Tag Archives: Richmond Hill

Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Ambulance Corp slaps neighbor with $13M lawsuit


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Twitter / @FDNY

The Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corp recently filed a lawsuit against the collapsed building next door’s owners to the tune of $13 million in damages and lost rent.

Owned by 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC, the deteriorating building, which was an abandoned furniture store, crumbled on April 12 last year, leaving a hole in the roof and damaging the adjoining ambulance corp structure.

“That building next door, because of the negligence of that corporation and others, is a danger to society,” said Angelo A. DiGiangi, general counsel of Community Advocacy Center, which is representing the volunteer ambulance organization pro bono in collaboration with CUNY Law School. “The building looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If this building continues the way that it is, my client will lose its building.”

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center rented space from the volunteer ambulance group, but had to move to a temporary location—American Legion Post 118—after the structure was determined unsafe by the city’s Buildings Department.

Nearly a year later, the collapsed building still has a gaping hole and mold, elected officials said.

After much pushing by local politicians, 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC recently paid off $3,200 in fines it owed to the Department of Buildings and hired an architect, according to the agency. However, the building still has eight open ECB violations and a total of $33,000 in fines, $20,000 due in Department of Buildings civil penalties for work without a permit and $7,500 due in  civil penalties for failure to correct hazardous violations, according to the Buildings Department.

“It’s disgusting that it took so long to get to this point,” Assemblymember Mike Miller said. “Seniors have been suffering and they want to be back in the ambulance corp. This is their home.”

The owner of the property could not be reached for comment.

Despite the recent positive movement, elected officials are still unsure of when the owner will actually repair the building.

“I need for work to be done on the building. That would be positive. Paying the fines does nothing for seniors or the Woodhaven – Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corp,” State Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “With that gaping hole in the roof, with the snow and ice, that building is only going to get worse.”

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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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Star of Queens: Martin Colberg, president, Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

star

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Martin Colberg is the president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA), a civic association that addresses problems in the community of Woodhaven.

BACKGROUND: Colberg grew up in the Woodhaven and Richmond Hill areas, and has been in Woodhaven for the past 10 years.  Four years ago, Colberg attended his first WRBA meeting, and found the ideas of the association very interesting, saying “I was excited to put some more time and effort into my community.”

GOALS: Colberg has recently been named the new president of the WRBA, and is also the first Latino president, since the start of the association, 42 years ago. Colberg believes this to be a great representation of the growth and diversity in the neighborhood.

According to Colberg, his goal in the coming year will be to continue to get others involved in helping their community.

“I definitely want to concentrate on outreach, among other things in the coming year, just to get more numbers in our membership,” he said.

Colberg wants to concentrate on getting the younger generation involved in their community, hoping he can partner with schools or create a program, so that younger people can realize that they are needed.

BEST MEMORY:  One of Colberg’s best memories was watching his community come together to help those in need after Superstorm Sandy.

“It was such an eye-opening experience to watch so many members of the community put so much money, time and effort into helping those in need,” he said. Colberg recalled keeping the office open for a full week, as a drop-off station, and watching people come multiple times to give their time or make donations of clothes, food or money.

“I remember people getting to their last quarter tank of gas and still making one more trip to the Rockaways to help out.”

INSPIRATION: Colberg’s drive is just seeing others in his neighborhood get involved, saying, “in the fast-paced world that we are in, not a lot of people have that extra time to put into helping their community, but when they do show up, I feel like I have to help out as well.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: As the new president of the WRBA, his biggest challenge is yet to come.  Looking forward, he feels his challenge would just be to gain more exposure and get more people involved, which he believes he can accomplish by the end of the year.

 

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Graffiti duo busted in Richmond Hill


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Police busted two vandals in Richmond Hill on Saturday.

Sergeant Jimmy Conwall, Detective Christopher Diaz and P.O. Anthony D’Ascanio, dressed in plain clothes, spotted two people sitting on a subway bench at the Jamaica Avenue and 111th Street station around 1 a.m. on Jan. 11.

The pair, Tommy Martinez and Jeremy Cautin, was sitting near “fresh graffiti vandalism” on a J-train car, police said.

Diaz saw a knapsack stuffed with spray paint cans next to Martinez, 19, of Brooklyn. He tried to close the bag as the officers approached, according to police.

Diaz then saw Cautin, 21, of Richmond Hill, wearing one green latex glove and a spray paint can sticking out of his jacket pocket.

Later, cops determined the fresh graffiti belonged to the two. Cautin acted as a lookout while Martinez tagged “FEAL” on the subway car, 10 feet wide and over three feet high.

They were both arrested and charged with criminal mischief, making graffiti, 15 counts of possession of graffiti instrument and criminal trespassing.

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Taxi driver dies in Richmond Hill accident


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Kew Gardens man was killed Friday afternoon after crashing his yellow taxi into two parked cars, police said.

Ved Wadhwa, 56, was driving down 118th Street near 95th Avenue about 3:40 p.m. when he veered to the left striking a parked vehicle, and then to the right, into another parked vehicle, according to the NYPD.

He was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

There were no passengers in the taxi at the time of the accident, police said.

There investigation is ongoing.

 

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Man sought in connection to NYC’s first murder of 2014


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police have identified a man wanted in connection to a fatal Jamaica shooting that was the first homicide of the year.

Cops found Julio Mora, 22, of Richmond Hill, inside of a 113th Avenue residence near Sutphin Boulevard about 1:15 a.m. Wednesday with what initially appeared to be stab wounds to the chest, according police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The medical examiner later determined Mora had died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

The NYPD is seeking Sheldon Smith in connection to Mora’s murder.

Police described Smith as a 26-year old man, 6 feet tall, 160 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.

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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NYPD: Queens shooting is city’s first murder of 2014


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man shot to death in Jamaica Wednesday is the first homicide of the year, police said.

Cops found Julio Mora, 22, of Richmond Hill, inside of a 113th Avenue residence near Sutphin Boulevard about 1:15 a.m. with what initially appeared to be stab wounds to the chest, according to the NYPD. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The medical examiner later determined Mora had died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

There are no arrests at this time and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

 

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Cops looking for two suspects in Queens burglary spree


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Two suspects wanted in a September burglary of a Woodhaven bodega have been tied to eight more burglaries throughout the borough, police said.

The thefts date back to August 8, with the most recent incident taking place on November 26, police said.

Businesses the suspects targeted included Stop1 and Jamao Coffee Shop 7 in Jamaica, the Richmond Hill Deli and El Cran Canario Restaurant in Richmond Hill, Darbar’s Chicken & Ribs in South Richmond Hill, East Town restaurant in Maspeth and a Dunkin’ Donuts in Whitestone, according to the NYPD.

After breaking into the businesses the suspects stole cash, ranging from $30 to approximately $4,580, or possibly more. During some of the burglaries, the pair allegedly took merchandise, including scratch off lottery tickets, beer and cigarettes, police said.

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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Santa visits the Richmond Hill Block Association


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of RHBA

Santa is making his rounds through the borough and stopped at the Richmond Hill Block Association to bring holiday cheer to the neighborhood.

Children and their families gathered at the Block Association for the annual Santa Day on Saturday for an afternoon of treats and Christmas cheer.

Despite the snowy day, almost 300 area children, the RHBA board and volunteers came to the Jamaica Avenue spot and got a picture with Santa.

 

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Two Queens men indicted on sex trafficking charges


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Two Queens men have been indicted in separate sex trafficking cases for allegedly forcing teen girls to work as prostitutes, District Attorney Richard Brown announced Tuesday.

Peter Gerardi, 28, of Forest Hills, and Christopher Stephensbush, 20, of Richmond Hill, have both been arraigned on kidnapping, prostitution, rape, sex trafficking and other charges, according to the district attorney.

“The defendants are both accused of enslaving three young girls, raping them and forcing them to work as prostitutes. They allegedly forced the girls to turn all of their money over to them,” said Brown.

Gerardi is accused of threatening his 13-year-old victim when she wanted to stop prostituting herself for him. He also allegedly had a 16-year-old work for him as a prostitute through threats of physical violence, according to Brown. Gerardi allegedly had sex with both his victims.

Stephensbush allegedly met his 15-year-old victim while she was taking the bus to school one morning. He is accused of bringing her back to his apartment and not letting her leave until she agreed to work as a prostitute, said Brown. He allegedly raped her several times before temporarily letting her go. He then allegedly made her earn money for him again as a prostitute on multiple occasions.

If convicted, both face up to 25 years to life in prison.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: A few showers this morning with overcast skies during the afternoon hours. High 59. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Thursday night: Foggy with light rain developing overnight. Low near 55F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Urban: An Exploration of New York’s Landscapes

Come to the Crescent Grill in Long Island City for the reception for the exhibit Urban: An Exploration of New York’s Landscapes at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be served. The exhibit runs through February 2. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Cops looking for E train rider who groped woman

Police are searching for a suspect who they say groped a woman onboard a subway train near Roosevelt Avenue Tuesday. Read more: The Queens Courier

Man found murdered in Richmond Hill home

Police are investigating an incident in which an unidentified woman was brought to Jamaica Hospital with a gunshot wound to her head. Read more: The Queens Courier

New York City Council considers e-cigarette ban

New Yorkers who say electronic cigarettes helped them quit smoking asked city lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday not to ban the nicotine inhalers from restaurants, workplaces and other indoor spaces, saying there isn’t enough evidence they pose a health risk to justify their exclusion. Read more: AP

City’s grad rate hits record high

Despite stagnating in recent years, the graduation rate at city public high schools edged up to an all-time high this past school year — hitting 66 percent, according to city measures. Read more: New York Post

Passwords compromised for 2 Million Facebook, other online accounts

Passwords for some 2 million Facebook, Google and other accounts have been compromised and circulated online, according to security experts. Read more: CBS New York

Norman Rockwell painting sells for record $46 Million at NYC auction house 

A Norman Rockwell painting titled “Saying Grace” sold at an auction on Wednesday for $46 million, a record for the Saturday Evening Post illustrator and for any American artwork sold at auction, Sotheby’s said. Read more: NBC New York

 

 

Man found murdered in Richmond Hill home


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Police are investigating the homicide of a man who was discovered dead in Richmond Hill Wednesday.

Officers found Noel Hidalgo, 58, inside of his Jamaica Avenue residence around 3:40 p.m. with trauma to his head, said cops.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

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Green cabs could be coming to south Queens


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of TLC

Green cabs could now be driving down south in the borough.

A representative from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) will be making a stop at the next Community Board (CB) 10 meeting on Thursday, December 5 to explain the new Boro Taxi procedures, rules, and the program’s presence in the region moving forward.

Betty Braton, CB 10 chair, said the outer-borough cabs coming to the community could either be a benefit or a disadvantage depending on “how it rolls out.”

“I would believe on the positive side, it provides a safer way in the outer boroughs for people to do street hails,” she said. “On the downside, we already have an existing problem with livery cabs parking. I would think it would become problematic if the green cabs decide to take up parking spaces or just cruise constantly in the transit hubs.”

Boro Taxis, similar to livery cabs, are affiliated with a base and may take dispatch, flat-fare calls. However, similar to city yellow cabs, they can also make metered, hailed pick-ups.

Currently licensed livery bases apply for an opportunity to affiliate the street-hail liveries, which is then processed and approved by the TLC. Two sites in South Ozone Park already got the green light for green cabs, according to the TLC.

Resident Jesus Garay made a request on the Boro Taxis’ website for a base at the cross section of Woodhaven Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard, so cabs could serve Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.

 

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Op-ed: Proposals for QueensWay project


| oped@queenscourier.com

ASSEMBLYMEMBER MIKE MILLER

I want to take a moment to address the QueensWay project, a proposed public greenway that will transform the Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Branch, which was abandoned over 50 years ago. Specifically, the former railroad extends 3.5 miles from Rego Park and Forest Hills down to Ozone Park. This proposed project is one of great concern to many residents in certain areas of the rail line due to its potential negative impact on the local residents.

Certain sections of the proposed QueensWay, specifically the area of the rail line that runs parallel to 98th Street in Woodhaven, will be adjacent to the backyards of nearly 200 homeowners. Although I have been informed by the Friends of QueensWay that they plan to build the QueensWay completely gated around the entrances and make it inaccessible at night, local residents should not be the ones burdened with the cost of building a more secure fence around their backyards to ensure the privacy and safety of their home.

To find additional evidence of the resident’s safety concern, you do not have to look any further than several incidents that have occurred in and around the vicinity of Forest Park in recent years. I echo the sentiments of residents by asking how can we expect the local precincts to carry the additional responsibility of patrolling and responding to incidents on the proposed QueensWay when our precincts are already being spread too thin within our district as it is? Many of the residents on 98th Street are okay with the rail line being underutilized and prefer it stay that way. I also agree that the rail line from Park Lane South down to Atlantic Avenue be left untouched as to not interfere with the quality of life of the local residents.

Further, as per the suggestion of the MTA in its 20-year plan, the rail line from Atlantic Avenue to Rockaway Boulevard should be left as is and eventually be used as a connection for an express line connection into Manhattan.

After carefully balancing the potential positive impact of the QueensWay versus the potential negative impact on certain local residents, I recommend that:

1) The QueensWay be built only on the part of the rail line that stretches from Rego Park to Park Lane South

2) The rail line from Park Lane South to Atlantic Avenue be left untouched as to not interfere with the quality of life of local residents; and

3) The rail line from Atlantic Avenue to Rockaway Boulevard also be left untouched, so it can eventually be used by the MTA as an express line connection into Manhattan

In regards to maintenance of the QueensWay, it must be said that this proposed project should not at all be compared to The High Line public greenway in Manhattan. I remain unconvinced that The QueensWay when built from Rego Park to Park Lane South could achieve anywhere close to the level of corporate membership, sponsorship, and support the High Line in Manhattan has based solely on the lack of surrounding businesses in the area and the lower level of tourism that attracts the private funding necessary to maintain a public greenway. Without a consistent level of support and sponsorship from local businesses in addition to private funding, I fear that the QueensWay will eventually become an eyesore for local residents when funding for maintenance becomes an issue.

Additionally, I am interested to know whether Queens-based companies and local businesses will be the ones who are given the contracts to build out this proposed project. I believe that if the QueensWay is going to be built for the benefit of Queens residents and if it will positively impact Queens’ local businesses, then why are there currently no Queens-based companies being sought for the contracts even in the early stages of this project? I can only see a positive impact on the economy of Queens if our own borough’s businesses benefit from building the QueensWay.

Michael G. Miller represents the 38th Assembly District, which includes the neighborhoods of Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Glendale. He was elected in September of 2009 in the Special Election called by Governor David Paterson.

 

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Singers compete in Mets annual Anthem Search


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

O say can you sing?

The New York Mets hosted the first round of their 2014 Anthem Search on Thursday to find the person who will sing the national anthem at opening day next year.

More than 150 contestants auditioned for the position, giving 60 seconds of their best vocals to a panel of judges.

“It’s the Mets version of American Idol,” said Gary Apple, an SNY broadcaster and judge of the competition. “I think it’s great for the Mets and baseball.”

This year’s Anthem Search is the first time the winner will be allowed to sing on opening day. Past winners choose dates throughout the season to sing.

Many talented singers saw the opportunity as a way to bolster their future singing goals.

“It would be an honor to sing in front of many people and represent the Mets and it would be really challenging and add to my experience in singing,” said 13-year-old Victoria Labban, a resident of Richmond Hill, who has sang at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Mets officials said contestants will be called soon after the auditions and be informed if they have made the cut.

The judges gave singers encouragement, but were also tough, because they said performing the anthem in front thousands of fans requires someone who wouldn’t choke up, forget any words, and of course sing well.

“There were definitely some people who should have gone to work and not come here today,” said Skeery Jones, a judge and radio personality for Z100.

In the second round Mets staff will determine a single winner, who will sing in 2014 opening day on March 31, when the Mets host the Washington Nationals.



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