<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/crime-and-courts http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:53:07 -0400 Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:53:07 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Drug Suspect Asks Cops to Check on Sleeping Son: NYPD]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:20:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/175*120/NYPD+MARIJUANA+ARREST.jpg

A Queens man caught with marijuana when he was pulled over asked the officers arresting him to check on his 8-year-old son at home, leading them directly to evidence of an alleged marijuana operation in his apartment, police say. 

Officers pulled over 30-year-old Nuquan Stewart in Queens Village at about 10:45 p.m. last Tuesday when they noticed a brake light was out on his 2004 Volkswagen, according to police. 

They noticed a strong smell of marijuana during the traffic stop, and asked Stewart to step out of the car.

That's when the officers spotted six plastic bags of the drug sticking out of the pocket of his hoodie, and a gravity knife in the cupholder of the center console, police said. 

As officers arrested Stewart, he asked them to make sure his son, who was alone at home, was OK, according to police. He gave them his home address and apartment keys. 

The officers went to Stewart's apartment about a half-mile away on 222nd Street and smelled marijuana as they entered the building's first-floor hallway, according to police. Inside the apartment, officers saw bags of marijuana in plain view in the kitchen and living room, along with stacks of cash, police said. 

Stewart's son was found sleeping in his bedroom. He was transferred into the care of the city's Administration for Children's Services and then to another family member, according to police.

A search warrant was executed the next morning, and police seized 30 pounds of marijuna in 58 bags, about $17,5000 in cash, and several loaded guns and assault rifles, police said. 

Stewart was charged with drug and weapons crimes, and for failure to exercise control of a minor. He has multiple prior arrests, police said.

He remains on Rikers Island awaiting his next court date on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Bail was set at $25,000. 

Attorney information was not immediately available. 



Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Alleged Terror Conspirator Extradited to NY: Officials]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:12:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/terror+suspect+extradite.jpg

Haroon Rashid Aswat, a British man charged with conspiring to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, is being flown to New York from London Tuesday by U.S. officials after nine years of fighting extradition, law enforcement officials tell NBC New York.

Aswat faces federal charges of conspiring with radical cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly 15 years ago.

Mustafa was convicted in New York in May of being involved in the Oregon terror plan. He was also convicted of helping to plot the 1998 kidnappings of tourists, including 16 Americans, in Yemem. Mustafa told the jury that he lost both hands and an eye in an accident in Pakistan while working with explosives.

A third man, James Ujaama, pleaded guilty in 2007 to being the American contact for Mustafa and Aswat in their alleged bid to build a terror camp in the United States. The fourth man to be named in the plot, Oussama Abdullah Kassir, a Swede born in Lebanon, was convicted of terror charges in 2009.

Aswat, who is being treated for paranoid schizophrenia, has been fighting extradition to America since his 2005 arrest in London on a U.S. warrant. Last month, Britain’s high court ruled Aswat could be extradited after receiving assurances from U.S. authorities that his mental illness would still be treated.

Media reports in London Tuesday say the Metropolitan Police confirm that Aswat was taken from Broadmoor psychiatric hospital and escorted onto a plane by U.S. officials.

Officials from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office in New York declined to comment.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cabbie Who Ran Over Boy's Head in Manhattan Charged]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 22:14:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cooper-stock-taxi.jpg

The cabbie who hit and killed a 9-year-old boy crossing the street near his Upper West Side home earlier this year faces charges in the child's death, according to a criminal complaint.

Koffi Komlani was arrested Oct. 7 on charges alleging he didn't exercise due care when making the left turn from West 97th Street onto West End Avenue and hit Cooper Stock and his 51-year-old father on Jan. 10, according to the complaint filed by the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Stock and his father were crossing West End Avenue when they were hit by the cab. The boy's head and body had been run over by two of the taxi's tires, the complaint alleges, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The boy's father, Richard, had an leg injury from the impact.

The driver was initially ticketed for failure to yield to a pedestrian and the NYPD ruled the crash an accident.

According to the criminal complaint, Komlani told the police officer who responded to the scene, "I came down West 97th Street. I stopped at the red light. The light turned green and the car immediately in front of me turned left. I followed that car making a left behind that car. Suddenly I heard a boom. I never saw anyone. I accelerated to the left and stopped my car. When I got out of the car, someone said to me, ‘you just killed a kid.’"

Komlani was released on his own recognizance at an arraignment, but a judge ordered that his license be suspended until after his case goes to trial, the DA's office said.

Komlani's attorney said his client "feels awful."

If convicted, Komlani faces up to 15 days in jail and a $750 fine with a license suspension.  

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<![CDATA[Woman Tied Up, Brother Shot Dead in Home Invasion: NYPD]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:32:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd+van+ditmas+park.jpg

A 69-year-old man was shot dead during a home invasion in Brooklyn Wednesday morning, police said.

A 71-year-old woman answered the door at her home on Rugby Road in Ditmas Park shortly before 11 a.m.; three men forced their way inside, tied her up with plastic zip ties and stuffed a handkerchief in her mouth, police sources said. 

The men then demanded money and began to search her home. Upstairs, the men encountered the woman's brother and shot him in the head, police sources said.  

The suspects then fled the home, leaving the woman uninjured. It's not clear if they got away with anything. 

Police say the woman didn't know the intruders. 

The woman's brother, identified as 69-year-old Leonard Phillips, was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital, police said.

Neighbor Fatima Kahn said a friend who knew the family called them "hard-working people." 

"It's shocking that this would happen here," she said;. 

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<![CDATA[Man Steals Wedding Gifts: Cops]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 15:57:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SUSPECT+LOBBY++1200.jpg

Police are asking for help to find the man who posed as a guest at a Connecticut wedding and stole a newlywed couple’s wedding gifts.

The couple was holding a reception at the Longshore Inn in Westport when a man stole a bird cage filled with several wedding cards for the couple, police said.

Officers responded around 7 p.m. to investigate and determined that the man was posing either as a guest at the reception or the hotel and was seen loitering in the lobby of the inn and talking on the phone before grabbing the birdcage and walking out, police said.

Police set up a perimeter, brought in a K9 unit and searched the grounds, but only found the empty bird cage.

Now police are trying to identify the man seen in the lobby.

He is clean shaven, between 25 and 35 years old, has close cropped light brown hair and was wearing gray slacks, a white or light gray shirt and a white undershirt.

If you have information on him, call the Westport Police Department at 203-341-6000.
 



Photo Credit: Westport Police]]>
<![CDATA[Dad Admits Stabbing Wife, Young Daughters to Death]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 14:31:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Miguel+Mejia-Ramos+mug.jpg

The Queens man accused of stabbing his wife and their two young daughters to death in a jealous rage over photos of the mother with another man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in exchange for less jail time, authorities say.

Miguel Mejia-Ramos was initially charged with first- and second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the January stabbings of his 21-year-old wife, Deisy Garcia, and their 1- and 2-year-old daughters.

Mejia-Ramos fled New York after the slayings and was arrested in Texas a short time later after authorities tracked his cellphone.

Prosecutors had said Mejia-Ramos stood over his sleeping wife and two daughters with a knife after seeing a photo of Facebook of Garcia and another man. Garcia awoke and screamed, and he stabbed her as she got out of bed and ran to another room, prosecutors said. Mejia-Ramos grabbed another knife and stabbed her multiple times in the torso, chest and back, they said.

After stabbing Garcia, Mejia-Ramos went back to the bedroom where 2-year-old Daniela and 1-year-old Yoselin lay, prosecutors said. He picked up Daniela, gave her a hug and a kiss, asked for forgiveness, then put her back on the bed and killed her, prosecutors said.

He then did the same with Yoselin, they said.

Mejia-Ramos will be sentenced to 45 years in prison at a hearing next month.

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<![CDATA[Ex-NuHealth Executive Indicted on Misconduct Charges]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:31:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Slatky+Lawrence.JPG

A former executive for NuHealth, which runs a publicly funded health facilities in Nassau County, has been indicted on official misconduct charges for allegedly awarding a five-year contract to a favored vendor for laundry services at an extended care facility.

Larry Slatky was charged Friday with two counts of official misconduct, both misdemeanors.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice alleged Slatky gave FDR Services Corp., which is run by a friend of his, a personal laundry services contract at A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility, a nursing home in Uniondale.

The company had originally lost the contract to a higher bidder, but Slatky allegedly did not contact the winning bidder, instead negotiating a new lowest bid from the company run by his friend in violation of Nassau Health Care Corp.'s procurement policy.

"Mr. Slatky put his own interest and that of his friend's above the best interest of society," prosecutor Jason Herman said in court.

Slatky faces up to a year in jail on each count if convicted. He is being represented by Brian Griffin and John Martin.

Griffin said he was confident Slatky would be absolved of wrongdoing.

"My client has served this county with great distinction for 14 years," he said.

NuHealth runs Nassau University Medical Center and A. Holly Patterson Extended Care.

Follow Pei-Sze Cheng on Twitter @PeiSzeCheng4NY



Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Human Bones Found in Brooklyn Yard After Tip: Sources]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 20:52:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd+digging+brooklyn+backyard.jpg

Bones confirmed to be human remains were recovered from a Brooklyn backyard where investigators, acting on a tip, began digging Thursday, according to law enforcement sources. 

The bones were found in the yard of a home on Saint John's Place in Prospect Heights. Additional bags of evidence were also recovered, along with what appears to be a body bag. 

Police are investigating the possibility the remains belonged to someone who was killed 10 years ago, according to sources. Oswald Lewis, an alleged drug smuggler arrested in August after a shootout with U.S. Marshals, lived in the home at some point several years ago, neighbors say, and law enforcement officials are investigating whether the body may be linked to his drug gang.

Residents were in the house when police arrived with a warrant Thursday. There's nothing to suggest they have any connection to the dead body in their yard, the sources said.

A 25-year-old man at the home, who only gave his last name as Nelson, said his aunt owns the home and that he had been staying there for the last few days. He returned home to find police had taken it over and would not let him in.

"I can't believe it. I've been sleeping there for days and I didn't know," he said. "It's like a movie." 

Neighbors said an older man lived in the home with his wife 10 years ago, and that the man died a few years ago. Lewis then moved in and neighbors suspected there was criminal activity happening inside, but in the last two years the house has been trouble-free.

"It's been pretty quiet, so I'm really shocked to see all of the traffic and all the commotion going on," said Tiffany Henry.

"That's really crazy. That's terrible. I have no idea what's going on," she said. "I'm just really scared and nervous." 

Investigators are working to identify the victim and determine a cause of death. 

Follow Jonathan Dienst on Twitter @jonathan4NY

Follow Ida Siegal on Twitter @idasiegal4NY

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<![CDATA[Cop Accused of Holding Woman on Bed, Having Sex With Her ]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:44:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/handcuffs12.jpg

A seven-year NYPD veteran faces aggravated sexual assault charges for allegedly pushing a drunk woman to a bed in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, hotel room and holding her there while he had sex with her, according to a criminal complaint.

Andrei Torres, 32, turned himself in to authorities Wednesday following a six-month investigation into the April 24 assault at the Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino.

A New York State Police officer, 35-year-old Devon Thomas, also faces aggravated assault charges in the attack on the 34-year-old New York woman, but the complaint against him wasn't immediately available. He was arrested Tuesday.

Both waived their rights to extradition hearings.

Thomas' lawyer Joseph Levine said his client, who has worked with the New York State Police for three years, did not engage in criminal wrongdoing.

Torres' lawyer John Zarych called the charges "a mistake."



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Detective Pleads Guilty to DUI, Shooting Partner in Wrist]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 14:40:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd+generic+resizzed.jpg

A former NYPD detective pleaded guilty Friday to drunk driving and assault charges stemming from an April incident in which his weapon discharged and his partner was shot in the wrist while they were on duty.

As part of the plea, Jay Poggi, 57, must complete an intensive alcohol treatment program and have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicles registered to him. Prosecutors say he is required to participate in a victim impact panel, part of an awareness program for first-time DWI offenders, and pay a $500 fine. His license is also suspended.

Prosecutors said Poggi, a 31-year veteran of the force, and his partner were on duty in Queens April 24 to follow up on a lead in a robbery they were investigating when the gun went off. An investigation revealed Poggi had taken out his Smith and Wesson revolver and was showing the weapon's hammer to his partner when it discharged. The partner was wounded.

Poggi drove his partner to the hospital, where Poggi was observed to have bloodshot eyes. A field sobriety test showed his blood alcohol level was .11, above the legal limit of .08. He later refused to submit to a breath alcohol exam at the 112th Precinct station.

Poggi's partner, who has been with the NYPD for 12 years, was not seriously injured.

Poggi's employment with the NYPD was terminated May 23 based on the recommendation of the Office of the NYPD Trial Commissioner.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man, 49, Charged in Coney Island Chain Snatching: NYPD]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:00:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bus-stop-chain-snatch.jpg

Police say that a 49-year-old man has been charged with robbery in a broad-daylight chain snatching near a bus stop earlier this year. 

Frazier Dickerson was arrested Tuesday in the July 18 snatching at Mermaid Avenue and West 31st Street.

Video from the scene shows a suspect passing by the stop several times before grabbing the woman's necklace and causing her to fall face-first onto the sidewalk.

A bystander is then seen helping the woman. The suspect runs away, and at least one witness can be seen chasing after him.

The victim was treated at a nearby hospital for a cut to her head.

Police say Dickerson lives four blocks from the robbery scene. It's not clear if he has an attorney.  

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<![CDATA[NY Judge to Resign Amid Allegations of Misconduct]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:59:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/071114gavel.jpg

A leading judge in Brooklyn will officially resign amid allegations he committed misconduct by offering advice about politics and prosecutions to former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Judge Barry Kamins will officially leave office Dec. 1 but he had been relieved of his leading duties in June when news of his alleged misconduct was first raised in a report by the city’s Department of Investigation.

Kamins had served as the chief administrative judge in Brooklyn. Under a deal reached with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct made public on Wednesday, Kamins agreed to never seek to hold a judicial office again.

Kamins said in a statement he had decided to leave the bench and was considering options in the private sector.

"I leave gratified, knowing that our criminal justice system and our courts are stronger now than ever before," Kamins said. 

Kamins was accused of sending more than 300 emails from his official judicial email account in connection with political activity on behalf of Hynes, the DOI report said. “He also engaged in communications with Hynes regarding matters actively being prosecuted by the KCDA (Kings Country District Attorney) and provided Hynes with legal advice,” the DOI report said.

Hynes lost his re-election bid last year. He has since been under scrutiny by state and federal investigators into whether his office misused official office funds for political purposes.

Hynes has denied any wrongdoing.

Kamins was earning $174,000 per year as a judge until the DOI report raised questions about his conduct while serving on the bench. Kamins has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.  

Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of New York State Gail Prudenti called Kamins a "highly accomplished, longstanding member of New York's legal community, known for his outstanding legal scholarship and numerous contributions to the criminal justice system." 

Follow Jonathan Dienst on Twitter @jonathan4NY



Photo Credit: File Photo ]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Madam Kristin Davis Gets 2 Years for Pill Peddling]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 07:43:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/219*120/040309+Madam+Kristin+Davis.jpg

Kristin Davis, the former madam and candidate for governor and New York City comptroller, was sentenced Wednesday to two years in jail after she pleaded guilty to illegally distributing prescription pills, the U.S. Attorney said.

Davis was arrested in August 2013 for selling hundreds of powerful painkillers and other prescription pills to a drug dealer wearing a wire, federal authorities said.

According to the United States Attorney's Office, Davis sold drugs on several occasions to an FBI cooperating witness between January and March.

Davis, 38, pleaded guilty in March to one count of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances, specifically alprazolam, zolpidem and carisoprodol.

Davis was one of several people charged as part of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the NYPD and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The once long-shot Libertarian candidate is perhaps best known for claiming to have gotten call girls for former Gov. Eliot Spitzer before a prostitution scandal forced him from office. But the claims have never been proven.

Before she was arrested, Davis was running for New York City comptroller against Spitzer and former Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who went on to win the election. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Accused Teacher Indicted on Sex Charges Involving 6 More Students]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:41:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/classroom5.jpg

A 44-year-old Brooklyn high school teacher previously arrested after allegedly using Snapchat to send a photo of his genitals to a 16-year-old student has been accused in a new 36-count indictment of victimizing six other teenage girls, authorities said.

Brooklyn Tech teacher Sean Shaynak pleaded not guilty last month to charges including dissemination of indecent material to a minor and harassment. The math and physics teacher was arrested Tuesday morning on the new indictment, which charges him with kidnapping, among other crimes, when he showed up for a court appearance in connection with the previous charge.

Prosecutors say Shaynak, a city employee for nearly six years who has worked at Brooklyn Tech for the last five, allegedly took a 15-year-old to a nude beach in New Jersey without her parents' consent, performed a sex act on an 18-year-old student without her consent and sent photos of his genitals to four students, including two minors. He also allegedly touched students inappropriately and kissed them, grabbed the buttocks of a minor and gave alcohol and cigarettes to others.

The indictment also alleges Shaynak terrorized a former student with whom he had a prior relationship. He's charged with menacing, reckless endangerment, kidnapping and committing a criminal sexual act, among other offenses for allegedly victimizing six girls, who range in age from 13 to 19, between 2011 and 2014.

Prosecutors say the indictment stems from a search warrant executed at Shaynak's home following his Aug. 26 arrest. Thousands of text messages, as well as hundreds of photographs and videos, were recovered from three computers and two phones seized during the execution of the warrant.

Shaynak was arraigned on the new indictment Tuesday. It wasn't clear if he entered a plea, nor was information on his attorney available.

Brooklyn Tech is one of the city's most selective public schools.

Mayor de Blasio's son, Dante, is a student there.

The Department of Education called the alleged behavior "unacceptable." It said the teacher was reassigned "effective immediately" and "is away from the school and children."

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<![CDATA[Man Charged With Attempted Murder in Cabbie Stabbing]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:59:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Kenneth-Sudden-Mug.jpg

A 41-year-old Queens man has been accused of stabbing a livery cab driver multiple times and then stealing his car after an argument, police say. 

Kenneth Sudden is charged with attempted murder, robbery, felony assault, grand larceny of an automobile and criminal possession of a weapon in the stabbing of 30-year-old Fernando Crespin early Thursday in Woodhaven. 

Police say that Crespin was stabbed multiple times in the body, arm and hands after getting in an argument with a passenger who was allegedly headed to Sudden's address in Ridgewood.

The passenger then stole Crespin's taxi, pushing the victim out of the car and speeding off. Crespin was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital.

The car was later found at a bus stop in Ridgewood. The state taxi driver's union said the car was covered in blood and had been issued a parking ticket after the stabbing. The ticket was later voided.

Police identified Sudden as the suspect in the attack after the stabbing. They say he was arrested Monday afternoon after he walked into a hospital and was recognized by hospital police.

Braulio Espinal, assistant manager of Liberty Car Service, where Crespin works, said Sudden has been a "normal" customer the service has picked up before. Espinal said Sudden "must've snapped."

Espinal said Crespin is doing better and he's expected back on the job in a few weeks.

Tracie Strahan contributed to this reportFollow Tracie Strahan on Twitter @tstrahan4NY

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<![CDATA[Stabbing Suspect Shot, Killed by Police in Brooklyn: NYPD]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:44:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/brooklyn+police+involved+shooting+sept+29.JPG

A stabbing suspect was shot and killed by police as officers responded to a 911 call for an assault inside a Brooklyn apartment building, authorities say. 

Officers called to the apartment on Ocean Parkway in Midwood at about 7:15 p.m. Monday for some sort of domestic dispute allegedly found the suspect stabbing another man, police on the scene said. 

Police ordered the alleged stabber to drop his knife, but he refused, according to authorities. That's when officers opened fire.

The stabbing victim was transported to the hospital, and later died of his injuries. 

Police also found a woman inside the apartment with minor stab wounds along with two young children.

The woman was romantically involved with at least one of the men, police said, though her exact relationships with the men were not immediately clear.

The woman was taken to a hospital.

The children, who were uninjured, were also removed from the apartment. 

Authorities were also investigating another police-involved shooting in the Bronx Monday night.

-- Ida Siegal contributed to this report. Follow Ida Siegal at @IdaSiegal4NY.

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<![CDATA[FDNY Captain Accused of Molesting Boys]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:29:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/wilbert+riera+fire+captain+arrested.jpg

A veteran FDNY captain has been charged with molesting two young boys while he was in California earlier this month, according to a criminal complaint. 

Agents from an FBI task force arrested Wilbert Riera, a 21-year member of the FDNY assigned to the department's emergency medical service unit, Friday at EMS Battalion 23 on Staten Island, where he works, law enforcement sources said. He was arraigned on a fugitive affidavit Monday charging him with multiple counts of lewd act upon a child, a felony.

The alleged crimes happened in Hollywood between Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, according to a criminal complaint. Both boys are younger than 14 years old. 

An FDNY spokesman said Riera has been suspended for 30 days without pay, the maximum permitted under state law.

Riera's attorney, Oliver Storch, said his client waived his right to an extradition hearing to "expedite the process." He's being held in New York pending transport to California.

Storch said his client is "very shocked" and "saddened" by the charges.

"He is a leader who works saving lives," said Storch.

Neighbors in in his Bay Shore community on Long Island shared the sentiment.

"He was a pillar of the community. When Sandy hit, he made sure everyone was OK on the block," said one woman. 

The nature of Riera's trip to California wasn't immediately clear.  

Follow Lori Bordonaro on Twitter @Lori4NY

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<![CDATA[Iraq President: I Don't Know Anything About Alleged Threat ]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:25:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/iraqi+president1.jpg

The president of Iraq said Friday he has no information about an alleged ISIS plot targeting the United States, a day after his prime minister said the country's intelligence operation uncovered a plot indicating an attack may be imminent -- an assertion quickly debunked by U.S. authorities.

"Personally I don't have any information about this," President Fuad Masum said during a Council on Foreign Relations news conference. 

Local, state and federal law enforcement quickly shot down any report of a threat after the Associated Press reported Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday Baghdad informed him of the alleged ISIS plot. He said he wasn't sure when asked if an attack was imminent, but said it had not been thwarted. He also said the United States had been alerted about the threat, according to the AP, but security officials tell NBC 4 New York that is not true.

No overseas partner told U.S. law enforcement of any new or specific such threat, a senior security official said, nor have authorities at the FBI, NYPD, Port Authority or MTA uncovered evidence indicative of any new, specific plot targeting the city's transportation system

At a briefing at the Union Square subway station Thursday, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said they, too, assessed the prime minister's statements and found "no credible threat," but police will remain "ever vigilant," said de Blasio. 

The city has already been on high alert due to the United Nations General Assembly and the Jewish high holidays, Bratton said, and that heightened security level "can be very quickly enhanced."

Officials have stepped up security across the tri-state area in response to the ISIS threat overseas in weeks out of an abundance of precaution.

On Wednesday, Govs. Cuomo and Christie announced a bi-state agreement to coordinate intelligence-gathering and share information as part of a plan to step up security. 

The bi-state agreement to substantially increase security at transportation hubs and critical infrastructure in the metropolitan area is effective immediately. Over the next 100 days, law enforcement and military personnel will join forces within the metropolitan area to engage in counterterrorism operations by increasing visibility, inspections and surveillance on and at trains and train stations, airports, landmarks, and bridges and tunnels, according to the plan.

The two states will also participate in a joint emergency exercise in the coming months and continue to evaluate methods for increased intelligence and emergency coordination.

Follow Jonathan Dienst on Twitter @jonathan4NY



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[No Evidence of Any Threat to NYC: Mayor, NYPD]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 07:00:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/de+blasio+bratton+union+square.jpg

There is no evidence of any new, specific threat to New York City's subway system, according to intelligence sources asked about potential developments after the Associated Press reported the Iraqi prime minister said his country's intelligence operation uncovered a plot for an imminent attack.

The mayor and the police commissioner also said in a news conference they assessed the prime minister's "vague" statements and found no credible threat. 

The Associated Press reported Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday he was told of the alleged plot by Baghdad, and that it was the work of ISIS in Iraq. Asked if an attack was imminent, he said, "I'm not sure," according to the AP. He also said the United States had been alerted about the threat, according to the AP, but security officials tell NBC 4 New York that is not true.

No overseas partner told U.S. law enforcement of any new or specific such threat, a senior security official said, nor have authorities at the FBI, NYPD, Port Authority or MTA uncovered evidence indicative of any new, specific plot targeting the city's transportation system

"The first we heard of this threat is when the press began reporting it," the official said.

At a briefing at the Union Square subway station, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said they assessed the prime minister's statements and found "no credible threat," but police will remain "ever vigilant," said de Blasio. 

The city has already been on high alert due to the United Nations General Assembly and the Jewish high holidays, Bratton said, and that heightened security level "can be very quickly enhanced."

De Blasio and Bratton assured New Yorkers that they should feel "very comfortable and very secure riding the subways," according to Bratton. 

The police commissioner added that he and the mayor had just taken the subway to Union Square with Yankees fans on their way to Yankee Stadium to celebrate Derek Jeter's last home game there.

Nevertheless, the mayor urged residents to remain as vigilant as always.

"Law enforcement depends on everyday citizens to alert us to any potential threat," he said.  

Al-Abadi made the initial remarks in a media roundtable. In expanded remarks to NBC News later, an Iraqi official clarified the prime minister's statements, saying the Paris public transit system was a target, but that no specific target in the United States had been revealed.  

A federal security official said the prime minister's comments "took us security officials by surprise." Another senior official said, "We don't know what he is talking about."

An internal Homeland Security bulletin to law enforcement agencies said the department's intelligence unit has been working with multiple intelligence community partners to try to identify the kind of threat reports that al-Abadi referred to. 

But "no similar threat reporting can be located," stated the bulletin, obtained by NBC News. "Nor is it clear who, or what agencies in the United States Government were alerted." 

Authorities are looking into the source of his information and comparing it against past "open source" intelligence from about a month ago alleging a possible threat against the metropolitan area's commuter rail system, but they stress they have found no new threat to local infrastructure.

Nothing about the prime minister's statement has been validated and no one knows where his information came from, one New York security official said.

The NYPD said in a statement it was aware of the prime minister's statements and was in close contact with the federal law enforcement agencies "as we assess this particular threat stream."

"New York City normally operates at a heightened level of security and we adjust that posture daily based on our evaluation of information as we receive it," the statement said.

Officials have stepped up security across the tri-state area in response to the ISIS threat overseas in weeks out of an abundance of precaution.

Last week, a post on an ISIS message board titled “To the Lone Wolves in America: How to Make a Bomb in Your Kitchen, to Create Scenes of Horror in Tourist Spots and Other Targets” encouraged readers to attack sites throughout the country, including Times Square.

Earlier this week, the extremist group purportedly released a new audio that warned Americans "you will not feel secure even in your bedrooms."

On Wednesday, Govs. Cuomo and Christie announced a bi-state agreement to coordinate intelligence-gathering and share information as part of a plan to step up security in the wake of the threat overseas. A senior security official told NBC 4 New York if tri-state area residents notice a ramping up of security on trains Thursday, it's because of that agreement and the general threat environment, not because of the remarks by Iraq's prime minister.

The bi-state agreement to substantially increase security at transportation hubs and critical infrastructure in the metropolitan area is effective immediately. Over the next 100 days, law enforcement and military personnel will join forces within the metropolitan area to engage in counterterrorism operations by increasing visibility, inspections and surveillance on and at trains and train stations, airports, landmarks, and bridges and tunnels, according to the plan.

The two states will also participate in a joint emergency exercise in the coming months and continue to evaluate methods for increased intelligence and emergency coordination.

Follow Jonathan Dienst on Twitter @jonathan4NY

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<![CDATA[NY, NJ to Coordinate Anti-Terror Efforts Amid Threat]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 02:17:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/times+square+resized.jpg

New York and New Jersey have agreed to coordinate intelligence-gathering and information-sharing as part of a plan to step up security in the wake of terror threats overseas.

The "memorandum of understanding" signed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie comes nine days after the two met in New York with national, state and local law enforcement to map out an improved terror plan in response to ISIS' threats.

Last week, a post on an ISIS message board titled “To the Lone Wolves in America: How to Make a Bomb in Your Kitchen, to Create Scenes of Horror in Tourist Spots and Other Targets” encourages readers to attack sites throughout the country, including Times Square.

Earlier this week, the extremist group purportedly released a new audio this week that warned Americans "you will not feel secure even in your bedrooms." Officials have said there is no specific threat to the tri-state area, and are intensifying security out of an abundance of precaution.

The bi-state agreement to substantially increase security at transportation hubs and critical infrastructure in the metropolitan area is effective immediately. Over the next 100 days, law enforcement and military personnel will join forces within the metropolitan area to engage in counterterrorism operations by increasing visibility, inspections and surveillance on and at trains and train stations, airports, landmarks, and bridges and tunnels, according to the plan.

Specifically, the Port Authority will intensify its oversight of the areas it patrols, including conducting more regular security checks on PATH trains and in the stations, and running K-9 directed patrols twice daily. The National Guard's Joint Task Force presence will more than double to 500 military personnel in the area. New York State Police troopers will be assigned to train platforms and on trains, which authorities said has only been done sporadically in the past and never to the degree called for under the current plan. The MTA will increase uniformed officer presence by up to 50 percent at high volume stations, conduct more frequent bag checks and increase perimeter checks at stations; New Jersey Transit Police will employ similar tactics.

The two states will also participate in a joint emergency exercise in the coming months and continue to evaluate methods for increased intelligence and emergency coordination.

“The New York City area has always been a top target for terrorists wishing to spread hatred and fear, and we would be in a state of denial to say that what is going on internationally has not raised that danger,” Cuomo said.

"We know that our people and assets remain a target in the minds of depraved individuals around the globe, even in the homeland, and we are gravely committed to protecting and defending ourselves against the threat," Christie added.

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<![CDATA[No GPS Monitoring for Sex Crimes Pre-2007: Court]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:50:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sex+offender+sweep.JPG

More than 100 convicted sex offenders who have served their prison sentences could be taken off GPS monitoring devices after New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state can't subject them to round-the-clock monitoring if their crime occurred before the law authorizing it went into effect.

The court ruled in the case of George Riley of Eatontown, who served more than 20 years in prison for attempted sexual assault of a minor in 1986, more than 20 years before the state Legislature passed the Sex Offender Monitoring Act. The law requires 24-hour GPS monitoring for sex offenders determined to be high risk.

State Parole Board executive director David Thomas on Tuesday estimated that about 125 people currently under GPS monitoring could be affected by the court's ruling. Thomas didn't comment on the ruling but said by email that his office is working with the state attorney general's office on the matter.

When Riley was released from prison in 2009, at age 76, he was not subject to any form of parole supervision, based on New Jersey law at the time of his conviction. But he was subject to Internet registration and community notification requirements under Megan's Law. The parole board also ordered Riley to wear the GPS device, saying its decision was based on the classification of Riley as a Tier 3, or highest-level, sex offender under Megan's Law.

In his appeal, Riley argued that the GPS monitoring was actually based on his 1986 conviction and that it amounted to additional punishment imposed after his sentence was completed, a violation of state and federal laws. The parole board rejected his appeal, but a three-judge appeals court later sided with Riley and reversed the GPS requirement.

In its 4-3 decision Monday, the Supreme Court also agreed with Riley, with Justice Barry Albin writing that "SOMA is essentially parole supervision for life by another name" and it violated constitutional prohibitions on punishment applied retroactively. Albin noted that at Riley's hearing on the Megan's Law issue, "the court made no independent assessment of Riley's current dangerousness unrelated to his prior convictions."

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and Justices Anne Patterson and Faustino Fernandez-Vina dissented.

The decision "is another in a line of decisions in which the judiciary has been asked to consider the reach of new technologies in a constitutional setting," said Peter Verniero, a former state attorney general and Supreme Court justice currently in private practice. "That the justices were divided perhaps reflects the division within society itself over the government's use of advanced technologies in a law enforcement context." 

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<![CDATA[Ex-Manager of Famed NJ Diner Sentenced in Murder Plot]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 19:41:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tick+tock+diner+murder+for+hire+plot.jpg

The former manager of a famous northern New Jersey diner was sentenced to eight years in prison for plotting to kill the co-owner of the restaurant, who is his uncle by marriage.

Georgios Spyropoulos, 46, of Clifton plead guilty in July to conspiracy to murder his former boss. On Friday, he received the eight-year sentence, which included nearly seven years of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act.

Authorities have said an informant told them Spyropoulos was searching for a hitman to torture and kill his boss, Alexandros Sgourdos. They alleged that Spyropoulos believed Sgourdos was withholding profits and keeping a large amount of cash in a safe.

Sgourdos co-owns the Tick Tock diners in Clifton and Manhattan.

Spyropoulos was arrested in April 2013 and indicted on attempted murder and other charges.

"If vicious, vindictive men like Georgios Spyropoulos held sway, we would live in a much more violent world,” said New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman. “Fortunately, law and order – in the form of the New Jersey State Police – prevailed in this case, and his elaborate plot to have his uncle tortured and murdered has instead ended in a lengthy prison sentence for Spyropoulos.”
 

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<![CDATA[Teacher Accused of 2 More Student Sex Assaults, 5 Total]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 08:47:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/teacher+arrest1.jpg

A northern New Jersey high school teacher who was accused of sexually assaulting three 15-year-old students is now being accused of assaulting two more students, authorities say.

Nicole Dufault,  35,of Caldwell, was arrested Wednesday night for the alleged assaults inside Columbia High School in Maplewood and in her car since last year, the Essex County prosecutor's office said. The students were allegedly assaulted during the summer months and the school year, authorities said.

Dufault pleaded not guilty to charges involving the initial three students Friday morning. It wasn't clear when she would be arraigned on the additional charges.

Authorities said the additional two students did not just come forward; rather, "we just reached the stage in the investigation where the charges involved these students could be added," according to the prosecutor's office. 

Dufault was being held on $500,000 bail at the Essex County Correctional Facility and police say they removed two children from her custody.

Information on Dufault's attorney wasn't immediately available.

The investigation began with school officials, who then flagged law enforcement, according to the prosecutor's office. 

Board of Education president Elizabeth Daugherty said in a statement Friday that the allegations "deeply disturbing," but declined to discuss how the investigation began, citing confidentiality rules. 

Daugherty said the board and the administration will cooperate with authorities in their investigation. 

Some parents were stunned by the news of the teacher's arrest Thursday and went to the school in search of information.

"We need to know what happened, when it happened and why it happened," said one mother who did not want to give her name. She said when she called the high school for answers, the person who picked up hung up on her. 

"That's not acceptable," she said. 

No one answered Dufault's home door Thursday, but neighbors said Friday they were shocked by the accusation. 

"I thought she was a responsible adult, taking care of the kids, raising the family, and then all of a sudden it's like, bam," said Donna Lee. "That's what's so shocking, and it's the kids who are suffering in all this." 

Nancy Ursitti said Dufault is a "sweet" woman and the "gentlest mother to her children."

"I'm shocked," she said. 

Prosecutors say Dufault is a language arts teacher and has worked at the school for nine years.

The school was offering counseling and other assistance.

Follow Ida Siegal on Twitter @idasiegal4NY

Follow Danielle Elias on Twitter @danielle4ny

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Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Man Sought in Series of Violent Purse Snatchings]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 19:23:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/purse+snatch.jpg

Police are looking for a man wanted in a series of violent purse snatchings in usually quiet New Jersey communities dating back to April.

Authorities believe the suspect has attacked women on at least five different occasions in the Freehold area, most recently on Sept. 8.

The suspect targets a woman walking or in a car alone late at night, sprays pepper spray or some sort of irritant in her face and tries to steal her purse or wallet, police say. He made off with purses in at least two of the cases.

In the attack Sept. 8, police said the suspect called out to a woman walking down an alleyway near the American Hotel on Main Street in Freehold Borough and sprayed something in her face, then tried to rob her. She managed to get away and called 911.

Three similar assaults were reported in Freehold Township, and another was reported in nearby Colts Neck.

In one of the Freehold Township cases, police say the suspect followed a woman in her car from a housing development to a neighborhood street. When she stopped her car, he approached her, told her he had a gun and stole her wallet. She told police he was driving a green minivan.

Authorities released a sketch of the suspect (above). Anyone with information about him is asked to call Freehold Borough, Freehold Township or Colts Neck police.

Danielle Elias contributed to this report. Follow Danielle Elias on Twitter @Danielle4NY



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Bank Tellers Accused of Stealing Customer IDs, Cash]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:18:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/money_handcuffs_generic_nbc.jpg

Four local bank tellers and an alleged accomplice were arrested and charged with stealing customers' personal information and using it to remove money from their bank accounts, authorities said Tuesday.

Over four years, the defendants allegedly stole more than $850,000 from unsuspecting customers at branches of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, TD Bank and Wachovia in Westchester and Orange counties and the Bronx, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

The tellers allegedly stole Social Security and account numbers from hundreds of customers and used that information to create fake IDs and documents that they used to withdraw money from their accounts at branches in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, Schneiderman said.

All five defendants were charged with grand larceny, identity theft and fraud charges.  More charges are expected to brought against the suspects and other alleged members of the identity theft ring, Schneiderman said.

Among the New York bank branches whose customers were victims of identity theft are:

• JP Morgan Chase: 5 West Burnside Avenue, Bronx, NY

• HSBC: 1 East Fordham Road, Bronx, NY

• Bank of America: 50 West Fordham Road, Bronx, NY

• Bank of America: 206 Main Street, White Plains, NY

• JP Morgan Chase: 235 Main Street, White Plains, NY

• JP Morgan Chase: 410 South Broadway, Yonkers, NY

• Bank of America: 479 North Broadway, Jericho, NY

• Wachovia (now Wells Fargo): 43 North Plank Road, Newburgh, NY

The bank tellers arrested and arraigned worked at the following branches:

• Bank of America branch at 206 Main Street in White Plains.

• JP Morgan Chase branch, at 235 Main Street, White Plains.

•  Wachovia branch (now a Wells Fargo bank branch), at 43 N. Plank Road, in Newburgh.
 

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