<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]> Copyright 2015 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 Thu, 02 Jul 2015 08:51:41 -0400 Thu, 02 Jul 2015 08:51:41 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Called in 11 JFK Bomb Threats: "It's a Pleasure to Kill": DA]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:34:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/457062032.jpg

A 64-year-old Manhattan man has been arrested, accused of calling in nearly a dozen bomb threats targeting Kennedy Airport travelers and police officers over the course of 16 days in June, authorities say. 

The Morningside Heights man made 11 calls to 911 from June 9 through June 24 to say he was planting chemical bombs and explosives containing nails at JFK. 

In one call placed just after 7 a.m. on June 18, the suspect allegedly told 911 he had three chemical bombs in a BMW and would drive to JFK, saying: "I am going to kill a lot of people at the airport today. It's a pleasure to kill."

He called again at about 8 a.m. to allegedly say: "Muslims are on their way to place a bomb at JFK today." 

Then on June 21, the suspect call 911 and said it was his mission to kill police officers, prosecutors said.

On June 24, he allegedly told 911: "I have a naked police officer in the basement. I am going to kill a lot of officers tonight. I have three bombs I want to place at JFK Airport." 

The suspect was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Saturday on 11 counts of first-degree falsely reporting an incident and making a terroristic threat. He's being held on $750,000 bail and is expected to return to court July 10. 

Port Authority Chief Security Officer Thomas Belfiore said "extensive police resources" were spent investigating the phony threats. 

If convicted, the man faces up t0 7 years in prison. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Exclusive: NYPD Hatchet Attack Survivors Talk to News 4]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 17:51:22 -0400 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[One Escaped Killer Shot Dead After 21-Day Manhunt]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 21:55:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/richard+matt+death.jpg

One of the convicted murderers who escaped from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York three weeks ago, leading police on a manhunt through miles of difficult terrain, was shot and killed by law enforcement officers Friday, two senior state officials tell NBC News, and another law enforcement official tells NBC 4 New York gunfire was later heard as authorities tried to close in on the second fugitive.

Richard Matt was shot after he, armed with a shotgun, was confronted by Customs and Border Patrol officers who were sweeping a wooded area in Malone, the Franklin County town to which authorities had narrowed their search following the discovery of new DNA evidence in a cabin, a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation tells NBC 4 New York.

The officers ordered Matt to put up his hands, and he challenged them; that's when he was fatally shot by the officers, State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico confirmed in a news conference held alongside Gov. Cuomo Friday evening.

A 20-gauge shotgun belonging to Matt was recovered from the scene. No shots were fired by Matt, and no officers were injured, D'Amico said. 

"You never want to see anyone lose their life," Cuomo said, but continued: "These are dangerous, dangerous men and that is why you see law enforcement from across this country before you today cooperating with one mission: to bring these gentlemen to justice."

Law enforcement got a 911 call just before 2 p.m. from a man who reported hearing a loud sound while towing a mobile camper on Route 30, according to D'Amico. He at first thought it was a flat tire and got out of the camper to inspect the vehicle; he didn't find a flat and proceeded to a campground in a nearby town.

That's where he found a bullet hole in the camper and called 911, said D'Amico. State police responded and determined the camper had been shot about 8 miles back, and multiple agencies were deployed to that area. Officers got into a cabin there and smelled gunpowder and realized a weapon had been fired. It also appeared someone had recently been there and fled out the back door. 

As law enforcement conducted a ground search in the woods near Route 30, the tactical team from Customs and Border Protection heard movement and coughs and found Matt. They engaged him, and when he refused to comply, shot him, D'Amico said. 

The manhunt is ongoing for the other escaped murderer, David Sweat, though law enforcement sources say two sets of footprints were located in the woods so they believe the two killers were traveling together. 

"There's no indication that Sweat wasn't with Matt," D'Amico said. 

Law enforcement officers converged on a limited wooded area late Friday afternoon where they believe Sweat may be hiding, an official said, and a round of gunshots was heard as officers tried to close in on him. D'Amico declined to detail the ongoing search for Sweat, saying only: "We are going to continue to use the same tactics over the past few weeks, which is to search 24 hours a day until we find him." 

He noted: "Our preference would always be to capture them alive." 

He reminded the public to remain vigilant and to call 911 immediately and not approach Sweat in case of a sighting. 

Thom Kelly, 36, says he was at his mother-in-law's house near Route 30 around the time of the shooting.

"We heard a lot of sirens by Route 30 so we stepped out to see what happened," Kelly said. "One local officer stopped by and said, 'We got one.'"

At a news briefing earlier Friday, Guess said the search efforts had shifted slightly north after police found items dropped by Matt and Sweat in a cabin and field north of their last suspected location. The findings, combined with other evidence, gave investigators "a high degree of confidence" that the men may have been making a run for the border, Guess said.

Guess wouldn't reveal what evidence was connected to the men, but said that officials presumed the escapees were traveling under the cover of darkness.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News that DNA belonging to at least one of the escaped prisoners was found in the cabin in Malone. According to those sources, the cabin owner noticed the place had been broken into at some point Wednesday or Thursday.

The timeline and location of the positive DNA test confirmed that at least one of the prisoners was able to travel about 13 miles northwest since evidence indicated the duo had been near Owls Head Saturday, the sources told NBC News.

On Friday, as the search extended into its 21st day, a small contingent of New York state troopers were stationed along power lines in Malone, and motorists had to pass through a checkpoint. Other heavily armed troopers combed sheds and went door-to-door in the efforts to find the men.

Sweat and Matt broke out of the prison in Dannemora on June 6. Authorities say they cut through the steel wall at the back of their cells, crawled down a catwalk, broke through a brick wall, cut their way into and out of a steam pipe and then emerged from a manhole outside the prison.

Sweat, 35, was serving a life sentence without parole in the killing of a sheriff's deputy. Matt, who turned 49 on Thursday, was doing 25 years to life in the kidnapping, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss.

Meanwhile, New York state prison officials said Friday that a corrections officer facing charges related to the escape has been suspended without pay.

Gene Palmer's suspension from his $72,644-a-year job comes after he was arrested Wednesday night on charges of promoting prison contraband, tampering with evidence and official misconduct.

Palmer has told investigators he provided paint, tools and prison catwalk access to Matt and Sweat. The veteran guard says he had no idea they were planning to escape, and investigators have said they have no reason to believe otherwise.

He is free on $25,000 bail.

Another prison worker, tailor shop instructor, Joyce Mitchell is charged with helping them escape. Authorities say Mitchell smuggled hacksaw blades, a screwdriver and other tools into the prison by hiding them in frozen meat that Palmer delivered to the inmates.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Religious Leaders Taking Steps to Boost Security After Charleston Shooting]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:50:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/215*120/first+ame+church+charleston+sevice.JPG Police offered security tips to dozens of religious and community leaders in Suffolk County. Jonathan Dienst reports

Photo Credit: Beth Slepp-Paz]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Man Arrested in ISIS-Related Raid, 4th Tri-State Terror Arrest This Week: Officials]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 21:05:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sam+topaz+nj.jpg

A man suspected of supporting ISIS-related activities was arrested as FBI agents raided a home in New Jersey early Thursday, accused of conspiring with at least one of the other men arrested in the area this week in the same investigation, law enforcement officials said.

The Fort Lee man, Samuel Rahamin Topaz, 21, appeared in federal court in Newark Thursday on material support for terror charges. He is being held without bail.

His attorney, Borse Martinoski, declined to comment. 

The arrest is the fourth person allegedly linked to ISIS this week in the tri-state area. Outside his Center Avenue apartment Thursday, his brother Eyal Topaz told NBC 4 New York that the FBI took his brother's phones and computers, and "they just took him and left." 

The investigation into Topaz, a U.S. citizen, began when a friend reported to the FBI that he may try to travel overseas, according to the criminal complaint. 

Topaz watched ISIS videos with co-conspirators and held meetings with other suspects, including one near the World Trade Center site, the complaint stated.

There were dozens of phone calls and text messages between Topaz and his alleged co-conspirators, including the Queens college student arrested Saturday in the same case. Text messages showed Topaz was planning to travel to Iraq or Syria by way of Jordan; one allegedly said: "I'm saving my money for it, bro, trust me, I got it." 

A Facebook page showed photos of Topaz dressed as a jihadist fighter, according to the complaint. 

The FBI said Topaz also met regularly with two others who have not been charged -- dual citizens of the U.S. and Jordan, ages 20 and 23. The younger one left the U.S. on May 5 for Jordan and presumably attempted to travel on to Syria, the FBI said. 

Under questioning, Topaz said he sympathized with ISIS and watched videos, and admitted speaking with three others about wanting to join ISIS, the complaint stated. 

In his most recent public Facebook post dated April 25, Topaz said he was planning to delete his social media accounts until "I leave the country," though he didn't specify why he planned to leave. 

On another Facebook post showing him dressed as an apparent ISIS fighter, he wrote: "Which assassin am I, or am I all of them?" 

His older Facebook posts appear to be a mix of long-winded rants, reflections on Islam and his conversion to the religion, selfies and videos of himself singing -- including covers of Frank Ocean and Stevie Wonder. He mentions in one 2013 post he was preparing to audition for NBC's "The Voice." There are frequent status posts describing how "lonely" or "bored" he feels.

On Saturday, 20-year-old Queens college student Munther Omar Saleh and a 17-year-old were arrested near the Whitestone Bridge.

Saleh is accused of allegedly scouting possible targets for an ISIS-inspired attack. Court documents say Saleh also charged law enforcement officers with a knife when he saw them conducting surveillance of him and another alleged conspirator Saturday. No one was hurt.

The 17-year-old faces state charges in Queens.

The charges against Saleh accuse him of trying to acquire knowledge and materials to build a bomb and carry out some kind of attack here; the charges against Topaz make no allegation that he intended to carry out any kind of attack in the U.S. 

FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel said Thursday: "Topaz conspired to provide services and personnel to ISIL. Topaz discussed his desire to travel to Syria to join ISIL. Fortunately, this threat did not materialize due to the indefatigable efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. I ask the citizens of New Jersey to assist us in this task by remaining vigilant and contacting the FBI or the police if they see or hear anything suspicious.”

On Wednesday, 21-year-old Fareed Mumuni was charged with attempting to murder an FBI agent after he allegedly tried to repeatedly stab the agent -- and others -- who entered his home to conduct a search warrant in connection with the ongoing ISIS investigation involving Saleh.

No serious injuries were reported, and Mumuni was also accused of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and trying to assist the terror group in carrying out an attack in the New York area. Saleh allegedly gave authorities Mumuni's name while cooperating with officials after his arrest.

Mumuni allegedly discussed building pressure cooker bombs and using guns to target landmarks and kill police officers.

Relatives and lawyers for Saleh and Mumuni have said they deny the charges.


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<![CDATA[Man Killed After Attacking Cop With 11-Inch Hunting Knife: Police]]> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 05:05:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/officer+stabbed+shoots+supect+fillippo+gugliara.jpg

A 24-year-old uniformed NYPD officer assigned to transit foot patrol in Brighton Beach shot and killed a man who attacked him with an 11-inch hunting knife when the cop tried to arrest him for attacking a 78-year-old woman on a street below an elevated subway station Thursday, police said.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the 58-year-old suspect attacked the elderly woman below the Ocean Parkway Q train station around 1:30 p.m., not long after the woman, a stranger to the suspect, had tried to intervene in a separate dispute the suspect had had with a shop owner in a nearby store.

The suspect wrestled the woman to the ground, and she suffered bruises in the altercation, authorities said. The 24-year-old police officer, who heard the commotion while on the subway platform, descended to the street and tried to arrest the suspect, but the man pulled out the hunting knife and stabbed the officer in the neck, Bratton said. 

The officer, Fillippo Gugliara, fired two shots, striking the suspect in the torso. The suspect, whose identity is being withheld pending family notification, was pronounced dead at the scene; his knife was recovered.

Authorities said the injured officer, who has been with the department since January 2013, received a few stitches to his neck wound; additional testing showed no internal injuries and he is expected to be OK. Bratton said he would be held at the hospital overnight.

Mayor de Blasio, who also met with the officer and the officer's family, said the cop was in good spirits and was proud of his actions. De Blasio said the city was proud of his bravery as well. 

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<![CDATA[Man Admits Killing Ex-Scout Leader Who He Says Raped Him]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:49:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/boy+scout+kills+former+leader.jpg

A former Boy Scout pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing his troop leader, who he claimed had raped him over many years. 

In a tense and emotional courtroom in Newton, New Jersey, Clark Fredericks admitted to killing former Boy Scout leader and Sussex sheriff's officer Dennis Pegg three years ago. 

"From the time I was 8 years old until I was 12, I was sexually assaulted and raped by Dennis Pegg," said Fredericks. 

He said he never told anyone about the rapes even as, he claimed, Pegg also raped his best friend Jeff. Jeff committed suicide in 1983, Fredericks said. 

Fredericks graduated high school, still keeping the secret from his parents. 

"Dennis Pegg controlled me by torturing and killing animals in front of me, saying he would do the same to me if I told anyone about our secret," he said.

Fredericks said he felt that Pegg, as a cop, was untouchable.

But in 2012, he watched the sexual abuse trial of Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky and then his conviction on June 11. "The next day, June 12, my shell cracked," he said.

Fredericks said he got drunk, snorted cocaine, and with friend Bob Reynolds -- who police arrested as an accomplice -- went to Pegg's Stillwater home with a hunting knife Pegg had given him back in scouting. 

"I started stabbing Dennis," Fredericks said in court. "I said, 'How does it feel raping little kids now. It's not so fun raping little kids now, is it?' At the end I slit his throat." 

Family and friends of Fredericks wept almost nonstop as he spoke. And then as he got up to leave, applause broke out in the courtroom, something the prosecutor said he'd never seen before.

One of those crying and applauding was Rose Funari, who said her own brother was a victim of Pegg's.

"If someone was to hurt my child, I'll be honest with you, there would be no judge, no jury," she said.

Family and friends said past accusations by others against Pegg were ignored. Prosecutor Francis Koch said there was simply was not sufficient evidence. Either way, the prosecutor would not justify an eye for an eye. 

Despite the savage nature of the killing, even the prosecutor agreed to accept the claim of passion provocation, which means a maximum of 5 to 10 years when he is sentenced in August. 

"Passion provocation could not be disapproved beyond a reasonable doubt," said Koch. 

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<![CDATA[Suspect Identified in String of Attacks on Asian Women in NYC: Sources]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:44:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/attacks+on+asian+women.jpg

Authorities have identified the suspect wanted in a string of recent attacks on Asian women in Manhattan as 25-year-old Tyrell Shaw, a career criminal with nearly a dozen prior arrests in New York City who is currently on probation for a burglary in the Bronx, sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York.

Shaw has been arrested 10 times in the city since 2006 for an array of offenses, including credit card theft, criminal trespassing and burglary, records show. The sources say he has been involved in four prior domestic cases; three of them involved arguments with family members and one stemmed from a fight with a girlfriend.

Police have also encountered him several times when responding to reports of an emotionally disturbed person; in April, they responded after he was running into oncoming traffic on 10th Avenue, putting himself and others in dangers, law enforcement sources say.

Authorities believe Shaw is the man who has attacked at least four Asian women in their 20s and 30s across Manhattan at random in less than two weeks, the sources say.

Police have released photos of the suspect in the case, who they say began attacking Asian women last week in Chinatown. In the first case, on June 10, he asked a 35-year-old woman, "Who is the president of the United States?" police say. When she didn't respond, police say, he walked away, then returned with a white plastic bag containing a hard object and hit her in the face.

About four hours later, a 29-year-old Asian woman was walking down Park Avenue near East 30th Street when the suspect walked past her and waited at the corner, police say. He hit her in the face with the bag when she reached the corner; she was treated at a hospital and released.

Two days later, last Friday, the same suspect attacked a 34-year-old woman walking near Second Avenue and East 60th Street. As in the earlier cases, he walked up to her, armed with the white bag containing the hard object, and bashed her in the forehead. She also was treated at a hospital.

The woman in that case said the man spoke to her, saying, "All Asian girls doesn't talk to me," the victim told NBC 4 New York. She said he complained he could never get their phone numbers; she said she ignored him.

"And then, just after next second, he just hit my face," the woman said.

She said she chased the man after the attack, but stopped when she realized she was covered in blood. The woman needed 10 stitches to close a gash above her eye. She says the wound is so painful that she can't work.

The most recent attack was Monday, when police say the suspect tried to strike up a conversation with a 41-year-old Asian woman on Mulberry Street. She ignored him and he left, but returned, this time with a gray bag containing a hard object, and whacked her in the face with it.

None of the victims were seriously injured in the attacks, which authorities are investigating as bias crimes.

On Wednesday, a tipster called Crime Stoppers to report a possible Wordpress account linked to Shaw that references his frustration with Asian women, the sources say. The writer says he spoke to nearly 1,500 Asian women in less than 350 days, and "none of them took time out of their day to say hello."

The blogger writes that he became furious.

"I never agreed with violence, but I knew the only way I could overcome that sense of rejection-would start by assaulting the Women that carelessly rejected me," the post reads. "I just couldn’t understand why Asian Women didn’t find me attractive. Suddenly, I assumed the ones that I am attracted to use cocaine so I decided to play a game. Bash Asian Women in the Nose so that they could stop sniffing cocaine and give me a chance."

Authorities are investigating whether the account is connected to Shaw, the sources say. Law enforcement sources also say he has been threatening suicide on social media in recent days, though they have found no indication he carried out with the threats.

Anyone with information on Shaw's whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.  



Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Man Accused in Terror Plot, Kitchen Knife Attack on FBI: Docs]]> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 20:13:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/terror+arrest+staten+island+copy.jpg

The FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested a 21-year-old Staten Island man who allegedly repeatedly tried to stab an FBI agent with a kitchen knife Wednesday as officers attempted to search his home in connection with an ongoing ISIS-related investigation involving a Queens college student arrested over the weekend, according to court documents.

Fareed Mumuni was charged Wednesday with attempting to murder an FBI agent, though no serious injuries were reported in the scuffle, conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and trying to assist the terror group in carrying out an attack in the New York area, according to the complaint.

After his arrest, Mumuni allegedly told investigators he had pledged his allegiance to ISIS and that he planned to travel overseas to join the group. If he wasn't able to join ISIS overseas, he allegedly planned to attack law enforcement officers at home, and was coordinating that plan with others. 

Mumuni's alleged conspirators include Munther Omar Saleh, the 20-year-old college student from Queens arrested over the weekend for allegedly scouting possible targets for an ISIS-inspired attack. Court documents say Saleh also charged law enforcement officers with a knife when he saw them conducting surveillance of him and another alleged conspirator Saturday. No one was hurt.

Saleh allegedly named Mumuni as a co-conspirator when he agreed to speak with investigators following his arrest, court documents indicate. Investigators began reviewing cellphone records between the duo, and found discussions about attacking law enforcement.

In one conversation, Saleh allegedly told Mumuni to use a bomb, then to fight, later clarifying he should detonate an explosive, then run over law enforcement officers with a vehicle, gather up their weapons and use them to shoot at other victims, court papers say.   

Court documents indicate Saleh allegedly emailed himself information about how to build a pressure cooker bomb like the ones used in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack; he and another man also allegedly searched for items like an LED light, lava lamp, chemistry model, propane and other components that authorities say could be used in the creation of explosive devices. While Saleh allegedly was running the "op," as he described it to a confidential informant, authorities allege Mumuni helped him in his alleged efforts to carry out an attack on behalf of ISIS.

The two were seen meeting on several occasions since May; during one meeting, Saleh contacted Mumuni to tell him he had money and wanted to meet, stating that he had money that "talks," possibly referring to funding for an illegal transaction, the complaint alleges. Saleh eluded surveillance teams on the way to a meeting with Mumuni on Staten Island.

Saleh and Mumuni also met in lower Manhattan late last month. On June 1, Saleh and another alleged co-conspirator allegedly talked about how the meeting with Mumuni went. Saleh allegedly said it was "awesome" and "motivating."

When Saleh told Mumuni 11 days later, "I decided to tell my parents 'i will be gone in much less than a year, in sha Allah, you have two choices, either you let me go to Darul Islam or you watch me kill nonMuslims here," Mumuni replied, "May Allah make it easy for you," court documents say. 

Authorities went to Mumuni's home Wednesday to execute a search warrant in the case when Mumuni allegedly attacked them. Court papers say the suspect's mother and sister opened the door to let law enforcement officers in, and when they entered, Mumuni walked down the main staircase.

Officers ordered him to move to a couch in the living room and Mumuni refused, then allegedly lunged at the agents with a kitchen knife. He repeatedly tried to stab one officer as others attempted to restrain him, court papers say. None of the stabs penetrated the agent's body armor. 

After Mumuni's arrest, his mother allowed agents to search his car, where investigators found a bag containing another large kitchen knife, court papers say. After his arrest, he allegedly told FBI agents Wednesday's attack on the officers was premeditated and that he kept the knife used to attack the agent wrapped in a T-shirt in his bed for just such an occasion. He said he also stowed the knife found in his mother's car for a potential encounter with law enforcement, the complaint says.

Court papers say Mumuni also admitted to talking about building a pressure cooker bomb with Saleh.

Mumuni appeared briefly in federal court in Brooklyn; he was appointed an attorney, Anthony Ricco, who denied his client pledged allegiance to ISIS. Ricco said Mumuni would plead not guilty at an appropriate time. He said Mumuni is a religious man who had a job before Wednesday. The lawyer also said Mumuni and Saleh know each other, but he declined to elaborate on their relationship.

Ricco said Mumuni's mother and cousins, who were in court Wednesday, were surprised by the charges. They did not comment as they left court. The young man's uncle, who was also in court, said he didn't believe the charges. He said Mumuni attends the College of Staten Island and works as a home health aide on the weekends. The uncle described Mumuni as a good kid.

A neighbor who witnessed the arrest was Mumuni was cooperative when he was arrested by authorities; he was led out of his home wearing a bathrobe and shackles. The neighbor reiterated the uncle's statements that Mumuni is a good kid, saying he was always offering to shovel and carry groceries. The neighbor said he doesn't believe the allegations "for a minute." 

Mumuni was held without bail. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted of the charge of attempting to murder a federal officer.

Saleh appeared in court Saturday when the complaint against him was unsealed. The name of his attorney wasn't available, but his family denied the allegations Wednesday. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[N.Y. Man Gets 9 Years in Plot to Have Accuser Killed]]> Tue, 16 Jun 2015 20:43:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/daniel+miller+store+copy.jpg

A Long Island businessman who tried to have a teenager he sexually abused killed so he couldn't testify at trial has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Nassau County prosecutors say 47-year-old Daniel Miller pleaded guilty in April to charges including sexual abuse, conspiracy and criminal solicitation.

Miller admitted drugging a 17-year-old boy with an anti-anxiety medication, and then sexually abused him while the teen worked at his Santeria store in January 2012.

While in jail and awaiting trial, Miller offered to pay $15,000 to have the victim killed. Prosecutors say he wanted to make the killing look like a robbery so the boy would not testify at trial.

He also pleaded guilty in an unrelated case to charges he stole over $200,000 in a check-fraud scheme.


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<![CDATA[NYC College Student Arrested for Alleged Role in Terror Plot]]> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 12:50:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/handcuffs-generic-on-black.jpg+20+may.jpg

A 20-year-old college student from Queens was arrested on Saturday by the FBI for allegedly scouting possible targets for an ISIS-inspired attack, law enforcement officials said.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn charged Munther Omar Saleh with material support for terrorism. The FBI said he boasted he wanted to carry out a terror operation to an undercover informant.

A second man believed to be 17 years old was also questioned by authorities, according to federal court papers. Investigators said Saleh was researching how to make explosives and has watched ISIS videos online.

Saleh is a U.S. citizen who enrolled in a Queens aeronautical college and was allegedly trying to learn how to build a bomb.

Saleh allegedly posted jihadist writings online including claiming al-Qaida “could be getting too moderate” while also voicing support for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the beheadings of hostages and establishing Sharia law in New York.

Investigators also said he voiced support for the Texas attack on a cartoon drawing contest of the prophet Mohammed.

In March, Saleh was twice spotted on the George Washington Bridge by Port Authority Police, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force was notified of the suspicious activity.

JTTF searched his computer and discovered pro-ISIS translations, according to the criminal complaint.

In an online communication with a JTTF source, Saleh allegedly boasted, "Well, I am in NY trying to do an op." Investigators said he was also doing research on how to build a pressure cooker bomb similar to one used in the Boston Marathon bombings. The FBI said he also began shopping for components like a watch that could be used as a timing device for an explosive.

Neighbors at his family's home in Flushing were stunned to hear the allegations.

"Oh, my God. I don't know, that's a surprise for me," said Norma Morales. "I feel so bad about the family. They are very nice people." 

Saleh's father is a respected manager at a grocery store across the street, neighbors said. He didn't want to speak to NBC 4 New York at his home Tuesday night other to say his son is innocent. 

Luna Zhu recalled the FBI coming to the home a few days ago. She didn't seem to know much about Saleh.

"Usually he just walk out, walk in, just hold the door. That's it," she said. 

An unnamed co-conspirator allegedly exchanged ISIS videos from Syria with Saleh. Officials have not yet named that alleged co-conspirator.

On Saturday along the Whitestone Expressway, officials said Saleh noticed he and his co-conspirator were being followed, and they exited their green Jeep to approach the law enforcement vehicle. Police discovered a tactical folding knife on the co-conspirator when they were arrested, according to court papers.

The investigation is ongoing and spokesmen for the FBI and the US attorney’s office declined to comment beyond what is in the criminal complaint.

-- NBC News' Pete Williams and Robert Windrem contributed to this report 

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<![CDATA[Ex-Dean Who Drove High Sentenced in Crash That Killed 2]]> Mon, 15 Jun 2015 20:04:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/north+merrick+fatal.jpg

Two grieving Long Island families attended the sentencing Monday of the former college administrator who killed two men in a crash on the Meadowbrook Parkway two years ago, but walked away with an empty feeling.

Debbie Fratello, the daughter of one of the victims, had asked that her father's killer be put in jail for a long time; instead, former Suffolk Community College associate dean Robert Beodeker was sentenced to a term of 4 to 12 years. 

He admitted he was driving to school high on crystal meth when his pickup truck slammed into a car that had broken down on the shoulder of the Meadowbrook Parkway in March 2013. 

Fratello's 76-year-old father John Elder, and the 65-year-old friend who came to help him, Edward Ross, were both killed. 

"I just don't think this is fair," said victim Edward Ross' son, also named Edward.

Ross said he's had trouble explaining the sentence to his own children. 

"How do I explain that he was killed by a methhead who could be on the streets in four years and kill then? How's that justice?" he said. 

Beodeker's sentence is a product of a plea agreement with prosecutors. He could have faced a maximum of 25 years in prison. 

Nassau Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick said, "Vehicular crimes suffer from penalties that never seem to match the harm that's caused."

Beodeker did apologize in court, saying to the victims' families: "I know it haunts you. It haunts me. I am truly sorry." 

But the families didn't buy it. 

"He has no remorse," said Ross. "He should spend the rest of his life in prison." 

Fratello said: "It's not going to bring my dad back. I just want my dad back." 



Photo Credit: NBCNewYork]]>
<![CDATA[5th Suspect Charged in Brooklyn ISIS Probe: Feds]]> Thu, 11 Jun 2015 14:48:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bratton-islamic-state-presser-AP_617894346352.jpg

A fifth man has been arrested in connection with a federal investigation into the so-called Brooklyn ISIS conspiracy, federal authorities say.

Akmal Zakirov is charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS -- also known as the Islamic State and ISIL -- and is expected to appear in federal court in Brooklyn later Thursday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Zakirov's arrest comes months after 24-year-old Abdurasul Hasanofvich Juraboev, 19-year-old Akhror Saidakhmetov were accused of conspiring to join ISIS overseas and planning to return to New York to shoot cops and FBI agents if their gambit failed. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Two other men, Abror Habibov and Dilkhayot Kasimov, have been accused of helping the pair raise money for the trip. Authorities allege Zakirov also helped in the fundraising effort, helping Saidakhmetov purchase a plane ticket to the Middle East.

“Zakirov is the fifth to be charged as part of the network of individuals alleged to have conspired and attempted to provide material support to ISIL,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie. “Our efforts to investigate terrorist support groups are ongoing -- we are committed to disrupting and deterring those who seek to support ISIL, whether by lending themselves or their funds to ISIL’s cause.”

If convicted, Zakirov faces up to 30 years in prison.

Saidakhmetov allegedly posted on an Uzbek-language website in the last six months that he would buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if his plan to join ISIS was thwarted, according to the complaint unsealed Wednesday. In August, 24-year-old Juraboev posted on the board that he would kill President Obama if ISIS asked him to and asked for help getting weapons, according to the complaint.

He also said he would plant a bomb on Coney Island if the terror group asked, the complaint said.

Law enforcement officials say any potential homegrown threat was aspirational, not operational, but authorities moved in because they believed the suspects' plans to travel abroad were imminent and their alleged intent to join ISIS real. Agents had been tracking the men for about eight months.

Saidakhmetov was arrested in March at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul. Juraboev had already bought a plane ticket to Istanbul from New York and was scheduled to leave March 29.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for killing several American hostages, including journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig. Another captive American, 26-year-old aid worker Kayla Mueller, was confirmed dead on Feb. 10, four days after ISIS claimed she had been killed in an airstrike in Syria.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fugitive Arraigned in Attempted Murder of U.S. Marshals, NYPD Cops]]> Fri, 05 Jun 2015 14:23:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Queens-Shootout-NY.jpg

A few dozen federal officers and local police packed a Brooklyn federal court room Friday as Oswald Lewis, a fugitive who had been on the run for two decades before he was apprehended last year, was arraigned on charges of attempted murder of U.S. Marshals and NYPD officers.

Lewis, who wore shackles and prison clothes when he faced a judge, was arrested in August by the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force. He had been on the run since 1991, originally wanted in Virginia on a charge of conspiring to distribute crack cocaine, when law enforcement officials tracked him to an apartment in Queens near JFK International Airport, authorities have said.

Lewis allegedly lay in wait for U.S. Marshals and NYPD officers and opened fire on the task force members when they went to arrest him last summer. Lewis, who was also a suspect in a Brooklyn stabbing, was wearing a bulletproof vest and had multiple guns under his pillow when they arrived.

Law enforcement officers returned his fire and wounded him in the hand and arm; Lewis wasn't badly hurt.

None of the law enforcement members were injured in the hail of gunfire. They were part of the same task force that worked to track the movements of Daron Dylon Wint, the suspect in the quadruple murder of a family and their housekeeper in Washington, D.C., when the suspect was in New York for a brief period hiding out amid a national manhunt last month. 

It wasn't clear if Lewis spoke at the hearing Friday.



Photo Credit: NBC New York]]>
<![CDATA[NY State Senator Probed Over Alleged $20K Car Bill to Taxpayers]]> Fri, 29 May 2015 20:19:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/marcellino+senate.jpg

The Nassau County District Attorney's office has opened an investigation into whether a powerful local state senator improperly billed taxpayers for nearly $20,000 in car expenses, sources close to the probe tell NBC 4 New York's I-Team.

Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino of Syosset, who represents the Fifth Senate District, spent more than $20,000 of his campaign funds on automobile expenses between 2010 and 2013, according to campaign finance records.

Because those expenses were paid for by his campaign, it would be against the law for him to bill taxpayers for the same expense. According to records provided to the I-Team, the state reimbursed Marcellino for $18,500 in auto expenses during the same period.

In a statement, Marcellino's communications director, Kathy Wilson, said he had not been contacted by any law enforcement entity concerning "recent claims by a local television station." 

"He is confident that he has followed all laws and appropriate guidelines," the statement said.

Marcellino, first elected to the New York State Senate via special election in 1995, of the senate Investigations Committee, Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee and was recently appointed head of the Committee on Education.

Marcellino also serves as a member on the senate committees on Rules, Finance, Banks, Consumer Protection, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Education, Environmental Conservation and Labor.

Sources familiar with the investigation say acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas' investigation is ongoing, and her staff has reached no conclusion of wrongdoing.

Her office declined comment.

Susan Lerner, who heads the good government group Common Cause, said she is not aware of the investigation into Marcellino. But she said car expenses are among many areas of lawmaker spending that should he more closely tracked.

"We have a system where anything goes in Albany," she said. "No oversight. No enforcement whatsoever."

So-called double dipping on automobile expenses was one of the subjects Gov. Cuomo's Moreland Commission was looking at before it disbanded. In it's preliminary report, the Democrat's commission listed 10 unnamed lawmakers it was investigating for possible auto expense propriety. Sources tell the I-Team Marcellino was one of them.

The investigation comes after a string of corruption allegations against state lawmakers. Late last year, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, was arrested on charges of exchanging political favors for payments. He submitted his resignation as speaker in February to fight the charges, and has pleaded not guilty.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Retailers Scheme to Cash in on Lottery Tickets]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 12:31:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lottery+cheats+retailers.jpg

How does someone win the lottery 16 times? How about 200 times? It's happening in the tri-state, but a review of records from all three states reveals that some of the biggest repeat lottery winners were not customers, but lottery retailers -- many who schemed to pocket winnings at the public's expense, authorities say.

Since 2012, 126 retailers in New York, 81 retailers in New Jersey and 163 retailers in Connecticut have been charged with lottery offenses, NBC 4 New York's I-Team has found.

On Long Island, deli owner Nabil Jaghab and his son Karim pleaded guilty to stealing a $1 million dollar ticket from a customer. Police said they lied to the lottery player by telling him his ticket was only worth $1,000, and they planned to pocket the rest. The Nassau County District Attorney's Office pressed for up to three years three years in jail for the duo, but a judge ultimately sentenced Nabil Jaghab to five years probation, while his son Karim received 90 days in jail.

At SDK Stationary in Morris County, New Jersey, lottery officials also accused the owner of tampering with scratch-off tickets. As a result, the owner was fined $7,500, although he has denied any wrongdoing to NBC 4 New York.

In Connecticut, investigators say they catch two or three stores every week trying to cheat the public.

“If they do something wrong, we’re going to enforce the law and come after them,” said Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris.

Those enforcement efforts include actions taken against Weston Hardware & Houseware in Weston. Records show the owner was caught pre-checking tickets and selling the losing ones, according to Consumer Protection. The Weston store’s lottery license was suspended for six months.

“We monitor the system on a daily basis. We take a look at the marketplace, and we look around for irregularities,” Harris said.

In Connecticut, records show that the owner of a deli in Fairfield County won lottery games 215 times, collecting more than $107,000. In New York, one retailer cashed in 16 tickets purchased at their store, worth more than $600,000.

When contacted, the owners declined to comment on their many wins. They remain unnamed because they have not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Officials say that a pattern of winning alone is not enough of a reason to launch an investigation.

“They’re not precluded from playing the lottery, so that can happen, but again we have inspectors that are around the state, they know red flags when they come up,” Harris said.

Officials say that common retail scams include lying to customers about their winnings, and a technique called pinning, where retailers pre-check scratches with the swipe of a pin and sell off the losers.

Richard Lustig of Florida became a millionaire off multiple lottery wins and wrote a book on hitting the jackpot.

After being shown stats about how some retailers are winning over and over again by cashing in on tickets from their stores, Lustig said, “It’s gotten out of hand, it’s ridiculous.”

Lottery officials in New York declined to comment on camera, however in a statement, told NBC 4 New York they "investigate all claims for prizes to ensure that the claimants are the rightful owners of tickets: technology has advanced so much so that lottery players do not have to just trust the retailer anymore."

New Jersey lottery officials also declined to be interviewed, saying in a statement that it "upholds the integrity of the Lottery and enforces safeguards in place at all levels of play at more than 7,500 Lottery retailers across the state."

It added that it promptly investigates all customers complaints of retailer fraud, and has a team of security investigators to ensure that retailers are in compliance. 

Harris, the Connecticut lottery official, said, “We want things to be fair. If people are going to be putting their money down then they deserve a fair product." 

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<![CDATA[D.C Mansion Fire Murders Suspect May Have Been in NYC: Police]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 23:19:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mansion+murder+suspect.jpg

The man suspected in the brutal murders of a family and their housekeeper in an exclusive Washington, D.C., neighborhood last week may be back in Maryland after New York City authorities said earlier he may be in Brooklyn. 

Law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York Thursday U.S. Marshals and the NYPD were tracking leads that suspect Daron Dylon Wint, 34, may be in the area. Authorities picked up Wint's girlfriend at her Brooklyn apartment and questioned her; she is not considered a suspect.

NBC Washington, citing law enforcement sources, reported that he may be back in Maryland and the D.C. area by now. 

Police were looking into the possibility that Wint took a bus to New York at some point, stayed with his girlfriend Wednesday night and left in the early-morning hours as the national manhunt for him intensified.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said initial information pointed to Wint having been somewhere in south Brooklyn at some point, though Police Commissioner Bill Bratton emphasized police have not been able to confirm he was in the borough.

"We have a very active investigation underway at this time assisting our colleagues at the Marshal service and the DC metropolitan police," Bratton said. 

Wint is considered armed and dangerous and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a blue hooded sweatshirt and white tennis shoes, authorities said. A U.S. military official says Wint enlisted in the Marine Corps about 15 years ago but never made it through basic training and was kicked out after several days. 

The Marine Corps had no immediate comment.

A law enforcement official says Wint's girlfriend told investigators the suspect told her he was considering turning himself in. 

DNA found on a piece of a pizza delivered to the slain family's home led police to Wint, who is now wanted for first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, 57.

The family had likely been kept bound and threatened overnight May 13, sources close to the investigation told NBC Washington. Police believe the victims were killed the next day, hours after someone delivered $40,000 in cash to the multimillion-dollar house. Some time after the cash arrived, the home was set on fire, leading to the discovery of the bodies, authorities have said.

The cash had been withdrawn from an account at American Iron Works, where one of the victims was the CEO, the sources told NBC Washington. Police said it's believed Wint worked at the company at some point, and they say that the crime was not random. Authorities say they have not ruled out the possibility that multiple suspects were involved in the murders, though they declined to elaborate.

The brutal murders in the 3200 block of Woodland Drive NW in Woodley Park, a neighborhood of security systems and landscaped lawns just blocks from the vice president's home and near the National Cathedral, shocked the local community and drew national attention.

Three of the victims had been beaten and stabbed to death, and some of the bodies smelled of gasoline, police said. The 10-year-old boy was so badly burned that investigators couldn't say if he had been injured before the fire was set, sources close to the investigation told NBC Washington. The boy's body was found in his room; the other three were found on the floor in another bedroom.

The family Porsche was found burning in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. Police had circulated the grainy image of a person leaving the scene of the car fire, wearing black clothing.

Wint has four previous arrests in New York state in the Oswego area; he has at least two assault and harassment convictions from 2007 and an open arrest warrant for violating an order of protection, a source familiar with the investigation tells NBC 4 New York.

The suspect also has a court record in Maryland's Prince George County that includes charges of assault, carrying concealed weapons and theft. One of those records lists a home address that is less than a half-mile from where the car was found burning. In another case, in 2010, he was arrested near American Iron Works with an open can of beer and a 24-inch machete and a BB gun in a backpack. He pleaded not guilty to charges involving only the alcohol in a plea deal.

The American Iron Works CEO Wint is accused of killing, Savopoulos, and his wife, Amy, were well known in the neighborhood, often hosting parties for neighbors and friends, according to The Washington Post; the family had attended St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the neighborhood.

Their son Philip was a fourth-grader at St. Albans, the private school near St. Sophia and the National Cathedral; two daughters were away at private boarding schools.

Neighbors who have been in the home told NBC Washington the family had an extensive and valuable art collection, which was on display several years ago during the Christmas house tour put on by St. Albans.

The timeline of events that investigators are working from seems to match information from a longtime housekeeper for the Savopoulos family, who said she was a good friend of Veralicia Figueroa.

Nelly, who didn't want her full name used for security reasons, owns her own cleaning company and worked for the family for more than two decades. Nelly allowed Figueroa to work with her at the Savopoulos family's home, NBC Washington reports.

On May 13, Figueroa texted Nelly to say she wanted to work at the home, and planned to finish by 3 p.m., Nelly told NBC Washington. That evening, Nelly missed a call from Savvas Savopoulos, saying Figueroa was spending the night at the family's home. She heard the call on voicemail the next morning.

Nelly said Figueroa's husband went to the home the morning of May 14 to look for her. No one answered the door when he knocked on it, but he told Nelly he had the feeling someone was standing just inside the closed door.

He went around the back of the house to knock again. As he did, Nelly said, Savopoulos called his cellphone. Savopoulos said Figueroa was OK and had spent the night, according to Nelly.
The fire at the home was reported about four hours later.

Nelly said Figueroa was hard-working and loved life. She'd come to the United States from El Salvador to earn money before planning to retire next year. 



Photo Credit: AP/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Cop Hurt in Staten Island Wrong-Way Crash Released From Hospital]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 10:06:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/West-Shore-Wrong-Way-Crash-0320.jpg

One of the New Jersey police officers injured in a wrong-way crash on Staten Island that killed another officer and a friend has been released from the hospital.

Patrik Kudlac's mother Eva Kudlacova tells the Staten Island Advance the 23-year-old is "fine" and is "doing his therapy." 

He was released from the hospital Thursday, nearly two months after the car he was riding in smashed head-on into a tractor trailer on the West Shore Expressway.

Linden Police Capt. James Sarnicki says Kudlac isn't close to returning to work.

The March 20 crash killed fellow Linden Officer Frank Viggiano and friend Joe Rodriguez. The driver, 27-year-old Linden Officer Pedro Abad, remains hospitalized. The friends had left a strip club, and their car was traveling the wrong way on the expressway at the time of the crash.

Toxicology tests show Abad's blood-alcohol content was three times New York's legal limit. Hours before the crash, Abad had posted a photo on his Instagram page of three shot glasses filled with what he identified as "Jack Daniels Fire on the house."

Public records show Abad has been involved in eight accidents since 2005 and has two arrests for drunken driving in the last four years. 

The NYPD says it is investigating the crash. No charges have been filed.

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<![CDATA[7 Rikers Guards Raped Inmates, Lawsuit Alleges]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 10:40:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/rikers+island+2.jpg

Seven correction officers at Rikers Island raped and sexually abused female inmates over a two-year period, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Legal Aid Society.

Two of the female inmates were in pre-trial custody, and they allege they were "repeatedly raped and sexually abused" by an officer who warned they would be punished if they resisted or reported him, the lawsuit said.

Legal Aid Society attorney William Gibney said there is credible evidence to back up the inmates' claims, including clothing from one woman that contained DNA material from an officer proving a sex act took place. In another case, he said, an inmate became pregnant.

“We are seeking an injunction requiring the city and the Department of Correction to take all necessary steps to prevent women in their custody from being raped and sexually abused by correction officers,” Gibney said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Correction said in a statement: "We do not comment on pending litigation. Speaking generally, DOC has a zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual abuse and assault, and there is no place at DOC for the mistreatment of any inmate."

The lawsuit specifically named one officer, who has since been placed on modified duty, according to a DOC official. Officers on modified duty do not interact with jail inmates.

A spokesman for the Correction Officers Union did not immediately respond to questions about the allegations contained in the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, the women alleged numerous sex attacks took place inside the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers, which houses female inmates. The incidents allegedly took place in 2013 and 2014, and some were reported immediately after they happened, Gibney said.

In one case, a female inmate alleges she became pregnant from one of the alleged rapes. In another case, an inmate alleges an officer molested her in front of other officers and was terminated only after he was arrested for smuggling marijuana into the facility.

The rapes allegedly took place in an inmate's cell or the "officers’ station," the complaint alleges.

Despite rape allegations and complaints to the office of Inspector General, several officers still work at the facility, Gibney said. One woman who complained was assigned to "punitive segregation" and some inmates were allegedly paid to beat up any woman who complained of a sexual assault.

The women were only identified as Jane Doe 1 and 2 in the lawsuit due to the alleged abuse. Several other inmates have also provided statements to Legal Aid and filed complaints with the inspector general.

In addition to punitive damages, the lawsuit says the system for reporting officer on inmate abuse is "grossly inadequate" and needs to change.

Last month, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James proposed new rules that would amount to a zero-tolerance on sexual assault in the 11,000-inmate system, citing federal statistics showing that two Rikers lockups have some of the nation's highest rates of reported attacks.

A 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey found 5.9 percent of Rikers inmates housed at the all-female Rose M. Singer Center said they were assaulted by staff compared to a national average of 1.8 percent for all jails. An additional 5.6 percent of inmates at a second Rikers facility alleged staff sexual misconduct, the survey shows.

Another 5 percent of women in the Rose M. Singer Center said they were victimized by another inmate, compared to a national average of 1.6 percent, the survey found.

City officials said at the time they would review James' proposed rule changes but added they've already begun efforts to make sure city jails are compliant with PREA standards, such as training jail health workers on how to properly handle reports of sexual abuse. 



Photo Credit: BEHAR ANTHONY/SIPA]]>
<![CDATA[Manhattan DA Says He Intends to Re-try Etan Patz Murder Case]]> Mon, 18 May 2015 18:54:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/etan+patz+court.jpg

Manhattan's top prosecutor said Monday he plans to re-try the Etan Patz murder case, which ended in mistrial earlier this month after the 12-person jury told a judge for the third time they could not reach a unanimous decision on whether 54-year-old Pedro Hernandez killed the 6-year-old boy in 1979.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance made the comments on MSNBC's "The Cycle." He said he intended to officially announce plans to re-try the case at a court date in June.

At the time of the final deadlock, 11 of the jurors in the recent trial believed Hernandez had kidnapped and killed Patz in SoHo as the boy headed to school. Only one juror said he couldn't overcome reasonable doubt, citing Hernandez's documented mental health issues, the bizarre nature of Hernandez's confession to police and concerns about how that confession was attained.

"I think the evidence put in by our prosecutors was compelling and was clear," Vance said Monday on MNSBC. "It's a challenging case, I've never said otherwise, but it's a case we believe should be prosecuted. That's why we did, and in our system it happens from time to time that jurors cannot be unanimous and this was one of those cases."

Harvey Fishbein, Hernandez's defense attorney, told NBC 4 New York Monday, "I have not received any official notification but if the D.A.'s office elects to retry the case, I assure you we will be ready." 

The jury of five men and seven women labored over their deliberations for more than two weeks and 115 hours, asking for reviews of exhibits and hours of testimony from key witnesses in what became the longest New York City criminal trial deliberations in decades.

The judge granted a mistrial May 8 after jurors said for the third time they could not agree on a verdict. Twice before the jurors had said they were deadlocked but were ordered to keep deliberating.

Hernandez was a teenage stock clerk at a convenience store in Patz's neighborhood at the time he disappeared. After having never been a suspect in the case, he confessed to the crime in 2012 in a case that galvanized the missing-children's movement and confounded law enforcement for decades.

The little boy's body was never found, nor was any trace of clothing or his belongings. No physical evidence tied Hernandez to the boy's disappearance or death.

Speaking to the media after the mistrial was granted, Etan Patz's father, Stanley Patz, said the evidence and testimony presented over the months-long trial convinced his family Hernandez was "guilty of the crimes to which he has confessed beyond any reasonable doubt."

"The family of Etan Patz has waited 36 years for a resolution as to what happened to our sweet little boy in 1979," the father said. "Let me make very clear that we are frustrated and very disappointed that the jury has been unable to come to decision. Our long ordeal is not over."

He said in a statement Monday, "We are pleased that the D.A.'s office is willing to expend the time and energy to retry Pedro Hernandez." 

In a statement after the mistrial, Vance said the challenges in the Patz case were "exacerbated by the passage of time," but he said he firmly believes "there is clear and corroborated evidence of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Speaking to MSNBC Monday, Vance said the passage of time, while sometimes difficult to manager in a courtroom, should not deter the prosecution from helping get families closure.

"Victims should not believe that law enforcement forgets about them or their families simply because of the passage of time," Vance said.

Jurors heard from 56 witnesses -- just nine of those for the defense -- during the 10-week trial, but the key issue was statements from the alleged killer himself. Police learned that he'd told people years before on three occasions that he'd killed a child in New York. Then he confessed to police he'd choked Patz and left his body in a box in an alley.

Prosecutors argued an alleged confession to a prayer group Hernandez made shortly after the boy's 1979 disappearance trumped the other accounts.

The defense said the admissions were the fictional ravings of a mentally ill man with a low IQ; they also pointed the finger at another potential suspect.

Patz's photo was one of the first on milk cartons. The day he went missing, May 25, was later named National Missing Children's Day.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Postal Facility in NJ Evacuated Over "Sweet Odor": Official]]> Fri, 15 May 2015 16:18:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/post+office+evacuated.jpg

A New Jersey U.S. mail handling facility was evacuated as a precaution Friday as hazmat crews evaluated the area following workers' reports of a strong, sweet smell in the building, authorities said.

There were no known suspicious packages in the carrier annex, which is where postal workers sort and prepare mail for local delivery, on Route 130 in Hamilton Township, authorities said.

The investigation at the facility, which is across the street from a U.S. post office decontaminated after receiving four letters that contained anthrax shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, concluded Friday afternoon and routine postal operations resumed.

Earlier in the day, Chopper 4 captured an extensive emergency presence outside the facility as crew members donned yellow hazmat suits and firefighters stood by.

No injuries were reported.

"U.S. postal officials are confident that there is no danger in opening mail that has been distributed through this facility," a spokeswoman for the Hamilton mayor's office said in a statement. "All mail distributed from this facility has previously been processed by the United States Postal Service."



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Hammer Suspect Shot in Midtown After Cop Attack Arrested on Felony Charges]]> Thu, 14 May 2015 09:29:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/new+hammer+inset.jpg

The hammer-wielding suspect linked to a series of Manhattan ambushes who was shot in midtown after attacking an NYPD officer has been arrested on felony assault and other charges.

David Baril, 30, was formally charged Thursday, a day after the dramatic confrontation between him and two police officers on a packed sidewalk near Penn Station was captured on chilling video.

Baril, who allegedly attacked four strangers -- three women and a man -- within a span of six hours in Manhattan Monday, was shot near West 37th Street and Eighth Avenue after he attacked two uniformed officers who recognized his photo from surveillance images and approached him.

Dramatic video of the confrontation shows the uniformed officers approach the suspect, wearing a hood and mask, from across the street. The suspect lunges at 27-year-old officer Lauren O'Rourke with a hammer, claw side facing out. He chases O'Rourke into the middle of the road and repeatedly hits her over the head with the hammer as she falls to the ground. Officer Geraldo Casaigne, 36, follows his colleague and the suspect into the street, weapon drawn, and fires.

Casaigne fired four shots at Baril, and the suspect was hit at least three times -- in the head, arm and torso, NYPD Deputy Chief Will Aubry said at a news briefing Wednesday. Police and multiple sources initially said Baril was dead, though police later said he was taken to Bellevue Hospital in extremely critical condition. He underwent surgery there and was in critical but stable condition Thursday.

The officers, both veterans with the NYPD, were not seriously injured; O'Rourke underwent a CAT scan as doctors were concerned about the impact of the hammer on her head, but there was no immediate update on her condition Thursday.

A white-claw hammer similar to the one described in the series of attacks Monday was recovered at the scene. Aubry said investigators looking into Baril's history spotted a photo that appeared to be of the same hammer on his Facebook page in May 2014. The hammer in that photo was bloody.

Baril, whose last known address was in the Bronx, has eight prior arrests, including for assault, weapons possession and drug possession, police said. One of the attacks involved an assault on a police officer; in another, he jumped a counter at a fast-food restaurant and threatened a clerk. Baril, who has a history of mental illness, including paranoia and schizophrenia, voluntarily left a mental health facility in December, authorities said.

Police believe Baril has been living in parks and subways since he left the facility, and frequented the area near Union Square, where he allegedly attacked two women with a hammer in separate ambushes within minutes of each other Monday. NBC 4 New York first reported Tuesday that authorities believed he was behind two similar attacks that occurred in Manhattan earlier that day.

He faces seven counts of felony assault and one count of criminal possession of a weapon. Police say the investigation is ongoing. It's not clear if Baril has an attorney.  



Photo Credit: AP Images/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[No Charges Against Sleep-Deprived Engineer in 2013 Deadly Metro-North Crash]]> Thu, 14 May 2015 19:50:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/metronorth+derailment+other.jpg

The sleep-deprived engineer who nodded off at the controls of a Metro-North train just before taking a 30 mph curve at 82 mph, causing a derailment in the Bronx in 2013 that killed four people and injured more than 70 others, will not face criminal charges, prosecutors said Thursday.

The decision not to charge engineer William Rockefeller in the deadly crash had been expected.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson made the decision weeks ago, his office said. The office had no comment on the delay in announcing his final decision.

Rockefeller's sleepiness was due to a combination of an undiagnosed disorder — sleep apnea — and a drastic shift in his work schedule, the National Transportation Board determined. The agency said the railroad lacked a policy to screen engineers for sleep disorders, which contributed to the Dec. 1, 2013 crash. According to the NTSB, had a system been in place to automatically apply the brakes when an engineer nods off, the crash would have been avoided.

The acting head of the NTSB at the time the report came out called the deaths and injuries "preventable," and politicians, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat from Connecticut, slammed the MTA, which runs Metro-North, and said it had "blood on its hands."

Reached by phone Thursday, Rockefeller's attorney, Jeffrey Chartier, said he hadn't been notified about the decision not to file charges against his client. In response to NBC 4 New York's report, he commended the district attorney's office for the "thoroughness of their investigation and for coming to the same conclusion as the NTSB that there's no criminality on the part of Mr. Rockefeller."

"I'm sure this will bring some closure to Mr. Rockefeller and others affected by this tragedy," Chartier said. 

Meanwhile, authorities continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this week's deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. Eight people, including six with ties to New York and New Jersey, were killed in the crash, and more than 200 others were hurt. The NTSB has said the train was going at more than 100 mph around a 50-mph curve when it derailed Tuesday night.

The engineer's lawyer says his client has "absolutely no recollection" of the crash.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>