowhere to go, the men gave him $200 in cash to find a place to stay.

The homeowner left the property with some important documents and when he later returned he found all the first-floor doors and windows had been boarded up and chains were on the door lock areas of the front door.

“We are not going to stand for anyone circumventing the law. Our office is working diligently to protect homeowners and tenants who may fall victim to the various unscrupulous and predatory behavior in real estate transactions,” said New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito. “People have the right to live undisturbed in their homes and these two individuals are accused of violating the due process rights of the tenant at the address.”

An investigation by the district attorney and sheriff’s offices revealed that on May 6, 2014, there was a judgment of foreclosure and sale on the 111th Street property, even though the homeowner said he was not aware of the foreclosure proceeding. Documents later allegedly showed that the homeowner’s estranged son was served the notice in 2012.

Although the mortgage lender had auctioned off the property on Jan. 9, Muratov would not assume ownership until there was a closing with full payment for the property and transfer of the deed, according to the district attorney. Even after the closing, there would have had to been a lawful eviction proceeding of the homeowner.

Both Muratov and Munarov face up to 15 years in prison if convicted and were ordered held on $5,000 bond or $2,500 bail. They are scheduled to return to court on May 5.

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Richmond Hill liquor store owner busted for tax fraud


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

LiquorBottlesHC0401_L_300_C_R

A Glen Oaks man was busted for failing to pay more than $500,000 in sales taxes owed to the state by his Richmond Hill liquor store, prosecutors said.

Gurcharan Singh, 33, along with his business, Raj American Liquor Inc., located at 102-25 Atlantic Ave., are facing charges of criminal tax fraud, grand larceny, falsifying business records and sales, and compensating use taxes/fraud returns, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.

Singh and his business are accused of underreporting more than $10 million in sales on tax returns filed between March 1, 2007, and May 31, 2010. According to prosecutors, the liquor store collected $11,327,548 in revenue, but only reported sales of $387,724.

Singh, who is listed as the chairman or chief executive officer of Raj American Liquor, allegedly failed to pay $501,730 in sales taxes that should have gone to the state.

“This is the type of crime that makes every New Yorker a victim because the government and the public are cheated out of money to fund programs, services and infrastructure,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.

If convicted, Singh faces up to 15 years in prison. His business is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal gain.

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Man found dead in Richmond Hill house following fire


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

An unidentified man was discovered dead in a vacant Richmond Hill house early Wednesday morning after a fire broke out in the home, authorities said.

The blaze started at about 1:15 a.m. in the attic of the three-story residence on Lefferts Boulevard, near 95th Avenue, according to the FDNY.

Firefighters were able to control the flames by 1:50 a.m., and EMS soon found an unconscious man inside the home, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Suspect wanted in shooting outside Richmond Hill club


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for the clubgoer who they say shot a man in front of a Richmond Hill night spot early Monday morning.

The incident took place outside the Underground Lounge, at 104-09 123 St. , near Liberty Avenue, at about 4:20 a.m.

According to police, the suspect shot the 25-year-old victim in the foot following an argument. The victim was taken to an area hospital in stable condition.


Authorities have released a video of the suspect from inside the club and describe him as an adult male with word tattoos on both arms.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.  

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Two charged in deadly shooting at Richmond Hill gas station


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NYPD

Two Brooklyn men have been arrested for the fatal January shooting of a man at a gas station near the Van Wyck Expressway, police said.

Charles Williams, 26, and Moeleek Harrell, 25, have both been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the Jan. 20 incident, according to authorities.

The two allegedly approached Derek Quattlebaum, a 28-year-old Brooklyn resident, at about 3 p.m. that day at a BP gas station in Richmond Hill at the intersection of Van Wyck Expressway and Atlantic Avenue, and then fired at him.

Video footage released by police shows two suspects running into a blue Audi at the station and driving away.

Quattlebaum was shot in the head, torso and limbs, and taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he died.

A motive for the shooting was not immediately clear.

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Richmond Hill star student graduating college at 19


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

While most 19-year-olds are looking forward to finishing up their second year of college, Trivendra Persaud is gearing up for graduate school.

Persaud, who lives in Richmond Hill, has been a self-motivated student ever since he emigrated from Guyana to America at the age of 4 with his parents, his brother and his sister. He went to P.S. 54 in Richmond Hill until sixth grade, which is when he pursued an education in the York Early College Academy. In the 10th grade, he enrolled in his first college credit classes, and by the time he was a senior, he had already earned 58 credits toward his higher education.

“I know that hard work pays off,” Persaud said. “I always have a major focus on school work but you always have to keep that balance and have some fun.”

But it is not so easy for him to keep that balance. Along with going to school up to six days a week and through the summer and winter semesters, Persaud works three days a week at a law office and volunteers his time at Jamaica Hospital two other days. He said organization is his key to getting everything done, but that along his path toward success he had to cut some ties with friends and naysayers who were holding him back.

“I had to cut a lot of friends because they were pulling me down,” he said. “You know, they tell you to stop taking so many credits, to go hang out more instead of studying, but I knew I couldn’t do that. It was work now, party later for me.”

Because of his determination, Persaud is set to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in psychology in the spring. He is then looking to go back to school for his master’s and become a practicing occupational therapist. He one day wants to open up his own practice and said he has always had the urge to help people, especially when they cannot help themselves.

“I always think to myself, what if I was in that position?” he said. “I want to help people. I do it because I feel it should be done.”

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Pair wanted for stealing from Richmond Hill RadioShack


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Kicking RadioShack while it’s already down, a pair of suspects shoplifted from its Richmond Hill location, taking merchandise right off store shelves before fleeing, police said.

The duo, a woman and man, entered the electronics store, located at 113-20 Liberty Ave., on Feb. 18 at about 5 p.m., according to authorities. While the woman distracted the store employee, her partner removed merchandise from the shelves and placed them into a bag. They then fled.

Police describe the two suspects as a black woman with long hair wearing a brown jacket, and a black man wearing a black ski hat and black jacket.

Though numerous RadioShack locations in Queens and throughout the U.S. are slated to close by the end of the month, the Richmond Hill store is not one of them.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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