<![CDATA[NBC New York - Local News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Thu, 05 Mar 2015 03:21:40 -0500 Thu, 05 Mar 2015 03:21:40 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Family Court Exploited in Immigration Cases, Insiders Charge]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:07:27 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/russo+family+court+new.jpg

A federal law intended to protect abused child victims of sex trafficking is being exploited as a shortcut to legal immigration status, Queens Family Court insiders charge.

Court insiders tell the I-Team that over the last year, hundreds of young men from the same part of India are all telling similar stories in order to get special access to green cards. Judges say they have no way of verifying their tales.

“In my opinion, the process is faulty,” said Queens Family Court Judge John Hunt.

Hunt tells the I-Team it is virtually impossible to verify the facts needed to know if these young men actually qualify. But since there's no proof they don't qualify, they move through the system.

In recent months, the I-Team has interviewed judges, clerks, lawyers and even some who work as Punjabi translators in these cases. They tell the I-Team they fear these undocumented young men are illegally crossing the U.S. border with the knowledge that they can head to family court for help getting special immigration status. It’s a little known route they’ve learned to navigate with the help of lawyers and criminal human smugglers who sources tell the I-Team are profiting.

At Queens Family Court last month, the I-Team found Amandeep Singh -- a common name both in India and in the courthouse.

According to court sources, he is at least the 14th Amandeep Singh from the Punjab state of India to seek immigration help in Queens Family Court -- a place better known for custody and child support cases. Singh tells a judge he was abused by his parents, starved and beaten with sticks. Although this may be completely true, judges say they have no investigative recourse.

After one hour in court, Singh, who is undocumented and was smuggled across the border, was well on his way to getting a green card, permanent legal status and the right to work in the U.S.

Singh's lawyer, Merrill Clark tells the I-Team some of his clients think this pathway is too good to be true when they first learn about it. Clark says that's because it is.

"It’s an amazing thing," Clark said. "It’s a big exception in immigration.”

Under the federal William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act, initially enacted in 1990 and reauthorized in 2008, all Singh had to do to get a judge to sign off on the guardianship was tell him he was younger than 21, undocumented, unmarried, abandoned or abused by one parent and that he'd be better off staying in the U.S.

“It’s a great law," Clark said. "And the big thing about this is that no one seems to know about this. It’s a big secret."

The secret seems to have gotten out in the populous Sikh community of Queens. The borough's family court is suddenly swamped with cases that insiders say are strikingly similar -- hundreds of young Punjabi men with stories of months-long journeys from India across the Mexican border in the hands of paid smugglers.

They arrive in court in a hurry and tell a judge how they were abused by a parent. There’s time pressure: many say they’re 20 years old, and the immigration help they’re seeking expires once they turn 21.

This time pressure creates what some judges call “a birthday emergency” that taxes the court and puts other cases on the back burner.

“You got people jumping in here wanting immediate results in their case," said Hunt. "So the family court has to hurry itself and it already has a lot of cases."

Family court sources tell the I-Team they’re suspicious about the similar way these cases begin -- often with an older man from the neighborhood petitioning to become the young man’s guardian. Some guardians will say they are “an uncle” or even just “an acquaintance” the young man met at the Gurdwara, the local Sikh temple.They testify they want to house the young man and take full financial responsibility for him.

The number of guardianship cases in Queens has gone up 75 percent last year. In 2013, court saw 503 guardianship cases, and then in 2014, the number jumped to 882. 

Family court insiders tell the I-Team that they suspect many of the guardians are merely playing the role of hospitable caretakers in court to help the young men get access to a judge so they can tell their story of abuse or abandonment and get on that fast track to a green card.

Clark says their cases are strong.

“I think what you are trying to imply is that they’re gaming the system," Clark said. "And I stand by my client’s facts that they have enough evidence.

“I have not seen fraud, but I’m sure there is,” added Clark. He told the I-Team the desire for student loans is driving most of the applications for special immigrant status.

Indrajit Saluja, publisher of the Indian Panorama newspaper, disagrees.

“It’s all nonsense," he said. "The simple truth is they want to come and make money here.”

Saluja tells the I-Team the Punjabi presence in Queens Family Court cries out for an investigation. He says he has interviewed some of the guardians for his newspaper and they told him they were paid thousands of dollars to appear in court.

“It’s a business," Saluja said. "The people who are smuggling these young people, they find guardians here and they pay them.”

One of Saluja’s sources told him in a recorded conversation he shared with the I-Team that the young men and their families pay big money to smuggling enterprises with connections all the way from India to Queens.

The goal is to deliver the young men over the Mexican border and onto this special immigration pathway, he says.

While the I-Team could not independently confirm a claim by Saluja’s source that he was paid illegally to play the role of guardian, the I-Team did verify the man's identity and that he had gone to court to become a guardian four separate times since 2011. Court employees call that frequency “fishy.”

In addition to his newspaper work, Saluja also has experience working as a Punjabi interpreter in Queens Family Court, so he has seen these cases up close.

“It’s a S-C-A-M – scam! Big scam!” said Saluja. "Every single day the judge hears the same thing: 'My father beats me with a belt. My father punches me.' What kind of image are we creating for Punjabi Parents? That hurts me."

The I-Team spent a lot of time in Queens Family Court in recent months looking into many different cases. In one particular case, the I-Team heard a lawyer in the public waiting room prepping a young man and his guardian before seeing the judge. The lawyer clearly coached them on responses.

“Did your mom OK this guardianship?" the lawyer asked.

“Yes,” said the young man.

“No!” said the lawyer, correcting him.“You are not supposed to have spoken to your mother.”

The lawyer asked the guardian If he had been providing basic expenses. When the guardian said “no” the lawyer corrected him again. “Yes you have," the lawyer said. "Say you have been.”

During hearings inside the courtroom, the I-Team listened as judges seemed frustrated trying to get straight answers from the young men about their ages, dates of birth, when they arrived and how they were abused.

Some young men tell stories of being in debt to their smugglers. And some of the testimony the I-Team heard raises the question of why a parent who starved and beat his or her son with a stick would also mortgage the family home to pay smugglers $80,000 or $100,000 for their journey to a better life.

Judges tell the I-Team their hands are tied.

Hunt said he had questions about a case before him last year.

“He was very, very unclear on details," Hunt said of the young man. "I had questions about the account the young man gave -- whether or not it was true."

In his ruling, Hunt wrote the judges have little leeway to investigate or reject the findings, saying the court can do little more than act as a “rubber stamp” based on self serving evidence.”

“There is a community of people who may have the insight more so than others," Hunt said. "And they’re merely taking advantage of what the law allows.”

Congressman Peter King, a Long Island Republican, says this is not what Congress had in mind when it passed the law creating special immigrant juvenile status.

“It’s a total abuse of the law and it’s a scam,” King said, explaining that the intent of the law was to protect child victims of sex trafficking or to help children who end up in desperate circumstances after being brought here illegally by their parents.

King says the law was in no way intended to be used by young adults who are smuggled here to take advantage of it.

Immigration lawyer RIcha Puri says the special pathway is desperately needed to protect undocumented young people on U.S. soil. She says while it would be highly unethical to fabricate stories of abuse or pay guardians to participate. She also says just because many of the Punjabi kids’ names and stories are similar does not make their stories false.

“The name Amandeep Singh is common like Jennifer Smith or John Smith," Puri said. "If they have a legitimate case, they have a legitimate case. Just because they’re gonna get a green card as the end result doesn’t mean it’s fake."

The Sikh community in Queens is not the only community where the I-Team saw an increase in young people applying for this special status. Long Island Family Courts have also seen a recent surge in these types of cases from Central America, though not nearly to the same degree.

The number of guardianship cases in Queens jumped 75 percent last year compared with the year before.

Insiders say the cases add costs and stress to a court that is already understaffed and overburdened; the cases require interpreters, court-appointed lawyers for the young men and home visits by child welfare .

“I would imagine that the federal government has better investigative tools than a humble family court judge sitting in a courtroom without any,” said Hunt.

The Department of Homeland Security tells the I-Team it rejected only 3 percent of the 1,400 applications for special immigrant status from New York.

Federal immigration officials say because of the way the system is set up, they have to rely on the findings of the family court and have no jurisdiction over how thoroughly the judges can evaluate these cases.They also told the I-Team they could not provide a breakdown of applications for special status by country of origin.

In several cases where judges have rejected the findings, they’ve been overruled on appeal.

Hunt says he sat down with the I-Team because he feels New Yorkers deserve to know about this pipeline through their courts. He says he’s afraid it could be encouraging more young men like Singh to be smuggled here.

Attorneys with the Legal Aid Society say if this legal pathway to permanent residency is eliminated, it would be tragic for the many young people who legitimately need it.  

<![CDATA[Upscale Shop Burglar Breaks in With Garbage Can: NYPD]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 00:34:27 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/luxury+shop+burglar+garbage+can.jpg

Police are searching for a thief targeting high-end stores in Manhattan who breaks in by throwing garbage cans through the window. 

In one surveillance photo from January, the burglar -- unmasked and apparently not too concerned about being recognized -- is seen boldly filling his arms with high-end pocketbooks from a Soho store.

Police said that was the first of eight times over the last two months he broken open a store's window with a city garbage can to gain entrance. He strikes overnight or early in the morning.

On Tuesday, he struck a Salvatore Ferragamo store on Fifth Avenue, making off with handbags. Earlier that morning, he had hit a Prada store on Madison Avenue.

So far, he's struck stores from Lower Manhattan to the Upper East Side.

Strangely, despite the immense effort to lift and throw one of the heavy metal garbage cans it's believed he uses, half the time the alleged thief leaves empty-handed. 

Police say the suspect has already left the store by the time security responds to the store alarms. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. 

<![CDATA[Teen Waffles on Plea Deal in Crash That Killed Girl, 4]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 00:33:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/215*120/ariel+russo+franklin+reyes+march+4.JPG

The unlicensed teen driver accused of striking and killing a 4-year-old while fleeing police sat nearly silent in court Wednesday when asked whether he would accept a plea deal in the crash before he was ultimately given another day to make his decision. 

Franklin Reyes, 18, had already been given 45 days to decide whether or not to accept the deal, which would send him to prison for 3 to 9 years and also cover guilty pleas for three additional charges he's facing, including dragging a police officer during a separate traffic stop. 

But Reyes went back and forth with no clear answer in court. The parents of Ariel Russo, the girl killed in the Upper West Side crash two years ago, said they would return the next day.

"If going to trial means more jail time for him, I have no problem being here every day," said Alan Russo, Ariel's father. "Three to nine? Nothing's ever going to be enough." 

The girl's mother said, "I thought we were going to know for sure today what was going to happen. We still don't know. Like my husband said, we'll keep coming every day if we have to until we get justice."

Police said Reyes was unlicensed when he took his father's car for a joy ride on the morning of June 4, 2013. When they tried to pull him over, Reyes took off, lost control and jumped the curb, slamming into Ariel and her grandmother. He was arrested and charged with manslaughter. 

Since the crash, the teen was arrested twice more, most recently in the September 2014 traffic stop, In July 2014, he was arrested on a petit larceny charge along with his father for allegedly burglarizing the apartment of a dead resident in Chelsea. 

Reyes' mother defended Wednesday and said she believes he is not guilty of the other charges. She said she doesn't know what he will decide to do. 

Reyes will either plead guilty to the crimes for which has committed and be sentenced 3 to 9 years, or plead not guilty and go to trial on each of the four cases separately, in which case the sentence would be significantly greater. 

<![CDATA[WATCH: Flames Flare Through Sidewalk Grate in Manhattan]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:03:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chelsea+sidewalk+fire+3.jpg

A sidewalk grate fire that brought firefighters and utility crews to the Chelsea section of Manhattan Wednesday evening flared up again in sparks and black smoke, captured by NBC 4 New York cameras.

Police had closed off the area near 23rd Street and 7th Avenue, and when flames shot up from underneath the sidewalk grate, began sending pedestrians and media back, warning of potential danger. 

The sizzle of electrified wires could be heard before bright orange flames briefly leapt up past the sidewalk and then thick black smoke started puffing out. 

The area had been roped off after an earlier fire. Fire trucks and Con Edison workers were already on the scene, and an FDNY ladder truck poured water on it from above.

The building at 225 W. 23rd St. was evacuated as a precaution so firefighters could read carbon monoxide levels. 

Con Ed and FDNY have been busy responding to hundreds of manhole fires and explosions in recent weeks. The utility says they're common this time of year because the salt used to treat icy roads corrodes underground wiring when it seeps below the surface. 

<![CDATA[Beagle Puppy Rescued From Burning Apartment]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:06:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Duke-Dog-Rescued-Fire-St-Albans.jpg

A 1-year-old beagle mix is recovering at a New York City animal clinic after being rescued from a burning apartment in Queens, officials say.

The dog, named Duke, was taken to BluePearl Veterinary Partners after the fire at his home in St. Albans Tuesday, the clinic said.

The dog’s fur was matted with soot, but he wasn’t burned. Firefighters were initially not able to find the pup's owner, but later located the owner in the hospital.

“When we saw the dog, he was covered with soot and he was shaking,” said Det. Tara Cuccias. “It was clear that he was in distress.”

The NYPD took the dog over to BluePearl, where it is being treated for exposure to carbon monoxide. Veterinarians are using a special mask to pump oxygen into Duke’s lungs.

The pet charity Frankie’s Friends is paying for Duke’s care, which BluePearl estimates at about $6,000. Donations can be made at the group’s website.

<![CDATA[Residents Displaced by Edgewater Fire Want Belongings]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:01:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP578534071980_5.jpg


An agreement of sorts has finally been worked out to try to find and save personal belongings from a massive apartment complex fire in Edgewater, New Jersey in January.

More than 200 units of the AvalonBay complex were either destroyed by fire or demolition of the remaining structure.

Former resident Heather Jackson has led an online petition campaign to get as much access as possible to the debris when removal begins Friday. But she said AvalonBay executives have made it clear there will be no access, and limited opportunity to save anything.

"If it were their house that burned down, they would probably want to be involved in that process," Jackson said. 

But the company wrote to residents, "We believe that, after taking into account exposure to fire, water and weather, only a small portion of the original contents will ultimately be salvaged for reclaim."

Still, company executives met Wednesday afternoon with Mayor Michael McPartland and Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco to iron out the last details of what can and will be saved.  

There will be cameras to take video of the removal work as a security measure, but to the dismay of former residents, the definition of what is a "personal" item that will be saved will be up to the contractor.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-NYC Councilman Sentenced in Mayoral Ballot Bribery]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:26:19 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP553539848504.jpg

A former New York City councilman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his part in a scheme to help a Democratic state senator run for mayor as a Republican.

A federal judge sentenced Daniel Halloran, a Queens Republican, for bribery and fraud.

Halloran was found guilty last summer of helping state Sen. Malcolm Smith bribe city Republican leaders for approval to seek the GOP line for mayor in 2013.

He was also convicted of taking payoffs from what he thought were developers who wanted him to funnel city money to them. The men were actually working for the FBI.

Halloran admitted taking money but said it was legitimate, for work as a political operative.

Smith was convicted last month and is to be sentenced in July.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Unclaimed $1M Lottery Ticket in NYC About to Expire]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:18:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lafile-mega-millions-lottery-tickets-megamillions-lotto.jpg

The New York State Lottery says an unclaimed $1 million-winning Mega Millions ticket sold at a New York City gas station is about to expire. 

The winning second-prize ticket for the March 18, 2014 Mega Millions drawing was sold at Arnold's Service Station at 1868 Linden Blvd. in Brooklyn, lottery officials say.

Prizes can be claimed up to a year after the drawing, meaning the winner has until March 18, 2015 to collect the prize. 

The winning ticket matched five of the six numbers from the Mega Millions drawing: 11, 19, 24, 33, 51, missing the Powerball number 7. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PATH Train Stabbing Suspect Arrested: Police]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:57:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/michael+stradford.jpg

The man who allegedly stabbed a passenger on board a PATH train in Manhattan Tuesday was arrested Wednesday after Port Authority police officers spotted him at Newark Penn Station, authorities say.

The officers on patrol had been briefed on the suspect, who had past encounters with police and was issued a summons in the past for theft of services from NJ Transit, according to Port Authority police. 

The suspect, identified as 43-year-old Michael Stradford of Paterson, New Jersey, was arrested without incident on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and assault. 

He was wearing the same outfit he'd worn during the alleged assault on the train between the 23rd and 33rd street stations, police said. 

It's not clear if Stradford knew the victim or what led to the stabbing. He ran off the train and fled the 33rd Street station after the assault.

Attorney information wasn't immediately available. 

<![CDATA[Storm Team 4]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 12:04:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/StormTeam4_1B.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Crime and Courts]]> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 10:40:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gavel.jpg

Photo Credit: Martin Poole /Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing on Long Island]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 22:57:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000006322602_1200x675_408482883843.jpg A helicopter makes an emergency landing, apparently weather-related, on Browns Road in Sayville on Long Island Wednesday evening. Neither the pilot nor the passenger was hurt. The road is not heavily populated, authorites say. ]]> <![CDATA[Man Faked Facebook Acct. for Teen Sex Photos: Pros.]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:58:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/wares.jpg

A New York man has been accused of using a fake Facebook account to coerce a teenage girl into sending him nude images of herself and of traveling to New Jersey to have sex with another girl.

Warwick resident Clifford Wares is charged with producing child pornography and interstate travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct. He's in jail and can't be reached for comment. Authorities say he hasn't hired an attorney.

Prosecutors say Wares communicated online with a 13-year-old New Jersey girl for three months in 2011. They say he used the fake Facebook account to pretend to be a child she knew and made her send photos and videos of herself engaging in sex acts.

Prosecutors say Wares met a 14-year-old girl online that year and drove to New Jersey and had sex with her.

<![CDATA[The Death of Eric Garner]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:48:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/eric+garner+death+inset.jpg

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[FDNY Firefighter Who Donated Bone Marrow Meets Recipient For First Time]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:13:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fdny+bone+marrow+donor.jpg A Brooklyn firefighter finally meets the recipient of his life-saving bone marrow, a veteran U.S. Marine Sergeant who saw combat in Iraq. Roseanne Colletti reports.]]> <![CDATA[Student Hit With Gun, Robbed Leaving College in Broad Daylight: Cops]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:26:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nassau+county+police+car1.jpg

Robbers hit a 20-year-student in the head with the butt of a handgun as he left Nassau Community College Tuesday afternoon, and stole his watch, cellphone and gold chain before fleeing in a Ford Mustang, authorities say.

The male victim was leaving North Hall around 4:15 p.m. when the two suspects approached him. The victim turned to walk east on Miller Avenue and one of the suspects hit him from behind with the gun, authorities said.

The robbers took his belongings and drove off in an older model gray Ford Mustang, police said.

Police said the victim knew one of his attackers by the alleged attacker's street name, but authorities did not release that name. They say the victim may have been targeted.

There have been eight robberies at the Nassau Community College campus since 2012, including the one this week, authorities said. The two-year college is part of the SUNY network.

"The Public Safety Department of NCC is cooperating fully with the investigation and asks members of the campus community to report any suspicious activity immediately to the Department of Public Safety," Joseph Muscarella, vice president for facilities management at the college, said in a statement.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Man Allegedly Stole Deaf School Worker's ID to Buy $8K in iPhones]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:12:17 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/grand+larceny+suspect+deaf.jpg

Authorities are looking for a man who allegedly used the identity and credit card information of an employee at the Lexington School for the Deaf, the state's largest school for the deaf, to buy nearly $8,000 worth of the iPhone 5S online.

Police say the suspect placed the order three days before Christmas and went to a FedEx store to pick up the items a day later. He used the photo identification of the Queens school employee, authorities said.

Police released surveillance video of the suspect at the FedEx store (above).

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

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[NYPD Detective Killed in Wrong-Way Crash Mourned at Funeral]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:34:07 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd+detective+killed+wrong+way+crash.jpg

Hundreds of family members, friends and police department colleagues gathered Wednesday to remember the 46-year-old detective killed when a wrong-way driver smashed head-on into his vehicle as he drove to work last week.

At Paul Duncan's funeral in Manhattan, NYPD officers stood shoulder to shoulder, honoring the well-respected and much-loved detective killed on the Sprain Brook Parkway near Greenburgh Friday.

Duncan, who lived in Westchester County, had gotten an early start to his job at the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau in Queens that morning, his wife said. Duncan died after police say Efren Moreano, of Yonkers, drove his 2013 Honda Civic the wrong way on the highway near Greenburgh and hit him.

Duncan was a 17-year veteran with the NYPD who had plans to retire later this year.

"He was a very remarkable man who loved his family that loved NYPD," former co-worker Latifa Reed said outside Duncan's funeral. "He had a great heart, would go out of his way for anybody."

A family friend said the service was somber. But Diana Bromfield, another family friend, said it was also celebratory.

"They're celebrating his life in addition to mourning," Bromfield said. "So in it's really a sad time for the family, but the best thing to do is celebrate his life and his contributions to the community."

Moreano, 20, is recovering from injuries he sustained in the crash, and he is expected to face charges once he is well enough to be taken into custody, authorities say. Authorities have not specified what charges he may face.

The 4 a.m. crash backed up traffic on the highway for hours. Duncan's wife was among the drivers snarled in the traffic as she tried to take their 13-year-old daughter to school in New York City. She told NBC 4 New York it took her two hours to get to the city that morning and didn't know the traffic was from the wreck that killed her husband of more than 20 years.

Duncan has been described as an advocate for higher education. In lieu of flowers, his family asks mourns make donations to the United Negro College Fund in Duncan's memory.  

<![CDATA[What You Didn't Know About Daylight Saving Time]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:50:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/daylight-saving-time.jpg

It's almost time to spring forward.

When you go to bed on Saturday night, or early Sunday, don’t forget to turn your clock forward an hour - the change takes place at 2 a.m. on March 8.

Yes, that means you'll lose an hour of your weekend shut-eye. But the change will also result in some extra sunlight into the evening as spring approaches.

In observance of daylight saving time, here are some things you may not have known about this event.

It Has an Impact on Your Health

Switching in and out of daylight saving can disturb people’s sleeping routines, making them more restless at night, according to U.S. News and World Report. However, morning people tend to be less bothered by the changes. Studies have shown that during the first week of daylight saving time, a spike in heart attacks takes place. Some experts suggest, according to the report, that the loss of an hour’s rest may make people more vulnerable to an attack. Nonetheless, when people get an extra hour in the fall, the incidents of heart attacks are less than usual.

Don't Trust Your Phone

Don't depend on your phone to automatically switch the time. In 2013, iPhone customers experienced a daylight saving time bug. Some users saw two different times displayed on their calendar app, which was apparently caused by a change that moved daylight saving time back a week in 2007. In 2010, iPhones had another problem in which the phones did not correctly change alarm schedules when daylight saving time ended, causing some European iPhone users to wake up late for work, while Australians were woken up early.

Not Everyone is a Fan of DST

Hawaii and Arizona, along with U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands did not turn forward their clocks last spring. Utah wants to get rid of the time switch, too. More than 40 percent of respondents to a November 2014 Rasmussen Reports poll said they saw no need for the clock changes.

It Has a Founding Father History

The notion of daylight saving time was introduced by none other than one our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, according to NASA. The idea was to take advantage of daylight hours by moving the clock backward in the fall and forward in the spring.

Presidents Love Daylight Saving Time Laws

Daylight saving time has been used throughout most of the U.S., Canada and Europe since World War I, but it wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to implement a law stating that daylight saving time would begin the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October every year. The law allows some states to opt-out.

In 2005, President George W. Bush extended the daylight saving time for an extra four weeks through an energy bill policy. Since 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[5 Hurt in Fire at Building on Columbia University Campus: FDNY]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:02:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Fire-NYC-Barnard-College.jpg

Five people, including four firefighters, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after a blaze broke out on the first floor of a Manhattan building that houses students at Columbia University’s Barnard College, fire officials say.

The blaze broke out in a Chinese Restaurant on the first floor of the dormitory on West 116th Street and Broadway in Morningside Heights at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, according to the FDNY.

The blaze was brought under control in a little more than an hour.

The firefighters and civilian who were injured were all taken to St. Luke’s Hospital. It’s not clear if the civilian who was injured is a student.

The cause of the blaze is not clear.

Students who were displaced from their dorm rooms were allowed back within a few hours.

<![CDATA[Teacher Fined $1,500 for Asking Preschooler's Mom to Use Food Stamp Card]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:21:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/food-stamp-test-pa.jpg

A Brooklyn teacher will pay a $1,500 fine for asking the mother of a 4-year-old student to loan her a food stamp card, officials say. 

The teacher, who worked at P.S. 308 in Brooklyn, admitted to asking the mother if she could use $100 on the SNAP card because she had spent too much money on her newborn grandson, according to the Department of Education's Conflicts of Interest Board.

She put a note in the student's backpack addressed to the student's mother, the board said. In the note, the teacher explained why she wanted to use the card, said she needed "about $100 or less" and offered to pay the mother back in cash.

The mother did not respond to the note or give the teacher the card.

The teacher agreed to pay $1,500 fine to the Conflicts of Interest Board and to be placed on the DOE's Absent Teacher Reserve, according to the COIB disposition.

NYC's conflicts of interest law prohibits public servants from using or attempting to use their city positions to obtain personal benefit.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Surveillance Footage Released in Fatal Long Island Shooting]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:54:19 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Nassau-Shooting-NY.jpg

Police have released surveillance footage of the suspect they believe gunned down a 43-year-old Long Island father outside his home earlier this year.

Nassau County police have released images showing the man suspected of killing Oscar Granados outside his home in Mineola on Jan. 11. The video shows the man walking through a driveway around the time of the killing. 

Granados had just returned home and was standing outside his front door when he was approached by the gunman, who fatally shot the 43-year-old after a brief struggle.

Police say that Granados was found lying on the ground outside the home when officers arrived and that he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Granados had emigrated from El Salvador and worked as a painter seven days a week to support his 2 children, his family said. A small memorial had been set up outside the home Monday morning.

Granados' family said they think robbery may have been the motive for the shooting. Police say the Granados had his cellphone, wallet and cash but that they aren't ruling out robbery as a motive.

Police said that Granados appears to have been targeted by the man who killed him.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.

<![CDATA[NYPD Auxiliary Cops Handcuff, Rob Deliveryman: Police]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:30:31 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/aux+cops+arrested.jpg

Two auxiliary police officers robbed a food deliveryman inside an East Harlem apartment building last week, handcuffing him as they stole his cash, wallet and iPhone, police say.

The 48-year-old deliveryman was bringing food to an apartment inside a building on East 102nd Street after midnight last Wednesday, Feb. 25 when he was met by two men who showed police shields and accompanied him into the elevator and to the 14th floor, according to the NYPD.

When the delivery worker went to the listed apartment, the resident said they never ordered any food, police said. The worker walked back to the elevator where the two men were waiting, and assaulted. 

The suspects allegedly forced the deliveryman out of the elevator, handcuffed him and took $180 in cash along with his wallet and iPhone, police said. 

The suspects then fled, leaving the deliveryman handcuffed in the stairwell. 

After an investigation, the NYPD determined the suspects were auxiliary officers James Kiernan, 22, of the Upper East Side, and Jordan Martinez, 22, of East Harlem.

"The police station is right down the block, how does this happen? That's crazy," said neighbor Russell Leary.

"The same people that's supposed to be protecting us at night, we're supposed to be walking down the street safe and they're out here robbing people," he said. 

They were arrested Friday on charges of robbery, burglary, unlawful imprisonment, criminal impersonation, assault and criminal mischief. It wasn't immediately clear if they had attorneys. 

Auxiliary officers are neighborhood volunteers in their local precincts, and are recruited, trained and equipped by the NYPD to provide extra "eyes and ears" for the police department.

-- Checkey Beckford contributed to this report. 

<![CDATA[Man Stabbed on PATH Train in Manhattan: Officials]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:37:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/path+train+cuts.jpg

A man was stabbed on board a PATH station as it departed the 23rd Street station, authorities say. 

Port Authority officials say a man stabbed the 38-year-old victim in the chest as the train was traveling between the 23rd and 33rd street stations on Sixth Avenue. 

The suspect fled once the train pulled into 33rd Street. 

It's not clear if the victim and the suspect knew each other. 

The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital and is expected to survive, officials said. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sayreville Gets New Coach After Hazing Scandal]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 04:19:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sayreville+high+school+football+team+coach1.jpg

The Sayreville, New Jersey, board of education has moved to put its troubled 2014 high school football season behind it Tuesday night by naming a new head football coach to replace George Najjar, who last week was demoted to teaching phys ed classes at an elementary school.

Christopher Beagan, currently the head coach at Monroe New Jersey High School for the past nine years, will be paid a salary of $82,553 a year as a phys ed and health teacher, a stipend of $12,051 as coach, and a stipend of $5,573 as strength and conditioning coach.

Superintendent Dr. Richard Labbe said at the meeting Tuesday the board has found "the absolute best candidate" out of 45 candidates to lead the Sayreville Bombers next season. 

Najjar lost his two decades-long job as head coach after a hazing and sexual assault scandal last fall abruptly ended the football season.

Seven students were arrested and faced juvenile charges for sexual acts against other players in the unsupervised locker room.

After Labbe announced earlier this year that he would allow the championship football program to resume next fall, he began an immediate search for a replacement for Najjar, who was first suspended before being reassigned to Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School.

<![CDATA[Man Found Hiding in JetBlue Cockpit at JFK]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:26:49 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/jetblue+generic1.jpg

A flight passenger was found hiding inside the cockpit of a JetBlue airplane that landed in New York from the Dominican Republic early Tuesday after everyone else had gotten off the plane, authorities say.

The JetBlue ground crew found the 26-year-old New Jersey man hiding in the cockpit after the flight landed just before 2 a.m., according to the Port Authority. He was sitting by the window in the cockpit. 

The man was a passenger who failed to exit the plane after it landed, according to JetBlue. 

While he was being taken off the plane, the man opened an alarm door but he never made it through or got away from the airline workers escorting him off, authorities said. 

He was taken to Jamaica Hospital for observation, then arrested and charged with trespassing. 

It wasn't clear how the man, who lives in Atlantic City, got into the cockpit unnoticed. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Signal Problems, Smoky Conditions Disrupt Subway Service: MTA]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:12:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/crowded+platform.jpg

System-wide signal problems and smoke conditions near one station caused extensive subway delays through Wednesday's morning rush, affecting nearly a dozen lines.

Service on the N and Q lines was suspended for a time between Queensboro Plaza and 57th Street-Seventh Avenue because of smoky conditions at the Lexington Avenue station, but it resumed by 11 a.m. It wasn't clear what caused the smoke condition, but it hampered travel all along the line.

Instagram and Twitter uses posted photos of crowded platforms from Brooklyn to Manhattan to Queens.

Meanwhile, signal problems caused significant disruptions on nearly a dozen other subway lines, including the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, F and D lines and the Times Square-Grand Central Terminal Shuttle.

The MTA says those trains resumed running with residual delays at about 10:30 a.m. 

Photo Credit: @ladycharlemagne/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested in 2013 Beating Death of Transgender Woman]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:48:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/islan+nettles+death.jpg

A 24-year-old man has been arrested in the 2013 beating of a transgender woman who was attacked by a group of men in Harlem and died several days later.

James Dixon, of Brooklyn, faces manslaughter and felony assault charges in the Aug. 17, 2013 attack on 21-year-old Islan Nettles, who died of blunt impact injuries to the head five days later.

Nettles, who also went by Vaughn Nettles and Alon Nettles, was out that night with a friend, another transgender woman, when they met a group of men near 148th Street and Eighth Avenue, according to police.

The two groups began arguing, apparently after the men realized the victims were transgender, police said. One man made anti-gay remarks and a physical altercation ensued.

The victim was punched in the face and lapsed into a coma, police said. She spent several days on a ventilator before she died.

Hundreds rallied to denounce hate crimes against the gay and transgender communities after her death.

Nettles' mother, Delores Nettles, thanked supporters out one of the Harlem rallies and said, "I'm going to make sure this doesn't happen again."

It wasn't immediately clear if Dixon had an attorney.  

<![CDATA[Man Charged After Truck Sinks in River With Dog Inside]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:33:31 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mayer+mug+inset.jpg

The man whose pickup truck cracked through the ice on a frozen New Jersey river and sank with his 2-year-old dog in the backseat, prompting an intensive multi-agency search, has been charged with criminal mischief and careless driving, New Jersey State Police said Tuesday.

Andrew Mayer, 27, is expected to face animal cruelty charges pending the outcome of an SPCA investigation, police said. 

Mayer allegedly drove out onto the frozen Toms River around 12:15 a.m. Sunday and started doing donuts. The truck's headlights and brake lights were visible from the shoreline at first; then they disappeared. The man's dog, Rollo, was trapped in the backseat of the truck when it went under.

By the time responders found the submerged vehicle, 10 hours later and 100 feet from shore, the young boxer mix was dead. A friend of Mayer who asked that NBC 4 New York not use his name said Mayer tried to get the dog out of the backseat before the truck crashed through the ice, but the dog was terrified -- and the vehicle sank so quickly.

"He would do anything for that dog, anything," the friend said. "That was his baby."

Mayer, who rents the basement of a home with his friend Daniel Joly, declined to talk to NBC 4 New York Monday. Police said Joly, who was a passenger in the truck at one point, told investigators he argued with Mayer about driving on the frozen river and got out of the vehicle.

Area police and firefighters searched for the truck and were joined by a helicopters dispatched by the Coast Guard and the New Jersey State Police. The multi-agency search cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars," a police source estimated.

Information on an attorney for Mayer wasn't immediately available.  

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard/Handout/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Window Washer Falls, Dies in Manhattan: NYPD]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:23:11 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tribeca+window+washer+fall.jpg

A window washer who fell while cleaning a building in Tribeca has died at the hospital, police say.

The man fell from the building at Greenwich and Jay streets Tuesday afternoon and taken to NY Hospital Downtown, where he was pronounced dead. 

It's not clear how the window washer fell. 

<![CDATA[Plague-Carrying Flea Found on NYC Rats: Study]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:41:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/101214rats.jpg

The type of flea that spread the bubonic plague across Europe in the 1300s, killing millions of people, lives in NYC, according to a study published in a medical journal.

Cornell University researchers trapped 133 rats in five different locations across the city. They then euthanized the rodents and killed the insects living on them using a vapor. Combing through the rats’ fur, they found 6.500 parasites, including the tropical rat mite, the spine rat louse, the spiny rat mite and the now infamous oriental rat flea, according to the Journal of Medical Entomology study.

Among those parasites was the oriental rat flea, which is believed to have caused the Black Death pandemic in Europe centuries ago, according to the researchers.

New Yorkers can breathe a sigh of relief, however. The report said rats in the city no longer carry the disease. But some rats do carry Bartonella, a bacterium that causes fever and flu-like symptoms. 

Diseases are spread from rats to humans via flea bites, which involve the flea regurgitating its gut matter into a human's bloodstream.

The parasite survey shows that more research is needed to determine the danger posed by rats, Matthew Frye, the study’s co-author, told The Verge.

Although such parasite surveys have been possible since the early 1900s, none have been conducted in the city since the 1920s.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Donation Tent Provides Relief for Sandy Victims Still Struggling After Storm]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:30:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sandy+survivor+tent1.jpg While the weather has dealt a crippling blow to progress throughout Staten Island neighborhoods ravaged by Sandy, there is an oasis of hope at Midland Beach. To learn more about the Half Table Man organization or to donate, click here. Marc Santia reports.]]> <![CDATA[Crashes, Spinouts on Icy, Snow-Covered Roads]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 23:23:07 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/march+3+icy+crash+1.jpg

The first of several rounds of freezing, wet weather expected to nag the tri-state area over the next few days, swirled into the region Tuesday afternoon, first pelting the area with snow before quickly changing over to icy rain and then plain rain that could continue to make travel treacherous across the region into Wednesday morning. 

The quick-moving storm left behind up to 5 inches of snow north of the city that made roads slippery. The city and areas south saw 1 to 3 inches. r

The icy, slushy roads created a mess on highways and local roads, particularly on Long Island where crashes and spinouts were reported across Suffolk. Drivers in Westchester got caught in bumper-to-bumper parking lot conditions on roads like the I-287 and Westchester Avenue, and commuters in New Jersey inched along slushy, accident-filled roads like Route 80. Back roads were also iced over. 

The accumulation comes on top of lingering snow and slush from Sunday's storm that froze amid plummeting temperatures Tuesday.

Wednesday will see cloudy skies and light rain showers, with a slight warmup of temps into the mid-40s. Alternate side parking is suspended in New York City.

It'll get right back to the cold Thursday, with a high of about 28 degrees, and more snow will arrive, potentially mucking up commutes along the coasts of New York and New Jersey. Snow total forecasts are still uncertain: the RPM model shows very light snow for the city and then about 4 to 8 inches to the south; the American GFS model shows heavier snowfall, around 4 to 8 inches in and around the city, and up to 9 inches to the south. 

Friday will see a high of up to 30 degrees but will be sunny, and then the weekend should be clear with temperatures in the low to mid 40s. 

Less than a week into March, New York City has already seen 4.8 inches of snow, well above the average 3.6 inches that typically fall in Central Park for the month.

The snowiest March in the city was in 1896, when 30.5 inches fell in Central Park. The fifth snowiest March was in 1960, when 18.5 inches fell. Central Park would need to see another 14 inches this month to get March 2015 into the record books for the top five snowiest months of March, and with more snow on the way, the possibility is not out of the question, according to Storm Team 4.

The city is already substantially ahead of its average snow totals for the winter season. On average, Storm Team 4 says 21.5 inches of snow fall in Central Park over the course of the winter. This winter, 33.2 inches have fallen.  

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York
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<![CDATA[Knicks Handed Worst Loss of Season by Kings, 124-86]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:25:04 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP194070890180%281%29.jpg

Rudy Gay scored 25 points, DeMarcus Cousins had 22 and Ben McLemore finished with 20 and the Sacramento Kings handed the New York Knicks their worst loss of the season Tuesday, 124-86.

The Kings (21-37) scored the first four points and never trailed. They built the lead to 16 after the first quarter and to as many as 44 in in the second half before winning by 38.

Alexey Shved led the Knicks with 15 points. Jason Smith and Shane Larkin had 13 each.

After shooting only 35 percent (7-for-20) from the field in the first quarter, the Knicks (12-47) were even worse in the second, going 6-for-24 for 25 percent.

Their previous worst loss was by 28 points to Charlotte at home, 110-82, on Jan. 10.

Sacramento started the second half on a 27-9 run and opened up a game-high 44-point lead, 92-48, on Gay's 3-pointer with 6:01 left in the third.

The Knicks responded by scoring the next 12 points and eventually got as close as 28 points, 100-72, on Smith's jumper early in fourth. That was as close as they came.

Gay, Cousins and McLemore all sat out the fourth quarter.

Cousins finished with a game-high 10 rebounds, while also going 11-for-11 from the foul line.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points for the Kings. Nik Stauskas added 15 and Omar Casspi had 14.

Shved and Cole Aldrich each had seven rebounds for New York.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Map Breaks Down Rent Affordability by Neighborhood]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:18:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nyFrozenAerials-new-AP434501586867.jpg

New Yorkers are spending more and more of their paychecks on rent, with the city ranking far above most others in the U.S. when it comes to rent-to-income ratios, according to a new report.

Swelling rents, stagnant income growth and a limited number of rental units mean those living in the city will spend nearly 60 percent of their annual income on rent this year, a report by real estate website StreetEasy.com has found.

The city’s median asking rent is expected to reach $2,700 this year, but incomes can’t keep up — rent prices grew at almost twice the pace of income between 2000 and 2013, according to census data.

Rent affordability is often neighborhood specific, so StreetEasy.com analyzed affordability across the city’s five boroughs by measuring each neighborhood’s rent-to-income ratio, or how much of a household’s monthly income in that neighborhood goes to rent.

The lower an area’s rent-to-income ratio, the more affordable it's considered. So if a neighborhood’s rent-to-income ratio is 15 percent, that means people living there are spending 15 percent of their income on rent and the rest on living and savings. A rent-to-income ratio of 30 percent or lower is considered “affordable,” according to the report.

The rent load is worst in Brooklyn, where new renters can expect to spend 60 percent of their income on rent this year. The Bronx isn’t far behind at 52 percent, followed by Manhattan (48.8 percent), Queens (41.4 percent) and Staten Island (30.1 percent). StreetEasy created an interactive map that shows each neighborhood's rent-to-income ratio (below).

NYC has one of the most expensive rental markets in the country, and it’s no wonder. People flock to the city for its cultural amenities — but the rental vacancy is just 3.45 percent, meaning potential tenants have to fight each other for a place to live. This pushes up rents even higher, as landlords raise their asking prices.

The report found that the least affordable neighborhoods in the city are Manhattanville, with a rent-to-income ratio of 120.9 percent, Little Italy (109.7 percent) and Chinatown (107.2 percent).

Those findings don’t tell the whole story though, as high rents don’t necessarily equate to a high rent-to-income ratio. The study found that the highest rent-to-income ratios were often in gentrified neighborhoods, such as Harlem, Williamsburg and Bushwick, where the most cash-strapped residents face skyrocketing rental prices.

Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Brooklyn Teacher Accused of Attacking Student]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:47:04 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/teacher+assault+brooklyn.jpg

A New York City teacher has been pulled from the classroom after he allegedly assaulted a student, officials say.

Sakeem Nelbett, a teacher at Middle School for Marketing and Legal Studies in Brooklyn, is charged with assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child, according to the NYPD.

The details of the assault aren't clear, but the city Department of Education has pulled Nelbett from the classroom.

“This alleged behavior is reprehensible,” said DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye. “Mr. Nelbett has been removed from the classroom, and will remain far away from our students and schools."

Parent Thomas Garrett said his son had Nelbett as a teacher last year.

"I think Mr. Nelbett is a decent teacher," said Garrett. "I think this is a good school. I'm surprised something like this happened here." 

Attorney information for Nelbett wasn't immediately available. Nelbett's mother told NBC 4 New York her son does not have any history of violence. 

-- Rob Schmitt contributed to this report 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>