Police arrest suspect in Manhattan bank robbery spree



By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested 43-year-old homeless man Abdul Harley for robbery last Thursday after he allegedly attempted to rob five different banks earlier that day, in addition to five other robberies that police said that he has committed since November. The suspect had been seen on surveillance video wearing a blue painter’s jumpsuit while running away from the scene of robberies he allegedly committed in January.

Harley’s alleged spree last Thursday began at 9:24 a.m. inside a Bank of America at 800 Sixth Avenue. Police said that he walked into the bank and demanded money but when the teller refused, Harley fled empty handed. He was more successful after an alleged robbery from a Banco Popular at 345 Park Avenue South between East 25th and 26th Streets at 10:47 a.m.

Police said that after Harley demanded money, the teller complied and he fled with an undetermined amount of money.

Later that afternoon at 1:09 p.m., Harley allegedly attempted to rob a Chase Bank at 1221 Madison Avenue on the corner of East 88th Street but police said that when he demanded money from the teller, the teller walked away from the window and Harley fled empty handed. He then went to the HSBC Bank at 1340 Third Avenue, between East 76th and 77th Streets, and approached an empty teller window. Police said that he motioned to an employee to come over but the employee, who recognized Harley from surveillance photos that had been handed out by police, ignored him and Harley then fled the bank.

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A few others say they may also join race for Garodnick’s replacement

Jeff Mailman (Photo by Liron Amsellem)

Jeff Mailman (Photo by Liron Amsellem)

By Sabina Mollot

As Council Member Dan Garodnick continues to fund raise for higher office, possibly even in a state role, only one person so far, Stuyvesant Town resident Joshua Thompson has been running an active campaign to replace his soon to be vacated seat.

But that seat is still being eyed by at least a few others as well.

One very likely candidate is East Midtown resident Jeff Mailman. Mailman, for the past four years, has worked as legislative director to Queens Council Member Liz Crowley, a job that entails making sure bills are drafted properly and preparing for oversight hearings, as well as working on constituent issues.

If he were to be elected to the Council, the 33-year-old said a priority for him would be public safety, “especially my district, which includes Times Square. Ensuring the FDNY and police have adequate resources, looking at response times for medical emergencies.”

He also would like to see the precedent begun with Garodnick in the East Midtown area of development being tied to infrastructure improvements continued.

“In (City Council) District 4, the stations are overcrowded,” he said. “We’re waiting for the Second Avenue Subway. So any type of rezoning that leads to greater density… I certainly have an interest in making sure that’s very thoughtfully done.”

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Stuy Town resident running for Council

Joshua Thompson, who’s held government jobs in Newark, New Jersey and Bridgeport, Connecticut, is hoping to replace Dan Garodnick in the City Council. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Joshua Thompson, who’s held government jobs in Newark, New Jersey and Bridgeport, Connecticut, is hoping to replace Dan Garodnick in the City Council. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Council Member Dan Garodnick getting term-limited out, a Stuyvesant Town resident, Joshua Thompson, is hoping to succeed him, and has already gotten serious about amassing his war chest.

During an interview over coffee at the Coopertown Diner, which Thompson has come to think of as his second office, the Democratic candidate said his campaign has so far received $20,000. There’s also another $30,000 in pledged support.

Thompson, who’s 30 and from Newark, began his political career there under then-Mayor Cory Booker. Currently, he serves as executive director of external relations for the nonprofit New Leaders, which promotes leadership in education.

He moved to Stuy Town with his wife Julia, who founded the Bushwick location of charter school Achievement First, and the couple’s shih tzu-poodle mix pooch, Cody, in July of 2014. They’d also lived for a while on 85th Street in Manhattan and in Bridgeport, Connecticut when Thompson served as director of education for that city from 2012-2014.

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Garodnick not running for mayor

Council Member Dan Garodnick

Council Member Dan Garodnick

By Christian Brazil-Bautista

The list of possible contenders for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s seat just became a bit shorter. Council Member Dan Garodnick, whose name has been thrown around as a possible challenger for the position, denied that he was eyeing a run at the mayoral seat.

“No,” Garodnick said when asked at an event on Tuesday if he was going to run for mayor. The event was the B’nai B’rith luncheon, where he gave a presentation titled, “Midtown East Rezoning: What’s Next?”

Garodnick, a Democrat who is serving his third term as a council member, has remained vague about his future plans. Previously, he ran for comptroller, bowing out after Scott Stringer declared his candidacy. Stringer eventually defeated Eliot Spitzer for the position. In 2013, he conceded in his bid for the city council speaker seat, resulting in a unanimous vote for Melissa Mark-Viverito. Term limits prohibit him from seeking re-election next year.

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Gunman robs couple outside Gramercy Park

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A man and woman walking around Gramercy Park were mugged by a man who turned a gun on them before demanding they hand over cash and jewelry.

This was around at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, according to Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison, who shared news of the robbery in an email to neighbors on Tuesday.

The couple, who Harrison said do not live in Manhattan, had just left the nearby Pete’s Tavern after a date when they decided to take a walk around the park. After walking up Irving Place and almost making a full loop around the park, they came across a man who looked lost at the corner of East 21st Street and Gramercy Park West.

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Loan breathes life into Players

Money being invested into dining service, events

The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

While the historic Players Club on Gramercy Park has been struggling for the last few years with controversy over financial mismanagement, changes in administration and over $4 million in debt, the new administration has quietly been working on adjusting course to increase revenue and get programming back on track.

The club did not pay off the debt outright, but President Arthur Makar said that they were able to obtain an $8.5 million loan through a single lender and will be using the money to revitalize the club and increase revenue. The loan came from the Terrapin Lending Company, which issues loans to small businesses.

“We were in debt up to our ears,” Makar said. “Through (club treasurer Michael McCurdy’s) good work, we did something that everyone said was impossible to do: find financing to move us forward.”

Town & Village reported in 2014 that the club was considering selling off artwork to deal with some of the debt, including a valuable John Singer Sargent painting of actor Joseph Jefferson, but Makar said the club luckily did not have to resort to this tactic.

“We’re proud we ended up not having to consider selling the Sargent,” said Michael Barra, chair of the the managing committee and executive committee of the Board of Directors. “If the financing hadn’t come through, we would have been in dire straits but we were even able to lend the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They recently returned it so he’s back in the clubhouse where he’ll be for all time. The club has not and will not be selling any of our artwork. It’s not fiscally prudent.”

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Letters to the Editor: Feb. 4

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why Garodnick should aim higher

Re: Story, “Garodnick’s $1.M campaign war chest,” T&V, Jan. 21

Your page one article notes a Daily News anonymous source:

Hon. Dan Garodnick, our City Council Member, “may be looking towards the comptroller or attorney general seat if they open up.”

Page 50 of this week’s New York Observer, however, quotes comptroller Tom DiNapoli:

“The secret is that being comptroller is the best job in state government.

“I don’t want people to know that so they don’t come after my job.

“There’s still more work to do here,” he continues.

Accordingly, that job doesn’t seem to be opening up.

This begs two questions:

(i) Who, including the days of Tammany Hall, was ever elected directly to statewide office from the New York City council?

(ii) If Hon. Dan Garodnick wants to make a statewide name for himself, he should challenge Governor Cuomo. If I was his strategist, I’d say strive for the gold.

Dan was preempted from the city comptroller’s primary and, subsequently, had to concede from the speaker’s race. He’s not winning statewide office.

And remember, he balked when considering running a primary against Brad Hoylman because he wanted to be close to home. Therefore, his considering statewide options seems quite a shift from the geographic priorities he set for himself fewer than four years later. After all, he’d have to spend more time in Albany in statewide office than members of the legislature do.

So if I were part of his brain trust, I’d have him make a statewide name for himself by running a gubernatorial primary against Andrew Cuomo.

And if his strategists don’t realize that runners up in Gubernatorial primaries are memorable while runners up in AG and comptroller primaries are not, then they’re not worth their commissions.

Billy Sternberg, ST

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Police Watch: Bike ‘thieves’ busted, Assault after car accident

Police arrested 35-year-old Manuel Cruz and 39-year-old Carlos Rosario for petit larceny and possession of stolen property at the corner of Union Square East and East 15th Street last Friday at 6:16 p.m. Police said that Cruz and Rosario were seen attempting to sell a bicycle to a worker while in front of 206 Third Avenue. When they were unsuccessful, they allegedly started to case bicycles nearby. Police said that Cruz was then seen removing a bicycle from a scaffolding while Rosario acted as a lookout. Police said that they fled on stolen bikes and were ultimately stopped at East 15th Street and Union Square East. Cruz was also charged with possession of burglar’s tools.

Police arrested 32-year-old Leyland Papa for assault and possession of marijuana at the corner of West 28th Street and Broadway last Monday at 2:21 a.m. Police said that Papa hit another car while driving at the intersection and when the other driver got out of his car to confront Papa about it, he allegedly punched the driver in the face multiple times. Police said that the victim suffered multiple physical injuries, including a cut under his right eye, a contusion on his forehead, bleeding from his mouth and cuts on his hand. Papa was also in possession of a plastic bag with alleged marijuana that was in his front left pocket.

Police arrested 22-year-old Charlie Emener for grand larceny inside 109 East 16th Street last Monday at 5:49 p.m. The victim said that she is a social worker who was working with Emener and they were together in her office when she stepped out to speak with her supervisor. When she returned, she said that she saw Emener go into her purse and take her wallet, which contained her ID and debit card.

Police arrested 23-year-old Keith Owens for an unclassified violation of New York State laws at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street last Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. Police said that Owens was smoking a lit K2 cigarette in public view while inside Union Square Park, and was allegedly in possession of additional synthetic marijuana.

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Opinion: Memo to Hillary: No mud-slinging

By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Dear Hillary,

It’s your old friend from New York politics. Don’t be put off by my last name. Bernie Sanders is no relative of mine. And although I respect his candidacy and his social egalitarian views, I do not think that he would make a particularly good President. I also think that there is a risk that were he the Democratic Party nominee that some crazy person like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz could beat him. So my advice to you is sincere. I believe that you have the best chance of winning the Presidency of any Democratic candidate and holding back the darker impulses of some in the electorate. But this election is not a slam dunk, and you could lose. But if you employ the tactics of destruction you could win the battle but lose the war.

Right about now I suspect there is some panic setting in your campaign as the polls show you lagging behind Bernie in Iowa and then followed by New Hampshire. Over the summer you led in both states by over 20 points and now you trail. Uh-oh. But six months ago nobody knew Bernie Sanders and you were running virtually unopposed. So a tightening of the race was inevitable.

There are some around you who will want to respond to the Bernie surge with the typical negative campaign response. “Hit him hard” I am sure they are telling you. “Go after him with a vengeance” others are chiming in. This is the typical political response. And if you succumb to the temptation it will cost you dearly. So here is my advice: Stay on the high road!

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Veterinary hospital to open on 1st Ave.

The future home of Whole Health features an animal mural by street artist Vince. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The future home of Whole Health features an animal mural by street artist Vince. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Gramercy resident and veterinarian Timothy Mann, who used to own a practice in Brooklyn, will be bringing his skills closer to home on Valentine’s Day, when he’ll be opening Whole Health, a holistic veterinary hospital and dental clinic on First Avenue.

The animal hospital is opening at 335 First Avenue, opposite Stuyvesant Town, which was last home to the French Cleaners dry-cleaning shop. Already the space has been rebuilt, complete with a mural of pets on the storefront’s grates, painted by street artist Vince.

This week, Mann spoke with Town & Village about what pet owners can expect at Whole Health and what it means to offer holistic health services to pets.

Mainly, Mann said he wanted to offer a more personal approach to care, from trying alternative treatments like herbal medication or acupuncture to encouraging alternatives to vaccination.

In particular with older dogs, Mann said that idea is to first see if there are other forms of treatment available that don’t run the risks of side effects. This would be checked with tests to see how the dog would respond to vaccines before they actually go through getting one.

“We vaccinate as a knee-jerk reaction,” said Mann. “Vaccines can save lives but they can also cause side effects.” The precautionary lab work, however, he said, “is cheaper than a vaccine, so you save money and do better for your pet.”

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Editorial: Ferry landing can’t come soon enough

Sometimes a problem sticks around for so long that people simply accept it as a fact of life. For residents who live near the East River, like those on the east side of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village as well as Waterside Plaza, one major problem for many years has been a lack of access to public transit, specifically the subway.

As for buses, anyone who’s lived in the area for more than a few years knows that two local routes, the M14 and the M23, have been winners of The Straphangers Campaign’s annual Pokey awards. The Pokeys are given to the most sluggish routes and the M23 has actually won twice.

For this reason, the city’s plan to add a bunch of stops to the East River ferry route, including one at Stuyvesant Cove Park, should be embraced.

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Round two for IRS scam calls

By Sabina Mollot

Throughout this week, a few readers of Town & Village alerted us to the fact that an overseas phone scam, in which the callers pretend to be from the IRS while threatening people with lawsuits or even arrest, had returned to the Stuy Town/Peter Cooper neighborhood.

One of the readers, a Stuy Town senior, told T&V the calls had even seemed to get more aggressive because they’ve become more frequent — annoying her five times in a span of three days.

“They keep saying this is my final warning. I wish it would be,” she fumed. “It’s very threatening. It’s 8-9 in the morning.”

While the resident said she thought the call sounded ridiculous, like others who called us, she was more concerned about others who might get frightened by the mention of the IRS. “Maybe some people will still get scared and send them money,” she said.

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Baby born on FDR Drive

Police officers with the newborn (Photos courtesy of NYPD)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

It’s a boy! A baby was born on the FDR Drive after police received a call about a woman in labor near East 20th Street early Tuesday morning.

Detective Michael Sharpe of the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad was heading north on the FDR when he heard the dispatch call but when he arrived at the location, he didn’t see anyone in need of assistance. He continued to look around on the northbound side of the FDR and eventually found the family on the highway near East 47th Street.

Sharpe approached the vehicle and found that the woman was in labor and the baby’s father was receiving detailed instructions on child delivery from the 911 dispatcher. Sharpe and the father assisted the pregnant woman in the delivery of a baby boy.

They then wrapped the newborn in a blanket to keep him warm and Detectives Robert Mirfield and Joe Conway, who arrived shortly after his birth, cleared the baby’s airway and cut the umbilical cord.

The newborn

The newborn

Mirfield and Conway work with NYPD Emergency Service Unit Truck 1, which is stationed at the 13th Precinct and the detectives are trained New York State Emergency Medical technicians.

After highway patrol officers flagged down a nearby ambulette, the mother and newborn were taken with an escort to New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. The mother and baby, whose names weren’t released by police, were reported to be in stable condition.

City digs out after blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loops after the blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loop after the blizzard (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After last year’s fake-out for a “historic” snowstorm that dropped a mere nine inches on the city instead of the predicted three feet, the de Blasio administration was more cautious with the hyperbole preceding last week’s storm.

This time, though, the blizzard delivered: last week’s storm brought the second biggest snowfall since the city started recording the data in 1869, only a tenth of an inch less than the biggest in 2006, with 26.8 inches measured in Central Park by the time the storm dissipated on Saturday night.

The mayor issued a travel ban on all non-emergency vehicles at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday when the forecasts were predicting 20 to 25 inches of snow. While the governor shut down the subway completely in anticipation of last year’s storm, subway service remained at least partially available for the duration of the blizzard, although the MTA did ultimately shut down bus service at noon and service at aboveground subway stations at 4 p.m.

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Mumbles restaurant closes, La Follia will take over space

Jan28 Mumbles

Mumbles at Third Avenue and 17th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)


By Sabina Mollot

Mumbles, a family-run restaurant that’s been in the Gramercy neighborhood for 22 years, closed its doors for good on Sunday.

The business has been sold to the owners of a nearby restaurant La Follia, who will be moving in February.

On Thursday, January 21, Mumbles’ owner, David Feldman threw a going away party at the restaurant, which he said was packed with family, friends and regulars.

Reached at the restaurant the next day as the city prepared for a blizzard, Feldman explained his reasons for closing the restaurant, which at one time had three Manhattan locations.

For one thing, his father, who started the business, died six years ago, leaving Feldman and his brother to run things. But then Feldman also lost his brother a year ago to cancer.

This left Feldman alone to run Mumbles as well as two other restaurants the family owned, Benjamin in Murray Hill, and East of Eighth in Chelsea, as well as a catering business. Those businesses will all remain open.

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