<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/crime-and-courts http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usFri, 20 Jan 2017 07:49:40 -0500Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:49:40 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Exclusive: NYPD Hatchet Attack Survivors Talk to News 4]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 16:51:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000007039683_1200x675_440437827788.jpg The four officers who were attacked in Queens last October speak exclusively to News 4's Jonathan Dienst.]]> <![CDATA[Boyfriend Could Face Homicide Charges in Boy's Death: DA]]> Thu, 19 Jan 2017 07:36:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ZYMERE+PERKINS+1.jpg

The boyfriend of the mother of Zymere Perkins could be charged with killing the 6-year-old, authorities say. 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is presenting a case for homicide charges against Rysheim Smith, 42, in addition to a previous charge of child endangerment, his office said.

The news comes three months after the city medical examiner ruled the boy's death a homicide. An investigation further determined that the child died from fatal child abuse syndrome, which means he showed evidence of acute and chronic abuse and neglect.

Last month, a damning state report revealed several instances where individuals who cared about little Zymere had called the Administration for Children's Services, starting when he was just a baby.

A tipster told the child abuse hotline Smith allegedly had hit Zymere at least 20 times at a June 2015 picnic while Perkins neglected to interfere. 

Zymere died Sept. 26 after what prosecutors say was months of abuse by his mother and Smith. The day he died, Smith allegedly beat him with a broostick and hung him by his shirt over the back of the bathroom door.

NYPD detectives who investigated his case raised over $9,000 to help pay for the boy's Oct. 7 funeral and wake.

Five ACS case workers were placed on desk duty after Zymere died, and four others were suspended for a month without pay. A probe by Comptroller Scott Stringer's office found that at least 10 children died within three months under the city agency's watch.

Smith faced a grand jury in court Tuesday. The DA declined to comment on whether there's an attempt to upgrade the charges against Zymere's mother, Geraldine Perkins, as well.

<![CDATA[Hofstra Grad Slay Suspect's Attorney Blames Other Men ]]> Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:38:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC+11PM+AIRCHECK+M-Sun+-+23004825_WNBC_000000014683099+copy.jpg

The lawyer for one of three men arrested in the grisly killing of Hofstra University graduate Joseph Comunale late last year is pointing fingers at the two other suspects, saying that the charges against his client should be dropped.

In court papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday, attorney Mark Bederow says Lawrence Dilione and James Rackover, the adopted son of celebrity jeweler Jeffery Rackover, are solely responsible for Comunale's death, which Bederow claims was the fatal conclusion of a fight over cigarettes. 

Prosecutors say Comunale, of Stamford, Connecticut, was stabbed more than a dozen times in a luxury Manhattan apartment building after partying with the suspects. His body was found buried in a shallow grave in New Jersey on Nov. 16.

Bederow’s 29-year-old client, Max Gemma, of Oceanport, was arrested in connection with the case. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. Bederow says the case against Gemma should be tossed.

Gemma, the son of former Oceanport mayor Gordon Gemma, turned himself in to police in December. Prosecutors said they believe Gemma was in the apartment where 26-year-old Comunale died and that he changed his clothing and hid evidence.

“We don’t think there is any basis to charge him with any crimes simply because they alleged at some point he changed his clothes,” Bederow  told NBC 4 New York. 

In the motion, Bederow says prosecutors have no evidence Gemma took part in Comunale’s murder, claiming instead that “Dilione admitted to assaulting Mr. Comunale to the point of unconsciousness after an argument over cigarettes.”

The motion states that Rackover, who lived at the 59th Street luxury apartment where authorities say Comunale was killed, was afraid of being arrested and said, “We have to kill him.”

Bederow contends that “Rackover choked Mr. Comunale before stabbing him in the head with a knife.”

Rackover, of Manhattan, and Dilione, of Jersey City, both pleaded not guilty late last year to concealment of a human body, hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.

All three men are charged with evidence tampering but not murder because investigators are still working to determine who actually killed Comunale, sources said.

Gemma and Dilione are both out on bail. Rackover remains behind bars.

<![CDATA[NY Prison Officer Hired Hit Man to Bash Ex-Wife: NYPD]]> Fri, 06 Jan 2017 18:24:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NYPD-generic.jpg

A federal prison officer working at a New York jail tried to hire a hit man to "maim and paralyze" his ex-wife, police say.

George Gonzalez was busted when he called an undercover cop posing as a hit man to arrange for his ex and her new partner to be bashed so badly they would never fully recover, the NYPD says.

Law enforcement officials said Gonzalez worked as a federal corrections officer at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

On Dec. 20 last year he put in the call to the "hit man" asking how much he would charge to “beat, maim and paralyze” the couple, an arrest warrant request filed in the Eastern District of New York Thursday claims.

Three days later, he met with another undercover cop near his work in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, with pictures of the ex-wife and her new partner to get the "hit man" prepared.

The unwitting corrections officer gave the undercover officer his ex’s address in Florida, told them “it should look like a robbery” and to take any valuables as partial payment.

Gonzalez told the cop he didn’t want them killed, rather just beaten so badly they would “suffer for the rest of their lives”, police say. 

Police say they have a recording of him suggesting there were “ways to do it” such as “taking a hammer to the spine”.

The federal corrections officer said he’d ideally like the job done in February, after a court case with his ex, and that he had other “jobs” for the undercover hit man.

He also allegedly offered the address of a relative of his ex-wife who the undercover officer could rob as partial payment for the first “job”.

Gonzalez said he'd do it himself, but he'd already been to their house and had police called on him.

He was arraigned on Friday in Brooklyn Federal Court and held without bail.

<![CDATA[37 Indicted in Alleged Gas Meter Scheme in Brooklyn]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 19:11:49 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/209*120/Gas+Meter+Resize.jpg

More than three dozen people have been indicted in an alleged scheme to install gas meters in Brooklyn buildings without proper permits. 

A total of 37 individuals, including seven employees of utility National Grid and landlords who allegedly handed out bribes, were arraigned throughout the day Thursday on charges ranging from first-degree falsfying business records to second-degree commercial bribing.

They surrendered to investigators in the morning. The arrests follow an investigation by the city's Department of Investigation and the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. 

Brooklyn's Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez identified Weldon "Al" Findlay, 47, as the mastermind behind the enterprise. Findlay, a National Grid employee until 2010, was charged with enterprise corruption, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years.

The Brooklyn resident allegedly directed the enterprise's criminal activities from Jan. 12, 2016 to Jun. 30, 2016. His attorney couldn't immediately be reached for comment on his arrest.

According to court documents, the criminal enterprise involved illegally installing gas meters in exchange for cash at 33 residential properties across Brooklyn, including in Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Heights, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Midwood and Borough Park, and homes in Queens.

According to the investigation, when a landlord with a new or renovated apartment wanted to avoid either the expense of the required tests, or possible delays associated with compliance, the landlord contacted Findlay, who would arrange for illegal service. Landlords could be confident that National Grid employees setting up the account and providing gas service would violate or ignore any rules or regulations that would prevent or delay the supply of gas, the indictment alleges.

When an owner or property manager wanted a meter, he or she would text Findlay the request and send an address, prosecutors say. Findlay would then text back a price, generally around $1,500 per meter, and, if the owner agreed, Findlay would set the criminal enterprise in motion, officials say.

"These defendants showed contempt for rule and regulations specifically put into placce to protect public safety, an dthey did this with callous disregard on a regular basis," Gonzalez said. "We will continue to protect Brooklyn residents by pursuing criminal prosecutions of landlords and other who put profits ahead of safeguards."

The Department of Buildings and National Grid inspected every property identified in connection with the investigation and ensured that there is no risk to public safety, according to the district attorney's office.

National Grid said in a statement it has zero tolerance for unethical and illegal behavior. 

"The alleged misconduct, although limited to a handful of former employees, contradicts the dedication and professional values of our 15,000 hardworking men and women who are committed to serving our customers," the utility said. 

National Grid said it has cooperated fully with investigators, conducted safety inspections and taken corrective measures where needed. 

"National Grid is also conducting a thorough internal investigation and will be working hand-in-hand with its regulator, the NYS Public Service Commission, to take the steps necessary to enhance our existing controls and to implement any additional controls and recommendations required to prevent a similar situation from recurring in the future," the statement said.

<![CDATA[Dating Site 'Billionaire' Scams Women of Up to $360K: FBI]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 21:52:07 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SANTIA+DATING+WEBSITE+CON+MAN+PKG+5PM+-+00003728_WNBC_000000014.jpg

A man who claimed he was a billionaire and an oil tycoon on major dating sites scammed about 15 women out of up to $360,000 in New York and elsewhere, collected naked photos of them and threatened to release them when confronted, the FBI claims.

The FBI's complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York in June 2016, alleges John Edward Taylor, sometimes known as Jay Taylor, ripped off multiple women over five years.

Taylor had a habit of logging onto dating sites like Match.com, eHarmony, Craigslist and Seeking Arrangements and pretending he was a wealthy businessman, the FBI said. 

In one case, he told a victim he was a billionaire, the complaint alleges. In another, he was a wealthy businessman with oil refineries and land interests in North Dakota, the complaint says.

But when the ladies met with their online love interest, in hotels or restaurants, they often found he’d forgotten his wallet and credit card.

Through lies and deceit, Taylor would trick women into relationships in order to steal their identities and get access to their bank accounts, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the complaint.

Some victims turned up to hotel rooms to find Taylor had "forgotten his wallet." Others thought they were being hired by Taylor, then were convinced to put up money for expensive office rentals. Some women just noticed thousands of dollars missing from their accounts.

When they confronted him, Taylor would often then threaten to send naked photos of them to their workplaces, the FBI said.

Text messages from Taylor were seen by the feds telling one of his victims "Have fun at [work]," "I'm sending them all," the complaint said.

Another victim was told: "I'm also sending the pictures to every man that works at your job you know the one that said they want to see you naked there going to" [sic], according to the complaint.

One of his victims was so scared by the threats she sent him another $1,700.

Taylor, who law enforcement sources say was living in his car throughout the alleged charade, was eventually arrested at a country club in Yardley, Pennsylvania. In New York he faces charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and threatening interstate communications. 

Attorney information for Taylor wasn't immediately available. 

<![CDATA[Yonkers Dad Arrested in Christmas Eve Death of Toddler Son]]> Wed, 28 Dec 2016 22:59:28 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/blair+robinson.jpg

A Yonkers man has been arrested, accused of killing his toddler son on Christmas Eve, police say.

Yonkers police first responded to St. John's Hospital Saturday evening, where they were alerted to an unresponsive 2-year-old boy who was brought in by his father, Blair Robinson. 

Investigators determined the child suffered injuries from being hit repeatedly by Robinson, police said. The boy died of blunt force trauma.

Robinson was arrested on a charge of first-degree manslaughter. He was expected to be arraigned in Yonkers City Court later Wednesday. 

Attorney information for Robinson was also not immediately available.

Also as part of the investigation, authorities went to the family's home where the boy's mother and another 10-month-old baby girl were living, police said. The home was found unsanitary, and the infant was taken from the apartment and turned over to Child Protective Service. 

Photo Credit: Yonkers Police]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect in Killings Was Angry Son Was Dressed as Girl: NYPD]]> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 07:45:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/isaac+infante+arraignment.jpg

The 23-year-old ex-lover of a former New York City schoolteacher killed her and their 4-year-old son because he was angry in part that she was dressing the boy in girl's clothing, police said Wednesday. 

Isaac Duran Infante, who was arrested Tuesday in the deaths of 36-year-old Felicia Barahona and their 4-year-old son Miguel, allegedly confessed to police that he first planned to kill Barahona but then ended up killing the child as well. 

NYPD Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce said at a news conference Wednesday that the mother "did dress the child in girl's clothing, and he felt that antagonized him."

"But there was other issues as well, there was monetary issues," said Boyce. "He did have a new girlfriend in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he lived." 

Police said surveillance video captured Infante outside Barahona's apartment door in Hamilton Heights last Thursday, then leaving that night, after allegedly killing the woman and their son. 

"We have him on video in the hallways pacing back and forth in front of the apartment," said Boyce.

A neighbor of Barahona told NBC 4 New York he noticed a foul smell coming from upstairs last Friday. The building superintendent finally went into the apartment early Monday morning with police, and that's when the bodies were found -- Barahona in the living room with an electrical cord around her neck, Miguel in the bathtub. Infante had strangled both of them by squeezing a cord around their necks, according to a criminal complaint.

Infante was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court Wednesday on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree murder. His attorney, Allen Farbman of Legal Aid, said his client was "very upset and crying" before the arraignment. 

"It's a very upsetting case, obviously," said Farbman. And despite the prosecutors' assertion that Infante had confessed to killing Barahona and their son, Farbman said "I haven't seen any confession, I don't know anything about it. It's very difficult for me to comment on a confession that the D.A. said was made." 

Barahona was a former science teacher of Infante at the DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, and the two met and started their affair while he was still a student. Barahona lost her job in 2013, shortly after she became pregnant and school administrators learned of her illicit relationship with a student. 

His anguished grandmother, who lives in the Bronx, told NBC 4 New York in Spanish she wanted justice and that she knows her grandson is innocent of the charges.  

Another relative of Infante, Janiel Santana, said, "It's hard to believe they're dead. When we heard the news, we thought this has got to be a mistake." 

The couple shared custody of the child, relatives said. Infante's family was expecting to see the boy for New Year's Eve to give him his Christmas presents. 

Infante has been remanded back to jail without bail and is next scheduled to appear in court Friday. 

Photo Credit: NY Daily News/Pool/NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Lover to Be Arraigned in Deaths of Former Teacher, Son ]]> Wed, 28 Dec 2016 09:08:11 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/isaac+duran+felicia+barahona+2.jpg

The 23-year-old ex-lover of a former New York City schoolteacher is expected to be arraigned Wednesday on murder charges in the deaths of the woman and their 4-year-old son. 

The bodies of 36-year-old Felicia Barahona and 4-year-old Miguel Barahona were found in Barahona's Manhattan apartment Monday. The medical examiner ruled Barahona died from strangulation by the electrical cord, and her son died of asphyxia from neck compression.

Barahona's former student, Isaac Duran Infante, confessed Tuesday to killing them, a law enforcement source told NBC 4 New York.

Duran Infante was a former student of Barahona at DeWitt Clinton High School, where she taught science. Their son was born from their affair, which began when Duran was 17 years old.

A source told NBC 4 New York that Duran confessed to the double killing in part because he was dissatisfied with the way his son was being raised by Barahona. 

Duran Infante said nothing to reporters as he was led in handcuffs from the police stationhouse Tuesday. Information on an attorney for him wasn't immediately available. 

His anguished grandmother, who lives in the Bronx, told NBC 4 New York in Spanish she wanted justice and that she knows her grandson is innocent of the charges.  

Another relative of Duran Infante, Janiel Santana, said, "It's hard to believe they're dead. When we heard the news, we thought this has got to be a mistake." 

The couple shared custody of the child, relatives said. Miguel's father's side of the family was expecting to see the boy for New Year's Eve to give him his Christmas presents. 

Barahona lost her job at DeWitt in 2013, shortly after she became pregnant and school administrators learned of her illicit relationship with a student. 

Felicia Barahona was found dead, an electrical cord wrapped around her neck, on the living room floor of her West 153rd Street apartment in Hamilton Heights around 8:15 a.m. Monday after the building super was alerted about a smell, police said. Her son Miguel was found unresponsive in a bathtub, police said. Investigators believe the duo had been dead several days.

Neighbors described Miguel as a sweet boy.

"It's sad. It's a little life," said Elia Flores, adding of his mother, "I've known her for a lot of years that she live here."

<![CDATA[Love Triangle Apparently Fueled Killing: Police]]> Mon, 26 Dec 2016 16:04:45 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/elmer+gomez+ruano.jpg

Police in Connecticut say a man charged with killing his wife and abandoning their 6-year-old daughter at a New York City bus station was angry over his wife's relationship with another man.

An arrest warrant affidavit prepared by Stamford police and obtained by The Advocate of Stamford also says Elmer Gomez Ruano confessed to smothering 24-year-old Dionicia Bautista-Cano with a wet towel until she died.

Police say the couple had been reunited for less than 24 hours when they got into a fight over her ex-boyfriend Nov. 14 in their Stamford apartment. Authorities allege Ruano killed Bautista-Cano while their daughter apparently was sleeping. 

Ruano has pleaded not guilty to murder. His lawyer, Darnell Crosland, didn't immediately return messages Monday.

Crosland told The Advocate the girl is in foster care.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY/Stamford Police
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<![CDATA[Slain Nightclub Owner Mourned as Suspect Appears in Court]]> Mon, 26 Dec 2016 17:07:33 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mount+vernon+shooting+suspect.jpg

The suspect in a deadly Christmas Day shooting in Mount Vernon made his first appearance in court Monday morning as family members and friends grieved the loss of a man who they say was helping to elevate the community. 

The 36-year-old suspected gunman, who's from the Bronx, was arraigned in Mount Vernon City Court on charges of murder and attempted murder in the shooting that killed O'Neal Bandoo, the 40-year-old owner of The Mansion nightclub, and injured five others.

After the arraignment, Errol Hillary was remanded back to jail with no bail. He's next expected to appear in court Friday for a separate hearing on a felony charge, according to the Westchester District Attorney.

Attorney information for Hillary wasn't immediately clear. 

Outside the courtroom, the victim's young daughter was in tears as she cried, "My dad." 

Bandoo's father told reporters that "he was a very good man." 

"He'd work all the time. The nature of what he was doing was he had to work holidays a lot," said Brian Deaver. "His job was that, taking care of people on holidays." 

Deaver said his son, who lived in the University Heights section of the Bronx, had been planning a Christmas celebration at his home. 

Another family friend, Bashon Reid, called O'Neil "an amazing man" who for his age "has done so many things, he's gonna live beyond his time."

"He actually elevated this community, Mount Vernon," said Reid. "He was able to employ so many people -- Mount Vernon right now needed something, needed some light brought to it. He was able to help a lot of people, employ a lot of people. He was an inspiration to many people."

"This was something that was very unexpected," he said. "He didn't deserve this."  

The gunshots rang out inside The Mansion at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday. A patron, Cleveland Douse, told NBC 4 New York he was with the owner inside the club when they heard the gunfire. After Bandoo ran downstairs toward the commotion, more shots were fired. 

"When I heard the shots, I ran back to the bar," said Douse. "I ran back to the bar, I come downstairs, I come outside and I saw three men on the ground."

The five injured victims suffered non-life threatening wounds to the leg, arm, chest and back and were treated at hospitals.

Security guards tackled suspect Errol Hillary to the ground immediately after shots were fired. He got away from them briefly, but was caught shortly afterward by arriving police officers. 

Mount Vernon Police Captain Edward Adinaro said he belives the suspect wanted to retaliate after he was possibly ejected from the club earlier on in the evening. He said he didn't know what led to the suspect getting kicked out.

The gunman was already wanted on an open attempted murder charge in the Bronx, police said. 

"It's a dark day in the city and we are all grieving," Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas in a statement. "No one should ever have to endure this pain. Mr. Bandoo was a good man who as dedicated to uplifting and serving the people of Mount Vernon."

<![CDATA[Serial Killer Probe Opens After 3rd Missing Woman Found Dead]]> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 11:44:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SIEGAL+STUDENT+KILLED+SECOND+MURDER+LINK+PKG+530+-+00000317_WNB1.jpg

Authorities believe the 20-year-old New Jersey man accused of killing a college student and another woman in the last few months may be linked to a third slaying, and investigators are actively looking at him as a possible serial killer, law enforcement sources familiar with the probe tell NBC 4 New York.

The sources say Khalil Wheeler-Weaver is being investigated in the death of a missing 19-year-old Philadelphia escort whose burned body was discovered in an abandoned building in Orange, New Jersey. Though she has not been publicly identified, she was living at the Garden State Motel in Union Township when she disappeared, the sources say. She vanished in September.

It wasn't clear what investigators believed tied Wheeler-Weaver to the case, but the body of at least one of the other women he's accused of killing was found under similar circumstances.

He has not been charged with killing the 19-year-old woman. His attorney, Shevelle McPherson, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on a possible connection to the case.

On Tuesday, Wheeler-Weaver pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the death of 33-year-old Joanne Brown, who was last seen Oct. 22 in Orange and whose body was found in a vacant house in Newark on Dec. 5.

He has also pleaded not guilty to murder and other crimes in the death of 20-year-old Sarah Butler, a sophomore at New Jersey City University who was reported missing Nov. 23. The Montclair woman's body was found eight days later on the Eagle Rock Reservation.
Investigators said Butler and Brown didn't appear to know each other, but both were killed in the same manner: strangulation and asphyxiation. Police have not revealed potential motives in the slayings. 

Wheeler-Weaver remains jailed on $5 million bail. 

Butler's sister told NBC 4 New York Tuesday, before news broke of the possible connection to the third slaying, that she wasn't surprised Wheeler-Weaver had been accused of more deadly violence — but she did say she was stunned.

"Usually I just hear about this in movies," Aliyah Butler said. "I didn't think that things like this and people actually happened in the real world." 

"Now I'm wondering how many girls he's hurt like this," she said. "I'm just hoping the number isn't large because what he did to my sister was terrible."

Asked whether they believe the deaths are the work of a serial killer, acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said Tuesday, "I'm not gonna comment on that."

McPherson insists her client is innocent and that prosecutors don't have enough evidence to connect him to the deaths of Brown and Butler.

She said Tuesday the evidence she has seen is "very circumstantial."

"They're trying to accuse him of this [second] crime, because manner of deaths are similar," she said. "If they're gonna try to secure a conviction based on manner of death, they're gonna have to come up with more than that."

NBC 4 New York has learned Wheeler-Weaver comes from a family that includes at least two law enforcement officers -- one a cop in East Orange who lives in his home and another who works for the Newark Police Department. 

Wheeler-Weaver was most recently employed as a security guard for Sterling Security, a firm owned by two former Newark police officers. In that capacity, he worked at a Shoprite in Union Township.

The security firm didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Thief in Brazen $1.6M Midtown Gold Bucket Heist Identified]]> Wed, 21 Dec 2016 07:20:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/4P+SANTIA+GOLD+HEIST+SUSPECT+FOLO+PKG+-+00000523_WNBC_000000014.jpg

Police have identified the quick-moving crook who brazenly stole a bucket of gold flakes worth nearly $1.6 million from an armored truck and ran off with it in midtown Manhattan earlier this fall.

The NYPD says Julio Nivelo is the man who allegedly swiped the 86-pound bucket of gold off the truck on West 48th Street in September, the heist seen in surveillance video first obtained by NBC 4 New York. 

NYPD Det. Martin Pastor says Nivelo, who's from West New York, New Jersey, is a convicted felon who's known to the NYPD as Luis Toledo, among other aliases. He's a career thief who's been arrested seven times and deported four times to his native Ecuador, according to Pastor. 

Now the NYPD Major Case Squad has been tracking Nivelo's moves: Pastor says Nivelo fled to Orlando, Florida, before moving on to California, where he's believed to be hiding out in the Los Angeles area with the stolen riches. 

Nivelo was a man about town before the heist, it appears: photos show him posing at Washington Square Park and with a figure of the pope at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. 

A reward of more than $100,000 is being offered for information in the case. 

Surveillance video from the the theft shows Nivelo loitering around the truck before one guard goes to make a pickup, and the other guard heads to the front seat to grab his cellphone. Those 20 seconds were long enough for the thief to strike: he goes to grab the 86-pound bucket and makes a run for it, though he clearly has difficulty maneuvering it.

"I think he just saw an opportunity, took the pail and walked off," Pastor previously told NBC 4 New York. 

The video shows the thief setting down the heavy bucket, putting it on his shoulder, then taking a breather. He takes another few steps and pauses again. The normally 10-minute walk takes him an hour. He then jumps into a van at 49th Street and Third Avenue. 

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[13 Members of NY Crime Family Arrested in Gambling Ring]]> Thu, 15 Dec 2016 22:20:00 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/genovese+crime+family+arrests.JPG

Over a dozen members of the high-profile crime family have been arrested, accused of loan-sharking, bootlegging and tax evasion. 

Thirteen members of the Genovese crime family are being accused of operating an illegal offshore gambling ring and trapping victims in loan schemes, according to the New York attorney general's office.

Prosecutors say the members ran an illegal sports gambling operation through an offshore wire room in Costa Rica that handled wagers on college and professional sports. It generated millions of dollars' worth of wages. 

Two of the men are also accused of avoiding state taxes by selling more than 30,000 illegal cigarettes.

The Genovese family is one of five known crime families of New York, and one of the most powerful in the U.S. 

Photo Credit: New York Attorney General's Office]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Cabbies Arrested, Accused of Running Up Fake Fares]]> Fri, 16 Dec 2016 01:30:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/taxi+meter.jpg

A dozen licensed New York City cabbies have been arrested, accused of charging hundreds of dollars on trips lasting less than a minute by hijacking customers' credit cards through the electronic payment system, authorities say. 

The 12 taxi drivers, licensed by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, allegedly used customers' credit cards to make multiple transactions for high dollar amounts -- most of them lasting less than a minute, or no distance at all, and charging from $100 to $499 per trip, according to the city Department of Investigation. 

The cabbies created the fraudulent transactions through the credit card vendors Creative Moble Technologies (CMT) and Verifone, two of the three major vendors responsible for electronic payments in taxis, according to the DOI. 

Many of the cabbies switched their taxi meters to Rate 5 -- a Rate 5 fare is a negotiated fare outside the five boroughs -- and then put the stolen credit card information through the electronic payment system and paid for a fictitious trip, investigators say. The alleged fraud took place between January and July 2015. 

The vendors alerted the city to the suspicious trips charged in the taxis, and DOI investigators contacted the credit card holders, finding early all of them weren't in New York City at the time of the transactions. 

The cabbies have been charged with varying degrees of felony grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

A 13th man arrested in the investigation was charged with impersonating his brother, a licensed TLC driver. 

The taxi drivers are expected to be arraigned in Queens Criminal Court. The TLC has suspended all of their licenses, and if the cabbies are convicted, their TLC licenses will be revoked. 

The TLC declined to comment, deferring to DOI on the case. 

Photo Credit: DOI]]>
<![CDATA[Menendez Urges Supreme Court to Toss Corruption Case]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 07:27:28 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-bob-menendez-sobre-cuba-efe.jpg

Sen. Robert Menendez urged the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to throw out the federal corruption case pending against him. 

Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, was accused last year of using his office to help a Florida eye doctor and big political donor, Salomon Melgen, who was under federal investigation over Medicare billing. 

Abbe Lowell, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing Menendez, said in the Supreme Court filing that the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause forbids federal prosecutors from challenging the motives of legislators engaged in official business. 

"Agents of the executive branch may not hale members of Congress into court simply to impugn or even inquire into the motives underlying their official acts," Lowell wrote. 

Senators such as Menendez cannot be required "to forfeit their immunity in the process of trying to claim it," the filing said. 

Prosecutors accused Menendez of urging federal officials to adopt reimbursement policies that would benefit Melgen, to honor a Dominican port security contract with a company in which Melgen was an investor and to get visas for Melgen's girlfriends. 

In return, the charges said, Melgen gave thousands in campaign contributions to Menendez and treated him to luxury Dominican vacations and private jet flights. 

A federal appeals court in July ruled that the actions of Menendez could be considered lobbying and therefore outside the bounds of constitutional protection for legislative business. Menendez, the court said, had not met his burden of showing that his motives were purely official. 

Lowell said other federal courts have concluded that "courts may never interrogate a legislator's motive to determine whether his acts are protected." 

Menendez has been close friends with Melgen for more than two decades, traveling together, celebrating holidays, exchanging gifts and consoling each other at times of loss, Lowell said. 

In contrast to the federal case against former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, which the Supreme Court tossed out in June, "this case does not involve cash or Rolexes from a stranger, but campaign contributions and hospitality from a long-time friend."

The Supreme Court will decide early next year whether to hear the case, after the Justice Department has responded to the Menendez filing.

<![CDATA[Cop Had 10 Beers, Margarita at Bar Before Deadly Crash: DA]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 20:01:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/off+duty+cop+hurt+sunrise+highway.jpg

The off-duty Suffolk County cop who drove the wrong way on Sunrise Highway, hitting and killing another driver in a fiery collision earlier this year, had 10 pints of beer and a margarita while hanging with other officers at a bar in the hours prior to the accident, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday.

The officer, 24-year-old Robert Scheuerer, pleaded not guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter at his arraignment. 

Authorities say Scheuerer was driving his 2000 Nissan Pathfinder in the wrong direction on the westbound side of the highway Sept. 27 when he crashed into a Ford van between exits 39 and 40 in West Islip shortly before 5 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27. The van caught fire, and the driver of the van, 37-year-old Brian Fusaro, died at the scene. 

Fusaro, a cabinet-maker on his way to work, was burned beyond recognition. His boss told NBC 4 New York that Fusaro was a good guy with a big heart and a talent for his craft. 

Prosecutors have said Scheuerer had a blood alcohol level more than two times the legal limit at the time of the crash. 

Scheuerer, who was hospitalized with serious injuries following the crash, was suspended from duty without pay and is free on $150,000 bail. 

His attorney William Petrillo told NBC 4 New York his client would be vindicated.

"We have uncovered credible evidence that will unfold later as the case progresses which will demonstrate that his being on the wrong side of the road had nothing to do with alcohol consumption," Petrillo said.

Suffolk police say he has been suspended without pay.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Detective Slashed While Chasing Suspect: 'I'd Do it Again']]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 15:07:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dienst+cleaver+attack.jpg

A NYPD detective slashed by a man with a meat cleaver revealed harrowing new details about the attack near Penn Station – and how a “hero” officer saved his life.

"I’m grateful. For some reason I was saved. I don’t know why," Detective Brian O’Donnell told NBC 4 New York in an exclusive interview, his first since the Sept. 15 attack in which the entire side of his face was cut.

O’Donnell was off duty when he jumped into action, tackling a suspect who was being chased by uniformed officers – with guns drawn – amid the rush hour crowds.

"I'm thinking robbery, murder, something like that because it’s not very often we see uniformed officers in New York running with their gun in their hands chasing one guy," said O’Donnell.

In fact, the suspect, Akrahm Joudeh, got upset when a boot was placed on his illegally park car – and he allegedly pulled out a meat cleaver.

"I didn’t think I was going to get hurt," O'Donnell said, recalling his split-second decision. "Simply knock the guy down and take him to the ground, keep going, get my train home – no big deal."

But O'Donnell said Joudeh hit him twice with the cleaver, severing arteries in his face and narrowly missing his eye. Officers shot Joudeh seconds later – as the detective stood just feet away.

"Terrifyingly close, put it that way," he said.

Still, O’Donnell didn’t know he was seriously injured until another officer came over to help him.

"I started talking to him and I said, '1-out-10, how bad?' And he said, '11.' I knew," O'Donnell said. "I could tell by the reactions it was bad. I didn’t know I wouldn’t have this kind of damage. I obviously couldn’t see it, but I knew it was bad."

Detective Dennis Canale, who responded to the scene with other NYPD Emergency Services officers, instantly knew O’Donnell was in trouble.

"It was an absolutely devastating injury," Canale told NBC 4 New York. "If the bleeding had not been controlled there within several minutes, he would have passed away."

While all ESU officers are trained as emergency medical technicians, Canale is also a physician’s assistant who has worked part-time in a hospital for 13 years. He quickly began treating O’Donnell.

"I promised him I wouldn’t leave his side," said Canale, describing how he treated the wound and pressed his fingers directly on severed arteries in O’Donnell’s face to slow the bleeding.

"He never took his fingers off my face. In the ambulance, fingers in my face the whole time," said O’Donnell of the ride from Penn Station to Bellevue Hospital. "That’s my hero."

Canale shrugged off the praise, and gave it back to O’Donnell.

"He’s a hero," Canale said. "He put everything aside. He was off duty, heading home. No regard for himself. He just jumped in and tackled him."

O'Donnell, who plans to return to work in January, told NBC 4 New York he would expect the same of any officer, on duty or off.

"I'd still do it again," he said. "I didn’t expect to get hurt. I had no intention of getting hurt. I survived it but I would do it again."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[13 EMTs, NYPD Traffic Agents Nabbed in $500K Fraud Sting]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 20:22:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/insurance+fraud+busts.jpg

Thirteen current and former EMTs and NYPD traffic enforcement agents face varying counts of felony grand larceny and insurance fraud for allegedly bilking an insurance company out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The defendants -- 10 current and former EMTs and three NYPD traffic enforcement agents -- allegedly targeted the American Family Life Assurance Company, the largest provider of supplemental insurance in the United States. 

According to the city's Department of Investigation, which led the probe in conjunction with the attorney general's office and the New York State Department of Financial Services, the suspects engaged in a series of schemes that netted them more than $500,000 total, with one defendant defrauding AFLAC of nearly $112,000 alone.

The defendants allegedly submitted claim forms to AFLAC requesting supplemental insurance because of a disability that prevented them from working or receiving their full salaries. In some cases, the claim forms had forged signatures of supervisors and doctors, officials say.

According to city records, some of the defendants were working their normal jobs, collecting their salaries from the city, while also cashing supplemental disability insurance, officials said. On top of that, some also put in for -- and received -- overtime pay during the period of the alleged fraud.

Officials say the investigation was launched after a tip to DOI from a person who claimed to have seen a falsified AFLAC claim form left on a photo copy machine. The 13 defendants, who range in age from 28 to 58 and had been receiving annual base salaries from the city ranging from $36,000 to $67,000, surrendered to law enforcement in Queens and Brooklyn Tuesday. 

Officials say no city funds were stolen as a result of the alleged fraud. All of the defendants were suspended, FDNY employees with pay, NYPD employees without pay, upon their arrests. They face a maximum of seven to 15 years in prison on the top felony counts against them.

"Public employees are entrusted to adhere to the highest code of conduct," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. "Yet these defendants undermined the public trust in government and the integrity of our insurance system by perpetrating this alleged scheme." 

"We depend on honesty and integrity from all our public servants and these workers failed us," added DOI Commissioner Mark Peters. "Our independent investigation will continue to root out this corrupt behavior with more arrests expected to follow."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[5 Years After Shannan Gilbert's Remains Found, Probe Stalled]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 07:09:03 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/shannan+gilbert+inset.jpg

Five years after the skeletal remains of Shannan Gilbert, an escort from New Jersey who vanished on Long Island in 2010, were discovered in a marsh in the Oak Beach neighborhood where she had last been seen, the investigation into her death -- and the 10 bodies discovered in the search for her -- remains stalled. 

Gilbert was 24 when she took a call on Oak Beach in May 2010. She was last seen screaming and running from a home. Before she disappeared, she called 911 from a client's home and told an operator someone was trying to kill her. 

The young woman's remains were found Dec. 13, 2011 in a swamp rampant with thorny brush about a half mile from where she was last seen. Investigators said they believed Gilbert drowned or succumbed to the elements and determined the case closed. A medical examiner's autopsy proved inconclusive.

Later, an independent autopsy by the renowned forensic pathologist Michael Baden found Gilbert had been the victim of some violence, though also did not offer a conclusive cause or manner of death. 

Gilbert's family believed she had been killed; her mother, Mari, refused to let the case drop out of the public eye and pressed law enforcement for a homicide investigation that would never matured.

Mari Gilbert died in July, allegedly stabbed to death by her other daughter, Sarra, who is schizophrenic. A Facebook group she created in memory of her daughter continued to flourish Tuesday, five years to the day Gilbert's remains were found, with remembrances. 

It was the exhaustive search for Gilbert that led law enforcement to the grisly discoveries of 10 separate sets of remains. On Dec. 11, 2010, an officer found the body of Melissa Barthelemy, a call girl who had vanished in 2007. Over the next several weeks, officers discovered the remains of four other missing prostitutes -- Megan Waterman, Amber Lynn Costello, Maureen Brainard-Barnes and Jessica Taylor -- along with an unidentified Asian man, three unidentified women and an unidentified toddler.

Authorities said they were the victims of homicides. No arrests have been made in any of their deaths. 

Last December, the Suffolk County Police Department, under new leadership pledged to take a fresh look at the Gilgo bodies case. In January, new Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini announced two FBI agents would assist the department in their investigation. Sini said the FBI would provide a behavioral science team to do a full profile of the killer or killers and offer additional technical assistance. 

That was 11 months ago. There has been no update since. 

A police spokesperson said the department could not comment because the investigation is ongoing. 

Photo Credit: AP/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Suspects in Hofstra Grad Murder Case Face Judge]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 17:12:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/rackover+and+dillone+arraignment.jpg

Two men have been arraigned on charges in connection with the death of a Connecticut man who'd attended a party at a Manhattan luxury apartment building.

James Rackover, of Manhattan, and Lawrence Dilione, of Jersey City, New Jersey, both pleaded not guilty Tuesday to concealment of a human body, hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.

Rackover owned the East Side apartment where authorities say 26-year-old Joseph Comunale was stabbed 15 times.

Investigators have been working to determine who killed the Stamford, Connecticut man, whose body was found in New Jersey. Murder charges could still be forthcoming.

A third person, 26-year-old Max Gemma, of Oceanport, New Jersey, has been arrested in connection with the case. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.

<![CDATA[Menendez Expected to Appeal to SCOTUS in Corruption Case]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 06:57:06 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_271473091102.jpg

Sen. Robert Menendez is expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to toss bribery-related charges against him as early as Monday, NBC 4 New York has learned. 

Attorneys for the Democrat from New Jersey are set to file a motion asking the judges to overturn an appeals court decision that allowed the federal prosecution to proceed. 

There is precedent; the Supreme Court threw out the corruption conviction of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. But legal experts have said the issues and charges in the Menendez case do not fit neatly into the 8-0 McDonnell decision. 

Menendez was indicted in April 2015 for allegedly accepting gifts from a Florida eye doctor in exchange for personal favors but any trial has been delayed as the appeals process continues. 

Menendez has insisted he is innocent. He has claimed the Speech or Debate clause of the Constitution shields him from federal prosecution in part because he claims his efforts to help the doctor secure business deals were official legislative acts. 

But the Justice Department has alleged Menendez sold his office by improperly accepting free vacations and campaign cash from Dr. Salomon Melgen in exchange for official favors. The FBI said after getting gifts and donations, the senator then used his office to try to help Dr. Melgen win a $500 million dollar port security deal in the Dominican Republic. Menendez also contacted Medicare officials to try to help the eye doctor avoid paying millions in a billing dispute with the government. Melgen –- who is charged alongside Menendez and in a separate Medicare fraud case –- also denies any wrongdoing. 

In July, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld the district court ruling that the senator is not immune from prosecution and that the corruption case should move forward. 

Since his indictment a year and a half ago, Menendez has continued his work as New Jersey’s senior senator. But he did step down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when the charges were first announced.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man With Gas Can Arrested Near Rockefeller Center Tree: NYPD]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 00:16:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/205*120/TLMD-rockerfeller-arbol-navideno-2016-6.JPG

A Bronx man carrying a gas can and matches was arrested near Rockefeller Plaza Monday afternoon, police say. 

NYPD Critical Response Command officers stationed in the area of Sixth Avenue and 48th Street were alerted by a witness to a man yelling, "F--- the NYPD" and throwing a bottle, NBC News reports. 

The officers followed the man, 38-year-old Yuriy Alterman, to 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza, where the Rockefeller Center tree is located, a law enforcement official told NBC News. 

When officers went to arrest Alterman, he allegedly told police, "Sometimes you guys do things that make others do things, even though that's not who we are," the official told NBC News.

He added, "Have you seen the news today?" 

A separate law enforcement official said he became combative when he was confronted by cops. The man did not get close to the tree or to the crowds, a source said. 

At the time of his arrest, the NYPD says he was carrying a red two-gallon gasoline can that was half-filled with fluid that smelled like gasoline, as well as matches and a book called "Son of Hamas."

A police department official said Alterman told police that he got the gas can at 10th Avenue, did not have a car and was walking around.

Alterman was charged with felony making a terroristic threat and two other misdemeanor charges.

Attorney information for the man was not immediately available.

Alterman, who told police he lives at a halfway home, did not pick up at a phone number listed for him. 

Police say Alterman has been arrested twice this year on criminal mischief and criminal trespass charges. 

Tom Winter contributed to this report

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Mayor's Son Charged in Hofstra Grad Slay Case]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 06:55:00 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ALIYU+CT+MAN+MISSING+3RD+ARREST+430P+RAW+-+15510824_WNBC_000000.jpg

The son of a former New Jersey mayor has been charged in connection with the death of a Hofstra University graduate who prosecutors say was stabbed 15 times in the chest in a luxury Manhattan apartment last month and then buried in a shallow grave in New Jersey.

Max Gemma, 29, of Oceanport, was arrested Tuesday after turning himself in to police.

The son of former Oceanport mayor Gordon Gemma appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court to plead not guilty to charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence in the death of 26-year-old Joey Comunale, of Stamford, Connecticut.

Comunale's body was found in a shallow grave behind an old police station in New Jersey Nov. 16. James Rackover, 25, and Lawrence Dilione, 28, were arrested shortly afterward in his death. Though police initially charged them with murder, prosecutors have so far only charged them with concealment of a corpse, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in the criminal complaint, pending further investigation. 

Prosecutors said Tuesday they believe Gemma was in the apartment where Comunale died and that Gemma changed his clothing and hid evidence.

But Gemma's lawyers said there was no evidence or witness testimony to support the claims.

A charge of tampering with evidence "should involve more than changing his clothes. And we think it's something else," his attorney Mark Bederow said outside court. 

Bederow declined to specify the relationship among the three men. 

Gemma posted the $100,000 cash bond late Tuesday afternoon and left court in a waiting car without speaking to reporters. His father also declined to comment.

Gemma is due back in court on Jan. 17. He works in software sales, according to his attorney in court, and is free to return to work until the next court date. 

Police have said Comunale was stabbed to death in some sort of dispute after he, Rackover, Dilione and three women returned from the Gilded Lily nightclub on 14th Street late Saturday, Nov. 12, or early Sunday, Nov. 13.

According to a criminal complaint, an informant told authorities Rackover was seen late Saturday leaving his apartment building and putting a large duffel bag into the trunk of a black Mercedes with tinted windows that was registered to Rackover's father. Records show the car leaving Manhattan and traveling through the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey, the criminal complaint says.

Dilione allegedly admitted he and Rackover dumped Comunale's body and told them where to find it. The young man had been stabbed more than a dozen times in the chest; his legs were burned and a gas canister was discovered nearby, the criminal complaint says.  

Bloody clothing, sheets and towels were found in Rackover's apartment during the course of an investigation, prosecutors said. The black vehicle that Rackover had been seen driving was later returned to Manhattan, left in a parking garage on East 58th Street, and a cadaver dog made a positive alert for a body or bodily fluids in the trunk area, the complaint says. 

Shortly after Comunale's body was found, his father, Pat, who had reported him missing, described him as "one of a kind."

"This is not something that happens to kids like this," Pat Comunale said of his son, who was an avid hockey player. "He didn't deserve this. He didn't go looking for trouble. It wasn't right. This is not right."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Bronx DA Seeks Grand Jury in NYPD Deborah Danner Shooting ]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:42:10 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/deborah+danner.jpg

The Bronx district attorney says she will ask a judge to convene a grand jury to consider whether criminal charges should be brought against the NYPD sergeant who shot 66-year-old Deborah Danner to death in her apartment earlier this year. 

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said there was no timetable for the grand jury to be impaneled.

"I have pledged to the people of the Bronx to conduct a thorough, fair investigation into this matter and I believe that presenting the evidence to a grand jury will best accomplish that goal," Clark said in a statement Monday. "It is important to determine exactly what happened in this tragic incident."

Danner, who was schizophrenic, was shot Oct. 18 by NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry, an eight-year department veteran, who encountered the woman naked and armed with scissors in her Bronx apartment after responding to a 911 call about a disturbance. He persuaded her to put down the scissors but as he was coaxing her out of the room, she picked up the baseball bat and charged him.

Barry fired two shots, killing her.

Top city officials, including Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O'Neill, condemned the shooting. Calling Danner's death a failure of the NYPD, O'Neill said it was clear that some police protocols involving the treatment of mentally ill individuals were not adhered to in Danner's case. 

In an emotional press conference in the days after the shooting, de Blasio said officers are supposed to use deadly force only when faced with a dire situation, and, he said, that standard clearly was not met in Danner's case. 

"Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period," de Blasio said in October. "Something went horribly wrong here." 

Among the questions at the center of the investigation: why Barry didn't deploy his stun gun and why he didn't hold Danner at bay and contain the situation until members of the Emergency Services Unit arrived, as he and thousands of other NYPD officers are tried to do, de Blasio said. 

Less than five years before her death, Danner scribed a searing, eloquent essay on living with schizophrenia in which she agonized over the deaths of mentally ill people like her at the hands of police. 

"We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead," she wrote in the 2012 piece. 

Danner called for "teaching law enforcement how to deal with the mentally ill in crisis," training the city has emphasized in the last two years.

Barry was placed on modified duty immediately after the shooting, stripped of his gun and badge. 

At the time, the president of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association, Ed Mullins, said Barry acted as he did in fear for his own life and the lives of others.

Neither the union nor Barry could immediately be reached for comment on Clark's decision to convene a grand jury.

Barry has been the subject of two lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 alleging brutality, according to court records. The first was settled for $25,000 and the second for $10,000.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Climber Cuffed Again After Video Shows Him Atop Building]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 22:58:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GEORGE+WTC+TEEN+CLIMBER+CHARGED+BROLL+AND+LAWYER+SOT+-+21512314.jpg

The daredevil who pleaded guilty to scaling to the top of One World Trade Center as a teen in 2014 turned himself into police Friday after more video surfaced of him climbing New York City skyscrapers.

Justin Casquejo was initially arrested on felony reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing charges after dozens of photos and videos posted in recent weeks to what appears to be Justin Casquejo's Instagram account shows the man, now 18, hanging off of buildings, cranes and rooftops across New York City.

Prosecutors later charged the teen with misdemeanors, not felonies. 

Prosecutors focused on one video showing Casquejo climbing and suspending himself from the outside of 70 Pine St. in the Financial District in February. A security contractor who works in the building told prosecutors that he routinely sees Casquejo going to the building, and that he recognized the building in the video, according to a court complaint.

The building was under heavy construction in February, with no operating businesses or occupied residences. 

Casquejo was released on $15,000 bail. He said nothing to reporters as he left the courthouse Friday, but his attorney called him "a terrific young man with great potential." 

"This is not a young man who's going out just for thrills as one might think," said Jeremy Saland. 

Saland said the video and images recently posted by the teen were "old footage." 

"There's no allegation that this happened anytime in the recent past. These are old allegations, if true," he said. "This young man has followed the rule of the law, has not been involved in these buildings anytime recently." 

"I'm confident that my client will be a law-abiding citizen," he added. "My client has the utmost respect for law enforcement, has utmost respect for the court." 

Other recent images show Casquejo apparently hanging from scaffolding for a high-rise being constructed near Central Park, while others show him standing atop a roof on the West Side, or gripping the metal beams of Coney Island's iconic Parachute Jump ride.

"What do you mean when you say you can't do something?" reads one caption, which accompanies a photo of what appears to be Casquejo hanging off the side of the Time Warner Building in Columbus Circle.

Casquejo made headlines in 2014 when the Weehawken native sneaked by security at the World Trade Center site and made his way to the top of the building to post a similar death-defying image. 

Shortly after being sentenced to community service in that incident, he was again arrested for trying to scale a building in New Jersey. His sentence for scaling the World Trade Center was subsequently increased to 3 years probation, but courts officials said the term was terminated early due to his compliance.

It's not clear if authorities will seek a stiffer penalty after Friday's arrest.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY
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<![CDATA[3 on Subway Call Muslim Woman Terrorist, Chant 'Trump': NYPD]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 07:51:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/muslim+hijab1.jpg

A Muslim woman wearing a religious headscarf was harassed on the subway by three men who allegedly called her a terrorist and chanted "Donald Trump" to her, police say. 

Police are searching for those men, who allegedly targeted the Long Island woman on the 23rd Street subway station serving the 6 line at about 10 p.m. Thursday.

The suspect walked up to the woman, who was wearing a hijab, and began chanting, "Donald Trump! Donald Trump! F****** terrorist, get out of this country, you don't belong here," according to police. 

The men got on the northbound 6 train with the woman when it pulled into the station, and the woman moved to the back of the train, police said. The men eventually moved toward her, again yelling "terrorist, get out of this country." 

One of the men grabbed the woman's bag, breaking one of the straps, police said.

The woman told police she responded to the men, "What the f*** do you want?" and moved away again. When she got off the train at Grand Central, the men yelled after her, "Get the f****** hijab off your head!," according to police.

The woman reported the incident to police at Grand Central. She told them the men, who were white, appeared intoxicated. There was no other immediate description of the suspects, and police are canvassing for surveillance video. 

In a Facebook post late Friday night, the victim spoke out about the attack.

"It breaks my heart that so many individuals chose to be bystanders while watching me get harassed (sic) verbally and physically by these disgusting pigs," she wrote.

The NYPD said last week that bias incidents in New York City have spiked 400 percent in the two weeks since Trump was elected president compared to the same period last year. NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, however, stopped short of saying that Trump's victory played a role in what he described as a troubling trend. 

Demonstrators outraged over the recent attacks gathered in Jackson Heights Friday night, calling it a "hate-free zone." 

"We're horrified by the incident in and of itself," Afaf Nasher of the Council on American Islamic Relations said of the subway harassment of the Muslim woman. "Anyone going through some kind of attack is absolutely unacceptable. But then you feel this overwhelming empathy because we know that this is not the only person who has been assaulted in mass transit, but also on streets." 

There are "swastikas showing up, people who are dressed wearing religious garb being targeted," said Nasher. "We're seeing it on every level from young kids in school to adults in the streets." 

Stefan Holt contributed to this report

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[3 NYC Men Arrested in Armed Rockland Robbery: Police]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 19:43:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/home+invasion+suspects.PNG

Three New York City men have been arrested in an Orange County home invasion, accused of holding up a man at gunpoint before taking off with jewelry and cash, police say. 

Clarkstown police said the 49-year-old victim encountered the robbers when he went into his garage to get something Wednesday night. Two men were pointing guns at him, and demanded valuables. 

He complied, and the robbers ran to a waiting vehicle, police said. No residents were hurt in the robbery. 

Police stopped the men in the car on the New York Thruway and took them into custody without incident, authorities said. A search near the car turned up a loaded 9-mm gun and a loaded 40-caliber pistol. 

The suspects, a 30-year-old Bronx man, a 33-year-old Bronx man and a 26-year-old Brooklyn man, were charged with felony counts of robbery, burglary and criminal possession of a stolen property. 

They were expected to be arraigned later Thursday. 

Photo Credit: Clarkstown Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Kissing Groper Forces Self on Woman in Subway Elevator: NYPD]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 21:31:31 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ELEVATOR+KISSING+SUSPECT+BK+-+01001120_WNBC_000000014068872.jpg

Police are looking for a man captured on surveillance video forcibly kissing and groping a woman inside a Brooklyn subway elevator.

Police said a 50-year-old woman entered the elevator at Jay Street/Willoughby station Tuesday, Nov. 22, when a man approached her, kissed her and groped her while the doors were closed.

When the elevator opened, the man ran away.

The terrifying incident was captured by surveillance video, seen above.

The suspect is described as about 50 years old, 5 feet 11 inches, and 220 pounds, with salt-and-pepper hair. He was last seen wearing a black jacket and blue pants.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NYPD ]]>
<![CDATA[Killer Sentenced in Cold Case Murder of NYC Teen Runaway]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 19:14:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/james+martin+marleny+cruz.jpg

A Pennsylvania man incarcerated in the murder of his wife has been sentenced to another 20 years in the cold case murder and rape of a 14-year-old girl found dead in a gutter in the Bronx in 1998.

James Martin was already imprisoned in the 2005 murder of his wife in Pennsylvania when the NYPD Cold Case Bureau reopened its investigation into Marley Cruz, a runaway from a group foster home who was found dead on Valentine Avenue on Feb. 23, 1998. 

She had been strangled, authorities said, and investigators were not able to be identify her until April 1998, through dental records.

Evidence collected from the sexual assault kit was re-examined, and technology advances allowed forensic experts to pull a full DNA profile, which was loaded into a database. The DNA matched that of Martin.

Martin pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter, and a judge Tuesday ordered his 20-year sentence to begin after the completion of his Pennsylvania prison term. When asked if he had anything to say, Martin said no. 

Photo Credit: NBC New York]]>