<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]> Copyright 2016 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 Sun, 07 Feb 2016 12:57:46 -0500 Sun, 07 Feb 2016 12:57:46 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Drone Hits Empire State Building: NYPD]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 07:41:59 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/drone+suspect+empire+state+building.jpg

A small drone crashed into the 40th floor of the Empire State Building Thursday night and then fell to a 35th floor landing, authorities said. 

Police said a New Jersey man was flying the drone in an attempt to take pictures and apparently lost control of the aircraft.

Investigators said Sean Nivin Riddle was arrested at the scene and is expected to face criminal charges. He was being questioned by officers at the Midtown South police precinct.

Right after the crash, Riddle apparently wrote on his own Twitter feed: “filming w/ drone, now its stuck on the empire state building....w/security.”

The crash brought a significant police and FBI response to the landmark at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street as a precaution. Investigators said that they do not believe the crash was intentional.

No one was hurt.

Riddle did not immediately respond to requests from NBC 4 New York seeking comment. 

Photo Credit: File.
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<![CDATA[Exclusive: NYPD Hatchet Attack Survivors Talk to News 4]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 16:51:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000007039683_1200x675_440437827788.jpg The four officers who were attacked in Queens last October speak exclusively to News 4's Jonathan Dienst.]]> <![CDATA[Police Warn Against Subway Snoozing, Tout Record-Low Crime ]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 05:30:27 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/subway-sleeping.jpg

Despite a spate of high-profile subway crimes including slashings that garnered headlines, the first month of 2016 was the safest since the NYPD began keeping records, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Wednesday.

But authorities still offered a warning to subway snoozers: "Subways are not for sleeping,"  Bratton said.

The NYPD will add more officers to subway patrols and those cops will wake riders who take naps on the subway, Bratton said. The commissioner says he realizes people are tired when they get off work. But he says subway snoozing puts riders at a higher risk of sexual assault and pickpocketing.

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But it's not enough to stay alert, according to a 19-year-old man who was violently robbed on the A train Tuesday night.

The man named Nicholas, who did not want to show his face out of concerns for his safety, was riding an empty A train car and approaching Fulton Street when five men walked into his subway car.

"They put a knife to my neck. And I kind of make the move out of the way, and I was like, take whatever you want and just leave my ID," he told NBC 4 New York Wednesday. "The guy's like pushing back the knife in his pocket and he just choked me and punched me in the face."

Nick said he was knocked out cold and he woke up half an hour later on the train, at the 190th Street station. He ran upstairs to the station and reported the incident to police. 

His advice for riders is to surround themselves with other people and stay in cars occupied by other straphangers.

"You have to be careful out there, because you never know what could happen, especially in the night," he said. 

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On Thursday morning police said a woman went to the hospital Wednesday night after she was poked in the arm by a man who was next to her at the 49th Street subway station on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. She said she felt a poke on her right shoulder just before 6:30 p.m. When she went home, she and her husband discovered a small wound. A doctor at Mt. Sinai Hospital said that it may be a puncture wound possibly caused by a needle prick. 

And on Wednesday, police announced they were looking for suspects in two other violent subway attacks, one in which a man allegedly slashed a 3 train rider over the left eye in Harlem Sunday and another in which a robber slashed one victim in the hand on the C train and punched another on the 4 train.

A man said he woke up on the C train Tuesday morning to find a man with bright red hair standing over him with a razor. The victim said his jeans had been cut around his left pocket in an attempted robbery. He tried to restrain the suspect but was punched in the face. The suspect fled and is still on the loose. 

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Still the mayor and commissioners were touting crimes stats at record low.  NYPD officials said there were 22 homicides in January — down from 40 for the same time period in 2015. Shootings also dropped in the city by 34 percent, de Blasio said.

By comparison, there were 51 homicides in Chicago in January. That's more than double New York’s January tally even though that city's population of about 2.7 million residents is less than one-third that of New York City's 8.4 million inhabitants.

There were 352 homicides in New York City in 2015. 

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But there was one category where a notable increase was tallied: felony assaults, driven, in part, by an uptick in attacks on police officers and straphangers in the subway system.

There were a total of 251 assaults in the city in January, an 18 percent increase, authorities said.

There were 37 assaults in the subway system, 12 of which were assaults on police officers, NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox said.

There were 10 slashings and stabbings on subway riders, one of which was a completely random attack, Fox said. The nine other attacks were either robberies or the result of a dispute, according to Fox.    

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Photo Credit: File -- Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Mexican Heroin Cartel Suspects Arrested in Hotel Raid: Officials]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 16:32:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/heroin+raid+nj+hotel.jpg

Four suspected associates of a Mexican heroin cartel were arrested at Secaucus, New Jersey hotel Tuesday as they were allegedly moving drugs through the state.

Drug Enforcement Administration officials and New Jersey State Police said 31 kilograms of heroin was seized. Photos released by law enforcement officials show some of the drugs were being carried in gym bags.

The drug task force raided a room at the Extended Stay Hotel where the suspects were allegedly hiding out. NYPD officers and New York State Police assisted in the investigation.

The raid come less than a week after 100 pounds of heroin was seized in the back of a pick-up truck in Queens.

Oscar Renen Felix, John Ulloa, Anthony Ross Koon and Alan Martin Alderman are expected to appear in court late Tuesday on state drug conspiracy charges, officials said.

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Bratton Says NYPD Investigated 3 ISIS-Inspired Terror Plots in 2015]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 19:20:39 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-bill-bratton-james-blake-st.jpg

The NYPD’s top cop told U.S. senators Tuesday the threat of terrorism is the greatest it’s been since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, adding that the department uncovered three terror threats inspired by ISIS in the last year.

Commissioner Bill Bratton outlined the department’s counter-terrorism response to new threats during a Senate homeland security committee hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

He said New York City has been the “nexus or target” of more terror plots than any other city in America – including four plots in less than two years.

“The frontline response to terrorism in America is more pressing than any time since 9/11,” he said.

He said the department has been shifting its tactics in the last two years amid ISIS-inspired “lone wolf” attacks to either behead people, bomb public events or attack police officers.

He told the senators the department has been beefing up patrols, investing in technology for officers, and working with federal law enforcement agencies to sniff out plots and combat terror.

“No other city faces the threat faced by New York City, and no other city has invested so much— in dollars, personnel, or partnership—to counter that threat,” he said.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[$14M of Heroin Found Stuffed in Truck Axles in Queens]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 20:20:45 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/heroin+pickup+truck+queens.jpg

Authorities say they seized $14 million worth of heroin during a traffic stop in Queens Tuesday night.

Drug investigators were in the area of Northern Boulevard and 84th Street in Elmhurst when they saw two pickup trucks driving in tandem, with a hitch trailer attached, law enforcement officials said.

The trucks had North Carolina license plates and were driving very slowly, and kept circling around a few blocks. 

Noticing the trailer's hitch was unregistered and the back tail light was out, the investigators pulled over the trucks, and officers found 48 kilograms of heroin pressed and concealed in the axle and in drive shaft parts in the bed of the truck, according to the officials.

Two people were arrested on a variety of drug charges. They're expected to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, authorities said.

The New York Drug Enforcement Task Force consists of the NYPD, DEA and state special narcotics prosecutors.

<![CDATA[Man Kills Girlfriend, Wounds Downstairs Neighbor in Shootings: NYPD]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 23:56:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Suspect-Shooting-Inset.jpg

Two women were shot, one fatally, in Queens Tuesday morning in what police say may have stemmed from some sort of domestic dispute. 

The NYPD responded to a call at about 11 a.m. at an apartment building on Beach 32nd Street and found a 51-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the hand in the lobby of the building.

They later found a 36-year-old Joann Gravette dead inside an 11th floor apartment in the building with a gunshot wound to the body. 

Police say that the suspected shooter, 29-year-old Tyquan Long, is the estranged boyfriend of Gravette. 

Authorities say he shot Gravette first, then went to the 51-year-old's apartment downstairs. He shot the woman because he thought Gravette was having an affair with the elder woman's son.

Gravette's mother, Yolanda Gravette, said that Long and her daughter dated for five years and that he was always jealous of her daughter. 

After the shooting, authorities say he called a third person, telling him "I'm gunning for you."

Authorities say that man is being protected.

Long, who has been arrested 11 times, is still at large and is being sought, authorities say. One man said he saw him boarding a train earlier in the day. 

Police held a news conference Wednesday evening while investigators worked the 11th floor crime scene. 

"He has a considerable arrest record — weapons charges and assault," NYPD Inspector Michael Kemper said. 

His most recent assault was last year against his now-murdered girlfriend. 

<![CDATA[Man Named in Anonymous Cop Shooting Tip Won't Be Charged]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 09:11:03 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/generic+police+car+2+vg.jpg

A man who an anonymous tipster claimed had pledged his allegiance to ISIS and was planning to shoot police officers in New York and Philadelphia has turned himself in to police, law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York. 

The man turned himself in at a Bronx police precinct Wednesday afternoon and was questioned by detectives, sources said. He was not charged with any crime, but was being held Thursday for allegedly violating his parole. 

The NYPD had issued an alert to officers on Wednesday about the anonymous tip called in to a detective squad about a local man who may be armed and prepared to shoot a cop in New York City. Police in Philadelphia also received a similar threat.

According to authorities, the suspect mentioned by the New York City tipster had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Both calls were traced to upper Manhattan, officials say.

Patrick Lynch, the president of the NYPD's rank-and-file union, reminded police to be on alert for potential threats.

"New York City police officers recognize that they are always a potential target for terrorists and political extremists," Lynch said. "The PBA is reminding all of our members to be alert at all times, back each other up and to take all necessary precautions when responding to jobs."

The threat comes just weeks after a cop in Philadelphia was shot three times by a man who allegedly pledged to ISIS. The cop, Jesse Hartnett, was wounded but was able to shoot the alleged gunman, Edward Archer.

And in 2014, a man hacked at two cops with a hatchet in Queens, critically injuring one. The attack was considered an act of terror, and FBI Director James Comey said that the suspect, Zale Thompson, appeared to have sought "inspiration from foreign terrorist sources" including ISIS.

Also that year, Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, the man who killed NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, posted to Instagram that he was "putting Wings on Pigs" before the Brooklyn shooting. 

-- Jonathan Dienst contributed to this story. 

Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Four of 5 Suspects in Brooklyn Gang Rape Appear in Court; 5th Charged]]> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 03:14:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/brooklyn+rape+park.jpg

The fifth suspect authorities had been searching for in the gang rape of a woman in a Brooklyn park last week was arrested and charged as police detailed their investigation into the rape for the first time Tuesday. 

The 17-year-old suspect was taken into custody at his school around 11 a.m. Tuesday. He was charged Tuesday with rape, criminal sex act and sex abuse. 

The four other suspects in the brutal Brownsville rape were arrested Sunday and appeared in court Tuesday night to face the charges of rape, criminal sex act and sex abuse. One is 14 years old, two are 15, and the other is 17. 

The fifth suspect taken into custody Tuesday did not appear with the others. 

Two of the defense lawyers spoke in court; one called the arrests politically motivated, the result of a rush to make arrests as police felt pressure from the public and elected officials. The other attorney said his client had no part in the rape and claimed there is video that shows the victim smiling and laughing at the park with her alleged attackers. 

The assistant district attorney admitted none of the four could be positively identified as suspects in two rounds of lineups. 

Defense attorney Kenneth Montgomery told reporters, "There's no one identified, there's no hits. They never alleged that my client had sexual contact. I think this is as weak as it gets." 

Prosecutors requested $500,000 bail for each suspect; the judge has ordered the 14-year-old and one 15-year-old held on $10,000 bond; the other 15-year-old on $50,000; and one of the 17-year-olds on $25,000.

Authorities say the 18-year-old victim was with her 39-year-old father in Osborn Park Thursday evening when the suspects set on the pair. One of the suspects pointed a gun at the father and told him to leave the park.

The father, who didn't have a cellphone, ran two blocks to a housing development nearby where he found patrol officers from the 73rd Precinct, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Tuesday. 

"He gets the officers and comes back. Apparently, he's hysterical, says a gun was pointed at him," Boyce said. The father told the officers his daughter was "maybe being murdered."

The officers immediately radioed the report and went to the park with the father, where they found the traumatized victim, crying and visibly upset, with cuts and bruises on her body, said Boyce. 

The woman was taken to Kings County Hospital, where detectives spoke to her. Investigators determined the accounts from both the father and daughter were credible.

"Everything she told us and the father told us -- the video we got the next morning and the next afternoon bolstered that side of the story," said Boyce.

Boyce said the victim didn't know her attackers, and there was nothing to suggest the rape was pre-meditated.

Officials said two of the suspects surrendered with their parents Sunday afternoon, another turned himself in later that day, and a fourth was identified and arrested through a tip to the Crime Stoppers hotline, officials said. 

The investigation is ongoing, and police say there's still "a lot more to do," including waiting for DNA test results, collecting more video and locating the gun that was allegedly used to threaten the victim and her father. 

A young friend of one of the suspects appeared in court to support him.

"I know he wouldn't hurt a fly, that's not who he is,"  said Sumayya Rose, who grew up with the 14-year-old suspect and said the neighors often hung out in the park. "He's a nice person, he likes to make people laugh. He won't even hurt anybody. That's not who he is." 

Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, criticized the NYPD for not informing him of the rape earlier, takiing a harsher stance one day after he suggested the NYPD didn't inform the public of the rape immediately because of "sensitivities" in the investigation.

"I said the other day there are very delicate decisions made about when to inform the public and the broader community about a particular crime, because the last thing we want to do is undermine an investigation or undermine our ability to get the perpetrators," de Blasio said Tuesday. "I respect that and defer to that."

"In this instance, I think the process of informing the public should have been clearer and earlier," said de Blasio, adding he was informed by NYPD at about noon Sunday. 

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said any information that would have been put out immediately, as police were in the beginning stages of the investigation, would have been "extraordinarily minimal," with no video, photos or details at that point. 

But, he conceded, “that would have been sufficient to alert the neighborhood, the community, and to also, if anybody had seen something, to possibly give us assistance.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Man Faces Terror Charges in New York]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 19:47:49 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP364927752459.jpg

A Maryland man who allegedly traveled overseas to fight alongside terrorists has been flown back to New York to face terror charges.

NBC New York has learned that a man known as Malik Jones -- but who also has several aliases --could appear in a New York courtroom as early as Monday afternoon.

Law enforcement sources said Jones traveled overseas to join al-Shabaab, a jihadist terrorist organization based in East Africa. Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaida and has committed murderous attacks across that region.

Jones traveled through John F. Kennedy International Airport several years ago on his way to join the violent extremist group, law enforcement sources said. He is one of about 40 Americans believed to have been recruited by that terror organization since 2007.

He was taken into custody late last year in Africa and was flown to the U.S. in December, sources said.

Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said in a statement, "The National Security Division's highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to hold accountable those who seek to provide material support to terrorists."

Attorney information for Jones wasn't immediately available.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Friendly Fire Wounded Cop Shot Responding to Brawl: Police]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 03:46:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd+cop+shot+sherrod+stuart1.JPG

The 25-year-old NYPD officer shot in the ankle responding to a fight that broke out at a large party in the Bronx over the weekend was injured by friendly fire, a police spokesman tells NBC 4 New York.

Officer Sherrod Stuart was injured when he, in plainclothes, and other officers responded to the brawl at Third Avenue and East 137th Street in Mott Haven early Saturday.

"He's doing good, recovering day by day," brother Armani Stuart told NBC 4 New York Monday. "He's in good spirits, his family's around him, he's having fun. Humble." 

He's awaiting a second surgery, another brother, Jazzwal Stuart, said. 

Cops chased a man, identified as Christopher Rice, after arriving at the scene. The NYPD spokesman said officers coming around a corner faced gunfire from Rice and returned fire.

Stuart was shot in the ankle during the chase, apparently by a stray police bullet. He shot Rice four times and Rice has been in custody since the weekend, police say. 

Rice was charged Monday with menacing, assault on a police officer and criminal possession of a weapon, according to the NYPD. The charges are not expected to change despite friendly fire causing Stuart's injuries because authorities allege Rice's actions led to the officer being shot.

Rice, who has five prior arrests, had been released from custody only three hours before the shooting after being charged with fare-beating.

Following the fight, five people were hospitalized with stab wounds, NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said. A semi-automatic firearm was found near where Stuart was shot, and three other guns were recovered from the surrounding area, Bratton said

Attorney information for Rice wasn't immediately available.  

<![CDATA[5th Suspect in Brooklyn Gang Rape Sought]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 11:02:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/brooklyn+rape+park.jpg

Police are searching for a fifth suspect in the gang rape of a woman in a Brooklyn park as furious residents and outraged officials try to grapple with the abhorrent crime in their midst. 

"I think all over the city we are feeling anger and disgust at this horrible act, this poor young woman attacked by teenagers, her father forced away by gunpoint," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Monday. 

"I feel this very personally. I am the father of a young woman," the mayor said. "This is the kind of thing that deeply, deeply troubles me and it's an intolerable situation. We're going to fight to make sure young women don't go through this type of tragedy." 

De Blasio said the NYPD has been "very aggressive" in their investigation and was confident they would find the fifth suspect in the sex attack on Thursday night in Osborn Playground in Brownsville.

Investigators didn't disclose the names of the four suspects in custody, but said two are 15 years old and the other two are 14 and 17. Charges against the teens were pending Monday morning.

Authorities say the 18-year-old victim was walking through the park with her father when the suspects set on the pair. One of the suspects pointed a gun at the father and told him to leave the park.

The father found a patrol car from the 73rd Precinct on the street and told the officers about the attack. The officers immediately responded and went with the father to the park, where they found the victim. 

She had been raped by each of the attackers, authorities said. The woman was taken to Kings County Hospital for treatment. 

De Blasio shot down reports there was a delay in response to the rape, emphasizing the father had physically flagged police on the street and never made a 911 call. 

When asked why it took police two days to tell the public about the rape as the suspects were still on the loose, de Blasio said he wasn't aware of the police investigation timeline in the case. 

"I don't know exactly when the information was verified to the point that it could have been public and obviously because it was a rape investigation, there were real sensitivities, so I want to be careful, not knowing the exact process by which NYPD got to the decision of when it was time to divulge suspects," he said.

Residents Monday were still dealing with the news of the brutal sex attack in their community. 

"It's intolerable that a lady can't walk down the street," said an outraged Michael Thomas. 

"It makes me feel so sad I could cry," said Emma Hunt. 

Verna Reid has lived in the neighborhood for decades and said she couldn't fathom the attack. 

"A lot of people just go behind their doors and say it's not their problem," said Reid. "This has become all of our problem. That's somebody's child. It could be my granddaughter or their child."

Shawanda Smith, a mother of two teenage daughters, lives steps from the playground, wished she were home that night and could have helped the victim.

"So sorry. If I could have helped you, I would have helped you," she said. 

City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo condemned the attack and called on residents to cooperate with police investigators.

"When an 18-year-old girl can get raped while walking with her father in a park by five men in Brownsville, New York, we have hit an all-time moral low in the City of New York," she said.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams previously issued a statement saying he was "sickened" by the attack and urged the city to improve the lighting and design of public spaces such as Osborn Park.

"I do not accept a city where reports of rape and sexual assault are on the rise," he said.

Anyone with information about the fifth suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-NYPD Cop Sentenced in Wife's Murder]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 18:49:02 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/216*120/kevin+canty+sentenced.JPG

A former police officer who was once honored as a hero has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of shooting and killing his wife in front of their two young children in a jealous rage, prosecutors say. 

Kevin Canty, 44, pleaded guilty last fall in the killing of his 40-year-old wife, Jessica.

"He pulled the trigger over and over again," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a press release Wednesday. "The woman didn't have a chance. The sentence meted out today is more than warranted."

Canty apologized to his family in court during sentencing. 

"His apology was sincere. I believe it was sincere," Jessica Canty's sister told NBC 4 after the sentencing. "He had to come clean... especially to his daughter. She needed to hear that."

The victim's sister said she has quit her job to take care of the Cantys' now orphaned children.

Canty admitted he shot his wife seven times as their 6- and 9-year-old children watched inside their Ozone Park, Queens home on April 19, 2014. Jessica Canty was found in the home with 10 gunshot wounds.

After the shooting, Canty told detectives "I'm sorry" and said he loved his wife, but she was cheating on him.

One neighbor said she saw the children run into a nearby deli screaming for help and saying their father had just shot their mother.

Canty retired from the police department in 2013. He was honored in 2012 for helping save a subway rider who had a heart attack.

The couple had been together since they were teenagers and have a 20-year-old daughter in addition to the two children who witnessed the shooting.

<![CDATA[7 NY National Guard Members Accused of Stealing Federal Funds]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 12:25:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FBI+Stock.jpg

FBI agents arrested seven current members of the New York National Guard early Wednesday, including a current NYPD officer, on charges of defrauding hundreds of thousands of dollars from a federal incentive program offering cash rewards for recruiting civilians to serve in the Army National Guard, law enforcement officials say.

The 11 count-criminal complaint charges the defendants with bribery and theft of government funds relating to their alleged scheme to defraud the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program, begun in 2005 and designed to offer bonus payments to Army National Guard soldiers to recruit civilians to serve in the National Guard. The program was shut down in 2012.

Under the incentive program, participating soldiers would receive $2,000 for every referred soldier who enlisted and entered basic training, court papers say.

Prosecutors say two of the defendants, Evette Merced and Darryl Harrison, were salaried military recruiters ineligible to participate in the incentive program. Merced and Harrison are accused of providing personal identifying information of potential soldiers to the other defendants who falsely claimed they had recruited the potential soldiers to the New York Army National Guard, collected the bonus payments under the program and kicked back a portion of those payments to Merced and Harrison.

One of the defendants, Jefferson Simbanamuzo, is currently a sergeant in the Army National Guard and a NYPD officer.

The defendants are expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later Wednesday.

Information regarding defense attorneys was not available. 

<![CDATA[Cops Nab International 'Catch Me if You Can' Scam Artist in NYC]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 20:21:59 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/5O9A1228.JPG

A con man who scored luxury goods and hotel rooms across the country for years by pretending to be a pilot and an injured veteran, among other identities, was himself conned into turning himself in to authorities in New York City this week, investigators say.

Jeremy Wilson most recently scammed his way into leasing a 2016 BMW X3 and renting a luxury two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan by stealing identities, writing fake checks and pretending to be a wounded soldier, law enforcement officials said.

"The worst thing about this is not only that there are real victims but that he was portraying himself as a war hero and was utilizing that story to be able to victimize other citizens," said Angel Melendez, a Homeland Security investigator.

Wilson is believed to have past convictions for similar scams in Indianapolis, Pennsylvania and California, investigators said, although they said they are still sorting out his many aliases. He was recently released from federal prison after his latest fraud-related conviction, police said.


After Wilson ran up more scams in New York, Homeland Security investigators and NYPD detectives duped him into turning himself Monday, officials said. They towed the BMW from his Hanover Square building in the Financial District and told him it had been taken as possible evidence from a shooting and that he could come retrieve the vehicle. When Wilson showed up at the 10th Precinct station, police arrested him.

Investigators had to use the ruse because Wilson was not with the car and they had to employ a strategy that wouldn't spook the career criminal or send him running, police said. 

Officials said a search of Wilson's apartment turned up numerous fake passports and other stolen IDs, military uniforms, Harvard and MIT hats and coffee mugs, computers and cash. In some cases, they said Wilson even pretended to be a pilot for a major airline so he could score hotel rooms and bill them to that company.

During questioning in New York, police officials said Wilson boasted of being just like the scam artist portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 movie "Catch Me If You Can."

Real veterans who have been tracking so-called "stolen valor" suspects said Wilson has been on their radar for years. 

"We find in every case of stolen valor that we've researched, there's an element of financial fraud -- everything from a free cup of coffee all the way through veterans benefits, in some cases millions of dollars," said Terence Hoey, a stolen valor investigator. 

Wilson also has a current warrant for his arrest in Massachussets. Officials there said he allegedly stole several Apple computers and IDs from MIT. He is accused of committing fraud with fake checks in order to lease the BMW there.

Wilson was awaiting a court appearance at 100 Centre St. Tuesday. A public defender said she expects to get the case but had not received paperwork to represent him at this time and had no comment.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office has also declined to comment.

Photo Credit: New York Daily News]]>
<![CDATA[Man Charged in Brazen 2012 Midtown Sidewalk Murder]]> Wed, 23 Dec 2015 15:31:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gunman+midtown.JPG

A 37-year-old Queens man was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder and a number of other crimes for his alleged role in the execution-style slaying of a man on a midtown sidewalk in 2012.

Lloyd McKenzie, 37, of South Jamaica, Queens, allegedly served as the getaway driver for the gunman who shot and killed Brandon Woodard at the corner of West 58th Street and Seventh Avenue on the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2012, authorities said.

McKenzie, Woodard and at least five other suspects were involved in a multi-state drug trafficking operation that led to Woodard’s murder, court documents allege.

McKenzie was also hit with conspiracy, criminal possession of a weapon, operating as a major trafficker and criminal possession of a controlled substance charges, all of which are felonies, authorities said.

It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. 

No one has been charged with firing the shot that killed Woodard.

“Three years ago, Brandon Woodard was murdered on a midtown sidewalk in broad daylight," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement. "This brazen shooting, stemming from a major interstate drug conspiracy, shocked and frightened many at the time."

<![CDATA[NY Man Accused of Plotting Bar Attack for ISIS on New Year's]]> Thu, 31 Dec 2015 23:40:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lutchman+updated+inset.jpg

Authorities have arrested an accused ISIS supporter who allegedly planned to commit an armed attack at a bar in Rochester on New Year's Eve on behalf of the terror group, officials said Thursday.

Emanuel Lutchman, 25, of Rochester, has been charged with attempt to provide material support and resources to ISIS. 

Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said Thursday that a New Year's Eve fireworks show had been canceled so that more officers could be deployed throughout the city. She said that there was no new credible threat, but that canceling the show would help police focus their resources elsewhere. A celebration at the city's convention center was still planned, she said. 

"We all must acknowledge that in today’s day and age any place in the world can be a target," Warren said. 

According to a criminal complaint, Lutchman began corresponding with an FBI informant in November and made numerous statements expressing his support for ISIS and his desire to join the group in Syria. Late this month, he allegedly told the informant he had been in contact with someone who identified himself as an ISIS member in Syria, and that he relayed his personal "hatred for everything in America" and his intention to join the group overseas, according to the complaint.

Since Lutchman apparently had no one to vouch for him with the group, the alleged terror operator with whom he was communicating told him he would have to prove himself, according to the complaint. Court documents say the overseas individual told Lutchman to plan an operation on New Year's Eve and to kill as many Americans as possible, then he would help him get to Syria.

When Lutchman allegedly said he hates it in the United States and was ready to "give everything up" to join ISIS abroad, the overseas individual told him, "For now do what you can over there."

Lutchman met with another FBI informant he assumed was a supporter on Monday and indicated he wanted to target a club or bar, suggesting he could sneak a bomb inside the facility, according to court documents. The complaint says Lutchman also said they should kidnap a couple of people and kill them. He said they should wear masks to avoid being identified by law enforcement officials.

At one point during the meeting, they drove by the restaurant in Rochester and Lutchman identified it as a potential target, according to court documents. He said he didn't have funds for weaponry, but said they could use knives for the attack, noting he knew someone with a machete and his wife had a dagger, according to the criminal complaint.

The next day, he called another one of his "brothers," another FBI informant, and said they needed to get gloves, masks and zip ties in the event they kidnapped someone, court documents say. On Tuesday, Lutchman and an FBI informant went to a Walmart store in Rochester to buy supplies for the operation, according to the complaint. While there, they bought ski masks, zip ties, knives, a machete, duct tape, ammonia and latex gloves, the complaint alleges.

Then Lutchman allegedly said, "It's going to get real after this. It's just you, me and the Lord. We gotta do this, we gotta do this precise. If we grab somebody, they can't live. They may identify the vehicle. They can't live."

Lutchman and the informant also talked about making a video before the operation in which they would explain their reasons for the attack and swear allegiance to ISIS, according to the complaint. Lutchman said he planned to release the video after the operation, court documents say.

Lutchman was arrested Wednesday. Prior to his arrest, he had made a video, recorded on his cellphone by one of the FBI informants, in which he swore allegiance to ISIS and its leader and claimed responsibility for the planned attack in Rochester, according to the criminal complaint. 

Lutchman is a self-professed Muslim convert with a criminal history dating back to about 2006 that includes a New York state conviction for second-degree robbery. He served five years for that crime.

Gov. Cuomo said Lutchman allegedly became radicalized while serving time in Attica. 

“According to the complaint, as part of Emanuel Lutchman’s attempt to provide material support to ISIL, he planned to kill innocent civilians on New Year’s Eve in the name of the terrorist organization,” Assistant Attorney General Carlin said in a statement. "Thankfully, law enforcement was able to intervene and thwart Lutchman's deadly plans.”

Steven Slawinski, his federal defender, declined to comment on the charges.

Cuomo praised federal agents for the arrest and urged all citizens to remain diligent, adding that New York is no stranger "to these types of incidents."

"The arrest of Emanuel Lutchman is an important reminder of the new normal of global terrorism" Cuomo said in a statement. "Today law enforcement did their job well – but the challenges we face have never been greater, and it is incumbent on every citizen to be diligent and responsible."

Authorities have said there is no credible terror threat to New York City or other locales throughout the tri-state area this New Year's Eve. Thousands of uniformed and undercover officers will flood the area near Times Square ahead of the ball drop to ensure the safety of the million revelers expected to attend.  

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Man Accused of Hacking Celeb Emails, Stealing Sex Tapes, Scripts]]> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 21:19:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/alonzo+knowles.jpg

U.S. Homeland Security agents arrested a man from the Bahamas on federal charges of hacking into the email accounts of numerous individuals in the entertainment, sports, and media industries, court papers filed in federal court in Manhattan say. 

Alonzo Knowles, 23, was arrested in Manhattan Monday after meeting with an undercover law enforcement agent, officials said.

Knowles is accused of hacking into the email accounts of the celebrities and then stealing copyrighted movie and television scripts, personal identifying information and private sexually explicit photographs and videos, the court papers say. The court papers did not identify the victims.

At the time of his arrest, Knowles was allegedly attempting to sell the stolen material to the undercover agent, the court papers say.

Knowles is charged with copyright infringement and identity theft and will appear in federal court in Manhattan later Tuesday.

Additional details of the charges and investigation are expected to be released by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan at a later time.

Attorney information for Knowles was not immediately available.

Photo Credit: Christine Cornell]]>
<![CDATA[2 Cops Suspended After 6th Handcuffed Prisoner Escape in 6 Months]]> Fri, 18 Dec 2015 16:07:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/franklin+st+subway.JPG

Two NYPD officers have been suspended without pay following the escape of a handcuffed prisoner in lower Manhattan that forced the shutdown of subway trains in the area as police hunted the suspect.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the two officers failed to safeguard the prisoner, who had been arrested on suspicion of shoplifting at a Gap, and that they will be disciplined severely.

Thursday night's caper was the latest in a recent string of prisoners escaping NYPD custody, and Bratton reiterated Friday that such an embarrassment, as he called it in previous cases, would not be tolerated. The officers' guns and badges were removed for the 30-day suspension; they will undergo re-training and a transfer. Their careers will be impacted by the lapse, Bratton said.

"What we have here is a significant neglect of duty," Bratton said. NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill called it a case of "carelessness on the part of our cops." 

The officers were taking the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Barry Tune, to a stationhouse in a police cruiser shortly after 7 p.m. when Tune faked being sick, police said. At least one of the officers got out of the vehicle to assist the suspect, and he opened the back door and bolted for the Franklin Street subway station in TriBeCa, still handcuffed. Police said the suspect had managed to wriggle out of at least one of his handcuffs before getting out of the vehicle. 

No. 1 train service was suspended in both directions south of West 14th Street while police investigated, and No. 2 and 3 train service was temporarily suspended between Times Square and Wall Street. Tune was apprehended at what police describe as a group home in Sunset Park, Brooklyn about five hours later. 

He was taken back to a police precinct for processing. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney, nor was it known if he would face additional charges associated with the escape. Tune was expected to face a judge for arraignment Friday. 

Tune is the sixth prisoner to escape NYPD custody since June. On Oct. 20, Gerald Brooks -- who had five warrants and 54 past arrests -- escaped custody in Brooklyn while he was handcuffed behind his back. 

He was captured and arrested Dec. 2.

In August, a woman who claimed to be pregnant fled in handcuffs from a hospital. The month before, a prisoner ran barefoot from his cell at a Manhattan police station, and another man escaped as officers were escorting him into a different police precinct. A man escaped in June when a handcuffed man shoved a police officer and took off, but he was caught about a month later. The other three suspects were caught within days of their escapes, police said.

<![CDATA[Man Sentenced in 'Flying Drop Kick' Attack on Mom, Baby]]> Fri, 18 Dec 2015 15:23:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/woman+kicked+back+robber+bronx+copy.jpg

A 19-year-old man who pleaded guilty to taking a "flying drop kick" at a mother holding her 3-month-old son as he tried to steal her cellphone in the Bronx last year was sentenced Friday to three and a half years in prison.

Alonzo Brown also faces four years of post-release supervision. He waived his right to appeal.

According to court documents, Brown rushed Odilia Orozco from behind on East Tremont Avenue Nov. 28, 2014 as the woman walked down the street with her phone in her hand, her 3-month-old son strapped to her chest. Brown kicked the woman in the back, knocking her and her baby to the ground.

He then grabbed the woman's phone and ran off. The attack was captured on surveillance video.

At his sentencing Friday, Orozco said through an interpreter that she continues to experience pain in the part of her body where Brown attacked her.

"I am [still] afraid to go out in the street unless I have to," Orozco said. "Now that I will know he will not be there, then I'll feel safe."

Orozco said she thinks her now-toddler son is also still frightened by the attack.

<![CDATA[Man Convicted in Attack That Left Transgender Woman With Brain Damage]]> Fri, 18 Dec 2015 13:52:11 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sonds.jpg

A 26-year-old Brooklyn man has been convicted of assault as a hate crime in the October 2014 attack on a transgender woman that left her traumatic brain damage.

Prosecutors said Friday Marshawn Sonds, of Brownsville, faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced next month. His was the first trial conviction secured by the newly created hate crime unit of the Brooklyn district attorney's Civil Rights Bureau.

According to trial testimony and court documents, 29-year-old Kimball "Kimy" Hartman was walking on Bushwick Avenue with a friend late the night of Oct. 12, 2014, when Sonds and other men approached and started attacking her, yelling gay slurs.

Sonds then picked up a piece of Plexiglas and swung it at Hartman's head. As she tried to get away, he threw it at her, striking her in the head. Hartman was knocked unconscious, began seizing and suffered profuse bleeding from the back of her head. She underwent surgery to replace a portion of her skull crushed in the attack and will likely suffer permanent repercussions, prosecutors said.

"This defendant, acting out of hate, viciously attacked an innocent woman and left her on the ground for dead," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement. "This was a cowardly, unprovoked and senseless attack on a person who was targeted merely because of her appearance. Today’s conviction demonstrates that we will simply not tolerate bias-motivated violence anywhere in Brooklyn."

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Search Continues for Suspect in NYC Armored Car Heist]]> Wed, 16 Dec 2015 09:07:32 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Armored-Car-Robbery-1216.jpg

Authorities are continuing to search for the suit-wearing robber who hit an armored car in New York City on Tuesday and got in a gunfight with the men guarding the cash-filled vehicle.

Police released an image of a red Honda Accord believed to be used in the heist in the Bronx's Soundview neighborhood. 

Authorities say the bandit approached the armored car while it was parked on Westchester Avenue, pulled out a gun and demanded money from a guard loading about $78,000 into the cargo hold. The robber then traded fire with the guard and a second one who was in the vehicle.

As the guards, still firing, drew back for cover, the man in the suit grabbed bags of cash and ran off. A block away, he jumped into the red Honda and the vehicle sped away, police say.

Anyone with information about the heist should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

<![CDATA[Cop Hurt in Hatchet Attack Returns to Work]]> Fri, 18 Dec 2015 19:20:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hatchet+attack+cop+inset.jpg

The rookie NYPD officer who was critically wounded in a hatchet terror attack in Queens has returned to work after spending more than a year in rehabilitation. 

"It is great to be back," officer Kenneth Healey told NBC 4 New York Wednesday.

Healey began desk duty at his old stationhouse this week.

Healey and three other NYPD officers were on patrol on Jamaica Avenue in October 2014 when they stopped to let a freelance photographer take their photo. As the officers posed for the photo, a man named Zale Thompson charged them with an 18-inch hatchet, gashing Healey in the head and wounding Healey's partner, Joseph Meeker, in the arm.

Two other officers shot and killed Thompson on the street, and authorities said he was still holding the hatchet when he was pronounced dead.

The attack -- and the shooting -- happened in less than 10 seconds.

The ax shattered Healey's skull, and the rookie officer needed numerous surgeries during his recovery. He told NBC 4 New York in an exclusive interview last May that he didn't think it was possible to get hit that hard and survive.

“You know, one second you’re taking a picture and the next, you know, I’m staring at my skull on the floor in a puddle of blood," Healey said. "I had no idea why it happened.”

Meeker jumped over to try to contain Healey's bleeding. 

"I said, 'I am going to die. I am going to die,'" Healey recalled. "He said, 'No you are not.' He kept talking to me and kept me calm ... as calm as someone can be in that situation."

Healey sustained a traumatic brain injury and lost 40 percent of his vision in the attack; he said he thought at one point he was paralyzed. 

Healey told NBC 4 New York in May that he hoped to be back on the job when he was able. He said dealing with "lone wolf terrorists" like Thompson has become part of the job as an NYPD officer.

"It's sad, but it's the world we live in right now," Healey said.

Healey and his three partners targeted in the attack were honored as cops of the year in May

After the attack, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Thompson was a "self-radicalized" individual "self-directed in his activities."

FBI Director Jim Comey referenced the attack during a visit to NYPD headquarters Wednesday, reiterating that it was a terror attack. 

Investigators said Thompson became radicalized by watching terror videos -- like of beheadings -- online. 

<![CDATA[Man in Suit Sought After Armored Car Heist Shootout in NYC]]> Tue, 15 Dec 2015 19:56:19 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Armored-Car-Robbery-1215.jpg

Authorities are looking for a man in a suit who fled with bags of cash after a shootout during an armored car heist in the Bronx Tuesday, a law enforcement source says a preliminary investigation shows.

The source says an armored car guard was loading about $78,000 into the vehicle on Westchester Avenue in Soundview around 11 a.m. when the man in the suit walked up, pulled out a gun and demanded money. Another guard was in the car.

A shootout ensued, the source says, but no one was hit.

As the guards, still firing, drew back for cover, the man in the suit grabbed bags of cash and ran off. A block away, he jumped into a red Honda and the vehicle sped away, the source says.

Jocelyn Sandoval was inside a nearby check cashing business when she heard gunfire erupt. She said she and other terrified customers hit the floor. 

"We thought they were going to come inside," Sandoval said. "I'm still shaking." 

The investigation is ongoing.

<![CDATA[NJ ISIS Supporter Says Cell Talked About Attacking Times Sq.]]> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 18:55:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Alaa-Saadeh-nj-terror-plot+copy.jpg

A New Jersey ISIS supporter pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring with others to help ISIS, admitting that members of his terror cell discussed attacking Times Square and 1 World Trade Center with “homemade bombs.”

Nader Saadeh, 20, said his brother and others shared diagrams of how to build bombs as part of their meetings earlier this year in New Jersey and on Staten Island.

“Did they discuss the following possible targets for the bombing attack: 1 World Trade Center … Times Square … Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology?” Judge Sarah Wigenton asked during the hearing.

“Yes,” Saadeh said.

Saadeh was part of a group of six homegrown ISIS supporters arrested by the FBI this summer in New York and New Jersey before they could acquire any weapons. Several of the suspects had said their first goal was to travel overseas to join with ISIS fighters.

Thursday’s plea hearing was the first time prosecutors detailed some of the specific targets in the New York area that were being scouted for an attack.

In September, Samuel Topaz also pleaded guilty. His lawyer at that time said the group had discussed buying guns and trying to travel to Washington D.C. to try to shoot tourists taking pictures outside the White House.

Vaughn Aeronautical College near LaGuardia Airport was also talked about as a possible target, apparently because accused co-conspirator Munther Omar Saleh was a one-time student there.

The FBI said all of the the suspects watched ISIS videos. Before his capture, Saadeh did fly overseas to try to join with ISIS fighters in Syria. He tried to travel through Turkey to join the group.

When Wigenton asked Saadeh if he was aware ISIS had been designated a terror organization, Saadeh said, "Yes." He also said he understood any attack would be carried out in the group's name.

Saadeh faces about 15 years when he is sentenced in March. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy Christine Cornell]]>