<![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, 22 Jul 2014 13:30:22 -0400 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:30:22 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Newark Police to Be Placed Under Fed Monitor]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:57:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/newark+police1.jpg

The Newark police department will be put under a monitor, the Justice Department announced Tuesday as it issued a report alleging that as many as 75 percent of police stops in New Jersey's largest city over the last several years were not legally justified.

The investigation began in 2011 and the Justice Department reviewed thousands of police documents and interviewed officers and commanders as well as residents in drafting the report.

In addition to the unconstitutional stops, investigators found use of force by Newark police officers was unreasonable in about 20 percent of all arrests where force was used. Only one excessive force complaint has been filed against Newark officers in the last six years.

The report concluded that "the black community bears the brunt of NPD's unconstitutional stop practices," according to a copy obtained by NBC 4 New York.

It found black residents were the subject of police stops at higher rates than whites considering the city's population as a whole. But the report also said more data was needed to make a race-based comparison of police stops to victims' descriptions of criminal suspects.

The Justice Department report also alleged Newark police under-reported their confrontations with citizens or inaccurately documented those stops. The report also documented property theft within the department's prisoner property unit, officials said.

The Justice Department said Newark police cooperated with the investigation and Newark's new mayor announced earlier this month that reforms were being implemented.

United States Attorney Paul Fishman said Newark's residents "need to know the police protecting them are doing that important -- and often dangerous -- work while respecting their constitutional rights."


Fishman said there is no evidence of racial profiling by Newark police; he said poor training is a leading factor for unjustified stops in higher crime neighborhoods.

The report calls for improved training and supervision of officers, more intense review of use of force cases, clear practices for police stops, improved data collection and more rigorous procedures for safekeeping personal property among other steps.

The city agrees in principle to the findings, documents show. There will be court-enforced independent monitoring of the reforms moving forward.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Sopranos" Star's Ex Accused in $300M Stock Fraud Scheme]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:25:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/handcuffs31.jpg
Seven people, including the ex-husband of a former "Sopranos" star, have been charged by federal authorities with conducting a $300 million dollar stock fraud scheme involving four publicly traded companies, prosecutors say.

FBI agents made arrests Thursday in New York and several other states on charges including securities fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, law enforcement officials said.

One of the defendants named in the 10-count federal indictment is Abraxas Discala, ex-husband of actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played the role of Meadow Soprano on the HBO television series "The Sopranos."

Discala is the CEO of OmniView Capital Advisors and lives in Connecticut. His attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said, "Anyone who knows A.J. is shocked by these allegations. And that is exactly what they are -- merely allegations. He will vigorously defend these charges." 
Sigler was not involved in the scheme, law enforcement sources said. 

Law enforcement sources describe the fraud allegedly run by the defendants as a “pump and dump” scheme involving penny stocks in which stock manipulators buy large quantities of stock, artificially inflate the price by making misleading statements and then sell the stock at a higher price.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly manipulated the stock of four companies by issuing false and misleading press releases, making false filings to the Securities Exchange Commission, concealing their ownership interests and making unauthorized purchases of stock in the accounts of unwitting investors. They also allegedly engineered price movements and traded volume in the stocks.
In a statement, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said the defendants "took companies with essentially no assets or activity and deceived the market into believing they were worth hundreds of millions of dollars through a dizzying round of insider and unauthorized trades."

"This lucrative scheme to manipulate our financial markets made the defendants money while draining the bank accounts of innocent investors," added Assistant FBI Director George Venizelos. "Their client-victims trusted them to manage their money as if it were their own, not to steal it."


Photo Credit: nbc10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Teen in Deadly Classmate Stabbing Not Bullied at School: Report]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 22:55:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Bronx-School-Stabbing-2.jpg

The 14-year-old Bronx boy accused of stabbing a classmate to death outside their school last month was not bullied on school grounds, a report from the city's Office of Special Investigations finds.

The teenager's family alleged he had been bullied into killing Timothy Crump outside Joseph Wade Middle School on June 18. The Office of Special Investigations was directed to investigate those claims.

Its final report, released Thursday, says interviews with 20 staff members, among other witnesses, indicate no evidence of bullying on school grounds, though "that is not to say that no bullying took place elsewhere."

The teenager was indicted on second-degree manslaughter charges June 30. He had initially been charged as an adult with murder and manslaughter, but a grand jury downgraded the charges. He will now be tried as a juvenile, and his case will be heard in family court, prosecutors say.

The teenager's defense attorney, Eric Poulos, has said there was a history of bullying by Crump and friends of his, and that the teen and his mother "sought various ways, through the school system, through the police department, to stop this. No one would help."

Poulos said the day of the stabbing was the teenager's first time back to class in months after trying to transfer schools to avoid his alleged tormentors.

According to the report released by the Office of Special Investigations, the school principal testified that no one -- not the boy, his parents or anyone in the school -- ever told her about the alleged bullying or inquired about a safety transfer.

The school's assistant principal said he never heard any allegations, nor did teachers, paraprofessionals, a parent coordinator or guidance counselor who interacted with the accused teen.

The Department of Education was expected to release a statement on the findings later Wednesday.

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<![CDATA[18th Doctor Admits Taking Bribes to Order Tests]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:05:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/generic+doctor+coat.jpg
Another doctor has admitted taking bribes from a New Jersey lab in exchange for ordering extra tests without their patients knowledge, making him the 18th to do so in a year.
 
Dr. Peter Deplas, 47, of Glen Head, New York admitted he took $120,000 in cash payoffs to order nearly $1 million in unnecessary tests through Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services in Parsippany.

Deplas' online biography says he practices internal medicine and is affiliated with Mount Sinai and several other major hospitals across the region.
 
Executives of the BLS lab have already pleaded guilty. They admitted paying millions in bribes over the years to doctors in New York and New Jersey in order to get over $100 million in lab tests sent to their firm. Several convicted workers admit they visited doctors and paid them cash, and have since been naming names of those who took bribes at medical practices across tri-state area.

U.S. attorney Paul Fishman said many of the lab tests were unnecessary. 
 
Deplas faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in October.  


Photo Credit: Stock Image]]>
<![CDATA[Stray Bullet Hits Yonkers Man Watching TV on His Couch]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 22:25:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/IMG-20140711-002231.jpg

A Yonkers man sitting on his porch watching TV was shot in the stomach Thursday when a neighbor one floor below allegedly let loose 7 bullets by accident, police said. 

Miguel Vazquez, 70, said he felt a burning pain and heard an explosion, but didn't think he had been shot.  His son, Julio, noticed a bullet hole in the floor of their Jones Street apartment and spotted blood on his father's shirt.

Police arrested a 21-year-old man and charged him with reckless endangerment among other charges. The suspect said the handgun went off accidentally.

Miguel Vazquez said he is in pain but thankful to be alive.  

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<![CDATA[Renowned Dermatologist Arrested in Alleged Oxycodone Scam]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 23:12:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/celeb+doc+arrest.jpg
An Upper East Side dermatologist who has appeared in newspapers, magazines and on television talk shows was arrested Wednesday in an alleged oxycodone scam. 

Dr. Cheryl Karcher was seen being led away in handcuffs Wednesday morning as law enforcement searched the Sadick Dermatology office on Park Avenue where she works. 

Investigators said Karcher allegedly wrote and filled hundreds of prescriptions for oxycodone under patients' names without their knowledge; she also allegedly used the names of former patients and acquaintances.

She allegedly lied to pharmacists, saying she was just performing a service for her patients, and used pharmacies near her residences in Manhattan and Connecticut.  
A 50-count indictment charges Karcher with criminal possession of a controlled substance, fraud and falsifying business records, among other crimes.

Karcher, whose Twitter bio states she is "a board certified dermatologist globally recognized as a leader in aesthetic medicine," pleaded not guilty at her arraignmenin Manhattan criminal court Wednesday afternoon. 

According to her Sadick Dermatology bio, Karcher is the consulting dermatologist to the Miss Universe organization and has appeared on CNN, as well as in Cosmopolitan, Fitness and Allure magazines.
Her attorney, Chuck Clayman, said his client plans to vigorously prepare for her defense.

An office manager at Sadick Dermatology said the office is cooperating with investigators. He added the office is open for other doctors and patients. 
Investigators in New York and Connecticut are looking into whether Karcher's alleged oxycodone fraud was to obtain drugs for personal use or for other means.  

The special narcotics prosecutor's office and drug enforcement agents lead the investigation.

 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Charges Downgraded for Teen Arrested in Fatal Classmate Stabbing]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 09:54:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Bronx-School-Stabbing-2.jpg

A grand jury has downgraded charges against the Bronx teen accused of stabbing a classmate to death outside their school last month, prosecutors say.

Noel Estevez was indicted on second-degree manslaughter charges Monday, according to the Bronx district attorney's office.

The 14-year-old was initially charged as an adult with murder and manslaughter in the fatal stabbing of 14-year-old classmate Timothy Crump outside Joseph Wade Middle School on June 18. Estevez will now be tried as a juvenile, and his case will be heard in family court, prosecutors say.

Police said Estevez admitted stabbing Crump after a fight over an iPhone, and after Crump allegedly threatened, harassed and bullied Estevez for months.

"There was a history of bullying by the deceased and friends of his," defense attorney Eric Poulos said in late June. "My client and his mother sought various ways, through the school system, through the police department, to stop this. No one would help."

Poulos said it was his first time back to class in months after trying to transfer schools to avoid his alleged tormentors.

Law enforcement sources said Estevez's father had asked that his son get a safety transfer on the night before the stabbing.

"They were after him for three months," Poulos said. "They couldn't find him because he stayed behind closed doors. He came out of closed doors and they sicced on him."

Mayor de Blasio has called for an investigation into whether Crump's death could have been prevented.

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<![CDATA[Woman Charged in Brooklyn Bag Thefts]]> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 03:22:23 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/193*120/elderly-purse-thief.JPG

A 68-year-old woman has been accused of grabbing purses off the backs of chairs in Brooklyn restaurants, police say.

The woman was arrested late Tuesday and is charged with one count of possession of stolen property and two counts of grand larceny.

She is suspected of stealing a handbag at Mullanes Grill on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene, and another at the Tea Lounge in Park Slope, police say.

She may also be linked to other thefts, a law enforcement source said. 

Surveillance video from Mullanes shows the suspect walking past tables and slipping a bag from a chair where a woman is sitting with a child on her lap.

She then walks calmly out of the restaurant.

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<![CDATA[De Blasio to Investigate Deadly School Stabbing]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 09:54:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/noel+estevez+school+stabbing.jpg

Mayor de Blasio is calling for an investigation into whether the deadly stabbing of a boy outside a Bronx middle school Wednesday could have been prevented. 

He made the announcement on Friday, Diploma Day for the class of 2014 at Joseph Wade Middle School in Morris Heights, where Noel Estevez allegedly stabbed Timothy Crump after school on Wednesday. 

"Every time I come over here, I start crying," said a 15-year-old student who witnessed the stabbing after school on Wednesday. 

Estevez and Crump, both 14, had once been friends but Crump reportedly began bullying Estevez months ago. 

At a special assembly for parents on Friday, administrators offered continued counseling and asked parents for suggestions about how next year can be safer, according to parent Amanda Hernandez.

But one father says it came too late.

"If the kid felt that he was in danger, they should have moved him to another school," said Omar Taveras. 

Police said Estevez admitted stabbing Crump after a fight over an iPhone, and after Crump allegedly threatened, harassed and bullied Estevez for months. 

"There was a history of bullying by the deceased and friends of his," said defense attorney Eric Poulos. "My client and his mother sought various ways, through the school system, through the police department, to stop this. No one would help." 

Estevez's lawyer said it was his first time back to class in months after trying to transfer schools and avoid his alleged tormentors. Law enforcement sources said Estevez's dad had asked that his son get a safety transfer on the night before the stabbing. 

"They were after him for three months," said Poulos. "They couldn't find him because he stayed behind closed doors. He came out of closed doors and they sicced on him." 

De Blasio vowed Friday to "take a hard look at how we as a city address mental health and safety in our schools," including whether someone could have intercepted the troubled teens before the fatal attack. 

Estevez is facing murder and manslaughter charges as an adult.

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<![CDATA[NYPD Veteran Guilty of Drug, Armed Robbery Charges]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 18:21:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NYPD-generic.jpg

A 17-year veteran of the NYPD was convicted of armed robbery and narcotics trafficking charges Thursday for a series of violent crimes with drug bandits, some of which he committed while in uniform and on duty.  

Jose Tejada, 46, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Tejada took part in three robberies in the Bronx in 2006 and 2007 that netted thousands of dollars in cash and cocaine, authorities said.

"Tejeda dishonored his badge and his uniform when he crossed the line from cop to robber,"  U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

During one of the robberies, Tejada was on duty and in uniform and used his status as a police officer to gain access to a private residence in the Bronx where drug dealers were believed to be living, according to the indictment.   An innocent family lived in the home and had been handcuffed and threatened with his service weapon, according to court papers.

Tejada also helped members of a violent robbery crew pose as police officers by supplying them with NYPD equipment. He also used his status as a police officer to search confidential law enforcement databases and see if his crew members had outstanding warrants.

More than 20 members of Tejada's alleged crew have been convicted in connection with the ongoing case, including another NYPD officer and an auxiliary officer, prosecutors said.

 

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<![CDATA[2 Men Charged in 3 "Breaking Bad" Heroin Overdose Deaths]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:33:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BREAKING+BAD+2+%285%29.jpg

Two men were charged in federal court Thursday with distributing heroin in Dutchess County and causing the overdose deaths of three people, law enforcement officials announced.

Dennis Sica and John Rohlman are accused of selling a potent form of heroin in bags stamped with the brand name “Breaking Bad,” court papers say. Some of the heroin contained fentanyl, a synthetic chemical which makes the drug stronger than common street heroin.

Both men face life sentences if convicted on the charges described in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in White Plains. The men appeared in federal court Thursday and were remanded to custody. 

Investigators from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Officers were told by witnesses that Sica sold “Breaking Bad” heroin to Anthony Delello, a 20-year-old Beekman, New York, resident, on Dec. 28. The next day Delello was found dead from “acute heroin intoxication,” prosecutors say.

Text messages revealed the defendants learned of Delello's death but kept selling the drug, prosecutors say. One witness said they were selling about 250 grams of heroin per day, according to the complaint.

On Feb. 1, Thomas Miller, 31, of Pawling, New York, and Laura Brown, 35, of New Milford, Connecticut, were found dead at their homes as a result of “acute heroin and fentanyl intoxication.” Prosecutors said glassine envelopes stamped “Breaking Bad” were found near both bodies.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said heroin trafficking "and, increasingly, death by heroin" is resurgent in the region. Heroin deaths were up 45 percent from 2006 to 2010 and continue to rise, he said.

James Hunt of the Drug Enforcement Administration said Mexican trafficking organizations are flooding the Northeast with heroin, "leaving tragic overdose deaths in the cartel's wakes."

Dutchess County district attorney William Grady said prosecutors wanted to bring the case in federal court because state penalties are more lenient. He said the defendants could be sentenced to a drug diversion program or even probation if convicted under New York law.

Both Sica and Rohlman were already in jail before Thursday’s charges. Sica was arrested on Feb. 2 in East Fishkill, New York, following a car stop during which an officer saw several glassine envelopes stamped “Breaking Bad” on the floor of the car. Rohlman had been detained at the Dutchess County Jail on other state charges.

Attorneys for both men didn't immediately return voicemail messages Thursday.

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<![CDATA[Boy Charged in Fatal Stabbing of Classmate]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 09:54:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/noel+estevez+school+stabbing.jpg

Instead of notes of congratulations on graduation, children and parents at a Bronx school laid out candles and flowers Thursday morning for a student fatally stabbed outside of school as his alleged killer, also a young teen, was charged in his murder.

It was supposed to be a joyous graduation day at the Joseph Wade Middle School, but the family of 14-year-old Timothy Crump was making funeral arrangements as classmate Noel Estevez stood before a judge to face murder and manslaughter charges.

"To hear he was gonna graduate, your heart breaks," said Rose Vargas, a parent at the school. "It's unbelievable."

Estevez, 14, was charged as an adult with second-degree murder and manslaughter. His lawyer told reporters that Estevez was also a victim and had been bullied for months by Crump. 

"There was a history of bullying by the deceased and friends of his," said defense attorney Eric Poulos. "My client and his mother sought various ways, through the school system, through the police department, to stop this. No one would help." 

Police say Crump was stabbed multiple times outside of the  Morris Heights school shortly after dismissal around 3 p.m. He was taken to Bronx Lebanon Hospital in critical condition and later died, police said. A knife was recovered at the scene, and Estevez was taken into police custody.

Law enforcement sources say Estevez had mental health problems and he told police that he felt bullied and threatened by Crump, who was allegedly part of a group of kids who routinely harassed him. The teens would go to Estevez's apartment to urinate on his front door and threatened to kill him and his family, his attorney said. 

Students who witnessed the stabbing say it appears to have stemmed from a fistfight that began outside the school. 

"The boy came out of the school, pulled out a knife and just started stabbing," said one student. "The [victim] tried to run but by the time he got there, he was bleeding. He tried to run back, and that's when he fell to the floor."

Crump was bleeding profusely when he collapsed, and a security guard rushed over to aid him, according to the student.

Estevez's lawyer said it was his first time back to class in months after trying to transfer schools and avoid his alleged tormentors. 

"They were after him for three months," said Poulos. "They couldn't find him because he stayed behind closed doors. He came out of closed doors and they sicced on him." 

One teacher told NBC 4 New York Estevez is a good person.

"He is a good kid as far as I'm concerned," the teacher said. "I'm trying to find out what really happened."

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<![CDATA[Caregiver Charged With Murder in Myls Dobson Death]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:33:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/boy+death+times+square.jpg

The caregiver accused of starving and torturing 4-year-old Myls Dobson while his father was in jail has been indicted for murder in the child's death.

Kryzie King, who pleaded not guilty to assaulting and endangering Dobson in February, was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault charges Thursday. She entered a plea of not guilty and a trial was set for Sept. 17.

Prosecutors say King seared Myls' leg with a hot oven rack, bound him with shoelaces, whipped him with a wire, beat him with a belt and watched him starve before he was found unconscious in her Times Square apartment in January with burns and cuts on his body.

In April, the city medical examiner's office ruled Dobson's death a homicide. Medical examiners cited child abuse syndrome, a term that generally encompasses multiple injuries. 

Myls' mother lost custody of him in 2012. He was left in King's care when his father was arrested in December on charges of failing to show up for court in an unrelated New Jersey case.

The boy was happy and healthy when King took charge of him, prosecutors say, but his body was bruised, burned, laced with cuts and 10 to 20 pounds lighter when he died.

The city Administration for Children's Services missed possible signs that Myls was at risk earlier in his life, including the fact his father was in jail while he had custody of the boy from September 2012 to February 2013, officials said after a review. Agency case workers had been told the father was at work during their repeated visits to the home, officials said.

The review prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce a list of changes to the agency, such as expanding its access to law enforcement databases to assess whether caregivers are reliable.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Queens Man Made Anti-Muslim Threats: FBI]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:48:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/handcuffs12.jpg

A Queens man, awaiting trial for attempted murder at a mosque in 2012, was arrested on charges of threatening to kill leaders of a leading Muslim civil rights organization.

The FBI arrested Bernhard Laufer Saturday for allegedly sending death threat emails to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In one email, he warned that he will “stop at nothing to kill you, your body guards, and anybody else that is around you,” according to officials. 

Laufer is expected to be arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn Monday afternoon. Laufer, 57, of Rego Park, in one email allegedly refers to himself as “that mad man.”

His arrest by the FBI comes after police charged him in November 2012 for trying to stab a man at the Masjid Al-Saalliheen Mosque in Kew Gardens as he allegedly yelled “I will kill you Muslim.” He pleaded not guilty and has been out on $200,000 bail awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder as a hate crime.

CAIR said some of Laufer’s e-mail threats targeted its national executive director Nihad Awad. “This is yet another incident demonstrating the actual, imminent harm that can result from Islamaphobia,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

Defense attorney Alexander E. Eisemann declined comment on the latest charges. In another email, prosecutors said Laufer blamed CAIR for “trying to set me up” in the stabbing case and that “CAIR WILL NOW BE DESTROYED.”

The FBI said some of the emails and phone threats were made after Laufer appeared in Queens criminal court June 10 for a hearing on the attempted murder charges.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[2 Alleged Drug Gangs Busted on Staten Island]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 12:20:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/drug+gangas+takedown.jpg

Authorities have busted two alleged drug gangs they say are responsible for 29 shootings, three murders and a bustling narcotics trade on Staten Island.

Two dozen people are charged in the takedown, nicknamed Operation Jersey Boys after the two crews that operated around Jersey Street in Brighton Beach.

The gangs dealt heroin, cocaine, MDMA and marijuana, authorities say.

"The people of Staten Island are now a lot safer with these violent offenders off the streets," Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan said.

One of the killings linked to the group was the shooting death of a 17-year-old girl. She was gunned down when rival gang members were aiming for her brother.

 

 

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<![CDATA[Wealthy Men Drugged, Taken to Strip Clubs: Officials]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 20:40:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/scores+strip+club+suspects+inset.jpg

A manager at a New York City strip club and four dancers who allegedly worked as his accomplices are accused of drugging unsuspecting wealthy men and taking them to Scores and another topless club, where they charged their credit cards for thousands of dollars.  

Investigators say the women, ranging in age from 26 to 30, were recruited to stalk doctors, lawyers and bankers at restaurants, slip drugs into their drinks, including ketamine and "molly," and take them to Scores and the Roadhouse NYC Gentlemen's Club in Flushing.

The women were not dancers at those clubs but had worked in others in the area, authorities said.

In all, more than $200,000 was billed to credit cards belonging to the victims during the alleged scam carried out between September and December last year. Some of the victims were charged on multiple cards in one night.

One man, a cardiologist in New Jersey, had more than $100,000 in charges on his card.

Prosecutors said some of the victims had no knowledge of even being at the clubs, and only learned of the charges after seeing their statements or hearing from their banks.

“This crime ring targeted wealthy men in the New York City area to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars," DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said in a statement. "Four women and one man preyed on, drugged, endangered and robbed unsuspecting victims while they were under the influence of synthetic drugs used as a date rape drug."

When the victims later tried to reverse or cancel the charges, the suspects allegedly sent threatening text messages warning them not to contest the charges, officials said. In some cases they were told explicit photos of them would be released if they tried to get out of paying.

Officials said one Wall Street worker was fired because his corporate card was charged in the scam.

Authorities say the clubs paid the women as part the scam. But the establishments aren't facing criminal charges.

The five people are being charged with grand larceny, conspiracy, assault and forgery. An attorney for Karina Pasucci, one of the defendants, said she was not involved in the scheme. Lawyers for the others were not immediately reachable.

No one answered the phone at Scores Wednesday, and a message left at Roadhouse was not immediately returned.

 



Photo Credit: AP/NBC 4 New York/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Armed Robbers Hit 14 Laundromats, Chicken Joints: NYPD]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 07:08:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Brooklyn-Queens-Laundromat-Robberies.jpg

Police are looking for three men they say are responsible for a spate of armed robberies at laundromats and chicken restaurants in Brooklyn and Queens dating back to January.

The robbers have hit 14 businesses since Jan. 19, police say, with the most recent stickup coming Saturday at the Express Laundry on Caton Avenue in Prospect Park South. Nine of the 14 businesses robbed were hit over a two-week period in mid-February. 

In each robbery, the trio stormed into buildings, usually wearing masks and gloves, police say. One suspect always had a gun. Once inside, the robbers took cash from the registers and any customers who were there at the time.

The robbers strike in the overnight hours, police say, typically between midnight and 5 a.m. 

No one was injured in any of the robberies.

All but one of the businesses robbed were in Brooklyn. The robberies are spread throughout the southern and eastern portions of the borough, but several of the businesses hit were in East Flatbush.

Below, see a map with the locations of all 14 robberies. 

Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.


View Laundromat Robberies in Brooklyn and Queens in a larger map



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[With Shootings Up in NYC, Some Live in Fear]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 19:17:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/shooting+near+ps+112+2.jpg

Shootings have increased slightly this year in New York City, and some who live in crime-plagued neighborhoods say they walk the streets in fear.

NYPD statistics show there have been 507 shootings as of June 8, compared with 448 for the same period last year, an increase of 13 percent.

In just the last 10 days, a man allegedly shot his own mother in Manhattan, three young people were shot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, including two teens, and a 16-year-old boy collapsed and died at a Cobble Hill police precinct after he walked there with a gunshot wound.

Last month, a 45-year-old man was shot in the head outside an elementary school in the Bronx by a gunman who pulled up in a U-Haul van.

The NYPD is quick to point out that murders are down by 15 percent, from 142 at this time last year to 120 this year.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said there will always be fluctuations in the numbers.

"Crime goes up, it goes down," he said. "It’s always gonna go up at some point in time, we’re always gonna have the ability to push it down. ... Always a concern that you have shooting victims. But the capability to identify who’s doing it, get them and prevent them from doing it again? I’m comfortable we have that capacity.”

In one Bronx neighborhood where a teenager was shot in the back over the weekend and a bullet whizzed through a police officer's hat, resident Margaret Glover urged the police commissioner and mayor to visit.

"They need to come here and see for themselves," she said. "We are fearful of our lives. We have to live here. And this is the only place we can live because we're poor."

Another Bronx resident, Henry Santos, said gang members aren't deterred by a police observation tower that recently moved to 145th Street and Third Avenue.

"They have no remorse for anybody," he said. "They don't care what they do to people."
 

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<![CDATA[NYC Teen Guilty of 2nd-Degree Manslaughter in Crash]]> Sat, 07 Jun 2014 10:03:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/joseph+beer+courtroom+copy.jpg

A New York City teenager has been found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and reckless driving for a crash that split his new car in two and killed four of his friends in October 2012.

The jury was deadlocked on aggravated vehicular homicide, the top charge that Joseph Beer, a 19-year-old from Queens, faced in a trial in Nassau County. Beer was 17 when, prosecutors say, he drove in excess of 100 mph on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island, smashing into a tree. 

The jury sent a final note to the judge Friday saying "we're spinning our wheels, with nothing left to deliberate."

The jurors were deadlocked, Beer's lawyer said, on the question of whether he was impaired by marijuana while behind the wheel.

The Nassau DA Kathleen Rice said a decision has not yet been made on whether to retry Beer on the other charges.

Besides manslaughter, the jury convicted the teenager of reckless driving and reckless endangerment. He faces 5 to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter conviction.

Beer could have faced up to 25 years had he been convicted of the vehicular homicide count.

During the trial his defense attorney conceded that the teen was speeding and high on pot but said a dangerous curve caused the crash.

The crash happened on a stretch of highway dubbed "Dead Man's Curve" because of a treacherous hill that leads to a sharp curve in the highway. The spectacular crash cut the high-performance Subaru in half, killing the four boys instantly.

 

 

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<![CDATA[Brooklyn Child Stabbing Suspect Charged With Murder]]> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 12:44:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/st+hubert+walk.jpg

The 27-year-old parolee arrested in the stabbings of two Brooklyn children in an elevator over the weekend was formally charged late Thursday with murdering the 6-year-old boy who later died of his injuries and attempting to murder the 7-year-old girl who suffered a collapsed lung in the attack.

Daniel St. Hubert was also charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon before a judge ordered he be held without bail. A public defender represented St. Hubert at the hearing, and the suspect reserved rights to make a bail argument at a later date.

When St. Hubert was escorted out of a police precinct in Williamsburg Thursday evening, a crowd of about 100 people waiting outside erupted into angry jeers.

At his arraignment, prosecutors said that police made a preliminary DNA match on the knife used in the attack on 6-year-old Prince Joshua "PJ" Avitto and his 7-year-old playmate Mikayla Capers in a building on Schenck Avenue in East New York.  Hundreds mourned Avitto Friday during a service in East New York. 

The children were both stabbed with a steak knife in the torso, and were believed to be on their way to get frozen treats.

A funeral for Avitto is set for Friday.

Aricka McClinton, the mother of PJ Avitto, publicly thanked police after St. Hubert's arrest. 

Police are also looking into whether he may be connected to two other stabbings, including one in a Chelsea subway station three days later, authorities say.

Police are reviewing video that could link St. Hubert, who was arrested in the Ozone Park section of Queens Wednesday night, to the knife attack on a 53-year-old man on the southbound platform of the No. 1 train at the 18th Street station early that morning. 

A police spokesman told the Associated Press surveillance video appears to show Hubert near the subway station where the man was stabbed, and that witnesses described a man fitting his description on the platform where the attack occurred. 

Investigators have said the attacks appeared to be random, and may also be linked to the deadly stabbing of a teen blocks away two days earlier.

Mayor de Blasio said Thursday there isn't yet sufficient evidence to confirm St. Hubert is the likely suspect in the stabbing death of Tanaya Grant-Copeland, but there is a "strong likelihood." 

St. Hubert was arrested hours after authorities identified him as the suspect in the elevator attack that left a 6-year-old dead and critically injured a 7-year-old. Investigators had received a tip about a cell phone St. Hubert had that enabled them to track the phone's pings, the official said. That in part led police to start staking out at the home of someone St. Hubert knew. He was carrying another kitchen knife with him when he was found, the official said.

St. Hubert was paroled on May 23 for domestic assault, and has a violent past that includes attacks on a corrections officer and a police officer, authorities said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

He's been arrested nine times in the past, and was committed to a psychiatric facility three different times as he awaited trial in two different assault cases between April 2010 and November 2011, according to court records. 

In June 2012, St. Hubert pleaded guilty to the two assaults -- one on his mother in May 2009, and one on a correction officer in February 2010 -- and was sentenced to five years in prison and two years in prison for each conviction, respectively.

He was allowed to serve the sentences concurrently, and after being credited time served, he was out on parole by May 2014. 

After failing to show up at a parole meeting Wednesday, St. Hubert was questioned and ticketed by police. Those officers talked to the man before he was identified as a suspect in the stabbings.

"This is probably someone who has severe mental health problems," de Blasio said Thursday. "Our country doesn't devote enough resources to it." 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect in Brooklyn Child Stabbings Arrested]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 06:57:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/children-stabbed-brooklyn+copy.jpg

Police have arrested a 27-year-old man on parole for assault for allegedly stabbing two children in a Brooklyn elevator, killing one of them and critically injuring the other, a law enforcement official says. 

Daniel St. Hubert was arrested in the Ozone Park section of Queens shortly after police identified him as a suspect in the Brooklyn stabbings at a news conference Wednesday evening, according to the official.

Investigators had received a tip about a cell phone St. Hubert had that enabled them to track the phone's pings, the official said. That in part led police to start staking out a home of a known associate of St. Hubert.

He was carrying another kitchen knife with him when he was found, the official said.

It wasn't immediately known whether he had an attorney. 

St. Hubert was paroled on May 23 for domestic assault, and has a violent past that includes attacks on a corrections officer and a police officer, authorities said at a news conference Wednesday evening. Police say he's been arrested nine times in the past.

Law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York earlier Wednesday that police made a preliminary DNA match on the knife used in the attack on 6-year-old Prince Joshua Avitto and his 7-year-old playmate Mikayla Capers. The boy was killed in the brutal stabbing and the girl was critically injured. 

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton would only say that police had forensic evidence linking St. Hubert to the crime.

Investigators have said the attack appeared to be random, and may be linked to the deadly stabbing of a teen blocks away two days earlier.

The suspect attacked the children with a steak knife in the building on Schenck Avenue in East New York, police said. They were both stabbed in the torso, and were believed to be on their way to get frozen treats.

The little girl has a collapsed lung and is fighting for her life, her family said.

Dozens of officers have been assigned to the corner of Schenck and Stanley avenues in one of New York's most violent neighborhoods as part of the investigation. 

It does not appear St. Hubert is homeless, as Avitto's father originally believed

-- Andrew Siff, Marc Santia and Gus Rosendale contributed to this report. 

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<![CDATA[Dozens Arrested in Vast NYC Gang Crackdown]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 22:04:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gang+raid+crackdown+june+4.jpg
Police arrested 40 suspected gang members in early-morning raids Wednesday, targeting 3 gangs that authorities linked to 50 shootings, 19 injuries and two slayings including the murder of a star high-school basketball player

Of the 40 arrested Wednesday on charges ranging from drugs to crimes of violence, all but one had a prior arrest, authorities said,

Some officials are calling it one of the biggest one day round-ups in city history.

The raids targeted the "Make It Happen Boys," Money Avenue and "3 Staccs," which were engaged in a bloody feud and are linked to the 2011 shooting death of teen basketball star Tayshana Murphy.

Some of the arrests took place across Harlem at the Grant and Manhattanville housing projects near West 125th Street, and more than 400 NYPD officers took part in the operation. 

More than 100 suspected members of gangs and street crews are expected to be charged in all; 39 people were previously arrested in the investigation. The suspects have been linked to as many as 20 shootings and many stabbings, authorities say.

Some of the accused gang members used children as young as 10 years old to shuttle weapons, authorities said.

"In the last four years, [the gang feuds] have escalaed into a bloody turf war marked by violence for the sake of violence," said District Attorney Cy Vance.  

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said residents will now "be walking on safer streets."

  • How Flushable Wipes Are Costing Taxpayers Money 

 

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<![CDATA[Ex-DA Used Money From Criminals: DOI]]> Sat, 07 Jun 2014 10:19:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP797902109507.jpg

Former longtime Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes is accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars seized from criminal suspects to pay for a political consultant, according to a report by the city’s Department of Investigation.

The DOI report alleges Hynes may have engaged in crimes of official misconduct and larceny.

Hynes is also accused of using his office computer to send hundreds of campaign-related emails in the recent bitter campaign he lost to current Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

The report also alleges that criminal court Judge Barry Kamins may have violated judicial ethics by actively advising Hynes in his campaign, including exchanging more than 300 emails with Hynes during the recent campaign. 

The report detailing Hynes' alleged misuse of asset forfeiture funds has been referred to the state attorney general’s office for possible criminal investigation, sources familiar with the case tell NBC 4 New York.

Consultant Mortimer Matz billed $2,682 per week to the Kings County District Attorney’s office, the report said. Matz’s firm was paid more than $1.1 million out of state asset forfeiture funds from 2003 through 2013, the DOI report alleges.

Hynes declined comment except to say, "I will respond in the proper form." A call to his one-time campaign manager was not returned.

The DOI report said Hynes “extensively used” his office email “for purposes relating to his re-election campaign." DOI said Hynes was using his office computer to communicate with political consultants, and with Matz.

Matz, a fixture at Hynes' official news conferences, declined to comment on the report.

DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi said the “report speaks for itself and we will have no further comment.”

The report details emails like one dated Oct. 15, 2012 where Hynes discusses the “June Primary" and one on Feb. 6, 2013 in which Hynes allegedly received an email discussing video opportunities for “Hynes Team!!! Victory."

The DOI report points out that it is a violation of the city charter to use city resources for any non-city purpose.

As for Kamins, the DOI report alleges the judge engaged in political activity while he was a sitting judge and used his office to try to advance Hynes’ political goals. Part of that effort included using his connections to the New York Law Journal to try to obtain positive media coverage for Hynes, the report alleges.

Rules of the chief administrative judge provide that judges should not engage in political activity.

A court spokesman said Kamins has been "relieved of all of his administrative duties both as overseeing policy and planning and in overseeing New York City's criminal courts."

Kamins is currently on annual leave, the spokesman said. 

Kamins' attorney Paul Shectman did not immediately return phone calls.

-Andrew Siff contributed to this report

Below: Read the Department of Investigation's report 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man With 59 Arrests in Police Custody Again]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 17:05:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/arrested-60-times1.png

A homeless man with 59 past arrests is in custody again – this time for allegedly attacking a woman inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Robert Simmons, 41, is accused of misdemeanor assault and menacing after he allegedly punched a 36-year-old woman in the face Saturday afternoon.

Port Authority police said Simmons threatened the woman with a box cutter, hit her and then tried to run away. Police later caught him but no weapon was recovered.

Law enforcement officials said the victim was known to Simmons.

Other past arrests include charges of menacing, selling drugs, attempted robbery and parole violations. His convictions date to 1990 and records show he has been in prison at least three times.

A message left with his attorney was not immediately returned. 

 

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<![CDATA[Elderly Woman Punched, Robbed While Walking With Groceries]]> Fri, 30 May 2014 00:27:23 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/217*120/elderly-woman-punched.JPG

A 73-year-old woman pushing a cart of groceries down a Queens sidewalk was punched in the face and robbed by two teens in an attack caught on video, police said.

The woman was walking home from the grocery store near 153rd Avenue and 88th Street just before 3:30 p.m. when a young woman came up from behind and took her purse from the grocery cart, according to the NYPD.

The young male suspect then punched her in the face. She fell to the ground and was later treated for cuts on her head and arm.

"Before I knew it, they were behind me, she's grabbing my bag, I try to retrieve it," the woman told NBC 4 New York Thursday. "Then he was in back of me and punched me."

The suspects made off with $100, a cell phone and her rosary.

The woman said she will continue to walk to the grocery store despite the attack.

"I lived through 9/11, bombings and everything, nobody's going to stop me," she said. "I just hope they get the individuals."

Police are asking anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

 

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<![CDATA[Former NJ Prosecutor, Jail Guards Accused of Smuggling]]> Wed, 28 May 2014 23:31:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/kapalin.JPG
A former assistant New Jersey prosecutor and two Department of Corrections officers were arrested by the FBI early Wednesday on federal corruption charges for allegedly smuggling contraband into a county jail, officials said.
 
The former assistant prosecutor, 66-year-old Brian Kapalin, and corrections officers Stephon Solomon, 26, and Channel Lespinasse, 25, are among nine people charged in the smuggling operation that allegedly funneled cell phones, marijuana and tobacco into the Essex County Jail.
 
Prosecutors allege the defendants smuggled those items into the jail five times over a six-month period that began last October.
 
A call to Kapalin's office was not immediately returned, and lawyers for the corrections officers could not immediately be reached.
 
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement that "jails are no place for drugs and illicit phones, and it is disappointing that two corrections officers an an attorney allegedly used their authority and access to make them available."
 
They face up to five years in jail for smuggling drugs and one year for smuggling phones.
 
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said there is "zero tolerance when the security of our institution is jeopardized by corrections officers who abuse their positions, attorneys who exploit privileges and inmates who break our rules."

 

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<![CDATA[Man Arrested in 2012 Killing of Bronx Girl]]> Tue, 20 May 2014 05:40:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/destiny+sanchez+bronx+killing.jpg

Police say they've arrested a man in the 2012 killing of a 15-year-old girl in the Bronx. 

Luis Vega, 34, is charged with second-degree murder and criminal sex act in the smothering death of Destiny Sanchez, whose body was found inside the lobby of 640 Barretto St. in Hunts Point in November 2012. 

Law enforcement sources at the time said the girl had a bruise on her stomach and bleach was found on her body. 

It's not clear whether Vega knew Sanchez. Attorney information was not immediately available. 

Family friends and relatives said Sanchez was a "happy, respectful young girl." 

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<![CDATA["Blackshades" Malware Ring Taken Down: Feds]]> Tue, 20 May 2014 06:39:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/computer7.jpg

Federal officials in New York announced on Monday the largest-ever international law enforcement operation targeting a malicious software used to secretly control hundreds of thousands of victims’ computers.

Prosecutors say that since 2010 the organization known as “Blackshades” has sold and distributed malware known as the Blackshades Remote Access Tool, or “RAT.”

The so-called RAT has been used to infect computers, causing the machines to spy on victims through their web cameras, steal files, account information and passwords, and log the victims’ keystrokes. More than half a million computers worldwide have been infected with the RAT through the handiwork of several thousand criminals in more than 100 countries, authorities said.

Since last week, more than 90 people have been arrested and more than 300 searches were conducted in 19 countries as part of the law enforcement operation, officials said.

Among those charged were a 24-year-old from Sweden who is the alleged owner and operator of the Blackshades organization, who co-created the RAT. He was arrested in Moldova in November 2013 and is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

Court papers say the Blackshades RAT was typically advertised on forums used by computer hackers and was available for purchase, at a cost of $40, on a website maintained by Blackshades. To infect a victim’s computer, the cybercriminal could trick the victim into clicking on malicious links or by hiring others to install the RAT on victims’ computers.

“As today’s case makes clear,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “we now live in a world where, for just $40, a cybercriminal halfway across the globe can – with just a click of a mouse – unleash a RAT that can spread a computer plague not only on someone’s property, but also on their privacy and most personal spaces.”

The RAT contained tools known as “spreaders” that helped spread the RAT to other computers.

Assistant FBI Director George Venizelos said, “We tackled this malware starting with those that put it in the hands of the users – the creators and those who helped make it readily available – the administrators."  

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<![CDATA[53 Pounds of Heroin Seized in Biggest NYC Bust in '14: Officials]]> Tue, 20 May 2014 09:07:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/heroin+bust+other.jpg
Dozens of kilos of heroin were tracked and seized in the past week as federal drug enforcement agents helped the NYPD break up a New York-based drug ring that was a key supplier to Connecticut and other New England states, according to law enforcement officials.

Investigators said more than 24 kilos of heroin -- about 53 pounds -- worth $11 million were seized in raids on two Bronx apartments and through tracking cars carrying drug shipments. Cocaine and three guns were also found during the raids. Authorities say the heroin bust is the biggest so far this year.

Officials said the Bronx-based heroin operation was based in a seventh-floor apartment on Orloff Avenue and another apartment on Patterson Avenue. Agents said they also discovered a storage facility used by the alleged drug dealers on Zerega Avenue. 
In addition to guns and drugs, officials said tens of thousands of dollars in cash was also recovered.

Edualin Tapia and Guillermo Esteban Margarin, two suspected ringleaders, were arrested as they allegedly drove boxes of heroin to Hartford. Investigators allege the two men were carrying the heroin in plain view in uncovered boxes. In Hartford, agents searched the apartment where the suspects were headed and allegedly found other suspects trying to pour heroin down a sink in an effort to avoid arrest.
Tapia and Margarin remain in custody in Connecticut awaiting extradition back to New York to face charges. It wasn't immediately clear if they had attorneys. 

In a statement, New York Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said the arrests "cut a pipeline moving huge amounts of heroin from New York City to the Northeast."
“These seizures and arrests demonstrate that NYC is ground zero of heroin distribution networks supplying the Northeast, as well as being the prime market Mexican drug traffickers are using to earn profit from the sale of poison,” added DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge James Hunt.

 



Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Officer Hurt in Blaze That Killed Cop Released From Hospital]]> Tue, 20 May 2014 06:26:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/rosa+rodriguez.jpg

The police officer critically hurt responding to the Coney Island apartment building blaze that killed her NYPD partner was released from the hospital Monday, more than a month and a half after the fire allegedly set by a 16-year-old boy.

Rosa Rodriguez, 36, left NewYork-Presbyterian's Cornell Medical Center shortly after noon in a wheelchair and wearing her uniform. She held bouquets of flowers as bagpipers played and NYPD officers lined up on either side of the walkway to applaud her heroism and resiliency following the April 6 fire on Surf Avenue. 

Rodriguez and her partner, 38-year-old Dennis Guerra, had taken an elevator to the 13th floor to help evacuate the building but were overcome by smoke when the doors opened. Both officers were taken to the hospital with smoke inhalation; Guerra died last month of his injuries.

A married father of four and seven-year NYPD veteran, Guerra had two daughters, 20 and 14, and two sons, 17 and 7. 

Fire investigators ruled the fire arson and charged 16-year-old Marcell Dockery with murder, arson and reckless endangerment. The teen allegedly started the deadly blaze by setting a mattress on fire.

The teenager pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month. His attorney, Jesse Young, said that Dockery was "coerced" into a confession after the NYPD allegedly turned the interrogation room into "a chamber of hell."

Dockery is due back in court May 29.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[GPS Pill Bottle Leads Police to Pharmacy Robber: Sources]]> Sat, 17 May 2014 10:18:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd-shooting.jpeg

Police shot and killed a man suspected of robbing an Upper East Side pharmacy at gunpoint Friday, and officers tracked him through a decoy pill bottle equipped with a GPS device, NBC 4 New York has learned.

NYPD says the suspect, identified as 45-year-old Scott Kato of Mount Vernon, robbed the pharmacy at Second Avenue and 69th Street at about 1:30 p.m., and fled in a Jeep Compass with cash and pain pills.

The NYPD began stocking city pharmacies with the decoy pill bottles last year in an attempt to crack down on robberies. The bottles look like containers of oxycodone, and even rattle when shaken, but contain a GPS device instead of painkillers.

A tracking signal is emitted when the bottle is separated from its base.

NBC 4 New York has learned that authorities tracked Kato, who is believed to have robbed this pharmacy five times since December 2011, as he fled toward the FDR Drive. 

Officers encountered him along a service road; police say he reached for a gun, which is when police fired. Four officers fired their guns, the NYPD said.

He was killed and his gun was recovered, police say.

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<![CDATA[Man Arrested in Beating Death of 68-Year-Old Man]]> Wed, 14 May 2014 06:56:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/jamie+pugh+east+village+beating+suspect.jpg

Police have arrested a man in connection with the beating death of a 68-year-old grandfather on an East Village street Friday night.

Jamie Pugh, 20, who lives in a housing project down the street from where the man was beaten, was taken into custody early Tuesday. Police say they received a phone tip that led them to Pugh.

He was later arrested on charges of second-degree murder, attempted robbery and assault.  He's expected to be arraigned in court Wednesday morning. 

It wasn't immediately clear whether Pugh had an attorney. He did not speak to reporters as he was led from the police precinct station.

The victim, Ruan Wen Hui, had just dropped off his granddaughter and was walking on East Sixth Street between avenues C and D when a suspect came up from behind, yelled at him and started attacking, officials said.

Surveillance video from the scene shows the suspect tossing the man against a wall, then stomping and punching him. After the attack, the assailant is seen walking away.

Hui was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition. He died Saturday, police say.

Hui, a Chinese immigrant, worked in a garment factory for the last 15 years, his daughter said. She described him as a man who always tried to help others and said she didn't know why anyone would want to attack him. 

"Everybody loves him," she said. "Nobody can accept that he is gone."

 

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