Tag Archives: woodhaven

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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Video catches suspect breaking into Woodhaven 99 cents store


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man looking for more than a bargain broke into a Woodhaven 99 cents store Saturday, taking off with the business’ cash, police said.

The suspect entered the Grand 99 Cents Store, at 85-08 Jamaica Ave., about 6 a.m. by going through the roof, then once inside pried open the cash registers and stole the money, according to the NYPD.

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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Police looking for suspect in deadly Woodhaven hit-and-run


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Updated December 7, 3:57 p.m.

Police are looking for a suspect who fatally struck a man in Woodhaven Friday morning.

The victim, 35-year-old Yunior Antonio Perez Rodriguez, of Brooklyn, was struck by a car around 3:15 a.m. while attempting to cross Woodhaven Boulevard at Jamaica Avenue, said cops.

Rodriguez sustained severe trauma and was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police said they are looking for the driver, who was possibly driving a white Honda sedan and did not remain on the scene.

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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Wife, band remember musician killed in Howard Beach car crash


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Facebook

Jim Sinisi’s wife said the world is “a dimmer place” now that her husband is not in it.

“He was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person,” said Susan Sinisi of her husband, a musician in the band Wordy Bums.

Only two weeks shy of his 38th birthday, Jim was driving in Howard Beach on Saturday, November 30, just before 1 a.m., when James Celauro, 23, of Ozone Park, crashed into him on 159th Avenue and 98th Street.

Celauro, who cops say had been drinking, is charged with vehicular manslaughter and DWAI, or driving while ability impaired, police said.

Susan had gone to sleep for the night in their Glendale home and was awakened at 3:05 a.m. by a phone call from a nurse at Jamaica Hospital.

“They told me Jimmy had been in a fairly significant car crash,” she said. “It was like my temperature dropped, my insides turned toxic and I couldn’t stop shaking.”

Susan and her mother-in-law went to the hospital, holding hands all the way.

“And I’m praying. I don’t go to church too much, but I’m praying to God that Jimmy is just physically broken,” she said. “I would wait on him hand and foot and take care of him until he was mended. I felt like so much of who is he is, is his intellect and his soul and how he writes.”

Photo courtesy of Susan Sinisi

Jim was with friends in Lindenwood before the crash, his wife said.

“He was the essence of Queens,” said Rjae Izm, Wordy Bums drummer.

Susan said her husband, a native of Woodhaven, was a “crazy, poetic, fiery, beautiful artist.”

“He was just never, ever dull,” she said. “Always fun to be with, super creative and super into creating. He was brilliant.”

Now, Wordy Bums, for which Susan sings back-up, wants to take on the projects that their fallen bandmate left unfinished.

“Jim was the nucleus, the catalyst, the engine. The Wordy Bums can never be the same without such an integral part of this machine,” the band said in a Facebook post. “We are truly blessed to have shared the stage with him and witness true talent.”

 

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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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Bayside students thank soldiers from home


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Three soldiers from Queens and Long Island got a hero’s welcome Monday when they paid a visit to a Bayside school.

Students from P.S. 130 welcomed the trio of military men on November 25 with armfuls of letters and a homemade flag with each child’s handprint, thanking them for their service.

Working with a nonprofit, volunteer corporation called Operation Gratitude, the youngsters wrote 150 letters and collected 126 pounds of candy and 150 toothbrushes to be sent to deployed military men and women.

This is the third year the school has helped the initiative.

“It means a great deal to me and other soldiers, serving overseas,” said Master Sgt. Robert Frame, one of three guests. “There are very tough times in combat, and it’s easy to kind of get lost in the challenges and rigors of war. When you receive letters from all these kids, from schools back home, it really lets you know what it is you’re fighting for.”

Frame, 33 of Albertson, Long Island has been in the Army for 15 years, having served two tours in Iraq. He is in charge of cadet operations at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point.

Frame fielded question after question from the curious bunch. Then two Queens Navy recruiters — Rocky Ramdyal and Wubin Emerson Liao — showed their captivated audience a life vest that inflates upon impact.

Ramdyal, an aviation electronics technician, is entering his 16th year with the Navy. The Woodhaven native, last stationed in Hawaii, became a recruiter in downtown Flushing last year.

Liao of Elmhurst, also a recruiter, is a logistics specialist, serving nearly six years with the Navy. He did a four-year tour of duty in Japan before returning home.

“Getting letters from students means a lot more than getting letters from your parents, who know what you’re doing,” Ramdyal said. “When you’re in a war zone area, when you see that letter saying, ‘thank you,’ it means a lot because it’s like our job isn’t going unnoticed.”

 

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Woodhaven Boulevard safety still in flux


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The city’s five-year study on Woodhaven Boulevard safety improvements show some solutions worked better than others.

The thoroughfare, which connects Middle Village, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, among others, is one of the most trafficked in the borough and is prone to many accidents, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

DOT officials collected feedback from residents and community leaders on the results of the study at a meeting on November 21.

“They have been very cooperative. They have accepted feedback, and they are trying to do the best that they can,” said Community Board 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri Jr. “I think we need to concentrate on the areas that seem that they’ll never be resolved and come up with out-of-the box solutions.”

Within the last three years, the DOT has implemented some ideas to reduce accidents on Woodhaven Boulevard, like extending sidewalks and medians in the stretch from Queens Boulevard to 62nd Road, which gave pedestrians more space.

The DOT also made the southbound traffic on the service road at the intersection of Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Boulevard a “must turn right” lane in 2011. In 2012, they shrunk the two lanes of the service road into one because it was too narrow.

These solutions had varying results.

Woodhaven Boulevard from Queens Boulevard to 62nd Road had a total of 293 crashes from 2011 to 2012, up from an average of 254 accidents per year before the solutions were implemented, according to NYPD data.

However, accidents at Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Boulevard have decreased 29 percent to an average of 64 from 90 per year, according to the same data.

For future improvements, the DOT plans to change the service road on both sides on Woodhaven Boulevard between Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard into one lane of traffic and one parking lane. Currently, from one parking lane and two narrow lanes for traffic.

The department is also planning to create a dedicated bus lane on the northbound side, from the Belt Parkway to Liberty Avenue.

Some people felt more could be done on Woodhaven Boulevard. Not everyone at the meeting believed the solutions were assured to reduce accidents.

“The solutions are, in my opinion, theoretical,” said Community board 9 Chair Jim Cocovillo. “On paper, they are designed to work, but you know as well as I do that many times they don’t.”

After analyzing feedback from the community, the DOT will begin preparing to make the improvements for next year and continue to monitor the troubled thoroughfare.

 

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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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City Council District 32 candidates Ulrich, Simon look ahead to Election Day


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photos

The heated race for City Council District 32 is coming to a close.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, the incumbent, has represented District 32 in the City Council since 2009. He stood with Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill and Woodhaven through natural disasters and hard-pressed community issues.

“I am proud of my campaign and my work in the City Council over the past four-and-a-half years. I am running on my record of accomplishments and my ability to deliver real results for my constituents,” Ulrich said.

However, Lew Simon has not been far behind. He said he worked tirelessly through Sandy to ensure the safety of the district.

“The support we’re getting on our calls and door to door campaigning is phenomenal – people want change and they don’t feel like they’re being represented in City Hall on issues from schools to street lights to Sandy rebuilding,” Simon said.

Simon suffered a setback earlier this month when he received a stent due to partial heart blockage. He now said he’s spending every day “making sure every voter turns out” on Election Day.

 

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Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.

 

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Op-Ed: Where are we one year later?


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO JR.

On any particular day, whether I’m working, getting a cup of coffee, shopping or having dinner in the district, people detail their experiences involving Superstorm Sandy in many different ways. A year later, many still get tears in their eyes, others remain frustrated about the lack of progress, while some see it as a chance to make improvements and some are optimistic about community improvements. One storm, a year later, still causes many emotions.

While we can’t control the weather, we can take steps to control the level of our preparedness and what direction our government takes in addressing the next storm. We’ve learned a lot from Sandy, and I would urge my constituents to think ahead and make sure they have detailed emergency plans in place: know how to contact one another in case of an emergency; have adequate supplies of canned goods, medicines, batteries, flashlights and water on hand; know what to do to help secure your homes and properties to minimize risks during a storm. Useful hurricane preparedness information may be found at this NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/hurricane-safety.cfm.

I, along with other elected officials, have been advocating for adequate funding and needed legislation to help the district address the many serious human, economic and other consequences resulting from Sandy. As a member of the New York State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy, I look forward to continuing the effort of our state in responding to Sandy’s devastation and obtaining assistance for those in need.  Currently, our city’s and state’s portion of the federal funding of $61 billion to help Sandy victims is being distributed through NYC Build It Back program, and the state’s utilization of community leaders in its NY Rising Community Reconstruction program aimed at improving our infrastructure.

A range of bills aimed at addressing various aspects of Sandy’s impact were passed by the state legislature and have been recently signed into law by the governor. Some topics include rebates of real property taxes, assisting Breezy Point residents with street frontage issues unique to Breezy Point, exemptions to filing fees related to federal Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, and the implementation of improved tornado warning systems.

This year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season is not yet over. We have learned a lot from Sandy and a year later are still dealing with its aftermath. It’s OK to share our emotions, feelings and sentiments about Sandy, knowing also that by working together we can rebuild and be prepared better than ever.

Senator Joseph Addabbo represents the 15th Senatorial District encompassing the communities – in whole or in part – of Broad Channel, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Glendale, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Woodside and the Rockaways.

 

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Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center finds temporary location after building damage


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center has found a temporary location after the building was damaged, but leaders still say there’s no place like home.

The center, which is operated by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, recently moved to the American Legion Post 118 at 89-02 91st Street after a building adjacent to the center’s location on Jamaica Avenue collapsed, damaging the roof and kitchen.

“We were concerned about the winter months with the snow and rain,” said Judith Kleve, vice president of Older Adult Services at Catholic Charities. “We are very relieved that the American Legion opened their doors to us.”

The center, which is funded by the city’s Department for the Aging, has more than 200 seniors enrolled and about 70 visit daily.

The staff prepares free meals every day and organizes exercise programs, including yoga and dancing, and educational lectures on topics such as arthritis and diabetes. During the temporary move the center is providing shuttles from the original location.

Despite joy for the temporary site, seniors want to return to the old building soon, because the American Legion building is too small, according to Kleve. But first, owners of the collapsed building, 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC, must fix it or the seniors can’t return.

“The situation is only going to get worst with the rain and snow coming,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “We need to get the owner to start fixing it now.”

The politician is working with other leaders to put pressure on the owners to repair the property. Addabbo met with officials from the Department of Buildings (DOB) this week to discuss the collapsed building, which has about a dozen violations and $11,000 in fines, according to the DOB.

The members of the center are hoping they can move back by next year.

“The seniors were very happy to know that the senior center was still open and that they had a safe site,” Kleve said. “But they still want to go home.”

The owners of 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC could not be reached for comment.

 

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

where

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken?

Guess by commenting below!

The answer will be revealed next Friday.

 

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: All Saints Episcopal Church in Woodhaven

Richmond Hill church moving to former Saint Matthew’s Church of Woodhaven


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Residents in Woodhaven are saying hallelujah as one of the borough’s most historic churches will soon reopen.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Richmond Hill is moving to the former Saint Matthew’s Church on 96th Street, which shut its doors in 2011.

Father Norman Whitmire Jr. will be the rector of the church and has already began overseeing the restoration of the new location.

“There were a lot of concerns about what was going to happening to that church, to that building, to that property,” said Ed Wendell of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “To hear that a new congregation is going to make it its new home, that is really good news, because that means that the building is going to have new life.”

The church and its famous Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery, located behind it, are currently undergoing a renovation. The floors, chandeliers and furniture are being redone on the inside and a new sidewalk was already placed. Also, the entrance to the church has been made handicap accessible.

The church itself is one of the remaining churches of old English Gothic architecture. The inside has a distinct look with stained glass windows and arches.

“You just can’t build buildings like this anymore,” Whitmire said. “It’s very expensive and it’s hard to find the craftsman who can do the stone work like those.”

The cemetery is also a historic piece. A few families that lived on farms in the area from 1792 to 1893 were buried in the private, half-acre land, which is behind the church and hidden from the street.

After the church closed, the cemetery was left to ruin but in the late 1990s volunteers came together and revitalized it. The church will be consecrated on Friday, October 25.

 

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Illegal gambling operation arrests lead to weapon, drug bust


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens district attorney's office

Individuals busted in an illegal gambling operation were also stashing weapons, drugs and over $120,000 in cash.

In the wake of charging six people with unlawfully running a gambling operation, detectives recovered six guns, including two assault rifles, hundreds of narcotics pills, gambling records and the cash, said District Attorney Richard Brown.

“An investigation that started with gambling has now led to the recovery of a deadly and dangerous combination of guns and drugs,” Brown said.

In February, the NYPD’s Queens Narcotic Division began an investigation of an illegal gambling operation being run out of a central wire room in Brooklyn.

The wire room allegedly maintained a number of fax machines that received betting slips from over 30 betting parlors throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County.

Saul Montalvo, 44, of Ozone Park and his partner Juan Arias, 41, of the Bronx are accused with opening and running the operation. Montalvo’s sister, Veronica, also allegedly head the gambling joint. A second wire room was discovered in Woodhaven.

Montalvo and his wife Beatriz Velez, 33, were charged with various counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a firearm, stolen property, promoting gambling and possession of gambling records. Montalvo and his son, Daniel, were charged additionally in a gambling case, and Daniel was arrested and charged with various counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

The three each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the weapons charges, according to officials.

During a search of Montalvo’s Lafayette Street home, police recovered over 200 prescription pills, loaded pistols and thousands of dollars in cash from a safe inside the master bedroom’s closet. Police also found two loaded assault rifles as well as three other magazines all loaded with over 10 rounds of ammunition, all found in the home’s laundry area.

“The nexus between illegal drugs and violence is never far,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

 

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