Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Uptown Manhattan Rapist Strikes Again

From myfoxny.com:
The New York Police Department says that a rapist who has been robbing and attacking women in neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan has struck again, this time forcing his way into a woman's apartment.

The 28-year-old woman says the man broke into her home around 1 a.m., raped her at knifepoint, and then robbed her.

Police describe the man as black, in his 30s, with a medium build, about 5'9" to 6'. During one of the attacks, he was wearing black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and white sneakers with red stripes on the sole.


Incident #1: Saturday, August 1, 2009, 2:45 a.m., in the vicinity of West 148 Street and Broadway, the suspect grabbed the victim, F/W/59, dragged her into an alleyway where he sexually assaulted her and robbed her at knifepoint.

Incident #2: Monday, August 10, 2009, 1:55 a.m., in the vicinity of West 144 Street and Convent Avenue, the suspect followed the victim, F/W/23, into an elevator where he sexually assaulted her and robbed her.

Incident #3: Tuesday, August 18, 2009, 4 a.m., in the vicinity of West 158 Street and Riverside Drive, the suspect followed the victim, F/W/69, into an elevator of a residential building where he raped and robbed her.

Incident #4: Monday, September 7, 2009, 1 a.m., in the vicinity of West 147 Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue, the victim, F/A/28, says the attack happened in her place of residence after the suspect entered the apartment and threatened the victim with a knife. After the assault the suspect fled with USC and personal property.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers Web site at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577.

Deadly duel ends love triangle as Brooklyn woman's live-in boyfriend attacks her homeless lover

Catalina Hernandez is scolded by her mom, Catalina Ocasio, after deadly love triangle

From the Daily News by Mark Lebetkin and Jonathan Lemire:

A feud between a Brooklyn woman's two beaus came to a bloody end as her live-in boyfriend plunged a knife into the chest of her homeless lover, police said Sunday.

Catalina Hernandez, the woman at the center of the violent love triangle, said that Michael Lebron walked from his shelter to her Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment at 10:30 p.m. Saturday and screamed for her on-again, off-again boyfriend to show himself.

"[He yelled] 'I ain't no p---y!'" Hernandez, 24, told the Daily News yesterday. "'I'm going to kill you; we're going to finish this tonight.'"

Pedro Marquez (pictured above), the father of one of Hernandez's five children, leaned out her Mother Gaston Blvd. apartment window and accepted the challenge, the shaken woman said.

"Let's see who's going to die tonight!" Marquez shouted in Spanish, according to Hernandez. "He said, 'One of us got to die. One of us got to die.'"

Marquez, 46, emerged from the apartment building holding a kitchen knife and ran toward Lebron, police and witnesses said.

Lebron, 40, staggered backward to pick up an orange traffic cone to defend himself - but the cone was bolted to the sidewalk, neighbors said.

Marquez stabbed his romantic rival several times in the chest, police said.

Hernandez held Lebron's hand as he was put in an ambulance, but he died minutes later at Brookdale University Hospital.

"[Pedro] just went at him and killed him," Hernandez said.

Marquez was charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

From a holding cell at the 73rd Precinct, Marquez allegedly penned an apologetic letter to Hernandez.

"I'm sorry for what happened, but that's life," Marquez wrote in the letter, which Hernandez translated from its original Spanish and read to The News. "Cathy, if you only knew how much I love you," she read. "You fulfill my heart."

Investigators said Lebron was living in a shelter after he was thrown out of his home by his fiancée, who visited the murder scene yesterday to berate Hernandez.

Hernandez, however, defended both of the men vying for her affections.

"Mike knew how to treat a woman. He was just trying to show me regular love," Hernandez said.

"But Pedro's not a bad person. He was just filled with rage and jealousy."


So much for packing a, um, rod

From the NY Post by Jamie Schram:

It's a lesson he should have learned from Plaxico Burress -- but this was worse.

A 15-year-old Brooklyn boy shot himself in the penis Sunday after fumbling with a gun that had slid from his waistband, authorities said yesterday.

Khamir Grant was then arrested for reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon -- the same charges levied against Burress, who shot himself at a Manhattan nightclub in 2008, law-enforcement sources said.

Grant told cops that he was walking home from Amersfort Park at East 39th Street and Avenue J in East Flatbush around 1:30 a.m., when the gun began to fall into his pants, sources said.

When Grant grabbed for it, he accidentally pulled the trigger, firing a bullet right through his penis.

Grant staggered home and told his mom what had happened, sources said.

They took a livery car to Kings County Hospital, where Grant was released after treatment and then arrested by police.


Arrest In Body Found In Bag Case

From myfoxny.com by Kathy Carvajal:
Cops Say Alleged Killer and Victim Dated

A man has been arrested in the gruesome death of a teenager from Brooklyn.

Darrell Spencer, 23, of The Bronx faces murder charges for allegedly stabbing Jamia Hazel, 17, to death.

Police say they pair had a romantic relationship.

Officers found her body while responding to a call of possible human remains in an alley behind 1695 Walton Avenue on Sunday.

Off-duty firefighter critical after attack by thugs

From the Daily News by Jonathan Lemire:

An off-duty firefighter was in critical condition Monday night after he was savagely beaten while defending his girlfriend in the Staten Island ferry terminal, police said.

Matthew Dugan, 34, underwent emergency surgery at the New York Downtown Hospital to relieve swelling on the brain he suffered after he was pummeled by three assailants, officials said.

"We're hoping he's going to be okay," said a firefighter at the hospital late yesterday who asked that his name not be used. "He's out of surgery."

Investigators were reviewing surveillance video that showed two men and a woman running from the terminal in the moments after the brawl, police said.

Dugan, who is assigned to Ladder 15 near the South Street Seaport, had been drinking with his girlfriend at a lower Manhattan bar before they walked to the terminal to catch the 1:30 a.m. ferry to Staten Island, the sources said.

Though the moments immediately preceding the fight remain under investigation, witnesses told cops that Dugan's girlfriend tripped and fell, and things heated up when the three passersby started laughing, sources said.

Dugan, who has been with the FDNY for three years, and the trio then exchanged words, and the fight quickly escalated, sources said.

The firefighter was knocked to the ground and his attackers continued to punch and kick him, witnesses told police.

Though Dugan did not lose consciousness, he was bleeding heavily from his face and mouth, witnesses said.

It was not immediately clear who threw the first punch, sources said. It was also not known if anything was taken from Dugan or his girlfriend.

A steady stream of firefighters visited Dugan at the hospital, where he was resting in the intensive care unit late yesterday.

Dugan's girlfriend was not injured during the fight.


With Kerry Burke

Bx. dad dies in Jet Ski horror

From the NY Post by By John Doyle and Larry Celona:

A Bronx family's holiday Jet Ski outing yesterday ended in a crash that killed a father in front of his horrified teenage daughter and niece, authorities said.

Nelson Aquilar, 37, was riding with his 14-year-old daughter, Ashley, in Eastchester Bay near Co-op City at around 4 p.m. when their craft suddenly stalled.

They were then accidentally rammed from behind by a second Jet Ski carrying his niece, Raina Romero, 16, and another teen, Arianne Chavez, 14, authorities said.

A mortally injured Aquilar and the girls were picked up by a private towboat and taken to nearby Goose Island.

Two firefighters from FDNY Marine 4 rushed to the tiny island by boat.

The tow craft went back to the mainland and picked up five more firefighters and two paramedics. The craft took them to the uninhabited island, where they stabilized the victims and brought them back to shore.

But Aquilar was in cardiac arrest. It was not immediately clear whether he had been stricken before or after the accident.

He died at Jacobi Hospital.

His heartbroken wife, Bernice Mariscale, said only, "He was a very good man," before breaking down in tears at the hospital.

The girls also were taken to Jacobi, where doctors said their injuries were not life-threatening.

Aquilar lived next to the Evers Marina, where the family had started its day, sources said.

They were Jet Skiing in the shallow waters around Goose Island when the accident occurred, the sources said.

Additional reporting by Philip Messing and Candace Amos


Feds: Ponzi Scheme Had Porn Link

From myfoxny.com by David B. Caruso from the AP:
Federal authorities say a Brooklyn man ran a Ponzi scheme that ripped off investors for 31 years by diverting their money from stocks to ventures including a mail-order pornography business.

Philip Barry was arraigned Tuesday on securities fraud charges.

Prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission say the businessman had about 800 clients who had given him $40 million since the late 1970s.

The SEC says Barry secretly sunk much of the money into bad real estate deals but also used some client money to run a side business that sold "pornographic materials."

Barry has previously told reporters that his real estate investments were legitimate and that he is still trying to earn a profit for his clients.

Bullets fly at Brooklyn barbeque, leaving two men dead and two injured

From the Daily News by Barry Paddock, Henrick Karoliszyn AND Jonathan Lemire:

An all-night barbecue celebrating the West Indian Day Parade ended in bloodshed early this morning, leaving two men dead and two others injured, police and witnesses said.

Partygoers ran in panic when the gunshots rang out at 5:45 a.m. at the seemingly peaceful gathering held in an alley on Chester St. in Brownsville.

Three men were shot, two fatally, according to police. Friends identified one of the victims as Marvin Brown, a construction worker who just finished taking classes to become an ambulance driver.

"He was a great guy," said his friend Patrick Hinds, 25. "There's nothing you couldn't not like about him - a great person."

Brown, 25, was shot in the head and died almost instantly, his body toppling to the concrete littered with beer cans and paper plates left behind by revelers.

"I heard the shots [and] I came out," said neighbor Paula Brown, who is not related to the dead man. "I just seen people running."

A second man, whose name was not immediately released, was shot in the chest and died a short time later at Brookdale Hospital, police said.

A third man was shot in the leg and listed in stable condition at Brookdale Hospital. Police said the fourth man injured was punched in the face but not shot.

Investigators were not certain what triggered the gunfire, but Brown's loved ones were convinced that the South Shore High School graduate was not the intended target.

"There had to be a mistake," said his girlfriend Renee Brady, 21, of Brownsville.

"He was good," said Brady, weeping. "He was the one telling people not to be violent. They killed him."

Born in Jamaica, Brown split his time between New York and London, where his mother lives, his friends said. He had worked several jobs to put himself through the classes needed to fulfill his goal of driving an ambulance for an area hospital, they said.

"He was friendly, quiet," said Sasha Clarke, a former high school classmate. "He doesn't give no trouble. He liked to play ball [and] liked going to a party with his friends."

Party-goers were stunned that the barbecue, a annual precursor to the parade, ended in violence.

"The vibe was cool - everybody knows everybody," said Stacey Smith, 23. "Everybody's talking and laughing. It was family and friends, and I guess it just got a little out of hand."

The West Indian Day parade, held Monday along Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, has been marred by violence several times in recent years, including non-fatal shootings in 2007 and 2006, and a homicide in 2005.

Thugs bash cop with tire iron

From the Daily News by John Lauinger:

A Queens cop had to have his face rebuilt by doctors after he was savagely beat down in a road-rage fight by three thugs, including one wielding a tire iron, relatives and friends said.

Officer Damian Bartels, 28, who works out of the NYPD's 112th Precinct, was off duty when he got into a traffic dispute Aug. 29 while driving back to his Queens home after a night in Manhattan, a relative confirmed.

Bartels, who was with his girlfriend and a cousin, had just crossed over the Queensboro Bridge into Queens when a car cut him off. He got out of the car to confront the driver and the trio "attacked" him, said the relative, who asked that his name not be used.

Bartels was initially taken to a Queens hospital, but he was transferred to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, where an operation was performed Friday.

"They reconstructed his nose, his jaw and his two eye sockets," the relative said, noting that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly visited Bartels in the hospital.

Police were unable to provide any information about the attack last night or the investigation into it.

At St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Maspeth, Queens, yesterday, the Rev. Paul Wood asked congregants to pray for the injured officer.

"I have been saying prayers for him," Wood said.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

State Pols Using Campaign Funds for Almost Anything They Want

From gothamist.com by Billy Parker:
How much do our elected officials in Albany get by on their salaries as legislators and how much of their regular expenditures come from campaign money raised for nonexistent election battles? The Daily News has an extensive piece today investigating just what state senators and assemblymen are using their campaign funds for—all within the scope of the law.

Campaign money is not supposed to be used for personal funds, but the last time a politician was nailed for violating that by the Board of Elections was 2005 when Brooklyn Assemblyman Clarence Norman cashed a $5,000 check made out to his campaign. A spokesman for the Board admits that they don't have the manpower to look into the over $6 million a year that comes into the campaigns run by members of the Senate and Assembly. Blair Horner of the NY Public Interest Research Group calls the law "too vague" and "a joke" and tells the paper, "The vast majority have no serious opposition. The vast majority of the money comes from interest groups. So what you have is Albany's lobbying elite subsidizing the lifestyle of elected officials."

Among the campaign expenditures the News uncovered in combing through over $19 million in contributions were:

  • Senate President Malcolm Smith—$1,241 at Pamper Me, a St. Albans spa on gift certificates for staff and supporters (a spokesperson denied Smith used any himself)
  • Senate Majority Leader John Sampson—$17,554 on three separate lines with bills running about $600 a month over the past two years (his treasurer said he has a "bad habit" of losing phones)
  • Senator Martin Golden—$134,090 on his family's Bay Ridge catering hall, used for official luncheons and service projects, such as giving flu shots to senior citizens
  • Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx—$32,000 on food in the last two years (a staffer said, "He enjoys good food. He likes to eat well.")
  • Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV of Harlem—$30,000 in meals, gas, stamps, tolls, parking and worldwide travel, uncluding thousands on a trip to Ireland ("to familiarize himself with Irish constituents")
  • Brooklyn Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny—$1,000 on small purchases in various European cities
  • Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera—$54,000 on his final year of Mercedes payments until upgrading to an Audi and continuing to use campaign funds to pay for that in 2007
When asked to discuss campaign financing by the News, Assemblyman Powell offered to take the reporter out to lunch on his campaign's dime and acknowledged he took staff out to eat all the time. Powell said, "It could be KFC, it could be a five-star restaurant. I'll take them out to lunch because I'm going to get reimbursed anyway." NYPIRG's Horner conclusion on the finance laws: "Enforcement is nonexistent. It's a disgrace."

Young woman shot dead at party in Queens; wounded by gunfire in same spot months ago

From the Daily News by Kerry Wills, Clare Trapasso, Wil Cruz and Joe Kemp:

A woman was killed early Saturday when bullets flew at a house party in Queens - just months after she was wounded in another shooting at the same location, police and witnesses said.

Shante Graham, 22, was shot in the chest when two gunmen in a black Nissan drove up to the party in Saint Albans about 12:20 a.m. and opened fire.

"She was running back toward the house, and they shot her," said Gavin Spence, 18, who saw the shooting at Nashville Ave. and 199th St. "She just fell to the ground."

Graham's mom, Arlette Graham, 44, said her daughter still had bullet fragments in her side from the March shooting.

"Shante was full of life and it was cut too short," said Graham.

Shante Graham was pronounced dead at Franklin Hospital about an hour after the shooting, sources said.

The gunmen drove off and were still being sought late Saturday. Cops found their vehicle on 118th St.

Two others at the party were wounded. Police said a 20-year-old woman walked into North Shore University Hospital with a graze wound to the head. A man in his 20s was shot in the hand and treated at Jamaica Hospital. Their names were not released.


With Sarah Armaghan

S.I. baseball-bat wielding neighbor rescues girl from abductor in woods

From the Daily News by Henrick Karoliszyn, Alison Gendar and Joe Kemp:

A baseball bat-wielding Staten Island homeowner was hailed as a hero after he chased away a man who dragged a 15-year-old girl into the woods, police and witnesses said.

Patrick Klatt, 51, was inside his Great Kills home Thursday night when he heard the young girl's screams from a wooded area across the street.

"He kept telling her to be quiet," Klatt said about the sicko. "[But] she yelled just loud enough for me to hear."

Klatt grabbed a baseball bat and ran out his door.

As he crossed the street, the man saw Klatt approaching and fled.

"I ran in the woods as he was running out," Klatt told the Daily News yesterday.

Ready to pursue the attacker, Klatt saw the young girl instead.

He stopped to help.

"I saw her halfway in and grabbed her by the hand," he said. "She was shaking, crying."

The teen told Klatt her attacker had grabbed her by the throat. She was hurt and her voice was raspy.

Klatt grabbed her hand and helped her to her feet.

"As long as you're with me, nobody's going to hurt you," Klatt assured the distraught teen as he led her out of the woods.

Klatt brought the frightened girl back to his house and told his brother to call 911.

The horrifying moment began as an innocent afternoon stroll for the young girl, who is not being identified because she's the victim of an attempted sexual assault.

As she walked to a friend's house, she passed a man on the street. He turned and began following her.

Suddenly, he grabbed the teen and dragged her into the woods, police and witnesses said.

Klatt said saving the young girl was not an act of heroism.

"I didn't want to make a big thing out of it," Klatt said. "I'm not a hero."

"I did what anyone should have done."

The teenager's family believes different - that Klatt saved the young girl's life.

"We are forever indebted to him," said a woman who identified herself as the girl's aunt.

"We've never met him, but he's a hero," she said, on the verge of tears. "We're so blessed with him helping."

The girl was treated for minor injuries from the attack. Her family said the attack was severely traumatic for the teenager.

"He [the attacker] was choking her quite a bit," the aunt said.

"It could have been a terrible tragedy" if Klatt had not acted, the aunt said.

The attacker is described as a Hispanic male, about 5-foot-5 and about 200 pounds.

He was wearing a red shirt, police and witnesses said.

Klatt said he never thought twice about saving the young girl.

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat," he said.


With Wil Cruz

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cop Shoots Suspect in Brooklyn

From myfoxny.com:
A police officer shot and critically wounded an armed suspect in Brooklyn Thursday night, according to the NYPD.

Cops responded to a robbery call on Ralph Avenue at about 6:45 p.m. When officers got there, a teenager told them that two men with a gun had tried to rob him, the NYPD said.

Officers searched the area for the suspects and radioed the information in.

Officers in a nearby patrol car at Marion Street and Howard Avenue spotted a man who fit the description and approached him. That's when cops spotted the man holding a Glock 10mm semiautomatic pistol, the NYPD said. One officer fired, hitting the suspect in the torso.

Medics took the wounded suspect to Kings County Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Thursday night.

Police still seek a second suspect. The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating as it does for any shooting involving an officer.

Hate Crime task force hunting for thugs in epithet-filled attacks on Mexicans in Bronx

Fromthe Daily News by Mike Jaccarino and Bob Kappstatter:

It was fear and loathing on the streets of the west Bronx on Wednesday after a string of bias attacks on members of the local Mexican community.

A group of Hispanic males, believed to be Dominican, attacked a total of five men in the early morning hours over a three-day period, spewing anti-Mexican epithets, beating them and - in one case - stabbing one.

The NYPD's Hate Crime Task Force is pursuing the attackers, as locals in the Tremont neighborhood condemned the attacks.

"It's extremely upsetting," said Danny Martinez, a 19-year-old Bronxite of Mexican descent. "I live around here and to know that I may be in danger."

"It's abuse and racism," added Juana Ortega, 40. "I'm afraid, and, as a Mexican, I suffer with the people who were attacked."

Yesterday afternoon, local State Sen. Pedro Espada condemned the attacks as "hate crimes" and added $1,000 to a standing police reward of $2,000 for information leading to the arrest of the attackers.

"It's very disturbing," Espada said. "This kind of abuse knows no ethnic boundaries. It's against people perceived to have no power or rights."

The first attack occurred at 1:45 a.m. Saturday at 182nd St. and Grand Concourse when four men shouting anti-Mexican slurs chased and beat two 24-year-old men.

About 4 a.m. Sunday at 182nd St. and Walton Ave., a 53-year-old man was assaulted and stabbed in the torso by a group of five men. He was taken to Jacobi Hospital in stable condition.

Little over 24 hours later, several men pounced on a 47-year-old man outside a building on E. 181st St. He was taken Lincoln Hospital in stable condition.

Meanwhile, police were reaching out to the local community asking for their help with information.

"We're reaching out to the churches, which have a lot of Mexicans, to make them aware, to not be afraid to report crime to the police," said Detective Warren Thompson, the 46th Precinct community affairs officer. "There's a lot of fear - the same thing with Muslims, Africans and locals from other countries - they're afraid to go to the police because they're afraid the police will report them and they'll be deported. That's not the case. We don't function that way."

Police are asking anyone with information on the bias attacks to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS or log on to www.nypd-crimestoppers.com.


SEC: Madoff Investigations Incompetent

From myfoxny.com:
The watchdog of the Securities and Exchange Commission has found that three agency exams and two investigations of Bernard Madoff's business were incompetent, despite ample warnings of the multibillion-dollar fraud.

But SEC inspector general David Kotz's report found no evidence of any improper ties between agency officials and Madoff.

Despite speculation that senior SEC officials may have tried to influence the probes, a summary of Kotz's report also found no evidence of that.

Revelations in December of the agency's failure to uncover Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme over a decade touched off one of the most painful scandals in the agency's 75-year history.