Saturday, August 1, 2009

Brooklyn man found innocent after more than decade in jail for murder

From the Daily News by Scott Shifrel:

A Brooklyn man who spent 12 years in prison for murder is innocent, a judge ruled Friday in a powerfully worded decision.

Jonathan Wheeler-Whichard, 29, was just 17 when he was convicted of gunning down Joseph Foster in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

New evidence convinced a Brooklyn judge he was the wrong man in the 1996 slaying.

"It would be abhorrent to my sense of justice and fair play to do other than to vacate the defendant's convictions," Justice Joseph McKay wrote. "He is innocent of this horrible murder."

Foster was shot in the lobby of a crime-ridden building on Marcus Garvey Blvd., a senseless murder that went mostly unnoticed by everyone but friends, family and police. It seemed like an open and shut case.

Foster had attacked Wheeler-Whichard earlier, and a witness said Wheeler-Whichard confessed to shooting Foster for revenge. Another testified that she heard the two fighting.

Wheeler-Whichard, who had a pending arson case, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life.

An appeal went nowhere, but something about the case bothered his appeals lawyer.

"The case had haunted me," lawyer Lynn Fahey said. "I was just never sure he was the right kid."

McKay granted another hearing earlier this year after one witness, now serving life on an unrelated murder, recanted. The other was proven a liar when the real 911 caller was found.

McKay also heard from alibi witnesses not called at the original trial, including a correction officer.

After a two-week hearing, the judge scolded both the original prosecutor and defense lawyer and labeled Wheeler-Whichard's conviction "a miscarriage of justice."

The judge said there are several suspects in Foster's murder, including a brother of one of the witnesses who implicated Wheeler-Whichard.

The wrongly convicted man, who pleaded guilty to the arson charge, could be freed next month, although he could face five more years because of his bad behavior, a state official said.

Still, he's a happy man.

"This doesn't happen that often," Fahey said. "He was lucky we were able to find out things the jury never heard. The stars were aligned."

NYPD Cops kill man in shoot out in the Bronx

From the NY Times by Al Baker:

A 31-year-old man was fatally shot by the police on Saturday morning after he opened fire on two uniformed patrol officers on a Bronx street, officials said.

The man, who was pronounced dead at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center at 3:30 a.m., about an hour after the shooting, was not immediately identified. Friends identified him as Oswaldo Sevilla, 31, and said he lived on the third floor of a six-story apartment building near the scene of the shooting.

He was struck once in the chest, the police said. The police said they would determine whether the shooting fell within the department’s guidelines after a routine inquiry by an internal shooting review board.

The shooting occurred after a woman flagged down two officers who were on patrol on Southern Boulevard near Avenue St. John in the 41st Precinct. She told them there was a man with a gun in the area. Later, investigators came to believe that the man had already fired two shots.

The officers got out of their marked car on Southern Boulevard and saw a man fitting the description the woman gave them, the police said.

A crowd had gathered and was also pointing at the man, an official said.

At the same time, although the officers did not know it, someone had called 911 to report gunshots.

As the officers approached the man, he walked quickly away from the crowd. The officers used their radios to call for backup and ordered the man to stop and drop the gun, which they could see in his hand, an official said.

The man, who had moved about 100 feet from the crowd as he walked north on Southern Boulevard, turned and fired several shots in the officers’ direction, the police said.

The officers took cover behind a van parked on the street and returned fire.

By that time, two more uniformed officers had arrived. At least one of them also returned fire, according to the police. It was unclear which of the officers shot the man.

Jhailan Sadi, 22, a bodega clerk, said he had witnessed part of the shooting and verified the police account. Mr. Sadi said he heard screaming around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, and then saw a man fire into the air. When officers arrived and ordered the man to drop the gun, he turned and shot at the police, Mr. Sadi said.

“Then they shot at him,” he said.

Emergency medical technicians took the wounded man to Lincoln hospital. The four officers were taken to Jacobi Medical Center and treated for trauma, the police said.

At the scene, officers found a .32-caliber semiautomatic pistol, but ballistics tests on the weapon had not been completed.

On Saturday afternoon, Maria Rodriguez, a friend of Mr. Sevilla, described him as quiet and said his death was baffling.

“Something must have happened to him,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “That doesn’t sound like the man I know.”

Sushi delivery man caught in shootout, shot in Brooklyn

From the Daily News by Zachary Goelman and Simone Weichselbaum:

A sushi delivery man was critically injured Thursday night in Brooklyn when he got caught in a shootout between a group of drug dealers, police and witnesses said.

Lin Jun, 21, was standing in front of Sushi Tatsu on Franklin Ave. in Crown Heights, when four shots rang out about 7:30 p.m., police and a witness said.

Jun, who was hit in the stomach by at least one bullet, staggered into the restaurant and collapsed in a pool of blood.

He was taken to Kings County Hospital where he was listed in critical condition, cops said.

A second man, a 28-year-old, who police said was the "intended target" of the shooting, was hit in the shoulder.

He was also taken to Kings County Hospital and was listed in stable condition.

"It took the ambulance 15 minutes to get here, I can't believe it," said Sushi Tatsu manager Helen Wong, 40.

Wong said Jun lives alone in Bay Ridge. Cops were still looking for the armed hoodlums.

Year After Murder, Staten Islander Admits He Killed Ex

From the Staten Island Advance by Jeff Harrell:

A Tottenville man finally has bowed under the weight of evidence that he killed his girlfriend and dumped her body in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey.

Thomas Paolino, 20, of Sylvan Court, pleaded guilty yesterday to a count each of first-degree aggravated manslaughter and third-degree hindering apprehension stemming from the strangulation and stabbing death of Jessica Tush, 19, whose body was found on April 3 of last year in a shallow grave in Wharton State Forest, about 100 miles from.

Burlington County, N.J., prosecutors recommended Paolino serve 23 and one-half years in prison on the count of aggravated manslaughter -- a reduced count under the plea agreement from an initial top charge of murder -- and five years for hindering apprehension.

The sentences would be set to run concurrently. Burlington County Judge James J. Morley said the deal calls for Paolino to serve a few days shy of 20 years before he would be eligible for parole.

"I'm not happy with the 23 and one-half years. He'll only be 39 years old when he can get out," said the victim's mother, Dina Tush, of Great Kills, noting that Burlington County prosecutors and New Jersey police "did the best job they possibly could ... an excellent job" on the case.

"The outcome doesn't change for us," Mrs. Tush said. "My daughter is dead, so it didn't matter whether we went to trial or not. I just didn't want to see him walking."

Paolino could have faced up to 30 years to life had he been convicted of murder. New Jersey sentencing guidelines cap a life sentence at 75 years, and the convict must serve 85 percent of the time before parole eligibility, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said.

"While we recognize that no amount of punishment will ever lessen the pain of the Tush family, this sentence will remove the defendant from society for a substantial number of years," Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi said.

Paolino is due to return to Burlington County Court Sept. 18 for sentencing. The judge revoked the killer's $1.2 million bail.

"(The plea) spares the family on both sides ... from reliving the ordeal beyond what they even know now," Paolino's attorney, Louis Diamond, said outside the courtroom.

Had Paolino gone to trial, Diamond noted prosecutors were armed with "overwhelming" evidence ranging from cell phone and E-ZPass records, to witnesses who saw Ms. Tush leave her job at the Staten Island Mall with Paolino on the afternoon of the killing, to hikers who discovered the gravesite and saw Paolino fleeing the scene in his sport utility vehicle, and to physical evidence gathered by police who scoured Paolino's car for traces of blood, DNA, and skin cells found under the victim's nails.

An autopsy revealed that Ms. Tush, of Great Kills, died as a result of asphyxia due to strangulation and sharp injuries to the neck.

A detective with the New Jersey State Police Major Crimes Unit compared the amount of evidence compiled against Paolino to "a perfect storm."

Mrs. Tush lowered her head sobbing as Paolino, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, answered a series of questions -- posed by his co-counsel, James Fagen, and the judge -- in a soft voice that was barely audible.

Paolino admitted he was with Ms. Tush that day, and that an argument turned physical and violent.

He replied, "I don't know, exactly," when asked for a specific location of the wooded area where Ms. Tush was buried. "It was where we had camped before," Paolino said.

Paolino then answered "yes" to choking Ms. Tush, stabbing her in the neck with a knife and putting the body in a shallow grave.

"He gets his life back at age 39 when my daughter didn't do nothing wrong," Jessica's father, Victor Tush said. "We just want to make sure he doesn't get out and do this to another family."

Paolino has been locked up since his arrest April 3 last year and is credited with more than one year behind bars. In actual time served under the deal, Paolino would become eligible for parole in 2028.

His family members who attended the hearing declined comment.

LaGuardia Evacuated After Man Makes (Fake) Bomb Threat

From by Jen Chung:
Earlier this morning around 5:30 a.m., the main terminal at LaGuardia Airport was evacuated because of a bomb threat. Apparently a man claimed he had a bomb—he was taken into custody and his bag search—but the device was deemed harmless. However the terminal's C concourse will remained closed for hours, because it's a crime scene.

The NY Post reports, "Hundreds of confused passengers were forced off planes and rushed out of the airport just after 5:30 a.m. when the erratic man approached security in the C Concourse and said he had explosives in his bag." The Port Authority's spokesman John Kelly said that the man "was just acting crazy," while some say he was intoxicated. All that was found in his bag were "few batteries and wires."

One man who was waiting to fly to Milwaukee with his family told the Daily News, “All we know is that they told us to get out of the airport. Someone told me to exit the terminal and run. Then I saw all the fire and police trucks coming, and we’ve been told all our flights will be delayed.” The air traffic control tower was also evacuated. The C concourse serves United, United Express and American Eagle airlines.

Naked man shot and killed after harrassing cousin's girlfriend

From the Daily News by Barry Paddock and Carrie Melago:

A naked, drug-addled man was shot and killed after harassing his cousin's girlfriend in Queens early Thursday, cops and witnesses said.

Tommy Roberts, 45, was staying with his cousin on 135th St. in South Ozone Park when he stripped down and began pestering his family, witnesses said.

Roberts taunted his cousin Kevin Baskerville's girlfriend in an upstairs bathroom, prompting Baskerville to confront him - then shoot him, cops said.

"It just happened so fast," said Kyarna Coleman, 26, a home care provider. "I'm heartbroken."

Baskerville ran off while his family called 911, but he later turned himself in at the 106th Precinct stationhouse. Charges haven't been filed, but the Queens district attorney's office is investigating.

Family members believe Baskerville, a deejay, accidentally shot Roberts. "He's hysterical. He's very distraught," his dad, James Baskerville, said. "He was crying so much, saying he didn't mean to do it."

Roberts, who family members said had a history of drug problems and violence, was trying to move to Hartford. Kevin Baskerville had offered to drive him but worried his beatup car wouldn't make the trip so let his cousin stay at his home instead.

South Bronx man 'with checkered past' dies after getting shot in Melrose ambush

From the Daily News by BY Sarah Armaghan AND Wil Cruz:

A 32-year-old man with a checkered past was shot and killed in front of his South Bronx home early Friday, police and relatives said.

Leon Lodge was ambushed just before 1 a.m. near the Melrose Houses. Cops said he was shot in the head and back.

"He always respected us, his family," said his uncle, Norman Lodge. "Somebody didn't evidently like him."

Police said someone opened fire on Lodge - who has prior convictions for assault and marijuana and weapons possessions - at E. 156th St. in the Melrose section.

"The gunshots woke us up. It sounded like a machine gun going off," said Ernest Purdie, 74, a truck driver who has lived in the housing projects for 37 years. "This is crazy!"

Lodge died at the scene. His bloodied body lay on the street for nine hours before it was removed.

"Why is it taking so long for them to take him away?" asked a cousin who didn't want her name used. "I'm in a state of shock right now."

No one has been arrested.

Lodge's family said Lodge, despite his troubled history, didn't deserve this senseless fate.

"People don't respect other people's lives," said aunt Esther Lodge. "There was no good reason to take his life."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Queens Man Says Police Beat Him in Holding Cell

A Queens man says he was the victim of police brutality following an arrest earlier this month for drunk driving.

Imran Ali, 21, said Thursday he was roughed up by police officers at the 103rd precinct all the while insisting he was not the person driving the vehicle.

Ali, who weighs 130 pounds, says he was slammed into a brick wall and bars of a holding cell by police officers. He says he lost consciousness and awoke at Jamaica Hospital handcuffed to a bed.

Ali says he suffered head injuries which required multiple staples and stitches on his forehead.

His attorneys are demanding the Queens District Attorney's office look at video from the holding cell cameras.

The DA's office says it is looking into the claims.

"I hope that the sergeant that assaulted me be prosecuted to the fullest and that it doesn't happen to no one else," Ali said.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne released a statement late Thursday saying Ali had been arrested on July 17 around 4:54 a.m. after crashing his vehicle head-on into a parked car at Lakewood Avenue and 142nd Street.

Ali had a strong smell of alcohol on his breath, was unsteady on his feet, had bloodshot eyes, and slurred his speech, Browne said. He was then charged with DWI and placed in a holding cell.

Browne says while awaiting transport to the 112th precinct for a blood alcohol test, Ali had become combative and when an officer went to investigate banging in the cell found Ali on the floor where it is believed he had either fallen or jumped from a bench. Browne said EMS was called and Ali was transported to the hospital.

Ali's previous arrests in Queens include trespassing and criminal possession of marijuana in two separate incidents in June this year, Browne said.

"Contrary to his lawyer's assertion that Ali was a passenger in a car driven by someone else who was also arrested, Ali was alone and he was the only individual arrested in connection with this incident.," Browne said in the statement.

The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau had been notified and the case was referred to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Inset photo: Staples on Imran Ali's head

Nazi survivor, Guido Brinkmann, 90, slain on upper E. Side

From the Daily News by Kerry Burke, Alison Gendar, AND Simone Weichselbaum:

An Auschwitz survivor who went on to found one of Manhattan's hottest clubs of the disco era was discovered bound and bludgeoned to death last night in his upper East Side apartment, police said.

Guido Felix Brinkmann, 90, who owned Adam's Apple in the 1970s, was discovered in his E. 65th St. apartment around 5 p.m. - he was fully clothed, his hands bound behind him and his head was drenched in blood, police said.

"The super found him," said a source. "Face down on the floor in the bedroom."

Brinkmann was close to famed ex-NYPD detective turned security consultant Beau Dietl, who called Brinkmann "a remarkable man."

"He was an Auschwitz survivor - he met his wife there. She died just last year. Not bitter. An amazing man," said Dietl, 58.

"He was on the line to be killed, and they pulled him off the extermination line four times," said Dietl, who hailed Brinkmann as the godfather of his son.

"He survived and these creeps killed him," Dietl said.

Police sources said they believe Brinkmann let a man and woman into his apartment who then robbed the elderly man.

Police said there were no signs of a break-in and Brinkmann's apartment door was open, his drawers were pulled out and the rooms were ransacked.

Cops said they later learned that Brinkmann's Honda Accord - with the distinctive plate FELIXB - was missing from the building's garage.

Police said they had received a 911 call from Dietl asking them to check on Brinkmann, and a relative met with officers when they arrived at the building, sources said.

Neighbors said they were shocked to see detectives walking through their hallways.

"This is New York," said lawyer Ken Fields. "But it is always surprising when it happens in your own backyard."

Fields pointed out that the doorman routinely phones residents to ask permission to send visitors up to apartments.

"This is a very safe building," he said.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Piecing Together a Revolver’s Fuzzy History

From the NY Times by Christine Hauser:

It was forged out of steel and given a walnut handle 60 years ago. It made its way to New York City, where it was sold by a well-known gun shop in Little Italy, and eventually passed through the hands of a law enforcement officer, who reported it lost in 1976.

The .32-caliber revolver involved in a shooting on Sunday was shipped to the John Jovino Gun Shop in Little Italy in 1949.

More than three decades would go by before the weapon, a .32-caliber revolver, resurfaced on Sunday on a Queens street, where it fell from the waistband of a man under arrest and discharged a bullet that hit Police Officer Rodney Lewis.

As they do with most weapons confiscated in New York City, investigators are now trying to piece together the tale of the postwar six-shot revolver as it takes a central role in the city’s latest shooting of a police officer. So far, it has been a laborious task for the police, leaving as many questions unanswered as raised.

The revolver was traced to the Smith & Wesson plant in Springfield, Mass., according to law enforcement sources. It was manufactured in 1949, and the model, known by gun experts as a long caliber, hand-ejector postwar model, was popular at that time with police forces, until they went to bigger-caliber guns.

But, when a .32-caliber revolver is fired, it keeps the casings inside its rotating chamber instead of spitting them out like a semiautomatic pistol, making it hard for forensic investigators to determine whether it had a criminal past.

“With this revolver it is difficult to do that because the shell casings would not be left behind at a crime scene,” said Inspector William Aubry, the commanding officer of the Police Department’s forensic investigations unit.

On Oct. 18, 1949, the revolver was shipped, most likely in its typical cardboard box, from Massachusetts to the John Jovino Gun Shop in Manhattan, which has been in continuous operation since 1911.

At the time, there were about a half-dozen gun dealers in the area; the old police headquarters and firing range were nearby. But now it stands alone, a relic surrounded by the markets and restaurants of Little Italy and Chinatown. Retired and plainclothes police officers come to peer into the glass cases, examining survival knives, or to buy personal off-duty weapons. Plastic models of guns are behind the counter. The real things are kept in cabinets.

The store has an oversize revolver hanging above its entrance, but it no longer carries old revolvers. It also no longer has records of sales at the store from the 1940s, said Anthony Imperato, whose family owns the shop and who worked there from 1978 until 1994. Records before 1997, reflecting “hundreds of thousands” of shipments and sales by the shop, were sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he said.

From those records, the Police Department learned this week that a former city correction officer filled out a police report on March 12, 1976, declaring the revolver lost. The report gives no other details, said a police spokesman, Paul J. Browne. The officer, John Eckert, retired in July that year and has since died, according to union records.

“The one thing the police do know so far is that its last legal owner was in the 1970s,” Mr. Browne said.

Drew Wade, a spokesman for the firearms bureau in Washington, said it was not surprising that the trail ran dry after the gun shop’s record-keeping.

A gun’s original purchaser can legally sell it to a friend or relative, he said. “And the next person can do the same thing. It could have changed hands a dozen times between 1949 and 1976 when the possessor of that gun reports it missing,” Mr. Wade said.

The ballistics investigation dropped no hints, turning up no remarkable wear and tear.

“It showed the usual evidence of discharge,” said Inspector Aubry.

Detective Joseph Cummings, who works in the New York Police Department’s firearms analysis section, said that after 1976, “we really could not give you much of a history. Which might be a good thing — that this gun was not used.”

Yet more than 30 years after Officer Eckert reported his gun lost, the old revolver quietly reappeared, bullets in the chamber, on that Queens street.

Officer Lewis and his partner frisked a suspect, Edwin V. Santana, 33, and found the revolver. As Officer Lewis’s partner tried to remove the gun from Mr. Santana’s waistband, he dropped it, according to the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown. The revolver hit the ground and discharged a bullet that lodged in Officer Lewis’s chest near the armpit. The officer was released from the hospital on Monday.

At Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, where Officer Lewis was initially taken, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly spoke about the need to get illegal guns off the streets, a central platform in the administration. But they also commented on the gun itself, an anachronism in an era in which the semiautomatic pistol has become the weapon of preference. Commissioner Kelly said that revolvers, even when old, are virtually indestructible, with a long “shelf life.”

The revolver will be used as evidence in the criminal case against Mr. Santana, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and illegally possessing the weapon.

Mr. Santana’s statements to the authorities have shed no further light. Mr. Santana said the revolver was in his possession just briefly. According to court papers, Mr. Santana said he had gone to Menahan Street in Ridgewood to help his former companion, who was involved in a domestic dispute with a man named Carlos. Mr. Santana said he took the revolver from Carlos just before the police frisked him.

Carlos, identified as Carlos Berrios, was arrested on Tuesday on charges of domestic assault, the police said.

And after the revolver is used as evidence in court, its future will be assured, even as some of its past remains a mystery: Like other guns seized by the police, it will be melted down and reincarnated as wire clothes hangers.

FBI Investigating Hateful Letters sent to Hispanic Businesses in Inwood

From by Cindy Hsu:
Inwood residents are feeling both anger and uncertainty after finding out about the hate letters received by some of the community's Latino business owners.

Yamil Martinez's restaurant, Papasito, is scheduled to open on Dykman Street in September. But he said hateful messages have put a damper on what he always thought would be a joyous time.

"I'm disappointed, angry and scared," Martinez said. "One of my dreams was always to have a Mexican restaurant. My dream is coming true, and I'm actually scared and disappointed. I don't know if we're going to be able to make it."

Martinez and several other owners on the block have been receiving anonymous, threatening letters for approximately one year. The messages have previously referred to them as "vermin pigeons" and call for the closing down of their restaurants.

Other letters contained messages such as "speak English" and "stop wrecking my U.S.A."

Fernando Mateo, of Hispanics Across America, claims the restaurants have been receiving the letters every couple of months, and he believes owners fear the hateful words might soon turn into violence.

"That somebody may come with a machine gun and shoot-up the area, shoot-up the patrons, you know?" Mateo said. "We don't want to wait until it escalates into gunfire."

Jesus Hernandez also owns a restaurant in the area – Mama Sushi. He came to the US from the Dominican Republic at age 14, and worked hard to be able to open his own business seven years later.

Mama Sushi opened eight months ago, and Hernandez said he cannot understand who is targeting his store and the other businesses on the block.

"I don't have just Latin people coming here," Hernandez said. "I have black, I have white I have all kinds of people as customers so I can't point out anybody who would do such a thing."

Mateo said he will be turning some of the letters over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Thursday for analysis. He has also been in contact with the Department of Justice for Human Rights about the threats.

Police release video of man beaten and robbed in Jamaica

From the Daily News by Joe Kemp:

Eight men suspected of beating and robbing a man in Jamaica were caught on surveillance video, released by police this week.

The victim, a 20-year-old Hispanic male, was walking near the intersection of Liberty Ave. and the Van Wyck Expressway around 1:15 a.m. on June 7 when eight men approached him from behind, struck him with an unknown object and stole his wallet, police said.

He was treated at Jamaica Hospital for minor injuries.

Though it was unclear why the NYPD released the video footage more than seven weeks after the crime, community leaders said they were heartened that cops were still on the case. The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.

All suspects, described as black males, are seen on the video walking toward the camera. One of them, wearing a black sweatshirt, appears to be holding a large, pipe-like object.

"I think it's great that they're still investigating this," said Andrea Crawford, chairwoman of Community Board 9.

The area has several crime hot spots, Crawford said, but added that crime in the 102nd Precinct is generally low. It covers an area that includes Richmond Hill and parts of Jamaica.

Felony assaults in the precinct were up 3.4%, but robberies have declined 29.4% so far this year compared with the same period last year, according to the most recent police statistics.

"I would love it if we had more [police] personnel," Crawford said. "But they work hard with what they have."

Police are also looking for a suspect in a shooting in the 102nd Precinct on July 14.

The suspect, Didier Medor, 30, of Kew Gardens, shot a man three times after a dispute over a chess match, in front of 123-40 83rd Ave., police said.

The victim, a 29-year-old man, was brought to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition, police said.

Anyone with tips about either crime can call the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

The public can also submit tips to www.nypdcrimestoppers. com, or send a text message to 274637 (Crimes), then enter "TIP577."

Convicted kidnapper mocks 25-year sentence as 'cakewalk'

From the Daily News by Scott Shifrel:

"That's all you're going to give me?" Jason Page, 34, ranted at Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun during the bizarre hearing.

Page was found guilty in June of abducting and torturing ex-gal pal Denetria Council (pictured to the left) last year, tying her to a crib and whipping her with an electrical cord.

He showed no remorse - just sarcasm - as victim impact statements were read at his sentencing.

"Give her a round of f---in' applause," he shouted while clapping after Council's mother, Crystal Wright, called him a "sick, brutal monster."

"Let the whole f---in' family speak," Page thundered.

The Bushwick man caused an uproar during his trial when he burst into tears and berated prosecutors after they put his 10-year-old daughter on the stand to testify against him.

But that was nothing compared to yesterday's dramatics.

"Y'all deserve some Emmys and Oscars," Page sniped after prosecutor Edward Purce asked the judge to give him 40 years in prison.

He even shouted down his own lawyer, accusing him of mumbling and demanding he sit down.

He saved the worst for last, hollering as court officers surrounded him and Council's family yelled back.

"You think I'm just going to do something like that to nobody for no reason?" the potty-mouthed perp yelled at the crowd.

"That b--- drove me crazy. Every day lying to me, lying to me. Drove me crazy. Give me my f---in' time and let me get out of here."

The judge obliged, slamming him with 25 years as Page continued to yell.

"That's all?" he shouted. "That's all you're going to give me. That's a cakewalk."

The court clerk began explaining his right to appeal, but Page cut her off.

"You have a right to leave me the f--- alone," he shouted as he was led out by officers.

Council - who had told the court how Page treated her like "an animal" and scarred her from top to bottom - shook her head as she left.

"That's just the way he is," she said.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Four friends from NYU charged with ripping off banks of $422K, claiming ATM card thefts

From the Daily News by Scott Shifrel:

Armed with tons of ATM cards and a little-known federal regulation, four old school pals used a "beaut of a scam" to steal $422,000 from Brooklyn banks, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The four, three of whom were buddies at NYU, exploited a regulation that requires banks to repay customers who claimed their ATM cards were lost or stolen within 10 days, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said.

"This is really a beaut of a scam, I got to tell you," Hynes told reporters. "The scheme was as simple as it was brazen."
Using something known in the banking world as Regulation E of the Federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act, the four cleaned out their accounts and put in claims for $700,000 over five years, prosecutors said.

Cameras caught them taking the money out, but they were almost always wearing motorcycle helmets - even in sweltering summer heat - or some other covering to protect their identities, Hynes said.

The four, three of whom were in finance and one a lawyer and former paralegal in the Queens district attorney's office, flew under the radar by withdrawing relatively small amounts - several hundred to several thousand dollars but not more than $10,000 - from many accounts, prosecutors said.

Beginning in 2003, Eric Manganelli, Lam Dang, John Tluczek, and Tluczek's wife, Marzena Tluczek, deposited money in bank accounts across the city, taking out something like $20 legitimately to start things up, waiting a week and then taking out $500 to $1,000 a day until the account was empty.

They would then report missing or stolen cards and pin numbers, sometimes giving "excuses" that were at times "absolutely absurd," Assistant District Attorney Karen Turner said.
In 2008, Manganelli reported he lost a slew of cards and a computer spreadsheet of PIN numbers when he went to his safe-deposit box and left them on the examining room table, Turner said.

The scam depended on regulation E and Manganelli, 36, a well-connected lawyer who boasted on one Web site of having been a "high-ranking member of political campaigns," often wrote threatening letters to banks asking for their money.
Manganelli and John Tluczek, 35, met at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where Manganelli was valedictorian, prosecutors said. They met Dang, 37, who is a financial consultant, when they went to NYU.

The scheme came to light after an investigator at Wachovia Bank called another bank and began comparing notes. "They thought that nobody was looking," Michael Vecchione, the rackets bureau chief in the Brooklyn DA's office, said. "But these institutions have massive databases and it's just a matter of time when they cross-reference them and people get caught."
Among the banks ripped off were HSBC, where two of the suspects worked, Chase, and Signature Bank.

Prosecutors said they have 15 large files full of evidence they will soon start turning over to defense attorneys, all of whom vowed to fight the case.
Manganelli was released on $50,000 bail and Dang was released on $25,000. The Tluczeks are expected to make bail today. They each face multiple counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records and other charges and up to seven years in prison for the top counts.
Hynes vowed to ask for consecutive time, if they are convicted.

2-year-old Brooklyn boy watches father get gunned down in front of him

From the Daily News by BY Barry Paddock and Brian Kates:
A 2-year-old boy was splattered with his father's blood, but survived unharmed after the dad was killed in a spray of bullets in Brooklyn.

Kester LaRoc, 29, was bringing his son, Kessai, home from day care just before 10 p.m. Tuesday when the bullets started flying.
LaRoc was fatally wounded and a 36-year-old friend was shot in the thigh.
"He was a good dad," said LaRoc's devastated girlfriend, Siekena Myrie, little Kessai in her lap. "He spent time with his son, picked him up from day care, watched him. A very loving person."
Relatives heard the crack of gunfire and ran outside. They found the terrified boy covered in blood. The bullets missed him. LaRoc, a father of four, was found near the back of the house - apparently running off in a desperate attempt to escape the gunfire.
Police said LaRoc was shot in the torso and died at the scene on E. 52nd St. in Flatbush. The dad's unidentified friend was in stable condition Wednesday at Brookdale University Hospital.
LaRoc's relatives said the Brooklyn man was unemployed. They had no idea who would want to hurt him or why. Besides Kessai, he leaves behind three young daughters. He had lived in the apartment with family since he moved to the city from Guyana at age 5.

The victim's mother, Monica LaRoc, had just visited her son and was about to board a plane Tuesday night. Her family called her. She left the airport and returned to her grieving.

Sunshine Armed Bandits have robbed 6 stores in Staten Island

The NYPD has released security camera video showing some bold bandits hitting up convenience stores on Staten Island. Cops say these thieves have struck at least six times since April. Detectives hope that the video showing the suspects will prompt someone to come forward with information or at least call in an anonymous tip.
The robbers brandish guns, and police fear that it is only a matter of time before the stickups turn violent and someone gets hurt.
Residents are unnerved by the string of robberies, and the store employees and managers say they are surprised that all of the heists have happened during daylight hours.
Police are asking for the public's assistance in locating three men wanted in connection with six (6) armed commercial robberies that occurred in the 120 and 122 Precincts. The suspects enter the locations, display firearms, remove unknown amounts of USC from the cash registers, and flee on foot.
#1 - At approx. 1635 on 04-27-09 at 1110 Hylan Blvd. in the confines of the 122 Pct.

#2 - At approx. 1820 on 05-03-09 at 791 Vanduzer St. in the confines of the 120 Pct.

#3 - At approx. 1525 on 05-10-09 at 2524 Forest Ave. in the confines of the 120 Pct.

#4 - At approx. 1840 on 06-02-09 at 612 Richmond Rd. in the confines of the 120 Pct.

#5 - At approx. 1520 on 07-06-09 at 929 Manor Rd. in the confines of the 122 Pct.

#6 - At approx. 1440 on 07-23-09 at 1891 Clove Rd. in the confines of the 122 Pct.

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 by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bronx Home Invasion leaves 1 Robber killed and the other culprit injured

From by Magee Hickey:
An apparent home invasion took a deadly turn Tuesday morning.

The owner of the targeted home turned the tables on two of the four would-be robbers just after midnight in the Wakefield section of the Bronx.

Police said Ivy Skeffery, of 1704 Bussing Avenue, managed to wrestle a gun away from one of the four black male intruders before shooting two of them inside the home.

One of the suspects was announced dead at the scene, and another is in stable condition at Jacobi Hospital.

According to police, the attempted home invasion occurred shortly after midnight.

A neighbor of the typically hard-working, quiet residential community expressed shock after hearing the news from CBS 2 HD.

"Wow," said Sandra. "Very brave. He's hard working, quiet, hard working guy."

Queens woman pours boiling water on cheating husband's crotch

From the Daily News by Kerry Burke, Alison Gendar and Bill Hutchinson:

Ina twisted act of revenge, Oyinda Ojofeitimi, 67, a registered nurse,carried out the crotch-scalding attack to ensure her spouse stoppedcheating, cops said.

"She was hurt and angry that after all thistime married, he was stepping out on her," a police source said. "Shewanted to shut down that possibility forever because he had treated herwith such contempt."

The painful wakeup call left EmmanuelOjofeitimi, also a nurse, screaming in the bedroom of the couple's homeon Milburn St. in Springfield Gardens.

"I could hear it throughthe ceiling," said a mother of two, who rents an upstairs apartment inthe feuding couple's house. "It was a physical altercation. It was thewoman screaming and him in the background."

"They took him out on a stretcher," said another neighbor, Felix Smith.

Thewoman immediately regretted the assault and called 911, cops said. Shewas treating him with cold compresses when paramedics arrived. Herhusband, 67, suffered second- and third-degree burns from his knees tohis abdomen, police said. He was being treated at the burn unit atNassau University Medical Center.

Oyinda Ojofeitimi told cops she recently had learned her husband of 20 years had been unfaithful.

Fedup and furious, she awoke at 6 a.m. and boiled a pot of water on herstove, cops said. As her husband slept, she poured the pot on hisprivates, cops said.

Arrested on assault charges, the betrayed wife, an immigrant of Grenada, was awaiting arraignment Monday night.

Edwin Santana, who shot NYPD officer Rodney Lewis, served time for murder

From The Daily News by Oren Yaniv BOren:

The ex-con whose gun accidentally went off and wounded a cop spent 15 years in prison for killing a man in a dispute, it was revealed Monday.

Details on Edwin Santana's rap sheet emerged when the 33-year-old parolee was arraigned on assault and gun charges in the Sunday shooting of Police Officer Rodney Lewis.

"I had the gun, but I didn't shoot nobody," Santana told cops immediately after his arrest, court papers said.

In a signed statement, he later claimed he ran into Carlos Berrios - the guy whose domestic incident with Santana's transgendered ex-girlfriend brought cops to the scene.

Santana said Berrios told him the cops were after him and gave him his gun.

A criminal complaint said two officers then stopped Santana and searched him, finding a pistol in his waistband.

Santana then turned around, causing Officer Mark Bublin to drop the gun. One round was discharged, hitting Lewis, 40.

The bullet lodged in the side of the cop's chest. The father of three is recovering and is expected to leave the hospital within days.

"It was an unfortunate accident," Santana's court-appointed lawyer, Germaine Auguste, said in Queens Supreme Court. "It appears to be an accidental shooting."

Santana, who has no known address, was ordered held on $100,000 bail for two felonies that can land him in prison for 15 years.

That's how much time he did for the October 1991 murder of William Sainato at Rufus King Park in Jamaica, Queens.

Santana, then 15, and his friends blamed Sainato for stealing the donation jar from a makeshift memorial erected for their slain friend, sources said. They punched and kicked him, leaving shoe prints on his face.

Santana pleaded guilty and was sentenced as a juvenile to five years to life in prison, records show.

He was released in August 2006 but missed a number of appointments with his parole officer, who issued a warrant, prosecutors said.

"He's not a bad guy," his brother, who would not give his name, said after the court proceeding.

A friend said Santana couldn't find a job or get his life back on track after getting out of prison.

Police Search for Alleged Dunkin' Donuts Robber in the Bronx and Manhattan


Police are asking for the public's help in finding a man wanted in at least nine robberies in the Bronx and Manhattan.
Police say the man has robbed at least eight Dunkin' Donuts stores since June 24. They say the first robbery occurred at a subway rest on Gun Hill Road.

In each incident, the man entered the store and demanded money from the clerks at gunpoint, police say.

Police say the latest robbery happened on Sunday afternoon at a Dunkin' Donuts on 2nd Avenue.

No injuries have been reported.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The Public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dead Body Found at Brooklyn Marina

Police were investigating Monday after a man's body was found on the shore in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn.

The body was discovered in the sand at the Gateway Marina located directly across from Floyd Bennett Field.

Police say an investigation into the death is ongoing.

Witnesses tell 1010 WINS that a construction worker found the body and called police.

Hunt for Bronx man killed by a hit-run driver

From the Daily News by Zachary Goelman and Jonathan Lemir:

Cops are hunting for a heartless driver who mowed down a pedestrian in the Bronx on Sunday and then sped off, police said.

Witnesses told investigators that a silver Honda raced through a red light at the intersection of Metropolitan and Wood Aves. in Parkchester just after 2:30 a.m., police said.

The sedan slammed into a man in the crosswalk, flipping the helpless pedestrian onto its roof, police said. The car then drove more than 200 feet before shaking the man loose onto the concrete, police said.

The victim, who was not carrying any form of identification, died within moments, police said. A backpack and a wrist watch were found near the corpse, police said. The medical examiner will attempt to identify the body. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

Drive-by Coney Island shooting claims teen's life

From the Daily News by Jonathan Lemire:

A 19-year-old Brooklyn man was gunned down early Sunday in a drive-by shooting outside a Coney Island housing project, police said.

Micuan Serrano was standing in the courtyard outside the gritty Coney Island Houses on Surf Ave. when a car suddenly sped around a corner and roared toward the teen, witnesses told police.

Someone inside the car thrust a gun out the window and opened fire, unleashing more than a dozen bullets, police said. Several slugs hit Serrano in the head and chest, killing him instantly.

The car then raced off. No arrests have been made, police said. The motive for the killing remains unknown, police said. Serrano, who lived nearby, did not have a criminal record, police said.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cop shot confronting gunman in Ridgewood Queens

From the Daily News by Alison Gendar, Zachary Goelman AND Jonathan Lemir:

A police officer responding to a violent domestic dispute on a Queens street was shot Sunday morning during a struggle with an ex-con, cops said.

Officer Rodney Lewis, 40, was expected to survive though the bullet missed his protective vest entirely, passing through its armhole before striking the cops' underarm, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

But the bullet only hit muscle, sparing Lewis' life, Kelly said.

"He wanted to be a cop all his life," said Mayor Bloomberg, who stood with Kelly at a press conference at Wyckoff Hospital and added that the injured officer was already anxious to get back to work.

Lewis and his partner Mark Bublin, who are both assigned to the 104th Precinct, rushed to Menahan St. in Ridgewood just before 5 a.m., police said.

They were responding to a 911 call made by Hazel Campana (pictured above), who is a transgendered woman who had returned home from a party a short time earlier with her boyfriend Carlos, police sources said.

They began to squabble, and Campana - who police sources said used to be named Robert Campana - accused Carlos of stealing from her purse.

Carlos, who sports a teardrop tattoo under his eye, then hit Campana, who called police and a friend, who in turn called the victim's ex-boyfriend, Edwin Santana.

Santana, who was convicted of manslaughter in 1991 and is wanted on a current parole violation, confronted Campana and Carlos on the sidewalk minutes later, police said.

"Santana shows up to defend her honor," a police source said.

A second 911 call was then made, describing "a bald man with a gun," according to sources. Officers Lewis and Bublin spotted Santana, who is bald, with a bulge in his jacket and ordered him to stop but the ex-con refused, Kelly said.

The cops struggled with Santana and tried to remove an old 32-caliber handgun from his waistband, said Kelly, who later displayed the 60-year-old weapon.

The weapon was knocked loose, and a single round was discharged when it hit the pavement, striking Lewis under his left arm, Kelly said.

Though he was struck, Lewis still managed to help his partner subdue Santana. He then said, "I'm shot," and his colleagues rushed him to the hospital.

Jose Moran, 32, heard the commotion while stocking shelves at a nearby bodega.

"I heard shots and came upstairs," said Moran. "I saw maybe six police officers carrying another one into a police car and they drove away."

Lewis, who is married, was conscious when colleagues put him in a squad car and rushed him to Wyckoff Hospital. He will be moved later today to New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center.

Lewis joined the NYPD four-and-a-half years ago after he spent two years with the Corrections Department. Before that, he laid floors for a living, Kelly said.

Santana, 33, was arrested at the scene and charges against him are pending, police said. Campana's current boyfriend - who may also have had a weapon - has not yet been located, police said.